Monday, December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015 - Feliz Ano Novo!!

                                      Sister Helm and Courtney skyping on Christmas day

Hey people!!

Can we just talk about how great it was to see you guys?!? Seriously best Christmas present I could get. besides the melty reisans and new skirts (thanks mummer!). Too bad the aftermath was a little bit hard but we´re back in business as of now. It was great to see your real life faces and it was cool because I felt like I really was back at home with you guys. Now just 6 more months til mothers day!

But what can I say since I just talked to you guys, haha, uhhm. Christmas eve was really good, when we all got back to our apartment we gave out the little secret sisters gifts we´d bought and even made hot chocolate and sat in front of the fan drinking it and pretty much sweating into our cups but #worthit. 

And as far as our area, we´re having a little bit more success here now. We´re finally meeting people who will let us come in to their houses and teach them. This of course was after several days of meeting only people who said no, that they’re ´´super catholic´´ whatever that means..., grown men who send their moms out to tell us they dont want to go to church, etc. it was almost comical all the excuses we heard haha but hey you gotta do the work to find the diamonds in the rough! (cue scary aladdin man voice)

We are teaching one family way over in Cidade Nova that is really great. We first met the youngest son Felipe playing soccer and he is a scrawny little kid who looks 8 but is 12. Then he has 3 siblings and parents who are really interested in our lessons. We sit in this tiny tiny living room with a chair and a couch and all the kids sit on the floor just listening in awe to us talk haha. Felipe really wanted to answer all our questions so whenever we asked one he would just yell out ´´jesus cristo!!´´ and hey half the time he was right! We´re trying to set a baptism date for all them but the dad works every Sunday selling stuff in the feira so we´re working on it. But the funny part was at the end of one lesson they somehow found out I can wiggle my ears and raise my eyebrows and yep you guessed it, it turned into freak Courtney and her strange tricks. They were fascinated that I can wiggle my ears and I felt like a circus monkey with them telling me to do it over and over. This is what I will put on my resume folks.

But other than that, things are going good here! We´re trying hard to get people to church which is the hardest trial as of now, because sometimes people here need a little kick in the hiney to understand you need to sacrifice for the things that are important like going to church! But I’m good at that ;)

Love you guys so much! Thanks for making my Brazilian Christmas so great!! 

Sister Walker

Public service announcement: I will never ever get used to the fact that the women here breastfeed in public. Come on, during relief society? Really??

Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015 - Can I Be The Donkey? No, Bretts Always The Donkey...

first things first please tell me the sisters in our ward and every ward in the stake have some place to go for christmas eve AND christmas day!!! that is your job plz my loving family!! it is sad to wait for someone to invite you to their house... lol we´re still waiting on christmas eve but hopefully something will pull through. its hard when 3 of us are new in this area so we dont know any of the members or anything. It’d be different if i was back in itabaiana with families i love, but here its just Christmas with a bunch of strangers... but it’ll be good! its good to serve others when you’re feeling down!

what a week people lemme tell you. opening an area sure is tough work. we pretty much walked the entire city all day long every day and my shoes have the smell to prove it. too far...? but estancia is pretty cute, its basically the same as itabaiana with the colorful houses all crammed together and the cobblestone streets. but here there are so many people with cars they all must be rich... its just funny to follow addresses here because alot of places don’t really have street signs, so the directions in the area book will be ´´go down the street of the crazy man, take a left at the pink house with an orange door, and around to the big pile of bricks in the road. if you’ve hit the man with the pink shirt selling chickens you’ve gone too far´´ but we make it work. 

but i live here with sister ruiz from dallas and sister oliveira from manaus. sooo hilarious having 3 Americans together, because it has pretty much never happened in the history of the world here. sometimes we sing christmas carols to each other late at night to make it feel more like christmas. they include i saw mommy kissing santa claus, rudolph and the classic 12 days of christmas. 
its the greatest thing working with sister helm, the only annoying thing is that we stand out SO MUCH together, two white girls in long skirts walking down the street. i have never felt so out of place in my life holy cow. people stare at us evvverywhere we go, they all think we´re sisters, and that we´re from germany. i kinda wanna flick em all in the head sometimes but i hold it together. but the funny part is we barely have to do contacting because other people will stop us on the street to ask us where we´re from and what we´re doing here and we just say ´well let me tell you a little something about the church of jesus christ...´´ boom. 
okay and skype this week im thinking its gonna be about 4pm here or 3pm which makes that exactly im not sure what time back home but im sure you guys can figure it out. ahhh im so excited to see you guys!!! plz get the scary doll ready. 
since its christmas i just wanna leave you guys with a little quick testimony of this special time! i am so happy to get to spend Christmas in brasil, even if its sweaty and hot and they don’t have real milk to make hot chocolate and only have palm trees not pine trees. because all that really matters is that i get to remember that my savior was born many years ago and because he was born he gave us the greatest gift of all, the opportunity to live with him again! i am grateful that with his plan i hope we can all remember what gift we´re gonna give to the savior this year, what we´re gonna change and do better to show more gratitude for all he has done for us. after all, it is his birthday! i know my savior lives, i know this church is true and i am so grateful to be here sharing this gift of lasting happiness with the people here! 
love you guys & see you soon!!

sister walker

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 14, 2015 - Christmas Is Here!!!

                                               Sister Davis, Courtney and Sister Marques
                                                Christmas Mission Conference in Maceio

What a WEEK where can i even begin that will make sense.

Okay so first of all, i got a call during a lesson on Wednesday night that was the assistants telling me that i needed to be in Maceio (a 5 hour bus ride to a different state) the next day at noon because i was called to be a new sister training leader. obviously i thought it was some sort of sick joke because how on earth can that be possible?? but yeah apparently it is. so tomorrow will be my first real transfer, im getting transfered to Istancia which is basically neighbors with Itabainana, is only about an hour away and is in the same zone... I’m never gonna escape zona lagarto haha.

Sister Davis and Marques will continue here in itabaiana and I’m gonna be companions with sister helm who is the golden missionary American from a little town close to boise Idaho. She has about 1 year and 2 months on the mish and is basically my idol in all things forever because she is so good at Portuguese and such a good missionary and funny and crazy and I’m suuper stoked to get to work with her. Everyone here in the mission calls me the mini Sister Helm too because of our personalities and our sass and even our voices, which i don’t think is entirely true but they say it anyways. I’m really really humbled to be able to serve the other sisters, and I’m already kinda freaked out but now I am feeling more confident after a lot of prayer. I’m just going to trust in the lord, because like it says in 1 Nephi 17:50-52, if God can do great miracles, why can’t he make me a sister training leader with only 5 months on the mish and a very basic Portuguese vocab? We will find out how it goes this week!

This week too was Christmas conference in Maceio!! It was sooo cool and amazing and wonderful. we had a  talent show where we did a trio of You’ll be in My Heart in English and Portuguese and i even sang parts as a SOLO, the mission is changing me i tell you. But it was so amazing to get to be with all the missionaries in such a feeling of unity and love and hope and renewed motivation to work and help the people in our areas. it was the first time i really felt fulfilled and excited for Christmas other than reasons like moms jams cookies and new PJs and not having to brush your teeth all day (maybe that’s just me and Spencer...). But i just felt this really big gratitude for my savior. He really is the lord of lords, king of kings, the prince of peace, who was born into the most humble of circumstances to be our savior. I’m learning, especially here in Itabaiana, that some of the best people are born into the humblest of circumstances. 

it’s funny the difference that a little bit of money or social status make for the people here. the few families that have a car or doors instead of curtains in every room, sometimes treat the sisters interchangeable, which is understandable, but so exact opposite how the other people in the branch treat us. For lunches, I would much rather go to the house of someone who maybe has less food or the meat is questionable or there’s flies swarming you when you eat, rather than the people who have fancy glasses, because the generosity and love and genuine affection the people show for you is just amazing. I would rather spend my time with them any day over the rich people here.

But also i got your guys package!! ahhhh it was so great to get the letters and pictures of you guys! It was really like Christmas i opened my gifts and read the notes over and over. it was funny because i really felt like dad because i felt like after the letters and pictures and notes from ward members that i was so happy and content and didn’t even need to open any of the presents. Who knew sometimes dad is right about a thing or two? Shreked. 

it’s also really nice to get to appreciate the little miracles as a missionary in a branch. it’s funny because it doesn’t impress me anymore when a brother in the ward gets up and gives a 20 minute talk on the atonement and uses 4 scriptures memorized and 5 quotes from Joseph Fielding Smith. But what impresses me is when a teenage girl who was baptized 5 months ago gets up and gives a short testimony how she knows the atonement is real, that god forgives our sins, that Christ loves us, and the church is true because she saw how it changed the life of her family. Being learned, or having lots of knowledge, isn’t what god looks at. he looks at the desires of our hearts and i am lucky to be able to do the same here.

Sister Marques and Sister Davis are a little sad that I’ll be leaving Itabainana,  (more happy that they’ll have more fridge space i think, personally but still) but they’ll continue to be great missionaries and take care of the branch here. Today we celebrated by buying yakisoba for lunch which is the most cultured place around here that just opened up. i also have yet to pack up my stuff so that’ll be sups fun... it’ll be sad to leave the place where i feel like i grew up. This is the place i arrived and didn’t understand a single word the people were saying, but still they hugged me and accepted me and taught me how to have faith in the lord. and now i have to leave em! But i know there’s other people waiting for me too. 

i think i wrote about my entire life in this email holy cow ill save some stuff for our Christmas call wahhoooo!! but i love you guys so much! thanks for thinking of me and praying for me and being a  great family i get to have forrevvverr-forevvverr-forevverr.

Sister Walker

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7, 2015 - Good Times In The Neighborhood!

                                                                 Daniel's Baptism!!!

                                                 Sister Davis, Courtney & Sister Marques
                                          Sitting By Their Fireplace In 100 Degree Weather

hey everybody!

this week was long, long. we are in the part of the cycle of missionary work where all our investigators are falling through so we have to find all new ones. but we fasted and are starting to see good results. we are starting to teach more in unison and less of me doing everything so its getting better. i was studying in alma 8:14-15 when alma is feeling weighed down with his mission and not having success, and an angel comes to comfort him and reminds him that he is doing the will of the Lord so he has plenty to be happy about! i thought that related well with me this week.

but on the plus side we had daniels baptism! it was really perfect, and he was so so happy afterwards. it was the cutest thing! also our district got together to make a little video for the christmas conference thats this week and surprise surprise, the elders planned literally nothing. so we got there and i directed the show! we did a naughty and nice list but it was progressing and non progressing. our santa had a toilet paper beard because it was pretty low budget.. no kerry bellessa style but we did do all our own stunts. 

the funny thing about our trio is that we get to see first hand the bluntness of brazilians. they still ask why i speak better than sister davis if we have the same time here.  and im like uhhh that is rather rude but alright haha. and i was thinking about how hard it must be for sister marques, because it would be like me serving in america and getting to my first area and living with 2 people from japan. I’d be like uhm wait what is going on here. but she doesn’t seem to mind.  She’s pretty easy going. 

also for christmas this week we made this sweet fireplace out of paper and cellophane that im sending a pic of too. im so excited for Christmas.  holy COW!!  okay that’s all I’ve got, talk to you next week! i love you guys!!

sister walker

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015 - That's So Raisin!

is it sad i cant remember how to spell raisen in english? #portugueseprobs
But as you can tell from the title, this week was all about visions, more or less like Raven Baxter.  Seriously it was like almost everyone we met this week considered themselves a prophet, because they receive visions and revelations from god, or they talk to spirits who have already passed on, or they see dead people, it was the weirdest thing. just picture Teresa Caputo on Long Island Medium x4 . and then it is not exactly the right time to teach them about Joseph Smith and the first vision... so we got kinda stuck sometimes but we always somehow come out strong.
 This week was so hurried, i feel like as a missionary trio we´re casting our net really wide right now to be able to find people that live close to the church and that are genuinely prepared and interested.  and now we gotta slim down our pickings a little. this week was sad because we went to teach Ronaldo again to see what we could do for him and  he hid himself in his house... let me explain. everyones doors are open here if they’re home, so you can see the people inside. we see him walk past and then go to his room and he wont answer us as we´re calling his name... his roommate told us he ´´left´´ too so that was awkward.  that happened to us a couple of times this week, we could literally see our investigator inside their house but they were hiding from us!! i felt a deep guilt for that one time the elders came to our old house and we all ducked down and pretended not to be home... karma big time.
it also got up to 107 degrees here this week, and for the first time i wanted to die because it was so hot. and that 107 degrees is not a dry heat my friend.

but besides all the craziness, i realized how much i just love the people here. theyre so different in that theyre so open and loving and generous. for example, i have friends all over the city now because i had a conversation with them one time and now we´re friends, or i slipped in some mud on the street and a woman sitting on her porch invited me in to clean it off and then we taught her the #1 lesson,  or a guy we´d met a week before  bought us all cheeseburgers (with fried egg and everything here) one night when we were all starving and poor. why cant everyone everywhere be braziian?!!
this week for thanksgiving i drew a  turkey for sister davis on a sticky note and put it on her desk. and that was about it haha. but im trying to make things fun at least a little bit for christmas. this week one day i made it a requirement for everyone to make 2 snowflakes out of paper before we left for the day. I’m working on a paper fireplace too. its gonna be legit.
 but this week we also had the coolest experience ever. we´re teaching Daniel who’s a 21 yr old chem student.  hes really nice and is really eager to find out if the church is true. for about 2 weeks he said he’d been praying and nothing was happening , he wasnt getting an answer about the church. i started to get a little nervous.  but then he asked why christ and god would appear to only people in America, to Joseph Smith. i felt prompted to have him read 3 nefi 11  where christ visits the americas. i marked it for him and then the next day called to remind him about church. he said that he read the chapter and that he believed!!! he said he read it and now he knew that the church is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet and the  book of mormon is true and wants to be baptized as soon as possible!!! ahhh i cant even describe how happy i felt when he told me that,  it was a happiness that I’ve never felt, like i was just floating on air and so so full of joy. all of our efforts and time and dedication was worth it because he finally understood why we were so earnest that he found out what  we already knew!! Ahhh,  it was perfect. 
 we also got to help a lot of people that were needing help in that moment, because we were directed by the spirit. one day I felt like we should go to a certain road that i used to go to a lot but all of our investigators there fell through, so i didnt know why. but we went and we found a less active girl who went to church all during young womens but married and her husband didnt like the church so she left it. and she was just crying saying that she felt she needed to go back and she loved the church so much and knows its all true. I'm grateful for the spirit that helps us know where the people are that need help!
im so happy to be a missionary!! really truly. its dang hard thats true, but im honored to get to serve the people here. i love you guys lots!!
até mais,

sister walker

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015 - Can't Be Hateful, Gotta Be Grateful!

                                                              The Awesome Threesome!

Happy Ação de Graças! (or turkey day for you less civilized people)
This week was heck. I thought I’d just start off with the truth. seriously most crazy week of my entire life. it was one of those weeks where every imaginable thing that could go wrong, goes wrong. alot of it i felt like i was drowning in things to do all by myself, planning lessons, calling people, making goals, coordinating with people, scheduling things,  meetings, just tons of random stuff to do. i felt like i was not cut out for this work, because i was just swamped in things to do. im trying to train a new sister,  i have to teach her english but teach the other one portuguese, holy cow its crazy. i got wicked bad food poisoning for 2 1/2 days and let me tell you, yes it is possible to have worse problems in the bathroom than i had had for the first  4 months. yikes. tmi. i kept wanting to work when i was sick but then moms voice would come haunting my mind when she always says when we´re sick ´´don’t push it!!´´ so i did not push it mom!  one day i had to sit on a bench because i was gonna throw up in this park and this old wrinkly man came over to me and asked me if i needed anything or needed to go to the doctor (brazilians go to the doctor for everything) and he went and bought me a cup of water and brought it to me.  i was so amazed at his kindness, because obviously he could see i wasn’t well, and so he just took a few minutes out of his day to do something for someone else. That’s just how the people are here, so generous and community minded. i love it!!!

but i spent the first few days feeling really sorry for myself. i think i felt every single possible feeling of a missionary this week. but then i realized that i needed to kick it into gear and get on my knees and ask for help from the one person who has the power to do all these things and more. and that’s when i saw miracles. i got to see how during our trials, the lord is there to carry our burdens with us, that we can be positive and persevere even though what we´re dealing with is tough, because it is!
but this week i felt like i really was starting to be a real missionary. im starting to feel for these people. i feel like when they tell me their problems, that im right there with them, because i physically feel their pain and their sadness too. i just ache for these people and sit and listen to them and wish i could  do everything to take away their pain. but all i can do is teach them about the savior, who can really help them.
more about the people here i love, irmao luiz. we went to visit him one time this week because we had run out of time the other day we were close to his house. When we got there and he was literally mad at me for not coming to see him! haha.  he had told his whole family about it. but we had told maycom we´d come that day so he said he was waiting all day because he knew we´d come :´) that kid is great.
we are working really hard to meet people that live close to the church because that is one of our problems with a city is that we waste a lot of time walking to different areas . but then we meet just amazing people  that were praying to find a path to follow, that live out in the boonies... im like really?? give us a break!  also in other news, our baptism for this week, ronaldo, called me to tell me he really likes me and  wants to know how i feel about him. talk about the saddest/most uncomfortable experience of my life. im working with my district leaders to figure out what we can do with this situation and praying hard. 
but somehow we are getting by here in itabaiana! im working a lot with the members now and its funny how they first saw me as the dopey american who didn’t know anything but now im the dopey american  who they have to talk  to because im the only one who knows whats going on! ha ha take that suckers!! okay thats all. oh we had zone conference this week and presiente  gomes is super mad at the mission because they’re all lazy and now we only have one hour to email. that is all.
eu amo voces! i love you!!

sister walker       

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015 - Training Week 1

                                                    The Lagarto District Before Transfers

hey party people!

SO, week one of training was a week where i got to learn that you just do your best and the lord is there every step of the way to fill in the cracks. (julia no more jokes, please). im really doing this, im training!! my new companion is sister marques from Espirito Santo, just a little south of our mission. she is really great. a little quiet, but any new missionary would be! shes very prepared, just like sydney told me she would be. shes really smart and is good at speaking up in lessons and talking to people on the street already! and our other companion is sister davis from northern california who is a bright peppy little redhead. we are kind of an odd group now that i think about it, all with very different strengths and weaknesses, trying to forge our way in this big city all to ourselves now, but somehow we´re doing it. 

 it is just so amazing because this week i honestly just felt a big ability placed on my shoulders, like a strange surge of confidence and potential and optimism. it was one part of me just trying to put on a brave face and make it til i make it, but 99 parts the lord was answering my very fervent prayers this week to be able to lead 2 somewhat noobie sisters when i just got out of training. the spirit really led me to know who we needed to visit and what to teach them, and how to use our time. thats what i was most worried about, that i wouldnt do the work the ´´right´´ way, but really the only right way is through the spirit and doing the Lords work. i had lots of great experiences this week where i would plan to teach someone something, and when we got there, feel like we needed to teach something else that i hadn’t prepared, and id just start talking and the spirit would always give me words i needed to say, even if i didnt have the vocabulary before. and everytime i did that, even if i was scared or nervous, id feel Him testifying to me as i spoke that i had made the right choice. 

mostly this week was just really hurried. i went to maceio for training (which was like 10 minutes of ´´you are a trainer and need to treat them nicely and teach them things- go and do it´´ cool thanks...) and to pick up sister marques. its cool because i got to know a lot of the other sisters in the mission and some of the elders, when before i felt like a big dope because i only knew 3 sisters in the whole mission. the new american sisters that arrived were scared stiffless let me tell you. i hope i didnt look like that when i got here... but i probs did. when they got to the chapel sister gomes came looking for me and said ´´please speak english to them, they’re really freaked out´´ haha poor things.  the weird thing was that i spoke in english to them but it felt so forced... like it wasn’t really my voice or me talking.. idk it was weird. then at the end of the meeting all together presidente asked me to say the prayer and i think he did that to show the american sisters that they really can do this and speak portugeuse. some of the elders who had been too cool to talk to me came up to me after and were asking ´´wait how long have you been out on the mission??´´ and i said 4 months and then i earned a lot of street cred in those moments. 

we had a lesson this week with marcio who bailed on his baptism and we brought a member to try and help him feel more integrated in the branch. but boy did we pick the wrong member. he has more time in the church and more wisdom, and for some reason he thought it was appropriate to take control of the entire lesson and start talking about the premotal existence, the war in heaven, lucifer vs christs plan, the expiatory blood of christ, and lots of other things. the topic of the lesson was qualifications for baptism. i wanted to reach over and flick him in the head the whole 20 minutes he was talking. i sat on my hands. 

anyways dont worry about me too much, the lord sure is taking good care of me!! it sure is hot and sweaty here. everyday i think ´´okay, it cant be any hotter than yesterday. i can do this´´ but everyday i am surprised again. but all that doesnt really matter when you go into a house and get to teach someone that christ loves them and is their savior and is aware of what they’re going through in that exact moment. that feeling makes it all worth it. i hope you guys have a great week. i love you so much!!

sister walker

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015 - Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Change...

´´just face the strange, ch-ch-changin´´ that one goes out to all you shrek fans out there.

SO. Big news. the end of an era has occurred here in Itabaiana. Transfers are tomorrow, and both the other sisters got transferred to different areas. Sister Barbosa got transferred to be a sister training leader, and I am gonna stay here in Itabaiana and train a new sister!! More news. There were 2 areas here in this city because it is literally huge, but Presidente combined them and now i´ll have to cover BOTH areas with the new sisters. Oh yeah and im gonna be in a trio with Sister Davis, the other Americana that got here the same time as me. But i am kinda confused because all the other sisters that’ll be training have AT LEAST 9 months on the mission. and i have 4... so theres that. And to top it all off, ill have to be the most experienced one here in the area when 1. i am horrible with directions and am gonna be lost 97% of the time and 2. i barely speak portugese. So this will be an adventure! I already had my little breakdown and now i just feel like whatever happens happens. Obviously if the Lord thinks i can do this, Im just gonna trust in Him and let myself grow and help this new sister as much as i can! but i am also freaking out a little bit. I am nervous about having such a huge area to cover when Sis B and i didn’t even have enough time to visit all the people we needed to in our own area, and now times that by 2... holy cow. I am very confused but very humbled to have been called to get to serve another new sister, and i know that because i was so so blessed to get such an amazing trainer who gave me nothing but support and love and help, i get to give that to someone else now too. 

so thats pretty much all that i can even think of that happened this week, the rest of it was pretty much just dreading this day and leading up to it and trying to be focused. but me and sister b were just so depressed all week cuhs we knew we´d be separated. she really has taught me so much and is one of those people that you know god handpicked to put in your life to help you along your way. we are so similar its like she knows exactly what’s going on in my head or im feeling before i even tell her. one day we left a members house for lunch and they had forgotten we were coming so there wasnt very much food. we left and i said ´´we gotta go to the market.´´ and she said ´how come? just kidding i could tell by your face you were still hungry.´´ haha. in brasil they call the person who trains you your ´´mom´´ on the mish and i was the daughter. sis b never called me that because it demeans you and literally you cant treat someone like a small child and then expect them to grow into a regular missionary but that is a separate issue. but having to leave her will really be like having to leave my sister when i left sydney and julia at home. but i know with the lords help he´ll help me see my new purpose here.

so sadly this week i felt like my world in itabaiana was crumbling. for one thing, our baptism with irmao marcio fell through although we have no idea why. the day of his interview our district leader came and we had called him earlier to check in and he said he´d see us at the church at 7pm. so we all met there then, but he never showed. we called and called, but he had turned off his phone. we went all the way to his house, and his daughter said he´d never come home from work. still today he wont answer our phone calls or come to the door if we go there. so we are confused and sad because we have no idea if he just got scared to be baptized, if he really didnt know the things were true he told us he knew, or what. its just frustrating to me that he went through all that trouble with all these shenanigans, when if he didnt wanna be baptized he coulda just said so!!!

but back to happier things. we had a great family night hosted in Rio das Pedras with all our investigators that live over there, because its hard for them to come all the way into the city when we have one there. we have this great new investigator Ronaldo, who literally asked me if he could be baptized this saturday. how often does that ever happen in real life?? i had to explain he had to have a few more lessons but that sure enough he would be. how amazing to meet someone so ready to put everything on hold to follow christ!

dang i cant think of any other cool things this week cuhs my heads filled with worrying about transfers. i have to go to maceio tomorrow morning at 6am to have training and then to pick up my new companion and then we´ll get back here wednesday or thursday , im not sure when. i know the lord is on my side right now and will help me through every difficulty i have with this new part of the mission. good thing i got comfy here because now ill be here for the next 3 months, totalling 6 months here altogether! yikes... but itll be great. know that the lord is on your side too! he is ready and willing to give you all the capacity to help, if youre doing whats right and if you ask. i love you guys!

sister walker

Monday, November 2, 2015

November 2, 2015 - A Week Of Wonders

                              Greatest thing ever is when a ward member's dog has puppies!!

hope everyone had a feliz dia das brujas this week!! my companion kept calling it ´´the day of sister walkers´´, but i´m gonna forgive her for that one eventually.

so this week was the week of wonders people! lots of cool things happened. For one, we had a really cool zone conference where presidente gomes and sister gomes came to talk to us. the stuff they talked to us wasnt exactly super wonderful because get this; the mission brazil maceio has almost the worst numbers in all of brazil.... lol awkward. like almost approaching european missions in lowness. so we got to talk about lots of ways to help that. personally i have lots of ideas on how to have people work more efficiently, like things including obedience to schedules and other rules that should naturally apply to missionaries, but i figure its not exactly my place quite yet to try and fix all that. but whats really great is that i got a package from grandma and grandpa at that meeting!! ahhh they are so nice to think of me. everyone was asking how to say my first name haha. no one was even close. i did get called corny though which sent me into a spiral of horrible memories from my past life. 

anyways, another great thing that happened was that we got a washing machine!! boooyah, say goodbye to half washed clothes in a bucket and say hello to a heavily used washing machine! ahh life is good. also this week, a funny thing in brazil is that sometimes the water just stops running and you dont really know why but you just gotta wait til it comes back on. lots of times there’s not enough water to flush the toilet so you have to pour a lot of water in after you use it but thats no biggie. the complete drought never happened to our house but in rio das pedras it happnes a lot. but this week it was our fate. we got home one night and didn’t have water to shower or anything so we lugged buckets of water from outside where we filled it with the faucet inside. then i boiled some of it on the stove and we showered with that water. it was quite the adventure!

but this week we got some really good lessons with some really great people. wow i wish i could write about all the people we meet cuhs they all have such great stories! but this week is the baptism of marcio if everything goes smoothly. this week we were in one lesson with a guy named ronaldo who is really torn up beacause his girlfriend left him and took their little baby with her and now he only gets to see him on the weekends. and we were teaching about why there are lots of churches in the world since he asked. we had brought his neighbor who’s a member but is kinda a more or less rambly old woman but she’s still really nice. anyways i was teaching about prophets and all of a sudden she butts in and says ´´isnt she speaking so well?? and its a good thing too, because when she got here no one could understand anything she said!!´´ so kinda got wrecked by an old woman during a spiritual lesson but hey what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. note to self, don’t bring her to important lessons anymore.

this week was my week of training to be the senior companion which kinda stressed me the heck out. sister barbosa thought it was so hilarious to sit back and do literally nothing, which was really dang hard but also good for me to see how many responsibilities and things you need to remember day to day. but this week i also got kinda sick and gross like with a bad cold and sore throat so i was like a hacking old man during lots of the lessons so that was fun. the funny thing about brazil is that everyone and their mom has a fool proof remedy for each ailment, when i kept saying it was just a cold and not to worry about it. they’d say ´´don’t drink cold water´´ or ´´don’t use a fan at night when you sleep´´ or ´pretty much ´´don’t walk out in the sun´´ which isn’t exactly possible now is it?! but now I’m better so it’s all good.

today we got to go to this really cool activity for all the branches in the district at like this resortish place. it was like a nicer ensign ranch, tropical edition. and they had stayed there last night but we went just today to hang out and eat lunch and talk with the members and play games out on the field and play some noncompetitive soccer. i have never wanted to swim so bad in my life cuhs they had a nice pool and its steaming outside, but also it was sad cuhs they were playing just dance and it made me miss our big family just dance sessions (shoutout to when mom and dad danced to rihanna #nightmares)

i realized this week that my heart is growing a lot for the people here, which is great because that’s what I’ve been praying for. I’m gonna be sad when i leave them, or when sister barbosa gets transferred next week, but i know there´ll be others i need to meet and help too. I’m really learning to love being a missionary! It’s amazing to be able to think 100% about others all day long, and do everything you can just to maybe make their life just a little bit better. I’ve always loved to serve and help others, and now i know this is the best and most efficient way you can ever do that. i love you guys have a  great week!!

sister walker

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 26, 2015 - Count Your Ble$$ings...

                                                     Courtney At A Parade In Itabaiana

Another week come and gone holy cow!

This week I learned alot of things that i am grateful for. Hence the title of this email. Im starting to not think of everything in Brasil in comparison to things in the States, but the things here just being normal. its helping me adjust better. But what really made me realize im adjusting is when a ward member gave us a ride to pick up an investigator for church (which is rare in itself-there’s 4 families in the branch that own a car-no one here has a car they’re sups expensive), and i got in and it had carpet and the windows worked and the seats werent torn or anything and i thought ´´whoa this is a really nice car´´, and then realized that everyone and their mom has a car like this or nicer back home. the things im grateful for i didnt realize i was grateful for until now. cliche but true. here are some of those things:

Public bathrooms, libraries, no littering laws, lightbulbs in every room, free schooling, health care plans, mutual and youth activities. Its funny the little things that you dont realize you love until you dont have them anymore. and the things you realize you dont really need! but i really feel so grateful and humbled to get to meet these people and find out about their lives. sometimes when we´re teaching in a cement house with people who have 1 couch and 2 beds for furniture and 1 lightbulb in their house and have more faith than i could ever dream of, i feel almost embarrassed that back home i know i have a closet full of clothes, a fridge always full of food, 3 tvs, who knows how many cars now (i cant keep track). it just goes to show what’s really important in life. wow the people here are teaching me so much. 

anyways this week we got big news from the sister training leaders when we had splits with them. this transfer, nov 10, we´re gonna get 10 new sisters!! that is so crazy and never has happened before! and 2 are americans. the only downside is that its almost guaranteed that sister barbosa will be transferred out of this area, if not all 4 of us. and also there is a high possibility i will be training one of the new missionaries which makes my stomach feel sad everytime i think of it. how could i ever train a brand new missionary when im basically a small child who barely speaks portuguese/?? ok no i will do whatever the lord calls me to do. we´ll see. 

for one of the family home evenings we went to this week with our investigators was at the branch presidents house. we were all enjoying waiting for him to start the message he´d prepared and he said ´´we´re gonna watch a mormon meessages video. but it happens to be in english so sister walker is going to translate what they’re saying for us´´ i was like are you kidding me hahah. so im there watching the mormon message Climbing Mountains and listening so intently to what elder eyring i think is saying and trying to translate super fast into words that will have some particle of the same emphasis and spirit as the video. gee whiz that was hard. but i think i did okay. also we watched parts of this really cool movie called Rescuing Ephraim if you guys wanna watch it.

this week i dunno what happened but we had 7 investigators at church!! oh the joy of missionaries. the great thing is that the people are so welcoming that if youre new, you’ll have  a friend no matter what because whoevers next to you will just talk to you like you’ve been friends your whole life. one of them who came is Marcio who has told us the past 4 weeks he´d go to church but hadn’t. one week he even told us he was on his way so we waited outside for him and he said he was ´´almost there´´ but we waited and waited and he never showed up... lol people are funny. but he’s preparing to be baptized and just loves hearing our messages. his baptismal date is nov 7! we´re also working with a woman named Aparecida whos kids are members but not active. i met her on accident when i went to visit her kids with a woman in the ward last sunday, and she is so so interested in the gospel. she said when the elders used to try and teach her years ago, she´d shut the door and tell them not to come back, that she didnt want to hear it, but now she is ready and open and wants to be baptized! it just goes to show how the lord has a certain time for everything, and how all of the paths in our lives are prepared and organized. 

well thats about all folks, im still learning the ropes and how to do things the ´´brazilian´´ way, but i sure do love being able to represent my savior and my family on my missionary plaque every single day. thanks for all your love and support, i love my family!!

sister walker

Monday, October 19, 2015

October 19, 2015 - Lookey, Lookey....

                                       Courtney, Irmao Manoel, another girl being baptized,
                                           Lucas (young man baptizing them), Sis Barbosa

Greetings from the sweat capital of Brasil,

I´ll just start off with what everyones wondering, we had a baptism this week!!! Irmão Manoel who we met on the street about a month ago. It was so cool. He is a very interesting guy. He has a few problems that are somewhat evident because he suffered a huge trauma when he was 20, and now he’s 45. at first i just thought he was different because sometimes you have to be really really patient cuhs he gets distracted easily, but he gets so so happy when we talk about the gospel and teach him. its amazing to have been able to see the light that grew within a man without a family, without a job, without anything really, but that faith in christ gave to him. it was also amazing to tell that although a part of his mortality and mental, not disabilities but challenges, hold him back sometimes in social situations, he understands everything we teach him. its like his physical mind can hold him back but his spirit recognizes all the things that we teach him!

well because of the baptism, the week was kinda scrambled and crazy, but it was good. i love brazilian families here because they just know how to relax and be together and take a break from all the craziness. last pday we went to jessica and tiagos house which if you remember was the family that got baptized when i got here, and they are just gold. we ate lunch with them and then they pulled out their mattresses and put them all on the floor of the living room and they took a family nap and sister barbosa slept in the hammock and me on the couch. they just know how to have family togetherness time without having to be doing anything! i love being able to take little parts from each family i meet and store away for my future family. 

we also had a surprise family night with a less active family in the ward. it was seriously a surprise, we all just showed up at their house one night with ward members and said we were gonna have family night there. its funny cuhs a lot of times i still think ´´this so would not be okay in america´´ but it just works here! i knew if a bunch of people showed up at our house on a wednesday night we´d all be crabby that they intruded and didnt call ahead and that the house wasnt clean (only mom cares about that one). but the family was so so happy and excited we were there and kept saying how grateful they were that we´d come to their house. i love brazilian openness. i also love about brasil that the people are much less full of stigmas and social norms that hold people back from just being themselves. people just are who they are and arent embarrassed. theyre not afraid to talk about religion like i sometimes was back home with my friends. so dont be like me! people are searching for this light and truth and hope we have, but you just gotta be brave enough to bring it up.

also just for future reference, ive learned the mail here is pretty sketchy. they lose things a lot or it takes ten years to get anywhere. also right now theyre on strike so that put a damper in things. everyone’s on strike here at one point or another, the mail, the banks right now, even i want to go on strike when my alarm goes off at 6:30 and i feel like i slept 4 minutes.

i was thinkin about christmas lately and decided its never too early to come up with a list. so here are some ideas mother dear; sticky notes (regular and those little ones to put in books), white cami (2 for $15), nikon camera memory card, Ricks Ready Reference pocketbook, tape, sydneys christmas mish cd/any church music cd, markers/colored pencils, $1 bills, mascara, stud earrings, gluestick, any recent conference talks, copies of my piano sheet music including hallueljah from shrek. tis the season! :)

a little girl just came up to me and asked me if i teach an english class here she can take. oh and her mom made her ask me. okay back to the week. 

oh so as far as the language goes. i pretty much can get by in whatever conversation now. unless its about some really obscure topic. but the thing is that i dont want to just get by, i want to be able to speak everything i think, without having to dumb it down to fit my portugeuse vocabulary. i dont want to be just ´´good for an american´´, i want to be good! but sister barbosa says i worry too much and i already speak better than most americans but i think shes just being nice. 

Thats about it for my week, we got to meet a lot of great new people this week because most of our other investigators hit a wall or a fear or some obstacle that only a miracle will help them progress forward now. sad but god always blesses us with new people to teach. im even getting so happy im already nervous about transfers in 3 weeks!! i dont wanna go. *cheaper by the dozen when the twin boys are in the carseats*. okay thats all for now folks, i love you guys lots!!

sister walker

Monday, October 12, 2015

October 12, 2015 - Tres Meses!

Hey people!

okay first off, i sent you guys a letter about a month or so ago, so if you didnt get it then houston we have a problem and ill have to send letters from a different envelope pouch thing. also package update in case i ever get one here, for christmas it’ll need to have arrived in maceio by december 10 because thats when we have christmas conference in maceio and when id be able to get anything like that. 

but back to the good stuff. this week was kinda sad tbh. we are teaching lots of people that learn of gospel truths like god loves them, the book of mormon is true, we have a living prophet, they need to keep the commandments and go to church every week, but then use their agency wrongly and choose to not act on the witnesses they receive. i sure am not a fan of agency this week. but sister barbosa said something in our lesson with katia who is a single mom all ready to be baptized but her member bf kinda messed things up. she said that we cant put in her heart all the feelings and inspirations the spirit has given to us. and even if we could, we wouldnt because we fought for this spirit and knowledge of the spirit that we have. we fight for it every single day as we study for 3 hours every morning, as we choose to not follow temptation, when we chose to serve a mission, we literally fought against the adversary to have the level of conversion we do and she wouldnt give that up for anything. i was in amazement because that is exactly true. the gospel is something you have to experience for yourself and feel, no one can convince you of it!

im also learning about how really amazing and great the book of mormon is. it changes peoples lives! its amazing because sister barbosa taught me, you dont need to put your hand in the fire to know that it burns, because someone before you put their hand in and it burned. just like in the book of mormon, we already have examples of what happens when you doubt the power of the lord, or murmur against him, or need guidance and turn to the lord, or your family needs to be strengthened. we already know what happens so we dont need to pass through the same afflictions to know the result. and we can take strength from the stories in there because we know the good results too! that book is great. What’s sad is that we teach every single day, almost every single lesson the power of reading every day and praying morning and night. thats what we teach to people investigating the church but then we go to all the members house for lunch and ask if they’re doing those things and they say no! it just breaks my heart! theres about 3 youth in the ward that go to seminary every day, and the one girl thats the firmest in the branch said shes never read the book of mormon ever... i was like are you for real. (but she also said shes embarrassed to wear a skirt that goes down to her knees but thats a whole separate can of worms that is an issue here). its like the smallest things can make or break your testimony of the gospel and the strength you gain every day.

But on a happier note, today is Dia das Crianças! (Kids Day). everyone gives presents to their kids and theres little trampolines and balloons everywhere. but somehow i got jipped because i definitely sat at the 1 foot tall kids table every year for christmas eve dinner but no one gave me a present today... Oh and big news, i started the bottom pinching tradition during fotos here in brasil so that is a win for the walkers. zinger.

update on maycom: he is ready to be baptized but now his dad doesnt want him to be, so that put a damper on things. but his dad works all week except sunday and on sundays he is lets just say less than capacitated to have a coherent chat with... we are praying for him. its still so funny to me how different things in brasil are. the people here, especially in the northeast, are SO trusting. we meet people in the street and within 3 minutes we have their name, address, phone number, age, marital status, days they’re at home, and their favorite color. everytime we do it i think of when mom accidentally put our address on facebook and everyone freaked out at her hahah. and i think of dad always freaking out saying not to give personal info out to anyone *cue dad saying ´´oh im sure, freak out *crinkled finger movie arm quotes**

its also funny with the language, because I’m pretty good at understanding what people say now. i just dont always have all the words i want to respond. but people can actually have a real conversation with me now and dont just look at my companion the whole time. but its funny theres one lady in the branch who still thinks i dont know a word of portguese, so she always talks with big hand motions and makes her eyes really big when she talks to me and talks really loud like that will help me understand better haha. sometimes i play dumb and make her do lots of ridiculous arm movements until I ´´understand´´. then i repent.

but things here are going pretty well! we´re hoping this week the lord will help us meet lots of new people to teach because most of the people we were working with have reached some sort of bridge and got stuck progressing. but i know there’s other people here ready for us. the people here are so open! We just have to have the courage to talk with everyone. i love you guys. I’ll talk to you next week!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October 5, 2015 - "Wait, Not Everyone In America Is White??"

                                                  Courtney, Maycom and Sister Barbosa

Above is an excerpt from a real conversation I had with a real Brazilian adult yesterday during conference. Oh what a different world Itabainana Brazil is...
Summer is definitely settling in here. Its gets hotter everyday and my shoes get sweatier. But all is well here in good ole Brasil. This week was kinda long tbh. Im learning first hand how hard the adversary works against you when you start on the right path and start doing what the Lord wants you to do. I feel like thats happening with all of our investigators! They’ll get to a certain point and are really progressing and then satan will put an obstacle in their path to try and keep them from pushing forward. And sometimes it does stop them, which makes us sad. I think I was really dumb when I left on my mission. Let me expound;
When I got to brasil i thought just because it was brasil, I’d be baptizing all the time, with people just so eager to join the church. well surprise surprise, because that is not the case in this area. Apparently the northeast is known for being a little more stubborn. But that doesnt mean there aren’t people here being prepared and waiting for us! This week Sister Barbosa and I were praying that we´d be able to find a new family to teach. And one day we went to Irmao Louis´s house and there was a 14 yr old boy named Maycom reading the book of mormon to him since he doesnt know how to read. Turns out Maycom is so excited to be baptized and have purpose and hope in his life through the gospel of Jesus christ! AND guess what else, he has 9 siblings. BAM. #miracles #blessed. I am so humbled to be able to teach the great people here. Their house is probably the size or smaller of the apartment I’m living in, maybe the size of our living room and dining room and kitchen put together at home. but the spirit that they have is just amazing. it really proves it, you dont need anything but the gospel and your family to be happy. 
Maycom told us about an experience he had this week too. he said one night he was praying to know if the church was true like we asked him to, and he didnt know why but he just started crying. we asked him how he felt in that moment and he said like god was right there beside him. I just wanted to hug the kid, for crying out loud!! Because god really is with us every step of the way! He said that he even felt someones hand on his shoulder comforting him but he looked behind him and saw no one. so cool! i know that our savior is with us during our triumphs and during our trials. and that makes Him all the more personal. The love our Savior has for each one of us individually is profound.

And who loved conference helllooo I did!! I agree with syd when she said that the best talks are on saturday to stick it to the people who just watch sunday. we watched Saturday at a members house on their laptop (most people don’t have internet at their houses or computers). well the members left when it started, but still. then sunday we took a big sweaty rickety bus with the whole branch to Lagarto where the nearest chapel is. Can we talk about how many times they told us to keep the sabbath holy? I guess that means no more granite flats for you pecadores. jk. kinda. I’m sad that people here really dont understand the importance or significance of conference. its hard enough to get them to go to church for 3 hours once a week, let alone 8 hours in one weekend. most of the members here didnt even know we had it on satuday too... haha. but i just loved elder hollands talk about moms. it is so true when he said moms carry us for a lot longer than 9 months. i knew mom was crying during that talk which made me tear up too. i miss my mom! we really are so lucky to have parents rooted in the gospel who taught us like the sons of helaman, who sacrifice everything for us. 
my new favorite pastime is teaching the kids here to say ´´i love you sister walker´´ in english. i am a great missionary. Sister Barbosa and i are kinda joined at the hip these days. We laugh alll the time. She says to me ´´if youre this sassy in portuguese after speaking for 3 months, i dont know if i even want to hear you in english..´´ true or true? ;)
if at any time you guys could email me conference talks so i could print them off (portugues or english) i would love that!! i love you guys!

sis walker

Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015 - "Just Smile And Wave Boys, Smile And Wave"

                                               Courtney And Her Roommates In Itabaiana
                 (Her Companion, Sister Barbosa, Is Next To Her  - They Call Her A Brazilian Barbie)

This has been the motto of my mission experience thus far.

Greetings from Eat-Eye-By-Yana!

This week I learned I love the people here. Well i guess i already knew that but i really learned it. i feel like the grinch a lot of the time because i can just feel my heart growing in capacity every time we have a lesson with someone or talk to someone on the street who says they needed someone to talk to that day. 

i made it through my first transfer! We didn’t get word until 11;30 at night last night but all 4 of us are staying here for now so we were screaming and shouting for joy. our neighbors probably appreciate us a little less now. but everyone says that the sisters that serve in this area stay here a lonnng time. at least 4 months, some sisters are here 8 and the longest ive heard is 10. holy cow. so im gettin comfortable. 

But i feel like i should be a little more clear on my area that im in. Im in a little city, its not like im in the jungle usually. There’s nicer parts and more humble parts, depending on where you’re at. our house is in the nicer parts, i mean its all brazil so its all different to start with, but our house i think is considered nicer. There’s one part of our area called Rio das Pedras which is where i helped build a bathroom and where i cant drink the water at all. Thats where the real magic is, people. the people there are sooo ready for the gospel, so in tune with the spirit and the lord is preparing people there. but its far from the chapel so presidente doesnt technically like us working there that much... ugh. but there’s this one guy there named irmao louis, who is the oldest most kind and smallest and wrinkliest old man who just melts my heart every time we visit him. he was baptized a year ago and likes to hold your hand as you walk up the road to his house. When he says the closing prayer for us he always says ´´thank you for sending these sisters here to visit me even though they always have to go so soon´´ and if that didnt break your heart then i dont think you had one to begin with. sorry that was abrupt. but its true! the people that we just adore are the ones who dont need us as much. the people that need us, are the more stubborn ones. i feel a lot like my alter ego Nanny McPhee in these moments because ´´when you need me but do not want me i must stay but when you want me but no longer need me i must go´´ (*cue all the sad overused Nanny McPhee jokes*)

I’m realizing that adjusting to mission life here doesn’t just mean adjusting to always being tired and sweaty, but a harder part is adjusting to the culture. its one thing to appreciate and admire the culture from afar, but its another to be thrown right into it. and brazilians are very very different. for one thing they’re very loud, whenever we go somewhere its super loud and you have little to no personal space. which i can deal with except when you’re on the bus and don’t really want to snuggle with a stranger who smells like old barn. but that’ll come with time i guess. 

one night i was having a hard time and just feeling very isolated from everyone and everything. so i was just praying and praying and talking with heavenly father that he would remind me why I’m here, remind me that im loved and that i can do this. then we got to Rio das Pedras and it was honestly the greatest answer to my prayers because one after another all these little kids were just sprinting towards us to hug us and talk to us. kids that i didn’t even know would hug me. and when they left and we went to the next street, more would come. i know heavenly father knew that’s what i needed right then, that those kids would just touch my heart and remind me that this is my home, this is what i was called to do, to love and serve these people.

i also had a funny experience this week when a man we had invited to church asked me to talk to him in english. he said to invite him to church in english and tell him why it was important to go so i said sure what the heck. and i tried to start talking in english and the words honestly wouldn’t come out. in my head i had everything i wanted to say but my mouth couldn’t speak them, it kept getting jumbled up with portuguese words. it was the weirdest thing. other random fun fact, the funny thing about teaching the first vision here is that we have to explain what a forest is, because there’s no such thing as forests here nor has anyone ever seen one.

but that’s about it from me, I’m so ready to start my second transfer here and get the lords work movin faster!

i love you guys so much!

sister walker