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