My dear cranties,
Cranties is the name of a breakfast cereal in Portugal. The names of the breakfast cereals here never cease to delight me. Sister Giberson and I have enjoyed finding every reason to shout the word "CRANTIES!" whenever occasion permits. We have such a good life.
We have also been on a raging pineapple kick. This week and last, we bought 4 pineapples and consumed them voraciously. One of the best things about summer is produce. I love my life.
I loved loved loved your emails this week (and every week, let's face it). We just live the most abundantly blessed existence. Mom and Dad, I am SO thrilled about your trip. I want to meet Ami and her husband! And I want to go to Greece....
What sobering, tragic news about Bonnie! My heart just hurts and aches. The scripture that came to my mind was Job 1:21 - The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord. Some things are just so inexplicable. All we can really do is keep calm and carry on, trusting that everything will work together for our good, even in the most seemingly cruel and undeserved moments of darkness. Certainly these next months will be beautiful, close, precious family moments for the Barnetts and all of us.
I read something interesting in PMG about the atonement this morning. (I love personal study so so so so so much. I am so grateful.) It was in the section of the Plan of Salvation lesson about Judgment. It said that the only ones who will inherit Eternal Life will be those who made themselves free of sin and suffering through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
I LOVE that. The atonement not only frees us from sin (redeems us), but also from suffering (empowers us). Or rather, when we have deep-rooted faith in Jesus Christ and the power of His Atonement, nothing can shake us. We are serene and grounded even through the most harrowing trials because we trust so infinitely and completely in Him. We rejoice in the gift and the Giver, through everything He gives us, even if it seems at the moment to be more of a curse than a blessing.
I am talking as if I know anything about this -- of course in the midst of these things we just feel like we are about to fall apart. But I truly believe that every one of these experiences is given to bless us.
My prayers for Bonnie and Adam and their kids and all the Barnetts will be in full gear.
This week was lovely.
Irene didn't get baptized. She was SOOOO close. But I still love her complicated guts and she's still teaching me so much. When we taught her the word of wisdom she told us she drinks coffee daily and that she WON'T quit. (she is the most stubborn person I know). But then she quit. The next two days in a row we didn't even ask about coffee and she slipped in hints with a twinkly eye that she hadn't drunk any. I'm pretty sure she'll never drink coffee again.
As for baptism, we'll see. She told us if it weren't for her pain-filled, infection-filled legs, she would have been baptized on Saturday. But then like 2 seconds later she was ranting about how she doesn't like this church and doesn't believe in it and yadayadayada. She's a confusing lady. But I just love her so much. Teaching her has made me realize (again) how much I truly truly believe all this is true. Her reluctance to accept the overwhelmingly huge blessings of the gospel and the ward family that is literally and figuratively ready to accept her with open arms just seems so STUPID. I mean that in a way that is completely un-belittling to her -- I understand that there is surely a longer story to this whole issue than I perceive -- but I am just trying to emphasize how clear it has become to me that the gospel simply blesses our lives and makes us happier.
I choose it. And I am blessed again and again by that choice.
And I rejoice in the relationship and friendship we have with Irene, whether or not she gets baptized in the short run. She has blessed my life.
Fabrice is still going strong, Armando is running away from us but I am confident it's nor permanent, Dalila and crew didn't come to church again but I believe they will someday soon. We are struggling to get many people in church! Will you pray we can be creative and have more success in that arena?
Sister Giberson had her golden birthday on the 21st, it was great fun. We fasted. ha! She was such a good sport when the bishop announced we would be doing a ward fast on her birthday. We managed to celebrate a lot anyway. :)
Dad, I gave your BOM with the dedicatory in it to an ELECT lady I refer to as Elisabete 5 (we are, or have been, teaching 5 women named Elisabete, so I number them). She LOVED it. She was freaking out at how great it was and was SO grateful. Thank you for the perfect dedicatory. ;)
A cool miracle from this week -- one morning we were out working and I felt like we ought to stop and pray. I honestly was kind of in robot mode that morning. So we prayed. After the prayer we stood there with eyes closed for a second and I silently asked God to help me WANT to be there in that moment. I opened my eyes and took a deep breath and looked across the street at the old, disintegrating, Portuguese, stone building with ivy growing all over it and I thought, "I live in Portugal!", and I was happy.
I felt like there was someone nearby that we needed to meet, so we started knocking a predio on the other side of the street. Before long a guy in a suit walked by who looked and reminded me of Charles, but we were in the middle of talking to someone's doorbell/phone thing. The man stopped, and then turned around and contacted US.
He is a brazilian businessman named Elias who read a book by a brazilian mormon billionaire and for the last 2 weeks has been LOOKING for mormon missionaries to talk to. MIRACLE!!!!? Sooooo yes.
We've taught him a couple lessons as of yet and he really reminds us of Charles. So fun. I don't think he's going to jump into the baptism font quite like Charles did, but he's got LOADS of potential. I hope he comes to church this week!
Portuguese people speak in a way that, when translated to English, seems comically formal. For example, Angela made the following coments this week:
"Fatima, the Lord Bishop is King! You can't say no to the Lord Bishop!"
"That dessert is the divine food of God!"
So classic. We love translating things in our brains into English. We walk around saying, "Good afternoon, brother!", and stuff like that. It's a good life.
A very common good-bye in Portugal is, "Little kisses!"
Ah, loves, you are exquisite. Have a happy week and lift each other up and praise Him and be excelent to those around you. You are such a light.
Ps. quote I loved from Rosemary Wixom: As individuals, we are strong. Together with God, we are unstoppable.