Monday, May 2, 2016

O último email: The sun is shining in Portugal!

The last email.... in the beginning of my mission I thought that the last email would be very dramatic and that it would just blow me away... I feel pretty normal though. It doesn't feel very dramatic, nor is it blowing me away with its amazingness, but it's definitely not the worst email I've ever sent home. :) Missionaries keep asking me what it's like to be at the end of my mission and my response every time has been "Um... I don't know... normal." The members are funnier though because they ask me how I feel and when I respond, "I feel pretty normal" then they tell me "Are you sure? Most sisters cry a lot at the end. Are you sure you're not afraid to go home?" My response to that yesterday was, "Well, if it would make you all feel more comfortable I can start crying. I mean, if you really want me to I can." When I offered that option they all started laughing and told me they prefer me the way I am. :)  Yay! People like me the way I am. :) One of my favorite quotes on the mission has been this one by Presidente Hinckley:

"It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers." 

I like that one. It will all work out. One way or another it will all work out. I learned a lot from it during the mission and I think it applies to every situation. I found a piece of paper a few days ago that I had written that quote down on and I was thinking about how wise Presidente Hinckley was. then I started thinking about how much I love Presidente Monson too. Then I started thinking about how amazing it is that we actually do have a prophet. I can't explain very well what goes through my head, mas eu acho que a parte principal of what goes through my head is just that I have a testimony of of the gospel that I didn't have before. It's nice to have those moments when you just feel that it's true. 

This week was a pretty good week. On Monday we didn't have any firm plans so we decided to go out to Gumirães and work, but once we got out there the sísteres from the other ward called us and told us that they needed us for a lesson. Isaura, a member from their ward, was going to have the sísteres teach her mom who happens to live in our area. So we got to be there for the lesson and it was really good. Síster Costa is an amazing teacher and that lesson was so short and direct and good! She really just handles the lessons in a way that I haven't seen before. If I could I would just sit back and watch her teach because it's fun. On Tuesday we were working on Fase 2 of the Listão with an older couple from our ward.  In the beginning they didn't want to give us any names, but then when we went back they made plans to take us to meet all of the people on their listão... Síster Costa will be working with millions of references next transfer. Then on Tuesday night we had Conselho da Ala at the chapel. It was so much fun. I love our bispo. He loves the missionaries and he's always really happy to hear about our pesquisadores every week. I think it's because he has seen all of our investigators because they've all come to church recently. I think he's the youngest bishop I've ever met but I've really liked serving here in Viseu with him. Bispo Daniel is a really bishop and he does his calling really well. On Thursday we did divisions with our companions so I was with Sister Christensen in the other sister area in Viseu. I had no idea how big Viseu actually is... I thought that all of Viseu was as rural as my area... nope. Viseu is in fact a city, but I didn't know that until now. :) But while I was with Sister Christensen we ran into lots of my investigators and had lessons with them. That was a pretty big blessing. Friday we had weekly planning and then at night Sister Fernandes and I went to Coimbra for a division on Saturday. It was a nice division and I really liked being in Coimbra again. I worked with Sister Regan all day in an area called Santa Clara and then we walked back into Coimbra and up into the historic section to look for a reference. It's nice to be in big cities sometimes. I love Viseu, but it was fun being in Coimbra and hiking up all the hills and going across the Rio Mondego. Coimbra is a really pretty area. I think it was my favorite division ever.  

While we were on the division on Saturday, Sister Costa and Sister Christensen were in Viseu having too much fun. Those two sisters together is a pretty dangerous combination because they are always doing something silly and then laughing so hard that they can't even breathe. It is one of the funniest and cutest things to see. Sister Fernandes and I like to sit in other rooms to just listen to them try to talk to each other in Português and English... most of the time they end up just acting out what they want to say anyway. It's funny.  On Saturday they were able to go with Mario and Judite out to Póvoa de Mundão to visit Ribeiro and his wife Isolinda and her sister Gracinda. They really like the Book of Mormon and the missionaries but it will still be a while before they're ready to be baptized. Ribeiro likes the Church just because he was well received when he came to church. There's a lot more than just being treated nicely though. He's on his way to baptism, but he still has a way to go. 

Yesterday was a really good fast and testimony meeting in our ward.  There is a member who is visiting from Angola for a few weeks and his testimony was simple but he talked about how no matter if he's in Angola, Portugal, or England he feels the same Spirit in the Church meetings. I bore my testimony and Elder Hicks bore his testimony because we're both ending our missions this week. When Elder Hicks bore his testimony I realized how strange a mission really is. We spend 18 months defending things that we don't understand very well, but in the end we come to understand and love the things that we teach and defend. We begin to see the value of the gospel in our lives and we change quite a bit while we're here. We're still the same people, but just a little bit different. It's nice. :)

Yesterday we had a Mothers' Day activity here at the capela and the elders from the other ward were able to bring two families of investigators to the activity. They were really cool and they all liked the capela and the members were so nice to them. One of the families was actually a cigana family and normally the members aren't as friendly toward them, but at the activity the members were so good and they were so sweet to both of the families. I just love the members here in Viseu. There's a rumor that the wards are going to be combined soon. The plans were sent to Salt Lake for approval, but we'll see what happens. 

Today for p-day we played volleyball and futebol with Viviene, an investigator of the sisters. It was fun. My huge lack of sports abilities was put on public display but that didn't seem to dissuade Viviene from continuing to talk to the missionaries. She's was really cool. I think the best part about being a missionary is meeting the people. It's crazy how you learn to love people right away, but we really do just love people. 

Heavenly Father sure does love us an awful lot to go to all this work just so that His children will have a chance to choose to go back to Him. I think feeling that love is what makes the biggest difference for people. When they feel how special they really are, they're willing to work a little bit at a time to go back to Him. We have prophets that hold the priesthood on the earth today. That's crazy if you think about too much. Eternity is a little bit too complicated for my poor little brain, but I'm content just knowing that for now if I try my best every day it will all work out in the end. 

I love you all. I love being a missionary! The best part of my life so far has been having the Savior's name next to mine on this little black name tag for 18 months, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. 

Síster Kendra Smith

P.S. Picture 1: This morning with Viviene. Picture two: Sister Costa came running in to ask Sister Fernandes how to say "slave" in English. We told her and then she ran to the kitchen. Both of us got very suspicious and then we heard Sister Costa yelling, "Eslave! Eslave!" We run in and she was hitting Sister Christensen with a spatula while they were making sandwiches.This is the picture we got as they were telling us the whole story... they're just too funny... and they can't be left alone.  

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