Long Overdue

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Dear Family and Friends,

I am have been very busy lately because as most of y’all know I have been released. This decision was made after much prayer and pondering.

I thoroughly enjoyed my mission and know that because of it, I am able to be the person I have always wanted to be and closer to The Lord. My testimony has grown stronger, as has my ability to share it and help others.

One of the reason I decided to stay home, was as the decision approached I became very full of anxiety and knew that there were things I need to confront at home, namely the relationship I have with my parents. The mission has lead me to the opportunity to do so. I have felt the Lord’s help with this goal and other aspects of my life.

I still have an opening to go back for my last 9 months if I choose to before December. But as of right now I will be focusing at home and my family. I am working, dating and serving focusing on going back to school in September to graduate in April. 🙂

I want to thank everyone for their support throughout my mission. It has really meant a lot to me. Love y’all!

Love
Elaine Jani

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One more week!

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HI!

So sorry for being a slacker again and not writing this past week at all! This last Monday I was busy writing, translating, and correcting four letters in Portuguese. That took up most of my time on Monday (my preparation day here at home still). Luckily not much different happened this last week so I can easily write a two week update. 🙂
Two Weeks Ago:
I got to go to IKEA for the first time two Mondays ago. Wow, I really liked the place. It was fun to go around with my mom and see the styles and creative ideas there. What a nice fresh breath of interior design. Later that night, I had to a chance to see my Janis family relatives at my little cousin’s birthday party. It was fun and great to see everyone!
The next couple of days were filled with my normal chiropractic appointments and service. We went to Welfare Square. We were put to the task of packing applesauce for food storage. We were even able to take some home. So I HIGHLY recommend serving there.
Also my little sister, my mom and I went to the temple to complete some family names. It was cool to be able to participate in the baptistry  which I have not done in ages, and then to complete the entire rest of the process with my mom. I love doing family names and I know that my ancestors really appreciated it too.
Last Week:
This last week was not too exciting…just a bunch of doctor appointments for my eyes and chiropractor some more. Life is has gotten in a good routine and has been pretty simple. I am still working on indexing and have almost 2000 names now. I was super excited the other day to find my favorite indexing project back up on the database. It is in Portuguese, typewritten and has photos of the people immigrating…WIN! Little things like that make indexing awesome.
After giving my three talks the week before on the Holy Ghost as part of the missionary process, I was happy to take an offer to teach in the Relief Society teaching the lesson on the Holy Ghost in Chapter 4 of the Teachings of the Living Prophets. I have learned so much about the Holy Ghost in our lives and the role that he has in everything,
Being able to listen and follow the Holy Ghost is always a work in progress but is definitely worth the effort.
This Next Week:
This week will be mostly the same as the last two weeks with service and appointments. BUT the most awesome thing about this week is that it is the last week before my blood test! I will go in on Monday and then either that day or the next receive the results and be able to receive my new assignment. I am beyond thrilled!!
I hope everything is going wonderful for y’all!
Love,
Sister Janis

Talk This Sunday

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I have been busy this week with the normal activities of going out with the Sisters, Ward Missionaries, and giving service that I forgot to write my weekly email to y’all! I decided to make up for it by posting the talk that I will giving this Sunday as the High Councilman companion speaker. I hope you enjoy it, the topic is “Teaching the Gospel- By The Spirit”.

Love

Sister Janis

The Usual Way

I would like to start with a story from Our Search for Happiness by Elder M. Russell Ballard.

I heard about one member of a church , a father, who was moving his family into a new neighborhood. The man next door was outside watering his lawn. In an attempt to be neighborly, he shouted out an unassuming question: “Where do you folks come from?”

Our member knew an opening line when he heard it. He walked across his lawn, put his hand on the neighbor’s shoulder, and responded, “What a profound question! Why don’t you and your family come over to our house for dinner some night and we’ll teach you the truth about where we came from, why we’re here, and where we are all going after this life is over.”

It’s easy to see how someone might be put off by such as approach. The sharing of religious beliefs is a deeply personal, even scared thing. It can’t be done very effectively in such a cavalier manner.

Often we look for ways to share by words only, no relationship or build up beforehand. For example in The District, a movie series about missionaries in the field made by the church, one elder states; “We need to find those opportunities to serve and be an example. When we are trying to chase people down to share the gospel, they will just think of us as the crazy people who chase people down not those with a message of gladness to share.”

A favorite saying of President Uchtdorf often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi reads, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” Implicit in this saying is the understanding that often the most powerful sermons are unspoken.When we have integrity and live consistently by our standards, people notice. When we radiate joy and happiness, they notice even more.

Everyone wants to be happy. When we members of the Church radiate the light of the gospel, people can see our happiness and sense the love of God filling and overflowing in our lives. They want to know why. They want to understand our secret.

That leads them to ask questions such as “Why are you so happy?” or “Why do you always have such a positive attitude?” The answers to these questions, of course, lead perfectly into a conversation about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

So how do we receive this light and happiness that will attract others to want to know the gospel? Through the Spirit!

Following the Spirit

When I was in Manaus, my companion and I would walk by the same house everyday. At this house was a man about 40 to 50 years old named Raimundo. He had had three surgeries to his midsection and because of this had a hard time walking with a cane or holding an arm of someone the 200 yards from his house to his rocking chair at their front gate. Because of this, his family would walk him to the rocking chair and leave him there for the rest of the day. After about two weeks of walking by and saying hello, I felt impressed to do what I had done many times at BYU-Idaho when I walked by unknown but same people everyday. I stopped and asked for his name so the hellos could be more personal. We exchanged names and then my companion and I headed on our way. Over the next week or so of exchanging hi’s, I decided to ask him if we could teach him the gospel. He became bright eyed, smiled and quickly agreed to lessons. During our first visit he called his closest family members to gather around and listen to the girls who were like the boys in the white shirts and ties that had always passed by before. I was not there long enough to teach him everything but I know that the lord directed us to talk to him about the Restored Gospel, maybe to answer his sincere desire to know about the young men in ties and open a door for him and his family.

How to Recognize the Spirit

The spirit is sometimes is thought to be a difficult influence to feel in our lives. President Thomas S. Monson suggests. “Seek heavenly guidance one day at a time. Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. Each of us can be true for just one day—and then one more and then one more after that—until we’ve lived a lifetime guided by the Spirit.”

Some suggests of tools that can help gain this inch by inch is first, Prayer. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that… “Every morning . . . , missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching. If they will do this, a new light will come into their lives. There will be greater enthusiasm for the work. They will come to know that in a very real sense, they are servants of the Lord speaking in His behalf. They will find a different response from those they teach. As they do so by the Spirit, their investigators will respond under the influence of the same Spirit.” I would strongly suggest using the Preach My Gospel Chapter on Recognizing the Spirit and Praying with Faith Personal Study activity as a way to gauge how strong and effective our prayers are in finding service opportunities or others and be directed by the Spirit in our daily lives, especially missionary work.

Second, Keep the Commandments. Elder Bednar speaking about the Spirit of Revelation stated…“As we honor our covenants and keep the commandments, as we strive ever more consistently to do good and to become better, we can walk with the confidence that God will guide our steps.” It is automatic as we repent, live the word of wisdom, and strive to do our best everyday, our actions, thoughts and words will be like God’s. Therefore directed by the Holy Ghost.

We do not need to fret about not hearing or feeling a distinct impression of the Holy Ghost everyday. We just need to keep the teachings of the Gospel growing in our lives and everything will be directed for our good and in the finding of those to share the Gospel with.

What Will The Spirit Use

Every missionary learns very quickly that by living the missionary rules helps them keep the Holy Ghost with them. They also learn that without personal and companionship study that it becomes difficult to listen to the Spirit and be directly directed on what that individual person is needing.  In Doctrine and Covenants 84:85, Jesus Christ tells us why studying is so important, “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.” What a promise, The Holy Ghost will give us everything. I found that if I prayed before my studying about a certain investigator. Ideas or scriptures would be brought before me that could easily be applied to that investigator. As members we can do the same. Everyday as we sit down to study, think of a friend or family member that could use the insights gathered from your scripture study. Write them down and put them to use. Never hesitate to follow these promptings. God knows just the right touch to change their lives.

Meaningful Experiences

On my way home from Brazil, I was standing in line at the Manaus Brazil International airport waiting to check my bags and receive my tickets. The line was very long and it was almost midnight. As I stood there wondering what going home and still being a missionary would be like I noticed the brazilian woman in front of me kept side glancing my name tag. The fourth time she did so, I piped up and asked do you know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? She responded No but I live in Miami and I was surprised your name tag had english and portuguese.  We then continued talking in english about life, family, gospel and love of Brazil for the next three hours before our flight and after arriving in Miami. Before departing she thanked me for helping her practice english and I offered to send by the missionaries in Miami to teach her more. She responded with an affirmative yes.

Like this experience, making a meaningful experience just takes a little bit of courage and guidance from the spirit. President Utchdorf gives an example of his wife and that can be easily applied in our lives.

My wife, Harriet, is a wonderful example of this. When we were living in Germany, she would find a way to work Church-related topics into her conversations with friends and acquaintances. For example, when someone asked about her weekend, she would say, “This Sunday we had an impressive experience in our church! A 16-year-old young man gave a beautiful talk in front of 200 people of our congregation about living a clean life.” Or, “I learned about a 90-year-old woman who knitted more than 500 blankets and gave them to our Church’s humanitarian program to be shipped to people in need all around the world.”

More often than not, the people who heard this wanted to know more. They asked questions. And that led to opportunities to talk about the gospel in a natural, confident, non-pushy way. With the advent of the Internet and social media, it is easier today to talk about these things in a conversational way than ever before. What we need is simply the courage and prayer to have the Holy Ghost to do so.

Discipleship Challenge

One more way that we can develop the ability to be more in tune to the Spirit is through the example of the Lord Jesus Christ’s Life. In this month Ensign, an article talks about the Discipleship Challenge.  In essence, they invited a few members to focus on a particular teaching of or story about Jesus Christ, consistently study and ponder that selection of scripture for a week, and report on how a dedicated study of the Savior’s life and teachings affected how they followed Him “at all times” in their lives.

Some examples of scriptures that can be studied and lived by for a week in living more up to our ability to sharing the gospel by the spirit are:
John 3:1-13 This set of verses speaks about being patient with questioning as Jesus was with Nicodemus.
Matthew 7 This chapter is full of great wisdom for missionary work. To state a few judging not others, discern by the spirit what truths to give, ask and ye shall find.

Testimony

I know that if we pray, seek for companionship of the Holy Ghost and truthfully look for ways to share the Gospel…

Going out with the Sisters

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Oi familia and amigos!

Just writing my weekly email update. This week was the usual until the Sunday. I am feeling pretty much 95% back to normal! The 5% left is just more scar tissue in my shoulder that my chiropractor is working out with weekly visits. Only a couple of weeks until I have my blood test and will be able to receive my new mission call. Does anyone want to guess where I am go in the States? 🙂
Sunday I meet up with the Sisters in the spanish ward in my stake, It was surprising how much I understood but it feels like I am in the first month in the field again because I am not able to respond in a manner that they will be able to understand.
We were able to visit an inactive member and teach about the Sabbath Day. It is interesting how much different the teaching is here in Brazil. The second lesson was with a Grandma that was visiting from Columbia for a week and half. Her son and his family are members but did not participate in the lesson. To me family support is a must if an investigator is able to have it.
That is why the best work happens when members, aka the ward family, or part-member families pitch in with the missionaries with referrals, help and open homes. This gives the investigator a go to when the missionaries are not around to answer questions or support.
So I would like to commit all of y’all to do one thing with the missionaries in your area be it dinner with nonmember neighbors, referral or just go out with them one night. It will be worth it I promise!!!
love y’all!
Sister Janis

All Answers Found and Trying to Stay Busy

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Hi Family and Friends! 

Time seems to go slower here at home, but it is good to find out all the answers and start working on the solutions. It has been confirmed that I DO NOT have fibromyalgia! But I do have a hypothyroid that is just border line under active. We are going to try the diet option first before going to the thyroid pill for the rest of my life. 

The diet includes not eating gluten, dairy, or sugar, and only 10% meat. It is will be very interesting but it is definitely going to make me very healthy. I have been eating like this for a week and almost all the pains and arthritis has completely disappeared. I am still going to the chiropractor twice a week for muscle tightness and taking a lot of multi vitamins to get my nutrient levels back up to normal. It is one big party! 

I have been studying a lot and working a little of my Portuguese. My mom and I had an opportunity to go Rodzio’s this past Thursday. It was so fun to talk to the waiters in Portuguese and of course to see my cousin Rachel working there. I truly really enjoy seeing family and having their love and support everywhere I go. 

This next week I will start working with the sister missionaries in my Stake and volunteering at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. I also am starting to build up my missionary strength for when I go back out in the field again. It a little hard to keep entertained but I am working at it. 

A quote that I found to really enjoy while reading Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s Quote Book is:

“God does not begin by asking us about our ability but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability.”

When we receive challenges or opportunity, Heavenly Father knows that we are having these chances to grow and become like him. He is only asking that we show our efforts in overcoming or being our best to succeed at whatever comes our way. 

I hope this letter finds y’all well and happy! Keep being awesome! 

Love, 

Sister Janis 

Finding Answers and Needing More

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Hi Everyone! 

I am in the States now at my home in Utah. It was a packed last few days in Brazil and a 12-hour flight starting at 1 in the morning Thursday from Brazil to Utah. 

I spent the last few days in Brazil visiting the families that I taught and that were in my ward. I included four of these families in the pictures I attached. I hoping to back at the end of this year to see them again and have my parents meet my recent converts.

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My two favorite goodbyes were of course Joao and Jessica. Joao said that he was buying a computer this year and would email me as soon as he set up email. lol And Jessica drew me a picture of the Plan of Salvation which was awesome because she had a hard time remembering the other lessons, so to have her remember the most important lesson of all was AWESOME!

On Thursday afternoon, I arrived and met my parents at the airport which included an almost RM movie moment as my parents went to the wrong terminal and I did not find them for at least 3 very, very long minutes. 🙂 After they picked me up we went to our Hotel in Downtown SLC and I got hot white chocolate from Starbucks. It was great to talk to my parents and see what was happening in the USA while all things were happening on the Brazil side.

Friday we jetted up to Daybreak and got to see the rest of my family including my wonderful twin Ethan, who I had not seen in 3 years as he was still on a mission when I left. It was great to catch up with family and eat dinner together. I also got the opportunity to meet with my Stake President and start my 8-week transfer here at home. 

The next day we had the wedding open house for my brother and new sister-in-law who was just recently married. This gave me a chance to see my extended family and help with the celebration. Sunday was spent relaxing and enjoying the warmth of the fire. 

Today I went to two different doctor appointments, one general doctor and the other a Chiropractor. My doctors are very convinced that I do have fibromyalgia. So the next few weeks we will be doing blood tests, more visits and hoping that everything will work out. Even with this diagnosis there is still a possibility that I can serve again.

Please continue your prayers. I appreciate all of ya’ll!

Amo voces!

Sister Janis 

Next Transfer: Home for 2 Months to Get Healthy and Then to Another Mission in the US

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Oi Família!

Time here has flown by so quickly here. I am excited to start the next chapter in my mission journey and to be able to get the medical attention that I need. This week was a really eye opener that what I am doing is correct and that the Lord is directing my every move.

This week we received buckets of rain which makes it difficult to work when you do not have a lot appointments. We also spent two days in the hospital here because Sister Cortez was having severe pains in her stomach and headache for the past week or so. Apparently, a lot of missionaries here in Manaus have been having problems with this so it may be something with the water or food that members or investigators give us. Luckily I have not had too many problems and will start taking the Parasite medicine today.

Jéssica is progressing really well! She is has become very, very good friends with the daughter of the bishop, going over to play with her a couple of times this last week. I am hoping that this will help her parents even more want to be part of the church and maybe do a FHE with the Bishop’s family. When we tried doing one with all of Jéssica’s family, they said that it would be too confusing for their catholic roots. One step at a time! Jéssica was confirmed this Sunday and seems to be committed to coming every week.

Carlos, the 9 year-old brother of Jéssica, was given permission to be baptized by his mom but he is very, very, very timid. We are thinking of giving him an electronic game that Sister Cortez won from Secret Santa and a little poster of computer paper that I will make that says something like you are a child of god or other spiritual phrase. We are hoping that this helps open the doors a little bit more for him.

As for the parents, we found out that her father cannot read and is trying to learn how. So we asked that she could be an example and read the Book of Mormon for her father with Carlos. This family has so much potential and I will be really sad to leave them.

We will be having FHE with Ruth and her family today at the home of the bishop. She is an inactive member and wants to get married and baptize her two boys that are of age. She is a great person and I hope that we will be able to help her start in a new direction in her life.

We are hoping to have Daisy decide on a date this week but as I am leaving Thursday, we will have to mark it for the coming week or next. This will allow time for the new missionaries coming in to teach and interview her.

All in all, my time here is closing and I feel it. I was talking to our Bishop the other day and he said some really inspiring words for me…”Some people grow quicker then others. When I went home after one year of the mission because one of my past surgery wounds reopened, I was devastated but I soon realized that what I learned in the year of serving was what I needed to be a successful servant of the Lord in my ward and family…Some missionaries come through here and it is like they weren’t here but I can truly say that you left a positive mark here in the ward and you will truly be missed…”

I love this mission, the people and the opportunity I had to serve here. I am hoping to use my talents and new language to help someone in my future mission somewhere in the USA. 🙂 Thank you for all the support and love! I love everyone of ya’ll!

Eu sei que esta igreja é verdadeira e só por meio ela que podemos receber todas as bênçãos do Senhor. O Pai Celestial sabe nossos desafios e está pronto para ajudar. Nós só precisamos peguntar e sermos pronto a seguir tudo ele vai pedir. A missão sempre valerá a pena. Em nome de Jesus Cristo, nosso Redentor, Ámen.

Vós Amo muito!

Sister Janis