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Monday, September 1, 2014

Baptism, Restoration, and love!

(Pamela) Ok, So a word of explanation here: A few months back I became facebook friends with a missionary that served in Lauren's mission when he returned home in March. His name is Luca Albernaz Reggiani. Luca had a desire to come to America and study at BYU-I so I have been working with him to make it happen. Saturday we picked him up at the airport and brought him home with us to start his new adventure. Lets add one more element however. While he was serving in Piracicaba, he met a Sister missionary by the name of Hailee Richards. She is from Washington State and through skyping and texting, they have grown to know each other and look forward to perhaps spending it together. So this morning at my house in Alpine, Utah, the two of them reunited as friends instead of missionaries. As the two of them stood on my front porch for their first ever hug and kiss, Lauren was writing me from Brazil and this is what she had to say. 

Oh Mom!
I am so happy that you are so happy. Yay!!! And I think it is so cool that Luca is visiting with you guys. Who the heck would have thought? I always knew he was a good kid because he helped me out a ton the first day here in Brasil. I was like, "What the heck is going on?" And he told me. Also he bought me a snack at the Bus stop and helped carry mine and Sister N.Lopes´suitcases to our house in Piracicaba 8. Also, he was a great missionary. So, YAY!!!!!
I am glad that everyone is doing well and I love you so so so much! have a great week!
Sister Whitney

I feel like this week was one of the best weeks of my mission. I have have learned to trust in the Lord so much more and I have had my testimony strengthen like never before. It was an amazing week.
It started on Tuesday. We had a zone meeting and Presidente randomly showed up to evaluate our meetings. Luckily for us, our zone is pretty great and obedient. But Presidente still said somethings to keep us on the straight and narrow. He talked a lot about the rules of the mission and how we need to obey them with exactness. He also talked about how we need to keep working even when things get tough. Even when we are rejected or tired or whatever, we need to keep working. He talked about how Jesus Christ was rejected, how He was tired, and how He had to complete a huge task. But, He never gave in and He always kept working. I don´t know why but this really stuck with me. I think this week I finally understood what it means to be a missionary and to use the Lord´s time wisely.
Then, on Thursday, we had our Leadership Meeting. I was all excited to go and see everybody, especially Sister Sargent, but she wasn´t there. Her companion was going home and they decided it was better for Sister Sargent to stay in Poços. I seriously wanted to cry, but I got through it. Then, to top it off, Sister Cirino and I were chosen to teach the Restauração to Presidente and Sister Canuto in front of all the other leaders. I wanted to die I was so nervous, but I decided to be a big girl and be brave, hahaha. The beginning of our lesson was good, but Presidente was pretending to be someone that didn´t really care, so he wasn´t paying close attention. Right before the First Vision, I got kind of annoyed that he wasn´t paying attention, so I told them to listen up and pay close attention to the Prophet Joseph Smith´s words. I promised them that if they listened close they would feel the Spirit testify of the truth. I don´t know what happened, but in that moment it was like someone opened the windows and a huge gust of the Spirit blew in and filled the room. I have never felt the Siprit that strongly in my entire life. I choked back my emotions and recited the First Vision. With every word my testimony of the Restauração and the Prophet Joseph Smith was strengthened. After I finished, I felt prompted to pause a little bit and let the Spirit work. The room was dead silent and I knew that everyone in that room was feeling the Spirit. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this simple little practice. Because of this, my testimony was strengthened and now I can say, with conviction, that I know the Church of Jesus Christ was restored upon the earth through a living prophet. Wow. God is SO great!!!
Also this week we had.... A BAPTISM!!!!! WOO WHOO!!! A young man named Matheus decided to take that first step and be baptized. It was so awesome and special. He was a little nervous at first in respect to baptism, but he understood the importance of it and decided to be baptised. He is such a great kid and I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of his conversion process. I know that the Lord really does prepare those people looking for the gospel to be taught. Matheus was a miracle and I am so so so happy for him. YAY!!! 
I love you all and I hope that you have a great week!!! The Church is True and God really does Love YOU!!
Sister Whitney

Monday, August 25, 2014


This week was AWESOME!!
So, my companion and I weren´t getting along too well. Last monday we had a little heart to heart just to see why it was taking so long for us to become friends. Missions are hard, but when you aren´t getting along with your companion, they are even harder. Anyways, we had a little chat and we were super honest with each other. It was a little awkward, but we so needed it. After, it was like a different companionship. It was SO much fun working with Sister Cirino this week because we finally became friends. YAY!! 
We had a ton to do this week and we were super busy. We spent the first couple days of the week visiting less actives. Less actives are a little tricky because you have to help them refind their testimony. But they are also awesome because they always give us food. Missions are awesome. Anyways, we visited like 4 LA´s and 2 of them came to church on Sunday. I was seriously so happy! It is so awesome to see that something we did affected others for the better. So great.
Then on thursday we went and did a split in another city called Limeira. It was a super fun experience because Sister Sargent served in Limeira before she came to Poços. So, I got to meet some of the people she taught and baptized. Also, I really enjoyed my time with the Sister I was with. She is a really sweet girl and I learned a lot about loving the people we teach from her. It was a great exchange.
When we got back to our area, we worked like crazy to make up for our lost day because of the split. We have been teaching this really awesome woman for the past month and we finally were able to meet with her after like 3 weeks of nothing. Her daughter is a member and lives in Utah. She was baptized in March and came to the USA because she is going to marry the missionary that baptized her. Since she just got baptized, she has to wait a year to go through the temple. So, she has been putting the presure on her mom, the lady we are teaching, to get baptized so she can see the sealing. So, we have been trying to teach Cristina (our investigator) and get her baptized. Cristina really wants to get baptized too and not just because her daughter is getting married. She really has a testimony of the church and wants to be a part of it. The only problem is that her husband is a little more closed and doesn´t want to know too much about the church. Cristina is worried that her getting baptized will hurt her family. It´s a little complicated, but I know that it will all work out. I have a feeling that the Lord wants her to get baptized soon. Just this past sunday she said that she couldn´t come to church because her family was getting together, but at the last moment they canceled and she was able to come to church. God knows what he is doing:) 
I can´t believe that this week I hit my year mark. It has seriously flown by for me. I still think of myself as a new missionay, fresh out of the MTC. I am getting so scared for my mission to be over. After a year, I only know how to do missionary work and be a missionary. I don´t want to go back to real life because I will for sure be an awkward RM. So, I am trying to enjoy the time I have left. I don´t want to waste a minute of my time in the mission. It is SO special:)
I love you all and I hope that you have an awesome week!
Sister Whitney

Bright and early at the bus stop. I always look my hottest at 8 am. #can´tbetamed

A bird left a present on my arm. (Thanks for THIS one Lar...)

This is a pretty normal bathroom in the mission. I know you are all jealous. Thank heavens I had my tetanus shots. 

We did a split in a city called Limeira. It was pretty cool because it´s Sister Sargent´s old area. I had a good time.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to get a HOT husband.

This was a week of miracles. Not huge miracles, but still, miracles.
On Wednesday we had interviews with Presidente. We have them about every 3 months. Anyways, he wanted to know how each missionary was feeling spiritually. Presidente Canuto is an amazing man and I am so happy that he is my mission Presidente. My interview went really well and he definitely said some things I needed to hear. It was like 30 minutes of therapy and after I felt so relived and light. It´s good to get all your feelings out sometimes. 
The next day we had a split with another dupla of sisters in our zone. I had a good time and we were able to help the sisters out. The only problem was that it was FREEZING and I wanted to die. It was like a ice wind storm and we had to go out and walk in it. Yuck. It´s days like those I just think to myself, "If you do this, the Lord will bless you with a hotter husband." I sure hope that that is true, because it was FREEZING!
The miracles of the week were that we were able to reach our weekly goals of lessons and such even though we lost 2 days of the week to interviews and our split. We were able to find some really great people too. I am SO excited to share the gospel with these people. Also, last week we had a guy show up at church randomly. Aparently he knows someone in the ward and asked about their religious beliefs. He also asked for the address of the Chapel and then just showed up there last Sunday. Well,we were able to meet with Mateus (that´s his name) and we taught him the restauração. He loved it and we invited him to be baptized next week. He was a little unsure, but said that if he recieves an answer that he will be baptized. Woot!!! I am so excited. He is an awesome guy and has the desire to know more about Jesus Cristo and how he can become closer to him. He is so great!! 
I love you all and I hope that you have a great week! The church is true!!
Sister Whitney

Lauren and sister Crino

Last p day we went to a state forest with some members. This tree is called a pau Brasil. It´s because of this tree that Brasil is called Brasil. Neat, huh?

 This was during a zone meeting/ interviews with President. I really like sister A. Morais. She´s cool

Sister A. Morias and me. Her first name is Alana. The first time she told me she was like, " Alana, like Alanis Morissette" I about peed my pants

Same forest:) It was sucky that we had to wear church clothes, but what are you gonna do?

Party with the Brazilians in Utah!

I have to insert an experience here in Lauren's blog. She wrote to me last week telling me about some people from her ward that were coming to Orem and also about the son of one of the members who is going to school here at LDS Business college.. Lauren is living with Suzete Mello and forgive me, I can't remember her husbands name and this is the house they live in together. Apparently there is an apartment for the missionaries.

Suzete Mello

The Mello's have 3 children, Fabio (who is married to Thais), Patricia (who is also recently married and has 2 children from a previous marriage named Sophia and Andrew), and another girl who live in Salt Lake that I haven't met.
This is Lauren, her companion, and her favorite people from the ward, Thais and Fabio. This picture was taken Sunday August 10th right before the Mello's came to America.

 In order: Fabio, Thais,Christian (Patricia's new husband of 3 months), and Patricia!

Andrew and his Mom, and Sophia with my dog Toby.

Next we have a fantastic man by the name of Kevin Cruz. His Mother, Elsie and Father, Eder, literally live around the corner from my daughter in Rio Claro. 
Elsie and Eder's home.
Elsie is the Mom on the right feeding the missionaries. She is a saint. 

This is Eder and this was Father's Day which was last sunday in Brazil. Lauren skyped with Kevin as he called his Dad. She messaged me the next day about Kevin and his Mom's concern with her son. I was able to meet Kevin and take care of him like his Mom is doing for my daughter. He is so awesome and funny! We love him already. 

Elena, Kevin and Bridger when we went to be Santa in his apartment in SLC. 

My new son, Kevin!!! I love this kid and feel so blessed to meet him and be his American Mom!

Ok, so now all the connections are made and I can get on to our party! I invited them all over for dinner last Friday night and we went out on our patio and ate some great food. Only Patricia and Kevin speak English so we had a good time translating as well as using our phones to translate to speak to each other. I was struck by how full of life and acceptance and love these fantastic people are. Brazilians love life and they are truly my people. I don't know how Lauren is going to stand to leave them. I can kind of see how her heart must break every time she has to leave an area. I wanted to add this story to Lauren's because it is a direct manifestation of the love my Savior has for me. He has sent these wonderful people to deepen my understanding of where my daughter is serving. He has sent these people for me to serve and give to as their families are giving and serving my daughter. I always try to pay it forward, but how fantastic to be pay it forward to the exact people who are serving my daughter. Our  lives have been expanded and enriched by meeting these wonderful people again because I know that we knew each other before we came to Earth.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

No Frodo Faces

This was a good week:)
Probably the best part of this week was my split with the Sisters we live with. I was with a Sister named Sister A. Morias and it was an absolute blast. She is so sinking funny. Before, we were taking pictures together and she was like, "Let me see. I need to make sure I don´t have a Frodo face." I about peed my pants I was laughing so hard. 
The actual split was amazing. She is an amazing missionary and really knows how to teach with the Spirit. Most of the day fell through, so we ended up knocking doors for awhile. We actually had a lot of luck and found this really awesome family. We just shared a quick little message about the Holy Ghost and then said a prayer with them. When we asked if we could come back another day they got really excited and said yes. I hope that it works out for them. 
We also ended up teaching a less active member. Her name is Andrea and right from the start I really liked her. She has had a tough life and is battling for custody of her son from her crazy ex husband. Sister A. Morias picked a scripture to share with her and I know it was inspired. She shared 1 Nephi 21:15-16 when Jesus is talking to the house of Israel and he says, "For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
It was exactly what Andrea needed to hear and she started to cry. We testified to her that Christ knows her and that He love her and will always be there for her. The Spirit was SO strong and I know that she was feeling it too! It was definitely one of the most spiritual lessons I have had in the mission. Later, Sister A. Morais told me that Andrea went to church this past Sunday and really liked it. Things like this just make me SO happy in the mission. I am getting so addicted to feeling the Spirit. It is the Best!!!!
The rest of the week was pretty normal. I am really starting to like the ward here in Rio Claro. The members are really nice and really want to help us out. 
I love you all! Also congratulations Betsy!! Happy Baptism. Also, Happy Birthday MOM!! What is it? 38? I forget:) LOve you all!!
Sister Whitney 
Sister Crino and I. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Happy August!

Ok, I had a great week:)
I am really starting to enjoy working in Rio Claro. The people here are really nice and we have a few investigators that I am really excited about. Plus, I am becoming better friends with my companion, Sister Cirino. That always helps things. I would so rather have a really hard area and an awesome companion than a super easy area and annoying companion. I like to make friends:)
We worked really hard this week and that also makes things better. I feel so guilty if I feel like I am not doing anything. It´s a horrible feeling, but luckliy I don´t feel that way very much in the mission. Sister Cirino is amazing at street contacting and usually grabs a few addresses for us to visit. Because of this, we haven´t had to knock very many doors. I am learning a ton from her and it is great. 
Also this week we had to make a slide show for our Leadership Meeting in Piracicaba. President asked all the zones to come up with an idea that can help our mission improve. We talked with the Zone leaders and we decided that we would talk about our weekly district or zone meetings and how they can become better. I actually ended up making the slide show and it was so fun! I felt so good about my português too because I had to use Powerpoint in Português. That was pretty cool.
The actual meeting went great. All of the zones had great ideas and I am so excited to use them in our mission. One was about making 7000 contacts in a week (as a mission) I think that would be crazy fun and I am excited to try it out. Also, I got to see Sister Sargent, so the Sistermance (Like Bromance) continues. It was really great to just chat with her in English for a while. I live with 3 brasilians, so it´s been a while since I have spoken in English. But, Poços seems to be doing well and the ward there too. I think about Poços everyday, but it´s getting way easy to focus and love the work here in Rio Claro. One thing I was grateful for though was the traveling to the Leadership Meeting. Rio Claro is only like 40 minutes away from Piracicaba so we left our house, had the meeting, and got back home all in the same day. I almost cried I was so happy. Poços is great, but traveling to Piracicaba sucked. 
The rest of our week was great. We had a really awesome lesson with some investigators yesterday that filled my spiritual bucket. They were a street contact that we taught for the first time last week. Yesterday we taught the Restauração and it was very spiritual. It´s a couple named Rachel and Wilson. Wilson goes to church and has a great knowledge of the Bible, but Rachel is a little more difficult. Anyways, the begining of our lesson wasn´t so great, but when we taught about Joseph Smith and the First Vision, the Spirit filled the room. As I was reciting Joseph´s words for Rachel and Wilson, I had the strongest confirmation that what I was saying was true. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know it and I cannot deny it. Joseph Smith is a true prophet and through him the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored. 
I know that this Spirit touched Rachel and Wilson too. Sister Cirino was inspired and decided that we needed to sing that one hymn about The First Vision for Rachel and Wilson. It was pretty dang cool because we sang it to the tune of Come thou Fount. Then we said a prayer and left really fast so they could sit there and feel the Spirit. It was really amazing.  
I love having Spiritual experiences in the mission. It´s what makes it all worth it. I know that this chruch is true and I know that we have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ here on the earth. HOw great is that!?! WE have the truth!! Woot!!! I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!! 
I love you all and I hope that you have a great week. The church is true and God loves you!!
Sister Whitney
Me with Sister Sargent and our old Zone leader. 

My beautiful companion

Some pics of the house where I live now. I am in heaven with the shower!

Monday, July 28, 2014

oops. I forgot a pic!

I forgot a picture!

My new roommates. Sister Ferraz, Sister A. Mores, Sister Cirino and me:) Our house is so great and the shower is amazing. I almost died of happiness.

11 months Anniversary!

It sounds like you guys had an awesome week. I am so sad that I wasn´t there for Bridger´s preisthood ordanation, but I am so proud of him. Now our house has two preisthood holders!!! Yay!!!
Toby looks amazing! I got so anxious to squeeze my pupper as I was looking at the pictures. ANXIOUS!!!! I am so jealous that the girls are out in my spot in SD, but what are you going to do. Also, isn´t it crazy that they ran in to Elder West?!? What a small world! I almost didn´t believe it. Wow.
Ok so this was a week full of changes.
First off, leaving Poços was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. It is not a good idea to keep missionaries that long in an area because they become so attached with all the members, investigators, and other missionaries. The hardest part was leaving Rose and Bruno. Sister Sargent and I went over to their house right before I had to leave to say goodbye. I knew it was going to be a struggle because I startede to cry right when I entered the house. Rose thanked me for all the stuff we taught her and said that it was going to be hard to get used to another missioanry. I told her that I was going to miss them like crazy and that they need to stay firm in the church and all that stuff. Seriously my heart was breaking. I love these people so much and I probably will never see them again. It was really hard and I am so happy Sister Sargent was there to give me a hug and help me through it all. But, I regret nothing. These last couple of months in Poços are the best of my live and I wouldn´t trade them for the world. Especially the last 6 with Sister Sargent. I have never been so happy in my entire life.
We got to Piracicaba on Tuesday and switched companions. Sister Sargent and I both cried like a bunch of boobs. Oh my gosh it was so embarassing with everyone looking, but I didn´t care. She is my best friend soulmate. 
The first couple of days in Rio Claro were a little hard. Just the ajustment to a new companion, a new area, and new people is a little hard. But, I can honestly say that I love it here. Rio Claro is SO flat. There are literally no hills here. And all I can think is that I am going to get so fat without my daily hike in church clothes. Haha, i sure hope not.
I love Sister Cirino. She has about 2 more months in the mission than I do, so I am learning a ton from her. She is from the south from a city called Curitiba and has a family just like mine. 3 girls and a boy. She is the oldest of her siblings and was also studying chemistry before she left on her mission. We actually have a ton in common and it´s been really easy getting to know her. I am so grateful for that:) 
The ward here is great. The members are very open and friendly and they want to help us out with the work. I love making friends with the ward members. Some of them have amazing life/conversion stories.
So far, I am loving this new area. It was hard to change, but I want you all to know that I am happy and really enjoying my time as a missionary. Today I made 11 months in the mission and I seriously cannot believe where the time is going. IT´S CRAZY!!!
LOve you all,
Sister Whitney
This is Max from Poços. I have been teaching this kid since the 7 of feburary and he still isn´t baptized. He will be one day though. He really wants to find the truth. It´s just taking forever and now some other missionary will enjoy it. Still, I learned a ton teaching him and he really is my friend.

Sister Sargent was mad at me for something. I felt free to capture the moment:) I miss her so much.

This is Julia. She a young woman from the Ward in Poços. She loved to go out and visit people with us and I am going to miss her like crazy.

A bunch of  people that I am also going to miss. The ward in Poços is like my second family.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pioneer Day Week-lots of pics!

So this week has its ups and downs, but I still loved it:) Since we got the whole week to work in our area (we finished visiting all the sisters we need to), we were able to get a ton done. We found some new people and got to have some good lessons with old investigators. I loved it. I would have to say my favorite lesson was with and old lady and her daughter. We went to their house on satuday after lunch and after saying a prayer to start a fast. Anyways, we got there and we started to teach the Restauração. It was going pretty well and I actually think that Abigail, the old woman´s daughter has some potential. Also, this old woman, Benidita, loves us to death. She gets so happy every time she see us and always wants us to stay and eat food with her. Usually we can get out of it but this last time she thought with would be a good idea to make us a cake, on a saturday, when we were fasting. We tried to make up an excuse, but Abigail turned to us and said, "you´re not going to eat the cake my mom made especially for you?!?". Sister Sargent and I just kind of looked at each other for a minute and then gave in. I though Benidita was going to die from happiness. So, we broke our fast and ate the cake. Thankfully it was really good cake and we ended up saying another fast prayer after the lesson. I love serving a mission:)
Also this week, we found out about transfers. I have been transfered to Rio Claro! My new companion´s name is Sister Crino and I am VERY excited for this next 6 weeks. Sister Crino is already my friend and I am so happy I get the chance to be her companion. 
But on the other hand, I am so sad to leave Poços and Sister Sargent. These last 5 months have been the best of my mission. I feel like I really became a missionary here and that I was able to help some people out. I love this ward so much and it broke my heart a little bit to say goodbye to everyone yesterday at church. Also, Sister Sargent is my best friend in the whole world and it´s going to be hard without her. She is so kind, funny, smart, and genuine and it was the happiest 6 weeks of my life serving with her.
But, the Lord knows what I need for this next part of my mission and I am SOOSOOO excited to jump into it!! Woot!!
I love you all so much and I am happy that you guys are having such a fantastic summer. You can totally share stories, I don´t get sad at all to hear them. I just get a little jealous:) But feel free to tell me the deets:)
Love Sister Whitney

(This is Lauren's companion's letter and my last week of double letters dangit!)
Hey there everyone!

Okay so I just have to start out by telling you all that I have never cried so much or been so devastated in my whole mission as I have been the last few days. This transfer has been the best of my entire mission, and tomorrow I have to say good-bye to my best friend, Sister Whitney. We have both been crying a lot and I just have the saddest feeling inside. It is really hard! Everyone told me there would be hard things in the mission, but there is just no way to really understand until you are here! I feel like the rest of my mission will be a let-down because I have already had my perfect transfer. I don't really remember how to be a missionary without Sister Whitney. It just works with her, and it has been so dang easy.

From the beginning, Sister Whitney and I knew it would be our only transfer together. She is now headed to Rio Claro (my old zone! yeah!) to be with Sister Cirino. As for me, I will stay here in Poços this next transfer and my new companion will be Sister Bispo! Let me tell you what I know about her: of all the sister training leaders in the mission, she has been one for the longest. She is a Brazilian from Curitiba, so she will be my first comp from the south! YES! Finally, I can try to pick up the most beautiful Brazilian accent (no offense to Sister Pontes or Sister Menezes but their accents were wretched and I did everything possible to not catch them). She is in her last transfer, so I will kill her! Whoo! Never killed a missionary before. She speaks decent English, she is BEAUTIFUL and looks like a model. She baptizes a lot. Everyone says she is really blunt, so that will be fun for me...since everyone who knows me knows how well I deal with bluntness :) fun fun. But I do know that she will have a LOT to teach me. She is a fantastic missionary, maybe the best this mission has. And I plan to learn every single thing I can with her, and make her last transfer her absolute best! I think it will be okay, gente. I am scared, now that I am a STL, she is going to expect that I know what I am doing, get here, and realize that even with 11 months in the mission, I still have no clue. Haha. Pois é. But this will be my very first companion here in Brazil that has more experience and time in the mission than me, I am excited for that.

We did a lot of finding this week, and we definitely have a few investigators with potential, though none that are progressing at the moment. That is kind of tough, we are struggling with that part. We had some funny things happen this week and if I had more time I would tell about them. But suffice it to say, every day is a good day with Sister Whitney. It was a great week, it was nice to spend the whole thing in our area...for a change. 

I love you all! The church is true. I love what I am doing, and I love being a missionary!

Sister Sargent