Monday, July 27, 2015

"And I think to myself, what a wonderful world..."

"I think to myself..... what a wonderful world."

This week was probably one of my favorite weeks on the mission. We learned a lot of things and we had so many miracles this week. I mean, it wasn't a perfect week but we still really liked it. For example, a creepy former investigator found out where we live and showed up at our apartment door this week. We hid in a corner and called the elders so that they could come and help us and then we called the Mission President. The Presidente Amorim decided that since it was the first time this happened that we didn't have to switch apartments with the elders, but ever since then the elders come and make sure that the guy isn't waiting outside of our building and the members make sure that he isn't calling us anymore.... we're doing pretty well here in Gaia. :) Other than that it's been a very calm and very nice week. :D

This week we decided to make cookies a couple of times and just take them to the members' houses. The members loved it and we had dinner appointments almost every day and they came and helped us with lessons and with an activity on Friday night. The secret to getting members involved in missionary work is first, to love the members. The elders have not quite figured that out yet and they are really very jealous of all the interaction we have with the members, so we talked with the members and arranged dinners for the elders with different members. It turned out pretty well. I don't think the elders have ever been that nice to us. Normally, they're actually really mean.... the Sister Training Leaders said they were going to talk to the mission presidente about the way our elders are behaving towards us. I remember in the MTC, our branch presidente really emphasized respect for the sister missionaries but I don't think the elders in our district have figured out yet why that's important. I hope they learn someday. Anyway, we did a service project on Wednesday and then we had a meeting with our ward mission leader and after that we went to a churrasco dinner with a Família Braga. Rui Braga, the dad, is trying to set me up with their older son who is actually serving in the Lisboa Mission..... Rui Braga is always very eager to show me pictures of his son Pedro.... it's a little weird for me. Thursday we had a dinner with Família Cruz and our investigator Gabriel. Presidente Cruz is in the Mission Presidency and when we were talking with Gabriel Presidente Cruz came in and made that lesson incredible. He talked about how Gabriel could find out if our message was true and why he needed to ask if it was true, and then Gabriel told him that he didn't know when, but that someday he would be baptized. It was a great lesson. On Friday we spent the entire day getting ready for a Pioneer Day activity.... the very first one the members have ever had. Sister Parkinson and I planned the whole thing because the elders literally did nothing.... except eat the food afterwards. Sister Parkinson and I worked with the members to make a program and to get food ready (the members said that the chili I made and the bifanas that we made with Ana Cruz were SO GOOD!!! HOORAY!!! I can cook now!). During the program the members read pioneer stories and we showed the video about John Tanner and a Mormon Message about how we are all pioneers. 

Really though, the members in Portugal are all pioneers. The church has only been in Portugal for 41 years and all the members are converts. Only the primary kids and the youth were born as members of the church. It's amazing to see how the church grows in every land and how people have been prepared for the gospel. On Saturday, Sister Parkinson and I were walking passed the church and we saw that it hadn't been cleaned. The members that were supposed to clean it had gone out of town so Sister Parkinson and I took a couple of hours and cleaned the church building. It took several hours to do it all on our own, but Saturday was honestly one of the best days of my mission. After we had finished Sister Parkinson and I were talking about all the things we're learned on the mission and then she said something about how she's realized that she can't go back to the way she was before her mission. When she said that the Spirit starting nudging me and telling me that I can't go back to the way I was either. I have to do a lot of things very differently after my mission and I can't just come home and do the same things I've always done. It was one of those moments where the Spirit tells you something you alreay know, but didn't really want to hear. I still have nine months on the mission though.... thinking about the future can wait until later. Saturday night we had some of the best contacts ever on the streets. In just a few hours we stopped and talked to three guys (well, we talked to a lot more than three people, but these three guys were really cool) and in those contacts we just testified our hearts out and we know that those people felt the Spirit because there is no way they couldn't have felt it. It was really cool to see how people are willing to listen when they feel the Spirit. 

On Sunday, we had one of the best sacrament meetings ever. I played the violin with the choir and a member of the high council spoke and then Sister Parkinson and I taught young women's and we talked about why it's important to make and keep our covenants. It was a good Sunday

Today for p-day our district and the sister training leaders and the Assistents to the president all played futebol with the Bragas at a futebol field. I didn't play because I didn't feel very good, but it was fun to watch. Sister Eusebio has knee problems so she and Sister Wood and I all just sat and talked and watched while everyone else played. Then, our district went and ate francesinhas (again) with the Bragas and then we got ice cream. An old elder that served in Gaia 8 years ago is visiting them. He's a pianist and he's here to give a concert in Porto so he came with us all day too....  his name is Ryan Kelly... he's a very interesting character. He just kind of lives all over Europe doing odd music jobs but he says he's going back home to Las Vegas now... I think I'd rather just live in one place rather than wandering all over the world for months at a time... but that's just my opinion. 

Answers to random questions that I never answer:

Daddy the violin stayed in the Porto Mission but he's heading back to Cabo Verde with Elder Andrade in September.... sad day. 

Transfers are different now. We are getting transfer calls Tuesday night and then we will all travel on Wednesday morning, probably because that's when the new misisonaries will be getting here from the MTC.

The weather here gets a little warm but not hot, and then it cools down and rains a lot. I like it very much. 

Presidente Amorim still is very intimidation to me, but I really do like him. 

My favorite food is actually just rice with vegetables and a salad..... I'm turning Portuguese. Actually, Rui Braga told me that I eat like a Portuguesa. He said, "Sister, you eat like a Portuguesa. You're already prepared to marry a Portuguese man!" Right.... right.... 

I think that's about it. I love you all. The biggest lessons I learned this week are that even if people are being really mean and bible bashing us, the best way to respond is sometimes just to let them do it. It's not fun tobe humble and just take it (and that happened a lot this week) but generally that's when the Spirit can touch people's hearts and work miracles. Also, when you've learned good things and you've had spiritual experiences to testify of things for you personally, you can't go back and do the same things you did before. If you don't let the gospel change you then you fail. Those are my profound thoughts for the week.

Love you all!

Little Sister Smith

P.S. Presidente Amorim included parts from my weekly email to him and parts from Sister Parkinson's email in his weekly letter to the missionaries. We were making jokes about those parts and then we realized that those parts were actually from our emails.... whoops.

The picture is Sister Parkinson with Lucinda Braga and João Braga.... João is normally really bored when the missionaries come over.

The other picture is our little band of below average soccer players. :)  

Monday, July 20, 2015

One last side note...

I was telling Sister Parkinson about Benny helping with the bear trap and she was so confused... all she said was "You realize how very Idahoan that is right? No one else would be excited about that story." :) Good job Little Brother.

Life is still going along here in the Portugal Porto Mission...

Yep... life is still going. I had a birthday this week.... that was fun. It was a crazy day. We had started our personal study when we got a phone call from Elder Andrade, an assistent to the Presidente. He called to tell us that Presidente Amorim's plane would be landing in a few hours and that they wanted us to be at the airport to greet Presidente e Sister Amorim. So we hopped in the metro and we went up to the Mission Office in Porto and then from there we rode in the car of the Sisters from Gaia 2 to the airport up by Matosinhos. It was fun. We got to the airport and we had to wait for an hour because the flight was delayed, but once they got there we all got to meet Presidente and Sister Amorim. Elder Moreira and Presidente Cruz were there as well. Sister Amorim is just the sweetest person you could ever meet. Presidente Amorim is really cool and I love him.... but he scares the living daylights out of me. He is a HARD worker and his goal is to make each one of us reach our full potential as missionaries. For example, I had an interview with him on Saturday and when he found out that I still have a little bit of fear of talking to people he just laughed a little bit and then challenged to personally contact 30 people every day.... to start. Then, he's going to increase the number. It is exhausting trying to reach that goal every day, but Presidente Amorim promised me that if I would do it that Heavenly Father would make miracles happen in the mission and in my life... and I definitely need miracles. I really like the Amorim's though. He sent us an email last week and one of the attachements was about his family. He's got it in English so that we could send it to our families so I'll send that to Mom and Dad.

Then, for lunch we were invited to Presidente Cruz's house. We had lunch with Ana Cruz and another member Tatiana. I thought it was just a lunch, but then they brought out cake and started singing to me. I'm glad you liked the video Mom. Ana Cruz will be glad you liked it. That night we went to Xeca and Avelino's and Xeca had made a really cool fruit thing for my birthday. The Baptist family we go to every week also did a little thing for me on Saturday. Marcos pulls out his guitar every week so this week he played "Happy Birthday" on the guitar for me. It was fun. It was a pretty good birthday. I really liked my birthday. Friday we had a surprise zone conference with the Porto Zone and the Porto Norte Zone in Porto with Presidente Amorim. He is an amazing Presidente. I have no doubts that Heavenly Father called him to build on the work that Presidente Fluckiger did and help the church to grow here in Portugal. Friday night we showed the hour long film about the Restoration of the church at the chapel and our investigator Gabrial was there. It was really good. Gabriel was really surprised about all the things that happened and the Spirit was so strong. Every one who was there felt the Spirit. It was a really good activity. On Saturday we had interviews with Presidente Amorim in Porto. Like I said, he is really intimidating, but you can just feel the love he has for each of his missionaries. It's kind of weird. He loves us a ton, and yet he scares me a little bit. After he challenged me to do the daily contacts I thought I was going to die.... I still am not 100% comfortable talking to people, but I think the idea is to spread the gospel and get rid of my fear of talking to people. Smart man. 

Today for p-day we went down to the river because there are all these little stands and vendors selling all these cool things. It was a lot of fun. There are so many holidays for so many Catholic saints right now. In our area there is a festival for São Tiago and the best part about it is the there are churro stands all over our area.... we are pretty happy kids. :) Down by the river there is a festival for São Marinha so there are little markets where we can go buy really cool traditional and touristy things. We had a pretty fun day... and I taught Sister Parksinson how to bargain with African ladies. She bought herself and pretty nifty (yeah... that's the word we'll use) African dress today. I'll have to send you a picture of it next week. We have transfers this week so I don't actually know if I'm staying in Gaia or not. I'm probably not staying with Sister Parkinson though. Sad day, but it will all work out for the best. 

Kristin sent me an email telling me that she got her mission call to the Argentina Rosario Mission. I cried... a lot... I fully expect a video of Benjamin's mission call opening. A picture will not suffice. :) 

I love you all! Keep up the good work and keep diong the good things you should do every day! The little things make the biggest difference!


Little Sister Smith

P.S. The pictures are of the fruit thingy that Xeca made for my birthday and then lunch today... we went to the best little restaurant in the world to eat Francesinhas (Francesinhas are very Portuguese.... very). The restaurant is called "Bread and Butter" and it's the cutest little place and they place crooners music all day long.... if I were an unconsecrated missionary I would go there and eat lunch and listen to the music... but I don't do that... except maybe today.


Monday, July 13, 2015


I would have typed out "Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles" but that's just too much for one little title.... Anyway......

Our new mission president still hasn't received his visa so he and the area presidency have postponed transfers!!! HOORAY!!!! Transfers have been postponed until Presidente Amorim gets here and has the opportunity to interview every single missionary, so now Sister Parkinson and I are staying together for an undetermined amount of time! :D She said that this morning she was actually praying for a miracle to happen so that she could stay in Gaia for just a little bit more time and we got our miracle!!! We're staying together for just a little bit longer! :) And while I was reading Presidente Amorim's letter to us today I just felt a huge love for our new misison presidente. Heavenly Father specifically called him to be our mission presidente and lead us here in the north. I feel like it's just such a huge blessing to be assigned to the Porto Mission. Best mission in the world for me!

This week, it feels like we nearly killed ourselves working and yet at the same time we didn't get very good numbers this week. We walked so much and tried to find so many people, but it didn't work out quite the way we wanted. One of the things I love most about Sister Parkinson is that she is fully aware of her weaknesses and is so determined to be better and become the best missionary she can be. It's a big motivator for me because whenever I'm worn out and I don't really have a desire to keep working she just doesn't stop. She always (okay... not always, but the majority of the time) she just wants to work and be a good missionary. :) We've had a pretty good transfer. We've had our lazy patches, but we've realized that if we're working together and taking responsibility for ourselves we're able to work through everything and be more effective as a companionship (...sounds like marriage prep..... ). 

Today for p-day we went out with Xeca. We walked from our house to Xeca's and then we had lunch with her. Then we walked from Xeca's house (by the metro stop João de Deus) down to Serra do Pilar. From Serra do Pilar we walked across the Ponte do Luiz... (I think that's the name of the bridge) and then from there we walked up to the Torre do Cleri-something and then down to the river on the Porto side, walked back across the bridge on the bottom, and then along the river on the Gaia side, took a lift back up over the buildings to Serra do Pilar and then walked back. For a p-day we didn't really take a break at all. It took a long time but it was a lot of fun. Xeca thought it was really weird that we were so amazed by everything, but it was fun. Basically, we walked in a giant circle all the way through Porto Velho and then back up to our area in Gaia  

This week will be fun. Some of the members are planning a birthday festa para mim. Vai ser divertida..... sorry. I meant that it will be fun. English.... English. I can English. :) 

Unfortunately, because of our super fun p-day I am all out of email time after only 15 mintues... whoops. Thank you for all the emails and I love you all!

Little Sister Smith (who's gonna be old after Quinta-feira..... yuck.... old age) :D

Monday, July 6, 2015

The title of the email is always the hardest part...

For some reason, the most stressful part of email is figuring out what to write as the subject of the email. I don't know why, but it just is. Oh well. Vida.

This week.... I don't even know what happened. It feels like it was a really long time ago. Time is just weird.... and it keeps getting weirder as I get closer to the halfway mark. I look back and sometimes I think, "Wow! It's already been eight months! I should have been using my time so much better!" and then other moments it's more like, "Oh no... it's only been 8 months... I have such a long way to go." I've heard that's pretty normal though. 

This week we had a division with the Sister Training Leaders... it's fun and it's always an adventure to work with someone else and Sister Da Luz and Sister Wood are really nice, but I was just glad when I got to work with my companion again. I just like working with Sister Parkinson. She's an amazing missionary. We laugh a lot about how weird it is that we clicked right in the beginning. Day 2 we spilled all the secrets that we had never told anyone else and we've just had so much fun ever since. The sad thing is that we have transfers in two weeks and we both think that we're not going to stay together. Transfer night will be a sad night in our apartment. Hopefully we'll serve together again. (Lots and lots and lots of prayers will be said for that!)

On the Fourth of July there was a baptism. The zone leaders are in our district and they baptized a young man named Paulo. There is definitely a difference in the way Sisters and Elders plan baptisms. With Avelino's baptism, everything was planned several days before and then we took care of everything else in the morning. When the elders planned their baptism, they planned it the morning of and didn't turn on the water for the font until a half hour before the baptism was supposed to start. Unfortunately, the font in this capela needs at least two hours to fill up enough... so we ended up singing hymns and watching Mormon messages for about an hour waiting for the font to fill up. It all worked out in the end though. Paulo isn't a very big guy so there was enough water to baptize him, but our investigator Gabriel was there and even he said that Sisters plan things better. It must be true. :) After Paulo's baptism there was a jogo de futebol. We played futebol for a while and it was pretty fun. I had a nasty fall, but fortunately there was some divine intervention and I landed on the ball so I didn't break anything nor did I sprain or twist anything. Sister Parkinson and I both decided that I had some pretty good luck or a really good guardian angel. 

Sunday night we went to Xeca and Avelino's house and Xeca gave us a Portuguese chicken soup... it tasted really good until we discovered that it was the whole chicken... internal organs and the feet included. It's a very normal Portuguese food and Portuguese people think it's just funny that we don't like eating chicken feet. As we were eating the soup Xeca and Avelino were just laughing at us. I don't think I have ever seen them laugh so hard. I'm still not quite brave enough to eat the chicken feet though... someday. Someday I will eat them. :)

Today there was a jogo de futebol with the elders and some of the youth at the capela so we went, but I was still pretty sore from my fall this last week that I decided not to play. Sister Parkinson had so much fun. She LOVES soccer. Later we decided to take the metro across the river. We got off at the metro stop in São Bento and just wandered around four an hour and a half. It was so much fun. We went into the cathedral and then we wandered around the streets. Sister Parkinson hadn't been inside any of the Cathedrals here so when she went in she had an "I'm in Europe" moment. Then we just wandered around the streets for a little while. It's tourist season so there were street performers out playing music. That's what most people think of Europe is the little touristy streets and the street musicians. It's very different but sometimes it's fun to just go and be a tourist. There were some street performers from Russia playing music and we sat and listened to them for a while, and they played a lot of pieces that I played in symphony. It was pretty fun.

On Sunday, we taught young women's and this week there were three girls there. We talked about ordinances and why they're important and we got them to talk a lot about when they all went to the temple in Madrid and how it felt to be at the temple. We wanted to remind them about how special the temple is and how they should always keep the temple as a goal. It's strange how you never really appreciate the temple until you don't have a temple to go to. Sister Parkinson and I talk about that a lot. We really miss the temple. I think I miss being able to go to the temple more than anything else, and we just want to help the members have that same love for the temple. If they feel that way then they'll start actually donig their part and working for their temple. The temple in Portugal is for them and not for us the missionaries. If the members start working for the temple, they'll get a temple and it will mean even more to them. 

My brain has run out of things to say.... yup. My little advice for this week is that if there is a temple within and hour of your house, just go to the temple. The temple is more important than anything else. 

Little Sister Smith

P.S. There's the chicken foot that Xeca ate... we did not eat the chicken feet. The other picture is the touristy road that we wandered down today. It was pretty fun.