Monday, April 28, 2014

Everything random you could ever want to know about Oeiras.

Dearest Family and Friends,

Danielle & Sister Hirschi
Alright people, get out your popcorn and settle in because I FINALLY have time to tell you all about Oeiras (aka, heaven on earth). I seriously don´t even know where to begin...

Let´s start with a little bit more of Matosinhos. To be honest, as amazing as Oeiras is, I definitely still miss my home up north! It really was an amazing 6 months that I spent there with lots of amazing people. In our last bit, we met Fatima, who I mentioned a little while ago. Last I heard from Sister Giberson she´s doing great and I think she got baptized last Saturday! Even though I wasn´t there it felt so great leaving an area with someone marked and knowing that I helped that area grow, even if it was just a litle bit in the grand scheme of life. Matosinhos changed and grew so much in the time that I was there! The ward is so much more united and the missionary work is so much more organized and unified as well. It was an amazing thing to see!
Familia Albino
But anyway, OEIRAS. Guys. It´s amazing. Fun Fact- most people in Portugal live in apartments, some live in townhouse type connected houses and a several live in teeny tiny houses. It is very rare to come across a HOUSE, like a normal, real house with a yard and everything, let alone a neighborhood. Well, that my friends is why Oeiras is AMERICA. There are houses EVERYWHERE. They´re HUGE! I´ve even seen like 2 car garages! Another thing, our area is enormous so we have lots of different areas. It´s amazing too because each one is different and all of them are pretty rich. We´ve started nicknaming them American cities because they really do remind us of America! So far we´re found Orlando, LA, New York, Denver, and a few others. AND, we still haven´t even seen half of our area. Crazy. 

Random things that have happened since being here...well one thing about this area is that there are a lot more immigrants that in the north. In one hour one day I think we met about 15 Africans. One of them got all up in Sister Hirschi´s face and just kept telling her that he knew everything about her life. So that was interesting! Another time, we met a less active lady from Angola and she just came up to us crying, drunk, talking about all sorts of stuff and before I knew it she kissed my foot and Sister Hirschi´s knee. Everyday is an adventure! I´ve been working a little more on my creole and man, I wish you could see the reaction on the people´s faces when I start talking to them in creole. Ya know, just your average tall, blonde american speaking an african language. They get so excited and start responding in creole really fast and then I get lost and go back to Portuguese haha.

We also met this one Chinese man the other day and he was HILARIOUS. He was really friendly and excited but he didn´t really speak Portuguese and so trying to explain any religious thing to him took a lot of creativity. We invited him to church and gave him our number and he wanted to take our picture for the contact in his phone... We had him take a picture of Jesus passing the sacrament instead. Then, we tried to explain the sacrament and he starting thinking we were inviting him over for dinner and that the church had a restaurant or something. Priceless.

Repentance Bridge
What else...oh yeah, we´re opening a new house here and it is AMAZING!!! It is literally twice as big as my...let´s call it humble house in Matosinhos. The funny thing is when we first got there there was practically nothing in the house. Little by little the couple missionaries in the office in Lisboa are bringing us stuff and it´s like Christmas every few days! We joke and call them Elder and Sister Ransom Claus. And yes, I know, I know, there are missionaries sleeping in huts and we´re spoiled European missionaries having to suffer through eating cereal out of cups and sleep on mats on the floor. I lead a rough life camping out in a huge apartment in Portugal, what can I say!

The whole pinkwash thing has just been a hilarious adventure! We still haven´t quite worked out the bus pass thing and so we´ve been doing a lot of walking. We´ve started working quite a bit in this one neighborhood on the other side of the train tracks and we have to go up this big bridge to get over there. Without fail, Sister Hirschi and I never miss a chance to yell random things from the very top, generally having to do with repenting and receiving a remission of your sins, accompanied by flashing to Book of Mormon to the world. Pretty funny.

View from Repentance Bridge
Yesterday at church we had a miracle. We had some 10-15 people that said they would come to church with us but when we got there we had 0. Here in Oeiras they start with Relief Society/Priesthood then Sunday School then Sacrament Meeting. In between all the classes we were calling EVERYONE and only one guy answered. He said he had to work. Then, in the middle of Sunday School he called back and said he was coming but he couldn´t stay long. He got there right as the sacrament meeting started and had to leave right after they passed it. BUT HE CAME. Heavenly Father never fails to let us know He knows that we´re working hard. We found so many amazing people this week and He put each and every one of them in our path and He let Paulo (a street contact from the day before at that) go to church just to take the sacrament. 

I feel like this email is just a list of random things but hey, that´s my life. The work is going great, we´re already teaching several awesome people and it feels like everything is building SO fast and it´s about to explode with success. I can´t even believe that I´ve been on my mission for 10 months already...I feel good though! I have learned and changed so much and I feel like I´ve made a difference, like I´ve left a mark on these people and this country. 8 more months to work some big miracles and to see what Heavenly Father has in store for me :) Whatever it may be I know it´s going to be something really, really great!!!!! I love you all, I´m thinking about you and praying for you always. Please, NEVER forget to pray for missionary opportunities and to then have the courage to follow through when Heavenly Father sends them to you. This week, whenever we prayed to find someone to let us into their house to teach them, we found someone and taught them in their house, when we prayed to find someone open to the gospel, we found someone open, when we prayed for families we found families. It really is that simple. Missionary work is all about prayers and willingness to really take the answers He gives us. Are we willing?

Com muito amor,

Sister Swasey

Monday, April 21, 2014

This one´s for you Mom. THEY SENT ME BACK TO AMERICA.

Dearest Loved Ones,

I do hope you all read that title and got very confused as to why you´re getting this message to Mom and what on earth I´m doing back in America. Okay...I´m not ACTUALLY back in America, nor is this email just for Mom. Let me explain. OEIRAS. This is AMAZING!!!!!! Everything here is so different. The thing about Portugal is that all the different regions were conquered by different people and so Lisbon is like a different country in comparison to Porto. This area basically looks like Pride and Prejudice could be filmed here, seriously Mom, you would die if you could just see it, along with all the other Jane Austen fans out there. It has lots of old cool buildings and GORGEOUS gardens and parks everywhere! It gets better. There are palm trees on every street, the beach lines the whole bottom of our area and the flowers and everything just reminds me of Florida! So seriously Mom I just found your dream world. It´s amazing!
Pride & Prejudice Area - Picture doesn't do it justice

Anyway, this week was insane. We´re opening up a new house so we have like no furniture or anything so that´s been crazy. There´s SO much I want to tell you about but I just have like no time because we were doing house stuff and whatnot today so my email time is megashort yet again. Basically, our chapel is the biggest in Portugal and the ward is great too! We had lots of fun getting to know the area a little bit but we haven´t even seen like a 10th of it because this area is bigger than both of my last 2 areas put together!!!! I love Sister Hirschi though and I´m loving all the craziness. We´re getting it figured out. The Lord is really putting amazing receptive people in our path. Another thing, the culture down here is a lot more open so people are way more chill with giving us their number and letting us come back and talk to them which is really cool. It´s just a different world. I still miss Matosinhos like nobody´s business but if I can´t be there, there is no place other than Oeiras that I would rather be and I KNOW it´s going to be just as special and miraculous as Matosinhos to me. I LOVE YOU ALL, SORRY I HAVE NO TIME. I´ll catch you all up next week for sure. Just know I´m working super hard, I´m mega tired, my life is INSANE, and I LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT.

Abraços e beijinhos,

Sister Swasey

Random Portugal Pic

Random Portugal Pic

Tuesday, April 15, 2014




So, basically a LOT has happened, sorry I wasn´t able to email sooner BUT.... I GOT TRANSFERRED. Its true! But before that, I have to say, our last week in Matosinhos was amazing. We did an awesome division with Sister Hickey and Sister Parker in Gaia too, which is just on the other side of the river from Porto. It was super fun, I went with Sister Hickey and she is amazinggg, it was so much fun! Gaia is a lot like Porto. I´d tell you about it if I had more time!

But anyway...Sunday came, dia de transferencias DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN. So basically I was a crazy person all day, I mean, FOUR transfers is like forever. So yeah, saying bye to all the members...rough. Matosinhos is like my home!!! We had lunch with the Rissi family, who are basically my family there, and Sister Giberson and I sang ´Deus Vos Guarde´ for them, aka, God be with you til we meet again- which, fun fact, is a lot less depressing in Portuguese and still really really good. Then, I cried a lot, they cried a lot, and we went to work. We ate dinner at Angela´s house with Fatima, this AMAZING lady we just marked for baptism and so that was sad all over again. But good. Angela was mega understanding and just kept telling me I had to go off and complete my mission! I cried some more. Even though I was SUPER excited for a change, it´s always crazy on transfer days...emotional I should say. So anyway, the last thing we did was teach Lidia that night, thing is transfers were delayed and so we didn´t get the call until while we were at her house! They called and told me I´d be getting transferred and when I told Lidia she burst into tears and grabbed me in a hug and we just sat and cried together. She is an amazing lady and in such short time we have had such incredible spiritual experiences!!! But I know that Heavenly Father knows what He´s doing and that Sister Giberson will take care of her.

I also know that Heavenly Father doesn´t need me in Matosinhos because He needs me in......OEIRAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For those (or all) of you that don´t know where that is, it´s basically LISBON!!!!!!!! DREAM COME TRUE. I told Sister Giberson all week that I would be going to Lisbon and here I am!!! AND I´M DOING A PINKWASH. That, my friends, is when they take out the elders and throw in 2 new sisters, like when I went to Matosinhos. So basically, it´s crazy. Right now, we don´t have a phone yet, nor an area book, nor a map so we have been adventuring and borrowing phones along the way. Oh yeah, I´m with Sister Hirschi, Sister Brundage´s old companion!!!!! Fun huh? THEY HAVE A WARD HERE AND A REAL CHAPEL. Real chapels are rare here in Portugal, usually they rent out rooms in buildings and stuff so this is a big deal and it´s my first one!!! The area is like FLORIDA. Flowers and palm trees everywhere and HOUSES. Another fun fact, Portugal has very few houses in places that aren´t like villages on the outskirts, everyone usually lives in an apartment. HOUSES!!!!! Okay, I have to go and I haven´t even told you all the half of it but I love you all and everything just feels SO right! Oeiras is amazing! Heavenly Father Loves me so much and just is blessing me with everything I need (minus a phone ;) and so many things I didn´t even know I wanted!!!


Sister Swasey

Monday, April 7, 2014


Pessoas Lindas!

Zona de Porto Norte
WHAT A WEEK. As always. We spent the P-day in Porto which is always a blast then we took the alpha train down toooooo LISBON. I know, I lead a pretty chic little life. That train ride is always fun because it stops and picks up more and more missionaries along the way and it passes by really cool sites. We went to Lisbon for Mission Council, also always realllyyyy amazing. It´s basically all the mission leaders and best of the best, and then just like me being like, ´What am I doing here with all these amazing people?!` But hey, it´s fun for me and I learn like SOOOO much. I also recently learned a Cape Verde creole rap and sang it for a few elders from there. Pretty hilarious to hear a tall white american sister rapping in an African language, let me tell you!  

703 in Portugal with Sister Jackson (from Ashburn)
Basically this week was crazy and I only spent one full day there! We had mission council, a day of work, then I did a division in Porto, which was really cool. Their area is ENORMOUS and really made me grateful for an area that is about a 45 minute walk end to end, rather than a 45 minute bus ride end to end. Crazy. It was fun though! We ended the division by going to CONFERENCE WOO HOOOOOOO!!!!!! As a missionary, conference is pretty much as good as Christmas, don´t ask me why it wasn´t always like that in my life :P I obviously liked it but seriously here it´s like a celebration with a banquet after fasting or something. It was cool too this time because all us missionaries that went to the stake center to watch it (our chapel doesn´t have satellite) we got to watch in in English! I love watching it in Portuguese but it definitely takes way more effort and it´s SO nice to hear their actually voices. WHAT AN AMAZING CONFERENCE. So much about covenants and discipleship. That hit me. I can´t be a missionary like this forever, but really the BEST thing we can be is a disciple of Christ and that I get to be FOREVER. I also loved what Elder Uchtdorf said about how we don´t like endings because we are eternal beings. With transfers coming this next weekend, that stuck with me. I HATE ENDINGS.

This is a Francesina! It is basically a sandwich made of texas toast,
 3-4 types of meat, covered in cheese and sauce, served with french fries
 Aka, a heart attack!


Seriously. If you all knew how COMFORTABLE and HAPPY I am here in Matosinhos, it is like my home. I know all the members and they know me, they joke with me, don´t even ask before serving me tons of food, and I´ve had the chance to learn so much about their lives. 4 transfers is a LONG time somewhere and even though I sometimes want a change I think to my ward here and I NEVER WANT TO LEAVE. I love these people too much! They have my heart! I definitely don´t want to leave my recent converts either. It was SO cool to see Angela and Amandio yesterday after the conference, they loved it! They´re so firm in the church and they´re already making plans to go to the temple next year. When I look at them, everything is worth it. To know I played a SMALL part in their conversion is such a wonderful feeling of true joy. I can´t describe it..

We bought classic Portugal aprons. ALL the old ladies are wearing them these days.
Another reason I don´t want to leave Matosinhos is Lidia and her family. She´s the miracle we found last week. Well this week we had the chance to teach her again with her two teenage kids, Simon and Liliane. They are SO COOL. They all ask amazing questions and loved reading the Book of Mormon with us. At the end, we did what we call a convite suave- the invite to be baptized when they know that it´s true. They all accepted, happily too! As we kneeled to pray with them, Simon told us that he´s already starting to believe that it´s true and the other two agreed. I CAN´T LEAVE THIS AMAZING FAMILY. Lidia told us about how she really believes God led us to her house and we talked about how we really did feel impressed to come back and talk to her but God knew we weren´t planning on ringing her doorbell again so He sent her downstairs to meet us. We´re going to visit them again tonight and I´m super excited!!!! 

Awkward self timer table pic
English Room for Conference

I hope you´re all doing great and that you loved conference as much as I did. I hope you´re all happy. I´m happy :) I wish I could describe all the feelings that come with this call...but it´s impossible. I´ve never felt stronger and yet also never see so many of my own weaknesses haha. I love you all, be good!

Com muitas saudades,

Sister Swasey

More Cool Grafitti
Cool Grafitti

Sweet Museum

Sweet Museum 2

Sweet Museum 3