A selfie for mom!

A selfie for mom!

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