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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Last Week In Bertioga and Last Week of Mission, Baptisms

I LOVE this place! What a special week this past week has been. Miracles left and right. Sister Arthur and I have been giving everything we have and more, sprinting to the end of our missions and serving the Lord with all our hearts, might mind and strength.

This Sunday was one of THE most special Sacrament meetings in my life. Before Church B and U were baptized. I cannot even describe how happy my heart was to see them both in white jumpsuits. All of thier family came. 10 investigators at the baptism! And BR (a man baptized one month ago) baptized them! :) While they changed into their dry clothes after the baptism Sister Arthur and I applied what we learned in the California Roseville Mission from President Weston and taught the Restoration. The Spirit flooded the room as we testified of Joseph Smith and his one prayer answered that changed the world forever!

B's mom (L) and U's mom (P) stayed for the Church Meetings. Sister Arthur and I missed Relief Society (like every Sunday) runing around town getting more people to Church. This Sunday was fast and testimony meeting and I looked around the room and felt immensely grateful for where I was, surround by these wonderful saints here. Then to my surprise U went up to the stand and bore his testimony of how the gospel changed his life. P cried her eyes out and hugged Sister Arthur and I as tight as she could and just thanked us for being the "angels" to rescue her son. What a sweet tender moment. U is incredible, he left behind a life full of addiction and sin and literally has started his life over. Was born again through the sacred ordinance of baptism. B was beaming the whole time. And after the meeting I talked to her mom L and she wouldn't let me go. She thanked me for bringing the gospel into B's life. And she cried the cry of a desperate mother because she wants desperately for her other 2 children to change thier lives like B has. L said she'll be at Church next Sunday and we are excited to go and teach her tonight.

We've also picked up many new investigators with a lot of potential! R is one. He is suffering from a severe addiction to drugs. He is a good man. married, works hard, but is dragged down by this horrible addiction. One day we went to go teach him at work and when we got there, there were tears in his eyes as he quickly directed us in. He said "thank goodness ya'll are here, I have been waiting for 8:00pm to come. I need to talk to you" R is 30 years old, and it just amazes me how much people trust us. We're just 21 year old girls, we don't have degrees, nothing, but we have been set apart by the power and authority of the priesthood to represent the Savior of the World. And people with sincere hearts recognize this and they trust that through what we teach they can be healed.

The night after teaching R, I laid in bed and tears rolled up in my eyes as I thought about how much I am going to miss this! I have been blessed with the privilige of being on the front-lines of God's army the past 18 months of my life. Helping people let Christ in and watching the Atonement change people's lives. In reality, God doesn't need me. He does His own work, but He allows me to play a part and I thank Him for this great tender mercy He has given me. It has been a PRIVILIGE to walk this 18 month journey to come to know my Savior. During the Sacrament on Sunday I was watching the men prepare the Sacrament and I thought, "how did the Savior feel as He was doing this with His apostles that final night?" He must have thought something like: Please don't forget me. Don't forget what I've taught you. Don't forget what I am about to do for you. And don't let anyone else forget either" That must be why in the Sacrament prayers it repeats the promise that we will ALWAYS remember Him.

I love my Savior. He is my best friend. I always fall short, but I know that He loves and I am so grateful with His patience with me.

I love ya'll. Thanks for all your support over these past 18 months. Have a great week! And pray for me as I sprint to the end.

Sister Byrne

Friday, April 10, 2015

Challenges and Blessings, Overcoming Smoking - Dateline 06 April 2015

First off: Update: U didn't get baptized this week, because he slipped up and smoked a cigarette...whoops, BUT we rescheduled for April 11th and he and B are going to be baptized together! #socute! #ilovethem!

We spent most of the week out our area because of our special Easter mission conference and General Conference. We live super far away form the misison center, so it's complicated, and Conference couldn't be broadcasted in our local Church building, so we spent all weekend in Guarujá, which in reality was a HUGE TENDER MERCY for me! #WhyisGodsonice?

I got to see all the wonderful people I love in my first area here in Brasil. I got to see H yesterday and I about cried as we talked. He thanked me for "pulling him out of the hole" he was in. He told me he's going to miss seeing me and we reminisced on the wonderful times we had in his little garage. He will recieve the Melchezidek priesthood in May and he wants very badly to go to the temple. It makes my heart so happy to see him progress in the gospel. I also got to see all the youth. I LOVE them! They wouldn't leave my side and it was great to be able to catch up with them and see them progress in the gospel as well.

Irmão Sergio gave us a ride to the sister's house Sunday night and as he shaked my hand goodbye he thanked me for everything I did in their ward and it melted my little heart to hear him tell me that I am an excellent missionary.

General Conference was marvelous as usual, if you didn't ahev the chance to watch all of it. Take the time and watch the talks. Feast on the words of Christ that come from his servants the prophet and apostles.

Anyway, this week is going to be AMAZING! Miracles are going to happen here in Bertioga. and I CANNOT wait for U and B's baptism.

Oh! and I just wanted to share really quick a story. There is a recent convert couple who got baptized just two short months ago. It was the second time that they recieved the missionaries in thier home. The first time around, many years ago, they were too "busy" to get baptized.

This time, the husband was out of work because his sweet wife had been battling cancer and he had quit his job to take care of her. She was cancer free and they took the lessons. She quit smoking and was baptized...except, when she quit smoking they discovered that she had 3 cancerous tumors in her brain. Smoking had prevented her from feeling the the symptoms, but when she stopped the doctors found the tumors. She battled for a month against this cancer.

The branch supported them best they could and Manuel practically lived at the hospital with his sweetheart...she passed away last night. It broke my heart, not because I don't understand the plan, because I know Manuel is heartbroken. Anyway, what is so incredibly beautiful about this story is that God gave her time. She was able to break-free from her addiction and not have to deal with it on the other side. She was baptized and thus the gate was opened for her journey home. And they have the gospel in thier lives. They are members of the only true Church on the face of the Earth. The only Church that has authority from God to seal families together forever. In one year, Manuel will go to the temple and be sealed to his sweetheart for time and all eternity. And it will all have been worth it.

Sister Byrne

Sprinting in Bertioga - Dateline 30 March 2015

Our choir of missionaries. Santos Mission Tour 2015. "Vinde A Casa do Senhor"

How is it going? wow, WHAT A WEEK! I LOVE BERTIOGA! So Sister Arthur and I have been sprinting all week long to make high goals and reach them, and oh the Lord pours down miracles when we give all we have. It's so beautiful what happens. We give EVERYthing that we have. Every last bit of energy to Him and then His strength replaces our own and miracles happen.

Last P-day we had a goal to teach 5 lessons. It was 8:30pm and we still had 2 lessons to teach...so we said a prayer explained our situation to the Lord and humbly asked where He wanted us to go before heading home. My companion was inspired to go to the beach (ps. the Spirit is so smart to inspire her and not me because I'm pretty sure if He told me to go to the beach I would toss out the thought quickly because I LOVE going to the beach and would think it was just me wanting to do what I love). We go and teach a couple security guards who weren't all that interested and then we saw a man sitting on a bench by himself smoking. He saw us and then quickly hid the cigarro. The first thought that ran through my head was.."hmm....if he's hiding it, it's probably not just a regular cigarro..." but my worn out blistered and bug bite full feet kept walking towards him and Sis Arthur hesitantly followed. We sat on the bench with him, taught him a quick lesson and arranged to meet him at his daughter's mother's house the next day.

Next day: we ran late after helping a member do something and missed our appointment with U and B, but decided to pass by anyway. He wasn't there but she was and hesitantly let us in. After about 2 minutes of talking to her, I felt like she was my long lost best friend and we just hit it off. We taught a short lesson and arranged to come back the next day to teach her and U together.

Next day: taught them both and gave them the Book of Mormon. (oh by the way, she doesn't like him because he has a little "growing up to do" and he is still in love with her but won't admit it)

Next day: We decide to teach them seperately and teach U a 15 minute version of the Restoration on the bench on the beach where we found him.

Next day: we teach U at his house in front of the beach and he told us that he prayed about what we taught him. He said that very night he ran down the beach to his favorite place to sit and think and he kneeled and prayed asking God if what we had told him about Jospeh was true and he had a Remarakable answer that I'll wait to share until I get home because of the sacredness of it, but God told him that it was all true. And he was extremely happy to tell us his answer. And is super excited for his baptism THIS Saturday!

Next Day: He and B went to Church and it was ADORABLE because they sat together to be with thier daughter and they were happy and smiling the whole time! I absolutely know that the gospel is going to change U'forever and B too (she's ready to be baptized too btw, she is just waiting for an answer. She has already read like 20 pages of the Book of Mormon and LOVES it! so I'm praying that she can be baptized this SAturday too) My secret wish is to watch the gospel change U into the man of God he has the potential to become and then B is going to want him back and they are going to become a family again and be sealed in the temple a year from now :) I can see it. They are so perfect for each other, the only thing missing is the gospel.

Also, we have this AWESOME member in our ward, R. He is a recently returened missionary who hasn't founda job yet and he LOVES coming out with the missionaries. He spend half of his night with us and the other half with the other dupla of sisters here. He went out with us on Saturday and thank goodness because he ended up giving two priesthood blessings to help 2 of our investigators. I LOVE the priesthood! It is so REAL! One woman we were teaching was very sick and could barely walk when we got there, he gave the blessing and by the end of the lesson she was walking perfectly and even kneeled for the final prayer! whaaat? :)

Also, I gave a talk on Sunday, President Melo, called me and my companion up last minute. haha i love being a missionary. #semprepronto

Anyway, I love being a missionary and having an area and getting to WORK! there is nothing greater in this world than the work of Salvation.

Oh! And DON`T FORGET!! This week is General Conference! :D yayyy!! I'm super excited to hear the words of the prophets on such a special weekend;...EASTER! Prepare your heart to recieve revelation and I promise that the Lord will speak to each of us individually through His prophet and apostles. I LOVE CONFERENCE!

Love ya'll. Have a great week!

Sister Byrne

I got to go back to Santa Rosa one last time. I LOVE THAT PLACE. What a tender mercy from the Lord that I got to see so many of the people I love so much, including H!! :D He is doing great! faithful and happy :) he has a ton of friends in the ward now and he lost 10 kilos! i told him he needs to take better care of himself and eat more...(oh, no I'm turning into mommy) haha anyway, my heart will always have a special place for Guarujá! ahhh :D

Called to repentance, bus contacting, skipping Sunday School - Dateline 23 March 2015

This week I got some GREAT news!! yahoo! Well, first of all Elder Aidukaitis came to visit. I had the privilege of going to two meetings with him. the first one was strictly for leaders of the mission and oh man...he burned us! He very sharply called all of us to repentance....it hurt...but it was good and I am a better missionary/person for it.

Also, we called President this week and he told us that we can go back to our area now!! Yay! so Today I am in Bertioga and I am here to stay! :) I feel much more relieved to know that I can do normal missionary work now! :D

Oh, also, Sister Arthur and I have been feeling the urgency of hastening the work. We got here Saturday night with zero investigators, nothing, nada. And we decided to start making contacts and knocking doors, so we used onw of our new favorite tactics "you get one side, I get the other" and we knock doors and the first to get let in calls the other over and we teach a lesson in about 0 minutes, invite to baptism, feel the Spirit and then leave as soon as possible so the Spirit stays there with them. We have been teaching a TON of lessons, and in 2 days we already have a good size teaching pool.

Also, we decided we weren't going to go to Church unless we had an investigator there, so we left super early and started contacting everyone in the streets....(I live in like the tourist town of Santos so not many people are up early on Sunday morning)...we found a bunch of new investigators, but no one came in. We went to Relief Society, but during Sunday School decided to hit the streets again, and ended up teaching 2 lessons and finding a bunch of new people to teach. We're going to teach Luciano tonight. He is AWESOME. Oh, also R, she was a quick contact, but super interested and invited us to come teach her and her family tonight!

Oh also, we've started another really fun thing. When we get on the bus, we stand at the front and one of us yells to get everyone's attention and we say this "Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, we are missionaries and we have a message to share about Jesus Christ. That His Church is on the Earth today and led by a prophet. We know there are people on THIS bus that are interested in learning more, so we are going to walk down the aisle and ask each one of you if you are that person. Thank you" And then we get to work! It's super fun and I've never picked up so many referrals in my life. Sure, some people get mad, but we just say, okay, thank you for your attention, but then there are some people who are SUPER interested! And we get their address and tell them that this message will change their life forever.

It's been SUPER FUN!

Well we had choir practice in Santos hoje, so I don't have time to write any more, but I love ya'll. Keep reading the scriptures and praying. Life is good.


Sister Byrne

God is so good! Dilma Impeached. Riots. - Dateline 19 March 2015

Gerlad went to the temple and was sealed to his sweet wife who passed away a year ago!

This is what it is ALL about. Baptism is just the gate. There is no GREATER joy than seeing someone you love progress in the gospel. So happy to know that Gerald and his sweetheart are going to be together FOREVER!

What a week! It's incredible to me to see how involved God is with the details of our lives. Exchanges this week were inspired! For so many reasons, but I'll share the super sacred ones with ya'll when I get home. An e-mail just doesn't do it.

We went to Guarujá and we started this new thing where if two duplas (companionships) of sisters live together we just do trios (three companions together) and Sister Arthur goes with one dupla and I go with the other. Well, I decided to not go to Santa Rosa because everyone we visit just gets super excited to see me and it's hard to have a spiritual lesson because no one can concentrate.

Anyway, I went with the sisters in Guarujá and Sister Pratt got super sick...BUT because I was there me and Sister Sweet were able to continue the work and keep going as poor sister Pratt just fought to keep up. BUT it's always in these moments of sacrifice that miracles happen and we found a new investigator for them, A, and I tell you what she has been prepared and as she was talking it was like she was just screaming for us to teach her that she can see her mom who recently passed away again. It was such a tender moment for the 4 of us and my heart just aches to think that some people don't know that they can see thier loved ones again.

Then we went back to "our area" Bertioga and Sister Vergara got super sick the morning we were going to do exchanges. We decided that I'd stay home with her (because I have better skills at taking care of people due to my "nursing experience" haha) I was super bummed to have to stay in all day and not work, but I got to use my talents of taking care of people and Sister Castillo and Sister Arthur got to work! And they taught a man who went to Sunday the following day and wants to be baptized on Saturday!! wohoo!! oh Bertioga, what a blessed place.

Sunday we skipped Church....and by skipped Church I mean we were not allowed to leave the house because it was dangerous in the streets. Dilma was supposedly impeached, but I'm not really even sure if it actually happened because we don't watch the news....but yeah I guess there were supposed to be a ton of riots and stuff, so I had to stay in another day...

I don't have lots of time today because of some various events that occured today, but I just want ya'll to know that I LOVE Jesus Christ. He is my best friend. I try my best to be like Him. And I am so grateful for the Spirit. The Spirit is my Comforter and He has been at my side so many times this past 2 months. Leading me, guiding me, and holding my heart together. God is good. The gospel is real.

Sister Byrne

Monday, March 9, 2015

A very long bus ride, mending relationships, the tender mercies of Christ

This week was great! We literally went from one end of the Mission to the other in one day on the bus! São Sebastião to Registro! The sisters in Registro were having troubles do we did a 2 day exchange with them. It seemed to help a lot, and then transfers happened and now they are separated, which is really a bummer. It's never a good feeling to leave a companion without being her best friend ever, BUT things drastically improved while we were there, so that was a giant tender mercy from the Lord.

In Ocian, we had a noite familar with a family where one of the sons is not a member of the Church. He's 20. It was chill, good family home evening and the family made mini pizzas for the lanche at the end. As we were eating I started talking to the non-member son. he doesn't talk to anyone seriously about the Gospel, he just shrugs it off, but we started talking and he wanted to practice English, so we started speaking in English, then somehow the conversation got turned to, so why aren't you baptized yet and we had a really real conversation about the gospel and we discovered his problem was that he hasn't been praying specifically. He had prayed before, but it wasn't specific so he didn't get a specific answer. But he decided he'd go to Church the next day and start praying again. WHAAAAT?! Blessings of having a family member on a mission.

This past month has been very different. I'm not living normal missionary life, and sometimes I feel really inadequate for what the Lord wants me to do with this last part of the mission He has given me to serve. I've definitely had selfish thoughts of "I just want to serve in a normal area, have a companion and get to work! and BAPTIZE! I want to finish MY mission doing what I WANT to do."

Wow, how selfish of me. This week I've been thinking a lot about the Atonment (Easter is coming up you know!) and I wrote this in my study journal about the enabling power of the Atonement "You just keep going doing what He wants you to do, and then you think you can't anymore and THEN Christ takes your hand and somehow you make it. The strength of Christ replaces your own and you make it." How incredibly blessed we are to have a Savior. I stand ALL AMAZED when I think of what He did for me. I often marvel and wonder WHY? Why is He so nice? But He is. His love is real and His Atonement doesn't just cover our sins, but it enables us to do what He needs us to do. He doesn't ask if we are capable, just if we are willing.

I love ya'll. The Church is true. The gospel is REAL. Christ is our brother and our friend and I love Him and I feel beyond blessed for the time I have to get to know Him.

Have a great week.

Sister Byrne

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Zone Conferences, Fasting, Killer Borrachudas

What an AWESOME week! On Monday night we went home to Bertioga for the first time in a month. We decided to trade our suitcases for duffle bags and started back on the road the next morning at 5:00am. President invited us to attend all of the zone conferences in the mission. It was AWESOME! Not only was it incredibly uplifting to go to 4 zone conferences, but we got to hang out with President and Sister Cabral for 2 days straight! #whatablessing I LOVE them. I absolutely adore them and feel so blessed for the opportunity I have to serve with them.

So I know that I'm a missionary and I probably should have already had a solid testimony of this already, but this week I honestly gained a personal testimony of fasting. I know, it sounds absolutely ridiculous that refusing food and water for 24 hours can help someone get closer to God, but it is REAL and it WORKS! I was fasting to know what I personally need to do do reach my full potential. I knew there was something missing, but I was having trouble identifying what that was. So I fasted and spending the day with Pres and Sis Cabral I found my answer. I discovered exactly what it is that I need to place on the altar of sacrifice to become more sanctified. Then I fasted again on Sunday for the Lord to give me the strength to overcome and apply what I learned in my first fast. It was a very sacred experience for me, so I won't share everything, but fasting is real and God is incredibly wonderful to give us this tool to come closer to Him and be more receptive to the Holy Ghost. If it's been awhile since you've fasted, give it a try, think of something you want to ask God to reveal to you and then pray and fast to discover a response.

Besides that this week was chill. We are in Ilha Bela right now....and I tell you what it sure is an Ilha Bela...but like we learn in the Book of Mormon there is opposition in all things, and the opposition of Ilha Bela are borrachudas....they are these little tiny black bugs that bite you and I just so happen to be allergic to! hahah. One got me right when I got here and my ankle and leg swelled up quite a bit. It was funny because the sisters who live here were like...ummm yeah..that's not normal....and so they sent Sis Arthur and I to the hospital. Which at first I saw as a pain in the butt to waste time in the hospital when I cold be out working, but turned out the hospital was the PERFECT place to make contacts. It was raining so there was no one in the streets. We got the address of the receptionist AND....THE DOCTOR! boo yah! The doctor was super nice, he's from Columbia and was really hard to understand, but when I started teaching him about the Book of Mormon he got really excited and anxious to learn more. I felt kinda bad because there was a huge line behind me of people waiting to see him, but we talked a good 10 minutes about the Book of Mormon (bless those patients hearts who had to wait, but it was for the salvation of the doctor, so I think it's okay). The sisters are have an appointment marked to teach him and his wife this Thursday! :)

Oh! also, did I mention how much I LOVE making contacts! It's especially fun when you're traveling all the time, because we meet people from EVERYWHERE and everyone is always waiting on something so there is always time to teach at least part of a lesson. :)

All is well. I'm happy as can be. Life is Good!

Lots of Love.

Sister Byrne

PS, ma, don't worry my leg is fine. I took some anti-inflammatory medicine and the swelling is going down :)