Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 13, 2016 - This Is The End!

                                                       Farewell Party For Courtney

queridos irmãos e irmãs..

The email that I never in my life thought I would get to, has arrived.... now I know what the scriptures mean when they say the great and dreadful day of the Lord is upon us...

Wow what a strange feeling to be writing to you guys knowing I’ll get to see your real life faces in less than a week now. I’m writing this mass email and not sending individual ones because I have to write quick and get out of here and also because I’m kind of at a loss for words right now to explain what is going on in my head and my heart. So it’s better to just save up the few words I have to use when I get home. So sorry for the lack of personal replies this week but I read and loved your emails! I’ve been thinking about how much my family has sustained me during my mission, that I never had to worry about if they were okay, if they were writing to me, or if they were going to church, that in and of itself is a huge blessing that not 20% of the missionaries here have. 

Yesterday I got special permission from Presidente to visit Estancia which was the most amazing experience. I got to see some members and the family of Magna and Cinval that are all active in the church now and have callings and are preparing to go to the temple. It was amazing to talk about the stories about when we contacted them in the street and their son thought we were Jehovah’s Witnesses and when we would ask them if they prayed and they would give some excuse that they forgot, it was incredible to hear their side of the story. I had got there kind of late and the daughter, Gabi that’s 12, was waiting on the porch when I started down the street with the Elders there, she saw me and ran inside ´´mom she’s here she really came!!´´ I’ll have to tell you more when I get home. Wow. Most amazing experience!

But I also got to see all of your videos this week at Laleska’s house. Holy cow you don’t know how much I cried like a big baby. hahaha We were eating Brasilian treats and hot dogs after a family night there and all of a sudden I heard Sydney’s voice and I whipped around and her big head was on the computer screen talking to me in a language I wasn’t understanding and I just cried and cried to hear your voices. I cried through all the videos even Spencer’s that was 4.5 seconds long. It’s the thought that counts right? ;) thank you guys!! 

But this week I just sucked my tears and nerves up and went to work. We walked and sweat and taught and testified which is exactly how I wanted to spend my last week in the field. There are few things better than getting to an investigators house and asking them if they prayed, if they read the Book of Mormon, and they say ´´yes, I felt something different just like you said I would.´´ What I love about a mission is that you don’t have to worry about yourself, not in one single moment. You get to find yourself and who you are, serving others and trying to figure out what their needs are instead of focusing on your own. That is something precious I have learned here. That we come to truly know the Savior here not just because we´re always talking about Him, but because we are also sometimes cast out, rejected, mocked, our intentions questioned, but above all we serve in some partial limited capacity like He served. I am humbled and grateful to have walked a few measly steps of the path that He walked.

 I truly loved my last area. I love the members and my investigators. They are an imperfect people of course, but you just can’t help but love them so much. I don’t know if I’ve done a super great job of bearing my testimony for you guys or the spiritual truths I’ve learned here, but I want you to know that my testimony is truly the most precious thing I have gained here. I don’t know everything about the church or the gospel but I know that I have pleaded and conversed and truly talked with our Father in Heaven and He has many times given me clear and real guidance and direction. I know He calls real and living prophets on the earth because I feel the confirmation every time I hear them speak. I know this gospel to be true, not because my parents told me, but because I prayed to know, and I have been praying and studying a year and a half to be sure. He truly knows us and loves us, I can’t explain it any better than that. If we want to truly follow Him, if we want to truly be like Him one day, we will follow the example of our dear Savior, in word and in deed.

I feel that I’m coming home half hearted, because I’ll be leaving the other half here in Brasil. I feel like it has been very little that I have given back to the Savior after all that He has done for me. I will forever be in His debt. My mission here in Maceio has come to an end but there is a whole lifetime of dedicated service I am ready to take on now, with Him by my side. He is the most important thing in my life, and that is something that I didn’t know while I was at home. Thank you for all your support, I love you all to the moon and back! a minha família é maravilhosa, nunca pensei que ia sentir tanto saudade de um lugar e nunca pensei que ia ser mais difícil para sair do que foi para chegar.

I’ll see you all Sunday! :) até domingo!

Sister Walker

Monday, December 5, 2016

December 5, 2016 - Endure To The End....The Very End

                                                          At An Elders Birthday Party

                                               Courtney And Sister Lauder In Itaporanga

                                               Courtney And Sister Lauder On Splits

                                                               Eliane's Baptism

                                         Sister Menezes And Courtney With Their Zone

I never knew what endure to the end meant until I got to the last two weeks of my mission..... but we are truckin along people don’t you worry!!

So it was a wild wild week. I have never seen the adversary work SO hard against someone a whole week long so she wouldn’t be baptized. But we were with our investigator Eliane every step of the way this week and she was baptized! It was a really special day for us here. But honestly I have never seen so many afflictions happen in the same week-just to keep her from being baptized. One day it was her mom and sisters and family that told her she wasn’t ready, the next she lost her job, the next her long lost lover came back to ask her to marry him and tried to buy her love, the next she didn’t feel prepared enough and was doubting herself. My goodness I was up to my eardrums in problems this week. But every day we got there and could calm her down and remember how important this decision was and how she had been prepared by the Lord for a lot of time before she met the church. How the Lord wants our heart and our humility and our commitment instead of our knowledge. 

After her baptism where everything went wrong, from no one showing up, to the men in the ward forgetting to fill the font, to not having plates for the cake, all my frustration was washed away when I went up to hug her and she held me tight and said ´´thank you sister, thank you, thank you so much, I am so happy´´. That really made it all worth it. 

I also am kind of freaking out because I won’t take the sacrament again until Christmas because this Sunday is a stake event and the next I’ll be traveling... any ideas? Is there a branch that meets in the afternoon at home?

How blessed and humbled I am to be able to be a small part in the Saviors work here, that He trusts us enough with all of our errors and flaws and weaknesses to carry His name. I will be very sad to take His name off of my chest. I know how much He anxiously waits for each one of His brothers to come back into the right path. This is His church and there’s not any other one that can give us that surety! I know that.

Now just one more email, this is my last week of work in the field because on the 14th I’ll travel to Maceio to be interviewed with Presidente Gomes and hang out until my flight on Saturday. So I’ll talk to you all soon! Love you so much!

ps the pics are of an elders bday party I did here, our baptism with Eliane and her mom and son, and when I got to go on splits with Sister Lauder in Itaporanga this week!

Sister Walker

Monday, November 28, 2016

November 28, 2016 - Pictures Speak 1000 Words?

                                   Courtney And Sister Menezes With Some Ward Members

                                   Courtney By A Fruit Tree With Fruit Similar To Cherries

                                                        Holiday Santa/Soccer Cheer

                                      Sister Menezes, Courtney And Elders From Arapiraca
                                                             At A Mission Meeting

Hello good people of America!

Here’s the week update: we are going to have the baptism of Irmã Eliane this Saturday, woohoo! She’s super excited! It is amazing to hear her testimony. Usually the people we teach know that we have something different but don’t know really how to recognize it or explain it. But she’s different. She already has been to so many churches she gave up. She thought the Mormons were a cult who didn’t believe in Jesus! And now she’s going to be one! Who knew? She talks about how her life is so much more fulfilling, it has a purpose and she feels the presence of Jesus Christ in her life after she started reading the Book of Mormon. That book is the key people! 

I’m also not embarrassed to say that we may or may not be getting a lot more people to church just because I use the excuse ´´but I’m going back to America and I’ll never see you guys again!´´ and then they feel bad for me and go to church. Hey, every teaching technique is welcome and utilized here.

I have also gotten three invites this week to not go back to America but to stay here and live with people, all three were from children I teach or ward member’s kids, but still. 

Funny story of the week is that we were walking down the street and there was a little stubby chubby old shirtless man walking down the street obviously drunk, stumbling all over the place. Then he starts to pull out something black from his pants and turns out its a huuuuge machete that was somehow hidden away there. He takes the machete and to himself he’s mumbling ´´I’m gonna rob ya... I’m gonna rob ya´´ hahaha. I was laughing so hard. 

Anyways I try my best to just think of my work here, if I start to think of anything else I start to have mini panic attacks. But it’s all good! The Lord will provide a way, I’ve come to know that. I know His true church is this one! I may not understand it 100% but I know I feel it inside of me, and that’s something no one can ever take away from us. I love my mission! And I love you guys! See you soon.

Sister Walker

Monday, November 21, 2016

November 21, 2016 - "When You Go Back To America, Will You Leave Your Hair Here With Us?"

                                Courtney On The Street Where She Lives In Eduardo Gomes

Happy turkey day to everyone in the states!! I officially remembered that it was this week when I read mom’s email 2 minutes ago. I am thankful for the Savior, for Brasil, for my companion and for the scriptures. Oh and my family. And yes that quote is a real life experience from the Sister Walker diaries during relief society yesterday.

Anyways there are some new occurrences here in the mission and we have been reduced to use the computers for only 45 minutes so if I don’t respond to everyone just hold all your questions and thoughts and commentaries for just a few more weeks. 

Our week was good here but lots of people gave us back the pamphlets we had given them.... funny how other weeks when everyone wants to listen to you and then the next one no one wants to answer their door... haha. Paulo is hiding from us and avoiding our calls sooo there’s that. On to the next one. 

I learned something really special this week, I realized that something I will never forget is the look in someone’s eyes who thought their whole life that there isn’t life after death, when we teach them that there exists a whole lot more than that waiting for them. It’s almost as if their spirit is inside there jumping for joy to read that, while their human mind is trying to process how that is possible. We taught a woman named Raimunda who had taken care of her mom while she was sick and then watched her die by her side, and the church she was going to taught that our time is now and there isn’t anything after death. That was a really good lesson.

I also got to give a talk in the ward yesterday on good ole fashioned missionary work. I may or may not have cried a little at the end. And it wasn’t even my birthday... 

Here is a pic of my street, next door we live by a school that is shaped like a castle.

I love you all very much! We pray for you, the ward members and my investigators pray for you as well. até logo! se cuidam!

Sister Walker

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016 - Trump Time...?

                                                                 Courtney's District

                                                    Enjoying A Brasilian Hamburger

                                                 Hamburgers Come With Corn Included

                                              Cute Family Of Boys: Nephi, Moroni and Gabriel

Let’s get ready to TRUMPle!! 

Okay that’s all for my Donald Trump jokes for now I’m sure the rest will come with time. (trumpleskilston..?) basically the entire Brasilian population is now feeling that they have the right to laugh in my face due to the fact that a horrible corrupt rich robber man is now president of my country, as has always been the case here in Brasil... it’s a fun turn of events here getting to hear a new snippet of info every day from someone on the street or in the ward. Is there really going to be a giant wall dividing Mexico and the states? How many wives does he have? These are the questions that haunt me.

But on for things that have real eternal significance in our lives, transfers are in and I’m staying here in my area with Sister Menezes until I leave for home. That is the only thing that stayed the same in the mission, literally everyone got mixed up and moved around and it’s a wild frenzy here right now. I just think ´´I’m not really worried about any of you fools because in 5 weeks I’ll be in my own house in my pjs watching Law and Order´´ and that gives me comfort. 

But this week was good, we got smart and starting praying to meet people who didn’t need to wait to be married to be baptized. And it worked! We met some people who went to church for the first time. The only horrible thing that happened was in the gospel principles class when we were studying about the Book of Mormon. A nice and little bit crazy recent convert decided to start talking about how the Book of Mormon even warns the world about the catholic church which is the mother of all the abominations and all of that, forgetting that the vast majority of people who visit the church are catholic or their entire family is.... I sunk so low in my chair when she said that and whispered to our investigator, Paulo, that that wasn’t true and she didn’t know what she was talking about. We´ll see if he wants to come back... but we met him, who is 18 and his grandma who started talking about how she’s been catholic since she was born but always felt like there was something missing there. And all of a sudden she says ´´I think I’m going to change my religion. I think I’m going to go to this church of yours.´´ ding ding ding we have a winner!!! We´ll get to teach her more this week to see how it goes.

Other than that I’m excited to start my 1st transfer! Just 5 more weeks and then I never get to wear my name badge any more... I think that’s going to be the worst part. But until then I’m trying to just focus on helping my companion and the area. There is a lot of work to be done! Have a great week, take care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon! I love you all!

Sister Walker

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 7, 2016 - Baptism This Week!

                                                               Junior's Baptism

                                              Going On Splits With Sister Custodio

                                               Sister Menezes, Courtney and Baby Loreina

Bom dia minha familia!

Wow I am already here writing another email, I can’t believe that... so what can I say about this week? Oh we had a baptism that is good news! It was a boy named Junior, he is a nephew of a member who really loves to go to church but his family is kind of out of the loop so they never really tried to help him get there. But we worked it out with his aunt and her family to always take him with them, and they live on the same street so it’s perfect. He is a really cute kid, he was super nervous for his interview with the elders haha. He kept repeating the definitions of the word of wisdom and what a prophet is and all of that so he wouldn’t forget. It was nice to have a lot of good ward members there too to support him. That’s what I really love about this ward, no matter how old you are or if you know the person or not, you’re there to support all of Gods children. The people here are so genuine with that-really look to serve and uplift and integrate others. Not everyone has this perspective but since most everyone here is a convert they all know how it’s like to start off in the church not knowing anyone and feeling overwhelmed. That’s what I love about working in these areas. 

Other than that there’s not really anything to report, lots of our investigators went to church but they all have to get married first... our investigator progressing the most, her husband is in jail... so there’s that. We are trying to figure out how to get them legally married while he is locked up. This is true love people. Oh and I got to go on splits this week, but for the first time in forever I was the one RECIEVING the instruction and help!! It was so great. I didn’t have to worry about what to tell her to work on or anything I just got to teach and meet people like a normal day. What a wonderful world it is. 

Anyways that’s all I’ve got folks, I hope you all are praying not just for the missionaries but being agents and praying so that you can each be better missionaries! I think a lot about the scripture in Matthew 10:23 I think, that says if we confess Christ’s name in front of men, He will also confess ours at the last day. But if we negate His now (aka not talking about the gospel), He will negate us too at the last day. Just food for thought ;) I love you all and know you are capable missionaries!! Help someone out this week remember their true heritage! I love you all até logo!

Sister Walker

Here’s a pic of my favorite baby girl in the ward-Loreina, who I have somewhat adopted as my own child, Juniors baptism with his mom and sister who we´re also teaching but they have to quit selling meat on Sundays to be baptized (and his mom has to get married-surprise surprise), and the splits I went on with Sister Custodio! 

Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31, 2016 - Happy Halloweiners!!

                                                     Courtney With Her Halloween Treats

                                                     Eating Crab For The First Time

                                                           Missionary Training Meeting

                         Sister Menezes The Pirate And Elder Courtney Walker On Halloween

                                                        Sister Menezes and Courtney


Oh and for Halloween as you can tell by the pictures I was an Elder for Halloween and Sister Menezes was a pirate. I’m going to see what I can do to go to a members house or two tonight to try trick or treating.... but they don’t really do that here so everyone will be super confused why I’m asking for candy on their doorstep...

Anyways our week here was good, we tried to go to the government with a couple to get them married but they got scared and ran away so it fell through. We also had a meeting at the stake center for all the missionaries training and being trained. Where they put us in 2 separate rooms basically to interrogate us to see if the newbies would rat us out if we weren’t doing our jobs right and to see if we were treating the newbies well. I’m glad to say I passed with flying colors. Obviously... Sister Menezes even told everyone how humble and patient and hard working I am. Three thumbs up and a pat on the back from Presidente Gomes. Weiner!  Oh and I got my package from mom, thank you!!! Goldfish and peanut butter have never tasted so good!! Everyone at the meeting was so intrigued by the beef jerky... 

I am sending a bunch of photos hoping they will count for 1000 words here... I am in Siqueira Campos today (a different area in my zone) and out of time because we had ´´pday with Presidente´´ which is basically code for we´re not baptizing enough so he had our zone get together and brought us lunch and told us to get our act together. It was interesting the things he said, they made me think. He told us that not one act of service or force we make goes unnoticed by the Lord. That was a good reminder for me after a week where I felt like our sacrifices were less than valued here by the people we met. But he talked about how we need to have a lot more faith, believe in the miracles that the Lord promises are possible. Which is true-sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day and the routine and talking with people on the street just to say we talked with 20 or 30 people on the street that day, that we don’t stop to realize that those are possible baptisms we´re talking to, those are generations of Gods children waiting to be helped along the right path. It was a good wake up call for me. It also made me really sad thinking that my time is almost up here to prove how much I really am willing to serve the Lord. Obviously we have our whole lives of dedicated service to show Him, but it will be in other capacities that I’m worried won’t be as fulfilling for me. Its hard that when I feel like I’m finally really good at something, that I know what I’m doing, my time is already up. That is a hard feeling. But I’m working on not thinking about that for now.

s/o to Sydney’s other name that I stumbled upon in Acts 24:24!

I love you all very much. I hope you know that!! Have a great week! até logo!

Sister Walker