Monday, January 25, 2016

January 25, 2016 - "Are You From The Africa?"

Another real question I received this week from the lovely and internationally aware, area of interior Sergipe, Brasil.

Hey guys!

This week was kinda crazy trying to get people ready for baptisms, trying to get them to understand you don’t have to understand the whole Book of Mormon or go to church for months to be qualified for baptism. Our efforts are not as effective this week as others. Helenha and Elisiane say they don’t feel prepared enough to make the covenant of baptism. We try and tell them ´´hey buster, all you need to be baptized is 1. Have a desire and 2. Be living the commandments´´ and they literally have both those things! We´ll see how it goes this week.

We had a really great family night in the house of a family in the branch, Irma Kelly and Irmao Joison, who are like my adoptive family here. I always tell Irma Kelly how much she reminds me of mom because they are literally so similar, always taking care of everyone and wanting to give you hugs and everything. Also their family has 5 kids, boys on the ends and 3 girls in the middle, so they’re basically the Walkers in Brasil. But we took the familia of Felipe over there and we watched the dvd of the restoration with them and played charades and had popcorn. I seriously love that dvd, could someone maybe send the disc to me in a letter or something?? And meet the Mormons!! Anyways, since we don’t have branch activities, we have to make our own, so its usually family nights with members to integrate investigators. It was so great to see that just after an hour that this whole family of investigators was so comfortable and happy and ready to go to church. Except the dad... but that’s another story. At church at least he dropped the mom and her daughter Bruna off. He’s a tougher nut to crack. 

We also had a big broadcast for all the missionaries in the whole world this week! It was sweet to watch. It was a big training session, but it was held in Utah and had general authorities speaking, or giving tips on how to better our work, how to teach repentance to get baptisms. It’s funny because when they were all speaking, all of the missionaries are so focused, so intrigued by the pure inspiration coming from their mouths, and then when we look back at our notes, everyone was like ´´hey wait a sec, this is literally all in preach my gospel...´´ and just cuhs a general authority said it, like Elder Bednar, it made it real haha. It’s interesting to study about repentance on the mission. I never really stopped to think about it, I always just thought repentance was confessing your sins to god and then it’s all good (more or less). But repentance actually just means a change of heart, and sincerely changing your actions to be in harmony with the gospel. Yes its having a conversation with Heavenly Father, but its more just stopping doing what’s wrong and start doing what’s right. How lucky are we that we have a loving father in heaven who will forgive us the exact moment we decide to change our ways and do what’s right!

This week I got called a mermaid by a sad drunk woman in one of our lessons. But apparently a mermaid isn’t exactly a compliment here... she got nervous that I was trying to enchant her with my blue eyes and started to sing/chant a strange melody which I readily joined in on. I keep the life in this trio. Word. 

Well that’s all for now folks, I’ll talk to you in February! Love you guys!!

Sister Walker

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 18, 2016 - A Trip Down Memory Lane

                                                                Courtney in Estancia!

Oí familia Walker! (aka: Allhh-care here)

This week was my first week of real splits with other sisters in an area other than my own! I got to go back to my stomping ground in Itabaiana and it was seriously so great. It was great to see some of the branch members, and see how the area is growing little by little. It’s funny because apparently Itabaiana and Estancia are the sad areas that no one wants to go to because you don’t have baptisms, but hey I like a challenge :) It was funny when I saw the ward members and they were all excited to see me and some got mad at me because i didn’t tell anyone I was leaving, but I couldn’t help but think ´´you guys didn’t act like you liked me that much when I actually worked here....´´ haha. Two of the young women in the ward started crying when they saw me so that was sure a turn of events. 

Also. this week we FINALLY got Cleonancio aka that guy who went fishing on Sunday last week to church HALLELUJAH *cue Mr. Bean singing* !!! He was all ready and excited and turns out he knows a ton of members that he used to play soccer with. He is also a semi famous soccer player here in Brasil so there’s that. One day I jokingly said he has the aura of being a celebrity and he said all serious ´´yeah actually that’s right´´; lol surprise! But other sad news is that our other investigator with a baptism for this week we found out has been receiving the Jehovah witnesses in her house and all that jazz for a while... they are our secret enemies here in Estancia. Their church is on the same road as ours and they are the only other people in the state who wear skirts down to their knees. They don’t like the Mormons haha. So we make sure to always say hi to them really loud in the streets just to keep things interesting.

But other than the testemunhos de jehovahs stealing all our investigators, we have 2 amaaazing investigators now that are just sent from heaven above. It was a reference from a young woman in the branch, so we´re teaching a 22 yr old girl. Elisiane, and her mom, Elenha. They are so smart and spiritual and are basically Mormon but didn’t know it before. It was the greatest thing, the first time Elenha went to church. We were worried she didn’t like it because she doesn’t talk so much. But when we went to visit her she started talking and talking about how she had never felt so wonderful before, how she just forgot all about the world when she entered the church. She was trying so hard to explain but finally just said ´´I don’t have the words to explain how good I felt there. I wish I could go back everyday´´. And my heart just melted! I felt the spirit so strong in that lesson, and was so happy to testify that after all their searching for churches; they had finally found the one God has truly prepared for them, that will bring them the happiness they were looking for. It was like after all our wading through the murky water, sifting through wishy washy people, we finally found our pearls!! They’ll be baptized the 30th of this month. 

So this week I also realized that the Book of Mormon is literally an instruction guide, not just for our lives, but for missionaries. It teaches you everything you need to know on how to be a successful missionary!! Right now I’m studying Alma the younger and Amuleque (i forgot how to spell it in English, sorry) and their example. Sometimes you have success in your callings, sometimes you don’t. But all the while you can be positive and have peace knowing you’re doing all you can and you’re doing the lords work. So that goes for you guys too! I love you guys so much. Hope you have a wonderful semana!

Sister Walker

Monday, January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016 - B2B (Back To Bucket)

                                    Sister Chagas, Courtney, Sister Helm and a local ostrich

Hey guys!

6 months on the mish aka I’m singing sunrise sunset like dad always played and mom always cried. jk. People always say it passes fast but I’m still kinda waiting for that to kick in... haha. The sisters here made me a surprise cake and sang the happy birthday song in Portuguese and even had these crazy sparking candles on it that I think are illegal in America. So it was great!

This week was full of new stuff for me. For one thing, I had my first splits with one of the sisters I live with. Turns out splits aren’t so bad. You just kinda teach like normal, pray for what the sister is needing to hear right then, then you just let the spirit guide you and turns out you say everything that she was needing to hear as a new American missionary in Brasil so it all turned out okay. This week I’ll get to go to Itabaiana to do splits with the sisters there yaaay!! I’m excited to get to go back there for a bit. 

Oh yeah we are officially B2B here in Estancia, well technically we have been since I got here because our washing machine is broken here too. I heart buckets people! Still hoping somehow my clothes are actually getting clean and not just sitting in stinky dirty water... oh well.

Also this week we got a new companion, Sister Chagas! She got transferred from Maceio and now she’s here with us until the end of the transfer. She’s from Rio and pretty cool. But now I am officially the big weenie on campus because she has a year on the mission too and actually knows Portuguese like Sister Helm and likes to take charge so I’m working on making myself stand up and be heard. These people will listen to me and they will like it!

The problem we´re having with our investigators isn’t that we have no one to teach, we´ve moved on from that, but it’s that no one really wants to progress with our lessons. This is our problem: all of our investigators want to be baptized, already accepted it, but don’t want to go to church.... so something is missing here. I feel like it should be the opposite problem haha. 

It’s funny how you get to learn a lot about the saviors life here on the mission, not just because you study a lot about it, but because you’re kinda living a small part of it. We´ve been working with a man named Cleonancio for a few weeks who has a really hard time with going to church, but again wants to be baptized and be a part of the church of christ. so all this week every day we saw him and he said ´´I’m going to church with you guys!´´ and then we went to pick him up and walk with him Sunday morning and he was getting ready to go fishing with his buddies... I could have been filled with a lot of anger at him but instead it was more of a deep hurt and disappointment. After all we´d done for him, all the paths we’d prepared for him, all he had to do was walk to church, and he deliberately chose to do something else. It’s a sad day when I have to tell a grown man on the street that he is telling god that fishing is more important to him than our heavenly father is. I was thinking of all the times the lord reaches out to us, gives us commandments to help and guide us and warn of danger, who often times ´´comes to our house´´, tired, weary, sweaty and frustrated, metaphorically and invites us to come with him, and we just tell him we don’t have time, or don’t need him, and how sad that is for our savior. Sometimes it’s really sad seeing the people here negate their potential or not understand the one true plan that is available to them, but I am learning a great love for my savior here. And I’m grateful I can be here to show him that I am trying to do all I can to heed to his counsel when he invites us ´´come follow me´´. So that is my thought for the week! I know our savior lives and loves each one of us and knows how to help us during our trials, because he already passed through them!

I love you guys. Have a great week!

Sister Walker

Monday, January 4, 2016

January 4, 2016 - Felipe's Parents Are Married!!

                                            Courtney and Sister Helm climbed a jaka tree!

Yes you read that title right, Felipe’s parents are lawfully legally married people it’s a miracle!!! But I’ll get to that soon.

Hey party people, happy New Year!

For new years here we pretty much just wandered the streets looking for anyone, and I mean ANYONE that we could talk to or teach haha. It was a tough 2 days because everyone goes to the beach or just sits outside their house totally drunk dancing samba or something like that. Then on New Years Eve we got a fireworks show because surprise, some guy was lighting off legit huge fireworks right in front of our house on the street haha. Not exactly sure how safe that is but it happened. It was cool to see! We woke up at 11:45 and said happy new year and Sister Helm tried to kiss me but I wouldn’t let her (kidding) and we went back to sleep. And now its 2016 how weird is that! Oh and everyone in Brasil wears white on new years eve to represent purity or new beginnings or something inspirational like that so I did too. Note to self: never do that again. 

Funniest thing ever, Sister Helm is from Idaho and lives on a farm so I like to tease her about that. And she told me that in Idaho on new years eve, instead of having a big ball drop like in New York, they have a giant POTATO that drops at midnight and I started dying laughing. 

But okay back to the family of Felipe who is just great. We just gotta get them to church! The problem is that the dad works in the feira on the street everyday selling stuff. So if he doesn’t sell that day, they don't have money for food or anything. So we´re trying to work around that and get him to church. We had such a great lesson with them this week about the restoration. The spirit was so strong and it was amazing to see that it was connecting inside their heads even if they didn't understand 100% of everything. The dad said that everything we were talking about just somehow made sense to him, he didn't doubt any of it. And the mom said that when we talk and come to their house that she can just feel in how we talk that what we´re saying is true, that she feels something different than when other churches come to try and teach them. And this whole time I was just beaming thinking ´´yes yes yes!!! This is what we´ve been looking for!!´´. I just love the restoration; it makes so much sense in my head. And maybe it sounds weird the first time you hear it about Joseph Smith and a vision, but you just have to pray to know. Don't ask us, go ahead and ask god and he´ll respond to you. Its as easy as that! ahh missions are great.

This week was hard to find people but finally all the holidays are over so we´re back in business! And this week I get to start doing exchanges with the other sisters! Wish me luck... oh and I’ll have to do emails to president and the zone leaders of the other sisters next week and the week after so we won’t have lots of time to email you guys so sorry in advance :( but I love you all!! Start of 2016 with a bang, hoot, holler and more Christlike!

Sister Walker

P.S. Also: I shared a message after lunch one day at the branch presidents house with his family. The message was that Pres George Albert Smith once said that our own personal salvation is dependent on how well we shared the gospel with others on this earth. 

Then when I was done his wife said ´´Wow. Sister Walker just burned all of us hard core.´´ hahaha whoops! But its true people! Get to steppin!!