Monday, September 29, 2014

Addendum to September 29, 2014

Elder Rocha, our rock painted like a missionary, had a good day yesterday.  We have had a young man attending the Branch for the past three weeks or so with one of our young women.  Yesterday, he asked why no one had given him a Book of Mormon!  Our family with Elder Rocha quickly gave him one.

Sometimes, we are a little slow in recognizing when people want to hear what we have!

September 29, 2014 Lots of exciting things

There is a lot going on here right now.  I am certain you have all heard, but Meet the Mormons comes out in theaters on October 10, 2014.  It is not an attempt to proselyte, but is to dispel bad information and weird beliefs about us.  Please take friends and go.  Elder Holland has specifically asked that members take their friends and that the missionaries not go.  This is the director and the Sullivan family that is one of the six families in the film.

If you have not heard the story from Elder Holland about how the film came to be, here is a short version.  The Church has a theater on Temple Square called the Legacy Theater.  The film was produced to be shown there, but when they showed it to test audiences they decided more should be done with it.  They found that people who saw it reported that they were more likely to consider members as Christians, were more likely to understand the true name of the Church and were more likely to be respectful of members.  Most of all, they found that audience members were able to see members of the church striving to follow the Savior, and were able to see the difference it made in the lives of those people.

It was a busy week.  We had to go downtown with two of the sisters, so we stopped at a famous drive-in in Atlanta, the Varsity.  It was in Parade magazine and Peggy (my sister) sent me a picture.  The food was typical greasy spoon, but it is one more item that we have experienced in Georgia!

We made another trip to the Brazilian Embassy and took along our new missionary, Sister Barros.  She has been serving on Temple Square, but Temple Square missionaries are temporarily assigned to regular missions for three months.  She is wonderful and we love her.  I don't know if it was because she was with us, or because a sweet woman named Rosalie decided to help us, but we were able to get information to allow our young missionaries to assist in the Brazilian general election to be held on October 5.  Every Brazilian over the age of 18 is required to vote or pay a fine.  We are hoping that by being there, people who may be members and didn't realize that a Brazilian Branch existed will come to the Branch.

This picture is of the missionaries who are assigned specifically to the Branch.  I have to be Sister Barros companion when she is at the Branch or working in the Branch because she has to have a companion.  I struggle to remember that, and have left her a alone in a room a couple of times!

So, on Saturday, we finally were able to take Sravanthi and Varnika io a petting zoo activity at the Atlanta History Center.  Varneka looked adorable and people kept taking pictures of her.  She dresses in traditional Indian clothing when she is dressed up, with bangles on her ankles and the shawl/scarf in front of her neck and on her shoulders.  I forgot to take my camera, so I got these from Sravanthi.

Saturday afternoon and early evening, we attended the Brazilian Festival.  All of the missionaries came, and we were able to talk to 69 people!  Elder Dixon invited one of the people from one of the displays for another church to come to ours.  He said he would, but didn't come yesterday.  I hope that we can foster really good relationships with the other faiths here.  That should strengthen the Brazilian community.

I spent quite a while talking to three younger people while eating.  The young man was helping the candidate for Attorney General here in Georgia.  In the course of the conversation, I asked one of the young women what she does for a living.  She looked a little frustrated as she said "I am a professional golfer."  My brain then began to engage and I thought I knew her.  Her name is Michelle Shin.  She was nice.

That is not the first time I have embarrassed myself in not recognizing someone famous.  When I was in High School I was on an airplane headed to Washington D.C. and some men boarded the plane carrying instruments.  It drew my attention because they were concerned about what the flight attendant was going to do with the instrument and that sounded like a movie I had just seen.  The  men were very clean,  had long hair and long nails.  I asked one of them what group he was with.  He was a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  I was on my way to attend the Presidential Classroom for Young Americans.  I said something about maybe they would be performing for us.  It wasn't until later I realized how big they were.  I get embarrassed about it even today!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 21, 2014 Changing and hastening

This was a week of changes because it was transfer week again.  We still do not like transfers, but it is an exciting time of changes.  We took our sweet Elder Judd to the airport.  It was hard to see him go because he has done great things with our young Brazilian Elders.  He struggled a little with going because he could see how much the Branch needed his leadership.  I told him that perhaps he is going to Brazil to send someone to our Branch.  Thanks, Elder Judd.  You are a treasure!

So, in this transfer, we lost Elder Judd, but we received two brand new Elders from Brazil, a Visa Waiter AND a Sister Missionary who has served on Temple Square (she is from Brazil).  The Sister Missionary is working with the Sister Training Leaders also.  So, in our little Branch, we now have 11 missionaries!  Clearly the Lord expects great things for this Branch.  I looked up Portuguese Branch on and could only find about 8 Portuguese Branches in the United States.  Our Branch President put it well today.  He said that he had cried to the Lord to understand why we lost so much leadership.  He felt a strong impression that it was because we are to train leaders for other places.

Elder Dixon and I have been asked to be the Team Leaders for the Portuguese missionaries.  We are to help them be the best missionaries that they can be.

I don't know whether most members of the Church realize how true it is that the work is hastening.  The Church is doing so many things. We had the opportunity to attend the Meet the Mormons movie on Wednesday.  It made me proud to be a part of this Church.  Don't expect missionaries to be there if you attend.  The Church has determined that it should not be for proselyting and missionaries are not to attend.  We will be taking Bala and his wife, and President Bennion said that is still okay, but we will not wear our name tags.

We took the opportunity to visit the Hindu Temple that is in Lilburn, Georgia.  It is a magnificent piece of architecture.  The detail to the carvings and the engineering is incredible.

The sense of reverence was inspiring.  The people had such respect for the building and for what is represented.

We have had interesting conversations with Bala about Temples.  He believes that every Temple should be open to anyone.  He is very accepting of other people.  It is interesting, because I would have completely understood had his Temple restricted visits by outsiders.  It made me uncomfortable to be there when people were worshiping their God.  I remember when I was young, I was at a Cathedral in Washington D.C. on a tour.  There were people there who were clearly seeking comfort by praying to the Lord.  I felt so sad that tours were going through as they were in such a spirit of reverence.  I am so grateful that our Temple is not like that.  It is sacred, and people will be able to worship in that sacred state.

The last of the diaper buggies was delivered on Saturday.  I was happy to be able to do something fun for the members.  Love this picture of the two expecting mothers!  Thanks to my family for the cute idea from when they were expecting.

This car is one that is in our apartment complex.  It just made me laugh.  I thought it could have been in the second Cars movie!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tender Mercies

September 14, 2014

This week, my heart is really full because of those instances where it seems like God stepped in and rescued us from something.  In the Church, we call those "tender mercies".  Sometimes, we notice immediately and can give credit to God for his help.  Sometimes, we don't see his plan and may not for many years.  I have had an experience the past couple of weeks with the Lord's hand in my life.  I had been asked to do something that I felt totally inadequate in doing.  The request made me feel useful and wanted, but was terribly intimidating.  I spent one night not sleeping and cried a lot.  I didn't want to fail, I didn't want to give people less that what they deserved.  Then came the recognition that I would simply have to rely on, and trust, the Lord.  I felt peace and calm.

There was a change in plans and I didn't have to do what was asked.  The best part?  I didn't have to fail, but was able to experience the lessons I needed.  I felt a peace and comfort.  I understood that this was an answer to prayer.

I have often struggled in self-esteem.  I have wondered about my value.  Mostly, I just wanted to know that the Lord loved me and that he approved of my efforts.  This time, I knew that the experience was to let me know that I was loved, had value and he did approve of my efforts.  It was a sweet, tender mercy.

We had another tender mercy.  We have grown very fond of Bala and his family.  They are very sweet and want to feed us!  We have kept them in our prayers.  Yesterday, his little 2 year old pushed the screen out of the second story window and fell onto the air conditioning unit,  They took her to the hospital and had x-rays and miraculously she had no broken bones.  I told Bala that we had kept them in our prayers and that probably helped protect her.  

We are looking forward to the upcoming movie "Meet the Mormons."  Here is a trailer:
Meet the Mormons

We were able to get together with Elder Dixon's brother for Elder Dixon's birthday.  He is so busy, he had not been to see our apartment.  We had a wonderful time with him.  We each ordered a piece of pie.  I should have taken a picture.  It was LITERALLY a quarter of a pie!  Not as good as Jana's or Peggy's, though.  This picture came from the internet.

Kaitlyn and Titan sent a package with neckties for Elder Dixon.  Now he has some ties to trade!  It was a great package.

I had the chance to attend a leadership training for the Relief Society with the General President of the Relief Society.  She began by talking about the relationship that the General Authorities have with one another and said that if we could capture that brotherhood in the Relief Society, we could change the world.  She taught many other key principles, and emphasized that if we are having events or activities that are outside the purpose of our organization, they are just gatherings and entertainment is not the Lord's work.  She gave me a lot to ponder.

The pink diaper baby buggy was put to use on Saturday for a baby shower.  Kaina, the expectant mother, had her non-LDS friends and her friends from the Branch all come.  It was another extraordinary event.  I can't figure out how to get the pictures off the camera, so I am hoping that Kaina will send some I can share.

While I was attending those meetings, Elder Dixon went with Elder Judd and Elder Sousa to the Atlanta Temple.  Elder Dixon asked the Mission President if Elder Judd could attend a session at the Temple because Elder Judd is leaving to go to Brazil.  He is what they call a "Visa Waiter".  He received his call to Brazil, went to the MTC, and was sent to this mission while waiting for the approval of his Visa.  We have been privileged to have him in our Branch.  He has been a great missionary and has encouraged our newer Elders.  The Mission President gave approval for Elder Judd and Elder Sousa to attend the Temple as long as Elder Dixon went along.  They had a great experience.

Afterwards, they were also able to watch as one of our most recent converts was able to do Temple work for his own family names.

Elder Judd is from Colorado.  If anyone knows his parents, tell them he is wonderful!  We will miss him.

Transfers are taking place this week.  Yuck!  I hate losing these young missionaries.  We get two new missionaries from Brazil, though.  A NEW language challenge!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 7, 2014

Sometimes I have a hard time remembering what happened during the week that you might enjoy.  The most significance for me is the changes I feel in myself.  I am growing and learning from others and from the Lord.

My favorite experience of the week was a sweet blessing attending a baptism for a new sister in the Cumorah branch (Spanish speaking).  The sister missionaries wanted her to have something prettier to wear than the jumpsuits that are used.  We happened to be replacing my scripture case with a purse and found just what was needed.  We then received the assignment to attend the baptism.  It was one of the sweetest spirits I have felt.  I couldn't understand it, but I felt the power of the Holy Ghost.  She is a sweet woman who has found the answers in her life.

I wish I could say that my use of the language is coming more easily.  It is not.  I really want to learn, but find myself caught up in the assignments and not getting to study as I need to.  I need to use the language, but every time I start to try, I find that I can't remember anything I learned.  I suppose that it is so that if I ever learn, I will know that it was not because of anything I was able to do myself.

This week the lesson in Sunday School was on Josiah.  I was profoundly moved by the testimony given of him in the scriptures.  He was a mighty king, more importantly, he was a powerful force for good in his kingdom.  I puzzled about the Lord allowing him to be killed in a battle.  As I studied, I found that he had been promised that he would not live to see the destruction of his people.  Other scriptures make it clear that the Kingdom of Judah had complied with his orders, but had never let go of their false gods.  I suppose it was a tender mercy from God to allow him to not have to watch them return, or worse yet, to turn against him.

One of our sweet friends who has been investigating the church, comes regularly to Sunday School.  She came today as we discussed Hezekiah and Josiah.  She added one of the stories about Hezekiah that the teacher had not mentioned.  She has a great knowledge of the Old Testament.  Love her!

We were able to attend the temple with a number of the missionaries in the mission.   This time I was able to hear the session in English.  Those who were there were all missionaries who had been able to have the blessing of someone being baptized in August.  They were all happy to be there.  The reason that Elder Dixon and I are not standing together is that I was helping a missionary get a picture of the group.  Elder Dixon is in the back, almost hidden.

We had a celebration of the marriage of Elza and Josh.  It is so fun to see a born-in-Georgia man with a born-in-Brazil woman.  The two families blended beautifully.  We are considering an international fair where our Georgian friends can bring some of their southern fair.  It was great to see them doing the Macarena together!

Bala's family finally arrived safely.  We had the privilege of meeting his wife and little daughter tonight.  They are still struggling with jet-lag.  His wife gave us some Indian "snacks" as they called them.  They were very good.  We had taken some fresh chocolate-chip cookies.  His wife indicated she would like to learn to make them.  I look forward to learning with her, and helping her learn.  We probably will need to start with getting measuring cups since I doubt she has ever used them!

 I prepared two "diaper buggies" for two upcoming baby showers coming up in the Branch.  I hope they like them!