Monday, February 9, 2015

I LOVE being a missionary!!! Super long email... sorry... :D

Three exclamation points... I'm pretty excited. Oh my goodness. Família... eu amo vos. Vocês são incriveis e amo todos os emails cada semana. Translation: Family... I love you all. You are all incredible and I love all the emails every week. I also get little emails every couple of weeks from my branch presidency from the MTC. I'm convinced that I had the best branch presidency. Seriously, Heavenly Father has given me the opportunity to meet so many people and learn from them all. I didn't know it was possible to love so many people. I guess I'm kind of like the Grinch. My heart is just getting bigger and bigger all the time.

Today during personal study I kept getting distracted thinking about family history and I couldn't figure out why. It wasn't what I'd planned on studying, but then I realized that I was also thinking about Grandpa Smith. Today would have been his birthday right? I never realized how much Heavenly Father blessed me with my family until coming on a mission. I can look back and see how I learned so much that I'm able to use and remember now as a missionary. As a missionary I'm a lot more aware of how thin the veil really is. It's so true that we have angels and family with us... all the time. You can just feel it, and then it gives you this huge desire to go out and share the message of the gospel with EVERYONE so that everyone can have the same knowledge that we have. Basically, families are forever and being a missionary is amazing.

My new companion Sister Bender... I think we were seperated at birth. I love her so much. I was so nervous about having a new companion. I loved Sister Hirschi so much and I was worried that I wouldn't love my next companion as much (Hah! I just love her). She is from Utah and she actually turned 20 two or three weeks ago. She was a ballerina but as she told me last night her true passion is "math and money and graphs." She's an economics major. She's so quirky and so, so, SO happy! All the time... and so calm. So calm. She is honestly the most patient person I've ever met and such an amazing example to me. I've never met anyone more humble than Sister Bender and there's not a mean bone in her body (I've learned though that I have lots of mean bones in my body that I am working on getting rid of), and I know that Heavenly Father wanted me to learn patience and humility from her example. During meals and exercise time we have long conversations about math and science and history... and then I go off about plants and how I want a hobby farm and a cow... she just laughs at me. She also loves old movies and old music... we sing mission appropriate crooners songs all the time because they keep us happy and quite honestly it invites the Spirit. She also loves Audrey Hepburn movies... My Fair Lady and Roman Holiday, but she's a little lacking in the John Wayne department. After the mission... after the mission we'll fix that, but seriously... I'm convinced we were seperated at birth or best friends in the pre-existence.

And she's so inspired. During weekly planning we were both a little frustrated because neither one of us has very much experience and we were both a little homesick and we missed our companions and we felt really sad because a lot of our investigators decided to stop meeting with us. We had a long conversation and she said something that really stuck with me. She said, "As missionaries we're representatives of Jesus Christ, and I think that if we're really going to understand Him and represent Him, we have to feel a little of what He felt." That hit me so hard. Everything changed after that. We've said so many prayers and we've just been praying all the time to receive revelation about what we're supposed to be doing right now in this area in Viseu. This is going to be amazing! The Spirit really helped me remember what a great opportunity a mission is. The Spirit also helped me remember that these are people, not numbers. As missionaries Heavenly Father has trusted us with bringing our brothers and sister to the truth. That's a lot of responsiblity but a great opportunity to feel the same for other people that Heavenly Father has!

Also, I love the members here. Again, I didn't think it was possible to love so many people, but I love the members here. The idea of leaving them one day is something I don't like to think about. All the little crianças are my friends now, and I have a lot of Portuguese "mothers" here. I've been adopted by some of them here in Viseu and a few in Coimbra from the times I went to Coimbra every week. The members here are amazing. I love hearing their conversion stories. Our ward here in Viseu is basically a huge family. Half of the ward is related and most of them have served missions and now have kids that are getting ready to go on missions. It's not a big ward though. Maybe only 40-50 people that are mostly active but it's an amazing ward. We're going to have stake conference here in Viseu in two weeks so the whole stake will be here. It's going to be amazing!

Oh my goodness! Daddy you asked about my MTC companion Sister Anaya, and guess what?! In the letter from President Fluckiger today he listed the 21 missionaries who got their visas and arrived here this week. Sister Anaya was one of them!!! And she's in Castelo Branco in my zone! I was so excited that I was almost in tears! When I see her again I am going to cry... I just know it. :)

I'm starting to really love the mission though. The past three months I've wondered if I'm going to be able to keep doing this. It's hard to get rejected and to get made fun of and it's so much work, but I've realized this week that it's work motivated by love for other people. When you feel that love and you're trying to follow the Spirit, suddenly everything is worth it. If you don't baptize the nation on your mission, but you help a Menos Ativo come back to church and stay firm that's worth all the work and the trials you go through. The time away from our families is worth it if we help other families. We'll never see the full impact of the work we do, but it's always worth it. Every day is full of miracles and every day is amazing! Seriously, one day Sister Hirschi and I were trying to find a guy named João but we only knew his building number and not the porta so we started knocking doors. We saw a door with a big sticker on it that says, "You're special to God." We said, "It's a sign!" A Brasileiro named Bruno lives there with his wife. They actually want to move to the United States, but they are miracle investigators! Sister Bender and I love teaching them. Love the people and suddenly your whole perspective changes. You see more miracles every day!

I love you all!

Sister Smith

P.S. Tell Kandi that I'm happy for her wedding and that I'm excited for her. Please tell Bishop and Sister Berry thank you for the letter. Bishop Berry typed up his conversion story and included it. It almost made me cry. We have the coolest ward every. *Random side note: on the envelope Bishop and Sister Berry wrote the "Portugal Libia Mission".... I laughed, but I'm glad I got the letter. Tell Benny good luck in Cour d'Alene and with rugby. I was actually thinking about rugby this week. For the first time in my mission I'm meeting a lot of people that live for futebol. Seriously... if they didn't have soccer I think they wouldn't keep on living.

P.P.S. The pictures are of Bruno's door and the other one is of Sister Bender. She hit the "Sunday afternoon wall" during language study and she was out. I took lots of pictures. :)

"You're special to God"

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