Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Week 1

Oi family and amigos!
Wow, the days have been long, but this past week has flown by like crazy. Being here in the CTM (Missionary Training Center in Portugues) has been such a blessing and I am SO glad my visa was able to come through so I could report here. The Provo MTC is wonderful as well, but here, I am completely immersed in Portugues and so I feel as though that's helping me learn the language a lot more quickly. Knowing Spanish has also helped a ton, so thank you if you're reading, Gundaroo and Profesor Cetz. I wouldn't be learning how I'm learning now without your help.
A few quick things. . . I'm still learning how to use these keyboards. My Preparation Days are on Wednesday and to answer some questions, I get to attend the temple here in Sao Paulo on Wednesday mornings. It is a beautiful temple--so big and just gorgeous. Also P-Days are the only days I'm allowed to take pictures, but I can't send any through e-mail. We do get to explore Sao Paulo within a certain boundary on P-Days though, so that's really fun (no pictures though so we don't look like tourists). The food here is iiiiincredibly delicious. I don't know what it is most of the time, but I just go with it and it usually turns out to be really good. Actually, it's so good that I've just been grabbing everything they have out. I should probably stop doing that though because I'm gaining some kilos!
Here's some news for the Ringger family--I found Sister Smith! She left for the field yesterday morning, but I was able to get a picture with her. She actually turned out to be my sister leader in our residence hall and I love her. I hope I can know Portugues as well as she does when I leave the CTM. And she says hello to all of you. She had nothing but good things to say about each of you!
Okay, to those of you who might care, my daily schedule varies depending on the day, but I usually get up at 6am, study for an hour, eat breakfast, study more, work out, eat lunch, study more, eat dinner, study and teach a lesson, plan and then go to bed. Here's something incredible--on our first full day here, my companion and I taught a lesson to a "pesquisador " for 30 minutes in full Portugues. The second night, we went over time with 45 minutes and ever since then, have only gotten better. Since day one, our prayers have also been in complete Portugues. It incredible how much of a miracle learning the language has been.
Most of the people here are Brazilian or Spanish, so I've somehow managed to make a lot of friends through speaking Portugues. They're all so amazing though and every single missionary here is super friendly and patient with those of us who have horrible gringo accents. I seriously love them all so much. I'm so glad I'm here!
The weather here has been really nice. We're just getting out of rainy season, so it usually pours at night and then is warm in the day time. Not too hot, not too cold, not at all like Maceio is going to be, but perfect! I've also been able to celebrate Christmas in a few ways (Noelle haha). One of our sisters in our district has twinkle lights that remind me of my favorite season. And I've gotten our district and another to sing Christmas hymns twice now. It's fantastic!
Derek Morgan, if you're reading this, one of the elders I met up with at the airport is the blonde version of you. It's crazy.
Sorry I sound so scatter-brained, but time is running out! I think that's all for now though. I do have a quotation that I'd like to share from Elder Holland, one of the twelve apostles of our church. "You don't have the right to be any less of a missionary than what little children think you are. . . don't let them down." I've actually been telling myself something along the lines of this throughout the entire week. Every time I think of this quote, it reminds me of my brothers, sisters, cousins, my wonderful primary class, and every other child I know. And I think "child" can also be replaced with parents, or grandparents, or leaders or family or friends as well. Basically, I'm trying to be the best possible missionary that I can be because I don't want to let any of you down, or our Heavenly Father down. Eu seu que este evangelho e verdadeiro e que O Livro de Mormon e de Deus. Seu grato por meu familia e a oportunidade estar aqui com as pessoas de Brasil. I know that this gospel is true and The Book of Mormon is of God. I'm grateful for my family and the opportunity to be here with the people of Brazil. You guys are amazing. Thank you for your support and prayers. I feel them every day and can't wait to continue in this work. Hurrah for Israel!
Tchau com amor,

Sister Ball

Monday, September 9, 2013

Farewell Coeur d'Alene!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak in church one last time before I report to the Missionary Training Center in 9 days (as of today!). Before I get into that though, here's a little introduction about what's been going on these past few months with my life.

April 10th: I received my mission call in the mail and, after reading it, discovered that I'd be fortunate enough to serve the people of the Brazil Maceio Mission and would report to the Brazil MTC on September 18th.

June 12th: I went through the temple and receive my endowments. It was such a sacred and neat experience that I'll be sure to always remember! (Unfortunately no pictures because they got deleted off the camera.)

July 24th: I turned 19! Now the only thing between my mission and me was 56 days.

September 8th: I gave my farewell. As much as I love speaking in church (and I'm actually not being sarcastic for once haha), that wasn't even the best part. My favorite part of yesterday was getting to see so many people I love and care about all in one place. There were people there who taught me in elementary school, family from out of town, church leaders, friends about to head off to school, my cute little Primary girls I've been so blessed to teach this summer. . . basically, people who have changed my life for the better in one way or another. Every time I looked out at the congregation, I would either start getting teary-eyed or get this huge grin on my face. Then on top of that, I was able to speak with my parents, and my sisters performed a beautiful musical number. The Spirit was so strong! It truly was such a wonderful Sacrament meeting.
After church, we had an open house that afternoon. Once again, I was reminded of how incredibly blessed I am to know the amazing people I do. My heart overflowed with gratitude and love as people came and went, bringing heartfelt cards, generous little gifts, and, most importantly, their beautiful smiles and soon-to-be-missed personalities. That night as I thought about everyone who had come and the things they had left for me, I couldn't help but cry because of how thoughtful selfless they all are. I'm so happy to be able to serve a mission in 9 days, but my friends and family sure don't make it any easier. They're all just too great of people! I truly hope that I can become more like my family and friends as I embark on this 18-month journey. If any of you are reading this, please know that I love you so much. You have blessed my life in more ways than you know and have helped me get to where I am now. Without you, I most likely wouldn't be preparing to serve the Lord and people of Brazil with all my heart. I am forever thankful for the impact you've had on my life and for how fortunate I am to know you. Words truly cannot describe my gratitude for you. My heart is full.
I am so excited to serve this mission! I know that I'm supposed to go out and change the lives of 
Heavenly Father's children, but I also know that they will change my life more than anything. I can only hope and pray that I will be the faithful and diligent servant the Lord needs me to be. Hurrah for Israel!

Photo cred: Tina Roark

Photo cred: Tina Roark
My adorable Valiant 8 Primary class--one of the girls
wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it, but we missed her!