A selfie for mom!

A selfie for mom!

Monday, November 24, 2014

What a blessing it is to be alive!

Bom dia, minha família bem querida! I´ve got so much to tell you guys! First of all: PARABENS! I´m still in shock over your family history explosion (como assim?!) I feel really bad now because I thought there was no more work to be done. You guys sure showed me! Wow, I am so proud of my wonderful family! You guys are so great! And thanks so much for the wonderful package. I know that it was intended to be a Christmas package, but it arrived last Thursday. We thought it was Thanksgiving (I´m not positive when exactly IS Thanksgiving), so we opened it after the ward barbecue. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I needed new socks so badly! And the ties are awesome! And I LOVED the t-shirt! So great! I loved everything! So, this week was so eventful, that I have to start at the beginning: Monday: When we left the lanhouse to go home, we stopped by the market and I bought ingredients to made chicken parmesan (the poor missionary version). We returned home, ate lunch, cleaned, and relaxed. I boiled 4 gallons of water because we didn´t want to buy mineral water. So glad we did! Saved R$15! We didn´t get to do visits with William because he forgot. We marked visits for the next day, but it fell through again. This continued until today (he´s determined to at least say good-bye to us tonight). But he went to church! Woo! Tuesday: Nothing much happened on Tuesday, except that in District Meeting we got esfihas (mini-pizzas) and going home, a member pulled us aside and gave us a ton of espetinhos (barbeque). Wednesday: Service Project! WOOOO YEAH! FINALLY! It was construction! So awesome! So great! And we got more free food! Lunch was in the form of money, so we ate at a member´s restaurant. He refused to let us pay the full price. Later that night was English class (did I mention that I teach weekly English classes?). Thursday: Interviews with President Dalton! It was an awesome interview! Sister Dalton made chocolate chip cookies for everyone! They tasted just like Mom´s! After the interviews, we had the ward barbeque (there was also karioke, but we didn´t stick around for that). The zone leaders arrived at the barbeque with my package! Awesome surprise! Elder Sá and I went home and opened it (there is a video), and then we studied and worked normally. Friday: Lunch with an awesome elderly couple in the ward! He´s from Fortaleza, and she´s from Madrid (SPAIN!). They are really cool! And the food was soooooo good! Ice cream for dessert! At night, we missionaries were in charge of mutual for the youth. So, in Brasil, there is a candy called "Bis". It´s our district´s "official" candy, "bis" meaning "baptism, endowment, and sealing". So, we started by having all the youth look for "bis" that we said was hidden outside of the church. In reality, we missionaries had the "bis", and we gave it out secretly. Some got bis and some didn´t. But no one was allowed to eat this bis until they paid for it by doing push-ups. But told them that they couldn´t do it themselves. They needed someone to pay for them. Just as we planned, one of them volunteered. His name is João. I wasn´t really sure if he could handle it. But he insisted, so we let him. Most of the youth watched in reverent silence as João did more than 120 push-ups. I had him do them one by one (two for Rayane, three for Sidney, five for Marcos, three for Ana Paula, etc.) As I did this, I felt such an appreciation for Heavenly Father. I nearly began to cry as João begged me for mercy, asking if he could stop, if it could end. I could only hold back tears as I told him that he had to finish. In the end, he stood before the group and testified of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And, as one of the youth publicly pointed out, there were some young people who didn´t even pay attention to João, nor what he did. I hope you can see the analogy here. What a great experience. Many of these youth sent pictures to their friends, inviting them to next week´s mutual. When Sunday came, our mutual was the talk of the entire ward! Saturday: Lunch with Rosilma. Isn´t she an angel! I love that little couple! Her husband makes wooden furniture! They´ve got family living in the U.S.! And they gave us ice cream, so they get double blessings. Today, we had two really great visits (among others). The first was with Ivanete and Vinicius. They were baptized just days before I arrived. We are helping them to stay firm, bringing members of ward council to meet them. They have overcome so much. It´s amazing to see what the gospel can do. The same can be seen with the second visit, Cristina. Cris and her mother and son were baptized last transfer. She has another son, Tiago, who is 13 and is a special needs child. He can´t walk, nor can he talk more than a few words, but he is so great! I love this kid! He understands so much and I feel the spirit so strong around him! Cris has also overcome so many trials! Her transformation is amazing. She is much happier, healthier, and has a wonderful spirit about her. She got a new job that allows her to attend church, and she´s so eager to pay tithing. Being a missionary is so great. Saturday night, we got our transfer calls. Elders Maynard and Hernandez (the zone leaders) and Elder Sá and I are all being transferred. I´ll be staying close to home, because Elder Dean (mission secretary) told me to pack my bags but leave them in the house. I´m so sad to leave this place! I love Interlagos so much! But I trust in the Lord, and I know that things can only get better! Sunday, Reynaldo and William and Caio (another less-active) all come to church thanks to our efforts and a lot of prayers offered this week. Reynaldo is coming to church completely on his own, William also. I guess we´ve left our marks on this ward. We gave parting hugs to bishop and we went to lunch (feijoada! Yum! look it up!). So now, I´m feeling great! We have a great last day planned! I finished Doctrine and Covenants Section 48 and also 1 Nephi. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this gospel! How blessed are we to have the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Ensign, New Era, Friend, Liahona, General Conference, Gospel Principles, Preach My Gospel, patriarchal blessings, Mormon Messages, Hymns, and so much more! I´m so grateful that our Heavenly Father has so many ways to talk to us! We are about to go eat lunch with a part-member family that invited us last minute to eat lunch. I love Brasil so much! (I´m not getting fatter, don´t worry!) Mom, Dad, the desire of my heart right now is to send a package home! I do not want another package until I send one home! Please? Can I? I´m trying to do better with not using my personal card so much, but I might need to rely on it a little more to save up. I really want to send you guys some stuff! I love you all so much! I know that this Church is true! What a blessing it is to be alive! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala ? Estaca ? Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, November 10, 2014

We went to the temple!

So, this week was really great (setting aside the depression)! I´m in 3 Nephi 20! I LOVE the Book of Mormon! Every time I pick it up, I have a hard time putting it down! Wow! On Tuesday, we went to the temple! It was so great! Our mission had reserved enough seats throughout the day so that the ENTIRE mission can do a session. But when we got there, we found out that the other FOUR missions in São Paulo showed up! So the temple was (wonderfully) full of workers! Our scheduled session was already full, so some of us were chosen to do vicarious baptisms. I was chosen, however, to work in the laundry room. The temple president led us down to the laundry room, where we folded clothes for an hour or so. He read to us what has become one of my favorite scripture passages, found in 1 Corinthians 12: "For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." No matter where we serve in the temple, whether it be in the kitchen, folding clothes, cleaning bathrooms, etc, we are doing temple work. All of this is necessary and contributes overall to the work of salvation. In the temple, we can receive revelation, whether it be on the grounds, in the kitchen, the laundry room, or the celestial room. God will have us serve where we are needed, and where we need to be. I´m learning that this is the same in any place in the church. Whether you are an apostle, a nursery leader, a sunday school teacher, giving a talk or cleaning the chapel, you are participating in building Zion. No matter our callngs, we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Each and every one of us is important and necessary. Thus, we must magnify our callings, all of them, including home and visiting teaching, and the duties we inherit when we are baptized. This week, Elder Sá and I haven´t had much time to work. Actually, we´ve had very little time, between meetings and service projects, and bouts of depression. So on Friday, I got really discouraged. I felt ashamed that we had done nothing... because of me. But Elder Sá reminded me that we had done many things. We´ve received revelation in the temple, we´ve discussed the ward with Bishop, we visited a struggling recent convert, we helped clean a member´s house, and we helped both the zone leaders and the sisters by traveling to the mission office to get boxes of the Book of Mormon. Elder Sá reassured me that Heavenly Father is seeing my desire and will reward us. That same night, three things happened: (1) immediately after he said this to me, we both felt suddenly really uncomfortable and unsafe, so we went to get our investigators. Once we were far away from that spot, I felt the Holy Ghost confirm, in my heart, that we had been protected once again. (2) The investigators, Murilo and Kelly, despite our inability to follow up with them this week, were ready and waiting for us. We went together to a family home evening in a recent convert family´s home. Josie and Amauri, who were baptized almost a year ago, testified about eternal marriage, and got Murilo and Kelly excited to be married. Our neighbor bought us pizza when we got home. (3) Yesterday, a member from the ward brought his brother to church. He and his wife will be married and baptized! I love you all so much! But i´m out of time! This gospel is true! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

I Know that Christ Lives.

Well, I´ve got some news! I finished the Bible! Woo-Hoo! What a great experience! I also finished "Evocando os Poderes do Céu" ("Invoking the Powers of Heaven")! Remember how our district has a goal to finish the Book of Mormon in six weeks (before November 23)? I´m in Alma 31! Woo-Hoo! I´m a cuz-cuz addict! It´s really good, really filling, really healthy, and really cheap! I´m going to the temple tomorrow! Oh yeah! President Claudio Costa (of the Brasil Area Presidency) will visit our mission this month! This Saturday, we will have Mão Que Ajudam ("Mormon Helping Hands") in our stake! It´ll be great! Elder J. Barker (my last companion) is in my zone, after an emergency transfer! Three companions in the same zone! We went to Bishop Lima this week and we asked him where we should work, as he receives revelation and holds the keys for this ward. He pointed out a neighborhood where we have never worked before. From what we´ve seen, it´s a great area! What a testimony to me of the divine calling of bishops in the work of salvation! This Sunday will have a Formula 1 race at the Autodromo. It´s going to be huge! Tourists are already coming in busloads! We saw 10 buses of tourists as we walked home from lunch yesterday. Pretty soon they will block off the streets. Sunday, November 16th, will have a nation-wide fast, under the direction of the Brasil Area Presidency, to recieve rain. The city of São Paulo will be without water in just a couple of months. Yikes! Elder Sá gave me a haircut! He thought he could get away with giving me a favela-style (pretty ghetto) cut. I made him finish. But not before I got a some pictures. Never before have I been so close to my Father in Heaven. I know He is there. I know that He loves me. I know that He sent Jesus Christ to suffer for me. What I am going through right now is just a glimpse of what He went through for me. I am thankful for this privilege, because I appreciate the Atonement now more than ever. This gives me hope. I know that Christ lives and because He lives, I can be made perfect one day. I know that the Plan of Salvation is real. And I know that I can be healed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Church is true. I am absolutely certain of this. I stand as a witness of the divinity of the work of salvation. It is God´s work. And I love Him so much. I leave you with my testimony and with my love in the sacred name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos