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!