Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Don't Worry, I'm Portuguese Now

Hello family! Thanks for the updates as always. I feel very blessed to have such a supportive family.

This week has been a really good one for us. We are starting to see progress! We are starting to teach! This is exciting! We had a great week last week with using the members. Unfortunately, none of them got to help us teach anyone, but they went finding with us! We went out with Sara and Carla, two Laurels in the ward, on Saturday and they knocked some doors with us! Sara has already helped us a few times and she's great. She would not talk to me hardly at all my first couple of months here, but now she's helping us and she seems to really like talking to me. I've seen such a difference in her lately, she seems so much happier now. I don't know if it's related to her helping us, but I do feel like it was inspired that we work with her. Carla was fun to work with too. She was so nervous to knock doors. The poor girl. The most I had her do was push the doorbell and even then she seemed uncomfortable. But the next day at church she said that she liked going out with us and wanted to go again. Yay!

We also went out with Sineide, who is a rockin member from Brasil. She's amazing! She's new in the ward (and in Portugal) and we've really bonded. She really helped me feel at home here in Setubal. We always sit together in Relief Society and I just love her. Well, she lives outside of Setubal and about a 25 minute walk from the bus and she doesn't have a driver's license, so pretty much she's alone all day. But she really wants to help out with the work, so I asked how she could help us and she suggested that we talk to her neighbors. So we went out there on Thursday and knocked out a couple of streets. Let's just say that her area isn't the most receptive area you could find. Sineide was a bit shocked I think at how closed people tend to be here, as she is used to Brasilians and their open, friendly nature toward strangers. The Portuguese are wonderful people as well, but they have a hard time with strangers. Even after all the rejection she wants to go out with us again!

Did I mention that Setubal has a soccer club/team here? Vitória. Everyone is all about Vitoria here. Wow. A couple of weeks ago there was a game and seriously, I think the whole city went to the stadium to watch. Wow. Everyone was wearing green, no, everyone was wearing Vitoria clothes. Wow. Flags were flying, scarves were abounding and I was grateful that we had an appointment for that night. :) I have never seen a city shut down like that. I really felt like I was in Europe there.

A couple of days ago there was a field day for one of the schools at the park right by our house. They were recruting people to play rugby! I was so happy and excited! I haven't seen rugby here yet. Yay!

As you all know, we've been doing a lot of "finding" my whole time in Setubal. I felt that we needed to go back through our records and look up all of the potential investigators and former investigators again regardless of whether they have been looked up before or not. So we embarked on this journey and we have actually found a handful of people already in the five days we've really been looking for them. We found Marcelis and Lindalva, a couple from Brasil. They have already met with the missionaries about 10 years ago and they were very welcoming and receptive. I hope that they will act and will be ready to accept the gospel again. We've got a teaching schedule with them and they seem happier with every visit we make.

Also, on our division with Sara and Carla, Irma Lister and Sara finally got in touch with a less-active family that we've been wanting to work with. We've talked to all of the children, just not the mom yet. Well, they found her (consequently, Sara is related to this family, the Dias family). The elders have been working with Sonia's (the mom) parents the past few months and they told us to stop by. We had such a good feeling about them. So Monday we went over and had a GREAT family night with them. Wow. If there ever were people who were ready to come back, it is them. I mentioned to Sonia that her parents had been coming back to church. Surprisingly enough, she had no idea, but there was a hope and a joy that came into her eyes when I told her. I am SO excited to keep working with them. We're going back tonight!

Leide is still doing great. Just FYI. She's amazing.

I forgot to explain the title of last week's email. So, here in Setubal, I've been the cook and have discovered that I actually like it. I make killer rice now. Pretty much, I only cook Portuguese food. But I just threw things together a couple weeks ago in a skillet and IT WAS AMAZING! I am finally getting this whole cooking thing down more. It's great! Yay! Who knew that I had it in me?

So my confidence has beena bit down the past few weeks as several of the Brasilians that we've worked with have mentioned that they can't understand me or that my Portuguese isn't that good. Well, Sunday we were at lunch and a member's mom, she's probably in her 80s, told me that I am more Portuguese than American and that she understands me very well. If an old lady can understand me than anyone can! That evening at choir the members there also mentioned how Portuguese I am and that my Portuguese is quite good. I don't say this to boast, but that I think it's funny what different reactions I get. I do feel quite Portuguese though. What a great compliment!

Well, that's it! I love you all and I hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guess What Family! I Can Cook Now!

Hello family! Thanks for all of the updates! I am still excited that will be making family shirts. Yay! I've always secretly coveted my friends' family reunion shirts that they had at BYU. Now I get to have one of my very own!

It's been a good week here in Setúbal for us. We started out the week by bidding goodbye to the missionaries who left our fun little district. On his way out, Elder Murray handed us the teaching record of a lady they had been working with, Clotilde, who is the sister of our bishop's mom, so the bishop's aunt, I suppose. We went and saw Clotilde that same day, but first we went and saw Luciete, her sister. Our dear bishop has been having some health problems and his mom was very worried when we saw her. We went over with the intent of asking about Clotilde, but we were able to comfort and listen to her as she shared her concerns. Then we sang a hymn together, Ó Pai Celeste. (I don't know what it is in English, sorry!) A peace entered the room as we sang, that had nothing to do with our limited musical abilities. I could feel Heavenly Father's love for her through the comfort of that hymn. It was a choice experience for me this past week. Actually, this week has been full of them. Then we went over and we met Clotilde. What a sweet lady! Apparently, she gets VERY worked up about soccer and is worse than a man. Oh, how I hope I get to get a glimpse of that...But it was great to meet her and we will be working more with her in the coming weeks.

We've been working with a youth named Melissa. We had a great lesson with her on Saturday. We brought a member with us who ended up talking way too much,but surprisingly enough, Melissa loved it. She gets the biggest smile on her face whenever she sees us and has a true desire to learn and to partake of the blessings of the gospel.

We combined with her on Saturday to go to church the next day (I know we don't say combined in English, but I can't think of the English equivalent. Sorry...) So we booked it to get to her house before church to pick her up. We knocked, and knocked, and called, and called. No answer. We even went back after Reliefe Society and still no answer. Very saddened, I walked to church, a bit down that she wasn't coming with us because I know how happy it would make her. The stake president came and shared a message with us. He read through Alma 29:1-10, my favorite scriptures and the theme of my mission, as it has been. I felt the love ofthe Lord through that tender mercy and that gentle reminder that really, this is His work and that He knows what we need and will bless us in His own due time.

At church I also had the priviledge of helping Elder Murray's mom through Relief Society. It really reminded me of our coming to church with Jen here. I would occasionally give her the gist of what was going on and she seemed to really enjoy the class. I was glad to be able to talk to her and make her feel comfortable. She kept tearing up and after the meeting told me that I just make her cry (happy tears of course). Who knew I had that ability? :)

I also ate seafood rice this week. And it was AMAZING! Although, I didn't like the whole biting down on shells to get to the meat. I would skip the whole crab bit next time because of that. But it was amazing!

Leide is still progressing really well. We invited her to ask for one Sunday morning off per month and she said she would talk to her boss. It is so nice working with her. I really feel a connection with her and she is so ready for the gospel. She just takes it all in and even talks to her coworkers about us. Amazing, right?

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No One Can Rain on My Parade!

Hello family! Thank you for the emails! They were wonderful this week! Everyone was very descriptive! Thanks! And, YAY!, we're going to Disney World! Now I get to have the whole SuperBowl experience: So Irma Thomas, now that you are heading home, what's the first thing that you're going to do? I'm going to Disney World! It will be so nice to see you all! But...that is still a really long way away, right? I'm going to pretend that time will not fly by these next two transfers. Maybe it will work...

This week was a good one, though very rainy. I don't think anything really changed, but God blessed me with a light heart and the blessing of facing rejecting with a smile. We're still on the lookout for investigators. Unfortunately, our teaching pool took a huge hit. Of the few people we were teaching, we lost six of them (the majority of our investigators), two moved, and even more sad, four of them dropped us. Last night, I called an investigator we started teaching last week, a girl named Greice (Grace) and her family, who are very strong evangelicals. I called to confirm our appointment and she told me that she had talked to her preacher and he told her not to talk to us anymore. That is actually the first time that's happened to me. I didn't really know how to respond, but I told her that if she ever wanted to talk to us, she was always welcome to learn more. Normally, we teach people who don't actively go to another church, so it wasn't wholly unexpected, but it still was a bit of a damper on our night.

Also, Trindade and Artur dropped us because they think they're too busy. That was very sad for me because they are perfect for the ward and they know that what we are saying makes sense, at the very least. They had the startings of a testimony. Hopefully, when their lives calm down, things will improve.

Inspite of all of this, things are going well here. We are still teaching Leide, who is great! She is so happy and positive and she never breaks a committment. She has a hard time reading and praying because she's so busy, but we commited her to reading two verses a day and hopefully, she'll be able to do that. She is so sincere and so good. I feel the Spirit so much when I teach her. She is one of the pure in heart who want to know the truth. Leide is a blessing for me right now.

This past week we also got to help Arlette move! It was a great opportunity for us to build up some trust with her and get to know her better. She's a great lady. My goodness, she is so African!It's so nice to be around Africans again! I was helping her clean the kitchen and she did it SOOO differently. It kind of grossed me out, but I just had to remind myself that she was African. I am excited to be able to see her next week and talk to her about the Restoration. She is truly looking for the truth as well. It's so nice to have people to teach who are really searching!

Friday we had our Mission Conference, as I mentioned on Sunday. It was wonderful! I got to see everyone! Elder Smith got me updated on the goings on of Faro. I am so thrilled that Wumi is doing well and the Felicia is going to church and is not drinking! Did I mention that her son, Carlos, who we taught twice, showed up to church and now wants to be baptized? Yay! That just warms my little heart to hear! What a blessing it was to be led to her. The conference was great and Elder and Sister Kearon really gave us a great boost spiritually. My favorite part was when President Terry spoke. He went off on a random tangent that was exactly what I needed to hear. It's been hard for me to not be able to see any progress here when we are working so hard. But I can only control myself, my actions, my obedience and my diligence. How true that is. Though I may be rejected numerous times every day, that's okay. All I can do is keep on going. All we can truly offer the Lord is our will. How grateful I am for President Terry.

Saturday we had our ward activity. It was called "Praising our Wives" and they invited the missionaries as the special guests. It was a bit awkward to be there with all ofthe couples in the ward, but itw as very kind of them to include us. Rui Gaspar went around, as always, taking pictures of everything and everyone. They thought that there wouldn't be enough space for everyone, so they pulled in two little side tables for the missionaries to sit at. Yes, we sat at the kiddie table. Don't worry, I got pictures. I felt like I was at a family gathering again. Me, sitting at the kids tables, surrounded by couples. It was really fun though. They served some WEIRD food. Octopus and cuddle fish. The octopus was great, but I was served SO much and couldn't eat it all. The cuddle fish was NASTY. I have liked fish up until now. Just not that little number. Ick. Fortunately, the elders helped me out.

Things with the choir are progressing well. I got to be the conductor on Sunday because the Herminia couldn't go. So... it left it up to me. It went okay, except I didn't know the song. Oh well! It's nice to be able to help out and serve. The members are all happy that I'm staying to help with stake conference.

OH yeah! We got transfer calls. We are staying together. This meas that I will be staying in Setubal until the end of my mission! Yay! I'm very excited. I really wanted to stay and I'm so glad that I get to. I hope you have a great week! I love you all!