Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Back Home

I know I didn't get an email out on Monday like usual, but here I am to write about the last week in the mission and update on how things have been since I got home. I'll start by talking about the last days in the mission.

Last Monday was a busy p-day! After the zone activity in the morning, we headed to Brasilia and I stopped by Guara II really quickly to visit some members from there. Then we headed headed to Taguatinga 1 to stay the night there. The members there are so sweet! They planned a special family home evening in the chapel for me so that I would be able to see a lot of members. I was super happy; it was good to see everybody. Tuesday morning we returned to Formosa and made the last rounds visiting some members and investigators. We knew the rest of the week would be pretty busy and wouldn't leave much time to make too many visits. Wednesday morning we had district meeting in Planaltina DF and then headed back to Brasilia for my last interview with President Gaertner! I couldn't believe it was my last one. I love President Gaertner & Sister Gaertner.

Thursday was my last day in Formosa. I spent my last night watching the opening Brasil game in the World Cup and then watching a girl in the branch open her mission call. President gave all of us permission to watch the game at a member's home who lives close to our house because he knew it would be nearly impossible to get anybody to let us in during the game. I never imagined I would spend the last night of my mission watching the World Cup start in Brasil but it was awesome! I thought it was even more special that afterwards I was able to watch somebody open her mission call; my mission was ending and hers was starting. Kerollyn has been called to the Brasil Florianopolis mission and will report to the MTC in mid-September. 

It was funny because all of last week I was super calm, and for anybody who knows me, you know that is not how I normally am haha. I think I was in a state of disbelief. It never really hit me that the mission was ending. For as much as I said goodbye to the people, packed my bags, and did all of the other necessary preparations to leave I never actually accepted the fact that I was leaving. Friday morning, Sister Alves & I woke up at 4am, I finished packing my bags, we went to rodoviaria and then headed to Brasilia. My last day in Brasil was perfect...absolutely perfect. 

I said goodbye to Sister Alves and then spent the rest of the day with the elders because I was the only sister leaving that transfer. We went to the mission home, had a meeting with President & Sister Gaertner, ate lunch at the mission home with them, and then went to the mission office because we had nothing else to do. But before going to the airport, I was able to realize one of my dreams in Brasilia...I went up the Torre de TV! It had been closed for several months but reopened early last week. We asked for permission to swing by before going to the airport and President Gaertner said yes! Elder Sowards and I were excited beyond belief (don't worry, it wasn't just the two of us)! It had been one of his dreams too haha. I ended up traveling alone with Elder Sowards back to the states, but it was cool because at the airport I ran into two Americans I met the week before in Formosa so we sat and talked with them. 

My layover was in Atlanta and then I got into Orange County around 11:30am Saturday morning. My family is so cute they were all waiting with posters for me at the airport :) The first place I went when I got home was the Newport Beach temple. I was shocked at how easy it was to get back to being "normal." I love the mission and leaving was reaaaaally hard for me so I thought I would be that weird missionary that didn't know how to survive in the real world, but so far I have been doing just fine. I miss the mission a lot but here I am, getting by. I haven't been up to too much these days, but I am working on what comes next. 

Once again, I just want to say thank you all for your support during the mission. It made the biggest difference! I am thankful for the blessing I had to serve a mission because I truly learned so much. I would encourage all of you to really think about the gospel and what it means to you. I am experiencing a bit of a culture shock coming back to the states because I just spent the last year in Brasil getting by on very little and being genuinely happy. It is very easy to get distracted by the things of the world, but we should never let that get in the way of what is truly important. The material things will stay here when our time comes; our knowledge, our testimony, and our families are the things that will have eternal value regardless of where we are. These are the things we should put first. 

Hope you are all happy & healthy! Love you very much.


Monday, June 9, 2014

I can´t believe it...

Dearest family & friends,

I am having trouble comprehending the fact that this is the last email I will send as Sister Kerr. I will probably send one or two more next week to talk about my last week in the mission and to share a list of pointers I have been compiling throughout the mission, but this is it. How is it possible that 18 months have come and gone so quickly? To be quite honest, it still hasn´t hit me that this is it. It feels like any other p-day. In sacrament meeting yesterday I kept telling myself, "You go home this week. Next week you´ll be back in Cypress for sacrament meeting." I couldn´t picture it. I couldn´t see myself back in Cypress listening to the speakers in English, not having to worry about investigators coming to church, not having a nametag or anything. It almost hurts my heart to think about not being a missionary. But I know this is the next step in my life. Nobody stays in the mission forever nor would it be good for our progress. What makes the mission so special is that it is a short time in life that comes and goes and leaves a significant mark for the rest of our lives. 

I have so many things I want to say but I think I will save it all for the email I send next week. I would like to end my last email home bearing my testimony in the language I have been called to speak for these 18 months. 

Eu sei, sem sombra de dúvida, que esta é a igreja verdadeira. Eu sei que Joseph Smith foi um profeta de Deus e que o evangelho foi restaurado por meio dele. Sou muito grata ao Pai Celestial pelo grande privilégio de ser missionária de tempo-integral e por poder compartilhar esta mensagem com todo mundo na missão San Fernando e na missão Brasil Brasília. Sinto o amor de Deus na minha vida cada dia e sei que Ele é um Pai amoroso. As palavras não são suficientes para expressar minha gratidão nem os sentimentos que quase não cabem no meu coração. Só quero dizer que o evangelho vale a pena. Toda visita que fazemos de mestre familiar e professora visitante, todo domingo que assistimos às reuniões da igreja, toda noite que nos ajoelhamos em família para orar juntos....tudo isso vale a pena. 

Minha missão valeu a pena. 

Com amor,
Sister Kerr

Monday, June 2, 2014

Last Full Week :(

Dearest family & friends,
Today starts my last full week in the mission (our weeks go from Monday to Sunday in our daily planners) which means next Sunday will be my LAST Sunday in the misison. It still doesn´t feel real. It will be the last time I hear the sacrament blessed in Portuguese, the last time I hear the teachers speak in Portuguese, the last time I hear the hymns in sacrament meeting in Portuguese, and the last time I read the scriptures in Portuguese in church as a full-time missionary. I would be lying if I said I didn´t let a few tears fall during sacrament meeting yesterday when it hit me that June has started. I can officially say this month I will be home. Only those who have served missions will be able to fully comprehend the mixed emotions I am feeling. My poor companion has had to deal with me being excited, anxious, sad, stressed out, and slightly freaking out every time I think about the mission ending haha. 

This past week we had SO many miracles happen. Remember a couple of weeks ago I said I would tell Gabriel´s story after it unfolded? Well, here it goes.

Gabriel met the elders in Cabeceiras over 5 years ago when there was still an official operating branch there. He didn´t really have too much interest, the church left, and that was that. Last year in Planaltina DF he met the elders again. He was 16 years old, had some interest, and took the lessons. Shortly after, he moved back to Cabeceiras where the church still hadn´t started up again. He "fell away" for a short period of time but then Silvio, one of the members in Cabeceiras, found out about Gabriel and started visiting him. The group in Cabeceiras started up a couple of months ago and Gabriel has been going ever since. Our first Friday in Cabeceiras we visited Gabriel and I thought to myself, "What´s keeping him from being baptized?" That Sunday, President Gaertner came to Formosa to do interviews because he is in charge of the district, and Gabriel came, too. He came up to us and told us he wanted to be baptized. We technically aren´t allowed to proselyte in Cabeceiras but we asked for persmission from President Gaertner and he said we could teach Gabriel. 

This past Saturday Gabriel was baptized and yesterday he was confirmed :) He is super excited to go on a mission next year and is already preparing himself. Even in those months he wasn´t going to church, he continued studying and has a ton of knowledge about the church. It was so great to see the support he is receiving from the members in Cabeceiras. He is the first baptism there in over 5 years; his baptism is a milestone for the members of Cabeceiras. In a couple of months I think Cabeceiras will open as an area with missionaries full-time and in no time will be a branch. 

Picture of Gabriel with the members from Cabeceiras and his family.
Life is good. I am freaking out about the fact that the mission is almost over. Lately the scripture Isaiah 55:8-9 has come up a lot in my studies and in my life. People have said it to me, other missionaries have quoted it to me, and it comes up in one way or another during my studies. I don´t quite understand what the Lord is trying to tell me, but in due time, I am sure it will all click. 

I hope you are all happy & healthy! Thank you for your support these past 17 months. I can´t believe how quickly the time has passed.

Have a great week!

Sister Kerr