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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!