First off, thank you for all the prayers. I know I've been blessed these past two weeks and I've seen so many miracles every day. I know that there are miracles happening and I can feel your prayers. You all talked about how you know these last two weeks have been hard. Yes, they have definitely been hard. The MTC was one of the best experiences I've ever had, but Heavenly Father decided that there were some new things for me to learn here in Portugal. That first week was the hardest week of my life, and I was humbled. A lot. And very quickly. I learned an amazing thing though. I've always known that the Savior understands everything we're going through because of the Atonement, but it was when I was at the very lowest point that it suddenly became very personal for me. He knows EXACTLY how I feel because He felt it and I'm never alone here. There are angels on both sides. Some of those angels are the Sister Training Leaders. It was necessary for them to come down from Porto and do divisions with us. I was with Sister Hirschi and my companion was with Sister Corrêa. They are definitely angels. They helped me to understand that this is a refinining experience. I didn't expect to have to help my trainer my first transfer in the mission field and I don't know what Heavenly Father has in store for me, but I know that everything I'm learning and experiencing is for my benefit. Sister Hirschi suggested that I get a blessing so we went up to the Chapel and I got a blessing from one of the elders. I can definitely testify of the power of the priesthood. It is why we are the only church on the earth that has the fulness of the gospel. I have no doubt that the church is true and that's why I'm here. There are people here that need to know that and are waiting for that knowledge.
One of the biggest miracles is with the language. Sister Hirschi says I speak better than I should be for only having been here two weeks. She told me that I speak like I've been here for several months. I know it's not anything I've done. I had the best teachers in the MTC and I know that I've had help here as well. I know that sometimes I say things that aren't my own words. I am learning the language so quickly and I know it's because the Spirit is helping me. I'm really glad about that because I haven't said anything strange and my grammer is fantastic. :) My district leader Elder Madsen said that his first week he accidentally told people he was pregnant... multiple times. So, yes, it is a miracle that I haven't said anything like that.
Biggest Miracle Ever! Helder and Lidia got baptized this week. I don't remember if I told you anything about them last week, but their story is amazing. Their son Bruno found the church through a friend a couple of years ago before he graduated college. His parents told him that if he joined the church he would no longer be their son. So, he got baptized and kept it a secret. In November his younger sister got baptized, and then on Saturday Bruno baptized both of his parents. It was so special. The Spirit was so strong and they all just cried. Bruno baptized his dad first and then his mom. It just made me so happy. Their whole family is baptized. That's what this is all about. We're helping families start on the path together to be eternal families. Bruno is leaving in January for a mission to Greece and when he gets back in two years they'll go the the Madrid temple and be sealed. Definitely a miracle!
Another miracle is the one of our investigators came to church! Leonilde is a woman we met knocking on doors last week. She is one tough investigator, but I know that she is special. We invited her to come to the baptism (and she's not afraid to let us know when she doesn't want to do something) and she just told us no. No reasons or excuses like other people, just "Não." We invited her to come to church with us and she agreed. I have never been more anxious in my life. I prayed and fasted that she would actually come to church because I knew that if she came to church she would feel the Spirit. We called and reminded her and when we got to the chapel she was already there! During Sacrament Meeting Bruno confirmed both of his parents members and gave them the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Holy smokes, the Spirit was definitely there. I felt it and I know that Leonilde felt it. She just cried for the whole three hours of church (another miracle: she stayed for the whole block), but then at the end she told us it was just because she was an emotional person and not because of the Spirit. She knows she felt the Spirit, and she knows that we know it too.
This week was full of miracles! I can see them all around me and I can definitely feel angels around me sometimes. I feel safe almost all the time. Sometimes I know when we're not supposed to go certain places or talk to certain people, but I know I'm protected because I'm being obedient.
I'm starting to like Portugal (WHAT?!). It's not as weird this week. I don't hate the cobblestones as much... actually, I'm always looking for loose or broken ones. Matthew brought me one from Germany and I want to bring one from Portugal. There are little Chinese stores everywhere and stuff is super cheap there. A missionary's best friend. There is sunshine in the morning and at night it gets pretty foggy. People do still stare at me all the time because I'm the only white blonde person here, but that is a very good opportunity to talk to people. Also, Europeans are just gloomy people, but I discovered that I'm able to get even the grumpiest looking people to smile if I say hello and smile at them. They can't help it. The Brasilians are the friendliest people on earth. They always say hello. Even from across the street.
Christmas is coming! We are allowed to skype our families this year for Christmas! Oh my goodnes! I am so happy and so excited! Yeah... I can't sit still I'm so excited. I should be online at 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon here. So it will be about 4:30 or 5:00 for Matthew and Inette, and 8:30 or 9:00 am for the rest of you. I haven't heard anything about a 30 minute time restriction and President Fluckiger didn't say anything about it in his letter, but I will try to find out for sure. Daddy, I can answer all your questions about the culture and addresses and mission stuff then. Be prepared to be on email in case I have a problem logging in. Mom or Inette, you might have to change my password for skype if it doesn't let me log in here.
Everyone who's not family, thank you so much for your emails! They are amazing and I love to read them. It helps me a lot to know that there are people praying for me and encouraging me every week!
Family, I love your emails. Benjamin, I think people think I'm crazy because I just sit and laugh at your emails. Allison and Brad... Oh. My. Goodness. I love those pictures. And I'm so excited to see Alexis on Christmas! I miss my little girl! Matthew and Inette, I love your emails. Mama and Daddy, youre emails are very special. Daddy I like hearing your mission stories. Actually, I think about them a lot. They've helped me a couple of times here.
I love you all and I can't wait to see you on Christmas! Please, please, please don't forget! :) I'm funny, huh? See you all in a few days! I love you all! The Church is true!