Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Halloween

Dearest Family and Friends,

Happy Halloween this week! How is October already coming to a close? It seemed like General Conference was just yesterday. 

So this past week was pretty great. I love looking back on even a short amount of time and seeing how much things have changed. When I first came to Taguatinga it was a pretty difficult adjustment for me. I loved Guará I and wanted to stay there. Getting used to a new ward here (and them getting used to having sisters) was definitely an adjustment period. I am pretty sure my emails kind of showed that I was a little down and tired from the challenges that I was facing. In just a short amount of time I have come to LOVE Taguatinga. When I first came here I asked myself, "Why did I have to leave Guará I?" In the past few weeks I have had that question answered a million times. There are so many reasons I am here. It is so humbling to see how perfectly Heavenly Father´s plan is for me. 

Having Sister Blair as my companion has also been a huge blessing! She is hilarious! You probably all remember how much I loved Sister Ryan in the MTC (She is doing well, by the way. We send emails almost every week. That girl still cracks me up with everything she says haha), and Sister Blair reminds me of her. Her sense of humor fits perfectly with mine so we spend pretty much the whole day laughing about everything. There are some things that my Brasilian companions wouldn´t have found funny, but Sister Blair and I cannot stop laughing. I missed joking around in English but this transfer I have been able to be sarcastic (a trait I should probably try to leave behind) and make jokes that wouldn´t have made my other comps laugh. Sister Blair is always laughing and happy which is great. I love her! 

I am happy to be her companion because I remember what it was like for me after having served in the states. Even after only one transfer in the San Fernando mission I fell in love with the mission president, the missionaries, the area...everything. Falling in love with a mission and then having to leave stinks. Getting used to a new country is difficult, but it is even harder after you have had a taste of serving in your own country where you speak the language and know the culture. I see her going through what I went through, but I imagine it has to be even harder for her because she spent 2 transfers there. I am just thankful the Lord trusted me to be her companion and help her get used to the mission here. What´s the point of passing through difficulties if you never have the chance to help somebody else with what you learned? 

This transfer I have felt like our district is more fun. Maybe the only difference is that my attitude and perspective have changed :) I am loving the work in Taguatinga. The beginning of this month, President Gaertner gave us the challenge to read the New Testament before Christmas. I started October 1st and am planning to be done by December 24th but it will be tough. If I only used my hour of personal study to read the Bible it would be easy, but I only allocate like 20-30 minutes so I can use the other half to study for our investigators which is what we are supposed to do. I am currently in John 10. 

Anyway, hope everybody is happy and healthy! Enjoy Halloween this week! :) Love you all very, very much

This is a picture of me eating pequi for the first time! People either love it or hate it. It is a fruit that you have to like scrape with your teeth because if you bite it it has little spines that go into your mouth. Yeah, sounds dangerous right? One of the irmãs made arroz & pequi for me because I wanted to try it. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

10 Months!

Dearest family,
Two days ago I completed 10 months in the mission! What the heck...only 2 more months and a year will already have gone by? That´s so crazy.

Ok, well these days it seems like I have a lot to say. Let me start by talking about my companion. Her name is Sister Blair and she is from St Louis, MO. She had been serving in New Jersey waiting for her visa and stayed there for 2 transfers. Technically she has already been trained but we are doing it all over in Portuguese for her to learn the language. She is so great! I am super lucky to have her as my companion. I can already tell she will help me be a better missionary.

One thing I love about her is that her Portuguese is like straight out of Preach My Gospel which means it is really simple and direct. Don´t get me wrong, she speaks Portuguese really well. It´s just that the phrasing and everything is what we learned in the MTC. I love that! For sure I am going to learn a ton with her this transfer. PS She loves to giggle! haha

The only bad thing is that this is my first time having an English speaking companion which means sometimes we speak English! I try hard to only speak Portuguese with her so that she can learn but sometimes one word in English will trigger a whole convo in English. And since our district leader and his companion are Americans sometimes our reports at night are like half English, half Portuguese! I even find myself thinking in English at times! Nooooo! Before, the only thing I would do in English was count if I had to do a super quick count of something. Anyway, I will be better about that because I really want her to learn Portuguese as quickly and easily as possible. 

Last Thursday we had a mission conference with Elder Snow (of the Seventy) and his wife. The conference was super great and the best part was, of course, seeing all the missionaries :) Afterwards all of the missionaries went out to lunch together and I got to chat it up with Sister Munger, Sister P. Gonçalves, Sister Muniz...and everybody else I miss. It was awesome! 

Yesterday was an amazingly wonderful day. Fernanda was baptized!!! Yay! So, LONG story super short, we met Fernanda two weeks ago. She was a referral from a member who lives in the US but was here visiting family and randomly started talking to Fernanda on the bus. The member passed by the chapel ten minutes before the second session of General Conference and told us we should go get Fernanda so she could watch GC. We went and got her, she watched conference, stayed to watch Iolita´s baptism, and the rest is history. She is so wonderful! The best part is the ward has totally taken her in and she has a ton of friends already. Her baptism was perfect :) There was a lot of member support and a lot of goodies to eat afterwards. She was really happy. 

Well, that sums up the week. I am extremely tired for some reason but very happy. Hope everybody is happy and healthy! Miss you all and love you!

Sister Kerr

The cake Sister Bezerra gave me in the morning

My birthday party with the ward 

Sister Blair & I the day she arrived

Some more pictures that didn´t fit in the last email from Fernanda´s baptism :

Monday, October 14, 2013

So much to say!


This week I have so much to say. Prepare yourselves because it´s going to be a long email! :) Last week was an amazing week and I hope this one continues to be as well. There were a million good things leading up to my birthday but I will start with my birthday and go on from there. 

Honestly, I couldn´t have asked for a better birthday in the mission. My day started with Sister Bezerra singing "Parabéns" to me with candles and bolo de mandioca (my favorite). We had our studies as usual and after lunch we went out with a member from a different ward. Amanda is 18 but wants to serve a mission next year. I love when members are willing to go out with us! It changes the routine for us and for our investigators. 

One of the lessons we taught was with Fernanda, an elect we found last week! She is perfect. At night we had already marked a family home evening in the chapel but Elder Pedroso called to say that at 8pm there would be a going away party for Elder Bay, who was going home, and Elder Cottrell, another elder in our zone who had passed through Taguatina 1. We told him that was fine because we would be there anyway.

The family home evening was perfect! We had 4 investigators there and had invited some members to come as well. Little by little more members started showing up for the going away party. The activity we planned was about the plan of salvation and everybody was participating. Fernanda even taught some parts! She had learned the plan of salvation only an hour earlier and already understood everything. 

By the end of the family home evening there was at least a third of the ward there with cakes, brownies, soda, and salgados. Everybody gathered together and they started singing happy birthday to me ("Parabéns para você" in Portuguese). Sister Bezerra told me the ward had planned the party as a going away party but it was mostly for my birthday :) Some members gave me little presents like earrings and sweets. I felt super special that everybody had driven to the chapel to celebrate my birthday and the elders going away. Most of the members live in Vicente Pires which isn´t exactly close to the church building. 

If I had to sum up my birthday in one word it would have to be "perfect." :) 

To be honest my birthday has continued until today haha. Every day since my birthday I have received a little present from a member or missionary. Today at the transfer meeting Sister Muniz gave me a little present and when I opened my emails I had even more birthday emails. I don´t know what I did to deserve such great family and friends but I am truly grateful.

Onto transfers...I stayed in Taguatinga 1! Hooray!! Even though the last transfer was really difficult in the beginning I learned so much. The fruits of our labors will be realized this transfer! I would send a picture of my companion but I don´t know who it is yet. I will find out tomorrow because I am training! I knew this day would come but I didn´t think it would be this transfer. Everybody had already been telling me for some time that I would most likely train when the next group of sisters came in.

Since I got to Brasil in March only four sisters have arrived - two in April and two in July. We will be getting four more sisters tomorrow and one of them will be my companion. Two Americans have been serving in the states since July waiting for their visas and they finally got them. I am nervous to train so all of you have to pray extra for me! haha. 

I have a million more things to say but I have written enough. Just know that I am extremely happy in the mission. This past week was awesome even though it was kind of rough to miss Bren & Carlie´s wedding. I laughed/cried so hard when I saw all the pictures today haha. I have a sister-in-law now!! 

Hope all of you are happy and healthy! Love you and miss you lots.

Sister Kerr

PS This computer isn´t letting me send pics so I will send some next week.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Great Weekend! :)

Dear family,

I hope all of you are doing well! General Conference on Saturday and Sunday definitely brightened my week and probably the rest of the year as well. Hopefully all of you had the chance to take advantage of all 4 sessions (or 5 with Relief Society or Priesthood sessions). Saturday was kind of a rollercoaster for me because our zone only has us two sisters and obviously Sister Bezerra was going to watch in Portuguese. I had nobody to watch in English with me but a member from a different ward, who has a mission call to Temple Square here in a couple of months, said she would watch with me because she speaks English pretty well. She got there late but we watched the second half of the first session in English and I watched the first half in Portuguese. I think during the first session she realized she didn´t know as much as she thought and wasn´t eager to watch with me in English the second session. In between the sessions we watched a rebroadcast of the RS session but they only had Portuguese. Taking notes was a little challenging because I wanted my Conference notes in English so I listened in Portuguese and then took notes in English. I was pretty proud of myself haha ;)

I watched the second session on Saturday half in English and the other half in Portuguese. Like I said before, it is such a blessing to hear the prophet´s and the apostles´ voices!! I told Sister Bezerra she has to learn English for the sole purpose of watching Conference in English someday. Iolita, one of our investigators, had said she would be at Conference for Elder Bay to follow up on the baptismal interview but she didn´t show up and wasn´t answering our phone calls. After the session we went to her house with the elders and found her at home. Elder Bay finished the interview and we planned her baptism for Sunday night.

Yesterday was an amazing day! One of the members from another ward, Gabi, has studied English for 4 years and said she was willing to watch with me in English. Not only was she willing but she was excited! I can´t even explain how grateful I was for her to be willing to watch. Conference only happens every six months and it´s not like I have a ton of time in the world to watch the talks online to catch up. I had the privilege of listening to all four hours yesterday in English :) 

In between the sessions we had to find a way to empty the baptismal font and fill it up again because for some reason the water was greenish. The drain wasn´t working and we tried everything to get it to drain. Finally, the elders managed to get it to drain and we filled it up again. The second time the water was only very slightly tinted some weird color haha. Iolita didn´t mind, she was excited to be baptized.

Because it was after Conference there were a ton of people there! The chapel was more than half full with everybody who stayed to watch the baptism. Everything went perfectly :) 

This morning we had a zone activity so we played soccer and then had a "talent show" which was really some of the elders improvising and doing the most random things. Of course while we were playing soccer it started to rain and then there was thunder and lightning so it was cut short.

Anyway, I have definitely written a novel. Next week is transfers! I am almost scared to write this, but I hope I stay one more in Taguatinga I. It has been a hard area for me but I think there is more work to be done here. 

Thank you thank you thank you for all of your sweet emails and birthday wishes! I can´t explain how much I miss each one of you but your emails and updates each week keep me motivated in the mission. Hope all of you are happy and healthy!

Sister Kerr
Victor (Iolita´s son), Iolita, Me, Cida (a member in the ward) and Sister Bezerra

Iolita and us outside of the church before the baptism :)