Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the old, In with the new


On December 26th we loaded up our trusty van and braved the snow for our trek

to the sunny land of Arizona.

Our usual 10.5 hour drive time was not to be.



Delayed first by the snow.



Next by a long wait at Hoover Dam.

(It was a Dam detour slowed by Dam construction)


Sorry, I digress

And finally somewhere between
Wikieup and Wickenburg Arizona late that night,
Our van sputterted and came to a halt on a lonely hill.


The stars were beautiful out there in the middle of nowhere.

A tow truck loaded the van, with all 7 of us inside, onto the back of it's large bed and took us and the trailer for a $300.00 ride into Wickenburg where my parents met us with a car and truck. We emptied the van and finally arrived in Mesa some 16 hours after we left home.


Ruby was amazing!
(Another picture shamelessly stolen)

Monday we heard that our van had breathed its last breath and would not be making the long journey back. When all was said and done I must admit that none of us were very disapointed. That van had lived a good long life and it was time to move on.

Sooooo,
We spent our Christmas vacation shopping for used cars.

A fruitful vacation don't you think?

May the van RIP.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A last minute Christmas request

Don't worry, it won't require any money or trips to the store.
First let me share with you an excerpt from an email we got from one of Mark's cycling team mates. He is in the Air Force and recently left his wife and 6 (I think) kids behind
for an special assignment in Afghanistan.

I think most of the stress of being here is wondering if things are okay at home. I have included an updated narrative of what things are like here below. I know it is long, so don’t feel obligated to read it. The clock is working for me with each passing day, and I can’t wait to get back to the family and the team, ready to race late May! It is “ghetto training” over here, but I’ve had to be creative before. It is dirty, stinky, and war torn. My pedal stroke may be square for a while after getting back, but the cardio should be okay

My hope is that each one of you and your family have a pleasant holiday season. I am grateful for small things here, but I think what means most are family and friends. You guys have been very good to me…….thanks.

It is difficult to describe the surroundings, but the land is rugged, war-ravaged, and totally lawless. I think this is perhaps one of the most dangerous places on the face of the earth, and any straying from the confines of the installation subjects you to thousands of mines and the real potential for kidnapping and death. The war effort is in full force. The military machine grinds forward, non-stop, 24/7. I am attached to the 101st Army Airborne “Screaming Eagles”, and am part of the Combined Joint Task Force 101. You can visit the website at http://www.cjtf101.com/ Despite what the liberal and biased media reports, I live and see what we are doing daily. Our Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are busy getting running water and electricity to people who live in remote villages ravaged by poverty and disease even though they (our teams) are under constant fire and IED attacks. Tuberculosis, Malaria, hepatitis and other diseases are rampant and the teams vaccinate the little ones and provide both medical and dental care. Unfortunately, the Taliban doesn’t want us here and want the people under strict Islamic law, which is remarkably oppressive. We build things, they blow them up. We build schools, they blow them up. Life has little meaning here for these people and the average life span of the male is only 43 years old. The infant mortality rate is among the top 2 in the world. Along with our attempts to rebuild the infrastructure of the country, those who are picking up arms to oppose us are dying quickly. Our special forces are some of the best in the world and if you go into the website above, you can read about their craft. Everyone, no matter how steeled, is afraid of the IED (improvised explosive device) that the enemy has perfected. It is a terror weapon that can’t be beat. Because we have hundreds of locals who work on the installation, I am constantly wondering when an infiltrator will breech the base security and blow himself up in our chow hall where several hundred people are at any given time. Our only defense against it is a good offense---stopping those who are emplacers, makers and trainers of IEDs. Our kids are dying as well. It is real. My very first night here I couldn’t sleep (still can’t) because my body wasn’t adjusted yet and I lay in my bed wide awake at 0200. The “giant voice” (a speaker system that announces mortar alerts and so forth) suddenly comes to life and announces that there will be a “fallen comrade procession” beginning at 0305. We have thousands of troops here and out of respect when a soldier falls, everyone lines the street, no matter what time, to pay our respects. It was sobering to see an old Toyota 4-wheel drive truck come down the road with an aluminum coffin draped with the flag in the bed of the truck along with the guy’s buddies, wiping away tears. That is someone’s brother, son, father, uncle or other in that coffin. He was killed by a suicide bomber near a checkpoint at one of our FOB’s (Forward Operating Bases). We rendered a slow, deliberate salute in honor of the ultimate sacrifice as the casket was enroute to be loaded by the honor guard and flown to the states. Who knows what awaits his family on the other end. All of us are resolute in prosecuting the war. What happened on 9/11 was no different than what happened on Dec 7, 1941. It is just a different enemy that fights a different war. We have the most capable, smartest, and motivated military on the face of the earth. We will keep coming as long as it takes….

Unfortunately, I cannot elaborate on what I do here, but I work with the enemy every day, face to face. The experience is so over the top that at times it is surreal. It is an enemy that I respect a great deal due to his culture of warfare forged over the last 30 years of steady conflict. It is hard to believe that the 9/11 attacks were planned and trained for not far from us here. The culture drives the war fighter here. If you are their friends, you have a friend for life and they will give you everything they have. Conversely, they are a people who hold grudges that last generations. Vengeance is always to be exacted and the culture is organized by tribes, Klans, villages----similar to the “Hatfields and McCoys”. This won’t ever be changed by the military. Some of the fighters are extremists, some are conscripted against their will, some are fighting for money offered by Iran or Pakistan, disagree with the Government, or simply to feed their family etc. Killing is something they are good at doing. We typically work 10-12 hrs per day, 7 days a week. I am proud to serve. We enjoy what we have because of the soldier and the flag represents everything we stand for. I wish parents, spouses, children and the general public knew what sacrifices were being made rather than the junk shown on the news that depicts us as invaders/occupiers that are killing people indiscriminately. They would be sobered. Tragically war is, as they say, Hell, and it is always the women and children who suffer the most. Nobody wants to be here and there is some level of constant despondency, but we all believe in what we are doing. The military family also pays a serious price and I appreciate all the support you have offered to Camille and kids.

Steve



This is my request.
As you gather your families around you this Christmas season.
Please pray for Steve, for his family and all the men and women
who give so much to make this world a better place for mothers, fathers and children everywhere.
We are so blessed... let's not forget them.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What we've been up to

Just a few photos that I stole shamelessly from
Amy's and Christian's blogs
with the exception of the pictures of Celisa and Olivia,
(I took those for her and Aaron and never gave them to her)

So... this is what we've been up to: Ginger bread houses.

Me and Christian
Mark and Jenn
Jordan and Amy's - check out the cool bridge

Aaron and Celisa (and Olivia)
Enjoying this sweet angel
Short visit with my parents.
Watching Olivia grow!

No pictures of studying, the funeral, decorating for Christmas, aerobics, going to class, doing laundry or the like
although these have also kept me busy
you'll just have to use your imagination...
(be nice in you imaginings)

That is all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sweet Carol Line

Last post for the day, then I'll go clean my house... maybe

No Christmas is complete without

A Sweet Carol Line


Check it out and enjoy the talents of our good friend
Marty Patch

I thought I could embed it in my post but don't know how.

Help from any nontechochallenged individuals out there?

Ask With Faith (December 15th)

Dear Family,

Once again your letters have left my batteries recharged and ready to get back to work. I have had an alright week, but this week is going to be awesome.

Today we played table tennis, Brasilian football and volleyball. And you can inform Richard that I only lost two times in table tennis, versus 4 other players. Yeah, I was pretty proud of that.

We had a pretty productive week but disappointingly we didn't even have one investigator in Sacrament Meeting; Alsindo and Eliane and Family went to visit relatives and Josué, Fernanda and Family had finals. So that was pretty disappointing for all the work that we have done with them this week.

But, we have a great reason to hope and pray that Elaine and Alsindo will get married and that André, Juliana and Rafael will be baptized this Sunday. We challenged them last night to read Elder Bednar's talk about asking with faith and afterward praying as a family about marriage and baptism!

I am feeling very confident in our challenge because I know it is the right thing to do and I have also prayed and received a response about serving a mission. So, I know that if they are true to there promise the Lord will do the rest.

We have an appointment with them today and your prayers will really be helpful!

Until next week!!!

Wahooo! (December 8th)

Dear Family,

Thank you, each and every one of you for your; letters, thoughts and prayers. I feel a ton of support from you all and I know it's not my imagination.

This week was really inspiring! I love Zone conference and this week I really needed it.

Well, our prayers have been answered this week! Alsindo, Eliane, André, Juliana and Rafael went to church yesterday!!! Also we brought Josué and Fernanda's children to church!!!

First of all Zone conference was just what I needed. I was having problems with Elder Elder here with exactly what the topic was in the conference. This type of thing happens daily here in the mission when you are doing the rights things. But, I am always inspired because now that I am in the mission I can notice it and learn from it. But, I learned in zone conference that my companion will be leaving the area next transfer and that I will be staying. I don't know exactly exactly what that means but I am excited!

We have been visiting Alsindo and Eliane daily and helping them gain confidence in the church and always remembering to invite them to go to church. Then we set a goal to be at church Sunday and woke them up at 7:50 to wake up and get ready and they drove to church alone!!! Now it's just the matter of marriage; I think we will set a date and mark the batismal date for André, Juliana and Rafael! I am very excited!!! Pray for them!!!

Now the story of the Noite Famíliar(Family Night) with Josué and Fernanda. Josué has always had a testimony of the church. He was going stronge when he was younger but at about 13 years old his family stopped going. He continued stronge for a year or two until he got tired. Now he is 19 years old and living with Fernanda. She is 27 and has 3 kids(don't flip out this type of thing is more or less normal in Brasil). She has lived in a little town where the church hasn't been established yet. They started dating and about a year later she came out to live with him in Santo Ângelo. She had always gone to a catholic church with her family but didn't feel at home there. When she moved here she was feeling a fault of a church in her life. She talked with her mother in law(Josué's mom) about going to a church. Josué's mom invited her to go to the closest church that there was and they started going to an Evangelical church. But still Fernanda didn't feel at home; So she decided to fast to know which church to join. In that fast she decided to end here fast at our sacrament meeting. Long story short, she decided to fast again, this week about whether she should start going to the catholic church again or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. At the Family Night we were doing a division but Elder Elder told me that he chose the recent convert, Bruna, to give the message. She complained jokingly and said that he needed to chose the scripture and that she would explain. Naturaly he chose his favorite, Alma 37:37. Then, Bruna explained that we need to make all of our dicisions with the lord, etc. When she finished Frenanda told them about the fast and explained that this scripture was a response to her prayer! Now it's just another matter of marraige that we can hopefully plan this week. Pray for us!

Thanks once again for everything! Love you all!

Tchau

Time to Celebrate!

Did you hear a big yipeeeeee! last night?

How about a big siiiiggghhhhh today?

I'm done with the semester and with finals and not a moment to spare.

One week until Christmas.

And check it out... this is my 100th post!

I should do something BIG
something exciting.
some great contest or give-a-way.

But, right now I have a headache and need to clean my house,
get my Christmas cards and shopping done, you know...
stuff like that. So maybe I'll just do a surprise something...
Leave a comment and we'll both be surprised if I send you something!

But I will give a little gift to everyone...
post Robbie's letters from the last few weeks... sorry.

PS We are not a Grinch house this year.
We do have lights on the house...
but after spending an hour or so making sure they all work
we put them up and
they no longer light up...
we couldn't find fuses to fix them
and now our roof is buried in a foot of snow.

Maybe we are a Grinch house.
Listen for the wahoo, wahoo on Christmas morning.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Why I don't have an updated journal

I've wanted to post for a time but didn't as I felt the need to catch up. I totally missed Thanksgiving but mainly because the pictures I want are on Christian's camera instead of mine (excuses, excuses). Now for the substance.

My heart is very full right now with many impressions and feelings. I'm not sure they will make sense to you and they may seem random but here goes:

I get up every morning and go about my daily routine with little change while all around me others do not have the same luxury. Friends with sick children in the hospital and a good sister in our ward passed away last week. My good husband, busy with tithing settlement, and end of semester things must also prepare for her funeral but he still makes time to play Mastermind with Jennifer in the evenings and snuggle with me at night.

The weather has turned cold but still no snow. We put up our Christmas tree after Thanksgiving and decorated it two Sundays ago when Aaron and Celisa were here for dinner. We reminisced about the hodgepodge of ornaments as we placed them on the tree and I realized that it's been a while since we've done that. It seems that I've been so task oriented trying to get "things checked off my list" these past few years that I've skipped over the things that make "the list" beautiful and joyful.

Mark put our Christmas music on my computer and now, using the "air port" he got me for my birthday, I can listen to my music from the nice stereo in the living room as well as the computer speakers in the family room. I didn't know that "O Holy Night" was his favorite Christmas song... and we've been married 26 years.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. My family didn't complain about the traditional meal minus butter and sugar where ever possible. That evening we guessed artists and song titles that boys played from their computers while the girls played Ticket to Ride and guessed songs too - even when we weren't supposed to. That evening I felt so grateful for my life. While I have felt sad lately at the thoughts of my married kids moving (and taking my grandbabies with them) I have made a conscious decision - with the help of my wonderful counselor, confidant, best friend and husband, to enjoy the moment now... missing them will come soon enough. He is a very wise soul.

But back to today and now. My Aunt passed away yesterday. She is my mom's oldest sister and somewhat of a mother figure to my mom as their mother was often sick. As I write this my mom is packing up to come for her funeral in Salt Lake, they will arrive tomorrow. Yesterday Aaron and Celisa found out they are having a girl, Olivia. A little girl cousin for Ruby to be buddies with. Celisa also felt the baby kick and is finally showing. Death and new life all around.

I turned in my research paper today, the last one I will write... possibly forever... good? bad? I don't know ... but somehow I feel a little more freedom to focus on other things that need my attention without an assignment hanging over my head. Funny, on my last paper I finally found the balance between doing more and saying good enough.

I feel like I need to add some kind of conclusion to this to wrap it up, tie it all together and make sense of it all. Something cliche like "enjoy today because you don't know what tomorrow will bring". True enough... but I really just feel thankful to be where I am, connected to people I love so much ...and I feel a greater desire to not take them for granted and to try to be a little better tomorrow... and with a little luck I will add pictures later, if not so be it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tudo azul (All is Blue)

Hey Family,

Thanks for your letters, they really have been encouraging.

This week has been filled with ups and downs. Yesterday was the primary program and it was nothing but fun. There is no replacement for the innocence and love of little children. It was one of the highlights of my week.

Then on Saturday we had two baptisms of the two first names on the list; A brother and sister, Wellington Bruno and Carol. We are working with their parents to get married but Bruno and Carol have been going to church for a good time and been good examples for their parents.

This week on Wednesday we will have our Zone Conference and I am really excited. This week has been a little difficult with my companion and I have a lot of hope that Zone Conference will help us out. I have a lot of confidence in President and Sister Myrrha, they are really inspired and zone conference is always a good battery charger.

As far as our investigators go, Alsindo and Eliane are really trying my patience. They are talking about marriage and it looks like it is going to happen but they are always going out of town on the weekends. Our next lesson will be today and I think we will just focus on the Sabbath Day. They promised to go to church next Sunday and if they do we will be able to mark their baptisms. Your prayers will really help them.

This week we are working with investigators that will have a bit of a process to be baptized. We will work a lot this week to find new investigators and hopefully a few families. Keep us in your prayers and this will be a great week!

Thank you for all your love and support!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Books I've read... for enjoyment?

My friend Tracy from Oklahoma tagged me for a book meme (someone explain what that is).

Here are the rules:
You choose only four books one from each genre and then state in 30 words or less why they are a must read. Maybe she forgot I've been in school forever or maybe she didn't realize that when I do read a beloved book for pleasure the house can burn down around me and I wouldn't notice, but for what it's worth here it is:

1) Fiction - The last Harry Potter - (actually I listened to it on tape, does that count?)
I love the complexity of the stories, an unlikely hero with weaknesses and good triumphing over evil. (It also makes driving 500 miles in the car go fast)

2) Autobiography - Frank Cappra - The Name above the title.
School assignment. A man worked hard from a humble beginning to become a great name in film making. He then used his position to make inspiring films about unlikely heroes who make a difference. (Hmmm, I see a common thread here)

3) Non Fiction - Family and Change (Yes it's a text book...do you have a problem with that?)
It's a pretty good book but my most compelling reason for reading it was to get a good grade.

4) Any book? - Do cook books count? I guess not, I didn't read it cover to cover...
I am looking forward to reading any book just for pleasure. Many have recommended Twilight. Right now just thinking about reading for fun seems fun. Tag me again in a year!

I tag Jennifer - this will be hard for her but I look forward to seeing what she comes up with. Also Amy, Celisa, Jess, Kami Su and anyone else who loves to read.



.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A week and a month of miracles

Dear Family,

Another week has passed by and the work is really inspiring! I enjoyed each and every one of your emails and I'm feeling an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for such an inspirational family. I kneel down many times each day and have to thank my Heavenly Father for how blessed I have been to know such wonderful people!!! You are all chosen and loved sons and daughters of our loving Heavenly Father.

The work here in Santo Ângelo has been very blessed by your prayers and the rust has broken and the wheels have begun to spin. As you know, Elder Elder and I have been trying to train the members here to eat, breath, sweat and even sleep missionary work; and our work has started to pay off.

We have been finding a lot of promising investigators, through referrals and, teaching a lot with the members. It seems as though for once they are thinking like I was when I was sticking my head out the window of the van screaming for all the cyclists in LOTOJA. I have this desire to just explode the restored gospel but, for some time, I didn't know how. The members here had the same problem.

Sister Myrrha (Me-huh) gave us the analogy of a cake. We have an awesome cake; it's about the size of Ruby Lynn Wright, it's chocolate, ice cream and Dulce de leche, all right. But, sometimes we are so excited to eat this cake, or even share it that we just dig into it with our hand and start going for the touch down. We even want to share it, so we grab a hand full and throw it like Uncle Rico threw the steak right at Napoleon's face and do you think anyone wants a round house kick to the face while I'm wearing these bad boys? Don't even think about it. (Editorial note: you’ll have to watch the movie “Napoleon Dynamite” to understand the last few sentences!)

But anyways, it has been really cool the way the members are working with us to share the gospel in a more civilized way.
Thank you all for your wonderful letters and until next week!

Love Elder Z

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rhetorical question? Maybe not...


The other day on my quirky post I said that I didn't like shopping and asked somewhat rhetorically "What's wrong with what I'm wearing?"

Here is my answer.

Maybe I never like to shop because it reminded me that I don't like the way I looked. Then, as I lost weight I was able to fit into some clothes I have been holding on to waiting for this day... thrilled that I could wear them comfortably... so I did.

Don't ask me when I bought them but suffice it to say at least one pair of jeans had a 9" zipper.
(In my defense they have NO PLEATS and I NEVER tucked my shirt in.)

For my birthday last week I got a gift card as well as some money to buy new clothes
(That is what I asked for - it was not a hint or suggestion
although it maybe should have been).

Last Saturday Macys had a sale and Jen went shopping with me
(as my consultant).

The result - new pants! YEA!

Amy and "What not to wear" were totally right
you should get some new clothes even in the in between stages.


So I owe a BIG Thanks:
#1 for the birthday money
(not that I couldn't go shopping with out it but I tend to be a little tight...
frugal... cheap... whatever)
#2 to my kids for not being embarrassed to be seen with me in public
(of course I don't really frequent the mall that much
but maybe that will change...)

Disclaimer: No feelings were hurt in the conclusions I came to in this blog and no offense was taken in any way.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two thoughts

#1 Never go to bed with even "slightly" damp hair.
#2 A good straightener is worth it's weight in gold!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Word (from Brazil)

Dear Family,

My week couldn't have been better!

Look's like Elder Elder and I are going to stay together one more transfer. Last week was really good. We had 2 baptisms and 6 investigators in our Sacrament meeting!

William and Gilherme were baptized on Saturday! They are children of less active members and are really special. They have a lot of family that are really active and we are trying to motivate there parents to learn more about the Gospel. I think it is working too.

Davi, Gilherme's dad had a really spiritual experience. We showed a short film about the first vision and he felt the spirit really strongly. Then afterwards he was asking a ton of questions about the church and about Joseph. Then Gilherme was confirmed on Sunday and Davi showed up and was commenting about the peace and tranquility in the chapel. We will hopefully be able to teach him about the restoration and help him get married. Pray for him to open his heart and be able to know of the truthfulness of the gospel.

Then Eliane and Rafael showed up in Church yesterday!!! Alsindo and Juliana were sleeping when the members passed by to walk with them. Eliane is really set on going to church and has realized already the blessings that have come since we started teaching, but it's Alsindo that has really lost all confidence in churches. He has recognized the spirit and knows that the church is true but it seems like he is waiting for a miracle for him to go to church. We have a family night planned Wednesday, and I think we will make tacos!!! Ahh Yeahhh :)

Josué and Fernanda showed up at church yesterday too and we already talked to them about families and eternal marriage and left the movie Charlie for them to watch. They are hinting towards getting married, so we will pass by there Saturday with a newly married couple that was baptized recently. It should be really sweet!

Elder Elder and I would appreciate it if you guys could pray for the following investigators; Alsindo, Eliane, Juliana, Rafael, Paulo, Serlei, Luciano, Marcia, Maria, Josué, Fernanda, Paulo, Camilla, Gilberto and another Camilla. These are the investigators that really have potential, but the main problem here is that no one is married! Everyone just lives together, has kids, but never gets married, it's really lame.

Thank you all for you love, prayers and fasts. I pray for you all every day!

Tchau Family,

Sure love you guys!!!

Until next week...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thank You Note for Mom and Dad


Dear Mom and Dad,

I have actually composed this thank you note in my head every year for a very long time. Last Sunday it occurred to me to sit down and write it on the above card and mail it to you; but here we are again with a blank card and the sentiment intended for you to read today still rattling around in my brain. While I realize that I suffer from this malady (see #4) I'm still struggling to fully embrace the cure. I hope this will suffice for this year.

I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for having me. Having had three children ages 3 1/2 and under, I realize that as your number 3 in a comparable time period my arrival, though welcomed, my birth most likely put your lives in a bit of an upheaval.

Thank you for teaching me that there's always room on your lap for another child. Thank you for teaching me about being kind to others and the joy that comes from serving. Thank you for teaching me how to love and be forgiving. Thank you for not only telling me that God loves me but living your lives in a way that I had not doubt that it was true. Thank you for reading to me from the scriptures as well as all kinds of books. Where The Red Fern Grows will always bring back memories of passing the book to another when we got too choked up to continue reading. Thanks for teaching me that it's OK to cry if you have a good reason but not OK just to get what you want. Thank you for enabling me to pursue my dreams and supporting me when my dreams changed. Thank you for being sealed in the temple so that from the moment I was born I was part of a forever family. Thank you for showing me how to live by faith as well as by works. This is not a complete list or even the most important things - but then, I still have a few more years.

Each year I am filled with deep gratitude for the gift of life you have given me - not just that you created and gave birth to my mortal body (even understanding the magnitude of that most awesome gift); but also that during the 18 years I lived under your daily loving care you taught me who I was, why I am here and where I am going and how to tap into the enabling grace and mercy that will help me get there. While I have lived away from home longer than I lived at home, you gave me a solid foundation to build on and continue to do so today.

And so... for this and much, much more I say thank you!
Thank you with all my heart.

I love you both more than words can ever express.

Karen

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I did it!

I applied for graduation!

After 9+ years it feels kind of surreal

The girl looked at my credits and asked
"just one minor right?"

I probably could get more...
but at this point it's not worth the effort
to research it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Let's get down to bizzzness

Hey Family,

Well, as you can see my Inglês is pretty bad, which means that Português is coming along just great :)

This week has been a really great week. The first two weeks of the transfer Elder Elder and I were working hard, but, we had a lot of rejection. Then the next two weeks were really hard and we got a little trunky. But that, how the Brasillian says it, "Já era!"(Already was). We have made a lot of efforts and plans to stay focused and animated and continue working; not only hard, but smart.

I am starting to realize the significance of the scripture in Ether 12:27. It has always had real meaning to me but know I have a testimony of it. I have found a way to work with Elder Elder, how I worked with Elder Vigeta. We are happy and really progressing.

I have been sharing a message with the members about being prepared to talk to people about the gospel and how to do it; We have a film that we are passing around called, "By small and simple things." It has a short film about a girl who gave a book of Mormon to a boy at school, almost "by accident (yeah yeah)." He ends up reading the book and praying about it and after he is taught by the missionaries and his whole family gets baptized. Then it has a talk by elder Eyring and testimonies from a few converts. But, what really struck out to me was that Elder Erying said, "The people that are prepared to hear about the gospel will run into the people that are prepared to teach them, or share a particle of faith with them"(more or less).

I started to question my purpose here and started feeling that I really needed to focus on being prepared to say the things that the people will need to hear. I am proud to say that I have found myself here in Santo Ângelo and that Now I am ready to work.

Sunday something really cool happened. Well Alsindo, Eliane, Juliana and Rafael didn't go to church. They had to run out of town at the last minute and only passed us Saturday night on there way out of town. Well, I know what your thinking, "that's not very cool, that's really sad." You're right, that isn't the cool thing that happened, that was really lame! But, the cool thing that happened is that a couple showed up at church. They aren't married. He fell away from the church when he was fourteen and she is catholic. She is the one that wanted to go to church and she fasted for one week and ended it in our sacrament meeting!!!
It was an answer to our prayers, we grabbed a member and marked later that afternoon and taught them. It was the first lesson about The fall of Adam and Eve making it necessary for a Savior, Christ; Christ being perfect, baptism, Christ's church and the Atonement. I usually don't cry until the Restoration, but she was crying through the whole thing! It was one of the most powerful experiences that I have yet had on the mission.

I'm so grateful for this opportunity that I have to be here and that I was prepared! I love this gospel and am glad to know that there is nothing better that I could be doing.

Love you all with all my heart!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Flash back Friday(ish): Shock but no surprise

Five years ago this Sunday, Mark and I were just settling down for an afternoon nap when the phone rang. We heard one of the kids answer and explain to the caller that we were sleeping and they were not allowed to wake us (except of course if someone was bleeding or something was on fire). We listened as the muffled conversation continued up the stairs and was followed by a hesitant knock on our door. It was a member of the stake presidency wanting to talk to dad. Could both of us meet with them in about 30 min. at the stake presidents office... so much for our nap.

The following Sunday Mark was sustained as Bishop of our home ward. The reality of it was kind of a shock but not really a surprise. There had been little indications that this calling would come even though we tried to ignore and deny them at times. During the past five years this calling has brought challenges as well as many blessings and tremendous growth for our family.

I'm not writing this now because I know something... as has been the case the last five years I know nothing! I write this to acknowledge that at some point (maybe in a month, maybe in two years) another phone call will come - maybe during a Sunday nap - and it will be time for Mark to be released. I would imagine that again the reality of it may be a shock but not a surprise.

Until then, Mark continues to serve and I will continue to make birthday cards and monthly scones. But... last Sunday two members of the stake presidency visited our meeting (for no apparent reason) and people have started asking questions...so now I can also joke with members of the ward about them being next! This is really fun!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I have a reserach paper to write!

but I'm having a hard time concentrating.

I'm completely smitten!She's not even awake right now.
Can't wait to kiss those wonderful cheeks!

And one more on the way!

being a Grandma is simply
THE BEST THING EVER!


Now I know why most grandma's don't go to school

OK (deep breath)
Now that's out of my system...focus, focus, focus!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted

I was worried about voting today. Talk of long lines and three hour waits. I have class from 3-5:30, a bike ride to get in and tons of homework to do. I don't have three hours to wait in line but still, voting is important...

I went by the elementary school where we vote after I finished driving the middle school carpool this morning and it was a zoo. A man leaving the building said five of the voting stations were not working and the line was horrendous. I went home and decided on a new plan of action. I would get my stuff done and go to vote at 1:30 leaving if I still had a long wait or being late to class if I was close.

At 9:50 a friend called to remind me about something I need to bring for enrichment meeting tonight. I asked her about voting (I knew she had already been) she was there 20 min. before it opened and was done in less than an hour. As I hung up the phone I felt the urging "Go now" I thought logically, if there was a three hour wait at 8:00, there will still be a crowd. Again the urging, "Go now". I sat down at the computer for a moment to consider my options and continue with my homework but drew a blank. OK, Ok I'll go now.

NO LINES. Parked in a prime spot, walked in voted, walked out. I noticed while I was there that Aaron's name was on the list to vote at the elementary school. As I was walking out I began to text Aaron and Mark to let them know of the lack of lines. I was interrupted by a call from Aaron asking if he was registered to vote at the same place we were. I could confidently answer yes!

Is there any question in my mind that God cares about the details of our lives? Absolutely None!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Word from Brazil

Hey Family!!!

What's going on there in Utah?!

Everything here in Santo Angelo is moving a long, a little slowly, but it's moving. We are teaching a few people with potential and soon we should have a few baptisms. But, we are puting a lot of emphasis and efforts on training the members here so we haven't been knocking doors and finding a lot of people to teach. We held a training for the leaders or our branch yesterday that was really spiritual, about always sharing the gospel and preparing to share the gospel with our friends and family that aren't members. It was a really cool experience and we should be seeing a lot of referrals soon.
Our Branch here is really good, it isn't very big but we have a lot of firm leaders here that will help once the work starts moving a little faster.
Eliane, Alsindo, Juliana and Rafael have received testimonies about everything we have taught but keep going out of town on the weekends. They were at an activity that we had Thursday and really had a good time but, they haven't been to Sacrament meeting yet. We will now just really put the focus on progress and commit them to go to church this Sunday. Your prayers and fasting would really help.
Do you guys remember; Arlei, Laura, Alexandra, Arlei junior, Jefferson, Laura, Jefferson and Maikon.
Well they are from Uruguiana and Jefferson was baptized last week and Laura(his sister) will be baptized with Arlei, Laura, and Alexandra on the 15 of November.
I am super excited for Elder Vigeta, he was a really good companion!
Well I have faith that the time has come for Santo Angelo and we're gonna make it happen! Pray for us!

Love you guys!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

6 Quirky things about me

Thanks for the tag Jess, It's an honor to be considered one of your quirky friends... I think.
Anyway, here are 6 quirky things about me:

1) I hate to shop... especially for shoes! - what's wrong with what I'm wearing?... and when it comes to shoes - I can totally relate to Cinderella's ugly step sisters, nothing I want to wear fits.

2) I sleep with socks on - thin socks - It's been a great cure for cracked feet. I put on this and then some thin socks and wallah no more cracks!

3) I floss twice a day... do you know what grows in there? D-skus-ting!

4) I love, love, love to make cards but hardly ever send them - I am working on this one.
(If you want to see some of them check out my stamping blog, or if you want to buy some from my vast collection let me know - we could call it an overstock sale - they're cheap!)

5) I'm always late to Weight Watchers because I weigh my clothes - don't scoff - did you know that jeans can add up to half a pound!

6) I seem to have this idea that I can do most anything after reading a how to from a book or on line. Things such as "sure, I can texture my walls and do faux painting", "I can make my daughters wedding dress" (I actually had taken a sewing class and had done some sewing beforehand, "I can make a running stream in my backyard"... etc. I don't do electrical or plumbing and actually after the backyard project I may be outgrowing this one... I come by it naturally though - I get it from my mom!

So now it's out in the open I tag Lisa, Linda, Amy, Celisa, Jennifer and Tracy to share some of your quirks with us!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Flash Back Friday: Not Born on Halloween

My Grandma Gusty was not born on Halloween but Halloween is on her birthday. She was born in Switzerland where they didn't (don't?.. I don't know) celebrate Halloween. She is the second from the left, the girl with dark hair and full lips (for more details about the other women in the picture, see my dad's comment below)- she said her sisters teased her because she looked so different than the rest of them. She, along with her sisters and mom joined the church on the 6th of May, 1914 when she was nine and she came to the US sailing from Cherbourg on the 22nd of May, 1926, when she was 21. She worked as a nanny and house keeper first in Salt Lake City and then in LA. She learned English here. She met my grandpa, the mailman, as she awaited letters from her beau back in Switzerland. They were married in LA and later my grandpa joined the church and they traveled to the Mesa temple to be sealed.
Grandma was a "Rosie the Riveter"
and worked at McDonald Douglas during World War II.
(I love her handwriting.)
This is my grandma and Grandpa shortly before my Grandpa passed away in the early 70's. My grandma's hair didn't go gray until he was into her 80's and she lived by herself until she was 90? - clarification dad?
She passed away just before Jennifer's second birthday in '97. It's hard to believe she's been gone 11 years. Somehow she remains with me though. I see her full lips on my children and our sweet Ruby. Every Thanksgiving we eat on the china that was hers. I am grateful that the relationships we form here will continue with us forever. Happy Birthday Grandma... I look forward to our reunion someday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Autumn: the way I see it

Looking into the back yard
Front side yard

Back side yard
Looking out the front window

While I know that Winter follows Autumn,
having lived many years
without an obvious changing of the seasons

I have come to appreciate the way nature
celebrates the passage of time.

P.S. I saw a bald eagle while I was riding my bike
in Provo Canyon yesterday
I love where we live!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Held Hostage

Have you ever come to the realization that you are holding people hostage to their past? Allowing actions or words spoken long ago (or not that long ago) to dictate choices you make and the way you treat others in this moment? It seems that when I am feeling pretty heroic and righteous I am often faced (sometimes hit in the face) with the reality of my hypocrisy.

Have words ever slipped out of your mouth that you don't really mean? Blame it on the heat of the moment, stress or exhaustion.... open mouth, insert foot, bite down hard. I know I have longed for time to roll back so I could do it over, say it over or not say it at all. I want the other person to forgive me and move on as if it never happened. Why then, can I not extend that same courtesy as easily to others.

For me, I want each day to be a new day, a new beginning. I want to be at least a little better today than I was yesterday: to start fresh and learn new things, to not make the same or as many mistakes as I did yesterday. I would guess that most people want that. I hope that others notice my progress and would forgive me of past blunders and treat me as the new person I'm trying to become. Why, if this is my desire, do I struggle to extend the same consideration to others?

Today is a new day, time for a fresh start, no more hostages.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Zone Conference!!!

Well Family, the days are flying by like a Bugatti in 6th gear, if you know what I mean ;)

Santo Angêlo is a very very good area, but Elder Elder and I just need to learn how to work it.

Man I love zone conference!!! President is really inspired; and I received goodies from home (thanks everybody, especially Mom!!!). I had been praying to find new investigators, trying to pull the referrals from the members but nothing seemed to be working REALLY GOOD. Then, in zone conference the main topic was finding new investigators! President really has some awesome ideas and we are going to go all out! Also, Elder Bueno who was in Uruguaiana with me is Assistant now. He has passed through this same area that I am in and he told us every little little secret that he knows about our area. So, I'm super excited to work this week!

We have been working with one family for a few weeks now and it's getting to the boiling point; They have been showing a lot of interest, but not progressing the way they could be.

It is a family of four; The dad, Alsindo, Mom, Elaine, Daughter of Alsindo, Juliana, and son of Elaine, Rafael. It doesn't look like they are married, so it will be a bit of a process before they can be baptized. But, we started teaching all except the dad; he has lost all confidence in Churches (and with the churches they have here, I am pretty disgusted too). We taught them about the Ministry of Christ and Restoration (I wasn't there when they taught the Restoration, but Elder Elder left them the movie of the First Vision to watch with Alsindo to see if they could spark some interest). Then, the next visit, Alsindo had watched the movie and liked it a lot. So, I went back on a split with a few members and we taught the whole family about the Book of Mormon; It was a very spiritual lesson and the whole family really could tell the importance of having another testimony when so many people can translate the Bible in so many different ways. On the next visit, we started with the first lesson for Alsindo because he wanted to know the importance of baptism. When we asked how they had liked the part of the Book of Mormon that we marked, Elaine had already read 3rd Nephi 11 and started to read from the beginning. I couldn't believe it, she has showed a lot of interest and really wants to progress but Alsindo thinks there is more to the church than what we are saying. He has a vision very much like Dad, when things are looking too good to be true, they usually are; also, that nothing comes for free. Which is true, we need to sacrifice the natural man to enter into God's fold.

We are starting to have activities every Thursday night and they have really been a hit. We will have a visit with them tomorrow, then invite them to the activity and we will see what happens Sunday. But, I would really appreciate your prayers for them; Alsindo, Elaine, Juliana and Rafael.

Thanks for all of your letters this week!!! I will write you all back individually...

Until next week

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Flashback Friday:Halloween

While I realize that Halloween is a favorite for many, I have always struggled to get into it. I was always the one standing on some ladies door step while she would look at me and say, "Well what have we here... she would look and look... and think and ponder" I would just stand there and try to smile with my outstretched pillow case. I wanted to give her hints....let's see, I'm wrapped in bandages from head to toe and any exposed skin is green...... it rhymes with dummy... Of course I would never say that but come on!

Since those painful days our family has discovered pumpkin carving using a stencil and special carving tools. Each year we get together and carve pumpkins. It's been fun - I actually look forward to lighting them on Halloween night. This is Robbie's jay-O-lantern from last year.

I'm getting the costume thing figured out too, well sort of.

This year Mark and I actually dressed up (thanks to tremendous pressure from Jessica - no really - thank you) We make great nerds! (Napoleon Dynamite and Deb - just in case you can't tell) Maybe by the time I'm 70 I'll get it figured out!

The state of things today and in the future

We had an interesting conversation with Christian and Jennifer last night sitting on the floor in the living room as we were about to have family prayer. We talked about the election and the state of our economy. We talked about California's prop 8 and it's implications. We talked about the national debt and how it will effect all of us. We talked about Biden's recent speech and the media's lack of attention to it and if he's right what it will mean to our country. All in all a very sobering conversation.

We also talked about how grateful we are to have prophet of God on the earth today to give us guidance and comfort. We talked about our recent conference and the messages of hope and gratitude that were given.

Today I read these words:
" Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.
But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day." Alma 26:6-8

In less than two weeks the election will be over and many will breathe a sigh of relief that we will no longer be bombarded with ads, signs and news reports about the election, but the consequences of our choices made during this election will just be starting.

We so often think of the here and now... what will make my life better today? But as my children get older I seem to think more about the legacy of the world we are leaving for them and their children - my sweet Ruby and this new baby Aaron and Celisa are bringing into the world, I often pause and wonder what kind of a world are we leaving to them and would our choices be different if it really mattered to us?

PS sorry for all the "updates" to try and get my pics right, I'm done now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My funny for the day

My friend and neighbor Trinka brought me a muffin the other day made from yellow squash. It was really good so I got her recipe. I tweaked it a little, added some cocoa powder and topped it with fat free coolwhip and chocolate shavings - think chocolate cupcake. Pretty good and only two points. I made some again Sunday but used butternut squash and did a little more tweaking. This time I frosted it with cream cheese frosting (2.5 points). They were better than the batch before so I took some over for Trinka and her family to try. Today Devyn (Trinka's almost 8 year old son) returned the plate. I asked him if he liked the cupcakes. At first he said yes and then turned around and said, "Well, no actually I didn't try them... I was barfing. Have a good day!" then he quickly added, "I'm feeling better now" put his hand on his stomach and thought for a moment and added, "well, sort of" and he left.

Just Burning Rubber

Family,

How is everyone? Thank you all once again for all of your; prayers, love, support, letters and pictures. It is really good to hear from you.

My week has been a bit long here in Santo Angelo. I haven't lost hope or enthusiasm but I'm going crazy for new ideas.

Elder Elder and I have been knocking doors and teaching a few people that are really wishy-washy. We have been working with two families in particular that have showed potential but they have got there problems, just like anyone else. but I have learned that a person or family isn't the Lord's elects until they have a change of heart and are baptized. But, we are working to accomplish this.

We have realized that there are many less active members in this Branch that haven't had a visit from the missionaries in a really long time. We are also realizing that knocking doors in our area really isn't very productive. So, starting with this week I think Elder Elder and I will work up a lesson really spiritual to present to the less active members and start to teach there friends and family.

It is really interesting the way Satan works, It is the small things like; reading the scriptures, saying our prayers, going to church, this time, I will do it tomorrow and thoughts of this kind that cause feelings of; unworthiness, shame, sadness, confusion that ultimately lead us to leave the church.

But with one spiritual experience it is really amazing the way that torch can light again. We can and must all be examples of this torch going strong. So that we can light the fire that once burned in those that have forgot how it is to live in the security of the Gospel.

Thank you all for being there and re-lighting my fire.

Love you all more than I can express!!!

Tchau, até mais...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flashback Friday: There's nothing to fear...

When I was little I remember laying in my bed as flat as I could so that if someone shot an arrow through the window they wouldn't hit me...and no matter how hot it was I ALWAYS covered myself with my sheet, the more protection the better... seems pretty silly now but for years (maybe it just seemed like years) this is how I went to sleep. (I still like a sheet covering me but it has nothing to do with arrows).

WARNING - I realize there are not many people who read this but if you are one of the few and are sick of posts about losing weight, feel free to close this now. This post is more for me than you.

It's funny how I still have strange (OK - maybe irrational) fears. It was also somewhat unexpected how emotionally charged the whole weight loss thing is for me. It's really more than just exercising and eating right. Maybe if I just put them out there I can see that I really have nothing to fear.
1. I can't buy new clothes until I reach my ideal weight - what if I somehow become satisfied with the way I look and stop loosing?
2. What if I get stuck and never can reach my goal?
3. What if I'm never satisfied with the way I look?
4. If I'm not obsessive I won't loose weight.
5. What if I have to eat so little food to reach my goal that I can't maintain it?
6. Can I really be happy not eating whatever I want whenever I want?

Ok, I feel better already. Even as I typed some of these issues that have been floating in the back of my head it seems silly that I would even worry about them. This whole process has been fascinating to understand my self better, physically and emotionally. I'm learning a lot about the way my own body works.

OK, one more breakthrough for me. I am posting a picture of myself, by myself on my blog. Reward or punishment... you have to figure that one out. Nice hair cut though, thanks Jamie...

I can't tell you how tempting it is to delete this whole thing but I accidentally posted it before I was finished so I guess I'll leave it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

They've go a McDonalds in Santa Maria

Hey Family!

How is everyone? It was really good to hear from all of you. I know I say it every week but your letters really mean the world to me!

I am here in Santo Angelo now with Elder Silva and his first name is actually Elder; so that goes to show you how much of a nerd he is :) He is 21 and is from Minas Gerais. He is a good kid, a lil spacey but he's got the will to work and so I think we'll make a good team.

Just to let you know a little about Santo Angelo, it has been in last place as far as baptisms goes since I arrived in the mission. It is the exact opposite to Uruguiana. We've got all the leaders in our ward and every one of them is very animated and working hard. They just had the chapel reformed and it is beautiful. The problem here is that there are only 4 missionaries in the whole city; us and the zone leaders. We have had a really hard time finding people who are interested and that want us to return. We had about 10 lessons with members scheduled that fell through and we found about 15 investigators but none are progressing. This place is going to take a lot of work. I am very excited to get the work going here and President is sure that the time has arrived here.

Elder Silva and I are really going to put the peddle to the meddle, like it was a Lambo and see what we can dig up. We have realized that the people here are really honest to the extent that they will tell you how they feel about you and how much they want to hear our message; so we have stopped insisting and now we are just praying and fasting to find the people that are waiting for the message of the restored gospel. I think we have a few with potential, so we'll see what happens. We could really use your help though. We are looking for a family, legaly married with children in the age for baptism. Your prayers would really be helpful in our situation!!!

Thanks again for your love and prayers and confidence! All is great here in Santo Angelo and will be even better with your prayers and fasting.

Até proxíma semana!!! (D&C 88:76-81 has a promise for all of us!!!)

PS from Karen - check the link to his blog, he posted some new pics.!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Flash Back Friday: Columbus Day

Columbus day is coming up, how do you celebrate?

I must admit that I do not regularly celebrate it these days but when I was growing up Columbus Day meant going to Disneyland! It was government employee day. My parents got discount tickets and we got out of school. We lived about an hour and forever from Disneyland. The first 45 minutes or so went fairly quickly but the last 20 or 30 took F-O-R-E-V-E-R! We were always so excited to see this sight greeting us (ummm I don't know those people, just downloaded it from the internet):When we got a little older we would use the car ride to carefully plan our strategy to get the most rides in during the day and upon arriving we would split up and us older kids would run from land to land riding and screaming to our hearts content. We also planned rest times when we would ride Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted house or Small World so we could recharge and replan without wasting valuable time. My Mom would often bring our lunch and BBQ at a little picnic area off the the left of the park entrance. (Is that still there?)
One year when we were still small enough to stick together I remember going to Tom Sawyers Island. What a fun place (although a little scary considering Injun Joe and all). I remember climbing on the rock play area. My mom gave us our usual 5 minute warning to finish up. I really wanted to climb to the top of the castle rock again and said something to that effect. I would guess that knowing I was kind of disobeying I probably said it fairly quietly. When I finally came down my family was no where to be found. I was petrified! I looked all over and couldn't find them. I started to cry and then to run. I don't remember where I was running to but I knew they were on the island and I had to find them. It seemed like I ran all over the place for a very long time. A park worker found me about 30 seconds before I ran into them. I don't remember my family being panicked that I was missing (which tells you that I wasn't gone very long) but I'll tell you I didn't let go of my Mom's hand the rest of the day and in the future... when my Mom said "Let's go" I was one of the first to respond!
We took our family to Disneyland years ago (Christian was a few months old). We got one of those package deals with tickets and a hotel. I made my kids ride on Matterhorn because you can't go to Disneyland and not do that! They were not happy about that. It was soooo crowded. Robbie (age 4) let go of my hand and disappeared in the crush of people. I was petrified. Luckily we found him quickly. We went back to the hotel for dinner that evening with the intention of resting and returning to the park but the kids just wanted to go swimming... pretty expensive swim. We haven't been back since.

I don't know how I feel about all of that but that's the way it is for me. While my family may not really be amusement park people I think that if I could go on an uncrowded day and not have to use all our life savings.... I would love to ride the Matterhorn again.....and space mountain, Thunder mountain railway, Pirates, the haunted house (with my dad), Small world, and on and on.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Didja miss me?

Half empty or half full, half empty or half full?
Half full - half full - half full.

This past week (plus really) has been a wild ride. Tuesday (nine days ago) I went to take the middle school girls to school and couldn't get the garage door open. I finally got it open and had Jenn and Ruby Neff hold it open while I drove the two cars out, we picked up the other girls and they still made it on time - tender mercy. We were able to find a good discount on a new door and opener - tender mercy. Last Thursday I drove the high school carpool in the morning and when I got home I noticed it sounded like the radiator was boiling...strange, Timpview is only about a mile and a half away. When I was heading out to Weight Watchers I watched the thermometer slowly climb until it hit red about the time I got there - tender mercy. When I came out I called Mark and we decided to take it to Ray's campus auto right next to BYU. I just made it there when it hit the red again. I called Karen Bergmann to tell her I would not make our appointed time for a bike ride and she offered to pick me up - tender mercy. My 8:00am class was cancelled Friday morning (the only time during the whole semester) so not having my car was not an issue - tender mercy. We took the Beamer in to get some work done. When they finished they were pulling it out the water pump went out so they pulled it back in and fixed that too - glad it didn't happen while Christian or I were on our way somewhere - tender mercy. General Conference was a real oasis for me. I just soaked in the messages from our leaders. The spirit bore witness to me again that there is a prophet of God on the earth today and that God is aware of us. Great messages of hope during troubled times. Saturday morning at aerobics Kristen was subbing for Laura and was going wicked fast, I pulled a muscle in my calf trying to keep up and so this week I rode inside and outside instead of going to aerobics to give it a chance to heal. I have been struggling for a few weeks to find a movie that is similar to the one I am trying to write. Monday I grabbed one off the shelf that I haven't seen for a while and popped it in while I rode. As it began it dawned on me that this is the movie I've been searching for - tender mercy. Robbie's letter Monday and how he was feeling unloved (I still get teary thinking about my wonderful son so far away feeling unloved) and how Pres. Monson's words touched his heart - tender mercy. During the summer I asked a wonderful sister in my ward to teach me how to knit so I could make Christmas stockings for the married kids spouses and the grandkids, carrying on the tradition started by Mark's mom. We have talked a few times and she told me she was getting it figured out. She came by today with three stockings ready to put names on. I was taken back. She said the first was the hardest and then they were really fun. As she was finishing the first one she thought about my life with school and everything and felt like she should just make all three and teach me when I have a little more time. What a tender mercy. This Christmas instead of having a whole stocking made by me three wonderful family members will have stockings made by an angel (with their names added by me). Huge tender mercy.

Definetly a week full of ups and downs - but I also feel like we have been very blessed. The cup is definitely more than half full and my heart is completely filled with gratitude.

Monday, October 6, 2008

D&C 84:88

Hey Family!

Well, this 3rd transfer is over and it looks like I'm going to be moving on. I am filled with many mixed emotions; gratitude, excitement, sadness, insecurity.
I have felt so comfortable; I know where to buy my bread and milk, I know where the bishop and leaders live, I have investigators that are progressing and preparing for baptism, I have a companion that I really work well with and that I like working with and so, I have gained friendship with many members and I have learned how to communicate with these people. I guess it's time to get thrown out of my comfort zone.
I am so grateful for what the Lord has taught me, in every struggle, in every mistake, in every good time, and in every moment I have been guided by the spirit. It will be a whole knew experience starting over in another area, with a new companion and a whole new ward.
It is a really good thing that this is the work of the Lord or I would feel like a little kid in a strange world. But, with the confidence of the Gospel and the spirit I will go wherever the Lord sends me.

So my birthday was really good; Elder Vigeta and I made pastels and shared them with one of the families that we are teaching. I got a table cloth with the Grêmio team logo on it(My soccer team here in the south). Wahoo, I'm 21 :)

Wow, conference was inspiring! I watched it in English and realized how limited my Português is right now. It really motivated me to study harder and perfect the language. I am really going to miss the corrections from Elder Vigeta. He has really helped my accent.

Before the first session of conference Vigeta and I where having a few arguments, but, the first words from President Monson really touched my heart; Those that are new, we welcome you. Those that are struggling, we love you. I had been struggling a little with feeling love from anyone, and when I heard those words, they penetrated my heart and I knew that Thomas S. Monson is our Prophet of God called to lead and guide us through our daily trials. I was so grateful for every one of the talks that we were able to here and I am just now gaining a testimony on why it is so important to do the small things in life. Read the scriptures daily, Pray to our father in heaven, go to church every Sunday, read the Ensign and "Recharge our batteries." As mom would put it. I hope you all remember that I love you and pray for you every day! I would also like you to know that I feel your prayers on a daily basis.

Wish me Luck in Santo Angelo!

Sure Love you all, thank you for all your support and Love!!!

Tchau

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rice and Beans

Whats up Família!?
Thank you all so much for your letters they mean more than I can express(in English :)

I hope that everyone is doing well! My week was really a powerful testimony builder!

Vigeta and I have been preparing a man named Ismael to get married and baptized. It was really a amazing experience; He has been going frequently to the ward here for about a year or two now, but it had been about a year since he heard anything from the missionaries. So, we set a goal with him from the start to get married this past Friday and Baptized this past Saturday. We have been teaching him and he already knew a ton so we were able to really prepare for the waters of baptism. He was baptized Saturday and it was one of the most spiritual experiences that I have been a part of. He has a really strong testimony and has already really helped us with two of the families we are working with right now.

Yesterday also was the best Sunday I have had in the mission so far; We had about 10 elders in elders quorum yesterday along with 2 of our investigators. This might sound weak but this is like a record turn out here. It was a really good elders quorum. Then in Principles of the Gospel Vigeta taught the class about involving our talents. We had two families come out to visit and it was a really spiritual hour (Ismael really helped us with the newbies).

We have been working with a purpose this transfer to find families and help build the ward of Cabo Quevedo closer to the chapel and our prayers have really been answered; Ismael was our first baptism closer to the chapel, then close by we have Eduardo and Mariusa, who have been searching for the gospel and Mariusa recognizes that we are an answer to her prayers. Then we have Arlei and Laura who are practically members already. They have come with us to church the last three Sundays and are asking about all of the books and materials, conference, everything! We even had a brasillian bar-b-q with them last yesterday (Ohhh, which is like Tucanos galore, ohh, homer simpson drool...).

I know that the Lord answers our prayers! I would appreciate it if you could pray for a few people that we are teaching; Arlei, Laura, Alessandra, Arlei jr., Eduardo, Mariusa, José, Maria, Carlos, Marlene, Jeferson, Paulino, Junior, Paulo, William, Leci, Clarisa, Caroline.

Your prayers could really make a difference!
Love you guys, thanks for your support, prayers, love, emails!
Your all a huge part of my book of life!

Tchau, Até proxíma semana!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Flashback Friday: all the way to yesterday

Yesterday was weigh-in day at weight watchers. I weighed myself in the morning - a surprise at the scale is not fun in public that's for sure (I almost cried once). Hmmm, looked pretty good - I figured I was guaranteed at least one pound down, possibly a little more. My clothes have been hanging a little more and three people have told me I look like I've been loosing weight. COOL! I was ready to do this... possibly I would be able to share the secrets of my success with someone at the meeting.

Then came weighing in time. I wore the same capris I wore last week (when I went from light cotton to jean capris it wasn't good news - hence the comment about crying), a light weight top and of course slip on shoes. (I am really not looking forward to going to the meetings during a snow storm wearing jean capris, a light top and slip on shoes.)

Back to the scale. I lost a whole .2 lbs. Not 2 lbs - point two pounds. How could this be? I went into the meeting and sat in the back feeling totally dejected. What went wrong.... were my keys in my pocket??? .....Oh yea, that stupid sentimental chocolate cake, not the piece I planned for on Sunday but the one that seduced me on Tuesday (see comments on last weeks flashback for an explanation). Then Wednesday night Jen made an awesome mini apple pie for YW - I knew it was awesome cause I ate some of it. I also realized that I had gotten in the bad habit (again) of eating a handful of cereal when I cleared up breakfast - didn't count those points either.

At the end of the meeting a young mother with a small baby got an award for reaching her goal. We all cheered. When asked if she had any advice she said, "Just keep at it. Don't get discouraged if you only loose .2 lbs instead of 2 lbs. a loss is still a loss and you are going in the right direction." (She really did say that exact thing, talk about tender mercies) She went on to explain that she had lost 120 lbs. There was a collective gasp. She said she was three pounds from her goal when she found out she was pregnant. Now her baby is a few months old and she made it! Good for her!

Going in the right direction. How applicable to so many more things than loosing my love handles. So here is my goal. Don't obsess, learn from my mistakes and just keep moving in the right direction. If I'm doing that I'll get there eventually. (And weigh myself at home beforehand with my clothes on.)