Monday, January 25, 2016

Oh Missionaries... we're sure are happy people :)

So last week my trunky call really threw me off. I went into mid-life crisis mode and kind of worried all week long about the future and decisions and normal people life problems.... then, on Sunday in Relief Society the Bishop's wife was teaching a lesson about how we show our faith and she started being really bold and telling us how we need to be doing better about showing our faith in the Savior an trusting in Heavenly Father (guilt..... guilt.....guilt....guilt....). Then she started talking about the Book of Mormon and how we have to be reading and studying the Book of Mormon every single day, and when we finish we need to start over at the beginning. Then she said that if we are doing that we don't actually have to worry about anything... then I started thinking.... and I realized.... I had only read in the Book of Mormon once this last week. I was still having really great studies in Preach My Gospel and I was preparing for the lessons, but I was missing something. I realized in Relief Society that I hadn't been paying attention to how I was using my study time and because I hadn't been reading in the Book of Mormon I wasn't showing my faith nor was I receiving as much help from Heavenly Father as I could have. *Lightbulb moment*

Daily scripture study in the Book of Mormon.... it's important. I felt a difference this morning after reading in the Book of Mormon. It's crazy how you don't even notice that something is missing until you have it again. I bet that's how some people feel when they hear the gospel for the first time. They're still living good lives and being good people but they're missing something and they don't even know it until they've found it, but once they've found it they won't do anything that would make them lose it. 

I don't have a lot of time again this week. We had district p-day today and we went out to Leiria Shopping.... it was fun. :) We've got pretty good élderes here. Élder Ricci and Élder Ward and I have all been here together the whole time and we are pretty good friends. We decided that we are all going to be friends after the mission and we're all going to our homecoming talks.... probably the weirdest group of friends ever seen but it's a lot more fun to serve with people when the work is fun! :) I remember at the beginning of my mission I hated everything.... and every time I heard Elder Nelson's talk about how "This isn't missionary WORK... this is Missionary FUN" I thought that it was the biggest lie in the world. Fortunately, I learned to love missionary work.

We had a worldwide missioanary training this week. It was incredible. They talked about how we need to be teaching our investigators more about repentance and that we need to not tell them that they're feeling the Spirit, but that we should help them identify it for themselves... it was an amazing treinamento. And all the missionaries who are not serving in Asia or in the islands were watching it all at the same time. Awesomeness. :) The elderes from Figueira de Foz watched it in their capela but we watched it with the elderes here. We all crammed into the little attic of the capela to watch it on the computer. It was a lot of fun. 

I just love being a missionary and I love doing this work. There is a weird thrill that comes from doing street contacting (knocking doors is still a bit of struggle for me.... I avoid it if I possibly can.... so guess what we're doing tonight? :D  ) and I love seeing the changes as people choose to keep their commitments. This week Annecy came to church. We arranged a ride for him with a member and he came and he said it was different but nice. We also have a new-ish investigator. Her name is Neuza. She was talking with the sisters several months ago, but then stopped and a few weeks ago she called and asked if we would come and talk to her. She told us that she wanted to baptized, but as we talked to her we found out that she and her boyfriend are separated but still living in the same house because they don't have work and can't afford to move.... so she can't get baptized. We told her that as long as she is keeping her commitments and she is doing what the Lord wants her to do, Heavenly Father will help her find a way to qualify for baptism so that she can be baptized and start a new part of her life. We had some pretty incredible lessons with them. 

This morning we had a thunderstorm. It wasn't anything like the storms we have at home, but the Português people were all scared and several members called us to make sure we were okay. They said that it was a really bad storm and that it wasn't normal, but we thought it was actually really cool. The lightening was pink and it reflected off the clouds and it lit up behind the castle. It was really beautiful and I would have made a video but I was too busy doing my morning exercises. They were good too (the élderes informed me this week that I have a reputation in the mission as "that one síster that's more ripped than the élderes"... that's pretty sad that the élderes are so out of shape ;) ...). 

I love you all and I love it here in Leiria! Don't forget to read in the Book of Mormon evrey day.... seriously. Don't forget. Remember to count all the little blessings too! They make the biggest difference. :) Amo vos!

Síster Smith
P.S. There's our little district at the bus stop and then right before the worldwide training in the attic of the capela. :) Happiness. :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

the trunky call....

So, I'm totally calm on the outside but inside I'm secretely panicking and FREAKING OUT!!!! I am not ready to come back home and I don't know what I'm going to do with my future and what I need to study and what the HECK?! MARRIAGE?! That INSTITUTION IS FOR MY INVESTIGATORS NOT FOR ME!!!!!!



Sorry.... that was all of my feelings that I'm keeping bottled up.. sorry for taking that out on you. :) 

What do people do when their missions end? I have no idea what I'm going to do.... and I'm slightly freaking out because I don't want to come home and be a normal person... I like being a missionary. :D

Thank you for your time.

I will wait for your response next week. :D

Síster Smith (because first names don't exist in my world..... )

I Got a Phone Call Today...

I got the TRUNKY CALL today.... I feel very old. :) 

TRUNKY CALL: (noun) the call that comes three transfers before you go home so that they can book your tickets for the flight home.

We were eating durums with the élderes today by the library and I got a phone call from my old District Leader Élder Morrison who now works in the Mission Office as an Executive Secretary. He started out by saying, "Hey Síster Smith! I just have a few questions for some of the paper work here in the office. What's your home stake?" And then I responded, "Élder Morrison, is this my trunky call?"

"Yeah, you figured it out faster than everybody else. Good job Síster Smith!" Then, Élder Morrison and I just laughed about it. The TRUNKY CALL.... since when have I been serving a mission for so long? Weirdness.... the élderes said that I am the most chill síster in the whole mission and the élderes in the office said that I responded better than almost all the other sísteres. It's not the end of the world, but it sure does make you think a lot about all the wonderful things that you've been able to be a part of in the last little while. I sure do love Portugal and being a missionary and all the good stuff about life here. :) It just makes me happy. 

So, we had an interesting p-day. We weren't able to do email at the library this week so we had to do it on the one computer at the capela. I let Síster Lyman have at least an hour to do email so now I only have about 10 minutes to do my email. Oh well, at least I'm sending it. I can't respond individually to all of the emails like I would like to, but I did read all of them and I loved all of them. One funny thing is that there is another Kendra Smith serving a missin somewhere and I've been getting emails that were meant for her. She sent me an email today apologizing and asking me to forward them to her. I thought it was pretty funny. :) 

We had a good week this week. We taught a young man named Annecy. He is from Gabon in Africa and he is incredible! The Spirit is so strong in the lessons and he is so prepared! We have to teach in English because he doesn't speak Português as well as he speaks English, but we're able to make it work. He just keeps telling us stories about how God has been giving him signs in the last few years and when I hear these stories I can just see how God has been preparing him and how he is ready to receive the Gospel. We had a great lesson with him and with the elderes on Saturday. The Spirit was incredible! The only twist is that after the lesson he looked at me and asked, "When are you done being a missionary?" I told him I would be ending my mission in June and he said, "Are we going to get married?" The elderes just started laughing and I turned bright red and said, "Um, I don't think so. No." He was okay with it but the elderes now are teasing me about how when turn people down it's about like hitting someone with a baseball bat because I'm so blunt about it. I just don't respond well to those situations.... oh dear....  the elders have not stopped cracking jokes about that ever since. We're giving Annecy to the elders to be taught but he's totally cool about it which means he actually is elect. He's preparing to be baptized in Fevereiro. 

Also, Giovanna and her whole family came to church yesterday! Her mom is getting ready to marry her boyfriend and then he and his daughter will be getting baptized. :) I am so happy! I love it when families decide to start preparing for the temple. Giovanna's mom Jaqueline told me that I have to start saving money now because if I don't come to their temple sealing they will never forgive me. :) I love that little family. I hope I will still be here in Leiria when Jaqueline and João get married. That would be the best thing ever. 

I am now out of time. Sorry. Next week we're going to try to figure out this whole email game again. I love you all! Also, Mosiah 3:19 is my scripture of the week. 

Amo vos!

Síster Smith

P.S. Mom, I told the Bishop's wife about you always told us to "hold up the wall" after church to keep us busy. She decided to do that this week and we couldn't stop laughing.... it was so funny. Afonso (the bishop's son) also thought it was pretty funny.

Also, I think we walk a lot... my tights all have huge holes in the feet.... I think I need to buy new ones some time soon.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Here we go on a great big adventure called "TRAINING"

So... transfer calls came on Tuesday morning. Sister Jumua is up in Guimarães white washing and training... and they don't have a house for the sisters there so her first assignment is to find an apartment.

Guess what?! I'm staying in Leiria and I'm training a new sister. Craziness, huh? Tuesday Sister Jumua headed back down to Santarém to pack all the rest of her stuff up and I stayed in the apartment all alone for 8 hours...... 8..... eight..... oito..... sozinha...... It was a really long time. I now understand why we have companions. The first two hours were okay.... the last six I started to go crazy. The house is spotless, I caught up on all of my little craft projects, and I listened to almost 3 million EFY songs. When I started talking to myself I got a little nervous, but I decided to be positive about the situation and have a good little self-evaluation time. I went a little doidinha, but not too much. It was a very good incentive to talk to everyone when I was able to work again. 

It was good reminder of why Heavenly Father's plan is NOT for us to stay alone for all eternity. :) 

I finally left the house at 18h to go and catch a bus up to Porto to get my new companion. It was so nice to be out of the house and to see people again. I had the biggest smile on my face and I'm pretty sure people thought I was a little strange, but hey, I got some people to smile back at me so I think I did pretty well. When I got to the bus stop I was really surprised to see an elder sitting on a bench hunched over and looking pretty nervous. It was Elder Zanni from Caldas da Rainha. He's from Argentina and he's one of the best missionaries I have ever met. He was headed up to Porto as well and as soon as he saw me he stood up and said, "Prayers get answered!" He said that he had no idea how to get to the mission office in Porto and that he had been praying at that moment that Heavenly Father would send someone to help him find his way to the missin office in Porto... and then I walked out of the ticket office into the bus stop. We ended up talking the whole way up to Porto (turns out that his dad is Kristin Gneiting's mission presidente in Argentina... niftiness) and I was really impressed by him. I'm not normally very impressed by many elders, but his parents raised a very good missionary. Anyway, we got up to Porto at about 20h00 and we walked around old Porto until we got to the metro stop in São Bento and then we went up to the mission office and the executives took us to some really nice hotel and Sister Jumua and I met up at the hotel. It was a nifty little adventure. 

On Wednesday we had a meeting with all the trainers and all the new missionaries and then at the very end Presidente Amorim told us who our new companions are. My new companion is Síster Dalley Lyman from Las Vegas. :) She is really cute. She is so excited to be here and she loves the work here and te people. Presidente Amorim told me that he put the two of us together for a very specific reason... he didn't tell me what that reason was but in his carta to me this week that he has a lot of trust in us and that he knows that Heavenly Father put us together to do a very important work. During the whole meeting Presidente Amorim was talking about how being a trainer is a sacred responsibility and that of all the companions a missionary has, the trainer will probably have the biggest impact. Well, being the wonderful calm person that I am, started to get a little bit overwhelmed as Presidente Amorim was talking. I was starting to think "Oh no... I'm responsible for someone else's mission now... oh no, oh no, oh no. I'm not qualified for this.. somebody else should be training right now" but Presidente Amorim told me this week that he chose me to be a trainer because he trusts me and he knows that I will help Síster Lyman have a good start to her mission. It's nice to know that he trusts me, and I'm not feeling overwhelmed anymore. I realized that to train a new missionary is actually not any different from what I was already doing. Sometimes I have to stop and explain what some things mean in English, but all I have to do is just work hard and be obedient and that's the best way to teach. 

Presidente Amorim always says that "O que você faz fala tão alto que eu não consigo ouvir o que você diz." Which in English means, "What you do speaks so loudly that I ca't hear what you say." It's true. If we just do what we're supposed to do, we avoid almost all of the problems and we make the biggest difference. 

So, yup. We're having fun here in Leiria. Sister Lyman is great. She just jumped right into missionary work and she has no fear of doing anything I ask her to do. It is incredible to see how different she is than I was at the beginning of my mission. It's been very nice for me to look back and see how much I have grown and changed... (thank goodness). :)

Eu vos amo! Eu sei que a mensagem que nós temos é verdadeira e que tem o poder de mudar nossas vidas. Nosso Salvador fez tudo para que nós possamos mudar nos e tornar nos mais como nosso Pai Celestial. :) Também minha escritura da semana é Alma 7:23-24. A Síster Lyman a encontrou hoje da manhã e eu gostei muito. Uma boa semana para vocês!

Síster Kendra Smith... em Leiria por mais uma transferência. :)

P.S. As fotos são da reunião de treinamento no Porto. Me and Sister Lyman, and then us with Presidente e Síster Amorim.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Patiently waiting for transfer calls... Oh, so patiently waiting...

Paciência? O que é isso? Não tenho paciência... nada. Presidente Amorim postponed transfers for a few days and sent out an email saying that p-day was to be spent preparing our apartments for white washes.... ever since I read that email this morning I've been having a horrible fear of getting white washed out of the area. I am definitely not ready to leave Leiria... but I guess what I want isn't always what Heavenly Father knows is best. :) So tomorrow morning we'll get transfer calls and then we'll see what happens. Elder Morrison thinks that the whole district is getting white washed. Dun, dun, DUN!
Today for p-day we've been organizing everything and getting our luggage ready and the apartment ready just in case we get white washed out (P.S. Sister Larson, you forgot the picture that Joaquim gave you... I'll get that in the mail a.s.a.p.). It's amazing how the apartment never looks 100% clean because it's so empty. :) It's a nice place though... minus the flooding verandas, but I got that sorted out this morning. It was an adventure. :)
This last week was great. If Sister Jumua weren't here I would be having serious Sister Larson withdrawals. Sister Jumua is very quiet... until you get her talking about Moçambique. All the Moçambicanas have the most amazing stories. Especially our member Zaida. Last night we passed by her house to give her and her kids reading charts for the Book of Mormon and she started telling us some stories of how she found work and how she met the missionaries. She is incredible. She is one of my favorite people in Portugal. She is so sweet and so happy ALL THE TIME! And her son Tiago came to church yesterday in a white shirt and a tie! Sometimes seeing the little differences that take place in people is the biggest miracle. To see the changes in Tiago and Zaida and Diana has been one of the best things of my mission. They come to church every week now and they have such sweet testimonies. Zaida is the best member missionary I have ever seen in my life. She works in an African store and she listens to the hymsn because she was inactive for a long time and she wants to know the words so that she can sing in Sacrament Meeting. She also keeps a copy of the Book of Mormon with her at work so that she can read it, and lots of people ask her about it. We get more referrals from Zaida than from anyone else I've ever met on my mission. She said last night that she just talks about the gospel with people because it makes her happy and she knows that people need to have a chance to be happy like that too. I want to be like Zaida when I come home. :)
This last week we had a lesson with our pesquisador Izarete and we finally marked him for baptism for January 10th, but we told him that this is a gospel for families and that his wife Rosa also needs to have a chance to hear the missionary lessons and she needs to know that he's chosen to be baptized. Well, turns out he's terrified of his wife so instead of tell her that he's going to be baptized he quite answering the phone and quit opening the door. He's a really nice man and he's so ready to be baptized, but he needs to be baptized with his wife and if she doesn't want to be baptized she at least needs to know that he's going to be baptized. She's really Catholic though and they're having a rough time in their marriage right now, so Izarete is afraid that if he tells Rosa that he is going to be baptized then she'll get really upset. The funny thing is that Sister Jumua and I both had the thought that whatever problem it is that they're having right now, the gospel can fix it. So we're going to give Izarete a few days and then we are going to go find him again and get him back on the path to baptism... this time with his wife. Hooray for Famílias eternas!
We also had an adventure with Giovanna esta semana. They had gone to Spain for vacation and they were supposed to get back on Monday and we were going to go to the new apartment in Fátima to meet them and have a lesson. Well, Giovanna's mom wasn't answering the phone and I was starting to get really frustrated. We decided that even if they weren't responding, we felt iike we needed to go to Fátima anyway... which is a little scary because the Sanctuário de Fátima is there and there is a reason that missionaries don't work in Fátima... lots of scary stories. We said lots of prayers and bought bus tickets out to Fátima without knowing exactly where the new apartment was and when we got to Fátima the next bus going back to Leiria wasn't for another two hours... so we were stuck out there in Fátima and we needed to find our marcada's house.... so... we just started knocking doors. We knocked several buildings and we asked a couple of people in some nearby businesses, but nobody knew exactly where "the new Brasilian family" lived. We were by the Rotunda Norte and we saw a building 6 and it clicked in my head that we had found the right building. We were able to get the door open and we got in and we found their apartment... they weren't there, but we found it so now we have their new address. Huge blessing. They got back from Spain that night and we went back the next day on New Year's Eve  for our last lesson with Giovanna. It was amazing. Her future sister-in-law Camila helped us teach and it was a good lesson. Giovanna is a special little girl. :) That night we ran into them in Leiria. They had come into Leiria to see the firework show but right before they had gone up to the castle and Giovann'a's brother proposed to Camila, so they were all really happy! She had her interview on Friday night, and then on Saturday we had her baptism!
It was a beautiful baptism. It was really simple but it was amazing. The Spirit was so strong and Giovanna's brother Filipe and Camila and Jaqueline were all crying. Camila said it was so nice to be in Portugal and feel the Spirit just as strongly as she does in Brasil. It was the first baptism that Filipe had done and it was so sweet to watch him baptize his little sister. If a picture is worth a thousand words I would probably talk for forever about how amazing it was to see that. IT was the perfect example of how the gospel changes lives. Filipe was there with tatoos and everything, all dressed in white to baptize his little sister. That was a beautiful moment. Giovanna was so nervous though that she forgot to hold her breath and came out of the water coughing and choking, but with the biggest smile on her face. We got special permission for her to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost the same day, so after the baptism the Bishop confirmed her and gave her the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He was so happy and he gave Giovanna a huge hug a kiss on the forehead afterward. It was incredible. And now Giovanna's little sister Inês wants to be baptized and I told Jaqueline's boyfriend João that now he knows what we mean when we talk about baptism, so now he has to start preparing for his baptism. His eyes got a little wide when I told him that, but Jaqueline said that they're making plans to get married so that he and Inês can be baptized. On Sunday all the members bore their testimonies about the baptism and Amauri said that it was "uma reunião maravilhosa". That made my whole week incredible! :)
So it's been a wonderful week as we wade through the water and have all kinds of adventures. :) Not everything runs according to the plans that we make, but everything always runs in such a way that you can tell that Heavenly Father is in charge. When you have the eyes to see the hand of the Lord it's impossible to doubt that He really has a perfect plan. Everything works out so well (even though it's rarely what we thought would happen) and there are so many miracles everyday. It just makes me really happy... my emails are all poorly put together and really hard to follow, but I'm just glad to be here in Portugal. I'm really grateful for this chance to be a missionary. I'm really grateful that I got an extension and I can spend more time here. I love this little country and all it's funny little quirks, but I especially love the people they are amazing and wonderful and strange, but i just love them.
Amo vos!
Síster Smith

P.S. New Year's Eve from our apartment. We had a good view of the fireworks that they shot off from inside the castle... we were also so close that it was incredibly loud. 

And then there was the baptism of Giovanna. She is adorable and I just love her.