September 5, 2013

Music & Miracles

Dear Family,

 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


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