1. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH.2. I am really really happy and grateful today.3. The Lord is good.
I have been thinking a lot about humility lately. For the last few months actually. In October we did a study as a mission about "drawing on the powers of heaven", and the thing that really stuck out to me was that the absolute prerequisite of spiritual power is humility. As a missionary you have the opportunity to see a lot of humility. I mean, the people who are willing to meet with a couple of American kids and listen to what they have to say about Jesus are humble people.
Manuel passed the sacrament yesterday. We arrived at church and there he was, wearing his pointy dress shoes and a white shirt and tie (given to him by one of the members. Bless them!) and his blazer, getting all ready to pass the sacrament. I was so stinking happy. The night before we had visited him and he had said, "Hey, grande Gutz-why-lay e grande Sand-haust (this is what he calls us. the usage of "grande" here is slang for like, super committed or super motivated or something), what is a covenant? I mean, I know I made a covenant when I was baptized, but I want to know more about it. What it is and where it came from. I have this desire to learn more deeply what it is." He has been reading the BOM, Bible, and Gospel Principles book. It has been the most gorgeous thing ever to see the transformation that has gradually taken place in him. Anyway, the way he asked just touched me so much. He is so humble. He has so much desire to do good and be righteous. We visited him last night for Sister Gutz to say goodbye and it was just the best goodbye ever. She was thanking him for changing her life and everything and he was just like, "yeah. Tu estas aqui, em meu coracao.", and thumped his fist on his heart. ("you are here, in my heart.")
We taught Joao and Luis in the church with Nely about the word of wisdom. Luis LOVES coming to church and taking the sacrament. Joao loves the doctrine and the church but is feeling really uncomfortable about leaving the Catholic church. He told us before the lesson that he has decided he is going to stay Catholic. We told him we totally respected his decision. But then he listened to the whole lesson and at the end committed to stop drinking tea (he's already free of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco) and reduce his coffee intake to 2 cups a day. Even though he doesnt even want to join the church. He's just really humble. Willing to be taught and to act upon true principles. Luis wants to be baptized I think but is super worried about being able to give up smoking. Will you pray for him?
Those two things happened in the same day and at the end of it I was almost overcome. I wanted to cry because my heart just hurt at how humble and willing to change these people are. It is so so beautiful. I have been thinking how I want to have humility as a constant focus in my life. Alma in ch. 32 tells the people how they are blessed because they were compelled to be humble, but it's even better to choose to be humble without being compelled to be. I want to have that attribute.
Can I tell you about an amazing miracle? We got a reference this week. Apparently the Elders in some area were approached by this guy a few weeks back who wanted to learn more about the church because his dad was a member. They passed on the contact but he never got contacted because the office couldn't locate his city. So he called or bumped into the Elders again and said, "Hey, how come no one has contacted me yet!??", and they got a more detailed contact from him and turns out he lives in one of the little bairros borders on EVORA. We met him on Wednesday when the STLs were here and taught him the first lesson with Sonia and Marina. He's awesome, you guys. Totally prepared. He's a mecatronic engineering student, whatever that is, and is just really tranquil. We taught him the 2nd lesson with nazare on SAturday and then he came to church and loved it and he's coming to Noite Familiar at Nazare's tonight. I think he is going to be baptized pretty soon. I would love it if you could pray for him, too.
Marina told us she wants to go on a mission when she's 19. That was a hugely happy moment.
Saying goodbye to Sister Gutz totally stank. I took her to the bus station this morning to catch her bus down to the algarve, and the bus took forever to pull out, so we just looked at each other through the bus window, crying. It was heartwrenching.
But. Can I tell you about the other huge miracle? I have been praying all week that Heavenly Father would send me a new comp who would be really good for Evora and who would love Evora and, if possible, that I would get along with, because seeing as Evora is so isolated, it would be realllllly hard to be here with someone you didn't get along with. yesterday I prayed and did a mini fast for this purpose.
We were outside Manuel's house when the transfer call came. It was like this:"Sister Sandholtz, you are staying in Evora, and your comp is going to be..... Sister.... Rad...vanker, or something lik""SISTER RADVANSKY!!??" I almost peed my pants and/or fell over. I was SO not expecting that, but it's PERFECT. It's better that perfect, it's merciful and kind. Heavenly Father is merciful and kind. And He loves Evora so much. And He answers our prayers.
Sister Rad and I have followed each other all over the mission. We both started in the Algarve, then went to the Azores, then went to Evora. I am SO excited to work with her here.
Okay I have to log off.
I love you so so so so so so so so much.
We were outside Manuel's house when the transfer call came. It was like this: