Familia e amigos!
This week our BIG friend Panel was baptized! I think maybe I told you all about him in the last email. Panel knew from day one he wanted to be baptized. He was practically ready to leap in to the baptismal font, we were doing all we could to hold him back and teach him a thing or two about Joseph Smith before releasing!
Sister Vargas and I are working hard and loving our time together! I am super sad to think of the possibility of being transferred at the end of December. I´ve been in Arapongas quite some time now, but I feel like I´m truly just now putting everything I´ve got into the ´gathering´ here. I love Heavenly Father so much and I am so blessed to be here in his vineyard . I am also so grateful for the Christmas season and to see real miracles as people soften their hearts and allow the spirit convert.
Com Grande amor!
Sister Whitney Dean
Querido família e amigos,
Yesterday was such an unbelievably wonderful and slightly emotional day on the mission! Our friend Jack decided to be baptized after one week of lessons. Jack speaks fluent Creole, French, broken English and hardly any Portuguese. We ended up teaching him almost completely in English and it truly was a testimony to me of the power of the spirit to conversion regardless of the language barriers. I remember a day or two before his baptism he had a little fit about his earrings (he thinks he´s pretty jazzy with his diamond studs). He asked if he had to take them out and I said that would probably be best and he was pretty firmly set that Jesus didn´t care if he had earrings or not and that he had not taken them out for 20 years. We calmed him down and told him it was his decision and that he should pray about it and we wouldn´t address it any more. The next day (The day of his baptism) he showed up to church without his studs 🙂 I was so impressed. It is so difficult for us to humble ourselves enough to leave behind our ´little bag of Babylon´but Jack is a witness that an eager heart and a willing mind is powerful enough to conquer any Babylonian bad habit.
Sister Vargas and I were met with another neat little surprise. Our friend Panel came to church with us for the first time today… Panel speaks ONLY Creole and less Portuguese than me when I entered the MTC, but he was smiling the whole time and stayed with us to watch the baptism. During the baptism he turned to me and said “Eu batismo hoje“ aka: I baptize today….. I was a little shocked. Pleasantly shocked to say the least. We were able to agree in broken Portuguese that he´d wait till the next Sunday so that we could teach him a little but wow oh wow. Elect. After church I ran to grab our recent converts Osner and Robens (both Haitians who speak Portuguese very well) and dragged them to Panel´s house to translate the third lesson: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was truly a wonderful moment to ses my friends, recently baptized translate with a lot of vigor the message of salvation. It was a very special moment for me. I am truly here to serve and am astounded day by day by the power our Father has to piece together his grand plan. I love my calling and I am so happy to watch my friends enter into the covenant of baptism and the promise of life eternal.
I am soooooo happy to be here with Sister Vargas too. She is unbelievably wonderful and I know we´ll do great things here in together. She is from Nasca Peru and speaks Spanish!!! I will return home ti-lingual! — maybe. I´ve already memorized all of the words to that one song ´la cucaracha´ 🙂 Also I received another pleasant little surprise! I found out the day she arrived in Arapongas that I´d be training her! I admittedly was super nervous to train, but it has been nothing but blessings and spiritual since day 1 together.
Eu sei que O Senhor está nos abençoando! Eu amo vocês!!!!
Querido Família e amigos,
Bom Dia com muito alegria! This week I received an envelope of letters from the Young Women in the Green Bay stake!!! I feel so special! It was sooooo great to read their testimonies and feel their support. I can´t believe how fast time passes; it feels like yesterday I was going to Girls Camp 🙂
This week Sister Briggs and I have been hitting the Portuguese hard core 🙂 . We don´t have much time in the morning to practice, so we´ve decided to talk in the streets in between contacts and appointments as much as we can about our families. Sharing stories from our childhood is so great! Not only are we learning how to better our grammar, but we are laughing SO much! We had it so good as children, and I´ve realized that’s how life works: you pass through difficulties and funny moments, but with time you reflect and cherish it all. I am so grateful for the motivation I have to make every second of my mission last so I can return and look back with nothing but satisfaction. That has been my ´theme´for the week: not having regrets. Every time we teach, If I feel a prompting I don´t hesitate. If we pass someone in the street and I feel the urge to talk to them, we turn around and run them down. During this week, I’ve been reading a lot about Paul and his bold preachings; my companion and I were standing in the street faced with a very difficult decision. It would have been so easy to turn away from that difficult decision, but we stopped and thought, ´what would Paul do now in this very instance´and WOW. It was so obvious that he would go in ´guns blazing´to bring that fellow child of God to light. Read the scriptures and learn from real life heroes. When you do, you will have the strength to defend your beliefs. I am so happy and grateful for the examples I have in the scriptures and in you: my family and friends 🙂
Sister Briggs and I continue to work with Walquiria and if all goes well she will be baptized the end of this week! Prayers for her and her search are more than welcome! 🙂
Eu amo vocês e sei que vocês estão fazendo milagres pelos filhos Deus esta colocando em seus caminhos! Fique Firme!!
com amor, Sister Dean
September 8, 2014
MUITO OBRIGADO POR OS PHOTOS!!!!!!
It is so good to hear all about what you all are doing! I can´t believe how fast the world outside the mission is moving. This past week I hit my 7 month mark and had to sit back and take it all in! I can´t believe Jessica is at college, I can´t believe Sarah is driving and I can´t believe how stinkin big Matt is! I´m going to return and he´ll be a whole other person!
The work continues to progress here in Arapongas. I am so blessed to be here working with the people of this city. Recently I´ve been studying the new testament, and I´d like to share a line or two from an Epistle from Paul:
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
The mission has taught me to value the gift of agency; the ability we have to make our decisions in life. As servants of the Lord, we are here to help everyone feel the loving orientation our Father in Heaven has left for us. It is not always easy. We get discouraged, we get sad, but like Paul described, we cannot help but be filled with a deeper happiness and hope despite the circumstances and the manner in which our investigators are using their free agency. We have so much to be eternally grateful for and my mission is giving me a deeper sense of what it means to fuel that fire. I love my Heavenly Father and the plan he has.
Thank you all for the support and the pictures 🙂
Querido família e amigos,
It is so strange to hear about all of the changes going on back home! I can´t believe everyone is growing up so fast! Things on the mission too are changing faster than I can believe. It was sad to leave Cascavel, especially with those people very precious to my heart who I´ve learned to love and have progressed with these past few months, but I am feeling very special about Arapongas. Sister Briggs and I are perfect for each other and we have very high hopes for this transfer. The city here is definitely smaller than Cascavel, and very charming. For the first time in my life I am in a Branch not a Ward and I consider myself so blessed to be surrounded by people with such high dreams and hopes for progression of the Gospel. It truly is strange to say ´President´and not ´Bishop`though! Here in Arapongas, we live with one other companionship, Sister Diaz from Argentina and Sister Garcia from Rio and Sister Diaz and I are collaborating big time! We´re trading Spanish lessons for English lessons 🙂 (Maybe if I´m lucky I´ll come home tri lingual).
The work here is coming along. We found a woman named Walquiria who has had a hard life… my mission has truly opened my eyes to the hardships and realities that so many people go through, but at the same time, my mission has taught me that there is a balm for every degree wound… Walquiria attended church with us and it was such a special sacrament meeting! As missionaries, we promise everyone that church will be an experience they will not forget. We promise them that there, they will find answers to the difficulties and questions they have about life. AND that is exactly what happened for her. She received personal revelation and I am so blessed to be a part of her progression.
We are also teaching a man named Claudemir. Claudemir is quite a character. He has a few vices in life, but he has a desire to become the best Claudemir he can be. He is a bit frustrating to tell the truth. People express a desire to change, but Heavenly Father does not want only our words, he wants our actions, he wants our change! From teaching Claudemir, I am learning the value of our free agency; we have done everything we could to help this man leave his old life behind, but it has come down to his agency, whether he wants to really change or not, and I can see how we are to make these life changing choices. I am also comforted to know that we are not alone.
Thank you all for your support and love. Eu sou muito grata pela oportunidade de estar aqui. Eu sei que Cristo vive! Eu amo vocês e Eu valorizo o seu apoio.