Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Making History and Playing Santa

Hello family! I write to you from a movie theater. Yep. That's the only internet place on this side of town. The smell of popcorn is VERY enticing. But this keyboard doesn't stick so it's nice.

Well, we got our transfer calls yesterday and we found out that we will be the first tripla in history to stay together for a second transfer. We are really excited. Good things are happening here and none of us wanted to leave and we all get along great. We laugh a lot.

Christmas was really good. We successfully accomplished our Secret Santa project. Well...we got lost for about an hour, but it went really well. We went to the first place, which was an apartment building. So I buzzed up to the apartment to make sure that they were home. We didn't know how we were going to get into the building, but they buzzed us up without even asking who it was. I considered this a big blessing. So we jammed the soccer ball into the door so it would stay open and we waited outside for a while so they would dismiss the ring and think that we had buzzed the wrong apartment. It actually worked! So we stealthfully (is that a word or is it stealthily?) went up the elevators, dropped off the food, me and Irma Nelson went down the elevator and Irmas Machado and Holtzclaw knocked on the door and ran down the stairs. We walked along the building so they wouldn't see us (and good thing we did because the elders talked to the family and they said that the first thing that they did was run to the window to see who it was, but we left without a trace!)

The next family took a while to find. They live in the middle of nowhere. Seriously. We had to ask for directions about three times, the first two were guys who had NO IDEA where they were pointing us to, which you'd think the logical reaction would be to say that you didn't know and to NOT give directions. But we finally went to the gas station after an hour of wandering around these tiny towns. I was skeptical because my past experience with asking for directions at gas stations here in Portugal is that it is foreigners that work there and they have no idea where they even are. So, we walked in. I asked, again being a Doubting Thomas. The attendant, who was a Spaniard, responded and gave me PERFECT directions, including the time that each step should take. Really, they were the best directions I've ever gotten. I have no idea how he knew where to guide us to, but I was very surprised and grateful. We found their house and made our delivery. As we drove off, I spotted a bright pink house literally a minute away from the recipient family's house that I recognized. Yes, after an hour of searching, I had known exactly how to get there the whole time because, unbeknownst to me, the family lived by an investigator of mine, but around the corner. Well, it was a learning experience and now I know how to get there!

We heard a couple of days later from the elders that the first family was very grateful for the food. The father had had no money to get his children anything for Christmas and he was so grateful for the gift that we were able to provide through Irma Holtzclaw's generous friends. Being a Secret Santa is my favorite Christmas tradition from growing up and I was so grateful and blessed to be able to continue the tradition here in Portugal.

On Saturday we had a surprise baptism of one of the elders' investigators, Mihail (or as we call him Misha). He decided that day that it was time for him to get baptized, so baptized he was! It was a great baptism and we all enjoyed the Spirit. I was able to play the piano and the three of us saved the horrible interlude by singing accapella. Fortunately, we all sing, so we were able to bring back the reverence.

We had a great lesson with Laurinda, who is less-active, and she said that she would go to church with us!! It was a little miracle. She is so much happier now and is no longer mourning the loss of her daughter, which happened years ago. Truly, the gospel is blessing her life.

Well, that's about it! Things are going really well here. We're working hard and we are seeing little successes. I hope that you all enjoy a good New Year! I love you all!

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