Sister Carroll thought it was funny that "O Rei Benjamin" (King Benjamin) is pronounced like "Oh hey Benjamin!" So now we always say, "O Heyy Benjamin!!"
You know you are 4 years older than the elders when you think to yourself, "I hope I have a son like Elder So-and-so." That happened. This is also evidence of another mission phenomenon: suddenly you are more stoked than ever to get married and have a family. Sister Duke and I were talking about this. Families are so gorgeous. During conference I was digging all the talks about families. I loved Elder Scott's talk about having a Christ-centered home. The spirit in a Christ-centered home is powerful. It is something this world desperately needs. Mom, Dad, thank you for bringing us kids into the world in such an environment of power and love. Sheesh. Love is so powerful. Love is the whole point of everything. If we miss that, we're missing being alive.
Speaking of love, this week we got to teach in the TRC again. Usually the volunteers are portuguese-speaking members (this week we got to teach a man named Matthew and his son Marcelo. Matthew is married to a real live Lisboeta (person from Portugal), so he speaks with the shh-shh accent of Portugal! They were cool.), but this week one of our volunteers was Joao Paulo, from Sao Paulo (hehe), who is not a member! It was crazy. We went in and started teaching, and then suddenly I thought to just double check that he was a member. He was like, "Nao", and suddenly the whole situation felt 20x more real. I was a lot more nervous, but I also just felt a lot of love for him. I so admired him for being brave enough to come learn about the gospel from really really inexperienced young missionaries. He was so kind as I struggled with Portuguese words - he'd correct me with the kindest smile. Anyway, we tried to teach him about receiving answers to prayers, and I just wanted so badly for him to feel in-touch with God. One of my favorite things about being a missionary is the opportunity to pray with people. I loved doing this before my mission, too, but as a missionary you have so many chances to pray for and with people. It's just lovely.
Something they do in Portugal (apparently) to say something is cool, is they grab their earlobe with their hand and kind of shake it back and forth. i.e. "O! Este e como isso", and they shake their earlobe. Weird, right?!
Want to hear about one of the best parts of my week? So this moring after I came out of the temple, we hung around to take a few pictures. When we were about to head back to the MTC, I turned around and there was NATE, with his arms gesturing outward, wearing a big smile. It was the best moment ever. I gave him a big ol' hug, which freaked out some of the Elders in my district until I told them he's my brother. We got to talk a little. It was such a treat. We headed back to the MTC, and when we were about to cross the threshold past the security booth of the MTC, I heard a faint yell, "ANNIE SANDHOLTZ!!!", and there across the street is Mom, in her flourescent running jacket, waving her arms. She crossed the street and we got to hug and talk a little. So so great. It was such a tender mercy, especially since after reading Mom's letter about Bonnie's diagnosis I just wanted to see you guys and talk to you. It felt strange to feel so removed. So seeing Mom and Nate today was a gift.
I was thinking today about how neat it is to read Sage's and Heather's letters each week. They are both such amazing women, with such different backgrounds and perspectives. I love seeing how they each approach missionary work - how the Lord uses the lives and service of these two beautiful, faithful daughters to reach His children. I am so inspired by both Heather and Sage, and I feel like I have elements of each of them in me. God gives me so many sisters, all over the place. It's the best.
Com muito amor,