Saturday, December 6, 2008

June 10, 2008

Dear My Family,

Érika got baptized this week and we had a blessed week of awesome numbers. We taught a lot of lessons and there were a lot of people that came to church and it was just all-around exhausting and great.

The Brazilian Bicycle Minivan

So, you know how there in the US young mothers with multiple children purchase and utilize a mini-van. Typical Soccer-Mom style-y. Here in Brazil Mom's purchas and utilize a bicycle. Put some extra seats on 'er and you've got a mini-van! We saw a young mother and three children on a bicycle. And this is not a "bicycle made for two" bicycle... this is a bicycle made for one. It was pretty amazing.

The Mystery of the Dirty Ankles

So, I started noticing a while back that at the end of each day my inner-ankle bones were dirty. Hmm, I thought. Where did that come from? What am I doing to make my inner-ankle-bones dirty? I would then clean my inner-ankle-bones and go about my business forgetting the inner-ankle-bone mystery until the next night when they would be dirty again and the process would begin all over again. Rinse and Repeat. Finally the day came when I said to myself, "Self, it is not acceptable that this mystery remain a mystery!! This mystery is too bizarre! We will get to the bottom of this or die trying!" That day I dedicated my energies to finding the ankle-dirtying-device. And I realized, as I was walking calmly down the street that as I was walking I was kicking myself in the ankle bones! How bizarre! And not just once a day, quite regularly! I then decided that this must stop. I realized just yesterday that, with minimal to no conscious effort, I stopped kicking myself in the ankle bones. The key to changing the behavior was to realize what I was doing. So then I got to thinking again about how this lesson that I learned to be applied in a spiritual lesson. And here's what I learned, sometimes when we realize that we have a problem, we must simply recognize what we are doing to cause the problem--for example, losing the Spirit. And sometimes the biggest part of the battle is realizing what it is that is causing the problem. And once you realize what it is, it's relatively easy to change the behavior. And it is next to impossible to change the results without recognizing the causes. Can't stop from having dirty ankles until you know what you're doing to make them dirty. The end.

What My District Leader Taught Me About Prayer

I don't know if y'all remember the talk by Elder David A. Bednar, but he talked about Prayer as Sacred Communication and Consacrated Action. My District Leader taught us about this, and I've been musing on it this week. I finally figured it out enough to share it in some lessons, and everyone that hears about it gets kind of excited. So I thought I'd share. So, how do you usually pray? Address Heavenly Father, give thanks, ask for blessings, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. This is how we teach people to pray. But I've been realizing that there are really two more steps, after Ask For Blessings, I need to recieve inspiration as to what I need to do for these blessings to come to pass, and THEN I need to PROMISE the Lord that I'm going to that thing, and ask him to BLESS my action that it will have the desired results. Example A: You know that someone in the ward is having a hard time, you pray that that person gets better. Then you can think about that person and think of something that you can do to help that person... it could be a phone call, a cake, a visit, or whatever. Then you're going to promise the Lord that you're going to do that thing for that person and then you ask the Lord to bless this action that it will really help that person. Then you have to do it. Because you promised the Lord. No going back now. Example B: You're not feeling the Spirit, you want to go spiritually. You think about what you are doing and what you are not doing that can be preventing you from growing. You promise the Lord that you're going to do one small thing today to help you grow... read the scriptures for 10 minutes, think about the Atonement during the day, sing some hymns when you're feeling bad. Then you promise the Lord that you will do it. Then you ask him to bless that action. Then you do it. Elder Bednar said in his talk that when you keep the promises you made in your prayers, those actions are CONSECRATED to the Lord. And it seems to me that consecrated actions are going to have more effect than just random human actions.So here's how I put this in practice this week. My District Leader taught about this, and I decided to consecrate my street contacts to the Lord. Never again in the mission would I skip doing my 10 contacts per day. And every day I would promise to do them. My companion has been praying a lot to invite more people to be baptized. So this week I did my contacts every day and Sister Christensen invited someone to be baptized. And on Sunday, investigators flocked to Sacrament meeting. I know that we were blessed. That our consecrated actions helped us be more effective.

So I'm going to keep working on consecrating more and more of my actions to the Lord, to resolve very specific concerns and problems that I have. I'd like to invite each of you to use this week to consecrate something to the Lord. Some action. Then let me know if it worked? This week I'm going to work on having virtuous thoughts... Because sometimes the things I think drive the Spirit away... so I'm going to work on having the Spirit more and promise the Lord that I'm going to drive away bad thoughts when I have them. Wish me luck! Sorry I talked so much about that, but I'm just so excited about it. Life just makes more sense now. I love the gospel!

The Saga Continues... Check back next week for the next installment of the Life and Adventures of an American Girl lost in Brazil and trying to speak Portuguese and teach the gospel.

You're in my prayers,

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