Saturday, November 30, 2013

Joyful Noise

First.  Sounds like a PACKED house and a packed week and a truly abundant stretch!  Your descriptions of the previous week were beautiful!  Ben, Congrats!  It sounds like your court of honor was spectacular.  The Clay Christenson lecture sounds awesome.  I am super excited to read his book when I get home.  The Synthesis concert sounds great too!  How is Aaron McMurray still at BYU?  You're right, Dad, he's a total genius.  Like, I really believe he is.  I have seen him do one of those pre-song solos before and I my jaw was on the floor.  Literally.  ;)  Last night we passed a window that had a flyer advertising Jazz jam sessions and I thought to myself, if I was just visiting here, I would go to that.  But it starts at 10 and is in a bar.  Pants.

Ah, guys, I'm pretty darn happy.

Natalina is doing well.  She loved family night at Nely's and is coming to another family night at Nazare's tonight.  As are Sonia and her daughter Marina.  Marina came to church yesterday!  I think she liked it.  

Manuel is going to record some of his raps this week.  He practiced a few for us and he's pretty good!  He's really enjoyed talking to you on FB, Wayne! He hasn't been coming to church and I wouldn't really say he's progressing.  But I think when the time is right for him he will join the church.

Alberto's situation is complicated.  I think he might move to Viseu.  But it has been a real privilege to see eternal truths change his life.  Sister Warburton is serving in Viseu and I really hope she baptized him.  It's a farfetched dream but it would rock.

We had a cool thing happen this week.  Here's an excerpt from my letter to Pte. Fluckiger:

It's been a good week here in Evora. The most salient thing from the week was probably a series of events that culminated in us catching the vision of what the Lord wants to happen in this area. On Thursday we were fasting (I love fasting. It always brings miracles.) and during our companionship study we were reading something in PMG and it just kind of hit us: we need to focus on HEALING in this branch. We have adjusted our plans for the coming week to include visiting as many of the members of possible (it's not too hard when there are only about 8 active members!) and as many Menos Ativos as possible. We will treat these visits with as much preparation and planning as we do Pesquisador lessons. 

The idea is that as the members learn more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and are invited and motivated to draw nearer to Him, they will experience personal healing and spiritual growth that will lead to collective healing and spiritual growth in the branch. It is my true desire that this branch can heal and grow -- overcome the negative conflicts of the past; forgive and forget and grow into a more Zion community. We are going to plan a special fireside in January and we're thinking the theme will be ZION. I know from personal experience and from the witness of the spirit that Christ heals us; changes us; lifts us. He can accomplish this healing in the members individually, and between them. Our quest, then, is to work hard to bring them to Him. We earnestly desire to be instruments in His hands. We are going to focus on that -- pray for it, fast for it, and work hard and smart for it. 

The best part of all of this is that it's already begun. The missionaries before us did a great job here, and the members are already much more unified than they used to be. They are great with being friendly to the pesquisadores -- even inviting them to Noite Familiares in their homes weekly. It's fantastic.


We thought Thanksgiving was LAST Thursday.  Oops!  Oh well, we'll get to have the warm happiness of knowing it's Thanksgiving Day AGAIN this week!

I have a copy with me of a poem Beth sent us all a few years ago.  Can I write it to you?

First Sunday, Laie First Ward
Circa 1960
Vernice Wineera

Strains of Hope of Israel weave
around soaring beams
and trail through open windows
drawn by trade winds blowing salt
into sacred wounds of fault.
Then comes a father with his child
cradled as a shepherd holds a lamb,
in man-sized hands
gentled by love and that compassion
for small creatures marvelous
to world-worn eyes.
Prayer laves walls
plastered with ancient paint
and washes over all
in accents of the Saints.
On crowded benches they sit,
sentinels before the glass and plate
and worship, like Lot,
never looking back,
never succumbing to the curious fate,
the salt-sour questioning
of things too wonderful to know.
These are the tasters of bread
fresh on fervent tongues
Of wine turned to water,
kept until last days
herald the marriage feast.
These are the least, the last
who will be first to thirst
the best gifts given free.
The past reverenced in this bread,
these are the listeners of His word
whose souls' eyes do not see
Him dead.
But alive, unbroken,
and adored.


Isn't that lovely?  Pants, I have to go.

I love you so much!  Eat lots of pie this week and soak in all that family time!  My regards to the Andrus' and my happinesses to Kurt and Taylor.  


Sister Annie LaMyrl Sandholtz

Monday, November 18, 2013

I am SHINY! And I am SHINY!

Allright peeps.

I am going to send you pictures today.

This week felt like twenty zillion years. I can't believe that Zone Training was only 6 days ago!  We had interviews with President Fluckiger, which was really great.  I think he is pleased with the work we are doing in Evora. 

Want to hear about a crazy rad miracle?!  So you know how Wayne wrote an email to Grandma LaMyrl in response to her question about what Hastening the Work means, and sent the email to all of us?  Well, I loved that email.  At the end of my emailing time last week, when I was wrapping up my email to President Fluckiger and I felt impressed that I should copy and paste some of Wayne's thoughts as a post script to my email to President Fluckiger (Wayne, I hope that is okay with you!  just wait...).  I had no idea why, but I really felt like I should.

So the next day we show up at Zone Training and Pres. Fluckiger has the Zone Leaders pull up a document on the projector for us to read over while we are waiting for the training to start.  The document starts, "I received this letter from one of the Sisters in our mission.  It's from her brother, serving in the Boston Mission (he got that detail wrong...), and (something about Clay Christensen), who was my college roommate."!  And there it is!  Wayne's letter!  FAMOUS!  I guess it made a big impact on him!  So, thanks, Wayne!  Probably all the missionaries in my mission are going to benefit from your well-articulated thoughts.  :)

It was neat to see the fruits of a prompting followed like that.  It made me feel like I'm doing okay out here and God is aware of me.

Most of the things I wrote in my planner to write you about this week are hilarious things that people said. 

You should give me feedback on my letters.  Are they too long?  Too boring?  Too irreverent?  Too preachy?  Not preachy enough?  That being said, I'm still going to share some of these gems with you:

We've been trying to ask good questions to make people think for themselves and make sure people are understanding what we teach.  Some of the highlights from this week:

Us: Jorge, who do you think the Holy Ghost is?
Jorge (he's this tall goofy, jock-type future YM president):  The Holy Ghost is, like, Jesus' bodyguard?
Us:  Well, kinda.  (we teach who the Holy Ghost is)
Jorge: So, YOU'RE my Holy Ghosts!!
Us:  Um  ... no.

I think he was mostly just teasing on that one.  He is also the man behind the subject line of this email.  He is learning English and comes to our English classes that we've started.  He was trying to tell us that he is shy, but he kept saying, loudly, with his hands in the air, smiling, "I am SHINY!"

Us: Who is Jesus Christ to you, Luis?
Luis: (in English.  people like to speak english to us once they know we are American) It's like, bus.  He's the busdriver.

(Couldn't have said it better without the, myself.  That's for you, Dad.)

Us (after teaching VERY simply and directly the role of a prophet):  So, Natalina, what is the role of a prophet?
Gracieta (Natalina's sister):  A man who sins?

One more.  Yesterday we started practicing some Christmas Carols to sing in the praça with the members.  Americo came in late.  After we finished singing one of the hyms, he motioned towards me in smug pity and said to his wife, "Ela não tem graça"  (She doesn't have grace.  i.e. She just doesn't have a gift for singing).  He thought that me singing the alto part was me doing a really bad job at singing the melody.  Ha!  It was so funny, especially because Monica, the bassoon performance major sitting at the piano, made eye contact with me and we both just laughed silently.  Ha!  So good! 

Okay.  Funny stories are said.  Time for me to tell you about some of the miracles.

We are teaching a man named Alberto.  He has a complicated marriage situation, but he is understanding our message and keeping his commitments!  After we taught him the WOW, he promptly started keeping it.  We asked him to tell us about the blessings he is seeing in his life from keeping this commandment.  He told us about how he is feeling a lot more calm and peaceful, and his worries about how to improve his life have been less overwhelming.  And, you guys, you can really see it in him too. You can see the change that is coming into his life as he invites Christ in.

You reap what you sow.  We are meeting and teaching a lot of young people!  It's a blessing.

Yesterday this lady just SHOWED UP  at church.  She had been contacted by the sisters like 9 weeks ago and is looking for a church.  Rosalina.  It is so humbling for me to see people who are truly seeking truth.  It's so rare.  We are going to meet her again this week.  Will you pray for her?

Natalina prayed about the BOM this week and got an answer!!  She said that she was filled with happiness when she prayed about it and then slept really well.  And, you guys, the members are being SUPERstars.  Nely (this awesome classy Brazilian I love) told us she wanted to invite Natalina to a family night.  That's tonight.  We have plans to mark Natalina this week for baptism on December 1.  Will you pray for her to have courage and faith?  And her family too?

Manuel is moving along, but at his own pace.  I love him so much.  Oh!  Wayne, I'll have him friend you.  He's the bees knees.

Okay fam.  Over and out.  Pictures to follow shortly.

Love you.  GRATEFUL  for you. 

Sister Sandholtz

This is Manuel.  I wish I had more time to tell you all about him.

Me and Sister Gutz

Here I am!! Right here in PORTUGAL! This is the hobbit house!
This is Luis.  He walks the streets of Evora, like us, so we see him a lot.  usually when he sees us he salutes us.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My heart, my heart

Dear Mom, Dad, Wayne, Nate, Ben, Joe, Coby, Grandma LaMyrl, Grandma Bonnie, Sage, and all the rest of you people I love:

I made a list in my planner of all the things I wanted to tell you this week, so I am going to do my best!:

1. lesson with Pedro Pimenta
We teach a lot of people on these freezing cold marble benches in a park near the church - especially single men whose houses we can't enter.  One of them this week was Pedro Pimenta.  He has a really hard time actually following through on ANY compromissos -- reading the BOM and prayer are a struggle, let alone leaving his cigarettes behind and resisting alcohol.  But we had a lesson with him this week that taught ME a lot about the atonement of Jesus Christ.  During the lesson, I felt a lot of love for him, and saw a vision of how much more peaceful and happy his life can/will be when coupled with the uplifting, magnifying power of Christ's grace.  I think we helped him catch that vision a little bit.  Then, we made a specific plan with him of what we can do to help him -- text him daily at nightfall, the time of day when he is most tempted to smoke, for example, and follow up with him about going to the hospital to put himself in touch with the quit-smoking resources there.  He picked a time of day to set aside for scripture reading and prayer.  Even though he didn't actually DO any of these things, it felt like the skeleton of something powerful and I felt like we did our part in helping him understand better the atonement of Jesus Christ, which leads me to ...

2.  teaching to set people free
I had been struggling a bit with a worry about what we do as missionaries -- like, I was feeling worried that we were kind of just trying to force or manipulate people to do these things that correspond with numbers in our planners that supposedly represent effective missionary work.  But I had an epiphany about this a few weeks ago that has changed me.  It's about teaching.  If we truly TEACH people the right way - the way Christ taught people - we are actually, rather than manipulating or forcing them, setting them free; giving them MORE opportunities to exercise their agency because they have deeper understanding of eternal principles.  This is changing the way I teach.  I am feeling more love for people - a true desire to see them grow and progress and feel closer to God.  D&C 50:21-22.

3. true service does not happen in the limelight
In fact, true service happens way out of the limelight.  True service is helping facilitate something and making other people look good.  I am so grateful for parents who really exemplify this.  Heck, parenting in general is this type of service - dedicating your life to the bettering of another's - and I was blessed with some of the best parents there are.  Mom and Dad, I LOVE YOU!

4. rough edges being battered off leads to a new lightness
I feel like this keeps happening to me as a missionary.  Missionary work is such a kick in the face!  You keep discovering things you need to change and work on.  Sometimes I feel like my rough edges are being battered off, and I'm like, "Hey!  This hurts!  That was part of me!!"  But I soon see that life is happier and lighter without that.  God is whittling us all down, getting rid of all our baggage so we can be more aerodynamic, consecrated servants of Him.  Often I feel like I have nothing left to give, but I somehow keep functioning and thereby discover something inside me that I didn't know was there. 

5. Pedro and Monica, Mafalda.  This is hard for me.
We taught this GORGEOUS family this week.  Pedro and Monica are not married but for all purposes are.  They have this 4 year old DARLING curly haired girl named Mafalda.  They are doing an awesome job of raising her in an environment filled with love and selflessness and good values.  You guys, they are just so BEAUTIFUL.  I can't describe it.  They are the type of people that really make the world a better place.  They are EXACTLY who I'd love to teach and integrate into the church to bring healing to this area and get the branch going with FAMILIES.  But.  They have met with the missionaries periodically for about a year, mostly just out of intellectual interest.  They are not really seeking for change.  They have a good life. 

I feel incapable of expressing why, but I was just bowled over by our lesson with them, which ended with a sort of, "we'll stop by sometime in the next month to check in" (and basically see if they are any more interested).  Both Sister Gutz and I were crying after we left their house, not really knowing why.  It was such a complex emotion - I mean, they are so lovely.  So, so lovely.  Like, on one hand I don't want to change anything about their situation, and inviting them to join with this broken, backward, very ill-functioning congregation would be taking a step backward for them!  I'm serious!  But they are exactly the type of people who could make a HUGE difference in this branch, if they only had a desire to build their lives more on Christ and His teachings and love and grace.  But they don't.  Gah, you guys.  I can't describe it.  My heart.

6. Portuguese are a somewhat hardhearted, selfish, faithless people
They just are.  It's okay.  I still love them.

7.  It's all about love -- Elder Yorgason, Palmira
Palmira is this almost immobile old lady in the ward who comes every now and then if we invite her on Saturday and she's feeling well enough.  We passed by this week and she GUSHED to us about how loved she felt when she got a visit from a former Elder Yorgason and his wife.  They stopped by her house during their visit here and talked to her for a while and remembered about her kids and her life and just GAVE HER TIME.  It was the highlight of her week, probably her YEAR.  She felt remembered and loved.  This whole thing is just about LOVE.  That's all that matters. 

8. Wayne: the pope!
I forgot to tell you thank you for that info on the new Pope!  I LOVE HIM!  Knowing more about him has informed some of my conversations with people in the streets, but even more than that, some of the things he said just healed little holes in my own heart.  Taught me more about being a servant of the Lord.  Yeah. Thank you.

9. Manuel came to church, we spoke
We were notified 2 minutes before sacrament meeting started that apparently the 2nd sunday of each month belongs to the missionaries and we had, well, the whole meeting to fill up.  Um....thanks a lot for the pre-notice.  They ended up asking Irmao Rocha, who has the most legit beard you have ever seen, to speak as well, which was a relief.  During the sacrament hymn, MANUEL WALKED IN THE DOOR!  He made it!  WOOOOO!  (Manuel is SO COOL you guys and is truly seeking truth.  I will try to send a picture later today if we stop by the chapel.)  Also Natalina came.  Anyway, Sister Gutz did an awesome job giving a talk in Portuguese and then I went up there and just felt so much love for these people and tried to convey that to them and express some of the things I've been learning in the sermon on the mount.  I really feel like the love I have for this area and these people is a total gift from God.  I love them a lot.

10.  Sister Gutz
Sister Gutz is such a great comp.  She's an awesome friend, sister, and missionary.  She is hardworking and obedient and helps me be a better missionary.  And she's also just tons of FUN.  I am really grateful to be serving with her.  Heavenly Father has given me so many amazing sisters in return for serving Him.  It's such a bounteous blessing. 

More than anything, I love YOU.  I love you!  I am certifiably crazy about you.

Sister Sandholtz

Monday, November 4, 2013


Hello beloved people!

You guys.  I LOVE ÉVORA.  I just LOVE it.  It's so EPIC.  Everything about it is epic.  It's a walled city that was constantly being taken over by different kingdoms all through its history.  It has a roman temple (ruins) and this HUGE Cathedral we're going to run to today and a university and Roman aqueducts and tiny, labrynthine cobblestone streets.  The cobblestone here is chunkier and more angular than I've yet seen.  Doesn't it even just sound like a city in a fantasy story?  Évora.  The university students wear these capes/robes, like in Harry Potter. 

It's chilly and dry.  Sweet relief!  I wear tights and scarves every day, and my favorite boots of course. 

On the way here I slept over in Lisbon and got to see Sister Wach!  It was great to see her and she's doing really great.  She's serving in the area of the mission office, which must be a blast, and got to baptize someone she contacted on her first day in Portugal.  :)

Sister Gutzwiller is incredible.  I am so thrilled to be serving with her.  She ran XC for UVU before coming out here, and she's just, like, one of those awesome XC kids with that goofy, smart sense of humor.  You know what I'm talking about.  She's a total doer and is really capable and really pretty.  She looks kind of like Roxy, actually.  She's tiny - like 100 pounds, and love fruits and veggies as much as I do.  :)  She's my third comp to have a ridiculously adorable love story with a guy who is also currently serving a mission.  It's fun.  She's as optimistic as I am and really loves Évora, too.  Basically we just get along great.

Last night solidified our friendship when we were getting ready for bed and I heard Sister Gutz singing, "Holy guacamole!  We've got chips.  So come on take a dip,"
I chimed in enthusiastically, "Cause MY POOL RIPS!"

We about died laughing, and Sister Gutz's mind was completely and literally (*wink) BLOWN that I know The Aquabats.  SO GOOD.

Okay, guys, the church here.  It has just the sort of epic, tragic story you'd expect Évora to have.  The church has been here for a while.  At one point, Évora was growing really fast -- they had 8 missionaries serving here, 90 active members or so, and had bought land to build a big chapel.  But then something happened.  Drama (the church in Portugal has SO MUCH DRAMA and backbiting and gossip and hypocrisy.  It is SO sad) led to lots of disagreements, fights, excommunications, etc., and now we are left with a tiny group of the only saints who survived the whole catastrophe.  There are about 8 active members, and they are all (except one) getting pretty old.  The church needs new life here! 

We are the only missionaries for MILES.  The closest companionship is in Beja, which is actually in the Algarve zone, and is an hour and a half bus ride away.  Our bus ride to Zone Conference this week was 3 hours!  I was worried when I heard how isolated it would be -- I really love having other missionaries nearby -- but it has actually been extremely refreshing.  Like, out here in the middle of nowhere in this beautiful ancient European city, there is no one else to worry about; it's only about us, the Lord, and His sheep.  His approval is the only approval that matters.  That was always true, but it's easier to really understand that here in Évora. 

I have been studying the Sermon on the Mount this week.  Hallelujah!  I chuffing LOVE that stuff.  Jesus uses over and over the pattern of telling the jews of some tradition they hold to (an eye for an eye, don't commit adultery, etc.), then showing them HOW MUCH MORE is available there.  Turn the other cheek!  Go with him twain.  Don't get so bogged down in worrying about what you're going to eat and wear.  This is about your HEARTS, people!  Your hearts. 

I feel like growth is so often incremental on missions.  Like, you get to the start of a new transfer in a new area with a new missionary and you're like, "Wow!  I really did learn how to contact people on the street and I really can do it easily now!"  You just had to be put in a new situation to see how far you'd come.  I'm sure life is like that too.

An excerpt from my letter to Pte. Fluckiger:

"We met with the branch President, Bruno Silva, this week, to unify our vision with his for the missionary work here in Evora.  He is a good man, and is doing his best to help this branch stand on its own feet and grow.  He told us the branch needs more jovens, so we are scouting them out!!

My Miracle of the Week has to do with that, actually.  There is a a 22 year old man named Manuel who has been meeting with the missionaries for a while and at one point was marked for baptism.  We had a powerful lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ with him this week, and focused on reading, prayer, and baptism.  After the lesson, we felt that something he really needs is social support -- he needs a friend or two to do this with him.  He happens to live in a house with about 7 other friends, but we've never been able to teach him inside the house because they are all men.  We wanted to get some of them involved!  Last night, we passed by, and he told us that one of his friends was there, Marcia (a woman!).  We got to enter the house, and using the techniques we practiced in Zone Meeting just 2 days earlier, we invited all of them to participate in the lesson.  We ended up teaching about the Restoration to FIVE Cabo-Verdian young adults, all together, all friends.  We are praying that they will progress together and support each other in the gospel.  Young adults are just what Evora needs!"

It was SO COOL, you guys.  Chilling with all these rad Cabo Verdian college students -- no, not really chilling.  Talking to them about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and what that has to do with THEM.  It was the realization of a mission goal I didn't know I had.  Jovens!  Students!  Africans!  My life is so good.

Gah!  I want to tell you about more miracles that happened this week, but my time is running short, and you've already slogged through probably way more than you wanted to. 

Here is my address:

Travessa de Parreira No 19
Èvora 77004-518

Oh my gosh, telling you my address reminded me of my HOUSE:  My HOUSE, you guys, is half the reason I love Evora so much.  It's earned the nickname of the Hobbit House because it TOTALLY is.  It has a stone arched ceiling that rains dirt sometimes and this super steep little low ceilinged staircase and the forks have wooden handles and only 3 tines and there is dim, warm lighting.  Sheesh, guys, it's so awesome.

K.  I love you.  I love our Savior.  I love Sister Gutz.  I love being a missionary.  I love Èvora.

Take good care of yourselves and each other.

Yours forever,
Sister Sandholtz