Monday, February 24, 2014

The Blessings Just Don't Stop

Oh my dear loved ones,

The happiness of last week is still here!!!!!!!!!!!!! If blessings were rain, Matosinhos would be the area right in the middle of an enormous hurricane. 

Unfortunately, I have VERY little time to tell you all the great things that happened this week, and let me tell you why...I´m going down to Lisboa today! This morning I got a call from the assistents calling to read an anouncement to me. I too thought `huh?` and then they started reading it. And well, short story shorter, I´m going to be a Sister Training Leader next transfer! I go to Lisboa today from training. Crazy right?! I still don´t know it I´ll be staying in my area or not, nor who my new comp will be but I´m REALLY stoked!!! This means that every week or so I´ll do divisions with other sisters in my zone and probably one other zone. It´s going to be a very cool new adventure!!!

Stuck in an elevator!
Yipeee Claudia !!!!!!!!!!
But anyway, this week was awesome! Saturday especially was a bit of an adventure. We had Claudia´s baptism all planned out and just wanted to run into our apartment to grab a couple more things when....the elevator stopped! Yup. 15 minutes before we´d planned to meet up with Claudia to get her all ready. So after calling the people in charge of elevator fixing, the district leader, and the zone leader, Sister Brundage and I had a solid 45 minute party in the elevator. Oh the adventures! But anyway, we´re perfectly fine obviously and we made it to the baptism only like 10 minutes late so they waited for us and it all went great. She is an amazing person that Claudia. She already is going to institute and thinking about a mission!!!!!!!! SO MUCH JOY.

This week we also had a really awesome lesson with Armandio, Angela´s husband. He and we all knew from the very beginning that one day he´d be baptized, it was always just a question of when. This week we had an awesome lesson with them about eternal marriage, which naturally, they loved. At the end, we invited him to be baptized for this upcoming Saturday. He said that he would think about it and get back to us. Then, the spirit took over completely. We started talking about that story in Acts that I think I´ve mentioned before of the guy getting baptized way fast just because he had faith in Christ and the Spirit was just crazy strong and I wish I could tell you what I said but I didn´t say anything because it was the Spirit and in the end, we did the invite over again. He response came like when you find out who gets kicked off of a tv show. There´s that long pause and if someone would have been filming they could have gone from his face, to mine, to Sister Brundage´s to Angela´s and back to Armandio´s for him to say YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Didn´t I tell you that Heavenly Father is blessing us TONS?! We´re going to baptized 4 weeks in a row and I know it´s not because of us but because he just loves us so darn much! 

Other fun facts before I sign out. People here can name their kids Rafael and Leonardo and nobody even thinks ninja turtles. It´s great. Last week I met a lady that literally lives on a boat so that was cool. Also, it´s warming up and all the grass has little daisies in it and so it´s like walking in a magical land.

I´m excited for the change but also mad depressed about the idea of leaving Sister Brundage. I don´t have sisters, but now I finally know what it´s like to have one! She and I have gone through so much together and I just freaking LOVE her. You all needed to know that. 

Also, the executive secretary asked me today what we´re doing differently in our area to be having so much success. The answer is honestly...nothing. After talking with Sister Brundage about it the only thing we have changed is we worry less now and we put more and more of ourselves into Heavenly Father´s hands every day. If things aren´t going well...keep going and don´t worry! It ALWAYS works out in the end!!!!

Love you all, can´t wait to update you about transfers next week!

Com muitos abraços,

Sister Swasey

Monday, February 17, 2014

Felicidade que não acaba

Well, hello there!

I wish, I really wish that there was a way for you all to just feel what I feel right now, even if it was just for like 2 seconds because those 2 seconds would be all it would take for you to all have a lasting smile and happy tears in your eyes and you´d walk taller and you´d know even more than you already do just how wonderful this world and this gospel are. I know, I know...I know you´re all thinking, ´Sister Swasey, EVERY week is a good week for you.´ True. But let me just say right now, if there is such thing as a perfect week in the mission, I just had one. I can´t describe the happiness I feel and it´s making me crazy because I want you all to feel it. I´m a happy person in general but this is so much BETTER. This is better than summertime, better than getting into BYU, this is even better than the day I got my mission call. This is real happiness people, and I want you to feel it through me! If I think to much about how happy I am I´m going to just sit in this internet place and cry and everyone is going to think I´m crazy. AND I AM, SO CRAZY HAPPY. Now, let me explain why.

So as you all know, last week was rocking. Lots of miracles, lots of cool lessons and new investigators and miracles. Well this week...even better. In the beginning it was slow. It rained a lot and we said goodbye to yet another dear umbrella. But I really don´t remember ever even being discouraged...maybe I was but we just kept going, just knowing we had two baptisms planned and that we were going to do well in all the other areas too. We went a full day LITERALLY talking with LITERALLY every person we saw in the road in the rain and ended up not finding a SINGLE new investigator. Yup. But we stuck it out and all the sudden Saturday rolled around and we went out to visit less actives with the ward. The sun was even out and by lunch, we had tons of lessons and several new investigators! Like, where did that even come from? Heavenly Father is amazing.Then the elders had a baptism that afternoon which was great and then we went out and worked some more. That night, we went to visit Angela, our angel, her brother Paulo and her husband Armandio. Just so happened that her son was there too with his girlfriend. We offered them both copies of the Book of Mormon and had a really great visit with them! The next day Angela told us that her son, Pedro, was STILL reading when she went to say goodnight. We´ll see what happens :) 

The baptism yesterday was AMAZING. Everything went over really great. Irmão Castro, an old neighbor of Anglea baptized her and Paulo. They were both so excited. The elders had a baptism again yesterday too so in total that´s 4 this weekend for our district. The ward is beside themselves with the growth that´s going on and so are we. It´s really amazing to see such real progress in a ward and I´m so grateful to have stayed here these 3 transfers. As I watched Angela and Paulo get baptized with all these members, a couple investigators, and Sister Brundage around me I thought I might explode from joy. This happiness is the real kind. The kind you people probably felt when you got married and had kids and stuff. It´s the kind we promise to people when they accept the gospel. It´s the happiness that doesn´t end. The happiness you only get when you know that Heavenly Father´s happy with you, that you still know you´re not perfect but that you´re making some real progress to being a little bit more like Him. The happiness that comes when you help other people to be a little more like Him too.

Please, take some of this happiness through this email! My heart is exploding, I didn´t know you could love anything as much as I love being here doing what I´m doing. I need you to know how wonderful it is! I need you all to feel some of this!!!! It´s the most glorious thing I have ever experienced and it fills me up to the brim. I love you all SO much. I pray for you, I think of you! Keep going whether or not you´re seeing the results you want to see in your own lives! For 2 transfers, we didn´t, but now we´re seeing countless miracles. Miracles are real!!!

Com BASTANTE amor e muitas saudades vossas,

Sister Swasey

P.S. This week I went to contact a lady, all nice like with a smile, and she literally ran away from me like I was trying to kill her. My life. It´s hilarious.

Monday, February 10, 2014

´Deus responde em Seu tempo e em Sua maneira Joseph, mas responde sempre

Olá todos!!!

Fogo pá! PROBABLY THE BEST WEEK OF MY MISSION SO FAR. (Do I say that every week? Still true people, still true) Seriously. Where do I begin?! Let´s start with the beginning.

We had a chill P-day, in our apartment mostly. It has started raining like CRAZY here and doesn´t stop. It´s actually quite amusing because the more it rains, the less you can use your umbrella because the wind is so strong that they all break. We´ve already tossed about 3 or 4 out, and the ones we have left are actually kind of broken too but still function. It´s like a science- the umbrellas that are wood are great because they´re more sturdy and don´t flip out, but eventually even they start falling apart. The sturdy metal ones last longer but they flip inside out more often. So basically we go back and forth between the types we buy and it has become a game of who can go the longest without the umbrella flipping because it´s also tricky to block the wind. Sometimes I think it comes from about every angle, especially up! So anyway, we hung out in the apartment and watched the Restoration film on repeat. It´s the only church film where the translation has a Portuguese accent and not a Brasilian one and so we´ve been trying to imitate it, and have just about all of it memorized, hence the title of this email. Translated it would be ´God responds in His time and in His way, but He always responds.´ Something like that.

That night we had a cool lesson with a lady, Maria do Carmo, and her daughter Inês. They´ve been through a lot and so we taught them the Plan of Salvation and it went really well! In the end, we had kneeling prayer and Maria do Carmo offered it. As she finished, both her and Inês got up and were crying because the Spirit was just so strong! I´m excited to see what happens with this awesome little family. Ah the mission, so many happy tears! :) 

Best Colega Ever!

Throughout the week we worked harder than ever to try and reach the standards of excellence that President Fluckiger set for our mission. That would include 1 baptism... We prayed and fasted and worked like crazy even in the rain. We´ve been working with André, the oldest son of a recent convert, Ana Bela. The only thing that was holding him back was that he couldn´t go to church because of work. He started coming to church recently however, because because he had back surgery and can´t work. This week we got the news that he can´t go back to work for another month. We joked with him that Heavenly Father had to break his back to get him to church and get him baptized, but I actually do believe that that´s true! Now the only thing that was holding him back was smoking. We taught about the Word of Wisdom and Heavenly Father really guided the lesson. He lead me to some great stories I´d studied earlier in the mission about faith and we shared those with him. André was hesitant to commit to really quit this week, even though he doesn´t smoke very much, but again, by the end of a kneeling prayer, he was determined! After several more prayers and a couple days....ANDRÉ WAS BAPTIZED!!!!!! Surprise! It was a great service. The members showed a ton of support and Bishop baptized him and it was FANTASTIC. Heavenly Father really does ALWAYS answer our prayers. True, it´s in His time and His way and it never really seems to line up with what we were expecting, but in the end it´s always BETTER.

As for the standards of excellence...we reached them! After many miracles. Obviously, André was a principle miracle but along the way we saw lots. For example, we found new investigators in the most random of places and ways. We found a really cool Catholic guy (I say Catholic as if that´s a rare thing here...haha, nope) and we ended up being able to teach him and his whole family of wife and three kids this week! I have to say, I was actually nervous to teach for some reason! They had a nice comfy house, they all gathered around the table to talk to us, they asked all sorts of great questions and they all happily agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon in the end. IT WAS A MISSIONARY´S DREAM. 

Angela, our miracle, continues firm as ever. She even bore her testimony in sacrament meeting yesterday! Expect more baptism picture here next week for sure. She keeps calling us her angels, but I know she has no idea how much of an angel she really is to me and Sister Brundage. She is that investigator we all hear about, that miracle person that just asks to be baptized, but we never actually see coming in our own missions until they just drop into our lives, straight from heaven it seems. So many people planted seeds for her to get here and I just have to thank Heavenly Father for that. 

Random fun fact unrelated to anything- here in Portugal there is ALWAYS dessert. Always. After every lunch and dinner everyone always eats dessert. What a happy, unhealthy habit I´ve gotten into. Better yet, what a great culture! 

Just a great week people. Heavenly Father really does answer our prayers! Our area is BOOMING, the ward is growing and more united, we work harder than ever and see more miracles and blessings than ever before. Even when we don´t see the fruits of our labors, we can remember all the millions of seeds we planted along the way. So go plant some seeds people! I pray for you always. I hope you know, REALLY know, how much I love you and how much I love this work, this mission, these people! Have glorious week :)


Sister Swasey

Monday, February 3, 2014

Heavenly Father Gives The Best Birthday Presents

Olá todos!

Wow. I could probably sit here and write for like hours on end about this week, well really even just about this week. FOI FANTÁSTICA.

Sister Antunes

Where do I start? Wellllll this week we did a cool division tripla thing with a new missionary who is going to start hanging out with us a little when her companions, the sister training leaders, do divisions. Sister Antunes is amazing and doesn´t seem like she got here a couple weeks ago at all! Another fun fact, SHE´S PORTUGUESE. It was really cool to speak a ton of Portuguese with her and have her help me with my accent and such. 

My birthday, can I just tell you WAS THE BEST BIRTHDAY I´VE EVER HAD. I was honestly kind of worried it would turn out to be one of those days where everything falls through and all and....that´s exactly what happened! :) But that´s not all. We tried visiting some people in the morning but nobody was home so we headed back for lunch and Sister Brundage blindfolded me and put some candles on a cake we bought (who has time to make cake in the mission?!) and then sang and did that whole thing. It was great :) I´ll try to send pictures next week. Then we called a bunch of people but pretty much all of our plans fell through so we decided to go visit Cristiana, the lady that was supposed to be baptized this past week but got crazy sick and so we had to postpone it...When we got to her house, she was still in the hospital, but we stayed to talk to her less active aunt, Lurdes. Lurdes also happened to be with her friend Angela who was there to help around the house. Sister Brundage helped finish the ironing they were doing and I started to get to know Angela. Of course we ended up talking about Christ and such and she told us about how she used to be Catholic but then she disagreed with a lot of the things there, yelled at a priest in church and never went back! She´s great. So we slowly started teaching the restoration when she stopped us and asked if we could start with a prayer! We said OF COURSE and I offered one and then after she was like, okay, my turn, and said a perfect prayer. Amazing. Then, we taught about the restoration and when we taught about Christ we mentioned that he was baptized. She stopped us again and just said, ´Okay, so what do I need to do to be baptized in this church?´ What. I literally just started crying in that moment. She told us about how Irmão Castro, a member in our ward, always used to invite her to church and she even had a Book of Mormon from some elders, but after being with Lurdes when her visiting teachers came last week and us coming too she said that it was a sign for her that it was about time for her to be baptized and start going to this church. Wow. We marked her for 2 weeks from now, so that she can go to church twice. BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER. It´s all already almost planned after just 2 days! Irmão Castro is going to baptize her and everything.  
Best Birthday Ever!

Best Birthday Ever - Thank you Sister Brundage!
Birthday with Nazare
After that, we went to visit André, the son of a recent convert and we made plans for him to stop smoking and be baptized too! Then, we went and had dinner with Nazaré and Pedro. It was awesome. They are like family here! She had a cake but didn´t have candles and I told her not to worry about it but they went around the house trying to light toothpicks on fire and all sorts of funny stuff. Then she found and old candle with the number 5 on it so then I got to turn 5 years old. At the end, I shared a scripture about charity and just started crying. It was a perfect birthday with so many miracles and so much love. Portugal has stolen my heart and soul.
Birthday with Nazare

Yesterday we had stake conference via broadcast. It was a conference with all of Portugal, Spain, and Cape Verde. Elder Ballard spoke and the whole thing was just very cool to be there with all these Portuguese saints. It really hit me there...the church is so amazing, so global! SO PERFECT. I understood a LOT more too than what I understood at general conference which was really nice. 

Last night, we had the Elders´ baptism which was really cool. Ariana, a less active that we´ve helped come back to church gave the most beautiful sincere talk I think I´ve ever heard. She talked about her baptism and the love she felt in the church and so naturally, I cried all over again. SO MANY HAPPY TEARS. 

Baptism - Woot Woot!
THEN...we went to visit Angela and we taught her, her brother, and her husband about the plan of salvation. She is still just as determined to be baptized and her brother Paulo is going to be to! He husband Armandio said that he´s going to pray and think about it but of course we´re hopeful. :)

WHAT A WEEK. SO much more I would like to share but there just isn´t time to tell you about the incredible week that I had here in the mission. Every day I give a little more of my heart and soul to this mission and I just feel so much love here that I can´t explain it. Even the hard days we see miracles (see above MIRACLE) and my faith is growing each and every day. I´ll leave you with my scripture of the week-
3 Nephi 14:7-11
7 Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
 8 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
 9 Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?
 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Heavenly Father gives the best gifts.

Com muito amor,

Sister Swasey