Olá familia! First off, I'm having the hardest time writing in English. You know how I used to pay really close attention to make sure I had perfect spelling? Not anymore. I'm starting to spell English words with Portuguese things..... my poor little brain cannot handle it. By the end of my mission you may very well just be getting emails in Portuguese because I'm really having to think to write in English. But that's a good thing! That's a very, very, VERY good thing!
It seems like the theme of my life and the theme of everything back home this week was enduring to the end. Before my mission it was just a cute little phrase that you said to inspire yourself. No. Heavenly Father is very serious about enduring to the end, but not just enduring. He wants us to be striving every day to be doing the best we can and helping other people too. Sometimes that's really hard and exhausting, but we have to keep on doing it. Enduring to the end is so important, but Heavenly Father knows everything that's going on. He's aware of every detail because He's in every detail of our lives, and we just have to remember that His plan is better than ours. When we give everything to Him, that's when the miracles will start happening. It's very humbling and sometimes really frustrating, but we just have to remember that we can't see the big picture. Heavenly Father knows what needs to happen for us to become what He wants us to be. Isn't that great? We just have to trust in Him and then everything will work out.
These last two weeks have been a great opportunity to learn a lot of things. I don't think I have ever walked this much in my life, and I about made Sister Hirschi die laughing when I told her, "I think I've talked to more people in the last two weeks than I have in the last 19 years of my life combined." Yeah. she thought that was really funny. I got really discouraged when all of our investigators marked for baptism fell through and then when we lost almost all of our investigators. I just didn't understand why we were working so hard every single day and nothing was working out the way we wanted it to. That's the problem though, we were thinking about how we wanted things to work out and not how Heavenly Father wanted things to work out.
Sister Hirschi has done several pink washes during her mission and she says that it's always hard in the beginning. You have to give everything and nearly kill yourself working just to get things going, but once they get going it's amazing how many miracles you can see. She said that President Fluckiger is so inspired and he put the two of us together here in Viseu for a reason. He told her that he wants us to turn this area around and make it a thriving part of the mission. That humbled me a lot. The fact the Heavenly Father trusts us enough to put me here with Sister Hirschi to do that work is a huge boost. I'm just so grateful that I have an amazing companion to help me in this work. Seriously, companions are inspired. We couldn't do it alone, and we're surrounded by angels. Sister Hirschi and I did a fast the other day and after we started that fast we got maps and we made the most amazing plans ever. They were so detailed and we were so prepared. We prayed about them and we got confirmations that those were exactly the plans that we needed to have that night. The crazy thing though is that nothing went according to plan, and yet the biggest miracles happened that night. As we tried to follow our plans and the promptings of the Spirit we met ELECT people on the streets: people that had met the missionaries before and families that wanted to hear about the gospel and people that Heavenly Father had been preparing. Sister HIrschi said it was one of the best days of her life! I didn't want to stop working and go home (literally, that was the first time I didn't want to stop working... so yeah, miracles happen) and I just wanted to keep working all night long even though it was cold! That was the best day of my mission so far. I had a fire for missionary work and even when people were rejecting us and being rude, I wasn't bothered because I was just so happy. That's what happens with missionary work! It's so, so, SO HARD but then if you give it everything you've got Heavenly Father lets you see the blessings too.
We're starting the work of harvesting here and we're planting seeds everywhere too! Literally, everywhere. Heavenly Father prepares the people and then He calls us to invite them to follow the Savior. Missionary work is so hard, but it's always worth it even if we don't see the results of all of our efforts.
That was a long chunk of my email just about enduring to the end.... moving on. So this week has been colder, but luckily I'm bundled up with big scarves, some lovely gloves that mom got me, two pairs of socks, and two pairs of thick tights.... I'm such a wimp. I love the food and I'm now used to the culture and the people. It's very different, but it's good. We were all getting sick this past week, but I got a blessing and now I'm feeling much better.
I was reading Jesus the Christ the other day and James E. Talmage made an analogy of the Atonement and plants, and my little horticulture heart was so happy. I love plants so much. Remember the importance of the gospel, tell people you love them, and always appreciate all the little plants every where. :)
I love you all, and I'm grateful for all of your prayers!
P.S. The pictures are of the view of the city from the chapel and a picture of the country side from a member's house (we had to drive a half hour to get to their house... it was an adventure).
Also, the Church announced the new missions and mission presidents. The Porto Mission President is not Brasilian like we were told, but I'm convinced I've seen him and his wife before. They look really familiar.
I love you all!
I have videos of the song but the email won't let me send them. On Sunday there was this group of people going singing and asking for money. The members said they do it all the time and they go all over the city. They're not gypsies but I think the member's said it's just a cultural thing... I don't know.