September 30, 2013
Dear family - I have many more pics, esp from the CTM, but Ill catch up on those another week and give you all a quick email of the work here in Mossoro
We are busy allllll the time! A lot of it is walking from place to place, we cover a relatively large area by foot. There are literally 5 people in our entire ward (about 100 active) that own cars, if that gives you some sense of the area. Most everyone walks. It really is true, the people who are on the poorer end are really much more humble and receptive of the gospel. We tried to teach in a newer, richer area and not one person would listen. We will obviously keep trying to contact and find new pesquisadores there, but we are focusing our efforts on the people who are actually willing to listen.
We ALMOST had a baptism yesterday. Her name is Leilianny, 14 years old, and its been the most incredible experience to prepare her this past week. She received a personal witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon...and hearing her share her testimony brought tears to my eyes. Really, the Spirit does everything. The Spirit is the teacher in missionary work, and I have been blessed with the privilege to be up close and see the Spirit work in the lives of other people. I very much feel like Ammon, in the LDM - Of myself I am nothing, but I will boast in the strength of my God (or something like that). Sometimes, Sister Oliveira or I will share the perfect scripture at the perfect time to really touch the hearts of our investigators, and we can look back and realize that it was truly the Spirit speaking through us. Anyway, things didn't quite work out because her mother isn't entirely thrilled with the missionaries, but we are pretty sure that this weekend she will be baptized!!!
Speaking of this weekend, GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! I don't think I've ever been more excited!!! I literally bear my testimony of the reality of a living prophet every single day, so of course my testimony has only grown stronger and stronger. I know that Thomas S Monson is a prophet of God. He speaks with God, and he speaks for God. We have 12 Apostles, special witnesses of Christ. Our goal is to be more like the Savior, and we have the opportunity to listen to the words of someone who KNOWS what we specifically need to do and change to become like our Savior. God speaks to His people. I am so grateful for the opportunity to listen to GC (I get to listen in English thank goodness), but I am almost more excited for this coming week to be able to invite people to come!!! I get to just run around Brasil sharing the good news with everyone and I am SO EXCITED!!!! I want to invite each of you to do the same - tell your friends, family, neighbors! If Peter James and John were speaking this weekend, you would be sure to be there. And you would definitely tell the whole word, not worry about Well maybe they don't want to hear. Of course they want to hear! Its a profeta! And if they don't...well, that's their decision but you be sure to invite them and give them the choice.
Mom, thank you for the quotes from The Relief Society broadcast. No, we don't get to hear it but we do get to go to all the sessions this weekend. I haven't gotten my package yet but that's just because we haven't gotten mail. This Wednesday is reunião de zona, and I should get everything then! The capella that you found in Mossoro is probably the stake center, I don't think its mine. but I go there at least once a week too.
I love you all SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!
PS Tell the girls that I cried about what you wrote. I'm not a hero. but if I help them want to go on missions, than that's perfectly ok with me.
Provo MTC District
with MTC Companion Sister Francis
Provo MTC map & Sister in her district, all going to Natal
Brazil MTC Map
Brazil MTC Courtyard
Elders Sprouse & Wilson (DL)
Sister Sperry & Wood with 32 milky way bars - CHOCOLATE FROM AMERICA
white elephant gift exchange on the bus ride to zone conference
learning how to make SUCO DE MANGA mango juice
more juice making
a watermelon in one hand & a Book of Mormon in the other
with Sisters Oliveria,,Do Carmo, & Rebeiro
a Brazilian Luau
Mossoro Stake Center - not her current chapel but one in her city
practicing to play for a wedding
Sister Oliveria, branch president & his wife, Elders Christiansen & Almeida
Elder Christiansen (DL)
September 17, 2013
September 16, 2013
First week!Phew! So much has been going on, my head is spinning. I think I’ve adjusted quite well to life in the mission field. Here’s a quick overview of my day- Because I’m new, and American, I have study from 8 til 12 every day. Which I’m totally fine with. Personal study is my favorite time of the day, there is so much contained in the scriptures! Then, we have lunch every day from 12 til 2:30. Almoço is the main meal here, so we have a lot of time for lunch because we don’t actually have dinner. Because I’m inside from 8 til 2:30, I miss the hottest part of the day which is reallllly nice. I haven’t burned yet! But I already have a watch tan, just after 5 days! We go out to proselyte from 2:30 til 9, then eat a quick snack at our apartment. It gets dark really early here, 5 or 6, which is also really nice because the night is so much cooler than the day. Mom, I think you would really like Brasil. Everyone is SUPER friendly here. People just sit outside in chairs and talk with their neighbors and family for hours. When we ask to share a message, they just run into the house and get more chairs for us to sit down and talk with them. It’s the most wonderful thing. There is such a strong sense of community and family here.
K, I haven’t gotten your letter or package yet. We only get mail about once a month here, but tomorrow is zone conference so there is a chance i~ll get something. The address for letters is
Av. Interventor Mario Camara, 2066ADix-Sept Rosado, 59062-600
Natal - RN, Brasil
The mission home is actually a really nice apartment right on the beach, and we got to stay there the first night. I’m about a four hour drive from Natal, very far inland. Go to Mossoro, look around the Planalto and Liberdade neighborhoods. See if you can find the chapel!
I am the new ward pianist, big surprise. it was very very nice to be able to play on Sunday.
Whew! I´ll have to send you a novel next week!
Miracles happen literally every day here. Prayer is the most powerful tool we have. I’m doing very well, everyone in the ward thinks that I’ve already been out one transfer. It’s interesting dad, my companion (while reporting about me to the DL) said the exact same thing you did in the setting apart meeting. She says that I have no fear, that I~ll talk to everyone. That’s a lie, I have plenty of fear, but it’s not going to stop me from sharing the gospel. I love the fact that I can bear my testimony all the time. I don~t have much, but I have a knowledge of the truth and I can share that with everyone I meet.
I love you all so much!Sister Carroll
Sister Carroll & her CTM district - so silly
Elder Wood & Irma Ferreira
September 12, 2013
September 11, 2013
Ola minha familha!
Today is my first day in the mission field. Luckily, on the week of transfers we get pday on Wednesday so we have time to settle in, and then every other week is Monday.
So! Where to begin. Im serving in Mossoró, a city about 4 hours away from Natal. It is inland, and muito muito quente. It’s definitely a city, but a lot poorer than Natal with more houses and less huge apartment complexes. I live in a really cute green house with another companionship of sisters! Our district is the smallest in the mission, just 4 sisters and 2 elders, but I already love them lots. Mossoró is the city of salt, sun, and petroleum. I’m thinking it’s kind of the Brasilian equivalent of Texas, which is funny when you think about it haha. But really, I know I am going to be very happy here. The people are very responsive, we teach 15+ lessons a week, and the ward is very very supportive!
My companion is Sister Oliveira, from Sao Paulo! She is very sweet, very confident, and really knows what she is doing. I feel incredibly blessed to have her, many different missionaries have told me that she is the best in the field. She’s only been out 8 months and I will be the fourth sister she trains! Fortunately or unfortunately, she knows almost no ingles so guess what! I’m going to be fluent in Portuguese much faster than i think the average North American. The two other sisters in our district are also from Brasil, so there will be no ingles haha. I’m extremely lucky that Sister Oliveira is from Sao Paulo, because I can understand her accent.
Our district leader is Elder Christensen, from California, but you wouldn’t know it. He speaks just like a Brasilian! I honestly went the first two hours in the car with him thinking that he was from the south (people are more white there). I don’t actually think he can speak English very well anymore. I tell you all this because this gives me hope! Seriously. Americans do not have to be dorks their whole mission. It is perfectly possible for me to learn Portuguese and speak like a native. All I have to do is put in the effort!
The most common thing people have said to me since arriving in the field is that I am in the hottest part of brasil. Huzzah! The second most common thing I’ve been told is that I am going to turn into a tomato. Also not the most encouraging thing. However, the THIRD most common thing I’ve been told is that I speak portugues really really really well for a greenie. So, that makes me happy :)
We have two lessons set up for later tonight! This is really happening! Ahhhh :) I don’t know how much i~ll be able to participate, but I am really looking forward to them for one main reason. Sister Oliveira says that in this mission, or at least in this area, we sing at every lesson. Opening and closing hymn. She says that the people really love it, and it brings the spirit. So at least I will have the opportunity to share my testimony through music. And let’s be honest, that’s my favorite way to share my testimony anyway!
Saturday seems like a year ago, but I should tell you now before I forget. It was the independence day of Brasil! WE had a huge celebratory lunch, with ice cream! And it was a lot of fun. I color coordinated and dressed up like the Brasilian flag. All the teachers loved me haha. We also sang the national anthem, which is CRAZY by the way - YouTube it, and for the first time I was actually able to sing along the whole time. Maybe I am turning into a brasilian.
Sunday was a really emotional day for our district, as we have all grown extremely close. The Elders took the time to give each and every person a priesthood blessing. It took about two hours. The spirit in that room was incredible, like nothing I have ever felt before. I could feel the love of God so strongly for each and every person in that room. The power of the priesthood is real. It has never hit home to me before how precious a gift the priesthood of God is, not just to the Elders but to me as well. I am so blessed to have this gift in my life. I will never forget that day.
Also, dear family, you don’t have to worry about me. I’m being taken care of. You don’t have to worry about yourselves either, because it seemed that half of my blessing discussed all the ways in which my family at home will be blessed. I pray that you can recognize the hand of the Lord in your life, because he is definitely watching over you too.
I love you so much! I’m in good hands, don’t worry :) This gospel is true, and miracles have not ceased.
September 5, 2013
OH MY! This past week has been the biggest emotional roller-coaster of my life. Almost every day \I’ve been crying in the afternoon of frustration and crying every night with tears of joy and love and gratitude. That may sound awful, but it’s not. I am so so so happy here! The bad times are the best of times, because I am learning so much about myself and then when I try and act on the lessons I learned, I become a better person and then Heavenly Father just blesses me more and more and more with incredible spiritual experiences. I\ll share just a few
Sunday was mission conference/testimony meetings. We fast from Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon so it was a little different but still so wonderful. Everyone was able to bear their testimony in our little branch. I just want to share mine with you - I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that it is the word of God. I’ve always know that, but it’s just been confirmed to me over and over again as I read from its pages and learn more. I love the Book of Mormon because it truly teaches me more about the Savior. I love the New Testament, because \I can actually read the life story of the Savior's ministry. The Book of Mormon is different, because you don't necessarily read about what Christ DID but you learn about who He IS. His character. And the more I learn about who He Is, the easier it is to live like He did and become more like Him.
We also had a large testimony meeting for the whole CTM. Presidente Degn asked everyone to bear their testimonies in their native language, and he also asked for us to each say a personal prayer for the gift of tongues so we could understand what was being said. It was a night of miracles. I was able to understand almost every testimony that was shared - for over an hour! Even the ones in Spanish! I mean, I barely understand \Portuguese so throw another language in there and there is no way I should have been able to understand. But it was incredible. There were a couple testimonies that I was literally in tears, and the fact that I could actually overcome the language barrier to get to that point is incredible. I have been so blessed. It’s really true, the Spirit is the same no matter what language you speak in. It sounds so simple, and so obvious, but to be living in a foreign country surrounded by people I don't know and don't (for the most part) understand - and I can feel the same testimony. It’s amazing.
Also, it was extremely sweet the other night. One Elder said the opening prayer in a devotional. He is from Brazil, but he prayed that everyone who didn't have Portuguese as their native language would be blessed with the gift of tongues. It touched me very much that he would think to pray for the others in the CTM.
Also on Sunday night, we sang a beautiful choral arrangement of The Spirit of God. Oh my goodness, the spirit was so strong. Presidente Degn got up and asked us to sing it again. So we did. There is one line - We'll sing and we';ll shout with the armies of heaven. In Portugues, its We’ll sing with hosts of celestial beings. I want you to know that there were angels singing with us on Sunday. Maybe not in words exactly, but there was a very strong presence and we could all just feel that the room was full of other people, people who loved us and wanted to help us and support us. I have received several impressions of family members that have passed on, some whom I know and some that I have only heard about, that have been with me here in Brasil. They were here on Sunday night. There are several others in my district who have had similar impressions. Missionaries are so successful because they are never alone. On my own, I am nothing. I learn more and more every day about my weaknesses, my lack of faith and obedience, my lack of knowledge, but i am able to do amazing things. The Lord takes care of His missionaries. Angels are with us when we welcome them through our prayers and our actions.
The musical number last night was another miracle. Our district sang Nearer My God to Thee as postlude number, after the talks were given. The Spirit was so strong. I was able to play the violin and it made me so so happy. I'll never make fun of violinists again. (Even though viola is clearly still better). It was difficult, because I was trying to improvise some cool accompaniment just using the hymn music (I didn't have anything written down) in a cleft that is not mine on an instrument that is also not mine. There was one point in the song that I realized that I didn't remember what I had practiced but my fingers just started moving and something beautiful came out and I know that it was definitely not me. It wasn't anything I had practiced previously. Anyway, almost everyone in the CTM was crying after our district sang that song. After we sang and sat down, President Degn actually got back on the stand and cancelled the post-devotional meetings and instead asked everyone to go back to their class with their district to talk about the Spirit they felt. Every district in the CTM, from those I have talked to, had an exceptional experience that evening. Most people were crying coming back to the dorms that night, both Elders and Sisters. I love feeling that it was, in part, our district that was able to bring that special spirit to the CTM for one night. We were able to be conduits for the Spirit, and the Lord was able to take our talents and use them for His own purposes. It’s not a night I will soon forget!
In other news, half of our "investigators" (our teachers are posing as investigators) have accepted baptism invitations after 4 solid weeks of not being able to get anywhere with them, and our two new investigators (my district leader and his comp) have started to feel the Spirit very strongly in the lessons. Things are coming together. The language is definitely a challenge, but its coming along as well. I love the CTM and will be so very sad to leave the people here, especially my district, but I cannot wait to get out in the field and start teaching real people.
As far as travel plans go, I really don't know what’s going on. I know that I am leaving sometime on Tuesday, and I am traveling with at least one other Elder from my district so that makes me feel quite safe. I’m not letting him out of my sight until I meet my mission president haha. After that - who knows?!!>?!>! I’ll be in the field a week from today, and I don't know about airport calls or when my next pday will be or really anything at all. Butt I have faith. and it’s all going to be just fine
Dad, I got your letter! And I’ve been getting missionties stuff too! Thank you so much, it really keeps me going during the week. Mom and Dad I hope that you are both rereading the Book of Mormon again, that makes me so happy. Tell Benjamin congrats about Homecoming! I wish I could be there. Also, I’m sorry for not sending pictures - I don't have time to print any while I’m here at a store, and the computers have so many security blockers on them that I can’t send any out either. I know it’s killing you, I’m very very sorry.
I’m sending another letter in the next 20 mins or so via missionties a little bit about my time in the temple today, could you forward it on to Mike too?
I love you all very very much! Next time you hear from me I will be in NATAL!!!
Always, Sister Carroll