Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thou art not yet as Job.

Hello wonderful humans!

This week. Wow, this week.

I suppose the most delicate way to put it is to say that when I said I got better last week, I was mistaken. Long story short, I might have mono, chronic fatigue, or some other some unknown thing. It´s been a crazy week of a lot of spiritual growth. The good news, before anybody gets worried, is today I´m feeling strangely better. I really don´t know what to tell ya!

I suppose we´ll start from the beginning. P-day was pretty normal, not to many interesting things happened. I did cut Sister Hirschi´s hair in the church bathroom in case anybody was dying for a fun fact. Tudo normal.

Tuesday we had a Lisboa leadership meeting in, well, Lisboa. Walking to the train station I was feeling strangely tired...The meeting was super awesome though. We sat in a huge semi-circle, all the zone leaders, district leaders, sister training leaders, assistants, President and Sister Fluckiger. And then, we just talked. We talked about the numbers, what we were going to do to help our missionaries, how we were going to be good examples, and how we were going to really change the culture of our mission to be more obedient, more faithful, and just...better! It was an interesting setting. Everybody spoke and President just sat with us leading the discussion. It was really just a cool meeting to be apart of.

Then...we got home. We went to start working but my legs decided otherwise. I was so tired that it was literally difficult to walk...We decided to pray to decide if we should go home and have dinner at that time. Just as I was about to start the prayer Sister Hirschi stops me, and we started talking to this guy, André. He turned out to be a new investigator and we did go home and stay there for the rest of the night. Sweet mercies of Heavenly Father.

Wednesday.Division day. And I got to do my division with none other than the famous SISTER JENNA JACKSON. You heard that right, good old Ashburn reunion in Portugal. Let me tell ya, I was a little nervous! She´s a super missionary stud. But it was, of course, fantastic. Seriously. We reminisced about pretty much everything from A-town and laughed sooo much. It was awesome.
Danielle & Sister Jackson (friend from Ashburn, VA also serving in Portugal)
Thursday. We ended the division and my energy ended too. I just couldn´t work anymore. So we rested and then went to our ward Pioneer day party which was a hilarious blast! We all dressed up and looked ridiculous but it was so fun! We taught them all a line dance and Sister Sandholtz played her violin. TOO FUNNY. 

Friday. I died. I really just couldn´t even leave the house, I couldn´t wake up to study. I couldn´t even function. It was scary to be honest. It was frustrating! So frustrating! Sister Hirschi and I had a good little study together though. We read through a little of Job which man, that will humble ya. I learned a lot about being grateful for trials. Here´s a favorite scripture from that book-
"Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth:therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole."

The Lord gave me my health and He can take it away. It was a strange conclusion to come to and accept. I realized that I needed to figure it out though, that God does know best. I want to baptized the world! And that is a righteous desire, but maybe, for right now, that´s just not His plan for me. He has something better.

On Saturday, we went to the doctor and they told me basically nothing haha. They sent me off to do a lot of tests that I could only do on Monday and Tuesday. Oh the frustration. When I got home, I went to go to bed and Sister Hirschi went to make us lunch. On my bed, was a lovely note from Sister Sandholtz and Sister Stewart and like 10 packages of microwave popcorn, my wellknown obsession. I collapsed on the floor in tears, this time, not sad at all. I felt such an outpouring of the Lord´s love for me. Even though I was so sick I knew, I KNEW, that it´s because He knows I can handle it, and He loves me so much He didn´t just send His perfect Son to help me, but 3 of His elect and wonderful sister missionaries as well to be by my side through all of this. He loves me so much. 

Sunday, crazy day. André came to church! Heavenly Father loves me. Our member friend Lily had us over for Chinese food! Heavenly Father loves me. I slept a ton trying to recover. A member family convinced us to go to dinner at their house. Long story short, we get there and ELDER TEIXEIRA THE EUROPE AREA SEVENTY PRESIDENT IS THERE. He´s their relative. Yep. Crazy. He gave us a reference and I got to eat twizzlers and ranch dressing. 

That was my week plus a million other things and negative time to tell you all about it. LOVE YOU ALL. I know the Lord loves me and He loves you!

Com amor,

Sister Swasey

Monday, July 21, 2014

Earning my Stretcher

Dear Family & Friends,

There is a quote by Elder Holland where he says something along the lines that when you end your mission there should be an ambulance and a stretcher waiting for you because you gave your all and had nothing left.
After this week, I´m one step closer to literally and figuratively earning that stretcher. Maybe that should be terrifying, but to be honest, it´s not. It´s good. It lets me know that I´m doing it right.
Fun fact from this week...a member in our ward is getting married in Gibralt? I don´t really know how to spell, some part of Spain that is owned by England. Long story short, she needed someone to translate her birth certificate to get married there. Soooo I did! I translated the birth certificate and this other document that authorized it and then we went to this registry place and I signed for it saying that I translated it correctly. It was really pretty sweet!!! I thought it looked pretty legit. So anyway, first translating job...check!

I translated a document!!!! Yep, that´s my signature right there.

Other than that, this week was a little all over the place crazy. Sister Hirschi and I worked really hard at the start of this week up until Wednesday. On Wednesday I really couldn´t tell you what happened...I just started slowing down like crazy and I was supa dupa tired. But Heavenly Father helped me survive that day. Then, on Thursday we did our first division in Mem Martins and I went with a brand new missionary. Man, it´s been a LOOONG time since I was with a brand new missionary but it was really cool! It was like taking a step back in time and remembering when I was being trained and when I was training as well. Super cool, Sister Baugh is amazing too. Somehow, Heavenly Father blessed me with a miracle of strength because we were on our feet the entire day practicing street contacts and whatnot. The only time we really stopped was to get a pastry. Without really thinking I had Sister Baugh practice ordering and so I had her talk to the guy at the counter. Fun fact about Portuguese people- they are super hospitable! They take such good care of foreigners. Long story short, the second he realized we were foreigners trying pastries in Portugal for the first time, we had ordered 1 pastry each and 1 to split for her to try a couple types and before I knew it he had brought over two plates full of pastries, all for free! There were so many I couldn´t even think about eating them. Then when I got a to-go box he added in even more! I LOVE THE PORTUGUESE!!!!!
Pastries Galore!!!
 So that day was good, the division went really well and it was just a great experience. i always learn so much! The second we got home however...I don´t really know what it was but Sister Hirschi and I were dead. Maybe it was the flu? I took flu medicine...haha nobody freak out, we slept a TON and I feel totally fine now but we spent pretty much the whole weekend in the house. I DO NOT LIKE BEING LOCKED IN THE HOUSE. No thank you. It was necessary though... I think Heavenly Father made us sick because we have been working like maniacs and He was just telling us to take a step back and slow down. So we did and we´re good now, taking super great care of ourselves and so are the members. Man, they as well as Sister Sandholtz and Sister Stewart are STUDS.

Awkward Timer Photo
 Also, funny story, we were late to Ward Council since we still weren´t feeling great and the other sisters mentioned we´d been sick to explain. Then, a member we´re close with mentioned that we skip dinner (nobody freak out, we never entirely skip meals, sometimes they just get seriously delayed). Somehow, one of the members interpreted that as we´re starving and we don´t have enough food (133% NOT TRUE) and everybody started freaking out even though we all tried to explain otherwise. Next thing I know though, we have 4 bags of snacks brought by different members for us and 3 dinner invites for the week. So ya know, as far as miscommunications go, I´ve seen worse.. ;) These people are hilarious and wonderful.

And...that was my week haha. Life is good. We had our break and now we´re going back to the streets to get some great work done! I love serving here in Oeiras and I love serving with Sister Hirschi. I don´t know if I´ve ever laughed SO DANG HARD. She´s hilarious and we make such a great team. Life is just...good :) I love you all and miss you all!!!

Beijinhos e abraços,

Sister Swasey

Monday, July 14, 2014

The price we pay to become aquainted with God.

Hello world!

Sister Andrade

Alright . . . major missionary's writer block right now. I don't know where to start or what to say.  well, let's start with some fun news! Our house is now full!!! Starting on Monday, Sister Sandholtz and Sister Rosemann came to just hang out with us until both of their trainees got here on Thursday. Sister Rosemann came in with me and she's serving in Caldas and Sister Sandholtz just got her from Matosinhos!!! MY AREAS!!!!! MY HOMES!!!!! THEN, biggest surprise yet, the financeiros just show up out of the blue with 2 more beds for our house and SISTER ANDRADE.

For those of you confused at why this is exciting, let´s look back and remember my 2nd transfer when we got a mini missionary companion for 3 weeks way back in Caldas before she got emergency transferred...aka, SISTER ANDRADE!!! But now she´s a real missionary and going back to Caldas with Sister Rosemann! WHAT A HAPPY REUNION. So I got to spend a few days with her while they waited to go to the training with the American missionaries coming in a couple days after. SO FUN. Especially fun because I can actually talk to her now haha. She´s great.

House full of sisters!
So yeah, the week was a crazy week of random divisions and splitting our area and showing Sister Sandholtz around her side and Sister Stewart the new trainee coming in!!! It was all super fun though, the good kind of chaos. It is a BLAST having 4 sisters in the house, seriously this transfer could not be more perfectly set up for success and lots of learning. 

In other news, Sister Hirschi´s cousin sent out the BEST story I have heard in a long time and I really wanted to share it with all of you. Ready?

Some years ago President David O. McKay (1873 - 1970) told of the experience of some of those in the Martin handcart company.  Many of these early converts had emigrated from Europe and were too poor to buy oxen or horses and a wagon.  They were forced by their poverty to pull handcarts containing all of their belongings across the plains by their own brute strength.  President McKay related an occurrence which took place some years after the heroic exodus: 
"A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions."
Then President McKay quoted an observer who was present in that class: "Some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded.
"An old man in the corner . . . sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget.  His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.
"In substance [he] said, 'I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about.  Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved.  Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too.  We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? . . .
"'I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other.  I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.'"
He continues: "'I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me.  I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one.  I knew then that the angels of God were there. 
"'Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since.  The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.'"

My dear family and friends, I am WELL aware that any suffering I go through cannot compare to what these people went through. It simply does not compare. I will however say that I have gained a testimony of sacrifice here on my mission. Many of the sacrifices paid are ones that I never expected or considered sacrifices. But this work is more important than any of those things. 

I´d be lying if I told you all that I was never tired or that it was never hard. I´m ALWAYS tired and it is often hard. But like he said, the price I pay when I take one more step under that hot Portuguese sun is so worth it. The price I pay to do this work, HIS work, is a privilege. It is the price we pay to get to know God, to get to understand a little better our Savior and His sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice.

Now don´t you all go thinking I had a lame/sad/terrible week! It honestly wasn´t! Just tiring from all the awesome work going on!!!! In my big area of Oeiras I´m getting the chance to understand the atonement on a physical level...which is a new level for me I must say, but I really feel like this is the lesson that Heavenly Father wants me to learn right now. 

Time´s up friends, until next week! I love you all, please be strong, please be faithful, please just trust Heavenly Father to send His angels. When you don´t think that you can keep going, He knows you can and He helps you do it. 

Com saudades,

Sister Swasey
This is bacalhau and this is how they sell it...
Grocery shopping. Because I know this side of Portugal really interests you all ;)

Monday, July 7, 2014

I'm Living a Dream!

Sometimes, all of your very wildest and extremest wishes really do actually come true.

Today my friends, was transfer day. Just to give you all the inside scoop, transfers usually happen like this... At any time between 7 and 9:30ish pm, we get a call from some sort of leader figure (I´ve gotten it from Zone Leaders, District Leaders, Assistants to President, and President´s wife herself) and they tell us who is going, where, and what time to be on some sort of bus/train/plane the next morning. Then, we all freak out and call everyone we know and then run home and start packing our bags frantically until about anywhere from 1-3am. Then, the next morning....we´re off! It´s also usually a crazy adventure because the planning isn´t always well done...

But anyway...last night we were at Família Albino´s house awaiting the call. Our District Leader calls. *drumroll* "You´re both staying." WHAT!!!!!!! *lotsofscreaming* "And you´re going to be Sister Training Leaders." *morescreaming* "...of Mem Martins (area in our zone), Cacém (other area in our zone), and...Madeira (island paradise that belongs to Portugal but is actually closer to Africa)." *morescreamingthaneverbeforeinmylife*


Heavenly Father is so loving and merciful and wonderful and I just love Him SO MUCH. Do you realize what just happened?!?!?! The quite literal IDEAL situation that I ever could have wished up. We had literally talked about that yesterday morning, this exact thing happening and IT DID. Even better news! They just added two more sisters to our area!!!! So now our area won´t be so big and it´s going to be an even bigger party in our house! Yippee!!!!!
Graça's baptism

Anyway, about the week. Graça got baptized yesterday!!! Man was that an adventure...she is still recovering from breast cancer while still taking care of her two daughters. They´re super great and like 40 something years old, but they have a child learning level so she still has to help them a lot. She has nobody to help her but a mountain of faith.

Sometimes on the mission I go a little crazy trying to take care of everybody, which is, in fact, literally impossible. As we were driving with a member after picking up Graça to go to church I was panicking a little, thinking about all the people we forgot to call or pass by or who knows what. Then, the Spirit just wrapped me up quite suddenly like in a big blanket and Heavenly Father told me that it was okay, because we took care of Graça and we´re trying. We took care of that one child of His and that meant something. He reminded me that that is how Christ works, one by one. So we took care of the one. 

Turns out the heater on the baptismal font water is our faithful members waited on FAST Sunday of all days after church with us, the men running around boiling water on the stove trying to fix it. They are such champs. It all turned out really well, with lots of happy tears on my part and Graça´s and Sister Hirschi´s.

I don´t have much time for any more updates, but those are the most important. The Lord loves us one by one and He let me stay here and get everything I could have ever dreamed up. I don´t know why I deserve it, but I´m grateful!!!! 

The pictures I´m sending are from this amazing drive we took with this American family from the ward. We went up to a place called Sintra that has AMAZING palaces and a castle and beach and everything good in life, it was INCREDIBLE. Portugal is the best mission ever!!! 


Com saudades,

Sister Swasey

P.S. Happy Late 4th of July! We celebrated too, don´t worry!!!

P.P.S. The other pics are from when I suprised Sister Hirschi with a cake and a happy random day card at the zone conference. Too funny!

Sister Hirschi thinks I'm funny!
Surpised my comp with a random day card and cake. I LOVE MY COMPANION!!!!!

Happy Birthday America!
Happy 4th

Happy Birthday America!
A little bit of home
Cake at the train station.
Passing Portugal Beaches with American Friends
Passing Portugal Beaches with American Friends

Cruisin' in Portugal








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