Sunday, March 29, 2015

"I felt the rains down in Africa..."

Sorry, that's not a mission song, but it goes through my head every time it rains here. This week was very interesting. I was joking with Sister Mills that I feel like I'm in a very different country. In the north there are more immigrants from eastern Europe so people always thought I was from Europe, but here all the immigrants are from Africa.... oddly enough, nobody thinks I'm from Africa. :) Everybody speaks a little bit of Portuguese, but mostly they all speak Criolo.... it's an adventure. I will probably end up learning a little bit of Criolo but I think that's a little too complicated for my little brain. When I got here last Monday I was a little stressed out and a little sad because I missed Viseu but I gave myself a good little pep-talk (which consisted of "Sister Smith, you're a wimp. Toughen up.") and it's been a pretty good week every since. :)

Here in Miratejo it's a lot more humid than Viseu and there are no hills. Our apartment is so close to the river and we're really not that far from the ocean. It's pretty humid here though. Mom, you wouldn't like it. Viseu was an old city, but it was wide open and surrounded by fields. Miratejo is the city and I heard from one of the missionaries that it's a little bit like living down south in the United States... but I wouldn't know. I've never been there before. Our apartment is on the 6ª andar but there are some buildings with 11 and 12 floors. Our apartment is so nice though... I was told that it is probably one of the nicest apartments in the mission. We're in the Setubal stake and we can see Setubal, Seixal, e Barreiro across the river. We're not that far from Belem or Lisboa. It's about a 20 minute train ride over the river to Lisboa. One thing that was a little weird to me (well, it's still kind of strange) in Viseu we had to walk really fast and we had to walk for long periods of time to get anywhere, but here everything is so close. The chapel is two minutes away from our apartment and our area is so small. It's a little strange to not always be walking and running everywhere, so I guess I will eat less chocolate and do more exercises in the mornings. :) Daddy, we do emails in the chapel because there's not an internet café in our area and we'll do skype on Mother's Day here at the chapel too. The internet isn't fantastic but it's good enough to talk to people. Sometimes it doesn't let us send pictures, but oh well. :)

Sister Mills had never changed companions or areas before. I'm her second companion in the mission field and she's my fourth (I was joking that I can't keep companions for more than one transfer so she'll probably get transferred next transfer) but she's doing pretty well. The other day during companionship study she was just staring at me while I was talking and when I asked her what was wrong she just kept saying "You're a completely different person than you were in the MTC." I'm okay with that. I needed to improve a lot at the beginning of my mission, but one thing I've learned is that I still have a long way to go. Sister Mills is pretty amazing though. She had a hard time when her trainer got transferred and she was sick this week, but she didn't give up.

Sister Hirschi told me one time that the mission gets progressively harder but you're ability to endure also increases. I think she's right, but I've been really happy this week. It's almost strange how happy I've been. We got rocks thrown at us this week and I told Sister Mills, "One of those boys is going to get baptized someday."  In the Coimbra zone there was an elder from Brasil and he told us that when he was younger he used to always throw rocks at the missionaries, but now he's a member and he's the missionary that's getting hit by rocks. He told us the story just to show how the gospel can change people. I remembered that story when they were throwing the rocks at us, so of course one of those boys will get baptized someday... and then he'll go on a mission... and then he'll tell the same story... and he'll baptize a family. Sister Mills didn't share my optimistic view of the situation, but it was an adventure. :)

I love being a missionary. Even when it's hard, I just remember that I'm here for a reason and that everything will work out. Heavenly Father's plan is a lot better than my plan and I'm learning an awful lot of things here. I love you all and I'm just glad that I have the opportunity to be a missionary. Sometimes I don't do my best and I'm always making mistakes, but it's nice that we always get second and third chances to improve and keep going.

I love you all!

P.S. The picture is of the sunrise from our bedroom window and today we're going to visit the Cristo Rei statue in Almada so there will be good pictures next week.

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