Monday, June 30, 2014

"What time?" "Leave the church woman alone!" "Do you girls want something to eat?"


This week, we took a train and rode across our area, passing beautiful ocean views and palm trees. Upon arrival in Caxias, the end of our area, we asked a kind old lady for directions. Before I knew it, we were carrying this 77 year old´s heavy groceries along a tree-lined pathway through a gorgeous green park with red roof tops off in the distance and a stream easing alongside the trees as she told us about her years of working as a nurse and about her late husband´s life in the army.

This is my life.

Oh Ronaldo . . .
These are the moments that I wish you could all experience with me, the little ones that make up my life here in Portugal, that capture it really. Serving amazing people in a beautiful country. Have I mentioned how much I love it here? More about the old lady later.

As for now, I´m hoping all is well over on your side of the pond. People are bummed here about Portugal being out of the World Cup (misinformation from my comp...awkward), but I´m happy at least one of my countries got through :)


Okay. As always, from the beginning! Last P-day, Sister Hirschi and I went on a last minuted adventure to Lisbon! I LOVE LISBON OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE IT. It is seriously the most beautiful place in the world. We just hopped on a train and went to the end of the line then got off and went exploring. It is so freaking beautiful!!!! I can´t describe it well enough to give it justice so enjoy the billions of pictures I´m sending.

After that...This week we taught this amazing lady, Graça. She is a cancer surviver who takes care of her two 40 something year old deficient daughters and she is INCREDIBLE. She understands the gospel so perfectly and even though so many dificult things have happened to her in her life, so many things out of her control, she still trusts in God´s plan and she knows that people have their agency. After teaching her twice, we invited her to be baptized next Sunday. She just looked at us and asked, "What time?" People that come so incredibly prepared like Graça are rare. How blessed am I to have the chance to teach these people. They are so humble! This amazing lady who is at least 3 times my age trusts 2 young American girls to teach her about salvation and how she should live her life. Astounding.

As for our family that we´re teaching. We had an activity planned on Tuesday and we made all these plans to go pass by the family´s house to walk with them and...nobody was home. At this point I just turned to Sister Hirschi and I said, "I´m not sure what to do with them if they don´t commit, we´re going to need a miracle to know that we should keep teaching them." Heavenly Father is a wonderful being. We had the activity and it went great. Just as we were all literally about to walk out the door, in runs Joni! And then Bia! And then their dad Vitor! I was so surprised! They said that they had to do some stuff and we way late but Joni begged his dad to pass by. So we got the chance to show them around the church and we had a really spiritual experience as we talked about sacrament meeting. It was the sign I needed. 

It´s funny how life works. We got that sign, several really. We had plans to teach them the next afternoon and as we were going home to have lunch we ran into Paula and some of the kids and found out she had to go to work right when we had scheduled to visit so we got a chance to bump it up a little bit to talk to them all. They´re going, slowly but surely. They still didn´t go to church this week (they have crazy sleeping schedules), but I´m calm about it. Conversion has many speeds and not everyone is a Graça. But Heavenly Father has spoken and we´re trusting in that.

Too many things happened this week! We had a crazy adventure to a really sketchy bairro...we went at like 3 in the afternoon so we thought it´d be chill. Wrong. Right after we got off the bus all these creepy guys came over. We usually just ignore them but they kept asking us if we were from ´the church´. I finally said yes, terrified. With that, one yelled to the others, "Leave the church woman alone!" And they left. Wow, Heavenly Father protects us. Second miracle, we walked out of the lesson there, the very second the bus got there, hopped on and rode off to safety!

As for the old lady we met in Caxias, she is hilarious. We carried her groceries all the way home with her telling me how tired I was going to get. ME, a 20 year old, haha. She then showed us her whole house and asked us if we wanted something to eat. I´ve learned that in Portuguese culture it´s not really that rude to say no thanks if you don´t have time and stuff. The thing is, they just don´t take no for an answer. Ever. We told her we needed to go because we were already late and she insisted on handing us bananas. Before I knew it, everything spiralled and I was eating a yogurt with a plate of shrimp in front of me and some chocolate salami off to the side. I also left with 2 oranges. They just don´t let you not let them be generous to a hilariously adorable degree. Can´t wait to pay her back with some knowledge about the plan of salvation!

Well this email is already mega long but here´s one last update on our 40 day fast. We´ve reached the end! And I´m still imperfect haha, but a little less than before. I learned so much! One example to share, Heavenly Father told me to put interrupting people on my list. You should all know, Portuguese people LOVEEEE to talk. Some of them could literally talk for about 2 hours with you responding maybe 3 times. So over time during my mission I have practiced and learned to artfully interrupt in order to get things on track and under control. Needless to say, I was a little surprised when Heavenly Father told me to never interrupt people. It was super hard in the beginning! I felt like lessons went on and on and it was hard to get them back on track. As time went on, however, I realized that sometimes, or really all the time, what these people need IS to talk and to know that we´re really listening to them. So I listened and I just let them talk. Somehow, Heavenly Father helped me so that now when I do get a word in, it´s so much more succinct and powerful. Incredible, huh? He lets them still talk because it helps them and He helps me fulfill my purpose by giving my few words more meaning and effect. It´s pretty cool.

Well, it was a fab week and I haven´t even scratched the surface. Just remember that Heavenly Father always knows best even when it seems like what He´s telling us to do doesn´t make any sense at all. Trust Him forever and always!!!!

Com bastante amor,

Sister Swasey

Celebrating One Year - with food of course!
Still celebrating 1 year with food.
All Creatures of Our God and King - This is totally normal in Portugal.

Dead animals to be eaten.

Cable Cars

Statues are everywhere!

Classic Catholic church

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