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Monday, December 30, 2013

The church is true in English and the church is true in Portuguese!

December 30, 2013
Tathy´s family looovvveeddd you guys! They thought it was hilarious how loud and burpy Michaella and Elena were. They love the fact that they have American friends. That´s apparently a pretty cool thing here.
It was so good talking with you. It totally recharged my batteries. Knowing that you all had a great Christmas and that everyone is happy made my year. It also makes me want to work harder so other families can have that happiness too:)
I wanted to tell/ask a million things too, but I don´t mind at all that I forgot. It was just like old times, talking with my family about random things while Michaella plays the recorder. Oh, how presh:)
I love you so much! Have a great week!
Love, Sister Whitney

This week was probably the best of my mission!!!!!!!!!!
First off, it was a good Christmas. We got to sleep in until 8:20. Oh my gosh was that heaven. I almost cried I was so happy when I found out we could sleep in on Christmas. After blissfully waking up well rested, I opened my Christmas presents from mom and the fam. Can I just say that it wouldn´t have been Christmas without the AWESOME cat shirt mom gave me. Seriously, best Christmas morning ever :)

 For Christmas lunch (which is like Christmas dinner here) we went to a member´s house. It was a super fun atmosphere with a boatload of people, together for the holiday. Also, they had my favorite dessert, Puddin (pronounced "poo dee n"). So, I was in heaven.

 After lunch I got to talk with my Family! It was so great to see and hear everybody. I almost cried, but I wanted to talk more so I didn´t :) It was a recharging of my batteries, talking with my family. I feel all fresh and ready to get back to missionary work :)

 And speaking of which.... WE HAD OUR FIRST BAPTISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was so amazing and probably one of the coolest moments in my life. We’ve been working with David, our investigator, for about 6 weeks. He was a referral from a member and the elders before us taught him for about 2 weeks before we arrived here. It has been the best experience ever teaching David. He loves learning about the gospel and has really great questions too. I know without a doubt that the Lord prepared David to hear the message of the Restored Gospel.

 These past 2 weeks, we´ve been working a ton with him. He was afraid of baptism, because he knows that he´s going to make mistakes after. We ended up having a really great lesson on repentance with him. The Lord with ALWAYS forgive us. Always. I shared my favorite scripture on repentance, Moroni 6:8. I don´t know it  in English anymore, but it essentially says that if you truly seek forgiveness, the Lord with give it. (Moroni 6:But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.) After that lesson, David firmly committed to baptism.

 The actual baptism was so amazing. Our zone leader, Elder Castro baptized David. I could tell that David was a little nervous, but he walked into that font like a champ. It was so amazing seeing someone I had the opportunity to share the gospel with, accept the happiness of the gospel and be baptized. There is nothing like it. I had the same feeling when David was confirmed and received the Holy Ghost the following Sunday. Looking back, I can see the difference the gospel has made in David´s life just by looking at his eyes. I wish I could express better how amazing it is to see that change. It´s definitely a testimony to me that this is a gospel of happiness and truth.

 I am so grateful that I had the chance to teach David. Seeing the happiness he has makes me want to work extra hard. Missionary work is the greatest!

 I love this gospel and I know that it is true. It makes sense in English and it makes sense in Portuguese. This church is true and I am so grateful that I get to share the happy message of the restored gospel!

 Com Amor,
Sister Whitney
Christmas eve. We´re sitting in "santa´s chair" . Brasilians really like tacky things, but I love it :)(Sister Whitney and her companion were standing on the sidewalk passing out card earlier that day and because it was cloudy, she mistakenly thought she didn't need sunscreen.  I talked to one her of ward members about it and she was so cute. She told me that Sister Whitney's skin was like a baby's bottom and that she is the sunscreen police helping her to not get burned.. haha)

Our Christmas tree. totes preesh. (totally precious)
A lizard, sadly free. (Sister Whitney has been trying to catch one since she arrived in Brazil. Apparently they are super fast. I'm still holding out hope she'll get one!)
                              Classic baptism foto. There were like a billion cameras going off. 


                                                              My favorite picture:)
Another. I can´t tell if it´s a good one. I have a billion

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Joy in Brazil!

Lauren Whitney <>

Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 8:11 AM

To: Pamela Whitney <>


[Quoted text hidden]

Lauren Whitney <>

Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 8:34 AM

To: Pamela Whitney <>

I had a fantastic week!!!!!!!

First off, we’ve been able to find a boatload of people to teach. It is seriously the best feeling knowing that there are people to teach the gospel to. Argh! Merry Christmas to me:)

Second, we had a huge Christmas conference with all the missionaries in Missao Piracicaba. IT was so much fun! I was able to see my bffs from the MTC and my new bffs here in Brasil. Also, I understood way more than when Elder Mazzagardi came. Woot for the gift of tongues!!!

The first part of the conference was great. President spoke to us about Christmas and showed some really great clips from the church (one of them was the one you were talking about, Mom. With the kids fighting over the presents. that was my favorite). Then Sister Canuto shared a talk about some more Christmas stuff. From what I understand, the general theme was Christmas.

We had lunch after. I don´t know what it is, but being around a boatload of missionaries is the best. And for some reason, they are all hilarious. It´s probably the Spirit or something, but I was laughing so hard. Actually, it´s probably the Guarana. There were gallons of that stuff there. It is so good and I think I´m addicted (just kidding, I´m a missionary).

After lunch, each zone performed a Christmas musical number. They were good for the most part. I´m pretty sure the general population of Brasil is tone deaf, but I really admired their spirit. And I also felt the Spirit, so it was good.

I played the violin for my zone. I can´t remember the name of the song in English anymore, but needless to say, it was pretty and we did a good job. I also had to play silent night by myself. That was really scary, but it went well. Luckily nobody plays the violin here so they don´t know if I did a good job or not. Whew, what a blessing.

The rest of our week was pretty dang good too. The Elders from another ward had some baptisms on Saturday, so we took one of our investigators to it. He loved it and most importantly he felt the spirit. And.... HE IS GOING TO BE BAPTIZED ON FRIDAY!!!!!! I am soo dang happy for him!!!!!!

When I was in the MTC, our teachers always talked about knowing when an investigator is ready for baptism. I was always skeptical about really knowing when someone is ready. Well, I totally need to repent, because it is really apparent when an investigator is ready for baptism. They just get this glow, for lack of a better word, and you just know. And with David, our investigator, he is totally ready. And the reason he wants to be baptized on Friday is so that he can good to a YSA activity on Saturday. How great is that?!? So great! Missionary work is the Greatest!!!!!!!

Overall, this week has been the best! And I get to talk with my family on Christmas! Woot!

I love you all so much and I wish you a very merry Christmas!

Felize Natal! Eu sei que Jesus Cristo vive! E eu sei que esta Igreja e verdadeira!

Eu amo Voces!!!!!!!!!

Sister Whitney

We went to Wal Mart last Pday. It was totally Ghetto, but they had oreos, so I´m not complaining:) That´s pretty much heaven to me:)

Sister Lopes and I made dinner one night for us and some elders. I rock at being a woman in the kitchen.



Only american sisters in the Mission. Woot!


This is sister sargent, from my MTC district. I love her so much! seriously she is the best!

Christmas Conference with all the missionaries serving in Priracicaba Mission. Lauren is in the front row, third from the right in the blue shirt.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tough week in Piracicaba.

December 16, 2013
Ok, so this week was a little tough. 

We found this awesome lady at the bus stop a couple days back and we started to teach her. Our fist lesson went really well. We taught her about the restoration and the book of Mormon. She was super open and accepted everything we told her. We asked her to pray about the book of Mormon and the church. We also extended a baptismal date for the 28th. She totally accepted! That was awesome.

I was really excited to go back and teach her the next day, and our lesson started off really well. Her husband died a few years back and she´s been pretty sad about that. So, we taught a little bit about the plan of salvation. Eventually we asked her about the book of Mormon and if she had received an answer. She told us that she knew that the book of Mormon was true! I was so happy! We asked her if she was excited for baptism. This is where our week got hard. She said that she knew the BOM was true, but she didn´t want to be baptized. I couldn´t believe it. Here this woman had a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, but she didn´t want to be baptized. Basically, she knew that the Church is true, but didn´t want any part of it. She gave us back her book of Mormon and asked us to never come back. I honestly don´t know what happened. 

Well, I was struggling with this idea, that someone could reject the gospel after knowing it was true. I was kind of having a struggle with my faith. I´ve always had this idea that once someone gains a testimony of the Book of Mormon that they´ll want to be baptized. I really couldn´t see how this had happened. I had done everything right, we taught the lesson with the spirit, she gained a testimony, but she didn´t want any part of the church. 

But, during personal scripture study I came across a scripture that really helped me. It´s in Mosiah 23:21 and it talks about the Lord trying the patience and faith of his people. Here, these people were doing everything that they were supposed to, living righteous lives, but they still had burdens and struggles. This scripture helped me realize that even when we do the right things, when we live righteous lives, we´re still going to have struggles and hard times. We just need to have patience and faith that the Lord knows what we need. 

I´m still really sad for that lady, but I know that I did everything that I could. And from this experience, I think that my faith is stronger. Sometimes it really sucks having to grow and learn more. Trials are the worst, but once we´re on the other side of them, I think that they make more sense. They still suck though, haha. 

The rest of my week was pretty great. We had a ward Christmas party that was pretty fun. I got to play the violin too. Not my favorite instrument, but it was neat to play Brasilian Christmas music. One song was by this guy named Roberto Carlos. I liked it. Foi legal:)

Also, we had a bunch of investigators at church. That always makes me super happy, because the Chapel is a great place to feel the Spirit. Church is the best.

Well, I hope that you all have a fantastic week! I know that I will:)

Eu amo voces!

Sister Whitney
We found this snake walking home one night. I´m pretty sure that it wasn´t dangerous. The Elder in the picture is Elder Castro. He is one of our Zone Leaders.
(Isn't she so pretty! Looks like it pretty humid even later in the evening and she is so skinny! Must be all the hills she's been hiking! Sweet hipster glasses Elder!)

One of the ways I am learning Portuguese. The yellow ones are verbs and the blue are words I don´t know. It´s actually super helpful. (I'm glad its helpful to her because it's Greek to me! hahaha)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11, 2013

December 11, 2013 From Lauren

Oh, Mom! You have no idea how happy it makes me to know that our family is doing so well. I can tell that you are all growing closer together and loving each other more. I can’t tell you how much easier it is to do missionary work knowing that my family is ok. It is the best feeling!
Anyway, I need you skype number. I really don´t have a clue how this is going to work out. We are going to go to a member´s house on Christmas and use their computer. I´m not sure what time, probably in the late afternoon here, so maybe morning there. And if skype doesn´t work, I don´t know about the telephone. It´s all a little iffy to me,  but I have faith:)
Also, I have some random requests. Can I have some recipes for Cookies? Brazilians love cookies here (American style) but they don´t know how to make them. The less ingredients the better. Also, what is the story behind the song Danny Boy? An elder in my district really wants to know and I know that you know:) That is al l:)

 Love you :)!!!!!

 This week I am going to keep it short so I can send pictures.
I would say the highlight was that Elder Mazzagardi (area 70 over Brasil) came and spoke to our mission on Wednesday. The parts that I could understand were pretty dang great. Basically, he challenged us to talk more and to not be ashamed of the gospel. That really helped me because sometimes I am afraid of talking to strangers. It also doesn´t help that I don´t know how to talk with the strangers, haha. Anyway, this week I´ve been talking more to people on the street and in our lessons. I´ve just been telling myself that everyone needs the gospel and who am I to not share it? It´s been quite helpful l:)
Also, the work in our area is really picking up. Usually we teach 4 solid lessons a day and then have other "random" encounters with people. It´s awesome! And this week we really focused on lesson 3 in preach my gospel, The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sister Lopes and I got really good at teaching it. I actually taught half of the lesson. How great is that! I feel like I can finally contribute to our lessons as a teacher, not just a testimony bearer (which is important, but I really like to teach).
Another cool thing happened this week. I had my first fast for an investigator. She has been having trouble with quitting smoking so we decided to fast with her. We taught her a lesson about fasting and then right after asked if she would like to fast to quit smoking. She said yes and we said a prayer and started right then. Now, fasting is super hard here. It´s not the food thing that gets me, but the water thing. For fast Sunday, I almost died, haha (not really). But for some reason, this fast was really easy and I know it was because we were doing it for our investigator. Also, she made it too! And so far she hasn´t smoked! So awesome! I definitely have a testimony of the power of fasting. If you´re struggling with something need an answer, or you just want to thank Heavenly Father, fasting is the way to go. I love it!
Well, I love you all and I hope that you have a fantastic day, week, and month!
Sister Whitney


Just out walking around our area, going to an appointment. It´s so dang beautiful here. Though, I do miss snow. A little.

A member that I love to death. The only words in English she (Elianna) knows are from the Titanic. So, she calls me Rose. So precious:)

My zone:) They are pretty dang awesome. We were all together to clean the chapel for our conference with Elder Mazzagardi. I am the only american sister. Total in our mission I think we have 5 american sisters, four of which (counting me) are from my MTC district.

Sister Forsyth and me. Sister Forsyth is from my MTC district. She is hilarious and we usually make cat puns together. I love her! All these pictures are from our conference with Elder Mazzagardi.

Me and my comp. I love her to death. She´s from Santa catarina (Not sure about that spelling) which is in southern brasil. She is the oldest of 3 and has one sister and one brother. Her parents are converts and from what she has told me, they are pretty dang awesome.

Yes I have frodo hair. This is Sister Tolentino. She´s basically my bff here. She doesn´t speak english, but she is so dang funny. I love her to pieces.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Feliz Natal!

DECEMBER  2, 2013

Yay for my family! I love you all so much!

Anyway, this week was pretty dang good. I´ve been speaking more and for the most part, I can understand what people are trying to say to me. I still need them to explain it a couple of times, but it´s coming! I love it! And when I talk with my companion, I would say that I understand about 80% of what she says. This past week she would say stuff to me and without even thinking I would respond in Portuguese. How cool is that?!? And it is all totally form heavenly Father. There is no way I would be able to learn this fast without His help and your prayers. Thank you so much.

So, a request has been made to know what my days are like. The general routine begins at 6:30am. We get up and "exercise", but not really. Mostly we just stretch, and we definitely need it from all the walking we do. After that it´s shower time. The shower is super sketchy, but I´m slowly getting used to it. 8am is personal study, 9 is companion study, 10 is training, and 11 is language. I love studies! They help so much with lessons. We have lunch at 12 and it´s kind of a big deal. It´s like thanksgiving everyday (which btw, we didn´t celebrate at all here, so I got no turkey). We usually have it at a member´s house and we eat a ton because they´re all offended if you don´t. Oh yeah, I eat tomatoes now. Yuck, but i love these people so much that I do it for them.

Then it´s time to go out and work. I wear a ton of sunscreen because it is so hot here and we are always outside. I love it though! The neighborhoods in our area are awesome. And we have government housing in our area so the people are really humble. Plus, I get to walk everywhere and back. Awesome!

Usually, we see 4 people for lessons a day and then have unexpected encounters. Usually with less actives. They are my favorite because we get to help them rediscover the love they have for the church and the knowledge that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This week was really awesome with lessons. My favorite was with one of our investigators, Joel. He has a million hard questions and I´m so grateful that Sister Lopes has an awesome knowledge of the gospel, because I don´t understand everything yet and sometimes it´s hard for me to talk. I really like Joel though because he is searching for the truth and he knows that God will help him find it. Anyway, we were talking about the plan of salvation and his son came it and started asking questions in a hostile way. Sister Lopes answer each of his questions, but he wasn´t satisfied. He turned to me and asked how I could prove to him that Joseph Smith saw God. I don´t know what happened, but i just started talking. I told him that I knew for myself that Joseph Smith saw heavenly Father and Jesus Christ because I had prayed about it and had received a powerful witness from the Holy Ghost that Joseph Smith DID see God the father and the Son. It was super simple, but the Holy Ghost was definitely there, helping me speak and bearing witness of the truth.

Afterwards, it was quiet and Joel´s son didn´t have any more questions. I think they were kind of shocked that I could talk. I was a little shocked myself. And the best part was that Joel was crying and I know that he felt the Spirit testify of the truth.

From this experience, my testimony that God makes weak things strong grew. I can barely get points across in lessons sometimes, but with the Lord´s strength, I was able to say what Joel needed to hear. How amazing is that? I am so grateful for my mission and the change it has rendered on me.
Anyway, I hope that you all have a great week. And if there is ever a time when you feel that you can´t do it, school, relationships, life, just remember that the Lord makes weak things strong and with His help, YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!!!!
Com amor,

Sister Whitney