Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"I left my heart in San Francisco..."

Actually, I almost left one of my pens...but it's a nice pen so no way was I leaving it behind. :)

Olá familia! Eu amo vocês! So this week has been without a doubt the craziest week of my life.

Last Monday we found out that six of our missionaries got their visas and were going to São Paulo, and then on Wednesday morning they all left. Later Wednesday morning, Sister Mills and I got called down to the Travel Office, but we were really confused because if you hear something about a Portugal visa that generally means there's a problem. Anyway, we get down there and one of the ladies starts by saying, "So I don't know what's going on, but I'll tell you everything I know. We're flying you to San Francisco on Friday." My response was, "What? Why? On a plane?" There was some problem with our visas at the consulate so we had to make a personal appearance. Apparently they have very rarely ever had to fly missionaries to the consulates, but it's becoming more common. Our teachers were excited for us, but they also knew how important this trip was and they were definitely praying for us. We were technically "In-field missionaries" the entire time we were out of the MTC, so it was a huge learning experience for me. I'm so glad I found Kay before I left though. It was so nice to see her. I think weekly visits are in order until I leave for Portugal or get reassigned.

First time on a plane for Sister Smith!
I love flying! Take off is my favorite part.... but when we were all the way up I got vertigo and it was kind of strange. I survived though, and there's a picture of the San Francisco Bay as we flew over it. I had an exit row window seat. Awesomeness, huh?! We actually travelled with a Brazilian kid who's going to our mission in a few weeks. He had to come to the consulate with us. We met a lot of nice people and we met a lady whose husband is a BYU profesor. She sat and talked to us the whole way and she kept saying things like, "Oh I wish someone had texted me pictures of my son" and "I would have loved to have gotten pictures from people who met my kids on their missions." I finally figured out that she wanted to send you all a text and she was so excited. I'm glad you all liked the text. When we got to San Francisco we took a taxi to the consulate (I'm convinced the taxi driver was going around in circles.... and I also never want to live in San Francisco, the drivers are terrifying), and when we got to the consulate they didn't know we were coming. ?! The people that work at the Portugal consulate are all Brazilian... and I had no idea what they were saying most of the time. Anyway, once they found our information all they did was take a picture of each of us and have us verify our names and passport numbers. That was literally all we had to do. We were so confused. 

San Fransisco Bay

We took another taxi back to the airport and the whole time I kept remembering that we were "in-filed missionaries" and as such we were supposed to share the gospel with everyone. I was TERRIFIED to talk to people, but the Spirit kept telling me that I needed to talk to our taxi driver. After a few awkward moments of silence I started asking him about San Francisco and what he liked to do, and I knew we needed to introduce him to the church but I didn't know how. I was just praying to know how to do it and then we just asked him if he went to church. He totally opened up at the question! We learned so much about him and when we mentioned our church he was so interested, especially by the fact that we do a lot of humanitarian service all over the world. He's from Ethiopia so that's a really important thing to him. Anyway, he was super interested in the church and then he asked us if we knew where the Church was in San Francisco or if we knew where there were other missionaries. I felt awful because we didn't know, but then I told him that there were websites he could go to and he could find the missionaries through the website. He was so happy and he had me write down as many of the websites that I could think of. Then I had the thought "Give him a Book of Mormon. If you give him one he'll read it." Well, I felt really awful then. All I had was my Portuguese scriptures and I just had to tell the Spirit "I didn't come prepared." (The very next day Irma Kimball taught about the importance of always carrying Book of Mormons and giving them away) ... I definitely learned a lesson about bringing copies of the Book of Mormon with me. I told him that if he would find the missionaries they would get him a Book of Mormon, and he told me he would do it as soon as he dropped us off at the airport. Overall, we had a very nice trip. I think the most important thing we did was not the visa stuff. We learned a lot and I really think that in a lot of ways that trip was a blessing for me and for my companions, and maybe someday some of the people we met.
Missionaries called to serve in a Portuguese speaking area

Anyway, our districts and teachers were so excited when we came back and Irmao Gray and Irma Kimball loved our stories. They were so glad that we learned so many things, and I'm jsut glad we had the opportunity.

We sent off 8 more of our elders and sisters to São Paulo this morning. We were up before four again and then by the time we got back to the residence we were all so tired that we decided to skip part of our P-day stuff and sleep. Sleep is so nice. There's a reason it's on our schedules.

I've been called as the Sister Training Leader for our zone. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I work with the zone leaders. I help the zone leaders every Wednesday welcome new missionaries and I'm responsible for all the sisters in the zone. I know there were other sisters that wanted this calling, and I'm not sure why I got it. I'm not friendly or anything like that, but I guess Heavenly Father wants me to do something. Also, our district gets to be the host missionaries tomorrow for all the new missionaries. So, I get to be the missionary that comes and pulls all the luggage and then shows them around and gets them so excited to be here! I'm so excited! :D

So much happened this week and there just isn't time to tell about it all! I love you all and thank you so much for the emails and the letters. I got Marlee's letter and Kristin's letter, and I will send you both letters some time this week. Maybe... I don't generally have time to do anything like that.

I love you all, I love being a missionary! It's not at all easy. It's definitely the hardest thing I have ever done, but it's worth every moment. I love the gospel and I have definitely learned that Heavenly Father has a unique plan for each of us. I have the best teachers and companions and friends in the world, and I am just so happy. Even when things are hard I don't have anything to complain about because I just feel so blessed!

Yeah, life is good. The gospel is everything, and I love the opportunity to be a missionary.

Sister Smith

P.S. I had an epiphany this week: when I'm not focused or I start to get off topic a little bit, I start speaking in German...... I've never spoken this much German in my life, but I realized that it only happens when I'm not working as hard as I should be. When I'm working hard and obeying exactly I speak in Portuguese. Random, but good to know. Portuguese is starting to become my favorite language... tut mir leid Vati... or in Portuguese: desculpe Pai. :D

Hopefully next week won't be as crazy and the email will be a little more coherent. I hope you like the pictures!


Sister Smith and Sister Pace

Sister Smith and her district

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