Dearest, cherished, loveliest,
I loved reading about the events of the week! Our lives are so full and rich, aren't they? The family- and spirit-filled week sounds like it was amazing. I am excited to read the transcription of the funeral! You're sending it hard copy, right?
Before I forget! New address:
Avenida Serpa Pinto 689 5F
Oh, Family, I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful this area is. On Tuesday night we had Correlation Meeting AND Ward Council and they both not only HAPPENED, but were extremely productive and effective. I actually had tears come to my eyes. SO grateful. It is REALLY nice to be able to basically just do your job -- missionary work -- and have the ward take care of the rest. Oh, hallelujah!
There are amazing people here whom I already just love. Let me tell you about a few of them:
Rute. She is a single mom with 4 kids ages 9 to 16 (ish). She just moved up here from Setubal. Even though she's a single working mom, she makes time to teach with us. She is a strong, light-filled woman who is fighting hard and successfully to create a spirit-filled environment for herself and her kids. She was sitting in the row in front of me during sacrament meeting and watching her interact with her youngest, Vasco, made me almost cry.
Castro. Irmao Castro is probably about 62 or so. He is tall for a Portuguese guy, has been a member for a while, and recently was diagnosed with a disease that is deteriorating his ability to use his hands. Several of his fingers hang limp and useless. This man is filled with light. He has taught a few lessons with us this week, and is just kind and good and positive. I am so touched by his humility and choice to "come what may and love it".
Fernando. He's the ward music guy, probably like 55. He has blue eyes, which are a big deal in Portugal because they make a really interesting combination with the Portuguese skin tone. When he bent his bald head over the keys to accompany the ward choir, it made me miss you, Dad.
The Elders! It is SO fun to have a real district again! And to add to the positiveness, they are both Cabo Verdian! Elder Da Veiga is HILARIOUS. He is super skinny (he says it is because he was born during the corn crisis in Cabo Verde and his mom didn't eat enough Cachupa. This will make anyone who knows Cabo Verdian culture chuckle.) and a real jokester. There are a select few elders in this mission who for some reason remind me of you, Nate. I don't know exactly what it is. But I have a real soft spot in my heart for them. Elder Da Veiga is one of them.
Elder Fortes is new in the mission and is slightly more soft spoken but also really funny. Apparently a lot of Portuguese people think he looks like Obama -- so much so that he has been stopped in the street for photos. Da Veiga said they are going to start charging. :) So yesterday during lunch at the members' house we were joking about him being Obama and then when they brought out the desserts, he was like, (totally dead pan, in English) "Yes, We Can." HAHAHAHA it was so good. I know they are going to keep us laughing.
Want to hear something funny? Sometimes when we teach people how to pray, they either don't understand what we say when we tell them to start with "Pai Celestial", or they have really muddly pronunciation, and they start out saying, "Pai Sebastião". It gets my funny bone every time, hearing someone pray to "Father Sebastian" instead of "Father in Heaven". Ha!
A cool thing I learned from reading in the Bible in Portuguese is this: the translation when Jesus says "O ye of little faith" in Portuguese is "O vós de pequena fé". I think it is interesting that the word "pequena" is used, not "pouca". (Pequena means little like small, pouca means little like not very much). I really like the idea that our faith not something measurable in quantity -- a substance we are seeking to gather more of -- but rather is measured in size, like a living thing that grows greater and greater. Perhaps our faith is small, but it can grow. We can make our faith bigger.
The subject line (there is no victory without a fight) comes from Lidia, a brazilian mom we are teaching. She has a lot of faith and wants to be baptized. Will you pray for her and her family?
We are having 2 baptisms this weekend, Charles and Fatima. Sorry I didn't write about them. This email is kinda scattered and lame but hey, you win some, you lose some. :)
I love you so stinking much.
Sister Sandholtz, or, your Annie