Monday, April 4, 2016

Transfers, training, and Conferência Geral.

Oh transfers... sweet, wonderful, strange transfers... I'm training... again. The third time's the charm.

Transfers are full of surprises these days, but I think I'm the luckiest person in the world. Not many people get to end their missions in their first area, but I do! I'm still Sister Training Leader but with Síster Fernandes now, and we are both training first transfer sísteres. We were all convinced that with everything that has been happening the last few weeks that Presidente Amorim was going to transfer me out of Viseu, but nope. I get one more transfer here in this lovely little place. During the week as Síster Regan and I talked about transfers we were more than sure that she was staying and I was leaving, but every time I would go to start packing I got a little feeling that I shouldn't pack. Síster Regan got transferred to Coimbra and I'm still here in Viseu... it's a good thing I listened to the Spirit or I would have had to unpack all of my stuff all over again. :)

Tuesday after district meeting we got the transfers email and then we got Síster Regan all packed up and on a bus to Coimbra. She went to Coimbra and Élder Short went to Leiria, so now our little British district is all spread out across the Centro of Portugal. Tuesday night Síster Fernandes and I took a bus up to Porto, and Élder Nascimento was with us so we sat and told stories about our investigators while everyone else on the bus slept. It was the funniest and fastest bus ride I've ever been on in my entire life, but it was a good thing we were there because neither Síster Fernandes nor Élder Nascimento knew how to use the metro in Porto (thank goodness for the three transfers I spent in Gaia). We got Élder Nascimento on his way to Gaia and then Síster Fernandes and I set out on our adventure trying to find the hotel that we were supposed to be staying in. The office élderes called us to see if we needed help and then they started commenting about how sísteres always get lost because they're not very smart.Someone (possibly me) got a little competitive and I told Síster Fernandes that we would not ask for help from the élderes so we started just kind of wandering around. We did find it and we didn't even have to ask for help from anyone. :)

We spent all Wednesday in the training meeting in Porto with Presidente Amorim, the trainers, and all the new missionaries. There were three sisters that came from the Provo MTC and two from the CTM em São Paulo. It was probably the best meeting I've ever been to with Presidente Amorim. The mission met the baptism goal for the last month so he was very, very, VERY happy. I don't think I've ever seen Presidente Amorim that happy. At one point in the meeting the new missionaries were reading a talk about consecration and Presidente Amorim just walked over to Sister Amorim and kissed her. Síster Fernandes and I started laughing in the back of the room because it's so awkward to us, and when Presidente Amorim saw us laughing he told us "I'm allowed to kiss my companion. If I wasn't allowed to kiss my companion I wouldn't have lasted three years!" It was funny.... and slightly uncomfortable for us. :)

At the end of the meeting Presidente Amorim interviewed all of the new missionaries and then made the assignments. While we were waiting for him to come back I just started talking to one of the Brasilian sisters, Síster Costa, and we were having a nice conversation and I was telling her about Viseu. Then, Presidente Amorim came back and told us that the two of us were going to be companions! :) So I'm training Sister Costa this transfer. She is from Brasília and she is a convert of 7 years. She was the first person in her family to be baptized and she has a huge love of the gospel. Every time she shares her testimony you can tell that it's it's so important to her. Her testimony is so sweet and so strong. She just loves this gospel so much and she's made some pretty big sacrifices to be here as a missionary. I think it's going to be a fantastic transfer with her. Síster Costa just loves doing what's right and she loves being a missionary. She's been working and helping the missionaries for about two years and she is very good at it. Working with her is so much fun. Síster Christensen is what most people think of when they think of missionaries: nearly perfect and with an incredible testimony. I think Viseu will be in very good hands with her. Sister Fernandes is training Sister Christensen from Las Vegas so we're having a lot of fun here in Viseu. We like our little 4-sister apartment. It was a little rough the first couple of days with Sister Costa she has the thickest Brasilian accent I have ever heard and she uses so many words that they only use in Brasil. She's had a really hard time understanding the Português accent and the different words they use here, so it's been a work in progress. Marta, one of the members from the other ward made a huge list of words they use in Brasil and in Portugal that are different. It's very useful and at times funny because some incredibly inapproriate words there are completely normal here and vice versa. It's made for some interesting conversations. :)

This week our investigator Ribeiro has been close to Mafra down south toward Lisboa, but he sent us a text message telling us that he's been reading the Book of Mormon and that he feels very "content" when he reads it. He really likes the Book of Mormon and I don't think I've ever met any investigator who just immediately knows and understands the value it holds. Ribeiro does and he shares it with all of his Evangelical friends. Our plan for when he comes back from the south is to teach him the third lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and baptism and invite him to be baptized. He said he already believes it's all true, but we're not entirely sure what we've missed and what else we need to do to help him understand that he needs to act and follow the pattern established by the Savior. I think it's just going to click one day in his head and when he has that lightbulb-moment he'll have no problem in being baptized. 

We finally got in touch with a senhora named Margarida. We've been trying to teach her for weeks and we finally stopped by when she was home! Miracles happen! She has cancer and she's having a really hard time right now. When we said a prayer with her she just started crying and the Spirit that we felt there was so sweet. We had an appointment to go back and visit her, but she called and cancelled because they had an emergency and had to take her mom to the hospital. We've contacted her son Emmanuel in the road a couple of times and he's an active member of the Evangelical church but he asked us to come and talk to his mom. She doesn't go to church with him, but he says that he knows that we can help her right now, so we're going to keep on dropping by until we finally get back in with her. Her work schedule is really hard to work with, but we'll get back in there. 

Alícia and Maurício are okay... I think. We haven't been able to actually teach them in about two weeks. We were able to stop by yesterday in the afternoon but there wasn't time for us to teach a lesson. We were able to mark an appointment to go back on Saturday so we're going to go back with a member to teach with us. Maurício loves us and he feels the Spirit when we're there, but Alícia his mom still isn't so sure about us. She thinks we're nice but she doesn't actually know why we're coming around. We're going to pray a lot before our lesson on Saturday that something will help her be more open to the Spirit so that she can understand why she needs what we have to offer. We did find out that she smokes, but that's just another reason of why she needs the missionaries right now.

This weekend the most wonderful weekend of the whole year happened and we were able to watch Conferência Geral! Eu amo Conferência Geral!!! It is the best weekend of the entire year. I can hardly believe that it's already been 6 months since the last conference, but boy am I grateful that we have profetas e apóstolos! As we watched the sessions I could just feel it as they spoke. They're not just a bunch of old men that are preaching a lot of outdated ideas, they're representatives of Jesus Christ and they're the men called to teach us what Heavenly Father wants for us right now. I loved Sister Oscarson's talk about the mom realizing that the gospel is all true and also Élder Kearon's talk. It was so sweet because he was here recently for our mission conference but his talk reminded me that Heavenly Father loves all of His children and He wants us to love them too. Presidente Uchtdorf's talk was really good too. Yes Daddy, they do speak German in the Celestial Kingdom, but Português is there too. :) We haven't been able to watch the Saturday afternoon session yet. Presidente Amorim gave us permission to stay out until 23h00 to watch all the sessions of conference, but the transmission in Português wasn't working Saturday night. They other missionaries were all watching it in English on the computers downstairs but Sister Costa doesn't speak any English at all, so we still haven't seen it yet. We'll watch it at some point though. :)

This week I've starting reading in the New Testament about the ministry of Christ, and I've realized that I love my Savior. I love reading the stories in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon and just knowing that it's all true. It brings a special feeling to my heart that I can't really describe. It's just a peace and a calm and a lot of love every time I read about the life of the Savior. It makes me more grateful that I have the chance to serve as a missionary, even with all of my imperfections and weaknesses. 

The church is true. No doubt about it. :)

Amo vos!

Síster Smith

P.S. Here's a picture of me and Síster Costa and the other picture is of the members watching the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference ontém at about 18h00. We sure do love Conferência Geral! :)

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