Monday, February 24, 2014

I've Found Home

All right, I´m going to try to type but this week, we´re in a different lan house and this keyboard is super sticky and a wee bit annoying, so typing is hard and I´m running low on time here. This week was a bit so-so, but I have hope that this coming week can only be loads better! There isn´t a ton that´s worth talking about... Mom, you wanted to know more about the ward. They´re amazing. This next week is transfers and our ward isn´t making the fact that I´ll probably leave any easier because I love the members so much. It´s a very chique ward, but very loving and helpful with the missionary work. Baptisms are difficult, yet the members never give up on helping us! Everyone in this ward is super organized and smart too! Everyone is being accepted into the UFS, the federal university that´s super hard to get into. Lunches are huge and made with love. This is why I´m so fat (I´ve accepted that) :). The most important thing is that here, I´ve found home. Obviously, nothing will ever replace my real home, but I honestly feel like this is my home too. I guess that´s what happens when you pass five months with an incredible ward. Now that I´ve said that, I´m bound to be transferred, darn it! As for customs here, I´ve already written about the basics... the food, the warm, loving people, how they just let strangers into their homes without a word (happens every week!). One thing that I haven´t mentioned though is everyone´s obsession with smell. Almost everyone here is like a walking Hollister shop. Everyone smells so good! And I don´t understand because it´s so stinkin´ hot! I´m impressed every day. I also love how focused everyone is on families. Families and religion here are all that matter which is how it should be. There´s one family that we visit in the ward every week to help the husband stay strong in the gospel and I can´t get over how great their love as a family is. Their little son chooses the song "Families Can Be Together Forever" for our FHEs every single time. It´s adorable. I admire this so much. This week, we did have zone conference. I can´t tell you how good it was to get to see Sister Custódio and all our other friends in Sergipe! We all got lots of training and I was reminded of how amazing Presidente and Sister Gonzaga are. I love them so much! I also got letters! Thank you to the Priebe family, Mom (for the postcard), Elder Jones, Aleesay, Grace Konen, Olivia Wilson, Hannah Jolly, Kate Gatten and the young woman who made the mystery yellow card. I loved every letter and every card so much! I know that despite these difficult times, this mission is the best thing I could be doing right now. I love my mission so much. It has truly helped me come to appreciate Christ more. I know that without Him, we have nothing. But through Him, we have life. We have joy and we have love. I´m so grateful for my family and for their love. And my friends too! I love you all so much! Have a beautiful week and hurrah for Israel!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

Sister Custódio would probably be a bit horrified that I´m sending this, but she understands the rules with my pictures and the blog... if you don´t want it on the blog, don´t make the face :)

The view from an irmã´s apartment window... love Aracajú! 
-With our ward missionaries and mission leader. They´re all too great! 
With the incredible youth of Gragerú 1! And some lovely young women from Gragerú 2 too :)

In my area after lunch with Sister Barker 
With Sister Barra and Sister Baldomir, our sister trainers

-All my companions from Day One until now! Love each one! 
Our wonderful District Gragerú! Best district in the mission! 
Sister Gonzaga! 
With Sister Barker and Elder Davis, 5 months in the mission for us. Woohoo!!! 
With Elder Rossetto, an elder who arrived with us in the field and knows Jess!
With Sister Barker, my other half... don´t know what I´m going to do without her! 
Zone Conference with Sister Custódio!!! We missed Sister Ferreira, but it was good to have almost everyone together again!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rollin' With the Flow!

This past week we had a few minor difficulties and changes in our schedule which resulted in a little less work than usual, but it was great nonetheless and, as always, the experiences were worth it. It all started with P-Day when Irmã Marinalva cut my hair... okay, okay, she didn´t really cut it as short as in the picture. I wanted to get away with saying that my hair really is that short now, but I´m not very good at lying anymore since I´m a missionary and all. She just gave it a really healthy, and super cute trim. It´s practically the same length though! Just 100 times cuter! I´m so grateful for our amazing members and how they´re always willing to help so much!
This week in our district meeting, we talked a lot about faith and how we can demonstrate our faith to the Lord through simple things. We decided that we´re going to do these simple things, like caring baptismal papers in our bags with us during the day so that we´re prepared for when an investigator might miraculously tell us they´re ready for baptism. Through things like this and our hard work, we´re bound to see miracles!
On Tuesday, my companion was a wee bit sick, so Sister Barker and I ended up spending the day together proselyting. We had fun meeting a man who called us into his home to teach a group of adolescents a lesson from the Bible. It was just a little awkward, especially when he offered to give the prayer at the end, pulled up a YouTube video on his phone of the Lord´s Prayer put to music and images of Christ, and began repeating every word with closed eyes while everyone just watched. He left as soon as he finished, leaving us all sitting there in silence. So Sister Barker and I just told them all to keep up the good work and left too since we were in a hurry to see how Sister Barratt was doing. Gotta love this place!
This week, we also had divisions with our Sister Trainers which was fun! I spent the day with Sister Baldomir in their area and we took a 40 minute onibus ride out to a little town in their area, São Cristóvão. I fell in love. I believe it´s the 6th oldest town in Brasil (I might be wrong!) and was the Brasilian version of Manzanillo, Mexico. Looooved it! Every street scattered with old cathedrals, a quiet peace over the entire town and just beautiful. We also had appointments in a Parque Santa Rita which was more farms and red earth. The sky when night came around was incredible. It was a good day, teaching new people and feeling their sweet spirits. When the next day rolled around, Sister Baldomir was excited to tell me that the previous night, I had been talking in my sleep. It turns out that I taught a lesson, testified and closed in the name of Jesus Christ all while asleep... in Português hahaha. Good to know that my subconscience is focused on the mission!
Yesterday, Sister Barratt and I met some missionaries from another church. Even though we might have slightly different beliefs, it was good to see other people dedicated to a good cause and we left our conversation with them feeling uplifted.
This week, some of our investigators became a bit mole... they aren´t progressing too well anymore. But we´re keeping our heads up and have hope for a better tomorrow! Especially since tomorrow is Zone Conference and I´ll be seeing Sister Custódio! Excited to see friends and learn more about how to be a better missionary :).

As to answer some of your e-mail, it wasn´t Wal Mart... it´s called Extra and is a lot like Wal Mart. But we learned that it´s actually not in our area like we thought, oops! Everyone makes mistakes, in the wise words of Hannah Montana. Açai is a fruit, like the juice we have. But when people go out for açai, it´s an ice cream of the fruit, kinda sorta. Super good! How exciting that the Karens are in Brasil, I don´t believe it! They´re missin´out on Aracajú! ;) Good to hear that the family is doing well... how´s Dad? And yes, Sister Castro is Kayla!!!!! She´s so sweet! Hope you enjoy your trip with your friends. And super glad that you´re keeping in contact with Marinalva--love her! So fun! I love you and really hope you have a wonderful birthday. I´m celebrating here for you in Brasil! Beijos!!!!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

 The haircut that didn't really happen
 With Sister Barker
In São Cristóvão on divisions with Sister Baldomir... fell in love with this place!
With Sister Barratt
In the market in Downtown Aracajú with Irmã Maurisângela. Super sweet and super awesome lady!
Our lovely District Gragerú!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I'm Loving This Work!

I´m loving this work. Sure it´s exhausting and by the time Saturday night comes around, Sister Barratt and I are so exhausted that we turn into crazy hooligans and can´t seem to function correctly, but that just means that we´re working super hard during the week right? We really are though. And we´re seeing great results. Our investigators are starting to really progress and the members are helping so much with lessons and making friendships with our investigators. This week, I realized that I really wish I had helped more with the missionary work before my mission--that I had gone out on splits with the sisters or given more references to the missionaries or even simply sat with investigators when they showed up at church with the elders. When I get back, I´m going to be better about this for sure. So this week I learned that some people might not fully accept the gospel at first because they might be embarrassed that they don´t know certain things about it. Example: we were at an investigator´s home one day and the owner of the house was there too, so she decided to sit in on the lesson. We were learning about the Book of Mormon, and Claudia, the owner, was confused and at first a bit closed off because she thought that the reason she hadn´t ever heard of the Book of Mormon was because she wasn´t very learned. We told her that that definitely wasn´t the reason and after helping her feel better, she opened up more and was really curious about it. She really liked the idea of scriptures being written here in the Americas too and now we´re teaching her too! We were also able to mark the baptism of a young mother, Valeska, we´re teaching who just recently moved to the area. This lesson in which we marked the baptism was... with a member! I have a feeling that if Irmã hadn´t been there to share her testimony, it would have been a lot harder to commit Valeska to baptism. But her seeing an example of someone who already received the missionaries and now is happily living the gospel was proof to her of what she can have after baptism too. Her mom lives nearby and knows a bit about the  "mormons." We can see her testimony really growing and her sincere desire to know more and do what´s right makes us so happy. Every time we leave her home, we walk away smiling because she has such a sweet spirit! So now for some random, happy moments: this week, Sister Barratt and I came across Extra, a giant supermarket in our area. And we discovered that it´s Walmart. It´s ginormous and has EVERYTHING inside! A little slice of home :). One day, Sister Castro and I also picked up lunch from a member´s house and got to walk through a street fair. There I saw everything to eat from chicken feet to cow and pig hooves, to cow tongue. The smell was lovely :). Aaaaaand, quick side story: in the CTM one P-Day, Sister Barker and I bought a tie and named it the Miracle Tie. We started a "Brotherhood of the Traveling Miracle Tie" with the elders in our district where one of them would wear the tie every day and at the end of the day, record a miracle that had happened while dressed in the tie. Before leaving the CTM, we decided to pass it on to another district we felt worthy of the tie and told them to do the same. And this last P-Day, we discovered that it still lives! A new american sister in the mission had pictures of elders in her district wearing the tie! Oh happy day. As for McDonald´s. It´s super pricey (surprise!) so we only eat there every so often. Tell Sister Tingey hi for me too! Ahhhh I miss that family! I don´t have a ton of time left, but yes, the church here is wonderful. The members are super strong! Sister Barratt actually lives in Allen, Texas... maybe knows the Jacobsons! And Sister Castro and Sister Barker are doing wonderful. I love them all!!!!! And I love you all! Hurrah for Israel!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

P.S. Thank you to Missy´s family and Grand Dad for the letters! And Aunt Michelle, thank youuuuu for the package! I LOVED it! And I had been needing CTR rings for some kids here, so thank you so much! Love you guys!

a foto covering almost all of my area... we work past those buildings in the far distance and then some. Lots of walking!

 Care Package from Uncle Mark & Aunt Michelle!  Thank You!!!
 Acai, celebrating Sis. Barratt's 6 months 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Two Blondes in Brazil!

I´m loving being here with Sister Barratt. We´re super similar in more ways than just our looks (even though I don´t think we look that similar... she´s gorgeous!), so it´s been fun. One example--she loves the movie Just Friends. Thank you very much. I can´t tell you how many times a day people ask us if we´re sisters or twins. It´s hilarious. So this week, I discovered my new favorite temple. And I´m going to be married there. Manti, Utah!! Why have I never seen this temple before? I can´t get over how gorgeous it is! Another random fact--yesterday, it rained like crazy and, surprise, surprise, I was actually a little chilly here in Aracajú. Craziness. So what did I do? I warmed up some milk and made hot coco! And on top of that, Sister Barratt has Josh Groban´s Christmas album on her iPod, so of course I had to listen to that. It was pure bliss. This week, I also had my first full dream in Português. Finally! And I had another dream in the same night that my mission had ended and I was coming home. I couldn´t help but notice how good I felt about the work I´d done in the mission. So that´s always good! And another dream I had the same night involved me being besties with Harry and Louis from One Direction. But I don´t think that´s very relevant :). This week, we´re starting to really see some of our new investigators progress. We met a young woman who is the Brazilian version of Emmy. And her little brother is the Brasilian version of Steven! She´s super neat and has a sincere desire to find Christ´s church. She doesn´t know it yet, but she´ll be baptized in a few weeks :). Another woman we met, Alia, was super cute. Sister Barratt and I were walking to an appointment we had in a neighborhood far away and an old lady stopped us. She took us into her house and the first thing she did was sit us down at her table and feed us a guava dessert she had made. The entire time, she kept saying how pretty we were and asking if we wanted to marry her son. We did manage to get a short little message in there, but I couldn´t help but laugh afterwards. It was too funny! And yesterday, we taught a family that an irmão in the ward introduced us to. I´m really beginning to realize just how important the members are in this work. I wish I had helped more before the mission because it´s so so important! Having a member know your investigators gives the investigators another reason to stay strong and keep coming to church. Of course they´re there to come to know Christ, but having a friend makes it so much easier. I know that this is the work of the Lord and that the gospel really is everything in our lives. Without the gospel and without Christ, we are nothing. But with them, we have the potential of our Heavenly Father. How neat is that! I love being a missionary! It´s probably the hardest thing I´ve ever done, but that also makes it the most rewarding thing I´ve done yet. I love you all and, as always, you´re in my prayers. Hurrah for Israel!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

P.S. Sorry Mom, I hardly took any pictures this week! This is us last P-Day at McDonald´s :)