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Semana 52

By 11:57 AM

Olá todo mundoooooo!!!

Well, the countdown has been real, and I´ve finally hit 365 days in the mission. 52 weeks. ONE WHOLE YEAR. There have been so many good things that have happened. The highs and the lows, the victories and the defeats, the growth and the struggle. But through it all a few things have mantained constant - my Savior has never left my side! Oh how I am so grateful.

I can´t resume into words how I have changed, how the mission has blessed me, and how I have become to understand the restored gospel. But I think the all-inclusive lesson I learned is about love. REAL love. Love for yourself, for God, for Christ and His Atonement, for the Plan of Salvation. Love for your investigators. Love for the members. Love for missionaries with whom you serve. Love for ALL of God´s children. Yesterday I was reading in the General Conference Liahona Elder Holland´s talk, "Behold Thy Mother". While this quote is about maternal love, I think it applies to Christlike love of missionary service. 

"How is it that a human being can love a [person] so deeply you willingly give up a major portion of your freedom for [them]? How can mortal love be so strong that you voluntarily subject yourself to responsibility, vulnerability, anxiety, and heartache and just keep coming back for more of the same? What kind of love can make you feel, once you [serve others], that your life is never, ever your own again? [Love] must be divine. Knowing that should be enough to tell us the impact of such love will range between unbearable and transcendent, over and over again, until with the safety and salvation of the very last child on earth, we can then say with Jesus, 'Father! I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.'"

This puts words to every dedicated missionary´s heart. What we do, is love. It is love that changes hearts, love that breaks all barriers, love that heals all souls. It is love, that Christ is. 

As for what happened this week -

Like I explained in my letter last week, it has been a really hard transfer in seeing success, even with our every effort to work our hardest. Tuesday was our District Meeting, and I was asked to give the training. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could say and teach that would help our suffering district. Then I had some inspiration from the Spirit. I had the district assess our transfer together, our difficulties, our low numbers, and how we feel as missionaries. The answer? All negative. We felt SAD. DISCOURAGED. We were ALL wallowing in self-pity and discouragement in our district. Unfocused because of our trials. And so I talked about how we can combat discouragement. We discussed "A Sucessful Missionary" from chapter 1 of Preach My Gospel and noted the counsels. Then looked to the scripture is 2 cases where Alma (Alma 8:14-15) and Nephi (Helaman 10:3-5) experienced several of the same feelings. We discussed the forms that they overcame discouragement (through obedience, doing good works, diligence, faith) and we explored other ideas of our own. Then everyone chose a point under "how to know if you´re a sucessful missionary" to improve and work on this week. I told them how even if we are feeling discouraged (which weakens our faith), if we are feeling the Spirit in our work, loving our investigators, working hard, doing what´s right, then those are indicators that we ARE having success! Anyway, the training was a whole lot more than that, but I really felt the Spirit in both the preparation and meeting itself. It gave us fuel to start the week and get out of this rut. I felt really excited afterwards, and we saw HUGE SUCCESSES THIS WEEK!!!

We finally have created a successful teaching group in another neighborhood of our area. We progressed well with our investigators this week, and yesterday we fasted as a district to see more success and overcome our discouragement. As a result of our fast......

WE BAPTIZED A FAMILY!!!!!!  Damiana and her daughter Geicy have gone to church a few times with us this transfer and accepted to be baptized. Damiana reminds me a lot of mom - how she cares for her family and how she loves God. (the irmão holding his baby is our branch president.)

Damiana and Geicy were glowing they were so happy!!! Can´t you seem them glowing!!! ft. Elder Shakespear (ps hilarious story about Elder S. he was one of the elders that was heading to the mission field when grandpa spoke at the provo mtc and called me up to the mike to tell the entire mtc about my mission call)

Also other huge success from this week - we had 9 INVESTIGATORS AT CHURCH. It has been SO long since I had so many investigators at church! We had a married couple show up to chuch ALONE without a ride or anyone going to pick them up, and even brought neighbors. We truly saw so many miracles because of our hard work and prayer and FASTING. It has been a long time since I saw a baptism. Sister V. Lopes and I are so happy and feel so blessed.

I love you guys. I love this work. Adam, I am so happy and proud of you that you have decided to put your mission papers in now! We knew that we would spend 3 and a half years apart with both of our mission services but I know there is nothing better that could bless our family. 

There´s one week left in the transfer. Then just 4 more transfers to go.

Talk to you all next week!

Sister Brown

I finally remembered to take a picture of brasilian food (yes they eat a million starches all mixed together. rice, beans, spaghetti, potatoes, mandioca, and then some chicken)

lunch with some investigators!

I hope these freckles go away when i get home... 

My favorite recent converts, Fabiana and Anyelly

Hammocks are the greatest thing that happened to me - lunch yesterday! More hammock pics - life changing, these things (the hammocks, not my selfless)

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