Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Back to the USA- I'm home!!

Well it's been a full week now that I've been home so I thought it was time to blog about the tale. I arrived Tuesday afternoon and it's been...interesting... adjusting to normal life again. So for those of you who don't know why I'm home or just want more details on what's going I thought I'd put it all on here and (hopefully) answer all your questions at once.

So back in November when I was still in Santo Andre with Sister Loisotto I started having some knee pains on and off. I didn't really think much of it because we walk a TON and I thought they were just normal pains. Also, the area is really hilly so of course I thought this contributed to the normalcy of knee pains. I was transferred on New Year's eve to a new area with a new companion and since we weren't living in our area and had to walk 45 minutes just to get to our area. The knee pain continued and just kept getting worse. One day I just could barely walk and called Sister Tanner to tell her what had been going on. She told me first to do some strengthening exercises and sent me those. I did them for a few days but the pain was almost unbearable. It was like a constant shooting pain that ran down the inner part of my leg. The front of my knees killed too. So I called again and she said it would be okay to mark a doctor's appointment. So on Thursday, Feb 6th I headed to the doctor and he asked me to get an X-Ray done there. Did that, turns out my patellas aren't in the right spot. He said I'd need to stay off my knees at least for 3 days, ice them, and not go up or down hills or especially stairs. He told me when I sit I'd have to sit with my knees straight because bending them will increase the pain. I instantly got worried and thought about if I'd get better on the mission quickly enough to keep working. He asked me to get an MRI done that Monday and then to come back and show the knee specialist the results.

So I rested Friday and kind of rested on Saturday and Sunday. We still had people to visit and I couldn't just stay inside! We didn't walk much that weekend but I knew I wasn't getting better by being on my feet.

Monday the 10th I did the MRI and got the results that Thursday the 13th. We took them to 3 different doctors which all said the same thing: That I have what's called Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome which is basically a misalignment of my knee cap to thigh bone causing pain to the muscles surrounding them. Here's a website that explains it clearly and simply for us non-doctors--(http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/patellofemoral-pain-syndrome-topic-overview) I was apparently born this way but even with all my high school sports I never felt any pain. This syndrome is usually activated by overuse of the knees aaand yeah, I'd say I walked enough to say that. I would need to stop walking so much to be able to recuperate. They said it would take about 6 months of Physical Therapy to feel better. I was practically put to bed rest for a month.

I left the offices (all of them) crying and thinking there was a good chance I'd get sent home. So last Saturday the 15th I asked President and Sister to come over so I could explain everything and with lots of love they explained that it would be better to recuperate at home. I was devastated as I never actually thought I'd hear those words. Other people, yes, but not me! I just couldn't believe it. I said bye to as many members as possible at our ward activity/BBQ that afternoon and then the next day at church. I was still in shock. Also I didn't want to believe it. On Monday my wonderful companion packed my suitcases as I was still in denial and I was on a plane that night still thinking "What is happening?"

Last picture in the mission office with President and Sister Tanner (was definitely already crying here)

Fast forward, I got to Philly, had a semi-emotional reunion with (part of) my family (the roads were icy which prohibited some from making it!!) in the airport and then was released that night by the Stake President. Now here I am. All of sudden everyone switched from calling me Sister Cox to Alyssa...who da heck is that?!  I am NOT used to it yet. Every day gets a little easier as I'm still trying to figure out why this happened but this scripture in Isaiah has given me lots of comfort, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts then your thoughts." (Isa 55:8-9) We won't always know why things happen the way they do we just have to have faith. I also realized that had I known I had this problem before my mission I wouldn't have been sent out of the country and met all of the wonderful people in Brazil who truly changed my life. 

I have a loving, supportive family, friends, and ward here as well as amazing memories and testimony from my 10 months out.

I loved being a missionary. I love this gospel. This is the true Church of Jesus Christ restored on the earth. I know that my Father in Heaven loves me and that's why he gives us all challenges! So that we can grow and make it back to Him. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and translated the Book of Mormon which is the word of God. As we follow all the small and simple principles of this gospel, we will be blessed and that is one of the greatest promises of all.

To answer some questions that the world is asking me...As of now I'm not planning on going back out to finish my mission. I feel that I have already finished and the Lord has accepted my service. I plan on recuperating at home and then heading back to BYU-Idaho in September for fall semester.

Thank you all for your love and support during this wonderful spiritual journey. The work never stops. Every member a missionary :)

Sister Cox

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Transfer Week...

Thank you Morrisville ward for the Christmas packages which I just got this week. I really appreciated it and I love you all!!

Well I don't exactly have an exciting transfer story this time but we're excited. Sister Moura and I are both staying and continuing as STL here in Jordanópolis!  We're also hearing that this week we should be getting the keys to our apartment...pray for us! We hope all goes well. 
Sisters Moura, Canas and Benitez
Rehydrating with Coconut Water
So this week was the week that all the Americans in the mission got sick. Womp! We just can't take the heat! I thought it was just me and I thought I had food poisoning but nope..as we made a few calls I found out that it wasn't just me and that a bunch of us were getting sick and not able to work. That was my life last Monday til Weds. On Tuesday we had Leadership Council with President and Sister Tanner and it was great. The message was: Invite everyone to go to church! No one will be able to understand the gospel without going to church. It was really spiritual to understand really why we go. There are tons of reasons. Sometimes we get in the habit of going because it's what we do, but when we think of how on the 7th day God rested and we keep this day holy, it will have so much more meaning. Sunday isn't a day to go to the beach, parties, to the mall or the movies. It's a sacred day meant to worship the Lord and give thanks for all that He has given us. I am so grateful for this day! It was a great meeting. 

On Wednesday I did a division with Sister Cañas again, from Chile. She's so wonderful. Just so sweet and ready to learn and work. I love this job! 

I had another really cool spiritual experience this week. About a month ago I was in Sister Dias' area. We were contacting on the street and I saw a man sitting on a bench in a park just hanging out like most Brazilians do. We walked up to him, introduced ourselves, asked him about his religious background, invited him to church, and marked a time where she could go back (since he doesn't live in my area, I couldn't teach him) SO...On Friday, Sister Dias called to tell us that Carlos was getting baptized the next day and I was stoked! She and her companion had been working with him all this time and he had been going to church and loving it. They invited us to the baptism since I was with her when we first met him. President let us go and it was amazing. Ahh I love baptisms. He cried in the baptismal font and hugged the man that baptized him for a good minute afterwards. It was beautiful. That's about all for this week.
Love you all and keep writing!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Half-Way Mark (1/24/14) + Summer in Brazil

Blog Post - January 27, 2014 - Half-Way Mark!

It was a sad week in the life of Sister Cox...I hit Nine (9) Months! ...just kidding. It was a GREAT week. But I had time to think WOW...I still have so much work to do, so much to improve personally that it's great I still have time. Whew! But it was a fun milestone to reach. You know you've been on your mission for a while when your white clothes start to turn yellow and your black shirts turn grey. Happy 9 months to meee!

In other news, I spoke in church again yesterday, third time on the mission and I used the same talk from Utinga about our personal obedience and how when we obey the commandments of God we will be blessed with the spirit which will then helps us to help other people! It's a beautiful circle. 

So you all know how Selma was baptized last week? The mom of 4 kids? Well her daughter Luana got baptized yesterday!!! She's 16, beautiful, smart, and wants to serve a mission like us but in Japan. It was the best baptism! She's great.
This week was incredibly HOT so I did something I never thought I'd do...I walked out in the sun with an umbrella. I've only seen old ladies here do this but...it was necessary. I don't want skin cancer and the sun is sooo strong! Anyway, that's all for today. I love you all and want some letters!!
For any of you who are too busy to write a letter :), just email me at: alyssa.cox@myLDSmail.net and my real address is:
Sister Alyssa Cox
Rua Dr. Luiz da Rocha Miranda, 159
8 Andar parque Jabaquara
São Paulo, SP Brazil 04344-010

Blog Post - February 3, 2014 - Summer in Brazil

Hello everyone! How are you all doing?! How was the Superbowl and Groundhog Day? I hope all is well with everyone :) This week has been ridiculously hot!! It reached about 40 degrees C which I don't know what that is in Farenheit. I'd like someone to get back to me with that. But it was a good week. We're seeing small miracles every single day aside from all the normal challenges of being a missionary. This stuff is hard work!

Sisters I Live with-Hoyo, Moura, Goncalvez and Me

Due to the ridiculous heat of Brazil we have a new study schedule. We have to leave the house at 9am instead of noon and then we work 'til noon, eat lunch with the members, go home to study after lunch to skip the hottest part of the day because 1) we were burning up and 2) no one is on the street at that time. It's weird but I'm liking the change.

So last Monday night we had a Family night with Selma and Luana at their house on obedience. There was a pile of commandments mixed in with things we shouldn't do and each person had to pick one and then decide if that action would help them draw closer to God or not. On the floor we put tape in this shape "<" ...less than sign, and each person took a step. One side was the path to God and the other was Satan's path. Depending on your card is where you'd step. In the end you have to choose who you'll follow because no one can follow both beings. It was a really cool and fun way to see how we're blessed by keeping the commandments!

On a super fun note Sister Moura and I went to Outback Steakhouse on Saturday with a member; our lovely Irmã Vera who always helps us out with rides home at night since our apartment contract is giving us problems and we still live 45 away from where we work. We love her!!!  But anyway, it was so weird to be in an American restaurant speaking Portuguese. That was a first. It was a good time though!

Another fun day was a division we did this week. I got to go back to Utinga! I stayed there for the day with Sister Laura from Bolivia and we worked there while Sister Loisotto my last companion came here with Sister Moura. It was a fun switch and as always it's nice to go to an area I know really well. The work is going forth and God is so good to us! We're happy that we are finding people to teach and help them feel the healing powers of Christ's Atonement. Well that's all for this week I love you all!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Baptisms and Birthdays...

Blog Post - January 20, 2014
Title: Chuva e Bobagem 

This week was crazy with all the rain we got!! And it's not like it rains in the morning when we're studying or at night when we're at home...it always starts in between 2-5, right when we're leaving lunch to go out and work. I've been wet every single day. But we have sun today so my shoes get to dry out :)
We had a miracle baptism yesterday! Selma got baptized! President and Sister Tanner came
and it was awesome. She has a big family and is the first to get baptized. We sang Families Can Be Together Forever to her with Sister Tanner playing piano and she just bawled. She said she felt so clean and light and then everything has been left in the past, which is exactly the purpose of this gospel! I absolutley love this work. Being Sister Training Leader is extremely hard still as we are still leaders over 12 other sisters but it's good and I know the Lord qualifies the called. His hand is in every aspect of this work and my thankful journal is helping me recognize that.
We did a week-long division with some other sisters this week, Sister Keegan from New Mexico and Sister Dias from Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. I stayed in my area, Jordanópolis with S. Keegan Weds-Sat and it was great. She has 3 weeks in the field so just barely started her mission and is so sweet. We found Oeos this week in a supermarket! They JUST got to Brazil and I'm pretty excited about it. Some weird things I ate these past 2 weeks: fried sardines with rice and mashed potatoes and then last night...cow heart. Not a fan. Will not repeat. I thought it was just steak! But it did not taste like it. Well now I know.
So those of you who know me well know that sometimes I do silly/forgetful things. My Dad always says that I have blonde streaks...no offense to all my blonde loved ones! Anyway, this week I was extremely blonde and I'm blaming it on all the rain.
  1. We had to defrost our freezer because it was just frozen over and full of ice. When it all melted I cleaned it out with a sponge then we left for the day to work. When we got home the other 2 sisters we live with asked us if we knew where the sponge was...whoops. Left it in the freezer and didn't even notice.
  2. Somehow my companion broke our microwave this week JUST when I was about to make some apple and cinnamon tea. I had my mug full of water and was just about to heat it up when we noticed it wasn't working. SO I just sat back down, finished writing letters thinking oh well, I guess I won't drink tea today then. My smart companion put the water in a pot to heat on the stove...why didn't I think of that?! Haha.
  3. And the last one...a little background info is that not all missionary homes have all sorts of cooking tools, so...in my other area I always made grilled cheese in this small pan on the stove. Normal. But when I got to this house (we still haven't moved to our new apartment yet by the way) I noticed there were no pans, just pots. So. I made a ham and cheese melt in a pot. No big. Until...I was already eating and looked up/remembered that we have a sandwich maker...which I use almost every day to make toast. What is wrong with me? Haha!! So that was my crazy week.
Aside from all the rain, we have gotten really good at teaching right on the street. It's my favorite. Not everyone will let us in so when we talk to people on the street, we just start getting to know them and slip in gospel principles and before you know it we're teaching on the street. It's pretty cool. I like it!
I love you all and would love some LETTERS!!!!!
Have a wonderful week! 
Sister Cox

Blog Post - January 13, 2014

Not too much to update on this week. things are still crazy around here but...WE FOUND A HOUSE! Ok really it's an apartment but it's so nice and spacious and clean and perfect and actually in our area. Só alegria. My companion continues to be amazing and teach me new things every day. We went on 2 divisions this week so I left my area twice to work with other sisters.
We had a baptism yesterday of Élida and it was the most spiritual and emotional baptism ever. She's wanted to get baptized for a while now to follow Jesus Christ and to thank Him for all He's done for her. She is so sweet!! She is just full of love. After her baptism she bore her testimony that she knows she's in the right place and finally found the peace she's been looking for. She recently discovered she has a tumor in her brain and has to get surgery this week. She said she knows the surgery will go well and hopes it does so that she can return to her new family at church. It was the cutest thing ever. She said she had never felt more like a daughter of God than Sunday. Please keep her in your prayers that everything goes well.  It was a happy day! Have I mentioned I love this job?

That's about all. We have 2 more divisions this week but one will be for 4 days. I'll be with Sister Keegan from New Mexico all week but fortunately I'll stay in my area :)

Shout out to my best friend Janelle who turns 22 on Friday!!!! Sorry I can't be there, but next year, we'll party. HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOVE BUG! Wishing you all the happiness in the world and I'll be thinking of you! Love you all!

Sister Cox

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Happy (late) New Year!!

Cheers to bring in  the New Year
I am extremely grateful for the fact that all the holiday shenanigans are over, especially the fireworks!! For Christmas here everyone stays up 'til midnight and there are fireworks for hours...and then every night leading up to New Year's. So Sister Cox didn't sleep too much these past 2 weeks and she is exhausted. But happy despite the heat :)
Me and Sister Moura
This last week has been the craziest!!! So after emailing last week, we went home, I packed like a madwoman because nothing was fitting in my suitcases (thanks for the Christmas packages parents) so I was getting really stressed out but in the end it all worked out. I think I was the Sister with the most stuff at transfer meeting. Oops. Thank goodness we got a ride and I didn't have to take a bus, train, and 2 subways to get to the meeting with 2 huge suitcases, 4 bags, and a box of books.  Anyway! My new companion is Sister Moura from Fortaleza, Ceara and she is also a Sister Training Leader which is great because she can show me the ropes of what I have to do now. She's really great. She's 26 and has a year and 2 months on the mission will go home in May...she doesn't like to talk about the fact that her mission is ending haha.
My new area is Jordanópolis, São Bernardo but here's the confusing part...This area's last transfer was HUGE for just one set of Sisters, so President decided to split the area. Sister Moura was already here with her companion Sister H. Souza and they separated and got new companions (Sister Sequeira and me) Now the 4 of us are working here. HOWEVER--! The house these 2 were living in is too small for all 4 of us so we're actually living in a different house with other sisters in a different area. It's 40 minutes by foot from our house to our area and forever away from our Chapel on Sunday soo we're been having a member help us at night with rides back to our house to avoid walking on a highway at night...yep we have to walk on the side of a highway to get to our area. But no worries, we're looking for a house in our area to avoid this...I feel like I'm on an episode of house hunters every single day.
We work but President also asked us to be looking for a house at the same time so we're visiting some, get the price, talk to the landlord, etc...nothing yet. We're praying to get outta here because I'm sleeping on a pull-out couch and my companion has a blow up mattress on the floor. Poor girl..not that the couch is any comfy-er...yes I know that's not a word.
This week I felt a little lost. I'm still working on finding my place in this area since I'm new here, no one knows me and everything on Sunday was different, so I was missing Utinga a ton!! But the ward is nice, just small. Also in our house I am a baby! The other companionship of sisters we live with are 35 yrs old and 32...my comp is 26 and then there's me, the baby. They don't act like anyone is different. It's funny that I'm way younger but I've been on the mission longer than the other 2 sisters.
As for Sister Leader responsibilities...my head hurts just thinking about it. So our job is basically to help the other sisters in the mission. There's about 60 sisters on the mission like I said before and there's 8 Sister Training Leaders (STL).  Sister Moura and I are responsible for 6 companionships which is 12 missionaries. We have to go on divisions twice a week which just means we'll switch companions with another set for 24 hours twice a week just to see how they're doing, their work ethic, and just help them out with any questions, etc. Sounds easy but it is not.
We had our first division on Friday and it went really well! I liked seeing a different area and working with a new companion for a bit to see the way she teaches. I feel like I will be learning a LOT this transfer and transfers to come. I'm really grateful though because honestly as we help them we learn and grow too. It's not a matter of who has been on the mission longer or what title you have or whatever. I'm just here to help them and grow WITH them because I'm far from perfect. I'm excited.
We have been planning up a storm, calling the sisters often because many of them are new and have lots of questions, and looking for a house as well as teaching our own lessons. It's just a lot at once. But it's good, I'm liking it. I would always prefer to be busy.
 All the Sister Training Leaders...yup. I'm the only American, but it doesn't look like it!
Yesterday (Tuesday) we had a meeting with President, all the Zone Leaders and STLs to talk about the vision for the mission in 2014 (which is why my p-day changed but it's just for this week) and it's: Real and True Conversion. We've been having lots of problems with retention. People get baptized then never come again so the goal this year is to help the people we teach recognize that this is a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus Christ, not just for this month or whenever you want to go. It was a great meeting and we had taco salad for lunch with ranch dressing!! That doesn't exist here and Sister Tanner saw and laughed at how excited I was about it. It was homemade. She is amazing!!
So as 2013 ended and 2014 started I was thinking a lot in retrospect about how crazy this year has been and how fast it's gone by. This time last year I was home getting ready to go on my mission, taking online classes, waiting for my cute niece to arrive, babysitting, the usual. And it's just so cool to see how different things are now; how much I've learned and how gracious the Lord has been to me and my family this year. I can't thank Him enough. I have, in fact, started a thankful journal where each day I write something I'm thankful for and a blessing I recognized during the day. If we aren't conscious of all the Lord has given us, he won't continue to bless us. Always express gratitude. That's something my mama taught me since I was little! And it never stopped being true.
In 2013 I realized that I still can't cook, I still can't do as many pushups as I'd like, and I still talk way too much...even in Portuguese. So these are my goals for the new year. I love you all so so much. Thank you for your prayers and love! Until next week :)

Sister Cox

Friday, January 3, 2014

...And She's Outta Here!

8 months on my mission - Christmas Eve
My time here has been great buuut the time has come. After being in the same area my whole time here in Brazil and 4 transfers later, I'm finally moving on!  I don't know where I'll be going yet but I'm so excited to see another area.
My District - last one in Santo Andre Zone

My Zone - there's always one in the crowd
Also I got a nice little call today saying that I'm going to be the new Sister Training Leader! I didn't believe the Elder that told me because everyone has been joking about this for a while but when he said 5 times that he was serious, I cried a little bit. Nice, huh? This basically is the only leadership position for Sisters on the mission and it's hard and requires a lot of work. We have more than 50 sisters in the mission right now and now I'm one of 8 leaders to help and serve them. Here's to a new phase in the mission.
I'm gonna need lots of prayers but I'm also really excited! More details in the weeks to come on what's required of me in this new calling.
 My dear Sister Hargrove...

And my last companion Sister Liosotto
There's not too much to update except that I spoke to my dear family on Christmas! It was so good to talk to all of you. Christmas was good but nothing like Christmas at home.
I hope you're all doing well and all have a Happy New Year! 

Sister Cox

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas :)

It is finally feeling just a little bit like Christmas here on the mission! It's so diferente here and definitely not the same but Sister Loisotto and I find little things each day to get us excited for Christmas.
Work wise it has been really slow because everyone is traveling, shopping, never home, having parties, etc. BUT we are still happy and working as much as we can.
I was blessed so generously with packages from the best mom eva'!! We had to go on a little adventure to São Paulo to get them but it was fun. Thanks Mom! Enjoy the pics...
On our long trek to pick up my packages...and the citiest part of São Paulo I've seen yet. Look at that view!!
This week was a week of pancakes. I don't know why each week seems to have a diferente theme for food but it was pancakes this week. We were working with a family that hadn't been coming to church and they invited us over to teach them how to make pancakes. So I mostly made them but taught as well and they just loved the eating part. It was a good time and we shared a message on how it doesn't matter how far off the path you go, you can always come back thanks to the grace of our Savior. They are such good people and we've grown to love them a lot.

We had a Sister Conference this week with all the sister missionaries in our mission and there are 47
of us! So cool because this time last year there were only maybe 10. God is hastening His work! It was a great day and a great conference. We learned things that we need to be doing better each day like being more exactly obedient and how to teach the commandments more clearly to those who aren't familiar with them yet. After conference we went to the Botanical Garden in São Paulo with President and Sister Tanner and it was so beautiful there! All good. Enfim...I'm so happy with this season and I hope we are all truly remembering the reason for this holiday.


As we keep our focus on on Savior Jesus Christ we will all be able to feel the true spirit of Christmas. No pday this week because of Christmas so Christmas will be pday...but I probably won't be able to email or make a blog that day. 2 days until I get to see some familiar faces!! So excited. Until the 25th!
Sister Cox