Monday, July 27, 2015

Fortaleza, Brazil - I'M IN BRAZIL!!!!

First, I´m so sorry I didnt call in Atlanta, there were literally no phones and I wanted to cry!!
So, after 20 plus hours of flying, I made it to Fortaleza! I wasn´t sent to the Brazil MTC because they didn´t have a companion for me there, so I went straight to my mission! I met up with Elder Quintanilla who I knew from the Provo MTC in the Atlanta airport, and we were able to fly together all the way to Fortaleza. Once we got there, we had 3 days of training which was super nice except for the fact that everything was in Portuguese. Lol no they actually had a translator (an American missionary) for us most of the time. When they didn´t, I tried to understand but some people talk so fast my brain starts to hurt from translating. I can usually pick out words and sort of put together what they´re trying to say. Our AP´s led most of the training, and one was American so he was easy to understand but the other was from some Spanish country and he had a thick accent and talked super fast so I had no clue what he was saying. Also it was so cool because all the Americans who translated for us literally could not think of some of the words in English and I was like, I want to be like that one day!!!!
So, my companion is Sister Santos. She´s super nice and is from Sao Paulo. She does not know English so that´s fun! We live with 2 other sisters who also don´t know English! I´m going to be real with you guys, this is so hard. The people here also talk FAST so I CANNOT understand them when they talk fast, or when they mumble, or when they get quiet at the end of sentences, you know? Also if there´s other noises around like motorcycles (it´s literally like The Bourne Legacy - there are legit that many motorcycles and more) or music or other people talking I can´t understand what people are saying. The saddest part is when I can´t understand kids lol
At church we bore our testimonies (I WAS SO NERVOUS) so I did and it probably wasn´t all right but afterwards people were so nice! They all said I speak very well and almost everyone (not just at church) say my accent is very good and I already sound like a Brazilian!! (#thankstexasandspanishclass) after sacrament 3 girls came up to me and were telling me my hair was pretty and then they kept talking and I legit had no idea what they were saying lol omg then the cutest little boy came up to me and smiled. So I asked him how he was, he said he was good then asked me what my name was haha so I told him then he told me his then he stood there and I just kinda looked at him lol then he smiled and shook my hand and left lolol then after church he came up to me two times and said bye hahaha
Anyways, sorry this so jumbled I feel so rushed!! Also, we´ll probably usually email earlier than this so send your emails Sunday night so that I have everyone's when I get on in the morning!
So! Brazil! I love it! If we excuse the fact that I can´t understand a lot and it´s really hard not being able to say what I want to say, it´s great! I think because I´ve had so much time to prepare for Brazil, I don´t have any culture shock. I still look at things and think, wow this is different from America or wow this is poor, or wow this is different, but I´m not like freaking out haha. The weather is huuuuuuumid. No AC (except in the chapel at church), just fans. We can´t drink the water even with a filtered water bottle so thanks for nothing filtered water bottle! We can only drink mineral water so we have to buy those huge jugs they have at like offices, you know? And that´s our water. We ask people at houses for water usually though. They love their Fanta here and their famous soda Guarana (idk if i spelled that right) a loooot. We have lunch with members which has been good so far! Rice and beans for every meal is so true though. We´ll go grocery shopping today so I hope I can find food lolol. Breakfast is usually bread and cheese or eggs or just normal cereal. We usually go without dinner too which is strange haha; I get hungry but I push it aside and just wait till we get home. Package ideas: american snacks!! and President told us to eat like 3 bananas a day. He also said we can´t wear normal flats because the roads are so uneven so I'm glad I have my chacos! My feet and legs still ache by the end of the day though.
Missionary work here is so different! And they work hard! The mision goal is 4 people on date for baptism EVERY DAY. I was like.... WHAT?! So crazy but he says it´s possible! The ward here is great; we had 90 people there last Sunday which was awesome!! The people here are so so nice. They help me out and listen when I speak and say they understand and that I speak very well (probably not true haha but they´re too nice to say otherwise).

Sister Hannah Marguerite Parks
Brazil Fortaleza Leste Mission
Rua Republica da Armenia, 765 Agua Fria
60821-760 Fortaleza-CE

Yes, put my whole name. Never write on the customs that what's inside is more than 30 dollars even if it is. I´ll be taxed a lot if you do. Put religious stickers on the outside too haha; that helps people not touch or open them.

I love you all so much and I miss yáll a TON!!!! This is hard, but I´ll get the hang of it, I know! Please keep me in your prayers this week!


- Sister Parks

Monday, July 13, 2015

Roosevelt, UT - Last week in the USA!!

Hellooooooo!! So here's what I know about me traveling next week: NOTHING! JK I know a little bit. We called the mission office to see if they had my itinerary and they said that they have been emailing every week but they still are waiting to hear back from Brazil MTC and that I'll either be traveling the 20th or the 21st so I'm just like ugh please let us know asap!! I know they're working their hardest though so I will be patient. I'm thinking I'll probably get it Friday or Saturday like how they did the weekend before I went into the MTC.

This week we've had some crazy rain storms but Heavenly Father has really been looking out for us; every time we're about to head out, it stops raining! And it's been like intense rain! One of the trees outside lost a limb! Also people here water all the time, and it drives me crazy!! I guess Texas isn't in the drought it used to be in though with all the floods. Are there still water restrictions? 

Also, I realized I have yet to tell y'all about the lady we live with!! Her name is Sister Taylor. She's 75 and she's a great grandma and she is the funniest, feistiest, sassiest and cutest little thing you ever saw!!! haha but omg I love her so much she's the funniest thing! 

Who's ready for the most shocking news ever? This is probably more shocking than me getting my visa.........I like salads!!!! YOU HEARD ME! No, actually, I love them! I get EXCITED when I see we're having salad at our dinner appointments!! Who am I, right?! What has happened to me?! I am just as shocked as you are. One family we had dinner with this week we made our own CALZONESSSSS!!! (Parks and Rec shout out!!) I was probably as excited as Ben is when he makes them (lolol who remembers the episode where he made the 1 second clay-mation movie and thought it was really good?? Lolol) SO we made calzones and then we had a salad (!!!!) and it was so. good. And then I got the best news ever...... it was from a bag!!!!!!! So I'm buying ten today. Okay, fine, 5. But I'm stoked. Okay, salad love rant over!

Kirra got baptized this week!!!!!!!! I will send pictures! She was sooooo nervous and HATED the jumpsuit and was so embarrassed to be seen in it but she did wonderfully! I spoke on the Holy Ghost which was also great except I had to keep clearing my throat but it wasn't enough so my voice sounded weird lolol but the message still got across! But they started taking the lessons from the courage of a home teacher who asked if they wanted to take the lessons and now look to where it's led! Don't be afraid to do missionary work! And do your home/visiting teaching! The home teacher's relationship with the kids is the cutest thing! He even confirmed her a member and choked up in the middle of it and I was just like I love Brother Slaugh!!!!! 

One of our investigators George is getting baptized this week!! He will be my first baptism that I saw through from start to finish! Pretty exciting! 

So we talked again in a sacrament meeting yesterday, and we were speaking before the high counselor who's over the missionary work so we know him really well and he's the bomb and right before I'm about to go up he leans over and tells me I should bear my testimony in Portuguese! And so I'm like AH what?? So I get to the end of my talk and I tell the congregation he suggested it and also to bear with me because I suck now (not actual words haha) and I totally butcher my testimony!! And I'm just thinking, I'm positive someone here has served in Brazil so I was even more embarrassed and then lo and behold, a guy comes up after sacrament and said he served in Brazil and I just apologized for my horrible testimony haha but he was very nice but ahh it just made me super grateful I'll be going to the Brazil MTC for a few weeks to refresh and get back into speaking it. I really miss it! My accent was complimented though so at least I still have that. 

So I've been reading in the New Testament and have been learning a lot about Christ and His service that He did while He was here on earth and His compassion and His charity and His love and respect for Heavenly Father. One verse I came across this past week was in Mark 10:27 which says "with men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible" and I just love that verse because I've always heard that saying but I never knew where it came from, and I'm sure there's other verses too that say it similar to this one, but I was happy to have come across this one. What Jesus says here is true, we can't do things just by ourselves. Everything is possible only through Him and Heavenly Father. We can accomplish anything we set our minds too if we rely on the Lord to help us through it. We can get through the toughest times if we turn to Him in our trials. He is only one able to comfort and lift us. And that is all because of the Atonement. Because of His suffering for us in the garden of Gethsemane when He took upon Him all our pains and sins and feelings, He KNOWS exactly what we're going through at all times because He has felt it too. We are never alone in our trails and if we turn to Him, we can feel His comfort and His love. He is able to bear our burdens for us when we cannot bear them anymore. I know these things are true because I have experienced it myself, and I have seen Him do for those that I have met. He is always there for us. Turn to Him! :)

These past few weeks I just kept saying I wish I could stay here longer!! Which I literally never thought I would ever say here in Provo! But I truly love it here. I love this mission! I love all the missionaries, all the people I've taught, all the love we receive, everything! It was a super hard first transfer [her first six weeks in the field] but then, I just threw myself into the work and I started to love my area, love the people, and love the mission! I'm going to be so sad when I leave! I know I'll love Brazil, though! Just hard to leave here because I love it now! 

Hope you all have a wonderful week! I love and miss you all so much!!!!!!!!

Eu amo vocês!! 

- Sister Parks
Marching in the 4th of July parade and seeing Sister Diuguid
The zone with the new mission president and wife 
Kirra's baptism 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Roosevelt, UT - Oi familia!!

Hi family!!! I loved hearing about y'all's 4th of July!! It was fun to be able to spend one as a missionary in the U.S. We'll see how next year's will be in Brazil haha!

I've been a little sick this week and still am getting over it. My throat is what's bugging me currently so I'm just trying to drink more water and taking cough drops, etc.And one of my favorite ward mission leader's wife cared for me when we went over for dinner. They're literally the sweetest people with the purest hearts. I kinda think of them as my mom and dad here haha.

One cute thing that happened yesterday during sacrament meeting was this adorable little boy went up to bear his testimony and he started to say a prayer and then went wide-eyed and shook his head lolol then he started again kinda the same and he just said that he knows Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet and closed and walked off but it was the cutest thing and so heartfelt! A lady went up after and thanked him for his sweet testimony and then his dad went up and was getting teary eyed about his son's testimony and it was just adorable!!

This week we met our new president and his wife!! They are so cute and I'm sad I'll only be with them for 2 more weeks. But they're adorable and they had a son who went to Brazil! We had interviews with President and it was do funny because he was like, "Where's the concentration of Portuguese missionaries here?" And I was like "I don't know....I'm going to Brazil!" And he was like "Oh you are??" And I was like "haha yeah I'm a visa waiter!!" He had no idea it was so funny!

Soooo the part you've all been waiting for: my 4th of July!
So we caravan-ed down to Provo the night before. We rode with the zone leaders down and slept with the STL's in Provo. (They have a whole house for themselves!)

The next day we got up early to meet at the chapel to carpool to the parade. When we got to the starting point, we waited for a while and chatted with those we hadn't seen in a while. Both missions were there so I got to see Sister Diuguid and other sister missionaries I became close with at the temple!! So that was fun. Then we walked for about 2 hours though it only felt like one. But it was just so crazy to see all the people on both sides of the street waving and smiling and telling us they loved us! It felt so weird walking and waving to them haha missionaries are legit celebrities here! And I saw Emma and her family again! Hahaha I love how often I've seen them!

Then we finished at a chapel and all had lunch there. Then we had brief introductions to both new mission presidents and then we sang some patriotic hymns and said the pledge of allegiance. Then we took pictures with our mission, zone, and district. Needless to say, it took a while. So we finished mingling (I said goodbye to a lot of people for a long time :( ) and then we all headed back to Roosevelt. So we got back at around 4:35 and made quick trips to our place to grab things we needed for the lock-down and quickly grabbed food for the elders who were hungry again (okay fine I got curly fries too - I could never turn those down..) and then headed for the church building to be in lock-down at 5. So we all changed into comfy clothes and set up the TV and chairs and watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 which was kinda a flop.. But it's okay because we had a super fun rest of the night!

First, one of the Spanish elders, Elder Ugas, surprised us all by knowing all these awesome card magic tricks!!! Elder Hernandez and I were freaking out lolol but we were literally all circled around him just entranced hahaha

Then we played this super funny card game called The Game is Mouse. So it's played like UNO but with normal cards. But it's a silent game! And whenever a person wins, they come up with a rule but they don't tell anyone. If someone breaks the rule, they get 2 cards. So you have to observe the game closely to figure out what the rule is so you don't break it! Haha. But it's so funny because we have to be silent and it's so funny when someone breaks a rule and gets 2 cards and they have no idea why so we're all just laughing trying not to make noise or say anything hahaha it was so fun!

Also if you ever want to actually eat the food you own, fast. How many times have we gone to the pantry or the fridge and have said there's nothing to eat or there's nothing I want. Well, after you fast, everything looks good!!! So there's your tip for the week. You're welcome.

Still no itinerary for Brazil but I'll keep y'all updated!!

Eu amo vocês!!

- Sister Parks
Made a new friend this week