Dates Serving

Serving November 2014 to May 2016. This is a collection of letters e-mailed home from Sister Berry.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lead Kindly Light

Sorry about last week’s email being so short- we had to leave early to make room for other people emailing. :( I was a little sad about it but now I have a lot of time, so everything is awesome!

So I’ll start from the beginning. Brazil has really good juice! I don’t even like juice but here it is so delicious! A couple times at the CTM they had mango juice and oh my gosh it was so yummy. It tasted like I was eating a mango, through a straw. There’s another juice they have here that we don’t in the United States called caju (cashew). It’s made from the fruit on the cashew apple tree, I’m don’t know exactly what it is but it’s really good.  There was another juice that tasted EXACTLY like a melted Dole whip. In fact, I think that’s how they made it. They bought the dole whip from Disneyland and it just melted by the time it got here. 

The last week at the CTM was a crazy good week. They say the last week in the missionary training center is either really bad because you’re just worried and don’t do anything or it is really good and you study and learn more than ever before. I think mine was somewhere in between. My district tried really hard to do our best this last week and I think we did.

Our lessons with our “investigators” were amazing-- especially the one with Irmao Jacques (Jacks). He was acting like an investigator he had on his mission named Paulo. We were teaching “Paulo.” The last lesson we wanted to help Irmao Jacques in his life too. So we read Alma 38 (fantastic chapter) about faith in Jesus Christ and the power that it brings. Then we read Psalms 43 (or maybe 42 I can´t quite remember. Pretty sure it was 43) which is the scripture that the song Lead Kindly Light is based on. It’s about the Lord being our light and leading the way. I love it. And then, because my companions are great singers and love to sing, we all sang Lead Kindly Light to finish the lesson. We knew that it was Irmao Jacqeus’ favorite hymn and it was so powerful. We sounded so beautiful, and we could pronounce every Portuguese word. I am sure that angels were singing with us or through us, either one.

“Lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom, lead thou me on. The night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on. Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see the distant scene, one step enough for me.”

 He was totally crying- and he is an intimidating person. I remember I was so scared of him my first week. He thanked us for being there and for being angels in his life. It was the perfect ending to our CTM experience.

It was actually really sad to leave my district this week. We have gotten to know each other so well and just want everyone to be successful. Missionaries are so awesome and I’m so thankful to be around them all the time. ;)

The last day in the CTM was rough! We were in a meeting all day long and it was all in Portuguese. :o It just made my brain hurt so much, and by the end of the day I was just so frustrated with the language and trying to understand that I wanted to give up and cry. But then our district did something amazing :) My companions and I asked for a priesthood blessing from the Elders, and it was so perfect. The last night we were in the CTM together we received a blessing straight from our Father in Heaven through the power of the priesthood. I was given comfort and peace. I feel so much more prepared for what’s ahead because I know that I can face anything when the Lord is on my side.

Now I am in the field! We got up early and left for our Mission office at 7 am. We met our mission president and his wife, they are super nice people.  They’re American too,  so that was nice. And we met our new companions! My companion is super awesome! She’s been here over a year and knows Portuguese really well. She’s been with a Brazilian companion who didn't speak any English for the last 3 months, so now she even thinks in Portuguese. She says everything to me in Portuguese! I was a little scared at first but I’m pretty good with it now. I know that she will help me learn a lot, and hopefully I’ll be fluent in no time. A lot of people told me that I understand a lot and speak really well, but it doesn't feel like it. Most of the time I understand people if they talk slow and actually pronounce every word. They kind of  just put everything together and I don’t get much. But it isn't as bad as I thought :) Heavenly Father is definitely helping me!

We are living in a tiny little apartment above a member’s house, and it is so awesome. It just feels like Brazil. I am just loving it. And this morning we woke up to a rooster! An actual rooster! My companion says sometimes it’ll start making noises around 4 or 5 am. So I have that to look forward to.

We went out to some member´s houses last night which went really well. It is so cool to talk with Brazilians! I don’t understand everything but I am learning!

If you have any questions about the church go to or or even better-- talk to the missionaries!! I know this gospel is true and will make you so happy!!

Com Muito Amor,

Sister Berry 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Last P Day in the CTM!

Tudo Bem!

Oh wow.  I don't even know where to start! This week has been full of ups and downs but overall it’s been fantastic!

Funny story for the week--my companions and I were teaching a lesson about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and Repentance. At the end of the lesson my companion wanted to invite the investigator to repent of his sins. She ended up looking up the wrong word and instead of saying “will you repent of your sins?,” she actually said "Will you repeat your sins?” He was like, “what?!” When we figured it out we all laughed so hard! It was the complete opposite of what she wanted to say!

One quote that I really liked this week was from my little quote book that Sister Dawn Trythall gave me (you’re awesome).

"God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can't if you don't pray, and He can't if you don't dream. In short, He can't if you don't believe." Jeffrey R.  Holland

Believe that you can do all things through Christ, and you will. :)

Well, I've gotta go but I love you all!

Love, Sister Berry

Special Note: I love you Mariyah Housari!! I got your letter this week and I love it! I'm sending you a letter today so look out for it!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

At Home or Abroad

Ola all!!

It was Thanksgiving this past week!! I almost forgot about it ;) Well, a LOT happened this week. Thanksgiving was awesome! They gave us an American Thanksgiving dinner for lunch (the biggest meal of the day here) and it was delicious. We also got some ice cream! It was so good! (Remember the desserts here are suuuuuper gross--one day we had a “dessert” that looked like pickle relish and tasted like gloop). We were all kinda surprised at how good it was. 

And we got to hear from David A. Bednar!! That was awesome! It was a live broadcast from Provo, which isn't as cool as actually being there. It’s totally fine that he was in Provo just the week after we left... I'm not bitter about it. J But really it was a fantastic devotional. He did a question and answer session and it was really cool to hear from an Apostle of the Lord on any subject you could think of.

A couple things he said that I loved was to "relish this time away from home." He said that we are helping our families more by being away than we ever could by being there. And he said that a mission was "boot camp" for life. This is just the preparation for how I want to live the rest of my life. I want to rely on the Lord, read my scriptures, and just be a good person the rest of my life. I just loved that. 

I also totally sang "Alice's Restaurant" to myself all day on thanksgiving. If you don’t know, my family listens to that song every year on Thanksgiving and it’s awesome. Look it up next Thanksgiving.

The next day we went out in the “real world” to hand out Books of Mormon (or is it Book of Mormons? lol;) and it was a crazy experience. The driving alone is super sketchy. We took a bus to a big plaza and stayed there for an hour. Seriously, the streets are crazy here. Motorcycles are just zipping by and people actually walk thru the streets and the freeways selling things because the traffic is so bad. It is really interesting. We talked to some really nice people but it was really hard to understand them. It was a cool experience though and I can't wait until I can actually speak Portuguese.

That night we had a mini Christmas party which was fun. All the missionaries met up in the courtyard at 9pm and we had a Christmas lighting ceremony. We sang some Christmas songs and counted down from ten (try doing that in Portuguese on the spot). We took a lot of pictures with people and I wish you could see them. Two weeks and I’ll send a bunch of pictures.

We still talk to the Elders from our old district from the Provo MTC and they're doing great. And we have gotten to know our new district way better so we like them a lot more now. They are super hilarious but kinda crazy. Boys. Oh, we were all sharing our pictures of our families and all the Elders were jealous of Dad's mustache! I have one picture of when I was 8 and they said "whoa, that’s a sick mustache, does he still have that?" One Elder said "Sweet facial hair."  I love it :) So, Parabéns,dad! (Congratulations).

Oh, besides barely missing Elder Bednar at Provo we missed Dallin H. Oaks too. He came to Provo the week after we left as well, and we just watched a recording of it here in Brazil. I guess I’m in the Brazil CTM, so that is its own reward.

Things are going really well here I'm learning Portuguese. I can kind of understand Brazilians and I get to study the gospel all day long.  I love the Book of Mormon so much! This week the hymn, How Firm a foundation, was stuck in my head. I love that song. Another song that was stuck in my head was Glorious sung by David Archeleta from Meet the Mormons. Great song. Watch the movie! Anyway, I love the verse "in every condition--in sickness in health, in poverty's vale or abounding in wealth, at home or abroad, on the land or the sea, as thy days may demand so they succor shall be" (I love at home or ABROAD). Then verse 3, "Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed.  For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand." That verse is based on Isaiah 41:10 and I love it.

I testify that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will help you carry your burdens. If you pray and ask for help, He will help you. He loves you. I have totally felt the Lord's hand in my life and especially here on my mission I have been strengthened. You can do hard things in the strength of the Lord.

Tchau Tchau!!
Sister Berry

Alright, nice talking with you. Oh wait, no one ever emails me besides my family and the AMAZING Mikayla Fleming. It would be amazing to hear from all of you!! You can email me at

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Up Above the Mango Tree

The CTM here is so different from the Provo MTC. Everything is so different yet the same. The weather right now is actually super nice. It’s a little humid but only about 25 degrees Celsius (whatever that is lol). I'm in a trio companionship with the 2 sisters from my district and I love it. The sad thing is we got split up from the elders in our Provo district and we miss them. Our new Elders are very...different. They have a hard time focusing sometimes but they're getting better every day.  We still miss our old district. Provo was really awesome.

There's no air conditioning in our rooms! It’s not too bad yet, I really hope it doesn't get any hotter. So far it’s been okay. We're on the 4th story which is pretty cool. All you can see from our window is endless building and trees. It’s super cool. Also, at night we can hear music playing super loud from a party or something.

The Brazilians here are super cool but they talk soooo fast!! It's so hard to understand them and we always have to ask them to talk slower. Everyone here speaks Portuguese, and hardly any English. It is way hard. NOW IT JUST GOT REAL. Our teachers are super strict about us ONLY speaking Portuguese and NOOO English. One of our teachers gets so mad if he hears ANY English. He is just super intense. He is just a little tiny buff Brazilian with "crazy eyes.” Hopefully I’ll be fluent by the time I leave, but probably not.

Everyone here is so small!! Like really! All the elders, sisters, teachers. We have a sister from Rio De Janeiro and one from Honduras (Spanish speaking learning Portuguese) and the first thing they told us was “Muito alta! Muito grande!” We are all really tall anyway so it just makes it worse. The sisters in our room are super awesome! My last name is a problem though. The one from Rio always sings "Perry" (from Perry the Platypus I think?) when she sees me so that’s interesting. Also, the one from Honduras is always like "Katy Perry" or they'll say, "'very' good?" I'm just like: “nao, diferente! very different!” but it’s awesome. Oh, and when I first introduced myself to our teacher the first day he said "like...straw-berry?" He never speaks English so it was funny. All the Brazilians say Berry and not Behee so that’s weird.  Maybe because they know I’m American but I don't mind. ;)

The food is super good! They really do have rice and beans for every meal (except breakfast) and it is soooo good! They know how to make some good beans. We have had some interesting stuff, but I've been able to eat everything. The desserts here are super sketchy though. They’re just gross. Very different. They also have a lot of different juice (like A LOT) and the famous Guarana (sounds like guad-A-na) which is actually super delicious. I still think I like root beer better though, but I don’t think they have it here.

I can't believe I’m in Brazil!! I’ll look out the window and say to myself, that’s Brazil, because I still can't believe it. Beth!! There is a MANGO tree right outside our classroom window! Totally made me think of you and your mission. I love you. and Dad, our new district says Bom dia (good morning) all day, any time,  and it totally made me think of you and how you say 'mornin' all the time. I love you.

Alright, not going to lie, it was a tough week. Learning Portuguese is hard. It is so hard being around people that only speak Portuguese and you don’t know how to speak it fully. I have been focusing my personal study on faith, which has helped me a lot. Our professor told us that in order to learn Portuguese we have to speak it, have faith, and have the Holy Ghost with us always. I studied Ether 12 (which my BoM teacher at BYU called "faith's greatest hits") and I found some awesome stuff. to keep it short ether 12:27 starts out by saying "and if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness..." I have really come closer to Christ these past 3 weeks, and I have really been shown my weaknesses. it is alright to have weakness. It is necessary. Then it says "for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, and then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Portuguese is my weakness. I just decided to humble myself and put it in God's hands. I have decided to allow God to speak through me. That through me I might bring souls to repentance and testify of truth. I can’t speak perfect Portuguese. But with my Heavenly Father’s help I’ll be able to teach the people what I know to be true. I also love Alma 26:12 "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in His strength I can do all things". I just love it. I love the Book of Mormon. I know that if you read it, it will change your life for the better.

Another thing I loved this week was the poem "be strong! we're not here to play, to dream, to drift/ we have things to do and loads to lift/ shun not the struggle, face it! t'is Gods gift."
We all have to sing in the choir here and I really love it. We sang a song called Fe a Cada Passo (faith in each step) not sure if we have it in English but it is REALLY good. I loved singing it. I don't even understand all that I am singing but I can feel Gods love in it. The chorus was amazing "com fe a cada passo, seguimos ao Senhor; cantamos a uma voz, com esperanca em Seu amor." Google translate it because it’s awesome. I also read the Miracle of a Mission by Jeffrey R Holland. LOVE It!! I wish I had more time to tell you about it! Alright I’m out of time :( I love you all and miss you like crazy! Be safe, read the Book of Mormon, pray about it, go to church, you know the drill ;)

"Eu gosto muito de voces." -Irmao Jacques (intimidating little Brazilian) Love ya!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Brazil is Legit

{Received November 19th}
I'm in Brazil. I am excited but you can't tell because I don't know how to do an exclamation point on this Brazilian keyboard. I don't know how to capitalize anything so I'm sorry. Hopefully I'll figure it out soon.
Anyway. Brazil is legit. The plane ride was okay. I sat next to an Elder so no cool Brazilian stories or anything. Oh, I'm sorry about the call to Beth and Kelley. {Side note: Kenzie called her mother from the SLC airport and talked for 40 minutes. She called her Aunts from a stranger's cell phone for 3 minutes- she didn't say much but she did have some tears.}  I was just expecting the whole way to Atlanta to call home  and then none of the lines and lines of payphones worked. I just wanted to talk to you all longer and I was just super disappointed. 
I am excited to be here!!!!!! (hahaha I figured out the exclamation points. Yaaaay!!!) The weather is actually super nice right now, not too bad, although it is the morning. 11:14 is the time here. I barely slept but I'm feeling good now, I'll probably feel different later. So I am safe and doing well! I don't know anything else at this point but I think I  can keep you updated. I love you all soooo much!
ate logo!

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

(This was originally sent on Monday, November 17th)

Óla Familia e Amigos!

How are you all doing? Things are going really amazing here!! And just in case you don't know: my visa came in and I'm going to BRAZIL!! I'm stressing out a little bit but I am so excited to get to Brazil. Six others in my district are leaving tomorrow as well so I won't be alone. I'm going miss my district so much!! Three missionaries are staying here in Provo and it is so sad! We have seriously grown so close here, we are really a family. Yesterday we had a testimony meeting with just our district and it was so powerful. Everyone is so different and has something different to contribute to this amazing work. I'm so grateful that I was put in the BEST district in the whole MTC!! 

I'm grateful that I was able to go to the Provo temple this week! It is so beautiful and I love it!! 
It is so FREEZING here! It snowed last week and has just been super cold ever since then. When I first got here it was perfect and my companion and I used to study outside and it was awesome. Now we practically run from building to building trying to stay warm. So yeah,  I'm a little excited to get out of this cold and move into the heat. Well, not that excited for the humidity, but what can ya do? I'm just excited to get to Brazil! Who cares if I sweat all day or my hair looks horrible --its BRAZIL! I am scared about speaking the language a bit but I know that if I work hard and keep practicing I'll get it eventually. 

Not much new stuff has happened here. Basically we sit in a classroom ALL day and study, study, study and we eat meals in between. We finished teaching our first investigator and it was amazing. I learned so much from teaching him and he told us a lot of stuff about Brazil. True, at the time it was really intimidating to teach him everything in Portuguese but when we taught him with the Holy Ghost hand in hand, it was amazing. Afterwards he shared with us about how he felt about us teaching him and it just felt great. He said that the first lesson was the best because even though we didn't know a lot of Portuguese, we relied on the Spirit, and that was what made it amazing. It was a real testimony builder for me. It doesn't matter how much Portuguese you know, what matters is if you have the Spirit with you when you're teaching.
Another thing I love about the MTC is all the musical numbers. Before every meeting someone or a group of people sing a hymn or church arrangement and they are always beautiful. Someone yesterday sang a Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief and sang the last verse in the tune of I Know that My Redeemer Lives and it was AMAZING!! The way he sang it was so powerful and I just love it. Love everyone because "when ye are in the service of your fellowmen ye are also in the service of your God."

I gave a mini talk on Sunday. They just call an Elder and a Sister right in the middle of Sacrament meeting and they called ME. It's supposed to be really short though so it was super easy. And I was allowed to give it in English (when if you're here for longer you have to do it in Portuguese). It was about Faith in Jesus Christ and the Atonement. Mostly I used the talk "Faith in Jesus Christ" by Gene Cooks. Look it up its awesome :)

Alright, I still have to pack for Brazil so I’ve got to go! I love you all and I would love to get some more emails in the Brazil CTM ;) 

Tchau Tchau!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Provo MTC!

Oi!!! How are you all?!
I'm at the MTC in Provo!!! I love it! It is so amazing here and everyone is so nice! So I guess I'll start from the beginning. I met an Elder at the airport so that was nice because he knew what he was doing. I would have been lost without him-- literally haha.
We got to the MTC they gave us our books and we went to class. And oh my goodness can I just say THANK YOU BROTHER ASTON!!! Our teacher has only spoken to us in Portuguese since the minute we got here and it has been SUCH a blessing to understand what he says to us. Some of the other missionaries were stressing out, as I would have been, but I have just been so grateful that I know some Portuguese. I actually know a lot more than I thought I did. I understand pretty much everything our teacher says, at least the gist of it, really well. He does talk really slow though,  so it's probably gonna be a different story in Brazil. But yeah this last week has just been review for me. We've just learned how to pray, bear our testimonies, meet and greet, ser and estar, and thats about it. So Brother Aston you are like my favorite person right now (can I say that? hahaha) You taught me sooo much and I wish I would have listened to more Pimsleur or done more Duolingo!  I don't know how the other missionaries in my district are doing this. We actually TEACH lessons in portuguese to an 'investigator' and it is soooo hard! He talks faster than I'm used to but I still do pretty well. When my companion and I rely on the spirit and worry less about the language though, we do a lot better. 
My district!! So my district consists of 6 Elders and 4 Sisters, including me. We are all visa waiters going to Brazil. I love them sooo much!!! We get along so well together and everyone just has amazing personalities. Sometimes we get off topic during study time but my district loves to sing so we sing hymns in Portuguese to get back on track. They are all just hilarious and I love them so much!
Oh, my companion is Sister Kormylo (sounds like kOr-melloh) and she is just amazing! She is 6'1"!! She's from Logan Utah too. Oh yeah 8 out of 10 in my district is from Utah--either Highland or Logan. One other Elder is from Riverside, CA. Anyways, she is amazing and I am so glad that we are companions! 

Sunday was AWESOME! Church was half Portuguese half English. All the missionaries in my ward are speaking Portuguese except we're going different places. Some to Portugal or Cape Verde which is weird to listen to because they learn different pronunciations as us so its a little harder to understand them. For Relief Society we watched Music and the Spoken Word  and then we heard from Sister Bonnie Oscarson General  YW President. Her talk was so amazing and uplifting. One thing I loved that she said was 'hold nothing back, you won't regret it.' She also said to expect miracles! So its all good Mom ;). And on weekdays we just study ALL day. But it seems like we never have enough time to study everything that I want to know. I want to know Portuguese now but I have to be patient. That reminds me, something that some Elders in our District have started saying is "Eu SOU Portuguese." meaning I AM Portuguese! They just all like to think that they know so much but really we all know nothing.
Man, I don't even know what else to write. I just love it here! I love letters too! Use DEARELDER.COM and I can read them any day of the week! I would love a letter! 
One thing that I have been thinking about is the phrase "in the strength of the Lord I can do ALL things!" It's hard to remember sometimes but it is sooo true! And I always think of Waghers too when I think that because of the song :) I love you!
I do wish that I had watched the Best Two Years again. I totally feel like Elder Calhoun right now and I just totally understand WAY more things about that movie, I love it.  
When I was feeling bad about Portuguese and feeling inadequate I read part of the talk "The Fourth Missionary" by Lawrence Corbridge and I love it:
 "Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis the Lord says to us: "Give me all. I don't want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work: I want You. All of you. I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man. but to kill it. No half-measures will do. I don't want to only prune a branch here and another there; rather, I want the whole tree out. Hand it all over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them all over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart." (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, p. 167)"
 I'm hoping that I'll be able to give my whole heart and soul to God while I am here, so that I'll be able to be the missionary that the Lord NEEDS me to be, not just who I WANT to be. 
Sorry I  am all over that place, we just don't get a lot of time and I have so much to say. It takes me forever to fall asleep because my brain won't stop thinking of Portuguese or how to teach our next lesson. Everything moves so fast here! 
Oh, and one of the Sisters convinced me to play basketball with some of the Elders--bad idea haha. I am so out of shape and the Elders are so fast! But I actually did pretty good and made all my shots. I'm a good post player but nothing else. Now everyone tells me I'm great at basketball :) Its good exercise though. 
Also, everyone calls me Sister Be-hee because that's how you say it in Portuguese! So everyone in my district calls me Be-hee, I'm totally used to it now and hearing it the normal way sounds weird already! And I love being a Sister Missionary. I love how everyone calls us Sister and how we wear the nametags. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and I'm so excited to share it with the people of Brazil.

Btw, MY VISA GOT APPROVED! I'M GOING TO BRAZIL! I'm not sure when but now its official, I'll be headed to Brazil once I'm finished with the MTC. Seven of us in the district got theirs so we're excited but not sure what happens from here. I'll keep you updated.

Oh man I am running out of time. I love you all and miss you! Sorry about all the mistakes! 

Tudo Bem!!
Sister Behee ;)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Farewell Talk

Good Morning, brothers and sisters! My name is Mackenzie Berry and I have been assigned to labor in the Brazil São Paulo East Mission. I am so happy and excited for this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord. I had never dreamed that I would be going somewhere so far away from home, and I still hardly believe it even today.

I have been asked to speak on the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and how it was restored to the earth in the Latter-days.

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter.

Many experiences have led me to this point in my life—the Holy Ghost being a major part of all of my decisions. I can think of so many different times when I have prayed to my Heavenly Father and received my answer by the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost.

In Moroni chapter 10 verse 5 it reads: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

I have been comforted by the Holy Ghost; I have received answers to my questions, and I have felt the prompting of the Spirit to know which direction to go in my life.

One of those very times was when I was wondering whether or not to go on a mission. That had been a question on my mind ever since I gained my testimony of this Church. I thought it would be a good thing to do, and that I would LIKE to do it, but it wasn’t until I was older and actually considered it a possibility that I found my answer. I was definitely ‘wrestling’ with the Spirit. I would decide to go on a mission, but then I would think about how hard it would be and how much money it would be, so then maybe a mission wasn’t for me. And back and forth I went—going…not going. However, when I finally asked my Heavenly Father, in faith, and received my answer by the power of the Spirit, I knew there was no going back.

It was one of those days that the question of a mission weighed heavily on my mind. I wanted to know for sure. I wanted to KNOW if it was the right thing for me to do. To know if I should stay at school another year or two, or not go at all.

I was sitting in my Book of Mormon class, still thinking, in the back of my mind, about my worries and doubts. We were reading in 3 Nephi, when Christ appears to the people in the America’s. And in chapter 11, Christ tells the people of Nephi, “Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.”  I cannot fully describe the feeling of happiness and love that I felt in that moment. I knew then that going on a mission was the right course for me to take, and that it was what my Heavenly Father wanted me to do. He had answered my prayers. Whenever I feel scared or have doubts, I go back to that scripture, and I remember what the Holy Ghost testified to me that day. 

In his talk “The Gift of the Holy Ghost—a Sure Compass,” James E. Faust tells us about the Holy Ghost: “I believe the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world. It can be more mind-expanding and can make us have a better sense of well-being than any chemical or other earthly substance. It will calm nerves; it will breathe peace to our souls. This Comforter can be with us as we seek to improve. It can function as a source of revelation to warn us of impending danger and also help keep us from making mistakes. It can enhance our natural senses so that we can see more clearly, hear more keenly, and remember what we should remember. It is a way of MAXIMIZING our happiness.”

I LOVE those words. Without the influence of the Holy Ghost we would not be able to be our BEST or our HAPPIEST selves. 

Like all good fathers, our Heavenly Father gives us good gifts. Perhaps the most precious gift he gives us – is the Gift of the Holy Ghost. When we are baptized, we receive the right to the CONSTANT COMPANIONSHIP of the Holy Ghost. He CAN be with us ALL the time, IF we keep the commandments.

Elder Faust said “The GIFT of the Holy Ghost is different from the INFLUENCE of the Holy Ghost. Before baptism, a person can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time and through that influence can receive a testimony of the truth…The GIFT of the Holy Ghost comes after one repents and becomes worthy. It is received after baptism by the laying on of hands by those who have the authority… After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a person has the right to the CONSTANT companionship of the Spirit, if he or she keeps the commandments.”

Joseph B. Worthlin explained it this way: “The gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the right to receive the Holy Ghost as a CONSTANT companion, is obtained only upon condition of faith in Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands by authorized servants endowed with the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is a most precious gift available only to worthy members of the Lord’s Church.”  

Countless stories have been told of people who have listened to the promptings of the Spirit, and have helped others and themselves in ways that they otherwise could not have.

My wonderful Grandma Wagher has one of those stories. She has written down many of the lessons she has learned in a blog that I read often. Her stories have taught me many things, and have touched my heart. I hope this simple story does the same for you.

She starts by saying: “Have you ever been blessed with a miracle? I was blessed with one not long after we were baptized. When it happened I knew that absolutely, somehow, from another place not of this sphere, someone cared enough about me to actually step in.”

She then tells of a time when she was newly married with 2 young children, and had just joined the church. Their lives were pretty hectic, if you can imagine, especially with my grandpa working full-time and my grandma going to school to get her teaching degree. They lived an hour from the University, and as she tried to work out her class schedule for the upcoming semester, she realized that she would have to be at the school most of the day instead of being at home with her children. But luckily she discovered a University program at the local elementary schools that would be perfect for her situation. She would be able to get her degree, and be able to spend more time with her family. However, when she went to the program director, she discovered the program was full, and had a long waiting list. She begged the director to let her in the program, but he would not let her in. So she worked out her class schedule, but it meant that she would be at school more than she would be at home. 

And now I continue the story in my grandmother’s words—she tells it so much better than I ever could.

“As I stared at the calendar I knew. I knew that I couldn’t ask my husband and children to live that way. I’d been learning line upon line about eternal families and I knew that the hectic life on that calendar was wrong for mine. More than an education was at stake here. I slowly put my papers in my bag and got up from the bench thinking with heavy heart as I did, “Well, Heavenly Father, I worked so hard. I’ve done everything I could possibly do these past few years to graduate from college. Now it has to be over.”

Then the miracle happened.

 As I walked across the courtyard I passed the outdoor elevator. Somewhere from behind me or maybe it was at the back of my head I heard or maybe felt a voice that said, “Get on the elevator.” It startled me. I stopped walking and looked around. I was alone. I started walking to the car once more and there it was again, “Get on the elevator.” The words were not exactly heard but distinctly understood. It was the strangest thing I’d ever experienced.

I turned very slowly and went to the elevator, pushed the button and got on. The education building was only 2 stories so I pushed “2.” As the doors closed I frantically asked myself….What’s going on?..... Why am I on this elevator?.... Where am I going? I thought about what was on the second floor. I knew that the office of the director I’d been pestering was just a few feet from the now opening doors. Then it dawned on me and I started to get really upset and began a heated argument with the “Voice or Feeling.”

“Are you kidding?? No way am I going to talk to that man again! He’ll think I’m stalking him and call campus security!! I’ll be making a complete fool of myself! Again…… “Get on the elevator.” “What are you talking about? I argued back. I’m ON the elevator already! The doors are open! And I’m NOT going in there no matter what you say!!” I almost shouted it out loud as I walked slowly to the director’s office.

The outer office door opened into a large foyer. There was a receptionist sitting at her desk against the far wall and 5 or 6 smaller offices along the sides. The director’s office was one of them and the door was open. He was at his desk. I stood in the middle of the foyer, about 20 feet away, turned to face him, but didn’t move forward an inch. I think I was poised for a quick getaway. He looked up from his work but didn’t say a word.

I stood stupidly for a few seconds and then blurted out, “Please let me in your program.”

He still didn’t say anything. He just stared at me. Then he picked up the phone and made a call. I couldn’t hear what was said. He hung up the phone, looked at me and said, “You’re in.” With those two words, life changed for our whole family.

When I look back after all these years my heart fills with gratitude. I think of some of the lessons that miracle taught this raggedy old convert. He IS our father. He knows us and our struggles. He loves us. After we’ve done all we can, help will come. If we try to understand what’s right and do the right thing, help will come. We are not alone.

Miracles happen.”

I am so grateful for my grandma and her courage to listen to the prompting of the Holy Ghost, even if at the time she didn’t know what it was exactly.

I am reminded of the words of our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson. He said: “Again, my brothers and sisters, our Heavenly Father is aware of our needs and will help us as we call upon Him for assistance. I believe that no concern of ours is too SMALL or insignificant. The Lord is in the DETAILS of our lives.”

I am so grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and I pray that we all may live our lives so that He can always be our constant companion.

As many of you know, I have been taking Portuguese lessons from Brother Aston and have been studying the language these last few months. It has been a tremendous help and I am grateful for him and his family. It feels good to know that I'll be ahead when I'm in the MTC. So, I now want to share a portion of my testimony to you in Portuguese, even though Brother Aston has probably taught me everything wrong and it’s all just gibberish. But anyways

Eu gostaria de prestar meu testimunho. Eu sei que esta Igreja é verdadeira. Eu sei que o livro de Mórmon é verdadeiro e a palavra de Deus. Eu sei que Thomas S. Monson é um profeta verdadeiro. Eu sei que Jesus Cristo é nosso Redentor e nosso Salvador.

I love this church, and I KNOW that it is true. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that He loves all of you. I know that Jesus Christ lives! And that He died for all of us that we may return to live with Him again. I am so excited to be a missionary and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of Brazil. I pray that we may all follow the promptings of the Spirit, and that we will always be willing to share the gospel.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Call to Serve

I don't really think of myself as a patient person, but after the experience of waiting for a mission call, I could actually say that I was pretty patient. I was very impatient to turn them in, but after that I was okay. I decided not to worry about it anymore (because I had worried about it for the previous 6 months) and just put it in the Lord's hands. I received my call exactly 2 weeks after sending them. I was super excited and grateful to have it so quick, when others had waited closer to a month or more for their calls. Now, even though I am patient, my mother is not. I opened my call as soon as I got it, waiting only for nearby family to come to open it. And, boy, was it a shocker. 
Dear Sister Berry 
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Brazil São Paulo East Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. 
You should report to the Brazil Missionary Training Center on Wednesday November 5, 2014. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Portuguese language.
 I definitely had not expected to go somewhere so far away from home. I had expected to go stateside, and even wanted to a little. I also would have the privilege of learning Portuguese, which was also very unexpected to me. Living in southern Arizona I know a lot of Spanish speakers, and I had hoped that Spanish is what I would speak on my mission. That being said, this call might not have been what I hoped for, I am convinced that this is exactly what I need. Even though all this was unexpected, I am so grateful for this call to serve. I know that Heavenly Father knows who I am and where I am supposed to be, even if I don't know or understand everything. I cannot wait to go and serve the people of Brazil, and I know that God will help me every step of the way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Missionary Acceptance Letter

Dear Brethren
I am honored to have received my call to the Brazil Sao Paulo East Mission. I graciously accept this call to serve the Lord. I am grateful to be a representative of Jesus Christ and His church for 18 months. I know that this is the true gospel and I cannot wait to share the message of truth and happiness with the people in Brazil. I know that I have been called of God, and that He is sending me exactly where I need to be. I pray that I may have the Holy Ghost with me always. I know Heavenly Father will guide me in all of my endeavors, and I will strive to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.

Sister Mackenzie Berry