"There is sunshine in my soul today!"

"There is sunshine in my soul today!"

So Close!

Boa tarde!

Alright, so I might as well get the big news out of the way first: I'M GOING TO BRAZIL IN SIX DAYS. No big deal. My visa came through yesterday! I'll be flying for about 23 hours, and I'm so excited for it! It looks like I will be going first to Atlanta, then Sao Paulo, and then back up to Belem. Woo-hoo! My whole district got their visas this week as well! Sister Dustin, unfortunately, is going on a different flight than me, first to Detroit. However, Elder Ploeger will be on the same flight as me as far as Sao Paulo, so I shouldn't be completely lost and on my own the whole time! This was honestly such a faith-builder to me that I am going where the Lord needs me. A few weeks ago, I prayed saying that I would leave this whole visa matter in the Lord's hands. He knows where I need to be, who I need to talk to, and what I need to learn. I know that I was supposed to meet certain people here in Provo, learn from them, and build strong relationships. I also know that the Lord's hand was in getting me to Brazil at the last moment as well. :)

As for this week--it's been an adventure! We had thirty-six new missionaries join our zone on Wednesday, which made hosting a nearly all-day affair. I hosted more elders than sisters, which was quite the experience. I'm not sure how all of the elder's moms felt about a sister walking their son around the MTC for their first day on their mission... but it had to be done! The other thing is that I've been adjusting to is being a Sister Training Leader. I had this goal to get out of here without a leadership responsibility... but I guess it wasn't meant to be. I like this assignment, though, I've gotten to spend a lot of time with the new sisters, who are all utterly fantastic! I love them all so much! We need more sisters in our zone. Out of the thirty-six newbies, only four of them are sisters... Elders are great, but come on. :P

Today Sister Dustin and I have found ourselves utterly alone in our usually crowded residence. Sister Graham is off for Washington on a reassignment, Sister Nash for Brazil, and Sisters Waddell and Streadbeck for Portugal. Sisters Oldroyd and Smith are also off for the Brazil MTC as well! It's really hard to say to goodbye to friends. However, I am so excited for each and every one of them! They are going to do so wonderfully! Sister Dustin and I also like having a clean room finally... 

I am loving teaching! Our investigators are fantastic! We are really making progress with Adriano. He opened up to us so much this week. Our teachers here are wonderful too; we're learning so much about the language, but I think it's time for us to do some more intense English-fasts... I'm never going to get completely comfortable unless I let go of English completely.

This week, I've been thinking a lot about how much God loves every one of us. He is so merciful to us. Being a missionary is so wonderful because we have the beautiful opportunity of sharing this love with other people. We were talking to Adriano yesterday about repentance, and he said, "How can I do all of these great things? Nephi was a prophet; you are missionaries, servants of God. I'm just Adriano." You are never just you. You are a perfectly made, perfectly loved child of God with infinite potential to be so much more than how you see yourself. And Heavenly Father sees it all.

Amo voces muito! Ate mais!

Sister Dickerson

Has it really been a month??


Well, to answer my own question, no, it hasn't! But it two days, it will be. To be perfectly honest, I am really ready to leave the MTC. Don't get me wrong, the MTC is great and all, but the schedule does get old. Just two more weeks! I'm expecting to get my travel plans this week, and I think I'll be going straight to Brazil! You can check your visa progress online and mine is all processed! So, I'm super excited. It is so amazing to see the will of God working in my life. Hardly anyone has had their visa processed from the LA consulate; the Lord will put me where He needs me! 

Let's see... as for teaching experiences, this week has given us all the ups and downs we could ask for! Both of our investigators have a lot of serious problems, especially concerning the law of chastity, so we teach that just about every day. However, we have grown in so much love for them, and we have seen the Spirit work on them in so many ways! It's honestly amazing. (Our teachers role play as investigators that they met on their mission. However, as we treat them as real investigators, we are actually able to get a feel for how to truly teach). 

Last night was a sad night in that it was our last lesson with Irmao Machado and our last lesson with Jose. That was hard. We walked out feeling so much love, though, and I couldn't help but see our progress in the progress of our investigators. Irmao Machado has to teach the two incoming districts this week, so we're getting Irmao Sears instead; I'm sure he's great, but we really love Irmao Machado! Change is good for me though... Last night was also hard because about 3/4 of our zone shipped out. Nearly all of the missionaries going to Portugal, Mozambique, and Angola are gone! Also, nearly every missionary in the two districts that came in after us got their visas to Brazil, so they are now at the MTC in Sao Paulo! We're of course excited for them, but it was hard to say goodbye. Most of them left at incredibly early times in the morning. It was adorable--last night we were walking back to our residence with the zone leaders and one of them said, "Elder, do you know what I'm going to say to you at 3:35 AM? I'm going to say, 'What time is it?' and then you're going to say, 'It's 3:35 AM.' Do you know what that means?" They were so excited to get out in the mission field, and they are all going to be great!

On Sunday I was incredibly surprised by being called to give a talk... Considering that the majority of our zone was heading out, that I've already given a lesson and my testimony and prayers in meetings, I thought I was safe for another week. Nope! It went fine though, even though it was terrifying. Portuguese is becoming more natural every day. On Wednesday I got to host new missionaries for the first time! That was fun, meeting so many new people and helping them get a good first impression of the MTC. The only downside was hauling suitcases up flights and flights of stairs. We get to host again tomorrow, so that should be great!

My dear companion, Sister Dustin, has been rather ill all week. Poor girl. Please keep her in your prayers! She's been improving steadily though, and she is such a champ about the whole thing. Her positivity is contagious! We've had lots of glorious moments throughout the week because of it. And lots of embarrassing moments. I don't think they would be as funny if I typed them, though, so I won't bother for now. :) I also found out last P-day that Sister Dustin is utterly AMAZING at playing the flute! She is so talented. I'm making her audition for a musical number this week. She is seriously so great. 

In other news, we have gotten very close to our district, which consists of Sis. Dustin and I and Elders Ploeger, Lewis, and Smart. The Elders might be getting a little too comfortable with us. We were studying outside one day and came in to grab our Portuguese dictionaries. We walked in to find the lights off, the elders sleeping (Elder Smart even had a eye mask on) and the whiteboard covered in pictures of animals! It was a pretty startling and hilarious moment. However, considering that they were just called to be the new zone leaders, I think they'll get a little more focused from now on. 

Anyhow, I'm learning a lot! Every day! I love the people here, and I'm loving the people of Brazil more and more every minute! It's amazing how I am finding more of my weaknesses than I ever have in my life, but I feel so much more hope for change than ever before as well.

This is the scripture we're memorizing in Portuguese as a district this week, Joshua 1:9:

"Be strong and of a good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest." 

I hope you all have a marvelous week! Love you all!

Sister Dickerson

Half-Way There!

Bom dia!

I'm happy to saw that I am officially half-way through my stay at the MTC! 

Thank you all so much for the outpouring of love I received this week. Your letters were very appreciated! 

Well, where to begin... this week was great! Sister Dustin and I are getting along perfectly, and we are loving teaching together! There were some days that I could hardly keep my eyes open and some days that I could hardly go to sleep. Life is always up and down here! 

I guess I'll go backwards. I just went to the temple today! It's been closed the past two weeks for cleaning, so it was so amazing to finally be able to go and feel the peace and love that permeates those walls. It was amazing. One of the elders in our zone had a stack of family names to do, so all of the sisters were able to do some! It was seriously so great.

Sister Dustin and I are loving the work! Our two investigators, Jose and Vania, and progressing quickly. We love them so much. We asked them to do some really hard things this week, and it has been so incredible to see their faith at work. It's also been amazing to see my own faith grow. Every experience is for our good! On Sunday we spoke a lot about enduring to the end in Relief Society; I was disheartened to hear so many sisters talk about enduring hard trials on their missions and how this life is about experiencing hard things. It's all true, of course, but it is so much more! Happily, by the end we were talking about enjoying to the end, finding joy in the journey, and how our entire purpose is to have joy. I love the gospel!

On Friday we had our first TRC, when we teach members. The two members we taught were return missionaries from Brazil--Mia and Chase. They were so cool! I felt like we talked more than taught... but it was an amazing experience! It also made me think more about this life. Mia expressed concern about all of the awful things going on in this world and how to deal with it. I got to thinking... if there really is opposition in all things, then if some of the worst things are happening today, then some of the best things are happening as well. When we are in the deepest of trials, we can find the deepest joy. Everything has its opposite, and often times its opposite is found right along its side. It's amazing! On Friday we also had the opportunity to watch President Packer's funeral. It was a sad experience, but it was also incredibly enlightening. That man lived an amazing life, and he is still touching people's hearts where he is now. We even got to hear President Monson speak at the funeral--he still looked frail, but he sounded so much more like himself than last conference. That boosted my spirits.

Otherwise, this week has been one of learning and practice. Learning and practicing a lot of Portuguese, teaching skills, and of course, teaching with the Spirit. It's amazing to see how much progress we are making. Sister Dustin and I had a confidence builder yesterday when a new professor from Sao Paulo who doesn't speak much English yet came into the class to chat with us. He spoke faster than any teacher I have ever heard at the MTC yet, but we understood every word! He said he was shocked because the missionaries who are leaving next week couldn't understand him, let alone respond. I'm not trying to boast, if that sounds like boasting. I'm just so extremely grateful that the Lord is helping me communicate in this language! The gift of tongues is so real!

Oh, I have one more fun story. The other day some elders going to Argentina came up to us for some "street contacting." What came next was about a half hour of a half-Portuguese, half-Spanish lesson. It was so fun! What was even better was that we all understood each other! (Most Spanish-speaking missionaries don't pick up any of what we are saying...)

Well, I would love to go on more about all the other little stories of this week, but I'm just about out of time! So here ya go--the highlights. I love you all so much! Have an utterly fantastic week!


Sister Dickerson

Aprendo Cada Dia

I can hardly believe that another week has gone by! This week was... difficult. I guess that's the best way I can put it. However, I learned so much more because it was difficult! The biggest thing that happened was that my companion, Sister Packard, got her visa, as well as another sister in our district, Sister Sanabria! To be perfectly honest, although I was very excited for the two of them, I was also quite discouraged. I had to say good bye to them this morning, and it was very difficult. I'm really going to miss Sister Packard! She has taught me so much about teaching with the Spirit, carefully preparing, and working diligently all of the time. She's going to love the Brazil MTC though. She said it will be really good for her because then she will have to speak the language all the time. And it will be good! The course of this week has been difficult as I have worrying about my visa... Through prayer, though, I have finally been able to let these worries go and place them in the Lord's hands. It's hard to accept His will, but when I do I am filled with so much more trust and love for Him! (So no one ask me about my visa again--it's not my problem. :P ) But my new companion, Sister Dustin is great!) I have learned a lot about faith and patience this week; the Lord is definitely the greatest teacher.

The Fourth of July was quite an experience here at the MTC! My teacher Irmão Machado, who is from Florianopolis, Brazil, gave us the greatest lesson on appreciating our country and the principles on which it stands. It was so enlightening. We also spent a great deal of time studying about Captain Moroni! There was a special fireside in the evening about bringing the gospel into all the world. The speaker sort of went nearly an hour over... so we all hurried out to the parking lot, watched about five minutes of fireworks, and went to bed late. It was great though! I like getting a nice break from all the stress. 

I have learned so much about teaching this week. It is fantastic! We got a second teacher, Irma Hill, and she's wonderful! Her teaching style is quite different than our other teacher. We have two new investigators, Vania and José, who we taught for the first time yesterday. I have loved seeing the difference in what we prepare and what we actually teach. It is obviously important to prepare as well as we can, but it is even more important to listen to the investigator and the Spirit to know their needs. We had some really tender teaching experiences. And that's the whole point of missionary work, right? It's amazing to see the Spirit work with them, even with our broken Portuguese and help them tell us the desires of their hearts!

Hmm... just for funny experiences (in case you are all bored already), Sister Packard's favorite song is "Ye Elders of Israel," so this whole week has been full of us breaking into deep, manly harmonies while singing that song, much to the surprise of surrounding elders. Sister Sanabria and I have also created a form of communication based solely on facial communication! So now I'm known as that weird sister who can make strange faces... love that... But it's been fun. :) 

I hope you are all doing well! Have the greatest week ever!


Sister Dickerson

Minha companheira

 Sister Dickerson with her companion in front of the Provo Temple

Sister Dickerson and Her Zone

O Primeiro Semana a CTM!‏ (The First Week at the MTC)

To be honest, it feels like so much as happened in the past week that I don't know where to start. I suppose first I'll say that I really like the CTM! (MTC) Minha companheira, Sister Packard is wonderful. She's from Washington, and she has been a saving grace. We get along really well and have had some really precious experiences together. I'm loving my district as well! There is a trio of elders and one other companionship of sisters. Our teacher, Irmao Machado, is fantastic! He really cares about our learning as missionaries and is always sure to have the Spirit with him.

Portuguese is... an adventure. It has been so amazing to see the gift of tongues throughout my district. We have an investigator, Nadia, and we have been able to teach her three lessons, completely in Portuguese, already, and we should be getting a second investigator this week! Nadia is wonderful. It has been really cool to pray with Sister Packard about Nadia's needs and to answer her questions as we teach. Even though she's not a "real investigator," we focus on her as if she is, and the Spirit is always there. I think, above all, the greatest lesson I have learned this week is that the Spirit is so essential to teach. The minute I start worrying about the language, rather than Nadia, in a lesson, the Spirit leaves. When I am completely focused on her, I find words coming out of my mouth that I did not know that I knew. That is the power of the Spirit. He is the teacher. God loves all of His children, so much, and if I am focused on them, then He helps me! Learning a new language is so humbling, and I am learning to rely more on my Savior.

I have studied more in the past week than I probably did during my whole year at BYU. We should be getting a second teacher this week, but until then we have had about six hours a day of study time. Yesterday was particularly difficult for my district. We were all struggling to stay motivated. Then the best thing happened last night. Irmao Machado came in to teach for the evening, and he took us back to the fundamentals--our purpose as missionaries, teaching with the Spirit, focusing on the investigator. It was a powerful spiritual experience. Afterwards, Sister Packard and I had companionship inventory and set goals for how to become a little better. It was wonderful. I am so ready to improve! I have such a long way to go as well... 

Learning to pray in Portuguese is probably the favorite thing I have learned so far. Companionship prayer is so powerful. There is no better person to practice with than nosso Pai Celestial, who knows what we need even before we pray. Prayer has brought us closer to God, to each other, to Irmao Machado, and to Nadia. it is wonderful!

Let's see... just for funny things that have happened, our first day bats were found in our housing, so we had to move again. Our roommates are all hilarious, but they are also all going to Utah or New Mexico (we were the left over sisters of our district), so they'll be gone in a week. We're curious to see how many groups of sisters we get to live with! We have also embarrassed ourselves by trying to get into an elders' housing complex (accidentally of course!), calling a group of elders "sisters" (also an accident), and probably a million other things. I also got tackled by a Tongan elder last night. That was weird. 

Oh! I almost forgot! Sunday was great! Sacrament meeting was great, the temple walk was great, the devotional was great, and above all, the film "Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar was REALLY GREAT. Life changing actually. Our district also got to watch some Mormon messages for a while and we all sobbed and used up all the tissues.

The gospel is so amazing. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. Even though this week has had it's challenges (and yes, I know that it will only get harder), I feel that I'm where the Lord wants me to be. I have felt the Spirit so strongly this past week; there is no way that this could not be His plan for me. Jesus Christ lives, and He loves every one of you!

Se amo!

-Sister Dickerson