I gave a talk in church today about charity, and it brought back a lot of memories of my mission. My mission has changed my life, and I am so grateful for all that I have learned. So here it goes:
My talk today is about Charity. Charity has easily become one of my favorite topics to study. I love learning about charity so much and it is something that I strive to have more of each day.
The very first thing that I think of when charity is mentioned (besides Jesus) is an old companion from my mission. First let me just describe this wonderful sister to you. This Sister was suuuuuper tiny and so baby-faced she was often mistaken for my daughter. We became companions her second transfer and close to my last. She had actually been emergency transferred to me for various reasons (none good) the last week of her first transfer and we ended up staying together, (ain’t it funny the way the Lord works). So, long story short I had heard the rumors about all kinds of disobedient things she’d done and I thought I knew everything about her. I was doubtful that she was going to change for the better so I was just gonna do the best I could to work hard and show her how it was done. But one thing that I noticed right away about this “wayward” sister was the ginormous amount of charity that she had in her little body. She literally (Literally!) would’ve given the shirt off of her back if she saw someone with a need for it. She was constantly out of her mission allowance money because she had spent it buying baby diapers for an investigator or paying someone else’s bus fair and I constantly had to bail her out. I told you that Charity has become a favorite topic of mine to study, but back then I thought that walking the streets in the hot, humid summers sharing the gospel with strangers was charitable enough. There were countless times that my companion would give everything she had, and sometimes try to give things that she didn’t even have, to others, complete strangers even. Here’s an example for you.
As a missionary in São Paulo Brazil we sisters always tried to have an umbrella, because it could be sunshine one hour and pouring rain the next, but I remember those short six weeks with this Sister quite clearly. Now I’ve told you a bit about this Sister, and I absolutely love her now, despite how crazy she made me, but there was a night in particular that we were walking around going door to door trying to get someone to let us in and out of the rain. We weren’t having any luck, but as we were walking we passed by an older woman walking home with a battered, broken umbrella with the rain dripping through onto her clothes. My companion immediately offered to trade umbrellas with the lady, who accepted. We tried to start a conversation with her, but she declined and we kept walking. As we walked we saw someone else walking in the rain, this time without an umbrella, and my companion then offered all that she had to him: the measly, battered umbrella. But I couldn’t let him take the broken one so I offered mine instead, and then we ended up walking home soaking wet trying to share the useless umbrella. I remember being a little bitter that my companion was so nice and wondering why she had to offer our umbrellas so we had to walk home in the rain. I had a lot to learn.
Thankfully, I changed my attitude and repented. I soon began to wonder how I could judge her for having broken some mission rules when I was ignoring the words of my Savior, when He said “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity NEVER faileth (except maybe when we choose to ignore it and be selfish). Wherefore CLEAVE unto charity, which is the greatest of all…”
I remember the very day that I began to realize the importance of charity in my life, and this day contains a moment for which I am very ashamed of, and has been one of my biggest regrets. My companion and I were walking along the crowded city streets of São Paulo, probably walking to an appointment of some kind, when a woman stopped us and asked us for one Real to be able to go across the street to a place that gave meals to the homeless for just that much. Just to give you an idea, one Real was worth about 30 cents when I was serving. My kind companion searched in her bag and didn’t have any money to give her, but she told this lady that if she had it, she would give it to her. Now here is what I am so ashamed of: I had one Real in my bag that day, more than one even, that I could have given to her. I could have easily reached into my bag and handed her that one Real so that she could buy a decent meal that day. But I rationalized with myself, as I recited our missionary shpeal, that if this lady joined the church then we would be able to help her, or that if I gave her money then I would have to give every homeless person money or that this lady might buy drugs with the money or whatever it was that I was thinking and when she did not accept our offer to teach her, we walked away-- my companion with a clear conscience, and me-- me?-- Not so much. I know that maybe it wasn’t a big deal, and maybe we shouldn’t give money to every homeless person that asks...but I am now haunted by the scripture in Matthew 25 that reads “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me NO meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me NO drink...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it NOT to one of the least of these, YE DID IT NOT to me.”
Beloved Thomas S. Monson was known for his countless acts of service and his charitable nature. He once said “I have always considered myself as a bishop who erred on the side of generosity; and if I had it to do again, I would be even more generous.” Can you imagine all that President Thomas S. Monson did for others? And he’s saying that he would have done more! He wished he had given even more to those who need it. I, on the other hand, have not considered myself to be the most generous, but ….if I had it to do all over again...I would be more generous. I would give EVERYTHING that I have, until all that I do have are wet clothes and a clean conscience.
I am not perfect, but I am slowly but surely learning what it means to have charity, the pure love of Christ. Having charity does not mean that we need to give all of our money to strangers. I have learned from my experiences that to have charity is to have the love of God in our hearts. We all know the primary song and the scripture that it is based on, John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” So having charity means that we see everyone as a child of God, as our family. And what wouldn’t you do for YOUR family?
I want to be the kind of person that my companion was to me. I want to inspire others to serve and be more Christlike. I hope and pray that we can all be more like our Lord and Savior and give to those that are in need, and love all of God’s children with our whole hearts.
And I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
So I have been home almost 2 months now, and it has been great to be with my family and share all my experiences with those who I love the most. Now I would like to share what I learned and what was useful to me on my mission.
How to Prepare/ What to Bring
- Study Preach My Gospel!! Read chapter 3 especially because that is what you will be teaching every single day. Get to know the lessons before the MTC and you won’t be so stressed out. Study the scriptures as much as you can before you leave because even as a missionary you don't have the time to study and learn all that you want to. I wished I had studied more of PMG and the scriptures before my mission.
- Study the language. When I opened my call to a portuguese speaking mission I was shocked. I knew it would be very hard to learn another language, so I started studying early. I used Duolingo, Pimsleur and I was lucky to have a member in my ward who had served in Brazil years earlier as a tutor. I wasn’t fluent when I entered the MTC but I was way more prepared because I had already studied the basics. The language was one less thing I had to stress about in the MTC. And believe me, the MTC can be stressful—learning a new language in 6 weeks, not being able to understand what anyone is saying fully, trying to adjust to all the rules, to being away from family, culture shock and whatever else might be happening in your life. So doing that really helped me to take more out of my MTC experience. So try and study whatever you can in the language.
- Memorize D&C 4 and the first vision before the MTC. Like I said, one less thing to stress about in the MTC.
- Pray for confirmation that your call came from God. Heavenly Father answers our prayers and He will tell you that what you are doing is right. I know that my mission is the best mission in the world–for me. You might think a different mission is the best, but it is wherever you are called. I know that we are called to a place for a reason. You have someone to teach in that area or you have something to learn. The plan of God is amazing and perfect.
- Bring hangers! Some people say you don’t need to because missionaries leave them at the houses, well that is a lie. I hardly ever found hangers in my houses and I was glad that I had brought some with me. Just the skinny metal ones will work.
- Shoes are way more important than clothes!! Especially in Brazil, it is hard to find good shoes that will last more than a month with all the walking that missionaries do. I brought 5 pairs of cheap (20-30 bucks) walking shoes with me and I had walked right through 3 of them by the end. My favorite shoes that lasted my entire mission (I alternated shoes a lot too, that helps) I bought at Ross for 20 dollars. And I almost didn't bring them because I thought they were ugly. But I am so glad that I brought them. You really never know what shoes will last until you walk a lot in them, so bring a lot of different shoes, unless you already have walked a lot in them.
- Don't bring anything you really want to keep, and don’t bring too much stuff. You go on a mission with one thing and come home with another. You will get sick of your clothes, you will leave them at missionary houses or give them away. I also bought a lot of clothes on my mission. So if you want something for when you come back from your mission, leave it at home. You will come back with souvenirs and new clothes to spare.
- Bring your own music player. I bought a little pitt bull speaker that has 4 gigs on it and it was great. I put music and conference talks during my mission as well. No one has cd players and everyone puts music on thumb drives. I love music and it was perfect to listen to good, uplifting efy music on the hard days.
- Bring stain remover. Really helpful when accidents happen. The instant tide stick is good and then the spray for home washing.
- If you like the deodorant you use here, then bring extra. Deodorant in Brazil is very different, mostly people use spray kind. They do have pads and tampons (less common) so don't worry about bringing an 18 months supply. They also have regular Toothpaste and shampoo brands, don’t need to stress.
- Bring lots of sunscreen! And lots of bug spray! You will not be sad to have an abundance of these two items.
- Bring scripture markers, colored pencils or markers and pens. They come in super handy with all the studying missionaries do.
- Bring the little, yet important, stuff, such as: tape, duct tape (they didn't have any in Sao paulo and I wish I had had some), super glue, good scissors, small sewing kit, small stapler, hole puncher and hand sanitizer. I had to buy some of these things on the mission but they all came in handy when I needed them.
- Buy a waterproof bag/backpack. Super important! It rains a lot in Sao paulo and unless you want all your scriptures ruined, waterproof is the way to go.
- Bring some American sweets with you. My mom had sent me a package in the Provo MTC full of good snacks that I took with me to Brazil and they lasted me more than half of my mission. Peanuts, almonds, banana chips, jam, beef jerky, skittles, peanut butter and redvines are almost impossible to come by in Brazil. So bring yourself a little something to cheer you up on the hard days.
- Bring pictures of your family, including Jesus Christ. Bring the pictures and the quotes that you love to decorate your study space. It's small but makes a big difference.
- Bring thank you cards, post it notes (big and small, like the tabs), and paper to write letters home. It always came in handy to have a little notepad or thank you card on hand to give to a member or investigator.
- Again—study the gospel!! Gain and strengthen your testimony BEFORE you leave. Study the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and Preach my Gospel. The activities in PMG are really good and help you to learn a lot. Study the nourishing word of God as much as you can!
Monday, April 11, 2016
This week was really great. Lots of work, lots of walking in the sun, but also lots of smiles. I am so grateful to be a missionary! I am also greatful for my amazing companion! She is a great example to me; hard working, patient, diligent and obedient. We are working hard here in Vila Mariana. I am super tired but it is going great.
We have some great people that we are teaching. One is a young man named Luis. He is studying at a university here and wants to learn more about what we believe. He grew up in the Baptist church so its been super interesting teaching him. He asks a lot of questions which is great. We have just been bearing our testimonies that we KNOW that this is true and that he just has to pray and ask God to know for himself. He says he is praying but that he hasn't received an answer yet. We are praying hard for him that he can have an open heart to actually receive the answer from God. We taught the plan of Salvation to him this week and something that he said really made me think. We got to talking about how God gives us second chances, even in the spirit world after this life on earth. He said it didnt make sense because it is obvious that people would want to accept Jesus Christ when given the chance, so it would be like taking away their free agency. But we explained that we as missionaries talk to tons of people every single day, inviting everyone to learn more about Jesus Christ to become closer to Him. And how many people reject this simple message? So many people reject the very thing that could solve every problem in their lives. It really doesnt make sense to me either that people would reject this wonderful message, but it happens.
I want to do what the Lord wants me to do; I dont want to do this alone, yet so many people do just that- reject help from a loving Heavenly Father and demand to walk alone, without light and without hope. I am so grateful for this amazing gospel in my life! I know who I am and where I want to go! I just love that.
Another experience, Brazil is going a little crazy with the government and a lot of things are happening here. Lots of people are worried about what will happen here, and if things will turn out all right. We talked to a guy on the street one day this week and started teaching him about prayer and of course he perceived our accents and started asking about where we were from. He looked at me and asked "What craziness brought you here to Brazil?" oh how I love that question! I am here because I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is true and is led by a prophet of God. I know that the message that I am called to bear is true, and it can change your life. I know that we can find true happiness through obedience to the gospel. Its amazing and I love it.
Other news real quick: I went on an exchange with Sister Gines, from Las Vegas. It was great to talk a little about good ole´ America, and I learned a lot from her too.
I have been thinking a lot about General Conference and how amazing it was. I want to be a better person and conference helps me to see what areas that I really need to focus on. I absolutely LOVED the first song during womens Conference- I am a child of God and As a have loved you Medley. Oh my goodness it is beautiful. I pretty much cry every time I hear it. I know that Heavenly Father loves me! I know that He loves ALL of us. We all have so many faults, we all make so many mistakes, but He still loves us. And because He loves us, what does He ask us to do? He asks us to love one another. He asks us to love people even though they make mistakes, even though they hurt us or others, even though we are not perfect. That is what I want to do. I want to love everyone to show how much God loves us. I am still not perfect, but through prayer and with the help of my Savior, I can become a little better day by day.
Thank you so much for the support and prayers this last year and a half! It has been perfect!
Love ya and have a great week!
Monday, April 4, 2016
This week was a little crazy, full of a lot of things to do, but it ended perfectly with general conference.
First off, we are teaching some great people in our area. Its a little hard to do contacts on the street because almost no one lives in our area, they just work here. We are working a lot with references from the members here which is great. I feel a lot more comfortable in the zone now. I got to talk to all the sisters in the zone during conference which was great. I love missionaries!
During conference i got to thinking about all the things that I am going to miss about Brazil. I love Brazil! I am really going to miss speaking portuguese. I love Portuguese so much and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn such a beautiful language. i am going to miss so many other things too. But for now I am just going to soak up my time here. I am so happy, sad, excited, scared, and anxious all at the same time. Its a great feeling doing the work of the Lord.
Sorry, my thoughts are all over the place today. Next week I will do better i promise.
Monday, March 28, 2016
This week has been tiring, but amazing. First, last tuesday, we had the amazing opportunity to go to the São Paulo temple with the mission! I love the temple so much. It truly is the house of the Lord; a place where we can feel peace and His love more strongly. Even more amazing, we stayed to pass through with the first convert of my companion, Sister Arzola! In Sister Arzola's first area on the mission she taught a man, who got baptized and now, one year later went to the temple with his wife to be married and sealed together for time and all eternity. It was a privilege to be there at such a special moment in their lives. Even more awesome was that they performed the ceremony in Spanish! The family is from Chile so they decided to be married in their native language. I was able to understand almost everything. Maybe not specific words, but the idea, kinda like when I first arrived here in Brazil. It was beautiful and I loved being a part of it.
Well this week was Easter! I absolutely loved sharing messages with everyone about our Savior Jesus Christ. We watched many times the video from mormon.org, #Hallelujah- an Easter message. I love it so much! I love my Savior. I am so grateful for the opportunity to start again and again. Even though I make mistakes, God still loves me, and He will help me to become more like His Son. I have found new life in Jesus Christ. He has healed me, and will continue to do so as long as I have sorrow or pain in life. I love Him and He loves me! Make sure to check out that video.
It was a little difficult this weekend to find people at home because of the Easter Holiday. Here, Good Friday or Sexta Feira da Paixão, is bigger than Easter Sunday, so lots of people were out of town or didnt want to let us in because they had visitors. We were still able to talk to some people and visit members. Sister Arzola is great and loves to work. I was questioning a bit this week, wondering why am I here in Vila Mariana when the transfer is only 5 weeks long. What can I do here in 5 weeks that I couldnt have done in Itaim or in some other area? What am I doing here and what do I need to learn? I still dont know the answers, but I want to work my hardest. I know that Heavenly Father will answer my prayers, in His time.
Something awesome about this week- I ate deviled eggs! I had forgotten that they even existed until a member served them at lunch on friday. It is totally uncommon here in Brazil and the member didnt even know it was an Easter thing until I mentioned it. Pretty awesome. So yeah, its all about the little things. :)
Thanks for all the love! And watch General Conference next week! Messages directly from God given through His prophets and apostles! I am soooooo excited!
Com muito amor, Sister Berry <3
Monday, March 21, 2016
This week was crazy! So many things have changed. My new area is super different than any place I have ever been.There are a lot of high class people here, but also from the lower class too. So far I have been feeling super out of place, but I know it just takes some time to adjust. I miss my old area a lot actually, and all the people that I love. Sister Arzola has been introducing me to the members so little by little it has been getting better. Sister Arzola is super amazing and is a super hard worker, I am loving it! I just feel a little bad for her now because I dont know anything about the area most of the time she is just doing everything. I am trying to learn as fast as I can. I know that it will all turn out great.
This area is so beautiful! There are lots of apartment buildings (that also provide shade), and lots of trees too. There is a super big park that is part of our area too that I am excited to visit. The only drawback of the city is that everything is super expensive, especially the açai. so that is a little sad for my life. We also have a great view from our apartment, 16 stories up. At night the city nights really looks like stars. The apartment is super tiny but the view makes up for it. I love it.
I talked to a returned missionary who served in London England in english and it was super hilarious. Imagine a brazilian with an english accent! Awesome!
Well, this transfer I really want to focus on loving everything. The people, the area, the language, the mission, and being a missionary here in Sao paulo. I know I can do hard things!
I am also super excited for Easter! I am so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that He died for me and for all of us. I know that He lives! I know that He guides this church through living prophets today.
Have a fantastic week!!
Love, Sister Berry
Monday, March 14, 2016
So this has been a great week! Sister Pinheiro and I were able to work hard and help a lot of people. But, tomorrow is transfer day, and I am getting transfered! I am finally leaving Itaim after almost 8 months here. It was super hard to say good bye to all the members and people here that I love so much. It was strange because it really felt like I was leaving home. I already felt like I was a part of the ward. That is why I am super excited to be here with Sister Arzola (from Argentina) in Vila Mariana, the center of Sao Paulo. It is going to be super different but I am excited to get to work.
So a little more about my week: I gave another talk in sacrament meeting yesterday. The members were probably sick of seeing my face, but the bishop wanted to me say a goodbye of sorts. I decided to talk about something that I learned a lot about on the mission: sacrifice. Today God asks us to offer as a sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit. As a missionary, I have been learning how to give everything to the Lord and this work. I have learned how to give up all my wants and dreams for a year and a half and just do His work. And actually, my mission is almost ending. I cannot believe how fast time flies. It still feels like I will be a missionary forever. Lets keep it that way.
Yesterday was also amazing because of Fran and her family. I love them so much. I wish I could stay in Itaim just to stay with them to get to know them even better. I am so happy for Fran that she was able to find the church again and is helping her children to grow in the gospel. God is good.
Yup. I am going to miss so many people but I am excited for this new beginning. This next transfer is going to be absolutely amazing! I know that God loves me. I can feel His love for me every single day, even when I make mistakes. Its all about the little things. For example, Sister Pinheiro has the habit of talking about food all the time (she's tiny but she eats a lot!) and its crazy how she talks about some kind of food that she wants and that day or the next someone offers us that kind of food. Its awesome! One day she asked me what I wanted to eat, and that day I just wanted 'natural juice', juice made from the fruit itself, super delicious and refreshing. I thought of mango or guava (more common), but then we got to talking about suco de acerola and how it has been forever since we have had it and its one of my favorites. We forgot about it and went to lunch. After we had finished eating lunch with a sister in the ward we were just sitting and talking a bit, and out of nowhere she asked us if we liked suco de acerola. Like wait, what? I could not believe it and I just started laughing. Sister Pinheiro pointed out that God really loves us, and I agreed. So we drank delicious suco de acerola and were happy. :)
Make sure to look for the little miracles every day. Your Heavenly Father loves you more than you can imagine! He is always there to help you!