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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Missionary's Christmas Joys... and a golf cart

Sister Missionaries and Santa's Sleigh
My Christmas was pretty awesome, there's something special about being a representative of Christ on His day. We went caroling with the Elders and one of the woman we caroled to was a widow from South America. We caught her right as she got home and stood in an empty parking lot, 6 missionaries and her, singing Christmas hymns, she was so grateful and reared up. It was perfect. The stars were out and I looked around and thought, man, this is what it's about. This is perfect. I had several experiences like that all day Christmas and Christmas Eve. #missionlife #doesntgetbetter

Anyway, we also had some adventures, like driving a golf cart all around in the country at the S's house. Playing with the cat tails. The plant not the cat body part. We got to play games and playaround with sling shots at the Sls. AND hang out with the LP family at night. Their kids are amazing! I seriously love them! And Sister LP is our mom away from home, she always takes such good care of us. I love her!

I got a package from grandma with my favorite Chinese Chews!! Mmmm :)

Also, Sister Allen and I have started this new tradition of coming home and making lemon water. Not lemonade...lemon water. Everyone here has lemon trees and always gives us a bunch of fresh lemons.So we are cleansing our insides by drinking it every night.

Our investigator is the bomb! He is progressing so quickly and is already recognizing the blessings the gospel brings into his life. Oh, speaking of, we had 2 less actives we had visited come to Church and 2 investigators!! Whoop whoop! Sister Allen made fun ofme because I kept staring at the doors and I apparently "freaked out"
when I saw them. It was so exciting to see them at Church though!! Ya'll know how excited I can be, imagine me at my most  excited. That was me at Church.

Something cool I studied this week was Alma 26. The baby bear shared this chapter with me one week , so I decided to study it. Verse 27 really stuck out to me. Ammon one of the greatest missionaries ever felt depressed. The people weren't listening. They hated the missionaries, and they wanted to give up and go home. They probably felt like their efforts were a little wasted. But the, The Lord comforted them. He didn't say, okay, go back, it'll be easy now. He said "bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.

Well, while we were tracting this week. We got pretty discouraged and didn't know what to do. I remembered this scripture and we decided to just keep going, because at least we were showing Heavenly Father we were going to keep working hard. Well we get to the last house on the street and run into this lady named Carissa. She was so interested in our message. We taught her the restoration and the plan of salvation right on her doorstep! She was from out of town but we gave her some info. And who knows, maybe she'll start meeting with the missionaries wherever she's from. It was so awesome. The Lord knows us and He knows our struggles and He ALWAYS keeps his promises!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Quick Photo Scan - Her California Mission President

A photo we just received from Debbie's Mission President in Roseville, CA

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Card from Sister Byrne

Pre-Christmas Calm in Loomis, CA + iPad Mini's

   I'm emailing you this week from my iPad!! We each got iPad minis this week. Best Christmas ever? Jk. But they are super awesome we are one of thirty missions in the whole world to have these puppies. It is definitely an amazing tool to help hasten the work. So we said goodbye to our paper planners and area books this week. Cray-cray! It's a great study tool too. We have all the talks and Mormon messages and mine will even speak português with me!
    This past week some miracles happened. I don't remember if I told you or not but we are Skype-teaching a guy in England names Christopher. He's awesome!! He is progressing so much, but he has been hesitant to meet with the local Elders for some reason. Anyway, we finally got him to agree to meet with them which was a big step for him! I can't wait to hear about his baptism (it'll happen soon. He's seriously incredibly prepared)
    Investigator X, another investigator, is also incredible. He couldn't meet with us earlier this week and when we asked why he said he had to break up with his girlfriend because she wanted to start having sex, but he just didn't feel good about it. We hadn't Even taught the law of chastity lesson yet. What 19 year old does that??
    This week I really started learning that despite Sister Allen's and my efforts of tracting and finding and working, all the miracles that happen have nothing to do with our own efforts. Heavenly Father truly does His own work and we're just blessed enough to have a part in it. So we just keep working hard because we know it qualifies us for the miracles to happen. Sacrifice definitely brings forth the blessings of Heaven. I know that Heavenly Father is aware of me and sees my efforts. He loves me :)
    Anyway, tracting adventure of the week. So Loomis is an incredibly hilly town and the houses are all like 1/4 mile apart. So Sister Allen and I drive down a street, scope it out, then park at the beginning and start knocking houses. Well, one day we get to the very last house and no one answers, as we are walking away a man yells after us, who are ya'll? So we go and start talking to him. He's super nice but not interested. But he feels bad that we walked all the way up the huge hill to get to his house so he gives us a bottle of water and asks if we want to see a pig. What? So he shows us his huge pig! And then let's us feed it bananas with chocolate syrup!! What?? It was disgusting. Pigs are gross. Sorry William, but never get a pig! They start off cute, but they get crazy. And when they say eat like a pig, I know exactly what they mean.
  One of Sister Allen's and my favorite things to do is listen to Josh Grobans Christmas CD. Angels we have heard on high is our JAM! It's so good! And it gets us motivated to leave the house and get in the car.
    Oh! We sang at a nursing home this week. It was fun. Only 5 people showed up. Us, our mission leader, his wife, and Dacoda. It was hilarious, we are all terrible singers... Dacoda showed up late and said he was confused when he first walked in because all he could hear was snoring...bahahahah! But it was fun and we got to invite some of the CNAs to Church. So that was good.
     Also, we came up with an idea one day tracting, because tracting is the most inefficient way to find. So we organized a night movie showing of the Nativity. It was pretty last minute and no non-members came. And no members brought their non member friends, but it was still good. The Spirit was super strong and I think we gained the members who came trust.
    We are trying really hard to find. No one in Loomis really wants to talk to us. Not gonna lie, it can get discouraging. But I know that The Lord didn't send me out here to do nothing, there's somewhere out there waiting to hear the truth. Waiting for us to find them and tell them the good news. That Christ lives and this is His Church. So I'm going to keep working hard to find them. Even if it's just one person. Because I know that this gospel will change their life forever like it has mine.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Preacher to the über-rich California suburbanites!

Sister Debbie thinking big thoughts.
So I have been assigned to the Loomis 3rd ward. I didn't even know Loomis existed before Thursday, but I love it here. The ward is amazing and they have spoiled me every single day so far. The families are awesome and I already love them! One family, the LaPlantes, are especially awesome. The dad isn't a member yet, but we're working on it. Anyway, Sister LaPlante gave me some of her extra tights the first night I was there. How awesome is that? She loves the missionaries!

My new address is posted on my Facebook page for my friends, but, you can still send me stuff at the address listed on the left. It will get to me pretty quickly.

I think I already told ya'll about my mission president, President Weston, I seriously love him! I think that if anything else, I was called to serve here to get to know him. I am so excited to see him Tuesday, we're having a special conference because our mission.....is getting I-pads!!! CRAZY!!! We each get individual mini i-pads, like each missionary, not companionship. Also, we're allowed to FB... so that'll be cool. Ma...I can't talk to you on it though, so don't message me...

Sister Allen and the
amazing insta-closet
My new companion is Sister Allen. She is the bomb!! I love her already! She's from Provo Utah and is the first from her family to serve a mission too. She's a super good missionary does a great job at making awkward situations less awkward...like tracting. So here in Loomis it's pretty country. Everyone has chickens and the houses are pretty far apart. We don't tract at night...don't worry ma... but sometimes when we're walking to our car from an appointment it's pitch black, so thank goodness mommy gave me that flashlight! It's definitely been used.

Anyway, most people we run into tracting hate us. But it's okay, the Jews hated Jesus, so He gets me. Anyway, they always like to tell Joseph Smith was a false prophet and then proceed to tell us things the think we believe (that are not true) and then they tell us we're not Christians. So that's fun. We try to clear up misconceptions but they say we don't know what we're talking about and we really don't believe in Jesus, so it's cool that they know what we believe more than we do.... BUT we ran into this guy named George the other day, and he invited us back, so we went back to his house yesterday and taught him, his wife was pretty against us at first, but we started talking and our ward mission leader (who is amazing) came with us and he started a conversation with her and they let us come in and sit down and we just got to know them, BUT i'm excited to go back again and start sharing the gospel with them.
Not sure why we are taking pictures of this, but, at
least Dad didn't get a bill for $5000

Also, miracles happen like crazy out here! Like this kid comes up to us at the ward Christmas party Saturday and is like hey, I want to meet with ya'll. He was taught by missionaries before, but wasn't ready then, and Sister Allen found his info in the area book and then he showed up at the Christmas party. We're going to teach him tonight I'm pretty stoked!

So Loomis is interesting because although it's out in the boonies, the people are pretty wealthy and not too interested in the Gospel. And so our teaching pool is pretty small right now, but me and Sister Allen are working really hard on finding. And some awesome potential investigators have already shown up. Straight up miracles, I wish I had more time to tell you more about it. LIke this one random member not in our ward called us Saturday and was like, hey i know it's short notice, but can you come to our house and teach this family. and we were like ummm yeah! so we went and shared a short message and we're gonna stop by their house again soon (the family lives on our area).

Well, I cannot wait to hear from ya'll again next week. I hope you're having fun preparing for Christmas! and are enjoying the baby bear (Giancarlo) getting home. Enjoy him while you have him. Love ya'll. Miss you!

A Igreja e verdadeira. E milagres sao reis! sou grata de estar aqui no Loomis. mas tenho saudades de voces!

<3 Sister Byrne

Not exactly living up to the poverty clause, here!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Leaving the Missionary Training Center - Off to California (for now) - Bonus Encounter with Brad and Sandy Harris

Bom dia!
    Today is P-Day because we leave tomorrow! I cannot believe ya'll had such a crazy ice-storm! That's kind of awesome though. I'm sure there was lots of "Walking Dead" and "Gossip Girl" in the house the past couple days. I heard the airport got closed down too and one of the sisters in our district (Sister Beazer) got re-assigned to Dallas, so she was worried about not being able to fly out this morning, but I'm sure they got it up and running asap.
   So this week was awesome. Did ya'll get a chance to watch the Christmas devotional yesterday? If you didn't you should definitely look it up on lds.org. It was super good. 
    I think I'm going to try to send some stuff home today so that my suitcases are lighter and because I won't need a lot of my heavy winter stuff in California. 
   Oh by the way! I've heard of a TON of people going through the Houston consulate getting their visas this week. And a lot of them turned in their application after me and didn't even have to do fingerprints or anything!! I've learned to just stop talking to people about visas because it always gets me flustered...it's just better to not think about it.
Debbie and Sister Allred
    My district and I sang a musical number at Church, my companion and I arranged a combo of "Lead Kindly Light" and "I Need Thee Every Hour". It was soooo good! :) 
   Also, I'm so excited to just get out to the field!! I bought a Book of Mormon with the mission funds they give us every week and am determined to give it to the person next to me on the plane. Also I have a couple pass along cards to get rid of a the airport :) Yay for REAL missionary work! 

   Miracle of the week! So Sister Allred and I have been teaching our teacher, Irmao Smith (pronounced Smitch in Portuguese hahahah William and Giancarlo will like that), anyway, he picked an investigator that he taught on his mission to pretend to be while we taught him and tried to act like him and stuff like that. His investigator is named David and he's 18. Well Irmao still keeps in contact with him and unfortunately David has stopped going to Church. He has a pretty tough family situation at home and his dad doesn't let him go to Church a lot of the time, anyway, in previous Skype lessons we've taught Irmao made appointments for us to teach the REAL David, but they fell through both times. 
   This week he didn't make any plans with David, but we didn't have enough people in Brazil to skype with, so Irmao got on his facebook and lo and behold, David was on facebook, and Irmao asked if he wanted to skype with us. He agreed. WELL, before our Skype lesson Sister Allred and I didn't think we were going to teach David, but we prepared a lesson about receiving revelation at Church and were going to commit whoever we taught (unless the Spirit directed otherwise) to think of a way to better recieve personal revelation at Church, share that with us, and then commit to actually do it. 
Brad and Sandy Harris - Nice Surprise
  Well, we ended up getting to teach David, unfortunately his camera and microphone weren't working, but he could see and hear us, so we talked and he typed back to us on the chat. It was actually pretty cool and incredible that we could feel the Spirit even in that very strange form of communication. Anyway, he shared with us why he wasn't going to Church and the different struggles he's been having and when we asked him to commit to go to Church on Sunday he said "If it works out" which we were taught means NO in Brazilian Portuguese, so we talked a little more and he eventually agreed to actually go to Church. 
   It was AWESOME! I hope he actually does go. Apparently his ward is a really tough one and so the missionaries don't visit it too often and kinda neglect it.... WHAT?! I'm so mad at them. They need to go and help David!! I wish I could go to his area....anyway, he's awesome.  And I'm so glad we actually got to talk to him. I haven't met him or even seen him, but I feel like I just love him so much and I want so badly for his life to get better.
   I get to talk to ya'll tomorrow, so I'm gonna go e-mail some other people. I'm SO EXCITED to talk to ya'll real early tomorrow! :) I miss you and I love you! 

<3 Sister Byrne

Clearly, Debbie hasn't changed much!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Temporary Destination Confirmed - Roseville, CA

Tudo bem? Eu recebo minha re-assignment!! :) Entao

Once upon a time there was a sister missionary who was waiting for her visa to go to Brazil. Her family was praying and fasting for her to get her visa (and she was too), but the Lord had something else in store for this missionary. The Sister was very nervous when the day finally came for her to receive her temporary assignment while she continued to wait for her visa. She was sad she wasn't going straight to Brazil, but her biggest concern was that she would be sent somewhere cold, and this particular Sister did not handle cold weather very well. The days prior to receiving her temporary assignment, she prayed fervently telling the Lord that she knew He was in control and knew best, and told Him that she knew He knew where the people she needed to teach were, and that she would rather be sent somewhere according to the people He wanted her to find, BUT she also reminded Him that she would probably be a more effective missionary if she didn't have to overcome the trial of enduring the cold in clothes that were meant for Brazil...

Well the day finally came and her teacher handed her the re-assignment, with great anticipation, she opened the letter and found out that she would be serving in the ROSEVILLE, CALIFORNIA mission until her visa arrived!!! :) 

This story is a testimony that God definitely knows and very much loves His children, especially that little sister missionary. 

So no worries. I'm going to be in a semi warm place. I think Roseville is in northern California so it won't be perfect weather, BUT definitely better than it has been here in Utah. 

I leave December 10th at 8:39am. I have to report to the travel office at 4:30am. Yahoo!!  One other sister in my district got called to the same mission, so we'll be traveling together and I'm super psyched about giving a Book of Mormon to whoever I sit next to on the plane. Yeah for REAL missionary work!!! :) 

Amo voces muito! I love you very much!! 
<3 Sister Byrne

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Missionary Thanksgiving in the MTC

I had a pretty good Thanksgiving! I had started my day by singing in the choir for our Thanksgiving devotional. I'm not sure if I told ya'll that yet, but I LOVE the MTC choir director. He's amazing and always finds a way to make the songs we sing so meaningful and powerful! I love it! Anyway, unfortunately Elder Holland didn't come BUT Elder Nelson did!! He gave us some pretty specific instruction about things to do while in the field, which was interesting because they never give us specific instructions on how to do stuff. He talked a lot about members working with the missionaries. Ideally, it would be best if the members did all the finding and the missionaries did all the teaching. So get to work. I know its hard to trust the missionaries with our friends sometimes, but if you can tell that the missionaries are working hard and are as obedient as they can be, then trust them. The Lord will work through them to teach. It's so important!! I'm getting to work out here, ya'll need to get work back home too. Like ma, have you ever talked to Joan about the Church? I think she might be interested and certainly not offended by you sharing what makes you so happy. It'll be the greatest thing you could do for you. Anyway, sorry for preaching, but it's kinda my job now....

After Elder Nelson's devotional we bummed out in our class with our district. I love my district! I'm going to be so sad to leave them in a week! After bumming around, we went to like a Thanksgiving Assembly with musical numbers and skits and videos and stuff. I was surprised how much they let us goof off and be silly. it was supper fun! And then had our big Turkey Day lunch, Sis A and I sat with the younger district and made some friends with them. They're such sweethearts! And I ate sooo much! Like I ate 2 full plates and some apple pie! MMMMM! Then, we did a service project where we assembled food kits for starving children. Then we ate our sac dinners we made. That was also super fun. Our district's table kept finding new and creative ways to be more efficient and we basically became a machine and exceeded our goal. What what?? Like a boss! Anyway, after that we got to watch a MOVIE! Yup, a full length feature film called "Ephraim's Rescue". It made me very grateful that I am NOT a pioneer. We are so blessed to live in the 21st century!

Some other things that happened this week. I learned how to run during gym. Apparently I've been running incorrectly my whole life. One of the Elders told me I was running wrong and taught me how I'm supposed to run.  It took awhile to get used to but it works so much better!! 

Also, ya'll don't know this but you already got me my Christmas present! Surprise! I bought new scriptures! Mine were just too old and worn out and stained and I don't want people to see my scriptures and think, wow, that's how much you care about them huh? I got a really good deal though, don't worry Ma. Everything in the bookstore here is 40% off and I've been saving my $ from every week, so I ended up getting genuine leather scriptures and a case for only $50. And hopefully they last me for the next 10 years. So, I'm thinking that should be my Christmas present this year ;)

This morning its started snowing...and it hasn't stopped yet! There is so much snow!!! And it's very cold, but it's also extremely gorgeous!! Everything is white and it feels like Christmas :) We got to walk in it this morning on the way to the temple. Our district was assigned to clean the temple this morning. It was such a neat experience. They gave us white scrubs to work in and we spent 3 hours cleaning out lockers. You would not believe how thoroughly they clean EVERYthing! I have so much more respect for the cleanliness of the temple now. It was fun, we all sang Christmas carols while we worked and the hours passed quickly. also, we got to go on an adventure and see the Bride's room! It was so gorgeous!! They really shouldn't take sisters in there because then we start thinking about weddings and that kind of stuff. But I stood where all the mirrors to make sure your dress is perfect were and it was way awesome. Someday I'll get to go there for real and be sealed to the man of my dreams! And it'll be so great. BUT that's not going to happen for awhile...I've got too much else to do for the next 17 months.

I cannot believe it's already been 5 weeks. Anyway, no news of my visa yet, so we get re-assignments on Thursday. Mine might still come between now and then, I had a dream the other night that me and Elder Harolds (also from Texas) got our visas. I'm really hoping that it was actually vision.... They go through the same process as they did when I got my first call. So it's pretty exciting that I get to have 2 mission calls. I get to e-mail ya'll again Thursday to tell you my travel plans and stuff. So be aware. Also, I get to call ya'll from the airport. So don't be busy next week. I'm not sure if we can 3 way with the baby bear or not. But I'll be able to give you more details on Thursday. I cannot wait!! :) 

Also, Didi, can you send me a copy of my patriarchal blessing? The only copy I have is glued into my old scriptures and I plan on sending those back home...

Also, Ma, a miracle happened this week. Remember how last week I had that terrible cold sore? And remember how long it takes for mine to go away and how terrible they are? Well that night I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help it heal quickly...AND it did! All I used was that lysine + chapstick stuff and it was literally gone in 2 days. Like completely. That NEVER happens!! It was definitely an answer to my prayer. Prayers work! What a blessing!

Also, Ma, you should go to the youth.lds.org website and check out the free music they have to download, I feel like you could use a lot for massage. It's worth looking at. 

Well, I gotta run. Amo voces! I'm going to try to send some pictures, in another e-mail. Have a GREAT week! I'll e-mail you Thursday and talk to you next week!! :) Love you!

<3 Sister Byrne

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cold sores, smiley faces and the Holy Ghost

More and more missionaries are getting their visas now in other districts, so there is still hope! Like two missionaries that got her last Wednesday already got theirs and are heading for Sao Paulo this week! Bless their hearts.

Thanks so much for the letter ya'll sent me! I got it yesterday, and it definitely made my whole week!! It's so good to hear from ya'll.

I wrote pretty much everything else I had to say in the letter and I don't want to give it all away.... I hope ya'll have fun at Grandma's house. Give her a big hug for me! And all the Hoovers! And make sure to eat lots of food for me. The food here is good and there's always lots of it, but I'm definitely so over it already... I even had a dream of eating pasta piselli at home the other day...

Also, guess what?! I woke up today and guess who I found?? My good ol' friend herpes hanging out on my lip.... yup! It's so huge and it's so ugly! Ma, I have a question for you. They have abreva at the bookstore, but one tiny tube is like $15...should I get it? I bought this other ointment called Lysine+ and let's be real, my cold sore probably won't go away fast anyway because mine are just monsters... I'm so sad it came, I mean it could be worse, I could have a huge ugly lip ALL the time, at least this goes away!

But I told the Elders about it, and that I can't even look in the mirror at myself cuz it's so gross and they told me that they think I'm beautiful anyway... but not in a pg 33 kind of way. (pg 33 is the page in the missionary handbook that talks about not flirting) I love our Elders! They are so awesome and they always take such good care of us sisters. In like a sibling kind of way. Like Elder Chipman (he's serving in Santos too) always makes all the boys in the water line after choir move so Sister Allred and I can get a drink first. How sweet is that? And one of them (I can't figure out who) secretly puts smiley stickers on all my notebooks because he knows I love stickers. Adorable right? We're like a little family.

This week I've been thinking a lot about the Holy Ghost and how to recognize Him and follow His promptings, and this is what I learned. 1) The Holy Ghost is REAL! He is a real being and He spends all day e'ry day testifying of truth, comforting us, warning us, and leading us to do God's work. I knew all that stuff before, but all these basic principles of the gospel are really starting to sink into my heart more than ever before. 2) Sometimes we do things that are inspired of Him without even realizing it, and as long as we are doing our best to be our best the Lord will be able to use us as His instruments to do His own work. And most of the time, we won't even realize that our actions are inspired of Him, but others will notice because it blesses their lives. So as long as we are worthy and trying our best, the Lord will work through us to bless His other children.

Sorry to go into preaching mode, but that's kinda my job, yeah?

Amo voces muito!! A igreja e verdadiera! Eu sei que este trabalho e muito importante e devemos sempre tentar de compartiliar seu evangelho as todas as pessoas por que Deus ama todos e quer abencoar eles com tudo as bencoes que vem di vivindo o evangelho. Jesus Cristo vive! Eu amo Ele com tudo meu coracao!

<3 Sister Byrne

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving in the MTC

I hear Thanksgiving in the MTC is the best! There is a rumor going around the MTC that Elder Holland is coming with his family. I sure hope that is true! I would LOVE to see Elder Holland. Getting to hear Elder Perry last week was outstanding! I love hearing the apostles speak. Especially about missionary work. The devotionals here are life changing. Sunday night this woman named Sis Edmunds came, she was a BYU Nursing professor back in the day, and she was an awesome speaker! She was assigned to Brazil, got reassigned to New York waiting for her visa, and then got reassigned to the Phillipines! And she didn't even speak any Filipino! Crazzzzyy! 

Anyway, I'm happy to hear all is well in TC and I knew mommy's prophecy to me in the car on the way back from shopping would come true. She said she was going to convince you to buy a Dart...I didn't really believe her, but as we learned from my big fat greek wedding, the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants! hahahaha :) Make sure to give everyone a hug for me when ya'll get to Kansas!

Okay, ready for funny story time? Yesterday, Sister Allred and I were teaching our "investigator" David. He's a 16 year old Brazilian teenager who got tracted into one day, and now we're working with him. He's awesome! (also he's our teacher Irmao Smith! And another funny story, one day, Irmao didn't show up to class, and we were all kinda like huh...guess we'll just study. 30 minutes later our other teacher Irma Dangerfield walks in and told us Irmao Smith was riding his bike on the way to the MTC and got hit by a car! He's okay, but he has crutches now and a scrape on his face...poor guy).

Anyway, back to David, I was saying the opening prayer in the lesson and was praying that his knee would heal correctly and quickly. Well I forgot the word for heal (curar), so I just said it in English, well heal sounds a whole lot like hell and he thought I said hell (and of course he knew that word in English), so he was very confused why I was praying about his knee going to hell, so we had to spend a few minutes clearing that up, and then he proceeded to tease me about it randomly throughout the lesson! It was pretty great. 

We had TRC for the first time this week! TRC is where members who speak Portuguese come in and we just teach them as members. It was an awesome experience! We taught this guy, who was visiting from BYU-H (he didn't know Giancarlo) and me and my companion have been practicing teaching by the Spirit and becoming instruments to Him (the real teacher) and not teaching what we want. 

When I walked in I wanted to teach about prayer and how we can receive direction from God about what to do in our lives, but then the Spirit just whispered, hold on, don't say anything. So I didn't, and there was a long silence, then my companion just asked him if he had any questions for us. He paused and then told us about his friend whose wife recently died and he didn't know what to say to comfort him. Then the we just started talking about the Atonement and how it didn't just cover our sins, but Christ went through every pain and sorrow we'd ever feel so that we could lean on Him and He would understand what we were going through, and we testified that his friend could gain peace and comfort by leaning on Christ and trusting in Him. We read a couple scriptures in the lesson wanting to go one way with them, and then he went a completely different direction with it. It was really cool to see the Spirit working in him and teaching him, and let me tell ya, the Spirit brings people closer to Christ, not us!

One of my favorite things about being a missionary is my tag! :) Anytime of the day, including right now, I can look down and see my name "Sister Byrne" and the name of our Savior "Jesus Cristo". It's awesome and it's so tender and precious to me. I love Him so much, and I love having his name right next to mine on my little tag over my little heart :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A day in the life at the MTC

This morning we got to go to the temple. It was GREAT! I got to go do sealings as a daughter proxy and it was super cool. I'd never seen it before. I've been starting to realize the importance of temple ordinances and I am so grateful that we are sealed para eternidade! Muito legal! 

Families are meant to be together forever! And I'm lucky enough to be sealed to the best family in the world :) The sealer was this adorable little old man, and he got distracted talking to us a lot, but it was awesome. Unfortunately next week is the last week we get to go to the temple because the temple closes after that....oh well.

I watched this video from Uchtdorf and he made a joke talking about languages and how hard it was for him to learn English, but then he said "It's okay because everyone who speaks English now is going to have to learn German...because that's what they speak in Heaven." hahah it was pretty funny :)
I finally ran into some Italian Eders today! I got to speak a little to them, and I ran into this guy at the fingerprinting office that spoke Italian and guess what? I haven't forgotten it..yet! :) I'm really starting to love Portuguese though. Its to pretty and melodic.

Also, I keep running into random people I know. It's awesome. Like I saw one of my best friends from the nursing program, she works here. Then I saw my old and favorite home teacher from my BYU ward. He works here. Then I saw my old Tongan Psychology professor from BYU-H. He and his wife are senior missionaries going out pretty soon. Then I saw Sister Harris, our old Bishop Harris's wife in Relief Society. The world is so small! Especially the MTC!
My district is AMAZING! The Elders are all Giancarlo's age so I've kinda adopted them as my make-shift baby brothers.
Anyway, today is a pretty exciting day because....ELDER PERRY IS COMING to give the devotional tonight!! And I'm guaranteed a good seat because my companion and I are singing in the choir! :)

So this is a typical day in the life of Sister Byrne at the MTC:

5:25am Alarm goes off. and I spend the next 5 minutes convincing myself to get out of my warm bed.

5:30am My amazing wonderful patient loving companion and I get up and read a chapter of o Livro De Mormon em Portugues out loud together. Then we shower and get ready for the day. and I use my amazing new hair dryer that I LOVE.

6:30am BREAKFAST! Every meal here is way too much food. Breakfast is like going to Jimmy's Egg every morning.

7:00am Class starts! In class we get to learn the language, study Preach my Gospel, and learn how to be better missionaries (stuff like planning, setting goals, and how to begin teaching) I <3 class time! The Spirit always takes over our classroom and its unlike anything I've ever seen before. I've come to learn how REAL the Spirit is and I'm learning more how He talks to me specifically.

9:30am Teach our "investigator" a 1/2 hour lesson in 100% Portuguese! We have 2 new investigators now. Our other one committed to baptism!! :) It was awesome! We're learning better to teach by the Spirit!

10:00am 1 hour personal study! Personal study is GREAT! I like to call it personal revelation time. I set a goal to finish the Book of Mormon in 2 weeks and I'm reading Jesus the Christ. Amazing. And I always find something that I end up using in a lesson with our investigator. It's pretty cool how it works.

11:00am LUNCH! :) sometimes when my companion and I finish fast, we go practice the piano (well she does, I supervise) She's really good and is going to play for our district cuz we're doing a musical number on Sunday!

11:45am Additional Study (usually we plan for our investigators and work on vocab we need for the lesson)

1:30pm Language Study! The language keeps coming faster and faster. I don't mean to brag...BUT I can speak Portuguese better than some of the Elders who left for the field yesterday. But I keep working hard because the Lord rewards hard work!

2:40pm GYM TIME!! One of the greatest times of the day! I usually try to run a total of 2 miles with sprints in between. But its been so nice outside lately that I just go out to the field and job with my companion. I've been extremely grateful for the weather lately though. It's been awesome during the day, and in the sun. Don't worry ma, I use the lat machine and build my back muscles and I don't skip leg day. Just trying to get swoll before I go into the field.

4:00pm DINNER! Sundays and Wednesdays they have BYU creamery ice-cream. :) I don't eat any other desserts than that though because I'm trying to learn better self-control AND I love my body.

4:45pm TALL (which is basically the MTC's version of Rosetta Stone)

6:00pm Class again! We have the best two teachers in the whole MTC! They are seriously so amazing! And I love them both. Irma Dangerfield is my role model. I hope to be as awesome as her someday and Irmao Smith is great with the Elders. One day we were all kinda falling asleep, so he made us run a race to the flag pole outside. hahaha it was awesome and the we were all awake after that!

9:00pm Daily Planning

9:30pm Head back to the dorm. We're either exhausted or hyper at this point. Then we get back and get ready for bed, write in our journals, read, whatever.

10:15pm Companionship prayer and quiet time starts.

10:30pm Lights Out!

The saying is true that the days are long and the weeks are short here at the MTC. I don't think I've ever been this productive in my whole life. Every single hour something is planned and we are doing something. When we're on the Lord's time there is no time to waste!

Friday, November 8, 2013

How to get your missionary Visa for Brazil (at least I hope this works) from Texas

I'm hoping that this article may help some family who is struggling with the same situation we are, namely, getting the Police Clearance for a missionary that is in the MTC. The process will be different for different states, but, hopefully some of this will be helpful.

The situation 
We received a letter from the Church Travel Department that the Houston Consulate had changed the requirements for their police clearances. We have previously obtained one from the city of The Colony, but, apparently this one didn't have enough information in it.

If you received a similar letter and your missionary has already left home (either in the MTC or temporary stateside assignment), you have probably read that there are 3 options:

  1. Get a state police clearance. 
  2. Get a city police clearance with the necessary documents. 
  3. Get an FBI clearance. The problem with option 3 is that it will take 6 to 8 weeks to obtain. 

The problem with options 1 and 2 are that they are impossible if your missionary has already left the state of Texas. The issue is that they require fingerprints and the state of Texas only accepts them from a company called IdentGo, which you can see from a quick review of the application form. IdentGo doesn't have any offices in Utah (so, no MTC option). If your missionary is serving temporarily in the field, they might be lucky enough to have an IdentGo office in their area. Their offices are listed on their web site.

(If your missionary is still in Texas, 1 and 2 are the best options because you can get the document quickly. A trip to Austin will allow you to get it the same day.)

So, how do you get the FBI clearance? 
The FBI doesn't require a specific agency to take the fingerprints, however, they do require that they be on a specific form. What the letter from the Church did not tell you is that they will take care of the fingerprinting at the MTC. If your missionary is in the field, they can get their fingerprints at a police station.

Prepare a kit with the following:
1) The FBI Clearance Form. It came with the letter you received. Fill it out for your missionary so they don't have to waste precious time doing it themselves.
2) The FBI fingerprint form (see link above). Make sure you print it out on card stock. I went to Kinko's, but, you can probably have it done at a good copy shop, or, if you have a printer that will take the card stock paper, go for it.
3) A Money Order for $18 made out to US Treasury. I got one from my bank. Be sure you sign it!
4) The letter that states where the FBI is to send the completed form. This should be to the Church Travel department.
LDS Church Travel
50 E. North Temple St
Salt Lake City, UT 84150
5) An envelope with the place your missionary will mail them from (the MTC in our case) as the return address, but addressed to the FBI address on the form. (Note: Previously I had said to send it to the Church's travel office address with the home address of the missionary as the address on the certificate. The FBI informed me that their system will mail it to the address on the certificate, so, you will have to remail it to the Church travel office. There is no need to prepare an envelope for the FBI or to spend money on priority mail or expedited postage as their mailing system just sends it regular mail to the return address on the certificate. I have heard of cases where the FBI was able to send it directly to Church travel, but, my experience was that this only led to unnecessary delay). You can print the label from the US Postal Service website. I highly recommend you add your email address for notifications so that you can follow the documents and see if your missionary has sent it or not.

If you have any questions, just post them here and I'll do my best to answer.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

First Experiences at the MTC


As you can already guess, my P-Days are TUESDAYS! whoop whoop! Okay, I kept a list of things I wanted to tell ya'll in my planner, so I'm just going to start listing...

1. I got to see Elder Ferrell! (Matthew). We were in the cafeteria eating, I was in line and Matthew asked if he could cut me to grab a cookie real quick, and I freaked out and told him who I was. He tried to attack me with a hug, but then we remembered we were missionaries and couldn't do that. He left today though, so we didn't have a chance to get a picture, but I DID see him!

2. I LOVE my district. There are 4 Elders and 6 Sisters. My companion is AWESOME! She is more quiet than me, but will get excited with me when I'm excited and we're both pretty open and can talk about anything! She's from New York and has a family of 10 kids! She's also 20. She eats barely anything...so I always feel bad making her wait while I eat like 3 plates of food...but she is very patient with me and is very responsible and helps take care of me when I do stupid things, like lose my temple recommend and run around campus trying to find it. She's awesome. Also I LOVE companion prayer. One of us starts and the other finishes the same prayer. Its pretty cool. We pray in Portuguese now, so sometimes I don't understand what she's saying and she doesn't understand me, but we both feel the Spirit which is all that matters. Also, we pray for ya'll every night, so I hope you feel those prayers :)

I got a letter from grandma and Aunt Bonnie!! Grandma sent me stamps :) and Aunt Bonnie sent me this little gold coin thing with an angel on it to protect me while I'm gone. I thought that was pretty sweet of her. 

It hasn't even been a week, but I feel like my life has been changed forever. I wrote to you about it in the letter, but I seriously LOVE the MTC. The first day I was pretty scared/nervous/excited, but by the end of the day I just felt this feeling of peace and belonging. I know that this is exactly where I belong right now. The people I've met and the things I've learned in the past 6 days have honestly changed my life. I am so grateful and humbled to be here. I am learning to be more converted to Lord, and sometimes it hurts, but its ALWAYS worth it. 

The language is coming along GREAT! The gift of tongues is so REAL! We walked in the first day and sat in class and our teacher, Irma Dangerfield, only spoke to us in Portuguese. It was intimidating and awesome. But it's absolutely amazing how much we've learned already. My companion and I have already taught our "investigator" 3 lessons in 100% Portugues! Now, tell me it'd be possible to learn that much of a new language anywhere else in the world...

Teaching our "investigator" is so much fun! We weren't very good at inviting the Spirit the first 2 times because we were so caught up on the language, but this last time we taught him the Restoration. I memorized the First Vision in Portuguese and recited it to him when we told him about Joseph Smith. As I said the words, I started choking up  because the spirit just consumed the whole room. Even our investigator (who is really a RM who goes to BYU) started tearing up. It was amazing! We asked him to get baptized but he said no cuz he'd already been baptized, but we didn't really have time to explain priesthood authority, so we're gonna teach him that next time. I'm SUPER EXCITED!

The gospel is true, the gospel is real. Good job being a missionary Didi. Keep it up! Now you have an easy excuse to bring up the church "oh, yeah my daughter is going to Brazil" "why?" "she's going to be a missionary for our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Wanna learn more??"

Sister Byrne

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ugh... Brazilian Red Tape

We received a letter from the Missionary Department that the Brazilian Consulate in Houston now has a new requirement for obtaining police clearance. Unfortunately, since she is already in the Missionary Training Center, it will take time to coordinate and almost certainly delay her departure to Brazil further. Please don't tell her. I'm working to see how we can get what is required done quickly.

Please join us in praying that we will find a way to overcome this roadblock and that she will be able to receive her VISA quickly!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Debbie is now Sister Byrne

Debbie was officially set apart just a few hours ago and endowed with the powers and responsibilities of full-time missionary work. From now on, she will be required to follow the mission rules, which means I am now officially responsible for the blog.

Her temporary companion is life-long friend Sharah Jabillo.

Setting apart was performed by Stu Alleman, President of the Frisco Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, with a minor assist from yours truly. She is now officially on the Lord's errand for the next two years.

God speed, Sister Byrne.

Contact Me!

If you would like to keep in touch. I would LOVE to hear from you!!
My MTC Address: Sister Deborah Connie Byrne
2007 N 900 E Unit  92
Provo UT 84602
 -Only good until 12/11/13
Santos Brazil Mission Address: Sister Deborah Connie Byrne
Av. Ana Costa, 414, salas 24 e 25 - Gonzaga
Santos - SP - Brasil 11060-002
Email Address:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission. When I Have Grown a Foot or Two! ... Oh Wait...

Aloha friends, family, and whoever else finds this blog haha

As you know I have been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the Santos, BRAZIL mission for the next 18 months. And I am beyond excited! If you want to learn more about my Church click here!

Before my Junior year of High School, I never ever even dreamed of being a missionary. I thought, who in the world would want to leave everything/one they love and are comfortable with behind to go live in a foreign place under strict rules ? Yeah...not for me.

Then, my Junior year of High School I started talking with one of my friends about the gospel and how immensely it has blessed my life. Long story short, he started talking with the missionaries and I watched as he gained a testimony, grew in the gospel, and found that part of his life that was missing, the part that made him happier than he ever was before. As I had that opportunity to see the gospel of Jesus Christ completely change my friend's life, I knew that inviting others to come unto Christ is the greatest work I could ever do.

I love super heroes! I used to wonder if I were Superman and the responsibility to save the world rested on my shoulders, if I would be brave and courageous enough to do it? To be honest, I'm not sure if I would, but fortunately for me - and everyone else - I don't have to save the world! Somebody else born about 2013 years ago already did that. So I'm going to leave my family, my friends, my school work, my whole world behind because I want to go share that good news to as many people as I can. I want to remind them that they are children of God and that Jesus Christ died to save their world.

I know my Savior lives and that He loves me, and you better believe that I love Him right back! I know He suffered for my sins -and everyone else's-  because He loves us and wants us to come back and live with Him. And if we accept His invitation to "...come, follow me" (Luke 18:22) we will get to live with Him someday in never ending happiness. I know, without a doubt, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Christ's restored Church here on the Earth. You know how I know? I asked a question. I didn't just accept it because my parents and leaders told me it was true. I did my homework and I read the Book of Mormon so I could know for myself. One of last prophets in the Book of Mormon made a promise. He said "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Moroni 10:4) Then I put Moroni's promise to the test. I got on my knees and specifically asked God if it was true. I didn't see a vision or hear a voice. I just felt an overwhelming peace in my heart, and I knew. And I cannot deny it. And that book along with the Bible, both of which testify of Christ, have brought me so much peace and strength in my life I cannot even begin to explain it here.

So now, I'm going to invite YOU, if you haven't already, read the Book of Mormon. (Click here to get a free one)  and then ask God if it is true. I promise He will not leave you hanging. He loves you and will tell you whether or not its true. He lives and He speaks to us if we openly speak to Him and listen. So why not find out? I say these things, in Jesus' name. Amen.