Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me about the Card Convention?

Hey family! ~Thank you so much for the updates and love. I hope that things are still great. I write to you from yet a different locale, a video rental store. Who knew that you could find an internet cafe in a video rental place? Best computers I've found too.

Well, it's been another crazy week. The baptism of little Joana went well, I had a bit of a hard time because Leide cancelled at the last minute (she had fallen asleep and could get ready fast enough). That broke my heart a little bit, but things got remarkably better in the area starting that next day. There were two holidays in a row last week and Thursday we tried to stop by Vanessa Sousa's again, hoping that she would be home. We stopped by and tapped on the window. Her daughter answered and told us that we could go around and they would buzz us in. We got to the door and guess what! WE GOT IN THE DOOR! This was quite the feat. The elders had been stopping by and for one reason or another, Vanessa would make up excuses for them to not be able to come in, and she did the same with us a couple of times. So I was thrilled that we were finally in her house and could have a lesson with her. It went great. She was so receptive and we set it up to meet with her three times a week.

We then saw her on Saturday and all of her kids were there and she promised that she would go to church the next day. So church came around and she wasn't there for relief society, I tried calling and got no answer. So gospel principles started and to my delight, Elder Rissi said that Vanessa was downstairs and had just arrived with her kids! I was so excited! The whole ward greeted her so well and it was just great. He mom and brother bore their testimony and I think it was good for her to see. Hopefully, things continue to go well and she chooses to let us in. But I am excited about her progress.

This week we've also had more time to go out with the young single adults and we even have gone knocking with them. Let me tell you what, they get so excited to knock! Granted, they would never say a word petrified to open their mouths, but they love just being with us. I am still seeing a small and subtle change in Sara Santana. She is a great girl and keeps saying to us, I don't know why, but I just love going out with you two. I know it's because she's feeling the Spirit and is able to bear her testimony and strengthen her faith.

This past little while our ward has been struck with illness. A brother in the ward has been sick for about six weeks, he's older and we hope that he will be able to get better soon. On top of this our bishop was diagnosed with cancer and will be undergoing treatment (hopefully) this week. Another brother had a heart attack, but was up and bearing his testimony on Sunday. I am constantly amazed at the members here. They have such a love for one another and it is truly like family. They worry about one another and take care of one another. I have not seen a ward/branch that is like this in my whole mission. The members have such a love and it is so evident in all they do. They truly live the gospel.

Right now I am in Lisbon! We are doing a division with the Lapa Irmas, Irmas Andrus and Machado. It's been fun to see their area and help with the work. And of course, Irma Machado and I always love seeing eachother. Yesterday I was with Irma Andrus and we walked by a bit of a park. We saw about 70 old men playing cards at various tables. Don't worry, we walked right by so I could get a good look. It was like a tournament. It looked like a flock of pidgeons hovering around bread crumbs. So funny!

Setubal has turned into a tropical rainforest...except for the whole forest part. It is ridiculously hot and humid. It keeps raining on and off, which takes away the heat, but then it becomes so super humid that it's suffocating. I dare say that it's worse than Texas. Let's hope that it lets up a bit. I cannot live in heat like this again. At least I will probably have air conditioning wherever I live in the future. Be grateful for air conditioning and ceiling fans. They are like little miracles. I can sleep without covers on though. I take great pride in that.

Things are going well here, better each day. Doors are being opened and we are being greatly blessed. It's such a joy for me to be able to see this progress and I hope that we will be blessed to see even more. I love you all and have a great day!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Patriarch Could Win a Marathon

Hello family! Thanks for the emails and the opportunity to choose a shirt color of my very own! Everyone was particularly funny today with their emails. I was having a good laugh.

Well, this week was a good one. I'll start with the highlight: interviews. I always love interviews. Recently, I have just enjoyed the time to sit and talk to Irma Terry. Before our interviews we had a zone meeting and all of the elders decided to take a picture of them without belts on. President never wears a belt and we all think it is so cute, so they took a picture. President took longer than usual this time as it was his last round of interviews with us, so it gave me a good bit of time to talk to Irma Terry. She has become such a dear friend and has taken good care of me while I've been here. It was good to just have time to talk to her as she mended an elder's pair of pants. (They were BAD.) The poor elder didn't bring a spare pair, so he stayed in the bathroom for a good half hour while she fixed them.

My interview with President was great. It was really like I was just talking to a friend. He never knew that I wasn't planning on serving a mission when we came here and ate with them. I felt so much his love for me and for the mission and it was much like my last interview. It was sad, but mostly a wonderful experience. We both have such good hopes and expectations for this great area. Things are really going to take off here with more hard work and getting the members even more involved.

We also had stake conference this past weekend, which was great. We got to go up for the Saturday session because the choir was singing. Elders Schutze and Caussé were at the conference and it was so good to see Elder Causse again. I got to talk to him a bit after the session and I sure hope that I get to see him again. I feel like I am really part of the Europe Area of the Church. It has been amazing to get to know such wonderful leaders.

At the Sunday session it was in an auditorium and as I was in the choir, we were on the stage. We could barely hear anything because of the acoustics in the room. But, afterward we sang a hymn and it sounded great. I got to see some of the members from Seixal (ps Jen, Carmen says hi!). It was great to see her and talk to the other members. I was shocked at how many remembered my name. Wow.

I had some funny things happen this week: I had a dream the other night that the Patriarch, Irmao Castro, was in a marathon for all of Europe and don't worry, he took first place. He smoked the competition. Funny what stake conference will do to your dreams. Yesterday we went over to the Caleiras to see the new baby. They have two dogs that roam around. Usually, they follow us home or down the street. Mind you, these are pretty good sized dogs. This time, one of their dogs followed us for literally a 25 minute walk until we got to another members' house and we had to shut her out of the building. The other dog followed us about half of the way, but probably got distracted and lost us. I felt strangely safe and like I was on Lassie.

Things are going really well with Leide still. She's looking into getting her papers processed and we have a girl getting baptized today and she can come because she has the day off. So we talked to her about baptism and what would happen. She then asked what she needed to do to be baptized. Wow. She is so amazing. The order of the lessons makes perfect sense for her. I know that she will get baptized some day and will bring her family into the Church in Brasil. It just may take a while, but she is one of the pure in heart.

More has happened, but time is short. I love you all and I hope that you have a great week!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Little Bird Came to Visit

Hello dear family! I write to you once again from the lovely library of Seixal. How wonderful it has been to be back here! I'll start backwards, I suppose. We came up yesterday and had a great time. I went with Irma Watkins, who is wonderful. We've always secretly wanted to serve together, so it was nice to at least be able to do a division. It felt like I had never left Seixal when I came back. Nothing has changed! Everything still smells exactly the same. That killed me. The apartment was the same, the building was the same. It was so great to see what while we live in such a world of change, Number 21 Rua do Minho still had the same smell, or smells I should say. I got to see Salita and Silvino, who were a recent convert couple when I was here. They have changed in the best way. While they are still the same, they have put down their roots even deeper into the gospel. That was wonderful to see. We also found a couple of great people in the actual area of Seixal. It was great!

As for Setúbal, things are about the same as always. Leide is amazing. She is progressing really well and is so hungry to learn! We are working on getting her a new job so she can come to church and our wonderful ward mission leader, Irmao Miranda, has been very proactive in helping us. We hope that she will be able to get a new job soon! I'll keep you posted. Leide is so wonderful. She is such a gem and is always saying how she wants to learn more and to change and be better. That is the thing every missionary dreams of hearing! I hope we start finding more Leides soon!

Well, it's been a VERY hot week here for us. VERY hot. I think upper 90s and quite humid. I am not excited about the rest of the summer. I am already SUPER brown. You are all going to laugh at my ridiculous tanlines, but I love it. My feet are particularly funny. We got to avoid the heat on Friday as we had zone conference. How wonderful that was for me! President and Irma Terry will be leaving us in the very beginning of July, so they gave their last remarks. Don't worry, I was bawling along with them. They have truly been like parents to me and I could not have asked for better people to have watched over me. As they talked and shared their feelings about going home, I found my own feelings reflected in theirs. It's funny how time passes so quickly. Conference was a wonderful highlight for me and was a great boost as well. Next transfer will be the first for President Torgan. I'm curious to see how it will be different.

Saturday we got to give service! We had been called on Thursday and told not to plan anything, as we would be helping witht ehf ood bank. We had no idea what it would entail and no one gave us any information. All we knew as of Friday night was that we were goign out to Azeitao and would be going to the Intermarché (a grocery store). We ended up getting there and there was no one there to help us. It was all very poorly planned and it was only the four of us missionaries helping. It ended up all working out when Elder Wray saw a scout drive by. The scouts were in charge of the whole thing and so we handed out bags to people to go get food in the store and then they would bring them back full of food. It felt good to serve in the community and I got to talk to some great people about the gospel in the process. The scouts here have ridiculous uniforms and they all wear the short shorts. Even the grown men. It's so funny.

Well, Sunday night I got back home and went to the room and noticed that there was somehting brown sitting on my pants in the corner. I went closer and got a better look. It was a baby bird! I couldn't believe it! We shooed him out of the room and then he just stayed in the tiny veranda type thing. He couldn't clear the ledge to fly out, but he gathered the strength the next morning to fly over. That was really freaky for me though. You never think of having a bird in your apartment! Don't worry, I got a picture. :)

Well, I love you all! Things are going well. I'm out of time!