Monday, March 31, 2014

5 more weeks in Palmas 3

Dearest family & friends,

Transfers have come and gone but I stayed right where I am in Palmas 3. Honestly I was hoping for one more here. This ward is so great, staying two would be a tease!! There is a good chance I finish my mission here in this area, but there is a good chance I leave for my last transfer. Kind of hard to have two good chances, right? But as of now it could go either way. Before I start thinking about the next transfer, let me tell you how this last one ended. 

There were so many amazing things that happened but I will try to be brief this week. On Saturday we had two baptisms - Lorena and Karol; yes, the same Karol that showed up at church two weeks ago. Turns out she had already taken the missionary lessons a few months ago with elders in Araguaína which is actually part of a different mission. She did the baptismal interview with them and everything but said she never really felt truly prepared so she didn´t get baptized. In our second lesson with her like two weeks ago we just asked how she met the missionaries and she opened up. By the end of her talking she said, "I don´t think that was my time to baptized but I think it´s my time now." Their baptism was really special because it was both of them entering the young women´s - Lorena is 13 and Karol is 17. They were baptized and then immediately after had New Beginnings :) Yesterday they were confirmed, and as they stood there while bishop read their names as the newest members in the ward, I got a little teary-eyed. It was perfect. 
Elder Swallow, Elder Alves, Karol & Lorena. Elder Swallow baptized Karol and Elder Alves baptized Lorena.

It was the perfect ending to my two transfers with Sister Timario, Elder Alves and Elder Swallow. Being in the same ward we have been able to develop a true friendship. We always had each others´ backs and were there to support one another. Saturday night the transfer call came through and I was the only one who stayed. We were all shocked when we heard the news. All three of them went down to Brasília :( Sunday was a happy and sad day as the girls were confirmed and as the ward said goodbye to the missionaries.

My new companion will be here tomorrow. Her name is Sister Nunez. I am excited to see what this transfer brings. It will only be 5 weeks so I am sure it will fly by. Life is great. I have a ton more I could say but I will leave it at this.

Last picture of us four in the Palmas 3 chapel!!
Hope you are all happy and healthy!! Love you all lots. 

Sister Kerr

Monday, March 24, 2014

Março dos Milagres :)

Dearest family and friends,

The assistants titled this month "Março dos Milagres" and it truly has been and is continuing to be full of miracles! One of our investigators, Marçal, entered in the cartório to get married so he can be baptized!! For those who don´t know, here in Brasil in order to get married, the two people must go to the cartório (I guess it´d be like city hall?), enter their names that they are going to get married, and then wait 30-40 days before they can actually be married. Most people consider themselves married when they move in together and don´t want to pay the price (literally) to get married legally. Marçal and his wife, Das Neves, went last week and will be getting married on April 23rd!! :) He said if it weren´t for us teaching us the law of chastity he never would have legally married her, but he doesn´t want to break a commandment. Das Neves had tried to get married before but he always said no; she is super excited waiting for April 23rd but says Marçal has to ask her in a cute way before the actual marriage haha. 

Zone conference last week was a such a tender mercy from the Lord. I loved the training the assistants gave and the words President Gaertner spoke. It was everything I needed to hear and more! The assistants gave training based on 1 Nephi 3 when Nephi and his brothers return to get the plates from Laban. Their first two attempts could have been considered a waste because they didn´t accomplish their goal. Laban tried to kill them which would definitely be reason enough to desist after the first attempt. But Nephi understood that the purpose wasn´t to just get the plates, he knew that the Lord had a bigger purpose and he was not willing to give up until he fulfilled what he came to do. He made a game plan to get their gold and silver and then tried it out. Failed again. But then the Lord put him in a situation that made it possible for him to accomplish the Lord´s commandment. Who´s to say Laban wasn´t in the state he was in because he had been celebrating the loot he had just taken? We need to do our part and the Lord will do His. No attempt is ever wasted if we are following the Spirit.

Elder Tripode said a quote from President Monson that I really liked that says, "We can´t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." Our life perspective has a lot to do with our attitude. All of us have had challenges that we didn´t expect or circumstances that we felt were undeserved. Take those moments to adjust our sails so that we can continue to move forward and progress.

Transfers are coming up next week and I am nervous like always!! In two days I will complete 1 year in Brasil :)

Hope you are all happy and healthy!! 

Sister Kerr

PS I havent been sending pictures because I got a virus on my pendrive last week and have been nervous to put it in the computer again.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sorry, it's a long email!!

Dearest family and friends,

Happy St. Patrick´s Day! Obviously they don´t have this holiday here, but I am in a ward with two other American missionaries so we remembered what today is. Today is also the three year anniversary from when I got the call saying I was accepted into grad school at UCSB :) I can´t believe it has already been so long. Life is passing too quickly!

This week will be an exciting one because on Wednesday I will complete 1 year & 3 months in the mission and Thursday we will have zone conference with President & Sister Gaertner here in Palmas with us. I am looking forward to the zone conference!

Last week turned out much better than we thought it would. We were worried because the first couple of days during the week weren´t super productive and then we traveled to Gurupi on Wednesday to go on exchanges with the sisters there. Gurupi is 3 & a half hours away by bus and for some reason I got pretty sick on the way there. Once we got off the bus I got better, but man, I feel like the 12 hour busride to Brasília passes faster than the few hours on the bus. I must admit, though, that the view was amazing. I have never seen so much open land and greenery!! I thought the busride to Miracema was gorgeous, but the one to Gurupi has it beat by a longshot. I am pretty sure within that three hour busride I saw enough land to fit millions and millions of people. It was so vast and open! I took pictures but they don´t even capture one one-hundredth of what I was seeing. 

Some cool stories from this past week, on Friday night the sisters in Miracema had a baptism for a young man named Mateus. How they found Mateus started with a simple contact Sister P. Gonçalves and I made when I was on exchanges there in the beginning of February. It was 7:30pm and all of the appointments she planned had fallen through. We didn´t have anyone else to visit so we prayed to know which street to walk down and said we would talk with everybody we saw in the street. We decided on the next street up and right as we turned down it we saw a woman out front of her house. She was leaving to go to school but we stayed in the front and talked with her three kids, the oldest one being 14 and the youngest 7. Sister P. Gonçalves marked to go back the next week and when she did, their friend Mateus was visiting. They met Mateus, invited him to church, and the rest is history :) It is amazing how a simple contact led them to one of the Lord´s elects. No effort is wasted!

Sister Timario and I also found how true this statement is. Friday night we received a referral from our neighbor. Her friend who lives in São Paulo called to say her cousin, Karol, lives in our area. They passed her address to us and Saturday we went to find Karol. We got to the apartment complex and went to the address we had. Well, Karol didn´t live there. We felt so strongly we needed to find her so we thought we would try the other buildings at that complex. Her apartment number was 203 so we knocked every apartment 203, luckily there were only 8 buildings. The whole time I just kept thinking, "Heavenly Father, we are doing our best. We dont have a phone number to call her or any other address." In my heart I felt like we would be blessed for the effort we were making. We finished knocking all the doors and still didn´t meet Karol. We figured we would have to ask our neighbor to call her friend and verify the address.

Sunday morning came and as I was getting ready for church I decided to watch some Mormon Messages I have in Portuguese on a DVD. One message caught my attention called "Domingo Virá" which means Sunday Will Come. The message talked about the Friday when Christ was crucified and how the circumstances seemed so bleak. Our Friday this past week was honestly terrible...I dont know what went wrong but Friday was horrible, Saturday was a little better and there I was, Sunday morning. Most of our investigators Saturday night had said they wouldn´t be able to make it to church so the prospects at church weren´t making me too excited. Saturday night I had written in my planner that one of my goals for Sunday was to have more faith. I tried to start but it was hard. Like I said last week, Sundays make or break the week.

I know this email is ridiculously long so I will sum up how great Sunday was. We walked by the young women´s room 10 minutes before church started and saw a young woman sitting alone. We went to introduce ourselves and guess who it was...Karol!! She came to church on her own because she had seen the church and knew where it was. We also had two other investigators there for the first time, ones we thought wouldn´t come this week! I was so happy my heart wanted to burst with joy! The rest of the day was marvelous as well. 

Just remember, regardless of what happens on Friday, Sunday will come. This was a message I learned this week. Here are some quotes from the talk and the link to the message. 

"Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.
No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come."
Hope you are all happy and healthy!! Thank you for being the best family ever! :) 
Sister Kerr

Monday, March 10, 2014

Happy :)

Dearest family and friends,

This past week was so great!! We had more investigators at church than we expected which is always a good thing. Sundays can really make or break the week. We only have 3 more Sundays this´s already half way over!!

Last Monday I learned how to make empadão de frango with one of the members. I dont remember if I mentioned it, but we live in a house behind one of the member´s house so we have a lot of contact with them. They make mini pizzas and empadões to sell and after 9 weeks of wanting to learn, I finally learned how to make the empadão! Dont worry, I am learning how to cook some Brazilian dishes to make when I come home :) 
The beginning of the cooking process

The final product :)

On Tuesday we weren´t in Brasília for the mission council but we did get to listen to it through Skype. It wasn´t the same thing as being there, but I loved the assistants´ training that talked about the importance of reading, pondering and praying about the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. The Intro of the Book of Mormon invites everybody to read, ponder and pray to know if the book is true. Regardless of how many years we have been in the church, we should apply this same invite to us. It´s good to read the scriptures, it´s better to read and apply what you read in your life. As we ponder about the message we have read, we will have more light and understanding come to our mind. 

In Lehi´s dream, only those who were holding fast to the iron rod made it to the tree of life. The scriptures are this iron rod for us. If we let go of them or let ourselves lose focus, we run the risk of getting lost before we reach our destination. Make it a goal to read daily from the scriptures so that each day you can redirect your path and stay on course.

This past week I finished the book of Mosiah which ends by talking about the sons of Mosiah and Alma the younger. I love their story because it shows how much the gospel can change our lives. We don´t know who can be the next great missionary or who will come to accept the gospel in its fulness after years of working against the church. This is a story of redemption and repentance, an example of love and mercy. 

For those of you who aren´t so active in missionary work...get involved!! Having members´ help makes THE biggest difference. Pray to have more missionary opportunities in your life. The Lord will help you contribute in your own special way.

Hope you are all happy and healthy! Love you lots!

Sister Kerr
Family home evening we had last night with three of the most amazing families ever!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Carnaval 2014!

Dear family & friends,

Feliz Carnaval! We ended up not going down to Brasília because we would have had to take a bus back tomorrow night, the actual night of Carnaval, so President decided that wouldn´t be such a great idea. Palmas is pretty uneventful in terms of Carnaval celebrations but we still have had to be home early these nights. 

So this past week was pretty great! We went on exchanges with the Miracema sisters from Tuesday to Wednesday and then with the Palmas 1 sisters from Wednesday to Thursday. I got to be companions with Sister Jackson again for 1 more day :) It felt like we were back in Ceilândia together haha. Between last week and this week, I have watched the Restoration film three times during lessons and am amazed by how I never get tired of it. Every time I watch it I am able to pull something new out of the story and feel the Spirit testify of its truthfulness. If you haven´t watched it in a while, watch it!! If you have never seen it, watch it! 

I love being in Palmas 3 because we have the best ward ever! Every fast & testimony meeting the pulpit fills up as soon as the bishop opens the time for people to bear their testimony. I have never seen a ward that is so eager to bear their testimony! My goal when I get home to is be a member like the members here. They are willing to pick up our investigators for church, sit with them, mark family home evenings and they take such good care of us :) Yesterday we had a member go to pick up 2 of our investigators, who ended up not being able to go, and when he came to the church empty-handed we felt bad for having made him drive there. He told us he was happy to do it and he sincerely meant it. I love this ward!

On Saturday, Sister Timario and I had a really neat experience with a referral we received. Letícia is a friend of one of the members in the primary, Thaíz. We went to visit Letícia and her family and found out that her mom is deaf. We didn´t really teach a lesson because Letícia´s mom spent the whole time teaching us Portuguese sign language based on the Restoration pamphlet :) I learned how to say a few phrases like "The gospel blesses families and many people" and words like Jesus Christ, teachings, learn, mother, father, son, etc. It was so cool! We borrowed their sign language book until tomorrow so that we can study a little bit and be able to talk more with her when we go back. They weren´t able to go to church this week but said they will go next week. 

Other than that, I am loving the mission. I have been reading in Mosiah for my personal study and really loved the first few chapters like always. King Benjamin´s talk is one of my favorite parts in the Book of Mormon and then it goes on to talk about the people of Zeniff. The themes that stood out to me were about the Atonement, the importance of prophets, and how much they talk about the desires of their heart. Some people had a pride filled heart and others had a mighty change of heart. We should all ask ourselves from time to time what are the desires of our heart. 

Hope you are all happy and healthy! Have a great start to this month of March :)

Sister Kerr
Sister Jackson & I during the exchange

Sister Timario, Geovanna (the bishop´s daughter) and I at lunch yesterday