Friday, December 6, 2013

Shut up, Soul

That is what came to my brain first when we were trying to translate the phrase, "Be Still My Soul".  Not quite right.

Beloveds!  How are you?

This week was lovely.  Absolutely lovely.  I think Heavenly Father was just merciful to us.  We didn't even do that many contacts this week, but it was like everyone we talked to wanted to hear our message.  We also had a lot of miracles.

Sonia.  Sonia is (I'm pretty sure) the first person I contacted in Évora.  It was at night, she was standing near a public playground where her two sons were playing.  We gave her a copy of the Family Proclamation and arranged a follow-up visit.  Over the last 5 weeks, we've gotten to know her and her family.  Her daughter Marina (13) has been coming weekly to our English classes.  Marina came to church with us last Sunday.  Then Sonia and Marina and the two little boys (SO CUTE), Leonardo (5) and Ricardo (4) came to a Family Night at Nazare's house last Monday.  

This Family Night was SO GREAT, you guys.  Almost all the active members came - we were 14 in total.  We watched the movie To This End Was I Born.  Nazare made delicious food and we all sat around the table together and enjoyed it.  There was SUCH a spirit of convivialness (that's probably not a word) and love.  Heavenly Father is pouring out so many blessings on our little branch.  All the members were enchanted with Sonia and her kids.  They fit right in!  Leonardo stole the show; he's a super bright, fun, polite kid.  I will try to send a picture of them.

We met with them during the week and invited Sonia to attend church.  She didn't have to work this Sunday and so agreed!  Yesterday we walked to her house to pick them up.  We got to help little Leonardo and Ricardo put on their hats and gloves and walk with them.  Oh my gosh, you guys, KIDS!!  They are so cool.  Sonia participated in all the classes and Nazare was thrilled at the opportunity to teach Primary for once!  

Oh, you guys, I just think that Sonia and her family and the Evora Branch will be a mutually beneficial partnership.  This branch needs some life, some newness.  Sonia needs the gospel!  Leonardo and Ricardo need to grow up into missionaries!  Marina needs For the Strength of Youth and Young Womens to help her navigate being a teenager in this less-than-uplifting modern environment.

Will you pray for them?  This is my Christmas wish.  I want so much for Sonia and her family to become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and join with us.  Sonia could be the next Nelma.  Kind of.

Manuel.  Manuel!  We met with him this week and had decided to be brave and teach him about Tithing.  It was at the end of a particularly tough day -- we'd spent the whole day listening to complaints and gossip -- but before the lesson we prayed we would be able to have the Spirit with us.  We walked with Manuel to the bench we always sit on to teach him.  He told us how he felt great because he had been inside all day long composing a rap about Jesus.  We taught about tithing, and he LOVED it.  He thought it was cool and commited immediately to live it once he's ...baptized!  He told us he wants to be baptized and is going to!  Time frame is still pretty long-term -- he's thinking Janeiro or Fevereiro -- but we are going to pray hard to know if we should try to get it to happen sooner and if so, when.

The reason he wants to wait is because he doesn't want to do it if he's not living it.  Like, he hasn't been coming to church regularly and doesn't want to be baptized if he's not acting like a baptized person should.  Which is actually AWESOME.  He has a really hard time getting up for church.  Will you pray for him to be able to get himself to church consistently and make it a real habit?

Jackson.  Jackson is a Brazilian theater student less active who used to put on a lot of activities in the church and stuff but now he's just really busy.  We have been trying to get in touch with him forEVER.  Earlier this week we walked out to Bacelo at night (30ish minutes powerwalking) to see if he was at his house.  Nope.  We talked with his sister and headed back.  Last night we had him as a back up plan.  When our appointment fell, we decided to try again.  We booked it out to Bacelo again and knocked on his door.  The house was dark.  We prayed.  A car pulled up.  He had arrived home with his Dad!  We got to talk to him and I made him promise he'd text us his new phone number once he's in the same place as his phone.

As we walked back I was thinking about faith.  Sometimes faith is not much different than just plain old hard work.  Being willing to speedwalk in the dark to Bacelo at 8:40 on a freezing Sunday night when it probably would be easier to wander around the city for a bit so we could get in right at 9:30 rather than close to 10:00.  (our schedule is a half hour later than most missionaries; we wake at 7 and go to bed at 11.)  It was just our willingness to DO it that brought it to pass.  

A guy named Ulisses came to church yesterday.  Young, Cabo Verdian, we havent even taught him anything yet but he came!  He's coming to Noite Familiar tonight too.  I am hoping he can be Manuel's friend and also get baptized.

We got to go to Lisbon for a 7-stake Zone Conference!  I saw a lot of missionary friends I really love.  Elder Herycz and Elder Brooksby, Sister Wach, Elder Staples.  Some MTC peeps that I haven't seen for 7 months!  I really love missionaries. 

Elder Dyches spoke at the conference.  Funny story - I played a musical number at the conference.  Afterwards, Elder Dyches told me to not put my violin away.  He made the analogy of how we need to be in tune with the spirit just like the violin needs to be in tune with the piano (little did he know I had spent 10 minutes tuning to this piano, which was almost a whole step flat!!)  He walked over to me, grabbed the A-peg of my violin, and twisted it 90 degrees.  YIKES!  In my brain I was like OH NO! DON'T TOUCH MY VIOLIN!!!!!!!!!!! and I think my face showed my surprise because some of the missionaries laughed and Sister Gutz told me after that my face was totally wide-eyed.  Luckily he loosened the peg rather than tightening it - the string could have broken.  The A-peg is really stubborn, so I had to try to tune it back up while everyone watched.  Ha!  But yeah, it was cool.  A general authority messed with my violin.

The conference was really great.  I think my favorite moment was at the end when Elder and Sister Dyches were leaving with Pte and Sis Fluckiger.  They all had tears in their eyes as they looked at this big group of missionaries.  Sister Fluckiger choked out, "Smile!".  President Fluckiger, tears on his face, solemnly said, "Baptize."

It was SO THEM.  I wish you guys knew them so you could understand why that made me laugh and cry.

I had a dream the night before that Mom and Ben were at the conference wearing Zupas uniforms.  I gave Ben the biggest hug ever.  It was a good dream.  :)

Sorry this is so long.

I am going to try out singing hymns to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  We also like to translate hymns directly back to English.  My favorite is The First Noel.  The part that goes, "Noel, noel, noel noel," you just sing, "Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!"  Ha.

Okay.  I love you.



Here are some photos a former missionary took when he visited with his wife.  This is basically all the active members in the branch plus Manuel.

This is the Phippens.  The LEGENDS:

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