Monday, February 22, 2016

February 22, 2016 - Already Ran Out Of Creative Titles...

                                              "Companionship Love" with Sister Barbosa

Hey everyone! How was your week? Can anyone believe this is the last week of February?? Sups weird.

So this week was pretty hectic, just because of traveling different places. We had another big Mission Tour with all the missionaries on Thursday. Well, all the missionaries here in Sergipe. And Elder Mervyn Arnold, a general authority from the Missionary Department who has face to face contact with the 12 apostles (everyone got really nervous when he said that) came to talk to us and teach us and inspire us. He is from good ole Idaho and speaks Spanish and English and tries hard to speak Portuguese haha. He is a very tall white man who stuck out like a sore thumb at our conference. I almost giggled too when I heard his accent and then I realized the irony....

But he taught us lots of great techniques and how to work better with the members by serving them first and gaining their trust before you can expect references. Its true! We talked a lot about 3 Nephi 11 which is one of the most wonderful chapters in the Book of Mormon, and how Christ was so direct in his purpose to visit those people. He came to them, and almost immediately started teaching, gave Nephi the power to baptize, and got right to work. He didn’t beat around the bush, he wasn’t shy, he didn’t waste time chatting, he knew what was important and didn’t put it off. That’s what I’ve been trying to do here too!

The most amazing part was that afterwards he asked to interview a few missionaries, and he picked me and Sister Barbosa!! We were freaking out! Mostly I didn’t know it was a real interview at the time, but the experience I had with him is one I’ll never forget. He talked to me about things that I only have been talking with heavenly father in my prayers, and I felt the same feeling I got when Grandpa gave me my patriarchal blessing. I felt like he was looking at me and without knowing me, cared for me and knew just what to say to help me. He wanted to do the interview in English but my mouth wouldn’t work right  so he switched back to Portuguese. (Which I now wish I hadn’t done). But he asked me if my family is active in the church and I said yes and he said I should be really grateful for that. That I needed to write home to my parents and tell them that Elder Arnold thanks them for their service in the church, their faithfulness, and their sacrifices to raise a worthy daughter to be here serving a mission. So that is straight from the lord people! I have amazing parents!

As for people we´re teaching, most of our people we had to drop because they wouldn’t come to church. They love to visit with us and want us to come back, but don’t want to progress or change anything in their lives to be happier. It’s like we have to break up with them lots of the time and say ´´it’s not me, it’s you..´´ Sad but true. But we met a really great couple last week named Kelle and Zakoel. They are really great and interested in the message of the restoration. They even were getting upset, not understanding why they hadn’t had this wonderful message for more time in their lives. They have lots of doubts, which is good, because it means they’re actually interested and not just nodding their heads with everything we say. It’s amazing to see how this light goes on inside their eyes when we teach them a principle of the gospel, it feels like finally their spirit is recognizing what we´re teaching, something just clicks in their head. The gospel is so true guys!! And getting to teach about it every day is even better!!

I hope you all have a wonderful week full of hugs and love and service and everything else good in the world! Love you so much!

Sister Walker 

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 15, 2016 - Dia De Amor

Hey guys!

This week the work got rollin... rollin... rollin in the river... anyone else feeling jazzy today? I’m starting to feel a strain on my English so sorry when my letters start to not make sense. 

This week I got to read the letter mom sent with me when I left entitled ´´when your investigator drops you´´ haha sad but fundamental moment in your mission. We were teaching Rafael, a 17 yr old theology wannabe who I thought really had a desire to change his life. Turns out he doesn’t believe in god. That complicated things. But we are determined to meet the people waiting for us in this area!

To honor Valentines Day back home in the states, I made heart shaped pancakes for everyone (which is surprisingly harder than previously imagined). I also told people at church it was ´´love day´´ so they started going up to everyone and saying I love you and hugging them haha. That is what it’s all about people!!

This week we had an interesting lesson with a grown woman with a bird on her head. I am not joking. She went the entire lesson, a grown woman, sitting on the concrete floor with a small green parrot nestling in her hair. I wish I could have taken a picture without being sups obvious but to no avail. Brazilians sure do whatever the heck they want haha. 

I’ve also had a funny cough stuffy nose for a few weeks, and I have learned that it is basically the worst thing you could ever do in Brasil is go into a members house and cough in front of the woman in the ward, because everyone and their dog has a medicine that ´cures it all´. One day I came home with my bag full of weird leaves from various plants, roots and pills to take. Let’s just say I like to stick to the natural route from now on.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about humility, and how it’s the starting base for all of our other decisions and our character. How if we´re humble, we understand and recognize our limits, how we are so weak and fragile as mortals and need as much help from the lord as possible. With this, we become teachable and we listen to guidance and direction. At home sometimes I thought that having faith meant just following blindly. But I’m learning a lot about how having real faith means you trust enough in the lord to know he knows better than us, he has a better plan for us, and we just need to take the first step because after that he will lead and guide our path!

Also special shoutout to P-DADDY for his bday today woohooo! I’ll be eating good tonight!! Rice and beans-ask me if I’m surprised.... but happy birthday dad! I love dad because he’s nice and inclusive to everyone around him, knows lots about the scriptures and teaches us the importance of them. 

I love you all. Hope this week is great!!

Sister Walker

Monday, February 8, 2016

February 8, 2016 - 7 Meses People!

                                               Transfer Day - No More Dual Americans!

Hey guys what a crazy week! 

Most of my week was traveling, with transfers and then we had a leaders meeting in Maceio the next day and then they didn’t have buses for us to go home when we needed to because of Carnaval so we had to sleep at another sisters apartment in Maceio for the night and leave super early the next day to come back to Estancia. The annoying thing was that it was all up to the elders to plan (who thought that was a good idea?) so no one knew what was going on or what time we had to be at the bus station or anything so I called so many people trying to figure it out for myself and someone gave me a wrong number and I ended up calling some man named Paulo 2 times on accident.... sorry Paulo. 

 But finally we made it back and started to work again. Its super great to be with Sister Barbosa again, it kinda feels like she never left and we just picked up where we left off. It’s even better now because I can actually contribute to our companionship and she can lean on me more now. It was interesting what we learned in our training was really to make the difference in our own areas, and if things aren’t working, we have to stop what we’re doing and change our methods! Like duh, it’s so obvious but I never even thought of that before. We talked a lot about working with the members more effectively. I realized you have to care about the members and get to know them before they’ll give you references. I was thinking about all of the missionaries that have already served in our ward, or had dinner with us at our house, and how few of them I actually remember. But the ones I do, are the ones that actually cared about our family, asked about us, served us, wanted to get to know us. So that’s the kind of missionary I want to be here too. I need to be more creative with activities here in the branch and all that- any ideas??

I feel like I don’t have anything else to say, we barely had time to work this week!! But I love you guys and hope you have a great week! Don’t forget to help the sisters!

Sister Walker

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016 - It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Carnival

                                                                Irma Helena's Baptism
                                               With Sister Chagas, Courtney & Sister Helm

Hey fam-

The title of this email is true, it is definitely beginning. Carnival, or the big sin fest as I like to call it, is starting up. It feels like Halloween here because everyone uses costumes and masks and wigs and all that crazy stuff. So far there is no Brazilian who can actually explain to me why they celebrate carnival, just that they do and everyone drinks or goes to the beach and it lasts about a week, so that will be a great week of proselitismo on the street for the missionaries.

So transfers. Turns out transfers are hard and very sad if you suddenly get your best friend/companion ripped away from you. Sister Helm is transferred to São Miguel in Alagoas to finish her mission. My other companion Sister Chagas will stay here with the other American sister here, and my new companion will be the wonderful Sister Barbosa once again. I feel like I should be a lot more happy to have Sister Barbosa, but for now I am just sad that Sister Helm will be leaving. It’s hard when you don’t prepare yourself emotionally and just expect things to be the same. It really feels like I’m having to say goodbye to one of my sisters again, but she says she’ll be waiting for me at the airport in December haha. So looks like I’ll get to head up the work here in Estancia for a  little while longer. I was kinda secretly hoping for a change because branches can feel like a lot of work sometimes, but now I know I have more work to do here now. 

Basically the greatest thing that has happened this whole transfer was this Saturday, we had the baptism of Irma Helena!! She is one of our pearls. She is amazing. After a lot of prayer and studying we received a miracle with her. She was nervous to get baptized so soon, even after explaining that she was far beyond prepared, that God had been preparing her life for years and years. We brought a woman in the ward that lives near her, we taught about the importance of baptism in John 3, we testified of the spirit that was there with us, told her to trust in the answers she had received from her studying and prayers, and for some strange reason she just agreed to be baptized!!! It was amazing. I can’t even describe how amazing it was to see her grow in the gospel, to see everything in her mind just click when we taught her. She has become so much more sure of herself and her knowledge. She wants to participate in lessons and in church, when we started she would barely say one word! I can’t help imagine how amazing it will be when she gets to go to the temple. She raves about how amazing the spirit is at church and how she feels so wonderful there, I just think ´´just wait til the temple!!´´. When you go on a mission, you think that everyone you teach and baptize will be like Irma Helena. But I’m learning that most people aren’t that spiritually in tune or faithful, (she literally prays 24/7) when we meet them, and they have a lot of growing to do. Irma Helena was a perfect package already made just waiting for us. Now I know that she was the reason I came to Estancia, that we needed to find her and bring her to Christ. We have some hard days here where no one wants to talk to us, but I had the confirmation that she is the reason I’m here, and that makes all the other stuff worth it.

My inspirational thought for the week is something I read in a talk by Pres Uchtdorf. He said ´´tell a man that there’s trillions of stars in the universe and he´ll believe you. But tell him that the paint on the wall is still wet and he´ll touch it just to make sure.´´ I like this quote a lot because it represents our faith and level of conversion. The gospel is so simple and inviting that sometimes we want to question it-but we don’t need to! It’s not twisted and complicated, all you need to do is evaluate your actions, and ask ´´am I being a representative of my savior right now?´´ and there’s your answer. 

I hope you guys have a great week; I’ll talk to you soon! Love you so much!

Sister Walker