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!!!!!!!

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