Monday, November 24, 2014

One Year Down, One Half to Go!

 One Year! 

I'm in denial! Can someone please explain to me how it's been a full year. ONE YEAR. How?? How is it possible??

It's weird to think that I'm closer to ending my mission when I've only just started a new one. There are so many things that I've learned on my mission thus far, but now it seems like I'm learning a whole new set of things. In a way it feels like I've done a 180 degree flip and now I'm looking at everything upside down!

Ok it's not that dramatic haha, BUT let me just share some of the differences between Georgia and Brazil. 

1. Animals

In Georgia you'll see lots of birds and cats. Also we had plenty of cockroaches and insects I never knew existed! Here I see lizards everywhere (and I have nightmares that I'll find them in my bed) and tons of stray dogs. We even see capivaras... ok I've only seen one but they're so gross and weird looking. Like a mix of a really large rat and small pig. God is so interestingly creative to me. 

 So weird! 

2. Smells

Georgia smells like trees for the most part. Really it depends on where you are... Atlanta smells more like cars. Just a few smells here are bread (which kills me everyday... my family knows I'd die for bread), meat from the street vendors and dogs and more that are best left unmentioned...

3. Sounds

Georgia is quiet. Actually the USA is quiet. Quiet neighborhoods, quiet people. Maybe traffic is the only noise you hear all the time. Where to even start with Brasil?! People have music playing all the time in stores or apartments or homes. Everywhere! And It's a mix between American pop and Brasilian music. 

Also I hear propaganda everyday! People strap massive speakers to the back of their motorcycles or open trunks and drive around playing these recordings at an earsplitting level. It scared me the first morning I was here. I was quietly studying my scriptures and a car drove down our street with it on full blast. I just about fell out of my chair. I also hear lots of barking dogs and fireworks. Actually that same morning we were having companion study and lots of dogs were barking outside. All of a sudden we hear BAM BAM  BAM and all the dogs quieted. I sat there horrified that someone had just shot a dog until my companion reassured me they were fireworks. It was better when the dogs started barking again.

4. Neighborhoods

Georgia is divided into towns and within the towns, everything you need is a drive away. Here everything is divided into towns but within the towns you have neighborhoods or bairros. Each neighborhood is stacked with all you need at a walking distance; local markets, barber, church, etc. Also when you give an address, you first say the name of the bairro, then the street name and number. The whole set up of this place is completely different from the US. Although I will say that the winding roads here look a lot similar to the winding roads in GA... just a little hillier here. I do miss nicely paved roads though. 

5. Church

GA had church services every Wednesdays and Sundays. And for the Adventists it was Saturdays. Here there's a service every. single. night. Most play lots of loud music and have their doors open for passers-by. And there I was thinking Georgia was the bible belt....

6. Wearing the tag

Well in GA, most people avoided me.. probably because I'm a missionary.... I don't know. Maybe I have a scary face haha. Here in Muriae I sometimes feel like a celebrity. It's not normal that people come up and talk to us but there's been a few occasions of people coming up to me on the street because I'm American. Usually they're just people asking about US and all. One day we walked into a bread shop and when our server learned that I was from the States she went and told the whole shop. Next thing I know there's a crowd of Brasilians around my stool, questioning me about the US while I tried to eat my bread. Luckily it was a perfect opportunity to share the Gospel so we got a few potentials from that! 

There's a whole lot more I could tell but I think that's good for now! Love you all! If you have questions let me know and I'll answer them in a post! 

Sister Hawkins

A couple more pics for the week!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Not in Atlanta Anymore!

Well hey there!! Goodness has it been a year???? AH. Where do I even begin!? First here are some pictures from the MTC.

Me and my comp Sister Greenall. She's the best! 

Flying over sao paulo

MTC district!

I guess I'll start with the trip over to JDF. Me and 3 elders travelled together to the Campinas airport. 

me and the elders

We took a little plane to the small JDF airport. Here's a comparison of the overview of crazy Sao Paulo and my first view of JDF......

JDF from my little jet plane.

We had quite the ride in a van from the airport to the city. The MTC president told us to record all of our first thoughts and I will go ahead and share those with you....

"Oh no... this is the middle of nowhere. I've never seen so much bare land. Where are the people???"

"What are these weird rock clumps in the ground??? Did Dr. Seuss design this place?"

Can you see the weird dirt clumps?

"We're going to die. Cause of death: Brazilian driver on mountain passes. Mom's not going to be happy about this!"

"Is that woman really carrying a stick with a cloth sack? Is this a movie?" (I couldn't snap a picture of this in time but I swear it's just like Zip a Dee Doo Dah!)

"Goodness I've seen a total of 35 people in this 40 minute drive... where are the BAM"

Don't worry...we didn't crash. But it seemed like the city crashed into us! You drive over a small hill and BOOM there's a city full of 500,000 people. It's like a brick wall when you see it for the first time. 

Juiz De Fora is pretty cool. It kind of reminds me of Miami but just a much, much older version and lots and lots of hills. Anyways we got to a church building and had a zone conference where I met President and Sister Cascardi and my new companion Sister Oliveira from Sao Paulo. We spent the night there in JDF and then we were off to my new area Muriae. It's about 4 hours away from JDF and a much smaller city. My companion doesn't know the area very well because she's only been here for a few weeks. We don't have much to work with so we're honeslty just starting fresh and rebuilding the area. The church is quite new and located in a house owned by the church. It's been here in Muriae for about 6 months now and it's apparently a branch but we had 19 people at church yesterday (4 of which were missionaries and 6 kids). 

Toto.... we're definitely not in Atlanta anymore... or the good ol' USA. 

Jesus statue in Muriae. 

Looking out of my apartment window

It's not been a terrible culture shock. Everything seems fairly easy to adapt to! I guess the trickiest part for me is that I've never done this kind of missionary work before. And quite frankly I'm only pretending I know what I'm doing. It's not like they teach you how to solve these kinds of struggles people have here, but there is one thing I know and that is that the Lord is really blessing me! SO much! Portuguese isn't even a worry. Sure I have lots to learn in Portuguese... but it's coming along 100x faster than Spanish! I can't thank the Lord enough for this miracle. The gift of tongues is real, and how blessed I am to even be able to experience it first hand! 

Thank you so much for your prayers! I know I would not be here without you all. 

More adventures to come next week! 


Sister Hawkins

Cool little brazil plane

Monday, November 10, 2014

BRAZIL! First Impressions.

Minha familia que esta nos Estados Unidos,
WHAT A WEEK. I don't have much time to write this week so I will make this short and sweet and I'll attempt to fill you in on as much as I possibly can... though that seems like an impossible task. Here is a bullet point list of a few of my first impressions, thoughts, experiences... you name it....

1. Sao Paulo is the biggest city I've ever ever seen. So. many. buildings... and people.

2. You know that Harry Potter night bus? It exists here in Brazil and it's called the Onibus. I think I'm going to die every time I'm on it. And anyone on a motorcycle is just as crazy. I think they actually want to die!

3. First conversation on the plane over to Brazil... I was speaking Portusplanglish with the woman sitting next to me. Quite the interesting conversation if I do say so myself...

4. I have been in the field for the least amount of time out of all the sisters that were visa waiters. One sister has been out for 15 months and she's here in the CTM with me!

5. My comp is soooooo awesome!! She's Sister Greenall and served in Texas for 14 months... and she's super good at Portuguese which helps me a ton!
6. Why am I craving rice and beans? Since when did this happen??

7. Sometimes I forget I'm in Brazil and then I look out the window and see foreign buildings. Not in America anymore, toto!

8. Most of the teachers and missionaries from Brazil are converts and their stories are incredible! Some of them have sacrificed so much to be able to serve. It's really brought me to appreciate just how lucky I am to serve and be here!

9. Goodness it's like I never served in the field before. I feel like a completely new missionary.

10. Portuguese is improving. Getting it down a lot faster than Spanish!! I can understand just about everything now and I can converse well. I just need to tweak it up and really get some studying in.

11. Dumb experience-- The day that we had to get photos taken for the police I woke up with mosquito bites everywhere... and right on my eyelid. Yep I was a Quasimoda for the photos and it was super embarrassing. I walked around with a bag of ice for hours so the swelling would go down. A great warm welcome from Brazil to me! Yippee!

12. Wow this is definitely not the Provo MTC.

13. We got to go into Sao Paulo, and when I say into, I mean the heart of it, like Times Square... and practice talking to people. We all had 4 Books of Mormon per companionship. This week we went out to Sao Paulo 3 times and it's just been so awesome! The people here are so incredibly nice! I'm shocked at it just thinking about it. In total, my district this week passed out 60 Books of Mormon. That was just 3 hours too. I LOVE BRAZIL!

14. Has it been only a week? I think I've been here for a month!

15. Sao Paulo temple was incredible! Last time for 7 months! (sniff)
Man. I don't have any time left and I can't send pictures from here. But not to worry, I have pictures and I will one day send them. I'm not exactly sure when my next P-Day is but I'm guessing it'll be in the field, as I think I'm leaving for Juiz de Fora on Tuesday (I have to FLY there!). So that means you probably won't hear from me this Monday,  but the one after that. Thanks for your prayers!!
Sister Hawkins

The Mom: Little trial note using a shipping service. Guess I'll be sending
peanut butter and candies soon?