Sunday, January 19, 2014

Jan. 13, 2014: "I believe in cookies"

Oi! Tudo Bem?  All is well here in Brazil!

So first off I have to say that I seriously have the best friends and family in the whole world!!  I got letters this past week and here we can only open them on pday so today I got to open a letter from Lindsey (Sister Lopez), Sister Jasperson and Eric and then Sister Jasperson also mailed me the letters that I got in Virginia also so I opened letters from Taylor Bloom and Thomas and Cameron!  What the heck! It was like Christmas!!  Seriously it made me so happy I was almost teary, almost.  But HUGE thank you to my peeps back home in the good ole USA who I just love so dang much. You are too good to me!

This week was a big week!!  Not that anything like monumental happened but I feel like I just grew a bunch this week!  My tan lines got a little darker, my face got a few more freckles, my language improved and most importantly I feel like I really for the first time felt like I understand what I am doing here.  It´s hard to be confused all the time and it was really wearing on me to just feel useless here because I don´t understand what is going on haha but this week I really felt like I started to get the hang of the culture, the people of Ceará, the language, and my purpose as a missionary in the midst of all of this! 

I went on splits again with Lizzy (who is so adorable, I just love her to death!) and taught a bunch of lessons during the week where I was the senior companion.  I had a moment of shock when I was teaching with a Brazillian who has been out on her mission the same amount of time as me and I realized that I was leading the lessons and directing the work for the day!  WHAT??  It is super funny because I seriously confuse English and Portuguese all the time!!  When I get really excited or really frustrated or when I start talking fast, I want to speak in English because I can´t express myself very well in Portuguese and all the time I will think that something is happening in one language when it´s really in the other. sheesh, my brain is just confused!  But it´s good I think because I think that I´m improving in the language!  I am kind of teaching Sister Mote English and it´s way funny.  Since we are always talking (in Portuguese) and actually have a relationship I just assumed that she speaks English but then we read the Book of Mormon together (me in Portguese and her in English) and she like can´t say anything and doesn´t understand a thing and it cracks me up!  I always forget.  Also yesterday Larissa looked up my facebook and she wanted to friend request me because I told her that Brooklynn had my account.  But friend request wasn´t an option so she clicked the message option and asked what she should say in the message.  I told her to say whatever, that it didn´t matter, and then looked at me all confused and was like ´´in portuguese??´´ haha I started laughing when I realized that she doesn´t speak English and Brooklynn wouldn´t understand her in Portuguese.  So she typed the word she knows in English: Hi. haha so there you go Brooklynn!

We are teaching a bunch of teenage boys right now and Sister Mote has me sit by them in church because she thinks they all want to sit by the American haha it´s hilarious.  One of them has a less active dad who is an artist and he has the coolest paintings!  He told me he would make me a little one and I am so excited!  Their family is way awesome and we really want to start teaching the mom!  The work has been slow so far (which apparently is abnormal) but I think that it will start to pick up in the next couple weeks.  I have been praying really hard and working really hard so if it´s God`s will I know that we will see miracles!  

Random stuff from Brazil:  I had some yummy fruit this week (mangos, papaya, acerola, other random things)  and this DELICIOUS tapioca stuff.  It´s not like our tapioca, it´s like a tortilla with sand... except edible hahah and then you put butter and cheese or sweetened condensed milk on it... YUM.  Elder Seawell is in my zone so it is a little tender mercy that I get to see him a lot!  On Tuesday he was on an exchange with the assistants and they were working in our area and at the end of the day we got to eat tapioca at a members house and just relax for a second and since the assistant he was with is American too we got to speak English! Ah it was a little piece of heaven. But, I have to say the cookies here are awful.  I didn´t realize what I big sweet tooth I have until now!  I always want some REAL baked goods and theirs are not good hahah.  We always have chocolate wafers in our house and that´s about as good as it gets. But every morning you can smell the fresh bread in all of the stores and it´s the best!  

Okay well that´s my week in a little nutshell!  I LOVE you all SOO MUCH!

Be happy and eat cookies!
Sister Brittany Westover

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week 18: January 6th, 2014

Ola familia! 

 Phew! I feel like my email time is kind of a big breath out from the week haha.  We are running around crazy all day long every day!  Okay so everyone had like a million questions and wants to know what Brazil is like and I don´t even know where to start!  But I made a list during the week of things that explain a little bit what it´s like and maybe after a few weeks you will kind of get the idea.

First off I hope everyone had a happy new years!  We had to be in pretty early for new years because it´s dangerous so we got pizza and soda and had our own little party in the apartment!  I live with my companion and another set of sisters so there are four of us.  They are all Brazilian so I only hear and speak Portuguese all the time!  But luckily I am starting to understand!! Yay! I literally felt like I played guesstures for two weeks straight and let me tell you, I don´t ever want to play that game again haha.  Words are just so much better. Anway, everyone here loves fireworks!  So we went to sleep at the normal time and then woke up at midnight while all the fireworks were going off and watched them out of the windows of our apartment.  It was fun but also a little annoying because everyone here also loves LOUD music.  Needless to say, they were blasting music until like 5 in the morning and we wake up at 6:30 so there wasn´t a whole lot of good sleep.  But all in all it was a good New Years!

It is hot hot hot!  And when it rains it makes it worse because then the sun comes out and all of the water on the ground is evaporating and it´s like walking through a hot tub.  But it´s now pretty normal!  The funny thing is that it can be like perfectly sunny one second and in the next two minutes it will rain enough for the next two weeks!  Like literally it comes out of no where and then just dumps buckets of rain.  I already have a tan line from my chacos (Corinne would be proud haha)!  The other funny thing is the busses!  We ride the onibus a few times a week for meetings or to go into town (we live in like a neighborhood and its 15 minutes from the main city Maracanú).  Everytime we ride the onibus I feel like I´m in Harry Potter on the night bus (I think that´s what it´s called... I forget everything from before my mission and now in English).  But seriously these buses are like PACK FULL and they drive CRAZY so we are rocking back and forth and sometimes I think the whole bus is going to tip over!  They fit like 70 people in a 30 cap. bus.  And we squeeze between other onibuses and buildings with like 2 inches on either side!  Yeah I should have no problem with carsickness when I get home... haha.

Every day we eat rice and beans and chicken (maybe beef) and coke!  Usually it´s pretty good I have no problem eating it.  Usually.  So Sister Mometto and I went to lunch at someone´s house the other day and it was the regular rice and beans and beef and fanta.  We sit down to eat and Sister Mometto wanted to cut her beef so she asked for a fork.  The lady was like ´´Oh I don´t have one!´´ and she picked up the beef and ripped it in two (with her HANDS!!!) and just put one half on Sister Mometto´s plate and the other half back on the pan!! HA! WHAT! Yeah rice and beans was enough for me :)  I prayed way hard that the food was clean enough to eat.  

So I´m doing well!  I still have a TON to learn but every day I can tell that I´m growing.  The people understand me so that´s good!  Yesterday we had a bunch of lessons to teach and not enough time so we went on splits again and I went with one of the girls in the ward.  She is like so adorable and is 16.  I was happy to be with her but also nervous because she didn´t know what to do and I don´t know Portuguese!  But we were just finding new people to teach.  So we just started walking around and talking to everyone who was sitting on their porches and it was so great!  I met tons of new people and did most of the talking!  Everyone loved that I was American and could speak their language and they all were so nice!  It was seriously the greatest feeling to be able to teach lessons and hold conversations with people I didn´t know in PORTUGUESE!  Ah! CRAZY!

Well that´s pretty much my week!  Things are going well and I´m learning and growing tons and tons!  I love you all so much!!

Sister Brittany Westover

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Week 17: December 30, 2013

Hey again!

Wow! So much going on!  I forgot my camera cord again this week (oops) so no pictures but probably next week I´ll be able to send some!  Skyping home for Christmas was so so fun!!  The time just flew by way to quickly, as I knew it would, but we got back to work right afterwards and I was able to focus on the language and the people again.  The past 2 weeks have been HARD but GOOD.  Trials are just so dang hard when you are in the midst of them but then they are such a blessing when you see how much you have grown because of them!  Luckily, I have learned A LOT and know that by doing God´s will I am much happier than I would be otherwise!  This work is hard, tiring, frustrating but the blessings are worth every ounce of effort that I give.  I feel like for every little bit more I give I get ten times more.  God knows how difficult it is and He knows exactly how it is going to help me and He never fails to let me know that He is carrying me every step of the way!

I can finally understand the majority of what people are saying! woop woop!  This is like giant leaps and bounds of progress!  It is so weird sometimes how I can just turn my brain off (because translating 24/7 is exhausting) and all I hear is background noise and then when I have collected all of my energy to start paying attention again I just turn that little Portuguese switch back on and all the background noise turns into words! who would have known!?  Every day the mornings are pretty hard but then we get outside and start talking to people and it gets easier and easier and I get more excited as the day goes on.  And very excited for my head to hit the pillow at night (I think I now have record time falling asleep).  Brazil is for sure an adventure!  The culture, the food, the people, the music, the climate, the language! It sure is a lot to take in but way exciting and I`m starting to love it a little more every day :).
So Sunday morning (yesterday) I was having a really hard time and just woke up feeling slow and anxious so I prayed with all of my heart to just be able to make it through the day and be happy!  Well we walk through our little town and pick up all of our investigators for church and drop them off and then go pick up more investigators etc. When we got to church we went on splits with members to save time for picking our investigators.  I was so nervous to just be with a ward member who spoke no English and probably didn´t understand my Portuguese limits but we left and started walking around and what do you know! I understood her! MIRACLE! Mostly my responses consist of noises haha like uh huh (yes) m m (no) and lots of pointing and head shaking to get my point across haha but I could actually speak words to her and I was sooo glad!!  When we were walking back to the church there was an old man in the street and he was just like staring at me and when we got closer I just smiled and said ´´Bom Dia!´´ (everyone here talks to everyone in the rua (street))  and he got the biggest smile on his face and then just kissed the air in front of him! HA! I seriously just started cracking up!!  It was so random and funny but I felt like it was a little tender mercy to brighten my day.  We got to church and randomly President and Sister Fusco were there and just sat with our ward during sacrament meeting and afterwards President Fusco came up to me and said to tell my parents that they (the Fuscos) are very very happy to have me here and that I better tell my parents that or he would call to tell you.  It was super nice of him.  He reminded me to not stress and just enjoy the time!  Later that day we went on splits again and I just went contacting in the street with a Member who served her mission in Argentina.  It was so fun!  The people are all so sweet!
I don´t really even know what to say because it is all so different but every day gets a little better and I am happy!  We are working hard hard hard and teaching lots of lessons but that´s the best thing!  I get to talk to these people, in their language, about Christ and why I´m so far from home during this special time of year.  I love being able to tell them that I´m just leaving me family for a little bit while I get to help other people live with their families for eternity!  I´m so so grateful for this opportunity that I have and for all of the things that I am learning while I´m here!  I can´t believe that I get a whole year (2014) to just serve the people here and give them something that will bring lasting happiness into their lives!  I´m thankful for the time that we have to reflect on our Savior and what he has done for us and this next year I hope to be able to reflect on and apply this into my life more often. 
Everyone think of something that you can do to improve this next year and the person that you are becoming :)
Com muito muito amor
Sister Weste

Christmas day skyping with Sister Westover
(or as the Brazilians call her "Sister Weste")

Week 16: December 24th

I don´t even know what to say! haha I understand why everyone who is serving in Brazil sends the shortest emails... I don´t even know how to explain this to anyone!! I´m working harder than I have every worked in my entire life and I´m more exhausted than I´ve ever been, but life is good and I am happy!  Brazil is crazy!  I´m serving just outside of Fortaleza in Maracanaú and am in a little town in part of the city called Novo Oriente Um.  It is really warm (which is actually a relief from the cold winter in Virginia) but pretty much you just get used to sweating all the time.  The people have very simple lives and are just happy all the time!  I´ve seen some really crazy things (cows eating garbage in the streets, 15 yr. old moms, a 30 person bus packed with 70 people etc.) but the best is just getting to talk to people about the gospel! Maybe because that´s like the only thing I can do in Portuguese haha, but also I think because it is way inspiring to watch them be so willing to grow closer to God and how they just have this unconditional trust in the Lord. It´s amazing! My trainer is from São Paulo and doesn´t speak a word of english but she is so awesome and I learn a lot from her every day!  I´m so grateful to be here and celebrate the birth of our Savior! Reflect on what Christmas means to you personally this week and make a small change to be a little better!
Lots of love!
Sister Brittany Westover

Week 15: December 16th 2013

Short email today!  Just wanted to let you know that I am headed out today and that, Mom, I will call your cell when I get to the airport if I have time :)  I'm so sad to be leaving! I love it here so so much and honestly would have been happy to serve my whole mission here!  I'm way excited to get to Brazil though.  I can't wait to see why I need to be there and to fall in love with another place all over again.  I'm so thankful to be serving a mission!  I am happier than I have ever been and I'm loving the work more than anything :).  Thanks for all of the love and support! I pray for everyone from home all the time and wish you all the best!  This last week was fun and crazy and God never ceases to amaze me with all the dang blessings.
Be kind and be happy!
Sister Westover

The night she got her visa for Brazil

The other visa waiters

Her district

Week 14


First things first... Sister Jasperson and I had just finished a really awesome lesson on Wednesday and were driving home for the night and I thought "If I could continue to work with these people and help them grow and change and love life, I would stay here for my whole mission!" Right then our car phone rang and it was a call from President Baker from the Mission Home! We freaked out because that means it's something really serious... so we pulled over and answered on the bluetooth and President Baker said "Sister Westover, I'm assuming you've been informed that your visa came through?" I didn't even know what to do I just shouted into the car screen in front of me "WHAT???" His next response was "Oh, I take it you weren't informed...?" haha! I love him! But there ya go! Yeah I just started bawling and we got out of the car on the side of the road, after we hung up, and jumped around and hugged and cried and fell on the ground! haha I just had like a gazillion different emotions I didn't even know what to do. So.. I got my visa!! AHHHH!!! I'm leaving for Brazil on December 16th (next Monday) and FREAKING OUT!! I don't know what to do with myself haha but we are so busy that I don't even have time to think so that is definitely a blessing in disguise :). 

I had really been feeling strongly like I needed to fast for it on Sunday so I did and apparently Mom thought the same thing! And also I felt like it was coming so last Monday I emailed mom to send me the things that I needed... and she thought the same thing so she sent them off to me!  The spirit it so awesome. So thank you to all of the prayers and fasting that everyone has had in my behalf. I know that prayers and fasting adds power to our lives and we can truly see miracles as we act in faith!  I'm so so sad to leave Virginia Beach, I just don't even know what to do.  I love it here more than anything! and I LOVE the people I get to meet with every day! I LOVE my companion and the area and everything about it.  I truly have given my heart to my little Tidewater YSA branch so I hope there is room for it to expand it Brazil :).  Although I'm heartbroken, I'm also so so excited and I know that God has a very specific plan for me (and for all of us) and that he knows just what I need right now!  
Also, sidenote, I get to travel with Elder Seawell from Atlanta to Fortaleza so I'm SO EXCITED!! I can't wait to see him again and soo glad I will have a friend to travel with :)

This last week was seriously the greatest week ever!  We were busy busy and I loved every second of it... well almost.  Sister Jasperson and I have been losing our minds a bit and one night our planning session went on for like 2 hours and we started laughing so hard we were crying to try to keep us from actually crying out of despair haha.  But we had a rockin next day so it made up for it! There is always perfect opposition!  

We had a lesson with Rob this week that was so so great.  Our lessons with Rob are always super deep and really thought provoking and everyone leaves feeling great and like we have all learned something about how to be a little better! Love him! We went to print a conference talk out in our apt complex office after that and ran into Niki and her adorable daughter Leah! (YAY) and Niki was excited to see us and set up another appointment! Then that night we had a lesson with Landon (a less active who served in the Salt Lake mission).  We stopped by to teach him and we didn't tell him we were coming (for some people it's better to just drop in unexpected... and we are good at that haha).  Right as we pulled up he was about to start smoking a cig and he told us it was meant to be that we came to talk to him so that we could stop him from smoking.  Way to go spirit (again)! We talk him a really powerful lesson about faith and how we need to act on our faith.  In James ch.2 it talks about how even the devils believe in God... so what are we doing to make ourselves any different? We made a game plan and set some goals with Landon of things he can do in his life to be a little better and get his life together.  It went so well!  I love lessons with Landon because we can be really bold and just say it how it is.  There is no mincing words with him and it's so great.  He has such strong desires so we are helping him to ACT! He has been keeping all of his commitments too! He has been reading his scriptures and praying every day (even thought it's one verse and one line.. it's progress!!) and met with President Wright yesterday.  I couldn't be more proud of him and I love seeing how happy it makes him.  Later this week we stopped by again to check in and his girlfriend was over so we had a casual lesson with her too. She reminds me a ton of Taylor Bloom haha.  Like seriously, she looks like her and talks like her and is so much the same! It was so weird and it made me just love her haha. Landon lives with 2 other guys who aren't members and they all just live the typical college boy life so it is an interesting environment for missionaries but it makes me laugh and at least we can help bring the spirit into their home.  His roommates are polite but they never sit with us, I think it makes them a little uncomfortable haha but I love it! Seriously... missionary work is all about embracing the awkwardness!  That's always been one of the family's favorite phrases and it's SO TRUE!

In our lesson with Niki, she told us that she knows the church is true!  She has been trying to give up coffee and wine and we haven't even taught her the word of wisdom yet!  She is just trying to do it all on her own.  AMAZING.  She reads a lot online and has run into anti, of course, but she just understands that other people really like to put it down and like to blame what they don't understand.  She always tells us how she read another article on or and it made complete sense and she felt good about it! Seriously she is so, so amazing.  I don't know if I will ever find someone like Niki again!  The hard thing is that her husband is really not on board with the whole Mormon thing and he thinks we are a cult and all that great stuff.  We told her that her family is most important and that we don't want to cause any contention in their home.  She thinks that as she continues to live the principles that she can help her husband see that it isn't strange, or scary, or anything like that, but that it's truly joy and happiness and just a different lifestyle that allows us to grow closer to God and invites his influence more fully into our lives.  Pray that her husband's heart will be softened!  She wants this so bad and she desires to be able to take steps to act on her faith, like baptism but we really want his support.  

Our lesson with Benji went great!  His member friend in the family ward got a text from him that said that he decided to be baptized!!! The friend showed the missionaries in that ward and then they told us!!! We are so happy for him!!  He wants to surprise us so we have to act like we don't know until Friday when we have our lesson with him.  Amilia (Brazilian) started coming back to church!  She made us a delicious Brazilian dinner last night and it was so yummy!  I love her so much and she is so excited for me to head to Brazil!  

SO MANY MIRACLES.  I just don't even know what to do with it all! God is seriously just pouring out all of these blessings on us!

We had mission conference today!  Elder Perkins of the 70 was visiting.  We were asked to prepare a lesson and a personal training in advance and then some missionaries would be chosen out of the audience to give them in front of everyone.  Sister Jasperson and I both felt very strongly all week long that we would be asked to speak but things have been so busy and I have been making myself sick because I'm so nervous that I prayed so hard that we wouldn't have to talk if we didn't need to.  Needless to say, God knows better, and we were asked to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in front of all of the missionaries serving in the Viriginia half of our mission, our mission president, and a general authority!! We were shaking and like my heart was pounding out of my chest.  When we got up there the spirit just took over and the words just flowed out of our mouths. It was a truly miraculous experience as I had no idea what I was saying!  Afterward they asked for things we could improve on and what we did well and all the missionaries were so encouraging.  Our mission president gave us really great compliments and finished with "I want you to teach all of my friends!"  Elder Perkins said it was amazing and was very complimentary as well.  People picked out specifics of what we said and I didn't even remember it and they would say that was beautiful or that we explained it so well.  I had a HUGE prayer of thanks afterwards!! God is seriously WAY TO GOOD to us!!  I feel like Ammon in Alma 26:11-12, I am nothing but with God I can truly accomplish all things.  I am going to miss Sister Jasperson so much!  We are so unified and I am so so grateful for all of the things that she has taught me to make me the missionary that I need to be in Brazil! :)

So I realized after sending my email last week that it probably made no sense. haha.  I only talk in like half thoughts now because I always have someone to finish the other half!  I guess that's what happens as a missionary, and when you have a really great companion.

Sheesh. Well that's what I have for today!  I got to see Elder Harbertson and Elder Francom today (the other visa waiters) so that was super fun!  Life is crazy crazy.  LOVE IT.  Be kind, be a little better every day.  And the adventures continue!

Sister Brittany Westover

p.s. lots of love being sent to y'all!
p.p.s THANK YOU mom for the packages!!! They made my day/week/christmas!!! LOVE YOU :)

Week 13

Hey hey! Can you believe it's December?? I can't!! Especially thinking this all started in August! CRAZY!

Life is so dang good!  Sister Jasperson and I are loving life and working hard and that is so great!  Today we went to get our hair cut in the mall (so weird...) and we both got to talk to the ladies working there about what we do as missionaries and just about families and Christ and it was so great!  They totally loved us!  The owner was like "come back anytime and proselyte all you want!  We could use all the extra help we can get in here!" haha it was cute.  We left them with some pass-along cards and our number :).  

So Thanksgiving was great!  The Overt's were so kind and have the cutest little kids and they just made us all feel right at home!  Being with a family on Thanksgiving made it a little easier to not be home.  Also, the boardwalk in Virginia Beach does these "holiday lights" every year and they let people drive down the boardwalk to see them so since Thanksgiving wasn't a proselyting day for us we went and saw the Holiday Lights! It totally made my day!!  Sister Jasperson thinks I'm a little Christmas crazy... but what can I say... I'm like my mom! :)  After the Holiday Lights we went to the Winfred's for pie and they had delicious EVERYTHING! I guess the good thing about serving in the YSA is that you don't have to worry about getting fed by a million people and hating life on Thanksgiving haha. It was a good day!

Sammy got confirmed at church yesterday and her surgery went well!  Also Benji brought her to church and they stayed through Sacrament Meeting so that was awesome! I love our little branch so much I can't even say.  Every week there are more people in church and in the last two months between us and the Elders we have had 6 new members!  It's so great to watch it grow :).  The sad thing is there is always a lot of turn over because so many people are in the military and moving in and out a lot, but we do what we can!  Rob taught the Elders Quorum lesson yesterday and that is HUGE!! I was so so glad.  Rob is seriously one of the greatest people and I absolutely love teaching him.  He has a ferret that he just like loves to death and he will always be like "we are working on potty training" or "when we got back from the park we had dinner" haha and he like talks about himself and the ferret together, it cracks me up everytime.

We had a huge breakthrough this week with the Winfred's!! Like HUGE!! So yesterday obviously was fast Sunday and I really wanted to make my fast more meaningful.  I have been studying prayer A TON and fasting is like a form of prayer/adds to your prayers so I wanted to work on it!  Anway, I fasted for really big things and things that are really close to my heart and I knew that it was going to be a really hard fast... well it definitely was.  I started really not feeling well and was achy and grumpy and all sorts of stuff but I knew that it was going to be hard because I was fasting for things that deserved a hard fast.  Anyway, we got to the Winfred's and usually they like to talk while we wait for the food to finish but this time they wanted to start the lesson first (yay!).  Sister Jasperson and I wanted to talk about the Atonement.  We had a really good lesson and I shared Mosiah 14 because it is seriously my favorite Atonement scriptures (so beautiful).  We talked about how every will be resurrected and that is an unconditional gift given to all people, but only those who chose to apply the Atonement will be made clean and receive eternal life.  So what are we doing about it? We've been given this AMAZING gift but if we don't do anything about it, it's completely meaningless to us!  They all set goals of how far they are going to read in the BOM this week! AH yay!! and Then they said that next week after our lesson with them they will come with us to the Christmas Devotional!!!!! Oh My Gosh!! HUGE!!! AHH I was so dang happy... and still am, clearly :).  So that was a miracle this week!  Mirna has been super busy with school and Niki (our neighbor) was busy with Thanksgiving so we are supposed to hear from her this week! Pray for them!

In honor of thanksgiving I was thinking about all of my blessings and missing home a little bit and just wanted to let everyone know that I'm so thankful that I have all of these amazing people in my life to miss! I have seriously been blessed with the greatest people in my life who make me want to be a better person every day, so THANK YOU :) If you are reading this, then yes, you touched my life and I'm grateful for you!  God has been too good to me.

I love you all!
Sister Brittany Westover

Sammy's Baptism

 Sister Jesperson's Birthday