Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Indian Music and a Hair Salon

Hello dearest family! Thank you for all of the updates and the prayers, and everything. I am doing really well and things are going well here in Olivais. The transfer is really starting to fly by and I can't believe it.

I thought I would start off by telling you about where it is that I am emailing from. I am at a metro station, still inside the station, in a teeny, tiny little internet cafe. Actually, it is half an internet cafe and half a hair salon. There are hair ads all over the little cafe. And to make it better, the people who own the shop are from India, so they play this crazy Indian music in the background. The people who own it always speak in broken English to us. It's really funny. Quite a contrast to the quiet, cute little library where I emailed from in Seixal.

It's been a good week here in Olivais. Lucy is doing really well. I am amazed with her. She is really trying to "put off the natural man" and change her life to live the gospel better. She is doing so well. She is speaking to her children in English and they are understanding her. I think they will soon start responding in English as well. Lucy has a great heart and she loves having us over, which is very refreshing.

Tania is doing well as well, she is a recent convert from Angola. She is so great and, when gross guys are hitting on her at the gym, she tells them that she has her law of chastity. She's so great and is really trying to live the gospel as well.

We found a few new people last week through less-actives. I already mentioned Ana Paula and we haven't been able to teach her again as she has been busy, but we found Felizmina, who is from Moçambique and has already been meeting witht he missionaries in Moçambique for over a year. She knows a lot about the gospel already, but we are trying to get her to church.

Pedro is doing well too, but he didn't go to church. Going to church and reading and praying are SOOO crucial and so basic and so important.

Sunday was an interesting day. We did more contacts in English than in Portuguese. We've started carrying around pamphlets in English so we can hand them out. The best contact was with a German couple who happened to be missionaries for the Jehovah's Witnesses here to teach the Chinese about their religion. We met them in the metro station and we started up a conversation with the man. His wife came over and she was super interested in learning about the Church. She asked some great questions and was so curious. I was able to testify about prophets and modern revelation as well as the Book of Mormon. They were very respectful and nice and had a sincere interest in learning. I hope that we were able to plant some seeds for them.

My apartment is the hub for all of the irmãs who need to come up to Lisbon. In the past week we've had six irmãs here. Wow. It's been fun to get to know some of the irmãs who are serving in areas I've not been.

Last week we had an appointment set up with Teresa, a new investigator and we brought Maria Encarnação, who is a recent convert of the APs in the other ward, with us to teach. She drove us over (whichw as really nice) but then we got really really lost. It ended up being exactly what needed to happen ebcause she really needed to talk to us and have us listen and give her support. God is very much in charge of this work and we helped her come unto Christ through Him guiding us, as He is always doing.

Sunday we also saw a group of old men playing bocci ball. It was soooo cute! I never thought I would actually see people playing bocci ball, which is like curling on grass or concrete. I love the culture here. I forget how different it is to the States, but it feels like second nature to me. We got to see a film that the Church just put out called Finding Happiness yesterday in Portuguese. I think they filmed it according to the regions of the world because all of the filming was done in Europe and the accent of the man was in Portuguese from Portugal. I didn't even realize that it was Europe until halfway through I realized that it wasn't the States, then I started realizing all fothe differences. I love being here in Portugal in this culture. The people here are so wonderful.

I hope that you are all doing so well. I love you so much and think of you often (but not too often, don't worry). Have a great week and continue strong in the gospel! It makes all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

American in Lisbon

Hello family! I am glad to hear that everything is going well for all of you. I appreciate all of the updates that you all gave me. Before I begin the updates I would like to send a shout out to the whole family about the holidays that we will have: Happy Birthday (late, sorry!) to Dad, Happy Father's day, Jeremy and Dad, Happy Birthday Jen and John, and Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad and Jeremy and Kat. I think I got it all.

Things are going really well here in Olivais. It's really weird to be here and I am still adjusting, but I'm liking it more and more every day. I never imagined that I would be living in the city, I am such a country lover. We take the bus and the metro every day, so I am no longer on the train every day. I am in a ward that goes to a BEAUTIFUL chapel. Wow. We drove by it when we were here before. It is in a big beautiful old house in a great area. It has beautiful wood floors and I love it. The ward struggles a bit here and we are really working on re-activation, as that is what President Terry wants from us.

However, we have also been able to find two new investigators, which has been huge. We only had two other people we were working with, so that doubles our teaching pool! Yay! We are really being blessed. Both of them, Teresa and Ana Paula, are really ready for the gospel. They are so ready to learn and are excited to go to church as well. We just started talking to Teresa on the street and then taught her the next day. Then we went over to Ana Paula's house because her dad is less-active, and she was SUPER interested in the gospel. We had a great first lesson with her yesterday. I hope things continue to progress and grow here.

We are also working with a woman named Lucy. She is American and was deported to Portugal from the US because she was born here in Portugal. She's had a rough life and is still trying to figure things out. She was raised in the Church, but was excommunicated, so we are re-teaching her everything. She has such a hunger to learn and to do all she can to be better. She has three kids, two twins, Gabriel and Gabriella, and a baby, Anjolina. The twins speak Portuguese and not much English and Lucy only speaks English and broken Portuguese. That's a problem. Because of the background I've had in languages and in studying language learning I could see that. Lucy had been talking to her kids in broken Portuguese, so they really couldn't communicate all that well. So we talked to her about speaking only in English with them, because it is vital that they learn English natively so they can communicate with their mom. How grateful I am that I was able to put my education to use. Thank you BYU. But she is great and I love being able to teach in English. I can express myself well in Portuguese, but it's so different speaking in English and understanding every meaning that Lucy says.

My companion is Irmã Ives. She is GREAT! She is from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Can you believe that, Mom? She knows where Holt is as well. She is a convert to the Church and joined when she was 18. The rest of her family is Catholic as well. It's been wonderful to serve with her and we get along really well. I am loving serving with her, but I'm sad that we will only be together for one transfer, because she is finishing her mission at the end of this transfer. But I am loving her and loving being here in Olivais, though I miss Seixal a lot. It was a wonderful area and I hope to be able to go back to see the people there.

Nothing too funny happened this week, so I will recount two funny stories from the week before that got erased.

A week ago SAturday we went down to an old abandoned chapel of ours to fix up. It needed a LOT of love. The grounds were all over grown and I didn't even go in the building. We just focused on cleaning up the grounds to begin with. It was really hot, but really really fun. We were low on tools, but high in spirits. Elder Hawkins immediately weilded a saw and took to the overgrown palm. He started hacking off branches to make it look better. So, seeing a need to dice up the HUGE fronds, I weilded my own tool: the hatchet. That's right family, I was using a hatchet. I also took pictures of this, don't worry. So I started chopping up the fronds and I felt very empowered and I remembered all the good times at Eagle Scout projects. I loved helping out at those. We cleared out all of the brush and started ripping up all of the dead grass. It looked quite a bit better when we had to leave. Before we left, however, we grabbed lemons off of the lemon tree. The elders used the pitch fork we had (I know, we had the most RANDOM tools with us) and plucked a bunch of lemons off. We all then decided to eat some lemons straight up to see how sour they were. Woah dang! They were sour! I got some great pictures of everyone's faces. It was a great service opportunity and good zone bonding as well.

The previous Thursday we had interviews with President. Before interviews we wait in another room with other missionaries in the zone and with Irmã Terry. She is so nice and always brings a box of bolachas, or little biscuit cookie things. I decided that I wanted a picture with Irmã Terry to put on the phone, so I was heading over to take the photo with her. The chair was about a foot away from her, so I was planning on moving it after I had sat down. So I began my descent into the chair. She, in the meantime, had also seen the huge gap between our chairs and decided to move the chair before I sat down so we could be close together. Irmã Terry is a very nice woman. So, as you could imagine, this did not turn out according to plan. Fortunately, I was holding the box of bolachas without a lid and the elders of Seixal were sitting there with us, and the elders of Almada had just barely walked in. So of course, I only landed on half of the chair. I went flying. The bolachas went flying. I did remember that I was supposed to have quiet dignity as a missionary, so I used my right arm to keep my skirt from flying through the air as well. In the end, all I ended up with was a giant bruise on my forearm, and laughter that was really loud.

Things are going really well here. I promise I'll have some stories from here soon, but as for now, that's about all I got. Life is good. I love this work and I know that it is only through the gospel that we have the greatest happiness. Have a great week! I love you all!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Alma 29:10

Hello family! It was soooo great to hear from you all today! This morning the alarm went off and I thought, okay, I can get up, so I slowly rolled over and thought of the day ahead, and then I remembered, it's P-day! I get to hear from my family! Then I suddenly felt energized for the day. So thank you everyone for writing.

This week has really been soooo amazing. Really. The Lord is pouring out blessings here in Seixal. I titled this email from a verse in Alma 29:10 because that is how I feel. I find joy when I see my brethren (sistren really) coming unto Christ and repenting. I have been keeping you all updated on Sara's progress. We've taught her three times since last I wrote and she went to church (the whole block AND she brought her cousing) and she went to mutual. We wanted to talk to her about baptism on Friday, but the time wasn't right. So we waited. Yesterday we were talking with her and she asked us about her being baptized. She's already talked to Diego about performing the baptism. We talked about the baptismal interview questions, because she still has some preparing to do before baptism, with regard to her testimony. And she knows that, so she is going to take this time to study and to gain a stronger testimony. She knows the Church is true, but she wants to have a stronger testimony of it first. So we set her baptism for 19 July. I really hope that I can go to it.

The most amazing thing is that I have seen such a change come over her in the past couple of months. She has really matured and I can see the light of Christ entering her life. It is an incredible transformation that I can't really describe, but it is truly miraculous.

Alzira is really progressing as well. She's reading the Book of Mormon every day and going to church every week. She's quitting smoking and is praying with real intent to know if the Church is true. It is incredible. This all really came about because of the help of the members.

This past week we also had a Family Night at Clovis' house. Wow, Dad, Clovis LOVES you. Seriously. He has nothing but good things to say about you. We had Marcelo and Leo at the Family Night and it was so great. WE watched the Restoration video and bore testimonies. The Spirit was very strong and I know that they felt it as well. Clovis and Kenia are so great. Such great members.

This past week we've seen A LOT of our elders here. They are sitting right by me as I type. We are a very unified district, which is great. We've eaten at Irmã Rocha's house twice. Irma Rocha is a very honest woman. She is the wife of Elder Rocha, who is an area seventy. She told me that I laugh to loud to be the wife of a seventy. I guess there are worse things in the world than a healthy laugh. Her bathroom has music in it when you turn the lights on. Wow. That is fantastic. Irma Rocha has rules in her house to with regards to meals. The elders have to do all of the serving and clearing of plates, etc. And we also have bibs to wear. I picked the one with a turtle on it.

This week has also been a week of missing the bus. Seriously. We have missed the bus by a minute in places where the bus only comes every 1/2 hour, so we've done a lot of waiting as well.

Oh, Mom, you will be sad to hear this. I am getting a Seixal baby. Let me explain what a Seixal baby is. It is the result of the members feeding us all the time and getting fat. I avoided it for two months, but the inevitable has come to pass. Fortunately, this is my first area and I have another year to lose my Seixal baby. But for now, I'm enjoying the good food and the good company.

Things are going really well for us here in Seixal. We are being so blessed by the Lord and all that He has done for us already. It is so rewarding to see the change that comes over people as a result of living the gospel. It truly changes lives. I hope you all continue to do well. I love you so much!