It's true. My companion is finishing her mission next week, but we don't speak of that. No really... we don't talk about that.
Mama, I hope you enjoyed the humidity. It's very, very, VERY different from a good dry Idaho winter, but I'm tough now. The cold doesn't bother me and I'm just walking around in my light jacket now. I think it's pretty mild, but if I think this weather is perfect I'm going to have another adjustment period in summer time. That will be an adventure.
I realized I am not a very good email writer... after I send off my email every week, Sister Hirschi reads what she wrote and I realize that there are so many things that I forgot. Sorry. Someday you'll all hear all the stories.
So last week Sister Hirschi had to do divisions in Foz and in Gaia so I was in Coimbra for almost four days. We did not want to be out of our area for that long. At first I was excited, but then the realization of how much time we were spending away from our area hit me and I didn't want to go. As we left on the bus I was homesick for Viseu and I had the thought that it's going to be a lot harder when I'm transferred to another area. I just thought it was so strange that in the beginning I hated Viseu and I wanted to be anywhere else, but now I love the people so much. I love our ward members and our investigators and our ghetto apartment. The members in Coimbra love me too though. I've been in Coimbra at least once every week this transfer because of divisions and the members now ask me when I'm coming back. They told me last week that they want me to be transferred to Coimbra next transfer. We'll have to see about that. I kind of (kind of nothing) I really, REALLY want to stay in Viseu next transfer. We were out of our area for so long, but Heavenly Father took care of our area and prepared people for us when we got back. Our investigators Rute and Ana spent almost all of Saturday afternoon with us. Ana came and did contacting in the street with us. She's not baptized yet, but she says she's planning on going on a mission next year! Felicidade! Then we had a lesson with both Rute e Ana and the Spirit was so strong! Holy smokes! It was amazing to see how they've only known about the church for a few months, but they believe everything as soon as they hear it. When we taught Rute the Word of Wisdom all she said was, "I didn't know tea was bad for us. I won't drink it anymore" It was amazing. Anyway, our lesson with Rute and Ana on Saturday was amazing! They sat there and taught each other. It was the most amazing thing. Rute was explaining the Gift of the Holy Ghost to Ana and then Ana was explaining Fasting and Fast Offerings. It's the most amazing experience to see your investigators grow and share the gospel with people around them. It's proof that the missionaries aren't the teachers. Heavenly Father prepares His children and then He sends the missionaries to help them find the Church. That's really all we do. As we taught about Family History e Templos the Spirit was so strong and I had the impression that their families are waiting for them to get baptized. They're going to change the lives of so many people and they're going to change their families too. That night we had a noite familiar with Familia Vale in our ward and we had five investigators there. Cinco!!! And they're all jovems! That's what we need right now is more youth so it was fantastic!
"The hour you receive the most revelation is during companionship study." It's so true! I love companionship study. Basically every morning that we're in our area and we have a normal study schedule, we have a one hour long "Mini General Conference Session" as we share what we learned in personal study. Sister Hirschi is awesome. Basically I love her. She's so weird, but I love her. Yesterday her words of wisdom were "As a missionary, you need to be just as prepared as you want your investigators to be." Today her words of wisdom were "The end of your mission is the foundation for the rest of your life and I don't want to start the rest of my life being sad or depressed. I want to end my mission and start the rest of my life being as happy and full of faith as I can be." We also read a lot of talks about the pioneers and this morning one of the things we read was that the challenges we face today are different, but just as difficult as what the pioneers faced. We have their examples and the foundation they built so that we can be full of hope and live our lives as disciples of Christ every day. The question to ask yourself every day is "Am I happy? Am I full of faith?"
Sister Hirschi likes to read all her emails to me and her little brother is in Brasil on a mission right now. Something he wrote last week really stuck with me. He said that every day when they make plans it would be a lot easier and a lot more comfortable to just go and visit with members or the same investigators everyday, but that if you want miracles you have to dig and dig and dig and do the things that are harder and not as comfortable. When you do it though, miracles really do happen. Normally when we plan we do plan things that I don't like to do, but when I jsut dig in and trust Heavenly Father and do what I know needs to be done, literally, miracles happen. Last night our plans didn't come through but Heavenly Father blessed us. We were able to meet with a recent convert and invite him to start coming to church again. We also had AMAZING lessons in the street last night. I'm not a huge fan of street contacting (I'm a Smith... I'm not a people person... yeah) but Sister Hirschi prays every day that I'll be blessed with the Gift of Loving Street Contacting (she believes in praying for realy specific things... I'm starting to do it too because it totally works). However, I know that Heavenly Father only blesses us when we do our part. So, if I want the Gift of Loving Street Contacting... I have to just dig in and do street contacting. Last night as we did it though we ran into a guy named Ismael from Lisboa and while we were talking to him the Spirit just kind of hit me and I had the overwhelming feeling that he is my brother and the Heavenly Father loves him just as much as he loves. When you feel the love the Heavenly Father has for other people, that's what makes the difference. Once you feel that, you don't let anything stop you from doing your work as a missionary (Once a member, always a missionary!).
Long email... I talk a lot... sorry. Funny story. Turns out there are actually quite a lot of white Portuguese people with lighter hair. Usually people come up and start speaking French or Ukranian to me because they think I'm from those places, but now people are starting to think I'm Portuguese. The other day we were talking to a woman in the street and she was asking Sister Hirschi where she was from. Sister Hirschi said that we were both from the United States, but then the woman pointed at me and said that I was Portuguese. She was saying that I spoke Portuguese like a Portuguesa, but Sister Hirschi spoke like an American. The funny part is that I couldn't understand what the woman was saying. Sister Hirschi translated for me later. So people think I'm Portuguese... but I can't understand what they're saying sometimes. Oh goodness. The ward members tell me every week that they've never seen missionaries learn the language as quickly as I have. It's not because of anything I've done though. Heavenly Father gave me the Gift of Tongues because that's what was needed to do the work here. I'm so grateful every day for it. Never take be ungrateful for any gift you're given. It's so true that Heavenly Father qualifies you to do the work. When He gives a commandment He provides a way.
I love you all and I love reading your emails and hearing all your stories. Daddy and Matthew, you both told me to write in my journal. Two weeks in a row I've gotten that advice and that's what I've been struggling with. I think Heavenly Father is telling me that I need to take more time to write in my journal because it's not just for me.
Tell Kandi that I'm excited for her and I'd like to send her an email. Mama will you tell Kandi that and get her email for me? Benjamin, I also have a letter about being a missionary that I would like to send you. I'm excited for you to get ready for a mission. It's the hardest thing I've ever done and in the beginning I didn't think I could do it for 16 more months, but being a stubborn Smith I refused to give up and now I don't ever want to leave. I only have 15 more months! Seriously! Janeiro 29 is my 3 month mark. I love all the stories about Alexis and Ammon and Evy and Asa. They're all pretty cute. I love you all and I love your emails every week, even if you all think you lead boring lives and you have nothing to talk about. (P.S. What happened to Eric? He's the one sibling I never hear from or about... is he still alive?)
I love you all, and the Church is true! Try every day to be a little better!
P.S. Biggest miracle ever: last week as we were running to the bus I lost my tag. Someone picked it up and set it on a flower pot and the elders found it there... a week later we found the clip of the sidewalk. Que MILAGRE!
These two pictures are of Coimbra last week.
P-day in Viseu
A random sign that we see all over the place here in Viseu... I'm not sure exactly what it means. Something about stuff to do in Viseu... I don't really know.
Noite familiar com Familia Vale and our investigators.