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Monday, December 8, 2014

The Last Post: Reflecting in the Post-Mission Life

So it's been almost a week since I arrived back in the States. It's such a strange feeling. I feel like the most impactful, incredible, life-changing months of my life passed by and in a split second its gone and i'm back home in the same house, same ward, same neighbors, same facebook, but completely different me.

As I look back now, sometimes I can't remember if it did actually all happen or if it was all just a dream. A real long, intense, amazing dream :) But I feel like I should share a few thoughts as I reflect on this amazing past 18 months.

Maybe it hasnt all really hit me yet. I remember, I kept thinking "it'll hit me in the mission office. it'll hit me on the bus. itll hit me in the airplane. itll hit me when i see my parents. itll hit me when i unpack..." I have no idea when it will hit me, if it already did, or if i'm just truly in a real deep hardcore denial.  I learned I'm pretty good at denial haha.

Maybe the hardest part was leaving the eternal friends I made on the mission. The members, the investigators, the missionaries. Getting on that plane and knowing that many of them I may never see again in this life, but smiling knowing that it's such a blessing that this life isn't all there is.

As you've shared this adventure with me for the past 18 months, you know that this mission has had its share of ups and downs. Trials and victories. Tears of happiness and pain of heartbreak. But for every single experience I am forever grateful.

From the first day in the MTC getting caught up in the excitement of it all--new people, new schedules, new language, new food (& too much of it).
  So many firsts: first name tag, first companions (temporary while I waited for my real one to arrive late at the MTC haha), first district, first words in portuguese, first time to feel AND recognize the Holy Spirit.
  The exciting day we all opened our re-assignments and read them off together.  Then the first real goodbyes as few by few we all caught our planes to our first missions--stateside!

The first trainer, first meeting, first President and his amazing wife--the Neiders. The first area, first meeting with bishop. first dinner message which my trainer gave to me--and which I gave while almost peeing my pants because i was so nervous. Then, the first lesson. the first breakdown because i realized how incredibly inadequate i truly was. my first real prayer. the first real answer of comfort. The first real encounter with the capacitating power of the Atonement.

Then the first transfer of areas. The milestone marks of first baptisms, 3 months, 6 months, and everything flies by. The miracles, the changes, the tragedies, the growth--the pain and stretching required to grow. The eternal friends and loved ones. Then the phone call of the received visa.

I remember I dreaded it. I didn't want it anymore.  But again, God knows more and gave me little miracles and signs that I truly was needed in Brasil (the nail in the shoe, the compromise with God). The goodbyes again, and the airplane.

Brasil. Hot. New language. MTC. New district. New food. New companion (kind of (; ). New kinds of clothes--leave behind everything warm. Then more goodbyes and another airplane--finally to arrive in my mission.

Teresina. REAL hot. Pretty sure it's a different language. Lots of rain. LONG bus ride to a new area. New trainer. More lessons--tons of people talking. Not understanding anything. Lots of walking.

Real prayer. Sore knees. Sweat. But Learning to love the difference in culture. The people. The language. The work which is truly the same where ever you are.
Training--a new challenge. Learning to love even more.

Big transfer. New zone. New people. New ward--very different. Different food. Different climate--REAL HOT. More walking. More poverty. More prayer.
Then the call--Sister Training Leader. One of the biggest challenges. but truly learning to trust in the Lord and His leaders. Learning to gain revelation for the Sisters. Learning to want to love and help them. and then learning to Love them. truly.

All the time learning to forget myself and serve others.
And then learning that all of it is
truly only for
me.

Seeing the time dwindling down to the end, learning everything again in this last month, I was able to see truly the hand of God in my life, personally. I saw glimpses of the intricate and perfect plan that He has for me. Every person, situation, trial, and weaknesses was to lead me to what I am today, and to what I need to be tomorrow.

One of the most priceless things I was able to learn from my mission is that God truly is my Heavenly Father. That He truly does love me. And that He is completely 100% aware of every one of us. He has a plan for each of us. I learned how to TRUST in Him. No matter what comes into my way, I know that He Lives. I know that He will guide me for the best. I know that this gospel is the full complete gospel on the Earth. I know that I will never be able to repay Him for what I've gained from this amazing mission. That while I wanted to dedicate my all to Him to serve Him and His children for just 18 months, really it was ME who ultimately received the greatest reward.


This may be my last post on this blog--but I did want to thank each and every one of you who came to read at least some of my emails from the past year and a half.  This time has truly been the best time of my life and I pray that these amazing experiences that I've had and that i hope you've been able to share with me, might have been at least a little blessing in your lives as well.

And now as I'm getting ready to begin my next mission, it does hurt. I miss the mission, the calling, the mantle, the everything about being a true representative

of the Lord Jesus Christ, but I'm ready to accept my new call. To bring all of this with me to the real world--my world. And make it real. Carry it with me forever and share this real joy with EVERYone! :)
I love you all so much.

Amo voces.
Tchau tchau, meus queridos!
Tudo de bom com voces,
e Deus vos guarde com o seu amor. <3

-Sister Lauren Yoshimoto

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In the Mission Home On the Way Home

Oi Familia!

So, I’m in the house of presidente with all of the sisters who are leaving. There are 9 of us and it’s soooo great being able to see Sisters Merrill and Nilson and Pedreira again!  I miss these sisters.  I’m feeling super strange because I just feel like we’re having a little sisters meeting in Teresina and then we’ll go back to our areas and keep being happy missionaries!  But it’s real weird.  It still hasn’t really hit me yet, but I’m okay with that.

Today, I don’t have a lot to say, just that today we have our final interviews with Presidente and then it will be airplane time..... 

I’m trying to get that in my head. 

It was real tough leaving Sao Luis.  That place truly became home to me.  The members, missionaries. everyone there.  It was real tough to leave but I’m excited to return and visit again!! :)  haha. 

I’m so incredibly grateful for this experience I’ve been blessed with.   The decision to serve a mission is the best decision I’ve ever made and I still can’t believe that I was entrusted with such a sacred calling. I hope I proved worthy of that trust. 

I love you all muiiiiito!! [a lot]   e tou anciosa a ver voces de novo. mas por enquanto, vou aproveitar hoje e fazer mais uma diferen├ža!  [I am anxious to you all, again, but for today, I will try to make more of a difference ].

ate daqui em pouco.  [in a little while]
sua mission├íria para sempreeeeee,  [His missionary forever]
Sister Yoshimoto <333