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