Sunday, November 17, 2013

Plans for the holidays

All this talk about plans for the holidays sound super fun! The people here have started putting up Christmas lights as well...but it´s really hot so it is a little confusing. These band and choir concerts sound like a dream. I am currently helping our ward choir prepare for the dedication of our new chapel on the 8th on December. I am so incredibly excited. We are going to have an open house the week before and are making convites to hand out to all of the neighbors and nossos pesquisadores. . . . .

It is so weird to think thatthis Sunday I will have FOUR months here. Que benção! ALSO WE ARE GOING TO THE TEMPLE ON QUINTA-FEIRA AND THEY HAVE THE NEW FILM AND I AM SO EXCITED I AM GOING TO DIE. Not really, but I will definitely have a review for you all next week!
Here in good old Brasil we have a real problem with helping the people be baptized and come unto Christ. They don´t get married. Or they get married and don´t separate legally and live with another person. I was thinking about why we are not having a lot of success helping these types of people. Then it hit me...I need to strengthen my testimony of the law of chastity. So that´s what I did. I read two awesome things this week that really opened my eyes as to WHY the Lord prohibits qualquer relacionamento sexual outside of casamento. We Believe in Being Chaste by: Elder David A. Bednar in April 2013 and A Família: A Proclamação ao Mundo Needless to say I gained a greater testimony of the importance and the gift of our bodies here on the Earth and why Heavenly Father gives us commandments to protect this gift.
Funny Story! So this week we were contacting a referência and were waiting outside their house when their car drove up. Out popped a little senhorinho in a suit and tie. We talked to him for a little bit and he asked if we have a Bíblia with us (of course we did). He asked us to read Marcos 9:38-43. It talks about one who was casting out devils in the name of Christ and that the disciples shouldn´t deter him and then talks about protecting children. He said that these scriptures meant that what we were doing was wrong and proceeded to talk for about a half an hour. In the end I told him about the Restauração do Evangelho and that our propósito was to help people increase their faith, not to tear it down. In the end it was really funny, but I felt sad for the little senhorinho.

Pizza in Brazil

November 4, 2013

Sister Goncalves reached her 1 yr mark!! :)
So we had pizza
and guess what?! Pizza crust is filled with chocolate here! Could it get any better?
Also a random horse [was] in front of our investigators house, because apparently thats normal (as well as seeing it later throughout the day on different streets )

Monday, October 7, 2013

Update: October 7, 2013

Meus Caridos Pais!

Eu amo vocês muito e oro por vocês cada dia! 

This past week was fun and exciting, but incredibly difficult. We had the treinamento dos novos missionarios this past terça-feira (Tuesday). Presidente Pinho is MARAVILHOSO! I had a really good conversation with my friend, Sister Doman, this week. We talked about talents and differences in personalities. In 1 Coríntios 12 it talks a lot about comparing the Church with the human body. Each part has a specific function and a body would not be a body if every part was a foot. Sabe? Ok. The Lord has need of EVERY one of His children. 

This week we went to an asilo (old folks home) as a service activity for the Relief Society. Sinceremente, it was really sad. These people have next to nothing and some of them arent even old. Their families put them there because they have special needs. They sleep in a huge room with about 30 twin size beds. The residents there became muito feliz quando nós cantamos para eles. God loves all of His children, and eu sou muita grata for the opportunity that I had to serve them.

In my personal study this week I am reading in Mosías. I noticed something that I had never noticed before. In the story of Rei Noé, toward the end in chapter 22 I think, there is a man named Gideão who is trying to kill the king, but the lamanitas come and attack the city so he spares the life of the king. Fast forward two chapters and this man, Gideão, is pleading with Rei Lími to not take his people to war. This is after they have been in captivity for a while as well. I love this. The Gospel can truly soften the hearts of every person who will give head to the boa palavra de Deus. 

Maria Eliegene was not baptized this week, but her baptism will the 12th of Outubro. She is a delight, sinceremente. She is a former member of the Igreja Universal so she likes to clap her hands and say things like <As tres forças divinas!> She has such incredible faith in the Savior. 

Carlos Gabriel was uma referencia dos Élderes. He is 13 years old and loves soccer and the internet. However, God truly prepared him and he should be baptized this Sunday. He already knew lots of the members from school so we had Uriel (membro) come with us to talk about O Livro de Mórmon. I love working with the members here. They are so willing to help!

We taught a super-special family this week. Cledi, Luciano and Ingrid are friends of a few of the families in our ward. They came to church TWO times before we had a chance to teach them. Here in Brasil, that practicalmente NUNCA acontece. We taught the lesson sobre a Restauração do Evangelho and it was so beautiful. The pai, Luciano, cried during the lesson. Cledi and Luciano têm dois filhos: Ingrid (9, and reminds me of Claire) and Gustavo (6). Ingrid and Gustavo stopped their parents car once because they saw me and Sister Hamburgo enter the supermercado. They are FOFO DEMAIS! (too cute) The parents and Ingrid are going to be baptized on the 19th.

Sister Hamburgo and I fizemos contato na rua com um casal: Amanda e Robson. They are super great and get this: they are already married LEGALLY! In the rua when we made contact Amanda said that she had been waiting on a blessing in her life. She suffers from ovarian cists. The one she has right now is 33cm. She has a lot of pain. She and Robson are really young, but they love every time we talk about the gospel. They said that they always feel peaceful and we said that it was because of the Spirit. They are going to be baptized on the 20th. 
Com Amor,
Sister Abbie Hills

Update: September 23, 2013

This week we had a lot of joys and a lot of trials. One of the recent converts of Sister Hamburgo and Sister Gonçalves has been missing for over a week now. Her name is Nayara and she has some difficulties mentally. Pray for her! 

I passed the two month mark! It is crazy how fast time flies! We went out with various members this week and I am so thankful for their help. We taught a woman named Regina the first lesson. She is super fun and loves to talk. Unfortunately, she moved somewhere in our area and we havent been able to find her. 
Boas notícias! Maria Eliegene is going to be baptized this Saturday. She is a super sweet old lady who is the mother of a recent convert in our ward. She has a lot of faith and has been baptized three times in different churches. I just love talking to her. 

We met a wonderful woman and her family this week. Joana is the mother of three children: Lucas (14), Livia (11) and Daniel (4). Daniel is autistic, but so smart. He doesnt talk and has been sick this past week. We went by with a woman in our ward named Gina, who is a convert of about one year. She was absolutely fantastic and helped Joana make food and held Daniel for her so she could talk. Lucas and Livia are good kids. They all were going to go to church, but Daniel had diarreia so that didnt work out. Joana is so great and has suffered a lot being a single mother. The light of the gospel has definitely made her more happy.

We went to the temple this week. It was so wonderful. I got to see some of my friends from the CTM. I love going to the temple so much. I always come away from it feeling renewed and peaceful.  

Thanks for all of your prayers and I love you all so much!

Com Amor, 
Sister Abbie Hills

Monday, September 16, 2013

Photos from Baptism

Wow, that was weird typing the word baptism in English. We had four baptisms this weekend. The first picture is of Juliana and her friend Karina. The second is of Sabrina. The third is of the rapaz (young man) in the striped shirt, Jefferson. I am so blessed to be able to help my irmãos here in Jardim Lucélia come unto Christ.

Jó 23:10
Sister Abbie Hills

Update 9-9-2013

Eu amo você muito!  I love you and thank you for all of your prayers. 

Learning português is going very well. The problem is actually communicating how I am feeling with my companion. She is very nice, and I have learned a lot from her, but I feel like she nevers listens to any of the suggestions that I attempt to make. It has gotten me pretty down, but I love her and want to work well with her so we can do the work of the Lord.

Speaking of the work, we are having a baptism this week! Sabrina is 16 and is so wonderful. The Lord truly prepared her. We are blessed that there are so many youth in our ward that are willing to help with the lessons and giving encouragement. We are also teaching her mother, Sandra, but we cant set a baptism date because she is currently living with a guy who is 17. That is our biggest problem here: No one is married! I so desperately want to help these people enjoy the blessings of an eternal family, but they have to have the desire. 

We are also teaching a senhorinha named Salete. She is around 60 and doesnt move very well on one side because she had a stroke. She has a baptism date set for the 21st, but she needs to stop smoking. She came to church with us yesterday and had a wonderful experience. She also shared an incredible story with us. After she had the stroke, she couldnt move from her bed to make food or anything. She prayed and pleaded with the Lord and she said a large man came to her house and told her to stand. He helped her stand up and she has been walking around to this day. How marvilous! The Lord blesses us with angels all the time.
This week Sister Hamburgo and I studied a lot about how to recognize the Spirit. The scriptures I loved most that we read were in Morôni 7:13-20. Anytime we get a prompting to do something good, it is the Spirit and we should do it! Also we read in 1 Corinthians 12 about gifts of the Spirit and it goes right along with your sentiment about everyone being needed in the Church. 

I love you guys and pray for you all often!

Com Amor,
Sister Abbie Hills

Visit to the Campinas Temple: August 19, 2013

Dear Family,
This week the temple in São Paulo was closed for cleaning, and we have had the opportunity to have the missionaries visit the beautiful Campinas temple.  It is a little further away than our temple in São Paulo.  It is a smaller temple set high on a hill, which is seen from a distance as we enter into the Campinas area.  The missionaries have really enjoyed the visit.  We thought you would like this photo.
We have an amazing group of missionaries here in the CTM at this time.  It is such a blessing for us to be able to serve with them. Thank you for your continued support with emails and letters.  They are much appreciated.
Sister Degn


***Sorry things haven't been posted on time lately.  
It is due to computer issues.***

Minha Mãe!
Eu amo voçê muito! Eu estou no campo agora! (I am in the field now.) I havent met our investigators in our area yet. Our area is Jardim Lucélia. Minha trenadora (my trainer) is Sister Hamborga and she is from Recife. We live in a house with two other sisters: Sister Gonçlaves and Sister Henriques. The past two days we havent done a lot of teaching because we had a mission conference and a transfer meeting. All of my roommates are Brasilian so no more inglês for me! God is so good and is helping me to understand and remember the language very well. I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to be here in Brasil. I know that this is the Lords work. He is the one who accepted my desire to serve Him. I chose to serve here in the pre-earth life.

Com Amor
Sister Abbie Hills

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekly Update

This week has been super awesome. In the past TWO weeks I have sung "How Can I Keep from Singing" in a small group, "Eu Sei que Vive Meu Redentor" as a solo and played the piano for "Este e O Cristo". God is definitely helping me to use my talents. We went to the city center on Wednesday and handed out copies of the Book of Mormon. One guy was very emotional and in return gave us a book on ghosts in Sao Paulo. We didn't keep that book. Another we gave it to him and passed by him later and he was ALREADY reading it! Que legao! (How cool!) So my favourite experience this week has been with our investigator, Pedro. We have been trying to get him to pray for the past four lessons and he has a difficult time with it because his wife and son recently died and left him alone with another son and he feels like God has abandoned Him. BUT we have been very patient and loving and he FINALLY prayer with us! I don't think I have ever experienced that kind of joy in my life. 

Love you! -- 1 Corinthians 10:13
Sister Abbie

Friday, August 9, 2013

Weekly Update & A Photo

Sis. Hills in the furthest left woman.  This was taken
in front of the Sao Paulo Brazil temple.
I love Brazil. Sao Paulo is probably the coolest city ever. There are tons of neat building that would never get built in the US cuz they're defnitely not stable, but they're cool. The food in the CTM is a lot of meat and rice and beans. Also the fruit is DELICIOUS! You would love it.

Here's my daily schedule:

6am -- Rise and Shine
7am -- Desjejum (breakfast)
7:30 -- Estudo Pessoal
8:30 -- Tempo com Instrutor
11:30 -- Estudo com Companheira
12:45 -- Almoco (Lunch)
13:30 -- Tempo com Instrutor
16:30 -- Estdo Idioma
17:15 -- Jantar (Dinner)
18:00 -- TALL (language study)
19:00 -- Actividade Fisica
20:10 -- Estudo Adicional
21:00 -- Lanch (Snack)
22:00 -- SLEEP

My companion is Sister Moore. She's 25 and from Pennsylvania. The Portuguese is going really well. Some because of my Spanish but mostly because of the Lord blessing me. The gift of tongues is REAL. We go to the temple on Fridays and it's the Sao Paulo temple. We only get to do Initiatories and Endowments.
I want to tell you something I learned while teaching one of our investigators. So I have always loved the story of Enos. He is awesome and the fact that he prayed for so long is inspiring. My thought that I had was about how God answers prayers. God didn't answer his prayer until after he had prayed ALL day and ALL night. How hard would that have been to have prayed for so long and not have gotten an answer after the first hour or two. But, Enos endured and received wonderful blessings because of his faith in Christ. I know that this is true for all of us. Sometimes it seems like God is not answering our prayers, but we need to keep faith and just keep praying.

We had some pretty cold days, but my cardigans were enough to see me through. I am so glad Maren is a dress person. It's honestly a lot easier to be modest with them. I am so thankful that Nate was able to find a place to live. I pray for you guys all the time. I am so glad the Lord is blessing you for your tremendous sacrifices. I know I am so grateful to be here. I know it's what the Lord wants me to do. 

Love you all! -- Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Preparation Day Email!

Meu Mai e Pai!

My p-days starting next week will be on seista-feira (fridays). I am loving the CTM and the Portuguese is coming along very well. This is surprising because I tried to speak Portuguese before the mission and it was horrible. The gift of tongues is definitely real. I am so grateful to have taken Spanish because I am able to help others in my district with grammar and word conjugations. Sao Paulo is sooo big and the house are really cool. We went to the temple today and I had the opportunity to listen to the session in Portuguese. It was awesome. I'm not one hundred percent sure about the temple names. I think I have a ton more in one of the drawers in my old room. Please give them to other people in the family. Our district has four Sister and three Elders. My companion is Sister Moore. She is 25 and from Pennsylvania. We don't have anyone from Utah in our district, but we have Elder Hardman (who's gonna be in my mission) from England and Sister Richardson from Scotland. Everyone is pretty nice and the teachers are fantastics. Our main teacher, Irmao Nascimiento, is from Sao Paulo and served a mission in Japan. How cool, right? We are practicing teaching Irma Monique, who is playing Diana. I am loving it. I love how the gospel is being taught through Preach My Gospel. 

Love You All, 

Sister Hills

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Safe Arrival

Sis. Hills is the second from the left in the front row.
Sis. Hills reported to the Brazil MTC earlier today.  She arrived safely and looks so happy!  

Here is the email received from the MTC:

Dear Parents,

We are happy to send the good news that your missionary has arrived safely at the Brazil MTC.  What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they come through the front door of the MTC for the first time. We promise to take good care of your missionary.

They now have companions and are settled into their rooms.  They are assigned to a district with capable and caring instructors for language and lesson study.  The branch presidents and their wives, will soon give them a second greeting.  These couples are rewarded in their callings through the love they always develop as they embrace and watch over the missionaries.

The MTC has a full time live-in physician to care for their health needs.  He is assisted by his able wife. We are also happy to report that the Cafeteria food is abundant and very good.

Your missionary will be able to e-mail home on Preparation Day after a morning at the Temple.  This will be either Wednesday or Friday, depending on individual assignments.

Your very important young person is about to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.  We hope you will be encouraged and comforted by this quote by President Lorenzo Snow: “ There is no mortal man that is as interested in the success of an elder when he is preaching the Gospel as is the Lord who sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord's children".

Please accept our love,
President Ralph Degn and Sister Mary Ann Degn

DO NOT SEND PACKAGES to the Brazil Missionary Training Center. All packages must be sent directly to the mission where your missionary will be serving not the MTC. If you have already mailed a package to the Brazil MTC and it arrives after your missionary has left for the field, please understand that the package can not be forwarded to his or her mission and will be returned to you.
WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE SENDING HAND WRITTEN LETTERS. Please write your missionary´s first and last name. Your missionary will provide you with his district and box number. Also, please DO NOT SEND ANYTHING BY FEDEX, DHL, UPS, or other private carriers.  The cost to get this type of correspondence is exorbitant.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Farewell Talk

Testimony and Conversion
Becoming a Disciple of Christ

The purpose of missionary work is to invite people to come unto Christ, to gain a testimony of Him and of the Church and to help them become converted unto the Lord and become a disciple of Christ. I am blessed to have been called to perform this work with my brothers and sisters in Brazil.

President Joseph Fielding Smith said that a testimony "is a convincing knowledge given by revelation to [a person] who humbly seeks the truth." This can be a testimony of any truth, but in Helaman 5:12 it says ""

David A Bednar, in his talk from October 2012 General Conference "Converted unto the Lord," taught, "Seeking...latter days."

Doing these things (asking, seeking and knocking) requires faith. It is important to remember the teaching in Alma 32:21 that "faith..." This is a lesson that I have remembered again and again as I have sought knowledge upon which to build my testimony. Faith is not having a perfect knowledge. We do not know everything and we will probably never know everything. But that is okay. I have been very fortunate, in developing my own testimony, that I have applied the "spiritual scientific method" also found in Alma 32. When being taught a new principle or after gaining a new piece of knowledge, I have notice the selling inside that either strengthens or depletes my testimony. Recognizing that when something I have heard causes me confusion I know that it is not from God, but if I strengthens my faith it is from God. If it is from God then I act upon the knowledge that I have received.

In gaining my own testimony, some principles cam more easily to me than others. If I had a doubt, however, I would usually turn to the scriptures and to the Lord for answers. When I felt doubt or was upset about something, I wish I had had Elder Jeffrey R Holland's talk from April 2013 General Conference "Lord, I Believe" to help guide me. Elder Holland teaches a poignant lesson using the story of the man who came to Jesus to have him heal his son. Elder Holland teaches, "when facing...walk by faith."

Sadly, in coming to the current state of my testimony and conversion, I now recognize that I have often put up spiritual pavilions, as taught by President Henry B Eyring in October 2012 General Conference. These pavilions cast great shadows over my path. President Eyring asserts "Many of us...His will and His time." When faced with struggles in our personal testimony and bumps on our road to conversion, remember that it is never God who removes Himself from us, but rather us removing ourselves from God. We would do well to remember the lesson taught in Ether 12:6.

We all experience a trial of our faith. This is necessary to help us grow and progress on our path to conversion. Neil L Anderson taught in his talk from October 2012 General Conference "These fiery...comes into view."

There have been two fiery trials that stand out in my life that have definitely helped me to become more converted unto the Lord. When I was 16 I left to work at a Boy Scout camp about two hours away from home. I only knew two people at the camp and was a little homesick, but overall I was having a lot of fun. One night after writing in my journal and reading my scriptures, I received a call from my dad saying that my grandpa was dying. This was extremely devastating to me at that time. I love my grandpa; he was always very kind to me and told the best stories. Over the past year, after putting him in a nursing home, we had watched him degenerate and it was heartbreaking. I was inconsolable. I then heard a voice in my mind that told me that if I kept the commandments I WOULD see my grandpa again. I had never felt so much peace. I knew that was true. Families are forever.

The second trial came a little over a year ago. I was dating a guy I had known for four year and he and I cared about each other a lot. However, this guy was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and did not have a few of the same standards. I wanted nothing more than for him to be baptized and to be a worth Priesthood holder. I shared all he would allow with him about the gospel. I gave him scriptures and taught him how to pray. I moved to Jackson Hold, Wyoming to work for the summer and things in our relationship just got harder. One night, having no friends and no one there I heard a voice telling me that it was time to break up with him. I had done all I could do for him. It was not up to me and my timing; it was up to the Lord and His timing. This lesson is one that has recurred as I have been waiting for five months to leave on my mission. There are many prayers for good things that may not come because everything is done in the Lord's timing.

These two trials of my faith wrought in me a change of heart. I was not the same person after these experiences. I became determined to try harder and to become the person God wanted me to be. I was experiencing a change of heart. Returning to Elder Bednar's talk, he continues "The essence...testimony."

This change can be seen in Peter, a disciple of Christ. In Matthew 16:15-18 he testifies of Christ prior to receiving the Holy Ghost. This is Peter's humble testimony at the beginning of his path to conversion. In his talk, "The First Great Commandment," Elder Jeffrey R Holland provides insight as to what occurred next on Peter's path. After the death of Christ, Peter returns to his boat and takes up his prior profession of fishing. He is unsuccessful until a stranger appears on the shore to give him some advice. Here Elder Holland tells the stranger commands "Cast the net...what they did to me." Peter then went and followed the Savior's admonition to "feed his sheep and save my lambs." After the day of Pentecost and the baptism of three thousand souls and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, Peter then testifies in Acts 4:8-12. This is in beautiful contrast to the simple testimony, which only grew after Peter forsook all to follow Christ. 

After we are converted, we are likewise called, as Peter, to become a disciple of Christ. We are called to follow the admonition to "feed my sheep." Elder Robert D Hales in his talk "Becoming a more Christian Christian" taught "As Christians today...I'll be what you want me to be.

I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have help my brothers and sister in Brazil to come unto Christ. I add my testimony to that of an African martyr, whom Henry B Eyring quoted, and his poem "The Fellowship of the Unashamed."

I am part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. 
The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. 
The decision has been made—I am a disciple of His. 

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. 
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. 
I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, 
tame visions, worldly-talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. 
I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. 
I now live by faith, lean in His presence, walk by patience, 
am uplifted by prayer and I labor with power.
My face is set, my is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, 
my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. 

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, hired away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. 
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversity, 
negotiate at the table of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. 

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have preached up, 
prayed up, paid up, stored up and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus, I must go till He comes, give till I drop, 
preach till all know and work till He stops me. 
And when He comes to claim His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. 
My banner will be clear!

I know these things are true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Sister Missionary Photos

Sister Missionary Photos

Only one week to go and I just barely got my sister missionary photos done. My old friend from Primary on, Sammi Meikle, took them for me. They are set in the stunning Old Town area of Wichita. I love this city and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so excited to invite my brothers and sister in Brazil to come unto Christ.

Pregar Meu Evangelho

I love this outfit...and the red door.

Pregar Meu Evangelho

This is my saucy face!

Happy to preach the gospel.

My favourite picture.

Ugh, this outfit is the best.

A Liahona

Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Long Visa Wait

Disclaimer: I am not a very patient person.

That being said, I was under the impression that obtaining a Visa to a foreign country would be a piece of cake. I was dead wrong. When I received my call to serve in the Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos mission, I had no idea that being able to do so would involve so much paperwork.
The most beautiful sight in the world.
Here are some tips to avoid problems with Visa applications:

1. Have a passport before submitting your missionary application. Unless you submit that you have no interest in serving in a foreign country, then don't. But, save yourself four weeks of waiting to start your Visa by obtaining a current passport.

2. Read over the application process very carefully. Then read it again. Then have your mom (or another parental figure) read it. Anecdote: to be a missionary in Brazil you have to be an ordained minister of sorts. This means that you have to provide details and records about your religious training and certificates of everything from your baptism to seminary graduation. Yeah. It's kind of a bear.

3. Make sure to look over everything after you have completed it. When I was getting my police clearance from City Hall, I assumed that they had filled out the form correctly. WRONG. They marked that I was male. Which I am not. If my mom hadn't made me check over all the documents for errors, I may not have gotten my Visa.

4. Have faith and pray. This is probably the most important part of the process. For the past two weeks I have been obsessively checking the status of my Visa. It was only about a week ago that I started praying that it would come in. What?! Silly me; pray early and often and miracles will be wrought.

I've been ready for this since February.
 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I know it. I can't wait to serve the Lord and help my brothers and sisters in Brazil to "come unto Christ."

Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Learning to Teach

Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained?

To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.

Doctrine and Covenants 50:13-14

I have had very unique opportunities in the past year that have helped me to learn a little bit about how to teach. As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I will teach people the restored Gospel and help them to "come unto Christ." 

At the end of my senior year of high school, I opted to join the Relief Society instead of continuing in the Young Women's program. However, in April I was called to teach Primary. I was asked to teach the 10 and 11-year-old class (of which my little sister, Maren was a part). I had only six weeks left in Kansas before leaving to work in Jackson Hole, but I accepted the calling anyway. 
That year, the children were learning the teachings of the Book of Mormon, and when I started teaching they were already in the book of Mosiah. This opportunity was a little bit challenging. First, I was used to teaching boys how to swim, not teaching almost-teenagers doctrines of the Church. Second, the age that I was assigned to teach is an in-between period where you can't teach them like children or adults. Lastly, I was not fully prepared. At. All. 
I tried so hard to be the "cool" teacher that sometimes I don't think my class fully grasped the doctrinal concepts that I was attempting to teach. I focused a lot on hand-outs and games. The one thing I did learn was how to adapt lessons for different ages. Pre-teens are hard to teach. The scriptures use difficult language for them to understand, but they need to get used to it. I used a mixture of scripture reading and using the Book of Mormon videos online to show them what they read. My lessons were definitely for audio-visual learners. 
My second opportunity came not as a teacher, but as a learner. When I went to the Teton High Adventure Base in Jackson Hole, I had never been in a canoe in my entire life. Period. However, sometimes the best ways to teach someone is hands-on. At least that's how it was for canoeing and later C.O.P.E-ing. I watched and listened and failed, but kept going until even I was amazed at how far I had come. Watching and listening are two of the most important aspects of teaching, whether you're the teacher OR the learner. 
In my adventures as a C.O.P.E instructor, I learned another valuable lesson. Not everyone learns the way that I do. I am an audio-visual learner. Others are not. I can't tell you how many times I would talk through and show a group how to do a certain obstacle and then they would just stare at me like "Huh?" Most of the time I had groups that would just jump right in and try it without giving much thought as to how to work things out. This usually didn't work. I also had groups that would talk things to death. This. Was. The. Worst. In relation to the gospel, over-thinking and getting in over your head are super common when first starting the conversion process. However, some people learn this way. We can't force anyone to learn in a way that is not conducive for them.
Lastly, I worked as a paraprofessional at Wasatch Elementary school during this past school year. I got to work with two different age groups: first and fourth graders. I was in charge of helping the under-performing first graders with their reading and math. This was soooooooo hard. Some days I just wanted to say to the kid: "Let's just quit while we're ahead." Other days I was so excited about their progress I couldn't contain it. 
The most important lesson I learned is summed up in the following conference talk by President Thomas S. Monson:

Isn't that great?! Everyone has the capacity to change into a wonderful person. I saw this in my first graders and even in some of my punky fourth graders (I still love them). It was hard sometimes to remind myself of this fact: Everyone is a child of God and has the potential to become like Him. This is true for the worst reader to the snarkiest fourth grader.

The best part of all of this is that even though I've learned a lot about teaching, I know I still have a long way to go. But, if I put my faith in the Lord and teach what and how He would have me teach, I know that I will not fail in His eyes.

Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills 


Monday, May 27, 2013

The House of the Lord


I grew up in a beautiful, small suburb in Kansas called Derby.  Unfortunately, as a Latter-Day Saint, the main draw-back of this town is that the closest temple is about three hours away. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but when the temple is that far away you only get to go twice a year. 

This is the wonderful Oklahoma City Temple that I went to twice a year since I was twelve:
Beautiful, no?

Part of leaving on a mission is that you receive what is called an Endowment. So the endowment is a special, sacred ceremony that we (members of the LDS Church) perform only inside the temple. It is not some sacrificial, demonic ceremony that many people believe it is. Only LDS members who are worthy (ie. have abstained from alcohol, sex, drugs etc.) and who have completely repented of past sins are able to participate in this wonderful ceremony.

So after you receive your call as a missionary, you are eligible to receive your own endowment. Scheduling when I was going to do this presented a slight problem. I was attending BYU in Provo, Utah and most of my family still lived in Derby, Kansas. Because I am not going back to Kansas until June, I wanted to receive my endowment in Utah. However, my wonderful parents flew me out to Kansas so that I could receive my endowment in the temple that I had gone to while I was growing up.  

Not gonna lie, receiving my endowment didn't completely change my life. It definitely made some alterations as to how I see the world. I cannot say exactly what was taught in the temple, and nor would I want to. But here are some beautiful realizations that occurred to me after I received my endowment.

1. God loves us so much more than we could ever comprehend. John 3:16 doesn't even cut it. Not only did he give His Son for us, but He gave us our lives and a beautiful world to live in and literally every earthly possession we have. 

2. Every person is loved by God and should be loved by us. Okay, I knew this already. But, I have realized how important it is to make a concerted effort to LOVE. I get annoyed really easily, and I think unkind thoughts about people. However, since receiving my endowment I have been making real strides in making sure that my actions AND thoughts reflect only love.

3. This world is not about things. Once again, I knew this. How much I actually agreed with it is beyond me. I agree 100% wholeheartedly with this now. My life before was focused on adventures, entertainment and saving for frivolous things. Now, I am more focused on living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, getting an education and preparing to be a mother and wife in an eternal family. Nothing else matters.

Because I love the temple so much, here are some other temples I have attended/visited:
           Bountiful, UT Temple  Mount Timpanogas, UT Temple

Kansas City, MO Temple   Manti, UT Temple

     Nauvoo, IL Temple    Oquirrh Mountain, UT Temple

     Provo, UT Temple     Salt Lake City, UT Temple

Winter Quarters, NE Temple

Finally, the temple I will attend on my mission:
São Paulo, Brazil Temple 

Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Mission Call


To understand my desire to go on a mission, I have to start when I'm 17. At this time, the age for sister missionaries to serve was 21. It was Stake Conference and our visiting General Authority (a member of the highest levels of leadership in the LDS Church)was Elder Shayne M. Bowen. He held a special meeting with the youth of the Derby, Kansas Stake (a unit of members of the LDS Church based on geographical location). He recounted a heart-wrenching story of his service in Chile during the 1970's in a time of political instability. He and his companion (a native Chilean) were arrested and kept in a holding cell by a government that was infamous for having people "go missing." He told us of the prayers and faith he had that eventually, with Divine assistance, allowed him to go free. 

After this meeting was the general meeting. In his talk to the entire stake on missionary work, Elder Bowen said "the best way for a young woman to prepare for motherhood is to prepare for a mission." I don't know why, but that statement change my entire attitude about serving a mission. Prior to this, I had always thought 'Oh I'll go if I don't get married first.' My thoughts then changed to 'I will prepare for a mission, and, if I get married first, so be it.' This conviction wavered a little until last summer while dating a recent convert, whom I had met at a Boy Scout High Adventure Base, who encouraged me to think more seriously about a mission by saying that "[I] remind [him] of the sister missionaries at Temple Square." Really? I reminded someone of a missionary? Even after we broke up, I still had mission on the brain until.....

October 2012

I was still recouping from the aforementioned break-up and I was at my sister, Anika's, house to watch the Saturday morning session of General Conference (a televised gathering of Latter-Day Saints to listen to the General Authorities and our Prophet). The conference started as usual and our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, was giving his "Welcome to Conference" spiel when this happened:  

My world was rocked! Could I really serve the mission I had been preparing for in a mere four months?! I thought and prayed and cried and called my parents. I decided that I would wait until after I was done working at the elementary school before I would leave on my mission. Then, I had four months before I could even submit my mission papers (sort of an application). 

February 2013

It had been an arduous journey of physical exams, shot records and listening to everyone and their dog get their mission call. On Valentine's Day, I was having a party with my friends (we're all single haha) and my friend, Carly, and I get a text from our Bishop. OUR CALLS HAD BEEN ASSIGNED! We pretty much freaked out and everyone stared at us. Two days, later I turned 19. I had a lovely day shopping and eating at City Creek Center with some friends and seeing "Beautiful Creatures" with Zoe.

Flash forward to Wednesday, February 20, 2013. I was enjoying a normal day working at the elementary school. I knew my mission call would probably get there on Friday and I had already made arrangements to gather a few people at that time. Then I got two texts: one from my sister and one from Carly. "Did you get your call?" "Ahh, my call is here!" Umm, WHAT?! I entered major freak out mode, which mostly includes me sweating and looking pleasantly surprised on the outside. After car pool duty, I raced home and called my roommate, Michelle, to check the mailbox. I reached the apartment when she reached the mailbox. 

Then I had it in my hands, which it quickly left to sit on a table. I called my friend, Maggie, over to help her with family history like I had promised. She was making fun of me being so scared of it. She felt it and assured me I was going foreign. (I later realized this is because foreign calls come with a passport application in them.) Still, I called all my family and went down impromptu to my sister, Anika's, house. 

Then it was time. My family in Kansas was on Skype, my sister Cici and brother Tim were on the phone and Anika's family (including my adorable nieces) were surrouding me as I opened my call...

The Call

So, let me preface this. I had been dreaming of where I wanted to go on my mission ever since the previous October. I knew I wanted to use the Spanish that I had learned and I wanted to go to Europe. Thus, I wanted to go to Spain. The longer I waited, though, the more I just wanted to serve. I didn't care where I went. I did, however, preferably not want to go to Idaho or Brazil. Idaho because I thought it was boring (until I found out that my favorite place is in the Pocatello, Idaho mission: Jackson, Wyoming). Brazil because I had met several missionaries who had come back from Brazil who I found really annoying. Neither one of these reasons were really adequate. Eventually I was reconciled with the latter if I could be near the ocean. 

Okay, so my call:

Dear Sister Hills (Sister Hills that's so cool!)

You have hereby been called to labor as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You have been called to serve in the Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos mission. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Portuguese language. You will report to the Sao Paulo, Brazil MTC on July 17th. 


I was in shock! My mission is by the ocean in Brazil, the one place I had reconciled to go! My brother-in-law, Tyler, was ecstatic! He served in the mission directly to the north of mine. My mom was nervous. Sending the first of her daughters on a mission to Brazil. It's not exactly known for being pleasant. The most pressing thought in my mind over the next few days was: Portuguese, Brazil, BEANS?! Yes, haha, I worried about eating beans. 

I later found out that a guy who I had went to high school with and a guy from my home ward, who I had previously dated, were currently serving in the EXACT SAME MISSION. What are the odds? I guess this mission needs strong missionaries from Derby, Kansas. I am delighted the Lord saw me fit to serve there too!

Job 23:10

Sister Abbie Hills

*Elder Bowens gave a great talk recently
**President Monson's announcement that changed my life