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. :)  

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