Monday, April 27, 2015

Changes... and more changes...

Another transfer down.... 6 month mark is next week.... and I have a new companion again. Vida é assim. One thing I know is that the mission is making me a lot more resiliente to change. When I got here I was pretty shy and timid and terrified of everything, but now the prospect of travelling alone or working with someone I don't know in a foreign country doesn't even phase me. It's kind of weird when I think about some of the changes I've seen in myself, so I just try to avoid thinking about it. :)

Last week.... not much happened. Really. It was kind of a dead week. Sister Mills and I were both convinced that we were going to get white washed, so the OCD took over and I deep cleaned the apartment during mealtimes. It was actually really nice. Sister Mills was taking pictures of me and she kept telling me, "I don't understand the need for complete organization, but it helps you destress so you can keep going." We didn't get whitewashed though. We got the transfer calls Sunday night and Sister Mills has been transferred to Setubal and my new companion here in Miratejo is Sister McCall (she was actually up in Coimbra and she baptized a guy that Sister Donahoo and I contacted... and the ward up there was so excited to hear that she was my companion.... small world). I just love Sister McCall. She's 25, from Kentucky, has a Bachelor's Degree in Biology, is super clean (good thing I cleaned the apartment), and super happy. She's just about the nicest person I've met. We tried taking pictures to send to you but our selfie-taking skills are pretty poor. You'll have to wait until next week.

I had to go to Lisboa by myself to get her from the bus stop, so I left Sister Mills at the train station in Corroios and I got on the train to Lisboa. It was kind of funny and sad because she was still standing on the platform on the other side (because the train to Setubal is on a different line) and I was just waving to her from inside the train.... it was a lot like that part in Fiddler on the Roof where his daughter is on the train to Russia.... that's the sad part. It's always sad when you get a new companion, but the funny part is that as I was waving to her she pulled her camera out and took pictures of me in the train... it was kind of funny. People were giving us funny looks, but it was worth it. I went to Lisboa by myself, got Sister McCall from the bus stop, we came back and she unpacked... so far it's been a pretty good day. I really like Sister McCall. She's really nice.

Apparently where we are this transfer determines which mission we are in..... Missão Portugal Lisboa!!! Hooray! (I love the north, but I still want to go serve in the Algarve where Sister Hirschi served) It's kind of sad though because lots of my missionary friends are in the north. It's not a set in stone thing, but I like the south too. Actually, I just like Portugal. Portugal is good. The new mission president for the Lisboa mission is from Brasil. I'm excited. Vai ser divertido.

Mom, I don't say much about investigators because we didn't have any progressing investigators last transfer, but we are going to have some this transfer so you can hear all about the stories. We do go and visit a less-active member names Rosa every week. She's got lots of health problems and she can't go to church, but she's just about the sweetest person you could ever meet. Her husband isn't a member and he doesn't like us, but her granddaughter Kleidy lives with her. Kleidy sits in the room and listens to the lessons. She acts like she's ignoring us, but then she'll come and ask us questions so we know she actually is listening to what we're saying. We figured that out so we started teaching Rosa all the lessons, because in that sense we're teaching her granddaughter all the lessons. She just doesn't realize it yet. :)

Presidente Fluckiger told us that we can talk to our families on whatever day they celebrate Mother's Day (here in Portugal it's on May 3) so Sunday, May 10 we can talk. I just need to know what time you have church this year. It will be in the afternoon here and the morning over there. So we figure out all the details next week and make a plan.

I love you all. The Church is true and you're all just wonderful.


Sister Smith

P.S. The first picture is our district picture from last transfer.... quiet dignity definitely describes our elders. The other picture is me with Rosa. She's super nice.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I love General Authorities!

This week was good. As far as the work goes... not much happened. The elders from Almada had a really weird baptism and lots of strange things happened (one being that the woman getting baptized hit her head on the wall and the witnesses had to reach in the water to help pull her up because the member doing the baptism, her dad, couldn't get her up again) ... yeah. It was really weird. Anyway, we had two investigators there and afterwards they were a little weirded out by all the stuff that happened. They were asking us "That's the way we're supposed to get baptized? Are you sure that baptism is valid?" It was the most interesting baptism I've ever seen in my entire life, but other than that it was a good week.

We got rained on. During the springtime we get surprise rainstorms and we got caught in the rain on our back home for lunch one day. I also made friends with our landlord. We haven't really seen him much but he's pretty nice to me. We didn't know what our address was because our two area books didn't have it, so I asked him what our address was. He thought it was really funny that I didn't know, but he was very nice and printed it out for me. There was a fair close to our apartment building with little local things and he bought a lot of little trinkets and stuff and gave me and Sister Mills each a nifty little handmade magnet in the shape of the old mill in Corroios. It looks pretty cool.

Yesterday for church we got to go to a Tri-stake conference in Lisboa with Elder Bednar.... it was so good. Elder Moreira and Elder Teixeira were there with their wives and Elder and Sister Bednar both spoke. Sister Bednar talked about the importance of families and how our homes should be where we teach the gospel and prepare our children to be missionaries. She asked about what the end goal of parenting is and she talked about how children are special blessings for each family. I was sitting by Maria Santos and she cried through the whole talk.

Then, Elder Bednar talked about the Atonement. First he basically taught the lesson of the Restoration for all the investigators that were at the conference and then, speaking to the members, he talked about how we don't understand or use the Atonement the way we should in our lives. He said that the Atonement is not just for the forgiveness of sins, but one more aspect of it is the enabling power. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can access strength beyond our own to overcome our trials and keep the covenants we've made. He talked about Mosiah 24: 135-15 and then we sang "How Firm a Foundation." At the end he got up and explained that this hymn is about the Atonement and the enabling power so he had us sing the third and seventh verses, but he told us to really think about it and not just sing it. I couldn't sing though. The Spirit was so strong and I was a little emotional and couldn't sing. Then, I looked over and Carlos and Maria Santos were both just bawling too. :)

After the conference I ran into Ana!!! It was her birthday and she told me that all she wanted was to see me. We just hugged and hugged for forever! I love Ana. She's amazing.

Today we went to the Castelo de São Jorge. It was really cool and the history nerd inside of me was so happy, but it was crawling with tourists.... I like the non-touristy parts of Portugal more than the touristy parts. I'll send Mom some of the pictures and she can send them to the rest of the family.

The Church is true. I have no doubts about it. Anytime we think it's too hard to live the gospel principles we need to remember that it's only hard if we try to do it alone. Jesus Christ is our Savior and He did everything so that we wouldn't have to do it alone.

I love you all!

Sister Smith

P.S. The first picture is me with Ana and the second is with my old District Leader Elder Oliveira. He was only in Viseu for two weeks after I got there but he remembered me and he was really excited that I can speak Portuguese now.

Monday, April 13, 2015

P-days in the mission home are awfully nice

Olá família! I'm still alive and recovering quite nicely from the
cachupa monster I ate last week (although, I think Dad's nickname of
"chupacabra soup" is a much more fitting name for cachupa), and I'm
also recovering from our "mystery meat casserole" we ate at a member's
house on Thursday (we couldn't find the name of the animal in our
dictionary... but I'm not exactly sure I want to know). I just can't
win when it comes to food at members' houses... all week, the only
thing I've wanted to eat is patties and spuds and green beans. As much
as I hated that meal when I was little, it's all I wanted this week.

Every Sunday we have our lunch at the house of Família Santos. I trust
their food. Their food is always really nice. They've adopted us. They
are our parents of Miratejo. Their kids are both living in the United
States so they just adopt the missionaries here in this area. I really
like them. One thing I've learned is that you know Portuguese people
like you if they pull out all their photo albums for you. We got to
see all their pictures from way back when. Maria Santos was one of the
first 100 members baptized here in Portugal and she was baptized in
1976, so they told us all about their conversion stories and about
meeting all the different apostles that have ever come to Portugal. It
was pretty cool.

This week not a ton happened. I got sick twice, we broke up with more
eternal investigators, investigators broke up with us... normal stuff.
Oh, daddy, I got proposed to again. I get proposed to a lot but this
time the guy said, "I'm serious. I will wait for you. I will go to the
United States and I will get your father's permission and I will wait
for you." We met him in the grocery store. Sister Mills got a pretty
strong craving for bread so we went and bought some bread. This guy
was in the check-out line behind us and he started talking to us.
Afterwards we gave him a pass-along card and invited him to church.
Then, he looked at me and said, "What would I have to do to marry a
member of your church?" Sister Mills told him he had to go to church
and then he told me that he wanted to marry me. It's a pretty common
occurrence so I didn't think anything of it. Turns out he's serious...
yeah, I don't think so. Not gonna happen.

Today we went to the mission home for interviews with President
Fluckiger. We had lunch with President and Sister Fluckiger and a
couple office elders. It was pretty fun. There's a member that works
in the mission home so I helped her make lunch and she spent a good
amount of time joking about how it was just amazing to her that I
didn't know how to make any Portuguese food. She told me that I needed
to at least learn how to make a salad so she taught me how to make a
salad like a Portuguesa... I can now succeed at anything in life. I
had a really nice interview with President Fluckiger. I sure do love
the Fluckigers. They're awfully nice. It was a really nice, really
calm p-day.

Really, this was a very calm week. Not much happened. The biggest
thing was an argument I had with our district leader. None of the
missionaries knew where the boundaries of our areas were but he was
just being really mean and doing some things that aren't right... so I
didn't start the fight, but I definitely finished it. I shouldn't have
argued with him because it wasn't the right thing to do, but I don't
believe we'll be having any more problems with the boundaries this

I'm not perfect. I've still got an awfully long way to go and there
are so many things that I need to improve on, but I'm just grateful
every day for the opportunity to be a missionary. It still just blows
me away when I put on my nametag every morning, but every body is a
missionary: "Every member is a missionary!"

Little Sister Smith

I like being a missionary better than being a tourist. :)

The Explorers Statue
Olá! Esta semana nós aprendemos muitas coisas mas a coisa mais importante é que nós precisamos confiar no Senhor. O plano Dele é muito melhor do que nosso plano. Temos que confiar Nele, e Ele via nos ajudar cada dia por que Ele é nosso Pai. Ele tem um grande amor por cada um de nós.

This week I don't have a ton of time because we went touristing.... touristing is exhausting. I much prefer being a missionary. Touristing is fun enough, but I prefer working and talking to people or just walking around taking pictures and visiting things(definitely not the same person I was before the mission). I do like going places, but by the end of P-day I'm ready to go back to work.

This week we started with the Páscoa initiative... Easter. Yeah, that's the word in English. The Church made a new video for Easter and we have pass-along cards with the website to invite people to go and watch the video. Pass-along cards are wonderful ( I like the new ones... I don't particularly care for the old ones). I love the video though. In Portuguese the site is and in English it should be I love the video though. I haven't seen it in English but it's so cool. We showed it at our weekly night with recent converts and one convert is a big tough guy (turns out he used to be in the Angola mafia... I didn't know) and it just melted him. He asked us if we could watch it a couple more times. Of course, we said yes. It's a good video. You should all go watch it. (*Hint, hint*)

Last week we went to Cristo Rei and this week we went and visited the explorer statue and the Torre de Belem. It's cool, but they're pretty touristy. (German tourists are every where and the weird thing is I can understand every single thing they say... I don't know how, but I can. Unfortunately, all I can speak is Portuguese. If you asked me a question about the German language I couldn't answer. I can understand it but all I can speak is Portuguese... explain that one to me Daddy). The touristy places are interesting and it's fun to visit, but I realized that those places really aren't "Portugal". Portugal is a special place and the members here are special too.

I learned this week that Heavenly Father must sure have an awful lot of love for His missionaries. We make so many mistakes and we are so far from perfect. Sometimes we fall so short of our callings, but He called every one of us to represent His Son Jesus Christ. I am proof that He calls the weak and the simple, but this week it just hit me that Heavenly Father has so much love for me. He took a little girl from Idaho and put her on the other side of the world just so that He could change me and help me grow, because He has a much better plan for me than I do. Every time I think that maybe the mission is too hard, I remind myself that I've grown so much closer to my Savior here on the mission than I ever imagined, and there is no price too great to come know the Savior. He did everything for us and we are more blessed than we realize. I'm so excited for General Conference. The only session we won't be able to see is the Sunday Afternoon session, but I'm so excited. General Conference is so special and I'm grateful that I'll be here for three conferences.

I love you all! Don't forget to tell me about your favorite General Conference talk next week! Happy Easter!

Little Sister Smith

Cristo Rei

The Catholics were doing midnight vigils passed our house for Páscoa... Easter, whatever you people call it in English... they were quite loud late at night. It was a little frightening the first time they did it. We took videos so you can enjoy it after my mission.

The Torre de Belem

Monday, April 6, 2015

Conferência Geral foi incrível... mas eu não gosto de cachupa

Olá família! Esta semana foi boa. Presidente Fluckiger nos-mandou a
estudar Páscoa antes da Conferência Geral, e para mim Conferência
Geral foi mais poderosa do que qualquer outra altura em minha vida.
Serio... foi incrível mesmo. Uma Cabo Verdeana de nossa ala fez
cachupa para nos e eu tinha medo porque já ouvi tantos histórias maus
sobre cachapa, mas ainda comi. Provavelmente a decisão mais stupido de
minha vida.

Would you like that translated?

Hello family! This week was good. President Fluckiger had us do a
study of Easter before General Conference, and for me General
Conference was more powerful than any other time in my life.
Seriously... it was incredible. A woman from Cabo Verde in our ward
made cachupa for us and I was scared because I have heard lots of bad
stories about cachupa bt I still ate it. Probably the most stupid
decision of my life.

General Conference was awesome. We watched the Women's Session, the
Saturday Morning Session, and the Saturday Afternoon Session in
Portuguese at the church. It came over satellite to the chapel so it
was pretty nice. The Sunday Morning Session Sister Mills and I felt
prompted to watch it in English. We didn't want to because we're in
Portugal and we speak Portuguese, but we went downstairs where it was
being shown in English and we watched it. Holy smokes. I believe that
session was specifically for me. Every single talk was so powerful and
Sister Mills and I spent a good amount of time just bawling... the
elders were a little weirded out, but their emotional range is much
smaller than ours so it's okay. We were not able to watch the Sunday
Afternoon Session, but we had planned on watching it today...
unfortunately, that's where the story of the cachupa comes in.

Cachupa: (noun) An African soup that is made by putting anything
edible from the kitchen into a pot and cooking it for an undisclosed
amount of time.

I had heard stories about cachupa from returned missionaries and from
other missionaries here in Portugal, but the member, Luisa, has a very
strong personality. We were working all day on Sunday and she got mad
about that because she wanted us to come over and have an Easter lunch
with her. We went to her apartment for dinner and she gave us cachupa.
It didn't smell very good, but my thoughts were "You have to eat it
Sister Smith. Grit your teeth and just eat it. Don't look at it. Say a
prayer. It will be okay." It was not okay. I  ate almost an entire
tongue of an animal before I realized what I was eating. Then I
noticed that there were lots of other animal parts in that soup (more
tongue... eye ball... other unidentifiable parts). I ate around the
meat and then I stooped to the whole "hide the food when the member's
not looking" trick. Sister Mills had told me before that the cachupa
might cause problems but I thought she was just being obnoxious. Nope.
I have been throwing up every hour, on the hour since 1:18 this
morning. Awesome. We did not have time to watch the Sunday Afternoon
Session, but oh well. It's a new weight loss program. Benjamin, if you
go to Africa, Cabo Verde, or Portugal on your mission, do everything
in your power to avoid eating cachupa. It is not worth the price you
pay afterwards.

This week I remembered how important it is to talk to everyone. Sister
Mills and I had used up all our plans and we still had time to work,
so we decided we were going to talk to everyone we saw. There was one
person that had seen us walking back and forth a couple of times and
Sister Mills was a little nervous about it, but I decided we would
give it a chance and just invite him to watch the "Porque Ele Vive"
video. His name is Abilio and it turns out he was an old investigator
from last year and he'd been going to church for three months last
year. We invited him to come to Conferência Geral and he said he would
come. We tried to call him to remind him the morning of conference but
he didn't answer so we figured he probably hadn't been serious about
coming. Then, just a few minutes after the session started Abilio
walked into the chapel wearing Sunday clothes and then he stayed for
the whole session. He came without any reminders or any help and
because of the effort on his part he had a spiritual experience in
Conferência Geral. Awesome.

I'm out of time, but I love you. You're all a wonderful bunch of human beings.


Sister Smith