Thursday, October 30, 2014

Letter from Ward Mission Leader in Calico Ridge

The following is an email message we received in April after Sister Lauren Yoshimoto traveled to Brazil.  This was from the ward mission leader in the Calico Ridge Ward in Henderson, Nevada.  Sister Yoshimoto and Sister Nilson were both waiting for their visas when they were assigned to the Calico Ridge Ward, in an area that had previously been closed.  In the four weekends prior to leaving for Brazil on April 1, Sister Yoshimoto and Sister Nilson had several families get baptized. Another family was baptized after Sister Yoshimoto left for Brazil, but Sister Nilson was still in Calico Ridge.

April 16, 2014

Bishop Yoshimoto,

As I am sure you are fully aware of the miracles that have occurred in the Calico Ridge Ward, under the watch of your daughter and Sis. Nilson, I wanted to send one last thanks.  I am not sure I have ever seen missionary success like I have with these two Sisters.  Sis. Yoshimoto and Nilson remind me of the 3 Nephites in the following few ways, to name a few:

-Focused obedience and faith
-Consistent coordination with ward members, giving the ward and the Lord ALL the credit for success
-Optimistic and positive energy of patient humility and gratitude

Even though your daughter was called to serve in Brazil, there is no question in my mind the Lord had His hand in blessing our ward with Sis. Yoshimoto in Henderson, Nevada. I am convinced the recently baptized families were waiting for this companionship; the Lord could trust them to nurture and teach in the proper way these particular families needed to receive the restored gospel. 

Not only are the recently baptized families benefactors via their respective conversions, but individual ward members, families and the ward as a collective whole lives have been enriched over the last few months. 

Bro. Allen (aka fighter pilot) will be our keynote sacrament meeting speaker this Easter Sunday, fielding the topic of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I hope and pray you and your family have recognized blessings in your lives for sacrificing and helping Sis. Yoshimoto be en excellent representative of Jesus Christ?

Bro. Zachary Hills
Calico Ridge Ward
Henderson, Nevada

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Our Spirits Are Stronger Than Our Bodies

Date: Oct 29, 2014 1:47 PM

Oi família e amigos!!  [Dear Family and Friends]
Que semana rapida e cansativa!! [Fast and exhausting week]
Finally it’s P-day!  But the good news that came recently--yesterday--is that officially after today, Pday will return to Mondays!  Hahaha.   How strange huh:?  I JUST got used to it being Wednesdays and now it’s back to Mondays!  haha. oh well.  faz parte.  [???]
I’m excited because there is literally soooo much to do here in this area!  I’m real excited because we have soooo many eleitos [elites]!!  There’s Glayson e Leandro [Glayson and Leandro] who are cousins and there are Ana e Denis and Ladison! Wow. I wish I had all the time in the world to tell you about them!
I will quickly:
Glayson e Leandro-- 19 years old and so amazingly eleito [elite].  They read the Book of Mormon and pray and loved church and from the start have just been so receptive.  They truly think about what we say and they just FEEL the spirit so strong.  If something doesn’t make sense they are so ready to just pray about it and hear what we have to say.  Glayson has a problem with smoking which is so strange to me because he is so pure. haha.  But he had so much shame in admitting it, but I really just felt soo much love for him.  I KNOW I seriously feel the complete love that our Heavenly Father has for these kids. They tripped up yesterday but I gave them a pic of Christ and explained the mercy/justice part and it just clicked.  You could see the relief on his face as he began to understand and truly FEEL the mercy of God … to know that it’s okay that he tripped up.   That’s the whole purpose of the Atonement -- to have that chance to start over again.  It was an amazing experience.

Actually we had a real cool experience with them.
We had our last zone meeting yesterday and as it finished late, we didn’t get on the onibus until 6:30 so we didn’t get to our area until about 7:30.  We had to see Ana and Denis first, had a miracle lesson (she was about to drop us and give back the Book of Mormon because of all the persecution from her friends, but we prayed with her and explained Mateus 5:40 [Matthew 5:40] and she really felt the spirit again and is preparing for the 22nd of Novembro for baptism!! ) but we didn’t get done until about 8:30. took the van to Maiobao area and called Glayson and said we’d have to reschedule for Thursday because today is Pday and choir practice at the stake center.  But as we were taking the bus I just felt so unsatisfied.  I was praying and praying about what we should do?  I asked Sister Oliveira and she was dead tired.  We were gonna go home and plan and sleep, but I prayed again and just said, “Father,  I’m so tired and we had an amazing lesson with Ana and meeting with the zone and now we’re ready to prepare for tomorrow,  but I feel like Glayson needs us.  We had a good day, but what do you want us to do.?”  And I just felt “One more… just go.”
So I looked at Sister Oliveira and said Glayson needs us.  She’s so awesome.  I told her “If you think your leg will get worse from walking home or being too tired, we will just go home.  I don’t want you to overdo yourself.”   But she said “our spirits are stronger than our bodies.”   And so we went.  Wow!  It was the best lesson ever.  They had so many doubts and questions about the Word of Wisdom and they had slipped and felt real bad and guilty and I truly believe that 2 more days without seeing them would have really impeded their progress.  They are super excited for baptism on the 8th and there is nobody more prepared than them.  They are so soooo ready.  I know with all my heart they will go on to be great missionaries and because of these challenges with the Word of Wisdom, now, they will be able to help so many others fight their addictions.

I’m soooo incredibly grateful for the promptings of the spirit.  It’s still is tough for me to recognize and follow the promptings but I’m really learning a lot from this transfer.  Sister Skudder--the New Zealand sister—is super cool.  I love her a tonnnn!!  I’m truly learning a lot about following the spirit.  I know that Heavenly Father is truly the head of this work.  I feel guided and qualified for this calling as I trust more in Him every day. I loooove this calling.  I love this work.  I love the Mission.  I don’t have time to write about the others. but I will soon!
Love you all soooo much!!!!
You are all always in my prayers by name!!!
Giant hug for the ward!!!!
I hope the missionaries there are working really hard!!!!  Bom trabalho to them!!!

Com Muiiito Amor,  [With much love!]

Sister Yoshimoto

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Making Every Second Count

Oct 23, 2014

Hellllooooooo family!

Yes, this week we had an unexpected change of plans and ended up having our lideranca [leadership] meeting in Teresina on Wednesday.  We left here Tuesday and got there Tuesday night.  We had the meeting Wednesday all day, left Wednesday night, and got here this morning at 5.  We had to take the buses to our home and it took almost 3 horas [hours].... man it was a looooong 2 days.  haha.  But it was soooo good.  The meeting covered a loooooot about how we can better our areas and help people really understand the importance of baptism.  There are sooo many things we will be changing to help this area and leave this mission strong!!

I’m soooo excited!!

My new companion is Sister Oliveira!  She has the same amount of time left in the mission as me so we’ll be leaving together!  How strange, huh?  In this next couple of transfers, about 17 sisters will have left the mission and not many arriving (about 3 or so), so they will be closing down a toooon of sister areas.  We’re almost positive it will be a lot of the ones far from the mission office, so Sao Luis, and Tiangua will be left with a lot of elders..... how sad. haha.

Sister Oliveira is an amaaazing sister.  She has been a leader in the mission practically her whole mission.  She’s 24 and pretty much will be the general RS pres or something one day … so just remember Thatiane Santana Oliveira, because she will be famous one day …  haha.  But yes, I’m excited because this transfer we have a tonnnnn of amazing people ready for baptism.  Now is that amazing transfer where we will leave this area with a legacy!  I’m so excited for the miracles that we will see this transfer. Sister Oliveira is a sister of Faith and this last meeting we had some trainings that were super powerful and inspiring.  I have so many things to change and reorganize!  I’m sooo excited but sad that it’s really just now at the end of the mission that I’m realizing all of this!!  How unfair haha. :(

Man, I will just confess right now, this last transfer was real tough and sloppy.  It is reallllll tough sending a companion home.  I feel like there was sooo much time wasted this last transfer.  Time that I can sadly never get back.  It was tough trying to keep focused and keep working.  I decided I will NOT do that in my last transfer.  I want to end strong.  I want to really take advantage of every second we have.  It’s the weirdest thing.  I feel so normal, like it’s just another transfer, because it IS like any transfer.  Well, it is the last and, sadly, everyone likes to remind us..... >:(

LOL.   But it’s cool.  I definitely feel the Lord preparing me.  I remember when I left the US, the intense feelings of never wanting to go home, wanting to be a missionary forever … haha … Seriously.  Now that I’m so close, I feel the Lord preparing me to go home.  Impressions, memories, thoughts, etc. but it gives me just that much more motivation to keep working even harder.  I still don’t want to go home, but at least now I’m realizing how much more important it is to use every minute.  [I am coming to realize] the reality of it all and also what the real purpose of my mission is -- to change and prepare me.  I hope I can really become who the Lord wants me to become from this mission. 

This week we will be meeting with Rafael.  He found the Book of Mormon in the trash of his neighbor and started reading it.  He believes it is true and believes everything we’ve already taught.  Apparently, he has family in Codó, another city in Maranhão, that are members, but he never learned about the church.  The only tough part is that he needs to divorce his wife and marry the woman with whom he lives.  But man, they are sooooo cool.  [They are] so eleito [elite] and so ready to have an eternal family.  The  Book of Mormon is so powerful.  It is the word of God that truly testifies to the hearts of whoever reads it, and the truths contained therein.  I am so grateful for this blessing!!!

Well, it’s not really our pday today so we just get time to write and I have to go now,  but I love you all sooooo much and keep you all in my prayers every day!! 

<3 Sister Yoshimoto

p.s.  I got to see on the missionary site the missionaries in our ward at home!!  How cool you have 2 sets of missionaries!!!! How are they??  I’m super excited to go out with them when I return!  How strange that it’s elders and sisters haha.  Is that normal? 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Only One Transfer Left

Oct 15, 2014 
 Subject: Desculpa a demora  [Sorry for the late letter]


Sorry for the late email.  We had a huge preparation day event in our zone today and it was aweeeesome,  but now we have to do emails real late.   I will have to be nice and quick.

This week we have been desafiando [challenging] for everybody. (I don’t remember that word in English. haha. ) and I’ve really been able to feel the power of the spirit as we find teach and invite to baptism the eleitos [elected] of the Lord -- those who are truly open and ready for the complete truth.  Man, it’s the best.  I love the mission so much.  Sister McKinney is leaving Sunday to go home and then it’s my last transfer.  I can’t believe it and and it still doesn’t feel real, so I’m grateful for that. haha.  But it’s scary.  I really don’t want to go back to real life and that stuff haha.  I had a dream where I was without my name tag and I cried.  lol.  It’s so not supposed to happen. :( 

I really don’t want to end the mission but I also miss you guys a lot and my body is hating  Brasil, but it’s just another phase in my life.  I’ll just have to accept it and trust. 

I don’t have a lot of time but I do want to send one of the best talks I’ve read so far.  It’s by Brad Wilcox, who is seriously the BEST on the Atonement.  It is thought provoking and life changing when you internalize it.   The talk is His Grace is Sufficient.  You probably already heard or read it, but I just wanted to share that with you all.  I know that the Atonement is so real.  When you feel like you just can’t handle it anymore or that your expectations and potential are so far ahead of you, we can trust in Him.  I truly have seen this first hand every day  but especially in my moments of the most need in my mission. 

-piolhos [lice] gone, and so is my hair. hahah.  Sad, but it’s OK.
-I will find out about the transfers next Monday.  I am nervous about who’s going to be my last companionnnnnnnn ahhhhhhh.
- I’m super excited that Braden Wright is coming home already.  Man, time flies.  When does Josh Merkley return?
-I’ll be leaving 2 of  DEC and arriving I think the 3rd. 
-Glayson, Leandro, Wagner, Ana, Rafaela, Dennis, Wilker,  I’m excited for this next transfer.  So many eleitos, but so many obstacles. 

Tell Travis sorry I’m not responding.  I will seriously try next week. 

Love you all.  Hope all is well. 
I’m praying soooo much for you all.  Love you tons. 
-Sis Yoshimoto

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gratitude for Tender Mercies

Oct 8, 2014
Subject: Conferencia Geral!  [General conference]
[Note:  After writing last week's letter, Sister Yoshimoto learned that the beloved family dog and loyal companion through her youth passed away.]

Oi minha querida Família, [Hi my dear family]

I had a chance to read the emails from last week only quickly before I responded. but I understood what was happening.  I felt this for a while, but now that I read them (haven’t read from this week ainda [yet]).  I just want to say thank you. 

Please don’t worry about me here, but thank you sooooo much for telling me. It hurts sooo much but I would much rather hear it now than when I return home. or long after it happened.  So thank you for telling me. 

It was actually quite a miracle how everything worked out. Heavenly Father reallly REALLY takes care of His missionaries, even in the little things. When I read the emails last week,  I was at the stake chapel about an hour by onibus away.  We were there for preparation day with the other American missionaries teaching some kids Ingles [English], but at lunch time we had the chance to email … so I was there at the chapel with all the missionaries.  It was realllll tough because I cried a lot.  But when the elders returned from getting lunch and heard what happened from the other sisters, I believe it was literally God’s tender mercy for me.  Two of the elders had similar experiences 2 weeks and a month before, so they totally understood and were able to give me some talks and stuff that really helped.  We talked a lot about our dogs.   haha.  It was funny because the other sisters didn’t understand because they have dogs but It’s different with them, I guess.  They were kind of just confused and didn’t know what to say so it was literally a tender mercy that I had the chance to talk with the elders and have people who really understood what was happening. 

However, I am more grateful yet for the blessing of being on a mission. and the blessing of God’s bigger picture for us.  As you know, as part of a challenge this week, I wasn’t able to ask for anything in my prayers.  It was real tough especially with everything going on there. I just wanted more than anything to ask for comfort and peace with all of you who have to be there every second.   But I learned to thank God for the amazing blessing Rusty has been in my life, for the amazing love and life and laughs and everything that he truly brought to our lives.  I learned to see the good and the happiness in this all rather than the temptation to ask God to change His will and let Rusty live until I return to see him one last time. I learned to truly use the  Atonement in just trusting His will and accepting with gratitude.  I am so grateful for this experience and for your prayers and your love and support from home at this time.  It’s been a stressful week, but it was good.  Being able to work real hard and really feel the spirit and get my mind distracted with the real work here.  It has just been hard at night when everything calms down and I’m left with my thoughts. but I know and have felt your prayers lifting me, so thank you so much.  I received some cards from the Hale family , Sis Pino, Sis Stevens, the Garrett’s, the Skinner’s, and of course the Bertagnolli’s! I love you all soo much and the rest of the ward who I know is truly supporting each one of us missionaries.  You all make a difference.  Thank you!

I loooooved General Conference!!!!  Wow, it was sooo amazing!  We got to watch it together, the Americans, in Ingles [English] and wow, every talk was so powerful and bold.  It was sooooo great.  Man, I loved it.  And Elder Godoy who spoke … WOW!  What an amazing talk.  We got to hear it in Portuguese and it was soooo great!  Even greater for the natives.  Finally being able to hear conference in their native tongues.  We watched priesthood in Portuguese with the voice overs and man, it’s just so not the same.  It’s still really good and you get a lot out of it, but it’s really not the same.  When I  imagine that’s what the rest of the world hears every time.  I’m so grateful to speak English and hear really the prophets voice.  It is such a blessing.  And is is such an amaaazing blessing that the rest of the world has this chance now with the speakers in their native tongue.  How amazing!!

Also, HAPPPPYY BIRTHDAY KEILYN!!! Im sorry I didn’t get to write it last week, but I did remember and I celebrated!  We had lots of food at the conference and I ate cake for you :)  I love yer guts and hope all is well!!!  Thank you for emailing me.  I love being able to know what’s going on with you all !

Anyway,  I’m out of time, but I would like to just put in some few sidenotes … hshaha.
one,  I got piolho … which is like lice, but bigger.  UGH. haha.  Soooo yeah, I had to cut some of my hair off.  It’s not super a lot but it’s enough so I can get those suckers out. I got it from one of the families here who live in an area that is really humble. They are such a good family.  We helped to reactivate them.  Unfortunately, the youngest has a tonnn of piolho [lice] and gave me a giant hug and they always play with my hair because it’s so long.  I didn’t know she had piolho  haha. But it’s all good.  It comes out quick.  I think. We’ll see. Got some time haha. but yeah, I love that family so much.  It is so worth the piolho.  Hahaha.

Also, I ate opihi!!  It’s actually really good ahhah. yummmm.

I’ll send some photos of my zone and the sisters and the hair cut.  I love the mission.  I’m so grateful for this experience and privilege.  We have been teaching some amazing people. I will tell you more about Rafaela, Ana, Glayson, Leando, e Wagner next week.  Miracles are happening and I’m so excited to finally see the progression with the ward and the members!!!

Love you all sooooo much, I can now pray for you all, again, and am every night.  I thanked Heavenly Father for you all every night last week haha.  I love you so much!!!

-Sister Yoshimoto