Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Visas, Pop Socks and Jet Planes

Hello family! Thank you for all of the emails and love. I hope that things continue to go well for you all. We are truly blessed, aren't we?

It's been a crazy week. I'll start from last Wednesday. We went up to Lisbon for an "irma p-day" and we met up with all of the irmas in the Lisbon area. It was really fun and nice to see everyone, but blazing hot! Fortunately, we went up to the Castelo de São Jorge, which is up on a large hill, so we got a good breeze. It was nice to see everyone again. Then Irma Vega and I headed to Oeiras for a division to wait on Irma Lister doing her visa. Irma Lister headed to Lapa (in Lisbon) for a division. Neither house had room for three. So, I ended up going with Irma West, our contingent from England. She is a riot! I learned all sorts of new things from her. Did you know that knee highs are pop socks? She also told me she didn't want~to teach me how to suck an egg and I asked her if she meant she didn't want to beat a dead horse or preach to the choir. Funny how we were speaking the same language but couldn't understand one another! We had a great time and hope that we get to serve together. Oeiras was great as always. John, everyone says hi and asks when the kids are on the way.

Then we found out Thursday morning that the visa place decided to be difficult as always, so Irma Lister couldn't start her visa renewal until Friday. So Irma Vega and I went back to Setubal and she stayed up in Lisbon until Friday night (Yes, it took literally all day of waiting to get one little form processed.)

In the mean time, we taught Leide, who we met two weeks ago. She invited her roommate, Jose Carlos a guy of about 25 from São Paulo Brasil, to listen to our message. He stood the whole time in the kitchen and listened to us. I couldn't tel lif he was even interested at all, but we invited him to read, pray and go to church, and he said he would. Well, he was good to his word about church at least. He came for the whole block! We went and picked him up, bright and early at 9:00am. Not only was he ready, but he was well dressed in nice jeans and a button-up shirt, and waiting for us outside his house. He was showered and nicely groomed. He even turned off his phone on the way there! Well, he was just great. Our ward mission leader, Irmao Caleira, really took Jose Carlos under his wing. He sat by him in all the classes and was great. The whole ward greeted him. José Carlos even read some scriptures in gospel principles! This from the guy who asked if he had to do anything and if he could just sit there quietly! We will be teaching him again tonight and I'm really excited!

The next day (Friday) we taught Trindade and Artur. It went really well. Trindade is letting us talk more and respecting our time and message very well. Unfortunately, they couldn't go to church because their son (who's 35 mind you) had pneumonia and they had to go take care of him.

Saturday was the 35th anniversary of Portugal's liberation from their dictatorship. Old men were wearing white top hats (sort of) and red carnations, the symbol of the revolution.

Sunday the other ward had a baptism and we were able to bring Rosaria to watch it. It went very well and we all felt the Spirit. Choir was a bit of a struggle. They are learning "This is the Christ" and no one knows it (except me!) including the pianist. So I had to sing at the top of my lungs so they could all hear me. It was a bit chaotic, but hopefully, we will be able to make choir more productive.

Monday was a turbulent day. We had interviews with President and while we were waiting I had the opportunity to talk quite a bit with Irma Terry. They are so close to going home! I talked to her about what she was going to do and she went off on sewing and quilting. It made me think of my mom so much! President and Irma Terry have really been like parents to me here on the mission. I am so grateful for them. My interview went well and we talked about the different challenges that my companions were facing and are still.

I found out later from Irma Vega that President told her that she would probably be going home since they can't seem to figure out what's wrong with her and she's not getting the help she needs. He called that evening to tell her she would be going home and yesterday she was picked up to stay at the mission home and this morning she left. I am already really missing her, but I know she'll be able to get better this way. We've both been very frustrated with medicine here and now she'll be able to get the help she needs. It was a great privilege to serve with her and I learned so much. I really learned how to serve and sacrifice with her. I really feel that I was able to grow and get to know my Savior better through everything.

I don't really have anything else to say. Sorry, I couldn't really think of any funny stories. My game with Irma Vega where we "called" everything was getting a little out of hand, with us calling every Smart car, mini Cooper, yellow car, Citroen blue car, etc. So I'll have to find another hobby.

I hope you all have a great week! I love you all!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's Amazing What People Will Throw Away

Hello family! It was good to hear from you and I'm glad that things are going well for you all.

This week was a really good one for us. We've had to go up to Lisbon a couple of times to see the doctor about Irma Vega's headaches. Still no solutions, but we're able to work at a more normal pace now and I'm very happy about that. We are seeing the blessings of hard work here in Setubal. They are small, but they are there.

A couple of weeks ago we stopped this Brasilian lady on the street and talked to her about our life's purpose. She was in a hurry, but we were able to set up an appointment and get her address. Last Wednesday, we were able to go and talk to her, Leide, and her roommate, Aline. We went into the house (what we call a Brasilian house, where there is a different family or person living in each room of the house or apartment, but they share the kitchen and living room). We met Aline and at first Aline didn't really want to listen to us, but we were in her room, so she was polite. We started teaching the 1st lesson, but I felt like we really needed to focus on why we are here and how the Book of Mormon answers our questions. When we switched what we were teaching, Aline immediately started paying close attention and the Spirit really entered the room. We will be going back to teach them tomorrow afternoon and we invited the rest of Leide's roommates (housemates, really) to listen to us.

We also looked up a few old investigators to see if they would be interested in talking to us again. We went down into the downtown area of Setubal and looked up Betania, who Irma Vega already knew. When we got to the street that she lived on, a young boy called out "Irmas!" I looked up and all around to see who was talking to us and I saw, on a balcony, Orlando, with a big smile on his face. Unfortunately, his mom wasn't home, so we told him that we would pass by again the next day at a better time. He said, "okay, I'll tell my mom!" We passed by the next day, but his mom was again not there, but we were able to talk to Orlando's older brother, Henrique, and sister, Melissa. Melissa had the same big smile on her face and was excited to see us as well. We invited them to church and they all commited to coming. Even better, Orlando invited his friend, Rafael, who was there with him to church and Rafael told us that we should go see his mom. Rafael also told us that he would be coming to church. Orlando had come to church before (he's 10) and came by himself. He LOVED primary and was really excited about going back. I can't explain how warm their smiles are and how happy they were to see us. It was like a light entered into them when we talked to them. I really want to be able to teach them.

Saturday we had our mini MTC in the ward. There were two workshops and a bit of a testimony meeting. Oh, well there was supposed to be one, but we got started a half-hour late and there wasn't time. But anywho, we didn't even really have to do anything because Irmao Caleira had it so well planned out. All we had to do was direct traffic and give the five-minute warning, which, of course, was ignored. :) it was a great meeting and all of the active couples in the branch came, except one. i hope they are able to implement what they learned into their lives.

That evening we were walking back home, rounding the corner of our street when we heard someone call out to us. He was a guy about our age and normally we just ignore them, but he kept calling out, and so I turned around to talk to him. He asked if we were friends with "Irmao Murray" (Elder Murray, he's been serving here for the past six transfers and knows pretty much everyone). His name was Hernani, and he told us that he wanted to change his life and find happiness. Well, I think he found the right people! We were able to talk to him for about 20 minutes and give him a copy of the Book of Mormon. He was so grateful to get it that he tried to give me beijinhos! (the kiss on either side of the cheek. it shows gratitude here. you give them when you're given something generally) I had to tactfully explain that I couldn't give him beijinhos, but I gave him a hearty handshake instead. The elders have been in touch with him and hopefully he will make the changes he needs to make.

Maria Trindade and Artur are progressing slowly, but surely. They came to church on Sunday!! The ward was GREAT at welcoming them. All of the members greeted them and talked with them. There's a couple, the Martins, who are ward missionaries, so we asked them to sit by them. They didn't just sit by them, they sat on either side of Trindade and Artur. The Martins were wonderful and they even helped us teach last night. Unfortunately, Trindade is very very very chatty. Wow. She does not even breath between phrases. It's incredible. Don't worry, we're working on it.

We had a great zone meeting on Monday and we shared experiences that we had had with making contacts. Right now, our mission is making a big push with contacting and teaching people on the streets. That meeting was very edifying and since then we have made a more concerted effort to talking to everyone that crosses our path. We have had some great experiences from it so far. Monday was my best day in Setubal so far, hands down. Everything went so well for us.

The reason for my title, you might ask? Irma Vega and I have been noticing in our time together that people throw some interesting things away, namely, toilets and bidets. We have seen at least five-six toilets by the dumpster and at least as many bidets. It's becoming an epidemic.

Oh, I also got pooped on by a bird again yesterday. That marks two times in Portugal for me.

Things are going well here, we are seeing slow progress. I am really happy in the work and I know that I am a representative of Jesus Christ and that He has restored His church. I love you all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Well, The Easter Bunny Came for Me... and It was Good!

Hey family! Thank you all for the emails and the love and support. I'm excited that you all get to see each other! Yay for family!

This past week has been another rollercoaster. We're still adjusting to each other, but things seem to be getting better here for all of us. It's been really cold and rainy, unfortunately, but April showers bring May flowers, right?

Sunday was Easter and so we had the opportunity to go to lunch at the Melos. The plate for the day? Rabbit! I know, Jen, you're cringing. I've eaten rabbit before and it was not that good, but it was actually really good this time. I love Portuguese food. It all pretty much tastes the same, but it's always SOOO good. I still don't like bacalhau though. Silly dried out codfish. So, there's one more food that goes on the good list.

Later that day we had a musical fireside that our choir here was putting on to teach the Restoration and talk about Easter. It was kind of like Music and the Spoken Word. It went really well and I was impressed, but, unfortunately, the turnout wasn't so good. But President and Irma Terry came and President was one of the speakers. It's always nice to hear him speak. They are currently getting things ready to end their mission. I also had to opportunity to play the violin with one of the pieces and everyone LOVED it. Don't worry, I've already been enlisted to play for Stake Conference here in July if I'm still here. It's nice to know that the members appreciate what little Ihave to offer. Hopefully next time they can give me a little more notice...a couple of run throughs is not enough in Portugal.

This past week we got a call from the elders who are serving the the 2nd Ward asking us if we would look up a lady that they had talked to in her sewing and alterations shop right by the chapel there. Gladly we talked to her and went to her shop for the first meeting. Her name is Maria Trinidade (Mary Trinity. Yes, that is the essence of Portugal.) She's in her 60s and is very interested in learning English and in learning about the gospel. The only downside is that she's really really chatty and tends to go on a lot of tangents. We went back last night and she was ready to learn more from us. I'm excited to see how it all turns out.

Saturday we went over to the Duarte's house to teach them. They are long-time members, but Sister Duarte is very sad because her grandson died last year and she is still mourning his loss. I verymuch felt like we needed to talk to her about the reason for Easter. I was grateful to have the words given to me that I needed to help her right now in her time of difficulty. She and her husband said repeatedly how much they appreciated our visit. I was grateful to help them.

That's about it for now. I love you all and have a great week!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

So We Found Where the Elect Are...In the Elders' Area

Hello family!! Thanks for the emails and for everything!

This has been a week of transition for us. Irma Lister came bright and early Thursday morning and we've been adjusting to making our tripla the best it can be, but we're happy to have her with us.

General Conference was amazing, wasn't it? We are so blessed to be able to listen to the living prophets! I was so sad that it was my last time to watch conference on my mission. I feel like their words are so much more applicable to my life, or I guess, I am applying them better to my life now. It was so wonderful and I'm sad that it's over. I forgot to mention the last two times that I've been able to watch the Priesthood session. President Terry encourages us to watch it, so I've loved those sessions.

On Saturday before Conference, Irma Lister and I had the opportunity to do some finding! We went to the only street that I knew where it was in the area we were to look up some potential investigators. We had two in one building, 1st floor and 2nd floor. So we were able to enter the building and I was going to start with the 2nd floor and work down. Apparently, we only walked to the 1st floor and I accidentally rang the wrong apartment. Good thing I did! A man opened the door and said, "Seesters!!!" Don't worry, we found Rui Ribeiro, a less-active member who had moved. He was very warm and excited to talk to us. We invited him to conference and although he didn't come, I'm sure we'll be able to get him to church. It was great to be lead to where we needed to be!

Yesterday we headed up to Lisbon for Irma Vega to go to the doctor. Unfortunately, our train was very late and so we had to wait, but we ended up talking to Lina, a gal from Estonia. She ended up sitting by us the whole 50 minute ride up there. Her English was pretty good and I had a great time talking to her about her life and telling her about ours. I told her about how happy I was with our work here and what we do. She paused for a minute, really looked at me and responded, "You are happy," while nodding her head. That was the best thing she coul dhave said and noticed. She was able to see who I really was and what I really had. I hope that she talks to the missionaries in Estonia when she gets back. She could see how the gospel has really blessed my life.

Yesterday we did a division with the irmas of Lapa (Lisbon), Irmas Machado, McKee and Andrus. I got to walk with Irmas Machado and McKee all day yesterday and it was so great to see them! Irma McKee is the best missionary ever! Wow! We went to an area called Azeitao, which is outside of Setubal. Missionaries haven't really worked there, so it's a great place to work! They aren't sick of us! We ended up knocking for a couple of hours and getting into three houses! It was amazing! All of hte people we talked to were so nice and so open. It was great! We marked return appointments and were very excited about our day. Unfortunately, the elders informed us that Azeitao was there area. Hopefully we'll be able to work with the great people we found out there, as they are all women and live alone...I'm sure that either way, they'll learn more about the gospel and that's really what matters. I'm just glad we found them!

Well, we just went to a beautiful castle in Palmela and I was impressed that it was free and well kept-up. It's been beautiful here for about a month and I'm already getting pretty tan. Things are starting to look up here and hopefully we can continue working hard and can discover the cause of Irma Vega's headaches.

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

No, No, No I Want to Be a Dolphin Trainer

Hello family! Thank you for the updates and inspiring emails again! I love you all! Happy Birthday to Kat! And Congratulations to John!

Well, it's been another week of learning patience for me. Irma Vega continues to have really bad headaches and so we wait for her to get better.

We actually had a lot of success with less-actives this past week. I was shocked. We had two less-actives, Valentina and Luisa, at church, as well as a less-active family who came! It was amazing! I was so excited to see Rosie and Fernando at church with their sons. Granted, Rosie left half-way through sacrament meeting, but at least she came! She kept her word! We were so surprised that Valentina agreed to go because she was very defensive about going to church two weeks ago. Really, the word of God can change us and make us better. She's a bit of a different lady, but she was just chatting it up with all of the members and they were happy to see her. Our members greeted them so well. The members really are great here. I am impressed.

Rosária is still doing really well. She had to work on Sunday, so she couldn't go, but she's hired another lady to work at the café so she can start going to church and actually sleeping at night, poor lady. She has such a desire to learn and find the truth! I really think that she will get baptized. She committed herself to watching a session of conference on Sunday! We had a great lesson with her on Monday and I'm excited to see her progress.

Valentina is progressing well also. She's reading from teh Book of Mormon and this past week she's talked a lot about her brother who passed away from illness. So we decided to read Alma 40 with her to help her with understanding the scriptures. As we were reading I was thinking, oh man, I don't know if this was such a good idea, I don't know if she's getting anything out of it. But at the end we asked her if she had any questions. I was surprised when she asked, "what about the people who never knew the scriptures and the gospel?" PERFECT QUESTION! So we read 1 Peter 4:6 with her and talked about how everyone will have an opportunity to hear the gospel because God is just and merciful. I think she was thinking about her brother. I was so happy that we'd decided to talk to her about that chapter.

We also found Regiani and Geraldo last week off of the potential investigators sheets in our area book. They are very interested and Regiani committed to coming to church on Sunday!

Last Wednesday we went to the zoo! It was really nice to see the other sister and to go to a zoo. We saw an AMAZING dolphin show and now I want to be a dolphin trainer. Who wouldn't want to swim with dolphins and get flung into the air? Really? It was so beautiful to just watch what these great animals can do.

Oh, if any of you want to see a picture of me (and I'm sure you do!) you can go to Just scroll down toward the bottom.

Well, that's about it for now. We're seeing progress, slowly but surely. I am grateful to be receiving blessings right now. I hope that we will be able to really start working here soon. Oh! I almost forgot! We are getting another sister down here, Irma Lister. She's also new in the mission, so I'll have my work cut out for me. I hope that it goes well...

Have a great week! I love you all!