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

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