A selfie for mom!

A selfie for mom!

Monday, November 18, 2013

So many hills! So many blisters! It's awesome!

Tudo Bom! (All´s good!)
So you got my package? Tell me more about how much the girls liked their letters. They were really special and took me a LONG time. 
The work is really, really, REALLY hard down here, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. But I grow every day! My trainer, Elder Aguiar, is the best! He speaks very little English, but I know more than enough Portuguese to communicate with him now, through the Spirit, of course. We share a ghetto apartment with two other missionares (we share the ward/area), Elder Salazar from Chile (Spanish, Portuguese, and a bit of English), and Elder Baisden from Ohio (English, Portuguese, and a bit of Spanish). Elders Aguiar and Baisden are both district leaders (I don´t know how) so technically, I´m the senior companion. I broke down yesterday because I finally was able to talk to Elder Baisden in English, but he quickly brought me back and I´m stronger than ever! I´m losing weight despite the mountains of food because we only get one meal a day (massive lunch with members where culture prevents moderation) and we walk EVERYWHERE. So many hills! So many blisters! It´s awesome! My feet hurt ALL THE TIME, I LOVE IT! Brazil is my home, now. Everything is so delightfully sketchy and ghetto. Sao Paulo is 26 times bigger than NYC and my mission has 11 million people in it, yet it´s the smallest mission (area-wise) in Brazil. Standard of living is very low. It´s extremely humble. But we made 20 new investigators in 3 days, one of which was a Sunday, one potential baptism, and I´ve already baptized a kid, taught by the other two Elders. I had to try 5 times because he squirmed so much. So I had 5 baptisms on my first Sunday. The meeting was great, I think. I didn´t understand much, but I felt the Spirit nonetheless. The meetings are backwards: Elders´ Quorum, Sunday School, then Sacrament Meeting. President and Sister Pinho are awesome! Best mission president ever! Everything is so ghetto! Stray dogs and cats everywhere! Trash all over the streets! No traffic rules, barely any police presence! Lots of loud music, more than half from the United States! And the food is sooo good here! No parasites, yet! The water is clean, but we still are advised against drinking from the tap, since the tap comes from a BIG barrel on the adjacent roof and who knows what could get in there. Not much else to report, except that I love it, here, and it´s life-changing! 
That´s it for now! I love you!
Elder Richins

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Goodbyes are hard....unless you're going to Brazil!

It sure has been a short week! Today is P-day (preparation day) because I leave on Monday and I can't any of the necessary stuff on Sunday. I'm so excited for Brazil! I'm going to finish packing (I started earlier this week), finish laundry, buy any last minute supplies, get ready for departing inspection, etc.
As always, this week has been very eventful, but there's not enough time in the world to tell about all of it. My companion who had the surgery last week is a lot better, but has to go back into surgery in two weeks, so has to stay in the MTC for two more weeks! Elder Beyler, my companion, is going to Gilbert, Arizona. Elder Sharp is going to Tacoma, Washington. Elder Anderson is going to Vancouver, Washington (I thought Vancouver was in Canada, myself). Elder Mortensen is going to Cleveland, Ohio. Elder Peterson got his visa, so we're traveling together to Sao Paulo. From there, he's going to his mission in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Goodbyes are hard. Unless you're going to Brazil. I'll miss my teachers, friends, and companions a lot, but my excitement overrules any sadness.
Well, I've got lots more to do. Sorry the email was so boring! I'll do better next time, I promise!
Ate mais!


Elder Thomas Richins
Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos Mission

Mommy! Thanks for the money info! I'm doing really good keeping track of my expenses! ;)
I'll call you guys from the airport! I'll have a companion with me (one from my district, Elder Peterson, whom I'm really good friend with) while I'm in both airports. We may not sit together, but we'll be in the same plane.
I'm sending a big letter in a second, but I want you to know that I pray for you and the family every night, and that I love you so much! You have raised me so well, and I am grateful. I was talking with my companion the other day about mothers. We decided that you must have been a special spirit to not only get the privilege of motherhood, but also to be a good mother of four! You must have done something good! And I must have done something good to deserve a mother like you! :)
I love you so much!
Kyle wrote me and the girls did, too! Keep encouraging them! Those are my favorite letters! :)
Your son forever,
Elder Richins

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I got my Visa!

There's one huge thing that happened this week that overshadowed all else:
I got my visa.
I'm going to Sao Paulo on Tuesday, November 11th. At 9:40 am, my plane leaves Salt Lake City for Atlanta, Georgia. I arrive there at 3:22 pm, and stay in the airport until 7:38 pm, when I board a plane to Sao Paulo, Brazil. I arrive in the city at 8:15 am the next day. For the flight from Georgia to Brazil, I know of at least one other Elder who I can fly with, so we'll work something out. I'm really excited! This time next week, I'll be in Brazil!
I've already started packing! And I'm getting ready to send home my winter clothes, since it's summer in Brazil. I feel like I just got them, too!
There's so much that's happened in the past week!
Our investigators are going really well!
I've almost finished "Jesus the Christ" by James E Talmage!
I found out I'm related to one of my companions through our great great great great grandfather, Daniel Tyler (give or take a "great").
I got to watch "Johnny Lingo" (now, I can say that I am truly a Mormon) and "The Testaments"!
It's snowing ALL THE TIME!
We ate breakfast in the Provo Temple cafeteria after my last (sad!) temple trip, and it was SO good! Best breakfast I can remember! (Sorry, Mom!)
The two new districts are awesome! They look up to us!
I'm not the youngest in my district!
Elder Brewerton's surgery is today! (They postponed it a week because the doctor went on vacation, and Elder Brewerton's been really suffering.)
There's so much more I want to say, but I don't have much time.
Never in my life have I done anything like this. The past five weeks have been the most difficult weeks in my entire life. The spiritual hardships, the relentless attacks from the Adversary, the tests of faith and courage, all make for a very hard journey.
But the past five weeks have also been the greatest, most valuable weeks of my life. I would give up the last 18 years to keep these. If my mission were to end now, which would be heartbreaking, I can truly say that my life has forever been changed. My testimony is greater than I could have ever fathomed. I've met my Father in Heaven and have learned of Him as well as of His Son, Jesus Christ. Never has the Spirit been so strong. I never want these feelings to end. And they don't have to. I am excited for life! October 2nd, 2013 will always be the day that I was reborn as not just a Mormon or a spirit child of God, but as a servant of my Father in Heaven and as a proclaimer of truth to the world. I have began the life of discipleship to my Lord, my Christ. I want to give all of my life to Him, to bring my friends, family, posterity, and fellow children of God to Him to be perfected and saved.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the one and only way to receive salvation and eternal happiness. Through faith, repentance, baptism and keeping covenants, receiving and using the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, we may reach the highest point of heaven and live with our Heavenly Family once more, who earnestly ache for us to return to Them.
I love my Father in Heaven. I love Jesus Christ. I love my mission. I know that God is preparing people in Brazil to be taught the Gospel, and that He will lead me to where He needs me. I know, with all of my being, that Jesus is the Christ, the Living Son of God, and that the Church He established has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith by the wisdom and power of God. Along with this, the priesthood and authority of God has also been restored, and the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ, has been revealed to the world.
What a glorious time in which we live! I feel sorry that I haven't thanked my Heavenly Father for the privilege it is to live in the Fullness of Times, the Last Dispensation before the Second Coming of the Savior. Never before have there been so many temples, so many missionaries, so many disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is restored in its fullness, and will never again be taken from the Earth. This is a glorious time. Despite the wars, rumors of wars, disasters, tragedies, and sorrows, I know God loves His children and that Satan will ultimately fail. This is truth from God, that we will win the war which began in Heaven and will continue until Satan is thrust forever downward, never again able to afflict and tempt the children of God.
We are soldiers in the army of God, and He needs us to focus and continue doing good works. As we trust in the Lord and do His will, then everything else will fall into place.
God loves each and every one of you, and He has restored the truth for you, that you may partake of it and live with Him forever in happiness as eternal families. I testify of this, having seen the hand of God in my life daily, in the sacred name of our Older Brother, Teacher, Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.