Monday, August 31, 2015

Jose Walter, Brazil - Fun filled week!!

The weeks are seriously flying by, it´s crazy! I don´t have a lot of time so I´ll try and sum up all that happened this week without too much detail - sorry!
First, 2 Brazilians told me I look fat so THAT'S HOW MY WEEK WENT! JK but now I am a little paranoid...
Yesterday we had our first baptism!!!! My first baptism in Brazil!! Fernando was baptized! And wow, a lot of things went wrong in the beginning, but in the end, he was baptized. First, he wasn´t home when we went to get him for his baptism at 5 so we hung out in the church till 6 (when his family member said he should be back) with the wonderful members who showed up for his baptism then went to check again at 6 and he was there! So we return with Fernando and got it started! Only to find out when it came time for the actual baptism that the door to the font was locked! We had the elders come earlier to unlock it, too!! So we call the elders again, and a our bishopric member jumps in his car to meet them to get the key haha so we finally get the door unlocked and Gustavo (our recent convert friend) baptized him! His firt time! Aaaand Fernando was a little unsure/confused about going completely under the water. Soooo 4 tries later, he was immersed! After the baptism, I sang! Yup! My companion discovered I like to sing so now she wants me to sing for everyyything hahaha so I sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"! Verses 1 and 3 in English and 2 and 4 in Portuguese. I haven´t actually sung and practiced actual singing since high school but it wasn´t too bad!
Friday night we had an FHE with a 19-year-couple who are recently married and are recent converts which was super fun! They also found out I like to sing, and the husband loooves singing so after we watched a super old/super cheesy church video and ate popcorn and hot chocolate, he hooked up their karaoke microphone and gave me the floor haha it was so funny. They got out their phones and everything to record me! We took a picture at the end of the night so that´s the picture I'll include! The young girl is the guy´s little sister who ran in to join us at the end haha.
​Another awesome thing that happened this week: ELDER ANDERSON CAME AND TALKED TO MY MISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YUP, HE HAS A NEPHEW IN MY MISSION!! It was super cool. Get this, he knows Portuguese! I was a tad dissapointed haha cause I looking forward to hearing English but he was easy to understand and he still spoke some parts in English and his wife too! It was super good!!
Not sure what more to say, so here´s some pics! Pictures are worth a thousand words, right??
​Oh yeah, I also got to reunite with Sister Kirkendall!!!!!!! My companion from the MTC!! She left only after 1 transfer (six weeks) in Provo so she´s been here 2 transfers and was speaking so well! But she was a pro even in the MTC haha so it makes sense! She hoped she would see me so she wrote all these notes and tips that she wish she knew for me to study! So nice! 
- Sister Parks

Monday, August 24, 2015

Jose Walter, Brazil - robbed?

Hey guys!! Hahahaha so apparently this week we had an attempted robbery. It´s funny though, so don´t freak out and keep reading. So we´re talking to this lady through her gate/door and she lives on a busy street so there´s a lot of cars and motorcycles driving by, right? So this motorcycle comes up right on the sidewalk next to us and we just think he lives here with the lady so we nonchalantly move aside for him to pass by us, only to realize he´s talking to us. I can´t understand a word he´s saying because he´s talking through his helmet and it´s a loud street so I have no clue but my companion responded, "não, não tenho" and then the guy just drives off lolol but afterwards I asked my companion what he said and apparently he asked us to give him our phone! Hahahah but like, it was so chill, for all I know he could have been asking for the time or asking for directions! hahahaha sometimes it pays off not being able to understand lol
Anyways, this week has been another good one! Except for lunches. But that's okay.
Well, we were supposed to have 2 baptisms yesterday and neither happened :( Our first is Liduino. He´s funny. He´s from Argentina but doesn´t speak Spanish, but he also doesn´t speak Portuguese! Jk he speaks Portuguese but literally, even my companion can barely understand him! We brought Gustavo to a lesson with him, and he told me, even for native Brazilians, he´s hard to understand! So I obviously don´t understand a word. Lolol jk I catch words here and there... But anyways, when we taught the word of the wisdom he said he didn´t have a problem with any of those things and then in his baptismal interview he said he drinks coffee! So we talked to him after church and he said he didn´t want to quit :( so we´ll be seeing him again tonight to see if he still wants to be baptized.The other is Fernando. (also last week I wrote Fernando when I meant Eduardo, whoops!) We´re still teaching him the lessons so he wasn´t baptized on Sunday, but we´re hoping he´ll be baptized this week! He´s an older guy, probably in his 50's, and has a desire to be baptized and he went to church on Sunday and enjoyed it!! Now, okay, Eduardo. We show up at his house at 8:15 Sunday morning and he´s all ready to go which was awesome! We tell him to stay put while we run and check on other investigators. 8:30 we stop by again and walk with him to church. During sacrament I was next to him and my companion was with Taina (18, investigator, so excited to be baptized, 1st time at church and she loved it!!) and then the Bishop´s son comes and tells me that he´s going to sit with Eduardo because Bishop wanted me to sit with my companion. So I was like, sure okay! Then when sacrament ends, Eduardo is gone! He left :( We didn´t get to stop by again last night but it´s the first thing we´re doing today after p day to see what happened. We really hope he didn´t feel bad because then he´ll never come back to church! And he´s such a great guy and has a great family that would just be blessed even more with the gospel in their lives!
This week I feel like I've really grown a lot. Every day I´ve been trying to give really meaningful prayers and always asking for His help to better myself, and wow does He answer prayers! Yáll won´t believe how much patience I have! HAha next is humility, right? But seriously, I´m growing so much in areas that I´ve always struggled with. I can see myself becoming more like Him, and it´s the greatest feeling ever! I can feel the Spirit more in my life and what feels better than the Spirit? Every Saturday we always teach about the Sabbath Day and about the sacrament, and taking the sacrament yesterday was so powerful. We had 4 investigators at church, and I truly took those few minutes to remember our brother, Jesus Christ. He truly came to earth for us. He suffered for us so that He could comfort us when we feel completely alone. He always knows exactly how we feel. I know He suffered and died for me, and I´m here in Brazil struggling to speak a language to repay Him for that. It will never be enough, but I´m trying every day to be someone He can trust to teach His brothers and sisters.

Eu sei que Deus e nosso Pai. Eu sei que Ele me ama, e Ele nos ama. Eu sei que Seu filho, Jesus Cristo sofreu por nos. Eu sei que Ele vive!!

EU AMO VOCÊS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Sister Parks

Monday, August 17, 2015

Jose Walter, Brazil - Pastel

Oi família!!!!!!!! Man, it´s been a good week!
First, what is pastel you may be wondering and why is it her subject? Oh my gosh, you guys. Pastel is heaven. It´s my new favorite food and I´m kinda obsessed. So it´s like a fried hot pocket and you can order it with whatever meat you want inside. I usually get chicken or pizza! But then the other day we went to a new place and they had DESSERT PASTELS!!! So I obviously got one with chocolate and died and went to heaven! They fry them and in like 10 seconds they´re done and ready to eat! They´re soooo good! I haven´t been able to get a picture because we usually grab them at night when we get hungry again for a few bucks at little vendor places on the street but I got a blurry pic of my chocolate one haha. So yeah new favorite food.
Anyways, it´s been a good week! I am truly being blessed every day! I´m understanding more each and every day and it´s pretty dang sweet. Obviously I´m not understanding every quite yet but I´ve noticed that when I go into a lesson/conversation not thinking "ugh I won´t understand" or "I need to translate" and just LISTEN, I can usually understand!! It´s so awesome! As frustrating as it can be sometimes, I love Portuguese! And it´s only frustrating because I´m at that point now where I´m understanding more than what I can say so sometimes during lessons or interactions I have all these things I want to say but don´t know the words to say them! Haha just gives me more incentive to continue practicing and studying! All my thoughts now I´m automatically translating to Portuguese without even thinking about it haha it´s super cool! Even lyrics! When I have songs stuck in my head, I start translating them into Portuguese! Oh, funny thing about music here. So they do have our music though I don´t hear it that much. But when I do, it´s usually our song, our music, but with a Brazilian singer and then I was told that they change the lyrics too so that it rhymes in Portuguese! Oh man, too good!
I´ve been trying this week to look up more, too! That sounds really metaphorical and deep, but I´m actually just being serious. Lol. Because we walk so much, I forget to look up and admire the pretty scenery around me! And I´ve been noticing lots of pretty trees with flowers and fruits growing on them and oh my gosh, the sky at night is soo pretty! It´s like a soft purple that fades to black I love it so much!! No exotic animals though. Just lots of cats and dogs. Lame. Where´s my monkey, right??
Redes (or hammocks) are also super popular here! Every house here already comes equipped with hooks in the walls in various places to hang up your hammock it´s awesome haha! So I´m totally going to get one before I leave (we´re actually going to look for potentials today hehe)! I will get rid of all my clothes to keep my hammock when I go home haha!
We met with our beloved Fernando this week (less active guy who wants to return, his wife not so much) and he told us this past weekend that he would go to church and if he felt good there he would return! So we were obviously pumped and then...he doesn´t show! But we stopped by later and his niece was sick but that he would go next week so I´ll let y´all know next week what happens! He´s so awesome though and he has friends in the ward and you always feel good at church so I know he will too! We´re working with other investigators to try and get them to church (everyone who said they would didn´t come!! Waaaahh) but we still had our regular church attending investigators there so that was awesome! I love all the people we´re teaching, it´s so great. All the walking and the pain all seems worth it when I get to talk with them and butcher a lesson in Portuguese hahahaha!

Also, lots of people stare here. You might think, because you´re in a skirt and have a badge, but no it's probably 99% just me. Hahaha it´s just funny sometimes how long they stare as they walk/drive by. So I just smile and tell them, bom dia, boa tarde, boa noite! (depending on the time of the day). Oh that´s another thing that´s adorable, you always say bom dia, boa tarde, boa noite to people you pass on the street and they say it back and it´s just adorable!

Haha well I love yáll bunchesssssssssssss and miss ya so much!! Have an awesome week!!!! Can you believe this week will be my 5th week here?? Almost done with my first transfer! Also, tomorrow is my 5 month mark, WHAT??

Eu amo vocês!!! Till next week!

- Sister Parks
Pretty Brazil! This flag is near our house!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Jose Walter, Brazil - Hard yet humbling!

Hi family!!!
This week has been a lot better, but still hard of course! President wanted to meet with me to see how I was going and then wanted to give me a blessing! Haha so that was pretty cool getting a blessing from him! He blessed me with the gift of tongues and that I´d be able to understand people and speak the language quickly. And I´m sure he said some other stuff, but it was in Portuguese so who knows! Haha he´s pretty cool; he knows a good amount of English but not fluent haha. He said that every day I´ll be disappointed in myself and every day I´ll feel like I´m nothing, but that this is the best time of my life! And he was like, crazy, right? And I was like, yup! Then he said but it´s true. Because every American that comes feels this way and so they beg for help and they become so humble and grow more spiritually than anyone else. They grow so much in their first 4-6 months, and in 4-6 months I will know the language. So crazy to imagine but I´m praying and trying my hardest to make that happen! I´ve been trying to rely more on the Spirit in lessons and not think about what I want to say next. Even if it means I´ll speak bad Portuguese that´s not conjugated correctly! 
We´ve had some awesome lessons this week, though! We have this awesome girl Thaina who's on date for baptism and is 18 and is just accepting every single thing we teach her, she´s awesome!!! We have another guy Eduardo who is less active and has the Melchizedek priesthood!! His whole family are members except his last son so we´re trying to help him come back (which he really wants but his wife not so much, though she still joins us for lessons) and have him baptize his son! How awesome would that be?? He´s a super cool guy!
Also, it´s been interesting. I don´t understand all the words people say when they talk to me or ask me a question, but I guess what they´re trying to say/ask just from contex, ya know? So I respond and they´re like ohhh!! Haha even though I really don´t know what they may have said. Good times. People have been super nice though and saying my Portuguese is very good for only being here 3 weeks! What would I do without these wonderful people? :´)
Some notes that I took this week for my email:
People usually ask where I´m from so I tell them United States then they usually ask, What city? But when they ask that they really mean what state haha so I just say Texas and they usually know Texas! They think cowboys though (just like the rest of America) but I´m like no no no I´m from the city! 
Our ward mission leader has the CUTEST little niece and the other night we were all chatting in a meeting that she was joining in on and she was playing and styling my hair it was so cute! I´ll try and get a picture with her this week. Also, this past Sunday my cute little menino who´s crushin on me came up to me after church and said tchau irma with the cutest little smile! I´ll try and get a pic with him too haha!
A recent convert, Gustavo, joined us a few times this week for almost a full day! It was awesome because he got to experience missionary work in preparation for his mission! Also he speaks English so he helped me a lot with how to say things in Portuguese.
This week we´ve been going through the ward directory and trying to contact all the less actives/update the directory. We´ve come across lots of interesting things! Lots of people have moved, never even lived there, or have DIED! We were like, oh ha ha okay thanks tchau!
Oh man Brazil is pretty. I don´t get to see much of the prettiness in my poor little town but when we have to take the bus to the mission office I get to the pretty skyline of Fortaleza and the beach in the distance and all the pretty trees! The trees here are probably my favorite. So many different kinds and all with interesting fruit! They love their fruit here, and they have a lot we don´t so it´s been fun experimenting. People usually drink fruit juice (suco) for dinner so I´ve had lots of interesting and very good fruit juices. 
Also, I do NOT understand peoples' names here! Lol my companion can tell me their name a billion times but I will not understand it until she writes it down and I'm like omg THAT name?! For example, Robert, Arthur, Diana, are all names we have, yes, but they´re pronounced COMPLETELY different and they don´t sound like how we pronounce them hahaha it´s a little embarrassing. Oh well. I´ll get it eventually!
I also got Corn Flakes to have some American food and the box literally looks like the original box Corn Flakes made. Kinda tasted like it too haha. Oh well! I´ll try their version of Coco Puffs next time. Sister Barbosa (another sister we live with) always has them and they look pretty good. Also Nutella here is soooo expensive it´s so sad!!  We also got McDonald´s which waaaas 20 bucks so WOOH! Oh well. It was nice to have a hamburger and fries regardless. 

Anyways, here´s some pics!!!!!!!! Lol sorry only two.
​me and my companion Sister Santos!
​me, another sister, and my companion Sister Santos! Helping Hands or Maos que Ajuda!
I love you all so much and I appreciate all the prayers and love and emails this week!! Yáll are the best! I have the best family and friends :)
EU AMO VOCES!!!!!!!!!!!
- Sister Parks

Monday, August 3, 2015

Jose Walter, Brazil - Helllooo everyone!

Another week down here in Brazil!
First off, I forgot to tell yáll where I am! I am in Jose Walter! I have no idea where that is because we don´t have a map of the mission but we´re not super far from the city of Fortaleza. It's about an hour bus ride. We had to go to the mission office today along with some other missionaries like Elder Quintanilla to go to to the police station for more visa stuff. #thirdtimegettingmyfingerprints #dontworryiwasntdeported so that was fun! No troubles, no worries, just wanted some signatures and pictures.
But anyways, Jose Walter is a small little town but filled with great people. Brazilians crack me up! They love to party and they´re so loving. I would be soo discouraged and homesick if they weren´t so nice. They listen SO intently when I talk trying their hardest to understand hahaha and they usually do even though I´m sure I sound like a child haha! It´s still difficult to talk but I think I´m getting better at understanding people! The people here still talk SUPER fast and I can´t really understand elderly people....awkward.. but I´m trying! Sometimes though when we´re teaching someone who talks and talks and talks super fast, it all just jumbles in my head and my brains like, Stop I can´t translate that fast! So I usually just catch words here and there that I know and try my best to piece it together. Doesn´t always work but that´s what companions are for! And half the time I can barely understand her! Lol no she´s good at simplifying things for me. But man, I seriously can´t wait for the day when I´ll be able to speak exactly what I want and to understand everyone! Slowly but surely! I know if I do my part, the Lord will bless me with the language!
Sorry if I´m just repeating everything from last week but not much has changed. I´m getting to know more people and yesterday was so fun to go to church and know people and have them come up and hug me (and a side kiss of course!)! A couple was visiting from Arizona and the woman didn´t speak a lick of Portuguese so it was kinda fun because afterwards I was talking to her and she told me they were visiting her husband´s mission and then these members came up to me and asked me questions to translate for her and I could! They were so sweet! They asked me, "Where is she having lunch?" So I asked her and she was like, "We don´t know!" And then they were like, "She can eat at our house!" I love these people!! Then this awesome guy we teach, Gustavo, who is 20, a recent convert, and who has decided to go on a mission (!) finally used his English with me! He is basically fluent! He said he learned English from watching movies and books, can you believe it?? I felt so dumb for not doing more before the mission to learn Portuguese. But he´s super awesome and his English is so funny with his Brazilian accent. I´m sure I sound just the same haha!
The days go up and down. I feel confident, I feel horrible. My companion usually makes me share Book of Mormon scriptures with less actives and recent converts which is good but I get so nervous, man! To answer a question from Mom, we walk everywhere. Our area isn´t big enough to need to take the bus (unless we have to go to the city Fortaleza) so it´s a lot of walking! My chaco tan has begun ;) haha but yeah, my legs and feet are dying by the end of day, it´s hard work. The weather is usually good though I´m always sweaty. It´s honestly not that bad though because it never gets in the 90s or 100s like Texas, and it doesn´t feel that humid most of the time. When we´re walking around there´s usually a nice breeze too. But it really hits you when you´re walking right in the sun, and teaching lessons because people don´t have AC obvi. Haha it´s rough at times, but I can do this!
I have felt your prayers this week so thank you all!! I´m sorry this isn´t longer, I´ll try and be better next week but know that I´m safe and I´m doing well!! I love you all so much and miss you more than you know!!!!

Eu amo vocês!

- Sister Parks

Pictures from the last days in Roosevelt!