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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