Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016 - Ups And Downs

                                                   Courtney's Average Meal in Brazil
                               Rice and Beans, Salad, Steamed Vegetable, Meat and Chicken
                                     There are usually 4-5 items on her plate - She loves it!

Hey everybody!

I remember one day this week saying to my companion, ´´don’t you think it’s weird that everything is going so well? Like somehow something really bad is going to happen soon? I feel like something’s going to happen when we least expect it...´´ boy was I right. I feel like somehow my life here is like a reality tv show for you guys back home, waiting on the next episode to see what happens next... so plot twist from last week’s happiness and hope for the future, our investigators Irmã Maria José and Gessiara didn’t end up getting baptized. They actually dropped us like 2 days before their baptisms. It’s a long story, but the short version is that Irmã Maria counted up all of her expenses to care for her, her 2 granddaughters, her son and her son’s wife, and realized the money to pay her tithing wouldn’t leave anything to spare. So instead of trusting in the blessings we promised her from obedience like she had already seen with the other commandments, she got nervous that she wouldn’t have enough money to pay for things like food and water if she paid her tithing, got scared and told us not to come back. Free agency really is a divine principle we need to understand better. But it is truly devastating to see the happiness and salvation of someone you love so dearly just crumble in between your fingers without you being able to do anything.

One of the hardest parts is that you’re not technically allowed as a missionary to feel sad or let people know how you’re feeling inside, so you just kinda have to leave awkwardly from the house that you just felt like dropped down on top of you, and have to hurry to your next appointment and act like nothing happened and you’re not secretly having a mental breakdown inside. And then your other poor investigators wonder why you’re crying while bearing your testimony on the word of wisdom....

At least we had the women’s conference to help get my mind off of things. I love how they taught about spiritual preparation, how the world isn’t very good right now and by the scriptures, its only gonna get worse. I like how they teach us that we need to have a new personal level of conversion, it doesn’t do it anymore just to memorize the scripture mastery and go to church on Sunday. We need to be literal defenders of Israel. I also loved President Uchtdorfs talk on faith, who knows how that man has so many inspirations. I’ve been thinking my whole mission on what faith means, and he kind of summed it up. Its trust! Trust in the one thing you know to be true, not because you saw it or heard about it, but because you know deep down that you felt it, and that’s not something anyone can take away. That when all goes right, you know who’s really at the head of the wheel and you know of His promises that will be fulfilled one day.

But this next week is full of new surprises and second chances. It’s the last week in the transfer and we´ll see what’s in store for me. I’m hoping to get a fresh start somewhere else but we´ll just wait and see! Oh and here are some pics of the food I eat every day, I realized I had never sent a pic for you guys. Here we have the classic and beloved rice and beans, some steamed vegetables, salad (which is composed of lettuce and tomatoes just like on SpongeBob), meat from a cow I think, chicken, and that’s it I think. There’s always about 4 or 5 things on your plate at a time. It’s the best!! I love you all have a wonderful week! I’ll be thinking of you watching conference!!! Don’t fall asleep!! (that means you, my entire family)

Sister Walker

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016 - The Best 18 Months!

                                                                   Rayane's Baptism

                                                 Sister Monteiro, Irma Zeze and Courtney

                                                      Courtney and the Sao Miguel Valley

Hi everybody!

Things are rolling strong here, we had Rayane’s baptism this Sunday morning which started late as usual and the man who baptized her, his white jumpsuit popped open showing his garments because of his pot belly, but it was yet another soul saved at the end of the day! She is 12 and has been going to church with her aunts and uncles who all live on the same street, since she was a little kid.

As for Irmã Maria José and Gessiara, they are progressing perfectly, got on the bus early Sunday morning and came down to the chapel all by themselves. They started spreading it all around for everyone to hear that their baptisms will be this Saturday! Irmã José tells everyone she sees that her life has been changed ever since her ´´two angels´´ (me, obviously, and my companion) have come into her life. She tells about all these great things that are happening that never did before. She told us the story of her life, how she had her own cell at the jail and drank and smoke like no other, how she was always in street fights, and lots of other things. She said that ever since she went to our church all of that anger and hatred inside of her melted away and she doesn’t know how it’s possible. It is amazing to me how merciful the Lord is and how simple it is-the exact moment we decide to stop doing what’s wrong and start being obedient, the blessings automatically flow. It’s simple!

Our other miracle was with a young couple we´re teaching, Alda and Neto who are friends of members. They went to church and we marked to teach them. As we taught the restoration and invited them to pray to know if the church is true, Alda said ´´I don’t feel like I need to pray. I’ve never felt such a peace like I feel inside of that church. I feel like I’m in a different world, like all of my cares just melt away when I’m there.´´ The spirit flicked me in the head because the same church meeting that I had been spacing out and waiting for it to end, was the same one that someone had received the personal witness that Christ has a restored church here on the earth. I learn here that we really do so little to help in the work of the Lord, that He has been preparing these people a lot longer than we have been here and will guide them a lot after we leave. They are a really special couple!

What I love about my mission is that I finally feel like my life has a real purpose- I feel like I’ve found my real purpose on the earth, and I only came to find that when I stopped thinking about myself and if I was hungry or sleepy or hot or grumpy, and started thinking about others. These people teach me so much-this week was about generosity. I have never seen the kind of generosity these people show us. I learned that generosity isn’t just give when you’ve had enough, or give whatever is left over, generosity is giving to others when you don’t have enough for yourself, and not thinking twice. You just gotta imagine the look on Irmã José’s face when we accept the food she offers us- a little old woman who takes care of her son and 2 granddaughters financially, who live in a one room and one bedroom house, offering everything that’s inside of her refrigerator with a door that comes completely off its hinges every time you open it. Some things I see here are so special to me, it just doesn’t do it justice to try and explain it over email. Whether its oranges, bananas, eggs, bread, whatever she has she is more than happy to give it to us.

I know I would not be able to have these same experiences or gain this knowledge that I have if I had stayed at home. I love my mission! And I love you guys! Be good missionaries this week-be nice to the investigators the sisters bring, it was a triumph for them to get people in the church and it’s our job to help keep them there! You can do it! vocês conseguem!!

Ate a próxima semana! Beijos!

Sister Walker

Monday, September 12, 2016

September 12, 2016 - Rollin In The River

                                                 2 Districts In Their Zona Litoral

                                              Courtney, Sister Monteiro And Rubia

                                              Courtney And Sister Monteiro

Hello to the good people of Federal Way!

Wow I can’t believe we´re already in September. We had a zone conference this week with all the missionaries in Alagoas, and it was so weird talking with the elders I got here with that all were saying ´´wow Sister Walker the time is ticking! You’re already getting on your flight home!´´ I said: can it you weirdos I still have a whole lot of time here thank you very much! I can’t really process coming home yet because I 1. Don’t know where I will be living or studying or 2. If I know how to do real life stuff anymore.

This week was really great, we had been praying and fasting that we would find people to teach, but not just any people, but people prepared to be baptized. And the Lord heard our prayers! It is amazing what a difference sincere prayer makes in our life. They can be repetitive and boring and your life will become so, but if you take the time to really talk to Heavenly Father you can have your eyes opened to how much you were missing before. Anyways we found a great little family, there’s the grandma Maria Jose who is known as the angriest crabbiest old lady on the street, her son Vagner who is a little lost in life, and his daughter Gessiara who’s the sweetest and most spiritual 9 year old you’ve ever met, that all live together. If we weren’t friends with them, I would be very scared of Irmã Maria Jose tbh. She tells about how much hate and anger she has inside her heart that she can’t seem to get rid of. And she’s never liked any sort of church. But in one lesson she felt so alleviated when we came to her house, she felt like we had something different that all the other churches that came to her door never had. We said that’s because our church is true! And she said ´´for the first time in my life I want to go to a church!´´ and they went! It was great. We actually had 8 investigators there yesterday which was a blessing. But Maria Jose said during sacrament ´´now THIS is a church! Are we gonna get baptized today or is it next week?´´ haha; slow and steady missy!

We´re also teaching the niece of a big family in the ward, Rayane, whose dad finallyyy will let her be baptized this Sunday! She is so sweet, she started crying in the closing prayer when she told us he let her be baptized. And at the end of the prayer she ended it ´´in the name of Jesus Christ... of latter day saints amen!´´ hahaha. So cute.

Another funny story about prayer, we were teaching a big group of people and at the end we always have one of them give the closing prayer. I picked one guy and he said he didn’t know how to pray so I showed him in the pamphlet the steps to pray, where it explains how. But what I didn’t know is that his prayer would be literally reading the steps out loud... haha. It went like this *everyone with their eyes closed and head down* ´´address your Father in Heaven. Express the feelings in your heart and your gratitude and ask things you are in need of. End by saying in the name of Jesus Christ amen.´´ Prayer is important people!! Got to start somewhere.

I also got some very nice letters in the mail this week from my nice family! It’s funny, the other missionaries saw all the papers and I said yeah all my siblings wrote to me and they say ´´wow I wish my siblings all wrote to me...´´ and I say ´´yeah its actually my mom that forces them to but it’s the thought that counts´´ and they say ´´man I wish my mom would force people to write to me...´´ lol. Go mummer!

I hope you all know how much I love you and appreciate you! I can’t think of anywhere else I am meant to be right now but here, forgetting about myself for a short period of time to just focus on the needs of others. That’s where the real magic starts. I know that the Lord is with us as we choose to follow in His footsteps, that He knows and loves us. An infinite power is waiting for us if we choose to ask for it. The church is true! I love you all!!

Sister Walker

And here’s a pic of 2 districts in my zone, Zona Litoral, a less active girl Rubia that put dread braids in my companions hair, and us enjoying an ice cold drink from a coconut on the side of the road!

Monday, September 5, 2016

September 5, 2016 - 14 Month Mark!

                    President & Sister Gomes, Sisters Steele, Estela, Courtney and Sister Monteiro

Hi guys!

What a fast week, I feel like I don’t even remember anything that happened it was all just a blur... I guess I should start taking more time to reflect on it all but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I also can’t stand still for more than 6 minutes anymore which also doesn’t help. haha

This week I was on splits 2 days, one of which I got to stay in the area called Farol, which is where the mission office is and everything-one of the real city life areas in Maceió. (mahh-say-ohh). I had been thinking about how cool it would be to serve in an area like that, I got so incredibly excited to see tall buildings and paved roads with lots of cars, lots of shops and places to go, I had forgotten that all existed. I thought ´´wow how cool it would be to teach real people (not that my investigators aren’t real people oops...) but a different level of people´´. Then I went and tried to help the sister there do contacting on the street and teach their investigators and I got a whole lot of hand in the face that day. We went to teach a 22 yr old rich girl who is already a lawyer or something and I got super nervous teaching and was stumbling over my own words... then I went back to São Miguel the next day and felt a renewed love for my area, for the members here, for my investigators. They might not be rich and they might all breast feed in front of me, but they know the real essence of the gospel. They don’t question everything, they listen first and then ask God if it’s true and they are humble so they are much more in tune with the spirit and can recognize an answer a lot easier. I thought I was a city girl... I don’t stink so!

In other news, there’s a little boy in the ward who’s 6 named Thomas who has glasses and refuses to talk with anyone who is over the age of 12. My goal since I got here was to make friends with him and get him to talk to me. And this Sunday after church he ran over to me, pushed a piece of paper in my hands and ran away. I opened it up and it was a picture he had drawn for me with the chapel and a sun and a missionary. Wiener!!

I found out my address to tell dad to look up on google maps if you can find it, its rua jose claazans n. 43, centro, são miguel dos campos, alagos brasil 5724000. You can walk in my footsteps woohoo!

But really I feel so happy to be with these people, testimony meeting was great yesterday here. I see how much faith they have, because when trials and tribulations come to them, their first reaction isn’t to blame God or doubt their faith, it’s to cling tight to the things they know are true. Their first reaction isn’t to give up, it’s to push through. That is a real lesson for me. Because I know a lot of times I ask ´´why me?´´ or I become doubtful. They teach me that real faith means that you trust in God and continue to do all the right things, not just when it’s easy but when everything is falling apart.

And thank you for helping the sister’s investigator who lived with a gang in Phili, he has been waiting his whole life to come to know what he knew in the preexistence, and you guys will help give him the stability to stay at the church and feel welcome! That is the best help you can give!! I love you all, more than I can say!

Boa semana a todos e sejam missionários excelentes! eu amo vocês!

Sister Walker