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

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