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.