Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Feb 24, 2014 - cheer and bless and brighten

My adorable family.


Sister Rad had a dream this week that Nazare was married to Adam Sandler. Ha!!

Then I had a dream that Clark Barnett and Joe performed a vocal duet at a family reunion in this big auditorium.  It was a vocal arrangement of the Bach double violin concerto and it was written as if it was a song in the musical 1776.  I don't know who Clark was supposed to be, but Joe was John Adams.  The lyrics were really clever but once I woke up I couldn't remember them.  :(  Wayne, you would have loved this dream.

A few times this week I have had in mind exactly what I wanted to say to someone (usually Sister Rad) and then what comes out my mouth is entirely different.  For example, the other day Sister Rad was opening a can and suddenly pulled her had away from the can and inhaled sharply, as if she had cut herself.  I wanted to ask, "Did you cut your hand?", but the words that came out were, "Oh no!  Did you break your helf?!"  We both collapsed on the floor, laughing.

Luisa is doing great.  We have been doing a lot to help her stop smoking. She said that she has the most desire to smoke right when she wakes up.  She wakes up at 7:00.  We wake up at 7:00.  So the first thing we do each day when our alarm goes off is call Luisa.  It's a really fun and funny start to the day.  For example:

Sister Rad, groggily: "Bom dia, Luisa, how are you?"
Luisa, surprisingly ungroggily (she has a gift), "I'm fine, Irma, how are you?"
SR: "We're good.  What are you going to do today?"
Luisa: "I have my pottery class and that's about it."
SR: "Well, have a great day!  Força, Irma! ("strength!"), we know you are going to have a great day and that you are a daughter of God and that your willpower is stronger than tobacco!"
Luisa:  "Thanks, bye"

or something like that.  It just tickles me every time.  Probably just because I'm still half asleep.  

Another thing we did this week with her is called tobacco tea.  You make a tea out of the tobacco leaves from a few cigarettes and then they drink it and it's awful and it makes them not want to smoke ever again.  I had heard about it but never tried it with anyone until this week.  We went over to Luisa's on Friday night to do tobacco tea with her.  Apparently it makes people throw up sometimes, but Luisa didn't throw up.  I felt like Harry Potter, when Dumbledore has to drink that nasty potion and Harry has to make him do it even though it's killing him.  Luisa took a few gulps and said, "This is HORRIBLE!  It's burning my throat!"  After several more sips she said, "Ja chega?" (is that enough?).  "Just a few more sips...", I said, wondering how much of it she really should drink.  It seemed to be effective, but we haven't seen Luisa for a couple days, so I'll keep you posted.

Antonio Jr. passed the sacrament yesterday!  He is such a star.  Manuel is also doing great.  We want them to get involved in young adult activities in Setubal and stuff.  THey are just so alone out here.  Evora is so isolated.

President Silva sometimes makes members of the congregation bear testimony surprisedly.  I'm not a huge fan of this.  But it's not my branch to run.  This Sunday he chose Manuel and Antonio.  They did such a great job!  Humble, sincere words.  I loved hearing Antonio talk simply about how he had felt like something was missing in his life and now he really feels closer to God now.  I wish I could do it justice in words.  I guess you kinda had to be there.

Did I thank you all for the hilarious pamphlets you sent with captions?  THank you!  I think my fave is the one of Jesus talking to the rich young ruler where he's just like, "Dude."  Whoever did that one: good one.

This week Sister Rad and I were singing "Scatter Sunshine" and when we got to the part at the end Sister Rad was like, "cheer and bless and brighten..."
and I was like, "every freakin' day."  then we both laughed really hard.  Because, I mean, in some ways that is really apt, when you're a missionary.  That is what you do.  But it is wonderful.

We made a cool discovery about prayer this week.  One night Sister Rad said the prayer for the end of daily planning.  She often prays for me out loud in companionship prayers.  It's really sweet. Afterwards I told her that ever since we first did divisions together it was something I had noticed and been grateful for.  This started a conversation about prayer.  

We talked about how prayer is so special -- we are talking to the Being who created us and knows everything about us.  We know instinctively that He knows all, we cannot hide anything from Him nor deceive Him.  So as we talk to him, we naturally become the most honest, childlike, humble and pure version of ourselves.  That is why it is so special to hear someone pray for you -- to hear someone talk to Heavenly Father about you.

Sister Rad is so insightful.  I really love the conversations we have.

Other notable things that happened this week?  A bottle of tomato paste that had been fermenting in our fridge EXPLODED all over our kitchen and us.  That was exciting.

We got a call this morning from one of the APs.  It's funny -- we were in our beds in our pjs during what should have been personal study, because Sister Rad is sick.  Then the phone rang and we found out we are both going to be Sister training leaders next transfer (starting next week).  So we are going to Lisboa tomorrow for a training.  We still don't know if we'll be staying comps or not, or what will happen with transfers.  We are SO curious.  Will you pray for me that I can be a good STL?  Ever since my life-changing division with Sister Pieper I decided that if I ever became an STL I wanted to be really spiritually prepared like she must have been.  One day of divisions can make a big difference for a downhearted, struggling missionary like I was!  I want be able to make that difference for someone.

I love you so so so so so so so much.

Gah!  sooo much.


ps Wayne that paper letter better send it to the office, or wait till next week.  I could stay in Evora but we don't know

The District
Do you love Elder Diaz's pose?  Elder Singer is part Native American and plays the harmonica.  It's a shame we live 200km away and never really see them in real life.

This is from last transfer. What district meeting looks like in Evora!

Antonio's baptism

This is Margarida. Thanks to her and her siblings and cousins we have a primary now!!

This is Luisa

Feb 17, 2014 - Sim, eu te seguirei


Where to start?!

I love all your letters.  Thank you for being the best communicators ever.

Interviews with President Fluckiger this week were great.  I feel like I got to know him better in this interview.  He is such a humble servant of the Lord, with real spiritual power but no pretension or vanity.  I am grateful for him and Sister Fluckiger.  They are great mission parents.

On Valentines Day Sister Rad and I switched clothes (it's exciting to wear something different once in a while!), actually wore make up (normally it's just some mascara, if anything), and cooked ourselves a fancy lunch (salmon with lemon sauce, broccoli, and brown rice.)  It was fun to do something different.  That was the day of Antonio's baptismal interview, which went smoothly, of course.  Antonio Junior is just the chillest dude ever.  So calm and tranquil and doesn't make a big deal about anything.  He's great.

His baptism was hands down the least stressful baptism of my mission so far.  Everything went smoothly, everyone was on time and supportive, the font was the perfect temperature.  His dad, who joined the church years ago in Connecticut but isn't currently active, attended and was also very chill.  We are hoping to get to know him better.  Antonio senior.  

Sister Rad and I sang "Sim, Eu Te Seguirei" (Lord I would Follow Thee) at the baptism.  I love singing parts with Sister Rad.  She has a really beautiful voice.  We made the Branch Pres cry!  woot. (ha - you know I am joking right?)

Yesterday was the happiest Sunday of my mission so far, I think.  The sacrament meeting room felt really full.  We had six investigators come to church!  Everyone sat together in the front few rows, and I cried some. I was surrounded by so many people I care about so much.  

Manuel blessed the sacrament!  He was nervous but he did a great job.  I love the way Manuel talks.  He carries his R's a lot - they are way back in his throat and last a long time.  He and Antonio Jr. are getting to be pals.  They are both pretty excited about family history and temples and it is just such a miracle that they have each other as peers as they get involved in the church.

Guess what makes me so happy?!  Sunshine.  Oh mercy, guys, the last two weeks were rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain.  But yesterday and today have been blue blue skies.  Today there were people with lawnmowers grooming the public parks.  Birds chirp in the mornings.  The light comes sooner and goes away later.  I have been anticipating Spring for several weeks now and she is finally gracing us.  Hallelujah!

I will send you pictures next pday.  Today it just doesn't fit.

I have been reading the war chapters in the BOM recently.  This time around the thing that has really stuck out to me is the carinho (love/affection) all these men have for each other.  They've really got each others' backs.  Like the way Helaman calls the strippling warriors "my little sons" before their battle and "my strippling Ammonites" after.  And the way Pahoran tells Moroni to "strenthen Lehi and Teancum in the Lord" and to minister to them.  They are united leaders, men of God.  Brotherhood is a powerful, beautiful thing.

We taught an awkward Law of Chastity lesson this week.  Ha!  It's always a little bit of a surprise with that one.  You never know how much unwanted information you are going to get.  Aiaiai.  Remind me to tell you about that one someday in the future.  It was funny.

Got to go!  Please pray for Ana, Luisa, Joao (he's going to move to Setubal), Sonia, Marina, Lina, Joao &Luciana and their kids, Marlene, and Evora.

I love you so much.  I really do miss you a lot.

And I can't wait to go to the Lego Movie with you.  Yes!!


Feb 10, 2014 - Tell me if you think I'm getting better at the drums

Familia!!  My beloved Valentines!!

This morning I sang Sister Rad basically all of the They Might Be Giants songs I know because as we were walking out the door I started singing Dr. Worm and she thought it was funny.

My life is the best.  Good things happening in Evora!  :)

Some funny stories from this week:

When Antonio Jr. first hear the word "regozijar" (rejoice), he didn't know what it meant.  He initially confused it with "regurgitar" (regurgitate).  Ha! So he asked us one day what it meant.  The next day, we had a lesson with him and Nazare, and she used the word "regozijar" like a BILLION times.  Basically in every sentence. Sister Rad, Antonio, and I had to purposely not make eye contact.  Ha!  So good.

Sister Rad and I were talking about My Time one day and I said, "that would be a waste of My Time!"  Sister Rad started laughing but it took me like 10 seconds to get the pun.  Ha.

We have taught the Law of Chastity a TON lately.  Dad, I loved your thoughts about the law of chastity this week.  The more I learn about it, the more beautiful I think it is.  There is this gorgeous excerpt on Sexual Purity on pages 102 and 103 of True to the Faith that almost made me cry this week even though I have read it before.  

I LOVE this one line that Jesus says at the end of the parable in Matthew 20 about the servants all hired at different parts of the day that all ended up getting paid the same.  The ones who were there since the beginning say to the boss, "hey, why are you paying them the same as us?  we were out in the heat of the day!!"  The master responds that he is paying them exactly what they bargained from the start, and it is his good pleasure to be merciful to the eleventh hour workers.  He says, "Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" 

I love that.  Is thine eye evil, because I am good?  Why should you be upset that I am merciful to your brothers?  It has made me think a lot and I feel like it is just so true.  We ought to rejoice at the good things that come to those around us.  Comparing never makes anyone happier or better off.

Did you see Carolyn Carter in the Conference Ensign!?

Realization: everyone who has come to an activity or meal at Nazare's house has gotten baptized.  She is just simply illuminated.  I think I might name a kid after her.  I wish she could come to my wedding.  I love her so much.  

She made her Chocolate Mousse for dessert after lunch yesterday, and Sister Rad and I both ate THIRDS.  Yikes!  Not helpful for my already-more-missiony-than-we-would-have-hoped waistline!  But I am pretty sure it is my favorite dessert ever.  She gave us the recipe.  I will make it for you one day.  :)  Soon!  ish.

I am going to paste in what I wrote to President Fluckiger so you can get the update on our people!  Sheesh, guys, there is so much love in my heart for these people I am going to expLODE.

Also, you need to go to the Lego movie.  I am excited to hear about it.  Also, Joe's suit looks AWESOME and I'm sure you got a superior just because of the suit even though your playing was probably even better.  Ben and Coby thank you for the emails too!  You three sound stupendous.
sorry, worst email organization EVER.

Will you guys pray for Sonia and Marina?  THey are still reading the scriptures and praying and stuff but have missed quite a few Sundays.  We don't know exactly what they need.  Sonia got a new job that works graveyard shifts daily and so it's really really hard for her to get up for church.

We met a cool kid fromt he Phillipines named Kenny this week and are teaching him.  In English!!  It's wacky.  

WEll I gotta end this.  I am including the updates on tjhe people!  Prayers for ANtonio (he's getting baptized!!) and Joao, Luciana, Joshua, Wendel, Karen, and Nicolas would be greatly appreciated.  :)  I am excited to tell you more about them.  we are going to organize a concert for them to perform at because they are way musical and talented.  REminds me maybe of Mister Blackwell.

Annie/Sister Sandholtz

Dear President Fluckiger,

Lots of good things happening here! The Lord loves Evora. :)

Antonio Junior is going to be baptized this Sunday the 16th. Everything is set to go. All he needs to be taught now is 10 mandamentos and seguir o profeta. He is very prepared and it is perfect timing that he has taken these steps right after Manuel, so they can be friends and support each other. Manuel continues to be great. He bore his testimony yesterday in church.

Luis and Luisa are still trying to stop smoking.

Ana is praying about how to find a solution to working on sundays and not being able to come to chruch. she really wants to be baptized. we promised her that miracles will happen if she puts her trust in the lord.

Cool miracle this week: Sister Rad and I have both felt a desire to teach FAMILIES. We included this in our fast this week and have been praying for it. We have plans to contact EVERY singly family we come across, NO MATTER WHAT. The Lord is answering our prayers. A scripture that has been a theme of my mission is Isaiah 65:24, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." This has proved true time and time again. Last week we had bumped into a Brazilian couple Joao and Luciana, who want us to teach their children English. We scheduled to come by on Sunday. So yesterday, when we stopped by, they were all at home together. The two parents and 4 kids, ages 9, 12, 14, and 17. They all pulled up chairs and listened together to the first lesson. We didn't even get around to teaching them any English, which had been the supposed purpose of the visit. They are a united, strong, love-centered family. Next time we are going to bring the Family Proclamation to share. The Lord just gave us a family to teach! They are already planning on regular visits from us. We are praying they will come to Antonio's baptism this weekend and one of the two branch activities we have going on (both planned by the branch, not us! they are doing so great!). We are very grateful and are going to stay committed to our goals and plans to show our gratitude to the Lord.

Sister Radvansky is teaching me so much. She speaks fantastic Portuguese, teaches powerfully, and has such strong faith! I love working with her.


Sister Sandholtz

Feb 3, 2014 - "Dude, look how cute those diaper bags are!!"

You know you are subconsciously excited about motherhood when you hear those words come out your mouth.  Ha!


We are at a different internet spot that usual and the keyboards here are really lame, so this one may be a bit shorter than usual.

This morning I read The Moral Force of Women, Elder Christofferson's latest conference talk.  Holy flip, guys, it blew my mind.  I remember loving it when he gave it, but reading the talk just really hit it home.  The whole thing was such the double-edged sword of incisive truth that our world needs.  (Thank you, Wayne, for sending the conference ensign and those note cards!  I love them.  All.  Even the Del Parson láminas!)  Sister Rad and I had a great long conversation about it during comp study.  Sister Rad is just super insightful.  I learn so much from the conversations we have during studies.  

Do you remember back in the day when the Jacobs lived with us for that one summer and Heather made me laugh so hard that I peed my pants practically every day that summer? 

I was telling Sister Rad earlier in the week that she reminded me of my cousin Heather, who makes me laugh really hard.  (Sister Rad has a lot of similar mannerisms and laughs at the same stuff as Heather.  It's just delightful -- I always wished I could be mission comps with Heather and now I'm mission comps with someone a lot like her!)  I explained about that summer and told Sister Rad, mostly in jest, that I'd be lucky if I made it through this transfer without peeing my pants.

But.....I didn't.  Ha!  I peed my pants on Tuesday.  Completely.  Sister Rad said something really funny right at the moment when I was tucking in my shirt to my skirt and then my skirt fell down and the whole thing was just hilarious and, well, yeah, I lost it.  Luckily we were in the church and no one else was around and it was raining so we could walk back to our house for me to change and anybody in the street would probably assume that I had just fallen in a puddle.  I felt like a kindergartener.  But it was also just, really funny.

On a more interesting and important front, Antonion Jr. is doing great.  We had a really cool lesson on the law of chastity with him and Manuel and Nazare and Americo.  We watched We are going to teach him about tithing and fasting tonight.  Luis and Luisa are both trying to stop smoking.  

There were a lot of other cool and beautiful miracles this week. I will tell you about them at a future date.

Ha! I am sorry that the majority of this email is about me peeing my pants.  If that is too embarassing to put on my blog, feel free to leave it off.  Personally I don't really mind.

Love you! 

Be good. Be kind.  Take care of each other.

Sister Sandholtz