A selfie for mom!

A selfie for mom!

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