Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zoo, Reunions, and Fun Pics!

The zoo was awesome. I was looking at my pictures and realized that I didn´t take so many of animals, but the best part was just getting to see so many great people. I got to see lots of awesoms sisters and the Limas! It was so so good! I love being back here in Sergipe. And things are great with my companion. We´re working hard and seeing results. This weekend, we had a baptism! It wasn´t just any baptism though... it was V´s baptism :). V is an 8-year-old boy who´s sister and brother are members, but his mom is hesitant and it took her a good couple of years to approve V´s brother´s baptism. Ever since we arrived in the area, we´ve been visiting her and V, trying to help her see the importance of baptism in V´s life. He turned 8 the weekend we arrived here and she wasn´t going to let him get baptized, but we kept visiting and helping him prepare for baptism. And this last week, she miraculously signed the papers and V was baptized and confirmed as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What a blessing! He was so stinkin´ happy to be entering those waters of baptism and the spirit there was so sweet. I can only hope that his mom felt the spirit there and that one day, her heart can be softened even more. Yesterday, we also had a great lesson. I felt that we needed to visit this girl who had sat in on a lesson with another investigator. We had kind of forgotten about her, but yesterday, we stopped by her house to see how she was doing and if she had prayed sobre our message. And she had! She told us about the experience she had--how she had felt the spirit so strongly and felt that what we had shared was true. She accepted baptism and I´m so excited for her!
As for this area, it´s more like the neighborhood parts of Gragerú. It´s not so rural, but not super urban. It still has lots of people riding horses and all that good stuff which is fun. And as for the weather, well, we´re in Sergipe. The sun is always shining. And it´s always hot. But I love it here :). Apparently autumn is arriving, but we´ll have to see! I love this work! So much! I love all of you! I hope you´re all well! Hurrah for Israel!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAM!!! And Sister Barker! And Mom, this coming month is super special... happy 5 years cancer-free!!!! I love you guys!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

with my own missionary family :)--Sister Nunes (my grandma), Sister Custódio (my mother dearest) and Sister Costa (my daughter)
Reunited with Sister Barratt... awhaaaaa?

With my favorite family ever here in Brasil! The Limas! 

With Sister Castro and Bruna, uhu!! 
A view of Aracajú... love that place 
Just being weird... ya know. 
Sporting my super awesome missionary bag from my favorite primary class 
V´s baptism!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's a Girl!!!

(This is Heather, before you read her letter, I just wanted to ask if any of you would like to write a few lines to Brianna and maybe include a picture of you or you and her and send it to me as soon as possible to be included in a book I'm making her for her birthday.  It's not until July, but I'm giving myself plenty of time to make it and post it in advance so she has it to open on her actual birthday!  Thanks so much for showing her so much love and support.  You all know that family and friends are the world to Bri and I think this would be the best gift to send her!  Thank you!)

So the big news for this week: transfers! Tuesday, we had our transfers meeting in Maceió and I found out that I´d be returning to Sergipe!!! Not only that, but I´m training... and opening a new area! I´m with a wonderful Sister Costa who´s from São Paulo (Presidente likes to put me with Paulistas kk) and we´re opening an area for Sisters in Socorro 1 (it´s Aracajú´s neighbor). It´s been quite the adventure! The elders before us were super super good but didn´t keep up too well on the area book so finding these people that were being taught is a little difficult. But miracles happen and so far, we´ve had success in finding who we´ve searched. And between all that, there are lots of people to talk to in the streets and new people to teach. As for Sister Costa, she´s amazing. She´s 21 and came with what seems like years of experience. She´s practically training me! I sure do love my daughter :).
So that we transfers. We got here in Sergipe on Thursday and have basically just been meeting members, reteaching some investigators, finding new people to teach and preparing some people for their baptisms--the life of a missionary!
As for Easter here, it´s pretty normal. Unfortunately, they don´t do Easter egg hunts, but they do give giant chocolate eggs to each other with presents inside the chocolate. Our new bishop gave us each an ovo de Páscoa :). Oh, speaking of the bishop, this ward is amazing. They give us referrals before we even ask! In every lunch and at church yesterday, it was a referral here, a referral there, a referral everywhere! So cool.
Mom, they do have most of the church movies in Portuguese. If it´s not in Portuguese, it has subtitles.
And that was my week. Just through our work this week, I´ve been reminded of how mindful the Lord is of us. And He´s shown me that He truly qualifies those He calls. I´m a gringa with seven months in the mission and He trusts me to train one of His servants all while opening this new area. I know, without a doubt, that without Him, all of this would be beyond impossible. But every day I feel more and more strengthened through His Spirit and His love. This work is incredible! I love you all and pray for you daily! And when I´m not on my knees, there´s a prayer for you all in my heart. Now, we´re headed off to a play date at the zoo with some other sisters and some of my favorite people in the world from Gragerú!!!! Tchau and hurrah for Israel!

Com amor,
Sister Ball-

Our last day in Cidade Universitario

 With Sisters Taylane, Araújo e Silva showing our friendship rings
 Meeting Sister Costa
With Sister Costa, minha filha
 The new sister trainers and their daughters!  I think my blinding vampire skin is throwing off the white balance in this photo!
 This ugly insect was found crawling across Sister Vieira's feet ... apparently it's related to the scorpion and has venom!  Eeewwww! :)
Sisters Vieira, Moraes, Costa e eu with our Easter eggs from Bishop!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Playing catch up!

Since I, Heather, was a bum and didn't post two weeks of letters from Bri, here they are!  It's so funny to see her English suffering the longer she is speaking Portuguese!  I know she'd hate it if I said anything, so I don't dare, but it just shows me that she's doing really well with her Portuguese!

March 24, 2014

Hey Mãe! Sister Silva is wonderful. She reminds me a lot of Janet Shirts, to tell you the truth. And being with her is one of the biggest blessings yet here in the mission. Being her companion and in the same house as Sister Araújo and Sister Taylane is what´s helping me be myself more. I was enjoying the mission before and the people, but I wasn´t exactly myself during these past few months in the field. Sister Silva has a way of helping me stay relaxed and not worry about nothing though. And at the same time, we work hard. I´m learning to work hard and enjoy doing it even more! The ward here is nothing like Gragerú. The members are kind, but I don´t think anything will ever be like Gragerú 1. They were so incredible and familiar! The youth are cool though. They´re a wee bit on the rebellious side but talk with everyone about the church which is neat and gets us quality references. We´re about 40 minutes from the coast and I don´t think we´ll be visiting it any time soon. The bus ride is pretty crazy. But I think next week we´ll be visiting downtown Maceió... stay tuned ;).
Cam too said that Noelle gave an incredible talk. Wish I could have been there to be proud with you guys! Glad to hear that Steven´s still the stud he was when I left... maybe even a bit more than before. And David--gotta love him :). And I´m so proud of Cambrie. Through her e-mails and yours, she sounds like she´s growing up so fast but in such a good way. Her spirituality and maturity amaze me. I hope Dad feels better! I´m with a little cold too. Don´t know if it´s allergies or what but it´s nothing too big. And I´ve already written Grand Dad and will write Uncle Dan. I´m still trying to catch up on letters from January haha. What makes it a bit more tough too is that we don´t have a post office in our area and the post offices here in Brasil are on strike. But we´ll see what happens. Happy Birthday to Bradley and Britt!!! Hope they enjoyed their special days and are livin´ the good life.

As for me and this week, it was good! I´ve kind of come to a blank on experiences we had this week... one day, we found a strange fruit growing on a tree that is like an oval, dark brown coconut. So we carried this fruit around and used it as a conversation starter to make contacts and meet knew people to teach. It worked pretty well! This week we also met up with all the missionaries in our zone in one area and proselyted there. It was so neat to see missionaries leading strangers on tours inside the church and talking with everyone in the streets, inviting them to visit the open house we were having. On Wednesday, we also went on splits with our sister trainers. I stayed in the area, partially-lost, with Sister Smith who reminds me so much of TeAnn... how´s TeAnn by the way? Been thinking of her! We taught a great lesson to our recent convert and dear friend, Aparecida. She has such a sweet spirit and inspires me with her desire to learn as much possible about the gospel. We´re also teaching a theologist who is luckily open to what we have to say. We just need to get him to pray about the gospel and the church and make a visit! And that´s about all I have for this week. I´m so grateful for this gospel and this work! I know that this is a work of God! I love you and hope you have a beautiful week!
Com amor,
Sister Ball

March 31, 2014
April Fools!

That title has nothing to do with this e-mail. I just decided that I needed to acknowledge the fact that April Fool´s is tomorrow, yet I still have nothing in mind. At least I have 24 hours :). This week was very productive. Dad, I completely agree with what you said and what you said about faith and miracles happening every day has been my motto for the past few weeks... just in Sister Ball´s words. Miracles really are happening all around us. We just need to open our eyes, exercise our faith and look. And that´s exactly what we did this week. We decided that with every single person we talked to, we wouldn´t leave their presence until we successfully shared a gospel principle and felt the Spirit. From this, the results were great. We gained the beginning of a new teaching pool and met some incredible people. This week I also was reminded that when an appointment falls through, the Lord always places someone in our path. When we tried to visit a woman who´s never home, we ran into her neighbor across the pathway who was sincerely interested in what we had to share. She recognized the Spirit that was present as we shared a message of the restauration. When we were visiting an investigator who ended up not progressing, her daughter just ended up being there. We later visited the daughter in her own home where she was there along with her sister. And they accepted to hear a message and were at church this last Sunday! And when we were visiting another investigator who we ended up having to abandon (she wasn´t progressing at all), her sister-in-law walked in and accepted our visit for another day. We went there a few days later and she and her children accepted to pray to know the truthfulness of the restoration and baptism! The Lord is always placing miracles in our path. Some other neat things from this week: our recem-converso, Aparecida, is such a faithful woman. She soaks up everything and reads everything we give her. She´s a living example of what the gospel can do for a person--the blessings and joy that it brings. Yesterday, we had a lesson with some Lamanites. We visited two natives who´s family still lives in their tribe. They are some really neat people! The other night, we also got to come across a procession of Catholics who were lighting candles and worshipping in the streets in honor of Easter, I´m assuming. And this week, Sister Silva and I decided to start working out with all those wonderful exercises from cross country. It feels great! So this week was wonderful. I hope all is well back home. I love you and pray for you always! Hurrah for Israel!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

April Fool's, Animals, and Conference

 Enjoying our personal jars of doce de leite from an investigator
 No centro with some others sisters we found while there--Sister Araújo, Sister Taylane, me, Sister Barra, Sister Morais, Sister Martin, Sister Cadillo and Sister Silva
 Spending some quality time with my turtle friend
 Even cats are taking a liking to me... it´s definitely a one-sided relationship
 Mouri was one kool kat at conference yesterday
 Lunch appointment fell through so we resorted to roadkill....
 At a ward activity we organized
200 days in the mission with Elder Basden and Elder Draper!

With a donkey ... uhu!
First day of conference, playing in the grass

All right, I don´t have much time to respond to everything you wrote, but I was able to read it all and just know that I laughed and am super happy for lots of people. Congrats to Anna! When does Katie Sullivan leave again? And has Megan Dibble mentioned anything else about a mission? Hope all three lovely ladies are doing well. Loved the April Fools pranks. Here, they celebrate too, but it´s more about telling lies. So Sister Taylane and Sister Araújo successfully convinced Sister Silva that Sister Taylane was being transferred the next day due to an emergency transfer in an other area. It was pretty funny :). I didn´t end up doing anything though... sad, I know.  We did get to watch conference--every single session in Português! It was absolutely wonderful! I soaked up every minute and, just like six months ago in the CTM, I found myself dreading Presidente Monson´s final "amen" because I didn´t want it to end! There were some great talks, a few of my favorites being President Eyring´s, President Uchtdorf´s, Elder Ballard´s (please please please take his advice!), Gary E. Stevenson´s, Elder Bednar´s and President Monson´s. I loved how Elder Bednar spoke of burdens and happiness. He said how sometimes we think that happiness is the complete absence of burdens, but the reality is that the strength we develop to endure our burdens is what brings happiness and a necessary trust in the Savior. The 4 minutes was great too. We´re going to have eternity to dwell on what we did in this life, so we need to make it good! Along with incredible talks, some shocking news was announced and I don´t know if any of you in the U.S. caught it. My dear mission president, Presidente Gonzaga, was called as an Area 70. AHHHH!!! All of us missionaries were just freaking out a little bit.
As for this week, we taught a lot. One lesson we taught started out a little awkward because the young man was a bit closed off and not very open to our presence. But once we started teaching the gospel, he began to warm up. And by the end of the lesson, he was with a burning desire to make a change in his life and give church a chance. It was neat to see the sudden change that the gospel can make in the lives of people. We also attended an English class at the federal university.  Part of the pathway there is among fields of wild grass. And part of this wild grass was on fire. At points we were surrounded by wild fire on both sides in a very safe way :). It was pretty neat! And we also organized a great ward mission activity. It was a relay race, mais ou menos, based on Lehi´s journey to the Promised Land. The members got super involved and excited. It was so great to see them so happy about what we had done and we´re hoping to see good results.
And that was my week! I loved conference and hope you guys had the chance to watch it all. Every session was so good. Definitely take the time to study and ponder the words of our dear prophet and apostles. I know that they´re called of God and their words are inspired. They aren´t words we should take lightly but words we should live and apply to ourselves. I love you all!! Hurrah for Israel and boa semana!

Com amor,
Sister Ball