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

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21, 2015 - "I Don't Believe In God, I Only Believe In Science"

                                                    Sister Courtney Walker in Itabaiana

Olá Nacho!
(´´how did you find me? ´´we saw you from the road´´)
Wow another week already come and gone! Its funny how this week our numbers for goals and stuff were really good but im sad cuhs i dont feel like we did enough because our investigators arent progressing as much as i want, but last week our numbers were sad but i felt like we helped a lot. oh well. Its all good! All these things shall be for our experience. I love Doctrine and Covenants. Did you guys know that? Seriously love that book. oh and the book of mormon. and the new testament. pretty much all scripture and we only have an hour each day to study which is defs not enough time but oh well. its funny how i want to study the deep doctrine and increase my knowledge about that but i know i need to be studying in portuguese so instead i think the lord is trying to remind me about gaining a solid testimony of the basics of the gospel first. (because it takes like 3 hours to read one chapter in the BOM in portuguese so thats why). speaking of knowledge, its funny how the people here are on such a different level here in spiritual knowledge. we cant talk about foreordination because we´re just working on reverence and the kids not throwing cheeseballs during sacrament mtg. (which they did not share) theres one guy in the branch named irmao nelson whos been a member a while and hes been to the temple so hes pretty much revered as the o wise one here. but i was thinking, this guy has nothing on sister kersh, patriarch hall, uncle kim and tim, people who have a really deep understanding of the gospel. but its okay! because all they need right now is to know god loves them and they need to be baptized. im grateful the gospel is line upon line and precept upon  precept. 
oh so the conference was this wknd! holy cow it was good. we had 210 people literally packed like sardines in that tiny little building. prez gomes and sister gomes were there and they spoke but somehow i got ousted to the hallway to be the ringleader of the rugrats during sacrament mtg so i didnt really hear anything that was said but im sure it was good and uplifting. but they did come bearing gifts because i got a PACKAGE filled with CANDY AND TREATS from the best people ever the WHEELERS! ahhh i was so pumped. it said it got sent the 28th of august so theres a time gauge for you mom. but ethan and riley and ashton (and sis wheeler) wrote me the best notes and drew me pictures and im working on writing them back! letters take about a month to get there so be a little patient. 
but this week was cool literally because it rained 3 or 4 days so i was in heaven because rain=clouds=less sun blazing down on you. but the down side you smell like a sad soggy dog the rest of the day. you win some you lose some.
this week i gained some major street cred while we were doing service for some people outside their house. i took a short break to play soccer with some little kids in the street and just pulled out some christiano renaldo stuff on em. jk. but for real they were impressed because apparently girls dont really play soccer here, its only the boys... some kid took a video of me on his phone so look for that video when it goes viral on youtube.
im still amazed at how receptive the people are here. almost everyone loves to have us come visit them and talk with them. the problem then is that they just want us as friends and dont really want to read the scriptures or get baptized and i just wanna throttle (momism) them sometimes and say ´´im trying to change your life here and youre making it really difficult!!´´ but we´re trying really hard to get the people to keep their commitments. theres one guy named irmao genaldo we’re trying to teach who is an exact replica of the teacher from the incredibles that dash puts a tack on his chair (julia you know who im talking about). and he always says he wont be home for us to teach him and then is always sitting on his front porch... haha awkward. and one day he was talking to us and told us he belongs to a secret Mason group of people here and i was so stoked cuhs we were like in National Treasure or something and he was all worried ´´i cant tell you guys very much...´´ haha it was crazy!
anyways we taught a lot this week about prayer. and i kept remembering how when i was little one night mom came into me and julias room and i was on the bunkbed and she taught us that we need to pray every night by ourselves and thank heavenly father for all he helped us with that day. because ever since then thats what ive tried to do every night before i go to sleep. and now im  teaching that to the families here! its crazy how many people dont know you can have a  real and normal conversation with god, instead of reciting a prayer. i know god hears and answers our prayers! Hes helped me so much since i got here. but hes waiting for us to show a little bit of faith and humility by asking for help first. and that is my spiritual thought for the week. pray with real intent if you have a question or need help! i promise you’ll receive it. i love you guys so much! talk to you soon,

sister walker

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015: "Oh Ann, You Beautiful Tropical Fish"

In case you missed the Parks and Rec’s reference, this sums up how I feel when i walk around here everyday. I wish for one day people would quit staring at me like i have a big piece of food stuck in my teeth!!

But hey people!
This week was busy but we didnt get as many lessons in as i wanted to. I hear thats how it goes around here most of the time. We are working hard because we have a big branch conference this sunday and the mish prez is comin and everything. if we have enough people turn out for that then we´ll be able to have a chapel built here!! woohoo! This week I learned about how to use my exoticness to my advantage. That sounds sketchy but let me explain. When we meet someone on the street or are teaching them for the first time we introduce ourselves and tell a little bit about what a mission is. And i found out that when i tell them that i left my family and everyone i love and my schooling way back home in America to come here and share this message with them because i know its true, they can tell its serious and they listen. Its cool.

Okay so we work with a lot of less active members here. Theres a tonnnn. They make me sad inside to hear about when they were active or to have them talk to me about the things they know to be true, but then i dont understand if they know these things are true, why they arent living up to them. Theres one 14 yr old boy who was baptized just before i got here named Gabriel and he is a rockstar (phrase coined by syd). He is so spiritually in tune and would study the scriptures everyday and tell me about the chapters in the book of mormon hes reading. but this week he told us he doesnt want to go to church anymore.... that just about broke my heart. so we´re working with him. he asked me if i had a $1 bill from america and i said yes and he could have it if he goes to church. boom. missionary work at its finest. people always want to see american money, and i can pretty much live on $1 a day which is apparently 6 reis here now so theres that. Another somewhat sad story is my friend Fabihno who is also a recent convert. He is 18 and never wears shoes but is very faithful. But he also said he doesnt want to go to church anymore. Sister Barbosa and I were talking and talking to him, trying to figure out why not, and finally we found out it was because the last time he went to church, someone had made some offhand joke about his clothes because he was wearing bermuda shorts, but turns out those were the only clothes he had to wear :( makes me think about all the dumb comments ive made to people that probably werent very nice...)

This week we had divisão with the sister training leaders which i was wicked nervous about but was really fun. and turns out i can actually speak a little portuguese! i got paired with the sister who was asked by the mish prez to extend her misssion here for a month so you can say shes a pretty awesome missionary. but the people we went to teach actually understood me and respected me as being the lead missionary for that one day. i had been praying and praying that they would and then it turned out! prayer works people. 

Also this week we helped with this ´´Dinner for Married Couples´´ we had at the branch for all the married couples (i guess that explanation wasnt needed but still). There arent very many married couples, and even fewer who are both active but we had about 20 couples there. The missionaries all were serving the plates and the people would get up and give little love shoutouts to their spouse, it was so adorable. we even had 2 young men put on bowties and serve drinks #classy. And idk who was in charge of the music but at one point complicated by avril lavine was playing so you better believe i was jamming out. (and repenting afterwards). 

speaking of repenting, all 4 of us went to an evangelical church last night because one of the other sister’s investigators said he wouldnt go to our church til they went to his. it was pretty legit, it was like an efy rock concert and everyone was swaying back and forth and yelling amen and hallelujah. i wont lie i snuck in a few of my own in there while i could. but the pastor was like the hypnotist at the puyallup fair with the cheesy music and a headset and everything. but i couldnt help but feel a little sad for all these people who were honestly searching for christ and to follow him and could be so much happier if they had the whole complete truth. maybe we´ll proselityze near there this week...

Brasil is funny, people will come up to us in the streets and ask us to pray for them. Also its the best, if you dont have money for food, you just go to a members house and ask if you can have something to eat and its totally normal. One of the members we were at this week for lunch said that like we have families at home, they were our family while we were here. the people here are so good to me :) 

Other than that, Im doin okay. Missions are fun! who knew? portuguese comes a little at a time and depends on the day/how much i pray that the spirit will be with me and ill have the words to speak. 

one really cool thing this week was that we were in a lesson with 2 women from the ward teaching a less active. and brazilian women like to talk. holy cow they like to talk. and they pretty much talked the poor woman to death and i kept feeling prompted to say this one thing and kept feeling prompted but they were talking so finally i cut them off and said ´´as a representative of jesus christ i promise you that if you pray for strength you will feel the desire to return to church.´´ and it got really quiet and she said that she would go this week. the lord is good.

thank you for all your emails and pics, i love being updated on the world out there! i love you so much and miss you guys! have a super week

xoxo sister walker

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September 8, 2015: 2 Months Strong-ARMY Strong

                                                            Courtney in Itabainana

                                                          Courtney's Itabainana Zone

Hey party people, contrary to popular belief i am alive and well. Yesterday was Brasils 4th of July so the whole city was shut down so sorry for the no email! also i apologize for my spelling right now because the keyboard im using is from when honest abe was in office.
2 months down whoa! to celebrate i taught a lot about jesus, walked around a lot and to top it all off, sweat a lot so it was a good day. but really, its great being a missionary. we taught a lot of lessons this week with a lot of good families. the prob here is getting follow up lessons or people keeping commitments. both our baptisms fell through this week so that was a bummer. but we are honestly meeting so so many people being prepared by the lord to hear the gospel, its amazing. and im starting to take the lead in lessons now too! the great thing here is that everyones on a different starting ground than in the states. basically everyone here believes in god and the bible and agrees when we say we believe christ lives and loves his children and has a plan for each one of us. when we ask people how theyre doing they all say ´´good, thanks to god´´ haha. 
so far i have encountered 3 cockroaches and 1 lizard friend in my house which is 3 too many. they were quickly and painlessly exterminated. RIP. my roommates make fun of me cuhs im always killing bugs. also in brasil you drink your weight in pop every year so i had to cut back when i felt all my skirts tightening. also today at lunch at a members house some of the kids were talking to me about America. they all think all Americans are blonde and blue eyed and i tell them thats not true but i guess im not the best advocate of that. one of the boys said ´´and there doesnt exist any ugly americans!`´´ lol. all the irmas here are so nice and generous, when we go for lunch they always say ´´its nothing fancy, its nothing chic im sorry´´ when its a fine meal, and i think ´´yeah when i cook for myself now i like to stick to the 3 main food groups; popcorn, top ramen and cookies.´´ but the food here is the besssst. ahh we dont have food like this back home.
but this week i learned a lot about prayer and about my savior. we were teaching alot of people who have really hard trials in their life. their mom is sick in the hospital and they have to take care of all the little kids, their grandson is in a gang, they are trying to get married to be baptized but dont have documents to do so, stuff like that. so we teach that god never gives us a trial that we cant handle. that he doesnt give us trials to see us fail, he gives us things he knows we have the ability to overcome with his help, and will make us stronger. we teach a lot of less active people and we teach about perseverance, that we need to stick to the things we know to be able to live with our heavenly father again. and i realized the other day that these are the exact things that i need to remember right now. i  need to remember that although things may be a little hard now, my savior is always with me, he knows my struggles and wants to help me. that right now i need to persevere through my trials so i can be able to teach that to others. thats what our training was on today in our district mtg too so i know that was inspired and was for me. 
other than that, i think ill have more exciting news next week hopefullly. i cant believe you guys are all back to school (back to weinerdom for spencer) and everything! its funny to think theres a world outside itabainana brasil right now. but i pray for you guys every single day and am so so grateful to my father in heaven for giving me you guys! eu amo voces!

sister w