Monday, September 29, 2014

SP Barcelona- Rio Acima Letter 12

Dear Family & Friends,

What a week! This week was super busy and it went by really fast. First of all, we got our transfer calls today and I'll be staying here to finish training Sister R. Santos. I'm excited for another 6 weeks with her here in Rio Acima! Also, Thursday was my 1 year mark! Crazy, I know. I can hardly believe it's even possible that I've been on my mission for ONE ENTIRE YEAR. 

It rained almost every day this week so that was a bit frustrating, but we were still able to get lots of things done. It seemed like every time the rain came down really hard, Heavenly Father prepared a home for us to enter and people to teach. No doubt He's looking out for these two little sister missionaries here in Rio Acima!

On Wednesday we had another zone conference and President Farnes taught us about being "consecrated" missionaries and giving everything to the Lord. We watched the video clip from "Facing the Giants" when Brock crosses the entire football field with another player on his back. President Lewis, my mission president back in Sacramento, showed us this same clip in a zone conference there. I guess the Lord really wants me to understand the potencial I have as a missionary and the power of my best effort. It was interesting watching the clip again, putting myself in Brock's place, just as I did nearly 5 months ago. And now, watching it in Portuguese! I know, with Heavenly Father's help, that I can continue to give my best effort every minute of every day and never throw in the towel because it's too hard. The Savior gives me the strength to keep progressing as a missionary, keep helping my area grow, and keep encouraging Sister R. Santos every step of the way.

On Thursday we had a noite familiar with an awesome family we found, Aline and Heber. We watched "Finding Faith in Christ" in a member's home and it was a very good experience for them. They loved it! If you haven't watched that movie recently, watch it this week. It's so good! And even better in Portuguese :) Unfortunately Aline and Heber are moving to Rio de Janiero this weekend. A bit frustrating because we were super excited about them, but hey, they'll be miracles for the missionaries in Rio. 

I was reflecting on this past year in the mission field and all the things I am learning, and one thing that stood out in my mind is WHY I am here on my mission:

"When we understand WHY our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living [and missionary work], when we remember WHY we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the gospel [and my mission] ceases to become a burden, and instead becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet" -President Dieter F. Utchdorf, Forget Me Not, October 2011 (read this talk, it's great!)

I did not dedicate 18 months of my life to serve the Lord because anyone forced me. I did not leave my family, my friends, my country, my language, and the comforts of home because I wanted to go "sight seeing" (if this was the case, I would have quit after the 7 months in California haha). I am here on my mission today because I love my Heavenly Father and the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel truly has blessed my family and I have such JOY in knowing that my family can be together forever. This is what I want to share with the world. It doesn't matter where I have served or where I am serving now, the joy and happiness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the same. It changes hearts! It changes lives! I am so grateful for all the experiences I have had during my mission until now. I am thankful for the time I spent in California and for my two areas here in Brazil. I am learning and growing so much! Truly, serving a mission was the best decision I ever made. So excited for the next 6 months!!!! IT'S GAME TIME!!!!

I'm so excited for General Conference this weekend! Watch it with a question in mind and I can promise you that you will hear and feel something just for you. This is the beauty of hearing from the Lord's servants, our prophet and apostles. Happy Conference!

Love you all!
Sempre Sorria,
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Tuesday we had exchanges with the sister training leaders again and I had the priviledge of being Sister Vaughn's last exchange. She goes home tomorrow! I am going to miss her so much. She'll be at BYU so it won't be goodbye forever! She is an awesome missionary. Oh and I forgot to mention that this week I got my "trunky papers" (info I have to fill out about addresses and phone numbers) with my return date of March 18th. Crazy! But this doesn't mean I am counting down. I've still got lots to do and lots to learn!

Monday, September 22, 2014

SP Barcelona-Rio Acima Letter 11

Dear Family & Friends,

We found lots of new families to teach this week and I am really excited! We have been visiting all the people on our ward list that we don't know and we are finding miracles! We met a man named José Antonio, who was baptized when he was a teenager and shortly after didn't return to church. Now we are teaching him, his non-member wife Adriana and 14 year old son Leandro! My favorite moment was when José Antonio thanked us for visiting him and helping his family. Made my heart smile :)

I have a huge testimony of using the ward list to find people to teach. There are many people that were baptized years ago that no one knows about. The moment someone is baptized into the church, their name is kept so "that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God" (Moroni 6:4). Every single person who is baptized immediately joins the ward (congregation) "family". Every member of our family in Rio Acima is important and we are here to rescue them and bring them back into the fold, just as Christ taught us to love the "one". I truly feel my duty as a missionary is to get to know every person on our ward list. That way, we can work WITH the members. We can help reactivate those who have stopped coming to church, and find families where many are non-members. This is how we are building the kingdom of God here in this little part of Brazil the Lord has trusted us with, Rio Acima. 

Feeling very blessed and grateful today. Grateful for the chance to serve in this area, grateful for my companion, grateful for all the people we have to teach. Heavenly Father has been blessing us a lot! This week wasn't all rainbows and flowers, but it was a good week and we have lots of reasons to be grateful. I know the Lord will continue to prepare people for us to baptize. He is truly laboring with us!

Something funny I thought you all would enjoy: Tic tac toe in Portuguese is called "Jogo da velha", which means, "game of the old lady" (hahaha)

Sorry I didn't have much to share this week. Short on time! Have a great week everyone! Love and miss you all! 
Sempre Sorria,
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Pic of our zone activity today with the other missionaries in Barcelona. We played volleyball and soccer. I am not an athletic person, and playing with Brazilians makes me feel even less athletic, but hey, it's still fun! The other is a noite familiar (family night) we had about Family History. We are each holding up country flags that were the wrappers of chocolates we did an activity with.

Monday, September 15, 2014

SP Barcelona - Rio Acima Letter 10

Dear Family & Friends,

Happy Monday! Best news of the week: Eduardo (recent convert) went to the temple for the first time on Saturday and loved it!!!! He had an incredible experience doing baptisms and he said it was unlike anything else he has ever felt in his life. YIPPEEE!!! So happy for him!! Whenever I am having a moment of disappointment, I think about Eduardo and how much the gospel has changed his life. I know there are more people like Eduardo out there, we just have to find them!

I learned something interesting this week. In the gospel we always talk about how faith is the foundation for everything, the first step. But I'm realizing that there is something more that has to happen before we can have faith: Everything starts with desire. Desire produces faith. Faith produces action. Desire is what makes an incredible (and may I suggest valiant!) missionary different from a good missionary. A sincere desire to serve Heavenly Father, to help His children, to do His will. Desire. Never have I realized just how profound this word is.

Not only have I learned how important my desire is, but the desire others have to change. Desire. This is what separates the "elect", the "golden", from all the other people we talk to and teach. Those who are ready to receive the gospel and act on it. This was our battle this week: finding those who have a sincere desire, not those who just like our visits because they feel good listening to the word of God. So how do we help people have this desire to act on their faith? This is a work in progress.

It's amazing what people can do when they really want something. For example, understanding my Portuguese. I've been here for about 4 and a half months now so I can understand most of the things people say. But can people understand me? That's a different story. Remember I have a very strong accent! (kind of funny to think about people from other countries speaking English with a heavy accent, now this is me in Brazil with Portuguese). I don't speak perfectly but I can speak sufficiently! I've noticed that if people have the desire to understand what I am saying, they will understand. If they don't want to understand, if they look at me like I am a crazy alien and look to my companion to translate, then they won't understand me. And we know they aren't ready! It's not so much that people understand every word I say, it's that they are understanding with their hearts. This is most important of all. Feeling the power of our words through the Spirit.

Remember the family of José and Rosangela from my little victory story last week? We brought a member to one of the lessons this week. Carla (member) wrote her testimony in a Book of Mormon and gave it to them during the lesson- it was awesome!! She also invited the family to an activity at her house and to church on Sunday. Unfortunately Rosangela and José had to move houses (don't worry, still in our area) so they weren't able to go, but I know that invite made a huge impact. When members invite, it is SO much more powerful than the missionaries. Truly, you members are the full-time missionaries. We're just here to help! This family will be baptized. Not sure when, but it's going to happen, I can feel it. This is our desire!!!

"Behold, thou art [Sister Jorgensen] and I have spoken unto thee because of thy DESIRES... Be faithful, and diligent in keeping the commandments of God and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love" (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20) This whole section is awesome.

This was a tender mercy verse for me this week. Lots of ups and downs, but I don't need to worry, because I'm encircled in the arms of my Father in Heaven! He is granting us little victories every day! 

Remember, with a desire, you can do anything. LOVE YOU ALL!
Sempre Sorria,
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Some fun pics from the week. I really love my companion! So grateful for the true desire she has to serve. She's helping me become a better missionary every day!

Monday, September 8, 2014

SP Barcelona- Rio Acima Letter 9

Dear Family & Friends,

"God loves us. He is good, He is our Father, and He expects us to pray, and trust, and be believing, and not give up, and not panic, and not retreat, when something doesn't seem to be going just right" -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

This quote, one that my mom sent me a few weeks ago, has been my rock this week! It seemed like all of our firm investigators dropped us and not a single person we are teaching came to church yesterday. This was after we did absolutely everything we could to get people there. I've never prayed so much in my life! In moments like this, it's easy to lose hope, and wonder what we could be doing wrong. But we will not lose faith! We will stay strong. And I will not panic just because things aren't going how I want them to. The Lord has a plan.

If there is one thing I learned from the first 7 months of my mission in California, it's patience. It wasn't easy to be a visa waiter. It was frustrating not seeing the fruits of our labors. But I learned that everything happens in the Lord's timing. "When you are patient, you hold up under pressure [yes I am feeling lots of pressure] and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully... you must WAIT for the Lord's promised blessings to be fulfilled" (Preach My Gospel, p. 120). I'm holding on to this statement! We are doing our part and I know the Lord will provide the way. 

Just a little shout out to anyone facing adversity this week: Instead of dwelling on everything that is going wrong, let's focus on the little victories we have every day. Here's a "little victory" from yesterday:

We were looking for a former investigator named Simone and decided to ask the neighbor, José, if he knew her. We started talking to him about the church and he ended up inviting us in to meet his wife and son. They told us about a trial they are passing through, with their other son who is heavily involved in drugs. We were able to share the verse in Mosiah 27 that talks about how the prayers of Alma were answered about his son, who was making wrong choices and trying to destroy the church. Heavenly Father always hears the prayers of the righteous. As we were sharing this with them, Rosangela, the wife looked directly at me and said, "I remember you! You and your friend passed me on the street the other day. You said "Hi" to me like you had known me for 10 years. It was so friendly and happy and it made my day! I thought to myself, they must be from a church. And now you are here." I was speechless.

THIS is a victory! Never ever underestimate what a smile or a simple "hello" can do. I had no idea that I had said hi to her. I didn't remember her. But she remembered me. That 1 second moment touched her heart. I am so grateful that I noticed her enough to say hi to her that day. Perhaps because of this moment and because of what we were able to share with them during their trial, this family will join the church. We're going back on Tuesday to teach them! Sister R. Santos and I are so excited!

Yes, there are moments when we feel like everything is falling apart. Moments when we want so much for something to happen and it doesn't. But we can't give up. We can't retreat. We must press forward with faith and valiance, and always remember "Thy will be done". Not what we want, not in our timing, but the Lord´s.

Let's all continue to look for the little victories in each day. Let's recognize the Lord's tender mercies in every minute. We have so much reason to rejoice! This gospel is a gospel of JOY! 

Have a great week! Thanks for all your love and support. I love and miss each and every one of you!

Sempre Sorria,
Sister Jorgensen

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SP Barcelona- Rio Acima Letter 8

Dear Family & Friends,

Thank you for all the birthday wishes!!! I want you all to know how much I appreciate your thoughts and encouraging words. I love you all and I am truly grateful for each one of you and your support. Thanks for making me smile!!! Truly there is no better place to be on your birthday than on your mission serving the Lord. Forgetting yourself and focusing on others- this is true happiness!

It was a great day! We talked to lots of people and taught some really awesome lessons. We are teaching a lady named Nieuza who has cancer and yesterday her friend was visiting her when we passed by. Her friend, Rosiane, wanted to know more about baptism so we ended up teaching them both a powerful lesson about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we were getting ready to leave, Rosiane told us "I have gone to lots of different churches all my life but now, for the first time, I understand what the Holy Ghost is. I want this! I want to visit your church." We are passing off her address to the other missionaries who are serving in her area. No doubt she is a golden one! So grateful for the companionship of the Holy Ghost in my life. The Holy Ghost is our teacher, our comforter, our constant guide as we live righteously and keep the commandments.

My sweet companion made me a birthday cake and lots of people at church wished me a happy birthday too. It was also the birthday of a less-active named Lusinete and she came to church!!! And Monica, recent convert, wrote me a little note and gave me some candy. I felt special. Best birthday yet? I think so! Not many people can say they turned 20 in Brazil!

This week Elder Aidukatis of the Seventy (he spoke at the last general conference in April) came to visit our mission and we had a conference with him on Wednesday. It was awesome! He trained us the importance of asking inspired questions and the significance of sincerely listening to our investigators. We can't be afraid of silence because that is when the Spirit is strongest. He also taught us how we can improve our teaching with the Plan of Salvation. This lesson is crucial for people to understand their purpose in this life and why baptism is so important. I also had the privilege of having a one-on-one interview with Elder Aidukatis. President Farnes only chose a few missionaries to have this opportunity- not sure how I got so lucky! It was a special experience and I learned alot.

This week we also had exhanges with the sister training leaders and Sister Zapata spent the day with me in Rio Acima. She was trained in this area 8 months ago so she remembered alot. We were able to visit a few a few people that she taught and we added 11 new investigators. What a day! Sister Zapata is an amazing missionary. She is from Argentina.

Time for a little spiritual nourishment...
"...Ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things ye shall stand in need. DOUBT NOT, but be believing...come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work our your own salvation..." (Mormon 9:27)

I found this scripture while studying this morning (look, I'm almost done with the Book of Mormon in Portuguese!) and I gained a new perspective. We can't have faith and doubt at the same time. We either have faith, or fear. We can't have both. When we ask in faith and DO all that we can to solve our problem, the Lord will bless us with what we need. He gives us opportunities to "work out our own salvation" to learn and grow. If He gave us all the answers immediately all the time, we would never learn anything! There would be no need for faith! But God, being our loving Heavenly Father, wants us to trust him and grow in our testimonies of Him and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Mormon 9 is an incredible chapter on faith and miracles. Read it! I am so grateful to know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and works miracles in my life day after day. How amazing is it to know that the same God that created the universe and everything in the world, knows you by name and cares about you individually? Doubt not!

Have a wonderful week! How can it be September already?! Love and miss you all!

Sempre Sorria,
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Just look at how cute my companion is! Enjoy the pic :)