Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas, mission extension, and a Happy New Year from Leiria :)

I had a wonderful week. I hope that you all had a wonderful week too. It feels like this week was a lot longer than all the others, but it was one of the best weeks and it was an exciting week too. :)

Feliz Natal! Christmas was amazing this week. On Terça-feira we went to Coimbra for a two-zone Christmas Conference with Presidente Amorim. We had a treinamento in the beginning and it was good.... it was a little painful as we got raked over the coals, but it was a treinamento that we needed. Presidente Amorim was talking about some of the struggles the mission is having and then he spoke to us about the difference between a victim and a protagonist. The victim blames the problems on the circumstances or other people (Ex. You failed the test because the professor is really hard) whereas the protagonist accepts responsibilty and changes his actions because of the circumstances (Ex. You failed the test because you didn't study enough even though you knew the professor was hard). It was really good, but like all good calls to repentance it was a little painful. :) It gave us all new goals to work on for the New Year though. 

The big surprise though is that after the Conference ended I talked to Presidente Amorim about extending my mission and he said that the longest extension that he can give is 30 days, so he gave me a 30 day extension on my mission. :) I'll be home in June.... I think. I don't actually know the exact day. 

Christmas was great too. Christmas Eve we randomly decided to do an activity in the street. We went and sang Christmas hymns in front of the stores and cafés with the bishop's daughter, the stake president's daughter, and a cousin. We sang and gave out pass along cards as everyone was doing their last-minute Christmas shopping and one thing I noticed was that the adults normally just walked passed us, but all the little kids stopped and watched and listened. Then, their parents would listen to. It's true that little kids can change a lot of things. :) Then we were invited for a very Português Christmas dinner with Pedro and Cláudia Costa's family. It was so nice to be with them on Christmas Eve. :)

We had an incredible week though. We had a lesson with Giovanna and her mom Jaqueline and her brother Filipe on Quarta-feira. Their story is actually incredible. I talked a while ago about how one Sunday we decided to go out and contact people before church and Jaqueline and Giovanna just walked up to us and told us that Giovanna wanted to be baptized. We got to hear Filipe's side of the story this week and it just goes to show that this really is Heavenly Father's work and that He is really doing the work for us in ways that we could never do. Giovanna's brother Filipe lives in Recife, Brasil and he's been inactive for several years. In the summer some cousins from the US went to Brasil for vacations and they invited him to go to church with them. He went, he started dating a girl he knew from church, he got a calling, and his life started changing. He said that he saw what a difference the gospel made in his life and that he could really feel it. He got on the internet and told his mom Jaqueline that she needed to get active and that Giovanna needed to be baptized. That was the Sunday that Jaqueline and Giovanna decided to come to church after three years of inactivity. :) We had to change Giovanna's baptismal date to 2 de Janeiro but now we're beginning to see that it's working out so beautifully to baptize her that day... I think that was Heavenly Father's plan all along. That day our investigators will be able to come to Giovanna's baptism, Filipe will be there with his fiancée, and the ward members will be back in Leiria after the holidays. We are working really hard right now on planning a really special baptism for Giovanna this Saturday. It will be incredible! :)

Also, Sister Larson went the way of all things and ended her mission. I got the good fortune of being able to pick my new companion though (and I've been told twice already that I will only get two chances to do that in my life: this week, and when I get married... so I need to enjoy this week). My new companion for a week is Sister Jumua from Moçambique. She was serving down in Santarém in a tripla but Presidente Amorim let me pick her as my companion. She is incredible. She is one of the best teachers I have ever seen in my mission and she is so funny and happy all the time! :) It will be a good week. She came up on Saturday so she was there on Sunday during church and she got to meet the members and then she was there with me when Sister Larson left so that I wasn't left alone waiting for forever. Right after Sister Larson left we went up to Zaida's house to deliver Christmas presents to her family. Zaida is from Moçambique and she is recently reactivated and she is also one of my favorite people here in Portugal. She is so sweet. We gave Zaida and her two kids Tiago and Diana pictures of Christ (one for each of them) and then we gave them a big one for their frontroom (it was actually a picture I got in Primary that I had brought with me. It's the one with Christ in the red robe.) When Zaida saw the big picture she had a huge smile and she almost cried. She put it in the middle of the mantle of the fireplace and she couldn't stop staring at it. It wasn't a huge present but it made a difference for her. :) 

This year we served people and we worked hard for Christmas. We didn't do anything really fancy or special, but it was one of the best Natais that I have ever had. I guess that's what happens when you put Christ first. :)

I love you all and I'm grateful for all the prayers and letters and cards I get. I loved the Christmas card that Grandma sent me.Elder Ricci said, "Whoah. Your Grandma is super cool." I have a super cool grandma. :) It was so good to see you all for skype and to be able to to talk to Benjamin in Alaska was amazing! It was really great when his companion said that "Elder Smith is a really good guy." What a great Christmas it was. :)

I love you all!

Sister Smith


Monday, December 21, 2015

Funerals e Feliz Natal :)

We had p-day problems last week so my email was pretty little, but we've got a little bit more time this week. Last p-day we went to Fátima and saw the sanctuary and the grutas there. It was very different but it was a really interesting opportunity to get a glimpse into Catholicism and what it is they believe. It reminds me that the world is a lot bigger than I thouht it was and that all of Heavenly Father's children are different.

Tuesday we had a funeral... for Sister Larson.  Here in Portugal we don't talk about people "going home"... they "die" and in our mission especially we really enjoy the funerals. This is Sister Larson's last week so for her last District Meeting we had a funeral for her. I don't think I have ever laughed that hard. The 4 elders got up and did "ya-googalies" as Elder Morrison calls them (he doesn't know how to say eulogy) and they were so funny. We were laughing so hard that we were crying. They are the funniest people I have ever met in my whole life. This has been my favorite district of my whole mission and they held a great funeral. You can tell you were a good influence on the elders when they can make fun of you and at the same time talk about how you made a difference in their missions. Sister Larson definitely succeeded at that. The elders bought Sister Larson a mega Kinder Surpresa egg and then for lunch after the meeting we went and ate pizza with the whole district. It was a pretty good little funeral. I hope my funeral is as nice as Sister Larson's was. :)

I also got to go back to my birthplace in Viseu this week! Sister Larson went on a division with two of the Sisters in Coimbra so while she was there I went to Viseu and did a division with Sister Regan. It was so nice to be back in my little city of Viseu. On the bus ride there I started recognizing things, but I saw everything with different eyes. It's amazing how a year in the country has helped me see Portugal differently. I could read the signs on the road and I recognized all the little aldéias. The bus climbed up into the mountains and I knew where I was, and as soon as I got into Viseu it felt as if I had never left. It was like coming full circle. I still was able to find everything and I recognized people on the street that I had contacted a year ago. It was so strange and yet at the same time so much FUN! I was dying of happiness. :) We went to the capela to look at a map and there were members there setting up for the ward Christmas party. When they saw me they all remembered me and it was so nice to be able to hug them and talk to them all again. I was so happy when I saw Lidia and Sandra again. Lidia and Hélder have officially been members for 1 year now and it was so nice be there with their family. Hélder was in Lisboa so I didn't get to see him but at night Lidia and Sandra invited us over. their house looked exactly the same as it did last year, just without Bruno because he is still on his misison in Greece. I also was able to go and see Leonilde again. She stopped meeting with the missionaries several months ago, but I had an extra copy of the book of Mormon in my bag and I had the thought very strongly to leave it with her. I offered it to her and she told me that she still had her old one, but the thought didn't leave so I just "forgot" the copy on her couch. I don't know what will happen with her, but now I have her contact information so I can keep in touch with her. 

It's a crazy experience this mission thing, but it sure is beautiful. :)

Then we had our ward Christmas party on Saturday. Sister Larson and I were having a rough time because it seemed like there was so much focused on everything but Christ and we're trying so hard to remind people of our Savior that it made us kind of sad that the members were losing that vision of Christmas. We asked if we could share a spiritual message at the end and we prayed that it would go well and that the members would feel the Spirit. We showed two of the new Christmas videos, one about why we need a Savior and then the new Nativity bible video. It started a little rough because there were all kinds of technical difficulties, but in the end it was a beautiful little scene we had here in the capela. In between the videos we asked a couple of members to share their testimonies: one a misisonary mom and the other a member whose wife had a baby girl this week. Their testimonies were amazing and then Sister Larson shared her testimony and everyone loved it. The Spirit was really strong and we know that the members had a little glimpse into why Christmas is so special to us. 

This Christmas season has been different. We don't have decorations, and we aren't celebrating it the way most people do. We're not really into a "Christmas Spirit" like most people would think. It feels just like a normal part of the year for us, but at the same time it is special. People always ask us what we would be doing for Christmas if we weren't missionaries, but Sister Larson and I have decided that it doesn't really matter WHAT we're doing but more about WHY we're celebrating Christmas. On Christmas Day we're going to wake up and do a weekly planning session and then we're going to go out and work before doing skype during dinner time, because really the Christmas season is about Christ. 

I like the poem that Grandma always read on Christmas Eve that talked about what we could give Christ. Sister Larson and I decided that really the best thing we can give Him is our heart and to tell everyone that He was born for us and that He lives for us. 

I love you all! Remember the reason for the season!

Sister Smith

Monday, December 14, 2015

Water, water, water.... it's everywhere. :)

Winter finally came today. We were out in Fátima for p-day and the rain started coming in little sprinkles... then in came down in big drops... and now there are puddles all over the place. :) Hooray! I like the rain.
Unfortunately, because of our awesome p-day adventure with our district in Fátima at the caves we are now down to about 10 minutes of email time. :D Hooray! I'm okay with not having a lot of email time... (sorry, my week isn't ruined if I don't get email... life continues on) but Sister Larson only has two more weeks in the mission so email time is pretty high up on the to do list now.
The big highlights of the week are that our marcada Giovanna finally had a click and she felt the Holy Ghost and now she understands baptism! It was really good. We hadn't been able to get in touch with her mom again but finally her mom called us and set up an appointment and we were trying to get all these energetic members to come with us to try and befriend the mom, but in the end the only member that could help us was a little old man named Joaquim... he is the grandpa of the missionaries here in Leiria. He was so quiet and calm and he brought a special spirit to the lesson which is actually exactly what we needed. Giovanna paid attention and finally asked questions and understood but more importantly she FELT it. It was actually a great big miracle.
The other cool thing is I spent three days training a British sister while Sister Larson and Sister Campos were on a division. I get to go back to Viseu next week to be with her again. It was fun. We got along really well, and we're going to have fun in Viseu.
We also got in with a family from Brasil this week. They were found a couple of months ago but they always yelled and never let the Sisters in but this week I told Sister Larson, "I have no idea who these people are. Can we just go by and see if they will let us in this time?" We went and they did let us in and they said they weren't going to come to church but they came at the very end.... and to make sure they weren't going to be led astray by us they brought the pastor of their church with them.....

It was a little intimidating because he just wanted to argue, but in the end we just talked with him while the members took care of the family and it was really nice. We felt the Spirit and we invited him to be taught the lessons, so on Saturday we are going to teach this pastor about the Restoration. We were telling Raquel and Ana Bea about it and Ana Bea told us, "Well, the church is true so what's the problem?" Then she told us that she still wants to be baptized so she's marked herself for baptism on January 2. Hooray!
I'm out of time and now I have to run to catch a bus, but I love you all! I'm sending something in the mail for you this week! :D Feliz Natal and remember the reason for the season! :D
Sister Smith

Monday, December 7, 2015

Temples, temples everywhere! :)

I don't have a ton of time for email. We were tricksy today and we printed off all our emails at the capela so that we could read them and have more time to write. So tricksy we are. :)

This was a good week. It was definitely one of the best weeks of my mission. I have felt the Spirit so strongly this week and we were blessed with some of the most wonderful opportunities this week. 

We had a great p-day last week. We went down to Nazaré for p-day and we saw the Atlantic Ocean. I nearly cried. It was so much fun and when you're out in nature there's just a cool spirit when you think of all of Heavenly Father's creations. We had fun. I have a bag of sand and seashells that I saved... of course. :) 

On Tuesday our ward mission leader found out that I studied Landscape Design before the mission and I scored some pretty big brownie points with him. He's an architect so he had a ton of fun showing us his yard and his garden and his chickens. He really likes us and now we're able to get his help with our investigators. We had a lot of fun at our Correlation meeting. Right after correlation Sister Larson and I caught a bus to Coimbra because on Wednesday we had a zone meeting, but we had to go early and plan it with the zone leaders in Coimbra. It was one of the best zone meetings I've ever had. We played the hot and cold game with a twist to teach us about listening to the Spirit. We had little candies hidden, but we also had a big candy bar hidden but only one missionary knew about it and he was giving directions for it. Most people thought that Elder Crist was crazy, but in the end one sister decided to follow his directions and she ended up getting the candy bar. Then we got super profound and we had a great discussion about following the Spirit to find the people who are truly prepared and waiting for the gospel. It was really good. 

After the zone meeting I got to play "Sister Training Leader" with Sister Larson and Sister Campos in Santarém. There are three sisters serving together so I went with them and I did a division with Sister Eusébio! It was the best division of my entire mission. We we're having so much fun together and it was so nice to just catch up and work normally during a division. Santarém is so beautiful and I felt really comfortable and I felt like I was supposed to be there at that time. Thursday Sister Eusébio and I were in the road and I just felt like I needed to stop this girl and as we started talking to her she told us that she has always wanted to go to the capela but that her dad hates religion. She said that she would sneak out Sunday morning and go to church because she just wants to know what it is we do. It was really cool and we testified that she was special to Heavenly Father and that He had a plan for her. When we said that she got the biggest smile and told us, " I hope so. That would be nice." It was so cool.

The best part about the week though was that we were able to watch the groundbreaking for the temple in Lisboa on Saturday. There was a very special spirit in the chapel as we watched. Sister Larson and I cried... a lot. During that ceremony the chapel became almost like a part of the temple. I haven't felt that way in almost a year. I have missed the temple so much in the last year, and to feel that spirit and that feeling of the temple again was so special. That's really just what it feels like to feel the love Heavenly Father has for us. President and Sister Kearon from the area presidency spoke and President Kearon said that he felt as if he was drinking from a well that he did not dig. I feel that way a lot. I think about all the sacrifices that other people have made for me and for the people here in Portugal and sometimes I don't understand why it is that I get to be here right now, having all these experiences and receiving all these blessings. I really am so grateful for it though. 

On Sunday we went to the Stake Presidente's house and he showed us the Coimbra Stake shovel from the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday. We felt pretty spiffy getting to hold the shovel. :)

We finally got in touch with our marcada again! Hooray! And her brother will be coming form Brasil on the 18th of dezembro so we're going to get the baptism all planned with him. It's going to be really special. :)

I love you all! Remember to read in the Book of Mormon. I was reading in Ether this morning and I decided that all those problems in the Book of Ether could have been avoided if they had lived by the principles taught in the Family Proclamation to the World... yup. It solves lots of problems... so go tell all your mothers that you love them. :)

Amo vos muito e fico me tão feliz quando eu penso sobre todo o amor e apoio que recebo de vocês. Obrigada por tudo e lembrem se que Jesus Cristo vive e que Ele nos ama. Ele é o nosso Salvador e ele é a razão que nós temos Natal. :)

Com amor,

Síster Smith


Monday, November 30, 2015

Contacts... lots and lots of contacts

Well, since I didn't get the chance to really do a very good email last week... I will give you all the Reader's Digest version of the last two weeks.

Two weeks ago on Moday I was not feeling so great. I wasn't feeling too great and then it got worse during the day. Then we took a bus out to Batalha to do a noite familiar with the Bishop´s family and as we were walking to their house I got super sick. The Bishop´s wife was pretty concerned about me... I'm pretty sure I looked like death. It was great. They joke about it with me every week now. :) The next day we had the best Conselho da Ala that I have ever been to. Bishop was in a really good mood and it was really good. Last Friday we were getting ready for a ward activity and we were inviting all of our investigators to go to it. We walked out towards Quinta da Alçada to invite Fernanda e Vitor to come and normally Vitor doesn't really like listening to us, but this time he actually stayed and he listened to us and afterwards he told Fernanda that he wanted to go to church. Hooray! On Saturday we had our ward activity... it was a Magusto. Basically, a magusto is when you get a bunch of Portuguese people together and they roast chestuts and play the ward members loved it. :) We had a couple of investigators and they had a good time. Sister Larson and I thought it was super funny. I've never seen a game of Bingo be so intense before. On Sunday Elder Moreira came and spoke in our sacrament meeting. He talked about how the Book of Mormon doesn't talk about picnics and fun things, but how it contains stories about suffering. He then talked about how life is not meant for picnics and fun things, but how the stories in the Book of Mormon help us with our real problems and help us to become like Christ. It was a little depressing in the beginning but once he started talking about the Plan of Salvation it all started to make more sense and the Spirit made it all make sense. 

And those are the stories from two weeks ago...

This week...

We've decided that we are going to do 50 contacts every day So far we have been able to get it. In the beginning it was hard to be constantly stopping everybody but we finally starting getting the guts to stop big groups of people and talk to all of them... Everybody. It was really crazy how we've been able to do it though. On Thanksgiving we literally had crazy stuff happen and our plans changed. We ended up helping this little old member clean the chapel. At first we were thinking " We're going to lose time to contact" but we realized that this little old lady was not going to be able to clean the whole capela on her own. We helped her and I cleaned the chapel. It actually turned out to be a super spiritual experience and when we finished we only had and hour and a half before our next compromisso. We didn't know how we were going to get 50 contacts done, but then as we got into the centro we saw more people in the park than we have ever seen there before. We decided to stop all the big groups and do a special "thanksgiving" contact. It worked really well with all the Jovens and it helped us get the courage to stop groups of 5 or 10 people. It was actually so much fun. It was one of the coolest experiences of my mission and I never imagined that I would ever be stoppin groups of 12 people and talking to all of them about the gospel. It was fun though. And we got all our 50 contacts done. We actually did 52 that day. :) The next day we did 56 and the day after that we did 73. :) We're talking to lots of people about the gospel. We're getting better at our contacts and we're finding new people... which is great because we need new people to teach. Now we just need to start teaching all these people. 

Yesterday in church I gave a talk about Christ and His love. I didn't prepare any notes or anything. I just read talks and scriptures about Christ and charity and then I got up and I started talking. I actually like giving talks that way. Preparing thoroughly so that I have things in my head that the Spirit can use and then teaching and being a real person instead of getting up and in a monotone voice reading off a sheet of paper. The members actually paid attention and I felt the Spirit. I talked in one part about how Dad is a really good example to me and I made a comment in the beginning "Eu gosto muito de meu pai" and the bishop behind me started joking and saying, "No... really? That's not normal." It was funny. We didn't have any investigators in church. Giovana's mom has started ignoring us and she is actually moving to Fátima so we don't have any way to get in touch with her. We're praying really hard that we will find a way to get in touch with Giovana and Jaqueline. If we can't get in touch with them we've lost our marcada so please include Jaqueline and Giovana in your prayers. 

I'm doing great. I'm pretty happy. I'm not sleeping super well but I'm happy. I have some good shoes now. They are super duper ugly and I never would have worn them before the mission, but they are so comfortable that I don't even care. :)

Right now in the Book of Mormon I'm in Éter. I like reading about the Brother of Jared. He's a really good example of faith and just trusting in God. 

Have a lovely week and don't forget that It's Christmas time now! Remember the reason for the season!

Com amor,

Sister Smith

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's Autumn time... It's Autumn time...

Transfer calls came in last night at 11:10... we weren't sleeping... we were in bed very, very, very, very CALMLY waiting for the phone call (emphasis on the part about "calmly"... Sister Larson put her face in her mattress and started growling she was so calm). Happy news is that we are staying together for one more transfer! Hooray! Christmas will be awesome. :) But for now we are having fun with the chilly weather and the crunchy leaves.

*Update* So.... with transfers our district leader Elder Zwalhen got transferred to Portoalegre and his companion Elder Morrison had to leave early to go stay with the elders from Figueira do Foz.... long story short, we had to spend the whole day with Elder Zwalhen while we waited for his companion to arrive and take him to his new area. So now we don't have time to do email. Whoops. Vida missionária. :)

Sister Larson still needs to email her family so I'll send some nifty postcards and some nifty pictures and I'll write more next week. :) Life is wonderful and hard and just fantastic. :) It's great.

Amo vos muito! Vou vos escrever mais na próxima semana. :)

Sister Smith

P.S. Yesterday Xeca and Avelino showed up at church to surprise me. I was super happy, but I was really tired and super confused. :) It was pretty nice to see them again. :)

Also, here's our last district selfie and then from this morning when Elder Morrison left for Fig. do Foz.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Little Brother is going to Alaska!!!

Alaska Anchorage Mission?! He's going to the MTC December 2?! What?! I knew it! I totally called that he was going up north.... I win. Mom and Dad it looks like we're just turning into a cute little family of missionaries. :) I have been talking nonstop about Benjamin's mission call all week long.... All. Week. Long. Also, I am so excited for Christmas! He's going to be skyping from the mission field! Best Christmas ever! :) If I could I would give you a play-by-play of all the thouhts I had and exactly how I reacted, but it's enough to say that I am really, really, really, REALLY happy. :) Alaska just feels right. Benny is supposed to go to that mission and he's supposed to go there now. He's ready to be a missionary.
And now for the Portugal news...
We had a really good week. Things are getting better here. It's not that magically everything is beautiful and sunshiney and investigators are falling into our hands, but we're working a lot harder and we're seeing results from all of the work we've put in all transfer. These last five weeks have been a little bit rough and kind of frustrating sometimes because sometimes we wonder when things are going to change and when we're going to start seeing the results of our work, but we kept going because we knew that the results would come when they needed to come. Heavenly Father had things we needed to learn before we would be prepared and qualified to work with the blessings He had ready for us. We just kept working even when we just wanted to give up and now things are starting to pick up. The work is accelerating for us and Heavenly Father is giving us a lot more opportunities to work. Hooray! :)
Last Sunday we did the Listão with the Bishop's family, and then he told his brother the stake presidente about how well it went and then the stake presidente talked to Presidente Amorim about it and now Sister Larson and I have been invited by the stake presidente's family to come and do the Listão with them next Sunday. It's a little bit terrifying, but that's really cool that the stake presidente picked us to do the listão with his family. The listão is a huge project that Presidente Amorim is doing and it's a ton of work but we're getting lots of members who are asking Sister Larson and I to come do it with them, so it shows that the members are starting to trust us now. There have been a lot of problems in this area where the members don't trust the missionaries and the members here are generally pretty wary of us, but things are getting better.

(Actually, it's good enough now that yesterday we got invited to come do Skype on Christmas at the Costa's house.... and they are a super cool family. I really hope I stay here for Christmas).
Also, blessings are starting to kind of just rain down on our heads. We've been trying to work as hard as we can all transfer long and then last Sunday Heavenly Father literally just handed a family of investigators. We went out contacting before church and found the guy that had been following us, but then as we were talking to him this Brasilian lady and her daughter (Jaqueline e Giovane) came up to us and told us that they have been living here in Portugal for 3 years but have never known where the chapel is. They were at church last Sunday and then on Wednesday we went with the Bishop and his daughter Iolanda all the way out to Mira de Aire where Jaqueline lives and we had a fantastic lesson with them. Jaqueline has been a member of the church for a long time but she and two of her daughters (Giovane e Inês) are living with her boyfriend João. We taught the first lesson about the Restoration super simply to Giovane and she was so excited and accepted the invitation to be baptized so quickly. She is going to be baptized December 19 by her older brother who is coming from Brasil to spend Christmas with them. So now we just need to teach the whole family, get João and Jaqueline married, and then Giovane, Inês e João can all get baptized for Christmas. Hooray!!! :)
This week we also did a noite familiar with Zaida, Tiago e Diana.. basically the cutest Moçambique family in the whole world. Zaida was baptized about 3 years about but wasn't active and we started going and visiting them and now they're coming to church every week and Tiago, who is 13 years old, is now reading the scriptures and praying and coming to church everyweek. Literally a miracle. The first time I met Tiago he was being a punk and he was hitting Zaida but now he's praying with us and he's reading the scriptures and coming to church. And he's super happy to see us now! Miracles are happenning! :)
Yesterday our ward had the primary program. It was the funniest thing I have seen in my entire mission. There were 5 kids in the program and two of their mothers had to sit with them, but the Bishop's son Afonso, who is 7, was so funny. He cracked me up. During a couple of the songs he would look at the lyrics on the page and then get a really confused look. Then he started turning the papers upside down and on the side to try and read it but he could never quite figure it out. His mom kept turning it right side up and handing it back to him but everytime he would get confused and start flipping the page upside down to read it. Everybody was laughing so hard, and Afonso is a comic and he loves to make people laugh so he was enjoying himself. It was pretty cute.

Also, fun story: We're sitting here in the capela and we hear the doorbell ring, so we go outside and there's this great big black man standing there at the gate and the first thing he says to us is "I need protection." That statement did not instill much confidence in us, but after talking to him for a minute we discovered that he was contacted by the sisters last year and never did anything but he lives right next to the capela and just decided to come and ask for help today. So now the elders are going to meet with him and it will be great and he'll be a great member once he gets baptized. Yup. :)

So have a lovely week family. You're all wonderful. :)

Little Sister Smith

P.S. Sister Larson took a pretty decent picture of me on the road yesterday and then the other picture is of a cutesy part of Leiria close to the library where we do email. :)

Monday, November 9, 2015

It's summertime in Leiria. :)

This week was a week of miracles. They were small and most people wouldn't think that they were miracles, but for us they were really big miracles. :)

Monday the miracle was that we were able to do email. It took about three hours and we had to wait in a couple of lines and we had to pay to use internet, but we got to do a little bit of email.

Tuesday we didn't have district meeting because we had meetings later in the week, but we worked super duper hard. Our funny phrase of the week was "Okay, are we going to make time to sleep or time to eat? We can't do both of them." You know you're a missionary when... :) 

Wednesday we had to leave in the afternoon to take a bus to Coimbra so we spent the whole day working as hard as we could so that we could get as much done as possible. We used literally all of our time. :) We ended up running to the bus stop and it was pulling out as we ran in. We had bought our bilhetes earlier in the day and the Sister Larson ran alongside the bus until the driver stopped and let us on. He wasn't too thrilled, but Heavenly Father wanted us on that bus so He stopped the bus for us and we got on. If we hadn't gotten on that bus we would not have made it to Coimbra and Sister Larson had to be in Porto for Mission Council the next morning at 9h00. It was a huge blessing. We made it to Coimbra, then with the other Sister Training Leader and the Zone Leaders we walked to the train station in Coimbra and took a comboio up to Porto. I got super sick on the comboio... worse than on an airplane, but the blessing was that nothing happened. It just felt really badly. Then, because I served in the Porto area for 5 months I was able to help everybody navigate the metro and we made it up to the mission home in Porto by 22h00

We spent the night in the mission home... probably the nicest place I have ever been in... and then in the morning Sister Larson went to the mission council and I spent the day working in Amial with Sister Waddel and SISTER PARKINSON!!! It was one of the funniest days I have ever had. It was so much fun to work with Sister Parkinson de novo e durante a tarde trabalhamos com um recém converso que eu já conheci quando estive em Gaia. O nome dele é Pedro e ele foi batizado alguns meses atrás e ajuda os missionários quase todos os dias.

Sorry... I get going and sometimes the Português comes out. Google translate can help you because I'm on a time crunch. :) 

After the mission council I had an interview with Presidente Amorim and then we took a train back to Coimbra. We spent the night with the Sisters in Coimbra and then the next day we went to a zone meeting (I realized that I am now one of the old people in the mission. Most people have been in the mission a lot less time than I have... I feel old). After the zone meeting while we waited for our bus we stopped and visited Raquel's mom and then we took the bus back to Leiria at 17h00

We had two full days out of our area but we worked super hard and we made tons of plans so that the work wouldn't be interrupted and Heavenly Father blessed us a ton! On Sunday morning we didn't have anyone coming to church with us. Some guy started following us and at first we were weirded out by him. Then after we both were thinking that we should have invited him to church. Before church started we decided to go out contacting to try and bring someone to church with us and the first person we talked to ended up being the guy that followed us. Turns out he followed us because he just wanted to know where the chapel was because he knew we were from a church and he wanted to come to church with us (face palm... Heavenly Father sure is merciful with His missionaries). That man lives in the Elderes' area and they are teaching him now. We also have a mom from Brasil that moved into our area and her daughter is 11 and was never baptized. The little girl told us that she wanted to be baptized and she asked us if we would help her be baptized. Obviously we said yes. :) Then, one of the young women in our ward decided to just invite two of her friends to church with her. They came and we talked to them and now we are going to meet with them on Friday to teach them about the Restoration. Two other young women in our ward did a presentation in school about the Church and they gave out copies of the Book of Mormon to all their friends and their professores. Apparently it was so good that some of their friends asked where they could find videos about the church on the internet. :) 

Seriously... I don't know what we did to be receiving all these blessings... but we're super grateful for all of them. Sunday we also did this huge project called the "Listão" with the bishop's family. It's a project of Presidente Amorim where we have the members write down the names of everyone they know and make plans to help them meet the missionaries. It was super cool. The bishop's family gave us 602 names and they are still making a list for us this week. It's pretty incredible. :)

Today for p-day we went to Batalha with Raquel. Sister Larson and I were having so much fun and there were a couple spots that reminded us of the temple and we maybe cried because we were so happy. :) It was pretty good. Then we had a goodbye picnic with a recent convert Alyssa who is moving back to Cabo Verde this week. It was pretty fun and she was showing how far away the capela is from her house in Cabo Verde. All in all it's been a really good, crazy, and happy week. Generally everyday is good and crazy and happy when you're doing what you're supposed to do and not making excuses. :)

Sister Smith

P.S. Sister Larson and I have decided that we're going to send out Christmas cards if we're together next transfer.... so we want addresses. :) Lots and lots of addresses. :) 

Monday, November 2, 2015

"Blessed art the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape"

This week was one of the most adventure filled weeks of my mission...


The internet situation here is a little bit tricky and we've been going back and forth between places for the last couple of hours trying to be able to do email... I now have about 15 minutes so I will try my very best to tell you all the wonderful things that happened and all the wonderful wisdom I gained over the course of the week. :)

You know that part in Harry Potter where Dobby tells Harry that history is about to repeat itself? Well, that's kind of what is happening this transfer. :) We're having all kinds of adventures up here.

1. Our tripla is back down to a dupla... sad day. A sister up in Vila Real was sick and had to go home early and because we were the only tripla in the mission, Presidente Amorim did an emergecy transfer and sent Sister Varuçale up to Vila Real to be companions with Sister Weaver (who is basically a reincarnation of Sister Hirschi). It was a rough day when we got that phone call. Sister Larson was on a division in Viseu so Sister Varuçale and I were together... we cried for a few minutes and then we ate some chocolate together... it all worked out. So, after two weeks my native companion got emergency transferred and now because Sister Larson is still a Sister Training Leader I get to stay in Coimbra every week that she goes on a division..... it sounds an awful lot like my first transfer.... apparently there was something Heavenly Father wanted me to learn that I didn't learn, and now He's giving me another shot at it. Hooray!

2. We have lots of blessings that we are pretty sure we haven't earned yet. For example, this week we've had people coming up and talking to us instead of us stopping them and trying to talk to them. That just doesn't happen... but it's happened multiple times this week. The coolest one is this joven named Samuel. He was selling Vodafone in our area and he had put some sort of pamphlet in our door, so he decided to come and ask us what the time was and try to start talking about the Vodafone pamphlet he had left in our door. When we told him that we didn't have cable or internet in our apartment he started asking us questions about who we are and what we're doing.... turns out that Samuel is one of the most elect people I have ever met! He has so many questions and he's super smart! He kept telling us that he wasn't really interested in it, but then he started sending us messages about how it was weird that we really believed in our message because he does't understand how people his own age can feel like that. He walked 20 minutes to come to church and then he stayed for all of it. Actually, Presidente Amorim was there and Presidente Amorim was so happy to see our jovem investigator that he just talked and talked with Samuel and even had him help with some stuff. After church we had a lesson with Samuel and a jovem from our ward named Pedro. It was a really good first lesson. It was more like a conversation and he was able to ask questions and Pedro bore his testemony about how he came to know that the Church is true. It was really good. We finished the lesson and we figured we were just going to leave and go and keep working but then Samuel just kept talking to us and walked with us and started contacting on the street with us. He started by telling us that we had let one person walk passed us without us saying anything so he started pointing out all the people to us and watching us contact them. He kept just enough distance that people wouldn't think he knew us, but he walked and contacted with us for three hours after our lesson with him. It was really weird... but really, really cool. Then at the end he told us that he probably wasn't very interested in still talking to us... but then this morning he sent us a text to tell us all these things he had looked up about Joseph Smith on the internet the night before. Yup... he felt the Spirit, and now he has to know if our message is true or not. :) Mwahaha. When the truth is taught there's something inside that says our message is true.

3. Presidente Amorim came to our ward on Sunday and did this huge training during Sunday School about how the members can be missionaries and how they can make the ward grow. He made them a promise that if they would exercise faith in what he taught and apply it all and work at it that in one year the ward would be double the size and that they would be a new chapel built here in Leiria. Christmas 2016. That is our goal now. The members loved it and afteward we had so many members come and invite us to talk to their friends and neighbors. It's going to be good. The Bishop actually invited us over to his house next Sunday, which is HUGE. Not even kidding. That's HUGE progress.

4. We threw a huge Halloween party for the members and their friends on Saturday. I cut out little bats and had them hanging from the ceiling and the members loved it. Thank you for the idea Mom. It was such a huge hit and we had so much help from the members. The members said it was one of the best activities they've had... and the members here don't give compliments so we're making progress on our member relationships! :)

Amo vocês!

Sister Smith

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cacos, Moçambique parties, e templos... :)


A member told us on Wednesday that the groundbreaking for the temple was announced. Then, on Sunday they announced in Sacrament Meeting that the groundbreaking for the Portugal Lisbon Temple is December 5. It's a private ceremony but it will be broadcast to stake centers throughout the temple district so I'm hoping that Presidente Amorim will let the missionaries watch the ceremony. :) When we found out I got chills and almost started crying... so, pretty normal reaction for me. :)

This week was a pretty good week. On Tuesday we walked all over the Quinta de Alçada and Quinta do Bispo and Gândara... but we had the sound off on our phone and we missed 10 calls from our ward mission leader. He wanted to have the correlation meeting an hour earlier but whoops. We missed that meeting. Then we had a lovely icy ward council where a couple of missionaries got raked over the coals by the Bishop... it was awkward to witness. On Wednesday Sister Larson left to do a division in Coimbra and Sister Colas, who is currently serving in Coimbra, came to stay with us. It was great because she actually started her mission in Leiria so she started calling up members and she helped us to just work with the members all day long. We helped with some visiting teaching appointments and it was fantastic because that way we were able to get in to meet some inactive members that we'd been trying to visit. It was actually really nice to spend an entire day just working with members. For lunch on Wednesday Sister Colas decided to show us one of her favorite things about Leiria: Cacos. Cacos are these nifty little sandwich things and they are just wonderful. They have them on Madeira as well, but fortunately we have the restaurante right next to our apartment and there is a little stand where we can buy them right next to the park by the bus stop. It was a wonderful little discovery... but it was even better when I discovered that they make nutella cacos.... felicidade. :)

This week Raquel (from Coimbra) and her friend Ana Bia came to do a two-month camp kind of a thing for theatre here in Leiria, so we're teaching Ana Bia with Raquel so that she can be ready for baptism when she goes back to Coimbra (she was almost baptized once... but that's a very long story). She's 18 now so she can choose to be baptized when she wants, and it will be good for Raquel to be able to teach with us as well. She's having a rough time, but helping the missionaries always helps people feel better. :) This morning we actually went up to the castle with Raquel and Bia. It was pretty fun. The saddest part was that my camera died. Fortunately, Sister Larson took lots of pictures for me. :) I like visiting the castles in all my areas, and the best part is that this castle is literally only a 10 minute walk away from our apartment! :)

The coolest part of this week though was that we were invited to attend a special Convívio Moçambiquano with the ambassador of Moçambique for Portugal... Yep. We were invited to attend because we have a companion from Moçambique. Presidente Amorim has this thing where he wants all of the missionaries to do "Coisas Ousadas" to help spread the gospel and we figured that sharing the gospel with the ambassador from Moçambique was pretty bold, so we prepared a business-style letter explaining our purpose in Leiria and inviting her to learn more about our message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Presidente Amorim reviewed the letter and said that he was actually quite impressed by it. We went and there were a lot of inactive members and ex-pesquisadores there that we were able to talk to. The whole point of the convívio was to talk about paperwork and legal stuff that I didn't really understand but we contacted a lot of people, I gave a Book of Mormon to a man who said he was atheist but then he almost started crying when I gave him the Book of Mormon because he said he felt it was a special book, we got a couple of references, a man came up and talked to me because he had lived in Germany for 17 years and he thought that I was German so we talked for a while and then I talked to him about church and the Book of Mormon, and lots of cool stuff. Then, there was a menos ativo member in charge of planning the whole activity so he arranged for the three of us to speak to the ambassadora before everyone else. Sister Varuçale gave her the letter we had prepared and invited her to learn more about our message. It was a pretty cool experience... I think.

I love you all! I'll will try to write lots of letters this week during lunch! Don't forget to read in the Book of Mormon and to invite a friend to church... and to invite someone to talk to the missionaries! :)


Sister Smith

Monday, October 19, 2015

Everything is better with three! :) Except email... email is harder with three.

Guess what?! Sister Larson and I got a new companion... and guess what else?! We're training! WHAT?! Yup. Last week I found out that we are in a training tripla. Our new companion is fresh from the Madrid MTC and she is super duper cute. Her name is Sister Varuçale (pronounced "vah-roo-sall") and she is from Maputo, Moçambique. She is super funny. It's weird having a native companion again, but Sister Varuçale is super funny. She cracks me up. She is the only new sister in the entire mission, so Sister Larson and I are the only sisters training right now, and because Sister Larson is a Sister Training Leader she leaves every week to do divisions in other areas and I have to do training alone with Sister Varuçale.... it's a good thing Sister Varuçale is already a pro and already knows how to do everything because otherwise this transfer would be a lot crazier. Obviously she is adjusting and she doesn't understand everything, but thank goodness she speaks Português. Also, she was baptized only 2 years ago and she's spent that two years working with the missionaries in Maputo, so basically she is teaching me how to do missionary work. Not even kidding. She knows how to teach! And when she shares her testimony it's like the Spirit just pulls up a chair and sits down with us. She's a really special missionary.

Yup. So Sister Larson and I went up to Porto on Wednesday for a training meeting with Presidente and Sister Amorim and the assistentes, and I was already feeling a little bit like "Oh no... I don't know how to train... oh dear..." and then during the training meeting Presidente Amorim looked right into my eyes (aka... right through my soul) and said, "Training is a sacred responsibility and you will be held accountable. Be the trainer of your dreams." .... I'm not quite sure why we're in this tripla this transfer, but it's a huge stretching and growing opportunity. Everything is different when you're in a tripla instead of a dupla. For example, street contacting has taken on a whole new light. We look like an army as we walk down the road and when we stop people to talk to them they tend to panic... it's been an interesting week. :) Also, when we knock doors we've started having one person hide off to the side because when people see three of us they also tend to panic. One benefit now though is that with three of us we tend to contact groups of people. It's harder for them to escape when there are three of us. :) I thought I knew how to do missionary work, and then Heavenly Father threw us a funny curve ball. It's been a fun week. We're actually going to call the office elders this week though and ask for help. It's hard enough to do email here with two people, but now with three it's really hard. We can't find enough places with computers available and it takes about three hours now to do email because we have to change lugares. We're going to call the elderes and ask if they will look for a place where we can do email because 30 minutes is not very much time to write to Presidente and you all. :)

It's been pretty rainy but sunny too. From our apartment we have a great view of the castle and the futebol stadium and the other day there was a huge rainbow that went right in between them. It was really cool. In Leiria the members mostly live really far away. Some of them it is a 45 minute drive to come to church, so most of our interaction with the members here is on Sunday or during the week when there are meetings. We'll just overwhelm them all with love and cookies and good stuff like that. Also, these members really, really, REALLY love the missionaries and they express their love by giving us food. Literally, we receive so much food that we only have to spend about 25 euros on groceries every week for the three of us... vida boa. :) Also, in our district we have two elders that are assigned to our ward here in Leiria and the two elders from the branch of Figueira de Foz. Those poor elders take and hour long bus ride every week to get to district meeting. Sacrificios. The elders in Figueira de Foz are Elder Gee and Elder Ricci that I knew from the Porto area and the elders in our ward in Leiria are Elder Morrison and Elder Zwalhen. The funny part though is that Elder Zwalhen and I were in the Youth Symphony together in high school... :) Yeah... small world.

Because of our super sketchy email situation I don't have a ton of time this week, but our miracle of the week is pretty good. Thursday as we started trying to figure out how to work in a triple we were out contacting and on this teeny tiny road there was this great big Brasilian man wearing sweats and chains and I felt like we needed to contact him. Sister Larson was on the phone but I was thinking "Big scary looking man... let the new missionary contact him." So Sister Varuçcale starts talking to him and she's just so sweet and nice and funny that he wasn't weirded out at all. Turns out he's just a big teddy bear... that sometimes gets in fights with people. Anyway, we get his number and he says he'll come to church. Well, on Sunday we were waiting for him to show up and we ended up mission the sacrament because of it, but right after the sacrament he shows up and it turns out he was late because he decided to bring a friend to church. :) We later discovered that he actually lives in the Elders' area, but they are in need of investigators anyway. So it was an interesting week, but we still had lots of miracles. Yep. :)

I love you all!

Sister Smith

P.S. There's our rainbow view and our little tripla.

Monday, October 12, 2015

As transferências... :) Outra vez?!

Então família linda.... não estou em Gaia.... eu estou em Leiria. This last week was such a good week and I'm really glad that I finished out my time in Gaia with all the work that we did last week. We nearly killed ourselves working.... it was beautiful. :) This last week we walked on every single road in Oliveira do Douro and we contacted hundreds of people. Most of them weren't interested, but two of them turned out to be menos ativos that we had been trying to find. Miracles were happening all over the place! :) We literally walked everywhere in Oliveira do Douro, but we didn't go out to the other part of our area in Avintes at all. I don't really know Avintes very well, but I've pretty much got all the roads in Oliveira do Douro memorized... lots of things can be said about my work as a missionary but one thing is for sure: I know my area really well. :)

So it was a really good week. We had a zone conference with Presidente and Sister Amorim on Wednesday and it took up almost the entire day, but it was pretty good. Sister Runyan and I were randomly selected to teach a role play lesson in front of the zone and then have everyone critique it. I sat in the chair and held on really tightly to a pamphlet so that people wouldn't see me shaking. I still don't like getting up in front of people, but Presidente Amorim had some really good advice and corrections for us. He said that for me specifically I need to have more confidence when I bear my testimony. He told me to quit using "language of doubt" and to start being more bold when I share my testimony. I hadn't actually thought of that until he told me about it, but he's right. I do need to work on that. After the zone conference on Wednesday we had a mini division with Sister Wood and Sister Smyth from the other ward in Gaia. It was fun. Once we all got home we ate pizza and a tub of nutella ice cream and we had a fun little half-hour party. It's nice to be with other sisters once in a while. Thursday we had our interviews with Presidente Amorim. It was probably the best interview I have ever had in my entire life. He let me ask him a question and then he asked me a bunch of questions to help me find my own answer... it was really good and the Spirit was really strong. I really missed Presidente and Sister Fluckiger when they left, but I really just love Presidente and Sister Amorim. 

All week long (actually, all transfer long) I'd had a feeling that I would be leaving Gaia, but because I was in denial I decided not to pack. We did however get a lot of our giant to-do list done. Gabriel had moved to Porto several weeks ago but we were never able to get him switched off to those elderes there and we got that done. Gabriel seemed to really like the elders. We also cleaned up our area book and we found out that a bunch of people don't actually live in our area anymore. It's tedious work, but it's good to get it done and it makes it easier for the next missionaries. It was also really nice to see so much of my area before leaving. 

Sunday was Fast and Testimony meeting and Carlos (who normally has a million excuses about why he can't come to church.... generally, they're about the mafia *eye roll*), showed up because he knew it was my last Sunday. The MMA fighter José said he was going to come, but then when he saw that it was raining he decided not to go.... *another eye roll*. People are so silly sometimes... and also really lazy sometimes. It was probably one of the best testimony meetings I've seen in my mission though. A lot of people had the chance to get up and share their testimonies so it was really nice. Sunday night we had lunch with a member named Maria de Jesus (she's the Bishop's mother-in-law) and then we went to choir practice and then we had dinner with the bishop's family while we waited for transfer calls. While we waited I returned Elder Andrade's violin to him (sadness... lots and lots of sadness... I liked the little violin). We went back to Bishop's house and we got the transfer calls. Then I sat on the floor in the Bishop's house and cried with everybody for a half hour... it was good. :) Then I called all the investigators and all the members and told them goodbye. That was actually the hardest part. Gabriel said though that it is impossible to forget Sister Smith and that in 6 months we can talk on facebook, so that's something on the bright side. 

I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning packing and then we had all kinds of adventures trying to get to the bus stop in Batlha in Porto. I got a bus from Porto to Coimbra and then I had to switch buses and I made it up to Leiria. Leiria is basically the fairytale storybook town that everyone thinks about when they think about Europe. There is a giant castle and it's right outside our door, the buildings are just cute, and it's very storybook-like... it's a little weird actually. My new companion is Sister Larson and I was telling her that Leiria is probably what most people think of when they think of where I'm serving my mission. :) É verdade. It's really tricky to do email here though. The library only has three computers and there's an internet café that also has only three computers, so I apologize in advance if my emails become kind of iffy while I'm here in Leiria. I'll do my best. The apartment is bigger than the Gaia apartment but it's really empty and it's gonna be really cold in the winter time. It'll be fun. :) From our apartment window we can see the castle on the hill and the futebol stadium.... it's a pretty cute looking area. We'll just have to see if it's a cute working area. :)

I have basically dumped my brain into this email and I don't know what else to say. Thank you for all the emails this week. Benjamin, don't forget to send me a video of when you get your mission call. It would be cool if you came to Portugal... obviously it's one of the best places to go, but where ever you go remember that it is where you will be the best missionary you can be and that Heavenly Father needs you there. It all works out in the end. :)

I love you all!!! <3

Little Sister Smith

P.S. The pictures are from one of the highest parts in our area that we hiked to the other day. The other picture is me and Sister Runyan right before I left on the bus.... :) We're pretty cute. 

P.P.S. Finally!!! I am in an area that has a post office!!! Letters galore! :D 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Eu amo a Conferência Geral!!! Melhor fim da semana... sempre. :)

At the end of a long six months full of the ups and downs of life, General Conference is literally the best thing ever. This week was a little bit rough. I have a very strong feeling that I'm going to get transferred to a different area and generally when that happens I get a little overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings that I'm not making a difference, that I haven't done any good, that I'm wasting my time and that my mission hasn't been worth it, etc. etc. It's not a lot of fun to have those thoughts, but it's been an opportunity to evaluate why I'm here and choose to be more humble and try to be more of the missionary that Heavenly Father wants me to be. Sometimes we have to stop and really think about why we're doing the things we're doing, and then we have to ask ourselves if we're doing everything that Heavenly Father needs us to be doing. I talked to Sister Wood the Sister Training Leader for about an hour one day because I was so discouraged and she told me that I need to be more patient with myself and remind myself that I don't have to be perfect now, but that I just have to be trying. Pacience.... that word never goes away.... I think Heavenly Father is trying to tell me somethine. Maybe I need to develop more patience. :) Maybe.... we'll see.

This week we've been going "Menos Ativo Hunting" so we've been going through the ward lists and looking for all the people we don't know. Then, we pull out the maps and we go and hunt for them. Turns out most of them don't live there anymore, but there have been a couple funny ones. You remember that scene in the "R.M." movie where he's home teaching and the old lady is watching around the corner to not let him in? That's basically what happened with one lady. She saw us and then she realized that we were the missionaries, so her eyes got really wide and she backed down the stairs and didn't come to the gate.... it was a little awkward at the time. :) We actually weren't able to find one guy on the map and then as we were walking one day I saw a guy up the road a little ways and I thought "I ought to contact him." Turns out it was that menos ativo that we hadn't been able to find. Also, he's an old friend of Avelino's and he didn't know that Avelino had been baptized, but he's coming to church next week and it will be good. We went and passed by his house with Xeca on Saturday morning before conference and on the way back to the capela this car pulled over and the people asked for directions to Porto. They were from Spain... and holy smokes... the Spanish accent is the strangest thing I've ever heard in my life. 

On Saturday, we watched a rebroadcast of the Women's session at 15h and then as 17h assistimos a sessão do sábado da manhã. The afternoon session started at 21h here so we watched the first 20 mintues at Xeca's house to see who the new apóstolos foram e depois voltamos à casa. Sunday morning they showed the Priesthood session at 10h and while that session was going we went Menos Ativo hunting in the rain for three hours. There was a rebroadcast of the Saturday Afternoon Session at 13h and then at 17h we watched the Sunday Morning Session. This morning for p-day we watched the Sunday Afternoon Session at the capela and it was actually my favorite session. I loved all the talks (we were discussing that maybe the church decided that all the talks need to be given in English again... is that what happened?). I really, really loved the Sunday afternoon session. When President... well, now he's not the president of BYU-Idaho, but when Elder Clark talked I lost it and then when Elder Bednar talked I really lost it and I just cried and cried and cried. Also, what happened to Presidente Monson when he was speaking. We were all pretty sure that he was going to fall down. There were lots of prayers said for him after the Sunday Morning Session. The recent converts Maria and Albertina (the really old ladies) had a rough day on Sunday. They're really, REALLY old and Albertina fell down on Sunday while I was on the phone with her... it was mildly traumatizing for me but she's okay the members are helping them out. 

I am just about out of time now.... and I still have way to much to say... how frustrating. Oh well. Hopefully, someday I will learn how to type faster and focus the subject of my emails. I would love to give you a talk-by-talk commentary of General Conference and our week and all the roads we walked on (we found a road in our area that goes all the way down to the river... and there were goats on it), but I don't have time... and it's probably not all that interesting actually. 

I do just want you all to know that really this gospel is true. None of us are perfect and the leaders of the church are people with imperfections and weaknesses too, but just like them we can be led by the Spirit to become better people and learn what Heavenly Father would have us do. His plan will never fail, but He wants us to take an active part in helping with the work so that we can be safe and happy. I've never been so grateful for the Gospel in my life as I am now, but more than anything I want you all to feel the same way to. The Church is true and it's the biggest blessing that we have it in our lives. 

Little Sister Smith

P.S. There's a view from the road that goes down to the river... and there are the goats and the sheep. Also, Sister Runyan got her hair cut last week and I'm getting my hair but this week too... dun dun dun!!!

P.P.S. I really liked that part in General Conference when he said that Heavenly Father doesn't answer our prayers just to satisfy our curiosity, but that He answers our prayers if we have real intent to act on the answers He gives.... mind blown. That is exactly what our investigators need to hear. :)

Monday, September 28, 2015


We went and explored Porto for p-day today. We just got off the metro stop at Trindade and we walked for three hours. It was a lot of fun. :) We got a little lost but it was really fun and we saw a lot of cool things. We walked from Trindade down the Avenida dos Alíados and then we walked up to the Torre dos Clerigos and then we explored some parks. It was fun. In one of the parks there was this statue of drunks guys pushing their friend down and some random Português guy came and asked us if we wanted a picture with it. The nice little old man took our picture with the goofy statue. In that same park there were really, really, REALLY big old trees and they made me happy. :)

P.S. I bought post cards!!! I'll send them this week.

Hooray for email time! :)

Guess what família?! There weren't any computers open at the library, so we're at the capela and I don't have tons of time. :D Que bom. Vida boa. Mas eu vou mandar fotos desta semana e só contar algumas histórias engraçadas desta semana. :) I will send more fotos in other emails.

 This week we had our big activity for the "Conheça os Mórmons" movie night. We spent the whole week literally talking to EVERYBODY!!! It was fun, and I made a discovery that even if we don't get big numbers and the elders tell us that they don't think we're working hard, when we are actually giving everything we've got we're happy and we feel that Heavenly Father is happy with us too. It was a good week. On Saturday we had a big activity in the road with all the members. We were at the metro stop at Santo Ovidio for a couple of hours and we had posters and we were singing hymns and literally talking to everybody on the road. It was a lot of fun. We were split up in groups through Gaia and I was with a bunch of missionaries from Porto. Sister Runyan was in a different group with missionaries from another part of Gaia. It was fun. In the end the only investigators we had at the filme were Gabriel and Carlos. Gabriel really liked it and he said he almost cried until he looked over and saw me and Sister Runyan crying. :) We're sisters. We cry during church movies. :)

This week we are going Menos Ativo hunting and we're discovering that lots of the members on our list of members don't actually live here anymore. It givs us lots of opportunities though to find new people. It's good. 

I don't have time... I am super sorry. It's the library's fault, but I have lots of good pictures to send. Remember to prepare for General Conference and prepare to receive new guidance on what we need to be doing. :) Hooray for modern profetas! I heard about Elder Scott on Saturday, and while I was a little sad I just felt that Heavenly Father already had the new apostles prepared and that He is in charge of everything. He made the plan and his plan can't be stopped. He is in charge of everything, and we just have to trust in Him. 

I love you all!

Sister Smith

Monday, September 21, 2015

Harry Potter has come to Porto... :)

School has started... and that means that all the university students are all walking around in their "Harry Potter" robes. Basically, it brings a little bit more sunshine into our lives every time we see someone in those robes. :) We're odd... we know, but at least we're happy! :) Today for p-day we went to Porto. We took the metro from João de Deus up to the stop in Combatentes and then we walked to the mission office to drop off a coat for Sister Pereira. She left her coat here in Gaia when she got transferred, so we took it up to the mission office for her. We talked to Sister Ransom in the office for a few minutes, and then we got back on the metro at Combatentes and went to Trindade. At Trindade we switched metro lines and we went up to the stop in Sete Bicas in the Porto Norte Zone. We got off there and then we walked to the mall called Norte Shopping. We went to see if they had any fall and winter stuff, but they didn't really have anything. We didn't get a ton done but we did get out of the house this p-day. We went and explored Porto a little bit so it was a good day. We got our groceries done in the morning and then we just wandered around. It was pretty nice.

This last week we spent a good amount of time in the house. The weather was ridiculous and Sister Marinho told me that I wasn't allowed to go out in the rain because she didn't want me to catch pneumonia (the way they say "pneumonia" in Português is so cool). On Tuesday the weather was so bad that the elders were soaked completely... we were pretty dry. :) Wednesday was rainy for part of the day but then in the afternoon it stopped and we went out and worked and then went to our Reunião de Correlação with the ward mission leader and the ward missionaries. After the meeting Xeca was walking with us and this guy named Carlos came up and started asking for money but once we said that we were missionaries he got really upset and stormed off. He knew we weren't going to give him any money so he didn't want to talk to us anymore. Hello people! Salvação é muito mais importante do que dinheiro! Ó pessoas.....

Thursday we finally got to spend the whole day working! And then all of our plans fell through and people didn't want to talk to us on the road. It was a little bit frustrating, but it all worked out okay. Friday we did weekly planning and we planned a ton of visits with members this week to get ready for a big activity this weekend. On Saturday we're going to show "Meet the Mormons" in the capela... if we get the film. It's an act of faith, we don't the filme yet but we're still planning on showing it. Hopefully the bispado will get it before the weekend. Anyway, we're giong to stop by members' houses this week to do lessons about the importance of sharing the gospel. People don't really like to hear about member missionary work, but this activity for "Conhece os Mormons" is super good and we want the members to invite their friends and their family members to see it because it's not a weird activity and it's not something that people would feel uncomfortable going to. It's a movie... and it's a really good movie too! :D I love this movie so much. 

Daddy, you were asking about the investigators so I'll give you the rundown on all of them. We stopped Rodrigo a few weeks ago in the road and he said he wasn't really interested because he likes science and then he started saying something weird about the iluminadi (or something like that... I don't know what it is), but then the next day he sent us a message to say that because he hadn't been able to read my handwriting on the pass-along card (which is weird because my hand-writing is really nice... :) fact not opinion) he went on the site for the Church and started talking with the missionaries online. We taught him the first lesson and it was actually really good. It was probably one of the best lessons I've ever taught on my mission and he came already knowing everything. However, we have not been able to meet with him since. He's always busy but he's going to try to come to the filme on Saturday. Zé is the MMA fighter. We are better than the FBI and we figured out his name and his work schedule so that we knew when we could call and set up appointments with him. He's one where we never meet with him unless we have a member with us. We had passed him off to the elders, but then they didn't show up to an appointment they had set with him and he was offended (and this is why the elders don't have friends). We ran into him on the road one night on the way home and he ended up talking for about and hour and a half.... it was interesting. We discovered quite a lot about him, but mostly that he needs a lot of help. Yeah, he needs help. Then there's our investigator Carlos.... he's vry secretive and refuses to say anything about his personal life, but I'm really annoying and I keep asking him questions and we're pretty sure that he's on probation or involved in something really sketchy... we were talking to the Bishop's wife last night and she has all the same theories that I have, but she said that she's been planning for weeks now to just follow Carlos one day and see what he does. :) Silly members. We've also started knocking doors around where Zé lives and we found a guy that was taught by the missionaries 10 years ago and he now lives with his girlfriend but he said that we could come back and talk and that he would try to come to the filme at the capela. It will be good. Last night we also got a referência from the Sisters in the ward of Gaia 2. There's a lady that lives in the zone leaders' area that stopped the sisters on the road twice and told them that they had something that she wanted for her family. The elders stopped by but her husband didn't like them, so now we're going to stop by this week and see if we can conseguir a ensinar a família. 

I'm out of time now, but this week I have stamps and cards that I will try to get mailed off. I love you all and don't forget to read the scriptures carefully and apply them to yourselves. That's the way that we are supposed to use them. :) Also, I'm sending the video about the Português scriptures to you all. I'm going to try to send the video in English. If I send the Português one to you... sorry. We watched the video during Escola Dominical ontém e eu quase chorei. Eu choro sempre agora. It's not true, I don't cry a ton anymore but I just get pele da galinha when I see these videos. I love them. Watch the video and appreciate the sacrifices that were made for us all to have the scriptures. :)  

Amo vos muito, muito, MUITO!!! Fiquem bem e façam coisas boas. Não façam asneiras (Xeca tells me that every day).

Amo vos!

Little Sister Smith

P.S. The pictures are of this morning when they were putting up the big posters about the movie activity on Saturday and then Sister Runyan and me outside of the mall in Porto today. :) Foi fixe. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The adventures never stop

I liked reading all your emails this week. Your emails are always really good, but this week they were 5 stars. Cinco estrelas. :)

This week was full of adventures. I was feeling a little bit down this last week and I didn't know why, but then Saturday I had a fever and I slept all Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. It was good, but then yesterday in the afternoon my throat started swelling up and by the night time I was having a hard time breathing so Xeca and Avelino took me to the hospital. Hooray for nice people who take good care of me! The doctor said that I'm just sick and that it should go away in a couple of days. The right side of my neck is still swollen and it looks like I have a tumor growing in my neck, but I'm breathing and I'm feeling better now. :) Não preocupe. 

I got an email from Ana, the girl that I taught in Viseu, and she told me that she went to the temple for the first time this last week. She sent me pictures and everything. It was nice to see pictures of her in front of the temple. 

Today, it is raining.... a ton. Xeca called and told us that on the news they're actually advising people to not go out on the roads in the afternoon because it's supposed to be really rainy and windy. Today is Xeca's birthday though, so we're going to go help her get ready for her birthday party tonight. She's been taking good care of me this week. I call Xeca my "Mãezinha" and she says that basically she's my mom and I'm her kid. :) I sure do like these Português people. :)

I don't have any pictures to send this week... sorry. I'll send double pictures next week. Tell Bishop Frey that I hope that he gets better soon. I'll remember him in my prayers. 

I love you all! Have a great week and don't forget to read in the Book of Mormon every day! :) Every day is better when you read in the scriptures every day. 

Little Sister Smith 

Monday, September 7, 2015

"When you give a mouse a cookie..."

Except for me, the title should be, "When you ask to be shown your weaknesses..."

When you ask to be shown your weaknesses, Heavenly Father gives you just a little glimpse of them. Prayers definitely get answered, sometimes we're just not prepared for the answers. Oh well... É vida. Vamos continuar a melhorar cada dia. É assim... vida boa.  

This week we got the transfer calls. Presidente Amorim does things differently than Presidente Fluckiger. Now we get transfer calls on Tuesday nights, then we have to make our own travel plans, and then we leave on Wednesday morning. Luckily, I am staying in Gaia for one more transfer. FINALLY!!! I get to stay in an area for more than three months! :D We were at Xeca's house when we got the call and Xeca about started crying she was so happy. She didn't want me to leave. Yesterday Xeca actually told me that after my mission if I want to come back to Gaia I can live in her house and she'll help me find a job and a husband and she'll help me get Português citizenship e tudo. I think Xeca likes me. Sister Runyan and I are together for one more transfer and we're currently in the process of trying to find new investigators. We still talk to Carlos and Gabriel but Zé quit talking to us and we really need to find new people. We found one family that was taught by the missionaries last year. We're going to try to start teaching them again. Our little old lady investigator Maria José didn't get baptized. She doesn't really want to get baptized and to avoid doing the baptismal interview she nearly died.... yeah. That was probably one of the weirdest experiences ever. I don't ever want to repeat that ever again. I was a mess and I was crying and the elders were all there and they just kept making jokes. We have a brand new elder too. It was his second day in the country and he had no idea what was going on. Poor kid. He was so confused. Oh well.... little old ladies are so stubborn. 

We also found a guy named João.... or Juan. He's half espanhol and half português. We thought he was pretty cool (and way lost and a little weird... he's an "artist") and we started teaching him and it was all going great until he started asking me if I wanted to go to the bar with him and get a drink. It happens a lot so we didn't think anything of it because it's a very normal thing here, but then the second time he and his friend invited me to get a drink with them we figured it was probably best to just leave. Turns out he's not even in the country any more. He went... somewhere? We don't actually know. He just kind of wanders around. It was an interesting experience and if anything it makes me more grateful that I have a normal, structured life. :)

This week we also started teaching a gypsy family that lives in the zone leaders' area. The zone leaders have been working with them for months but the family also likes the Sisters and they respond really well to us. There are different kinds of gypsies and these ones are the kind that aren't dangerous at all. They're from Romania and they have a little bit of a hard time speaking Português so we talked to Presidente Amorim and he said he will try to find out if it's possible to have Romanian speaking missionaries teach with us using Skype. That would be really nice. They're a really nice family. They are actually some of the nicest people I've ever met, but they've got some struggles. They can't find work and they're trying really hard to quit smoking, but quitting smoking is turning out to be a huge battle for them. Also, not all of the family is here. Part of the family is still in Romania and they have relatives going in and out quite a lot. They're really nice though. 

I have run out of things to say. :) That's new. Oh wait, I remembered something. Presidente Amorim in his weekly email this week said that he wants to start corresponding with our parents so don't be surprised if you get an email from him. Maybe. I don't know when he'll start doing that. Also, I love p-day because then we do groceries and that way we have food in our house. We're much happier missionaries when we have food in the house. :D

Little Sister Smith

P.S. This week we tried teaching Ana and her kids how to make chocolate chip cookies.... Português people just can't quite get it.:) They tasted fine but they looked awful.  

The other picture is us with Gabriel. We had a lesson with him this week and he thinks we are just the weirdest people on the entire planet. :) He's pretty cool though. It was a really good lesson and he is progressing a ton! He just doesn't realize it. :D

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hospitais são tão divertidos... :)

This week felt more like 7 months and it was really weird... but it was one of my favorite weeks of my mission! :D I love being a missionary.

So Monday night I woke up with a lot of pain in my toes of my left foot and then in the morning they were all swollen and a little red. During the day it got so bad that I couldn't even walk so we went to the farmácia and the doctors said that it was just a bug bite. Well, Tuesday I hobbled around a little bit but then Wednesday I could barely walk so we hobbled along to Xeca's house and she looked at my foot because my toes were kind of purple-ish and swollen. Xeca was concerned so we called Sister Marinho who's in charge of the health of the sisters in the mission and she was all concerned and upset so she sent in a guarantee of payment to the hospital and then on Thursday morning we went to the emergency room because my foot was all funny. The best part is though, that my foot looked normal by the time we got to the hospital in Porto so they just thought we were crazy. :) Pois... The nurses and doctors were all very nice though and I was abnormally happy so it was a pretty good opportunity to talk to every single person there about the gospel... I actually had a lot of fun going to the hospital. People loved talking to me and it was probably one of the more successful days of missionary work I've had in my mission. :D I enjoyed it. It was also a huge blessing because it turns out I had misplaced my health insurance card. I had to find it so that we could go to the hospital, and now if there's any real medical emergency I know where I have my health insurance card and my residency card. I also made sure that my companion knows where I keep those things as well. Hooray! I think I actually had too much fun going to the hospital... I was too happy so the doctor didn't take my medical emergency very seriously. Oh well. He said it was just inflamation and I've been taking medicine for it. It magically healed the next day, so I figure that Heavenly Father sent us to the hospital for reasons other than my foot. Hooray for opportunities to share the gospel!!! :D (It was so much fun... I just can't get over it. It's one of the best parts of my mission).

Anyway.... that was really the most exciting part of my week. I've literally been waiting all week to tell you about the hospital trip... but now that I read it, it sounds really boring. You'll just have to take my word for it and trust that it was fun. :)

This weekend we had three baptisms in our district. Elder Camper (who is actually going home tomorrow) and Elder Kreutzer had a family get baptized. The mom is the sister of a member and they got baptized on Saturday. They are super cute. Then on Sunday Elder Brown and Elder Pedro had an investigator named Silvia get baptized. She was marked for baptism last year but for some reason she just stopped talking to the missionaries. She got baptized yesterday after church. It was really cool to watch her though. The Spirit was so strong and she started crying before her baptism and then afterward she couldn't even talk. Her cousin was there and her cousin felt the Spirit so strongly that she went up to the Elders and asked to know more. That never happens!!! It is literally the coolest thing ever when people come asking the missionaries about the gospel! It was a really good week. We have a little old lady that we've been teaching for forever that is going to be baptized this weekend. Her name is Maria José. She's pretty sick and we just feel very strongly that we need to baptize her as soon as possible... yeah. So she's getting baptized on Saturday. She was supposed to be baptized last year, but never showed up to her baptism because she just didn't feel like it, but this time that's not happening. I will carry her on my back if necessary. Little old ladies are so stubborn sometimes... and lazy. Gee... that kind of describes me sometimes, stubborn and lazy. Hmmm.... :)

On Sunday the lesson in Princípios do Evangelho the lesson was about Caridade. Nothing makes you feel worse than having a lesson on Charity... I think I've got a fair bit of work to do in that department. Actually, I believe that developing charity is a lifelong pursuit for almost everybody. We're all in the same boat. 

The library closed early.... again. We haven't figured out how to tell when they close early or not. Oh well. Someday we'll figure it out. I'll send Mom all the pictures and then she can distribute them. I love you all!!!


Little Sister Smith

P.S. There's a picture of me in front of the hospital and then a picture of the couple that was baptized on Saturday, José e Liliane.

Ana Cruz and her daughter and then on Sunday we were all invited to Xeca's house for dinner. 

The elders had a lot of fun at Xeca's house. They had fun with her hats and her African drums. It was pretty fun.