Monday, February 29, 2016

I dreamed a dream...but I never would have imagined!!!

So this title to this email explains a lot about what happened this week! So on Tuesday we had transfers and I STAYED!!! YAY!!!! My comp. Sister Moraes however did not. She went to Guimarães and is ending a Sisters training and I’m TRAINING!!!!! Yep! Training a new missionary from the MTC. Her name is Sister Phipps (fips) and she’s from Washington!! You can imagine how I must have felt; I never imagined...I was really overwhelmed!! Training...but we had to get Sister Moraes on a train like 2 hours after we found out so I didn’t have much time to think about it. I ended up housing 3 other sisters at our house for transfers and the next day I went to pick up my Baby Sister. Literally, Baby Sister! She’s tall, 6 feet, blue eyes and brown hair!! AND! She runs, so she’s athletic, she loves singing (she’s a soprano and I’m an alto, HOW PERFECT!!), she gets Disney, which is really important, and she’s just a HUGE sweet heart. I LOVE HER! She makes training really easy! She’s incredible and I love her so dearly!! Literally, this transfer will fly by because we can always just laugh at anything. We were a match made in heaven. She will say things and I thought that I was saying it. It’s kind of creepy at times how a like we are! It makes me so happy!!!
Anyway! This week I went to get her on Wednesday and may I just say, Sister Phipps came pre-trained! The first day we got to our area we taught the first lesson and she taught about Joseph Smith and the first vision, and at the end she asked me `Sister Hillam, can I testify now?` It was so cute and obviously I said yes! So within the first 3 hours of being in our area she already taught the first lesson, without training. INCREDIBLE! 
The next day we ended up teaching the first lesson another 2 times, without much practice and she invited her first person to be baptized!!! Her name is Graciete and she is incredible. We had met her earlier this week with Sister Moraes and said we would come back. Well we did and before we got there she was watching Mormon Messages and she had already read to 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Incredible. So we taught the first lesson and Sister Phipps invited her to be baptized! She accepted and we went over for her birthday on Saturday and she ended up saying that her and her mom would go to church on Sunday and they both came!!! They are incredible!!!! We are currently helping the mom accept baptism and pray to know the truth of the gospel, but they LOVED church and everyone wanted to get to know them. They are doing so well!!
Crazy connection time!! So at the beginning of last transfer we were knocking on a few predios and ended up meeting this lady named Sonia that had already talked to the Sisters. GOLDEN! So we tried passing by a few times but they always said no. They’d been to church and read the Book of Mormon but they don’t want to promise anything. Finally we started talking to the husband José and we’re good friends with him. Well we stopped seeing them because they weren’t progressing. Turns our Graciete is Sisters with Sonia!! So we knocked on Graciete´s door and taught her the gospel and then we found out on Saturday that they are family!!! Crazy! So now we are going to go back to Sonia and José´s house to get them progressing to be baptized with Graciete!! It’s a small world after all. Oh and on top of that, we met with Filipe, the son or nephew of the family, on the street the same day we met with Graciete. God’s plan and timing is perfect. When our will is in line with His, we can literally work miracles and bless the lives of so many people. Incredible story for the week! 
We went to Avintes that is part of our area this week on a search for a woman that we found and found her house!!! We had a lesson with them and planned to go back. We’ll be working with that family as well here soon, as well as a few other people from that area! We are having success; we just need to focus our time on those that are really going to progress, that’s the focus right now! 
Sadly Carlos has kind of jumped off the deep end. He doesn’t want to give up the catholic church (smoking and drinking cough cough). He just doesn’t see how he can change. But we will keep working! We won’t give up on him!! 
We also met a guy named Antonio who’s 28 years old. We had some of the deepest religious conversions that I’ve probably ever had on the mission. He knows the bible really well so when we were talking we were using bible references and everything. It was really strange and we’re told not to do that but we weren’t bible bashing. He’s a member without actually being one, if that makes sense? He just needs to enter the water! He needs to go to church and then he’ll be on his way to the water of baptism. Incredible people!
I love the mission. Love every minute of it. I finished the Book of Mormon for the first time in Portuguese last week and already started over. I plan to finish before the end of the mission again. I love that book so much!! It is the best missionary. I love you all so much!! Thank you for the emails and the pictures. It really makes my day :)
Love you!
Sister Hillam

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Seize the DAY!

Still nothing on transfers! We find out tomorrow after district meeting, but I’m pretty sure nothing will really change. We just got here like yesterday it feels like! This week was awesome. Literally, just incredible. Full of the good up’s and down’s but that is the mission is! It’s just great! 
Carlos had a really rough week but at the same time we were able to see from the outside in and really feel the love for him. He fell really hard and went back to smoking 20 cigarettes and drinking again. He was really confused about the decision to be baptized and now more than ever he wants it. We went to his house and talked to him and everything changed. We talked to him and he said that his faith in Christ has grown. He prays and reads the Book of Mormon everyday. He looks at the picture of Christ everyday and does his best. He told us that he accepts everything that we teach and loves going to church. He loves the feelings that he feels, and this week we saw a man fall from his progress and go back to his old way of life. We literally saw the sadness that overcame him. But then we say a man decide to follow Christ and completely change. The difference was obvious but the joy and light you could see in his eyes. Yes he is still smoking and drinking but you can see his desire to be and do better. I love this man for all of his effort to follow Christ. He is a changed person, and I can’t wait to see his baptism.
Funny story, the elders called us this week and asked to teach 2 of their investigators. We got there and come to find out this lady is 28 and has 3 kids, the older being 13ish. And on top of that, she likes one of the elders! It was all just a surprise to hear it! ha-ha we had a good laugh with the Elders about this women, but her friend actually is super elect! We’re excited to see their progress!! 
This week I feel like I was an emotional baby. Every time I started talking about the Portuguese people I just was filled with joy and tears ran down my face. I can’t explain love with out crying. We had a mission tour with Elder Kearon and WOW!!!! He is called of God. I had the greatest opportunity to be called in to talk to him before our mission reunion with him and sit and hear his words. The thankfulness that he showed and his love for us was amazing! I took so many pages of notes and I will only share a few phrases that I took:
Become the message!!! Be what you teach.
We thrive on opposition, celebrate opposition.
We are called to a higher calling, and higher standards.
Work hard and relax!! 
WE BAPTIZE IN EUROPE. -He got really excited about this because rumors about Europe have spread that we don’t baptized but just remember...who are your church ancestors...and where did they come from?? EUROPE!!!!!! Yeah...that’s right!!!
Attack and Seize the Day!
I learned so much from him. Also I got to be taken aside personally and talk with Elder and Sister Kearon. I heard stories of grandpa and grandma Hillam. We laughed and cried together, and just had the most wonderful time talking about Grandpa and Grandma Hillam. I just felt to blessed to be here in Portugal and representing them. I can’t begin to explain how blessed I am, and how much I love my family and this gospel. I’m so blessed to be here in Portugal right now. I love these people so much. (Yes, I’m crying right now). They are my family and I want nothing more than to see these people with their families, go to the temple. I’m just so blessed to be doing this work. I never want to stop. 
Then was our big mission tour and only about 2% of the feelings that I had, the next day all the STL´s were asked to join the Zone Leaders for a mission council with Elder Kearon and Sister Kearon. Again, Wow. Loved it!!! Again I got to talk to Sister Kearon about Grandma! It was so cute the little rhyme that she sang to her girls while reading Snow White, `Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of them all? Well that’s no dilemma; it’s Lizzy, Suzy, and Emma! ` Sister Kearon and I just cried together. It was incredible to feel the close bond of friendship with someone you just met. At the conference we talked a lot about faith and what we wanted to change in the mission. We made a huge list of things we learned at the conference with all the missionaries and at the end we said a kneeling prayer with President. We then went through the list and in groups made a decision about 2 phrases. The Phrase that got the most votes was `Become the Message. ` All of us chose it. The spirit in that room was just incredible. 
We went to a new area in our area because we received a reference from a member in our ward. We went there and met this reference and holy cow, she’s awesome!! The member called before hand to say that the missionaries always walk around in that area (which was our second time in this area) and that we give out books of Mormon to people. We did exactly that with her! While talking to her, her sister ended up coming down the stairs of the predio. Come to find out that 4 of the 8 siblings live in our area and the other 4 live close! 
The work continues on! I just can’t believe how fast it all goes! I’ve learned so many principles during the mission but I think this week I learned how to honestly love people and how to show my faith. I can’t help but get emotional about these people and this work. I love them so much and honestly want to give them my heart just so they can be changed and know what true happiness is. I read in Ether 12 today and faith is used 32 times in like 28 verses. First it starts with hope and then moves to faith, and then to Charity. I love this chapter because it puts faith and charity as similar attributes. I’m learning these 2 principles everyday. I love the mission so much!! Love you all!!! Have a great week and find those who need you :)

Sister Hillam

Monday, February 15, 2016

Ain't Nothing Going to Keep me Down!!

Sorry if I forgot someone’s birthday or anniversary!!! I think Luke´s is coming up soon?? HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUKE!!!!!!!!!
Where to begin, TONS of rain this week, which was super fun! To answer questions, I’m actually not freezing too bad! I wear 2 coats sometimes but most of the time, just the black thin one. I’ve always been one for the cold! But still, this week was really messy with rain and wind! But that doesn’t stop the work of the Lord!
On Tuesday we had an activity of the Ward for Carnival, which was super fun!! All the missionaries were there and it was an awesome opportunity to get to know the members and show that we support them. We ended up having 3 investigators there and Carlos ended up dancing with the Bishops mother-in-law, which was hilarious!!! It was a party for sure!! We really enjoyed interacting with the investigators and the members as well. We did the game during the activity called Noah´s ark, which everyone loved! Lots of confetti and streamers, sister Moraes was going crazy because Carnival wasn’t too big here as it is in Brazil!
So we do a lot of searching in this area and one thing that I’ve found is that a lot of people know the church in this area. Almost everyone we talk to knows the church, which is awesome!! We find a lot of people who know members as well which is a great way for us to talk to them. We found 2 people this week that already talked to missionaries in the past. We’re working on find those that really will progress but we find so many that know the church! One of the ladies we found, Olinda, actually has gone to church a few times and has been friends with a few members in our ward for 20 years. It’s super awesome to find that the members are being good examples and inviting friends to know more. The other lady, Cristiana, talked to the missionaries 8 years ago and is from Brazil!!! We ended up being invited to eat dinner and have lunch with her on Sunday! Man it felt good not to cook!  She’s super awesome! We loved teaching her and getting to know her! She has 4 kids, 2 are in Brazil and the other 2 are at home, Raphael (5) and Daniel (18 months). She’d talked to the missionaries through her brother that was being taught by the missionaries.
We met another family this week too! Her name is Paula and her son Rui! She just had a baby a month ago and her son Rui is 8 years old so we’ll work with them too! We have lots of people in potential that we just need to keep up with! It’s coming but very slowly!
As we were trying to arrange a car ride to an activity on Sunday one guy actually came to us and asked us who we were. It was awesome!! We explained that we were missionaries for the church. He didn’t really want to talk but then we asked if he wanted to stop smoking because he was talking about his smoking addiction. Well we got to talking and explained that we were helping Carlos stop smoking and drinking as well. He became interested and ended up giving us his number and address! So cool how all you have to do is find what the person wants in life and connect it to the gospel.
We have a huge list of people that we know and want to pass by and help progress. We have met and taught so many people that I can’t even begin to explain each of them. As of right now we have people we just need to help them progress. It’s all super exciting!
Oh also, haha I think of lost some of my coordination! We were walking down the stairs to leave a predio and it was super slick and the lights went off. I slipped on the stairs and landed right on my elbow. I heard a sicken pop and the rest of the night I couldn’t move it or my shoulder. The whole area was black and blue with a huge golf ball sized lump on the tip. I got really worried so we went to the hospital and luckily nothing is broken, just all my muscles in that area are inflamed and swollen. Bruised the bone, which is just awesome! Nothing gonna keep me down!!!
This Sunday we had a conference in Amial and we were invited if we had an investigator there. We did so we went. Our stake president was the guest speaker and his wife as well. We got there and our investigator ended up leaving half way through. So we got permission to stay for the rest of the time. I really needed it just to feel the strength of the missionaries. The missionaries were the choir and they sang `The Prayer” and `I am a Child of God` which put me into tears. My companion has been really struggling with the mission change, which has made things really hard. I want nothing more to help her but it’s been really hard to find a way. Those 2 songs just brought so much peace because in the fight to help her stay and be happy here I’d been getting down on myself for not doing more. I just love the power of music. I’m so thankful for the mission and everything that I’ve learned. It’s a fight everyday to make sure she’s okay and work. But I’ve been so blessed with a great ward, with a great area, and with people to support me. I can’t ask for better.
Also, I’m super excited for Marley!!! I actually thought a lot about staying longer here on the mission! I already sent my letter to president this week asking to extend! If I can’t extend for another 30 days, maybe he’ll let me extend so I can see her before I go home! I don’t know what will happen but I should know soon! I love the mission so much. Even when the trials come it makes me realize the growth that comes from resistance. His will be done! Love you all so much!!

Sister Hillam 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

FELIZ CARNAVAL!! Oh and Matthew 11:28-30

First off HAPPY VALENTINE`S DAY (6 days early)!!!!!! I have a question for you all, will you be my valentine?? Also, thank you mom and dad for the Valentine’s Day card! It really made my day and my week! I cried a few times!
This week was crazy up and down!! It reminded me a lot about the roller coaster in Orlando Studies that you go straight up and then go straight down (Jordan, Crystal, and I probably rode that one like 3 times) well in the end, it was just like that! Lots of twist and turns that you wouldn’t expect! 
So I’ll tell you the stories of a few people from this week!
We are teaching a lady named Gina that was already taught by the missionaries and only wants the Mormon missionaries to teach her. We went there this week and she was waiting outside her house for us! She has depression and she knows exactly where to build confidence in herself and build her faith. We read Ether 12 with her and she loved it! She then shared with us that she wants us to teach her son as well! We’re really excited about her progress but it’s slow because she still trying to believe in Christ but she’s changing which is important! 
We met with Decio, which is an Angolan family that was already taught before us and not baptized. We went there and had a really good chat to find out his icebergs. Now we know how to help him more. He even ended up asking us for a missionary manual! That was super funny, and that he wants to write stories about our lives, our missions, and us. He’s really interested in who we are and why we do the things we do! It was a really good foundational lesson.
Carlos is incredible!!! We had divisions this week and I brought Sister Smith to our area to work and we taught the word of wisdom which he easily accepted. He was so eager to stop smoking and he’s accepting everything. He has a testimony of the church already! On Sunday he ended up not going to church. We called him that morning and talked to him about the cigarettes and he said he’d only smoked 1 that morning! Then he went on to say that he didn’t have money to buy more but that he would catch the bus to church. We waited for him and he never came but we went to his house and talked to him. He didn’t have the money to buy the bus tickets and he was feeling really sick because he went from smoking 15 to smoking 3 cigarettes! It was awesome! But we read the scriptures and prayed and then he felt better! It was great to see the happiness and difference in his life. 
We had divisions and Sister Smith and I visited Patricia and talked to her for a little and then she unloaded on us! It was awesome! She went on to say how ever since we started teaching her and talking with her, her house and kids have been different. She’s seen the difference that we are in her life. She was saying this without us asking!! She then went on to say she was reading the Book of Mormon before she went to bed and the first thing she saw when she woke up was the book. She really wants to change her life and she feels that it’s changing with us. I just want to jump up and start telling the whole world! We had a really good discussion with her about the gospel and the importance of it all. Again, it’ll be a process but she’s on the road to baptism!!!
We were asked to visit a woman in the relief society that hasn’t been to church in a month and wow was it awesome! We got there and she just started crying and telling us everything. Her father passed away about a month ago and no one knew. The member’s didn’t know and no one was there to help her. She hadn’t been to church because she didn’t feel the love at church. We got there and shared a message with her Matthew 11. 28-30. Come to find out she takes care of 2 women that are in bed always. They are barely alive and she stays with them for 24 hours a day for 5 days. She’s alone and when we read the scripture it made her cry and me. We had a really good connection and she ended up going to church yesterday! At church those same scriptures were shared as well as Finding Faith in Christ. Church was exactly what she needed. 
I had a lot of time to think this past week and read the Book of Mormon. Our district was sick this week so for half a day I had to stay home because I was ready to throw up but during that time I read the rest of 3 Nephi, 4th Nephi, and half of Mormon. I just wanted to read till the end. I had lots of time to think about our personal lives. I love those chapters and I gained a new love for the Book of Mormon. I know it’s true. I know the power that comes from it. It is the greatest missionary! I loved reading and studying it! I read and study it twice a day, when I wake up, during personal studies, and at night, before I go to bed. I love that book so much!! This week is Carnival so we have a few activities at the church that we’re going to do. The work is progressing, it’s not to the speed that we would like it, but it’s going :) I love you all so much!! 
Sister Hillam

P.S. Transfers are going to be on the 28th instead of this next week :)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sometimes you just have to take a Step Back!

Again is seems like yesterday that I was writing! Time goes by way too fast. January is already gone and February starts today. That’s just plain weird. But this week I had the greatest opportunity to think about everything in my mission, the area, people, everything. We only really have about 3 days to work because we had a huge Mission Counsel for 2 days straight! From 9 in the morning to about 7 at night, with only about 1 hour for a break. It was amazing!! The spirit was so strong and having the district leaders, zone leaders, and sister training leaders there was awesome! We really had some good discussions on how we can help the mission grow. Loved it!! I will share what I learned the most during those 2 days and then I will explain Carlos!
On Wednesday:
We talked a lot about our purpose as leaders in the mission, as well as our purpose in Portugal. Something that really touched me was this question, ` How do we want to be remembered? ` The first thought was about leadership but then I thought more about my areas and the people I want to touch. It’s beyond just the missionaries but everyone that we talk to. I had a very humbling experience with this; I was feeling really down this past week about the work and about my success. I was feeling like I was helping more with my companions than with the work. At the conference, one of my old companions came up to me and thanked me for the influence I had on her. She didn’t know the responsibilities that I had when I served with her. She apologized and hugged me. It really helped me understand that the work we touched the lives of others. When she told me that, I felt like a rock was taken out of my heart. 2 of my companions now have told me that I’ve changed their lives. I couldn’t be more grateful for those words this week. I’m so grateful that they opened their mouths to say that. The role of a leader goes farther than we think. 
`Those that don’t know how to be leader, can’t be a leader.` How true this is! Just a cool thought I had...We have to humble ourselves and represent. Show that we can be leaders! We talked a lot about obedience and the role of obedience in the work. I never want to do anything bad. I’ve already seen the blessings of obedience and I never want to lose them! 
`If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. ` Benjamin Franklin. We need to plan out everything we do! That’s how we help others come unto Christ. How are we going to use the members? How do we want them to progress? What lesson will benefit them most? Planning is key in life! We have to learn how to plan well. I thought I knew how to plan pretty well before the mission but now I’ve learned that there are 2 types of planning, the spiritual planning and the physical creation. It all starts as ideas first and then we put them into practice. Like the scriptures say that there was a spiritual creation before the earth was actually created. Same with us. We need to plan everything out before! In the end it all comes down to our PREPARATION. If we are prepared, we need not fear. 
There were so many things said that I learned but that was the biggest thing that took the most time.
Again they focused a lot on preparation. We have a new teaching method! President made a packet of the entire lessons in Preach My Gospel and put them into a plastic covering and into a book. Like the lessons from Cedar Badge with all the slides. It’s awesome!!! It reminds me so much of the lessons from Cedar Badge and I’m really excited to use them! So we did a lot of practices with them. It’ll be good to help us teach simply and directly! 
The greatest thing that happened during this whole time was that Elder Moreira came to visit us. This is the 3 time that I’ve heard him in the mission and every time I learn so much. This time his talk was on Prayer. Wow. It was amazing. He actually talk to us about when Grandpa was his mission president and how he was one of the first people that changed his life. After that President blurted out that I was there which then caused my face to go bright red and all eyes on me. But what he said was very profound. He explained about Christ’s prayer in the Garden and how he was prostrate on the ground. He humbled himself so much that he was lying with his face on the ground. He was the greatest servant to every walk this earth and how many times do we always say the same, quick prayers? There is a prayer for every moment and for every place. He focused a lot on where our minds are during the mission. Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength. We can give 3 of these things but our minds are one of the hardest to give. We much conquer the natural man and focus on the objective. If we learn how to pray with the spirit, receiving an answer is much easier. We need to learn how to speak with the spirit so that God can easily answer our prayers. The Spirit won’t be with us if we don’t humble ourselves and do HIS will. One thing he pointed out was the story of Christ with the disciples on the seashore after His resurrection, `Peter, do you love me? Feed my sheep. ` `Sister Hillam, do you love me? Teach, Invite, and baptize my sheep. ` I need to do better about preparing, studying, and praying for my investigators. I need to do it His way and humble myself in prayer to know His will. We can know His will if we but do what He asks. Humility and obedience are some of the most important aspects of the gospel to me. It’s for His honor and His glory that I am here. Not for me, not for the family, but for Him. I am His servant. I learned so much from Elder Moreira! I took 4 pages of notes on just his talk alone. 
So we had an investigator go to church last week and we never could go and actually teach Carlos. But on Saturday we actually were able to go and teach him and his mom! We got there and taught the first lesson, invited him to be baptized and invited him to stop smoking and drinking. It was really powerful and we also invited him to go to a baptism that the elders had this weekend! Well when we got there to pick him up, he came out in a suit, tie, and a sweater vest! I was smiling all the way to the church! He truly wants to change his life. Then when we went to his house to pick him up for church he walked out with suit pants, sweater vest and tie again! But then he said he’s going to use the buses! He’s already self- sufficient!! It’s people like this that really want to change. This week was awesome! Full of the spirit! I loved every minute of it. 
I love the mission. I love my Savior. I was reading Jesus the Christ and about the atonement. I want to read that whole book! But I had many thoughts about it. The atonement was needed to save man from the fall of Adam. I thought a lot about the spiritual and physical death. There are 3 deaths that I can think of:
1. When we left the presence of our Heavenly Father. In a sense, it was a death and a birth into this mortal life.
2. When we are baptized, we kill the person we were, and become a disciple of Christ.
3. Death on this life, and birth into the spirit world. 
Every time there is a death and rebirth is like climbing into a new plane of knowledge and understanding. 1. We are natural men. 2. We strive to become like Christ on our preparation to become gods. 3. We become Gods. We are to continually be growing and developing unto the 3 deaths and birth. All through this, Christ is central in ALL. It’s only through Him that we can accomplish is all. I love Him so much. I love the mission. This week we will have zone meeting tomorrow and then I will be doing a division with the sisters on Wednesday! It’ll be awesome!!
I love you all so much! Keep up the great work!

STESister Hillam