I wish I could be with you this week! Mom, I loved your email. please give all of your sisters hugs for me. What amazing women, Dalton women. Dad, thank you for your beautiful tribute to Grandma also. I love that.
What a humbly exemplary woman, Grandma Bonnie. So gentle and good and pure. I just keep thinking how wonderful she must be feeling now, freed from her failing mortal frame, and reunited with Gene.
I just want to give you all hugs.
It really is strange the way you never know exactly what is going on in-the-moment at home on a mission. While you were saying goodbye to Grandma Bonnie, I was saying goodbye to all my good dear friends in Evora, totally oblivious of the intense family moments happening half a world away.
Oh, guys, my last week in Evora was perfect. Just really perfect. Remember how when I got to Evora 6 months ago we had about 8-10 active members? My how things have changed!
We taught lessons in the church with Nazare or Nely to basically all the investigators who had attended church in the last month or so. I love teaching with those two women! They are so amazing and tactful and powerful!
Ana got baptized this week. She chose Manuel to perform the baptism. (!) So on Saturday night we went over to Manuel's house to teach him how to baptize. :) He memorized the prayer in like 5 seconds and kept repeating it over and over to practice, always using the fake name "Ana Sandhaust Hadvansky, tendo sido comissionado por Jesus Cristo eu te batizo ...." I really really loved hearing him saying it. Good moments. I told him he needed to say it slowly so that we could all hear every word. I wish you could have heard the way he said it. Manuel just has a cool voice. Ah, guys. It was cool.
Yesterday was such a perfect last day in Evora. Ana's baptism happened before church. They had to try 3x because her right hand kept not going under the water. But the third time was great. :) Her boyfriend Carlos was there and really liked it. I am hoping he gets taught and baptized soon!
After the baptism Nazare gave a talk. Near the end of the talk she said, "I want to say something to all of the people here who haven't yet been baptized. THIS IS THE PATH. Christ wants all of us to follow His example. Come, learn, and be baptized."
It was so BOLD and so awesome. Sister Rad and I were like, "Get it, Nazare!!" Oh man, I love Nazare so much.
The end of the baptismal service kind of morphed into the beginning of sacrament meeting. People kept showing up and showing up. Once the testimony meeting was fully underway I counted heads. We had THIRTY-TWO people in church yesterday! THIRTY-TWO!! And THIRTEEN of them were investigators. !!
After the closing prayer of sacrament meeting was said, everybody gradually stood up and started chatting with each other and stuff -- like, you know how in normal wards there is always that post-sacrament-meeting buzz? THAT HAPPENED. I was doing so many internal fist pumps. Oh man. :) The room was so full of people, being happy and friendly with each other. We took a picture. I will try to send it next week. :)
After church we walked to Nazare's house with Antonio Junior and Manuel to have lunch, as always. They were asking us questions about missions and temples and stuff. Oh man, I love those two kids so much. They went to a stake dance in Lisbon on Friday and LOVED it. I am so glad they are getting to know some other young people in the church. They're going to go to the temple in Madrid later this month with a bunch of YSA. I gave them some really cheapo ties I had bought at Primark and they loved them.
We spent most of the afternoon visiting members, delivering to the sisters in the ward all the colorful scarves I brought on my mission but never wear. :) Yeah, kinda fooby I guess, but it had to be. I didn't want to miss the chance to hug all these people (not the men of course) and tell them how much I love them.
I was a little worried that I would end up NOT getting transferred and then everybody would be like, "oh..... you're still here....." haha.
But when Elder Staples called at 9:00ish, we found out Sister Rad would be learning to drive stick shift in Evora, and I would be coming up to ......
Matosinhos! It's in the Porto Norte Zone. It's by the coast. It's gorgeous. And it's a WARD. !!! Woooooooo my first ward! I am super excited. I am serving with Sister Giberson, who is really awesome.
This place is NOTHING like Evora. And that is good. :) It was time for a new adventure.
Tomorrow I will have a real-live district meeting, in the flesh. Goodbye Skype!!
I suspected I would be coming North next. Don't know why.
Well, I'ma wrap this up. Can't wait to tell you about my new place next week.
My heart and prayers are with you this week, especially Saturday for the funeral. I will be reflecting and celebrating the beautiful life of my beautiful grandmother this week as I contemplate also the beautiful Easter promise of resurrection.
Let your spirits smile! Ye are the light of the world.
I love you.