November 20, 2013


Meus Queridos,
Sorry mom about not sending an email yesterday.... Missão Natal was a bagunça! (Bagunça= hot mess). We had some crazy emergency transfers going down all over the mission - a group of americanos got their visas! Huzzah! But their transfers were two weeks off from us, so when they got here Presidente Soares had to change a bunch of things up really quickly. Luckily, me and Sister Christensen stayed put but Sister Ribeiro(who has been in the house with me since I go here) was called elsewhere. So we were so busy yesterday that there was no time to email.
Other than yesterday, which was loco, this week has been so so incredible! Sister Christensen and I have been working so hard and things are finally starting to come together in our area! We have 4 baptisms for this Sunday, so if you could keep Bruno, Marceilda, Calianne, e Renato in your prayers that would be wonderful :)
We had the Primary program on Sunday and it was SO DANG CUTE! Oh my goodness. I think the killer at the end was the little group of kids singing Chamados ao Servir (Called to Serve) at the top of their lungs. Everyone wants to be a missionary. Everyone is bringing their friends to Church. We are just here helping them along and pointing them in the right direction :) Also, I got to play piano which was AWESOME!
Saturday night was so fun and so incredible! We had an awesome FHE. Almost the entire stake went on a week-long temple trip this week, which is great BUT it meant that it was really difficult to get any members to help out with our pesquisadores and in lessons because everyone was gone. However, we had this incredible FHE with a less-active family, a bunch of recent converts, and some of our investigators and the spirit was SO STRONG! I really love working with the recent converts and less active members in missionary work because it gives them an opportunity to share their own testimony. And, everyone knows, when you share your testimony it grows stronger. I’ve been learning that a lot here in the field.
I mean, we can have a testimony about a lot of different things. The Book of Mormon. Thomas S Monson. The principle of tithing. But I’ve been working to gain a testimony of some of the smaller things - a testimony of the mission rules. A testimony of the counsel that my leaders give me that I don’t necessarily agree with. But, like Christ counsels, the only way to know His doctrine is to do His will. The only way to gain a testimony is by acting and then feeling the Spirit testify. I’ve been going out of my comfort zone a lot, trying to gain a testimony of different aspects of missionary work. And with all the sincerity of my heart, I can say the Lord will give a testimony to those who do their part! The Spirit is the best teacher, but the Spirit cannot act on us until we get out and get moving! I love this gospel, I love the Atonement. It’s a message of hope that we can all, every single one of us, change and improve everyday if we just take the first step.
Cheiros e beijos!
-Sister Carroll

November 12, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hi there, family and friends!
Here in Brasil, there is no Thanksgiving to use as a starting point for Christmas madness. So, basically its like December already here in Mossoró :) I mean, its still like 90 degrees every day BUT everyone is singing Christmas hymns and all the members have little Christmas trees up in their house and it is VERY surreal to sing Silent Night when its so hot you could fry an egg on the pavement haha.
Another awesome thing about Nov-Dec in Brasil? Its mango season :D and we happen to have a lot of mango trees on our street!
But seriously, this week has been such a learning experience for me. My companion, Sister Christensen (who is incredible and I love her lots), is also the Sister Lìder Trainadora. Which is really cool, because I'm learning so much from her. But its also a little hard because she does divisions one day every week. And while she is off in another bairro (bye-ho, neighborhood) I've been feeling a lot of responsibility here in my area. The other sisters that go on splits with me are all even newer than I am! This week should be an adventure - I'm going out with a new missionary from Chile. Hopefully we both know enough Portugues to get by haha :)
But this past week was absolutely incredible, especially during our divisions. Sister Leonard and I were a little freaked out because we were a couple americanas with only a few months in Brasil (she arrived the same time as me) on our own for the day. However, we had a very real sense of our dependence on the Lord and this humility led to amazing miracles. We taught a family how to pray together. We invited another investigator to be baptized, and she started crying and accepted. We challenged someone to be baptized while making a street contact, and he accepted! Honestly, when we really have nowhere else to turn and truly recognize our dependence on God, He always comes to our rescue. We are here to help people, and when we do our part He will never let us down.
An Elder in my zone said something at transfers that really hit me this past week. The Lord wont let us fail. He wont let the work fail, because these people are important and the gospel is true. But he also wont let us fail individually, as missionaries, because He cares about us as well. I have a very strong testimony of this.
Sunday was wonderful!!! I gave my first talk in Church on an Elder Holland talk, The First Great Commandment. Its all about missionary work (big surprise!). We are having a missionary Sunday once a month in our ward where are the talks and all the hymns are about missionary work, to involve the members and get them more excited for this marvelous opportunity to share the gospel! We also had our first meeting with a ward mission leader. He is AWESOME! Seriously. It was great. We are working very closely with the ward counsel to help the members become involved. Each week, one organization( RS, EQ, YM, YW, YSA) has a fast for missionary work. Prayer brings blessings, but prayer AND fasting is just a power combination to really bring milagres.
Our mission leader asked each one of us what our favorite thing was about the mission. After a bit of thought, ive figured it out. I LOVE following up on the Book of Mormon challenge, to read and then pray if it is true. i love following up because everyone that truly reads and prays with real intent gets an answer. And I love to here my investigators describe the feelings of the Spirit. I love hearing them bear their own testimony that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. My testimony of the promise in Moroni is strengthen every day. I know that God hears and answers prayers, and that the Book of Mormon is the key to missionary work. It will bring the Spirit into the homes of our investigators even when we aren't there. I stand with Joseph Smith in declaring that man will get closer to God by abiding by the precepts taught in the Book of Mormon than through any other way.
I bear my testimony that the Savior lives, He is mindful of each of us. And as we strive to be missionaries, whether we have a nametag or not, we grow to understand Christ. When we suffer and struggle and cry for the salvation of our brothers and sisters, we begin to understand Christ and we grow to be more like Him. He loves us more than we will ever know.
Muito amor
Sister Carroll :)

so I (mom) don't know what to say about these pictures because they were sent to me by a sweet sister in Sister Carroll's Ward - yeah for technology! Enjoy!

November 4, 2013

Walking in His Footsteps

Dear Family,
Parabens Benjamin and Dad for the Thomas S Monson award! You'll have to tell me in more detail what exactly you had to do to earn this special scouting achievement, wish I was there :) And Mom, congrats on pulling off the roadshow! Your first one too! Its great to hear all about the Halloween escapades going on in the States.. its totally not a thing here in Brasil haha. The people that do know about it think that its the devils holiday, so especially members of the Church have really strong negative feelings against it. Its so interesting to see different points of view!
However, Dad, I was able to keep up the family tradition of spending Halloween in a cemetery! We had and INCREDIBLE missionary activity this past Saturday. It was a national holiday...basically Day of the Dead (so I guess kind of like Halloween) except its a time for people to pay their respects to those who have passed on. So EVERYONE (not just a handful, but seriously everyone) in Brasil goes to the cemetery to put flowers on tombstones and sit and reflect on their loved ones for an hour or so. There is such a strong connection to families here. So a member of our ward, Jutson, planned to have the whole zone come out

(side note. the way missionary work is organized in Brasil - each large city is a stake with a bunch of smaller branches and wards so that pretty much everyone in the city is within walking distance of a chapel. Walking distance being 30-50 minutes. So, its really easy to get our whole zone together because its just one stake which is just one city. And we all are able to work really well together AND with the stake leadership! Its like a giant member missionary powerhouse)

 Annnnyyyywayyy all the missionaries in our zone came out to the big cemetery in the center of town and go out in little groups with the members to teach about the Plan of Salvation! It was so incredible, (a) because when members and missionaries work together everything is so much better, (b) its always a blast to have the whole zone together and (c) the timing was just right to invite the Spirit! I felt a little strange at first, coming up to people who were mourning but then I stopped for a moment and thought, What would Christ do if He were here? He would lift up the broken-hearted. He would mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. He would cry with them too. He wouldn't just walk by for fear of offending them. So that's what we did. We stopped and talked and asked people, Who are you visiting? What were they like? How did you get through this difficult time? And then it is the perfect situation to bear testimony of the eternal truths that we know. That there is life after this life. That God has a place prepared for every one of us. That if God is taking someone away from us now, He has a way prepared to bring us comfort and solace until we can be reunited. Families are eternal. Like Néfi, I can say that I do not know the meaning of all things, but I know, with all my heart, that God loves His children and He takes care of His own.
Also, WE FINALLY GOT A WARD MISSION LEADER! Hallelujah :) They actually released the YM President so we could have a WML. He has only been back from his mission a year, so he is going to be a HUGE help for us :) He knows the work really well and is super excited to get started!
Antonio (our recent convert of about 2 weeks) received the priesthood yesterday! I almost cried. Its such an amazing feeling to see the miracles in the lives of these precious children of God. He is already all excited for family history work, is almost halfway through the gospel principles manual in his personal study, and is planning to go to the temple in December to do baptisms for the dead! Oh Antonio. He is so, so incredible :)
There is a scripture in the Bible that basically says, Do not be discouraged when they reject you, for they also rejected Christ... The servant is not greater than his Master. Well, this week has been one of those. All of our baptisms fell through, almost all of our appointments fell through, and almost all of our investigators had to be dropped. Its so so hard to know all the blessings of the gospel that are available and have people look you in the eye and say, You are wrong.Its so hard because my heart breaks for these people. They are so close to having so many blessings. All we are asking is that they pray and ask God if our message is true. But so many people just harden their hearts and turn away. Its hard because I love these people and I know that when they reject our message, they are turning their back on something that could change their lives. But at the end of the day, I know I have done my part. I have born my testimony, I have taught the truth, and I have preached repentance to all who will hear. Really and truly, this week has been a rough one. But I feel honored and privileged that Christ considers me worthy to go through a small portion of the same things He suffered. I feel like I understand the Savior more, and I feel very close to Him. And this deeper relationship with Him is worth any difficulties or disappointments.
I know that Christ lives. I know that He has a personal interest in each one of us, in our daily lives. I know that He died for our sins and He is begging us to come to Him and be healed. I know that He is the only path to return to live with our Father in heaven and our families forever. We cannot comprehend the joy that is in store for us. I know that He is the head of this church, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is truly the church of God on the Earth. We love Him, we serve Him, and we follow Him when we listen to the counsel of our prophets and leaders. This is my testimony, small but strong, that I will share with all who are willing to hear.
I love you all so much! Hugs and kisses and prayers!
-Sister Carroll
 in Mossoro

"my week summed up in one photo"
 sometimes in Brasil we sleep in hammocks, not as good as a bed
 but redes (pronounced hedgies) are still great at the end of a long day