Monday, May 26, 2014

26 May 2014 - Jesus came into the world simple and rumble

All right people I love.

I am going to dive into a furious 38 minutes of mad typing so I can tell you about my amazing week!  I printed your emails and will read them depois.  Looks like this is how it's going to work best from here on out!  Sorry if I fail to respond to specific things in your emails.  :/

We're going by categories:

Things that made me cry this week:
1. Mission Tour with Elder Kearon.  Holy Cow, People.  It was INCREDIBLE.  He created the most amazing environment in which the spirit was so present and everyone felt completely comfortable sharing comments and questions and we all learned so much.  He's British and funny and real and just wonderful.  I am rooting for him to be the next member of the 12 even though I also really want it to be an African or a Latin American.

I'll share with you one story that I loved:  He was talking about how much Heavenly Father loves us -- that He feels our pains and frustrations even more accutely that we feel them.  He told about how when his youngest daughter Emma was 4 he was on a business trip in Holland one night and his wife told him the following story over the phone.  That day little Emma had fallen and scraped her knees.  She picked herself up, trembling and angry and crying and shouted, "I WANT DADDY!!  DADDY WOULD BE SO SAD!!!"  

When Elder Kearon heard this, his first reaction was to be really happy.  Why? Because little Emma knew how deeply he cared for her.  She knew he would be so sad that she was hurting.  

Isn't this what we all want?  Someone to sorrow when we sorrow and hurt when we hurt?  

And isn't this exactly what Christ gave us, infinitely, completely?  Elder Kearon said, speaking of our Heavenly Parents, "they ache for us.  I really believe that.  You'll understand this better when you are parents."

2. Hearing President Fluckiger bear his testimony.  When he cries, I cry.  End of story.  It is so moving to see him talk about the Savior.

3. When Elder Da Veiga called us this morning to say goodbye.  Okay I actually didn't cry but I came reallllly close.

4. When I talked to Sister Rad on the phone and she told me that Manuel told her that he wants to go on a mission FOR SURE and would go tomorrow if he could.  Full mission, not mini.  YES!!!!!!  (okay I didn't actually cry at this one either, this category is getting fuzzy.)  But still.  I can't WAIT for him to go on a mission.  

Let me sketch a few of our investigators:
1. Lidia.  Lidia is a 38ish Brazilian mom who looks like a character on a tv show.  She's gorgeous.  She has 3 kids and is married to a Portuguese guy, Sergio, who owns a print shop.  She wants to be more connected to Christ, but is having a hard time COMING TO CHURCH.  Sheesh, people, church is COOL, OKAY?  But she loves us a lot and is learning bit by bit.  Will you pray for her?

2. Armando.  Armando is probs like 50 and has a huge nose and used to be a professional volleyball player.  He's way intellectual and that is why we didn't stop the lesson a few weeks ago when Pedro was teaching about the veil of forgetfulness and Kolob.  Armando likes that kind of stuff.  Pedro, our ward mission leader, has been great at reaching out to him. He comes to chruch basically every week and he told us he's been praying about baptisma and wants to talk to us about it.  We are excited.  :)

3. Elisabete.  Elisabete is this awesome lady with 5 kids.  FIVE.  That is a lot in Portugal, and the oldest is like 11 or something so it seems like a LOT of little kids.  We usually teach her in her tiny kitchen while she is making dinner, because she is so busy.  She also hasn't come to church yet, but her 3 oldest daughers (8,9,11) have.  They are so full of life and fun.  Her husband Sergio is kinda like, "I'm not into religion" but I know the Lord can soften his heart.  We realllllly want to get them to come to church so she can see how the gospel is EXACTLY what her family needs.  They also have a dog named Scooby who is HUMONGOUS and disgusting.

Music makes me sooooo happy.
1. They called me the night before mission tour and asked me to bring my violin.  :)  Long story short in the space of about 30 minutes we ended up making up a SICK mash-up of Firmes Segui (Press Forward Saints) and Nossa Lei É Trabalhar (Put your shoulder to the wheel, better in portuguese and a sort of mission theme here in the mish).  I was SO pleased with how it turned out, especially given the amount of time we had to prepare it.  I love the little musical geek moments I get sometimes on the mission.

2. New Motab CD you sent, Mom.  THANK YOU.  I love it.  

Funny things Elder Da Veiga said:
1. Sister Fluckiger was teaching us about gossip and how it always affects 3 people (gossiper, person being gossiped to, person being gossiped about).  She was trying to get this answer out of us and asked, "There are three people involved in gossip.  Who are they?"  to which Elder Da Veiga said softly in the back row, "Elder Da Veiga....."  HAHAHA I was dying.

2.  At lunch the members commented that Elder Fortes hadn't said much.  Da Veiga said, "Calma, Obama, Russia's not going to attack!"

3. He pronounced "BYU", "bee guy you".  so good.

Reasons I love Sister Giberson:
1. At the ward karaoke party we got permission to sing something super tame so we sang Somewhere over the Rainbow, but then joked the rest of the night that we should have done Bohemian Rhapsody.  Ha.

2. We are filled with fire to bring people in to this amazing ward in Matosinhos!  We have a goal to baptize at least 2 families this transfer.  Will you pray for us to be able to do so?  We are starting today a 40 day fast of all the things we can do to be more aligned with the spirit.  (this was a challenge from president).  Oh yeah -- transfers -- we are staying together here in Matosinhos and will no longer be STL's.  I'll miss the travel and going to mission council but it will be cool to have more time in our area and with our peeps.

The subject line comes from the Brazilian MMA fighter we contacted yesterday who is a new investigator.  He was trying to say that Jesus came into the world simply and humbly.  :)  When we asked him what he needs in life he said, More Jesus.  We said, You're talking to the right girls.  :)

Okay fam I LOVE YOU.

You are the happiest thing.  I love you.

Yours, yours,


Here's us at mission tour with elder kearon!  3 zones.

19 May 2014 - I'm a goofy goober yeah

Urgh people sorry!

I spent my time waiting for this lame computer to not be a loser, figuring out how to print your emails out, writing to president Fluckiger, communicating with some past comps, and organizing my email like Nate did.  Sorry!  Next week will be longer I promise!  I will include below part of my letter to Pte Fluckiger so you can at least have an idea of what's going on out here.

I can't believe transfers are next monday.  Sis. Giberson and I are so hoping to stay together in Matosinhos!  

Highlights of the week included teaching Fabrice, a guy from Cameroon in English who speaks only English, French, and whatever they speak in cameroon.  He is here to play futebol.  I wish you could have heard him read the first vision out loud in French.  so cool.

We reprogrammed the alarm tones on our cell phone so that now our daily routine includes several 30-second mini dance parties to our groovy cell phone alarms.  ha!

I read Luke 7:36-50 and it slayed me.

Well I have to go!

I love you!  So so much!  Thank you for your prayers and faith, I can feel them!

Yours yours yours,

Sister Sandholtz

Hello President Fluckiger,

It was a good week in Matosinhos.

We marked Jose for baptism on June 21.  We are working with him to stop smoking and get married on the 20th so he can be baptized on the 21st.  We also marked Valdomar for the 14th of June. He also has addictions, which we will be making a plan with him to deixar.

Our investigator Armando is doing great.  This week he told us he has already started sharing the gospel with his friends.

Lidia and her family still haven't come to church, nor Elisabete and her family.  But I believe they will.  We are going to baptize at least one family in Matosinhos!  

I already told you this, but I would LOVE to stay in Matosinhos with Sister Giberson.  She's a great missionary, we love working together, we both have a desire to work hard and baptize families, and we are happy.  I am so grateful for the beautiful thing that is a mission!
Sister Sandholtz

12 May 2014 - Becoming Alive in Christ

Disclaimer: this email is LOOOOOONGGGGG

My dear kinfolk.

It was wonderful to talk with you yesterday.  Wonderful.  I had this whole long list of specific questions I wanted to ask each one of you, and in the end I just talked the whole time!  Sorry!  But all the same I loved just being with you for a milisecond.  I had been feeling marginally fragile lately -- I mean, I'm totally fine -- but just inside me I was feeling a tiny bit vulnerable and alone, and talking to you all was like a booster shot.  I left feeling fortelecida (strengthened) and tranquila (peaceful).  Thank you.  I love you.

AND NEXT TIME WE TALK IT WILL BE IN THE FLESH!!!!!!!!!  I am not even going to pretend that I am not 3 gazillion percent excited for that.

But I am also ridiculously happy and grateful that I get 4 more precious months out here on the front lines. 

A few notable moments from the week:

I think it can be really funny when people give us false numbers.  One time a kid in Evora gave us the number of the fire station!  Ha!  Last week or so a lady gave us a number that turned out to be her ex-husband and we accidentally called it twice!  whooops...

We knocked a door and heard some intense sniffing on the other side and I said to Sis. Giberson, "It's either a dog or a really weird person...."

Lidia told us that she wants to come back to Christ and that when she does, it is going to be in this church!  Boo-yeah!!!

We did a division with Porto in which I felt for the first time ever that I was truly able to fulfill the part of this calling to minister.  It was a sweet tender mercy for me and I felt like so many of the life experiences I had in the years leading up to my mission prepared me to be helpful to another person.  Such a gift.

A few weeks ago we taught a lesson in the church with our ward mission leader (he actually taught it, we were there for support and clarification) in which he taught the Plan of Salvation DEEP version, including veil of forgetfulness, seven creative periods, KOLOB, baptisms for the dead, etc.  Sister Giberson and I looked at each other wide eyed sooo many times during that lesson.  We would have stopped it if it hadn't been being taught to Armando, who can handle that.  Anyway, at the end our ward mission leader (who is wonderful, by the way!) said he was going to write one more word on the board to tie it all together.  We were sure it would be Expiacao (atonement), to bring it all back to Christ.  He picked up the chalk and wrote in big block letter, "INFERNO", which means HELL.  hahahahaha soo good.

Okay.  Last week in President's email he taught us about the principle of Becoming Alive in Christ and invited us to "write a letter to your family sharing what you believe about this concept".  I decided there was no time like the present, so I have some thoughts for you.

First, some quotes from his letter that got me thinking:

" missionaries we can move closer to Christ. As we do, we will come to more fully understand his atonement and that change in us will result in new feelings, including a strong desire to invite others to the atoning power and the restored church.  In other words, a change can take place in us in which the atonement ceases to be a concept and instead becomes an emotional reality.  The scriptures refer to this as becoming more Alive in Christ. (2 Nephi 25: 25-26) 

"If we are willing to regularly ask and respond to the question, What can I do right now to move closer to Jesus Christ? ... with continuous movement towards Chrst we become Alive in Christ and we obrtain the gifts of the Sprirt.  With the gifts of the Spirit we are better able to bring others to Christ."

"As we come to understand the Atonement, our desires change..." (pmg)

I have studied and thought about this a lot this week.  It is true that our hearts and desires can be changed by Christ!  I have seen this during and before my mission, in myself and others.  This transformation is the most breathtaking, worthwhile process imaginable.  

To me, becoming alive in Christ requires a choice to do so.  Choose the gospel.  Live it 100%.  Do truth. (John 3:21)  Make God's love a part of your every day by the way to treat yourself and others.  There is profound power and promise in this type of brave surrender.  

2 Nephi 9:50 "Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yeah, come buy wine and milk without money and without price."

John 4:14 "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

COME.  DRINK.  These are active verbs.  Christ is so eager to offer us this river of living water -- to vivificar-nos (make us alive) -- but He cannot make us come, He cannot make us drink.  Becoming alive in Him requires willingness.

Are we willing to say, as the woman of Samaria, "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw." (John 4:15)?

Are we willing to jump in the river and swim and splash and let it carry us to glory?

How deep is that river?  (go listen to that Mason Jennings song, please.)

How often do I sit on the river bank, comfortable to dip only my toes in the current, clinging to the stagnant, non-dynamic but nonetheless comfortable riverbank?

When will we take that brave leap and immerse ourselves in the Water that changeth not, yet changes us continuously and relentlessly for the better?

Also, HOW?  How do we take that leap?  How do we become alive in Christ?

I sometimes feel intimidated by how pitifully far I am from this type of consecration.  President quoted somebody in his letter saying, "With this fulfillment of love in our hearts, we will never be happy anymore just by being ourselves or living our own lives.  We will not be satisfied until we have surrendered our lives into the arms of the living Christ, and until He has become the doer of all our dees and He has become the speaker of all our words.  As He has said, I am the vine, ye are the branches. he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing (John 15:5)"

This both inspires and intimidates me.  I want to get to that point!  But I am painfully aware of how far away I am.

That being said, I am convinced that this, like everything else that really creates lasting change, is a process.  It is realized through small and simple things, one at a time; letting go, bit by bit, over and over, of the things tying us to the shore.

I like the concreteness of President's suggestion: asking ourselves in every moment, "What can I do right now to move closer to Jesus Christ?"

Here's an example; something I am changing to try to be more involved in this process:

As I reflected on what I can do to move closer to Jesus Christ, I decided that I need to improve the quality of my personal prayers.  What happens is that I kneel by (or in) my bed at night and I'm so wiped out that I don't focus at all and my prayer starts out with "Father, I am SO TIRED..." and shortly turns into a sor of half-asleep state of wishy washy thanks and requests that honestly does nothing for my personal relationship with God.

What I really crave is some quality time alone with God, which ironically as missionaries we almost cannot ever have.  But to create a little more of that and to improve the meaningfulness of my prayers, I have committed to pray, alone, out loud, at least one time per day.

What we have started doing is that right before bed, I go into the kitchen and Sister Giberson stays in the bedroom.  This way we can both pray aloud.

I climb onto the big armchair by the fridge and sit, hugging my knees, face pointed to the sky, eyes open but lights off, and I talk to my Father in Heaven.  

I find that this way I stay more awake and focused, but I am going to try it kneeling tonight.  I am already noticing a difference.  The first time I did it I felt such a sensation of relief.  This is what I'd been missing!!  A closeness, an openness, a sort of just being with God.

I hope to report to you that by June my prayers have become increasinly meaningful.

This is just one example of a specific thing I am trying to do to move closer to Christ.  I would love other ideas!  There are countless possibilities.  I invite each of you to choose something specific you can change or do in your life to move closer to Christ.  I truly believe that it is through small and simple changes (change=repentance!!) that we grab onto the anchor Christ offers us and undergo transformation.

So, to sum up.  What do I believe about the concept of becoming alive in Christ?  

I believe it is possible.

I believe it is the most worthwhile quest we can undertake.

I have seen it happen; I know Christ has the power and grace and willingness to change our hearts.

I believe becoming alive in Christ is a process of renewal and rebirth that should never cease.

I believe it takes a lot of courage and trust and humility and creativity and tenacity.

I believe that this type of abundant life (John 10:10) and aliveness is what brings us true joy.

I believe that Father in Heaven and our Brother Savior are ever invested in helping us acheive the most abundant of all aliveness -- eternal life.

I am inexpressibly grateful for the opportunity of striving to be a participant in this quest, despite my many defects and faults.

More than anything, I desire to become alive in Christ.

Family, I love you!  I am unable to express or even contain how grateful I am for each one of you.  You are magnificent!

Love you love you!

Sister Sandholtz

I printed your emails and haven't read them yet, but I saw a line about Nate-ified palavra de sabedoria pamphlets and I want to see them!!  No one throw them away!! 

5 May 2014 - lame, I know...

All right.  I just spent a long time reading your emails and chatting with a few friends.  I will log back in in an hour to send you some photos and talk to you about next week and hopefully tell you about my week!

It was great.  The training went awesome, thanks for your prayers!!

Charles got baptized, he's a rock star.  it's a shame he's moving back to Brazil tomorrow.

Sister Giberson is amazing.  I love working with her.  Every night our final companionship prayer of the day is just gratitude.  We don't ask for anything - just thank Him for the countless manifestations of His grace and goodness that day.  I really love it.

In case I don't have more time later, a few highlights:

Sister Giberson got threatened by a crazy lady with a hammer axe.  In jest, we think, but you never know.  Yay missionary life!!

We spent the week EVERYWHERE.  Porto, Lisbon, Maia, Foz de Douro, then finally Matosinhos!!  It felt soooo long but a lot of great stuff happened.

Okay I have to log off.

Love your GUTS.  Can't wait to talk to you!

This is me and sister Prieto. I'm sending it so you can see Elders Da Veiga and Fortes in the background

Me and Sister Giberson suuuuper tired in the elevator when we arrived home from our trip to Lisbon and got to bed at 1 a.m for the second night in a row...

This is SO TYPICAL. I had to take a picture, so I asked them if I could. Their names were Maria, Francelina, and Margarida. I think.

This is Charles. I really love this photo. He was taking a picture of us, then just turned around and put himself in it too. Ha! We're like his shoulder angels or something.

This is me and my gorgeous companion, Sister Giberson, overlooking the city of Porto! We spent pday there on our way to Lisbon. :)

Me, Rad, and King at mission counsel. Say goodbye to the mermaid hair; I cut it today...

This is what Portuguese mailboxes look like. Except not all of them have statues next to them.

I'm a real missionary! Walked a hole into my shoe!

I gut my herr did! (I got my hair done!)

ana's baptism 3 weeks ago!