Monday, May 2, 2016

O último email: The sun is shining in Portugal!

The last email.... in the beginning of my mission I thought that the last email would be very dramatic and that it would just blow me away... I feel pretty normal though. It doesn't feel very dramatic, nor is it blowing me away with its amazingness, but it's definitely not the worst email I've ever sent home. :) Missionaries keep asking me what it's like to be at the end of my mission and my response every time has been "Um... I don't know... normal." The members are funnier though because they ask me how I feel and when I respond, "I feel pretty normal" then they tell me "Are you sure? Most sisters cry a lot at the end. Are you sure you're not afraid to go home?" My response to that yesterday was, "Well, if it would make you all feel more comfortable I can start crying. I mean, if you really want me to I can." When I offered that option they all started laughing and told me they prefer me the way I am. :)  Yay! People like me the way I am. :) One of my favorite quotes on the mission has been this one by Presidente Hinckley:

"It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers." 

I like that one. It will all work out. One way or another it will all work out. I learned a lot from it during the mission and I think it applies to every situation. I found a piece of paper a few days ago that I had written that quote down on and I was thinking about how wise Presidente Hinckley was. then I started thinking about how much I love Presidente Monson too. Then I started thinking about how amazing it is that we actually do have a prophet. I can't explain very well what goes through my head, mas eu acho que a parte principal of what goes through my head is just that I have a testimony of of the gospel that I didn't have before. It's nice to have those moments when you just feel that it's true. 

This week was a pretty good week. On Monday we didn't have any firm plans so we decided to go out to Gumirães and work, but once we got out there the sísteres from the other ward called us and told us that they needed us for a lesson. Isaura, a member from their ward, was going to have the sísteres teach her mom who happens to live in our area. So we got to be there for the lesson and it was really good. Síster Costa is an amazing teacher and that lesson was so short and direct and good! She really just handles the lessons in a way that I haven't seen before. If I could I would just sit back and watch her teach because it's fun. On Tuesday we were working on Fase 2 of the Listão with an older couple from our ward.  In the beginning they didn't want to give us any names, but then when we went back they made plans to take us to meet all of the people on their listão... Síster Costa will be working with millions of references next transfer. Then on Tuesday night we had Conselho da Ala at the chapel. It was so much fun. I love our bispo. He loves the missionaries and he's always really happy to hear about our pesquisadores every week. I think it's because he has seen all of our investigators because they've all come to church recently. I think he's the youngest bishop I've ever met but I've really liked serving here in Viseu with him. Bispo Daniel is a really bishop and he does his calling really well. On Thursday we did divisions with our companions so I was with Sister Christensen in the other sister area in Viseu. I had no idea how big Viseu actually is... I thought that all of Viseu was as rural as my area... nope. Viseu is in fact a city, but I didn't know that until now. :) But while I was with Sister Christensen we ran into lots of my investigators and had lessons with them. That was a pretty big blessing. Friday we had weekly planning and then at night Sister Fernandes and I went to Coimbra for a division on Saturday. It was a nice division and I really liked being in Coimbra again. I worked with Sister Regan all day in an area called Santa Clara and then we walked back into Coimbra and up into the historic section to look for a reference. It's nice to be in big cities sometimes. I love Viseu, but it was fun being in Coimbra and hiking up all the hills and going across the Rio Mondego. Coimbra is a really pretty area. I think it was my favorite division ever.  

While we were on the division on Saturday, Sister Costa and Sister Christensen were in Viseu having too much fun. Those two sisters together is a pretty dangerous combination because they are always doing something silly and then laughing so hard that they can't even breathe. It is one of the funniest and cutest things to see. Sister Fernandes and I like to sit in other rooms to just listen to them try to talk to each other in Português and English... most of the time they end up just acting out what they want to say anyway. It's funny.  On Saturday they were able to go with Mario and Judite out to Póvoa de Mundão to visit Ribeiro and his wife Isolinda and her sister Gracinda. They really like the Book of Mormon and the missionaries but it will still be a while before they're ready to be baptized. Ribeiro likes the Church just because he was well received when he came to church. There's a lot more than just being treated nicely though. He's on his way to baptism, but he still has a way to go. 

Yesterday was a really good fast and testimony meeting in our ward.  There is a member who is visiting from Angola for a few weeks and his testimony was simple but he talked about how no matter if he's in Angola, Portugal, or England he feels the same Spirit in the Church meetings. I bore my testimony and Elder Hicks bore his testimony because we're both ending our missions this week. When Elder Hicks bore his testimony I realized how strange a mission really is. We spend 18 months defending things that we don't understand very well, but in the end we come to understand and love the things that we teach and defend. We begin to see the value of the gospel in our lives and we change quite a bit while we're here. We're still the same people, but just a little bit different. It's nice. :)

Yesterday we had a Mothers' Day activity here at the capela and the elders from the other ward were able to bring two families of investigators to the activity. They were really cool and they all liked the capela and the members were so nice to them. One of the families was actually a cigana family and normally the members aren't as friendly toward them, but at the activity the members were so good and they were so sweet to both of the families. I just love the members here in Viseu. There's a rumor that the wards are going to be combined soon. The plans were sent to Salt Lake for approval, but we'll see what happens. 

Today for p-day we played volleyball and futebol with Viviene, an investigator of the sisters. It was fun. My huge lack of sports abilities was put on public display but that didn't seem to dissuade Viviene from continuing to talk to the missionaries. She's was really cool. I think the best part about being a missionary is meeting the people. It's crazy how you learn to love people right away, but we really do just love people. 

Heavenly Father sure does love us an awful lot to go to all this work just so that His children will have a chance to choose to go back to Him. I think feeling that love is what makes the biggest difference for people. When they feel how special they really are, they're willing to work a little bit at a time to go back to Him. We have prophets that hold the priesthood on the earth today. That's crazy if you think about too much. Eternity is a little bit too complicated for my poor little brain, but I'm content just knowing that for now if I try my best every day it will all work out in the end. 

I love you all. I love being a missionary! The best part of my life so far has been having the Savior's name next to mine on this little black name tag for 18 months, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. 

Síster Kendra Smith

P.S. Picture 1: This morning with Viviene. Picture two: Sister Costa came running in to ask Sister Fernandes how to say "slave" in English. We told her and then she ran to the kitchen. Both of us got very suspicious and then we heard Sister Costa yelling, "Eslave! Eslave!" We run in and she was hitting Sister Christensen with a spatula while they were making sandwiches.This is the picture we got as they were telling us the whole story... they're just too funny... and they can't be left alone.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lá na Serra milagres acontecem... e finalmente recebi os planos de viagem!

I think Heavenly Father is really good. Sometimes the sweetest blessings happen and they don't necessarily have to do with misisonary work. Sometimes they're just little things that Heavenly Father does to let you know that He knows you personally and that He loves you individually.

I don't have a lot of time this week so I'll be very brief and I'll try to write about the best parts of this week. 

All the great miracles that happened with Ribeiro last week kind of disappeared. He still wasn't coming to any compromissos and one day during studies I couldn't focus and I had this weird kind of "condemned" feeling. I talked to Sister Costa about it and we both felt like we needed to send a message to Ribeiro explaining how serious and sacred baptism was and what his part was in preparing for baptism. We prayed and worked on a message for him and got up the courage to send it off. Once we sent it the condemned feeling went away, but several days have gone by and he has not responded and he has not come to church. Looks like someone is using his agency... However, we were able to get our investigators Alícia and Maurício to church. Maurício loved Primária and he told his mom that he wants to go back every week. She was bored and tired and hungry after three hours, but I personally feel that's how the best conversion stories start: "The first time I went to church I thought it would never end, but now I'm glad that I came...".... something like that. :) We also were able to find some amazing new people to work with. That whole act of faith called "dropping over half of your investigators" seems to be working. Because we're not wasting time with people that actually don't want anything to do with us Heavenly Father is leading us to people that are ready right now for the gospel. It's a blessing to see these people that want the gospel so badly and will sacrifice and do what ever is necessary to have it in their lives. We had some huge miracles and we were able to feel the power of the Spirit in so many lessons this week. :)

Also, Sister Costa is the best missionary in the world. She is amazing and I love her. :) 

I now have two little miracles that have nothing to do with missionary work, but make me realize that Heavenly Father really does love us and He blesses us with some of the tiniest most unimportant things. So... my whole mission I have wanted to go to the Serra de Estrela. It's the tallest mountain in Portugal and for some reason I've always had this huge desire to go there. I figured that I would never get to see it though. However, because I have a cute little Brasilian companion who has never seen snow, Miguel and Nela from the other ward took us out to the Serra for p-day today. It was so pretty and we had so much fun! Sister Costa loved the snow... until it went in her boots. :) Other little miracle: ever since the mission divided I've been kind of homesick for Lisboa, but I knew that I was never going to see it again during my mission. Well, I got my travel plans today in the email and because of all the craziness that happened with my extension and those travel plans, the travel department in Salt Lake made separate plans for me. I won't be traveling with my group of missionaries, but I will be flying into Lisboa before flying to the United States. I get to see Lisboa one more time! :) I was so happy and I cried just a little bit. 

I am out of time now. We have to head out and work now, but I love you all. I'm sorry that I can't write any more but in two weeks I'll be home and I can talk to you all. I love the gospel. I'm so grateful for the oportunidade que eu tenho de servir uma missão. Foi a melhor decisão que eu fiz. Mudou minha vida e eu estou tão grata. Amo vocês!

Síster Smith

Monday, April 18, 2016

The littlest blessings are the best

Sister Costa.... she really loves P-day. She even has a special dance for p-day. 

I don't think I have ever seen any one with more love for p-day than Síster Costa. Normally we all just kind of slide out of bed in the morning, but on p-day she jumps out and she gets going. She dances and sings all morning long, and then the whole walk up to the internet place she skips and jumps and sings hymns and says hello to EVERYONE. I think it's the funniest and cutest thing in the world. She makes me laugh every day. She is one of the best missionaries I have ever seen, and her p-day rituals are the funniest things ever. What lucky people you are family... you get to meet her when we skype. :)

This week was "fantastically dandy"... that's what I told Matthew. :) It was pretty fantastic. I'm not sure Presidente Amorim will think that when he sees our weekly numbers, but it really was fantastic. We're happy here in Viseu! We had a zone conference this week in Coimbra and we learned so much! Sister Costa and I the entire time were receiving revelation and coming up with all kinds of ideas for our area. And what is the first great and wonderful thing that we did after the zone conference?

We dropped half of our investigators... yes sir! It was great... most of the time. There were a couple of times that we cried because the people said that they knew what we were teaching was true but they didn't want to change (aka... get married... quit drinking... come to church on Sunday...etc). Other times it was really great because we realized we were wasting a lot of time with people that didn't even really want to talk to us. It really was a great decision because having a huge lack of investigators forced us to do more street contacts and knock on more doors and go find new people to teach. Oh, how wonderful it is to find people that actually want to talk to us! :) You never know how weighed down you are by eternigators until you give them ultimatums. :) Happy day!

This Tuesday we went to Coimbra for a zone conference. It was a combined conference with our zone of Viseu and the zona de Santarém. Presidente and Síster Amorim were there with the two assistentes Élder Roberts and Élder Rands. It was probably the best conference I've ever been to with Presidente Amorim. I think the other best conference of my mission was one the Presidente Fluckiger did right before he left. Anyway, Presidente Amorim talked a lot about how the missionaries in our mission are some of the worst teachers he's ever seen (you just can't help but love the sweet and gentle way that he gets his ideas across...) but then as he was giving trainings on how we need to be teaching with power and with clarity it kind of hit us that we really do need a lot more practice. Presidente Amorim is one of the best teachers I have ever seen. He is so good at it and it comes because of all the experience he's had. Someday, I will teach the gospel as well as he does. This week as we applied all of his trainings we discovered that our lessons were a lot better and our investigators understood better what and why we were teaching and what and why they needed to keep their commitments. It was fantastic. 

This week was such a wonderful week with all kinds of little blessings.

On Friday I had an interview with Presidente Amorim. I think it was the best experience I've had with him so far. As he asked me questions I just answered them honestly but because we've been applying all the things he's asked us to do, even though we're not baptizing and we don't have very good numbers he was so happy with Sister Costa and me! I don't think I've ever seen him that happy! It's the best feeling in the world to hear the mission presidente say that you're a good missionary and that we're one of the duplas that he's very proud of. It's really nice because we generally feel like we're not good at all, but if Presidente Amorim says he's proud of us, I'm sticking with that. I don't need anything else. :)

This week because we dropped nearly all of the people we were working with or trying to get in touch with, we decided to go on a hunt. A people hunt. :) We pulled out the list of members and started looking for all members that live in our area. Here in Portugal the ward lists are huge with about 300-350 families sometimes, but generally one family per page is active. So we were out in Póvoa de Abraveses looking for a guy named José Carlos. Well, we started talking to his dad Artur and his daughter Erica. His dad told us that right now is when the family needs the missionaries the most and that we came at the right time. We had no idea. We were just looking for new people to teach and reactivate, but we have now found a beautiful family! José Carlos is super nice and he said "fizeram bem para passar" so we're pretty sure that they need something right now. Erica is 13 and she hasn't been baptized so we're going to try to work with her and see if through her we can bring the whole family back to the gospel. :) Hooray for eternal familes!

Ribeiro... oh Ribeiro. I have a lot of repenting to do in this story because I was so irritated with him. So, Ribeiro is basically one of the most prepared people that I have ever met in my entire life. The problem is that when you have someone so prepared obviously there's going to be some kind of difficulty in getting things going. Well, with Ribeiro it's the lack of communication. For nearly a month we've been marking so many compromissos with him but he never comes. He was down by Mafra for several weeks but then we had a couple of appointments this last week and we had members there at the capela and everything, but after an hour and a half of waiting he just never showed up. I was so cranky and I wanted to just put him off to the side like a lot of the other investigators we've been dropping but I just had this feeling tugging me inside to keep trying. Well.... we sent him a message yesterday saying that we needed to meet with him and that he needed to do whatever was necessary to meet with us. He never responded so we figured he wasn't going to show up. 15 minutes before the time we said we'd meet him he sends us a text saying that he's in front of the capela. We were so far away from the capela, but thankfully the elderes were there. They were able to teach him about baptism and sort everything out. We got there during their lesson so we only saw them after it was done, but Ribeiro felt so bad for never showing up to appointments and kept thanking me for my patience with him. He said that my patience with him is one of the reasons he knows this gospel is true (now isn't that a slap in the face... ouch... humilty learned). He has read the entire Book of Mormon. His wife as well. He knows it's true. He knows Joseph Smith is a profeta and he wants to be baptized on May 7th with his wife because that is somebody's birthday..... WHAT?! How does Heavenly Father do these kinds of miracles?! It's amazing! We finally have his address and an appointment at his house with some amazing members tomorrow. Hooray!!!

Then there was a nifty story about how we were knocking doors and I felt like we needed to knock a specific door, but nobody answered. While I was on a division in Leiria, Sister Costa went back with Sister Christensen and knocked the door again. A woman named Clarinda opened the door and when she heard about eternal families started crying.... How does Heavenly Father find these incredibly prepared people?! We can't seem to find them most of the time, but for some reason we're doing something right and Heavenly Father is helping us know where to go and when to be there. :)

Also, yesterday a member from the other ward died and they're going to do her funeral tomorrow on Tuesday. Most of her family isn't in the church, so while they were setting things up there was just this horrible heavy feeling in the capela. they really don't understand that death isn't the end. I was thinking about it, and I realized that I've always known what happens when we die. I've never had to doubt. It makes me so grateful knowing what I know. We're going to help out with the funeral tomorrow. I'm the pianist and we're supposed to just be there to talk to people and give a little bit of comfort but they don't want us teaching things unless people ask us. I think it will be a new experience. I've only ever been to member funerals, and this is still a member funeral but very different. 

It's the little things that make you realize how privileged we are to have the gospel. I'm starting to realize now what a blessing it is to have the gospel. I never thought about it much before, but I'm starting to realize it now. We are very privileged to have the gospel in our lives. It changes everything for us, and when we realize what we have we'll never give it up and we'll always invite others to have it too. 

I love this gospel! I love you all!

Síster Smith

P.S. The pictures are of the zone conference on Tuesday, and then of the four of us who arrived in Portugal on the same day. Sister Eusébio, Elder Da Silva, and Elder Fomes all came from the MTC in Madrid, but we're the ones that all arrived together. :) Happy little group. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Mais ou menos" is a good thing :)

This week was mais ou menos. It's not bad, nor is it fantastically incredible, but it's just mais ou menos. I think that's good though. Nothing bad is happening and we're just going along every day. I used to always think that when people told us they were feeling "mais ou menos" it was a bad thing because they weren't over the top happy or excited, but I see no problem with just having a nice calm, normal week.
Last p-day we spent several hours in the Centro da Juventude doing email because Sister Costa hadn't heard from her family in several weeks and we took advantage of the email rule Presidente Amorim put in place a while ago. He said, "You use as much time as is necessary to write your emails as long as you remember to write the mission presidente." Okay. Done. We spent quite a while doing email, but I get bored and I have hard time focusing after two hours so I found lots of stuff on the Church website that I really liked. I'm definitely copying Clarissa and starting a project of watching all General Conference sessions from the very first recordings. It will be fun. :)
On Tuesday Sister Fernandes, Elder Hicks, Elder Judd, and I all caught a bus at 6h00 to go up to Porto for the Conselho da Liderança. It was a pretty uneventful bus ride and then we all went on our merry way on the metro to get to the capela das Antas for the meeting. It was a pretty good meeting. It was a typical meeting with Presidente Amorim where he has a schedule but always runs for much longer. At the very end he showed the very end part of Élder Bruce R. McConkie's last Conference address... oh goodness. I lost it. I had never actually seen the talk, but once he started bearing his testimony I just started crying and it wouldn't stop. It was fairly embarrassing but I couldn't get it to stop. I don't normally cry but that time it just wasn't stopping. The Spirit... it does some funny things sometimes. While we were up in Porto Sister Fernandes and I had to leave our greenies together in Viseu. They were TERRIFIED! It was the sweetest thing to listen to them planning and praying together. It reminded me of when I was still in the stage and it was like Heavenly Father letting me see just a glimpse of some of the changes that have taken place. Sister Costa and Sister Christensen were incredible though. I think they do better than the rest of us. :D They did so well and they were so excited to tell us all about all their adventures. It was like sending kids to school for the first time. Everyone is nervous, but we know it's all going to be okay in the end. :) Luckily for them, they get to do that every week as we do divisions. They're going to be such good friends. It's pretty cute. :)
On Thursday we had our zone meeting at our capela here in Viseu. It was a really good meeting. The elderes in Covilhã are the funniest, most hard-working people out there. Elder Wanlass is so happy to go work and he just is constantly joking. He made the meeting very interesting and very funny. Sister Fernandes and I did a practice to show how Presidente Amorim wants us to teach the 3ª liçâo to our progressing investigators. At the very end the zone leaders had the three new missionaries and the two of us who are ending to bear our testimonies. Elder Hicks shared a really nice testimony about how it's a very strange thing to think about when we realize that we spend 18-24 months defending the name of someone that we've never met, but that we know is real. I thought about it and it's true. We've never met the Savior and yet we take this time to defend His name and teach His gospel and do His work. I hadn't thought of it like that before. It can't stop when the tag comes off though. If we ever stop defending His name we stop coming closer to Him.
We have been trying so hard to get in touch with Ribeiro because he's so incredible, but we have only been able to talk to him briefly. He's down by Mafra still and he doesn't seem terribly interested in answering the phone these days... so we'll see what happens there. He loves the Book of Mormon and he told us that he's almost read the entire book... so.... we don't know what's going on there. We're also teaching an investigator who the elderes gave us a few weeks ago. Her name is Humberta. She is from the Açores and she is really lonely because her son is always and work and her husband is working in the Algarve. The first time we went there we invited her to be baptized and she kind of panicked and told us that she needed to really be completely prepared for that, but the second time we went back and we taught her about the Book of Mormon with Rute. When Rute talked about her baptism and when we explained that the Book of Mormon would help her be ready for baptism she was completely calm and she accepted it. It was a sweet moment. We were also able to get in with Alícia yesterday. We've been meeting with them for several weeks but nothing is really happening and yesterday we taught her the third lesson. When we asked her if she wanted those things in her life she said yes. She wants to keep learning and receiving the lessons, but she said that needs more time to feel that it's something that she will commit to. It was incredible. We have been wondering if she even wanted to keep meeting with us, but she said that she does because she feels good when we're there and that her son Maurício (who is 8) loves reading the Book of Mormon. He stole it and hid it in his room so that he could read it. I don't think I've ever met another little kid like that. He knows when he feels the Spirit and he told us that he feels it when we're there and he loves reading the Book of Mormon. He will be a great missionary when he's older. :)
This week I've been realizing how much Heavenly Father is doing to refine me. It's annoying and frustrating sometimes to see all my little weaknesses, but in the end it will be much better because of all this time.
I love the Gospel. When I study it every morning it has a special meaning to me because I can see that it's real. I see it in the lives of our investigators and in the lives of the members. I see it in myself. It's true and I'm grateful that I have it. Amo vos todos!
Síster Smith
P.S. Pictuers: Zone meeting and on the road with Sister

Monday, April 4, 2016

Just in case you all forgot how beautiful I am...

Sister Christensen took a picture of me with Sister Costa, and I don't know how, but she was able to capture this priceless gem.

I about died when I saw it... I didn't realize how cute I was. You should all be proud that you have such a good looking little Síster in the family. :) 

Have a lovely week! Keep looking good! :)

Síster Smith

P.S. When you make silly faces in public... someone is bound to get a picture of it. :)

Transfers, training, and Conferência Geral.

Oh transfers... sweet, wonderful, strange transfers... I'm training... again. The third time's the charm.

Transfers are full of surprises these days, but I think I'm the luckiest person in the world. Not many people get to end their missions in their first area, but I do! I'm still Sister Training Leader but with Síster Fernandes now, and we are both training first transfer sísteres. We were all convinced that with everything that has been happening the last few weeks that Presidente Amorim was going to transfer me out of Viseu, but nope. I get one more transfer here in this lovely little place. During the week as Síster Regan and I talked about transfers we were more than sure that she was staying and I was leaving, but every time I would go to start packing I got a little feeling that I shouldn't pack. Síster Regan got transferred to Coimbra and I'm still here in Viseu... it's a good thing I listened to the Spirit or I would have had to unpack all of my stuff all over again. :)

Tuesday after district meeting we got the transfers email and then we got Síster Regan all packed up and on a bus to Coimbra. She went to Coimbra and Élder Short went to Leiria, so now our little British district is all spread out across the Centro of Portugal. Tuesday night Síster Fernandes and I took a bus up to Porto, and Élder Nascimento was with us so we sat and told stories about our investigators while everyone else on the bus slept. It was the funniest and fastest bus ride I've ever been on in my entire life, but it was a good thing we were there because neither Síster Fernandes nor Élder Nascimento knew how to use the metro in Porto (thank goodness for the three transfers I spent in Gaia). We got Élder Nascimento on his way to Gaia and then Síster Fernandes and I set out on our adventure trying to find the hotel that we were supposed to be staying in. The office élderes called us to see if we needed help and then they started commenting about how sísteres always get lost because they're not very smart.Someone (possibly me) got a little competitive and I told Síster Fernandes that we would not ask for help from the élderes so we started just kind of wandering around. We did find it and we didn't even have to ask for help from anyone. :)

We spent all Wednesday in the training meeting in Porto with Presidente Amorim, the trainers, and all the new missionaries. There were three sisters that came from the Provo MTC and two from the CTM em São Paulo. It was probably the best meeting I've ever been to with Presidente Amorim. The mission met the baptism goal for the last month so he was very, very, VERY happy. I don't think I've ever seen Presidente Amorim that happy. At one point in the meeting the new missionaries were reading a talk about consecration and Presidente Amorim just walked over to Sister Amorim and kissed her. Síster Fernandes and I started laughing in the back of the room because it's so awkward to us, and when Presidente Amorim saw us laughing he told us "I'm allowed to kiss my companion. If I wasn't allowed to kiss my companion I wouldn't have lasted three years!" It was funny.... and slightly uncomfortable for us. :)

At the end of the meeting Presidente Amorim interviewed all of the new missionaries and then made the assignments. While we were waiting for him to come back I just started talking to one of the Brasilian sisters, Síster Costa, and we were having a nice conversation and I was telling her about Viseu. Then, Presidente Amorim came back and told us that the two of us were going to be companions! :) So I'm training Sister Costa this transfer. She is from Brasília and she is a convert of 7 years. She was the first person in her family to be baptized and she has a huge love of the gospel. Every time she shares her testimony you can tell that it's it's so important to her. Her testimony is so sweet and so strong. She just loves this gospel so much and she's made some pretty big sacrifices to be here as a missionary. I think it's going to be a fantastic transfer with her. Síster Costa just loves doing what's right and she loves being a missionary. She's been working and helping the missionaries for about two years and she is very good at it. Working with her is so much fun. Síster Christensen is what most people think of when they think of missionaries: nearly perfect and with an incredible testimony. I think Viseu will be in very good hands with her. Sister Fernandes is training Sister Christensen from Las Vegas so we're having a lot of fun here in Viseu. We like our little 4-sister apartment. It was a little rough the first couple of days with Sister Costa she has the thickest Brasilian accent I have ever heard and she uses so many words that they only use in Brasil. She's had a really hard time understanding the Português accent and the different words they use here, so it's been a work in progress. Marta, one of the members from the other ward made a huge list of words they use in Brasil and in Portugal that are different. It's very useful and at times funny because some incredibly inapproriate words there are completely normal here and vice versa. It's made for some interesting conversations. :)

This week our investigator Ribeiro has been close to Mafra down south toward Lisboa, but he sent us a text message telling us that he's been reading the Book of Mormon and that he feels very "content" when he reads it. He really likes the Book of Mormon and I don't think I've ever met any investigator who just immediately knows and understands the value it holds. Ribeiro does and he shares it with all of his Evangelical friends. Our plan for when he comes back from the south is to teach him the third lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and baptism and invite him to be baptized. He said he already believes it's all true, but we're not entirely sure what we've missed and what else we need to do to help him understand that he needs to act and follow the pattern established by the Savior. I think it's just going to click one day in his head and when he has that lightbulb-moment he'll have no problem in being baptized. 

We finally got in touch with a senhora named Margarida. We've been trying to teach her for weeks and we finally stopped by when she was home! Miracles happen! She has cancer and she's having a really hard time right now. When we said a prayer with her she just started crying and the Spirit that we felt there was so sweet. We had an appointment to go back and visit her, but she called and cancelled because they had an emergency and had to take her mom to the hospital. We've contacted her son Emmanuel in the road a couple of times and he's an active member of the Evangelical church but he asked us to come and talk to his mom. She doesn't go to church with him, but he says that he knows that we can help her right now, so we're going to keep on dropping by until we finally get back in with her. Her work schedule is really hard to work with, but we'll get back in there. 

Alícia and Maurício are okay... I think. We haven't been able to actually teach them in about two weeks. We were able to stop by yesterday in the afternoon but there wasn't time for us to teach a lesson. We were able to mark an appointment to go back on Saturday so we're going to go back with a member to teach with us. Maurício loves us and he feels the Spirit when we're there, but Alícia his mom still isn't so sure about us. She thinks we're nice but she doesn't actually know why we're coming around. We're going to pray a lot before our lesson on Saturday that something will help her be more open to the Spirit so that she can understand why she needs what we have to offer. We did find out that she smokes, but that's just another reason of why she needs the missionaries right now.

This weekend the most wonderful weekend of the whole year happened and we were able to watch Conferência Geral! Eu amo Conferência Geral!!! It is the best weekend of the entire year. I can hardly believe that it's already been 6 months since the last conference, but boy am I grateful that we have profetas e apóstolos! As we watched the sessions I could just feel it as they spoke. They're not just a bunch of old men that are preaching a lot of outdated ideas, they're representatives of Jesus Christ and they're the men called to teach us what Heavenly Father wants for us right now. I loved Sister Oscarson's talk about the mom realizing that the gospel is all true and also Élder Kearon's talk. It was so sweet because he was here recently for our mission conference but his talk reminded me that Heavenly Father loves all of His children and He wants us to love them too. Presidente Uchtdorf's talk was really good too. Yes Daddy, they do speak German in the Celestial Kingdom, but Português is there too. :) We haven't been able to watch the Saturday afternoon session yet. Presidente Amorim gave us permission to stay out until 23h00 to watch all the sessions of conference, but the transmission in Português wasn't working Saturday night. They other missionaries were all watching it in English on the computers downstairs but Sister Costa doesn't speak any English at all, so we still haven't seen it yet. We'll watch it at some point though. :)

This week I've starting reading in the New Testament about the ministry of Christ, and I've realized that I love my Savior. I love reading the stories in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon and just knowing that it's all true. It brings a special feeling to my heart that I can't really describe. It's just a peace and a calm and a lot of love every time I read about the life of the Savior. It makes me more grateful that I have the chance to serve as a missionary, even with all of my imperfections and weaknesses. 

The church is true. No doubt about it. :)

Amo vos!

Síster Smith

P.S. Here's a picture of me and Síster Costa and the other picture is of the members watching the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference ontém at about 18h00. We sure do love Conferência Geral! :)

Monday, March 28, 2016

"The only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability."

Life is wonderful. That is the theme of this week. Life is wonderful and you never really know for sure what's going to happen, but it's just wonderful. Sister Da Luz ended her mission yesterday and went up to Porto on a bus, and since then Sister Regan, Sister Fernandes, and I have been the most fun little tripla that ever was. :) We're having a lot of fun. This morning for our p-day studies we went to the capela and we watched the Face-to-Face event for Young Single Adults that happend recently. We figured, "We're young, we're obviously singe... adults.... well, that's the question, but it applies to us." There were a couple parts that realy stuck with me. One part was when Elder Holland was talking about the whole debate about Church policy and same-sex relationships. He said that it's never an issue of gay marriage or if someone has those feelings. It's a matter of the Law of Chastity, and that the Law of Chastity applies to everyone no matter what situation they are in. He explained that it's never politically correct to keep the commandments, but that all these issues are solved by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The other thing that made me think was when Sister Stephens spoke about when her oldest son came home from his mission and he thought that the world just ended when the nametag came off. She said that she told him, "Putting on the nametag does not make you a missionary, and taking off the nametag does not release you from being a missionary. We are all missionaries." When she said that it was as if Heavenly Father was speaking to me. I have been so afraid of going home. I am very guilty of thinking that the world ends when the nametag comes off, but when she said that I thought to myself, "Have I become a true missionary during the time that I've had the nametag, and do I really think that Heavenly Father is going to just forget about me when I go home? Do I have enough faith to trust that He's got a life ahead of me after the mission?" That and also something that Presidente Amorim told me last week really comforted me about the mission. I admitted to him that I was really scared to go home and he was really confused by that at first. Sister Amorim explained to him that this is normal and that girls tend to worry more than boys, but the Presidente told me that if I will just focus on my mission right up to the very end, the end of my mission will be the happiest part of my mission and Heavenly Father will take care of the rest after the mission.


This week was a semana da Páscoa. It's very different to be serving here in Portugal where Christianity is normal and every one is "Catholic". the way that others celebrate Easter is very different from how we celebrate it as a Church, but it makes me very grateful for the restored gospel in my life. Last year in Miratejo there was a big parade as the priests and all the church goers walked around with the statues and their candles. They did that here as well in Viseu and it was interesting to see the different levels of faith that the people have. Some people really do and honestly believe what they've been taught their whole lives and then there are the people that go just on Easter and Christmas, but the thing that I thought of was that even though most of those people don't really understand who they are Heavenly Father loves each one of them. I still don't understand how He is able to love us all when we do things we shouldn't do or when we don't try to follow Him the way He has taught us, but He still loves us. He just keeps loving us all the time. I hope someday I understand that. 

This week we had one day of sun, and it was the first day the sandles came out.... that was one of the happiest days of my life. I got to walk around in my sandles all day long... it was fantastic. Never was there a happier missionary than me that day. We also finally got copies of the Book of Mormon! The entire mission has had a shortage of copies of the Book of Mormon and we literally have had only two for the last 4 weeks so we were pretty stingy with them. We didn't give any away, but then we got a big box from Porto and they are all the new editions that came out this month. With the new edition of the Bible the tripla has changed as well and oh is it nice to walk with o Livro de Mórmon de novo. :D Happy day.

Thursday we had 7 appointments... and every single one of them fell through. We were a little bit sad in the afternoon but then we decided that we needed to get over ourseves and be happy because we had no real reason to be sad. Then, that night Ribeiro called us and told us that he had come into Viseu from Sátão and that he wanted to meet us at the capela. We taught him about the Restoration and he told us about how he felt on Sunday when he came to church two weeks ago. He told us that as we were talking about the Book of Mormon during Gospel Principles that the thought came to him very clearly "Get yourself a copy of the Book of Momron and read it." Then as he was leaving the capela he said that he was asking God what he needed to do and the answer came to him, "Continue coming to this church." When he told us that it was so incredible. He has already started talking to all of his evangelical friends and pastors here in Portugal and in France and he's explaining about the Gospel to them. It's amazing to see that Heavenly Father really does take care of each of His children and all of us need to become converted to the gospel in His time and in His way. If we put our trust in Heavenly Father, everything works out in the end and it works out better than we could ever plan for ourselves. 

I love this gospel. I'm so grateful for my Savior and for the chance I have to come to know Him and help other come to know Him as well. He knows every one of us and He knows what we need to grow the most and become like Him. As we do the little things every day like praying and studying the scriptures we are able to find the faith and the trust in Heavenly Father's plan. We are able to trust Him and move forward happily. I've seen that in my mission and I've seen that change in myself. I'm just grateful that Heavenly Father is real and that He does love us. I know it because I've seen it so many times and I can't deny that it's real. I love you all! :)

Síster Kendra Smith

P.S. The pictures: the one day of sun when I got ot wear the sandles and then the cathedral today with the sisters. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

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

This week I don't even know what to say. It has been a very interesting week, full of opportunities to learn and have more faith and trust in Heavenly Father. This week I have learned a lot of lessons and I can't even begin to explain everything. I can feel a huge love for my Savior in my heart and a huge gratitude for the gospel in my life.

This week I had the opportunity to learn to have patience and love with investigators that don't understand the importance of what we're talking about. When they don't show up to appointments and they start rejecting telefonemas it's easy to start just seeing the bad in them and al the things they're going to have to change, and several times I wanted to drop a couple of investigators. This week I had a thought though, "How many times does God keep forgiving us and keep inviting us to return to Him even when we choose to turn away from Him?" Then I talked it out with Sister Regan and we decided that Heavenly Father loves our investigators more than we do and that He knows when and how they need to receive the gospel, even though normally it's not how we have it planned out in our weekly planning session. :) No matter how much faith we have, sometimes we have to remember that they have a precious gift called agency.... agency.... what a crazy idea. 

This week was a very special week in my mission. I've had the best studies of my whole mission and I've seen my own testimony growing in ways that I didn't think were possible, but it makes me so grateful every day for the gospel in my life. There were a lot of things that happened this week that reminded me of the importance of my Savior. It also helped me to realize that Jesus Christ atoned for everyone, even the people who choose to do bad things and reject Him. I feel a huge love for my Savior and I'm so grateful for this Easter week to remember my Savior. 

I love my Savior and everything that He did for me. I don't understand how He did it and I don't fully understand why, but I'm so grateful for His sacrifice and I love Him. 

I love you all and I hope that you remember the Savior more this week. Because of Him we can have the best lives ever. :)

Síster Smith

Monday, March 14, 2016

Heavenly Father is very sweet sometimes :)

I have a time crunch today. I have to get the whole email written in under 45 minutes today... I feel like I've been issued a challenge, but I think I'll be able to get it written. I don't know if it will be high quality, but it will be written.

Last week I didn't get the chance to talk about hardly anything, so I'll do a quick recap. Sister Regan and I like to play "What Are the Odds?" as we contact and last week we were playing in Gumirães and I lost so I had to contact the person in front of us. That is how we met Rafael, a 24 year old young man who is very lost in life and has had all kinds of crazy experiences and is ready for the gospel. We were teaching him on a bench last Sunday and after the lesson we were getting ready to leave and I just had to thought to stay there for just a minute longer. It wasn't like any great revelation it was more that I didn't want to move yet and we were looking to see if we could find more people. Right after we decided to stay there a car pulled up behind us and inside there was the cutest old man (named Ribeiro) ever asking us where the Testemunho de Jeová church was. We figured, "Okay. We'll be nice and explain where it is and then we'll invite him to our church." We explained where their chapel was and then he stayed there and started talking about a card that some people had given him. We thought it would have been funny if it was one of ours and he was pretty insistent on showing us the card so we waited for about five minutes as he looked for it and once he pulled it out we realized that it was one of our pass-along cards! :) It had the address of our capela and he had spent the entire day looking for it, but couldn't find it. He thought it was for the TJ's and saw us, thought we were TJ's, and asked us for directions. We marked an appointment with him and invited him to church and he was so happy! I don't think I've ever seen anyone so happy to talk to us! :) I also went up to Porto for Mission Council (which was not as scary as I had thought it would be.... Presidente Amorim was very niceno Conselho da Missão) and then the next day we had zone meeting. It was pretty good. We're a pretty spiffy little zone here in Viseu with Castelo Branco and Covilhã. Yep... pretty spiffy. Tiny, but cool.

And that is the brief recap on two weeks ago. Now for this last week... 

Well, now the adventures start. :) Last Monday we wandered out to Quinta da Carreira and tried to talk to some old investigators but that didn't work out. We walked back into the city and tried to just contact people on the streets. I think that Síster Regan and I singlehandedly contacted all the creepy men in the city.... I don't know how we managed to do it, but somehow we succeeded. One man we stopped and contacted was Armando, an investigator that Sister Hirschi and I taught last year... boy oh boy... we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into when we contacted him. He called us a lot during the night and sent lots of texts saying that he wanted to marry me. We showed the élderes and we just ignored everything that he sent, but then he started sending incredibly inappropriate and harrassing messages. We told Presidente Amorim about it yesterday and he asked us to send him this guy's number.... we haven't gotten any more messages or telefonemas. We think Presidente Amorim called him... or had him destroyed... either one is very likely, but whichever it was, we're happy with the results. :)

On Tuesday we had our district meeting... and it was very interesting. We started out with a scripture game that turned very intense... Élder Short is from England and he is a great big, scary rugby player and he tackled his own companion (Élder Johnson from Los Angeles, who is also a rugby player) during our scripture game. When Élder Short's next turn came up to do the race no one wanted to go against him.... so I volunteered because he can't tackle the sísteres. :) I did not win though... he was a lot faster than me, but it was a fun game. Probably the most exciting district meeting I've had in my whole mission. Even moer interesting than the meetings o Élder Orozco deu em Espanhol. 

Wednesday we had an investigator not show up to an appointment but we ended up running into Rafael in front of the Câmara in Rossio. We walked up to the capela and sat outside to have a lesson with him. It was actually one of the best First Lessons that I've ever had. He is Evangelical and has had some really weird experiences with people doing Satanic rituals and nasty stuff like that, but he said that when all of the got really bad he started going to the Evangelical church because he knew he needed Christ in his life. He said that one night when all of the horrible stuff was going on he had a dream that the Savior came and held him in His arms all night long and that after that dream he never had any more horrible experiences. He was telling us about this experience and then Sister Regan and I just started talking about the First Vision very differently. We never, EVER talk about all of the First Vision, but with Rafael we felt like we needed to tell him the whole story and explain how Satan bound Joseph's tongue and tried to keep him from praying, but that Joseph's prayer was so important that Heavenly Father and he Savior Jesus Christ personally appeared and that when that happened Satan had no power over Joseph Smith. We were explaining all of that and then we started bearing testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that He came to be our Savior so that we could overcome Satan and return to live with our Heavenly Father. All Rafael was saying was, "I believe it. I believe it." I have never had a lesson like that. The Spirit was so strong and as we explained about how baptism provides us this safety and peace through Christ, Rafael just told us "I want to be baptized." We were kind of blown away. No one has ever come up and told us that they wanted to be baptized. Sister Regan and I were talking about it, and really, Heavenly Father knows what every person needs to gain their own testimony and one of the biggest parts of being a missionary is that we get to strengthen our testimonies in so many ways. I think we learn more by teaching than by being taught. Heavenly Father really did know what He was doing when He sent 18 and 19 year old kids out to preach and teach the gospel. They learn it's true by teaching and testifying of it every day and that prepares us for the rest of our lives. That's what makes us prepared to fulfill what Heavenly Father has sent us here to do... That's my little epiphany of the week. It hit me really strongly after the lesson with Rafael. We get more out of our missions than any one else I think.

On Saturday we had a zone activity with the Assistentes do Presidente Amorim in Castelo Branco. We all went out there for two hours to just contact and find new people for the élderes there to teach. They've been struggling to find people to teach so the whole zone got together and we all went out and worked there. Sísteres have never worked in Castelo Branco and it's considered one of the worst places in the mission, but I loved it. The people were so sweet and it was so nice to work there. You can just feel that it's full of people waiting for the missionaries to get to work and find them. It's and incredible little place and I loved it. That same afternoon we went to a baptism that the élderes in the other ward had. Rafael was there and he just wanted to sit in the chapel. He said that he just felt so good there and he didn't want to leave. He's a cool kid. 

On Sunday, we passed by Rafael's house but he was asleep and we called and called. We heard his phone going off but the kid was not waking up. We ended up being late to church, but it's actually a blessing. Because we were late, we hadn't taken the battery out of our phone yet and Ribeiro ended up calling us to tell us that he was in front of the capela. He stayed for all three hours of church and kept telling the entire ward that it was "thanks to those sweet girls I'm here and I feel so happy." He's the sweetest little old man in the world and the whole ward loved him. I've never seen any ward ever take such good care of an investigator. It's been so long since new people have come to church here that the members just loved him and he could feel the love. :)

The biggest blessing of all time happened this morning though. Sister Regan and I decided to go up to the capela and do our studies there so that we could watch some General Conference talks in Português. We were having a really rough time and we were really stressed out because of some really bad situations from last week, and while we were watching Élder Carlos A. Godoy's talk in Português I saw a bunch of members from other wards in our stake start coming into the capela. I realized that it was everyone who was going to the stake temple trip up to Madrid. A member form Leiria came in saw me and almost started crying. She took me and Sister Regan out to the bus and the members from Leiria were all there and they were so happy to see me. Cristina Luís came running off the bus and just grabbed me. It was like getting a great big hug from my Mom. I had been kind of sad before and then out of the blue Heavenly Father sent my favorite members to remind me that there are people that I love so much and that they love me too. I got to see Susana the bishop's wife and little old Joaquim who is going to the temple for the first time to be endowed. I saw Cláudia and Luís who are going to the temple to be sealed and São and her husband and Irmão Tavares the ward mission leader from Leiria. The bus driver thought it was just funny to see how excited we all were. I got to give hugs to all my members from Leiria and it just warmed up my heart. All day I've been thinking about how happy Cristina Luís was and how she just gave me the biggest hug ever.... I'm a very happy, very grateful child right now. We never do studies in the capela, but we just wanted to try it out and because of that I had the chance to see all of my members from Leiria. :D 

This morning was just proof that Heavenly Father really is aware of all of His children, even His missionaries and that He reminds us always that He is there and that each one of His children is special and has a unique story. :)

The Church is true and I'm so grateful that I have it and that I get to share it. 

Com amor,

Síster Smith

Monday, March 7, 2016

Working in the promised land

Olá família. :) Como vocês estão? Thank you for all the emails this week. I loved reading them. It's always nice to hear about all the projects on the house and about all the things happening in the family. Clarissa always sends me cute little updates on her family and Deka and I are planning out service activities for when I come home. It's also fun to read about Benjamin's mission.... serving up in the Land of the Ice Age.... I've have definitely never heard of church getting cancelled because of icy rain nor of missionaries getting to ride around on four-wheelers. It's definitely very different from my mission. :)

This week I think I may have died and gone to Heaven. Viseu is the promised land... not that we have golden investigators just running to get into the baptismal font, but I am so happy. I don't think I have ever been this happy in my entire life. There's just something so wonderful about working and having fun and being a missionary that is just perfect... I don't know. :) I'm just a pretty happy kid right now. 

We had some of the funniest and sweetest things happen this week. they're probably not funny to anyone but us but we loved all the little things that happened this week. We taught Tiago and his mom during our p-day and then later in the week we went back to give Tiago a chocolate bar and a birthday card for his birthday. He didn't expect us to even remember his birthday and I have never seen anyone so happy just to receive a birthday card. He didn't know how to react. He was so happy and he wanted to hug us or give us beijinhos, but he just patted our shoulders and gave us the biggest smile. Little things like that just make me so happy. I'm sitting here laughing about it right now because it was just the coolest thing to see how big of a difference it made in his day just by the fact that we remembered it was his birthday. Lesson learned: the little things we do make the biggest difference and Heavenly Father keeps track of all the little things we do. 

We started working in a part of our area called Santiago and we're going up there and knocking on doors as we try to find more investigators. It's a cute little area. It's got newer buildings and then it's got the little teeny tiny winding roads and close houses th
at everyone always imagines are in Europe. Those old areas are normally full of really old, really Catholic people that were "born Catholic, and will die Catholic just like their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents"... but no matter how cranky and stern they try to look I can generally get them to smile back at me as we're walking around. :) 

On Tuesday we had Conselho da Ala and afterward Bispo Daniel called all the missionaries into his office and told us that he and the bispado were talking about the group of missionaries this transfer, and they just wanted to let us know that they thought we were one of the best groups of missionaries they've had and that they know that great things will happen this transfer. Even if we don't baptize. He told us that we need to help teach the members to take better care of the recent converts so that when Heavenly Father blesses them with more new members, they will be able to feel like the ward is a big family to them. I think this ward already does a really good job of that most of the time. They're not perfect, but they are just the sweetest people in the world.  

I just made an interesting discovery..... this internet café place closes at 18h00.... which is in 6 minutes.... I need to pay more attention to my time usage. Woops. 

We had a week full of wonderful experiences... that you will hear about next week. 

I love you all! Remember to see everyone as Heavenly Father sees them. He loves all of us and wants us to love each other too. 

Síster Smith

P.S. The pictures are of the cathedrals on the skyline and then me and lovely Sister Regan.

Monday, February 29, 2016

"It's like dejavú... like I've been here before..."

Sometimes the weirdest things happen at transfers. I thought I was headed up to Viena do Castelo or down to Santarém. I knew I wasn't going to stay in Leiria but I definitely had no idea that I was going to serve in the same area twice... now the trick is to guess where I'm serving. I'll give you a really BIG hint...

Yes sir! I am serving once more in the grande old city of Viseu! Same ward, same area, same nasty old apartment, but everything's definitely not the same! It's completely different when I was here a year ago... okay... it's not actaully all that different... I'm just a lot different than I was a year ago. :) Hooray! It's kind of fun being in my first area again. Oddly enough I still remember all the member's names, all the road names, and I recognize almost all the people on the road.... It's a little scary. I can't say the same for all my other areas. I remember lots of things, but Viseu is carved into my memory. :)

I'm a pretty lucky kid. Some of the élderes in the office are my friends and even though technically they're not supposed to tell us anything about transfers before the official calls, they called to give me warning to pack my bags. ;) Then, at about 22h30 Monday night, Élder McColley, one of the assistants, called to tell us what our transfer assignments were because our whole district got shaken up and because of that we got to find out a day early. Élder Orozco is training a native in Leiria, Élder Ricci went up to Peso da Régua to take over the area when his companion goes home, Élder Tobler is training in Figueira da Foz, Élder Ward is training and opening an area up in Braga, Síster Lyman in still in Leiria and now being trained by Síster Smyth (funny side note: in the Porto Mission there are three sisters with the last name Smith. One other served here in Viseu after me, and we all served in areas in Gaia at the same time... weirdness... ), and then there's little old Me. I'm serving in Viseu 1A and I'm a Sister Training Leader.  I like the part about being in Viseu again. When they told me I was going to be a Sister Training Leader I called them back and told them that I didn't want to be a Sister Training Leader because that's a job that's way too stressful and Sister Training Leaders tend to all go crazy... the elders in the office just laughed and said that in the meeting to decide the transfer assignments that's why Presidente Amorim put me back in Viseu as the STL.... because apparently I have a reputation as being a "calm and collected sister".... right. I don't know what makes them think that I'm call and chill and collected, but whatever. Tomorrow we're taking a bus up to Porto and on Wednesday we have Mission Leadership Council. then we have to plan the zone meeting on Thursday... yup. That is life now. :)Anywho... my new companion is my favorite English sister in the entire world: Sister Regan. I love being her companion. I have wanted to be her companion since we had our first division together a few months ago. I'm slowly turning English because we have 3 English missionaries in our district: Sister Regan, Sister Fernandes, and Élder Short. We're all going to be speaking really weird English and eating strange English things by the end of this transfer. :) It's going to be an adventure. 

On Monday we had our p-day in Leiria and then on Tuesday we had our district meeting and riht after it ended we all took Élder Ricci to the bus station and we sent him on his way. Biggest miracle ever: after leaving the capela we ran into Izarete, our investigator who was supposed to get baptized a few weeks ago. He never showed up to church and we couldn't get in touch with him. We ran into him next to a kebab stand and he told us that his work schedule had put him working really late, but that he could go to church the next few weeks and that he had already looked at his work schedule and figured out when he would meet the qualifications for baptism. He felt so badly for missing church and then he had made all his own baptismal plans to surprise us. If we hadn't run into him, I wouldn't have gotten to see him again, but Heavenly Father is really sweet and sometimes lets us get to know how things work out. :) Then we got lunch and I packed my bags (probably the sketchiest packing job I've yet done). I didn't have a ton of time to really organize and balance the weight in my suitcases so when the elderes were carrying my suitcases to the bus stop Élder Ward told me, "You know Síster Smith, you might want to consider leaving the baby elephant behind next time." Woops.... :) Hooray for wonderfully nice elderes who haul my suitcases around for me. Sister Lyman and I were together on the bus from Leiria to Coimbra and while she slept I called and said goodbye to people, but after saying goodbye to a couple of investigators I decided to say goodbye to the Bishop's wife and I lost it and just started crying so I decided I wasn't going to say goodbye to anymore people. I switched buses in Coimbra and I went alone to Viseu while Sister Lyman went up to Porto to meet up with her companion. 

The buses never got to Viseu on time, let alone early, but this time the bus got there 20 minutes early. It's an outdoor bus station so I was just standing alone for about a half hour when I finally saw sister Regan coming with a group of people. I was so happy to see them all, and then I turned around and I looked at the other entrance to the bus stop and I saw that half the ward was there to greet me. They had been up at Conselho da Ala and when they heard that I was the new sister they came down to the bus stop to get me. I was so happy and it made my little heart melt. :) It's pretty hard to find a happier person than Sister Smith these days. Sister Regan told me that the apartment was getting work done on it with plastering and plumbing work so I was pretty excited. Then, as we got home our night got more interesting as we discovered that there has been a flood in our apartment that had flooded the entire building. :) I have a video of us just laughing as we got into our apartment. It was a fair bit of work cleaning up all the water and talking to some of the neighbors, but in the end it all worked out. The floors all needed to be mopped anyway. :) Then I got sick and I spent a couple days in the house throwing up... it's all good fun. 

We're currently teaching a family that I contacted a year ago and we're also teaching a few jovens that live in Povoa de Abraveses. We're working in areas that I had never worked in when I was here last time, so it's pretty fun. It's the same area but it's all new to me as well. :)

All the great adventures happen in Viseu. That's for sure. As I was typing the paragraph above the internet in the little internet place cut and we sat and waited for a while but then we decided to head up to the capela just to send the emails off. So aren't you all just lucky that I decided to write the big email first thing instead of writing little responses to everyone. :) 

I love you all! Remeber that the day starts best with the Book of Mormon and that if you miss a day you need to start over and just keep going with it. Also, don't forget to write in you journals... there's no point in going on adventures if you're not going to write them down. :)

Sister Smith

Monday, February 22, 2016

Oh Transfers... I still hate them. :)

Yup. We are having transfers this week. With Presidente Fluckiger we always found out transfers on Sunday night and then we left on Monday, but Presidente Amorim does it differently every time. This time the whole district is going to get together tomorrow for district meeting and then at the end the transfer assignments will be sent out by email instead of by telefonema.

I've been in this wonderful little city of Leiria for 5 months and I'm feeling that I'm going to get transferred to a different area, so basically I'm a stressed out, super-emotional sister right now... but that's normal. It happens every time I leave an area and an amazing district. 

I don't have anytime this week to email.... sorry. I really did have a lot that I wanted to talk about. We had a mission conference this week with Elder Kearon and his wife and it was incredible. I got to see Sister Bender and it was so nice to see her again. And all the office elders think that we are just the most wonderful district in the whole mission because we have no problems and we gave them a jar of nutella (it's amazing how willing they are to help us when we give them nutella).

It was a fantastic week with the best district ever and the best ward of all time. I love Leiria. It has a special place in my heart. I've seen miracles in every area of my mission, but in Leiria it was so clear that Heavenly Father is charge of the work here. Every day there were so many miracles and I am so grateful that I had the chance to be here with the 4 sisters I served with. It was the best area of my mission and I've grown and changed a lot here as well. Leiria is just a special little place and I'm leaving a big piece of my heart here. I'm gonna miss it a lot, but I know that there is still one more part of Portugal that I get to go to. One more spot that needs my quirky personality and more people to love. It will be good, but Leiria is definitely one the best little places in the world. Someday I'll come back to visit. :)

I love you all! Don't forget to read the Book of Mormon everyday. If you don't you choose to not be as happy as you could be and it starts to make a big difference after a while. :) The Book of Mormon is a special thing and the more you read it, the more you love it. 

Sister Smith

P.S. I said goodbye to all the members yesterday at church and I said goodbye to Giovanna's family... then there's a lovely little group selfie of our Leiria missionaries... I wasn't in it but I was talking to people. I just love our little district. (Elder Orozco calls us "District Alpha Wolf Squadron"... he's a funny kid...)

Amo vos! 


Monday, February 15, 2016

Oh, those windy days when the internet goes down... :)

It's a little windy here in Leiria... kind of like in Idaho. :) The internet had some serious problems though and went down a couple of times. Everytime the internet goes down I always just start praying that we'll be able to have enough internet to write our weekly letters to Presidente Amorim and put in our numbers. The other thing I pray for is that if I don't get time that Heavenly Father will just inpsire Mom and Dad to know that I'm still alive and happy... just too lazy to go and find another computer. :D If I don't get to email the family I'm fine. I know that you all are okay, but if I don't get a letter sent to Presidente Amorim I start to panic and twitch.

So... that whole little explanation up top is to make a lame excuse for why I don't have a great email this week. :) But hey, I'm sending a million pictures and pictures are worth a thousand words so that's better than the longest email in the world... right? ;)

This week we were out working in Quinta do Alçada and I found a magnolia tree so we stopped for about 10 minutes because I was having a horticulture attack.... and I took lots of pictures.... so that's why I have such a cute foto of Síster Lyman.

The other picture is of a picture Élder Orozco drew a little while ago. He was drawing cartoons of all our district members and apparently I'm a big scary shark that's going to eat the elderes... you just can't see that the shark is trying to eat them. I think he's probably got it right. :)

Anyway, on to serious stuff....

We are still teaching Neuza. She's amazing and so sweet and she has the beginnings of an incredible testimony. She's going to move to Luxembourg in June so we're working and fasting to try and help her get baptized before she moves there because she doesn't speak French or German and she needs to be taught the gospel in her own language. Obviously the Spirit doesn't have language barriers but everyone deserves the chance to hear the gospel in their native tongue. 

Izarete didn't come to church yesterday even though he had everything ready and he was planning on getting there early. We haven't been able to get in touch with him yet. We're going to try to find him tonight and if he was just sleeping in, we're going to call him to repentance, but if there was an emergency we're going to explain about why his baptism has to be rescheduled. I was really frustrated this morning with Izarete this morning during studies... so we did practices on how to call him to repentance with love. :) I think I figured it out and the Assistentes ao Presidente Amorim gave us really good directions on what we need to do. Élder McGhie and Élder Roberts are the best. 

I'm out of time, but I love you all. The biggest lesson I learned this week is that if you can love people you can make the biggest difference in their lives. Seeing people the way Heavenly Father sees them is what helps you to know how to help them, and how to help them come to know their Heavenly Father again. He loves all His children and He wants us to love them too. We had several experiences this week where we were told by people (including the elderes) that we've made big differences in their lives just by loving them even though they make mistakes and are not perfect. Heavenly Father keeps on loving us and helps us choose to be better just by leading us by love. 

Eu amo vos! <3

Síster Smith


Monday, February 8, 2016

Feliz Carnival Família!

Olá família! Como vocês estão? Eu não consegui fazer email na semana passada mas não faz mal. Fizemos muitas coisas divertidas mas agora não tenho a vontade de falar sobre todas as coisas que fizemos.... preguiça. :)

I can't even remember off the top of my head really well everything that happened. Two weeks ago on p-day we went to Leiria Shopping with our district and then at the end of the day we had a lesson with this really interesting lady named Maria. After the lesson we went up to the capela and the élderes were all up there. We decided to play a prank on them and it was so funny... probably one of the proudest moments of my mission actually. They were turning the lights off to leave the capela and then we kept turning them on as they tried to leave. They were confused in the beginning but then by the end they were pretty scared. The last time we turned the lights back on we heard the élderes outside yelling "Let the sísteres do it! Just leave and tell the sísteres to come turn off the lights!" We didn't like that very much so we started making lots of noise and outside the élderes were actually really scared. We opened up some of the blinds in a window just enough to see the élderes but then they saw us and they got really scared because they just saw these shadows insd«ide the capela. They called Pablo to come and help them and then they went through the whole capela to find the "big guys" who were in the capela. We jumped out and scared them and they all screamed... we were laughing so hard. I have never laughed that hard in my entire life. The élderes were so embarrassed and they told Pablo to tell everyone that there were big Tongan men in the capela that they fought off.... but really it was just us. That was the biggest, funniest thing that happened. 

We have been teaching Neuza for a little while now. She is really cool and she wants to be baptized so badly but she and her boyfriend are living together and they have three kids so she can't be baptized until that Law of Chastity issue gets sorted out. She's been reading in the Book of Mormon everyday though and she says that she sees the examples of some of the members and just from seeing their lives change she knows that there is something special about our church. She said that she doesn't know for sure that our church is the one true church, but that she does want to get baptized. When we talked about temples with her she asked us where the closest one is and how she can go there because there's something about the temples that makes her feel really good and she wants to go inside and feel that peace.

Annecy is the futebol player form Gabão (in English it's Gabon) but we turned him over to the élderes this week. They're teaching him now. We sat in on the last two lessons they had with him. he's a really special kid and you can just feel that he is really special to Heavenly Father as well. He is really curious and he feels something different about our church. He said that he carries the pass-along card that I gave him in his wallet so that it's always with him to remind him that there is truth on the earth again. He came to our first lesson two weeks ago with a notebook full of notes that he had taken as he studied in the Book of Mormon. Élder Orozco went to Porto and brought back a French copy of Le Livre de Mormon and Annecy has been studying a lot more now. However, in the last lesson he started bringing up all these scripture references on typical controversial topics such as racism and priesthood and stuff like that... we were kind of wondering if he was looking at anti-mormon sites and then out of nowhere he whips out a Brigham Young quote about blacks and we knew for sure that he was looking up anti-mormon stuff. I remember a couple of years ago when I got caught up into looking at and looking for anti-mormon stuff on the internet that I found a lot of the stuff that Annecy is bringing up now. If he would just do the things we ask him to do he would be able to get the answers to his questions and he wouldn't have all these doubts, but until he decides to ask God instead of trusting in the internet he'll never get the answer he needs. We're planning on a doing a lesson with him about the Book of Mormon and talking to him about how he'll get his answers and about his intentions... I guess we're going to try to help him understand the whole part about "real intent" and how there are things that he has to do to actually receive his answers. 

We had rought time getting in touch with Izarete. We missed an appointment with him and then he missed an appointment with us because of his work schedule, but one day we were working in a different area and I just felt really strongly that we needed to go to Izarete's house righ then. We went and he was at home with his wife. We reviewed the lesson about the Restoration with him and we used pictures to show him and explain as we bore our testimonies and then we marked him for BAPTISM!!! He made his own plans for how he was going to get to church and how he would make it work with his work schedule so he's going to be baptized on the 21 de fevereiro. He is just the nicest, quietest person you could ever meet. The only problem is that he's afraid of giving us the wrong answers and he doesn't ever actually tell us what doubts he has so we're going to have to try to continue developing trust with him so that he feels comfortable enough to continue let us help him resolve his doubts. It will be good though. :) I'm excited. 

Then I got sick with grippe and the Sister Ashby from teh office told us to take a sick day so that we could get better faster and work better the rest of the week. We cleaned up the storage closest in our house (which I call the "Sala da Morte") and now it's beautiful and organized. I love cleaning. We took out 12 bags of garbage that day but our apartment looks wonderful now and it's so nice to come home at the end of the day and to see it so organized and clean. I'm pretty proud. 

We also found an old investigator named Silvia and her dad Miguel is currently visiting from Moçambique. We went over and we discovered that he's been meeting with the missionaries in Moçambique in Beira and that he loves the missionaries. We didn't go by for a couple of days and he said that he could feel a difference in the time that we weren't there at their house. He said that the élderes in Beira always come over and clean his house and they get him to come to activities at the church, but that they never talked to him about the Book of Mormon or about baptism... so we talked about the Book of Mormon with im and we invited him to be baptized. He accepted so when he goes back to Moçambique we're going to send his reference to the élderes in Beira and we're going to help him get ready for baptism. He told us that he wants to send us pictures when he gets baptized. He is the happiest little lld man without teeth. :) He's really nice. 

Yesterday we went to Coimbra for stake conference. It was INCREDIBLE!!! We woke up at 6h45 and the whole ward got on a bus at 7h30 to go to Coimbra. It was so much fun. We had the stake conference in the auditorium of the hospital in Coimbra and Élder Axel Leimar from Frankfurt, Germany was visiting. It was the best talk I have ever hear..... EVER. He talked about missionary work and he had all the full time missionaries stand up and then he talked about how just like the members here pray for their children that are serving missions in other places, our parents are praying for us and the Lord expects the members here to answers the prayers of our parents by helping us in our work here. It was the most amazing talk I have ever heard. And Nuno Ferreira did the translation into Português... it was the best translation I have heard in my whole mission. Then, I got to see all the members from Viseu and they still remembered me by name and they couldn't believe that it has already been a year since I was in Viseu. Rute wasn't there but I did call her so it was pretty nice. It was really cool to talk to her because she has officially been a member for 1 ano! 1 ANO! That's crazy that a year has already gone by. It was so nice to see them all and to talk to them all. Even Odete Paiva remembered me and she was so happy that I remembered her name! I just have a great big family now. :) I just love so many people here. The Português people are the most wonderful people in the world and my heart is spread out all over this little country. What a wonderful thing the mission is. 

Last night we were at Pablo and Nanda's house for dinner after stake conference and this couple showed up with their little baby. Nanda didn't go to stake conference because she's getting ready to have her baby and she couldn't go on the bus. While we were all gone she stayed home and they live right next to the capela. Well, this guy named Ricardo who was baptized about 3 years ago but has been inactive for 6-12 months decided yesterday that he was going to go to church. He got there and the capela was locked and the lights were off so he called Nanda and she invited him to dinner. They came over and it turns out that they are Ricarda e Cláudia.... Siser Larson and I tried so hard and we tried for so long to try and get in touch with them and then all of a sudden they decided to show up to church all on their own. Cláudia and their four kids aren't members so we were able to get an appointment to go and meet with them and we're going to teach the whole family. We can contact thousands of people in the street, but the biggest miracles are when people choose for themselves to find the truth and stick with it. It was amazing and I just sat and talked with them the whole night. They are an incredible family and I'm excited to start teaching them. 

Last p-day we just hung out with the stake presidente's son and today we went to the mosteiro em Batalha and now we're hanging out with the élderes and the stake presidente's son again. We are pretty chill people this transfer. Yup.

I'm almost done with my cover-to-cover study of Pregar Meu Evangelho (Mreach My Gospel) and I wish that I had studied it more thoroughly through my whole mission.... it's got lots of good things in it... wow. Who would have thought? :) I'm also currently making next transfer's planners for everyone in my district.... they are the most amazing (and probably the most consecrated) planners in the whole mission.... if I do say so myself. I'll send a picture of them next week. 

I think this email is probably one of the longest emails I've ever written, but that's okay. I like having enough time to talk about our investigators. They're just the most wonderful people in the whole world... and the members. I love the members too. I didn't know it was possible to love so many people.... the mission is a wonderful thing. :)

I love you all and I hope that you remember to read in the Book of Mormon every day. It might not seem like something important, but the Lord told us that we need to do it and if we'll take just a little bit of time out our lives to give Heavenly Father a chance to teach us He will work the biggest miracles in our lives. I've seen it in myself and I've seen it in other people and I know it's true. It's a lie to say that reading the scriptures isn't important. It makes all the difference in the world. 

Amo vos!

Sister Smith

P.S. The pictures are of us with Élder Leimar yesterday (that awkward moment when Sister Lyman realized that her ex-boyfriend is the nephew of Élder Leimar.... that was funny) and then us today at the monastary in Batalha. We're so cute.