A selfie for mom!

A selfie for mom!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

This is it: the last week for me to work as a full-time missionary.

This is it: the last week for me to work as a full time missionary. We have three baptisms for Sunday. Lucas (20), Julio (16), and Isaque (14) are excited to be baptized and they love the church. This week, I´m going to do everything I can to help them be ready. Also this week, I´ll be visiting everybody I can, exhorting them to endure to the end. I want to leave a legacy (as we learned in our meeting with the stake president yesterday) so that when the members think of me, they think of dedication to the kingdom of God. I want to dedicate my whole life to the edifying of the kingdom of God on the Earth. I know that this is the work of salvation, and that Christ is at it´s head, leading the way. I know that He lives and that He loves each and every one of us. I look forward to seeing all of you in days to come, but for now, I leave my testimony of these things in the name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, October 5, 2015

What does the Lord need me to do after the mission?

So, this week has been super busy. But I´m feeling great! I have three of my best friends (Elders N Castro, Ward, and Sharp) by my side! I got to watch general conference! And I am super pumped to baptize before I go! This conference, I heard two things that I was wanting to hear: 1) what does the Lord need me to do after the mission (and how to do it), and 2) how to better fulfill the promises in my patriarchal blessing. I´m making a lot of goals for how to finish my mission strong and how to keep improving after I get home. Sorry I don´t have much to say... It must have to do with the end coming so soon. But I love you all so much! I´m so happy to see all the blessings that come to my family while I have been out here. That is the number one thing that has helped me keep going. You guys are my motivation to keep pushing my handcart despite the figuratively freezing conditions. And on this journey, I have truly met my Heavenly Father and my Savior through my afflictions. I am eternally grateful for my mission, and for my Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Love, Elder Richins -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, September 28, 2015

Super busy week!

Super busy week! But the good news is that the reflexology is working! I get less and less depressed! Plus my companion is the best! And Elder Ward is my district leader! And this ward continues to be awesome. We move forward with the daily activities. They are becoming more and more independent of the missionaries. By the time I leave, I want them to be done completely by the members themselves. We have a new ward mission leader, Luciano, who is super excited to help. Agora vai! And one of the young men in the ward received his mission call to go to Argentina! He´ll be the ward´s 6th missionary, the 2nd in his family, and the 2nd in the ward to go to Argentina. The other sister who is serving in Argentina is serving in Elder N. Castro´s mission, close to his house! Well, this week will be a lot less crazy! Less running around and more working! I´m really excited. I want to do my best and work as hard as I can before I come home. I love you all and hope you have a great week! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, August 31, 2015

Depression hit really hard

Depression hit really hard! But I got to do an exchange with a good friend, Elder N Castro and get out of my area for a day. Plus, I got to see the wedding and baptism of two investigators, Francisco and Andreá that I found more than a year and a half ago! And we got to have the baptism of a little girl, Rafaela, whose mom we are helping come back to activity. I just got done with an interview with President. He´s doing everything to help me end my mission happy and diligent! He gave me a book (in english) "Drawing on the Powers of Heaven". I´ve read it in Portuguese, but now I´ll get even more out of it! Plus I bought an anti-stress coloring book. Sounds kinda pathetic, but I´ve seen it work on Elder Mota, and I know it´ll help me when times get rough. I´m also writing well in my journal (I´ve been writing in English since mom´s birthday) so I´ve got lots of stories for you guys. We´ll be working towards helping my converts go to the temple! Elder Mota and I are doing great! I´ll keep Grandma Richins and Grandma Frei in my prayers! Love you all! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, August 24, 2015

I want to have a pure heart.

So. There´s not much that I can report this week. I have lots of stories that I could tell, but I´ve got just a little bit of time, so I´ll just ask for a lot of prayers! The depression is being really annoying. I´m going through a lot of trials this last week. It´s best that i not go into details, but I´m fine physically and I´m still smiling. The mission isn´t getting any easier! ;) Our meeting with Elder Andersen was AWESOME! He is officially my new favorite apostle. I want to be just like him! I want to have a pure heart! I also loved our meeting (yesterday) with Elder Aidukaitis (of the Seventy). An amazing weekend! I know that they are called of God. I testify that the Twelve Apostles are indeed Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, special witnesses of Him. He lives. I testify of Him in His holy name, Jesus Christ. amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, August 17, 2015

I love Him and rejoice to testify of Him.

This week is full of great meetings! Last Sunday was ward conference, tomorrow is a leadership meeting, and Wednesday is district meeting. Saturday is a special two-mission conference at the temple with Elder Aidukatis of the Seventy and Elder Anderson of the Twelve! And this Sunday, we have a special stake conference with Elder Aidukatis! Today, I'm at the foot doctor for a follow-up, and we plan on going with Sister Dalton to get my suit measurements. Tomorrow, we will have a showing of "17 Miracles" at the church. So, Elder Ward was transferred to São Marcos ward, in the Embú das Artes stake, in the city of Embú das Artes, which is a couple hours away. My new companion is Elder Mota, from Fortaleza, Ceará, the city of Elder Almeida and Elder Pinheiro (former companions) and many other missionaries in this mission. He's 22 and the only member in his family. As you could see in the facebook photo, he's a little short. But he's hilarious and, when he needs to be, super spiritual. He definitely has some spiritual gifts for teaching and speaking. We're already great friends! I am so happy to be a missionary and a member of this church! How glad I am to be born into such a wonderful family, safe within the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify that He lives and that He is our Savior. He is the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father. He is Almighty, All-knowing, and His mercy and grace know no end. I love Him and rejoice to testify of Him in His holy name, Jesus Christ. Amen! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, August 10, 2015

He loves us with an unimaginable love.

Well, I´m still here! And probably going to finish my mission here, too! Elder Ward gets transferred tomorrow! We´ve decided that we need to be separated anyway. We´re just having way too much fun. It´ll be good to get some young´ns to keep us old coots in line. Plus it was getting really trunkie. But I will miss his cakes and his "midnight blond" moments. We´ll definitely hang out after the mission (we may have even made plans already). So, the weekly activities in the ward are going great! They are being announced in church, and, last Sunday, schedules were handed out to all the members. The newly called Relief Society president and her husband talked about my Bible Study in both their talks last Sunday. I taught about the Fall of Adam and Eve. This week, I will teach about the ancient patriarchs, Abel, Seth, Enoque, Mathusalem, Noah, and Shem. It´ll be awesome! And in our movie night tomorrow night, we´ll be showing "Legacy". Lots of great stuff is happening. You´ll probably get pictures tonight and throughout the week from the members of the ward here. Can you believe that I will have 1 year serving in Jardim Mirna? I just love it here! I look forward to a wedding/baptism at the end of August, a visit from Elder Neil L. Anderson on the 22nd of August, the sealing of Vagner and Sueli, and many more wonderful things! This Sunday, I will perform with the ward choir at ward conference. I´m super excited! And I got the package! Thanks so much for the goodies! I loved the t-shirt and the mini-Captain Moroni. I´m reading through the Bible again. I´m going to start Job today. I am officially making a goal to finish the four standard works by the time I get home. Can you ask Bishop Belnap if I can do a special musical number at my homecoming? And if Mom could start practicing number 127 in the hymnal to accompany me that would be great! I´ll be singing this hymn: https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/does-the-journey-seem-long?lang=eng. I´d also like to give a talk if I could. I testify that Jesus Christ is our own personal Savior. He loves us with an unimaginable love. He is our King. I love Him. I testify of Him in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins

Monday, August 3, 2015

I testify that families can be together forever.

Boa Tarde minha familia linda! This week was great! We had the baptism of Thiago, who´s wife, Cida, is returning to activity. After his confirmation, their baby, Laura, was blessed. It was so sweet! This week, he and Lucas, who was baptized a couple weeks ago, will be interviewed by Bishop to receive the priesthood and limited temple recommends! Tonight, we have a family home evening with Thiago and Cida, Fatima (who Mom has talked with on Face) and Marcelo, and Maria dos Dores, another of our recent converts. Today, I went to the foot doctor with Elder Ward. Mary, the podologa, also treated my feet, which as it turns out were in need of a lot of help (LOTS of dead skin, even under my toenail, which could lead to future problems). We´ll be going back there in two weeks. This week, i have another routine visit to Dr Carmen. Our showerhead exploded again, yesterday morning. We had to buy a new resistor. Well, Dad will be very proud of me, i think. So a week ago at ward council, i proposed that we open the church to the public with events every day (except monday, of course). So far, it is a success! The schedule goes like this: Tuesday is Movie Night (church movie) Wednesday is Game Night Thursday is Family History Night Friday is Bible Study (VT) Saturday is English class and Spanish class. Bishops from both wards are very happy with the new change, and people even bore testimonies of the things they learned in my Bible Study. That, plus the miracle baptism, have everybody very excited about missionary work. The miracle baptism went like this: We were doing visits with a member of the bishopric and all of our appointments fell through. Elder Ward, following a prompting from the Spirit, asked the member, Luis, who he would like to visit. He pointed out a house where an inactive member supposedly live. This member was Cida, baptized three years ago in a different ward. During the week, we passed by and left messages with her and her husband, Thiago, about the Plan of Salvation and the temple. But, during an exchange, Elder Ward (again following the Spirit) and Elder Greenwood stopped by and taught the Restoration. It turns out that this was the first time Thiago heard this message. They challenged him to pray for a testimony, then be baptized. He accepted. The next day, we went there with Elder Greenwood and he interviewed Thiago. Thiago admitted that he hadn´t prayed and didn´t feel prepared, plus he had already planned a trip to visit his brother on Sunday. But he insisted that if he didn´t drink, he would be baptized Sunday night. Elder Greenwood warned him that he needed to resist all opposition. He gave the following example: one of his long-lost friends from the North would come to São Paulo and invite him to drink with him. So Thiago went to visit his brother and he drank. Feeling terrible, he prayed all night that night. They didn´t even answer the phone when we called. Meanwhile, we felt a warm, calming sensation, and a voice told us not to worry about it. On Monday, Cida called us while we were emailing. She told us to come by that night because Thiago had received his answer. When we arrived at their house that night, Thiago shared what had happened. First, not long after Elder Greenwood´s interview, a long-lost friend of Thiago´s from the North texted him, saying that he was in São Paulo and invited him to meet up to drink, exactly as Elder Greenwood warned would happen. Second, after his long night of praying, Thiago was out for a walk to gather his thoughts. A woman appeared alongside him and gave him an evangelical message, then walked on. He read the message. It said something along the lines of: "The time to follow Jesus is not tomorrow, nor yesterday, but today. Stop making excuses. You are always prepared to follow Christ." Thiago showed us this paper. We asked him if he would be baptized this Saturday. Immediately, without hesitation, he replied "Yes, I will be baptized.". We passed by everyday that week preparing him. He gave up coffee the day of his interview, and had not touched alcohol since last Sunday. Meanwhile, Elder Greenwood finished his mission and returned home to Winslow, Arizona. The time came for his baptism. On Friday he was interviewed again. And on Saturday, he was baptized. Elder Ward made a big chocolate cake with strawberries, and he performed the ordinance. Thiago and Cida even brought their friends to come see the baptism, only half of which were members from her previous ward. Bishop and his family, along with the Relief Society president and her family and other members were present. It was a great night. The next morning, he was confirmed and Laura was presented. Luis, the member of the bishopric who had originally pointed out their house, bore a powerful and emotional testimony about the importance of member missionary work. He had never thought that his one or two hours spent helping us could result is such a marvelous thing as another family safe in Zion. I testify that families can be together forever, and that the power of God is manifest through sacred priesthood ordinances. I am so honored to be a part of this marvelous work and a wonder. I testify of the power of the Savior in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, July 27, 2015

I am so happy to be a missionary!

Boa tarde, minha familia! I got a package of letters from the youth a couple days ago! That was great! I didn't get transferred! I'll be staying in Jardim Mirna with Elder Ward for at least a little bit longer! It'll be so great! This week, we have the baptism of Thiago. His wife, Cida, is returning from inactivity and she actually called us today (just now) and told us that he was praying for a long time yesterday and that he wants to be baptized. We will also work hard with Lucas, teaching him as much as we can to prepare him for confirmation this sunday (he missed church yesterday). If you guys could pray for Thiago and Lucas, I would appreciate it! Last week was very difficult for me personally and also for work in the area. But Heavenly Father continues to bless us richly. We got to go to the temple last thursday, where I got to do temple work for Artie Hickson, whose name Dad sent me. There, after the session, I enjoyed sitting in the Celestial Room, recieving revelation from my Father in Heaven. I am so happy to be a missionary! Although I don't want to extend, I do want to take advantage of every day I have here to help this wonderful ward grow, and become strong in the Kingdom of God. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He loves every single one of us. Through His gospel, we are both His brothers and His children. He takes each and every one of us and He raises us so that we might be ready to enter into the kingdom of heaven with Him, into the presence of His and our Heavenly Father. I testify of Him by authority and in His holy name, Jesus Christ. Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, July 20, 2015

I testify that Jesus is the Christ.

Lucas and Larissa were baptized this week! Woo-Hoo! Larissa was an investigator of the Sisters and I did her baptismal interview. Lucas was a referral from Valquiria (who made me a humongo birthday cake and a surprise party. We´ll take him to the temple on Thursday (where I´ll do an endowment session for another of our ancestors!) and on Wednesday, he´ll be interviewed to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and a limited temple recommend! On Sunday, he´ll be confirmed, recieve the priesthood and the recommend! It´ll be awesome! He´s 19 and a great guy! He was already keeping the word of wisdom and the law of chastity! Dr. Carmen told me that I´m pretty much through the chemical part of the depression: it´s almost completely under control and before I get home, we might even be able to start getting me off the meds a little. But now it turns out that under all that chemical depression, i still have the emotional depression. But I know that, because of Jesus Christ, I can overcome it. I testify that Jesus is the Christ. His atonement allows us to do anything when we exercise faith in Him. I love Him. I know He lives. I testify of these in His name, Jesus Christ. Amen -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, July 13, 2015

This week has been awesome!

THIS WEEK HAS BEEN AWESOME! Besides gifts, I´ve been able to help a lot of people, both in my new calling as district leader and as a missionary! We have some baptisms planned for this week: Lucas, an 18 year old who is well integrated into the ward, after just one visit! We´ll take him on visits this week and he´ll already be ready to be baptized this week! Rafael brought his wife, Amanda and his son, Rafael to church after a long absense. They aren´t baptized but have strong desires to join the church! They can also be baptized this week! I´m super excited! I filled up my journal from the Hinds and I´m starting a new one, this time in English! As my mission is winding down, I´m trying to make it the best part of my mission. I am loving being here. I hope to help many more people. I have been given many opportunities to administer priesthood blessings to both members and nonmembers who sought me out. I think I might be discovering a spiritual gift. I am so glad to be here! I will never, ever regret serving a mission! What a privilege! The whole course of my life and those whom I love has been forever changed in a positive direction. I hope you´ll recognize me when I get home! I testify that the Lord lives. He is real and He is coming to rule as our King. I love Him. And I testify of Him in His holy name, even Jesus Christ. Amen! I love you all! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, July 6, 2015

President Dalton has given me a new assignment: District Leader

This week has been full of suprises! First, news: 8 Julho - This week we have interviews with President 23 Julho - We go to the temple! 24 Agosto - We have a meeting with Elder Aidukaitis and his wife, and an APOSTLE and his wife! It´ll be really cool! Can you guys send me an ordinance request for one of my ancestors? I will only have time to the endowment, so the prior ordinances have to already be done. We have a couple weeks, so no rush. Packages: I don´t need anymore multivitamins! I already have enough to last me till december! :) but I will need one more of fiber pills in the future. Thanks again! I aparently have a package waiting for me to pick up at the post office. I´m not sure who it´s from. I´ve also been getting letters of support from members in Virginia. It´s pretty cool! After fasting and prayer, President Dalton has given me a new assignment: District Leader. In addition to working in Jardim Mirna with Elder Ward, I also have stewardship over a companionship of Sisters (Sister Fonseca from Cape Verde, Africa; Sister Negromonte from Recife, Pernambuco) and a companionship of Elders (Elder Greenwood from Winslow, Arizona (he´s a zone leader) and Elder Castillo from Chile). I´m humbled to recieve this designation and I´m excited to help my fellow missionaries! I´ve already given a training at district meeting, attended a training meeting for district leaders, and passed the numbers. Doesn´t sound too exciting, but it was exciting to me! Another surprise is that a family appeared in church! Rafael wants to come back to activity and has brought his wife and two sons, one of which is of age, the other being a toddler. We´re going to pass by their house tomorrow! The Lord is blessing us with His elect! I testify that the Lord lives and loves us immensely! His love is unconditional and incomprehensible. We are sons and daughters of God. Through the Atonement and Gospel of Jesus Christ, He because the Father of our salvation. His grace can save us despite our weakness, and He only asks that we follow Him and do our best. Jesus Christ lives. Thomas S. Monson and the 12 Apostles talk with Him and through them, He talks to us. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. I love you all and have a great week! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, June 29, 2015

I testify of the purifying power of sharing the gospel and the exalting power of charitable giving.

Boa tarde, minha família linda! This week was AWESOME. We worked hard and saw some results! We had a great stake conference where an area seventy from Rio de Janeiro came to speak to us. Dr Carmen said that once I can get my vitamin B12, D and iron levels up, I will be much closer to being problem-free! We're helping a torn family get back together. I've had the privilege of giving a few priesthood blessings. It was so wonderful to have the Lord speak through me to His children on such a personal level. I also had a neat experience as I was leaving Dr. Carmen's office. A homeless man called to us and asked "Do you speak English?"... but he asked in English, with not even a trace of a brasilian accent. So we stopped and approached him. He is from Durban, South Africa, and has been homeless in São Paulo for 6 years. All he asked was for a cup of hot coffee and a salgado to stay off hunger and the chilly morning. We agreed, but on the condition that he go with us to buy it. As we walked and talked with him, we saw that he really was homeless, and that he was very weak and sickly. So I bought him what he wanted, plus whatever else he wanted. He refused to ask for anything else, but I got him a waterbottle and a gatorade, since he looked really dehydrated. As I bought him these things, Elder Ward reports that the look on his face was one of disbelief mixed with relief. We also left him some crackers that I had in my bag, and a pamphlet of the Plan of Salvation. We directed him to find the nearest church (we even showed him a picture of an lds church). As we left, he had tears running down his cheeks. I wish I could have done more. But I felt so great helping him out. I felt the approval of my Savior. His love is so powerful. I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He has given us so much, and asks so little. If we obey Him and try to be like Him, then we will inherit all that our Father has. I testify of the purifying power of sharing the gospel, and of the exalting power of charitable giving. When we do these things, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the best Missionary who ever lived: Christ the Lord. I testify of His Godhood in His holy name. Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú

Monday, June 22, 2015

I am so proud to be an instrument in the hands of God.

First off, some bad news: we left our house in a hurry and I forgot both the cord and the adapter! And I have LOTS of pictures to send! Oh well, I guess I´ll just send them next week (sorry, mom). So, I learned a lot about the atonement this week, in experiences and in preparation to give my talk. There were many things that happened this week (or didn´t happen) that taught us to appreciate more and more the cleansing and purifying effects of the atonement, and how it can bring us up and out of our sorrows and troubles. I have yet to translate my talk. I´ll try to do it this week. I got the birthday package! Thanks a lot! We LOVED the Reese´s Pieces! Those didn´t last too long! I´m going to make no bake cookies, and I hope they turn out as good as Mom´s! (That´s something I´ll request when I get home!) I´m super glad to hear that you had a good Father´s Day! I did, too! I would like to share a very spiritual experience we had yesterday. I was feeling down, as my emotions were starting to be hard to control (a symptom of an oncoming episode of chemically-caused depression). We were going to just go home and end the day early (about 6 at night). It was already dark. Elder Ward wanted to pass by one more house, and it was on the way, so we went there. I´m not going to use names for the privacy of those involved. When we arrived in the house of the family, we found the two active youth there, the mom having just left. We entered into the one room home and began to talk. After a little bit, we found out that when they went to the ward activity last night, their house was broken into. All of their food, some furniture, the gas for the stove, and whatever valuables they had were taken. Their mother had left to ask for food from relatives. We asked if they called the Relief Society president or the bishop, and they replied that they were too embarrased to call. So we called Bishop Oliveira. Unfortunately, he wasn´t able to offer immediate help (he would need to go to the bishop´s storehouse). We could have called around for help, but we wanted to respect their privacy, so we decided to act for ourselves. We left them there to run home. We took a majority of our food (a lot of which we got leftover from the ward activity), some Liahonas and copies of the Book of Mormon, and whatever else we could spare to take to them. We ended up making two trips. I gave them, among other things, the blanket I took with me on the mission (the mission already provided me with a much MUCH warmer blanket, which I kept). Elder Ward gave the young man his second pair of sunday shoes and a stuffed dog his friend had sent him, among other things. When we arrived with the supplies, we found the mother returned. She was involved in a car accident a few years ago and was left blind. Yet tears fell from her eyes as we told her what we had brought. Bread, oranges, crackers, cookies, bananas, herbal teas, juice packets, clean water, toothpaste, shampoo, silverware, plastic cups, things that we took for grant it, were received as if they were great treasures. I wrapped the blanket around the mother. She cried a lot. Elder Ward gave his freshly polished shoes to the young man and the little dog to the young woman. We both felt like Santa Claus. The mother said: "I thought God had abandoned us, but now I know He loves us because He sent you to help us! Now we can be happy!" After a prayer of protection for the family, we left that house feeling such a sweet spirit. We wanted to give more, but at the same time we knew that it was enough. On this Father´s Day, we had unknowingly given a special gift to our Heavenly Father: hope for a family struggling to live the gospel in a very hostile environment under such difficult circumstances. We did not just give them food, we gave them peace of mind and the love of God. I am so proud to be an instrument in the hands of God. Today, I received a priesthood blessing from President Dalton. Today, some of the questions that ached my heart and tormented me for a year and 8 months have finally been answered. I know with a perfect knowledge that my Heavenly Father has accepted my offering to Him, and that He is willing to be with me for the rest of my mission, until the end. I love Him and I love His Son. I await His coming with awe and with the spirit of preparation. I testify that we can build His kingdom here on the Earth. I testify that Christ lives. He truly does. In His holy name, amen. I love you all! Have a great week! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna <--- ZION, THE PURE IN HEART Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, June 15, 2015

I love this ward so much!

Transfers again! Elder Ward and I are staying in Jardim Mirna SIÃO for at least another 6 weeks, which means that we get to be here for our birthdays (July 14 and 24)! I LOVE THIS WARD SO MUCH! So, I prepared a great talk to give last Sunday about the Savior, but it turns out that I´ll be giving it next week (I remembered wrong!) but at least I´ll have time to translate it to English to send to you guys! I´m proud of it! We´re starting a Bible Study this week! I´ll send you guys a flyer. It´s going to be sick! Everyone´s really excited about it. I don´t know about the U.S., but Brasil is bonkers about bible study! We´re going to use the intitute and seminary manuals to help teach people the restored gospel through the Holy Bible! It´ll be awesome! I hope we don´t get any big bible-bashers! This week is Festa Junina. It´s a Brazilian festival that´s really fun, but I don´t really know enough about it to describe it, so feel free to google it. All I know is that the Relief Society promised to save us some of the grub, seeing that we can´t attend the festival (BEST WARD EVER). Elder Ward and I are having a great time. We´re slowly but surely seeing results of our work, and it sure is gratifying. He´s teaching me so many things, especially the importance of "come what may and love it" (shoutout to Elder Wirthlin), or "go with the flow". It´s really helping me out with coping with depression. We are slowly but surely resolving that, too. The Church doesn´t approve of the treatment, but that´s okay. We´ll keep doing our best and the Lord will help us in the end! I love Jesus Christ! I know that He is our Savior and that He loves us. I am so grateful for Him and for all that He has done for us. I bear witness that He lives and that He guides His church today through living prophets, and that He will return. This is the testimony I bear of Him in His holy name, Jesus Christ. Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

This past week has been the best week of my mission.

This past week has been the best week of my mission. Last monday, I had an emotional meltdown. Luckily, Elder Ward helped me out and I was happy again. We decided to deep clean the house, hoping it would improve the Spirit of the house and relieve stress. It worked. We cleaned the house really really really thoroughly. The next five days that followed, we worked more than we had in a LONG time, and we had great success. We recieved 35 referrals and contacted 32 of them, and we found 29 new investigators. It was awesome! We followed the Spirit and He led us to those who were ready to recieve us. I feel so much better about myself as a missionary. My monday meltdown was because I felt that I was wasting time and money and space. But now, I know that I CAN help people, and that the "successful part" of my mission has not passed. After a week of very hard work, we were rewarded with four investigators in sacrament meeting, one of which is marked for baptism (Joana, mother of recent convert Paulo), another will be marked this week, and a couple that I have long worked with (Francisco and Andreia) who are finally going to mark their wedding THIS WEEK. And this morning, I got a call from President saying that I´ve got a couple in Palmares who have marked the date of their sealing! And it´s before I come home! Look how the Lord has blessed us! I feel like my mission has been rededicated, as if I have been set apart once more, and that I do have a purpose. I´m so excited for this week. I am so grateful for Elder Ward (already saved my mission) and for President Dalton. This week, I will finally have an update on the electromagnetic treatment. Keep praying for me! I´ll need all the help I can get! And I had to buy food yesterday (ox in the meyer) because I almost fainted in sacrament meeting from lack of nutrients (I took my pills, so I don´t know why.. I think my metabolism is going really fast). I love you all and I testify of the truthfulness and sanctity of this work in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, May 25, 2015

How bout that wedding?!

Õla, familia, bom dia! Sounds like everybody´s having a great Memorial Day! AND HOW BOUT THAT WEDDING!? I was dying on Saturday! I wanted to be there sooooo bad! I´m sure it was very sacred! On tuesday, we went to the hospital, then an ear nose and throat specialist, because I´ve been having lots of ear pain. After some exams, it turns out that my ears are fine (just suffering from working in the loud street all day), but my jaw is dislocated. So, he gave me a bunch of drugs and we´ll be going to another specialist on wednesday. Then, on thursday, we have my appointment with Dr. Carmen. My depression is getting a lot better. When it hits hard, it still isn´t that hard, and Elder Ward has already figured out how to help me. I swear, I get the BEST companions in the mission! Last Saturday, Elder Ward got a really, really bad sinus infection. It looked like pnemonia, and would have been pnemonia, had we not stayed home. It got progressively worse throughout the night, and we went to the hospital on Sunday. There, he got an IV and we´ll pick up some more drugs today. Lots of hospitals and lots of pharmacies. Not too fun. But we make it fun. I finished two more ties, and if the computer decides to start working, I´ll send you some pictures. I sure do love my family, and I know that I can have you guys with me forever, if I do my part and keep the commandments of God throughout my entire life. As the Second Coming of Christ draws nearer, I find comfort in the holy scriptures and in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a witness that He lives, and that He never forsakes nor fails us. I know that He is the Christ. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, May 4, 2015

I'm so happy to be a missionary!

Bom dia minha familia bonita! I´m writing to you from Residencial Cocaia! Elder Almeida and the other missionaries who are going home this week have a meeting outside of the mission boundaries, so I´m on an exchange in another ward in the stake. THINGS ARE GOING REALLY WELL IN JARDIM MIRNA! Paulete foi batizada! She´s a shy, humble woman from Haiti who lives all alone. She was a progressing investigator until the day of her baptism, when she changed her mind. To top that, she got a new job (which she had been praying for) as a housekeeper in Moema. She´s only home on Saturday night and Sunday. But, on the day she would have been baptized, I gave her a copy of The Book of Mormon in French. She was touched and began to read it, as she is still learning Portuguese. We didn´t see her since. But this Sunday, however, she came to church by herself. Elder Almeida wanted to baptize her after the meeting (because the Sisters were already having a baptism). At first, I was doubtful, not wanting our desire to baptize Paulete cause her to fall away even further. I decided to ask God what I should do. I felt a warm confirmation in my heart that today, Paulete could be baptized. So, during Gospel Principles, I prayed more fervently than ever for the Spirit to touch her heart. As I prayed continually, I noticed that Janice, the teacher, was teaching in a way that seemed to be aimed right at Paulete. When the class ended, Paulete stood up and asked Elder Almeida: "You´re going back to Fortaleza. Then you can´t baptize me..." We took her into a separate room with a couple of members. Elder Almeida said that he would love to baptize her, if she made the decision. She thought a second, then smiled and agreed to be baptized. While she went home to get a towel and dry underclothes, we prayed continually that she would return and that nothing would stop her. And she returned! One of the zone leaders interviewed her. I prayed that she would be honest, and worthy conforming to the standards in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37. I also promised Heavenly Father that I would do anything to take good care of her. The members even waited for her to finish the interview before proceeding with the baptism. After a while, she emerged from the room. She had passed the interview! Elder Almeida baptized her, and I played the violin for her. God loves us so much! He loves Paulete so much! So many miracles and tender mercies! I´m so happy to be a missionary! I had the privilege of confirming Maria dos Dores, who was baptized last week, as a member of the Church! OUR MEETING WITH BISHOP GERALD CAUSSE! It was AMAZING! Prior to the meeting, I prayed hard, asking Heavenly Father to help me be spiritually prepared to hear what I need to hear. As soon as Bishop Causse walked into the room, and we all stood up, I felt in my heart that he is a true servant of Jesus Christ, and that he, his wife, and Elder Campos, the area seventy, were sent to help me. I recieved a lot of personal revelation. I heard things that I had been longing to hear, and felt things that I needed to feel. It was great! GOING AWAY PARTY FOR ELDER ALMEIDA! Tonight, the members of Mirna are throwing a going-away party for Elder Almeida. He has made such a great impact on not only this ward, but also on me! TRANSFERS! Transfers are tomorrow! All I know is that I´m staying in Jardim Mirna (ZION). I go to visit Dr Carmen on wednesday, and on thursday, two of my recent converts, who fell away, are getting married. I´m excited because they´ve accepted our visits again! I look forward to going to the wedding and helping them come back to the fold. I know that this is the only true Church of Jesus Christ. He is at the helm of this great work. I testify that Jesus Christ loves each and every one of us. He gave not only His mortal life for us, but He continues to dedicate all of his time and attention to guiding this Church,and blessing our lives individually. Heavenly Father sent Him, and He always pleases His Heavenly Father. Thomas S. Monson is our latter-day prophet, who talks with Christ and is His mouthpiece. We can all be instruments in the hands of God. I testify of this in the holy name of Jesus Christ, Amen. I love you all and have a WONDERFUL week! I´ll see you on Sunday!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lots of old friends and lots of new friends!

It´s so good to be home. I´ve decided that I´ll just go to Joplin to visit, then return and live in Jardim Mirna.... is that okay? Well, I guess we can talk about it later (I´m joking). But yeah, I´m back in my "terra natal", where I grew up in the mission. I´m with Elder Almeida again! Woo hoo! I´m to be his last companion before he finishes his mission on May 5th and returns to Fortaleza. (Genisblau, formerly known as Elder Paiva, will visit São Paulo on the 7th). It´s AWESOME to be here! Lots of old friends and lots of new friends! It´s so great! Just in these first three days, we saw a wedding, we had a baptism (CONGRATS for Paulo!), a service project, and we got cake three times! And I got to eat from one of the three BEST pizzarias in our mission, after almost a year and a half without it. So, I had to say goodbye to Interlagos. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be... I´ve got lots of great friends there. I´ll definitely go visit before I go home. Elder Sharp was called to be secretary of houses, so he´ll be working in the office during the day, and in his area of Santo Amaro at night. My package already arrived, so I´ll go get it on the way home from the psycologist on thursday. I´ll open it right then and there to give Elder Sharp what you sent for him. We went to the temple last Wednesday! It was so great! I was the registrator for the baptisms! It was such a powerful experience. Some of the missionaries were crying so hard, as they were baptized for their immediate family members who had passed into the spirit world. Heavenly Father was so proud of us! We did the baptisms, confirmations, initiatories, and endowments for our ancestors. I want to do more! As we left the temple, I stopped by the distribution center and felt impressed to buy a Book of Mormon in French. I later found out why. Here in Mirna, we have an investigator from Haiti. She is still struggling with Portuguese, and studies the Bible in French, her native language. So, I was able to present her with a copy of the Book of Mormon in her own tongue. She was so grateful! We plan on baptizing her this week. I´m so happy to be back in Mirna. We´ve got lots of work to do, I know that we will have success. I testify that Jesus Christ lives and loves us, and that, through baptism, we become His. And He will never forget about us, nor forsake us. I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. I love you guys! Have a great week!

Wow! What a week!

Wow, what a week! PAULO WAS CONFIRMED AS A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH! I had the privilege of confirming him and also giving him the gift of the Holy Ghost! Later on in the meeting, he recieved the Aaronic Priesthood! He wants to baptize his whole family! We´re going to help him! MARIA DOS DORES WAS BAPTIZED! Irmá Maria was about to give up, when we taught her about temples and family history work. She felt the Spirit of Elijah and decided to continue on the covenant path! Now, we will help her three grown kids to also come to church! She will be confirmed next Sunday! FRANCISCO AND ANDREIA NEED YOUR PRAYERS! This is the last week we have to mark their wedding in the city hall. Please join us in asking for help from Heavenly Father that we will be able to mark their wedding. They are willing to temporarily separate (in order to keep the law of Chastity) to be baptized. This action is authorized both by President Dalton and Bishop Mario. THREE YOUNG MEN RECEIVED THE PRIESTHOOD! These three young men were once less-active, one of which was found and taught by Elder Paiva and I. Three more recent converts also were sustained to their offices in the Aaronic Priesthood. In total, there are SEVEN priesthood holders in Jardim Mirna. It was so great seeing the Priesthood power grow in one ward! BISHOP GERALD CAUSSE WILL SPEAK TO US! This Friday, as a mission, we will meet in Santo Amaro with Mission São Paulo South to hear the words of Bishop Gerald Causse of the Presiding Bishopric. I´m really excited to hear what the Lord has to tell me through one of His chosen servants! I hope my brother and sister will watch this week´s Worldwide Broadcast about strengthening testimonies! More about it on the church website! A TEMPLE IN CORDOBÁ, ARGENTINA! This week, the temple in Cordoba will be dedicated and consecrated to the Lord. One more House of God in the world means that Satan´s power over the hearts of men will be weaker! This is so much needed in today´s world of disasters and distractions! ELDER ALMEIDA WILL GO HOME... After completing an honorable two years (and a little more), Elder Almeida will go home to Fortaleza, Ceará next Tuesday. He is such a great companion! It´s a privilege to serve with him again and to have been trained by him. I testify that this church is true, and that as we embark in the service of God, we are allowing our Heavenly Father to bless us with more blessings than we can count. President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet. He talks with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Salvation is only found within the bounds of holy sacred covenants made in temples. Jesus Christ is our Savior. He opened the way for us to have our families forever. I testify of this in the holy name of Jesus Christ. Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, April 13, 2015

I'm being transferred tomorrow.

Yeah, so I lost track of time and will have to write a small letter this time. I´m doing okay. It´s been a really stressful week, with lots of good stuff. We took Junior and Melissa to the temple and taught them about eternal marriage, and ended up talking to President Pinho (who is now an area seventy) We did two service projects! I´m being transferred tomorrow. The ward is pretty sad to see me go, and I´m already missing this ward. We´ll have a family home evening with Bishop and Junior and Melissa tonight. Packing bags and getting everything ready to go. I love you guys a lot! Thanks for all your support! I´ll talk to you next week! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, April 6, 2015

What a Holy Week this was!

What a holy week this was! To start off, we had a great meeting as a mission after the transfer on Tuesday! A brother came and talked to us. He has some kind of disease which results in his legs not having any skin on them. When he was born, the doctors said that he would not live more than 20 years. As a young adult, he had a dream where he saw Mormon missionaries, and a beautiful church, and a pool of water. The next day, he ran into the missionaries and demanded to be taken the nearst chapel. It turned out to be the same one from his dream. He asked if there was a pool of water inside. Then, he refused to leave the chapel until he was baptized. A few years later, he prepared himself to serve a mission. Although his stake president was hesitant (because this brother have much difficulty walking, especially in dress pants, which stick to and tear at his exposed legs, causing him to bleed) he sent the application to church headquarters. This brother´s call arrived a little bit later. He told us a few stories from his mission. In the end, he served an honorable, full-time mission, without complaining, baptizing many. He bled 2 liters of blood every night. That should be impossible, but this brother prayed every night for strength from God. And he recieved it! He not only changed the missions of his companions, but he also caused a ripple, affecting the salvation of generations. He baptized the Maia family, in Goias, Brasil. A little girl later born into this family grew up and is now serving in my mission. SIster Maia as since helped many more people. It was so cool to see how one man´s decision to not give up, despite excruciating pain and difficulty, can affect so many people! On a funny note, I got to eat two of my favorite foods on Tuesday. Liver and chicken heart! So good! We went to the psychiatrist´s office on Thursday. Dr Carmen says that I am making excellent progress. We will keep reducing the sleep medicine and upping the anti-depressant. Our goal is for me to not need the sleep medicine soon. W had to go back there the next day to pick up a perscription that I forgot to ask for that I needed (look at our dedication to making me better!) Since Friday was a holiday, there was very little traffic. But we took the train, and there were so few trains that they only came every 30 minutes. It was really annoying, because we had to wait so long and the train was still packed full of people! Good thing we got cat tongue McFlurries at McDonalds! On Friday morning, we had a very special experience. Our goal (President Dalton, Elder Sharp, and I) was for me to be healed by the end of last transfer. For some reason or another, neither Elder Sharp, nor I, felt ready for this blessing last Sunday. But he came and talked to me, after I had just calmed down from an anxiety attack. It had been bugging him the whole week. He begged me to help orient him on this. I responded that I just didn´t know if I was ready, or if I had the faith. After a long talk, we decided to listen to the Spirit. I felt that we should read John 10:27 (actually, the thought was put into my heart and my head). It reads: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" The scripture touched our hearts, and we prayed fervently for faith to perform the blessing. Then, I recieved the priesthood blessing. I can testify that I felt something leave my body. It felt as if my mind had opened, that the dark clouds of depression were scattered and I saw light for the first time in a long time. It was glorious. We both knew that it was a miracle. When I was set apart as a missionary, President Pulsipher said that I would have wisdom to know what and what not to put into my body, and also that I would listen to what the doctors have to say, and do it. This counsel, along with confirming revelation, tell me that I am not yet 100%, but as I keep taking my meds faithfully, I will get there. But I can testify that Heavenly Father had mercy on me and gave me a much needed, and very helpful head-start. Conference was wonderful. I took so many notes! It´s like I got so many tips on helping me endure to the end happily! I got so much revelation! I´ll definitely be looking back on these notes after I finish my mission. It seems as if every conference gets better and better. How great it is to be taught and prepared by prophets and apostles who talk with God! It´s amazing! All thanks to a loving and loyal Heavenly Father. I am so grateful to Him. I testify that He sent His Son, His Only Begotten Son, to suffer and die for all of us. The infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ gives me so much strength! He suffered for me, so that my load could be lighter, so that I could never be tempted, nor have problems, greater than I could bear. He took upon Himself all of my sins, sicknesses, weaknesses, and pains, and mistakes, so that I did not have to suffer them all by myself. It´s wonderful to know that the Mighty God of Israel, the great Jeovah, condescended to earth to save me. He even died for me. Jesus Christ broke the bonds of death. He was resurrected on the third day, and He lives today. Because He lives, I will be able to live forever, not just on this earth, but in the eternities with my family, friends, and my Heavenly Father. I testify of Jesus Christ and everything that He has done for us, His younger brothers and sisters, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I'm so excited to watch general conference this week!

This week was CRAZY! On Monday, we went to the mission office (I got my package!) and we went to Kalunga, an office supplies store. They had Sharpies. Legit Sharpies.... I got one. On Tuesday, I went and worked in Jardim Mirna with Elder Almeida (sounds familiar?) and we visited Paulo and Thassya! We helped them to set a goal of when they will go to the temple to be sealed! The goal is September 15th! It´ll be so awesome! I pray for them and for this goal every day. On Thursday, we had a PANCAKE BREAKFAST! So, there´s a member in our ward with a daughter who lives in Idaho Falls (YEAH). She was visiting São Paulo and decided to bring ingredients for PANCAKES and BLUEBERRY MUFFINS! She ran into the sister missioaries, and got our number, then called us on Wednesday night, inviting us to eat with her and her mom. There was PEANUT BUTTER and MAPLE SYRUP! It was a dream come true. And, she gave us the rest of the pancake mix and the syrup, along with more muffins and Nerds candies! It was so cool! We talked with her in English. Her 7-year-old daughter doesn´t even speak Portuguese! It was so trunky! Elder Sharp and I will visit her family once we are in BYUI. On Friday, we had a service project. It was awesome. I chisled a hole in a wall. How can it get better than that? On Saturday, we ate lunch with a sister whose son just got back from his mission in Fortaleza. It was really weird seeing him in person, for we had only seen pictures of him. His mom asked "why is it that you guys don´t tell us everything that happens on your mission until after?" We responded that it would scare the folks at home. She disagreed. Then her son told her about a murder that happened right in front of him. She changed her mind. Yeah, I´ve got lots of stories for you guys after the mission! :D It´s getting a lot cooler and starting to rain more often. Good bye summer, I´ll see you in Idaho! This transfer, I will be in Interlagos for a week or two, and then I´ll be transferred to Jardim Mirna and work with Elder Almeida for his last transfer! I´m really excited! I love you guys so much! Thanks for your prayers! I want you to know that I know that this work is true. This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is the only true and living church. I´m so excited to watch General Conference this week. I testify that Thomas S. Monson is our prophet. He and the other Apostles are prophets, seers, and revelators that talk with God. I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, March 23, 2015

I heard Grandpa Frei's voice encouraging me.

I saw "Meet The Mormons"! It was so good! We had a zone conference in Santo Amaro last tuesday and saw it there. President and Sister Dalton made us popcorn! I went to the doctor and she said that, by the looks of things, I am getting better. We are still hoping and praying and working towards a miracle. On the way back from the doctor, Elder Sharp bought us ice cream cones at McDonald´s. On thursday, we went to the nursing home and ended up helping them throw a birthday party for Raimundo (he turned 75!) and also, that day marked his and Lurdes´s 40th wedding aniversary! Woo! With the depression and the anxiety, it isn´t getting easier. For example, we didn´t even leave the house of friday. I slept most of the day, but we are moving closer and closer to the solution. I´ve got a new pill for anxiety that also helps with sleeping (my sleep is improving a lot). We are seeing that taking 30 minute walks in the morning and eating a good breakfast help a lot And herbal tea at night just before I go to bed helps, too. And I´m taking my meds faithfully! We used some leftover lunch money to buy bananas to donate to the nursing home, since the folks there love bananas, and the home is going through a financial crisis. Few of the people we worked with this week went to church. Most of them promised they´d go, but didn´t end up going. I was really sad because of it. But I was happy because many of the recent converts I helped in my first transfer here showed up to church, and also a family who had been inactive for a long time came back because Elder Sharp went there with their home teacher. Look at the power of home teaching! It brought back a family that had previously told us (the missionaries) that they don´t want to go to church. I´ll be sure to do my home teaching visits faithfully when I get home! :) After church, I fell into a deep depression. I felt as if my mission, and even the ward, were just lost causes. but Elder Sharp assured me that our work isn´t in vain, and that we are planting seeds as we go. He also said that Grandpa is here with me, helping me to overcome this trial. As soon as he said that, I heard Grandpa Frei´s voice encouraging me. In that instance, I was reminded, once again, that the day of miracles has not ceased, that the plan of salvation is real, and that this Church is true. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ. He is the central point of the plan of salvation. Because He lives, I will have my family with me forever, and we can reach exaltation. I testify that this is true in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. I love you guys and have a great week! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, March 16, 2015

He is my Savior, and He lives!

To start off, I think the medicine is working! And we are getting a LOT of rain! I´m going to the doctor again this thursday! On tuesday, we got a new roommate! Elder Jesus was transferred and replaced by a short-term missionary from a neighboring stake, Elder Do Val. On wednesday, we were going to Isaura´s house, to see how she was doing. We got there twenty minutes early. She lives in a super rich neighborhood, where there is no one to make contacts with. We decided that it would be best not to stress her out, by her thinking that we were just sitting there, waiting for her, so we decided to use some of our leftover lunch money to buy ice cream cones at the nearby Burger King. Just as we got up, a man pulled up in his car and gave us R$50, telling us to go buy dinner. We tried to refuse the money. He said that he saw us and felt that he needed to talk to us and give us money. We still tried to refuse it. Turns out he´s a police officer and was coming home from work. He had a good friend who served a mission, and decided to do a good turn. Finally, we accepted the money, but I got his address and I´m going to send a thank-you card to him (and the missionaries where he lives can teach him). We got back just after Isaura got home. It turned out to be a very significant visit. She had almost given up. But Elder Sharp and I (thanks to the Spirit), were able to help her. My experiences with depression helped her put her own difficulties into perspective (she´s losing her house because of a dishonest landlord). I promised her that if she reads the Book of Mormon and prays every day, keeps the commandments and goes to church, she will find a house, and her son, Tiago, will go to church and be baptized. I called her every night to follow up. We were unable to go to our ward because of civil unrest in downtown São Paulo, but we later found out that not only did Isaura go to church, but Tiago did, too! On friday, we had another service project in the nursing home. They are almost ready to receive one ton of food storage from the bishop´s storehouse. And another one of the workers there is being taught by the missionaries where he lives (in another mission). The owner wants to take everybody (who wants) to church. The owner´s mother made us a delicious lunch with foods from her state of Bahia. Carne seca, feijão de corda, rice, salad, etc. Dessert was oranges and "sour milk", made from old milk, lemon juice, and bread. On saturday, we visited Alessandra towards the end of the night. Her landlord and his family hate her. She says that they always harrass her about the church, swearing at her, literally putting curses on her (black magic), hitting her son, stealing, and a lot of other stuff. We didn´t see everything, but I can say that they do persecute her and treat her really badly. The landlord actually cut her electricity, and threatened to cut her water and (while she´s at church) throw all of her furniture into the street. We stayed with her and helped her relax as Bishop showed up. We went with him to talk to the landlord. He said many things that are untrue, and a couple things that are true, trying to slander Alessandra. He called her "the devil himself". Bishop calmly and cooly promised the landlord that he would get his money, but that he needs to turn the electricity back on, since she has a newborn to take care of. The landlord was in the process of cutting off water from her house when we talked to him. As the bishop, the landlord, and Elder Sharp fixed the electricity problem, I made popcorn for the family, and washed the dishes. Bishop then sat down with Alessandra and Davi and talked to them about what they should do to avoid future problems. I received a very strong testimony of the power of magnifying our callings, and the love that bishops have for their members. Bishop then took us home. I know that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. He is my Savior and He lives. I testify of Him in His holy name, even Jesus Christ. Amen. I love you guys! Have a great week! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, March 2, 2015

Camila was baptized!

Camila was baptized!!!!!!!! We got Alexandre, a recent convert we are helping to stay firm (and whose brother was killed a couple of weeks ago), to baptize her. He bore his testimony and said that now he wants to serve a mission really badly. Thanks to help from the Bishop and from Ana Paula (the Young Womens President), and all of the young women in the ward, she is well-integrated. The YW even prepared a little gift basket for her and made her feel really special. We worked really hard to make this baptismal meeting spiritual. Sister Maia played the piano for us and I played the violin. Missionaries from the Primavera and Castro Alves wards joined us in singing "When I Am Baptized". The youth also sang a hymn. It was so great! Camila brought her little sister, Carina (11), and invited her friend, Davi. Davi didn´t make it, but we´ll meet him this week. Carina went to church the next day! We´re planning on using the "lei de dupla colheita" and teaching her along with her sister. It was so great watching the transformation in Camila from before the baptism, before the confirmation, and after. I had the privilege of confirming her as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and giving her the gift of the Holy Ghost. She was so happy afterwards. She just seemed to glow! There was definitely a spiritual change. She was born again! And I made sure to completely fill out her baptismal form right after church! On the side of the nursing home, Maria Del Carmen, who is marked to be baptized this week (we might need to re-mark her for next week), came to church. She has doubts, and said that last time she went to church, she didn´t feel what she was wanting to feel. We´ll follow up good with her and follow the Spirit. Cris, the less-active sister, may not have been confirmed, which means that she would have to be rebaptized. We´ll try to get in contact with the bishop of the Jardim Record ward, where she was baptized. Gianne, the recent convert, and her son, Lucas, are doing really well. He received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday. They are helping Evailson and Iracie (the owner and his mother) learn more about the gospel. Evailson told her that he wants to be baptized. Bishop took them on a tour of the Bishop´s Storehouse, and they say that they know that this church has to be true. They couldn´t come to church yesterday because there was an emergency at the nursing home, but we will start teaching them this week. We´ve been kinda "staking out" the other patients, and we feel good about one of them. We´ll try to teach him this week, too. On Friday, we will have another service project there. Isaura, who we baptized around New Years´, came to church! We hadn´t been about to talk to her in more than a week, and we were so worried! She´s having a rough time. But I talked with her, made her smile, and helped her schedule an interview with bishop. We´ll visit her on Tuesday when her son, Tiago, is home. Tiago likes us a lot (he´s our age) and I feel really impressed that now is the time to help him be baptized. Isaura also said that she´s convincing one of her friends to come to church! Alessandra, another recent-convert, had her baby, Pedro Henrique. He´s a beautiful, healthy little baby. She wasn´t able to go to church, but she did make sure that her son, Davi, got there to pass the sacrament. So she missed me playing the violin in sacrament meeting. We went by there and I played the violin for her and her baby. Elder Sharp and I are doing great. The depression seems to be getting a little better, but it´s still really rough. I´ll be going back to Doctor Carmen on Friday. I´m taking my medicine faithfully, though. I´ll get the lab results tomorrow. I´ll keep you guys updated! Sure do love you! I know that this church is true! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, February 23, 2015

I presented my decision to the Lord, and He confirmed it with a warm sensation in my heart, that I should stay and finish my mission.

Last Sunday, I gave a talk in church about overcoming despair and discouragement. Tuesday was transfers! I´m still with Elder Sharp and still in Interlagos! The only change in our district is our district leader, Elder Medina, 26 from Peru. Cool fact: he has more time as a full-time missionary, than as a member (non-full-time-missionary). We had a special musical number, a quartet (including Elder Sharp and Elder J. Barker) with me on the violin, and a pianist. We played "I´ll Go Where You Want Me To Go". It was awesome! I said good-bye to many loved missionaries who are going home this week. Among them are Elder J. Barker, my old companion, and Sister Farnsworth, from our stake! It was hard to say good-bye, but I know that we´ll all meet up again, at least on facebook. After the transfer, President pulled me into his office for an interview to prep me to receive revelation in the temple. Then, we took the train and a bus to the temple. We saw the new film! It was such a great session. As I sat in the celestial room, I opened with a prayer, read my patriarchal blessing, then my mission call, then I prayed again. I presented my decision to the Lord, and He confirmed it with a warm sensation in my heart, that I should stay and finish my mission. On the way home, we ran into 10 Americans! First was a missionary from the Rio de Janeiro mission about to go home, second was a brother who had served in Goiania, and was visiting the temple. Third was a sister missionary from Rio also about to go home, and fourth and fifth were her parents. We met with them in the Walmart (I developed some photos). Six through nine were two couples of senior missionaries, one of which might be my distant cousin! There´s Richins in his family and he´s from Utah (near Box Elder, or something like that). One of them lived in Joplin for a time! We talked a lot and got a picture with them. They teach self-sufficiency trainings to missionaries before they go home. The last American was a nonmember who respects Mormonism, but does not have a religion. He used to work in O´Fallon, Missouri, where my vitamins are made. What a small world! On Wednesday, we had a tri-ward family home evening (we have one every week). On Thursday, we went to see Doctor Carmen. The doctor gave me more medicine and we are waiting to see if the drops are really taking a positive effect. My "up moments" are higher, and my "down moments" come a little more frequently, but I feel more hope. This week, I want to start working again. On Friday, we had a ward social about unity. It was pretty good! We had a miracle yesterday at church! Diane, a recent convert who works at the nursing home, convinced her boss to take two patients and another worker to church. One of these patients (Cristiane) is a less-active sister whose records need to be moved from Parque Pinheiros (no one knows she´s here), and the other (Maria Ducarmen) asked to be baptized! She just leaned over and asked what she needs to do to be baptized in our church. We marked her for the 7th of March. I feel really good about this! And, the other worker who came, Carol, brought her husband and two kids to church! And the boss, Ivanilson, stayed for priesthood meeting, and felt the spirit so strong! He was crying, and asked for a Book of Mormon so that he could study it this week in preparation for next week! We will go back to the nursing home this week to do a service project, and I want to take Bishop there. Diane´s son, Lucas, will have his interview with Bishop to recieve the Aaronic Priesthood. All of these blessings came because Sister Anhanha called us to tell us that Diane was moving from Jardim Campinas to our ward. Just imaginewhat would have happened had we not followed the Lord´s commandment to teach all the recent converts! Junior and Melissa, a less-active couple we are working with, are progressing well. Junior is going to switch jobs so that he can go with Melissa to church on Sunday. We also met Camila, a young woman who had gone to church in the past, and also received the missionary lessons. She showed up on Sunday, was introduced to us, and we will visit her today, to help her be baptized this Saturday. That´s our goal, I´m stoked. Alessandra will get her baby this week! And Davi went camping with the youth during Carnaval. Alexandre, a recent convert, lost his brother last week. His brother died in a shoot-out with a police officer. He apparently was a major drug dealer. We are going to work even harder to help Alexandre stay true to the faith and get ready to serve a mission. We are also helping another recent convert, Milton, prepare to leave to serve his mission this spring. Today, we will go to Santo Amaro to drop off Elder J. Barker´s tie that I made. It´s really cool. I forgot the adapter, so I´ll send you pictures next week. I´m going to play the violin in sacrament meeting next week! I love you all and I know that Jesus Christ lives! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, February 16, 2015

I won't leave until I know God's will for me

So, tomorrow, I will find out if I should stay or go. I´m going to perform at the transfer meeting, then President will sit me down and teach me out to recieve revelation, then he will send me and Elder Sharp to the temple. I´ll do a session, then sit in the celestial room, and I won´t leave until I know God´s will for me. Personally, I really want to stay, but I really want to know for certain that God wants me to stay. Then, on Thursday, I´ll go back to Dra. Carmen to follow up with the new meds. Last week was great, helping out the old folks´ home. I really liked it! We´ll be working really hard with these children of God to help them prepare to meet their Father in Heaven! Today, we will eat lunch with a recent convert. We´re working with her to take her to the temple to be baptized for her mother, who appeared to her in a dream. We plan on taking her there THIS WEEK. Pray for us! I love you guys so much! And I know that this gospel is true! We are in God´s hands. This is His world, and as we follow His will, we will be led to our heavenly home at His side. I love Him and I love Jesus Christ. I testify that They live in the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins

Monday, February 9, 2015

I am a witness that Jesus is the Christ.

So, another week come and gone! It´s going by so fast! I don´t have that much to report. Not seeing much success, but we´re going to change that. We´re getting rain, so that´s awesome. If there´s anything worth saying this week, it´s this: I hope you have a great appreciation for Elder Sharp. Seriously, it´s not easy being my companion. He is helping me so much. If it wasn´t for him, I would have given up already. Every day this week, the depression comes harder and harder, more and more frequently. But he´s always at my side, to listen and to encourage. Also, he´s convinced me and I´ve decided that I want to learn to drive a motorcycle. But we can talk about that later. ;) Oh, and before I forget, I got my return date. I keep forgetting to tell you guys. I found out last transfer. I´m not sure if I should tell you guys because I´m afraid that Mom´ll get too trunky. But here it is: 20 October 2015. I´ll have 2 years and 18 days on my mission. I´m very pleased, because it previously was in September. So I just want to share my testimony with you guys. Like I said to Garrett, Ashton, and Ben in an earlier email, I would not be here if I didn´t know that this gospel is true. Without this surety, I would have given up already. Actually, I don´t know if I would have made it out of the MTC. But I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I know this. Certain events have happened on my mission, one of them was this week, that show me that God loves me, that Jesus Christ knows how to succor me, that the Adversary wants to destroy me, and that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father. I testify that we are on the Earth at this time for a reason, that is, to fight the good fight and stay true to the faith. We are here to build the kingdom of God where we stand, even Zion, the pure in heart, and the covenant people. I am a witness that Jesus is the Christ. I have gotten to know Him in my own small afflictions. He lives, and He is Almighty. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, February 2, 2015

Today is P-Day Da Zona! Picnic and sports! Woo!

Boa tarde! How is my wonderful family? Hope you guys are well. Neither of the packages have arrived. Probably next week. So, my psychologist contacted Dr. Hargroder and they figured it out! Apparently, pills don´t work for me anymore. Because of the metabolic changes from the surgery, none of the depression medicine has been working, at least not enough to make a difference. And yeah, the vitamins are super necessary, especially B12. Until i´ve got the necessary nutrients in my body, there won´t be improvements. So, now my new medicine is in the form of drops (anti-depressant) and dissolving tablets (sleep). I also talked with the lady in the ward in charge of lunches. I have to really restrict my diet. We are pulling out all the stops to turn around this depression. Today is Super P-Day, or P-Day Da Zona! Picnic and sports! Woo! We need rain! São Paulo is going through a huge drought! Our water is being rationed by the government, and some areas in the mission don´t have water on a regular basis. It´s pretty rough! I´m getting better at the violin! And i´ve started painting (with ballpoint pens). Rachel would be proud. I made a tie. I´ll send pictures next week (remind me, please!) We had five people in church. Rogerio and Daniela took their three kids to church, the oldest, Jonathan, is marked for baptism. This week, with a huge help from Heavenly Father, we saved their marriage. Also, Daniela´s mom and sister are marked for baptism. The other two people at church was Rose (a super elect street contact who came to church by herself) and her daughter. They liked the church a LOT! We´ll follow up with them today. I got a haircut today! I love you guys so much! I know that this gospel is true, and that God loves me and all of His children. I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sweet act of service by Elder Richins' companion

First off: you can tell anyone about my depression. I´m going to overcome it, so I hope that at least I can inspire some people. Go ahead and share it. Second: With the violin, please don´t forget the tuner, rosin, etc! I don´t really need music because we have hymnals. Third: I love you guys so much! It´s really hard, but I´ve got a super team. Just to give you an idea of how great my companion is, for example, my new shoes gave me huge, painful open blisters. So, to break them in, he wore my shoes for a couple days to break them in a little more and he let me use his shoes. Turns out we are the same size. And I´ve got some good psycologists, and the four other missionaries in my district (among others who already know (I don´t broadcast it, but I have to be honest when they notice)) and President and Sister Dalton. I´ve got an interview with him today. We´ll get a lot worked out Fourth: We are working on getting at least two couples married. We are super close with one of them, Rogerio and Daniela. We will go mark their wedding this week and they are quitting smoking and drinking and are struggling a bit to read the Book of Mormon. Any suggestions?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Serving a mission is the best thing to ever happen to me

Wow! This week was really great (and really hard)! Despite the depression seeming to get worse, I´m getting better and better at controlling it. I got my violin! We had got to work with a traveling assistant (one of my good friends), and Isaura is still going to church! The best part of the week was our temple trip on Friday. It was a miracle. We got there and I realized that I had forgotten my temple recommend. The depression overcame me quickly and deeply. Both Elder Sharp and I really needed this session. We couldn´t get help from President Dalton because he was at a wedding and not answering his phone. I offered to sit in the waiting room while Elder Sharp does the session, but he did not want to leave me there. We were just about to go home devastated when Elder Sharp felt that we should stay. I wasn´t in condition to express any kind of opinion, so I just followed him. We ended up walking behind the temple and we ran into President Dalton! He should have left 10 minutes before, but he felt he needed to come back. He wasn´t even supposed to be there, there was a mistake and the wedding he would have attened was to be the next day. So President Dalton took us into the temple lobby, and talked with the temple president and got me a temporary recommend. In the end, I got to do the session. It wasn´t until a good 10 minutes into the session until my frightening, dark depression was suddenly lifted and I was able to enjoy one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. Never have I learned so much from an endowment session since my very first one. And, to top it all off, as we were leaving the temple to return to our area after the session, we were chased down by a group of young men and women from Palmares, my last ward, including Adilson, who we taught the recent convert lessons and who we convinced to serve a mission, and Weverson, who we baptized. There was also Raquel, whose parents we also taught the recent convert lessons. I learned that Raquel´s parents would be sealed the next day (which was so satisfying to hear). Also, Weverson told me that he would be turning in his papers in the next month to serve a full-time mission. He was there about to do his SECOND round of baptisms for the dead. The joy I felt was so great! And, both Adilson and Weverson were wearing the ties I had given them! What a great day it was! I also found out that Paulo and Thassya, who Elder Almeida and I baptized, have finished their last Temple Prep class, and will mark their sealing. Sueli (who Elder Paiva and I reactivated) will be sealed to her husband (Vagner, who we baptized) this summer. Vagner is now a counsellor in the Elders Quorum Presidency. Their daughter, Pamela, is serving a mission in Argentina. Juvenal and Magda (who Elder J. Barker and I married and baptized) are active, happy, and serving in the church. Their daughter, Laura, has recently been baptized and their extended family is also accepting the gospel. They will be sealed in September or October of this year. I´m so glad to be a missionary. Serving a mission is the best thing to ever happen to me. What a privilege it is! I know that this gospel is true, and that Jesus Christ is the Lord God, and that He is our Savior and Redeemer. His power to heal is endless as He and our Father are Endless. I testify of them in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

Monday, January 5, 2015

Feliz ano novo!

Feliz ano novo! I didn´t get transferred! I´ll be staying with Elder Sharp in Interlagos! Woo! We will be going to the center of São Paulo to try Western Union again. I have to look for shoes there because my feet are too big! I really hope i´ll have enough, since they are super expensive! I hate shoe shopping, y'all already know that... Isaura was confirmed yesterday! And Alessandra and Davi beared their first testimonies. Davi also recieved the Aaronic Priesthood. We are helping Isaura, Alessandra, and Davi to be ready to go to the temple this month to do baptisms for the dead. I´m pumped! I will get the privilege to see the sealing of Paulo and Thassya (from Jardim Mirna) this transfer! So templo! We also finally got invited to ward counsel! It was great! For New Years, we had the zone leaders over and we had a barbeque and watched the fireworks from the power tower! I´ll send you guys pictures! I´m sorry that this has to be another short email! But I love you guys so much and I want you to know that i´m hanging in, and that I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and that the Church is true. -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos
So, WE HAD A BAPTISM! It was so miraculous! I am so happy that it all worked out! She came to us, gave up smoking, got a testimony, and went to church all by herself. All we had to do was teach her a little more, and help her into the waters of baptism. It was so great. On Christmas day, we had the opportunity to visit Reinaldo, the blind but returning less active. I gave him a carefully wrapped copy of the Book of Mormon on CD. He said that it was the best Christmas present he ever received. We also dedicated his house. Since then, he said that he feels more hope and more closer to Heavenly Father. The depression continues, but Heavenly Father helps me to bear it. I´m happy to say that when i´m working, I´m always able to control it. And when we get home, Elder Sharp keeps me going. He´s such a great friend, and he´s helping me so much. Sorry the letter is so short! I promise I will have more to say next week! I love you all and I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior! -- Élder Thomas Richins Ala Interlagos (antiga Cidade Dutra) Estaca Interlagos Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos