Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014 The last post as a missionary in Brazil

Aahhhhhhhhhh!! This moment is so bittersweet! I can´t believe that I´m really writing my last email. I can´t believe in 7 days I´ll be on a plane going home! I don´t think it´s going to really sink in until I see my parents in the airport. Maybe not even then! But I am loving my last weeks in the mission! Heavenly Father is SO good! I feel so blessed to have spent the last weeks of my mission here in Pecém. It was short, but I really loved it here and met people that I will never forget and learned things that I only could have learned here!

I remember my first day in the MTC. I remember the feeling I had putting on my name tag for the first time! I was officially a missionary! It was one of the best feelings in the world! I really didn´t know much when I got to the MTC. I didn´t speak Portuguese and I had only read the Book of Mormon one time through for Personal Progress. There were so many things that I truly believed in, but not much that I could say that I KNEW. I just knew that I felt happy in church and when I was doing the right thing, and that I wanted other people to share in my happiness! Today, almost 18 months later, there´s so much that I can say that I know, and I wanted to share some things that I learned on the mission.

First of all, I learned that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints really is true, and that those words aren´t just something we all say in testimony meetings! As I´ve taught people with tons of different backgrounds, I´ve seen how the gospel is perfect for every single person and how it brings happiness to people no matter what their circumstances are! There's no way that something false could bring so much joy into so many peoples lives like the gospel does. I really know that the church is true.

I know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet and brought back the church and teachings of Jesus Christ that were lost. One of the weeks in the MTC, I was doing my personal study and I found Doctine and Covenants 135 where John Taylor wrote his testimony of Joseph Smith. That day I prayed to really know if Joseph was a prophet and later that night we watched a movie of Joseph Smith's life. I  received my testimony that day that he was a True Prophet of God. During my mission I don´t know how many times I´ve shared the experience of the first vision with people, but every time that I share the experience Joseph had, I get the same witness that it is true.

I know that the Book of Mormon is true! I even enjoy reading it now. There were lots of times on the mission where I was feeling sad or needed a boost in my testimony and every time I read the Book of Mormon, I got the answers and comfort that I was seeking. There are so many things that I believed before the mission that I learned were truths from the Book of Mormon. When I read the Book of Mormon, everything just makes sense!

I know that Heavenly Father listens to and answers prayers. If it weren´t for prayer, I wouldn´t have survived my mission! There were times when I felt so alone and there wasn´t anyone who I could talk to about everything that was happening. But I learned on my mission that Heavenly Father is always there, just waiting to listen. It doesn´t matter how eloquent we are or how long the prayers we offer last. I have never talked to anyone so sincerely as I´ve talked to Heavenly Father, and I know that he is happy to hear me. There´s no problem too insignificant for him and there isn´t anything that he isn´t willing to help us out with. Sometimes our answers don´t come in the way we want them to, but God´s will is always better and wiser than our own.

I learned that Jesus Christ really is the Savior of the world. I learned how personal his sacrifice was. He didn´t just suffer for all of us at once. He literally felt EVERYTHING that we felt, are feeling now, and will feel. He knows all of our pains and our trials and because of Him we can have the power to overcome any challenge in our life.

I learned that being obedient is really the way to true happiness. The commandments aren´t just a list of suggestions. They really lead us to eternal joy! It doesn´t matter what we have in life or how much we weigh or how many friends we have that will bring happiness. If we´re not being obedient to the commandments, There will always be something missing! I´ve never been happier than I am now on the mission and I know its because I´m living the gospel the fullest way possible.

I learned how much I love my family. Being away from them has been SO HARD! I didn´t realize how amazing my family is until I left. There are so many broken families and people in the world today. There are families where the dad and mom don´t even like each other! I am so blessed to have grown up in a home where I knew without a doubt that my mom and dad love each other and where I felt so loved every single day. There wasn´t ever a time where I really felt alone because I always knew I´d have my family to depend on. I´m so excited to be able to laugh with you and take a n occasional Sunday nap again :) I´ve missed grandma jane and hacking Tasha's facebook. I´ve missed hearing about who mom and Sarah think I should marry. I´ve missed dad´s jokes that only he understands and his stories that last for 20 minutes! I´m so blessed to have a family like this.

There is really so much that I´ve learned here serving as missionary. I had NO IDEA what I was doing when I sent my mission papers in besides i knew i was supposed to go. I thought that the mission would just be tracting all day long and that everybody we talked to would want to hear the message. And that I´d always know what to say and do and at the end I´d be perfect and ready to be exalted. But that´s not what the mission is like. Especially my mission! Being a missionary is a million times better than I thought! I´m going to miss being SO different from the rest of the world. I´m going to miss having to pronounce my name for people 30 times before they understand it. I´m going to miss the way that people just instantly open up to me and all the friendships I´ve made as a missionary. I didn´t know how hard it would be to eat rice and beans and spaghetti every day, or how sad I would get when people didn´t accept the message or stopped receiving our visits! I never imagined how happy I would be to see someone read the Book of Mormon or hear them pray for the first time.

There is so much that I just can´t even begin to describe! But I´m so grateful for all that I´ve learned here. I´m not leaving the mission as a perfect person, But I know that I am much better than I was before. I know that my testimony is stronger than it was before! I will never be able to thank Heavenly Father enough for all the blessings I´ve received on my mission. And all that I know I´ll receive in the future! It´s been 18 months of the greatest and hardest experiences of my life!! I´m excited for this last week! It´s going to be hard to leave Fortaleza, but I know that I will still be able to talk to everyone from here, and that the friendships I´ve made aren´t going to end just because it is time for me to leave!

I can´t wait to see you all soon!
Sister Pehrson


Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014

15 days until I come home!! I´m so excited and happy and scared and sad all at the same time! I can´t believe how fast time has gone, and how fast it´s still passing by. These last weeks of the mission are amazing, but really challenging too! this last week was awesome! Full of fun adventures and amazing spiritual experiences like always! 


Monday night when preparation day ended we had the great privilege of teaching our 19 year old investigator about God's Law of Chastity. As soon as we said chastity he started cracking up!! But once he calmed down we began teaching and he had lots of questions like, ´´Can I still kiss girls?´´ The best part was at the end when we invited him to obey this commandment. He didn´t respond and gave us this weird look like he wanted to say something but he wasn´t sure. He finally mouthed something that we didn´t understand and once he saw that we weren´t getting it he whispered ´´Sisters. I´m already obeying it. But don´t tell ANYONE!!´´ hahah I don´t know how Sister Cabana and I kept from laughing out loud! It´s always an adventure teaching people.


The next day we taught another investigator. He was telling us all the doubts he has about being baptized and we shared with him some scriptures and thoughts to help him out. He´s from Rio Grande do Norte, which is about 6 hours north of Pecem. He left Wednesday to visit his family and he got back Sunday night. We´re going to teach him tonight and he told us Tuesday that he´d pray and think a lot during his trip and give us an answer tonight if he will be baptized! I really hope that he got his answer because he´s genuinely seeking the truth. After that we had an amazing lesson with Elizabeth and Roberto, a couple we´re teaching. They both really loved church! He said the closing prayer and it was so powerful. He is really changing a ton! 


On Wednesday we taught our investigator Marquilene. She´s doing well but that was the only day we got to teach her and we haven´t seen her the rest of the week. We´ll try again tonight! We met a new investigator that day, Nescy. she´s really sweet! She is a single mom and is struggling a lot right now, but she wants to learn more about the gospel. She had a daughter that passed away when she was about 2, so she has lots of questions about where her daughter is and things like that. It still amazes me that there are so many people prepared to hear the gospel that haven´t had the opportunity to talk to the missionaries! We stopped and said bye to our iunvestigator before he left for his trip and he said he´d read the Book of Mormon every day that he´s there! After that we had a meeting that is caled Leitura, which is kind of like Institute (religious instruction). 


Thursday was sooo awesome! Since Pecém is the interior of Brasil, our area is HUGE! It includes more than just the city of Pecém. So we went to this little city nearby called Taiba. It's right on the beach and is so pretty! The people there are so sweet and open. The first door we knocked on the lady just let us right in and was so excited to have us there! The people in Taiba have never heard of the church and have never talked with missionaries, so its like heaven for us! It's hard for the people there to get to Pecém for church, but if we teach enough people, they could start a group there. I think the church would grow a lot over there! When we got back to Pecém we taught Elizabeth and Roberto. I thought seeing the ocean would be the best part of my day, but the ocean didn´t even compare with how amazing our lesson was with them! We watched The Restoration with them. I know I´ve watched it about 8 thousand times on the mission, but it never gets old and always brings the spirit! We bore testimony to them of how the Book of Mormon will bless their lives and that they will receive answers to their prayers. Elizabeth said the closing prayer and that was my favorite part. She asked her husband for forgiveness and prayed for him to have the strength to make good choices. She said some really funny stuff too like  ´´Help us to keep being the great couple we are. I know I´m a great spouse for Roberto (long pause...) and he´s a great husband for me too!´´ haha I love them. I left their house and I was seriously on cloud nine! I love the moments on the mission when I get to see people truly change their lives. Elizabeth and Roberto are so much closer now! They are so much happier! I love seeing the joy the gospel brings to peoples lives. 


Friday was a little rough. It was a holiday here and everyone and their mom was down at the beach for this big party. All our appointments were falling through! But it was all a part of Heavenly Father´s plan because we ended up finding some awesome new people to teach! We met this lady Marta who is a hair dresser. She is awesome! Her daughter is a member of our church, but doesn't attend very often. She´s going through a lot right now and said that before we got there, She was praying and feeling really down, but that our visit really lifted her spirits! At the end of the night we taught Nescy. She told us about her experience when her baby daughter died and how she knew it was God's will. She said that when we visit her that she feels a lot of peace. We told her that that´s God telling her what we´re teaching is true! I´m so excited to teach her more, especially the Plan of Salvation.


On Saturday the holiday continued so a lot of our plans fell through again, but we were still able to meet some great new people and we taught Roberto and Elizabeth again. We brought this magazine of the temples with us and talked to them about eternal marriage. Roberto still isn´t sure if he wants to get married, but Elizabeth really wants to. We talked to them about how important it is that first they get married legally, but that the most important part will be when they get sealed in the Temple. They promised to talk more about marriage and we´re going back tomorrow night to follow up and see what their plans are! We had a Branch activity that night at the Branch President's house but there were only a few members that came. I wish more could have come! We ate a delicious barbeque and made the best of it! 


Sunday we spent the afternoon doing our round up for church, but because of the holiday everybody was too tired to visit church or was visiting family in another town. We had one investigator who came to church but he ended up leaving early. We are not sure why he left. At the end of the night we visited Roberto and Elizabeth.  They were both tired and decided not to go to church, but they already promised to go next week! I really hope that they do. 


It's so weird how fast the time is going by. Today I woke up and it was December! This week is my last ´´normal´´ week on the mission. Next Friday I will leave Pecém and go to Aldeoata for my final interview and stay there for the weekend. So crazy! Please keep me in your prayers. Have an amazing week!!

Sister Pehrson