Tuesday, February 24, 2015

# 10 Happy 2 Months

I celebrated my 2-month mark this week!!!

So after P-day last week we wanted to see this family that we’ve been trying to see for 2 weeks. Ana and her 2 kids are never there, but this time we caught her right before she went to work! She’s so ready to hear our message, but she is always so busy. But we were able to share a message with her and then right after that I had the hugest impression that the next people that we met we needed to talk to. We walked past this less active family’s house and sure enough they were there!! Answer to our prayers because we needed to see them for the past 2 weeks! Such a miracle and basically every day since then, we’ve been able to see them.

Tuesday was my 2-month mark!!!  Sister B. made me a cake to celebrate! It was super good!! So pretty much our plans for that whole day fell through until English class that we do with members. But one of these people that we contacted on the street earlier that day came! That was great!! We also ran into this other girl named Denisa that we taught the first lesson to a week ago! Ooo and then we went and saw these references from the Elders and oh my goodness they are so elect!!! We only met the husband, Vitor but he is so elect! He’s from Cape Verde, same with Adelia, and they have 2 boys. Literally, I fell in love with them right when we met them.

Wednesday we had district meeting and I had the great opportunity to bear my testimony. The spirit was so strong. I couldn’t say much but I felt it. Later that day we went and saw Adelia and her boys. They will get baptized soon. They’ve been prepared for us and now we just have to do our part. I can’t wait to ask them to be baptized! Later that night we had a family night with a family that we want to baptize so bad!! Helder and Vera with there 2 kids Bia and Lu. He’s a member and all of his siblings are but not the spouses and the kids. We want to baptize everyone in this family but one family at a time. The spirit was strong and they sent us a text later that night and told us after we left they felt peace in their home. SO PREPARED FOR BAPTISM!! We ran all over the place that night, but it was sooo good!!! We celebrated Sister B´s 17th month on the mission today as well!! She’s literally the best. I wish she could train me for the full 2 transfers. When she leaves, I have to take over the area and I so nervous about it. I get a new companion and take the area...It’s scary!!

Thursday we had our meeting with Nato. Such a great guy and such a fun meeting! Lots of good quotes, `the more organized we are, the more growth we will have. ``Don’t worry. JUST do it, and it’ll be JUST fine.` We went home for lunch and one of our recent converts called and told us his brother Alexandre wants to get baptized!! He’s gone to church so much and was ready with a date and he disappeared there for a little bit. But he’s coming back!! We’re going to hopefully baptize him this weekend! Such a miracle!!!! There are miracles every day and we just need to open our eyes and see them. Also, we taught João and he definitely committed to baptism!!! (He’s already baptized but I’ll get to that in a minute) Literally when I say the work is booming, I’m not kidding. We have to many families that are close and we want to baptize.

Friday we had weekly planning and this is when we saw who we wanted to baptize. We are so excited!!! We’ll have 5 weeks in March to set goals and so that means lots of baptisms this month. That night we went out and most of the appointments fell through, but we wanted to see this woman in particular. Her name is Ana Baptista but she wasn’t there. We were walking to another appointment, a little sad because we haven’t seen her in awhile, when from around the corner we ran into Ana!!! We taught her a short message and on our way. She’s digressed a little bit but she’s still really close.

Saturday: JOÃO got baptized!!!!!!!!!! I played the piano...SUPER STRESSFUL and then Sis. B asked me to give a talk too!!! Talk about stressful!!!! But he’s baptized!!!!! It was so great!!! It brought tears to my eyes to be so privileged to find him, play the piano, and talk at his baptism. First baptism in the mission and we found him 2 weeks earlier!!!! Oh my gosh it was such a great day!!! The Members are just amazing and I love them so much!! They’ve welcomed him so awesome!!!

Sunday: João received the Holy Ghost!! The church is so true. It just makes sense. I love this work so much. We have so much work to do and so little time to do it. I want to share this with everyone, if only I knew the language better. We have a busy week in front of us and I can’t wait to get to work. I don’t have much time left and I didn’t get to everything that happened on Sunday or even about João´s baptism but just know that there are miracles everyday. The Lord blesses us more than we can ever imagine. I see that in the lives of these people. I can’t wait to talk like a Portuguese person!!

Love you all!!
Sister Hillam

P.S. CONGRATS JORDAN AND CRYSTAL!!!!! That’s so awesome!!!!! He’s cute!!!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

#9 Think Happy Thoughts and They Will Lift You Into the Air

Dearest Family,

Every week is just full of miracles and people that we meet! Like we met this guy named Januario, who when they first met him, he was so closed to the gospel that he dismissed them. But now he said he would like to know more! It was awesome! That was the Monday night and every since then we’ve had people like that all week!
We had a district meeting Tuesday and I’m the one struggling in the whole zone. Elder Rich who came with me to Portugal spoke French so that was a little upsetting. But the language is coming! I can tell that I’m understanding so much more than before! I get so frustrated still but Sister Brundage is soooo awesome and supports me so much!!! I love her!! There was a specifically hard day and I was thinking about myself and we were walking down the road and I just asked to focus outward on others and we stopped to talk to this man named João. His wife Victoria had passed away and he was so sad, he cried a lot when we were talking. This was exactly what I needed. I testified of the plan of salvation and that he’d see her again. It refocused me on my purpose. Later that night we went to a dinner of the Elder’s investigators! I ATE SQUID AND LAMB!!! It was awesome!!! He was a chef. Then we had to quickly run to an English class that we started and our investigator João came! He’s doing so awesome!!! Also, I seriously pray every zone/district meeting! We had a zone conference call that night, and guess who said the closing prayer...yeah. ME! Every time! My prayers are becoming repetitive because I don’t know very many words. It’s a work in progress!

So we met with Natu and I’m not sure if I’ve told you about him but he’s the ward mission leader, the 2nd counselor in the bishopric and the Stake Young Men’s president! He is AWESOME!! We met with him on Wednesday and he is so inspired. We fasted that day for our goals and baptisms here in Olhao and that in and of itself is a miracle! I’ve been able to fast without headaches!!! João is progressing so well. He is elect and a golden person! That night we were trying hard to get our 20 contacts for the night and we found an investigator that fell off the face of the earth! Ana Baptista! It’s a miracle we found her. Sister Brundage told me this that night about a lesson we taught earlier this week. We were teaching this girl named Vanda. We had contacted her on the street and met her 2 days later. We were teaching the first lesson and Sister Brundage was teaching about prophets and she didn’t get it, so she turned to me and told me to teach her prophets. I basically said this, ``They are people who talk with God, and they teach us. ` Sister Brundage asked what prophets were and she knew! Truly the Spirit is the teacher in lessons.

Another miracle!! We found another one of the investigators that disappeared!! Her name is Carina and we also met her husband. Sadly we went to visit her on her scheduled time and she couldn’t. (P.S. it was carnival here! Not as crazy at Brazil!) But anyway, we found her! Then we were walking and we ran into this English couple that were members! That was cool to talk with them for a little bit. That happens so rarely and we actually ran into another guy that was a member this week too! Awesome! I was also told this week that I looked like an Irish/English woman! It was a great compliment! As we were trying to find this house we got lost and didn’t know where we were really. I said a prayer that we could find this house and 5 minutes later, we found it! They weren’t there but it was such a blessing to find this family. Then we headed back to the chapel and found our the chapel had been broken into! The computer is gone. It was so sad!! The members were so sad and one of our members had tears in his eyes. We continued on through the night and all of our appointments fell through but we went to our alternative plans and I testify that the Lord sees who we put on our schedules because we needed to go see Helder and Vera. They are prepared to hear our message. The Lord prepares those that you write on the planner. I saw this quote and I love it. `Faith in God includes faith in His timing. ` Sometimes I wonder why I’m here but our investigator João needed me. The work is going forward! So many people know about the church.

We went a visited this couple named Maria Clara and Patriacha. It didn’t register in my head that his name means Patriarch! He was a patriarch!! They both knew grandpa!! They lived in Porto and had meetings with him. Grandpa actually set him apart as a Patriarch! There was this one interview that he went to with grandpa and he was wearing rain boots because he had just gotten done working. He walked into the room and grandpa looked at his boots and said, You didn’t have any other shoes? `ha-ha he will never forget that. Also they have a plate that Aunt Linda gave them with cookies on it from her mission! They knew Bonnie and Linda really well! I love finding people that know Grandpa and Grandma. I asked for a blessing on Fridayby Natu. It was beautiful and ever since then I haven’t stressed about the language! Literally the first couple of weeks have been placed on the Lord because He has truly carried me through a lot. I can’t ever repay Him for what He’s done for me. I love Him with my whole heart.

Crazy story!!! Okay on Saturday it’s a miracle we got up because the day before we dropped the phone and every time we do that we have to reset the time. We forgot to so it messed up all of our alarms. We went to bed and at 12:30 in the morning, one of our past investigators called all drunk, we told him not to call back. Well he did at like 1:15. Sister Brundage was so mad. Then our afternoon alarm went off at 2:30. That’s when we got up and set the time right on the phone. It took 3 times before we got the hint that we needed to change the time on the phone! The day was really tiring but we got up on time! That night we taught João the Plan of Salvation. OH MY GOODNESS the spirit was sooo strong!!!! He’s getting baptized this Saturday for sure!!!!!!! WOOOHOOOO!!!!!! We were so elated!!!!! Still are!!!!! Then later that night we had a reference from the Elder’s so we went to visit this lady and met the husband instead! They are elect as well. We have lots of people that we need to baptize! It’s so awesome!!! Jose Carlos, a recent convert, called us and told us how he felt about joão. He was saying how special Joao is and how he feels this need to take him under his wing. Jose Carlos needs this because he’s struggled with his personal self worth. João truly is special. Jose wants to be the one to baptize him!

The work is going forward and me with it. I love being a missionary. Wearing Christ’s name everyday is an amazing opportunity. I can’t believe that He’s called me to do His work, there are days that I can’t believe how much He blesses us and trusts us to teach His children. I couldn’t be doing anything better. I love you all so much!!!

Sister Hillam

P.s. some funnies of this week: We have a lady named Leila (Like my goat) and I was telling Paulo Andre (Likes to do splits with us) about my goats and he said, I could sit and watch a goat all day! I just busted up laughing!!
We asked a couple of old men to sing the Portugal Anthem. That was pretty funny! They’d get quiet and then loud ha-ha

Monday, February 9, 2015

#8 The Best 2 Years

I finally made it to Portugal!!!!!!! I LOVE IT HERE!!!!!!!!! 

So flying was good. We would literally get off one flight and walk onto the other one. There was little time to stop, which was exactly how I wanted it. Sadly I didn’t get to eat anything in Holland (Sorry Dad). I got to talk to this lady that was Buddhist and I think she was scared of me because she didn’t want to talk but oh well! She put her headphones in so...but what was awesome was that the long flight to Amsterdam, I got 2 seats next to the window to sleep in!! I slept for a solid 3 maybe 4 hours! It was awesome!! Not much when you’re up for like 30 hours ha-ha and what’s even better was I wasn’t too tired! I transitioned into missionary work really easily! 
We landed in Portugal and the mission president and his wife with all the office Elders met us by the doors. It was all a blur! Literally it was so good to be there that I’m really not sure what happened till I got to the mission office. We met our companions there and my trainer is Sister Brundage!!! SHE´S AMAZING!!!! Literally, I had so many people tell me she is the best trainer. I’m so blessed to have her. We had a really quick meeting with President Fluckiger and the office missionaries. I saw Elder Zwahlen!!!! He’s training Elder Ward from my zone in the MTC! He’ll do such a great job!!! It was good to see someone from home! After that, we were quickly sent to the bus station where we caught a bus to my new area! You’ll never believe where I am... the ALGARVE!!! More specifically in Olhão!!! This place is booming with missionary work!! 

We didn’t actually get to Olhão till the next day because we had Zone conference, which I had no idea what was going on the entire time. I met with President Fluckiger and we talked for like 5 minutes so it wasn’t much, just getting to know me. I talked with Sister Fluckiger for a little bit in a meeting as well. I just love them so much!! They are inspired people. We got to Olhão that night and got right to work. We visited the chapel and taught a recent convert named Ana. I testified to her of the importance of Sunday’s, which is hard here because everyone works on Sunday. She’s been baptized for a week and she got a calling to be the primary president! She’s amazing. The Lord is preparing Portugal. We found a woman named Pité on the street, who is super religious and is just awesome. We want to visit her soon!

1st full day in Olhão on the 7th!! Muito Milagres!!! This is where my mission is like the Best 2 Years!! That day I just couldn’t help but think that this language is not what they taught me in the MTC! I could barely follow any conversation. It was nuts!! So we studied all morning and hit the streets. We ran into a guy that Sister Brundage knew before I came and they’d only talked to him once before. My first time teaching a non-member and it’s in English!!!!! Who would have thought? Ha-ha it was kind of awesome!!! His name is Nuno and he believes everything we taught and right then and there, we invited him to be baptized!! HE SAID YES!!!! HUZZAH!! It was awesome!! We needed to visit this lady named Maria who can’t read very well. She wasn’t there so we prayed and waited for quite awhile. Then I had this feeling that either way we went to get back to our apartment, we would meet someone. We ran into Francisca! She’s kind of been M.I.A there for awhile. No one could find her and we marked to go see her again! Milagre! Later that day, Sister Brundage needed to use the bathroom so we stopped in at the little cafe, and I had the strongest impression to talk to this lady named Jessica. I was so scared but I got up and talked to her in broken Portuguese. I left her with a pass along card and invited her to church!!! It was a really good experience! That night we went and visited Antonia. She has crazy kids that hit her and do not respect her at all. It’s a super sad story. Anyway we went there and her friend was there. We invited them both to church. Marta was her friend and I think she’s really interested in the Gospel because she lost a baby and I know this church can help her. AND THEN! Sister Brundage gave me the opportunity to find the last contact of the night. After she said that literally the road was clear of all people. I just thought, ´´great...last contact and no one...´ I had this super strong feeling that the next person I would see would be the one I needed to talk to. Of course this person couldn’t be walking but rather riding his bike! We stopped him and he is a miracle!!! His name is João and he is elect!!! He’s been searching for the truth and I know he’s been prepared for us to teach him. Oh and He’s getting baptized!! He went to church and after church we asked him to get baptized!!!!!!! HUZZAH!!!
Yesterday at church, I had no idea what was going on. It was really rough because I love church and I could feel the spirit but I didn’t know what was going on. But it’s all good because we have 2 marked for baptism!! We went to visit Maria (who can’t read) and found Sulizita. She is amazing!! She was so close to baptism. 2 of her 3 kids are baptized and her ex husband is as well! She knows songs in the hymnbook too ha-ha! She’ll probably get baptized! 

The work is going so well!! Literally I’m loving this! I can’t speak but it’s so wonderful here! The weather is a little chilly but it’s all good. Sister Brundage has served in Porto and the Madeira!!!! She tells me all about them all the time. She’s the best. I love her so much. She has too much faith in me and is super patient. She leaves after this transfer to go home and I just want to soak in all her knowledge. I love you all so much!! Thanks so much for the prayers and all the love!!

Sister Hillam

P.S. I haven’t eaten anything out of the ordinary but it’s all super good. SUCH GOOD CHEESE!!!!!! 
Leaving the MTC

Long Flight Pictures

Long Flight

I haven't worn these in a while!

Companion Sister BethanyBrundage

First Meal. MD's is really fancy here!

This is the Sunrise every morning here in Olhão

Our Study Area


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Week #7

It's official!!! I'm going to Portugal!!! 

Before I get started on that crazy story let's review this past week...

After I wrote my big email last week, we had the opportunity to go to the temple. I love the temple!!! Guess who I ran into?!?! JULIE PACE!!! It was so good to see here!! I'm seriously going to miss it so much when I get to Portugal. "Return with Honor" has a whole new meaning to me after my temple visit. Not only does it mean returning home from the mission with honor, it means to our Heavenly Father as well. I had deeper thoughts than that in the temple but that's the main idea. The outlook on the mission is different now. What's even better is that Elder Katcher in the second quorum of the seventy came for devotional. He talked about our missions and what manner of missionaries we ought to be. That was awesome!! 

Irmao Belchior is our new teacher, replacing Irmao Crestani. He's a great teacher! He has tons of stories about his mission and just life in general. A story that Belchior told us was about charity. He related it to a beggar and 2 guys walking past, one giving the beggar $1000 and the other handing him a business card and telling him to call him for his job. He said, "the $1000 guy is a democrat always handing out money, and the other guy is a republican, telling him to work for his money." he then related it to the scripture about giving a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but teach a man how to fish, feed with for life. I died with laughter. Both however show acts of charity because we don't actually know what the guy needed. We just need to help in anyway that we can. That same day we got a new district of missionaries. 4 new sisters and 8 elders, all going to Brazil. They are super awkward. We had a meeting with them and they were completely silent, you could touch the awkwardness in the air. 

Thursday...wow...emotional roller coaster for sure!!! We went on through the day is if nothing had changed but let me tell you, my mission flipped upside down. So we'd been concerned about our visas because we hadn't heard anything about them. We were told that if we didn't hear about our visas that it was a good thing. Apparently not. At lunch one of the districts went and got mail and inside the mailbox were yellow packets...Our reassignments. All those who were going to Portugal got re-assigned. Our district didn't get our till dinner but everyone else had theirs at lunch. I had been reassigned to Tucson Arizona. I'm not going to lie I was super excited! I was still bummed that I couldn't go to Portugal but I was so ready to get out into the field. Sister Jarnagin and I were one of the only companionship's that were staying together. So the rest of that day everyone was pretty upset and sad about everything. 

Friday, everyone was still pretty glum about life. I kept thinking about Cedar Badge and the Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. Anyway, Sister Jarnagin and I were supposed to leave Monday so we needed to start packing so we left before lunch to start. We got to lunch and someone runs up to me and tells me that the visas are on their way!!! I was no longer reassigned!! I'M GOING TO PORTUGAL!!!! Sadly 5 people did not get their visas, Sister Jarnagin being one of them. I was really sad. I was so emotionally shot after 2 days. Our visas aren't actually here, but they're on their way. So they're going to keep us here until they get them...who knows how long I'll be here for but I'm so excited to be going!!! AHHHH!!!!!! :D :D 
Saturday was our last day with Irmao Staples. :( It's so sad!! Sister Jarnagin had to say goodbye to him and she started crying and then I started crying because I was sad for her. We'd been packing, shopping, getting people's emails, etc. It was so sad. I'm going to miss her. Saturday was super depressing for that reason, and I could tell she was on the verge of tears all day. 

Sunday was full of tons of meetings and it was fast Sunday. It was a miracle for me!!! I was able to fast for almost a full 24 hours without getting a headache. It was the most amazing experience to be able to fast that long. Miracle. Sister Jarnagin and I were released on Sunday and the new sister training leaders are awesome! I bore my testimony in English for the last time for 18 months in church. Oh my goodness, I just love the gospel. Then we had mission conference and I got this out of it, "Faith is not about everything turning out okay, but rather it is about being okay when everything doesn't turn out." and also the song "Mercy's Arms." It was just a really good conference. After which we had our final zone interview with those that were leaving this week. I bore my testimony again and had the opportunity to play "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." I'm in love with music. It brings the spirit in a very special way! It was the final temple walk and we finally got a zone picture and an all sister picture. I can't believe how fast the time has gone! We were attending the departure devotional and it hit me. This is real life. I'm leaving to go to Portugal and teach the gospel. There was this guy that they called from the audience that was the first missionary from Syria!!! He found the gospel in Romania, and his dad was a prisoner of war the whole time. He told this story about his mom's mouth and I thought it was applicable to my family, seeing how everyone works with the mouth. :) Her mom fell into a manhole at night and shattered her whole upper jaw. The dentist (he meant oral surgeon) was reconstructing her upper jaw for 2 hours, after which he came out and said that she had a 5% chance of returning back to normal. The spirit told him, "Have faith. Everything will work out." He was able to give his mom his first blessing ever. They took her back to get checked and the doctor was dumbfounded. He asked if this was the same lady. Her recovery was 90% chance of going back to normal. Awesome story! Sister Jarnagin left Monday morning. So sad. I never thought you could love someone so much and be so sad when they're gone. I feel so weird without my companion!!! I'm in a trio, and it's so weird. 

I found something that relates to Cedar Badge. Instead of Can do- Will do- Have done, in the song "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go," it has these lines: I will go- I will say- I will be. I think those 2 things are so applicable. I like them both a lot!!! Also, "what e're thou art, act well thy part." I'll try and make you all proud :) I met with President and Sister Trost and I just love them! They told me stories of Grandpa and Grandma. They were mission presidents in Lisbon North and said that they would come visit all the time and visit the Madeira Island. We have a good 10-minute chat. I love hearing stories about my family!

Also, check out this scripture in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. All I could think of was Lord of the Rings "I can't carry the ring, but I can carry you!!!" Sam is the man. Also it references Gollum. Kind of cool!!
I love you family so much!!! I can't wait to meet my trainer and start teaching the people of Portugal! I'm going on an adventure!! :) I LOVE THE GOSPEL!!!!!

Sister Hillam

Our faces are on the board!

Tucson Arizona!

District Treats!

The girls in the zone

Our Harry Potter zone

Our District President, President Jackson

Gotta love Elder Merkley in the back, Elder Burr walking, Elder Burnham tying his shoe in front and I'm not sure who's fingers those are...

New STL"s Sister Jacobson and Anderson

The one next to me was on staff with me my vice president year!!! Gabe Wilson!!!

Last day with Irmao Staples

Last picture with the Zone Leaders!

Flight plans... to Portugal or Arizona?!?!