Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Michael Jackson and Elder Gardner

Hello family! I can't believe that there was a tornado in Allen! All those years that we lived in Kansas and there was never a problem, and all of the years that we've lived in Texas. I am so grateful that everyone is okay and that there wasn't any damage. That is truly a blessing. And now there are great opportunities for service! Yay! Happy tax day to you all as well. Oh and guess what! Today is my 3-month mark! It seems so short and so long as well. I've also been here in Portugal exactly four weeks.

It's been a good week here in Portugal. We've really seen progression with our investigators. Leo has a sister, Renata, who we have also been teaching. In the past she's kind of blown us off and not kept committments or appointments, but we met with her last week and she's really had a change of heart. She and Leo came from Brasil about 8 months ago and still haven't been able to find jobs. Life is really hard here in Portugal for a lot of people. There are no jobs to be found and those who have jobs work 6 or 7 days a week, all day, with little pay. But this trial that Renata and Leo are going through has really effected them in different ways. Renata has been turning more to the Lord and been relying on Him. She wanted her own copy of the Book of Mormon and has been reading it. She's been coming to church, she's been coming to appointments and is really progressing. I can see the gospel really passing through her and entering her heart. Leo has been reading as well, we think. He has been avoiding us and still has some distance to go before he can let the gospel bless his life the way that it as Renata's. He needs to let it in and no one can do that except him.

Celeste is doing really really well. She continues to read from the Book of Mormon each day and is really searching. We are focusing with her on praying to know if it is true. I think she's a little scared to know, but I know that she will find for herself that it is true if she asks our Father in Heaven. She needs the gospel in a bad way right now and I think we found her at just the right time for her. The Lord really led us to her.

Ana is doing FANTASTIC! She is so incredible! I am so blessed to be able to learn from her. She is so friendly and nice to everyone in the Church and is so willing to do all that she needs to do to be ready to be baptized next week. She brightens my day every time I talk with her. The Lord really prepared her to learn about the gospel. I think she was friends with every member of the Church her age growing up. What a blessing. I can't wait for her baptism, and what's even better is that she can't wait either.

I have really been SOOO blessed with my communication skills. I can really understand what is giong on around me and my own speaking has improved quite rapidly. I can get my point across and do it correctly. I am figuring out my mistakes and am able to be understood. YAY!

This week for our district meeting, the elders, Elder Gardner and Elder Xidis, pulled out a bunch of unshelled peas. And we shelled peas...for an hour. Point of the activity? I still don't know. The elders came up with some analogy that we are trying to find those peas and shell them, but we all have to do it in different ways. I just got green fingers and dirty nails. But wait, it gets even better. That night we went over to Jacinta's (who is the mom of one of our members, Salita), and what were they doing over there? you may ask. They were shelling peas. So Irmã Brady and I shelled peas, again. I am quite apt at this now.

This has been a week of weird lessons. We started saying the prayer for a lesson and a party walked in on us. That was awkward. It's hard to get people on task here to teach them, well those who are progressing, it isn't difficult, but teaching those who aren't, it's an uphill battle to get the lesson taught. Oy veh.

Last night we had a Family Night. It was SOOO fun! We had a great conversation at the table and Irmã Brady and I were making everyone laugh. Ana started calling Elder Gardner, who is really awkward at times and SOOOO white, Michael Jackson. Then she'd start singing a Michael Jackson song. So funny. We laughed a lot last night and I can actually be funny in Portuguese as well as English! Yay! Well, one might argue that I'm not that funny, but I think I am, and what's better, so does Irmã Brady. She calls me a muppet. Apparently I make muppet faces. Thanks a lot, Dad.

Life is good here in Portugal. There are ups and downs, but being able to see the difference the gospel has in peoples' lives is what makes the bad times bearable. I love this work and I love all of you! Have a great week!

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