Tuesday, September 17, 2013


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

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