Monday, July 28, 2014

When your heart hurts so good

Ah, guys.  I am SO HAPPY.  Thank you for your prayers this week.

Our week swam in miracles.  Let me tell you about some of them:

Adriana e Rhaiane.  Okay this is a sweet story.  We contacted them a couple weeks ago, and then went back to teach the first lesson.  It was one of the most powerful first lessons of my mission.  They understood the importance of our message and we felt like instant friends with them.  They are a Brazilian mom and daughter.  Rhaiane is 16 and was asking us if she could go on a mission and if maybe she could go out and work with us sometime.  SAY WHAT?  Um..... yeah!!  They accepted the convite suave in the first lesson.  They werent able to come to church, but I have high hopes for them.  We went back this week and taught Adriana.  She has a baby daughter who is soooooooooo cute.  Oh my gosh.  I was dying.

She told us the story of when we met them, from their perspective.  They had been really stressed and tense, and there was some conflict between them that day.  Then we had shown up out of nowhere and contacted them, and apparently from the moment we showed up, Adriana felt a great peace, which helped her calm down and relax.  It stayed with her for the rest of the day.  SO COOL.  

Elder Kearon taught us that people become converted because of what they FEEL, not because of what they KNOW.  So evident in this case.

Andre.  Other HUGE miracle.  He stepped out of an apartment building and into our path, and Sister Stewart contacted him.  (She's a BOSS!)  He told us he's at a moment of starting anew in his life.  He has crazily blue eyes that are intense against his dark European complexion.  He had a rough adolescence -- kicked out of the house at age 15 because he had started smoking marijuana.  He majored in film and has been fending for himself his whole life.  I bet he's about 28 or 30? We went back and taught him the first lesson yesterday and it was so WONDERFUL.  I felt such an outpouring of love for him, as we sat at a picnic table in the middle of Oeiras and spoke with this humble, changing man at dusk.  These moments are indescribable.  He told us he had decided the week before to quit smoking drugs, and he was shaking visibly during our lesson with him.  He also told us he normally judges religious proselyters, but he is trying to be less judgmental, and that is part of the reason he consented to talk with us more.  He is so open and thirsty and searching.  It's beautiful. 

At the end of our lesson we left him the BOM and a couple chapters to read.  

"Este livro é seu," I told him.

"Dont call me você!!"  he said.  (This is a sign of proximity -- he sees us as friends/peers and doesn't want us to be all formal and call him voce.)

"Ta bem", I said, smiling,  "Vou tratar você por tù."

He corrected me: "Vou tratar-TE por tù."

I don't know, I can't explain it.  It was just so tender and human and sweet.  My heart just exploded.  Ahhhhh, guys, my heart.  My heart just explodes again and again doing this work.  God's children are just so exquisite, and feeling His love for them is indescribable.  I love Andre a lot.

Eddy.  I will tell you more about Eddy next week.  We are in Lisbon and only have a half our to email.  :( LAME.  (BUT.  I ran into Sis. Gutzwiller and it was SUCH a tender mercy!!  I got to take a photo with BOTH my trainees.  So cool.  Ahhhh the mission is the best.)

My comp and roommates are SUCH a blessing.  Let me sketch them for you.

Sister Stewart.  Guys, she is soooo cool.  I love her guts so much.  She is fun and dedicated and courageous and full of faith and bright freshness.  She is fun to be a missonary with, and I LOVE that we are opening an area.  It's fun.  It's a cool challenge and the miracles are so stunning and abundant.  She's five foot one and adorable and shops in the kids section sometimes just cuz she can.  She's funny and kind and just quirky enough to make me crack up all the time.  (ok, let's face it, who doesnt make me crack up all the time?  but seriously.)  I love her.

Sister Swasey.  She is tall and 1/4 Japonese but doesn't look it.  She speaks PERFECT Portuguese and it is so fun to learn with her.  She says what she is thinking and feels what she is feeling and is generally a passionate, emotive person.  She is so good.  She makes us all laugh.  She is currently going through a crazy health crisis -- possibly mono? Will you pray for her?

Sister Hirschi.  Ahhhh guys I LOVE Sister Hirschi so much.  She is hilarious.  She, like mom, has the gift of remembering details from her childhood.  She has me dying when she tells us stories about her pet gerbils growing up.  How they accidentally started multiplying and then dying and they had a bunch of gerbil funerals and her dad pretended to cry and she and her siblings made up a special musical number.  She says it all with this impish grin and a twinkle in her eye.  I wish you could see it.  She has the most contagious laugh and is just good through and through.  One time she was telling us a story about the beginning of her mission and I started dying laughing before she got to the punchline just because i KNEW it was going to be SO FUNNY.  (I have problems.)  But she is just so fun and cool.  Sometimes when I am washing my face she waits until my face is all wet and I'm trying to find my towel and then she puts her head in my face so that the first thing I see when I squint my eyes open is her goofy grinning face.  Ha.  It is so funny.  I can't describe it.

These sisters are AMAZING.  I am so so blessed.  It's like a family.  It's a party whenever we are in the house all together.

I am feeling good.  Like myself.  Happy.  Close to God.  GRATEFUL.  Being a missionary is such a privilege.  

Our ward mission leader is named Ruben and teaches digeridoo lessons.  No lie.  

Must go.  Love you all so much.


Sister Sandholtz

Sister Stewart and I in OEIRAS

I finally got to try sardines!

Sister Swasey, Sister Hirschi, me, and Sister Stewart on our first day all together :)

Monday, July 14, 2014



Okay, update:  My comp is NOT Sister McCall.  She got sick or something and stayed in the MTC.  My comp is Sister Stewart, from AZ, and she's awesome.  I love her so much already, and I LOVE training.  

I think I am destined to have trainees who are teeny and adorable, because Sister Gutz sure was and so is Sister Stewart.  They actually look remarkably similar!  My dream is that Sister Gutz comes and finishes Sister Stewart's training once I leave, because then in mission geneology, Sister Stewart would be my daughter AND my granddaughter.  :)

It is so so energizing to work with her -- there is something so beautiful about seeing someone do her first contact, teach her first lesson, invite someone to be baptized for the first time.  I love it.  I love Sister Stewart.  I love being a missionary.

I love having the job of just telling someone how GREAT she is doing.  Being a new missionary is OVERWHELMING, and I love being the one who gets to tell her she's normal and that Portuguese will get easier and that I felt the spirit when she testified of Christ.  I love getting to buy her her first Milka bar and teach her how to pull money out of a Portuguese ATM and teach her what to say to stop a person in the street, then watch her do it and succeed.  So so cool.  Heavenly Father ROCKS.  He knew just what I needed to give me a little extra boost at the end of my mission. 

Sis. Stewart was responsible for starting to take the lead in contacting situations, and extending baptismal convites this week.  5 estrellas!!  She's done both, and lots!  We contact A LOT, seeing as we are opening an area, so pretty soon she is going to be a contacting MASTER.  I want her to feel totally comfortable in contacting situations before these 6 weeks are up!!  She's also been inviting people to be baptized! 

Miracle of the week:  The longer I am on my mission the more I realize that the miracles we see are truly not because of what we did, but because the Lord is merciful and pours out His grace on His servants who love Him.  I feel like all too often we missionaries (myself included) take a little too much credit for the great miracles we see.  We write up our miracle stories as if it was us who made it all happen, when in reality it is ALL the Lord and His Spirit that works ANY miracle.  We are simply servants, participants, benefactors of His grace and goodness.  This has been especially clear this transfer, because we arrived in our area on Thursday and started almost completely from zero.  We had nothing; we had "earned" no miracle, but Heavenly Father poured out His grace to help us get started.  (Sister Swasey and Sister Hirschi, our roommates, have been wonderful in helping us get started and get to know a few investigators.  Life savers!!)  Anyway, the day before Sis. Stewart got here I was working with Sister Hirschi and we bumped into a less active and her husband in the train station, who we figured out lived in my new area.  We made an appointment, and then on Saturday, Sis. Stewart and I went to the appointment together.  The whole family gathered around -- Mircia (LA), Cassio (pesquisador), Marta (LA), Melissa (LA), and Cassio's brother, Olivio (Pesquisador).  We taught them the first lesson (Sis. Stewart did a great job teaching all the points we had planned for her to teach!), invited them all to read and pray about the book of Mormon, and then Sis. Stewart invited Olivio and Cassio to be baptized!!  OLIVIO ACCEPTED!!!!  For the 27th of July!!  And Cassio said he'd pray about August 10th.  We were astonished and so grateful and joyful!  I am so grateful that Sis. Stewart is already having such amazing experiences. After the lesson we freaked out for a second outside and said a thankyou prayer.  

I love training.  If I were an elder and had 6 more months on my mission, I would ask if I could train for ALL of them.  It is so so cool.  I love it.

Sis. Stewart's first lesson was with a lady named Fernanda.  Fernanda had met with the other sisters 2x and has now come to church twice.  We are going to mark her this week -- I really feel she is ready to be baptized.  But Sis. Stewart's first lesson ever as a missionary was really memorable because during it her trainer got a bloody nose!  HA!  That's unforgettable.  :)

I love living with other Sisters.  Sister Swasey is hilarious and speaks impeccable Portuguese, which is really fun, because I am learning a lot.  Sister Hirschi has the most contagious laugh and is full of light and makes me happy.  They are both incredible missionaries.  I love living with them.  It's like a party all the time.  So fun.

Oeiras is cool.  It's outside Lisbon and it's sunny and hot and different from the North.  

My address, before I forget, is

Rua Jose Regio No 5 R/C dto
2780-129 Oeiras

Well, family, I love you.  I love you TONS and I am so grateful for your faith and prayers.  I have FELT them this week and every week.  Keep them coming!  

I read a cool verse in Alma 4 yesterday about how Alma was sorrowful, but "nevertheless the spirit of the Lord did not fail him."  The Spirit will never fail us.  I have felt that on my mission -- through it all and the ups and downs and craziness and miracles, the Spirit of the Lord has been a constant friend.  I am so so grateful for him.

Keep shining.  Have a great week.  Ben, Joe, Coby, thank you for the email updates!  I love them!

More yours than ever,

Sister Sandholtz

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Hey guys.

not much email time this week, which is a shame seeing as we saw TONS of miracles this week.

Lidia came to church!  We met Imma Mimba!  (total miracle -- ask me to read you my journal entries from this week when I get home.)  he came to church too!  We taught Fabrice the law of chastity in ENGLISH for the first time ever on my mission and it was so awkwardinho.  We almost died.  Except that I love the law of chastity and think it's the bomb.  TWICE in lessons this week people were like, "wait, so you are VIRGINS!????"   Heck yeah!!  

So, um, transfers.  We were not even thinking that anything would happen besides SG leaving and me staying.  Um........ wrong!

I am in Oeiras!!!!!!!!!! Serving in LISBON for the first time in my LAST transfer, and living in a house with 4 sisters for the first time, and whitewashing/dividing an area for the first time, and .....

are you ready for this? .....




I'm training!!!  Her name is Sister McCall and she'll get here on Thursday.  Will you pray for her?  And for me, that I can be a great trainer for her?

I am happy.  I am also SUPER intensely tired.  Will you also pray that I can have energy and not die?

I am so happy that Dad you are getting better.  Keep it up!  Thank you for not having lots of scary news this week.

I had a cool experience praying on Monday night because obviously I was freaked out that Dad was in the hospital and I was talking to God about it and crying and really worried and everything, and then I had this crystal realization that because of faith in Christ, even worst case scenarios are overcomeable.  With that realization came a lot of peace, and I handed the situation (and my desire to have more control over it) over to God, and felt His peace through the rest of the week.  Such a tender mercy.

So glad you're doing well, Dad.

I love you!

On to the next adventure!

Stay safe, be great to each other, shine His love,



ps. mom have fun at camp!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

fight manfully

Ah, family.

Can I please just say that this week you all need to be really careful and not get hurt or injured or diagnosed with any weird diseases because I do NOT want to read another shocking email next week!  Two weeks in a row was plenty.  It is so bizarre and I feel so disconnected, half a world away, and I want to be able to call you up and tell you I love you, or drive over right away and give you a hug and cook dinner for you and laugh at your jokes and just BE with you.  And it is weird to have to process these things all by myself out here on a different continent.  So, Dad, no more flesh eating bacteria, ta bem!?  Your assignment is to get better FAST.  And the rest of you, also, be careful and don't get into trouble.

Okay.  Sorry.  I am being selfish.  I just love you so stinking much.



This week was cool.  We broke a barrier and had 7 investigators in church! Fernanda, Dalila, and Cristina all came.  And Elias!  Dude, you guys, Elias is awesome.

Then, Fabrice showed up during the 3rd hour as well, and told us he had slept in but had committed to himself to come to church, so he came, even though he came late.  We are going to teach him the commandments this week and are hopeful and confident he will be baptized soon.  This week if possible! 

Other cool miracle: We have been praying to get in contact with Imma Mimba, Fabrice's friend who speaks French AND Portuguese, and we got a text from the elders this morning saying that they had met him and gotten his contact info!  Miracle!  I am SOOOO excited to meet him.

We had lunch with four Portuguese bitties at a restaurante this week.  We were invited by Ana, a Portuguesa of about 60 years who is devoutly catholic but LOVES Mormons.  she always tells us, "I'm not the only Catholic who loves the mormons!"  

Sister Giberson is a GENIUS and a great example to me.  During the lunch I was thinking to myself, "Hey, I can't really think of a way to tie the gospel into this conversation, and it's our lunch hour, and we're in Portugal eating lunch with 4 old ladies, and it's awesome, and I'm just going to enjoy it without trying to force a lesson key-indicator into it..."

But Sister Giberson was smarter and more consecrated than I.  Near the end of lunch, she expertly said, "We are so grateful for this lunch, we'd love to do something to thank you!  Can we give you a tour of our chapel next Thursday?"

They all seemed excited, and I added that I'd bring my violin, which sealed the deal.  :)  Then SG said to me, "want to share a scripture?", and I did, and it wasn't weird; it was normal and good and positive.  I'm so grateful for her.  :)

I am overally really really happy.  We are near the 40-day effort in the mission to purify ourselves, and the extra effort makes me feel so much peace -- that I am doing my part, regardless what is happening around me.

I love you.  Holy cow, I love you.

Be safe.  Be good.  Fight manfully for Him.  I will too.


Sister Sandholtz

me and elder da veiga.  he doesn't make normal faces in photos, ever.  miss this kid.  Our new DL, elder munoz, is also a total gem.

me and elder staples.  He was my first district leader.... now he's home.  this was taken like 2 weeks before he left.  he had just given his tie to another elder .. ha!  I know it looks weird to see an elder without a tie!

got to go running on a division in braga.... this is like a month ago... sister miley's jersey is cool, huh?  

here's what is in store for you...... be excited (this is nazare's chocolate mousse recipe I told you about.)

My cool visual aid for the Plan of Salvation :)

this is Irene

divisions with the stl's fell during the fair Senhor de Matosinhos... so we celebrated with "F. Burgers". Kind of like a worksburger in that it was HUGE

Then we got blue ice cream :)

when I was sick.  this picture can tell you a lot about our lives.  I am sitting in the comfy chair by the fridge where I pray each night.  you can see our metro map behind me, our broken stove, boxes of milk on top of the fridge (it comes in boxes here), my violin in the corner.... it's like I spy!!

district lunch! we cooked! plus ricardo, a cool kid in the ward 

self explanatory

a piece of my day to day life. 

this type of grafiti is found in the crosswalks of matosinhos.  it always includes the orange U, LET, and ME, but in different permutations:

LET ME see U,
LET ME travel with U,
LET ME take care of U,
if U miss me, LET ME know,


It's fun to find them all over the city.  we get excited when we find a new one