Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year!

(Brianna LOVED the video that the counselor asked us to send to surprise her with Christmas Eve. I wish we could have recorded everyone she loves, but there was a time limit!)

Glad you hear you enjoyed lots and lots of meat this Christmas... sounds like you spent it at the Brasil CTM! haha Again, I can´t tell you how good it was to see each of your faces and hear your voices. SO good! Christmas here was great! Honestly, we basically just ate. Before talking with all of you, we went to a family´s home in the ward (they are absolutely amazing) and we helped prepare Christmas lunch. We talked, looked at pictures of their son on a mission and played some games involving Christmas presents. I got a "Baby Hits" cd of Brasilian kid songs. Best gift ever. Then I talked with my beautiful family and returned to the same house afterwards to resume where we left off eating. So it was a pretty relaxed day! I definitely felt sick and extremely tired afterwards, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. For New Year´s, another family invited us to spend it with them, so we´re excited for that. I have no idea what it´s going to be like here, but judging by Sister Ferreira´s and Sister Custódio´s excitement, it should be pretty special!
I can´t believe Steven´s such a stud. Tell that boy parabens for me. I wish I could be there to watch all his games, but I know he´s kicking bootay out on the field. Good for him! I definitely haven´t gotten a package from Nana yet, but that´s okay! It will come with time :). And I´m excited for Aunt Michelle´s too. Why is my family so awesome? I got an e-mail from Uncle Dan, so good to hear from him!

This past week, thanks to Christmas, was a bit lacking in lessons and work. No one was home and if they were, they were too busy to receive us. But miracles still happened and this last weekend, I finally got to see one of our pesquisadores get baptized. BAPTISM!!!! It was so amazing. And I´m beyond happy for him. I know I´ve learned more from him already than he has from us and I can´t wait to see where he goes in this gospel.

Other than that grande miracle, we taught some lessons and have faith that two more of our investigators will be baptized this weekend. They said they would if they got an answer through prayer that they need to, so we´re going to spend every day with them, helping them prepare for one of the greatest experiences of their lives.

what are the missionaries like in our ward? Take good care of them for me! It means so much to missionaries when the members show concern for them and treat them like their own. Trust me, I know ;).

And that was my week, mais ou menos. I love this gospel with all my heart and the blessings that come from it. The joy I have in this work is beyond description. I´m learning so much! I know that this is the work of God and that with Him, all things are possible. He´s constanly placing miracles in our lives every day. All we need to do is look. I love each of you and hope you have a wonderful New Year´s. May 2014 be a brighter and better year for you, full of the Savior´s love. Feliz ano novo e boa semana!!!!

Sister Ball
 Lake at a park we spent the day at on P-day
 Elder F showed me a new setting on my camera so now I can take pictures like this!  Our view from our apartment!
 Christmas Eve with the Lima Family
 Loving our cute Christmas socks!  Thanks Mom!
 Natal with one of our ward families
 Opening presents they gave us!  Sister Barker's face!
Thank You for the Christmas presents!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Just Photos today!

Just pictures this week!  Since we get to Skype on Christmas, she only had a short amount of time on the computer to communicate plans for Christmas day.  She knows I LOVE pictures, so she added a few to make my week!  

I found my home - CDA!

Sister Custodio made progress today in getting closer to a horse!

P-day lunch at McDonalds

Downtown on P-day

 My and Sister Custodio

With my "family", trainers

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Feliz Natal!

(I know I'm late in getting this out.  I was feeling like a failure after my email this week to her did not go through and I didn't know until after she had written and was no longer on line.  Nothing worse than feeling like you've failed your daughter!  Thank you to all who write and email her.  It is truly the highlight of her week!)

Happy Birthday Will, Kim and Ashley!! One year older and wiser too--so true! I love you guys and wish you the happiest of days!!

Also, this week, our elders brought us letters. I was beyond happy to get letters from Dad, Mom, Noelle, Cam, Steven, David, the awesome Gilley family, Tina and Garth, and Sydney. Thank you so much, you guys! Words can´t describe the excitement I had and I already started writing back!!

This week was wonderful! It started on Monday with a feast for FHE with one of our pesquisadores and her family (I´ve never felt so close to explosion, but she kept shoveling food on my plate) and ended with the Christmas devotional in SLC. This weekend, I had the privilege of meeting a Sister Huffaker who was in Elder James Griffitts´ district in the CTM. So that was pretty neat! Sister Custódio and I also made plans for her to visit the U.S. after the mission. She wants to pass a Christmas in the U.S. with snow, so our hopes are high! On Tuesday, we had lunch at our stake president´s house. He told us stories of his mission that were so inspiring!!  And he told us that the trick was to simply believe. Have faith. I know this is definitely something that I´ve needed to improve, so this week, we all focused on developing our faith. And I can feel that the Lord is strengthening us more and more each day! On Friday, we had what I´ve been calling a Day of Miracles. The temperature was crazy--39 degrees celsius at one point--but we didn´t even notice the heat! Sister Custódio and I decided to just follow the Spirit. Our appointments for the day had fallen through so we just followed the Spirit down roads we´d never walked. And with ever person we talked, we found an elect. The Spirit was so strong in every lesson we taught and my testimony was incredibly strengthened! It was a fabulous day. This weekend, we also had stake conference. The choir was made up of the youth but they might as well have been the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They sounded so great!!! Every single talk was about missionary work. Every single one! I realized once again that sharing the gospel with others really is a part of our duty as members. It´s part of the covenants we make at baptism and it should be one of our primary focuses as members of the church of Jesus Christ. On Sunday, the session was a broadcast wih Elder Ballard which was wonderful. He too talked about missionary work and gave simple advice about how we can improve ourselves. It was ótimo.
I´m sorry this letter isn´t very detailed but I´m just about out of time! I hope all is well at home and in the U.S. and everywhere else in the world. I love you all so much and wish you the merriest of Christmases! It really is the most wonderful time of the year, getting to ponder on the humble birth of our Savior and enjoying the kind spirit that accompanies every child of God. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Still Have My Hair

 I know you aren´t enjoying the frigid air too much, but boy do I miss it during this time of year. The heat is nice... sometimes. I honestly don´t pay too much attention to it, but sometimes I wish so badly that I had snow and cold air and hot chocolate and a Christmas movie to watch. This time of year feels so strange without the cold! Can you do a favor for me? Watch Eloise at Christmastime... I really miss that cute movie! But life is so good here! I´m starting to get some great tan lines and am sweating. Always. We take at least two showers a day here. That´s just the norm in Brasil haha.  We do a lot of work with the ward which is awesome. Getting lessons in with members is a tad bit difficult, but other than that, they´re SO supportive! And we didn´t make it to the coast yet. We were going to go today, but I don´t think we will. We were going to go if one of us got transferred tomorrow, but last night, after hours of freaking out, we found out that we´re all staying together. Que bênção!!!!! I am so so so happy that we´re all going to be together for Christmas, the New Year, one more transfer, everything! The Lord is very mindful of us! 
As for this week, like I said, it´s been hot demais! So one day, Sister Custódio made a quick stop for ice cream. As we were waiting there for our cones, a lady came up and Sister Custódio made a suggestion to her for a flavor. The suggestion turned into a conversation about who we were, the lady´s beliefs and, by the end of the discussion, we had an appointment with her for the next day in her home/salon. When we visited her the next day, her friend/co-worker was there as well for the lesson. Before starting, we found out that she was willing to buy my hair to make a wig for about 300 dollars. Wow! And then we taught the lesson. It was so good! We taught about the Restoration and the First Vision. Helen, the lady, loved it all and said that our message felt familiar. She said that she was able to understand everything I said too and I told her that it was definitely the Spirit helping her to realize the truthfulness of our message. It was a great lesson and we walked about from it feeling very uplifted! This week, Giane, the lady who ran away from us at first, had us visit her and her daughter and niece. She made us each eat three Brazilian-style hot dogs before letting us teach the lesson.  But they come to church, all the activities, and they love everything about the gospel. 
This weekend, we had our ward Christmas party and the next day, a talent show. Lots of our investigators came to both and it was great. It´s fun to see that the church is the same all over the world. Sure, the language was a bit more confusing than the language at our home ward Christmas parties and maybe the food is a little different, but it still felt like home! One thing that really amazes me here is the youth program. The youth here are so strong! And not only are they strong, but they are willing to do anything. They´re so impressive! When we bring an investigator to church who is a youth, everyone gladly accepts them and sincerely tries to be their friend. But then again, that´s how the whole ward is. They´re awesome.
The other day, we were at a member´s home for lunch and we saw that they had the General Conference Liahona. As Sister Custódio flipped through the pages, I was surprised and beyond excited when I saw that there were pictures of Emmalee, Johnny and Toria in there. How neat! I may have teared up a bit from excitement at seeing their faces. It was a good moment.
This weekend, we also had a slightly difficult experience that helped me grow as a missionary. We came the closest we´ve come yet to having a baptism. On Saturday, Sister Custódio and I arrived to the church with our investigator and met the elders in our district there. While our district leader interviewed our pesquisador... for three hours!, Sister Custódio and I cleaned the baptismal font and prepared everything for her baptism. We were so excited! Anxious but excited! Then three hours later, they came out of the interview and announced that they decided it would be better if she was baptized before church Sunday morning. So yesterday morning came around. We all got there a little before 8am to wait for our pesquisador. We called her after a few minutes and were very disappointed with the news. She told us that she had searched the Internet last night and read some things that she didn´t like about the church, so she wasn´t going to be baptized. My heart broke. This woman was so prepared for baptism. I am not lying when I say that I´ve never seen anyone so ready for the gospel and for baptism. She was such an elect! Sister Custódio and I were devastated. Ah just thinking about it now is making me sad! But a wonderful member of our bishopric took us into his office and talked with us. He made us feel a lot better and reminded us of our purpose as missionaries. He was a comfort to us and got our spirits back up for church where I got to speak in sacrament meeting! I think I like giving talks in English better, but it was still a great experience! My testimony of prayer, my topic, was strengthened so much!
And last night, a miracle happened. Mom, I french-braided. Me! It was great. I have pictures. I also got Grand Dad´s Christmas card this week. Tell him thank you sooooooo much! It made me so happy to hear from him!!! And Happy Birthday, Katie!!!! I hope you have a beautiful day!
I love you and am so grateful for this time here in the mission. I learn so much every day and truly am happy to be here. Sometimes, it´s difficult, but that´s life. And all the miracles and good times completely outweigh the hardships. I LOVE this gospel! I love our Father in heaven and I love our Savior, Jesus Christ. How grateful I am for His example and love for us! I hope your week is wonderful and you can feel His love and see His hand in your life this week. I love you and am praying for you! Always! 

Com amor,
Sister Ball

Our Zone


Enjoying our apartment!

Cleaning the baptismal font

Gift of chocolate & nail polish from a sister

I can finally french braid!!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mission Life

As for the mission, life is good. To answer your question, we´re kind of almost on the coast. . . we were actually going to go to the coast today (with permission from the President), but I think we´ll go next week now. And yes, I´m getting plenty of sleep. Well, it´s never enough, but it´s enough to keep me functioning during the day--10:30pm to 6:30 am cada dia :). Honestly, the last couple of weeks have been really disappointing, but I´m trying to keep my head up and look for the lessons in each experience. And I´ve been learning a lot--about missionary work and about myself. We haven´t had any baptisms, all of our investigators begin showing interest and then something bizarre happens and they don´t want to be baptized, and nobody new seems to be receiving us. We´re doing all we can to find new people and try to strengthen our investigators, but it´s tough. Everyday I have to remind myself that we´re doing our part and our people still have their agency to choose whichever path they want. I can only hope that they´ll start choosing the gospel soon! But nonetheless, the mission is still good! When life gets difficult, I just have to remember to look around a bit and then I realize how truly blessed I am. Seriously. The Lord has blessed me so much! The least I can do is be grateful for what He has given me.
We actually have been having success with one of our pesquisadores and her daughter and niece. We met Giane one night while she was walking her dog and we taught her the First Vision. She was intrigued by it all and said she would come to church, but never came. And she didn´t want to give us her address or number, so we thought we had lost her for good. Then the other week, we were walking along one day and I saw her in the distance. She made eye contact with us and then began running away, haha! But Sister Custódio called out and she stopped and came back to us. We joked with her and taught her another lesson, along with her friend she was with. She said she´d come to church that following Sunday, and she did! With her daughter and niece. We said we would visit her the following Wednesday, but Wednesday came and we got stuck in a meeting during the time that we were going to visit her (we got her address, but not her number). We felt horrible. Absolutely horrible. The next day rolled around and Sister Custódio and I were walking when a little girl began called for our attention. We looked and saw that it was Giane´s daughter. They called us over to learn more and we rescheduled for the following night to visit them. The next night, we retaught the Restauration to her, her daughter, niece and a friend and the Spirit was so strong. They came to church yesterday, and we´re planning on baptizing them this Saturday. Giane has been such an example to me. She has gone to show me that what might start out as a grain of sand, can easily turn into a pearl when worked on by the Spirit. She´s awesome!
This week, we also ran out of filtered water. We usually buy it, but we ran out on Saturday night, too late for anyone to deliver water. So what do we do? We went to the church with lots of water bottles, and filled up there! Haha it was funny, but we need our water!
This week, Sister Barker and I also helped Sister Custódio and Sister Ferreira celebrate their first Thanksgiving. And they helped us! For breakfast, I made them french toast with whipped cream and strawberries. They fell in love and said that when they get home from their missions, it´s the first thing they´re making for their families. (I also made them a trifle the other week and they loved it! It definitely wasn´t the same because Brasil doesn´t have pudding like we do, but I improvised and it still turned out pretty good!) Then for dinner, Sister Ferreira and Sister Custódio didn´t want us to go without a Thanksgiving dinner, so they prepared pretty much all the food we had and made a giant feast for us. It was so so sweet! And watching their excitement was so cute! We had lots of fun :).
My final "this week"... this week, we had Zone Conference! And I met the Geddes´ nephew, Elder Christensen, crazy! I did not recognize him at first. All the new missionaries got to bear their testimonies for everyone else, so that was fun and a bit frightening. But mostly fun! We learned so much about how to be better missionaries and I soaked up every word. And at the end, we received letters! I was so overly joyful to see that I had gotten letters from Elder Fore, Sister Granados, Sister Ropke, MY FAMILY, and Olivia Howard! Olivia, thank you so much for your sweet card and the cute pictures! I was so so happy to hear from you. And I still have my friendship bracelet here in Brasil ;). Family, thank you for the letters and postcard of Cam and Grand Dad! Hearing from each of you (well, almost each of you!) made my heart leap with joy. I can´t express to you how important letters are to missionaries! I always thought they were important before, but I never knew how important. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

One thing that I really have learned over the past several days is the importance of church members in missionary work. I know that the members have lives outside of missionary work and what not, but missionaries really need members! We´ve been struggling getting members to help us recently and it has made our work a lot harder. My testimony of "every member a missionary" has grown so much. I´m so grateful for the help we do receive and the love of our ward. I am so blessed to be serving in the ward Grageru 1. The members are wonderful and so loving. I´m grateful to be here in Aracajú, serving with all my heart, might, mind and strength. I´m grateful for this gospel and for my family and my friends and all things good in this world. The love you all show for me gives me hope and I truly feel your prayers every day. I love you all and pray for you as well. Have a fabulous week and until next time, tchau tchau! Hurrah for Israel!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

P.S. Shout out to Alyssa, Steven, Jacqualine and Kendall. I hope you all had/are having/will have an incredible birthday! I love each of you and feel so blessed to call you my friends, and family. Te amo!

Feliz Natal!

President & Sister Gonzaga

Us sisters at Zone Conference

Me and my District
We found an abandoned photo frame so of course, we took pictures. As you can see, Sister Barker loves Mouri the troll.
Sister Custódio loves the game slug bug, but here, it´s fusca [color of bug]. So in this case, FUSCA BRANCO!
Filling up on lots of water at the church :)
Ready to feast on our delicious Thankgiving dinner so graciously prepared by Sister Ferreira and Sister Custódio. It consisted of the equivalent of top ramen, eggs, pão com queijo, more eggs, LOTS of fruit, fresh mango juice and more fruit
-Posing with the flag of Sergipe!
Me with Sister Barra, the sister trainer I did a division with a couple weeks ago. She reminds me so much of Kayla Wright! It made me miss her!
The clouds on this particular day were beautiful and it reminded me of all the times Mom almost crashed trying to take pictures of the clouds with her iPhone back home :).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

There's So Much To Be Grateful For!

Sadly there are no photos this week.  There was a problem with the computer.  Love her letters, but love seeing her face even more!  Hopefully next week!

On Tuesday, Sister Custódio and I had our first lesson, finally, with Clarice, a woman who miraculously showed up to church the other Sunday and is incredibly prepared for baptism. Our lesson was incredible. She talked so much that it lasted two and a half hours, but the Spirit remained strong through it all and, even though I couldn´t understand every word, I understood her stories and how she was feeling. This woman is such an elect, such a special daughter of God! When the time came for me to invite her to baptism, we all got teary-eyed and she accepted our invitation with a joyful ´sim!´ I´m so excited for her baptism this Saturday. It´s going to be wonderful.

The next day we were on our way to teach another woman and Sister Custódio felt prompted to stop by a home a couple doors down--the home of one of her old investigators that wasn´t progressing. She wasn´t there but her mother was and when we asked how she was doing, she said that she had passed away only 11 days ago from cancer. Sister Custódio was devastated. Heartbroken. As we walked away, she just began to cry and I cried for her. I can´t imagine the pain she felt! But the Lord blessed us in the same day with many little miracles. We ran into so many people we´re teaching who we never run into normally without going to their homes. With each person, Sister Custódio became happier and happier and by the end of the day, she was at peace with herself and the work she had done. Sidenote: one person we ran into we had never met, but he knew the elders before in this area. And he was the exact Brasilian version of Pops! It made me miss Pops and Nana lots!

This week, we also had a division. Sister Custódio stayed in our area on Thursday with Sister Baldomir while I spent the day in Eduardo Gomes com Sister Barra, one of our sister trainers. I learned so much more about relying on the Spirit. Before we split, I was a bit nervous about what would happen because I´m still learning (and always will be), but during personal study, I read a scripture that changed everything. D&C 6:32 ". . . where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them--even so am I in the midst of you." When I read this, I was overcome with the Spirit and so much comfort, My fear was replaced with so much faith and we had great success. A lot of appointments fell through, but the few lessons we taught were wonderful. During the first one, Sister Barra and I taught about how God is our loving Heavenly Father, Christ´s baptism and ministry, and Joseph Smith and the First Vision. At the end of the lesson, I invited the lady to baptism and she accepted gladly. Sister Barra invited such a strong Spirit and I know that the lady we taught felt that. Afterwards, we were trying to find new people to teach, but nobody was around. We found one lady, but she began to try to Bible bash with us, so we had to walk away. Feeling a bit disheartened and hopeless, we turned the corner and offered a prayer, asking Heavenly Father to place someone in our path. Afterwards, we both felt that we should walk down a certain road so we did. Every house was closed. No body was in the street. But then at the end of the road, there was one house that was open. We clapped and a little three-year-old boy came to the gate. He saw us, ran back inside, and returned with his father. His father greeted us and immediately opened the gate for us to sit in the entry area. We introduced ourselves and he received us with such warmth. His personality reminded me so much of Bishop Tenbrink. He let us stay to teach the first lesson, so we did and the spirit was incredible. He was so receptive and very interested in what we had to share. I could tell that he took religion very seriously and had a strong desire to follow the example of the Lord. So at the end of the lesson, we invited him to be baptized after he prayed about what we shared and felt that it was true and. . .  he accepted! We told him how we knew with certainty that Heavenly Father answers prayers because he realmente was an answer to our prayer. I could tell that he felt so good about everything that had happened and I can´t wait to hear about how he´s doing the next time I see Sister Barra.
So our division was really neat. But I was so so happy to be reunited with Sister Custódio after 24 hours. We missed each other! The next day we talked about what we had learned and she told me that Sister Baldomir was very impressed with us. There´s always, always room for improvement, but it was good to hear that our trainers are happy with the work we´re doing!

Lastly, I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Of course, we don´t have Thanksgiving here, but I will definitely be thinking of you all on Thursday--of everyone back home and all our family gathered at Nana and Pops for the biggest feast of the year. There´s no doubt I´ll especially miss everyone, but I´m also grateful for the opportunity I have to be here doing the Lord´s work. I´m grateful for all of your support and love and especially for the support and love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. This work would be absolutely impossible without Them, but with Them, miracles happen. Every day. Words cannot express my joy and gratitude in this work! It truly is incredible! I wish I could send each one of you an e-mail, thanking you for your friendship and for how much of a blessing you´ve been to me, but time won´t allow. Just know that I think of you more often than you know and pray for you every night. It´s the least I can do for the great blessing you´ve been in my life. Thank you for the happiness and joy you´ve brought to me. I love this gospel, I love my family, I love my friends and I love this work! Happy Thanksgiving, todo mundo!!! And hurrah for Israel!

Com amor,
Sister Ball
". . . live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you." --Alma 34:38

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dois Meses!!!!

A side note from Brianna's mom -- She LOVES to receive snail mail, but only receives it when the zone leaders come from Maceio, which isn't very often.  She is currently serving 6 hours outside of Maceio.  Christmas is her favorite time of year for many reasons, but one of the main reasons being that she loves receiving everyones Christmas cards, reading about their family and seeing pictures if included.  So, if any of you are working on your annual Christmas card/letter please consider sending one down to Brianna in Brazil!  You would make her holiday season!  The following is her address.  Thank you!

Sister Brianna Ball
Brazil Maceio Mission
Av Dom Antonio Brandao, 333
Sala 402
Ed. Work Center, Farol
57051-190 Maceio-AL

Today marks two months here in Brasil for me! Ahhhhhh! So much has happened in so little time. It feels like I´ve been here forever, but it also feels like I was just saying goodbye to everyone yesterday. Lots of mixed emotions  but mostly excitement :).

So this week was definitely a good week. Sister Custódio and I had lots of success in finding new people to share the gospel with and it was just a week of happiness!

On Tuesday, we visited one of our pesquisadores, Carlos. . . I don´t know if I´m allowed to use names, but oh well. Carlos owns a stationery store here and we´ve been visiting him for awhile. Every time we visit, he seems wishy washy with compromissos but likes the lessons that we share. His wife died a couple months ago, so the gospel has really helped him. Sister Custódio and I couldn´t figure out why he was so wishy washy though. So I felt like we really needed to talk about faith and having a desire to follow Christ during our next visit. After discussing what we were going to share with him, we visited him the next day and I shared some scriptures with him in Alma 32 about faith and desires. I testified to him the importance of faith and that, when we feel we are weak in faith and need support, we can turn to the Lord in prayer and ask for Him to help our lack of belief and He will strengthen us. I then asked him if He had a sincere desire to be baptized and become a member of the church. He replied yes, then thought for a bit and began to open up. He told us that he doesn´t feel worthy to become a member because he has an issue with drinking and smoking (which we already knew) and feels that he can´t stop. We testified of the power of prayer and the Atonement and committed him to take the drinking day by day (he´s been better about smoking). The next day we visited and he hadn´t had a single drink since before the previous day, which was a huge step! And since then, he´s only progressed!

Along with investigators, apparently my Português is progressing as well. It´s still difficult not being fluent, but I get by. On one day as Sister Custódio and I were inviting a lady to church, I asked her if she knew "os mórmons." Whenever I say this, no one ever understands me and Sister Custódio always has to help, but this time, the lady understood! I was so happy as we walked away and expressed my joy to Sister Custódio. She celebrated with me and told me that she had been thinking lately that my Português has really improved! I know I still have such a long ways to go, but that was so good to hear! And I´ve been teaching her Inglés as well! Now, she knows how to bear her teastimony and pray in English. It´s so inspiring to see her have such a strong desire to learn English and makes me try harder every day to improve my Portugues.

On Saturday, we finally got to do some service. We cleaned the house of a less active member. She has a sickness that keeps her from doing much because moving and working causes her great pain. Sister Custódio actually has the same thing, but somehow she pushes through it. So we got to clean this Irmã´s house and it was so fun! I´ve been dying to do service and we finally got to :).

Yesterday, we also had the Primary program. Oh how it made me miss Primary and my wonderful class of princesses! I thought of all the kids back home! It was great though! Super great!

Also, this week, Sister Barker ate Mentos for the first time. Just a little fun side fact.

This week was wonderful. I wish I had time to type all of the miracles that happened, but sadly I don´t. I´m so grateful to be here though in such a wonderful town with such wonderful people. I think of you all back home lots, especially with the holidays coming around but I wouldn´t want to be anywhere else than here right now. Thank you for all your support and love and prayers. I love you all!!!!! Hurrah for Israel!!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

 pay no attention to my arm, first of all. It was just a slight burn from the sun (reaction of the sun with my bug spray) and I was covering it to protect it from more damage, but I promise I´m okay!!! Pinky promise. This is a picture of Sister Ferreira, Sister Barker, Sister Custódio e eu at Irmão Antonio Carlos´ home for his birthday with his family and friends. The members here are so kind and invite us to everything!

 Like I said, Christmas

with some of my best friends from the CTM

 In front of the CTM
 -my wonderful sister friends that I get to work with and see every day. I´m so lucky!!! This is an area that Sister Custódio and I walk by a lot each day in our area.

Doing laundry by hand for the first time in my life. Woohoo! I scrubbed so hard that my fingers have some booboos (what´s another word?) now. Hard work!! ;)

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's Beginning to Feel A Lot Like Christmas ...

Yes, in fact it is! Everyone here has already started putting up Christmas lights and selling Christmas decorations. Sure there´s no snow and the sun is stronger than ever, but it´s wonderful nonetheless :).

First things first, Happy Birthday yesterday, Uncle Tom!! And Feliz aniversario today, Aunti Kanga! I hope you´re days were absolutely wonderful!

This week was definitely faith-building. The language here is a little different than what we learned in the CTM, so I´ve been a wee bit frustrated with myself. I have a hard time fully expressing myself and an even harder time understanding the needs and difficulties of the people we teach. Sister Custódio has been of so much help to me though. Some how, I can´t understand other people very well, but I can understand everything she says. So someone will say something to me that I don´t understand one bit. And then she´ll repeat it to me, word for word, and I understand! She´s also always so aware of my needs. Every day, she shares something with me that is just what I need to hear. I am seriously so blessed to have her as my companion. The Spirit that she carries with her is incredible!

This week, we had a zone meeting. We learned how to improve our planning sessions and watched Mormon message from President Uchtdorf. He said something that I just love! That we are children of the most creative Being in the universe and we have the potential to become like Him. Think about that. How incredible! At this zone meeting, I also received some mail from two fantastic people. Thank you so much, Cam and David, for your letter and your picture! I can´t tell you how happy I was to see that I had something from you two! We only get mail here in Aracajú whenever we have a zone meeting or something of the sorts a.k.a. not very often. So thank you for brightening my day with your love!

Like I said, this week was difficult, not only because of the language, but also because a lot of our investigators are either not progressing or moving or never home. Something that I´ve come to learn so well here though is that the Lord is so mindful of us! Yesterday, Sunday, none of our investigators came to church. But the Lord blessed us with one of His elects. A woman decided to show up who had been invited to church by the missionaries in our area three months ago. She was just soaking up everything and already asked when she can be baptized. My heart is full of gratitude!

Now for the most important part of a mission--the food (brincadeira). This week I got to drink coconut water out of the coconut. Yes! I ate a delicious dessert called tapioca that I have no idea how to describe. For every meal, we have a different kind of juice. The number of fruits here are endless! And we always have rice and beans. Always. Another fun fact: eating turkey is one of the most bizarre things Sister Custódio and Sister Ferreira have ever heard.

Anyways, I am so glad to be here. The mission isn´t always easy, but that´s what makes it so great. Because when times are difficult, it gives us an opportunity to rely on the Lord even more and that´s when miracles happen. I know this gospel to be true and love it so much! It has brought so much joy to my life! Hurrah for Israel!

Com muito amor,
Sister Ball

 It´s a lot like Mexico here but cooler and better ;). The language is different too haha. The ward is amazing. Not as many members as home, but they are all really helpful with missionary work. I get along well with the kid thanks to being American and blonde. We missionaries don´t teach any classes but we might start. Okay, sorry this is so short, but I have to go. Love you lots!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Aracaju, Sergipe

 Aracaju, Sergipe
 MTC Roomies and Trol
 Roommates after walking home in the storm
 I'm thinking this is the group leaving the CTM for Maceio
 Flying into Maceio
 Aracaju, Sergipe
Sister Ball and Sister Custodio

I am now serving in Aracajú, Sergipe, about 6 hours away from Maceió, but equally if not more wonderful. There are a lot of apartment buildings, but also really run-down, poorer homes in scattered neighborhoods as well. Most of the streets we walk are cobblestone and there are lots of bright colors, bright homes and buildings. I love it here!

Who do we live with... you´re going to love this. So it´s my companion and then two other sisters in our own apartment. And guess who one of the other sisters is--Sister Barker!!! We all serve in the same ward, live together and eat lunch together. How great is that? Ever day, we remind each other how blessed we are to see each other on a regular basis. It still blows my mind.

My companion is Sister Custódio from São Paulo. She is awesome. Her three favorite things--McDonald´s, Metallica (before the mission, of course) and Coca Cola. When President Gonzaga was announcing who our companions would be, I noticed her because of how happy she was and wanted to be her companion. Then right before he said I would be her companion, I just knew that we would be. And now, here we are, serving together in Aracajú. She´s so happy and kind and funny. We´ve had lots of good laughs together!

Every day, we eat lunch with a member. We don´t really eat dinner because lunch is always so ginormous, but we always have a little nighttime snack. The food is soooooo good! And get this: everyday, Sister Custódio and Sister Ferreira have to force me to eat more. At every single meal, it´s this: "Come mais Sister! Come mais!" I´m afraid I´m going to return twice as heavy as I came.

The language... oh man. It´s actually not as horrible as I thought it would be. Sure I can barely understand people here and they can barely understand me, but we can all feel the Spirit testifying the truthfulness of what we´re sharing, and that´s what counts. Sister Custódio doesn´t speak English, but we all manage to get along and day by day, it gets easier and easier!

I don´t know our plans for Christmas yet, but Sister Ferreira (Sister Barker´s companion--she´s adorable) said that we can Skype. I´ll find out more in the future. And yes, post letters to the mission home. And tell everyone in Idaho to do the same! Thank you for sending letters. I cannot wait to get them :).

Other fun facts:
The weather here is already super hot and it´s not even summer yet. Last night, we had a crazy rain storm which was super fun walking home in. It actually was once I decided to have fun with it :). Yesterday, we had testimony meeting and Sister Custódio and I brought along a pesquisador. Everyone here jumps out of their chairs to bear their testimonies. It´s so great. On Saturday, we had a baptism which was wonderful as well. I can´t believe how great the work is here. Yes, we have to work hard, but the people here are so much more open to the gospel! It makes me so happy.

It sounds like the family is doing wonderful. I can´t wait to hear about State for Noelle! And I´m glad everyone had a good Halloween. How is Dad doing? Is his foot any better? I hope so! I´m just about out of time now, we get an hour, but I´m glad I got to hear from you!! I hope all is well back home and everyone is still loving the gospel and life! Don´t forget Elder Ballard´s challenge from General Conference--if you don´t remember it, find it! :) I love you all and pray for you daily! Hurrah for Israel!

Com Amor,
Sister Ball