Olá família... P.S. I love you all. Sister Bender and I were talking about how we never realized how much we loved our families until we were here in the mission field. I would also just like to add that I've never been more grateful for my familiy. After hearing all the stories and seeing all the messed up families of our investigators I'm really, really, REALLY grateful for my normal well-adjusted family. We don't try to stab each other with knives... yeah. We have some very interesting investigators, but don't worry Daddy. We're kept safe.
Anyway, Ana is getting baptized this month!!! Of all the people I've met I think she's probably one of my favorites... and that's a big deal because I love almost everybody here. She's just special. She came up to Viseu for the weekend and we visited and had a lesson Friday night (such a miracle... it was a rough day, but Ana made everything better!). It was great and she talked about how she decided to be baptized. Basically her family says she's crazy and has lost her mind and it was really hard for her, but she told me that she just knew she had to be baptized. So she picked the date Fevereiro 28 and then she prayed about it and said that it felt so right. So she'll be baptized this month!!! I love her so much. We had a lesson, but then during church the next day I had the thought that I needed to share DeC 122 with her. A member Paula was with us (her story is similar to Ana's) and all I felt like I needed to say was that everything she's going through is going to be a benefit to her later. She'll be able to help so many other people because of her example. Then Ana started talking about how she's already doing family history and she has names ready for the temple. The Spirit was so strong! We were all just crying but I know without a doubt that she's going to be helping her family on both sides of the veil. Missionary work isn't very classy, but moments like that make everything worth it. We might not baptize thousands every week, but one true convert can change the world!
Holy smokes! Want to hear the most amazing story ever?! So President Fluckiger has a goal of 600 baptisms before he's released in June. We're working our guts out to try and find people whoe can be baptized so we're going through the area book and finding names of people who've been to church before. We made some maps and we were trying o find all the houses ( turns out some of the addresses don't exist... so Benjamin, when you're a missionary at the end of this year please make sure the addresses are real). Anyway, we were up in the area by the Cathedral here in Viseu and we were trying to find the family of a Recem Converso. We finally found the predio but no one was answering the door. Finally, I told Sister Bender that I wanted to say a prayer. Literally as soon as we finished the prayer a man opened the door. He had the weirdest surpirsed look on his face. We asked if he'd seen our colegas before and he just nodded. We got a return appointment to meet with him and his girlfriend a few days later. On the way there I kept having this feeling that this visit was really important. We got to Manuel and Paula's house and they invited us in and pretty soon Manuel just hung his head and told us that he was already a member. He was baptized in 1998, but he's been inactive for a long time. He said that he's been trying to change his life because he wants to go back to church and now he wants to go to the temple with Paula... He wanted a way to come back to the church and then when he walked out of his house the other day we were standing there. I can say that I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father's plan is perfect! There's no way we would have found Manuel or Paula on our own, but Heavenly Father led us to them. Manuel has a solid testimony and he's helping us teach Paula the lessons. MILAGRES estão a acontecer!!!
Those are my big stories for the week. This was a really rough week. We learned that street contacting is really hard in the rain, but I'm turning into Sister Hirschi a little bit. I don't use an umbrella anymore because it's harder to talk to people with the umbrella... and even if I'm super sick I still roll out of bed at 6h55 and crawl to the light switch like Sister Hirschi. She was so dedicated... I'm glad I had her as my trainer this last transfer. She's crazy, but she made a huge difference.
Mommy, I'm going to be so fat when I come home from my mission. The food here is too good and now that the members really like us, they want to feed us all the time. My favorite fodd so far is just a simple rice and beans dish. Feijoada. I love feijoada.... I could eat it all day... every day. And the pastries... I think I like food too much. It's a good thing we exercise every morning and walk everywhere. Also, I think Rick Steves should visit Europe the way missionaries do. The places he goes to are so touristy... he really doesn't show what Europe is actually like. Daddy, people like to speak German to me. I can understand everything they say, but I'm only able to respond in Portuguese.... it's confusing to me, but I'm glad the Spirit helps me understand and speak Portuguese. :)
I am running out of time! I still have so many stories to tell, but they can wait until after my mission. I love being a missionary. It's so hard, but it's always worth it!
P.S. the Spirit has turned me into a great big puddle of emotions... I cry all the time during church and lessons.
The pictures are of me and Ana and my favorite pastry... I don't know what it's called, but I know that I like it. :)