Monday, December 30, 2013

Boas Festas!!!!

Queridas pessoas na minha vida,

WHAT A WEEK. First off all, getting to talk to your family on Christmas really is the GREATESTTTT gift of all. Tears of joy my friends, many tears of joy. It´s funny, SIster Brundage and I got off of Skype and felt the same way. Not homesick or anything, just more of a desire to WORK. And so rain, shine, festas, and everything that´s what we´ve been trying to do.

As for our 3 beloved boys who were supposed to be baptized... I don´t tell it to complain or to make you sad or anything but to keep you updated and tell you what it´s taught me and that is so many things. Basically, they´re amazing boys that just won´t commit to going to church at 9am every Sunday. It´s been so hard and we have done all we can but now we´re to the point where we´re just going to keep working with their mom the recent convert and her fiancé and hope they come around. People have their agency and there´s nothing we can do about that. It´s really hard and sad obviously but when I look back I feel okay because I know we did everything we could and I KNOW there is a reason for EVERYTHING. After we visited them yesterday we met a really amazing lady and talked to an incredible less active lady. I was still sad but it made me realize, maybe all of this led up to us helping one of these two ladies. In the mission, of course you want to teach and baptize and do all of that stuff we hear about, but in the end I´m realizing that if I made even just one person here feel a little bit of the love the Savior has for them then I´m doing my job. The Lord has his hand in everything I do and so I don´t worry and I really don´t get discouraged, I just look for His hand and I ALWAYS see it. 

But anyway, it really was a great week!!! The thing here in Portugal is everybody celebrates on Christmas Eve, which was interesting. We got permission to stay out until 11 and we went over to a members house with the elders. It. was. AMAZING. I have never eaten so much in my life. The traditional thing here is bacalhau and EVERYONE eats it on Christmas. I think it´s codfish? It was delish.

Sorry for the short email but I´m short on time! I promise a more informative or exciting one next week. Stay strong and wonderful people! The Lord has His hand in your lives too, that much I know for sure.

Bom ano novo!!!

Sister Swasey

Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Natal!!!!!

Dearest Family and Friends,

Can you believe it´s almost Christmas??? It´s strange being a missionary over Christmas. On one hand, it feels even more Christmasy because we talk about Jesus Christ all day and get to wish strangers on the street a Feliz Natal but on the other hand I almost keep forgetting it´s in two days because I´m not doing all the traditional stuff like gingerbread houses, jazzy Christmas music and penguins all around the house. It´s odd. Also, can we just pause and talk about the fact that I´m about to hit my 6 month mark on the mission?! My brain can´t handle that kind of news and nor can my heart. I´m about 1/3 done and yet I´m just getting started...I have SO much left to do, so many more people to help and goodness gracious SO much more to learn and improve upon. 18 months...IT´S NOT ENOUGH TIME PEOPLE. 

Sleepy & Dopey for the Ward Christmas Party

Ward Christmas Party
But anyway, let´s not dwell on the depressing and focus on the fact that I GET TO CALL HOME IN A COUPLE DAYS. Okay, I know I don´t get to talk to all of you but man, special shout out to Mom, Dad, Rob, Sam, and Kurt!!! I miss you all like crazy. Not the oh-my-goodness-I-want-to-go-home-I´m-so-depressed crazy but more like the MY-GOODNESS-IT´S-BEEN-WAYYYY-TOO-LONG-I-NEED-A-CHAT-WITH-MY-MOTHER-MY-POPS-AND-MY-BROS crazy. Ya know, the normal kind. So in other words, I´m practically counting minutes over here.  

Christmas Fun

Danielle & Sister Fluckiger
Love Sister Fluckiger!

Got to see Sister Prieto again

Let´s see fun facts of the week...We did our second division with the sister training leaders and it was pretty great! I went with Sister Silva to their area in Maia this time and man...she´s a pro. She teaches SO simply and so suave it really gave me a good example and I´ve been working even harder on my teaching skills. Fun fact for those of you in Ashburn, she served with Sister Jackson for awhile! I personally have only seen Sister Jackson once so far but who knows, maybe one day we´ll be in the same zone or something!  But anyway, the sisters area is HUGE. We took the bus like everywhere and it made me really grateful for my little Matosinhos. We also rode the metro in the a crowd of gypsies. I don´t know if I´ve evered mentioned gypsies before but in case anybody was doubting, they´re still around and there are a TON in Portugal. One of my life goals (in order of importance this settles nicely under stuff like serving a consecrated mission and marrying in the temple) is to obtain a pair of gypsy pants. The problem is you can only get them in certain areas of Portugal and the feiras (market/fairs). But anyway, you will all be notified immediately when I get my hands on some.

Off to the Christmas Festa

Porto Norte Christmas Festa
Another funny thing that happened on divisions was someone guessed that I was 30 years old. Ouch. The funny part is that this isn´t the first time and every time it´s happened before and this time the reasoning behind it is always the same. They never say that it´s because I look old (and it´s Portugal so trust me they´re not afraid to speak their minds) it´s ALWAYS because I´m tall.



So anyway, some people don´t know that you stop growing earlier or something I guess haha. 

Danielle and Sister Brundage!

One cool spiritual experience I had this week was with my dear Sister Brundage. I can´t even tell you people how much I love her. She´s FANTASTIC and even though we´re surprisingly different we get along really great and we push each other. It´s awesome how Heavenly Father does that, He gave me a companion whose strengths tend to line up quite nicely with my weaknesses. But anyway, one of these days this week I was just feeling kind of down and frustrated (ya know, it happens). I was ready to just get out of the house and work it off but she made me sit down and she just said, `Alright we´re just going to sit for 3 more minutes and say all the things we´re grateful for.` So cheesy, simple, and normal, right? But it was just what I needed. We just started listing, at first simple things, then more profound and more meaningful things. We talked about how grateful we were for our families, our missions, our challenges and by the end we were both crying like the crazy and emotional Sister missionaries that we are. It was so simple but it´s something I´ll never forget. We´ve all heard a million times to be grateful and count blessings but when we really sit down and do makes all the difference. I am SO incredibly blessed I can´t even explain it in words. I´m thankful for all of you, your support, my wonderful companion and this incredible season. Above all I´m thankful for my Savior. I´m thankful for this chance I have to serve Him with all my heart, might, mind and strength. 

Just don´t forget to notice all the little things, okay? :) I love you all and I hope you have an AMAZING Christmas!!!! Don´t forget to give Him something too. 

Wishing you all a Feliz Natal,

Sister Swasey

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Festas e *drumroll* BATISMOSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Official Sister Swasey Fan Club,

YES, you did in fact read that title right! First news of the week, and BEST news of the week is that we have THREE, (yes, you are really reading this correctly) THREE baptisms marked!!!!!!!!!!! Daniel, Bruno, and Diogo all committed to be baptized this week. Committed is even such a strange word to use, they all decided to with us, we barely even had to ask! THIS is my favorite part of the mission, watching people change right before my very eyes, it´s incredible. I wish you all could have seen them the first time, and even the second time that we taught them. I´ll come right out and say, HARDEST lessons of my mission those 2. I wanted so badly to reach them, show them we were normal teenagers too, show them we loved them and wanted to help them and do you want to know what happened those first two lessons? They all sat and texted, pretty much ignoring us. But you know what´s great? It doesn´t matter exactly what I do or who I am or any of that as long as we´re doing all we can to bring the spirit, that it´s there, and... it was! I felt it SO strongly and my dear Sister Brundage and I just sat there trying to teach them as people, real souls, praying and hoping they were feeling it too, even thinking that maybe they were but not knowing because let me tell ya teenage boys don´t like showing that stuff. Fast forward several weeks and they´re all pratically different people. We hadn´t even gone and taught them very much since they´re only with their mom on the weekend but all the sudden they wanted us to come over and like I said last week Bruno was asking to be baptized and they were all really listening. It´s like the difference between night and day!!! We had the BEST lesson with them this week, not just because we marked them but because it was hilarious. We taught the restoration, explaining the Book of Mormon better because we had only given it to them the time before. They all had their own book out and Bruno and Diogo were flipping through them throughout the lesson. They were asking a lot of relevant questions throughout but also a ton that I didn´t even know how to answer! By the end I had explained parts about the gold plates I´d never thought I would ever need to, discussed the house of Israel, and had said the words `I don´t know, I´ve never seen that particular movie about Jesus before` several times. They were a riot and I loved every minute of it. By the end, we asked Bruno if he still wanted to be baptized and he said YES. Then we asked Diogo what he thought and was just like `Yeah me too.` Daniel is the oldest and we didn´t even ask him, I looked over and he was just like, `yeah I´ll be baptized too.´ We walked out of that house on a cloud!!!!

Silly Zone Picture

Danielle's Zone
Other fun facts of the week, we had our Christmas party yesterday! It was just our zone of Porto Norte and the Porto zone but it was super fun! Craszy story, on Sunday afternoon I get a call and my dear Brasilian zone leader tells me that Sister Brundage and I would be singing at the Christmas conference the next day. Well fastfoward a couple hours of practice, finding a pianist literally 15 minutes before it started, and we whipped out a quite nice Quando o Anjo Proclamou, (First Noel). WHAT FUN. It really was. Then we played some games and exchanged hilarious gifts. 

Fun culture facts include: At Christmas everybody has these funny Santas that they hang out their windows like he´s climbing in. Also, a TON of people have kind of interesting big flags in their windows with a very Catholic looking baby Jesus and words like, `Nasceu Jesus.`It´s pretty interesting to see them all around with the Santas haha, they make a nice pair. 

One fun fact about the people, whenever I don´t wear one, so many people tell me I need to wear a scarf. It´s super random I know, but I have had so many people tell me it´s too cold outside (even when it´s not) and that I need a scarf. Best part- they tell me even when Sister Brundage isn´t wearing one! These people are the funniest and the greatest. (Do I have a giraffe neck or something? Too funny). 

As for the language, man is it coming along!!!! I don´t really know what ´fluent´ means because really, how do you define that? BUT....whatever it is I have to think I´m getting pretty close which is absurdly exciting for me! I pretty much understand everything, except some words of course, and I can express myself better each day. The gift of tongues is so real and I feel such power and comfort from it as I can speak comfortably with people in PORTUGUESE. Yesterday I just about cried of joy when a member told me she sometimes almost forgets I´m American because I don´t really have an accent or anything. Seriously. I. About. Died. It´s probably the international relation/language major in me partly but seriously what a compliment. I don´t know if this tall blonde sister can ever really pass for a Portuguese person but maybe by the end I can convince people by phone haha, we´ll see! Oh! I also had another freak out moment early on in the week because I`VE STARTED DREAMING IN PORTUGUSE. It´s true people. Sister Swasey is really learning a language, what a rush. 

Well, here´s to wishing you all the a VERY merry Christmas! I love you all and miss you tons! I wish I could spend all my Christmas talking to each and every one of you but believe me when I say at the very least I talk to Heavenly Father about you EVERY day. I´m doing His work and I know He´s looking out for you all for me. This IS His work, it´s His gospel, and Christ is His only begotten Son. Remember Him, all that He did for us! Enjoy the season, enjoy the snow if you have it, and just remember how much I love you all!!!! 

Abraços, beijinhos, e MUITO amor,

Sister Almost-Portuguesa-Swasey ;)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Walking in a Mission Wonderland


So anybody else excited for Christmas because I certainly am! We found a Christmas tree in our apartment and it´s a little better quality than Charlie Brown´s so I´m happy. 

Thank you Misty & Fam
Thank you Tina & Fam
 Big shout out and tons of hugs (or handshakes for you men out there) for all those of you that have mailed me stuff or emailed me. I have NEVER gotten to a meeting nor passed through the office without having at least something waiting for me and let me tell you, not that it´s really that important as a missionary, it certainly makes my day to know you people are thinking about me. I think of you always!!!

I don´t have a ton of time because we went to a festival today! They had cool stuff from all the different parts of Portugal. Try not spending money there, I dare you. 

This week was a great week. We´ve been teaching the sons of a recent convert Ana Bela. She is fantastic and has an amazing testimony. Her sons, Diogo, Daniel, and Bruno are all teenagers. They have come along way since when we first started teaching them and Bruno and Ana Bela´s fiance Joaquim even came to church with us this week! Bruno also has mentioned a couple times now that he thinks he wants to be baptized so expect some baptism pictures coming up here soon ;)

In other news...starting thinking a bit in Portuguese! I catch myself remembering things that happened in the past (in English of course) but I think about what the people said in Portuguese. Weird but amazing, am I right? 
View from Danielle's apartment

View from Danielle's Apartment
No time to write but to sum it up? Love my mission, love the people, love the culture, love the language, LOVE my companion and can´t even tell you all how much I love my Savior and this chance I have to serve Him for 18 months. 

Have a wonderful week!!!!

Com BASTANTE amor,

Sister Swasey

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sister Swasey on Embracing Portuguese Culture

Queridas pessoas que eu amo TANTO,

How are your lives?! Somebody write me and email or something and tell me what´s going on where you all are!!! How was your Thanksgiving?! Fun fact: I forgot about Thanksgiving. Sister Brundage and I didn´t remember until Friday morning and then we felt like bad americans and ate some Portuguese cookies and started studying. (You're welcome for that little look into my life, get mildly sad, eat a cookie, and get to work) Isn´t that so odd to think about though, forgetting Thanksgiving? Life of a missionary in Portugal I suppose! But anyway, hope you all ate a lot of turkey and pumpkin pie for me!
Sister Brundage & Danielle
WHAT a fantastic week I had by the way. For a start, we had the mission tour this week with Elder Dyches of the Seventy. What a genius. He taught us SOOOO many various things, but something that stuck with me the most is something I think about a LOT. He had all of us ask ourselves several questions all having to do with what we want to be when we´re done with our missions. I ask myself that question a lot- what do I want to be able to say I´ve done when I´m on that plane heading home? What kind of a person will I have become? What changes will people see in me? 18 months people. It´s so little time to do all the work and all the changing I want to do. I really hope that when I come home you´ll see a difference in me. I hope you´ll feel more the love that I have for each and every one of you and that you´ll know without a doubt that I know our Saviour loves us and that I served a faithful mission for his church. I hope you´ll see a light in my countenance, I hope I´ll know His gospel so much better. I hope a million and a half things and I hope you know that I´m working hard because I want you all to be blessed for my service as well. I´ve never worked hard in my life, nor have I ever noticed so many things I want to improve about myself. Being a missionary means everything to me and I just hope that I can give my all and that if will be enough to help the people here and bless all of you as well. The Lord expects our´s a lot but nothing less will suffice and nothing less will bring us that eternal joy He´s promised us!!!!
Danielle & Her comp, Sister Brundage

But anyway...learned a LOT from Elder Dyches and the week just kept getting better. We saw even more miracles this week, one of which we like to call Armando. We were walking to an appointment when this man stops us and asks us if we´re mormons. Then he asked us if he could come to church and learn more about what we believe because he really hasn´t like all the other churches he´s tried. WHAT. This never happens. NEVER HAPPENS. So OF COURSE we said YES COME TO CHURCH WITH US (before you get your hopes us he had to work the Sunday but we´re going to teach him this week). He was even excited to come when we said that it started at 9 in the morning and he asked us what he should wear. It was the COOLEST. Seriously, I don´t know what we did to deserve Heavenly Father putting someone like Armando in our path but I´m so grateful. We testified that this IS the true church and it´s where he´ll find the answers to his questions and we said a prayer with him right there in the road. He loved that we prayed from the heart and is just so genuinely excited to talk to us. We walked away from that contact almost in tears from joy and we just kept saying `They exist!!!` (as in ridiculously prepared people that seek you out) Love my job people, LOVE IT.

Now to explain the title of the email...Portuguese people don´t really have personal space and it´s really quite hilarious. They touch each other´s faces an interesting amount of time and they are often hugging and barging in on each other and such. Well...this week getting to church was an adventure in which I really broke some boundaries (for a good cause). Pedro, the 19 year old recent convert, and his mom Nazaré are fantastic. Nazaré was our baptism the first week but because of a lot of complicated stuff she still hadn´t gotten confirmed because they hadn´t gone to church. So we got up and hour early and went to their house to go together. When we got there, she told us that Pedro wasn´t going and she wasn´t going without him. We were crushed...but we´re great friends with Pedro so I asked if we could talk to him. Turns out, he was just being lazy. I felt like such a mom, I gave him 5 more minutes to sleep and then I straight up told him that he was going to get up and go to church with his mother. The minutes passed and we went back in. He was still super lazy so....I may or may not have started singing and clapping and stole his blanket. Long story short, THEY CAME TO CHURCH and I embraced some Portuguese culture of very few personal boundaries. 

It's a great life in Portugal!
Side note: thank goodness for the gift of tongues because I´m realizing it´s almost impossible to get to know people and have these great friendships if you can´t talk to them. But Pedro and I are pals even after that adventure so shout out to the gift of tongues in the end really.

A heart attack & a half
In other news we had dinner with the bishop´s family and he is the GREATEST. It was really great to get to know them and I feel so much more united in the cause now. He asked us all about our families, what callings our parents have, and even if we had boyfriends. Too funny. He LOVES missionary work and literally told us that if we ever need him for a lesson he´ll cancel everything to go with us: His daughter, laughing, also told us that he wrote a list to Pai Natal for Christmas and asked for 7 more baptisms this month. I told him we´d see what we can do to help out Pai Natal!

I wish I could just tell you all EVERYTHING but I have to go pack to head down to Lisboa for my residency stuff! Thinking and praying for you all ALWAYS. Stay firm, stay fixe, and write me lots of letters and emails ;) 

Abraços e beijinhos,

A Mais Louca Irmã na Missão

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! I'll have the fish.

Dearest Family and Friends,

Let´s all just take a moment to pause and realize that I am almost 5 months into my mission. WHATTTTT. Someone asked me when I would hit 6 months (Christmas day, by the way) and when I realized how soon it was I almost started to cry. Seriously. I´m almost crying just writing about 5 months right now!!!! Where did the time go and how can I get it back???

This week was really great. We all went to Porto again to have training with the assistants and interviews with President. Every interview we get a chance to ask him an ´inspired question.´ You only get one and that man is wise and so we all think about it weeks in advance. It came about time and I really didn´t even know how to word mine. I ended up just asking President how to do everything haha. There are so many people to visit, members, recent converts, less actives, investigators, the list goes on and on! He gave me a lot of good tips and such but the best thing he told me is that yeah, there´s a lot to do but if the Lord didn´t think I was capable to take care of this area He wouldn´t have sent me here. I hadn´t realized until that moment just how much I needed to hear that. There is SO much work to do, always! We work SO hard throughout the day and still have a million more things to do. It´s the work of SALVATION and I take it quite personally. I think this week what I learned a little better is to remember that I just have to do my best. I just have to try and contact as many people as I can, teach Sister Brundage the best I can (even though SHE´s practically training me here), teach with the Spirit the best that I can, and if I do the BEST that I possibly can that the Lord WILL make up the rest. He keeps showing me over and over again that He has His hand in our work here. He doesn´t show it by sending 100 baptism-ready people our way (as nice as that would be), but He NEVER fails to show me that He´s here, that He´s looking out for me and that He recognizes I´m doing my absolute best. I just hope you all know that I really feel that I am. I need to improve on a LOT of things, but that´s okay, those things will come. I also hope you just remember this lesson that I´m relearning for the one millionth time- we just have to do our best. Remember my obsession with the consecrated missionary talk? Well there´s a quote that says, ´I don´t believe that God expects perfection of us, but I do believe that He expects immediate progress.` So let´s just keep progressing okay?!

ANYWAY... this recent weeks I´m actually going to be out of my area a lot. Just in this past transfer we´ve had zone meetings, interviews, this week we have a mission tour conference with Elder Dyches, a seventy, and next week I´m going to Lisboa (ALONE. Yikes) to get my residency card! Lots of travel but it keeps things interesting. 

Fun facts from Portugal...well unfortunately Pedro, the guy we marked to be baptized disappeared from off the face of the earth. He didn´t show up to our next appointment with him and his phone doesn´t work. We tried tracking down his address but it doesn´t exist. The funny part of this all in all quite sad story is the hour we took trying to find his house. We found the road we thought it was and then started looking for the right house number. Well turns out Portugal has NO system for these things. As we´re passing houses we go by 500s, 200s, then all of the sudden it´s house #3, then we even saw a house that was #1875 AND #5. Out of all these numbers none of them turned out to be the lucky one. Obviously we´re disappointed about Pedro, but when he´s ready he´ll find the church again even if we´ll never find anyone´s address.

Other fun facts, this city has a MILLION cats. EVERYWHERE. Sister Swasey fun fact, I HATE CATS. But that´s okay, all part of the European experience? Outside of making friends with the animal life, we´ve also befriended a few of the city´s regulars. There´s a man we always see walking aroud whistling. We tried contacting him but he´s really not interested. We´ve ended up pals in the end however and we still get to enjoy the music. Another favorite is the castanhos man. He sells chestnuts on a street we pass a lot and he always gives us some when we pass. Again, not interested, but it´s fun to make friends right?

Anyway, got to go do some work and whatnot but I love you all and hope you  have an awesome thanksgiving! It´s not really a thing here so I´m sure I´ll be dining on more fish but that´s okay, Portugal is a pretty cool place to be in general.

5 months down (NOOOO), 13 more to go...

Com muito amor e abraços,

Sister Swasey

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm in a mission full of miracles . . .

Queridas pessoas na minha vida,

Another week gone by so quickly! Where do I even begin? Let´s start by talking about how if I´m going to gain weight anywhere on the mission it is most certainly going to be here in Matosinhos. The members are so fantastic and feed us several times a week. Not just that, but they also think that we´re too skinny so they always ask us why we´re not eating more RIGHT after I put away a sold 2 or 3 plates of food. Sometimes they even put the food onto my plate for me so I can´t even say no. It´s really quite a hilarious situation to be honest and I always end up practically rolling out of there houses. Good news is I now know what Portuguese food is! Basically, it´s a lot of fish that still has it´s eyes and heads and bones and stuff. We get a lot of laughes because I really have no idea how to eat around all the tiny bones so I end up destroying the fish in general. The standard Portuguese dish is bacalhau, but we also eat a lot of carapau, sardines, and tuna. It´s pretty good stuff even though it´s still staring at me when I eat it. I´ve also noticed that practically every meal involves potatoes, cooked in all different sorts of ways, ALL good. At EVERY meal, dessert is also a necessity. So after they´re already loaded me with soup, fish, potatoes, and salad then they put these delicious desserts in front of me. Like I said, if I´m going to gain weight it will definitely be here!

In other news, it has been yet another week of miracles. The work is moving a little slower than I´d like but it´s picking up as we go. We´re working a lot more with the members and having more contact with recent converts and less actives which is nice. We also marked a baptism!!!! ...which now will have to be postponed because he didn´t come to church. His name is Pedro and he´s fantastic. He has incredible questions and is really ready to be baptized, he´s just a little nervous. His phone doesn´t work well so it´s been a little complicated getting in touch with him but we´ve made plans to track him down this week. (How did missionary work even HAPPEN without phones?!) But anyway, it just goes to show that even when we do EVERYTHING we can, we can´t take away people´s agency. Not that I want to, it just obviously makes me sad that I can´t do more sometimes to help people improve their lives. The greatest thing is, I still get so many reminders that Heavenly Father recognizes my efforts. Let´s be honest, I´m not doing everything right here. It´s my third transfer, I´m training, we´re still learning the language and all that so obviously I´m not quite the organized, experienced missionary I want to be and THAT´S OKAY. I´m really hitting a point where I feel like I´m doing all I can and He´s making up the rest, just like He always promises he will. So yeah, Pedro may take longer to be baptized, but we´re still working with our miracle investigator Luiz and he´s progressing really great and still going to church! Even just now, literally as we were doing our emails and such someone came up and asked us about the church and said he´d like to go with us!!! We´re having so many experiences that just don´t happen without some heavenly help. I guess if I´m learning anything here it´s just to work as hard as I can and do the best that I can and Heavenly Father WILL always make up the rest. I can´t say it enough, miracles are SO real!!!

Some other fun facts... oh! I´ve been getting pretty creative with my contacts on the street lately and honestly having a blast. The people up here in the Porto area are a little more closed off than down south and it was really starting to make me crazy those first couple weeks. But then I noticed that people were always SUPER nice when we asked for directions, way nicer than even just introducing ourselves as missionaries. So then we started doing a lot of GPS contacting, in other words, I´d pick a random place we might need to know about (post office, stores, whatever) and start by asking people where it is and then asking their name and slowly introducing ourselves and why two random Americans who don´t fully speak Portuguese are doing in Portugal. It has turned out to work pretty well and people are a LOT nicer! Sometimes we also extend our language study onto the street. Whenever I come across words I don´t know, I stop strangers on the street and just ask them what it means. A lot of times they don´t know, can´t explain or I don´t even understand the explanation but it´s gotten a lot of people to open up to us easier! So basically I´m learning that you just have to get creative here and the people really are super nice. 

Not much else to update really...I did my very first division this week with the sister trainer leaders...NERVE WRACKING. But it went super well and I learned a lot. It´s always so interesting to teach with other missionaries because everyone´s styles are so different but so good! Tomorrow we have interviews with President Fluckiger and man I´m stoked for some inspiration!!! 

I hope you´re all doing well! I think and pray for you often. Never hesitate to shoot me an email anytime, I love hearing from you all!!! Fiquem bem e saibam que eu vos amo BASTANTE. É verdade, vocês são incríveis e sinto muito falta de vocês. Fiquem firmes, fixes, e orem por mim ;) 

Com TANTO amor,

Irmã Swasey

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sotaques e Sonhos (Accents & Dreams)

Minha Querida Família,

Danielle & Pauliana
Oh life is just so so good. SO GOOD. Matosinhos is seriously promised land over here. I´m not going to lie, it´s been an insane couple weeks. We´ve been wandering around a lot, getting turned around, and having all sorts of adventures. Good news is we did some boss planning this past week and I´m feel super stoked for this next week. We have all in all awesome, attainable, difficult goals set and good plans to reach them. We´re slowly picking up our own investigators while continuing to try to work with the ones the elders left for us. I feel like I´m finally hitting my stride with training, whitewashing, and everything. 

Remember when I said that I´ve never worked so hard in my life? Well NOW I´ve seriously never worked so hard in my life. We have 3 hours of study during the morning, then an hour of language study after lunch so basically it´s a lot of time out of proselitismo, meaning we have to make every other hour count. We really hit the streets this week and talked with a bunch of people. I speak only Portuguese all day with Sister Brundage, in the house included and she´s learning really fast. I let her speak English for that last 30-60 minutes of the day after planning because I know how frustrating it is to got ALL day without being to completely express yourself. I´m mostly trying my best to teach her how to figure it out for herself, as in applying grammar she´s studied or figuring out cognates. She´s picking it up really quickly and I love that she´s not afraid to talk to people. 

This week was a week of miracles. We worked SO hard and a lot of things just weren´t working out. For instance, I accidentally locked us out of our phone Saturday night so that was stressful. We also couldn´t even call our investigators to remind them about church and so like nobody showed up, even people that really seemed elect. I was so heartbroken. Not discouraged but just sad because I really felt like I did all that I could to get people there. Then after sacrament meeting a member came up to me and asked me if I knew a Luiz because he´s not a member and he wasn´t with the elders. I went and met him and turns out he was a super fast contact we made in the street on like Tuesday! WHAT. I know right? This really was a miracle for us. Not only did he come but he stayed the whole 3 hours! Then, later that night we´re were waiting outside the church for a meeting and an amazing man basically contacted us! He asked a lot of amazing questions and we set up a follow appointment with him. It´s just like Heavenly Father is leading the people to us as we´re doing everything we can to find them. 

Danielle & Elders Costa, Grover & Perkins
This week I had a really amazing experience on the street. We tried contacting this man that had absolutely no interest, he just wanted to talk about how God, Christ, heaven, and all other related things make no sense because the world is terrible bla, bla, bla. When people talk like this and don´t want to hear anything we usually just leave a card with them and tell them they can call us if they need anything or have questions. So I started doing that, because this man wasn´t letting us get a single word in, when all the sudden I just started bearing my testimony. I don´t even really know what I said...I just started testifying that I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of God and the reason the world is messed up is because people aren´t following his teachings, often because a lot of them were lost after Christ died. It was something to that effect...about the restoration and whatnot. This man all of the sudden COMPLETELY changed. He let me mark down his address to pass to the missionaries where he lives and let us pray with him. After the prayer I swear I saw tears in his eyes. I don´t remember exactly what I said to him because it seriously wasn´t me saying it. The Spirit took over completely. It really reminded me of all the scriptures that tell us we won´t be confounded before men and the portion of the gospel that is needed will be given to us in the moment we need it. It was by far my most memorable, powerful contacting experience by far, not because my Portuguese was perfect or I answered all his millions of questions but because the Spirit spoke.

Speaking of Portuguese...GOOD NEWS. Switching gears a bit here but I don´t have much more time because we´re going to the beach soon. (I have a great life, I know) Yesterday, as I mentioned earlier was a little bit of a roller coaster that definitely ended on a high with all the miracles. Other pluses from yesterday all have to do with Portuguese! So yeah, I still have a MILLION words to learn and whatnot BUT...yesterday we were eating dinner with a family from the ward (fun fact, Baba de Camelo is a Portuguese dessert, mais ou menos the consistency of cake batter and literally means camel drool, DELISH despite the name). I was talking about how we´re been working really hard to speak Portuguese all day and Paula, on of the members said, ´you know you almost don´t have any accent at all right?` WHATTTT. I about cried. Then we stopped by another member, a 19 year old recent convert and I asked him to correct me whenever I said something wrong. He just looked at me and was like, ´When? You speak like a Portuguese person.`WHATTTTTTTTTT. I about died. I still have a little bit of a brasilian twang (thanks Sister Blanco... ;)) but he said it´s getting closer to a real Portuguese accent!!!! THE JOY IN MY SOUL HEARING THESE WORDS. But seriously, the work brings the most joy, but knowing I´m really nailing the language is the best perk there is. 

Well family and friends, keep it classy now. You´re all super swell and I hope this letter has brightened your days. Not much inspiration here I´m afraid but I´m off to eat some other random Portugal food, (frantozinhos? something like that....) and I´ll probably gain 100 pounds here. IT´S A GOOD LIFE.


Sister Swasey :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Matosinhos, also known as Heaven

Queridas Pessoas Na Minha Vida,

So I have good news and I have bad news. Bad news...I´m pretty sure I died. Sorry about it everyone. The GOOD news is, I made it to the celestial kingdom!!!! Who knew it was really called Matosinhos and everybody speaks Portuguese there with funky northern accents??? 

Let´s talk seriously now, I literally think I just scored the greatest area in the entire mission, and that isn´t even all that biased. If you´re going to train and whitewash your third transfer I can´t even IMAGINE a better place to do it. Serio. Porto is GORGEOUS, first of all, you don´t even understand how beautiful and cool it is. We live on the 6th floor on a really cool street. Well, they´re all cool streets with neat shops and such. Our area is enormous so we haven´t even explored it all yet, but we´re gonna do a bajillion street contacts this week and get lost a million times I´m sure. 

Now, let´s just talk about the members here... First of all, THERE´S A WARD, A REAL WARD. I lovedddd Caldas and the adorable branch there but seriously...A WARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There´s like 100 people and it´s just magnificent. Church don´t even know. It was like I went home to the states and everyone just happened to speak Portuguese, with strange Porto accents. (Seriously, the accents up north are super funky, fingers crossed I pick it up because they´re sooo funny.) It´s all really well organized and well done, the Bishop is fantastic and so is the Ward Mission Leader (yep, we even have one of those!) Sunday school was sweet too because we don´t even have to teach the Principios do Evangelho class- THEY HAVE A TEACHER. What. Also, Relief Society? It was sweet, we got handouts and everything. IT IS LIKE AMERICA. EVEN BETTERRRR.

Also, Sister Brundage, my companion, is adorable. She´s so pumped to work and we´re already really great friends. She speaks pretty well and I´ve been trying really hard to just speak Portuguese like I did with Sister Blanco and the others. I´m sure she´s going to learn really quickly, and hopefully I will too haha. 

Sorry, can we just go back and talk about the members one more time? We´ve already eaten at 3 members house and we got here on Thursday night. WHAT. Not to mention we already have 2 more dinners planned for this week and Christmas plans. I´m sorry, but where am I?... Fun fact, Portuguese food is the bomb. Super great pastas, chicken, always rice, and they eat a decent amount of mushrooms, fried eggs, and carrots if anyone was curious. Also, a bunch of people have already sought US out and told us the times of the week they´re free to go to lessons with us. Seriously, is this real life?

In other news, we´re teaching the most elect Peruvian lady known to man. She accepts everything and I had my darling little trainee Sister Brundage invite her to be baptized. ACCEPTED. She´s super awesome, she´s married with a little daughter and speaks super great Espanguês haha. Shout out to good old Roberto, she´s from Lima in case you were wondering!

Did you think I was done? Not quite. We ALSO had a baptism yesterday!!!! Nazare, the nicest lady on the planet was baptized yesterday by her son, Pedro, also a recent convert. She was so patient with me as I tried to figure out my first baptism on my own and she has a really incredible testimony. Another fun fact about Portuguese people, ESPECIALLY Nazare, is they really do love to feed you. Everyone also thinks we´re too skinny so they load up your plate over and over and OVER again. Me, loving to eat, am more than happy to please them. Nazare just had us over to plan the baptism and we left full of sanduiches and cookies. You also seriously cannot say no to these people so you end up eating more than you think you can bear. It´s a hard life as a missionary but someone´s gotta do it!

Okay, but in all seriousness when they tell you a mission is the best and hardest thing you´ll ever do they weren´t kidding. It´s been an amazing week, but as you can imagine also pretty overwhelming. Overwhelming with goodness but still overwhelming! We´re spending a lot more time on our knees than ever before in my lifetime and I´m learning really quickly to depend on the Lord more than ever before. These past few days of running around trying to figure out the area and a baptism and training and the language have been crazy draining and at the end of the day it´s that faith in Jesus Christ that gets me through. I just hope you all know how much I love it here but also that it takes a LOT of work and I´m doing a ton of stuff I´ve never done before. The best part is though that no matter what, I know I can do it, not because I have the experience or knowledge or talent (not even close) but because I have the Salvador do Mundo at my side. So I guess what I´m saying is remember that, some days are going to be crazy hard or crazy good or just crazy in general, or all of the above! But that´s okay, it´s ALWAYS going to be okay because we´re where we´re supposed to be and we have the help of someone that´s already been through everything we´re going through. 

I love you all, shout outs to Grandpa Eubank, Sister Kite, Sister Ward, and whoever else I may be forgetting for the mail! Oh and hello to Sister Ward´s seminary class!!! Go on a mission, you´ll never regret it for a second!!!!!


Sister Swasey

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Transferências!!! (drumroll please...)


So here´s the thing- BEST WEEK EVER. But seriously, it was. This week we finished up training and visited a bunch of inactives and had some super cool lessons. We had dinner at Patricia´s house with the whole family and it was a BLAST.

BUT....I have some crazy news for all of you so listen up if you want to hear something absolutely awesome....

EU FUI TRANSFERIDA!!!! It´s the truth. It´s actual. Everything is MORE than satisfactual. Also I forgot how to spell transferred (transfered?) so I´m taking that as a good sign that the Português is sinking in. But that not the most exciting news ever? Don´t get me wrong, I LOVEEEE Caldas, it was an awesome place to start off the mission and I learned so much there. It was really REALLY hard to say by to the members and to Beta and all of our other investigators and such. The thing is, it just feels so so SO right. When they called on Sunday, nothing was a surprise, I just know that this transfer is 100% heaven sent. Don´t ask me why, but I´m trusting this good feeling and I´m ready to go!

So currently I´m chilling in Odivelas, a part of Lisboa. Fun fact: this is not my new area. Are all of you sufficiently confused and anxious? I´m just here hanging out (okay not really, we´re going to work really hard because that´s what we missionaries do) in Lisboa until Thursday when..........MY NEW COLEGA ARRIVES FROM THE STATES. Aka... I´M TRAINING THIS TRANSFER. Yup. It´s the truth. The good news is Sister Blanco has been telling me she thought I would train early for a long time so it wasn´t too bad of a surprise and I´m ridiculously pumped. This is not faked, I´m STOKED. I´m still not exactly positive her name because it was hard to hear but something like Sister Brunditch? I´ll let you know for sure next week haha. 

So NOW are you ready to here where I´m off to? Well....I´M GOING TO PORTO!!!! Seriously, am I conveying enough excitement in this email? Because I´m FREAKING excited. Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal, up north. It´s going to be bem bem BEM frio and rain a LOT. Elder Grover was district leader of my area, Matosinhos, and he said it´s super cool. It´s right on the ocean and it´s supposed to be really pretty.

So yeah for anyone that hasn´t picked up on this yet, I´m whitewashing Matosinhos, or in other words, both me and my colega are new there so we´re kind of starting from scratch. I talked to the elder I´m switching with and he said they have a few investigators and one baptism marked, so actually in terms of a whitewash it shouldn´t be too bad! Okay, let´s be honest it´s not going to be bad at all because it´s Porto, I´m training, I´m going to just figure it all out as I go and it´s going to be SWEETTTT. I´m dying of joy, are you all seeing this? Estou a falar bem serio, ESTOU TÃO ANIMADA. 

In other great news, Matosinhos has a WARD!!!!! With 15 recent converts, all active, and about a 100 members! They have 2 elders there too that I´m sure will help me out a lot. So basically, we´re just going to hit the streets running, contact like crazy, and really work a ton with the members. 

Oh my lovely family and friends, I LOVE YOU ALL! I´m so freaking pumped for this transfer. Am I scared? Nope. Nervous? Ridiculously, but hey, I´ll figure it out right? I´m hope you´re all doing super duper fantastic. Don´t you dare worry about me, my life is GLORIOUS. Why am I so psyched? Who knows! It´s just going to be such a great new start and I´m as ready as I´ll ever be! Stay fantastic, firm, and faithful!

Com MUITO amor,

Senior Companion (WHAT?), Sister Swasey

Monday, October 21, 2013

Divisions, Fish Eyes and Fanny Packs

Dearest Familia!!!

Danielle and Sister Kunz
WHAT A WEEK. But I could really say that every week now couldn´t I? So many new and exciting things in the life of Sister Swasey! This week I did my very first division! I´ve never done one before since my companion is the trainer that usually does the divisions, ya know? But this time we mixed it up and so Sister V and I packed up our bags and headed off to Vila Franca to be with another trainee that got here with us, Sister Kunz. I have to say, it was SUPER weird to be in an area that isn´t Caldas! But it was a super fun and good experience. We had the chance to eat dinner with a Anisia, her daughter, and her cousin´s daughter. Anisia is AMAZING, super duper elect. We had a lesson with her and then we ate dinner. I helped cook the fish, which was a first for me considering they still had the eyes, tail, well...everything really haha. I think it´s called Carapau here, or something like that. Sister Kunz and I even tried the eyes! Pretty gross to be honest, but it was really fun. This family...just wow. They have next to nothing and yet she would have given us everything. She just kept piling on food and asking how she could help us. After two days in Vila Franca and just two days with this lady I seriously just fell in love with her. She´s absolutely amazing, so sweet and so giving. I love being here on the mission if just that I get to meet incredible people all the time. 
Danielle, Sister Kunz, Anisia & Family

Sister Kunz and Yara

It was really great to work with Sister Kunz too! I think she was a little nervous to be with two other greenies but this kind of stuff is old hat for me and Sister Vomocil. We had a lot of success there too! It was cool to do street contacts with her because everyone has a different style and you pick up on cool new techniques, like new questions or ways to introduce topics.

Sister Kunz and Sister Vomocil
Let´s see...other fun facts of the week include fanny packs and strange street contacts. Okay seriously, fanny packs are like a really normal thing here, not dorky whatsoever. I haven´t quite given in to this idea yet but I do find it interesting because European style is so chic and...fanny packs. Also we had which might be my favorite street contact so far. We stopped this guy on the road and asked his name like normal. He told us it was ´Leopardo.´  We both were a little confused and all the sudden he got way defensive and pulled out his wallet to prove it. We both told him we believed him, it was just that we´d never heard that name before. He still was insisting his name was Leopard and showed us his ID. Which....said Leonardo. After that he just walked away and we just started laughing uncontrollably. And now I have officially met someone that doesn´t know his own name! Caldas is certainly anything but boring that´s for sure!

No more time to write for this week, as always pressed for time. Expect and interesting email next week because transfers are coming and they are going to be some big changes around here! Love you all, FIQUEM BEM!!!!!!


Sister Swasey 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lutas de água and other random life facts

Dearest Family, Friends, and all other Sister Swasey´s mission enthusiasts,

Life is truly splendid!
Ah life on the mission, it´s rather splendid, truly it is. If only these emails could really display all that´s going on here in tiny Caldas da Rainha or in my head. Hopefully you´re all getting something out of these though. I don´t really have many entertaining stories to tell. Don´t get me wrong, we laugh a LOT and have a TON of fun here. Seriously, living with two brasileiras is an adventure in and of itself, they´re so crazy and so funny. Last night into this morning we had what I think was our fourth water fight. It´s becoming quite a regular thing around here. The standard beginning is always someone doing dishes. Now, keep in mind, dishwashers aren´t a common thing here, which is chill, we just wash all our dishes and leave em out to dry. The thing is, somebody always says a sarcastic comment or something and gets a cup or bowl of water dumped on them. But you can never leave it like that, né? So there begins a water fight, and the thing is, if two people are a part of it, já era, we´re all in it. Everybody starts running around the house with random cups, buckets, bowls, and water bottles chasing each other down. I tried to take a picture of our house today but my camera´s having trouble (enjoy the throwback pics, I´ll try to get it fixed soon!). Another thing is, carpet isn´t a thing here either, so the stairs became a water fall and the rest of the house a lake. Is it sad that this is a regular thing?

Rafkat & Ian,  investigators who are
also teaching Danielle some Russian
Some interesting news of the week is on Tuesday we got a call from the office andddd....Sister Andrade got transferred! Some sister had a medical thing or something so they robbed our tripla and now it´s back just me and Irmã Blanco. Nothing really stays the same very long around here! But I suppose that´s mission life. I´m not going to lie, I was super bummed. She´s like the sweetest person you will ever meet, always helping me with my Portuguese and working so hard to learn the lessons and everything. She´s only been a member for 2 years too! She´s probably going to get her mission call to serve a full-time mission soon and I secretly hope she gets called back here so I can serve with her again. 

This week we had a really cool lesson during divisions. I went with Sister Vomocil to visit Patricia two times. Sisters Vomocil and Prieto have been teaching Patricia and her family. The first time we asked how her reading in the Book of Mormon was going and she said she hadn´t read and so we started talking about how it´s important. The cool thing about her is she really does want to know that the church is true, she wants to have that certeza that it´s all real. Well recently I´ve been working hard on bearing a more real testimony, not just saying I prayed and felt that something was true. So then I told her about how I came to know the Book of Mormon is true personally. I described how for me it wasn´t one grandious moment, I read it all growing up and simply could never find something wrong about it, it always taught me good principles, brought the Spirit, and testified of Christ. I told her about how as I read I ran into verses that completely applied to me in that given moment. Well then the next day we stopped by again. She was all excited and got out her Book of Mormon and said all happily, ´Eu li!´ She then proceeded to read a scripture from some war chapter and I was super confused but then she started to explain. She´s like, I just flipped to this page and it´s talking about how wars don´t fix anything and we should avoid contention. So if I apply this I guess I learn that I really need to work on that in my own life, not being so contentious, like not yelling at my kids as much and stuff.´ Sister Vomocil and I were just in awe. Then she started telling us all about how she was working late last night but all she could think about was reading the Book of Mormon and it just kept popping into her head until she just had to read. Again, we were in awe and simply told her that this was the Spirit that she had been waiting to hear. She has really great questions and legitimate concerns, one being that she really wants to know that it´s the Spirit not just us telling ourselves it´s true. So we explained to her about that, that we know it´s not just us sometimes simply because the Spirit tells us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear, like in this case- PATRICIA LEIA O LIVRO DE MORMON. She was super receptive to this and so we read Alma 32:27 with her. This is the scripture that talks about if we just have desire and a particle of faith, we can grow that into a real testimony. It was a really cool moment with her where she really started to realize that she could have the testimony she really does want. I wish I could describe the Spirit that was there or just how AWESOME she is. The desire that she has is so real, and that´s why Alma 32 is so perfect. If we just have the DESIRE to know, we can know. We can have real faith.

Adventures cleaning the chapel - still can't get away from cleaning bathrooms! Sister Prieto is a little odd - haha
Well that´s my story from the week, not much more crazy and exciting to note unfortunately! Just working hard and learning lots! I´ve been memorizing a scripture almost every day and it´s been super sweet. It´s kind of hard in Portuguese but I´m getting a lot better! My Portuguese really is coming along better than I could have ever imagined, the Lord is really at my side every second of the day and is really filling my mouth. There´s no other explanation possible other than He´s just helping be out like crazy with the language. I´m getting to the point where I´m starting to think in Portuguese on occasion and I often can´t remember how to say things in English. The greatest thing ever is when the words just come out bem suave and I just think, ´Wait, I just said that in another language!´ It´s probably the most fun thing ever. 

Today, I read that talk I mentioned last time about becoming a consecrated missionary and I just wanted to share some quick thoughts. One of my favorite lines ever is (more or less), ´Sometimes we must do more than tell the stories of the Book of Mormon, we must live them.´ Gets me every time. Live the stories, live the gospel, and know that I love you all so much. I pray for you, think of you, and hope that all is well back in the good old USA!!!

Com muito amor,

Irmã Swasey