Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Beginning to Feel A Lot Like Christmas!

Can I just say how impressed I get reading your e-mails and hearing about how fast David and Steven are growing up? Glad they had fun at Steven´s birthday party. He deserves it. And that´s even more wonderful that he wasn´t embarrassed to hug and thank you! I think my mission is making him more Brasileiro than me! :) Tell him that I want to see all his cool sporty presents when we Skype next week, okay? Oh and I want to hear David singing :) Good luck to Mom and Noelle on your finals this week. I´m sure that you´ll both do wonderful and will be praying that you can remember what you need to so that you can ace those tests! And thank you for sending me Courtney´s e-mails! I´m not getting them, but I got the two that you sent this week. Glad the little note got to her. I sent it with a young man leaving for the mission here and I guess he managed to find her! It shouldn´t be too hard to find a gorgeous blonde Sister Barbie though :). Aaaaand thank you so much for the shirts and ring. I really really appreciate it!
This week was wonderful. The biggest highlight was probably our Christmas Conference in Maceió. I loved being able to see all my friends that are still here in the mission and catch up with them. Presidente and Sister Gomes gave great talks and panettone (I think it´s fruit cake there... how did I never know that I love that stuff?!) and we had a talent show that was wonderful! Sister Lopez and I sang together and my district did a presentation that everyone loved, not to be modest or anything haha. We sang the cup song and rewrote the words to fit with the mission and Christmas.
This week, I also met an incredible young woman, Jaqueline. Sister Custódio met her last week on exchanges and we visited her again this week. She´s dating a young man from the other stake who´s going on a mission soon and was super curious about the church, so he set up a visit with us. When we got there, she was so excited! She whipped out her cell phone and started showing us all the photos she took on Sunday there at the church for her first time. She already knows pretty much everything about the gospel because her boyfriend is a great future missionary and she´s soaking in everything. She was so happy to receive a Book of Mormon and the Spirit was wonderful as we read it together with her. I´m excited to see where this young woman goes and hope that everything goes well for her baptism soon.
So those are the best parts of this week. Lots of other things happened... oh! We have transfers tomorrow but everyone stayed :). And Mom, Nordestino is someone from the Northeast... Northeasterner? Sei lá. But okay, I think that´s all. I love you guys! Can´t wait to talk with ya next week! Christmas is next week! Can you believe it? Nope. I know I can´t. Tchau tchau e até mais!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

 Yeah!  I finally get to wear my sandals!
Painting Bispo's house

Lunch with Bispo and family

Colorful parrots!

Panda's and Sister Ball love Nana

Feliz Natal Workshop

A Brasilian Nativity

Christmas Conference in Maceio

Monday, December 1, 2014

Seeing Growth From the Seeds I've Planted

Hey Fam Bam! Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Wish I could have been there to celebrate with you all, but we had a pretty good time here too. Our Thanksgiving consisted of three banquets during three days. On Thursday, the elders in our district prepared a wonderful breakfast for us in the church. They earned brownie points! On Friday, I spent most of the morning in the kitchen and we had a Thanksgiving feast in our own house for lunch with two other sisters who´s lunch fell through. And on Saturday, Talita, an irmã in the ward, prepared another feast which was followed by a delicious torta (sorry, I´m really not remembering this word in english!) that an irmão made for dessert. All in all, it was fabulous. Our area is great. It´s the 'interior', or more rural, but not as rural as Eduardo Gomes. It´s far away from the coast. And there are mosquitoes but nothing like Eduardo! I think I´ll be finishing my mission here, but who knows. I just hope I don´t have to pack my bags again before having to pack up for the last time and heading home. I don´t really like packing my bags for transfers haha. The work is going well! To answer your question, Mom, as sister leader trainers, we have leadership councils, take care of four sister missionary companionships and go on exchanges with these sisters to help them in their areas and also to help us out :). This week, I went on my first exchanges as a sister leader trainer which was exciting. I think I was more nervous than the sisters that I was supposed to help out! But it all went super well. I love the miracles that happen during exchanges. On Thanksgiving, I worked in Sister Sleeman´s area (which is my old area here in Socorro 1) and it was a great day. They´ve been having difficulty finding people to teach and it seemed that everything went right that day. We managed to find lots of people ready to hear the gospel who were open to our message. I love being back where I already worked, one of the reasons being because I can see how the seeds that I planted have sprouted. Sometimes as a missionary, we get a little hopeless because it seems that we´re just spending the months planting seeds. Seeing the effect of these 'seeds' has been one of the greatest blessings! For example, Sister Sleeman and Sister Caetano decided to start teaching a lady that I spent a lot of time teaching when I was here before. I can´t tell you how happy I was when I found out that  she´s reading the Book of Mormon and is in Helaman. Her daughter uses the CTR ring I gave her and this Sunday, they all came to church for the first time! It´s also great seeing other people that were my investigators as recent-converts now. Well, that´s my life these days. The miracles we´re seeing are wonderful. We´re working hard and hoping to have baptisms this Saturday. Pray that everything will go as planned! Tell Steven, Kendall, Jack Carroll, Kacy Johnson, Britney Spears and all my other December 2nd birthday friends Happy Birthday for me! That I love them so much and hope they have a wonderful day! There´s a birthday card in the mail for Steven, that stud of a brother of mine. I love you all bunches! Have a wonderful week and Happy December!!! 24 days until Christmas.

Com amor,
Sister Ball

Sis. Sleeman and I trying on heels with our dear friend, S

My first exchange with Sis. Pew

Plate full of Thanksgiving food from our lunch with an irma on Saturday ... soooooo good!!!

Thanksgiving breakfast with our district

Thanksgiving pie from our lunch with an irma on Saturday ... soooooo good!!! 
We made pumpkin pie!!!  Ah, que saudade!

Our Thanksgiving banquet that we cooked up for lunch 
Our Thanksgiving banquet that we cooked up for lunch 
Our Thanksgiving banquet that we cooked up for lunch 
Santa and Coca Cola

Yummy Chicken feet!

Yummy Chicken feet!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fun Reunion!

Heyo! So everyone´s talking about this new Meet the Mormons movie. I´m excited to see it when I get home. Mom, that story about the candy man was the theme of the Christmas devotional that I went to a couple years ago at Temple Square. Loved it! Sister Custódio goes home in January, so we still have Christmas together... the same time of year that we spent together last year! I opened a few things from the boxes, but nothing wrapped in gift paper yet. I used the blouse that Nana sent for a leadership council. There, I got to see Sister Barker!!! 

This week was pretty good. We found lots of new people to teach and miracles are happening. The majority of these people need to get married. And unfortunately, the place where people get married legally is closed until January or February. But I have faith that we´ll continue to find people who are married legally or single. It´s going to be great :). One of our investigators is "married" and  has four childen, one died in a car accident a few months ago. When the sisters met her, she was completely depressed and just wanting to escape this life. I didn´t know her during that time, but from what she´s told me, she was absolutely miserable. You´d never be able to tell though. Today, she´s a woman of incredible faith. She´s at church every Sunday and, despite some difficulties that she´s going through, she recognizes the change that the gospel made in her life and has faith that everything will work out. I´ve never met someone with such desire to be baptized!  I´m excited for the day when she´ll enter those waters. I´m so grateful for what I´ve learned from her and so many other people we meet here every day. These people are truly incredible. Sorry the e-mail is short this week, but know that I love you all and appreciate all the love and support. Hope you have a wonderful week, full of thankfulness and turkey. Gratitude is something incredible. It can cure everything. Love you guys! Boa semana e feliz Dia da Ação de Graça!!!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

Off to Leadership Council for the first time together! 

 Got to see Sis. Barker for the first time in 8 months .. OH HAPPY DAY!
With all my 14 month old mission buddies 
Together again with some of my favorite sisters from Grageru 
Trying to take a picture in front of Feitosa and the Maceio lighthouse, but I don't think you can see anything!

With Sis. Custodio

With Sis Lopez and a letter that Elder Woodbury wrote for us ... we had to put our two letters together to understand what he wrote us!  Hahaha 
Happy 14 Months Sister Ball!

Cutting a coconut with style 
Drinking agua de coco 
Jesus + Work = Success

Christmas and Airplanes

2 months for Sis. Custodio and 3 for me!  Don't worry, we're still focused and loving the work :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Girls Are Back!!!

Hey Fam Bam! How´s it going for everyone there in Idaho? From what Mom and Dad wrote, it sounds like everyone´s great! To answer your 'trunky' questions super fast, Mom, I don´t think I´ll be a river guide anymore. It´d be super cool, but it´s not very realistic. I deferred for BYU until September... I´ll just have to worry about FAFSA and rooming, I think... well, you might have to for me haha. I´ll definitely talk with Jess and Alex and every other RM from Brasil in portuguese when I get back. This is a language I can´t afford to lose! And David will have to re-teach me spanish haha. Glad he´s doing well after returning from the mish!  I wish I could be at Kendall's sealing so badly, but I´m so stinkin´ happy for her. And Courtney! So happy she´s going straight to the Brasil CTM! She´ll love it!!! Tell her to keep her eye out for a miracle tie... I´ve been wondering about what happened with that guy. I got the package, thank you! I still haven´t opened it and I think that´s killing my companion more than me, but it´s all good :). Oh, speaking of my companion, she´s a pretty familiar face. YES! I returned to Socorro 1!!! I had told Presidente in one of my interviews that I felt that I had been transferred from here a little early and I guess he remembered and let me come back! Aaaaaand, with the best companion ever--SISTER CUSTÓDIO!!! Yep, I´m back with my 'mom,' my wonderful trainer! Now, I have some new responsabilities too, so it´s going to be different, but I´m so happy to be where I am with who I am. Sister Custodio and I are Sister Leader Trainers so we are responsible for taking care of the sister missionaries in Sergipe.  We´re living with Sister Caetano and Sister Sleeman who are working in my old half of this area, so it´s going great :).
This week, we already saw some great miracles. We visited a couple that didn´t want to get married, no matter what the circumstances were. We went there, shared what the Spirit told us to share and at the end, asked how things were going with their marriage. They both smiled and told us that they want to get married as soon as possible so that they can be baptized. Que legal! We visited another young woman who accepted to read the Book of Mormon and be baptized with such excitement that we couldn´t help but smile. I´m so so so happy to be back here. Wow, it was tough to leave Eduardo Gomes, but I´m glad that I´m at least in another great area with a wonderful companion. I´m excited for the future and the miracles that are soon to happen. I love you all and hope all can continue to go well. Stay strong and remember the joy that the gospel brings in our lives. I love this work and our Heavenly Father´s plan. It´s truly so perfect. And I love you guys! Tchau!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

 Thank you for the packages!  Still haven't opened them but I'm excited to see what's inside!
 Us four in our house (me, Sister Custodio, Sister Caetano e Sister Sleeman)
 With a pigeon, whoop
 Our district
 Caught a fish!
 Sister Sleeman and I laying next to a little scrapbook I made for Custódio during my training with her... it´s just a little lengthy :)
 After playing volleyball
The girls are back!!!! With my 'new' comp, Sister Custódio! :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Goodbye Eduardo Gomes, I'll Miss You!

Hey family! Thank you for sending the photos, Mom. I really appreciate it! It sounds like, as always, everyone´s doing well. Glad Cam got to help with Jr. Miss. I remember seeing and hearing about those junior girls when I was younger and thinking how old they seemed... now they seem so young! Cam will be one of them in just two years! It´s weird because for me, she´s still just a little girl, but I meet young women here who are younger than her but seem so much older because I didn´t know them as little girls. I guess she´s really growing up fast. How´s Noelle doing at BYU-I? She´ll be home kind of soon for the holidays, neh? That´s also great to hear that the radio was playing Christmas music! Here, everyone is already decorating their houses and the shops are decked out in Christmas stuff. There might not be snow here, but at least they know to start Christmas early :). Thank you so much for sending the package! I´ll be happy with whatever you guys send. It already means so much to just get something in the mail! Oh, about the fabric for our dresses... yes, a less-active irmã was making dresses for us. Here, it´s a tradition to make a dress to wear for when you get home, so to economize a bit, I got a dress custom-made that I´ll use to go home and for our Christmas Conference. It turned out pretty! Tell Kyle congrats on his mission call! Sister Lopez has a friend there in Guatemala right now.. Elder Trone! He´ll love it there! And I´m so excited for Courtney to got to Interlagos! Did she already get her visa? Hope so!
Okay, I´ll write about transfers now. So everyone stayed!!!! Except me :). I was transferred and I´m not sure where I´ll be going still, but I´m excited. Holy  moly, I´ll miss this place and the people here, but I know that the Lord knows what´s best for us. I´m just so grateful that He gave me the opportunity to spend a little time here in Eduardo Gomes. I feel that this is where I´ve learned and grown the most as a missionary and a person. The members, our investigators, my companion, the sisters we live with, the people in general, and everything have helped me so much! Every missionary that passes through Eduardo Gomes is a pretty darn lucky missionary. Sister Barros will be training a greenie, so that should be great for her! Other than that, it was a pretty normal week. I´m excited to meet new people and have new experiences. Thank you for all you guys do for me! I´m so grateful for all the many blessings that I have in my life! My prayers and love are with you!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

Mouri with caramel corn we made last P-Day


With N & W, two great little girls!

Eduardo Gomes with Sister Lopez

Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Dearest Family,

Merry Christmas! Oh wait, that´s next month. It just seems like it´s already here since everyone is talking about it in their e-mails and we already started listening to Christmas hymns forever ago :). Mom, loved the idea about finding an ornament to bring home from here. I´ll make sure to do that. 

Sounds like Halloween was a blast! Here, they don´t really celebrate it, but after arriving in our house that night, we dressed up, bobbed for apples and ate caramel apples that I attempted to make. The caramel just broke a few teeth, but everyone´s okay ;). So cool that Steven won a prize for his costume, wooohoo! I hope that Grand Dad gets home safely. Always praying for him and his well-being. And sounds like Helen´s funeral was a good experience. Mom, please don´t talk about 'your turn'! Que susto! Glad you´re enjoying your classes. That´s cool that you got the opportunity to be the 'teacher' for a class. I´m sure you did great!

So this week was a pretty normal week. We´re still looking hard to find people that go beyond the first or second lesson and make an effort to wake up for church. It´s funny how the Lord´s timing is. Yesterday, I was talking with Sister Lopez about this, but a bit more hopeless. And today in my personal study, I read something that opened my eyes. I read a story from one of Presidente Uchtdorf´s talks where he spoke of a woman who spent her life dreaming of being the perfect mom and perfect wife, but ended up a single elementary school teacher. She often was very bitter that her dream hadn´t come true and failed to recognize that, although the Lord hadn´t blessed her with children, He had blessed her with the opportunity to change the lives of hundreds of children as a teacher. He said that many times, when we´re looking for the beautiful red roses, we often times fail to recognize the beauty of the countless forget-me-nots around us. It really helped me to realize that even though we may not be finding people who want to accept the gospel and be baptized, we´re being able to help countless other people and I´m being blessed more than I know.
Yesterday after church, the young women walked with us to lunch. They paired off with us and practiced being missionaries for a missionary activity that they were going to have a little later at the stake center. The young woman that stuck with me was such an example. She literally stopped every single person in our path. It didn´t matter what in the world that person was doing, if they were almost sleeping of boredom or incredibly busy, she talked with them! We helped the young women learn how to make contacts and ask for addresses to share a message with everyone, and they did so well! It was a great experience for me to see their determination to share the gospel with everyone. As for investigators, we´re trying to help a few right now think a little longer and pray a little more before giving up on the gospel.  But that´s about it. I love you all so much and am so grateful for your love and support! It means more to me than you´ll ever know! Have a fabulous week and keep on keeping on!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

Modeling our dresses before having them made

With E, an investigator and mom of two little girls who were baptized a year ago. 
We made banana bread!

The most monstrous hot dog I´ve ever eaten... can you see how the members are trying to make us fat? 
One last photo of our cool district before Elder Gross went home... our LZs weren´t there, but that´s all good. 
Happy Halloween! Sister Lopez was a doll, Sister Bento tried to be Pocahontas, I was Rapunzel, Mouri was Pastel and Sister Barros was Mrs. Claus. 
We carved a melon with the baptism symbol

With my new 'comp', Bianca! Yesterday, the young women helped us talk with everyone in the streets and Bianca teamed up with me. 
With Superman! On this same day, we ran into The Incredible Hulk too!