Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Special Flakes

All right, best people.  Get ready.

Here is my address.  I will be in Lagos for at least 6 weeks, probably longer.

Rua Conselheiro Joaguim Machado
42-46  1 dto

Here are a few of the things I am loving here:
1. English transliterations and funny things, like cereal boxes called "Master Crumble" and "Special Flakes", or t-shirts on the bodies of Cabo Verdians that say things like "I´MA NICE GUY".
2. Name like "Felizminha de Jesus", which if Iºm not mistaken means something like "Little Happy one of Jesus".  Rad.
3. Cool phrases in Portuguese.  The word they use for "to give birth" is "dar luz", which means literally, "to give light".  Cool, huh?  And the word they use for "to raise kids" is "criar" which means literally "to create".  Cool, right?  Lanuguages are the besst.  I want to learn Spanish, French, and German.  But first Portuguese.  Aiyaiyai! 
4. The milk here is amazing.  amazing.  It comes in boxes and is somehow sweeter and creamier than the milk in America.  And Nelma taught me to make this thing called "Bolo de Bolachas" (cookie cake) which is basically you take Maria cookies, dip them in Pero, and then stack them on a plate, layered with this sugary creamy eggy mixture.  I think you guys would dig it.  Letºs make it in 16 months.

Here are a few of the beautiful things that comprised my life this week:
1. We got to complete a family this week!  Zito was baptized a couple months ago, and his wife Jeisa was being taught by the Elders before we got here.  We really felt like we should commit her to be baptized this week, so we did, and she prayed about the BOM and her fears left her.  The baptism was on the beach (tourists all over the place.  kinda weird.  someone whipped out an iphone and started videoing. ha!) and was beautiful.  I will never forget seeing black black Zito in his white white clothes, holding hands with Jeisa as they walked into the ocean for him to baptize her.  Sheºs pregnant with their first kid and Iºm so glad they are now united in the gospel to start their family.  
2. Real live miracles: Simone is this German lady we met outside the chapel one day.  She seemed soooo crusty to me, but Sister W went and talked to her.  We stopped by again on Wednesday, and just in time, because it soon became apparent that she is in the middle of some sort of crisis.  A complicated family situation, we donºt know the details.  But her daughter Carolina was with her not-husband, Paul, and she was extremely afraid and worried.  We taught her some and prayed with her and I have never had someone search my eyes with such innocent, frank need.  When we left, Sister W went to give her beijinhos (the little kiss kiss thing on the cheeks, they do that here all the time), and she just kind of grabbed her and hugged her tight and stroked her head a little.  She doesnºt understand a lot of Portuguese so we called the office to order a German BOM for her, which would arrive on Saturday.  But on Thursday we took her to see the chapel.  On our way out we passed the table with all the free materials - BOMs, passalong cards, etc - and I thought, "why not just check if weºve got something in German?".  We have a lot of Romanian stuff bc there are Romanians here, but Iºve never seen anything German.  So I look through the stack of 4 BOMs on the table and sure enough there it is: Das Buch Mormon.  WHAT!??  Yeah.  So we gave it to her and read a scripture with her and gave a chapter to read.  She and Carolina and Paul came to church on Sunday.  Sheºs got a lot of mental health stuff she needs to work out, but I know sheºs going to get baptized at some point.  If not with us, then down the road.  I know it.  God chose her in the furnace of affliction.  It will be interesting to see her story unfold.
3. We finally got into Eguimar and Preciueseºs house last night!  Thanks for your prayers!  And they are rad.  They are having us over on Wednesday, and we know itºs a firm commitment because theyºre cooking us SNAILS.  Say what!?  Yeah, they eat those here.  Iºm excited to teach them.

All right.  I love you so much.  It sounds like this was a beautiful week.  Iºm so happy we are a family.  That Mad Lib killed me.

Keep on being awesome.  Every time we act to show God that we have faith, He gives us grace.  Every time.

Love love love LOve love,

Sister Sandwhoels

Monday, May 20, 2013

Guess where I am!?

Ahh, you guys.  YOU GUYS.  I love you.  I love love love reading your voices each week.  Best thing ever.  How did God put me in the best family in the universe.  I swear I have no idea.

I also have no idea how to use the punctuation on this keyboard properly. sorry, you'll just have to make do with context clues.


I'm sitting in a little internet place by a courtyard where some street musicians are playing American oldies tunes.  Beyond the courtyard is a lovely little beach.  There are tourists all over down here.  I'm in the ALGARVE.  I'm starting my mission in the Algarve, Lagos to be exact. It's breathtaking.  Awesome little winding, hilly cobblestone streets all over.  Oh man, it's unreal.

Ha!  Arriving here was great.  We arrived on Wednesday and they put us all up in "hotel Roma", coincidentally the same place where they had the first LDS church meeting ever in portugal.  There wasn't room for us all in the mission home.  So we had a little meeting that night before collapsing into bed.  I like President and Sister Flukiger a lot.  Pte. Fluckiger is a humble, sweet man.  He cried when he told us that they have been praying for us already for 8 months.  Wow.

The next morning we found out where we were going and who our companions would be.  Lagos A is the most southwestern area in the mission, and hasn't had sisters forever, so Sister Warburton and I are opening our area.  cool!  In fact, they didn't have a house for us when I got to Portugal, so we spent our first night down here in a hotel as well.  The Elders in Lagos B picked us up the next morning and brought us to our flat, which is on top of a dental office, and is probably the nicest house in the mission.  Seriously, it's BEM CHIQUE (very fancy).  But we don't have gas yet, so we've been showering in the frigidness like real champs.  :)

Sister Warburton is a peach.  She's from England, and I can't help but fall into a bit of an accent when we talk together in English.  But we don't do that too much.  She's really sweet and nice and understanding and cheerful and hardworking and a good teacher.  I'm really grateful to be with her.  Yesterday I was a bit overwhelmed and when we got to our apartment I had a little cry with her and she said about 90 sentences that were exactly what I needed to hear.  She's cool.  She LOVES efy music.  LOVES.  I told her I don't have that much experience with EFY music but am excited to learn to love it with her.  :)

We walked around a lot this week, getting to know our area and trying to find people who can turn into the people we teach.  The Elders are great; we've got the Zone Leaders, elders Mclean (whom I call Elder Skywalker in my brain becase he looks just like Mark Hammil), and Elder Ca (from cape verde and seriously one of the awesomest people in the world), and our District leader, elder staples (or "Elder Tapash, as teh members say it).  They have been introducing us to our area  and the members and less actives and some people they were teaching here last transfer before Lagos got split. 

Oh man, the MEMBERS.  They are so great.  Sister Warburton says that this is the tightest ward she's seen yet on her mission.  Excuse me, they're not a ward, they're not even a branch.  THey're a group.  And man, they love each other.  And they love us.  Already.  It's amazing.  THe driving force seems to be Nelma.  Oh man, NELMA.  I feel a character sketch coming on:

Nelma is incredible.  She's either from Brazil or Angola, I have heard both (or maybe not, I'm understanding about 60 percent of what I hear), and is kind of scary at first.  She's got this kind of agressive way of loving people.  Her 3 sons, Leandro, Ricardo, and Diogo are BEM FIXE (very cool), and she's always wacking them with a wooden spoon or grabbing their earlobes or something.  and she's alwasy joking with the elders, like pretending like she's going to tackly Elder STaples and stuff.  Ha!  She is way funny.  Always had a mischeivous twinkle in her eye. She's one of those ladies with a really skinny lower body and a really buff upper body.  She has fed us 3 times already (twice yesterday, oh mercy, such a huge huge plateful of this fishy spaghetti concoction for lunch and then we had to go back).  She has no reservations sharing the gospel.  She invites all the investigators over when we're there so we can teach them.  She's always telling us made up phrases she uses, like "'tas assim?" (kind of like, "oh, are you really like that??" i'm pretty sure she's the only person who says that phrase, but she taught us now so I guess it's spreading.)  Anyway, she's a good woman.  She takes care of people.  And she's going to take care of us.  She already offered to come with us on teaches whenever we need her.  So we're going to let her feed us as much as she wants in order to stay on her good side, because man oh man we need her.

I wish everyone in Utah Valley could see how the church works here.  How much it means to this little group.  How much they love and need each other.  Gosh, it's beautiful. 

Wayne, you're not going to believe this, even though you already know:  So we arrive at our first grupo activity to meet the members, and these people show up and it turns out that one of them, Gabi, this stylish young woman, already served a mission.  Oh really?  Where? Boston.  Oh my gosh.  I've heard about you.  You know my brother I bet.  Wayne Sandholtz.  Yep? Yep.  INACREDITAVEL.  I seriously can't believe she lives here.  I guess she came home early because she got really sick.  She actually is in the Portimao branch (next door), so she's not in my area, but still.  Still.  mundo pequeno.

Oh gosh what else?  Being a missionary is kind of hard.  Yesterday when we taught Jeisa and Carla at Nelma's house, I felt so incapable.  But I know it will come.  I'm already understanding most of what people say and am able to communicate, however insufficiently, with them.  It's really really fun.

Last night we passed by the house of Iggymar (I'm spelling names phoenetically at this point) to teach him and his wife Preciosa and kid Guilermo.  His wife wasn't there so we couldn't go in, and he was drinking with his buddy.  But Sister Warburton asked if we could have a prayer with him, and indicated that I would say it.  I asked a blessing on his house and family, and something changed.  After the prayer, he looked at us and said something to the effect of, "Hey, you remembered my name.  I'm kind of drunk, so I don't remember yours, but you remembered mine."  Then he looked into our eyes and to each of us said, "Descuple" (excuse me or sorry) and apologized for kind of blowing off our appointment.  I think he knows that we can share something with him that will really bless his family.  I think he feels it. 

We are going to teach them tonight.  If you are inclined, please pray that they will be able to feel the spirit and find some direction in what we teach.  I am a very inadequate teacher, but Sister Warburton is pro and she'll tie together all my loose ends. 

This grupo needs Priesthood.  We are hoping to baptize some solid men who can lead this grupo into branchhood.  I think it's coming.

All right.  Sorry this is so long and scattered.  I sure do love you all.  I miss you!  I'm so happy we have each other.  This whole work is just love.  It's all the same.  God is love.


Sister Sandals, or Sandwols, or Sands, or Sa.....  , depending on who is saying it.  Hearing the members try to say our names is such a delight.

ps. Ben congrats on the eagle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
pps. Coby thanks for the letter!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happy Christmas, Ron!

Hello My People,

Your letters make me so happy. How are you all such awesome people!?

Nate, congrats on finishing quals! I'm sure you'll pass. Not even worried. How are the mission preparations coming? Man, those last 3 weeks before I left were so crazy. I'm sure you're in the middle of that right now. Onward! Come join the happy throng out here in these white fields! It's great, as you know.

So the biggest news this week is that we got our flight plans!! We leave for Portugal, all 43 of us (!), next Tuesday at 5:00 a.m. WOO!! I leave for Lisbon in less than a WEEK!! I guess there are some missionaries coming from the Mozambique MTC too, because President Fluckiger is getting 50+ newbiesnext Tuesday. Wowza. They've had a goal in the mission to get 5,000 new investigators throughout the mission for us to teach when we arrive. Holy Moly. I wonder where I'll serve, who my trainer will be, what the living situation will be like, etc, etc. So exciting!

We'll fly SLC to Atlanta to Amsterdam (overnight flight) to Lisbon. I'll have a 3-hour layover in Atlanta, during which I plan on talking your ears off. It's 2:19 pm to 5:30 pm Atlanta time (so 12:19 to 3:30 pm for you, right? Except Wayne of course.) Let me know if you want me to do anything other than call with a phone card. And, oh yeah, I NEED YOUR PHONE NUMBERS!!!!! I don't have Mom's new cell # memorized, nor Wayne's or Nate's. So, Mom, could you send me a letter this week with those numbers? Home is X, right? Better put that one in too just in case the spot it's occupying in my brain is replaced with Portuguese vocab in the next 6 days. :) Dear Elder works really well - I get it the same day. I guess I get it the same day if you deliver it, too. Whatever you prefer! Thank you!!

I got to play my violin in Mission Conferece!, as you know, I guess. That is crazy that Becky Li videotaped it and sent it to you! It was cool that Laura Dunn was the music coordinator. She was there for the sound check and asked me, "Now, Sandholtz .... my husband's cousin is married to a man named Kurt Sandholtz. Kurt and Carrie Sandholtz. Do you know them?" HA! Do I know them?! You better believe I know them!! That was a sweet moment. Her husband was there too, and I'm glad he was, because some lady told me I would play right after the opening prayer, so after the prayer I walked up to get my violin out of its case by the piano, but then the guy conducting the meeting said "We'll now hear from Sister Seamons ..." and announced that the musical number would be half way through the program, so I kind of just walked to the nearest open chair, which was right by Val Dunn, and his very kind smile made me feel like less of an idiot. :) I'm excited to get to know Grandpa Gene better. Val Dunn would be his nephew, right?

Anyway, playing a musical number in the MTC is great because you feel like a celebrity for the rest of the day. People all over the place are like, "Hey! You played your violin today!" One person told me, "I've never heard a violin sound that beautiful before, and that's saying something; I've heard a lot of violins!". Another, "That sounded like butter!"

Favorite Sister Duke-ism from the week: We were taking showers after gym and she kicked an empty bottle of shampoo into my shower. I kicked it back, and my flip-flop went with it. Without missing a beat she exclaimed, "Oh! Senior Companion has given me a shoe! Dobby is FREE!!"

Today we dyed our eyelashes with this kit she had. Lamest thing ever. Hardly made any difference and it stings your eyeballs. Stuff like that is never worth it.

Oh my goodness, Brother Whitaker has been telling us more stories about Portugal (he serverd there) and it makes me so excited! And nervous. This week he told us how delicious all the bread and pastries and chocolate is in Portugal. He said that some of the missionaries he knew got diabetes while serving there. YIKES!!!!! Pray that I will be able to have restraint and not come home from my mission obese and diabetic. But seriously.

Favorite Portuguese words of the week: wow = uau. haha! oh, and being congested/having a head cold = constipacao. hehe.

All right celestial people. I have to go. This is the last email you will get from me in the MTC. Oh man. I'm really excited to leave the MTC, but it sure has been a good six weeks. I love my district. Sister Duke and I are going to run a marathon together after our missions. Pray that my trainer will love me even half as much as Sister Duke does.

I love you. Take care of yourselves and each other. Faith is powerful.


PS. Updates on Bonnie? Has she started chemo yet?

More pics 3.

More pics 2.

More pics.