Monday, June 17, 2013

When I grow up I want to be Angolan

Seriously. Africans are just the best. (Did I tell you that Nelma
and I sometimes dance to her Cabo Verdian grooves in her kitchen and
she told me I dance like I have African blood!? Yeah. Pretty much
the best compliment I´ve ever been given.)

You guys. Being a missionary is HARD. It´s like swimming in a never
ending race. At first you´re like, "Woo! I´m swimming! There´s
water!", and you are splashing all over and stuff. And at some point
you get to a stage where you´re like, "I don´t think I can lift my arm
out of the water another time." But you do. And in doing so you
discover corners of your heart that you didn´t know existed, and you
find resources there to keep going. And God reminds you that He will
take care of you. No matter what.

This week I got the worst stomach bug I think I´ve ever had.
Wednesday night I woke up around 2 a.m. in so much pain that we almost
went to the hospital. It felt like someone hooked up jumper cables to
my intestines and then spun them around until all my guts were wrung
into an infinitely tight rope. Not. Fun. But I´m back to normal now,

I don´t have very much time this week. (Ran out of coins for the
internet place!) But I wanted to tell Nate and Grandma Bonnie thank
you for the package!! And Louisa sent a letter this week that I just
LOVED. She included this idea of rewording the first 4 principles of
the gospel in your own words. (i.e. Trust, Change, Covenant, Listen)
She included several examples which I don´t have with me to include.
Anyway, might be a fun FHE activity or something. Reword those 4
principles and tell me how YOU think of them. Ask her for details if
you´re interested.

One more thought. Being loved by children is a singular joy. Nelma´s
got this gaggle of neices and nephews and sons and other kid-relatives
that just kind of adore us missionaries. It´s such a gift.

Ok good people. I love you way more than I have the ability to express.

Your daughter/sister/granddaughter/biggest fan,

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ye Faithful People

Aw man, you guys. I just love reading you. You all have the best souls and hearts. You make me want to be better and more selfless and good. Words are so insufficient to express my gratitude and love for you. It goes past my heart and down into, like, the center of my being.

It´s so cool how we are all involved in building our own corner of Zion right now. I love hearing your stories of how that building is happening in your lives.

This week felt like forever. It took some endurance. But there were a lot of happy moments and holy experiences. Holy is the word. Like, sometimes I´m baffled by how as a missionary you sometimes spend a supercharged hour teaching Simone how to pray (she prayed out loud this week!), and then half an hour later you are making fart jokes at Nelma´s house, and then later your are walking down the street and the smell of alcohol mixed with urine mixed with cigarette smoke makes you want to throw up, and somehow it is all holy.

Can I tell you about one of the best things that happened this week? There is this dear old lady named Maria Manuela who lives on a street we sometimes walk and is always standing at her window. We´ve had a few conversations with her, during which she always tries to invite us in, but she goes into her house to come and open the door for us, passes the door, and goes down to this other door a little further down, which she is never able to get open. It´s really pretty funny. Anyway, this week we were talking to her, and Sister W started teaching about the restoration. She pulled out the Restoration pamphlet and asked, "Senhora, can you read?" (a lot of people here can´t, including Maria Manuela as it turns out). "No worries, we´ll just use the pictures." So Sister W starts using the pictures to explain the restoration. Suddenly, a light goes on in Maria Manuela´s head and she says something like, "Oh, I have one of those already!", and shuffles around her living room for a while. She comes back to the window with what we are expecting to be a Watchtower from the JW´s, but when she pulls it out, it turns out to be .... a catalog from LIDL, the local department store! She lovingly turns the pages, sharing all the pretty pictures with us. HA! I was just so surprised, and it was just so sweet and funny, that I looked at the ground and tried to suppress my delight. But alas, a sort of muffled laugh-cough came out, after which Sister W patted my shoulder and said "Bless you! (then to Maria Manuela) Sorry, my colleague has a bit of a cold!" Which pretty much just made me laugh harder, and I had to actually turn around for a while. Dear, sweet Maria Manuela wasn´t offended, and just kind of smiled and laughed a little bit with us. Ah, this life. Holy is the word.

We need to find more people to teach. Pray! We´re going to spend less time at Nelma´s and more time on the streets! We taught a really awesome woman named Soraia yesterday. She´s just happy, and light-filled, and looking for truth. I´m excited about her.

Simone. We watched The Testaments with her this week. The next day, she said, "At the end of that movie, it said He was going to come again."
"Yes, that´s right."
"When?", so much longing in her eyes, "Why not now?" She is teaching me eons. And it´s amazing to watch her faith in Christ growing. Hearing her pray for the first time this week was really neat. And I got to play my violin for her!! She loooooved it. So fun. But her family situation is so bad. She´s worried that Paul is abusive to Carolina (their daughter), and is just totally paralyzed by fear of him. It´s ugly. Really really ugly and unfair. She´s leaving for Germany this week to go to a special hospital, where I´m hoping she´ll get the help she needs for her mental health, and will stop smoking. We don´t know exactly when she´ll come back, but I hope we are able to continue teaching her, and that some of the horrid circumstances can be resolved so that she can start really moving forward.

Nelma is teaching me about discipleship. She was going to start getting financial/food help from the church, but when she found out that meant that she wouldn´t be able to feed the missionaries, she said No Way. She actually washed and massaged our feet this week. She´s incredible. And she does this all by herself. I so wish she could have a loving, supportive husband to support her and help raise those 3 awesome boys. Urgh! A lot of men in Portugal are real losers.

Yesterday/ this week I was struck by just how amazing God´s creations -- His children -- are. We talked to this African man in a park and I was looking at his arm and just couldn´t believe how smooth and dark black and beautiful it was. That sounds weird. But I mean, like, God created that beautiful, dark, rich skin. And then yesterday there was Soraia´s bright-souled smile, and after her we visited Eguimar and Preciuese. Turns out they are separating. Eguimar is leaving for New Zealand this week. But standing in the doorway, with his hand gently on little Gabriel´s head (seriously, the most adorable 4 year old Brazilian/African mixed kid with dreadlocks. Pinnacle of cuteness.), he was just beautiful. And Preciuese has this low, kind of earthy, gravelly, smooth voice. These people are magnificent to behold. It is such a singular blessing to be yanked out of Provo and over into a corner of Zion where God can remind you how awesome and diverse and many-faced His glory is.

Nate!! Your letter was really inspiring for me. I´m so glad you are doing so great!

Sheesh! Words can´t say anything. I am so grateful for you all. Enjoy your trip to Cali! sounds like a blast. And big congrats to Dad. Woo! Take lots of pictures in your ridiculous graduation garb.

All of my heart. All of it.

Sister Sandholtz

Monday, June 3, 2013

(no subject)

This week Sister Warburton discovered how funny it is to speak Portuguese words with a really Brittish accent.  Thatºs been fun.

We live right by this big Catholic church with a Bell Tower.  Itºs one of my favorite things to just hear those bells ringing on the hour and the half hour. Ah, Europe.

Mom, before I forget, can you make sure the bank knows I live in Portugal?  Iºm pretty sure they do, but just to be safe so they donºt discontinue my debit card.  I might pull out some personal funds to buy sandals.  Itºs getting hot.

Favorite Portuguese words of the week= socorrer (to succor).  Someone once told me that to succor means to run to the aid of, and that really makes sense in Portuguese. the verb for run is correr.  So socorrer is succor.  Cool.
Also, "blessed" is "bem-aventurado".  "well-adventured".  Well-adventured are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Cool.

Iºma try to answer the questions Wayne asked.

where are Eguimar and Precieuse from? 
Precieuse is from Africa, I think.  Her first language is English but she speaks it with an accent I havenºt heard before.  Her name is French.  Eguimar is Brazilian.
Also how is Simone and her family?  
Simone is impossible to explain, but she is so sweet and she wants to get baptized.  We gave her "Finding Faith in Christ" in German and she has watched it lots of times.  We marked her for baptism next Sunday and are going to meet with her daily this week to teach.  Guys, please pray that sheºll have the courage to get in the water.  Sheºs got all these allergies and neuroses and (sp?) and worries about everything.  But she needs the blessings of covenants!  Last night she told us that she feels more relaxed when we are at her house.  We explained that what she was feeling is the Holy Ghost.  She asked how much longer weºd be here in Lagos, and we explained how transfers work, and she said, "Maybe God sent you here for me".  Yep, Simone, He did.  She calls us "Casey and Annie" (Sister Wºs name is Cathy.  Simone canºt say it.)  Itºs so fascinating watching someone who has never even considered believing in God take these steps.  Sheºs so afraid.  She says "Tal Vez" (maybe) to everything we say, not "yes".  But it's clear that she feels how important this is, and wants it.  Pray that she will have the courage to open her heart, and pray, and be willing to act. 
Also I'm just dying to hear more about the group!  Where do you meet?  How many meet?  Where are they all from?  Where is the stake, in Faro or something?  Where are the other missionaries in your mission from?
We meet in this little tile-floored place under a bunch of apartment buildings.  There are probably about 25 to 30 who come each week. Tons of them are related to Nelma; they've got this big complicated Angolan family tree.  There there are the few Portuguese stalwarts, Leonor and Alzira.  Jeisa and Zito are Cabo Verdian.  Most of the people here in general are Portuguese, Angolan, Cabo Verdian, Mozambiquen, or tourists from Brittain or Germany.  The District is the whole Algarve.  Sister W is Brittish, Elders McClean and Staples are American, Elder Ca is Cabo Verdian.

Okeydoke, I'm going to try to send some pictures. Fingers crossed.

Coby and Joe, thanks for the emails! 
I'm sad I wont' get to read Nate's first installment until next week, but I'm sure excited.  That was such a blessing last week to kind of be there with you guys as you went to the airport!
I love you!


Me when I first arrived at the airport

This girl's name is Diva, I kid you not!

Nelma showing us how African women carry their babies.  Diogo is sooo cute.  I wish you could hear him say "Sandholth"

We live in the most beautiful place in the world.  Can you see much of the background?