Monday, January 27, 2014

The Lord's Time Is The Best Time

Pessoas lindas na minha vida,

WOH. Seriously. Do you even know what kind of a week I had? If there were words to describe it in any language, I would use them. Unfortunately, there really aren´t words to describe it, but hey, I´ll give it a try. If I had to pick just a one word, I´d say it was a miracle.
More Fun Graffiti

Got to see Sister Kunz again.
Matosinhos is an incredible area, like seriously, I´m obsessed and I LOVED Caldas. The people are just so wonderful. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. I must say however, the work has been a little on the slow side. Remember how I told you that I was kind of surprised that I stayed here with Sister Brundage? Well trust me when I tell you that President is an inspired man and God has a perfect plan. We have worked so hard and just haven´t seemed to find a lot of progressing investigators, that is, until this week!!!! Cristiana is marked for baptism for this Sunday!!! We´re praying so hard that everything goes through but she really is incredible. We got her and her whole family she´s living with to church this week and everything. Church was just a happy sight to see. Usually Sundays are stressful and we never know who we´re going to get to church...this week however it was just exciting! We had DOUBLE the people that we normally have. It´s just amazing...we´ve obviously been working really hard to steadily progress but not a lot that we did this week was that different, it was purely just the hand of the Lord getting people into those chapel doors. He´s so great.

So yeah, Cristiana is really amazing. First, when we invited her to be batized she said she really wanted to but it was kind of early. I got out the story in Acts 8 that talks about the eunuco (NO idea what that is in English) that was talking to Filipe about what would stop him from being baptized. All Filipe did was ask him if he believed in Christ and the eunuco said that he yes, he believed in Christ, that He was the Son of God. In that very moment they both went down into the water and he got baptized. After that story, I just looked at her and asked her if she believed that Christ is the Son of God. She looked back at me with tears in her eyes (and OBVIOUSLY I was about to cry too, you all know me) and she said yes. I asked her again if she would commit to being baptized next week and she accepted! The thing really is that ALL we need is faith in Christ, real faith in Christ. If we have that, we´ll do what He did and what He asks, just like Cristiana is about to do :) Heavenly Father really prepared her SO much long before we came into the picture. We´ve been trying so hard and He´s been preparing this area so perfectly. We´re really started to see the fruits of our labors and it´s a very special thing.

Our posh European pastry life
More posh European pastries
In other news, we have some new investigators that are VERY cool. For you soccer fans out there, this week we started teaching 3 Nigerian professional soccer players. WHAT IS MY LIFE. Oh yeah, GREAT. They´re super cool and they only speak English!!! They came to church this Sunday and I translated for them which was really cool and humbling too because I still have a LOT of Portuguese to learn! They´re awesome though and I´m really excited to teach them more and super nervous to teach in turned my head into a crazy mix of languages but it´s definitely a fun adventure. Speaking of Portuguese I love that it helps me understand the scriptures on a different level. For example, Portuguese has 2 words to say ´bring´- trazer and levar. One means to brings something from there to here, the other from here to there, if that makes sense. Well when it talks about bringing souls unto Christ it is always trazer, there to here. It makes sense because it shows us even more that we have to be with Christ to be able to bring people to where we are. We have to come unto Christ and then bring others! Love it.

Love you all and love my mission! No place I would rather be than here for my 20th birthday! I´m getting old. ;) Wishing you all an amazing week!!!!!!


Sister Swasey

Monday, January 20, 2014

And here is where I leave my heart. . .

Eating Octopus
Oh my dearest family and friends,

This week was one full of so much LOVE. I just need to take this moment to really tell you how MUCH I love my mission, especially this area. They always tell you about how much you should and how much people do love the people on their missions. I´m here to tell you that it´s so, so, SO true. The best part is, it´s so very easy to love the people you serve because they´re really serving you by letting you be a part of their incredible and amazing lives. There can be culture barriers, language barriers, age differences, and many differences in opinions and perspectives but in the end, we´re a part of this perfect plan that Heavenly Father has for us and that is enough. 
Loving the Octopus
More Octopus

First bit of news is that yesterday we had transfers. As I think I said before I already knew for sure that Sister Brundage was outta here, being done with training and all that jazz. So we were waiting anxiously all day, she said all her goodbyes and FINALLY we got THE call. And...(drum roll please) SHE´S STAYING RIGHT HERE WITH ME 6 MORE WEEKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a surprise and WHAT a blessing!!! I don´t know if I´ve really ever told you how much I LOVE Sister Brundage and everything she´s taught me and everything we´re learned together. She is fantastic to a degree I can´t understand and above all we share such a great love for this work. This dupla isn´t going anywhere for another 6 weeks :)

Making the family wall of pictures
Member's birthday party

Member's Birthday Party
It was really good though yesterday to say kinda-goodbyes. As we were leaving the house of the Rissi family 
even I started crying haha. They are one of my favorite families here, SO strong in the gospel and so wonderful! We spent Christmas, New Years, and almost every Sunday lunch with them and I seriously can´t bear the thought of when I´m transferred from here and have to leave them. As we were leaving the house Paula said something I will NEVER forget. As a missionary, you worry. A lot. You worry you´re not quite doing enough and you wonder if the people really know just how MUCH you love them and want to help them, members definitely included. As we left she looked at us crying and said, ´Vocês foram as primeiras sisters, mas tambem vocês foram perfeitas. Eu sei que vocês foram mesmo escolhidas por Deus para servir aqui em nossa ala. Vocês foram perfeitas.´ And from there I was a bucket of tears. Translated, she said ´You were the first sisters here but you were also perfect. I know that you really were chosen by God to sere here in our ward. You were perfect.´ We´re just two sisters, SO, SO, SO imperfect, but in the end it means more than anything in this world to me to know that we made at least this one family feel loved. I share it not because I think I´m anywhere NEAR perfection but because it let me know that we´ve made a difference here in this ward that we love SOOO much. I´m not perfect, but I do believe that God Himself chose us to be here, for us and for the members and for our investigators so that all of us together could be changed for the better.
Fernando's Flutes
Pedro and Nazare
It was just a week that I realized just how much I love these people and this area! We prepared a special musical number with Fernando and Inês, two recent converts in the ward, ´Sim, Eu Te Seguirei´ (Savoir may I learn to love thee? Something like that in English...). It was so fun to do it with them and they are just amazing people! Fernando teaches music lessons and is SO into that kind of stuff and so they loved it. After we sang in church I sat down next to him in the sacrament meeting and he hands me his tuning fork he´d used to give us our starting note. I asked him if he wanted me to keep it because he didn´t say anything at first and he said yes! I told him it totally wasn´t necessary but he just looked at me and said something I found very wise. ´Tudo que temos é de Pai Celestial na mesma, sabes? Eu só estou a transferir de mim para ti.´ Translated would be, ´Everything that we have belongs to Heavenly Father anyway, ya know? I´m just transfering it from me to you.´ Wow. Didn´t I tell you these people are amazing? They are so generous and so inspiring... It just makes me want to give them everything thing I own and then some, but at the very least I plan to give them my whole heart. Matosinhos is put simply an area of miracles, of true conversion, and of love more than I can describe.
Danielle's District, Elder Yarbrough, Elder Sartorelli, & Sister Brundage
So in the end, I get 6 more weeks here to work with Sister Brundage, see miracles, do the Lord´s will, anddd baptize ;) The work is picking up steadily, with more and more progressing investigators like Paulo and Cristiana and we´re off to find others!


Random Gifts from Members

I love you all so very much and I just hope you´re getting something out of all these lessons that Heavenly Father, the Savior, and these amazing Portuguese people are teaching me. It´s really helping me get my priorities in THING in this life matters, only people. As long as they feel loved, we´re doing something right because charity NEVER faileth and the most important thing we can have is charity. So onward people! I love you! Go love others like He loves us. 
Random Portugal National Monument

ALL of my love and heart and soul,

Sister Swasey

Monday, January 13, 2014

Let us cheerfully do all things . . .

Queridas pessoas que eu amo,

Tem sido uma semana MUITO boa. Só faltamos uma semana até transferências e eu acho que vou ficar e a Sister Brundage vai se embora... :( vamos ver! É cada dia mais difícil escrever e falar em inglês sem a gramática ou as palavras de português, então desculpem mas vou escrever TUDO em Português. Usem google-translate ;) 

Just kidding, I don´t trust google translate. But honestly, it´s pretty funny the kind of Portuglês we whip out every now and then. For example, it´s very difficult to say how old someone is without saying that they `have years` or to use gospel words in English. We´re teaching an english class here and I´m always having to double check my spelling. My life. Hilarious.

But ANYWAY... WHAT A GREAT WEEK. It was full of rain, miracles, powerful lessons, prayers, adventurous foods and all in all goodness. Where to begin?

Well for starters, Sister Brundage and I have never prayed or worked harder. Every day we talk to more and more people. We´ve been praying very specifically to be able to baptize before the end of this transfer and we´ve fasted several times this month. From the looks of our sacrament meeting attendance yesterday it doesn´t seem like our miracle baptism is going to happen by this weekend BUT, our efforts were not lost but rather turned into several other miracles. Love it when that happens.

Two weeks ago, on a VERY rainy day where all of our appointments fell through with 30 minutes left in the day we met a man named Paulo. This week we had an amazing lesson with him. We taught the restoration and the spirit was just SO strong!!! I really should say that the Spirit taught the lesson and we said some stuff in the middle. In the end, we did what we call the convite suave, which basically is a baptism invite without a date or anything just a `After you pray and know these things are true, will you be baptized?´ After we extended the invite he was like, ´Oh well I´ve already been baptized so I don´t need to again right?´ He was very sincere and interested as we explained how we need to be baptized how Jesus Christ was baptized. In the end, he accepted and we´re REALLYYYY hoping to mark him this week after many more prayers and another lesson taught by the Spirit. Miracle number 1.

Miracle number 2 is named Cristiana. A few weeks ago we got a list of names or less actives to go by and see if they still lived at these addresses and whatnot. Well, one of them we accidentally knocked on the wrong door and found ANOTHER less active family! (What are the odds of that here in Portugal?!) This family really wants to start going back to church and right now their niece, Cristiana and her husband and baby are living with them. Well so we´ve started teaching Cristiana and yesterday we had an amazing lesson with the bishop of our ward. We taught the plan of salvation and testified the three of us of the power of the Atonement in our lives. Sister Brundage started tearing up and so of course I did too and then I look over and Cristiana is totally crying and the Spirit was just amazingly strong. Funny part is, it was not by any means a smooth or well taught lesson per say...but it didn´t matter because what was important was explained and the Spirit was really just there in the midst of us testifying. By the end when I did the convite suave, she agreed without a second thought. Miracles people, so many miracles.

Danielle & Sister Brundage
So basically I hope I´m sticking it out this transfer to keep seeing these miracles happen in the lives of others and in my own life too. It´s so funny... I thought I had a testimony, a big burning undeniable testimony before the mission. And I DID have a testimony of course but the thing is, the way I feel now is like all I really had was a tiny little plant that has grown into a big flourishing tree just in these 6 months walking the streets of Portugal planting seeds for others to grow their testimonies. Through everything I´ve been through here, the ups and downs and miracles and tests of faith and spiritual experience I have become a more converted person. They say that your first convert should be you on the mission. I thought I was converted...and I was, but nowhere near where I am now. I have no doubts, no fears, only faith in my Savior.

P-day Fun at the Beach
I just want to leave you all with an amazing scripture I found this week in D&C 123:17- Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
So this is my invite, my challenge to all of you. Do all that is in YOUR power, and then stand still, wait, expect to see the hand of God, to see His arm working in your lives and you WILL. I promise you with everything in me that you WILL see His loving hand and His perfect plan for you. He is there! He loves us! What greater knowledge can we have? What else is there to do but trust in this? Things will not always go our way, but they will always go His way. Let us align our lives with HIS will. I love you all, I pray for you all and the only thing I hope is to do all that lies in my power and then, I will stand still, I have stood still and I have seen miracles. I know that He´s working miracles in your lives as well!

With all my love and prayers for each and every one of you,

Sister Swasey

P.S. This week I ate cooked pig blood and pig intestines. I don´t think that really needs more explanation....

Monday, January 6, 2014


Olááááááááá, como é que estão?!?!

So might as well just start with the most interesting news of the week, shall we? It happened a week from today actually. I´m only telling you people this because I think most of you will find it humorous/normal for Sister Swasey but for all you worriers out there, might as well stop reading this paragraph now and just jump ahead.....all worriers gone? K great. So let´s just start by setting the scene. We had just finished P-day and we were getting pumped to start working again and so we´d started walking to an appointment far-ish away. So fun fact, here in Portugal, EVERYONE stops at crosswalks. Seriously, ALL the cars always stop and so often times we joke that when we go home we´re all going to get run over really fast. I think you all see where I´m going with this. It had started to get dark and it was raining. Catching on by now? Let´s put it succinctly shall we...I GOT HIT BY A CAR. But before even you non-worriers freak out, I´m completely and entirely 137% fine. Alright, more details, we started walking across the cross walk and we ad gone across the first half because the road was split between the two sides. We looked and all the cars were pretty far on this wide open road and so we kept walking, just chatting all normal like. Next thing I know, Sister Brundage has disappeared, I´m seeing headlights, I´m on the hood of a car, then on the pavement. From out of NOWHERE this car came so fast it hit Sister Brundage and then me! The crazy thing is, we both just got right back up, without hesitation. Sister Brundage was pretty shocked but fine too. I honestly just started laughing from the surprise and the absurdity of it all. A bunch of old ladies gathered around, one started to cry, they all were going crazy making sure we were okay and we really were! The driver was about to put us in the car to go to the hospital but we were honestly COMPLETELY fine! We brushed ourselves off, dispersed the very kind and lovely crowd, contacted one of the ladies that gathered (Catholic as anything, but glad we survived) and went off on our way to say a HUGE prayer of gratitude. We didn´t even cry (and this is SISTER missionaries we´re talking about) until we were saying that prayer. Ladies and gents, Heavenly Father really does protect His missionaries. If anybody had any doubts about that or miracles in general, Sister Brundage, I, and about 3 random, caring catholic old ladies are witness of it. He´s taking care of us, He sends His angels, and I have no doubt that the fact that we walked away from that scene literally laughing with barely a bruise is proof of His hand directly in our lives. 

But anyway, now that all you worriers are back with us, it was a really great week! As for New Year´s I have nothing exciting to report...I happily went to bed at 11 haha. Word is the tradition is beating pots and pans in the streets and midnight but I slept straight through everything :) Sorry, not much to say in that respect!

One amazing thing I want to share is that PORTUGUESE PEOPLE DON´T KNOW WHAT MEXICAN FOOD IS. Tacos and burritos and churros are a completely unknown wonders for these people. Don´t ask me how they´ve survived until now, we may never know. Somebody get some tortillas over here ASAP.
Feliz Natal!!
Thanks again for all of you that sent me wonderful things in the mail!!! Always just fun to hear from people. Special thanks to the seminary class of Sister Ward for the card, certainly a surprise! Yáll are the greatest, keep studying that Book of Mormon because seriously you future missionaries are going to need it one day! Not just need it, but WANT it. Something I never realized as much as I could have before is that literally EVERY scripture mastery scripture is a GOLDEN mission scripture. EVERY SINGLE ONE. So learn ´em well kids! But more than anything, just learn to trust the Lord, He knows everything WAYYYYY better than we do. That´s a lesson for all of us to learn, relearn and rerelearn a million times over.

Investigators generosity
Other news from this thing I want you to know about Portuguese people is they are insanely generous!!!! I have to be careful complimenting things because then they start offering them to you. For example, I complimented a members belt and she´s like hey, let me know when you get transferred and I´ll give it to you! I´ve talked to this member maybe 3-4 times and she was perfectly serious. The financial crisis has really humbled this country but even the people that are doing well offer us everything. This week was especially generous, I´ll have to send the picture I took next week of all the things various investigators gave us this week. Everything from books to bouncy balls to tissues to different types of fruits to socks. One lady stopped by the chapel randomly and so we showed it to her and had a great experience. She doesn´t live inside our area but even still we fell in love with her. You can tell she has like nothing, but she still offered us like half of her shopping bags and would NOT take no for an answer. They are very unmaterialistic people it seems to me. If you like something they have, they give so willingly and I love it about the people. NOT because I end up with lots of cool stuff haha, but honestly and seriously because it inspires me so much to be a more giving person.

Well, times up family and friends, I love you TONS. I hope that you all can learn through me the things these amazing people are teaching me.  Be giving, be loving, and be faithful. 

Com muito carinho,

Sister Swasey