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Monday, February 23, 2015

Missionary or Nomad?

Where do I start? Well, I had the tender tender mercy of going back to Santa Rosa this week. There are no words to express how much I LOVE that place. As we were driving through my old area on the ônibus, my heart was just absolutely overflowing with happiness. Just driving by the old streets I used to work on brought memories back. Every street has a story.

Anyway, I guess the sisters gave the members a heads up that I was coming back and everyone wanted to see me, which made it hard to fulfill the purpose of the exchange (help Sister C. S. become a better gospel teacher), but the Lord is good and we were able to teach several investigators (including some ex-investigators that I taught while I was there. Remember F? Yeah, he has had some major changes in his life. I asked him when he was going to get baptized and he just looked at me and said "let's start preparing". Sister C. S. marked a time to go back. I am so excited to see what happens!) and she opened up to me about what was holding her back from working with all her heart might mind and strength.

We made some goals about improving those things and she is going to be able to reach the great potential that she has. But, yeah, so I got to see a bunch of people that a absolutely LOVE and as I prayed that night and poured my heart out in gratitude for being able to see and help them, I just felt an overwhelming peace come into my heart that the Lord is very pleased with my service as a missionary. It was one of those special sacred moments for me.

I also got to go out with Sis Culley. She is one of the most incredible human beings I know. She has a tumor in her hip, it's not cancerous, but it is growing and pushing on her nerves, so when she walks a lot it gets inflamed and she can't walk, so she only gets to work 1/2 a day, but I tell you what: she makes that 1/2 day count! We WENT TO WORK! It was awesome, we practiced using good questions to discern the needs of our contacts and gave baptismal dates to 2 people in the street! It was awesome! AND while we were on the bus in Morrinhos, I saw an ex investigator from Santa Rosa who couldn't get baptized because he was always out at sea fishing for work, but he quit his job and is now living in her area and accepted visits from the missionairies again!! :D and his daughter asked for his Book of Mormon because she wanted to read it, and has been reading it for like a month. The sisters are going to visit them this week. I am super excited!

Yesterday I got to go on exchanges with my old African companion. It was such a blast! She opened up and told me how much I helped her while we were companions and I was shocked! I had no idea how much she said she learned from me. It was humbling to know that I was able to help her become a better missionary.

I'm not sure what else to say. I'm trying to become the best Sister Byrne I can be. I love the Lord and I am finally getting to know Him more personally. We talk a lot. Prayer is essential for my survival these days. Things happen with sisters and I have no clue what to do. Absolutely no clue. So I go into another room, pray to know what He wants. Maybe I have the wrong attitude, but I'm like, Okay God, you put me in this position, we have a problem here and it needs to be resolved. I don't know how, so I need you to tell me. He always does :)

Life is good. Missions are great. I love my life.

Sister Byrne

Oh! scripture of the week is Mosiah 24:13-16

13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.

#it's real God lifts our burdens, takes tiredness away, gives us the strength we need to keep going.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Carnaval - not for missionaries! Contacting with the Spirit, Asking for Referrals, LOTS of Rain

Hey ya'll what a week!

We started the week in Rio Branco and now are in Casquieros. Carnaval started!! wahoo!! Fortunately, our mission president has banded us from going out after 5;00pm every night for 5 days. Apparently things get pretty crazy on the streets...there's lots of fireworks and yelling and music. during the day we see huge floats being prepared for the parades, but we don't even bother trying to look at night because we know it's just a bunch of naked women and drunk people, so we just stayed in our bedroom and had a mega companionship study. It was perfect. #ilovebeingamissionary

Sis Allen, my trainer taught me that miracles happen on exchanges and I've always been a firm believer of that and seen that on my mission, and I am blessed to exchange with sisters everyday, so I'm seeing incredible miracles everywhere, but I'd just like to share two.

1) Sis Menezes and I were walking down the street, I always try to have a prayer in my heart of who to stop and talk to whenever we're walking. It would be impossible to talk to EVERYone, so I rely on the Spirit to tell me who is ready. We passed a woman on the stairs and I felt like we needed to talk to her, soo...I grabbed Sis Menezes arm and whispered, we need to go back and talk to her..well turns out she had been stopped by the other sisters earlier that day on the ônibus and the day before by Elders when she was in their area. God was apparently wanting missionaries to teach her. We asked to go inside and taught the Restoration. The Spirit was incredibly strong and she recognized that God had answered her prayers by us stopping to talk to her. she recognized us as representatives of Christ. It was such a tender experience and evidence that God hears and answers our prayers.

2) Sis Nahimann and I were evaluating our teaching and we realized that we were forgetting to ask EVERYone for referrals, so we made a goal to literally ask EVERYone we talked to for referrals. We did and received MANY referrals, especially from people we didn't know in the street. We ended up teaching a horrible lesson to a young woman (there were so many distractions and the Spirit had no chance to be there because of her mom and other weird factors), but we asked her or a referral and she took us to her friend's house down the street. We knocked, introduced ourselves and one of the young woman was like, yeah, I was baptized in ya'lls Church....that's cool...then we found out that she was a less active Sis Nahimann and her companion had been trying to find ALL transfer. She had gotten in a fight with her parents and left and no one knew where she was. Also, she was one of the first people my girl Sis Allred baptized when she got here, and Sis Allred had talked about her a lot and wondered whatever happened to her. She let us in we had a powerful lesson on the Book of Mormon and then with tears in her eyes she looked at us and was like "I need to come back to Church, huh? I'll be there tomorrow". She called herself to repentance! #mightychangeofheart

Oh if only I could write all the wonderful experiences I've had this week!

Yesterday we and the assistants had a 4 hour meeting with president deciding how we were going to fix the mission. I LOVE President Cabral, I love him. I am so grateful for him and the other mission presidents I've been blessed to serve with. They are such inspired men. It was an incredible spiritual experience for me to counsel with him and for us 6 to recieve revelation together. #theChurchistrue

I feel incredibly blessed, The Lord knows me and I am trying my best to get to know Him. I love HIm. I love His work. I love His commandments and His gospel. I love that He sees potential in me that I cannot see. I love that He believes in me and allows me to struggle and fall so that He can teach me. I know Christ lives. This is His Church.

Have a great week ya'll. I love you! Be good and try not to get too trunky for me ;)

Sister Byrne

Teaching the teachers, traveling


What a week! I don't think I've ever spent so much time on a bus....but it's been GREAT! Right now I'm in Samambia, but after emails, we're getting on a bus to go to Parque dos Bandeiras. wahoo!

Also, I got to go back to Itanhaém which was definitely a tender mercy of the Lord. I LOVE it there! I got to see A and M again :) I cannot even describe how much I LOVE them! It's sad for me that M holds them back. A wants to get baptized so bad, but he does not want to get married. It's so dumb. But before I left I had a real meaningful conversation with M and basically told him that once he reads the Book of Mormon, he's going to feel the Spirit testify to him that it is true and he's going to WANT to get baptized, but he's going to discover that in order to get baptized you have to be living the commandments, one of which is the law of chastity and he's going to WANT to get married so that he can be baptized and become a member of God's only true church. I think it's the boldest I've ever been with him and he felt the reality of my words because he didn't make a joke about it afterwards.

Divisions have been interesting....we've been asked to evaluate how the sisters teach, the technique, and well...it could be worse, but mostly it could be a lot better.

BUT one thing that has become more real to me is the power of testifying of God's promises. We are always inviting people to repent, but hardly anybody wants to change because they know it will be hard. aka: they don't trust that God has something better waiting for them. But we as member of the Church know. We KNOW that when we live the gospel we stop eating dog food and start eating the steak dinner. But it's scary because we have to believe in something we can't see (or in other words have faith). But when we ponder our own lives and recognize the blessings that have come to us from keeping the commandments, we can testify with power and others who haven't yet experienced the sweetness of the gospel will be able to taste it through our testimony and our boldness in promissing that God will actually bless them. It's not just a fairytale and they are not the exception. The blessings and promises are real, we just have to have the faith to grab God's hand and walk with Him. We have to testify of these things because we know it's real, others may not know yet, but we do so it's our responsibility to share it.

I don't know what else to say...I love the sisters, sure they give me a bit of a headache but really they are AMAZING. Many of the Brasileiras and Hispanicos are recent converts themselves and only members of their family and I am just amazed at their faith and courage to serve. What great examples they are to me.

I love ya'll. Have a great week. Be good and make good choices. And always remember that "it's easy to forget that everyone's hurting just as much, we all have our problems, we've got our own imperfections. It's easy to remember that we're all in this together, and our Heavenly Father loves us all the same."


Sister Byrne

Adventures as a traveling training leader

Okay, so I WISH I had more time to write ya'll because so many miracles happened this week, but you'll probably be more interested in the update as to my calling as a missionary.

So....I have been called as a Sister Training Leader along with my AMAZING companion who I love to pieces, Sister Arthur....I already had the privilige to serve as an STL in Cali...only this time....we are the only sister training leaders in the entire mission...oh yeah also we no longer have an assigned area....or investigators....or anything that normal missionaries have....we will be touring the entire mission this month doing splits with ALL the 42 sisters in the misison. And we are living out of our suitcases and will not be returning to home base in Bertioga until March....yeah

So we spent 7 hours on a bus today getting to Registro to do divisions with the sisters here tomorrow. And Presidente Cabral has given us the special assignment of evaluating how the sisters teach. The baptisms in our mission have been slowing down and he's worried that it's because the missionaries are not good gospel teachers, so we have to evaluate all the sisters and their ability to teach.

I have NO CLUE why God has called me to have this position for the next month. He's probably just trying to stretch me a little more before I go home to help me reach my potential, right?

Anyway, this month is going to be exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally for me. I kinda feel like I'm looking at a giant mountain knowing that I'm going to have to climb it. But when I look at the top I think...well shoot, there is no way i can get there, so I use one of the anti-stress techniques I've learned as a missionary and i just keep saying to myself "All I have to do right now is_________" Just keep praying for me. :)

We found 2 amazing families on Saturday in Bertioga, one of which came to Church, oh how my heart loves them! D and M. They are very humble and ready for the gospel. D is illiterate and M reads very poorly but she read everything to D. So cute. In the lesson we had, after teaching that they could pray to ask God if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, he and his sweet wife and we kneeled down in the tiny living room/kitchen and D said the first prayer of his life, It was humble and definitely not a traditional prayer. He kept his eyes open and was unsure what to say, but he prayed with a sincere heart, and God answered his prayer with us right there in the living room with him. When we opened our eyes he had a light shining from his and he said that he felt "muito feliz". He told his son to get a pen and mark the 14th of Feburary on the calender for his baptism. M is less excited then D, but she too is a sweetheart and ready to follow the example of her husband. We passed them off to the other sisters in Bertioga, and i hope to get pictures from them of their baptism soon! :D

Anyway, no time, I gotta run. But I love ya'll. Keep studying the scriptures, keep praying, and know that I LOVE the Lord. I love Him. And I feel very humbled that He trusts me with this new assignment.


Sister Byrne

Transfers - Promptings of the Spirit

Hey ya'll,

So President Cabral is officially the craziest of the 3 mission presidents I've had... transfers never happen on transfer day, they're always a surprise, and yesterday we got a call as we were preparing on of my companions to go home (yup she should be getting on the plane right now to go hug her momma...weird!). I am getting transferred to BERTIOGA!! I'm going back to my first stake here in Brasil, Guaruja!! AND my new companion is a sister from my MTC district who was also reassigned to the California Roseville Mission! She only stayed one transfer, but she got a taste of the greatest state-side mission there is.

AGH! I wish I had more time to write, but I used most of my e-mail time going to the house of a beloved investigator family. agh! It was so hard to say goodbye....and the dad, M, even got teary-eyed as we said our goodbyes. I pray every night that his heart will soften so they can get married and she can get baptized and they can live happily ever after in the reino celestial!

Miracle, yesterday I saw a guy on the hill by himself and he looked like he was crying...i felt like i should go talk to him, but I had to enter into the matto a little to get close enough for him to hear me. my companions were like, no he's probably just a druggy leave him alone...but.....can't just ignore a prompting from the Spirit, so I went and talked to him. My companions left me to go take pictures because it was Sis Oliveiras last day, but luckily my girl Sis Allred was there too, she joined me and we taught him about baptism. Turns out he's a twenty year old homeless man who has already separated from his wife and all he wants is to repent and be right with God. So....we invited him to baptized of course! He was super excited when we taught him about repentance and baptism, he accepted to be baptized next Saturday and is extra excited to go to Church. #miracleshappen #followpromptings #ilovethegospel!

Anyway, I gotta run, still have to write president and I have like 10 minutes left..yikes.

Love you all! have a FANTASTIC week! Thanks for all the e-mails. And if you have time, look up the mormon message "Hope of God's Light" it is too good!


Sister Byrne

The Refiner's Fire - Balance

Oi família!

Tudo bem? This week has been one of learning. Faith is not something that disappears after things don't go your way. but it's having confidence, that even when the Lord's will is not your will, it will be for the best.

I've been having a tough time these past 2 transfers trying to balance everything. I've often felt like I've been drowning. Just too much on one little missionary´s shoulder and it´s been a refiner's fire for me here in Itanhaém. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DIIgm6xABQ) But God is good and He knows what will make us stronger. And I just want to share with ya'll that the Book of Mormon has become one of my best friends. Weird right? It's a book. but I am eternally and forever grateful for the prophets who labored diligently to carve these inspired words into plates of gold. Especially the words of King Benjamin. He's always been one of my favorite people. He's an old man who just says it how it is, because he does not fear man, but fears God.

This week I fell in love with Mosiah 7:33

But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.

This promise is real. And when the Lord says bondage, He's not just talking about the bondage of slavery to the Lamanites, He's talking about the bondage of sin or sorrow or heartache or fear. But when He says deliver you, He doesn't mean He´s going to make it disappear and make everything cute and fluffy, He means He´s going to help strengthen you to get you out of it.

The key to that strength comes from sincere prayer. Ask and ye shall receive, ask and it shall be opened unto you. We have to ask. I used to always get embarrassed by Mommy because she would always ask people for ridiculous things, like blue pens....then when the receptionist gave her a couple handful of blue pens she was extra happy and had what she wanted. But what was the key? ASK! She always taught me that if you want something you have to ask for it. and the worst that could happen is that someone says no. what a life lesson! You'll NEVER know until you ask.

Anyway, I've also learned that the Lord is so nice, and I often wonder why. He knows us so personally the Lord in His infinite wisdom has given me tender mercies to cheer me up. For example, my zone leader has diabetes, so at our zone meetings, once a week, he brings his syringe and I get to give him his insulin shot. So silly how something so small could make me so happy. And it´s something very personal that only God knows, but He DOES know. There´s also a little girl in the ward who for whatever reason is in love with me and she always comes and gives me HUGE hugs. and holds my hand and just makes me feel like the greatest person in the world. She is my angel. The Lord loves us and He knows us and He wants us to be happy!

I love ya'll. Have a great week. Make good choices and remember that He only breaks us down to lift us even higher.