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. 

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