Arapongas Brazil

DSC03746 August, 25, 2014

Family e amigos,

This week has truly been a week of miracles and saudades. I said good bye to Sister Hartvigsen last night; she´s on her way to Utah as we speak 🙂 AND I will be moving to Arapongas (near Londrina). I am really going to miss the family I have here.

Sister Hartvigsen and I worked so hard this past transfer and the Lord allowed us to find 3 of His elects who were baptized in out last week together. Annye, Wellington and Fabiana. They are all three sooooooo special to me and I will miss them like crazy! But I know that the Lord has big plans in store for all three of them. Annye is the shining example in her family, her mom is still working towards baptism and Annye will be the force Maria needs to take that final step. Wellington is an amazing young man who basically sought the gospel out and Fabiana and her story will always be very dear to my heart. Fabiana and Leandro are now working on entering the temple together in 364 days 🙂

Life is so good as a missionary. Sorry, I can´t write more right now, but I need to hurry home to pack everything up and catch a bus tomorrow morning! Enjoy the pictures!

com amor,

Sister Dean

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Cascavel Brazil

DSC03402August 18, 2014

Querido Família e amigos,

Sister Hartvigsen and I continue to work diligently. Its super crazy to think that she will be going home this next week!!! It´s been real surreal for me to think about how precious and short our time on the mission is. We are called to labor 18 months to 2 years which seems like a lifetime in the moment, but every day I teach countless people that our life here on earth is only a small part of our life eternal. And our mission is a small fraction of even that. This time is set apart for us to WORK! We´ve been working and praying so hard to have a fruitful last week… I don´t want to jinx anything, but I think that this next week I will have some exciting baptism news (I hope I hope I hope)
Thank you for all of your letters and support! I´m sorry this letter isn´t longer, but there is not too much to report on this week. This upcoming week will be full of changes! A new companion, (maybe a new area and a baptism or two!)

Com amor,

Sister Dean

Cascavel Brazil

DSC03658August 11, 2014

Hello everyone!

Sister Hartvigsen and I continue to work diligently, she´s pretty excited to go home in 2 weeks and I am anxiously awaiting to hear what will become of me in Cascavel. I have grown to love the city and the people, but am ready to stay or go where the Lord needs me. I don´t know if I´ve already mentioned it, but our Zone only has one Brazilian and about 10 Americans lol. (there’s a Pauraguan or 2 too) but zone meetings are super funny. We´ll all gather round a computer screen to watch a portion of ´the district´dvds and our zone leaders will say ´those who can speak English stay in the back, anyone who speaks another language, please gravitate to the front to read the subtitles. It blows my mind sometimes to remember that I am communicating with so many different young people from around the world and we are uniting to speak one common language 🙂 it´s pretty neat.

We are working hard, and I am sooo grateful for all of your support (and for the letters!!! I love the letters!!)

com amor,

Sister Dean

Cascavel, Brasil

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Querida Família e amigos,

This week was pretty gritty. I got bit again by the devil bugs and had to stick it out 2 days with another elephant foot. But I am learning from my mistakes and refuse to be food for the bichos again. I also have some pretty wonderful and gritty news about our investigator Maria. Maria is sooooo prepared to be baptized….. It is just the cigarettes. those darn things. She is at church every Sunday and volunteering to clean the chapel with the other women, but those cigarettes!!!!! Her testimony is so strong and every time we visit she declares she will be baptized, but cigarettes are so hard for her. Last night she shared with us that she wishes that God would make her vomit every time she smoked she wished to stop that badly. My companion and I looked at each other and said, “Maria, do you really mean it?“ There is an ancient missionary technique called “chá de cigarros“ cigarette tea. You make a tea of the innards of a cigarette and give it to them to drink then wait 45 minutes…teach, invite the spirit, and wait. Then when they have the desire to smoke again. the smell will remind them of that one awful tea indecent… She and her son Murilo were all for it! It was not a pretty sight. We had to leave to make it home before it really settled in, but it truly was a testament to me how much Maria wants to follow the Savior. I learned something very interesting this week about sacrifice. Heavenly Father truly is the refiner; we need to pass through the fire sometimes to come out polished. Heavenly Father wants our sacrifices, and I´m learning that it is not a sacrifice if it can be easily offered up. He wants us to identify the one thing in our life that we can´t imagine changing, he wants us to sacrifice the hardest thing for us to let go. Sometimes it´s our pride, a bad habit, or even an attitude. He needs us to overcome our biggest obstacle and he will give us the strength if we search for it. Once we overcome our vice we feel an indescribable feeling of victory and relief. Then God will help us identify the next thing in our lives that holds us back and he will help us overcome that vice. God is refining us if we let Him. Turn everything over to Him and you will be astonished at the person you will become. A silver refiner places the metal in the midst of the flames and keeps it there until it is purified; he knows it is finished when He can see His reflection in the silver. WE ARE HIS SILVER!!! If we let ourselves be refined, we will start to reflect His image in our countenance. Be refined and become more like Christ! Life will be unbelievably happier.
Life is so good. I am so blessed to be an instrument in the hands of someone who sees the bigger picture 🙂 Just, one other small thing. Luan, my convert ALWAYS bears his testimony in church and I have a small sense of what it must be like to be a proud mother 🙂 We also had a Bolivian couple in church this week; they shared their testimonies and I was wayyyyy excited to find out that I understand Spanish now too (more or less) it´s a little strange to hear…like someone is trying to speak Portuguese, but they have a bad taste in their mouth. haha, here’s to learning Spanish when I return!

Com amor,
Sister Dean

Cascavel, Brasil

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Cascavel, Brasil July 28, 2014
Família e amigos,

This week was pretty normal: lots of talking, lots of walking. Our investigator (now recent convert!) Ademir was confirmed and is on his way to some incredible things. We also have had a crazy turn of events. A few months ago we were teaching a woman named Maria and her children; they were so promising but they fell off the face of the Earth for a time. It turns out Leoni (our recent convert de poder!) is Maria´s best friend and has gotten her to start attending church again! Maria wants to be baptized so badly, but those darn cigarettes. I have never despised smoking this much before the mission. These little vices that destroy families and health hold a person back from receiving  so much happiness! We´re working diligently with her and are praying for a miracle…
Cascavel continues to have crazy weather! super cold – super hot, it´s so unpredictable! I hear that I have to make it through Agosto and then the steady heat comes. I´m looking forward to it and at the same time I feel like I don´t know what I´m in for lol.
I love you all! Thank you so much for the letters and the support!

com amor, Sister Dean

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Cascavel, Brasil

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Querido família e amigos,

Time is so warped on the mission. The days and the weeks blur together and it´s difficult to measure the time. I´ve just about hit my 6 month mark and there was quite a big celebration 🙂 Our investigator Ademir was baptized! Ademir was a very special baptism for me; I had to work and pray and work some more, but it has all paid off. His life was controlled by his cigarettes and every time we visited he would recite the same line “é um vicio que é muito difícil, vocês não podem entender, eu não posso parar” EVERY lesson he would say this over and over, and my companion truly wanted to drop him. We prayed and prayed and got a miracle 🙂 As a missionary, it is so easy to leave behind the investigators that are difficult to search for the “elect” but I have such a strong testimony that love, shown through persistence can change hearts. Christ taught that he came to heal, he sat with the sinners because they needed Him the most. Christ also questioned who shall love Him more: he who has little forgiven, or he who has much to be forgiven. Ademir was spiritually sick and the gospel of Christ changed and healed his heart and he is a living testament to me of the power Christ has to change a life for the better! I am so blessed to be here serving. The more worthy I become, the more He is able to use my influence to do the work of Christ; to cure.
We also had a festa at the church! My first Brazilian holiday! Festa Juninha is basically dress up like a hic and square dance, but the food is fantastic. We had lots of investigators there and hopefully they´ll turn into progressing investigators 🙂 enjoy the pictures!

com grande amor,
Sister DeanDSC03493

Cascavel Brazil

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I have had a week full of miracles! I´d like to share a very special story with you all. Our Heavenly Father is great and he has a plan that we can´t understand at times; this week was a testament to that. My first transfer here in Cascavel, I was teaching a woman named Leoni. Leoni´s daughter Vitória is a member and her ex husband Tarço is a member. Leoni began going to church shortly after Vitória was baptized and Leoni is just about the greatest woman ever! She was never quite sold on baptism though. She knew the Book of Mormon was the word of God, but she had major reservations with being baptized. For months we´d visit her and try our best to discover what it was that she needed to get rid of her hesitations. Finally, it was the testimony of her daughter that did her in 🙂 Vitória has one of the strongest testimonies I´ve ever heard! That night was a very special night, but of course it wasn´t that easy.

Tarço and Leoni, although divorced, had a good friendship and he would travel from Rio Grande do Sul every saturday, stay the night on the couch and go to church with them Sunday here in Cascavel. She was ready to be baptized, but there were concerns about appearances and it broke my heart to learn that we´d have to postpone her baptism. Tarço was always such a huge advocate for her baptism and his testimony of the truthfulness of the church was giant. We were stuck in limbo for a while. Bishop suggested that they marry again, but they really didn´t want to do that, they only had friendship at the moment; the only alternative was that we needed to tell them that Tarço couldn´t stay at their house when he came to visit, and although it is a small thing to ask in return for someone´s eternal happiness, it was sooo hard to address with them. We planned and planned and tried and tried, bishop talked to them several times, but things were soo difficult. Everyone wanted Leoni to be baptized but things were at a bit of a stand still. I remember praying SO hard for her and our zone fasted. I remember one Saturday night we planned to go in there and come out with everything and were ready to knock doors to find a place for Tarço to stay the night if it came down to it, but I remember feeling the spirit so strong that night. It was just us and Leoni there and I kept feeling ´´Just tell her how much you love her. Tell her over and over how much you care about her and it will all be alright´´.

Our plan was to be abrasive and face brute it out until we came to a solution but the spirit was so strong in prompting us to just love her and we didn´t even mention baptism. The next day we were out with a member who told us that later that night Tarço passed away from a heart attack…… I was so shocked. Leoni and Vitória are so dear to my heart and this experience has strengthened my resolve as a missionary so much. When we first heard the news I began to pray for them so hard! I knew without a doubt that Leoni now more than ever needed baptisim in her life; she needed the gift of the holy spirit to console and mend her heart. The Lord has a plan, and I know Leoni would have not been baptized otherwise. Their family is so strong now. SO strong. We went to visit them shortly after Tarço´s death and we had to resolve to only talk about baptism if prompted, we didn´t want to seem insensitive, but we truly knew baptism is what she needed the most now. Thank goodness Heavenly Father allowed Vitória to be there for that lesson. We were weak and preparing to leave without setting a date for Leoni and dear Vitória chimmed in right before we left ´´Sisters, stop. She can be baptized now right?´´ BAHHH serving Heavenly Father is such a blessing. I don´t even have words to describe how grand He is and it is an honor to be an instrument. Leoni was baptized surrounded by her family (many of them are members) and it was just how a baptism should be; full of the spirit and hugging 🙂 (water too) I love you all so much and I know that I am a part of a great and marvelous work.
Also I survived another transfer and am staying put in Casvavel another transfer (I think Heavenly Father is gracious enough to let me see Leoni receive the gift of the holy ghost). Sister Corrêa and my beloved Sister De Jesus are moving on 😦 I´ll send more pictures shortly! Looks like I´ll kill Sister Hartvigsen (it´s a mission expression mom) and continue the work here! Love you all, thank you for your love, letters and support!

com amor,
Sister Dean

Last exciting note! I confiscated my first Word of Wisdom contraband this week! Power rush!DSC03471-1