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,