Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Brace Yourselves, This One's Long

Cherished Family,

It is taking all the restraint I can muster, but I am writing before reading this week because I want to tell you all about my life in São Miguel.  Sorry if I neglect to respond to any big news!!

Okay.  First off.  Thank you for your prayers for me.  I have FELT them.  There were so many moments this week when I truly felt divine means of help and strength that came from outside myself.  And I KNOW that was in large part because I had the prayers of the most beautiful family in the universe as the wind at my back.  I could really feel that.  Thank you.  And keep 'em coming!  

Here are some things I have been meaning to tell you about this island in the middle of the Atlantic.  

The words to describe my life in the Azores:

1.  Sweaty.  My life is incomprehensibly sweaty.  This week was especially hot, and with the ridiculous% humidity, sweat runneth o'er.  One morning this week I got out of the shower and dried off and put my garments on and looked in the mirror and there were big beads of sweat on basically every inch of my face.  I was like, "are you serious!?"  Luckily it'll cool down pretty soon here.  Holy flip.

2.  Catholic.  The catholic culture is stronger here than it was in the Algarve.  We're like, "hey, want to hear a message about Jesus/the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?", and everyone is like, "Dude, I'm CATHOLIC."  For example, we had to stop meeting with one lady, even though she knows the BOM is true, and she disagrees with basically everything the Catholic church does, just because she was born Catholic and doesn't feel like she can walk away from that.

3.  Deportees.  There are a ton of deportees here from Boston, or Fall River, Massachusetts.  We've met several of them -- they always have names like Manny (Manuel) or Ricky (Ricardo) or, in one random case, Messias (can you imagine if people in America named there kids things like "Messiah"?  We also talked with a lady named Jesus.).  I love hearing their Bostonian accents and telling them I have a brother living in Boston.  There are also a lot of connections here with Canada.  Everyone used to live in Canada or has family there or is going to move there.  It's random.  

4.  Pastoral.  There are two cows to every person on this island.  All of Portugal's dairy products come from the Azores.  The upper part of our area is this city called Arrifes, and I LOVE hiking up there and looking at all the gentle rolling hills with cows on them.  Just lovely.

Portuguese Idioms Sister Wach and I learned this week:

1. "vamos voltar à vaca fria" means let's get back to the subject.  literally it's " let's return to the cold cow."

2. "macacos me mordam!" is an expression that means something like "Holy Smokes!"  Literally: "Monkeys bite me!"

All righty, let me tell you about my week.  Holy flip, you guys, this week was NUTS.  But I arrived at the end of it feeling peaceful and happy.  Last night as we were walking towards the chapel I realized, "Hey, I feel really happy."  That was a relief, because it's taken a little adjustment to settle in here, and I am likely going to be here for a whiiiiiiiiiiiiiile.

On Tuesday we had divisions with the STLs from Madeira.  During morning studies, we got a phone call from Sisters Radvansky and Caldwell, who are serving on Terceira (another island in the Azores), and had slept at our house the night before for Zone Conference.  They were like, "you might want to check your heads, because, um, we have LICE."  So then the Sisters checked our heads and as it turned out, I had lice.  THEN we had to go out and do divisions with them all day.  We were teaching a lesson and I was trying so hard to think about anything other than the fact that there were little insects crawling around in my hair.  EWWWW.  So so so gross.  Luckily they left at about 4:00 and we called the Senior Couple and they were like, "yeah, you need to take care of that ASAP.", so we stayed in for the rest of the day, put lice-killing-solution in my hair, and Sister Wach, bless her, combed lice eggs out of my hair for about 3 hours.  She only found one actual louse.  We are pretty sure the eggs are all dead, but we have to repeat the treatment in a few days.  Pretty sure most of my prayers in the last week have included, "and please bless that all the lice within a 50 mile radius of our house are dead."

Both the STLs are Brazilian.  They were a whole lot of fun.  Sister Nigri, with whom I spent the day, was a boost for me.  She could tell I was kind of down, and really helped me feel okay about things.  I feel like this transfer is kind of one of those build-your-patience times of my life.  And having that expectation has helped me feel peaceful and hopeful and happy.  God is so good.

I am also SO grateful for the timing of my mission.  I am absolutely certain that I learned really really important lessons in the year or two leading up to my mission that are helping me SO much.  One of those lessons was the practice I got opening up and trusting others.  SUCH a blessing.  It reminds me of something Sister Rad and I once discussed -- how Christ's whole life was an example of a man not being afraid of vulnerability.  Christ constantly made himself vulnerable for the benefit of others.  The atonement is the apex of that.  Allowing ourselves to be a little bit vulnerable is one way we emulate Him.

Sorry I haven't focused much on the people we are teaching.  I want so bad to tell you about Mira, this lady who dropped us this week, who I LOVE.  But I want to read your letters.  And you probably want to STOP reading mine, so I will forbear.  We have about 4 people who are on the cusp of becoming progressing investigators.  I really hope we'll be able to teach more.  Teaching is the best part.

All right.  Well, sorry to blab your ears all the way off.

I am praying for you every day in faith!

I love you oceans and oceans.

Sister Sandholtz

Monday, August 19, 2013


Querida Família!!

I know I say this every week, but reading your letters is always SUCH a boost.  I leave email time breathless and crazed from reading so fast and writing so fast, but so happy to have heard about how great you are all doing and how awesome you are.  I am so so grateful for each one of you.  Mom and Dad, I am so grateful for the way you two love and support each other.  And for the way you love, support, and teach your kids.  How did we get so lucky!?

I learned a new word this week: rapaziada.  It means "a group of teenage boys".  I am now calling Ben, Joe, and Coby the "rapaziada" (ha-paws-ee-ah-duh) in my brain.  Or, "os rapazes" (ha-paws-ush).  Man, you three are rad.  I got a letter from Mom ths week that said you´ve been going off cold cereal to save money to come PARTY with me in Portugal in a little over a year.  (What!?  Already!?)  YOU ROCK!  

We had a Zone Mtg. with the Fluckigers today!  Awesome!  Except it was like they robbed us of Pday.  Bummmmmer.  Oh well.  :)

Things are picking up a bit!  We learned (again) of the power of fasting this week!  We have been struggling to create a teaching pool.  We decided to fast on Friday to find someone who would want to progress and to have help generating a teaching pool.  We saw so many miracles!  Right after we started our fast, we went to see a woman named Selia who was being taught by the missionaries a while back.  I immediately felt love for her and her family.  Her husband is a menos ativo of many years, and they have these 2 beautiful daughters who need more than anything to be raised in a Christ-centered home.  I am hoping that we can figure out what they need to hear to have the desire to start progressing toward lasting conversion.

The next day, we had 3 lessons that went really well -- including one who accepted the convite suave!  It was like the Lord gave us the start of our teaching pool all within the time we were fasting!  It was really incredible.

Will you pray for me to have the strength I need to do this?  I have never felt so exhausted in my entire life.  It is hard to remember everything I need to do and hard to take good care of the sheep out here when you feel like you are running on empty all the time.  Missionary work is demanding, emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally!   They werent lying when they called it work!!

Sorry this letter is kind of lame!  I am doing good and growing.  I will try to write more stories next week!  

Will you pray for Selia and Nelson, as well as Joao and Isidro and Mira?  Oh man I have to tell you about Mira sometime.  Sorry this is so lacking!  How annoying that I just asked you to pray for people who I didn´t even describe!  Will do better!!

Well, you already know this, but I love you all into little teeny tiny pieces!!

Pedaços!!!  Abraços!!!

Sister Sandholtz

P.S. I LIVE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN!!!!!!!!!!?!!!!!!!!  Still can´t get over that.  :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

gather your shining

Aw, man, you guys, that wedding sounded so lovely.  Hooray for marriage!  Marriage is so awesome.  (Mom, thanks for the details about colors, etc.  I would love to see some pictures if you took any!)  I loved Wayne's description of being in the sealing room.  Made me think of GMH:  "...it gathers to a greatness...it will flame out like shining from shook foil...because the Holy Ghost broods over the bent/world with warm breast and with Ah! bright wings".  It sounded so light-filled and lovely.

I can't wait for those moments in our family! When it flames out like shining from shook foil.  I mean, they are happening.  They are happening all the time.  Mom, I loved your description of how the little boys helped out preparing for that breakfast.  Tell each one of them that I love him and miss him.

Sheesh, you guys, I love you so much!

I live in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  It is BEAUTIFUL here.  Everything about it is tranquil.  The weather is mild (VERY humid), breezy/rainy/sunny/cloudy.  People are totally chill about talking to you in the street about Jesus for 15 minutes.  They are also totally chill about not really keeping appointments ... but it's all good.  :)  We have an actual chapel, which is gorgeous.  We have a branch with its own leadership!  Wow!  I cannot express how much of a relief that is.  Church was so relaxing yesterday.  

To answer Wayne's questions: There is a district in the Azores.  We have a branch in Ponta Delgada (2 elders plus us here), a branch in Ribeira Grande (2 elders there), and a group in Vila Franca (2 elders there, one of whom is the group leader).  There are also 2 branches on the island Terceira -- one on a military base and the other is Portuguese.  I think Terceira has 2 elders and 2 sisters.  They usually leave missionaries on the islands for a while, I hear.

Açoreanos are pretty cool.  It's definitely a richer area than Lagos.  Everybody is white.  I miss seeing Africans all over the place!  There are probably only 3 or so Africans in our branch.  A lot of people here have connections with Canada - like, either they have family there or used to live there or are going to move there.  Não sei porquê.  Portuguese is WEIRD here.  It sounds a lot like French.  Ha!  But man, you guys, the gift of tongues is real.  Sister Wach arrived the same time as me in Portugal, so we are both still pretty new with the language, but we have been able to understand enough of what people are saying.  It doesn't make sense -- the accent is seriously ridankulous to understand -- but we have understood enough to get by and still feel like missionaries.  Blessing.  Sister Pinto (in our branch, has a daughter serving on Temple Square) told me I have a Portuguese accent!!  Boy was that good to hear!  :)

Her son, Abraão, worked with us on Thursday.  He speaks really funny English, wants to marry a missionary with blue eyes (yikes!!), and has the same size feet as me.  They are tiny. He kind of reminds me of the Sultan in Aladdin.  After Sister Wach did two street contacts in a row, he exclaimed in the funniest voice, "Oh! Valiant Ladies!!".  I can't really explain how funny it was.

Sister Wach is cool.  She is 20.  She reminds me of Snow White.  She has this really high, kind of sing-songy voice.  Sometimes it's hard for me to tell what she is saying in English, because of the wispy, high, slurry quality of her voice.  When she starts speaking Portuguese in the street, sometimes people just laugh at her.  It's kind of sad but also kind of funny.  She doesn't get offended by it though (of course not, she's Snow White!!), she just keeps on going through the day, smiling and waving at everyone and saying, "Olá!!" in her super chipper voice.

Mom, I was so grateful that you included some of Robbie's wisdom last week.  What you wrote about how no one is superficial really applies here.  I think I thought at first that Sister Wach and I wouldn't relate very well, but I was wrong.  We have already bonded a lot.  She trusts me and we are taking care of each other and she's a good comp.  And she's got rivers in her soul, just like everyone else.  

We need to generate a bigger pool of progressing investigators.  Hopefully next week we'll have some awesome miracle stories to report back about!  I feel like there are some jovems/young single adults we need to find and teach in this area.  Vamos ver quais milagres O Senhor tem em espera!

I know this is getting a little long but I also wanted to tell you about a cool realization/inspired thought I had last night: the importance of kindness.  This is something I learned from the missionaries I served with in Lagos.  Kindness.  Being kind and genuine is so much more important than being funny, clever, smart, or impressive.  It is so much better to try to make OTHERS look good and feel important than to try to make yourself look impressive.  I want to focus on that with Sister Wach -- making her feel important, capable, and like the awesome woman of God that she is.  

All right.  Eu vou acabar.  I'm located closer to you than I will be in any other area of my mission.  That is pretty cool.  

Take care of each other.  Be good.  Be kind.  I love you.  Being a missionary is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  I am learning so much and Heavenly Father is teaching me how to relax and trust Him.  He is so unspeakably bright and gracious.

Shine on, you crazy bright and gracious people.

Love you muito muito muito sempre sempre sem fim sem duvida,

Sister Sandholtz

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A few more lines

Hey Lovelies.

All right.  I live in a dream land.

Our house is humongo and amazing.  It was supposed to be for some senior missionaries but they had some health problems so we are living in it and it has two bathrooms and 3 bedrooms and a giant living room and a kitchen and everythang.  Sooo fancy.  Holy cow.

Speaking of cows, all the milk in Portugal comes from the Azores because there is 1 cow to every 2 people on the island.  Green hills with cows.  Fo reals.

Sister Wach is WAY organized because her previous comp was WAY organized and it is awesome and she is going to help me organize my life.  Hallelujah.

I got to take a plane from Lisboa to the Azores with two Elders and we got McFlurries in the airport and it was exciting to just be hanging out with guys for a bit and it made me feel, just a tiny bit, like I was in an airport with Wayne and Nate, and that made me really happy.

Have I told you how much I love the Elder-Sister relationship?  It is just the best thing ever because they are all young but they are also hilarious and awesome and since you are all just missionaries you can really just be friends and it is like a brother-sister relationship.  I am a big fan of missionaries, and missions, in general.

Sister Wach likes RUNNING!  I prayed the night before last that my new comp would like running.  Miracles, people.  We ran on this fantastic little dirt road for twenty whole minutes this morning and my heart was beating like it hasnt for a long time and the enorphins flowed and I was like YESSSSS!

They speak WEIRD Portuguese here.  Ha!  I am going to come home sounding like a freak.  Whatevs.  Nao faz mal.

I apologize for how many times I use the word JUST in my emails.  Do you remember that part in Gilead where Marilynne Robison writes about how John Ames has to consciously not use the word JUST all the time.  I need to work on that.  

I wish I could talk to you all on the phone.  I want to tell you about this place and what I am learning and how beautiful Carla and Daniel´s baptism was last Sunday and how tired I am and how I´m feeling and what I´m thinking about how I´m feeling and this crazy day I had last week where I kind of had a break down and felt so totally depleted but got through it and it taught me a ton and something inside my heart just kind of broke, in a really needful way, I think, but I can´t really describe it.  

Anyway.  I´m alive and well and me and happy and trying to be a good representative of Jesus.  But heaven knows I need a lot of His grace, so keep those prayers coming!

I. love. you.

Sister Sandholtz

PS. My address is: 

Rua do Paim 82 1 Esq. Po.
Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel
Portugal 9500

This is the best address to use for mail to me (both letters and packages).  If you send stuff to the office I will get it ... maybe ... at some point.  I heard of someone having to pay to get a package because it wasn´t marked as a gift.  Don´t know if that is applicable, Mom, or if you already sent off that one with the cd for Sister Warburton.

Monday, August 5, 2013

En route to ...

THE AZORES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

you heard me right, peeps, I'm going to the Acores!!  

hence, I don't really have time to email you this week.  Hopefully I will be able to jump on tomorrow or something, but don't count on it.  :)

Ha!  I'm at the mission office and it's CRAZY.  Missionaries EVERYWHERE.  Awesome.  

My comp will be Sister Wach.  Mom, remember the lady from the Ralph Lauren store who had a niece going to my mission the same day as me?  That is Sister Wach.  Crazy, right!?


Love you all so so much.

Sister Sandholtz