Monday, August 31, 2015

Hospitais são tão divertidos... :)

This week felt more like 7 months and it was really weird... but it was one of my favorite weeks of my mission! :D I love being a missionary.

So Monday night I woke up with a lot of pain in my toes of my left foot and then in the morning they were all swollen and a little red. During the day it got so bad that I couldn't even walk so we went to the farmácia and the doctors said that it was just a bug bite. Well, Tuesday I hobbled around a little bit but then Wednesday I could barely walk so we hobbled along to Xeca's house and she looked at my foot because my toes were kind of purple-ish and swollen. Xeca was concerned so we called Sister Marinho who's in charge of the health of the sisters in the mission and she was all concerned and upset so she sent in a guarantee of payment to the hospital and then on Thursday morning we went to the emergency room because my foot was all funny. The best part is though, that my foot looked normal by the time we got to the hospital in Porto so they just thought we were crazy. :) Pois... The nurses and doctors were all very nice though and I was abnormally happy so it was a pretty good opportunity to talk to every single person there about the gospel... I actually had a lot of fun going to the hospital. People loved talking to me and it was probably one of the more successful days of missionary work I've had in my mission. :D I enjoyed it. It was also a huge blessing because it turns out I had misplaced my health insurance card. I had to find it so that we could go to the hospital, and now if there's any real medical emergency I know where I have my health insurance card and my residency card. I also made sure that my companion knows where I keep those things as well. Hooray! I think I actually had too much fun going to the hospital... I was too happy so the doctor didn't take my medical emergency very seriously. Oh well. He said it was just inflamation and I've been taking medicine for it. It magically healed the next day, so I figure that Heavenly Father sent us to the hospital for reasons other than my foot. Hooray for opportunities to share the gospel!!! :D (It was so much fun... I just can't get over it. It's one of the best parts of my mission).

Anyway.... that was really the most exciting part of my week. I've literally been waiting all week to tell you about the hospital trip... but now that I read it, it sounds really boring. You'll just have to take my word for it and trust that it was fun. :)

This weekend we had three baptisms in our district. Elder Camper (who is actually going home tomorrow) and Elder Kreutzer had a family get baptized. The mom is the sister of a member and they got baptized on Saturday. They are super cute. Then on Sunday Elder Brown and Elder Pedro had an investigator named Silvia get baptized. She was marked for baptism last year but for some reason she just stopped talking to the missionaries. She got baptized yesterday after church. It was really cool to watch her though. The Spirit was so strong and she started crying before her baptism and then afterward she couldn't even talk. Her cousin was there and her cousin felt the Spirit so strongly that she went up to the Elders and asked to know more. That never happens!!! It is literally the coolest thing ever when people come asking the missionaries about the gospel! It was a really good week. We have a little old lady that we've been teaching for forever that is going to be baptized this weekend. Her name is Maria José. She's pretty sick and we just feel very strongly that we need to baptize her as soon as possible... yeah. So she's getting baptized on Saturday. She was supposed to be baptized last year, but never showed up to her baptism because she just didn't feel like it, but this time that's not happening. I will carry her on my back if necessary. Little old ladies are so stubborn sometimes... and lazy. Gee... that kind of describes me sometimes, stubborn and lazy. Hmmm.... :)

On Sunday the lesson in Princípios do Evangelho the lesson was about Caridade. Nothing makes you feel worse than having a lesson on Charity... I think I've got a fair bit of work to do in that department. Actually, I believe that developing charity is a lifelong pursuit for almost everybody. We're all in the same boat. 

The library closed early.... again. We haven't figured out how to tell when they close early or not. Oh well. Someday we'll figure it out. I'll send Mom all the pictures and then she can distribute them. I love you all!!!


Little Sister Smith

P.S. There's a picture of me in front of the hospital and then a picture of the couple that was baptized on Saturday, José e Liliane.

Ana Cruz and her daughter and then on Sunday we were all invited to Xeca's house for dinner. 

The elders had a lot of fun at Xeca's house. They had fun with her hats and her African drums. It was pretty fun. 


Monday, August 24, 2015

Rain... Rain... More Rain.... We were Singing in the Rain actually. :)

It rained a lot yesterday. When church ended it was cool and a little cloudy, and then after lunch it was a little bit cooler and a little bit more cloudy. Then, once we were pretty far away from home the rain just dumped on us. I had my little umbrella, but I prefer street contacting without umbrellas so I didn't use it a ton... We got pretty wet. It was fun. :)

This week.... was very long. It was really long. We had our email adventure last week when the library closed. Then, we went to the capela and there was a returned missionary there with her family. Her name was Sister Hickey. She actually was in the MTC volunteering with TRC when I was there... and I remembered her.... and she was a little weirded out by that. :) She also served in Miratejo so she and I talked for a little bit about the people there. It was pretty fun. On Tuesday after District Meeting we went to the Mission Office in Porto and met with Presidente Amorim. Tuesday night I had a lovely chat with the elders over the phone about bullying. There's been a problem the last two transfers with the elders bullying us, so we had a nice chat over the phone and ever since then they've been a lot nicer to us and the members even noticed the difference yesterday in church. I guess standing up for yourself is good sometimes.... who would have thought? :) 

On Wednesday we did a surprise division with the Sister Training Leaders Sister Wood and Sister Jones. I was with Sister Wood. I really, really, REALLY like working with Sister Wood. She's an incredible missionary and she definitely knows how to follow the Spirit. Thursday.... I don't actually remember what happened on Thursday, but I know that our apointments all got cancelled. :) Friday we had weekly planning and then we went and contacted on the streets when our appointments all fell through. On Saturday we did more street contacting because our plans fell through again. :) (I don't know about you, but I'm noticing a pattern...) And then on Sunday we had church... Church is nice. Church is really nice. It's a little stressful because we spend the whole morning hiking around trying to bring our investigators to church and then we spend the whole Sacrament Meeting praying that our investigators will feel the Spirit even though there are some really weird things going on or false doctrine being preached. :) Yeah, church is interesting sometimes. Every day is an adventure. Actually, Sunday morning is one of my favorite parts of the week because I call every single one of our investigators to wake them up... :) I'm pretty sure they all hate me, but it makes me feel good knowing that I'm helping them make good choices. When I called Carlos to wake him up he told me that he would never answer the phone again, and then at church he tried to give me the cold-shoulder but in the end he was laughing because I kept telling him, "Sorry Carlos. I only do it because I have to. Eternal life is kind of important. I care more about eternal life than the amount of sleep you get." I don't know when he'll get baptized, but he told me he might not invite me just because I wake him up early every Sunday morning. Oh vida.... vida boa. 

This week Zé stopped answering the phone when we call. We saw him on the road a few times this week (that's a big blessing every time) and he told us that his MMA fighting is more important to him right now than religion and he also said that while he's not a complete waste of our time, he's almost a complete waste of our time. It was a little bit discouraging. It made me really evaluate how we had been working the last few weeks and how our recent lessons with him have gone. I re-learned a very important lesson this week: that no matter how bad the missionaries are and no matter how poorly they teach, the gospel is true and the Spirit will testify of it, but people still have agency. We're really not very good teachers.. hindsight is all we need to know that we're not good teachers, but thankfully the Spirit still speaks to our investigators. If the church wasn't true, the missionaries would have messed it up a long time ago and that's the truth. I think Zé will get baptized someday, but right now we're going to give him a break and see what happens. He just needs to get his priorities straightened out and that's something that we can't really help with. He has to make that decision for himself. 

What else happened this week? .... I can't remember. Quite a bit, but it's all jumbled up into random thoughts in my head. Maria José, a little member from our ward gave me a white skirt this week. I wore it to church yesterday and she paraded me around and told everyone how nice it looked on me. I was embarrassed until Ana Cruz told me that I looked less-white than normal in the skirt. :) She was pretty funny. 

We had a new investigatore with us in church yesterday. His name is Bruno. He's 18 and he just came back from living in Switzerland with his dad (sorry Daddy, they live in Geneve in the French part... not the German part). Sister Runyan and Sister Jones found him on the division and he was really excited about going to church. He was a little weirded out by church yesterday, but he said that he really liked it so I'm guessing he felt the Spirit and will still come back. Hooray! :D

The library is closing early again.... luckily we came earlier this week, but now we have to go to the capela to finish emails. 

Okay... we're at the capela now. The problem is that I don't have much else to say... :) I love you all. Remember that things will all work out the way that Heavenly Father wants them to. Normally there's just stuff that we have to learn along the way. So keep reading and studying the scriptures and praying every day. I didn't realize until my mission how important the smallest things are in helping strengthen and keep our testimonies. I love you all!

Little Sister Smith

P.S. Keep me updated on Benjamin's mission papers... and don't forget that I expect to see a video of his mission call opening. I want to see it before I read it. :)

P.P.S. Here's a lovely selfie with Presidente Cruz and his wife... and me... and Sister Runyan... and Elder Nielson. He actually ended his mission yesterday and went home... poor guy. :)

The other picture is when we were out and about in the rain. It was a little wet. Good thing I have all of the song "Singing in the Rain" memorized. It tends to weird people out that I'm so happy and it gives a pretty good excuse to talk to them about the Gospel. :D I'll send more pictures to mom and she can distribute them. Amo-vos! Tchau!

The little lady is Maria José that gave me the skirt

Then there's our district picture with our whole little district before Elder Nielson left. 

I spent the whole day updating the Area book today... it was a boring and fairly responsible p-day.... responsibility... whose idea was that?

And then there's me with Ana Cruz and Tatiana Gomes

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Daddy, if you thought the octopus was weird....

Octopus is nothing.... This week I ate snails. 4 of them. I don't have a picture to prove it, but Ana Cruz does and she thought it was really funny. The people in this ward think that it's just great to make me eat funny things and watch my reaction. It's fun. It makes life more interesting... but yeah, back to the snails. They actually aren't that bad... it's more the texture that kind of gets you. :) But I did eat them and I almost enjoyed them. Almost.

This week I don't have a ton of time because yesterday the library closed early and then the elders were all at the chapel doing email on the computer there, so now I have a chance to do some emailing. This week Xeca and Avelino are on vacation so they're not here... it's kind of lonely actually. It's really lonely without them. We're taking care of their fish and their canary while they're gone so we still call them once in a while. 

Zé is doing fine.... kind of. I don't actually know what to do with him. He's a 35 year old MMA fighter that doesn't actually want to do anything with the gospel and yet he's passing out copies of the Book of Mormon to his family members. Gabriel is still undecided about baptism. I also don't know what to do about him. We had a really great lesson with the Bishop and his wife and they were asking some pretty good inspired questions. Gabriel knows it's all true, but we still don't know for sure why he won't just take the next step and be baptized. Carlos.... well, Carlos is still avoiding all compromissos and when we try to really subtly do lessons with him he knows and always avoids it... and yet, he's reading in the Book of Mormon every night and praying.... I don't understand these people. I think right here I have one of the weirdest groups of investigators ever.... just pray for them please. I have no idea what to do with them. 

I'm out of time família.... I hope you're all doing well. I love you all! And I hope that you got some of the postcards that I sent!

Little Sister Smith
P.S. Yesterday we walked over the bridge "Ponte Luiz 1" again to go to Porto.... and then there's a picture of "the Great and Spacious Building" in our area. It's about a two minute walk from our apartment. :) Que bom. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Olá família linda!

Olá família linda! Como vocês estão? Está tudo bem convosco? Esta semana nós andamos muito! Muito, muito, MUITO!!! Mas eu fiquei mais bronzeada e falei com tanto gente na rua esta semana. Foi uma boa semana.

Hi family. I'm glad to hear that you are all doing pretty well... as far as I can tell through the emails you seem to be doing pretty well. :) This week... ummmm..... lots of stuff happened. On Monday we did responsible p-day things and we ran errands and Sister Runyan cleaned the apartment again. On Tuesday we walked out to the other side of Oliverio do Douro to try and find a person that Sister Parkinson and I had contacted in the street a few weeks ago. Turns out his mom was taught by the missionaries last year and she's already been to church before. Fixe. The only problem is that when we went back for our compromisso with them they weren't at home. After that we went and visited some members that live on that same road, Ulisses and Tatiana. They have a pretty cute little family. They asked us to stay for dinner because they made a very Português kind of food: Octopus rice. They thought it was really funny when I saw the octopus on my plate. I had never seen octopus before my mission but every one here loves it. It's pretty expensive, but it tastes really good.... I just can't look at it while I eat it. Ulisses and Tatiana couldn't stop laughing at my face. They enjoy inviting me over for dinner and fixing strange food for me. :)

Then on Wednesday.... not much happened. We talked with a ton of people but nobody wanted to listen so we were pertty worn out at the end of the day. We had our reunião de correlação with the ward missionaries and then we went to Xeca and Avelino's house. On Friday we had a zone conference here in Gaia. When we had transfers, Presidente Amorim split our zone and created the Porto Zone and the Gaia Zone, so we had the first zone meeting for the Gaia Zone. Hooray! It was a really good zone meeting. We actually have three zone leaders right now because one of them is leaving to go home in just a few weeks. Que triste. 

After the zone meeting on Friday we had a lesson in the afternoon with our investigator Gabriel and a member, Ana, who just came back from her mission in Brasil. She was the perfect member to have with us for that lesson. She talked about how she gained a testimony and how she decided to be baptized. Then we talked to Gabriel about how he actually has to read in the Book of Mormon and how he actually needs to pray and ask Heavenly Father if this is all true. If he doesn't do that he will never know, so we invited him again to pray and ask Heavenly Father about the things we've talked about. He came to church on Sunday and Presidente and Sister Amorim came to our ward to speak during Sacrament Meeting. It was really great. Afterwards, they went to Princípios do Evangelho and they talked to every single one of our investigators. Presidente Amorim talked to Gabriel and asked him why he wasn't baptized. Gabriel said that he just didn't have the "vontade", so Presidente Amorim told him, "Well, get some 'vontade' then." It was a pretty good moment. Afterwards Gabriel told us that on Saturday he prayed and that he did get an answer but he still won't agree to baptism. I think he's afraid of something or that he just doesn't quite have enough courage to do it yet. So if you could all include Gabriel in your prayers I would really appreciate it.... someday Gabriel will too. We also had two other investigators in church as well; Zé and Carlos. Carlos has been coming for forever but he's progressing super duper slowly and Zé, we  discovered, is actually friends with several members. Que benção!

I'm running out of time, but I love you all and you should all remember to read in the Book of Mormon every night as a family. Xeca and Avelino said that they noticed a difference when they stopped reading for a few weeks. It really does make a huge difference to read in the Book of Mormon together as a family every night, and that's because the Book of Mormon really is the word of God and it has the power to change us. 


Little Sister Smith

P.S. I have been informed that I have some of the best tan lines in the mission.... I am super duper tan. It's a little weird. I've changed colors. Also, every time we go to Xeca and Avelino's house, Avelino is usually doing something electircal or robotic... he reminds me quite a bit of Eric. 

Also, this week in his letter to me. Presidente Amorim told me that I have some of the best written Português in the mission. That's really nice because all week I ahve telilng myself that I need to do more and more language study because I feel like I amd the worst Português speaker in the world. Presidente Amorim doesn't think so. Hooray! 

Monday, August 3, 2015


Xeca has decided that after my mission I need to start a career on Broadway. I tend to sing a lot these days and every time we're at Xeca and Avelino's house I start singing my crooner songs... Xeca thinks it's pretty cool and she tells me almost every time, "Fogo pá! Deves cantar por Broadway!" Português people can't sing though so..... :) At least it makes people happy.

We finally had transfers. Sister Parkinson left, but just up to Porto so she's not that far away. The night we got transfer calls we were wrecks. She cried on the floor for like twenty minutes but I cried almost all night and then the next morning when I was waiting with Xeca for my new companheira I cried again.... vida boa. :) I guess that's what happens when you love people. You just don't want things to change. Unfortunately, growing and learning how to be resilient generally does not occur in comfortable situtions. Bummer. 

My new companion in Sister Runyan. She's from the Sacramento area and she is probably the person with the most stories to tell that I have ever met.  She went to BYU-Idaho for a year before her mission so we sometimes get talking a little bit about school, but then she starts talking about all the things I've missed so far on my mission.... that's a weird feeling. The weird moments come when you realize how long you've been gone and realizing that it's really not that long of a time. Oh yeah, speaking of time passing and all that weird stuff.....

I HIT MY 9 MONTH MARK!!!! Halfway mark... (whooah... we're halfway the-ere. whoooOAH! LIVIN' ON A PRAYER!)

This week..... I feel like so much has happened and yet at the same time I can't think of any really big things that happened at all this week. We talked to people... then we talked to more people.... and then we talked to some more people.... and THEN, I contacted a really awesome guy! We were walking and doing street-contacting and Presidente Amorim told me in our interview that if I will just open my mouth and talk to everyone I see that I won't have to wait for the Spirit to tell me to go and talk to people. I will just already be following the Spirit (does that make sense? It makes sense in my head but I don't know if I explained it very well). Anywho, I had been talking to people and then I got a little discouraged and I thought to myself, "I don't want to talk to any more people. Nobody wants to talk to us right now." Then I saw a guy a little ways ahead of us on the sidewalk walking in our direction and I had the thought, "You cannot let this person walk passed you. You have to contact this man." We got really close to him and we said "Boa tarde" and he was really friendly but I didn't actually stop him and contact him. As soon as I had let him walk passed me I thought, "Oh brother Sister Smith. You are really stupid sometimes." So I immediately turned around and yelled, "Excuse me! Can I talk to you?!" (This al happened in about three seconds by the way.... it's not as dramatic as it seems when I type it all out). Well, the smile he gave me when I stopped him made me think, "He knew I was going to talk to him. He was waiting for me to talk to him." Turns out Zé (that's his name) was taught by the missionaries 10 years ago! It was probably one of the best contacts I've ever done. Last week Sister Parkinson and I also contacted another young guy named Pedro who was running on the road and exercising, but we stopped him and contacted him and he was super cool. It's amazing how many cool people you meet when you just talk to people. Nifty thought, huh?

I have a ton of postcards and letters to send off.... the only problem is finding time to walk all the way to the post-office to send them all. Next p-day I will send off a billion postcards and letters to you all. Don't send anything to me because if you send it to the Lisboa mission office I will never get it. Next week I'll find out the address of the Porto Mission Office and give it to you all. Then, you can send me nifty stuff and letters and such. :) 

I don't really have a ton to say this week.. sorry. Mostly my brain is running in circles. I'm not sleeping well this week and I have huge bags under my eyes (it's just to make sure that the guys are only talking to us because of the gospel and not because we're cute... right?). Apparently I talk in my sleep every night.... normally I'm contacting people on the street or teaching lessons. I only speak Português in my sleep though so that's good. 

My brain is dead... sorry. The only note I have left to say is that I love the Bible in Português. I gave up reading it cover to cover in English and I started over in Português. For some reason it makes a whole lot more sense to me in Português than it does in English. Also, the Book of Enos is really good. I wrote two pages of notes about it this morning during Personal Study. You should all read it sometime this week... and apply it. :D

Love you all!

The-suffering-from-middle-age Sister Smith

P.S. The only picture I have to send this week (it's kind of sad that I didn't take other pictures) is arroz de marisco.... I really like it. I'll have to make it for y'all when I come back home.