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. 

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