Monday, September 30, 2013

That caviar is a GARNISH!

Favorite People,

I just printed and read all your letters, and now I have a long time to write you!  I like this system!  First I want to respond to some things from your letters!

Nate, you should tell Candace about the plethora of Mormon Mommy Blogs out there.  If she is a blogger, and is going to be a Mormon, it seems like an intersection of interests that could be cool for her!  She could get into them or even become a Mormon Mommy Blogger.  Just an idea.

Ben, I love your emails.  They are SUCH a boost!  You have such a powerful testimony and such insight and faith.  I am so so so stoked about your mini mission next summer with Nate.  Holy Hannah Montana that is going to rock.  Sounds like you are tearing it up in marching band too!!

Dad, your Sunday afternoon curry tradition sounds like a winner.  :)  I loved your description of feeling the Spirit work through you, clarifying and helping you organize ideas.  Such an articulate description of something I have felt so many times.  Especially when I was teachin Gospel Doctrine in my singles ward.  Beautiful.

Mom, I LOVE the moments of our family that you distill in your weekly letters.  So fun to read.  I feel like I was there for some of them.  Also, your package arrived this week with the 2 shade shirts(they are perfect, I love them), thank you notes (how did you know I have been searching for those and unable to find them!?), dark chocolate sea salt caramels (heavenly), matching earrings for me and Sis Austin (we are wearing them right now), cool double clock necklace (also wearing right now), and pens.  Talk about a treasure trove!!  I know how expensive it is to send stuff -- I don't deserve such abundance, but thank you so so much!  That was so fun.  It arrived during weekly planning.  Perfect.  :)

Wayne, you should definitely send pictures.  The ones Mom sends I can open.  But not videos.  Anyway.  yeah.  Or send hard copies in the mail.  I will put them in my photo album.  I sent a letter off to you this week.  Should arrive soon!

Joe and Coby, you sound great.  Congrats on all the race times and musical exploits.

Okay, on to the meat of the week!

    Sister Austin's dad teaches history at Centennial.  Ben, did you take from him?  Cool huh?  coby, you should find his classroom and tell him that his daughter is mission companions with your sister.  Small world!

    The weather changed this week!  We got Autumn.  It was exciting.  Rain!!  I didn't realize how much I like rain.  I think Tuesday was the first day it really got rainy.  Sister Austin says I am a water lily because I love to just stretch out my arms and let the wind and rain fall on my face.  It helps a lot that it's not cold rain.  :)  Yesterday the sign by the mall said 100% humidity.  Wooo!  Wednesday we had a rain miracle -- it was downpouring, and we had an appointment with this family I LOVE even though we don't know them super well yet.  Vitor, Joana, and Fatima (Dad and 2 daughers.  We havent met the mom yet).  Anyway, we have passed their house a LOT but never gotten in.  But this day, we were SOAKED.  Who is going to leave two soaked young ladies on the doorstep in a downpour?  Not these people!!  They invited us in and gave us towels and we taught them the first lesson and it was a little rocky but man I hope we can go back and teach the second because they are lovely, meek, kind people.  They didn't come to church with us yesterday.  But we are going to stop by tonight and visit them again.  Another great side affect of the rain is that we get to wear our raincoats, which are both red.  We are the redcoated Sister Missionaries of Ponta Delgada.  Large and in charge.  Woo!

    Have I told you about our sandwich press? We bought ourselves one and have been making panini creations.  It's pretty fantastic.  It's the simple things in life you treasure.  We also quoted pretty much all of "You've Got Mail" to each other last night as we walked around the city.  So yeah, good things are going on in our lives.

    Random fact your probably don't want to know:  I am pretty sure my right armpit sweats more or at least smells worse than my left one.  No clue why.  But I noticed it a couple weeks ago when I changed into my PJ's at the end of the day, so then, naturally, I started checking, and sure enough, every night, the right armpit of the shirt I wore all day smells like I wore it all day, and the left one smells, like, fresh.  WEIRD!  Should I be worried?  ;)

I am actually feeling extremely satisfied with the missionary work we are doing!  There's the aforementioned Vitor and his daughters, as well as a cool lady named Elvira who we are teaching.  She needs to have the courage to take the step of coming to church.  It is a big deal for a lot of people here, like, a big statement.  We also taught this family, a mom named Dina and her kids Erica and Bruno.  Erica is sweet as can be and loves the Finding Faith in Christ movie we gave them and I want her to join primary and YW's so bad.  Bruno is also sweet, but has some sort of disability.  During our first lesson with them he literally almost killed the pet kitten about 5 times.  It was horrifying.  We are going to stop by their house tonight as well.  :)

If my mission is a mini life, Lagos was definitely my blissful happy childhood, and Ponta Delgada is unmistakably my rocky moody teenagehood.  :)  But I am feeling and seeing God's love every day.  We prayed and fasted this week to arrive at a vision for this area/transfer, and as we prayed about it, I felt to pray that we would see and recognize miracles every single day.  And that has been true.  

I am grateful for all of you!  I love reading you each week.  I sometimes get all wistful that my future husband doesn't get to read your emails each week, wherever he is, because I want him to get to know you through your writing!  You all write so well.

I am so grateful for a God who knows me.  Who knows what I need.  I am gaining a love for these people and this place.  It has a similar texture and color to the love I have for Livermore -- a sort of gritty, hard-earned, sorrow-twinged love. He knew I would need to learn to experience and enjoy the intensity and exquisiteness of that color, that type of love.  There really is a singular beauty to it.  And when I look back on Livermore, I see how hugely my soul expanded in that time.  Yay for soul expansion!

I'm going to try to attach some fotos.

Love love LOVE love love love LOVE Love love love.


P.S. Guess what is in 5 days!?  CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got to wear my boots this week!  Wahoo!  Also this jacket is the color I would choose if I had to choose a color to represent the color of sould expansion that I described in the email.  :)  It's pretty huh?

I wish you could tell how wet we were in this picture

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fetch the smelling salts!!

You GUYS!!

Sister Austin arrived.  She is so cool.  She is from a family of 9, all home-schooled.  She arrived on Monday night and when we picked her up from the airport she just had this huge grin and we hugged each other and I felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders.  She just makes life nice.  I am thrilled to be working in São Miguel with her.  

We have been trying to use the essential oils that you sent, Mom.  We call them the 'smelling salts' and have had a lot of great Pride and Prejudice quoting moments.  For example, 

Me: (as we are walking) "Wow, I think I have been walking weird because of that huge blister on my left foot.  Now my right hip is feeling kind of stiff."
Sister Austin: "Maybe one of the smelling salts can help!! Lydia, fetch the smelling salts!"

She doesn't believe in them at all, but she does a great job of helping me find opportunities to use them.  :)

We had a District Conference this weekend with Elder Donaldson of the 70.  It was bomb.  I was really touched -- almost the main thing he did was bear testimony of US, the full time missionaries.  I cried my way through the whole meeting, which is saying something because as a missionary I don't usually cry very often.  I cried way more before my mission than on it.  (so far.  we'll see.  :))  But yeah.  It was really powerful.  I had a cool experience during the meeting that I want to tell you all about.  But I don't really have time.  It reminded me of something said in a talk in the MTC:  "God will reveal you to you."  I feel like that happened to me a little bit yesterday.

I am feeling much better this week.  We had Zone Conference today, which was really awesome.  I love the Fluckigers more and more each time I see them.  We got to have Sister Radvansky and her comp, Sister King, sleep over last night.  and guess who is an amazing pianist!?  Sister King!!  So we got to jam out together this morning and we played a really nice version of O My Father for Zone Conference.  Sister Fluckiger recorded us playing it afterwards and is going to put it on the christmas cd for all the missionaries.  Yikes!  But cool.

I really want to read your letters, so I am going to stop writing for now.  I will try to send a more cohesive, informative letter next week!

I love you.  Always have.  Always will.  

Sister Sandholtz

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

lame email this week, sorry!

Queridissima Familia,

(Mom, querer is used almost the same way in Portuguese, although I have never heard someone say anything like "quero-te" to mean "I love you".  Not sure though.  But I think that lady on the clip might be right.  The way querer is used in Spanish is really special.)

Wow, that story of the connection made to President Zackrison is INCREDIBLE.

Joe!  Guess what?  Some of the young women in the branch saw my family picture this week and they pointed at you and were like, "how old is this one?  He's CUTE!"  You have some Portuguese teenage girls crushing on you.  :)

Transfers!  Sister Wach is on a plane to Lisbon.  (I knew they'd send her to Lisbon!) I am at Casal Phippen's house.  :)  My new comp is Sister Austen.  She'll arrive tonight.  Also came into the MTC with me.  Don't know much about her yet.  I am excited to work with her though!

Nate, they are having you do a third transfer with E. Carratini?  Surprise!

I am going to try to start fitting in 15ish minutes of meditation each day.  I realized this week that I think I might be feeling some mild symptoms of depression.  Nothing terribly distracting, but I feel like I am able to observe my emotional health with enough presence to say that there is something a little bit off-kilter with my brain chemistry.  Realizing that actually cheered me up some.  It was like, "Oh!  That makes more sense about how I am feeling."  I feel really pretty peaceful though.  In the MTC I saw a Holland talk where he says, "Have every experience you can [as a missionary]".  Right now I am having the 'slightly-depressed-missionary-on-an-island' experience.  Hey, it's part of my life.

I really feel like Heavenly Father blessed me through this whole transfer with the ability to hold meadows of peace and tranquility inside myself, even when external conditions seemed a little adverse at times.

And now, it's on to the next adventure!  I really am baffled by how adventurous missions are.  Like, here we are, this army of thousands of white, boring Mormon boys and girls, all over the world, having big adventures.  It's the coolest thing ever.  

I gave a talk in church yesterday that went well.  This Branch is feeling more and more like home.  The members are good people.  I was remembering that day we went to church in Peru and randomly that Perry boy was there as a missionary, giving a talk in Spanish.  I was wondering if my Portuguese sounded like his Spanish did that day.

I am hoping to play my violin for long hours today at Casal Phippen's house.  We'll see.  :) Sister Austen arrives later tonight.  It's kinda rad to spend a day with two wonderful granparenty people.  We might go sightseeing.  I'm just thrilled to be with them.

Well, I need to sign off.  Remember that I love you.  God has really awesome children, everywhere.  His grace and goodness are manifest in the cloudy, broody skies of Sao Miguel; in the goofy smile of Ricardo Resendes, District President of the Azores; in the scrambled eggs that Sister Phippen cooked for breakfast.  This life is just exquisite.

You are exquisite.  Each one of you.

I love you.



Dear dear family!  I wrote before reading this week.  So now I'm going to go read all your emails.  :)  I love you!  I am grateful for you every day.  Big hugs to all of you.


Here are my nouns for the week:

   the characters in my story I have been meaning to tell you about:

1. Elsa.  This is a cool miracle story.  One night this week it was exactly 9:30 (the time we go inside for the day unless we are in a lesson.) and we were at our door to our apartment building.  But we both felt like we should just turn the corner and see if anyone was there.  So we did.  And there was this lady hefting a big box towards the garbage bins.  "Hey, can we help?"  "Yes, it´s heavy!"  Her name is Elsa and she is awesome.  She is friendly and normal and we start talking to her about what we do and who we are.  She´s like, "What´s that book?", we explain.  She´s like, "Want to go sit over there in the grass for a bit and keep talking?"  Ummm.... YES.  We talked to her for a long time and it was just nice and a lovely, friendly conversation.  SO refreshing.  (Azoreans are not usually very friendly people.)  We exchanged numbers and everything but don´t have a specific return visit yet.  She has a husband and a daughter.  Pray for her and her family and us to be able to find a good way to connect with them and bring the gospel with us!

2. José.  He is one of my favorite people on this island.  He is a recent convert that Sister Wach baptized the transfer before I arrived.  He is moving to Canada this week.  He has this ear-length, droopy curly hair and a big double chin even though he´s not, like, fat or anything.  He always is smiling and joking and kind of has this bounce in his step.  It´s fantastic.  This week one night Sister Wach and I were eating Maria Bolachas (cookies that are very common here - kinda like graham crackers) and he was like,"You guys better watch out or you´re going to get so fat that they have to open BOTH the chapel doors to get you out of here!"  Then the next day he was like, "Have you taught Maria today yet?" and we´re like " Maria? We are not teaching anyone named Maria!" and he´s like, "You know, the Maria who comes in a package and makes you fat!?"  Ha!  I wish you could see the impish twinkle in his eye as he says stuff like that.  He used to be in a heavy metal band and then was a DJ and then he must have gotten rich because he came out to the Azores as a volunteer to run a house for people with addictions and he found the gospel while he was here.  His Portuguese sounds SO much like French.  I only catch about half of what he says.  He understands the gospel SO well and is so solid.

3. Casal Phippen.  Arrived this week!  They are old and skinny and grandparenty and white and pure and wonderful.  Sister Phippen has the most hilarious Portuguese accent in the world and smiles all the time.  She has this pure white hair and is absolutely graceful and radiant.  Elder Phippen is really skinny but has this little ponch like Senor Cardgage.  He seems really great too.  I think the couple is going to be a really great influence on the branch.

   some of the places that are significant in my crazy missionary life:

1. The Chapel, site of our weekly Visita Guida (guided chapel tours).  I love the chapel.  We do guided visits every Friday where we sing outside by the gates and invite people passing by (it´s on a pretty busy street) to come in and see what it´s like.  This week we had a lot of people come in!  My favorite was a 16 year old boy named André (again. everyone in Portugal has the same names.)  Our visit with him was really spirit-filled.  The first vision part was almost palpable.  When we descended the stairs he was captivated by the picture of Jesus´ baptism.  But the best part of all was the end, when we asked him if he would like to say the closing prayer.  "I guess so, but I don´t really know how."  We taught him how, and then he said the most pure, simple, beautiful prayer I have ever heard.  It made me cry, and it made him cry too.  There was something so pure and good about him.  I can´t explain why, but it almost made me feel sorrowful in a way.  Like, the fact that that innocence is so uncommon made it seem terrifyingly fragile and beautiful, like the wings of a butterfly.  Especially in contrast to most of the people we meet.  We have an appointment to go to his house tomorrow.  I really hope it works out and we can teach him and his family.  Pray!

2. São Miguel.  It´s such an interesting place.  People say the islands are "hard areas", and I know you always hear stories about missionaries who get to hard areas and have an amazing attitude and baptize a bazillion people, but... I don´t know how to finish this sentence.  People are just kind of cold and closed.  We had a conversation with a deportee this week that was so sad.  He was a reasonably nice guy, but he kept saying, "What are you doing here?  People here aren't nice.  They don't want to listen to anything you have to say.  I would never let my daughter come here.  Go HOME."  Not in like a scary or rude way, just in a kind of depressing, sad way.  I think that happened the day before the aforementioned experience with André at the chapel.  The contrast between those two experiences was shocking.

3. Rua Vitoria.  We were walking there yesterday and saw one of the church members outside a bar (umm...yeah) so we started a conversation with him.  Then all these other people came up to the door one by one and I was kind of feeling like, "let's leave now", but Sister Wach stuck it out and started talking to them.  One of them was a lady named Sarah who spoke perfect English (tons of people here do. I feel like we teach in English a LOT).  We talked to her for a little bit and invited her to come watch a movie with us in the chapel that night.  At the end of the conversation she said something that we´ve been quoting ever since.  It's my favorite way I've yet heard someone describe feeling the spirit.  She said, "Well, thanks, ladies.  The transmission was good.  You transmitted something and I'm getting a good vibe."  Ha!  The transmission was good.

   some of the things I am learning:

1. Enos has awesome trust in God.  I noticed that this week in personal study.  Read verses 6, 17, and 27.  He's like, I know God can't lie, and I FELT a remission of my sins, so now I'm going to stop worrying about them.  End of story.  On to the next thing.  His trust in God is so frank and complete.  I feel like I can learn a lot from that and should emulate it more.

2. Ways to show mercy like Jesus.  The September Ensign is RAD, you guys.  It has a sweet article about justice and mercy.  But I really loved this other one about HOW to show mercy like Jesus.  It included the following ideas (practical applications) with scriptural examples of them:
a. Jesus showed mercy by not blaming others
b. Jesus showed mercy by choosing to love rather than condemn
c. Jesus showed mercy by giving others many opportunities to repent and be forgiven
d. Jesus showed mercy by avoiding bitterness
e. Jesus showed mercy by helping others in need

I feel like we so often focus on mercy in a repentance sense.  But I LOVE these ideas of how Jesus demonstrated mercy to those around him in even more ways.  I feel like I can do better on all of these.

3. DON`T let your cell phone loose in the side pocket of your backpack without turning off the touch screen.  If you do, you might accidentally call a potential investigator THIRTY-EIGHT TIMES IN A ROW without realizing it.  yeah.  oops.  Our cell phone was calling her over and over for a period of about 25 minutes. Mortifying. kind of funny, but mostly just mortifying.  Pretty sure that lady never wants to talk to us ever again.  We actually got a text from her half way through the calls that was like, "I don´t want to talk to you, today, tomorrow, or ever."  Yikes!

I'm not giving up yet on Diogo, João, or André, even though it appears they are giving up on us.  :(

I love you so so much.  I´m learning a lot and growing and feeling pretty happy out here.  Especially when I get to email you!

Sister Sandholtz

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Perilous Wench

Hey Beloveds,

(I really love how Ben always starts his emails like that.  Hey, Beloveds.  Whaddup?)

Way back in my first transfer, I got a package from Nate and Grandma Bonnie, which included a box of Shakespearian magnetic poetry.  I never opened it in Lagos because our fridge was wooden on the outside.  However, I pulled it out this week, and Sister Wach composed some wonderful stuff.  "methinks you art a saucy wanton.  therefore damn you, wicked maiden."  "oe'r yonder ocean comes the tempest until this my seemly bosom be thine".  all sorts of choice little wacky shakespearian-english funnies.  that is where the subject line comes from, too.

We got to go to Lisbon this week!  We had to renew our residence cards, so we were actually away from Ponta Delgada for almost 3 days.  Kinda crazy.  Lisbon is this huge, sprawling city.  Wayne, you're going to love Lisbon, I think.  You're all going to love it.  One of my favorite things about being there was seeing all the missionaries who were there for Mission Council the same day.  I got to see Sister Warburton!!  And Elder Garcia from the MTC!  He speaks Portuguese now!  :)  Also, I got your package with the oils mom, thank you!  I´d love some instructions!  And the package from the reunion and a bunch of letters that had been sitting there.  Thank you thank you to all!  The best part is the family photos!  I love looking at them every day.  :)

I am so glad the dead lizard made it!  Did it smell really bad when you opened it?  :)

Let me tell you about a couple miracles from the week!  Remember how I said I have a desire to find jovens here on the island? (young people).  It is happening.  Last Sunday we were headed toward the church to watch a church movie with the ward, which we usually do every Sunday.  But I felt like we should stay outside that day and keep talking to people in the street.  Sister Wach was down, so we passed by some houses of investigators and did some street contacts, nothing too splendid.  On our way back to the church, we started a conversation with a young man named Diogo.  He was interested, so we set up a return appointment.  Later that night, when we were leaving the church parking lot, He pulled up on a scooter with his friend João and said, "Hey, can João come too?"  Um.....YES.  When it was the day for the appointment, crazy things happened and we were running late and he'd given us the wrong number (happens a lot, for various reasons) so we figured we had missed them.  But we felt like walking to our next thing by way of where we had first met them just in case.  So we walk that way.  Then this lady stops us and she's like, "Hey, I'm a member of the church in Ribeira Grande."  So we play with her kid for a bit and talk to her a little and right at the end of the conversation, lo and behold, Diogo and João pull up on the scooter!!  Rad.  Sadly, they have other plans for right then, but we were able to invite them to church.  I really feel like the spirit helped me be friendly and, like, relatable with them, but also testify of why it is important to come to church.  They told us, "Yeah, weird things happen to us.  Like, spiritual things."  I am hoping that is a good sign.  They are cool kids and seem open.  But they didn´t come to church.  We have an appointment with them tomorrow.  Pray they can make it and feel the truth of our message!

The other jovem we are teaching is André.  He's marked for baptism this week, but he also didn't make it to church yesterday.  :(   (Everyone in Portugal sleeps in until forever every day.  When we say chruch is at 10, they say, "That is SO EARLY!")  But he is sweet and sincere.  He has never left this island.  He has this great swoopy hair-do. We met him at the guided tour of the chapel a couple weeks ago.  When we taught the first lesson, and explained about praying to know if it is true, he was like, "I already know."  "Really?"  "Yeah, I mean, I just believe it."  It reminded me of the spiritual gift of believing, and how Christ is always saying how the people who believe are blessed.  I think he plays computer games a LOT.  Please pray for him to have the faith to keep moving forward, and for us to know how to teach him and help him get to know Christ.  We are hopefully going to see him tonight.

President Fluckiger's last letter included this phrase: "Repentance is one of our greatest resources".  Cool, huh?  I have been thinking of repentance as a resource, and I think it is a great way to think of it.  Change!  Life is about change!  Changing for the better through the merits and mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.  I want to repent more often and more constructively.  

Well.  You all sound great.  I am a tad jealous that school has started.  School is the bee's knees.  Live it up, ok?  I am excited to hear about LBB results and how everything is going.  Mom and Dad, I love you!  Ben, Joe, Coby, I am crazy about you three.  Wayne, Nate, I can't tell you how grateful I am that you are my two older brothers.  And the rest of you, too, I love you.  I am the luckiest girl ever.

Every week when I read your emails I laugh my head off and Sister Wach is like, "What!?" and then I try to explain why Dad saying the Storytelling Festival is the mac makes me laugh so hard, and she's just like, "Ha.... ha".  So so good.

Oh!  I think the lice (piolhos!!  gag.) are all dead.  Halle-stinking-lujah!

Will try to attach photos.

Take care of each other.  I love you to the ends of the earth.

Sister Sandholtz

me and Sis Wach (Wok, Dad)

This is us with Mira.  She is the bomb.  Too bad she doesn't want to get baptized.  :(

Atlantic Ocean!!
This is the path we go running on each morning.

This is us with some kids in a park.  They were making fun of our friend João so then we told them he is actually cool then we made friends with them.

This is us taking the lice out of my hair.  Good times.  Sister Wach is a saint.

Here is when we found out I had lice with the STLs.  Don't you love how they all look all cute and funny, pretending they have lice, and then there's me, who actually HAS lice, looking like I want to die.  Imagine feeling that way, then having to go teach and tract all day. 

Here's me on Steph's wedding day.  :)

I match the door. Steph picked out this outfit for me to wear on her wedding day.  Then we saw this door with the exact same colors and that's how this picture was born.  :) 
baptism of Carla and Daniel.  these kids are absolutely awesome

Did I ever send this one of me and Nelma?  She gave me this dress, then was super happy when I wore it.