This will be kinda shorter probably. Sorry, I didn't print you out this week so I spoiled myself and read before writing.
Um, big, unexpected news: I'M LEAVING. I am going to Évora, in the interior of Portugal. Apparently it's really cold there. (Snow? Probably too much to ask for, but that would be fun.) My comp will be Sister Gutzweiller, who is in her 2nd transfer, so I'll be helping her finish her training. We both have "tz" in our last names, which means the Portuguese will take one look at them and be like, "Nao consigo dizer isso.... voces sao Alemao?" (I can't say that... are you German?)
Okay. Sad. Why? I will MISS Sister Austin.
I won't be here for the wedding and baptism of Hermano and Lurdes this weekend, a couple we have been working with all transfer. I really think one of the reasons I was called here was to help them work out the paperwork headache of having Pte. Fluckiger be approved to perform their wedding. Lurdes has been coming to church for 10 years, but has been unmarried to Hermano, who used to be the branch president before he had an affair with Lurdes. It has been such a delight to review all the pre-baptism lessons with her/them. They are getting married and baptized this weekend and it's going to be lovely. I am sad to miss it. But they are focused on the temple in a year. So awesome. In our last lesson with them we brought them a framed picture of the Madrid Temple and then she went back to her room and pulled out a huger, prettier one with a picture of them in the corner that says "Our goal .. together for eternity!" It's the first thing she sees every day when she wakes up. Cool, right?
Camilo! You guys! I still feel so good about him and love him so much even though he missed our appointment this week and didn't come to church. But his brother wants to hear about the church too. Eduardo. I think maybe Sister Shumway (my replacement) will really hit it off with them. I hope so. Camilo is really special.
Man, it is weird to be leaving! But it feels good and I'm not worried about it.
We spent all of yesterday and some of the night before in the house because I got round two of that awful stomach bug I got in my first area. Not cool. But it was good to rest up. I got to talk to Sister Warburton on the phone (perks of being in the same district as the ZL's -- you get permission to do cheeky things like call an old comp on transfer day. :) and it was AMAZING. That girl is in my heart. It was SO good to talk to her.
So yeah. I am leaving the "lonely rocks" (as Wayne called them in one of his letters to me. So apt.) behind. I will miss the members here. Catia and Anna, these AMAZING YW we have here, Andrea Fonseca, who is my soul-sister com certeza and is going to let me/us stay at her house when I/we visit.
The two transfers I spent here in Ponta Delgada were a bit of a refiner's fire for me. But I am learning and growing and understanding the atonement of Jesus Christ in a new dimension -- sometimes we have to drink a little bit of our own "bitter cup" alone in order to understand better who He is and what He did. (I am quoting Sister Warburton. She's so WISE.) I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary! It is the absolute hardest, craziest, most worth-it thing I have ever done in my life.
Y'all sound great. I love you! I write you from the middle of the Atlantic this week; next week from the middle of the continent. Landlocked! Wowza. I fly out tonight.
Pray that I will be able to be a good second trainer to Sister Gutzweiller. For reals.
Love you so so much!