Monday, April 25, 2016

Maracanau, Brazil - families are eternal

To my lovely family,

Guess what?? I got some mail this week!! I received 2 packages from MissionTies that Dad sent! Thanks sooooo much omg the cookies are amazing! Everyone always talks about those cookies because it´s across the street from the MTC in Sao Paulo and so all the missionaries know it and have talked about how great the cookies are there but I never went to the MTC there so I never had the chance to taste them! BUT I had that chance all this past week and ohhhh man are they good!! I told my companion, I want my dad to send cookies every week BUT I don´t want to get fat hahaha so yes, we´ve been enjoying them and the other goodies :) Also I´m pretty sure that the actual package yáll sent I´ll get tomorrow. If it left Rio last week then I´m sure it arrived in the mission office that week. I also got a letter from my favorite bishop/other dad John! Thank you so much for the time you spent writing me a letter – I loved it!

So remember the couple we met last Sunday? He´s a less active returning to church and she´s very interested in the church. And they have an adorable baby girl, Yasmin :) So we stopped by last Tuesday to see how they were doing/if she read the  pamphlet and what does she tell us right as we arrive? She read and felt that it was true and when she prayed, the Spirit confirmed her answer! We were like….. "OMG that´s wonderful! We´re so happy to hear that!" So they also need to get married before she can be baptized and the first time we met them on Sunday, she told us that he never planned on getting married. So I left with them a pamphlet that talks about the blessings we receive when we get married and how our families and home are blessed and the next time we passed by, they told us that they want to get married! We also stopped by on Saturday and invited them to couples class that the ward is holding and they totally got ready in that instant and went! It´s so cute to see how excited they are about everything! They were also ready to go when we stopped on Sunday to walk with them. We´re so excited to help them become an eternal family :)
Another investigator of ours was waiting outside her house to walk with us to church when we turned onto her street AND she had hurt her knee really bad this week from a bad fall and she lives far from the church but she walked all the way there arm in arm with my companion! She´s a fighter!

So remember the little girl, Kilvia, who was baptized last week and her siblings who all live in our ward? Well, I love their family! They remind me soo much of me and my siblings!! Sunday we had lunch with all of them and it reminded me of dinners in Elgin with our family gathered together! Tcharly´s husband reminds me of Matt soo much! He loves to joke around, especially about other people haha but not in a bad way, he just did it in the same way that Matt jokes and laughs. He really likes to make Mexican food and he even KNEW about Tex-Mex! This week we have lunch with them and they´re going to take us to a Tex-Mex restaurant here!! I nearly passed out - I couldn´t believe one actually exists! He showed me pictures and it looks pretty legit and very Mexican haha so I´ll take lots of pictures for you guys! He also said that if he had enough money he´d buy a food truck and sell Mexican/Tex-Mex food! He´s even looked into it which reminded me of Matt when he was looking into opening up a Taco Cabana in Utah haha!

This week is the last week of the transfer because it´s only 5 weeks long and we're super nervous! We want to stay together!!

Well, love yáll lots and miss yáll a ton but it won´t be long until we get to talk via skype!!!!! So excited!!


- Sister Parks

Monday, April 18, 2016

Maracanau, Brazil - Miracles are REAL!!!!

Wowowowowowow this week was SO GREAT (SO GREAT!*)! It was filled with miracles!! ! Yáll are going to love this week´s email!
First, some random things:
-          There´s a cookie factory near my area so the area ALWAYS SMELLS LIKE COOKIES! It´s the greatest thing ever. But also the worst when we´re hungry….or fasting.

-          Last P-day we went to the malllllllllll which is great because I always feel at home in the mall lolol we ate Burger King because it´s a big deal here. Which is so funny to me because…who likes Burger King in the United States??? Lol but it was good. After I finished my meal I bought a chocolate shake. Because I´m weak when it comes to chocolate. And ice cream. Milkshakes are my weaknesses. Missin my chocolate shakes at Amy´s man….

-           Speaking of ice cream, there´s this really good ice cream place in my area lolol and it´s kinda like our frozen yogurt places in the U.S. where it´s self serve. So on Friday we make a few visits with a boy in our ward, Emerson. He needed to go back home at 3 to do some homework so we dropped him off then passed by the Bishop´s house to remind him about the game nights we´re going to have in the next few weeks. While we were there, Bishop mentioned that the day before was Emerson´s birthday!!! So when we left we were like "omg we have to do something!" And the Bishop just so happens to live on the same street at the ice cream place so as we passed by, we both knew what to do *smirk emoji face* so we went to Emerson´s house and said that we needed him for one more lesson and he was nice enough to go buuuuuut we surprised him with ice cream!!!!!! So we ate ice cream with him which he enjoyed :) 

-          Yesterday I watched the woman´s conference again because the stake here never showed it until now! So my companion hadn´t watched it yet so I got to see it again last night :) It was just as wonderful as I remembered. I just love Eyring.

-          Last P-day we went to a member´s house, the first counselor because I hadn't met him yet and they had just adopted a newborn baby so we had to go see!! And he told me that everyone in the ward was saying how sweet I am and that I don´t even look or act like an American and that they´re all loving me already! I´m also the first American sister ever here!!! So that made me SO happy because it´s always a missionary´s fear arriving in a new area and taking the place of another sister who everyone loved, but it´s going great! I´m LOVING everyone here and it´s good to know they´re liking me as well :)
Sooo this week we met 2 families that are part member families! In both cases, the husband is a less active and the wife isn´t a member. One couple went to church yesterday because they had moved into our area a year ago and never knew where the church was and yesterday they saw one and went! It wasn´t our ward but the elders there called us and gave us their address and names and we stopped by their house and introduced ourselves. He´s been wanting to return to church and the wife really enjoyed the church, too!!! Miracles!! The other couple traveled this weekend but they´re really great, too. The husband is less active and kind of got into bad habits but his family is the center of his life. We talked one night with them and she said that she always told him if he returned to church, she would go with him, be baptized and everything! So like…. WOW! We're now planning to work with him to help him back and help her learn more about the church :)

And now…..THE BEST PART!!!!! Sunday! Sunday was probably the best day of all because…………………. we had a miracle baptism! So there´s this adorable mother in our ward, Tcharlly. Her husband was the old bishop, but they´re both super young. They both served missions. Tcharlly actually served in the mission of my companion and she reactivated Sister Carvalho´s parents!!! And now Sister Carvalho is serving in the ward she's living in!!! It´s the cutest story ever. SOOOO she has a few sisters and a brother. Her brother is the 1st counselor in our ward, one sister is on a mission, and the other is a youth in our ward. The other sister is Kilvia. Kilvia is 8 years old. She basically grew up in the church because of her siblings. Oh, and their parents were never baptized. Most of them were baptized in secret because their mom and dad never really liked the church back in the day. Their parents are now divorced and his dad is dating another woman, Marcia, who we're teaching. So Sunday…..they all showed up at church – her non member dad and Marcia, too. Tcharlly calls us out to the foyer and says, "Kilvia wants to be baptized. You can baptize her TODAY." So we were like…."WHAT OMG WOW WHAT SO MANY EMOTIONS!!!"  So we called our zone leaders and they rushed over and interviewed her, she passed, her dad signed the baptismal form, her brother baptized her, we called President and asked for permission for the family to confirm her (because normally recent converts have to be confirmed the next Sunday) and turns out it´s our bishop who authorizes the confirmation, which he obviously allowed, and so she was confirmed right after! Wow! It was a very happy day for them! I really felt like we did nothing! It didn´t even feel like our baptism even though it counts as ours because her parents aren´t members haha. She was truly a present given to us from God because we worked super hard this week and were super obedient! Our numbers this week were really great (because as missionaries we always have to have our goals in mind) and we exceeded all of our goals and for that, we were given this wonderful gift all wrapped up and ready! She is SUCH a great little girl, we talked with her a bit before the elders talked with her and she knew everything and is SOO smart. We asked her to give the prayer at the end and it was the cutest thing!!!! I´m so excited to get to know her more :)

So THAT was my week, family!!! Things are going really great! I love my companion, Sister Carvalho; she´s super sweet and loving and loves to have fun so we´re having a blast together J This place is already starting to feel like home! 

I love you all with my whole heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


- Sister Parks

Monday, April 11, 2016

Maracanau, Brazil - Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES!

Sooooooooooooooo this week was crazy and totally sad. But happy. And sad. But ended happy.

So, I was emergency transferred!! That´s right, I was kicked out of Messejana :(

So Tuesday afternoon, we had just finished a lesson with this adorable girl Vitoria who had gone to church and her mom has gone a few more times and they are both just so great! So we had finished talking to her and marked her baptism for that coming Sunday and we left and went to visit a less active. We had just sat down and were talking with her when we got a call. I picked up and it was the assistant to President Fusco. He asked who was speaking and I said, "Sister Parks" and he said "oh okay, sooo Sister Parks, you were transferred". I responded," WHAT?!" Sister Takahashi was sitting there looking at me like what happened?? So I whispered to her, "I was transferred!" And she then started to cry :´( So he told me that we had to go back to our house and I had to pack all my things and that Sister Takahashi´s companion would arrive soon and that I would have to go to my new area with a member. As we were heading back they called us again and said that no we wouldn´t move today but tomorrow. So the rest of the day I went to as many people as I could to say goodbye....some of my recent converts were really down in the dumps because they all thought I´d be staying because transfers were last week! The members was hard saying goodbye to some of the families that have turned into my families here!
So it was a little sad but my new area, Maracanau is great! It´s a little farther out from the city which means it´s a little more poor. But I´m already loving the people and the ward and the area. It´s been a long time since I´ve been in a new area with new people but it´s going great! The picture yáll saw looks like I´m in a trio but the other sister was with my companion until I arrived. She was also getting a new companion. Lots of missionaries were emergency transferred this week. President closed a sisters' area in the country because I think he´s short on sisters so lots of us were moved around. 

So we went with 40 minutes today so I didn´t have time to write this email out beforehand and the time is up!
I´ll write more next week but I love you all!!!!!!

-Sister Parks

Monday, April 4, 2016

Messejana, Brazil - IT'S RAINING MEN

No. I wish. Lol just kidding. It´s been raining cats and dogs here! It´s like Fortaleza is on a set timer where every night at 10 pm it´s starts to pour and doesn´t stop until 10 am the next morning! And at night, it´s been storming and it´s sooo loud! I´ve never been scared of thunder until here. But I think that´s because the houses here are made a bit differently. The window in our room isn´t like normal windows in the US, it´s just shutters sooo thunderstorms are a bit louder here than back at home. But this week did get me thinking that this time of year it´s raining and storming in Texas, too! Have yáll had any crazy storms or flooding yet?

Well, yesterday and Saturday was General Conference!!! I was soo happy but now I´m so sad because it´s over :( It always comes and goes so fast. But it was great! There were a lot of great talks. I don´t have my notes with me but I filled up quite a few pages with notes! I remember from yesterday that I especially liked Elder Oak´s talk. I´ll be frank and say, he was killin´it. And of course, Holland. I was scared for a moment that he wasn´t going to speak but they saved him for last. And it was great! I want to listen to it again. I also have been loving the talks given by Elder Gong. It was wonderful and as always, made me a little nostalgic. It was so fun the years that me, Taylor, Matt, and Hil all went to Conference (sorry Trenton, you were technically there (in Utah) too but…on the mish) and spending the weekend at Taylor´s apartment so close to Temple Square and the Conference Center! Sorry you two, I know yáll miss Salt Lake and this is probably making it worse… I also thought about the times wayyy back when we´d watch conference at home and Mom would make donuts or cinnamon rolls. And Dad's singing. :)
But I really liked what Elder Holland said at the beginning of his talk, that it´s incredible how everyone watching in the whole world is gathered together and we all pray and sing together. There are so many things I never thought about that being here on the mission, in Brazil, has really helped me see. I was sitting in my chapel with the Messejana Stake watching the conference via satellite with Portuguese translation. They translate every part except for the music, and when we sing with the congregation, we open up their hymns to sing along too, even though it may clash a little with the English being sung. Conference is such a great and humbling experience!

This week I got a little sick butttttt it was my fault. I didn´t eat too well one day and the next day I was throwing up a lot. BUT have no fear, I had lots of “moms” taking care of me and Sister Fusco told me of 3 medicines to take and by the next day, I was already feeling better! But I did miss my mom :( It´s no fun being sick away from your mom. Or your dad who makes fun of you the whole time while also entertains you hahaha

So these past few weeks we´ve been reading in the Book of Mormon with Leko, Adeline, Aizaki (the 3 siblings that were baptized) as well as Rodrigo who was baptized too and their little friends Gabriel and Weskley. It´s super cute because every night we turn on their street they´re always there and ask us, “Are we going to read tonight?” And they´ll go and grab their Book of Mormon´s and we´ll all read a chapter. It´s been amazing to see how the gospel is helping our recent converts. Leko and Adeline and Rodrigo read the Book of Mormon every day under the trees as well as reading with us at night. And you guys don´t even know how much Rodrigo has changed! I remember the first night I met him with Sister R. Santos, he was honestly a little annoying and he is verrrry shy and is basically addicted to his phone and I didn´t think he would ever progress as an investigator but oh man was I wrong! He´s going to seminary every night with his Bible and his Book of Mormon, he isn´t on his phone as much, he talks and jokes not just with us but with the other youth in the ward, he´s going to mutual, and he was the only one out of the whole group who went to all 4 sessions of General Conference! AND on Saturday he introduced us to his sister and she already knew so much about us and the church because Rodrigo is always talking about us, she said! Haha this gospel is seriously a gospel of miracles :) Not that he needed to change or be cured or anything crazy like that, no, the littlest things can be miracles. He´s changing for the better and is growing in the gospel, the best place to grow.

WELL I´ll wrap up this novel now hahahaha sorry guys…..

All is well here in South America. I´m taking care of myself, and when I fail at that, I have others taking care of me lolool but seriously, please don´t worry about me! :) It´s allll good here!


-          Sister Parks