Monday, February 29, 2016

Messejana, Brazil - This is a place where I feel at home

My subject line is from the most beautiful song that exists (To Build A Home – The Cinematic Orchestra) but I didn´t put it there because I´m trunky and miss music haha I put it there because it´s the truth! I love this place. I love Messejana! I can´t believe I´ll have been here 6 months when this transfer ends! I think President will transfer me… which is so weird!! I know every inch of this area - it´s like my own neighborhood, except I think I know Messejana better than my own neighborhood now lol.  Who knows, I could stay another transfer! BUT I won´t think about transfers. I say this place is my home because it´s so nice to feel at home in a place that´s not your home. I love to walk the streets here and see all the people that I know, even if I´ve never talked to them. I hope to leave this place (whenever that day may come) better than how I found it.
This week was going much better and things are looking up! We talked more with Adeline and she was all set to be baptized on Sunday! Elder Geraldo (our District Leader) came to interview her and she passed and all was great! When Sunday rolled around however, she woke up with a horrible pain in her tooth!! She didn´t feel well enough to even move, so she didn´t make it to church :( However! This story still has a happy ending! We passed by last night and she was much better and accepted to be baptized this Saturday!! It has been so neat to see her progress. When we were talking with her one day this week she was telling us how she always admired our chapels and always had a curiosity to go inside! We were like, "ummm okay wow the Lord has been preparing you for a long time!" Most people who look at our chapels say how it looks so closed and private and unwelcoming, but she had the complete opposite reaction! She also used to visit other churches but there was always something that didn’t make her feel right so she would leave early. And everything we teach she understands and she doesn´t have any doubts about anything! She´s so great! I´m so excited for her and this new chapter she´ll be taking in her life! (P.S. she´s also a great dancer and loves a lot of the same music as I do!)
This week we had a mission conference and both the assistants gave talks who are both Americans and it just made me so envious of their Portuguese! Haha no, but I was very impressed and was just thinking about how the gift of tongues is truly incredible. My mission has more Americans than Brazilians! That´s just baffling in itself! The Lord truly puts His trust in His missionaries. I hope that I´m being worthy of that trust.
Well, I´m exhausted and can´t remember all that happened this week. Sorry folks. Sister Takahashi and I both agreed to take naps today hahaha we´re dead. Every morning when I wake up it´s like my body is breaking from all the cracks and pops haha and the first few steps are always a little painful! But, all is well! I´m taking care of myself :) And yes, I´m using sunscreen (I may or may not have burned/tanned this week so I started to use sunscreen more) and am using bug spray! President talked to us about dengue that's been getting lots of missionaries and the people here in Brasil. But don´t yáll worry! All is well!
Love you all soooooooooooooooooo much! Thanks for those still reading my emails haha yáll are all stars!
Te amo!

Sister Parks


Monday, February 22, 2016

Messejana, Brazil - crazy adventures...

Hey gang!
Well last week was so rushed and crazy that I forgot to mention that we had a baptism! Aizaki, Wellington´s brother, was baptized! I sent yáll the pics and everything but forgot to mention it in my email hahaha. I love that family, though. Wellington designs really well, and he drew Rapunzel for me because I told him she was my favorite! I forgot to take a picture, but I´ll be sure to do that and send a pic next week! This week their sister, Adeline, joined in for our lesson too and she accepted a baptismal date, too! We invited her to church and when we passed by Sunday morning the 3 of them were all awake and dressed and ready to go! Aizaki was confirmed a member of the church and was given the gift of the Holy Ghost! One of Wellington´s friends who we teach actually woke up this Sunday and went with us, too (last Sunday he didn´t wake up haha)! It was a great Sunday!
Also my companion, Sister Ximenes is now Sister Takahashi! She changed her name because Takahashi is her adopted father´s last name :) Yes, he´s Japanese. Never grew up there, though! Haha
Well this transfer started out pretty differently than the others….. Tuesday I found something I didn´t want to find….in my hair…..yup..…I got lice! We had to go to the center of Messejana to take out our money because it was the day we received money, so before we left we called Sister Fusco to tell her the great news but she didn´t pick up. So we started to head to Messejana, and she called us back! We told her I picked up lice and she gave us a bunch of instructions. We had to go to the pharmacy and buy a bunch of stuff and then after that we had to wash my bedding and clothes I used recently and all that fun stuff! So that would have been fine EXCEPT when we arrived at the bank, our money hadn´t come! Other missionaries were there too and they had called the assistants and apparently it was something with Salt Lake. So we didn´t have money to buy the products, so we had to call Sister Fusco back and she told us to head to the mission office and Elder Biehl (senior couple) would buy it for us. So we went, told them what was up, he went to buy our supplies, returned, delivered it to us, and we headed back to Messejana. When we arrived, we started the treatment! Sure enough, I had lice! Lol I don´t know why I´m telling you all this because it´s honestly mortifying butttt hey, it happens to lots of missionaries here. So after all the nasty was cleaned out of my hair (thanks to my wonderful companion who combed through all my hair!), we headed out to get a little missionary work done (by this time it was past 5 pm!). Then the next day, in the morning, we were sent to the SALON!!!!!! Sister Fusco sent us there to get inteligence´s…I don´t know what the translation for that is in hair terms but it made my hair more straight and suuuper silky! It´s still pretty straight and silky even now :) And while we were there, we got a little haircut too :) The guy who cut my hair was sooo great omg hahaha and so funny! He suggested a cut to make my hair less heavy and board-like. He cut a little fringe from the front to the ends! I was reeeeeaaaaalllly nervous because I want my hair long again and didn´t want to cut a lot off but I really like it! And he only cut a little bit of the ends, so I still have my length :)
Sister R. Santos and I met this family the week before who at night are always sitting outside their house and now Sister Takahashi and I are starting to narrow down who really cares and who doesn´t in the family haha. We seem to find more success in the kids, though! Some of them are soo cute! There´s this one boy, Mateus, who looks like an American! He´s more white than the others and has blond hair and he´s just adorable! Kids are pretty tough because they´re always unsure about things haha but they´re great, nonetheless. Another boy, Daniel, used to go to our church in the past with his mom, Gardenia, which was neat to find out!

Also, this week I had my first breakdown. I cried for the first time since I arrived here in Brasil! It was tough. I have 7 months here in Brasil (I'm past my 11 month mark in total) and I´m still a little hard on myself. I feel like I should know more, that I should be able to communicate better than I am. Sister Takahashi gave me a lot of counsel, but she´s pretty blunt, too. Haha she wants to help me, though.
Another week done. The time is flying! I can´t believe it. Soon a companion will be killing ME and I won´t even believe it! Sometimes when I think about being here in Brasil, it still gets me. I´m IN Brasil!! And some day, I won´t be. Just thinking about leaving Messejana, being transferred to another area, nearly breaks my heart! I have to choose today to be happy, to enjoy every moment, to never take any moment for granted. And to not waste my time being hard on myself or being frustrated with myself or others around me. We were meant to be happy in this life! Life is wonderful, we just need to use the right pair of eyes (I even have my father´s eyes.. Topper! [that's from the movie Hot Shots]) to see all the great things around us.

I love this life, I love the opportunities I´ve been given, to be here in Brasil, to be a missionary, a servant of the Lord, and to serve Him. I wouldn´t be doing this hard of work for anyone else but Him. Because I know it´s worth it. The worth of souls is great.  
I love my family and all my friends and everyone who supports me! Thank you for all you do!!
Have a wonderful week and try to see the good things that happen every day!
-          Sister Parks

Monday, February 15, 2016

Messejana, Brazil - Senior year pt 2

That sounds like a title for a horrible thrasher movie lol buuuuut
I´m senior companion! Not training - WOOH! And guess who my companion is? Sister Ximenes!!!!!!!!!!! I don´t know if yáll remember her, but 2 transfers [3 months] back when I was waiting for Sister R. Santos to arrive, Sister Ximenes stayed with me for a day and a half because she was companion-less too! And now.... we´re going to be companions!!!! It´s a little weird that I´m senior companion because we both arrived here in Brazil at the same time! The same group! But because I served in the states, I have more time than her! She´s literally adorable - I´m so excited! Right now I´m still with Sister R. Santos. She´s got her bags all packed (I´m reading to go...*insert music note*) and will head for the mission office at noon :( She´s been so great, I´m so blessed to have gotten to know her!
Sorry we only put in for 40 minutes this time because we don´t know when Sister Ximenes is arriving and I only have 9 minutes left. But this week was great! I´m uploading pics to DropBox :)
Love you all and I´ll write more next week!!!
Te amo!!!!
- Sister Parks

More pictures from Wellington's baptism:

Pictures from this week:

Monday, February 8, 2016

Messejana, Brazil - Blessings and a Baptism!

Well this week has been suuuuuper!! I talked about Wellington, right? Well, yesterday, he was baptized!!!!!!!!!! It was truly incredible; he´s such an awesome guy!!! I also found out that he loves Moulin Rouge too soooooooooo he´s now my best friend! One day when we stopped by, we invited him to church that Sunday and he was like mmmm okay… and Sister R. Santos asked if he was saying yes because we were asking or because he wanted to go and he responded, because we were asking. But later when we were walking to another lesson, we passed by his street and he was on the road and called us over. He asked if he could still go to church that Sunday. We responded with, "uhh of course you can!" Then we asked him again about his motive which he then responded, "Because I want to!" So we were super happy and continued to stop by his house that week to help prepare him for baptism! His brother is also one of my new besties because….he loves Eminem!!! He has a poster and everything which I OBVIOUSLY had to take a picture with!! Haha but his brother also went to church with us yesterday (his shirt was the most hilarious part lolol) and stayed to watch his brother be baptized :) It was so great, and we invited him to be baptized this coming Sunday too which he accepted!! We also helped paint his house this week! Just the outside and the entryway but it was super fun! Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures haha but they still have the inside to do so hopefully they´ll invite us back ;) The picture of Zac Efron on our fridge we found at their place while laying down newspapers to paint and Sister R. Santos is one of his biggest fans haha so we took it home hahaha
Two weeks ago we had a new family “move” into our ward (they had been going to the wrong ward for quite some time haha!) and the first Sunday they were there the husband, Savio, came up to us and asked how the work was and everything and we were like "it´s all right, we could use a ward missionary leader though" (It´s been around 4 months since we've been without one) and he was like, "that´s my favorite calling in the church!" So after that we ran to our bishop and told him he needs to call him to be our leader and within the week Savio called us and when we picked up he said, "When do we start working??" Hahaha so this week we had a meeting with him, talked about our investigators, and then he went out with us to do visits until like 7:30!! It was so awesome! He was teaching, inviting, explaining our purpose, basically doing everything for us hahaha it was so funny! One time he stopped while we were walking to our next person on the agenda and he´s stopped and started making a contact! Haha we were basically running after him! Afterwards he apologized and said that even though he left the mission, the mission never left him. It was so cool to see his passion for missionary work and his mission J Also his daughter dances and she loves Maddie Ziegler!!! So she´s also my new best friend!
This week our good friend Andre (who you all know because of the photos he always takes and posts) went to the center of Fortaleza which has all things touristy! So we asked him if he could buy some things for us because we´re not allowed to go because it´s in the other mission so he went and bought us a shirt that says "Fortaleza" and they´re bright colors and inside the letters it has pictures like surfers and turtles and it´s sooo cool!!! The letters on the shirt are like this,
Haha he also bought a pair of sandals that are unique to Fortaleza!! And he bought a bunch of little Fortaleza key chains things!
But yeah, this week has been good. I feel so at home here and I´ve grown so close to everyone here, I can´t imagine leaving them! I made Oreo pie this week and brownies! I took the brownies for a little birthday party for one of the members (Allison) who is awesome!
The picture of the guy with the long dreads is the dad of a recent convert. We had stopped by to see if his son was there which he wasn´t and we had told him earlier that we wanted pictures with his hair hahaha so I was like, "hey I brought my camera today, can we take pictures??" So we let it down and well…just look for yourselves!! Hahaha his religion (not sure which) doesn´t allow them to cut their hair. He´s also a big fan of Bob Marley in case it's not obvious. He owns a motorcycle shop called Bob´s Motos. Also the pack of cigarettes we picked up in a less active´s house haha it was strange carrying around a pack of cigarettes in my back haha so ironic. I had to take a picture before I threw them away!  
We also made cake for Wellington´s baptism! For him and for the members who stayed because…. Fast Sunday. Haha in Relief Society when Audilene (one of my moms here/Relief Society president) announced the baptism I raised my hand and said, "I know you all are hungry, but we made cake so if you can, please stay for the baptism!!" Haha! Because lunch is the big meal of the day here so after church everyone basically runs home to eat/make lunch haha!
Well I love you all a lot! I´m super happy but I´m nervous to think about the coming week because I know I´ll be getting a new companion! Sister R. Santos is really sad and doesn´t want to go home :) She´s one of the best missionaries I know! She´s such a hard worker and she loves being a missionary. If she could, she´d stay on the mission forever haha! But yeah, I´m a little nervous because everyone says I´m going to train which I really don´t want!! I still don´t feel ready! But whom He calls, He qualifies, right? We'll see what happens!
This week I´ve been filling out my Minha Familia (My Family) booklet and I´m just so grateful for my family! I have the family tree of Mom and Dad that Hilary printed for me and it´s been so neat to see the names of my great great great grandparents! Especially my extended family as well. Thank you for reading my emails, y'all have no idea how much it means to me. The hardest times for me are when I know yáll are all together like this past Christmas and all the flings in the summer, but I know there will be more to come in the future, and I won´t miss them! Love you all :) Thank you for your love!
Eu amo vocês :)

- Sister Parks

Me and Boneca (her name means doll)(her nickname) a member of the church here :) 
she´s the gospel doctrines teacher and I love her!
Us and Allison!! Both members :) love them!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Messejana, Brazil - Small and simple things

Hey everybody!!
This week, mannnn were we running around!! It was super busy. We´ve been staying out till 9:30 on the dot almost every night and then at night we like to talk so I´ve been going on little sleep haha oh ma I don´t know how anyone can get used to getting up at 6:30... I´ve been out this long and I still wake up like a zombie every morning lolol. But anyways! There´s a standard in our mission where we have to find 5 new investigators every day and have 4 people on date for baptism. Which means, contacting. It wasn´t my favorite thing to do, but now I've gotten used to it and it´s just amazing how many people there are in the world! And every single one of them has a story. So yeah, we´ve been meeting lots of new people this week which has been great! We met this guy, Wellington, on Thursday who´s 30 years old but I literally thought he was 23 at most! He´s very young in spirit and one day when we stopped by he was listening to….. HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL!! Shout out to my girl Maddie Wilkins! Totally thought of you haha! But yeah, he loves to design and loves to listen to and watch Disney and he´s super cool! We told him we´d wake him up for church, so Sunday morning we pass by and his mom lets us in and he´s all wrapped up in his sheet in his hammock and we say, "Good morning!!!" and shake the hammock hahaha and he was up not even 2 minutes later! It was awesome! He went to church with us and he told us he hadn´t been to any church in 5 YEARS! 5 YEARS! It was awesome! He´s still getting used to some things though. He believes in God and Jesus Christ but he´s not used to praying. We haven´t run into Pedro or Deoclesio much this week…. we think Pedro is hiding from us L And 3 weeks in a row Deoclesio said he´d go to church and every Sunday he has had another excuse…we think it´s time to move on, sadly.
I´ve been learning so much in my personal study and I just LOOOOVE this gospel!!! There´s no doubt in my mind that this is the true church of Jesus Christ! Please please PLEASE if any of you have questions or doubts, go to one of our church buildings on Sunday (you can find the time and place online at I believe) and ask the missionaries or any member there! OR, pray when you´re alone and in a quiet setting. Ask God with real intent which direction you should take in your life. Ask Him if what I´m doing is true, ask Him if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church of Christ. If you want to learn more, talk to the missionaries! Don´t be afraid of them! Our purpose is to help you come closer to Christ! He loves you and we have a Father in Heaven who knows us and loves us, too. This past week I received the January Liahona (our church magazine) and I read a little part that a missionary had written. I can´t remember his exact words but he talked about how much joy he received when someone said, "yes, come on in" or the sadness he felt when someone said, "please don´t come back again." Sometimes I think my testimony is weak, sometimes my Portuguese is poor, but I have felt these things that he described. I have felt the joy when someone accepts our message, when they go to church, when they search for the truth themselves, and I have felt the sadness and sorrow when someone doesn´t want to let go of the life of worldly happiness. There is eternal happiness and it´s through Jesus Christ! I love you all and I wish this happiness for you all J
Have an amazing week! I love you all so much, thank you for your love and support!!
Te amo!
- Sister Parks