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?!"

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  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