Monday, March 28, 2016

The Power of Easter!

By the way, HAPPY EASTER!!!!!!!! I totally forgot to say that last week...Time just flies!! Last year at this time I was in my first area...weird!!! We still don’t know about transfers. We find out tomorrow!! I’m pretty sure we will stay for another transfer together :) But this week was incredible!!!
The Lord answers prayers!! Last P-day, we had dinner with Odilia and I wrote in my journal that night that I prayed she’d tell us she wanted to be baptized and that’s just what happened, but more on that story later! 
So we went on a Fatima search...again. So on Tuesday we went to find her because she had a baptismal date for Sunday. We went to her house and she was there. We knocked and she opened spoke mad-fast Portuguese in her really angry voice and slammed the door in our face. We waited there and left the book of Mormon in her mailbox. We talked to her through the door and finally just left. We got down the road 5 minutes when we heard `Meninas! ` She was walking fast behind us. Her face had a gruesome look on. All I could think was `Father, please soften her heart so she can see that we are here to help her. ` She got there and just apologized for everything. She started crying. Answer to prayers. Her heart was softened and now she’s progressing!! It was an incredible blessing that we saw her change so fast. She’s going through a really hard time and really needs the church. She loves the church a ton!! 
Wednesday we taught our recent convert Graciete and her mom Odilia for the first time after baptism and it went great! They are the most incredible women. They are super excited to see you guys! We’ll be skyping at there houses for Mother’s day! They just want to talk to you all!
We’ve been teaching this lady named Augusta and we got to her house and taught the 2nd lesson with a focus on getting married. She already knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the church is true. Now it’s getting her married. At the end of the lesson she said the prayer and just cried. The spirit was super strong and she came to church. She’s progressing really well. Please pray for her. She doesn’t know if she should marry the guy she’s with or leave him. She doesn’t really like his daughter and has lost the love she once felt for him. It’s a complicated story, please pray for her.
We also taught a young man Raphael and his friend Celso who is a less active and it was awesome! We started out with only one member there but as the time got closer to choir practice, we had 6-7 members in the lesson. He is marked for baptism and he was super excited after the lesson we had. He was integrating with the members and was super excited about baptism! 
This area is so elect. The ward is incredible and so willing to help with whatever the situation. We had correlation on Thursday and we talked about all of the investigators and all they wanted to talk about was who could teach with us and what they needed. It was stellar! I love this area and ward!! I hope to stay!!
On Friday we had our planning session but what really stood out was our lesson about faith at Odilia´s house. We talked about Alma 32 about faith not being a perfect knowledge and at first I didn’t think she understood but apparently she did! I’ll get to her story soon! Also Paulo Feitas from the Madeira called and said he would be in Gaia on Sunday!!! I was SOOO happy!!!
Saturday we went to Odilia´s and Graciete shared a little more of her testimony with us. She told us how much she feels different than before and how much happier she feels. She now feels like her life has a purpose and how she loves learning more and more. She called us her Irmãs and not just the Sisters. I just started crying. That’s why I’m here, to help these people feel the Love of Christ and change. It was such a tender moment. The elder’s here had a baptism of Fatima and guess what song was requested You Raise Me Up. She was at the baptism of Graciete and requested that song to be sung at her baptism. Fatima is actually the fiancée of one of our members. Her story is crazy strange. She’s living in Irmão José Neves house (fiancée) while he is living in her house with her ex-companion. It’s all strange, and the ex-comp. Still eats with them and is like best friends with the couple. But she was baptized!! Before the baptism though, Odilia came and we had a quick lesson with her and Fernanda. She testified of her story being 40 years catholic and finding the truth. It was super powerful. After the baptism we practice our sacrament meeting for Pascoa! The missionaries put on the program so we had a script and lots of music. 
Sunday was incredible. We got up that morning ready to sing our hearts out. We had 4 songs that we (sisters) were going to sing. So we sat on the stand instead of with our investigators and one by one we saw our investigators come in. we ended up having 5!! The program was awesome! We sang `The Lord is my Sheppard` my favorites hymn to sing the alto line and it was awesome! By the end we sang `Battle Hymn of the Republic` all of it was just so well done. We had a goal of 4 people marked for baptism and at the beginning of the day we had 1 and by the end we had 4. During church one of the Irmãs pulled us aside and said we needed to mark her friend for baptism. So we pulled Maria Jose and Fatima (the one we went searching for) and our Irmã into a room after church and marked them both and they accepted! We have a family night with them in the church tonight! Then we left and started talking to Odilia and Paulo while Bishop was talking to Graciete. Odilia turns to us and says `Sisters, I’m going to be baptized on the 8 of May! ` ANSWER TO MY PRAYERS!!!!!! I couldn’t have been happier!!!!! I was bouncing up and down and she just started saying everything she wanted during the baptism and who and what songs. It was incredible. She had been talking to Paulo and then he started to give his support that he would call on her baptismal day. So we left the church with 4 marks for baptism. It was an answer to our prayers. 
I love this work. I was so grateful for celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Sunday. It made me really think of my purpose to show others that He made it all possible, that only through Him was this life and this plan made possible. I love my calling to be His representative, and to show to these people that He lives. I love the work. I love my Savior, who’s name I wear everyday. I couldn’t have a better name to represent. I love you all so much! May a make a small change to our phrase to match the tone of this past week: Remember who you are, who you represent, and what you stand for.
Love you all!

Sister Hillam

Week of Miracles...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DANIEL!!!!! I can’t believe he’s going to be 7!!! That’s incredible!!! Happy birthday kiddo!! :) Love you lots! We’ll play lots of basketball when I get back okay Daniel? :)
Family, What. A. Week. 
I can’t begin to tell you how blessed this week was. We saw the finger of the Lord this week in the work. I can’t even begin to describe what an incredible week it was. We were and are so blessed. I’ll try and take you through a day-by-day but even then you probably won’t realize how much the Lord blessed the week. We literally had no time for ourselves at all, always running.
1. Segunda- we went to Graciete´s house (our newest member here in Gaia! :D More on this later) and had a lesson with her and gave her, her very own invite to her baptism, we had a good laugh. And then we headed off to invite her sister and brother in law to go to the baptism. Graciete was so excited about the baptism!!!
2. Terça- we had district meeting and we did a practice that me and sister Phipps hadn’t practiced yet which went pretty well! That night we actually used the practice that was awesome! But after district meeting we went on a hunt for Fatima who went missing again. But a miracle happened and we found her house, which was at the end of a really long road and then through a gate and then at the very end. It was a miracle that we found her house, and on top of that, she opened her door to us that she never does!! She even accepted to go teach a less active with us! She loved being with us. The less active actually got after her for being from Reino de Deus and bore a really strong testimony. It was awesome! Then that night we went and taught Odilia (Graciete´s mom) and used the lesson we practice in District Meeting. It was awesome and she basically said she’ll get baptized but she still working on a few things before she accepts. She told herself she would never change religions but she loves the church a lot. 
3. Quarta- we taught Graciete and Odilia in the morning, of course she accepted everything because she’s so elect! Then we had to sprint to catch the metro to go to Porto for choir practice. (We sang 3 different times this past week, all on the weekend. In total we sang, 10 songs...) we practiced for an activity that we had on Sunday for 2 stakes here in Porto, we had to practice 8 songs. Then we had to leave early because we started our division with the other sisters. Also, we had a couple of problems so we were on the phone with president all day, so division day, problems and we still ended the night amazing. We had a lesson with a less active, his friend, and an Irmã from the ward. It was incredible. We marked him for baptism and it was an amazing lesson. The less active loved it and his friend is now marked for baptism. We’re super excited! 
4. - Quinta- HAPPY SAINT PATRICK`S DAY AND 5 MONTHS!! We taught Graciete and Odilia again and she was so excited to be baptized!!! She really missed Sister Phipps and Odilia made a promise that she would be baptized before I left the mission! I just love these 2 women so much!! We then ran to the church for a meeting with bishop and ended our division. Because of a few problems, we had to pack a bag and stay in a hotel for a few days so right after the division, we packed and left. Then we went on a hunt to find Fatima again. We didn’t find her which was sad but we met a few amazing ladies. We taught them the first lesson and they both accepted to pray and they will get the book of Mormon this week. It was a really powerful lesson. We had an activity at the church and Odilia came and absolutely loved it! We watched the Easter film of Christ, played Jeopardy, and ate food. I didn’t know she was so competitive!! She was killing the game! It was awesome! 
5. Sexta- we had Graciete´s baptismal interview and she passed with flying colors! It was awesome! Elder Platts even talked to Odilia about baptism and I think it changed her way of thinking. It was awesome! Then we went back to the hotel and then had the assignment to clean the chapel so we went and did that in the afternoon, finished up some last minute baptismal program stuff and practice a song for Graciete´s baptism. It was crazy hectic! Let’s just say, at this point we hadn’t had much time in our area...
6. - Sabado- we taught Graciete again which went great! Accepted everything again and then ran to the church to practice our song `You Raise Me Up` by Josh Groban that we sang at her baptism! It was awesome! So we practiced, and then the Assistants came and got us to teach with them at their investigators house that went great! That whole story is just a huge long complicated story. So we’re tag teaming to help this 20-year-old girl be baptized. It’s great! She’s an amazing girl and I can already see the difference the church has made in her life. Incredible! Then we had to run back to the church for a Relief Society party that we had. We also sand a song called `Vem Brilhar` for a short message and Odilia came and absolutely loved it! She learned more about relief Society and I’m pretty sure she cried but she didn’t want anyone to see. It was super cute! Then we went on a Fatima search again, didn’t find her, and then did other last minute baptismal things, like practice our song.
7. - Domingo. INCREDIBLE!!!! After having little to no time in our area, we saw so many miracles today. We started up the baptismal font and the water was ice cold. I was about ready to die. The heating system didn’t work. We had everything perfect. Other than the water, it was the perfect baptism. But she entered the water and came out smiling. If that doesn’t explain the kind of person she is. She said it was so cold but the sensation afterward was without words to describe. She felt so free, light as a feather, she was dancing! It was incredible! On top of that, she sister and her brother in law came to support her! Our song went great and me and her both teared up. It was super spiritual. Oh and on top of that, after sacrament meeting started a lady that we taught a week or so came up and started crying in my arms. We pulled her aside and the first thing she said was, `I did what you told me to do. I prayed about Joseph Smith. I got an answer, and that’s why I’m here today. ` It took me by complete surprise. And then she just opened right up to us, and all we had to say was that we were here to help and the gospel will help. After she told us she knows it will. We had lost her as well. She didn’t answer when we came for our appointment and she apologized and immediately wanted us to come and visit. It was such a miracle!! Everything just ran so perfectly. We then had lunch with Graciete and Odilia, done by us, and then sprinted off to catch the metro to Porto for the activity. We sang 8 songs and the message was really great! And then ended our day! 
This week we had the most lessons with members that I’ve seen here in Gaia. If you combined all the lessons with members we’d had, it would equal what we had this week. On top of that we had the most other lessons we’d had up until this week, we had a baptism, and we had barely any time in our area. We saw the Hand of God in the work this week. It was such a blessing to have the help and support of Christ. I know He was making it all possible. No way would we have had the energy to do everything required, outside of our house, and still have the best week. He did everything. He helped out investigators more than we could have ever. I love Him so much. I’m so blessed to be here and to see these miracles. I’m blessed with an amazing companion who is doing her very best. I love the work. I couldn’t be more grateful for the mission and these people. I love every single one of them. 
I love you all so much!
Sister Hillam

p.s. Transfers should be this Sunday so stay in tune for that :)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sister Phipps and Sister Hillam

The famous Pasteries!

When you're in like Dory and Just Keep Swimming!

What a week!!! So many things happened, and so many blessings. Where to begin...WE´RE GOING TO HAVE A BAPTISM!!!! A lot of our focus this week was on Graciete! We did her invites to her baptism, got her program ready to go, and a special song that we want to sing. It’s going to be one of the best baptisms. I just love her so much!! Her mom still hasn’t accepted baptism but she should here soon! But pretty much everyday we have had daily contact with her. She accepted everything and on Sunday we went over and talked a little bit with her. We heard a little bit of her testimony and I just wanted to cry. She’s amazing. On Sunday we sang in church and as we were talking to them they said they felt something really special when we sang, something different and put them almost to tears. But also at church we learned about the importance of prayer, how, why, the blessings, and how we can receive answers. When we went over to have a short message with them they told us that they were going to have morning, afternoon, and night prayers together. This will help Odilia a lot. Graciete loves church and she even sat by one of investigators at church. I was filled with such immense joy to see the happiness. You can literally see the difference in her life. She told us that she feels the difference in her day when she doesn’t pray and read. She’s so excited to be baptized!!! They want to meet you all when you come and visit, I promised that we would, another reason why to come back :)
About a week ago we met a lady named Fatima and then she disappeared but then we found her again!!! On Saturday night we were walking on the road going to our area and we ran into her again! After our lesson with her, her daughter flipped out on her and said that everything was wrong in the church and gave back the book of Mormon. She was so embarrassed by it that she was avoiding us. On Saturday she started crying and promised to go to church and she did. It was really good for her to be there, and her daughter even said she would come and see! But then she left half way through because a return missionary shared his testimony of the things he learned in Brazil. She’s from the Reino de Deus and she was so sick of Brazilians that she got up and left. So now we have to go find her again, it’s an adventure!
Cristiana is the cutes Brazilian mom every! We are a huge support to her. She calls us 3 times a week and asks us to pass by and help her. She usually has something to drink and a little something to eat and then we teach. I love her loads! And she has the cutest kids ever! She’s going to church on Sunday, which will help her loads!! We’re really excited about that!
I have to tell you of this crazy miracle that happened. We were walking home after a hard days work and we walked past these 2 guys, one yells, `Hey are you the Mormons? ` I immediately turned around and we started talking to them. Celso is a member that was baptized I think 2-3 years ago, and Raphael had been to church but not baptized. We asked him to be baptized and he said he’d like that. SO we hit 2 birds with one stone! We get a less active to go to church, and a baptism! Win-win! We walked away and we both just said, `what just happened? ` It was incredible to see the Lord’s hand this week.
This next week will be crazy. We have a missionary activity on Thursday, we have a relief society’s activity on Saturday that we were asked to sing at, we have Graciete´s baptism on Sunday in which we are singing at as well, and we have a stake activity in Porto that we were asked to sing in the missionary choir. We will also have divisions this week on Wednesday. I’m really excited about what will happen! I love the mission so much. Sister Phipps is incredible!!!! She will be such an amazing missionary! She came pre-trained! I love my companion; Love the mission; love President, and the area. I just love it all so much!!
Love you all too!!

Sister Hillam

Monday, March 7, 2016

Where To Begin....

Where to begin!!! Sorry if there is a birthday or anniversario that I forgot about...time doesn’t exist and the days just blur together. It’s hard to remember what day of the week it is sometimes! But holy cow what a week!!! Last P-day we went with the Sisters in the zone to Porto and climbed the tower connected to the Catholic Church and saw all of Porto. What a BEAUTIFUL city!!! I’m in love! So we ended p-day and started the week! 
On Tuesday we ended up having dinner with our Brazilian investigator and her two little boys, which is awesome! So fun! She’s incredible! Every time we go over we eat and talk about life. It’s really hard to teach because of the kids but we teach as we go. We’re working on finding her desire, if that makes sense. She hasn’t felt that click yet for the gospel. But we’re working on it! So on Tuesday she called and we had dinner and talked with her. Super fun! We also met this Muslim guy!!! So cool! It was a great opportunity to talk to him a little about Muslim stuff and we even ended up giving him a book of Mormon to read. We weren’t sure if we were allowed to but he accepted! We want to go back and teach soon!
On Wednesday we had mission council so I went to Porto without Sister Phipps and guess who her comp was...SISTER MILLER!!!!! I was so jealous!! They had the best time! It made me so happy to see them together and to have some of my most favorite comps together. It just made me so happy! Mission council was great! We talked a lot about our example and we did a lot of practices. We have a big goal in the mission to baptize we have 4 people that are looking really good for baptism. We met them a little bit ago but now we just have to get them to go to church! I love this area though!! Miracles happened. So mission council went really late and we also have Correleção de obra missionaria (no idea what that is in English. English is so hard!) So we really only had 1 solid hour in our area. So we left the meeting at 8 and by 8:15 we were walking back to the chapel with a lady that wanted to see the chapel. It was a complete miracle. We said a prayer before asking for help to find those that are ready for us and then we met Fatima. She said she felt she needed to talk to us and we ended up talking to her and inviting her to see the church. Miracles happen if you have the faith and work hard!
Thursday was our Zone Meeting, which ran really well! I love our zone leaders! We have an incredible zone. We are one of the best zones in the mission and our district I think is the second best. We are powerhouses here. It’s because the Lord knows he can trust these wards and branches here to take care of his children. We saw all the numbers and everything. This zone is incredible. Lots of faith and hard working here and it made me so excited!!!! I had already heard everything from mission council but the zone leaders showed a movie at the end of Elder Holland talking about missionary work and the difficulties that come. Salvation is not easy so why should missionary work be easy?? It wasn’t easy for Him so why should it be easy for us? It really touched me. We are to do our best and to go through the trials with the end sight in goal. It was excruciatingly painful for Christ but He knew what He was doing would benefit all mankind. I know what I’m doing will benefit people here in Portugal. It was incredible! 
On Friday we got invited to dinner again by Cristiana and ate and talked with her. It was super awesome! But what was more incredible was that we went to Carlos´ house and had a lesson. I was really upset by what had happened. He didn’t want to talk to us anymore and said the Catholic Church is his church. It really hurt but I didn’t want to give up so we went back and his real fear is Alcohol. He can’t give it up and he was worried about being forced to be baptized. He said he has to go to a place to stop drinking and then to rehab for a year. He said it’ll help a lot but something that brought peace to my soul was that he said he misses the church and feels a lack of prayer and the spirit. He stopped praying, reading, and going to church and he felt the difference. He wants to come back. It was like the scriptures said, `and my soul delighteth. ` I felt so much joy when I heard that. I needed to hear that! 
Saturday we taught Carlos , Graciete, and finally had a lesson with a lady that has been so stubborn for 3 weeks. Finally got to teach about the Book of Mormon and she accepted to read! It was a really good day but what was the best day of the week was Sunday. We got to church and Graciete and Odilia show up. Graciete is marked for baptism for the 20th of this month and she is so excited. She came to church and listened to the testimonies, and it felt like every class during church was for her. We talked about the spirit and how we can know it’s the spirit and then we talked about the importance of the Sabbath Day and it just hit them and us so big. On top of that we had 3 families ask us to eat with them, which hasn’t happened since I’ve been here. I can tell you we had some really rough times this week and Sunday was the perfect day. I was struggling to keep myself above water with everything that we needed to do but Sunday was awesome. We were running to a lunch appointment with Bishop and his family, then a lesson with Cristiana (with dessert at the end), then to dinner with another family, and then to end the day with Graciete and Odilia. I love these 2 women so much. We got there and come to find out Graciete had downloaded all the church apps onto her phone and her tablet. She started talking about church and you could see the excitement on her face while talking. We had a lesson about eternal marriages and we asked her how she decided to be baptized. She explained that while reading the Book of Mormon and going to church, she just felt that this is what Christ wants her to do. She said she wants to turn a new page in her life and wants to learn more about the gospel. You couldn’t help but feel the spirit during her testimony. Her mom Odilia also said she loved church and gave a really good closing prayer. She hasn’t accepted baptism but still wants us to come by and teach her. 
Family. I am so blessed. I am so grateful for the members and their help with our investigators and inviting us to eat. I’m so grateful for an amazing companion who loves the work and the Lord. And I’m so blessed to be able to teach these 2 incredible women. I love the work and I love the Savior. He carries me through the rough times. I love this work so much! I can’t wait to start another week!! I love you all so much!!! 
Com AMOR! 

Sister Hillam