Monday, December 28, 2015

Natal (part 2)

Natal (part 2)

I´ll start off with some fun highlights from this week!
-A car drove through a pot hole full of water and guess where we were
conveniently standing?
-We went to a member´s house for Christmas Eve and stayed there until
almost midnight, and I almost died from exhaustion; but it was really
fun.
-We had a day this week where we had two lunch appointments, and I found
out it's possible to actually die from overeating. I almost didn't make
it out alive.
-You know you've been roughing it when you use the bathroom in a more
affluent family´s house, and they have two-ply toilet paper and you´re
like, "two-ply?! What is this, the King's palace?"
- Also when you get to walk up some concrete stairs that aren't
unevenly spaced and crumbling and think, "Dang is this the stairway to
Heaven or what?!"

---------
  This was definitely the most humble, most Christ centered Christmas
that I've ever had in my life. I remember the first time I went to the
house of one of the Irmãs here, and as I walked down the dark damp
treacherous stairwell I thought, "What am I descending into right
now?" This week, I merrily made my way down those same stairs with a
big smile on my face and a heart full of glee. At the bottom of those
stairs is a concrete patio, with nothing but a big blue tarp to keep
the rain off of us, where I was welcomed with open arms by about 20
of the most wonderful, lively, loving people I've ever met in my life.
We sang Christmas hymns together, and everyone ate a ridiculous amount
of food and talked and laughed, and I felt at home.
   As I sat there with a full heart (and stomach), I thought about
Jesus' birth. The King of Kings, the Savior of the World, the
Great I Am, who was born in a manger. I thought about the rejoicing of
the Heavens at that humble birth and all of the love that must have
filled that stable. I've learned so much already and have been more
humbled than I can explain in words. I hope that in this New Year I
will continue to grow in gratitude and appreciation for everything I have,
and that each of us can be a little more charitable, that our hearts
can be a little more full of love, and learn a little more about the
insignificance of material things in the grand scheme of things. I
love you all so much and hope you all have another great week!!

Loooovveeee,
Sister Curtis

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Felix Natal!!

Feliz Natal!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, not
because of all the decorations, or promise of presents, nor because of
all the tasty treats or movie marathons. Christmas time is the most
wonderful time of the year because for one little moment of the year,
the thoughts and hearts of the world are turned towards Christ. I've
really felt the gravity and truth of the meaning of Christmas this
year. I've pondered on why the birth of Christ signifies a hope so
powerful that the heavens could not contain themselves, and I've
realized it´s because of the miraculous power of the atonement of our
Lord Jesus Christ.

His birth signified the reality that all men would have the
opportunity to be released from the bonds of sin and freed from the
bands of death; and that we might have comfort and strength in our weakest
moments and gratitude and rejoicing in our triumphs. This Christmas,
ponder for a quiet moment what hopes you have that can be realized
through the mercy and power of God, and what hopes you can fulfill for
others as a servant and disciple of the Lord. I'm so grateful to be in
Brazil serving the people and the Savior, and I hope that this, my gift
to Him, is the best that I can offer this year. I love you all so much
and am so grateful for all of your love, thoughts, well-wishes, and
prayers and hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New
Year!

Sister Curtis

Monday, December 14, 2015

Uphill Both Ways

Uphill Both Ways

This week´s issue of "Guy on a Motorcycle" features: a guy eating corn
on the cob, a guy carrying a car tire, and a guy holding a small child
in one arm!

To give you an idea of how this week went for me, let me share with
you all a little anecdote. It´s been a drizzly week, but one day there
was just a downpour that came out of nowhere; and Sister Moura and I got
caught in it and were soaked and were literally running down the street
trying to get home (Brazilians don't use sidewalks because the sidewalks are
poop and also covered in it, literally). As we´re running across
the road Sister Moura slipped on a dead rat and almost went careening
into traffic. So that´s about how my week was.

I've learned a lot about our tiny area here in Eldorado. The members
here are so awesome and charitable and are wiling to give you
everything they have. For instance, this week we visited a Sister that
sells Avon and lingerie for middle aged women. Guess which of those
things she gave us as a Christmas present? I'll give you a hint, it
wasn't makeup.

I also learned that our area is basically just a handful of residential
streets and some favelas, and we have one side of the main street to do
contacts on; and almost no one that actually wants to hear about Christ
is in our area, and we have to pass them off to other missionaries. It
is pretty discouraging, but this week I had a little revelation. God
wants all of us to have the gospel in our lives so that we can live
with Him again; as a representative of Christ its my job to invite
everyone that I can to come unto Christ. That means overcoming my fear
of talking to weird people on the street, and to do my best to love
them, and to ask them if they'd like to know a little more about the
Savior. I know that through prayer and faith and hope that I really
can overcome any obstacle that I face.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!!

Sister Curtis

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week 2 and Not so Blue

Week 2 and Not so Blue

Bom Dia!! I'm not gonna lie, in last week's email I was a little
overwhelmed and a little whiny, but after rolling up my sleeves and
actually doing some missionary work, I felt much better! I think I've
progressed from not knowing what the heck I'm doing to just not knowing
what I'm doing, so that´s a big improvement for me.

My companheira, Sister Moura, is the best. She´s 28 and from Northern
Brazil, and Ive increased to understanding a solid 60% of what she
says. She reminds me a lot of Mom because shes very straight forward and
driven and takes really good care of me. She´s so selfless and is
willing to share everything she has with anyone who needs it. Also, she
loves to talk a lot, and I think she gets bored because I'm not that talkative,
especially right now when I literally cant say the things I want to.

Before I got to Eldorado the mission goals for street contacts were 10
people per day, but guess what? Now they´re 50! It's super hard for me
to get all 50, and I don't understand half of what people say, but I'm
trying my best. Other than contacts, we walk up and down a ton of hills
and go to people's houses and ask to share messages. Every day at lunch
we eat at a member's house, and they stuff us full of food.

This week after I got my rice and beans, I looked into a pot and
noticed that the meat wasn't exactly carne, but nevertheless I dished
some out. I didn't let myself think about the texture and just ate it,
and it was surprisingly good. After dinner Irmão asked me if I knew
what it was? I said I had an inkling, and he pointed to his stomach
and started laughing. I nodded and told him that's what I thought.
Long story short, stomach is surprisingly tasty.

Here are some other fun things I learned this week:
- Brazil is the loudest place I've ever been in my life.
-Hole in your leggings? No problem! Tuck a towel into your waistband
to cover the hole and call it good!
-The milk is weird, and I think they put sweetened condensed milk in
it; but Im pretty into it.
- It's really cool to bolt amps/ box speakers onto the roof of your car
and blare your crappy music as loud as you can everywhere you go.
- If your phone service gets turned off, tudo bem! Just find your
nearest telephone box and hot wire your phone directly into it.
- I also saw a guy putting a shirt on while weaving through traffic on
a motorcycle.
- I went to a wedding and the groom walked down the aisle to "Stairway to Heaven".

The most important thing I learned this week was how welcoming and
loving and charitable the people are here, and the members love the
missionaries. Everywhere you go you´re welcomed with hugs and kisses
and food, and it really washes away all the disappointment from the
day. I love the people here and I'm excited to continue working and
improving myself, because I have a long way to go! Até maís gente!

Sister Curtis

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Welcome to ELDORADO

Welcome to ELDORADO

It finally happened. I'm here in the field!!! Okay, I know I was
technically already in São Paulo for the past 6.5 weeks, but that was
in a sheltered and nurtured environment, and I've definitely left that
in the dust lol. Yesterday, everybody going to São Paulo Sul left at 7
and drove an hour to the Mission President's house, and we met him and
chilled there for a while.Then we went to a chapel for transfers to get our new companions, and surprise, when we opened the doors to go inside, the entire mission was standing and clapping and cheering for us and it was equally endearing and embarrassing (but mostly endearing).

So we were there for like 6 hours, and I was feeling pretty good cause
I could understand a decent portion of what was being said; then I
got my companion, and she´s from northern Brazil and has an accent like
you wouldn't believe. She talks at basically a whisper but goes about
100 miles an hour, and I get like 40% of what she's saying, max. Then she
told me not to worry cause of the area, Eldorado, it wasn't that far; so we
proceeded to ride a bus for 3 hours and let me tell you, there's no
such thing as a smooth ride in Brazil.

So we finally arrived and walked up two huge hills with our arms full
of bags and groceries and made it to our apartment, which is pretty
nice, aside from the nearly vertical half spiral staircase of death
that leads up to it and the faint aroma of stale vomit in our front
room that I just cant seem to find the source of. As I lay in bed
last night listening to the dulcet tones of cars barreling down the
street, and Brazilian Funk being played so loud it rattled our window
(haha just kidding we don't have windows they're actually just aluminum
shutters, so there's not a gaping hole in our wall); I just started
laughing to myself like´´hahahahahaha, what have I done?" :-)

But this morning we had a really great zone meeting and everyone
shared their testimonies, and I was reminded what I'm here for, para
convidar as pessoas a achegarem-se a Cristo. Even though I pretty much
have zero idea what Im doing right now, and my dear sweet companion
Sister Moura literally just pulls me around by the wrist as I ask her
to repeat herself for the 4th time; the one thing I can do is testify
of Christ. I know that He lives, and I know that He loves each and
every one of us, and because of that He made it possible for us to
live with him again. Even if I can't do anything else right now, I know
that as long as I do my best then the Lord will take care of the rest!

I love you all and thanks for hanging in there if you're still reading
this mega email!!

LooOOovvEEee,
Sister Curtis

Friday, November 27, 2015

T-Minus 4 Days

O Campo!!!

This is it people!!! I leave in T-minus 4 days for the actual São
Paulo Sul Mission!!! I feel pretty ready to leave the CTM but not
exactly ready to teach real life people, but I'm super excited (and a
little nervy) nonetheless! Since our district is leaving soon, last
Sunday a bunch of us got picked to give surprise talks (in Portuguese
of course) during sacrament meeting. Since I have zero luck in
anything, I knew that I would get picked, but I had come prepared and
wasn't nervous to do it. That is until the President of the CTM walked
in and sat down in the front of the room right beside the pulpit. I was
of course called up very first to give my talk on the power of prayer,
and so I got up and did my best and felt reasonably happy with the
outcome. When I sat back down, I glanced over at Presidente Swenson and
he gave me a thumbs up and a big smile. After the meeting finished,
President Swenson (followed by each member of the branch presidency)
came over and shook my hand and told me how good my Portuguese was and
that I had nothing to worry about. I'm very aware that I'm still a ways
off from fluent, but it was still really nice to hear. Also, we had a
super awesome Thanksgiving lunch and a special devotional on Thursday,
and my district all sat together and went around the table and said
nice things about each other. It was nice to have my Brazilian
family with me when I couldn't be with my real one. I'm grateful for the
opportunity I have to be in São Paulo and for the many MANY things Ive
been blessed with in my life. I love you all and Im so grateful to
have each of you in my life! I'm sure this week will be a whirlwind, but
I cant wait to fill you in on it next week! - Looovvveee, Sister
Curtis

Friday, November 20, 2015

One week left, what the heck?!

November 20, 2015

One week left, what the heck?!
Hello world! This week was pretty uneventful, except yesterday Sister
Hansen was laughing super hard and leaned against a window for support; the window was actually open and she almost fell out of the 3rd
story window, but I grabbed her and pulled her back in; so that was
pretty exciting! Now back to the continuation of last weeks adventure
that I didn't have time to finish telling you about.

So last Wednesday my district and the Hispanic girls, that are my bff´s
from another district, walked a mile to a bus stop and loaded onto a
crowded, sweaty bus and rode it for 30 minutes into the heart of Sao
Paulo. We stood the whole time, and it was a lot like a roller coaster
ride except less safety equipment. I had fun. After we got there all
the companionships split up, and each had 6 copies of the Book of
Mormon to give away to interested passersby.

There were some nice people and some not so nice people, and Sister
Hansen and I had given three away and were just starting to get into
the groove of things when we spotted this old man walking down the
side of the road. We walked over to him and had scarcely introduced
ourselves before he launched into a rant about the Bible and was
telling us all the ways our beliefs are wrong. He was going a mile a
minute; and we couldn't even get a single word in. Every time we tried
to say anything or even answer one of his questions, he would just cut
us off in rapid fire Portuguese.

We stood there waiting for him to stop for at least 15 minutes before
another old man came up. We thought we were saved, but he turned out to
be a preacher and just joined in with the other guy (except he was
trying to tell us about how he saw Jesus one time too and Jesus told
him that he was perfect in every way). I was getting very overwhelmed
at the whole situation and basically just started to stand there and
cry as these men fought over us.

Finally, I just couldn't take any more and cut them both off, asking If I
could say something to them. They both stopped and looked at me
expectantly. Honestly, I had only understood about 60% of what they had
been saying. I knew they didn't want to listen to anything that was
going to come out of my mouth, and I didn't have enough Portuguese to
say all that I wanted to tell them; so I did the only thing I knew to
do, and through snot and tears and a couple of  hiccups, I bore the most
heartfelt testimony I ever have in my life. I told them I hadn't
understood everything they were saying, but one thing that I did know
was that the book I held in my hands was true and that it testified of
Jesus Christ and His love for us.

The preacher asked me if I could prove to him that it was true. I
told him that I couldn't prove anything to him, but that if he read it
and prayed to know that it was true that God would testify of the
truth of it but through the Holy Ghost. I know that for myself. In
that moment I realized what it means to testify of something with the
whole energy of your soul, and let me tell you it's exhausting, but also
the most wonderful feeling. The preacher didn't really like my answer,
and they continued to quarrel; but after that I didn't have anything more
to say. But just a moment later, almost out of nowhere, the bottom
fell out of the clouds above us and it started pouring like you
wouldn't believe.

I know that it was a tender mercy for me. Literally the second after
I had done all I could do and reached my breaking point, the Lord
offered me a tender mercy and a way out of the situation. I pretty
much cried for like an hour after that, first from being overwhelmed,
and then later from all of the kindness the other sisters showed us
after they found out what happened, and then from realization that
that situation was actually one to be grateful for because it showed me
what I'm really capable of.

I know that I´ll face experiences like this (and harder ones) again
after I leave the CTM in a week and a half, but I know that the Lord
always provides a way. I love you all and hope you have a great
week!!!

LooOOOvvvVeeee,
Sister Curtis

Saturday, November 7, 2015

What the heck is Kenzie doing in Brazil?

November 6, 2015

In this weeks issue of What the heck is Kenzie doing in Brazil:

I have a special section entitled "Things dad would love/hate about
Brazil." *applause*

Love- They have the best Orange Juice ever, all we eat is meat and
cheese (and a lot of it) intermingled with either bread or rice,
Brazilians are super clean and shower like twice a day and brush their
teeth all the time, and there are tons of little shops everywhere and
everything is super cheap.
Hate- The toilet paper is dispensed in precut half-kleenex like sheets
from what looks like a giant tissue container, no nap times in the
CTM, nothing is EVER pronounced phonetically, and everyone is super
touchy and very friendly and loves to talk (I've spoken every language
I know and a couple that I don´t since being here, and no one seems to
mind that the effectiveness of your communication is like 13 percent.)
Spanish has helped my Portuguese comprehension so much, but Portuguese
has completely wrecked my Spanish. Even if I can think it in Spanish,
it just comes out in Portuguese now, which I guess is a good thing.

This week a girl asked me where I was from and I told her Tennessee.
She said, ´´Oh! Like Hannah Montana!´´ I laughed forever and
was just like yes, you're exactly right. Also we got two new sisters
from the Provo MTC and wow does their Portuguese suck. Is that mean? I
can´t tell, but it just makes me grateful to have been able to come
straight to Brazil and be fully immersed in the language and culture.
They were a little surprised when Irma Majory (one of our instructors)
came in on their first day and greeted them with a hug and a kiss, lol.
Gotta love Brazilians, cause they´ll definitely love you!

The people here are so happy and wonderful and I thought I´d share a
quick story about my roommate. We have a hard time talking to our
Brazilian roommates because they´re from Northern Brazil and have pretty
thick accents and talk super fast; but the other night I asked one of
them how her day was? She told me her day was hard, but it
was still a good day, and that in the CTM even the bad days were good
days because we´re here learning and preparing and feeling the spirit. She
told me how before she came to Sao Paulo she didn't really know how to
write; but after being here for just a week she´s been able to write
better than she ever has before, and that it´s coming to her so easily.
Her faith and understanding that this was assuredly a gift from God
was incredible. It was such an unexpected, and humbling experience for
me, and I hope that as I continue to grow and learn that I can emulate
the same goodness, faith, gratitude and humility that my sweet
roommate does.

I´m up to teaching 2-3 lessons a day and next week we´re going
proselyting in downtown São Paulo, so that should be fun and
interesting. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!!

LooOOOOvvEEEee,
Sister Curtis


Friday, October 30, 2015

MOOMMM!!!! I LIVE IN BRAZIL NOW!!!!

October 30, 2015

MOOMMM!!!! I LIVE IN BRAZIL NOW!!! (I'll include you in an email with
my whole mailing list and you can just edit this email as you see fit
and send it to them; also yes you can post the other email). I opened
my inbox to 32 new emails, so please tell everyone I'm sorry for not being
able to respond to everyone this week, but you´re my number one so
sorry, not sorry. Also sorry for the crazy typos; the keyboards are
different than American ones and I don't have enough time to correct
everything. Yes, I met Elder Smartt on the way here and he´s in our
sister district, so we've talked about our families and stuff. I wanna
send you pictures but the CTM is dumb and we´re not allowed to, so
you´ll get them eventually. Yes, I´m called Sister Curtis and not Irma
(so people don´t get us confused with Catholic nuns who are called
Irma in Brazil). Yes, everything went well with my travels and the big
group of 15 missionaries helped. My district is 42-A Ing. and our
mailbox number is 399 (I don't know how you address that) and it has 6 people
 (2 other sets of Elders and us) and 5 of us are going to Sao Paulo South.
All the Elders are little baby children except one (they just
graduated). My companheira looks just like Bethany, her name is SIster
Hansen, she never stops talking, but we get along okay. We have a lot of
miscommunications but we´re working on it. So far the training here has been
intense, like I N T EN S E. Every day we study Portuguese and prepare lessons
 for about 9 hours with intermittent breaks to teach practice investigators, have
devotionals, and do service and stuff like that. Also they feed us like crazy. I don´t
know what I"m eating most of the time but it"s always good, probably too good.
At the rate I´m going I may be thefirst human to gain 50 pounds in 2 weeks time, but 
it´s all worth it. I came to the CTM not speaking a word of Portuguese, and now at the
week and a half mark, I don´t need the English translation for the
devotionals, and we've taught like 15 lessons. I´m definitely FAR FAR
from being fluent or even pretty good, but I've learned so much in such
a short amount of time that it´s crazy. Don´t worry about my safety
here by the way because the whole building is gated, guarded and barb-wired, lol.
My main teacher Irmao Mello is one of the most incredible, funny,
spiritual people I've ever met in my whole life and we have a lot of
good laughs and cries in class and in the lessons we teach. The very
first Sunday we were here Sister Hansen got assigned to be the sister
training leader, and another set of our elders are our new zone leaders;
so now our whole district has to go to all the extra meetings on
Sunday, which is kind of a drag, but they´re not too bad. There´s no AC
in the bedrooms and cafeteria and like half of the CTM, but we do have
it in the class rooms where we spend most of our our time; but
honestly it´s not that bad. And just as I was getting used to taking
cold showers every day, we got our room moved so now we´re in the
communal showers, which has it´s ups and downs. Last night our service
was to fold sheets in the laundry room and it reminded me of you haha,
so that was nice :) We went to the temple today too and it was
probably the best temple experience ever. I love you
so much and hope you have a great week. I really hope I get your
letters this week that would be the best!!!
LOOOOOvVvEEeE,
Sister Curtis







I MADE IT!!!!


October 21, 2015

MOM!!!! I MADE IT!!!!! Yeah I got super lucky and there were 14 other

missionaries  (5 sisters) at Atlanta and it made it alot more fun and
much much less worrisome. I basically just followed everyone else and
nothing went wrong at all. As soon as I walked into the Memphis
airport they started playing this random gospel song about following
Jesus and doing what He wants and I almost started crying lol. Also, I
joked about having to drag my duffle bag through the airport, and as I
was walking to the gate the strap on my bag literally snapped; and I
just stood there and laughed. Luckily it didnçt break and I snapped it
back on, but I thought it was funny. The flight was very very long and
I slept a couple hours so it wasn´t terrible. I also sat next to a
really nice Brazilian farmer who spoke English and it made me super
excited to be in Brazil (he also was not bad on the eyes and I was
like, well dang,if this is what the farmers look like I´m in trouble!
Chiste, chiste ;) Sao Paulo looks like a mixture of Miami and Hawaii
from what I´ve seen so far, and even though it´s humid and in the 90´s,
theres a breeze and it doesn´t feel that bad. The CTM is starting us
out strong though, there´s no air conditioning and although there are
5 random knobs all over our shower wall (???) none of them seem to
produce warm water, so that´s really cool (badumm tsss). I saw Jaxson
as soon as I got here though so that was cool. They also gave us a
breakfast of ham and cheese sandwiches which were super good and this
weird warm soup that looked like white cheese fondue but smelled
and tasted like captain crunch cereal milk. I could really get behind
it if it wasn´t warm. My companion is Sister Hansen and she was in my
mission prep class at BYU (and she low key looks just like Bethany). I
can´t send pics while I´m in the CTM so you´ll never know that I
didn´t even make it to lunch on my first day before putting my hair in
a ponytail lol oops. I don't have much time because this was just supposed
to be me letting you know I´m safe and sound and I think my first real
p-day will be next Friday, so talk to you then! I love you soo much and
can´t wait to tell you all about life here in Sao Paulo!! (also tell Bethany her 
letter was the best and I would've cried if I hadn't already been emotionally 
drained) .