Monday, January 26, 2015

Laughter and Tears!

Before I forget, Happy Sweet Sixteen, Kayla Fagan!!!! I seriously cannot believe you´re already that old. Wow. Can someone please tell me where the time went? And another before-I-forget, thank you, thank you, thank you to all the people who sent Christmas cards and letters and packages! Sister Geddes, the Kelly family, my dear fam bam, the Karrens (for the card and package! Ah, I was so happy to see a package from you guys! Love you!), the Fagans and the Priebes. You guys all rock. Noelle, I´m so excited for you and your new calling! You´re going to do great! It´s way better than ward greeter haha :). Glad Grand Dad had a good birthday too and that Steven enjoyed his campout. I´ll be wanting to do lots of those when I get back!
So this week was tough. It was full of laughs and tears and goodbyes. On Monday, we had family home evening with the Lima family which was incredible. Irmão Antônio Carlos amazes me with his Agent 007 skills and Irmã Marinalva with her magic touch in the kitchen. Irmão shared the message which included messages videos from our friends from the mission who already returned home (thank you Sister Silva, Sister Smith, Sister Sierras, Sister Chilson, Sister Nunes and Sister Vieira!!) and Presidente and Sister Gonzaga. We all cried seeing everyone´s faces again and reading messages they wrote. And it was followed by a delicious feast made by Marinalva. And Bruna was there to help us remanesce on all the good times we had while in Gragerú together. It was a great night! On Thursday, Irmã Nilda threw a surprise going away party for Sister Sleeman and Sister Custódio. Foi top!!! And Friday, we had to say our goodbyes. Goodness, sometimes I really dislike the fact that I´m a cry baby. We not only had to say goodbye to Sister Custódio and Sister Sleeman, but Sister Castro and Sister Ferreira too. It was pretty tough, but I know that we´ll keep in touch and continue our friendships. The following days, Sister Caetano and I paired up and worked in our areas the best we could between the two. I think my favorite part of the week was yesterday when we were at the church. We were heading to the chapel for sacrament meeting when I ran into Vanessa, a woman that I used to teach here (a few weeks ago, I mentioned how I discovered that all this time I spent away from her, she was reading the Book of Mormon) when I served in Socorro the first time. After arriving in the area again, Sister Caetano and Sister Sleeman started to teach her again, but she moved into the area of Socorro 3 soon after. And running into her yesterday, I found out that the sisters from Socorro 3 continued to teach her and she was baptized on Saturday!!!! My happiness was so great when she told me, "Sister Ball, me batizei!!!" Ahhh, I couldn´t believe it. That made up for all the sadness I was feeling after having to say goodbye to so many people this week haha. Vanessa is another proof for me that the seeds that we plant really can sprout and grow and produce fruits.
So that was my week. Now, I´m anxiously waiting to find out who will be my new companion and am happy that I´ll be 'dying' here in Socorro 1. It´s a great area with great members. I´m excited to spend my last transfer working hard and giving all I´ve got. I love you guys and hope you have a wonderful week!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

 With a family from Gragerú who always had FHE with us every week
 Imitating a photo that Sister Custódio´s dad took with his companion on the mish

Sister Sleeman's and Sister Custodio's farewell

FHE with the Lima's

Sister Barker and the Lima's!

Tchau tchau, Sister Custodio... gonna miss this sister!

Lunch with Irmã Telma... she was my investigator the first time I was in this area and now she´s a member, making lunch for the missionaries! 
Mission Christmas Conference.  That's a lot of missionaries!

Monday, January 19, 2015


Mom, how´d you know that I lay on our cold tile floor to cool off? I guess some things never change :). Thanks for the coat! I don´t even want to try imagine using it right now, but I´m sure I´ll be very grateful once I get home... make sure to bring it to the airport haha. Hey, so everyone´s talking about what´s going to happen when I get home and how I have very little time left in the mission. What´s this all about? I seriously can´t believe that it´s coming to an end. Actually, I don´t want to believe that and I still don´t. I still feel that I arrived in the mission just a few months ago and am almost halfway through. The only one ending her mission here is Sister Custódio ;). But seriously, as excited as I am to get to see you guys soon, I really wish I could stay here forever doing what we do. There´s nothing as wonderful as being a missionary! I can´t believe Alyssa is already going out to serve! I´m certain that the people in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas will love her and her crazy sense of humor. Good luck to everyone on finals and to Steven on his Klondike derby! That´ll be a blast for him. Oh and good luck with math, Mom. You´ll do great!
This week, it kind of seemed that everything exploded. Everything that was working out perfectly just a few days ago came to  sudden end.  But besides all that and the fact that this is my companion´s last week (a.k.a. there´s a chance that she´ll be super trunky), I´m learning so much. One thing that I´ve come to love here in the mission and especially these past few days is scripture study. It´s incredible how the scriptures have changed my life. Sadly before the mission, I didn´t really make study a priority but here in the mission, it´s the first thing we do after exercising... and taking a shower. Those two hours of study have become some of my two favorite hours of the day. I´ve come to love the Book of Mormon and the teachings of the prophets. This year at church, they´ve started studying Presidente Ezra Taft Benson´s life and teachings. What an incredible man! I´ve come to love his wife, Flora, too. She always supported him in everything he did--every job, every calling, every decision he made, she was right there alongside him to give him words of encouragement and help in any way possible. To me, she´s an example of how we should support our families and loved ones in important decisions too.
Anyways, even though we´re having a little bump in the road in our work, I´m excited to find more people who are ready and willing to hear the gospel. I know that the Lord is preparing people in this very moment to welcome us into their homes and their lives.  I´m so grateful that I can be a part of this marvelous work and I hope that during these next couple months, I can give the Lord all I have. Thank you for your love, your support and your prayers. Have an excellent week and know that I love you!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

With Sister Barker and my traveling scarf that Tina gave me once upon a time, saying that I needed to take it wherever I go!


With one of my favorite families in Eduardo Gomes after the baptism

Morning run with Sister Sleeman... we decided to run to a bridge that crosses a pretty part of the river in João Alves, an area nearby. 

Please ignore my horrible, I'm-dying-because-I'm-way-out-of-shape face. 

Sister Caetano, Sister Sleeman, Sister Custodio and I at church

"I can honestly say that I needed my mission more than anyone else"

While it just snows more and more there, the sun gets hotter and hotter here. Don´t be too surprised if I return home a bright red tomato! But I´m really hoping all that snow sticks around. The Lord knows how much I´m praying for this wish to come true haha. Yes Mom, I still have so much to learn, but here on the mission, I´ve learned things that I wouldn´t have discovered any way other than being a missionary. I can honestly say that needed my mission more than anyone else. Of course, I came here to serve the Lord and His children, but the person who has been most benefited is me. I´ve learned what my strengths are, but most important, my weaknesses, and how I can change them. The mission is an incredibly eye-opening experience, one that I´d never give for anything in this world.
Noelle, thanks for the e-mail! I hope you get better... I´m proud of you for choosing to work on a church lesson over going to a fun-filled party. Woohoo! Sounds like Steven´s basketball team is going to rock! And glad that Uncle Dan is getting to spend time with Grand Dad. I´ve already written a Happy Birthday card for him, along with a bunch of other letters, but it´s just always a matter of when we´ll get around to visiting the post office. Speaking of cards and letters, tell everyone thank you so much for sending Christmas cards! I got some from you guys, from Nana and Pops, the Priebes, the Fagans, the Kelly fam aaaand the Karrens! I love you all and am super grateful that you remembered this gringa here in Brasil. You guys rock.
I guess it can be a bit hard to give talks because of our 'training', but to be honest, we don´t really have a strict way of teaching the lessons, so it´s a little easier to expand on what we want to say if necessary. I don´t really know how to say what I´m trying to say. Basically, in the CTM, they trained us to teach the lessons in a super short amount of time, if necessary, but we also learned how to teach the same lessons during a longer period of time. Giving talks isn´t too hard... I think the hardest part is just the fact that we don´t have access to all the same materials as everyone since we don´t have computers to use the church website whenever we want, or church manuals. Does that answer your question, Mom? And there are a lot more colorful houses here than there, that´s for sure! Not every house is as cool and colorful as Bispo´s, but there are a lot of red, orange, pink, blue, green, and yellow houses here :).
As for this week, we didn´t get to spend as much time in our area as usual, but the Lord blessed us and made up for the time we missed. We saw many mini miracles that happened throughout the week! We had a leadership meeting in Maceió on Tuesday with an excellent training on our desires and how we can make goals and plans to acheive those desires. Our greatest desire as the Lord´s servants (which is all of us!) should be the same as His--the 'immortality and eternal life of man'. To accomplish that desire, we need to make goals and plans to reach those goals. We talked about how God created everything spiritually before He made His creation physically and how we need to do the same; we need to create our weeks and our days spiritually by planning so that we can carry out those plans physically by actually doing. I also went on exchanges with Sister Gama this week and, even though it was to help her, I learned a ton. Through her example, I was reminded of how important it is to testify of Christ in all we say and do. At every opportunity she had, she testified of Christ and His gospel and the happiness that she has because of Him. I´m going to improve in this and hope we can all do the same. I love our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. I´m so grateful that they have blessed us with the opportunity to experience true joy together with our families throughout the eternities if we simply live the gospel. I love each of you and hope you can all have an incredible week.

Com amor,
Sister Ball

 An area of Maceio

 A wonderful Sunday lunch with a wonderful family

Our serenading, accordion-playing Sergipiano friend  :) 

With a caju downtown

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year All!

Ah família, I don´t have a ton of time left but I loved reading all of your e-mails. I´m hoping and praying that all this snow can stick around until March! It makes me so happy thinking about how much it´s snowing there :). Glad you all had an eventful New Year´s. Hope everyone´s adjusting well to being back in school... it´s always tough to go back, but that´s life, I guess! From the pictures, it looks like you all had a great time with Tina. Love you guys! I laughed so much about what some of the kids designed for the Primary spotlight hahaha. I love Primary! I´ve only been able to visit the Primary a few times because we usually stay in Relief Society, which is always wonderful too. Mom, thank you so much for helping those sister missionaries. I haven´t had to walk in freezing weather like they were, but I can´t tell you how happy and grateful we are when a member stops to help us or give us a ride. Missionaries walk... a lot! I hope you can continue to help out the missionaries in every way possible! Referrals, dinners, rides, FHEs with friends, making visits, etc. We love receiving help from members because that´s really how missionary work should be! Thanks again for saving those sisters´ freezing little legs haha.
So this week with the world celebrating New Year´s, our success in numbers wasn´t spectacular. But we had success in helping those who were really in need of help and serving how Christ would serve. Yesterday, we went to visit an investigator that´s a bit hard to find home. We caught her there though, and sat down to visit her. I gave the opening prayer and as soon as I finished, she told us that she wanted to introduce her to a young lady who´s been living with her and really needs help. So she called this young lady and left, saying she´d remark with us. The young lady sat down and all we had to ask was what was wrong. She began telling us everything. (This is something that amazes me as a missionary. The people tell us their lives so easily! Sometimes we don´t have to say anything... they just start talking.) Through the experiences she told us, her feelings and the Spirit, we were able to teach a lesson that was especially for her. It was so great as the Spirit led us and told us what to say and share. In the end, we gave her a Book of Mormon. She happily accepted it all and accepted to start praying, to exercise her faith in a God that she doesn´t even know really exists or not.
It´s moments like these that make my mission what it is. I´m grateful that we´re here to help others and learn together with them. I hope you´re all well and love you all so much!

Com amor,
Sister Ball

P.S. I´ve received some e-mails from some friends and family and I apologize for still not managing to respond! And thank you to the Gilleys, the Kelly family, the Smidts and Tina for your Christmas cards!! Love you guys!

Here are some pictures from our NYE celebration and feast at the Bishops house, Shoveling dirt, Our Christmas decorations, drinking chimaera a specialty from Porto Alegre, churrasco (Brasilian BBQ), and poor Sister Custodio with tummy pains, but she's all better now!

Feliz Natal 2014

(Bri sent this email out, but I thought I'd post it on her blog as well!  Sorry it's late)

My dear friends,
Another year has come and is already almost gone. What happened to 2014?! This year flew by so much faster than what I was expecting. At least we´re here in the best part of the year though, my favorite time of the season! Since Christmas is all about giving and being thankful for our Savior´s humble birth, I wanted to thank each one of you for giving me your friendship and helping me be more happy and feel loved. I wish so badly that I could send an individual e-mail to each one of you, but know that because you´re receiving this e-mail, you´ve played an incredible role in my life. If it weren´t for many of you, I don´t think I´d still be here as a missionary. If it weren´t for others, I wouldn´t be as happy as I am now or love others as much as I do now or be as chubby as I am now (por aquelas irmãs daqui ;) or have all the amazing and unforgettable experiences that I´ve had over the years. I am so grateful for each one of you. I hope that, not only this week with Christmas approaching but everyday, that we can remember and thank our Heavenly Father for Christ´s simple and humble coming into this world--that we can recognize the miracle of His love in our lives and make an effort this next year to give a little of ourselves to accept His invitation 'Come follow me' and follow Him. I know that as we do this, He will bless us with more joy, peace and spiritual strength to overcome our difficulties. I love each one of you more than you´ll ever know. Thank you for all you´ve done for me and your grand examples you´ve been to me. Have a very merry Christmas and happy new year!
With love,
Sister Ball

Meus queridos amigos,
Mais um ano chegou e já está acabando. Cadê 2014?! Esse ano voou muito mais rápido do que esperei. Pelo menos estamos na melhor época do ano! Como Natal seja uma época de dar e ser grato pelo humilde nascimento de nosso Salvador, quero agradecer cada um de vocês por ter me dado sua amizade e ter me ajudado ser mais feliz e sentir mais amada. Quero tanto poder mandar uma coisa individual por cada um, mas saiba que você está recebendo este e-mail porque teve um grande papel em minha vida. Se não fosse por muitos de vocês, acho que eu não estaria aqui ainda como uma missionária. Se não fosse por outros, não estaria tão feliz nem amaria tanto nem estaria tão gordinha kk nem teria todas as incríveis e inesquecíveis experiências que tive na minha vida. Sou tão grata por cada um de vocês. Espero que, não só durante essa semana de Natal mas todo dia, que possamos lembrar de agradecer nosso Pai Celestial pela simples e humilde Vinda de Cristo ao este mundo--que possamos reconhecer o milagre de Seu amor em nossas vidas e fazer um esforço nesse próximo ano de dar um pouco de nós mesmos, aceitar Seu convite "vinde a mim" e então O seguir. Sei que se fizermos isso, Ele nos abençoará com mais alegria, paz e foça espiritual para vencer nossas dificuldades. Amo vocês mais do que imaginem. Obrigada por tudo que têm feito pra mim e seus grandes exemplos. Feliz Natal e Ano Novo! 
Com amor,
Sister Ball
(me desculpe por qualquer erro que escrevi)