Sister Danielle Swasey's letters from her service in the Portugal Lisbon Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. June 2013-December 2014.
D&C 18:16 "And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"
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!
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.
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?