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!

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