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

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