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

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