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 ANYWAY...is 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

Monday, October 7, 2013

Conferência Geral- Vida Boa!

Querida Família e Queridos Amigos,

We have bamboo - this one's for you Grandpa!
I feel like everytime I sit down to write I just want to tell you over and over and over again how much I LOVE being a missionary. Not because I think that´s what you all want to hear but because it´s the truth! Everyday I just learn so much. That´s really the amazing thing. Usually what I learn tends to be what I need to improve, yet I never feel discouraged, just more determined to be better, work harder, see miracles. 

This week was Conferência Geral! I hope you all got the chance to watch it and LOVE it. I certainly did. So what happens here is we do in fact watch it live. So on Saturday and Sunday we watched it at 5pm and 9pm in the chapel, with special permission to get home late and all that. I really had quite a spectacular experience. I understood a lot but clearly not everything, nem quase. It was especially cool though because I tried really hard to be taught by the Spirit because I knew I wasn't going to understand all the words and stuff. Whatever I did understand sparked thoughts and as it went, I can truly say that I was taught by the Spirit. It will be interesting to compare the notes I took down with the actual talks because I´m pretty sure they´re going to be very different. But that´s the amazing thing! Conference was such a good boost to keep me going and working hard. The whole thing was like a personal interview where I asked myself a million and a half questions and really evaluated how I´m doing. Now it´s time to go and apply them! 

This week was really great too because we talked with a TON of people. We had special invites to conference and handed them out to practically EVERYONE. It was super cool and a few people even came, stayed for a whole session, and gave us their contact information! 

We also had one of my favorite lessons yet. I can´t even really say favorite because I love so many of them but it was a good one. Sister Andrade and I taught Immanuel for the first time. I met him with Sister Vomocil one day when we ran into another investigator who was talking to him. He was outside a café drinking beer with a couple other guys. We didn´t stay long because it just didn´t feel right and all that but he definitely stood out from all the other people. Later on that week I ran into him again. I got his number just telling him I wanted to talk to him more and invite him to english classes. He hasn´t been able to come to English classes but finally I just set up a real appointment to talk to him. He was super happy to come and meet in the church and all. He told us he really believes in God but isn´t active in any church. After we taught about the restoration we read the Moroni 10:4-5 scripture with him. When we invited him to pray to know if it was true for himself he just said that he already knew. Woh. I wanted to cry right then and there. Of all of my favorite things on the mission, and there are many, this is it- when we invite an investigator to pray or keep a commandment and they reply that they already know or already want to. It really shows the power of the Spirit, humbles me, and helps me feel like I´m doing my job. I still don´t speak perfectly, not even close, and even if I was speaking English I know I have a lot to learn about how to teach better and whatnot, but when the Spirit is that strong in a lesson it´s literally life changing, for me and for our investigators. Immanuel didn´t necessarily seem like someone super interested in the gospel but after one lesson he accepted a convite suave (invitation to be baptized) and was SO excited to have his own Book of Mormon. He told us that he really believes in God and what we taught and he´s ready to change. I´m just so humbled and grateful to be apart of all that. 

Fun facts for the week include the following: all the window blinds are on the outside of the windows, like a garage door kind of. Nothing life changing, but interesting não é? Also, the light switches for all the bathrooms are always on the outside of the bathroom. I´m still not sure exactly why. To me it seems like that´s the riskiest room to have the light switch on the outside haha. Other fun facts...não sei, I really like visiting the mall here on P-days because there are always super cool European clothes and really fun t-shirts in English. Sometimes they make sense, but more often than not they don´t.

Had an adventure in a random village and . . .
Life is just good, what can I say? I´m sure things go wrong during the week but at the end of the day it´s ALWAYS a good day. I just want to work, which is a weird thing to say and something I know I never said before the mission haha. In our training packet we have this AMAZING talk about being a consecrated missionary. I don´t know if I´ve already mentioned it but it has seriously become a standard work for me, I´ve read it a million times. It talks about all the things we need to leave behind to be that completely consecrated missionary to the Lord. We have to leave our fears, doubts, negativity, sarcasm, pride, disobedience, and then just trust in Him. I want more than everything to say that I´m a consecrated missionary, not just a good missionary, but a sister that is giving every last thought, minute, effort to this work. 18 months just isn´t enough time and I don´t want to waste any of it!!!!
. . . missed the bus home.

 Anyway, sorry for the monologue. Enfim, life is fantastic. Full of work, and lessons, and miracles. I hope that you all are just fantastic. I think of you often and pray for you by name. Fiquem bem!

Com MUITO amor,

Irmã Swasey