Monday, March 24, 2014

and thus begins the second half of the last transfer of the first year of my mission

That is what my brain said when I woke up this morning.  I love my brain.


I love you.

Where the heck did March go!?

Okay, news.  MADEIRA IS FLIPPIN GORGEOUS.  We LOVED it.  It was such a delightful 3 days.  The sisters there are also amazing.  It was such a good time.  It's extremely mountainous so when you are looking at the city of Funchal from the bus ride in you can basically see the whole thing at once because it's laid out on a gradient.  Houses all piled up on top of each other.  So cool.  The accent is hilarious.  Kind of like a half-Jersey, half-Southern twinge on Portuguese.  They say "Do-moingo" for "Domingo" and their A's almost sound like O's.  

I got to do a division with Sister Carroll of my MTC district and it was so fun to reminisce but also see her as a grown-up, capable, awesome full-fledged missionary speaking great Portuguese.  I also divisioned with Sister Hirschi, from Kansas, who was just a delight.  I learned so much from both of them and their companions, Sister Lofgreen and Sister Brundage.  Such powerful, righteous women!  None of us wanted the division to end.

When we got back we had waiting for us at the airport a freshly rehauled Opel Meriva hatchback.  So fun!  I love driving stick again.  It's completely gutless but we love it anyway and named it Cesar.

We knew that it was crunch-time when we got back to Evora, and the Lord was so merciful, putting extremely elect people in our path as we worked hard and applied everything we had learned.  

Ana is going to be baptized on April 13th without a doubt.  She is doing great.

Luisa is also marked for the 13th.  We created a specific plan to help her stop drinking coffee and stop smoking by that time.  She is excited about it and will conseguir.

The family wasn't able to attend church this week.  :(  We are anxious to have another visit with them.  I feel confident that they will join the church sometime relatively soon, but they are going to take their time to feel right about it.

I want to tell you about some of my favorite moments from the week:

1. Sitting in Manuel's front stairway with Manuel and Antonio Junior, reading the BOM together with them.  Manuel opened up his livro and was like, "Hey, Antonio, I want to show you this cool verse I read yesterday" and proceeded to read about the stripling warriors.  So cool.  He loves the BOM and is learning so much so fast.

2. Watching our investigator, Joao, who is a doctor and 50 and is alcoholic but has been clean for 18 months now, give a presentation to the ward about alcoholism. It was so courageous and he really made himself vulnerable to them and they all felt a connection with him because of it.  It was Nazare and Nely's idea to have him present at the branch RS birthday party, and he chose the subject.  I love Joao so much.  We had a lesson with him this week in which we were like, "So, is there anything we've taught you since we've been meeting with you that you DON'T agree with?!" (We've almost taught him everything) and he was like, "Well, I drink coffee..." and he tried to think of something else and he couldnt.  He loves the church so much. He just doesn't want to turn his back on the catholic church.  He is going to be baptized.  He is so cool. 

3. Watching Americo give Luisa a blessing to help her have the força she need to stop smoking and drinking coffee.  It was such a simple, powerful blessing.  "Trust Heavenly Father.  He loves His children.  Have hope.  Have courage."  I am so delighted with how much my heart has changed in respect to Americo.  When I got here I just thought he was the weird and ridiculous lucky  husband of Nazare, but now I really really love him in his own right.  He is funny and ridiculous but he is also very good and has a really tender side.  

Ah, guys.  I have been really emotional lately because I love this place so much and I know I am not going to be here forever.  Evora is so weird and broken and wonderful and special.  Heavenly Father knew that I needed to come out here away from all the other missionaries and the hubbub so I could learn to really focus on Him and His sheep and His work and His love and His approval.  He is so good.

I'm afraid of how much I love this place.  My heart is so entangled in this place.  I have given so much of myself in Evora and allowed myself to love so deeply. I don't like anticipating having Evora's future out of my control.  But it's all good.  I know Whose control it's in.  The good shepherd.  The Master Sculptor.  The Great Healer.  

It has just been really grand to be in His hand with Evora for these last 5 and some months.

Must go!  

Sorry if this got dramatic.

I love you so completely.


ps an observation that I feel like certainly applies to marriage as well: 

It's interesting - as we've gotten to see and interact with more missionaries I have noticed that the most successful companionships seem to have a few things in common:
1. They have a unified vision about the Lord's work in their area
2. They have a unified desire to work hard and be obedient
3. They live worthily of and follow the Spirit in their work
4. They love each other

The actual goals and plans and day-to-day happenings may look different, and that is good!  It means they are using their brains and hearts to meet the specific needs of their area and do what the Lord needs them to do.  But those four things seems to be present in all of the most successful missionaries I've seen.

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