Shortly after my husband died, the young women in our ward wound up one night on my doorstep with cookies. “How sweet”, I thought until I realized I was now on the Widow’s List.
Many times, I as a Young Women’s Leader had baked cookies with my class and delivered them in the snowy weather to all of those who were alone at the holiday season. Now, I was a receiver of good wishes instead of a giver. It has taken concerted effort to receive graciously and to continue in new ways to be of service. I gathered my children and told them I wanted to serve a mission.
All was arranged at home, papers were prepared and I headed to the MTC in Provo for training to serve a mission in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They promised my Spanish would help me to learn Portuguese. It was an exciting and challenging experience. The first day in the MTC brought the reality of my unique situation into reality. I was one of thousands of missionaries, I was one of 25 senior missionaries, I was one of 3 senior single women and not one person in the MTC was headed to Brazil but me. What faith it took to head out that door, not knowing what life would be like for the next year. But, I was filled with the deep comfort that my Father in Heaven was already grateful for my willingness to serve.
I spent the next 6 months without a companion. How rare a bird we must be . . . those of us willing to leave our beautiful grandchildren, our gardens, our neighbors, our comforts, our homeland to share the Savior's love with our brothers and sisters wherever they may be. I worked with a senior couple until they were released, then found a Brasiliera (Brazilian woman) in my apartment building to accompany me as I traveled to my appointments. What a dear companion she was.
My assignments were varied through my time in the city. I taught piano lessons. I taught English lessons with a senior companion from Arizona. I tracted and taught the gospel in the sun and the rain--up and down the streets and in the homes in the third largest city in the world. Today, as I walk around the block in my Salt Lake neighborhood, I will remember a steep hill in Campo Limpo or a member's house in Itapecerica. I see Luis or Ederson in the little boy on the playground. I remember the first prayer of an investigator when we visited the interior. And I know on Sunday morning there will be music in the Santo Amaro ward, because some young students were anxious and willing to learn to play the piano.
Love has multiplied exponentially. I have been blessed to give, but it has been my privilege also to receive.