Monday, March 31, 2014

The Green Door


What a week of adventures! Heavenly Father was good to us this week, as He is, to be perfectly honest, EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Where do I even begin?! Let´s start with the division we did in BRAGA.

Beautiful Braga!
So Braga is even more north than we are and it´s about an hour train ride from Porto. Let me tell you, that place is BEAUTIFUL. It´s a whole different world. Portugal is amazing because even though it´s a small country, every city is so different and has a bit of its own culture and even accent. Even though it´s colder up there, it´s stunning. Super clean, amazing buildings, not to mention it´s up in the mountains (Portugal mountains people, still got nothing on Utah or Colorado) BUT STILL. It´s in kind of a valley with trees all around. I CAN´T DESCRIBE IT TO YOU IT´S JUST SO BEAUTIFUL TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. 

But anyway, I went with Sister Baird which was fun. She got here to Portugal a transfer after me and she´s a sweetheart. We got to talk to some of their recent converts which are incredible. Divisions are fun but also kind of sad because I get to meet really, really cool people and members just to say goodbye to that city in a few hours. It´s also weird because I´m probably getting transfered in a couple weeks since I´ve been up here so long...crazy.

Sister Baird & the Best Bolo Berlim
This week, the miracles kept coming. It´s started raining again....(that´s not the miracle yet) and when I say raining, I mean, RAINING. POURING. We stopped in the house yesterday really quickly and before we leave the house we always pray. Me, being tired of 5 months of rain, just asked Heavenly Father to stop the rain. And He did! Okay guys, I know this miracle is one of the ones that most of the world population would call a coincidence, but to me it meant a lot. The minute I asked Him to stop the rain He did! And it didn´t start up again until after we got home that night! It was a nice little message from Heavenly Father that He loves me enough to have mercy on His wet little sister missionaries. He´s so GREAT.

Okay, but now for an even better miracle. One night this week, ALL of our appointments and backup plans fell through. We were tired after travelling from Braga but still had an hour. We decided to go visit a contact we did last week and so off we went. Well, we accidentally turned a few streets too early but decided to just keep going and loop around the other way. On the way, we passed this green door, one that I know for a fact that I have passed DOZENS of times but this time I really looked at it. Before I knew it, Sister Giberson went over to ring the doorbells of this building. I told her I thought of this door too so we got excited. She rang the 5th floor. Nothing. I said a quick prayer and really felt the 2nd floor so I rang it. A lady answered! She didn´t want anything. We rang all the other floors. The 4th floor answered! She didn´t want anything either. So we left, and kept going to find that old contact. We got to their building and they let us in, but then didn´t answer the door when we got up to their floor! So there we were with no plans. Naturally, we decided to say a prayer. Sister Giberson said one but to be honest I have NO idea what she actually said because all I heard was `Go back to that door. Go BACK to that green door!` It was loud, it was pounding, it was a little strange to be honest! After she finished the prayer I just looked at her and said, Well, I think we should go back to the green door. Soooo off we went! We talked to just about every person we saw on our way there. One of the guys, Sister Giberson really felt like she needed to talk to him. And...NOTHING! So as we´re coming up on that green door, we´re like, Okay, we´ll go ring the doorbells again but not the 2nd or 4th because we already talked to them. We get a little closer and we see a lady in the doorway! We make our way over and turns out she got locked out on accident and she was waiting for her husband to get home. She was wearing a nice shirt with pajama pants and super nice! Her name is Lydia, she´s from Brazil, and she is AMAZING. We introduced ourselves and she apologized! She said that she answered when we rang but because it was late she was worried about letting up a robber or something. She also told us, however, that the minute she hung up, that she felt really bad rejecting missionaries of Christ. She let us up when her husband got home and we met her sister. We didn´t have much time but we left her with a Book of Mormon which she was really excited about. Since then we´ve started teaching her and her whole family and needless to say, I´M SUPER EXCITED. It was seriously one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Heavenly Father knew, timed it out perfectly, and led us directly to her door. Oh, did I mention that she lives on the 2nd floor? :)
I´ll leave you all with a spiritual thought. I´ve been studying last General Conference´s talks all week and LOVING them. Elder S. Gifford Nelson has a great one called Hastening the Lord´s Game Plan. Long story short, he talks about a missionary that sacrificed a lot to serve a mission but served faithfully. He then shares this scripture in Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidingsthat publisheth  peacethat bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto ZionThy God reigneth!

My dear friends and family, I love you all and I love serving the Lord! I need you to know that I WILL return tired as anything, with a strong testimony, worn shoes, a love for the people and my Savior, and with lots of hugs for each and every one of you.  Remember, we have good tidings to share with the world!!!!! 

Com muitas saudades e amor,

Sister Swasey

Monday, March 24, 2014

Let Him Carry You

Olá queridos!

Another week come and gone like a flash...where is the time going?! We´re already halfway through the transfer meaning I probably only have 3 weeks left here in Matosinhos...crazy right??? I HIT MY HALFWAY MARK IN TWO DAYS STOP THE TIME, STOP IT SOMEONE PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!

But alas, here we are, halfway through my mission and I´ve learned so much it´s ridiculous. I´ve changed so much too, with a lot more changes still to go. It´s scary to think that my adventure here in Portugal is halfway over because that means we´re on the down slope back to normal life. GASP.

Anyway......another great week my friends! As they always are I must say. We had a really sweet conference with the Porto Zone (I´m in Porto Norte) and they asked me to give a talk about developing faith to find new investigators. I based my talk on Ether 12:6 and D&C 123:17. One thing that I´m realizing about faith and miracles is that it always comes when you´re least expecting it... I mean it´s true what ´they´ say- if you´re obedient, you´ll be blessed. If you pray really hard, you´ll be blessed. If you work your tail off all day every day, you´ll be blessed. That´s all true, but it turns out that there´s more. You do all of that stuff, and then you have to wait. You have to be patient. Anyone that knows me, knows I´m not patient by nature, but I sure am learning to be as I see these miracles flowing after periods of waiting. It´s quite splendid really. Basically, faith is a lot about perseverance.

Divisions with Amazing Sisters
I got to do yet another division this week, this time with Sister Silva in my own area. Funny story...she was MY sister training leader for THREE WHOLE TRANSFERS. So let´s be honest, I was kind of scared to do that division. Good news is, she´s like the greatest person you´ll ever meet and even though I am almost certain she taught me way more than I could have possibly ever taught her, it was a really great experience! Divisions are ALWAYS great experiences because we get to see how other missionaries work and we pick up new techniques and such along the way. Sister Silva has an amazing story. She´s from Cabo Verde, she´s 27 and she got batized just 2 short years ago. She helped the elders in her hometown find loads of people to teach until they created a branch in that city so that she didný have to walk an hour and a half or take a bus full of friends to church far away. If anything, the mission gives you a chance to meet the most INCREDIBLE people....

Fun story from last week´s divisions that I forgot to tell you all! We went to visit this inactive family. Cool part is, one of the daughters is actually serving a mission right now in Portugal and I know her pretty well! So anyway, the mom is really nice but she just has some doubts and doesn´t really believe in the Book of Mormon. So we got to know them better and shared a nice message and invited them all to read the Book of Mormon and pray every day. All the kids happily agreed but the mom said that she would only read in the Bible. I asked her if we could just leave a short part in the Book of Mormon but she refused. So then I opted to leave one in the Bible. I went to the first scripture testifying of the Book of Mormon I could think of, John 10. As I was looking at the chapter in her well-worn Bible, this particular chapter just had 1 verse marked with a few words next to it. That verse just happened to be 16 `Other sheep I have which are not of this fold...´with the words, ´Livro de Mormon-Americas´ written next to it. Isn´t that neat? Concidences in this work just don´t exist. I don´t know what will happen with that family, but it was a very cool moment as a missionary.

Well folks, what more is there to say? Matosinhos got cold again this week but it´s still sunny and there are flowers EVERYWHERE. I swear, all the weeds are flowers and it´s a beautiful sight to see. 
Planning sessions when it´s cold....keeping it classy guys.

The mission is...the greatest. Even when the days are long and cold we sing hymns half in English half in Portuguese and the Lord carries us through. He´s literally, so much more than I ever knew possible. He picks us up every day and He guides every step and I just know that He´s taking care of us. Please pray for the family of that elder in Sweden who passed away in a car accident...scary to think that could have been me and Sister Brundage just a few months ago. I´m grateful, so very grateful that my mission isn´t over yet, not here in Portugal nor in life. There´s so much more to do and every day I´m more resolved to do it. I love you all so much, every one of you reading this whether I know you or not. Let the Lord carry you this week, He´s there, He´s ready.

Com abraços, beijinhos, e muito amor,

Sister Swasey

Porto and Porto North Zone

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stand Still


Matosinhos, I have to say, is like another WORLD in the springtime!!! SO AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL. And there´s so many more people out and about and it´s cheery and wonderful. It´s just glorious. 

First news first... I did my first division this week! Yup, you read that right, Sister Swasey is all of official now in this Sister Training Leader stuff. Okay, to be honest it´s really not all that official nor strict, it´s just fun! This week we went to Porto which was awesome and I did a division with Sister Brundage´s MTC companion Sister Thornely! It was a bit of an adventure because their area is HUGE and she´s new there this transfer. Good news is we only got lost once! :) From conferences and whatnot I know the Porto metro system like the back of my hand which is nice. When it comes to buses however...hence the being lost once haha. But anyway, it was a really cool experience. Just like when I trained, it seems like I always seem to learn more from the people I´m supposed to be training, whether they know it or not. It´s really quite neat and I´m excited to do another division this week!

Oh yeah, happy St. Patrick´s day everybody! I don´t know if they celebrate this holiday here...but they do have Father´s day and it happens to be this week! Strange huh? Feliz Dia dos Pais Dad!!!

The miracles don´t end people, they just don´t. I am really REALLY learning that we just have to wait for them, we just have to stand still after all we can do and the miracles always come. We were having a slow week but were working WAY hard, and it came to Sunday night. We had no appointments but thought we´d try to pass by the wife of a contact I did about 4 weeks ago. We ended up talking to her mom and teaching her. Turns out, she´s the sister of a strong member in the ward and she almost got baptized but she got really sick and so she couldn´t even leave her bed for awhile. In one visit we taught (well retaught I´m sure) the restoration of the gospel and marked her to be baptized! When we went to invite her to be baptized, I felt the Spirit so strong I was fighting back tears. She still has some health problems but the Spirit spoke through me and I have so much hope for her and for her family! After the lesson her daughter got home with her two kids and we planned to teach them too. Turns out they all talked to the elders years ago and they LOVED them. I´m really hoping to develop a relationship with them like they had with the elders.

Guys, life is just great. The time is flying by and yet I see myself changing so much. Serving a mission is by far the greatest thing I have ever done and I love this country SO much! I love you all too!!!

Tchau, tchau for noW

Sister Swasey

Monday, March 10, 2014

There is Sunshine in my Soul AND my Matosinhos today!!!!

Olá Lindas Pessoas!

Guys. What a strange and fantastic week. WHERE DO I BEGIN?! How about with one of the highlights? IT´S SUNNY OUTSIDE. THERE. IS. SUNSHINE. IN. MATOSINHOS. Do you know what this means?!?! This week, I went outside WITHOUT tights for the first time since October. Yep. Life is good. 

Other than superb weather, what else happened this week...Well, for starters, we somehow ended up a little low on investigators this week (they all got problem to have my friends) so we did a LOT of contacts. We started taking advantage of any opportunity to speak to anybody, which includes knocking doors of any building possible. Door knocking in Portugal...let´s just say it´s not something I´ve ever done before to be perfectly honest! Usually just talking to people on the street works just great but door knocking turned out to be pretty cool though and we found some neat people. It´s also really funny. My favorite is when people having music on and they´re singing along and then they still pretend not to be home. One thing that surprised me about the mission is how easy it can be to take rejection...most people in Portugal are really nice and even when they´re not interested they´ll tell you just that and I only get yelled at a few times a day. You´d think that would be sad but usually I just come up with reasons why they´re having a bad day, (cat died, cousin moved away, and other creative responses) or we just laugh and keep going. Even on days where it seems like NOBODY wants to talk to us, even just finding one really cool person makes it all worth it. I guess I just have Heavenly Father to thank for that, He just keeps us going and reminding us that it´s about the individual.

Soooo not gonna lie, I was like way mega-depressed to see Sister Brundage go. We became amazing friends and I think it´s the closest I have ever been to know what it´s like to have a sister, which was very cool for me. She is now off to Madeira, but I hope to see her again sometime on the mission. CAN YOU BELIEVE I´M HITTING MY HALFWAY MARK THIS MONTH?!?!?! Me neither. Good news is, Sister Giberson is fantastic and I´m not just saying that. I guess I don´t really talk about my comps very much with you guys but now you can know that I LOVE SISTER BRUNDAGE AND SISTER GIBERSON. Sister Giberson is a super hard worker, speaks awesome Portuguese and a lot of it, and we teach together really easily. It´s always interesting to start teaching with someone new because every has their own style and sometimes it can be awkward, but with her it´s all just synching really nicely! Maybe it´s because she was trained by Sister Prieto and I also worked with her a bit, who knows! I´m just grateful!!!

Miracle of the every week we keep track of people that have committed to go to church so we can follow up, help them get their and so on. Our district leader tells our zone leaders about it and whatnot so they can keep tabs on it all too. Saturday we had nobody. THEN, Saturday night we got a family of 4 to commit to go but our district leader forgot to tell our zone leaders so they all thought we had nobody going. And, by Sunday morning so did we because when we passed by this family they decided not to go. So we went to church thinking...okay, we´ll see what happens! Want to know what happened? A miracle. We get there and a member´s friend is their with her, then her boyfriend showed up, then 2 of our most promising investigators suprised us and came, then a contact that I did in the street two or three weeks ago showed up, then a less active that we had just started making plans to visit walked in with her boyfriend and friend. In short, we ended up having 7 people at church!!!!! When our district leader talked to our zone leader...let´s just say everybody was surprised, confused, and VERY happy. Heavenly Father continues to bless and care for my dear Matosinhos. There is nowhere else that I would rather be for 6 months of my mission, not that I know a lot of areas but´s full of miracles and it´s really my home. Sometimes I think, wow it´s be cool to see Lisboa or the islands and such, and it would be! But when transfers roll around, or even just a Sunday with all the members, there is nowhere else I´d rather be but RIGHT here.

I love you all, I´m runnning out of time, but I´ll be praying for you!!!

Sister Swasey

Monday, March 3, 2014

Things To Tell The High Council

Dearest loved ones,

Today, I would like to begin with some quick updates and then a story. First things first, we had transfers today. Sister Brundage, sadly for me, went off to MADEIRA (ya know, that island paradise place?) And I am going to stay here to be the Sister Training Leader over Porto and Porto Norte with Sister Giberson. She´s super cool, has 2 more transfers than me, and was in my same zone when I got here so we´ve actually met several times. 

But anyway, story time. Right after we heard the news that Sister Brundage and I were going to stay together last transfer, we had a very great talk as we were walking to an appointment. We promised each other that this transfer would be even better than the other two, that we would really see the fruits of our labors and continue doing everything we could to help this area. Sister Brundage turned to me and talked about going back to the High Council after our missions and how we would tell them about the miracle of us staying together after 2 transfers without a baptism but then how that third transfer, we went and baptized 6 people! And we just talked like that and got all excited to really see some huge miracles in Matosinhos. Well my friends, Heavenly Father is a miracle worker.

As of last week we had our 4 baptisms right? André, Angela, Paulo, and Claudia with Amandio marked for this week. Well what I didn´t tell you (out of fear of jynxing it...) was that we also marked Diogo to be baptized! Remember those 3 boys that we marked the first transfer that just weren´t quite ready to commit? Well.......Diogo went to his brother´s baptism and...decided to commit! We marked the baptism, planned it out, had him go to church 2 more times, reviewed the lessons, did the interview, and he got baptized yesterday!!!! Did you catch that math? Heavenly Father heard us talking about High Councils and miracles and 6 baptisms and He blessed us with exactly 6 baptisms in one transfer. HE IS SO AMAZING. I would have been happy with one baptism per transfer, or even just one this transfer! But He loves us and blessed us beyond our wildest dreams.

I don´t really know what else to write about from this week because I don´t remember anything that happened other than the amazing baptisms. OH! Fun fact. 12 years ago yesterday I was baptized and confirmed into the only true just of Jesus Christ. Yesterday, we had both a baptism and a confirmation. Perfection. 

Fun fact of the week...Elder Da Veiga is teaching me Creole! I have no idea how to write it but I´m learning to form some basic sentences and it´s sweet.

Sorry if this is short and not very exciting, but I´m kind of just anxious to see what this next transfer brings! SOOOO sad to see Sister Brundage go. Not going to lie, I cried quite a bit more than I was expecting to! But we´re off to the next adventure of Sister Training Leadership and I CAN´T WAIT!!! I love you all, keep working and waiting for those miracles!

Com muito amor,

Sister Swasey