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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

High expectations, baptismal joy, a trailer park and a very tiny frog

So this week was beyond remarkable! I wish I could tell you everything, but an hour is just not enough time! So for starters, we had zone conference on Wednesday. Any time I get to spend with President Weston is "always a good time" but probably not the same good time Hot Chelle Rae sings about. He gave us some great counsel and I received a lot of revelation of what I need to do to become a better missionary. Something he talked about a lot was high expectations. He said "Lock into your hearts the principle of high expectations". You're never going to achieve something you don't strive for. If you don't expect something good to happen, then it's probably not going to. This principle became more real to me later in the week.

Saturday was G's baptism!!! :D It was so awesome to see him in his white jumpsuit! And with such a big smile on his face! I have never seen him so happy and smiley as he has been the last two days. It's amazing to watch the gospel transform his life.

Now his baptism was a very unique baptism that I will never forget. I'll tell you all the details in 14 months, but I guess it had been a while since Brother S baptized anyone and he didn't remember how to have Gerald put his hands to make it a smooth process. So he basically ended up tackling him into the water....now mind you, these are both 60 year old men....and Brother S almost didn't get him back up.

I was sitting there thinking, oh no....this is it. G's gonna drown. Does he have to come back up for the baptism to be valid?? But he got him up. Well, I guess G's hand came up, so they had to do it again, and so he got tackled again. But he got under so it was okay.

It was probably the funniest looking baptism I'll ever see, because now I will make sure to practice with everyone before the big day. BUT despite the awkwardness of it, it did not matter because Brother S may not have remembered how to get G under gracefully, but he had the authority from God to perform that ordinance. That's what matters. The priesthood. It was valid in the sight of God because it was done with the proper authority.

I love baptisms. There is such a sweet Spirit present when someone decides to commit to following in the Saviors footsteps in His Church.

The same day as the baptism we went tracting at the trailer park. As we were walking I pondered President Weston's advice about my expectations and I thought to myself. We're going to find someone new to teach. There is someone here who is going to listen to us.

Knock on the first door. It's a young family. We talk to the dad and a little girl comes out too. We talk to him for like 15 minutes about how the gospel blesses families and learned more about his family. Then made a return appointment.

As we walked away I looked at Sister Allen and mouthed " what just happened". I guess you can't tell that not many people invite us back. Next door a man answers, says with a smile. Wow, anytime would be a great time, but we're in the middle of something right now. But my wife and I really want to start going back to a Church. We need it. Made a return appointment. Walked away thinking, okay, I could get used to this!

The rest of the park wasn't as eager as the first two doors, but wow what a miracle!! Having high expectations in righteous desires, it's real!

Well, I love ya'll! Try not to get into too much trouble this week! Thanks for the package ma! I wore the pink skirt to the baptism :) I miss you.

Oh also, if my visa does not come in the next 6 days, I'll be staying here in Cali for 6 more weeks.

<3 Sister Byrne

Sou dicípulo de Jesus Cristo

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chocolate fountains, the Atonement, miracles

The saying that the days are long and the weeks are short has never been so real to me! So much has happened this week and yet I can't believe it's Pday again!

So last Monday, sister Allen and I went to visit this less active lady who has a daughter on a mission. She's pretty amazing and she's a nurse! :) anyway, my Comp has been having health issues and so we discussed it with her and her suggestion to help her feel better was....YOGA! So she gave us this yoga book and we were so super excited to start doing yoga this past week. Well...Tuesday morning comes around and we try...and fail...she made yoga sound like the cure all and I'm convinced that it's probably really good for the wonderful gift of our bodies, but it's hard! And we could not figure out how the Asian man in the book got into the positions he did! We tried but we probably looked pretty stupid...BUT when I get home me and mommy are going to sign up for yoga classes. It's gonna be awesome!

So...I'm not sure if I've told you about our recent convert W. She reminds me a lot of Joan...we go over Tuesday night, still pretty stoked about yoga, and W really struggles emotionally, so we thought yoga would be good for her. Well...long story short somehow we ended up doing these weird deep breathing exercises on CD and holding this rock called Utah ice on our tummies and her singing to our backs....it was one of those moments that I looked around and thought to myself "what series of events led me to this moment?"

Me and sister Allen were doing our best not to bust out laughing, but we couldn't help it sometimes. We love her though. She's got such a strong testimony and is so loving and kind....just a little different, too.

So many miracles happened this week, I don't even know where to start! We've been giving ward members cute little hand outs with the names of our investigators and their concerns so the members can pray specifically for our investigators because specific prayers yield to specific answers.

We've put Patsie on the handouts with the concern of reading the Bom. She would not read it because she wanted to finish the Bible first, but we always leave her assignments. Well, we went over this week, and she read from the Book of Mormon on her own! For the first time in nine months!!! It caught us so off guard and was definitely a miracle! Prayers work! They are real!

Also we've been fervently pleading with The Lord to help us find one new person to teach. Well we get a call from the Alstons. I love them! And they had invited one of their neighbors over for crème brûlée and to talk to us. He had talked to sisters before but it'd been a while. Well we weren't sure what to expect so we went in and then somehow we found ourselves teaching him the first lesson and setting up a return appointment! That was the first time ever that I literally felt the Spirit running through me as I taught. It was unforgettable. The Spirit told me exactly what he needed to hear because he had some hidden concerns about having a modern day prophet, but we were able to address his concerns and teach him what he needed to know, not just a lesson.

Valentine's Day miracle. Sister Allen and I decided to go on a date to the local milkshake place. We started talking to this guy in front of us about what we were deciding to get. Then when we went up to order he had already paid for our milkshakes! I do not know his name, but he was my valentine this year. It was the sweetest thing ever! Saturday we spent the day doing service with this part member family. And then they had us for dinner and Sean, the nonmember husband, taught us how to make Chinese food. He's a great cook. Then somehow I got roped into agreeing to teach them how to make mummy's fresh tomato sauce....so I need some help remembering how to do that. Anyway, we challenged him to read the Book of Mormon after dinner, and he said maybe. After we get a text from his wife all excited because he has NEVER said maybe before. Only no. Miracle? Heck yeah!

This is going to be a great week! We have so much going on, and we get to go the temple! And G's baptism is on Saturday!! Pray for him because the adversary is already working on him like he always does right before someone is going to make a good decision like this. We got to teach YW at church this week. I loved it. I hope I get to serve in YW someday!

Oh, so something I read today in the Bible Dictionary this morning about temples is that it is THE most holy place of worship. That's pretty bold to say, and even more bold, that the home is the only place that can compare with the temple in sacredness. Think about that!

Alma 7:11-13
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

Also I've been thinking a lot about the Atonement and G. G wasn't ever a super wicked guy that needed to repent of horrible sins, so I haven't gotten to watch the atonement work that way in his life, but it's played the role of comfort. He is a completely different person not because he changed his actions, but because the Atonement has changed his attitude. There's a line in Preach My Gospel that says everything that is unfair in this life is made right through the Atonement. How real that is! I absolutely know it's true! It changes everything if we only let Him make that change in our lives. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it.

I love being a missionary. It's the greatest calling in the world. I never want it to end. I'm so grateful for the miracles I get to witness everyday. This is exactly where I'm supposed to be. I love you all! Thanks for everything you do! I miss you.

<3 Sister Byrne

Sou dicípulo de Jesus Cristo

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rain, a pet frog, and eggs straight from the chicken!

Okay, so this week has been amazing! Last Sunday was stake conference and the First Presidency asked the entire state of California to fast for rain because apparently we're in one of the biggest draughts of the history of Northern California. Not gonna lie, I expected some amazing miraculous rain fall right after Church or something, but it just got cloudy and pretty cold. Then, it kinda sprinkled but barely. As the days passed it got more and more cloudy, then on Wednesday it started raining, like straight up pouring and had not stopped until this morning. It was absolutely a miracle and an answer to prayer, but I think a lot of people overlooked it because it happened so naturally, but I think that's how Heavenly Father works, is simply and naturally. Then I reflected on my life and wondered how many miracles I have probably overlooked because it came so simply and naturally. Keep your eyes open! Miracles happen every single day if we'll just open our eyes and pay attention!

G is still on date for Feb 22! I seriously love him so much! He has taught me how to pray. I thought I knew how before, but his prayers are so heartfelt and real and I am so grateful for his example. When he prays it sounds like he's talking to an old friend. It's amazing. Anyway, his whole demeanor has changed ever since we set a baptismal date. No joke. He is always smiley and more positive. We taught him about tithing a couple months ago and he really struggled win the idea of it. He was convinced that he just didn't make enough to pay it. There was no way he could do it. Then on Friday we retaught him, and he had no problem. He understood it even deeper than we explained it. He was like yeah, tithing makes sense, it's proving our faith. Do we really love The Lord and have enough faith in him to give him what we hold onto so dearly. I was blown away. He gave the closing prayer Friday and he always prays to know if the Book of Mormon is true and if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, this time, for the first time ever he said in his prayer "I do believe it". I had the most ginormous smile on my face throughout the whole prayer. The gospel is true and it changes peoples lives.

It took G 2 years, but he finally gets it, and I am more than excited for his baptism! I'm really starting to love Loomis. It's a rough place to be in terms of missionary work, but this Sunday as I was looking around during sacrament meeting I had this overwhelming feeling of love. I looked around and all I could think was I really love these people. Every single one of them. They all have a story and they're all very different, but I LOVE them.

Anyway, other exciting things that happened this week. I went on exchanges with Sister Nitta again, but I got to go up to Auburn this time. We went and visited a lady in a nursing home....it made a million nursing school memories rush back into my brain. Oh my goodness! I could not breathe in there! Ma, pop, I will NEVER make you live in one of those places... But I do love talking to all the crazy old people :)

Also, because of exchanges sister Allen and I forgot to check the mail, so late Saturday night we decide we're going to run in the rain down the street to go check the mail. We're such dorks, but it was super fun! Also, I caught a frog. I wanted to keep him. He was so small and so cute! But we're not allowed...

Also we went to the G****y's house and they gave us more than a dozen fresh eggs from their chickens. I am so excited to eat them! Also we got to spend Glen S's birthday with him and his fam. He like specifically asked to have us over for dinner for his birthday. They're def totes on of my fav families in the ward!

Well, that's all I got this week. I love this work. I love being a missionary. There is NO greater calling. Bummer my visa is still taking forever, but if I have to spend another 6 weeks here it's okay. Happy Valentines Day to y'all. :) I love you!! I miss you. Talk to ya next week!

<3 Sister Byrne

Sou dicípulo de Jesus Cristo

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Piercings, bribing minors, feeding donkeys... typical mission stuff

Sister Byrne joins the
safety-helmet-wearing crew

We tracted during he Super Bowl yesterday. It was great because people were actually home, but bad because they got mad at us for interrupting the game. But in their hurry to get back to the TV they were willing to take whatever pamphlet we gave them haha. Everyone here hates the sea hawks so they were pretty bummed. Also this weekend was stake conference and one of the speakers made a joke that he is fully convinced that the Second Coming is going to happen on a Super Bowl Sunday. Hahah. I thought it was pretty funny.

Ready for a surprise.....?? I got my ears pierced this week!! They had these self pierce kits at Walmart so I bought one and Sister Allen pierced my ears in the bathroom. It was hilarious. She did a great job though. They're even and everything. I think it makes me look a little more mature if I might say so myself. It was a pretty exciting moment.

Cleanliness is
next to godliness

I've been Skype-teaching Berto and honestly it's what I look forward to all week and helps me survive the rest of the week. He's a sweetheart. I invited him to start reading the Book of Mormon and maybe he didn't understand me! or maybe he just really liked it, but I invited him to read the first chapter if Nephi, but he read the entire book of first Nephi. So that was beyond awesome! I skype with him a couple times a week and he says he's not interested in being converted, but he's keeping commitments and progressing so that's super awesome. He said if I'm ever in Rio I can stay with him. Then I told him y'all might pick me up from Brasil and he said y'all could stay there too and he'd show us around and stuff. I seriously love him, not like romantically he's like 46, but he has such a good heart and always makes my day.

We got an awesome phone call from this little girl in our ward this week. She told us she shared the gospel with her friend and gave her a Friend magazine. It was so cute!! I may or may not have made a deal with the primary kids that if they come up to me and tell me about a missionary experience they had I would give them candy...

Sister Byrne proves you can
get piercings as a missionary
and not break the rules.

Not much else to report on. Still working hard. I'm trying to incorporate português more in my day, cuz I've had the mentality of just keeping what I learned at the MTC, but I want to keep progressing and Berto really helps with that. I love it here, but I'm getting ready for Santos anyway.

Also, my new favorite story in the Book of Mormon is the Anti-Nephi-Lehis in Alma 24-26. That called exceeding faith! I'm working on that too. I need to have more trust in The Lord, and I think the only way I'm going to accomplish that is by being more humble, which I've come to learn is very hard for me. But I'm working on it.

Anyway, I love ya'll com tudo me coração! :) vocês são ótimos! Obrigada por todo! O evangelho é verdadeiro! Até mais!
<3 Sister Byrne