Hello dear family! thank you for the wonderful emails! They were especially good for me to read this week. Right now I am in a public library in Sintra. Irmã Rasmussen and I are going to Quinta de Regaleira, which has some caves to explore. I hope it will be fun. It's at least nice to be in a different area.
Things are going well here. I am learning a lot and we are working hard. We are still in the finding process, but our faith is strong and I think we will start to find those who are willing and ready to receive the truth of the gospel. Saturday we called one of our investigators, Hilma, to confirm an appointment. She then told us she would no longer read the Book of Mormon and didn't want us to talk to her about it. Her family is NOT supportive and so she doesn't want to continue. I was sad for her, but I think she will be ready to learn here in the future. One thing I am finding is that people are so afraid of the unknown. They don't want to talk to us because of fear, not because we are mean, or ugly (though I am getting a little frumpy, my hair is so crazy here), but because it's walking into the unknown.
On Saturday we went to a town called Malveira and it started to pour! Wow! Fortunately, we had brought our umbrellas, so we kept on going and searching for people to teach. We've spent a lot of time trying to look up former investigators and to find new people to teach. We also want to work more with the branch. I feel very strongly that we need to be teaching them more and strengthening them. The branch is only two years old and there are so many recent converts. One, Ana Bela, has already fallen away and is rapidly losing her testimony. It is so sad to see, but then there is Manuela, who brought her neice and her neice's daughter to a lesson, so that they could see the joy and happiness that she has now because of the gospel. It was so interesting for me to see the difference. It is all about how we nourish our own seeds and cultivate our faith. If we are doing the little things to keep us strong in this gospel.
On Sunday I was just minding my own business in Gospel Principles when Elder Davis was teaching about how we all have different gifts, and then said how I was such a hard worker. Then the rest of the class went off and started talking about what they liked about me. It was completely unsolicited, believe you me. I think I was bright red the whole time, but it was so wonderful for me to hear that the other members of the branch trusted me and loved me. It is such a blessing to have that acceptance so quickly and to be able to work better with the members. They are truly amazing here. They are all my kind of people and I really feel like I was sent here for them. It's so amazing to see. I wish you could all see it as well.
I've been thinking about how funny Mafra is. It's a pretty small town with a GIGANTIC national palace that was turned into a Catholic convent. That in and of itself is quirky. Then add on top of that the fact that the police ride around on horses. Then the fact that it houses Portugal's largest military base. This morning I could hear them doing their drills. I constantly see soldiers here in uniform. Then there are the old men that congregate in a little park, which used to be bigger, but now it's under construction, so they have to be in a higher concentration. I can imagine that the other residents would add one more oddity: the missionaries. I am sure we are one more thing that makes Mafra quirky and I love it!
On Thursday we had the priviledge of going around with a senior missionary couple, the Parkers, who are up in Caldas da Rainha, which is an area that John served in. They took us around to all of the little towns outside of Torres Vedras, where there used to be a branch, so that we could look for less-actives. We had a great time with them and it was really nice to be around people of a different age. Elder Parker has such great energy and it was a pleasure to work with both of them. We went to the dinkiest little towns to find some less actives that there was NO WAY we could have found without them. I loved working with them.
I hope you are all doing well. Things are going well here and we are working hard and staying strong in the gospel. I pray for you and I love you all so much. Please know how much I love you, but what is more how much our Father in Heaven loves each one of you. Have a great day!