Thursday, May 28, 2015

Visa came in! Going to Brazil!

Going to Brazil!!!
So guess what, I got my visa to Brazil!:) I am leaving Monday morning at 11:00am at the Billings airport! So crazy I can't believe it! So I'm going to start packing and I will need to send a few things home. I love you so much and I can't wait for this next part of my mission to begin! Love you!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Learning so much & Baptism May 28th!

Always serving
Planning the week
The queens that they are!
Loving Montana! 
(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week was good! The work is moving along here in Montana! We went to this old vintage store and it was so neat! Sister Huerta taught me how to deal with people on the streets for Brazil that will come in handy! 
We have been visiting a lot of old ladies here. They usually have dementia or Alzheimer's. My comps think it's weird but I just talk with these sweet old ladies about whatever they say. I've learned that from visiting my grandmas old home and they are so grateful for our visits! 
Vanda is progressing. We had a member in our last lesson with us and wow it was so impactful the spirit was so strong and the two women could relate to each other and I loved it!  
I learned this week that being a companion isn't helping someone change their weaknesses but being someone to help guide them as a missionary and have your arm always extended if they want your help! Learning he role of who I should be here has been a huge lesson for me this week! 
We ran into our first bible basher. He believes the bible literally and because the BOM and Joseph Smith weren't exactly written he won't even try to see if it's true. We had scriptures that even prophecies of Joseph Smith and the restoration but he didn't care. I learned that some people just aren't ready and that my testimony is stronger even after all of that discussion. I still know who I am and what I believe! 
We volunteered again for another 5k! They are super fun and we get seen by a lot of people! We visit a lot of people in the hospital. It's sad but it gives them a good look at where their faith is! A lot of people that we teach say that we are different from most missionaries and that we have helped them grow their faith! That made me feel good that we are making a difference even if they don't want baptism yet. 
We got to teach the gospel doctrine class again! It wasn't as scary this time. Teaching a big group of adults is really hard for me, but they support us and think we are cute. One member said we had a glow about us! That was neat to hear. One member guessed my first name was Courtney and we all started laughing! That was cool! 
I finished the book of Matthew today and I feel so accomplished! I love reading the Book of Mormon and the bible together they are both truly testaments of Jesus Christ! I am learning so much about myself and the person I want to become. I am becoming more converted to this gospel everyday! My testimony is growing so much in this work and in this gospel! Till next time :)

Fresh food markets, love it!
Sister Smith's new hipster designer line :)
Baptism May 28th!!!!! 
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Hello, this week has been so much better!!! I think I'm just getting more adjusted to being a missionary in Portugal! It´s still rough at times because they talk so fast but my companion has always got my back and helps clue me in on whats going on! I was having a hard time one day because it had all just boiled up and we were talking in companionship inventory, Sister Johnson was so nice to me and told me how she loved how I just love everybody and help them feel special! Wow she could tell that's all I want to do here! It made me feel so happy and has helped me keep a positive attitude!
Well A* is getting Baptised!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For a hot second we thought he was going to have to take so much time because he wasn´t accepting his answer, but all of the sudden last Monday he called us and said he probably had to go to the hospital so we met with him that night and asked him if he would like a priesthood blessing! He said yes and we called the Elders over. They gave him a very sweet blessing and he just felt the spirit so much! Turned out right after the blessing the Doctors called and told him he wouldn´t have to go in anymore!!! He just smiled and said when Elder Reni put his hands on his head he felt something very powerful! Soooo cool!!! So after we talked a little bit we asked about baptism again and he said lets see a calendar and he chose May 28th because December 28th was when his Grandma died and he said it is a special day for him!!!! We are going to meet our meta!!!!!! Such a blessing to know that miracles happen when you pray for them!!
The other sisters in our district had a baptism this week and it was so cool to see one and have A* there! He looked at the program and already chose who he wants to do things! He's so funny, he wants me to say the closing prayer and I feel honored :) He is very intelligent I swear he is going to be a stake president or patriarch some day!! He talked to the Elders and he got really excited because he says he wants to serve a mission as well! So we said next February you can start your papers! He's really excited because he´s 22 and can still serve!
I have a huge testimony on agency! That's something I´ve learned a lot about this week! This whole life is based on what we choose to think, act & do! So all of these people who don´t want to talk to us I just have to say to my self, you know what they get to choose for themselves! I´m here in the place of my Savior inviting them to accept and see what they could have! It makes me happy to know that I have my own agency and I can choose every single day to follow the Savior and choose to follow His plan again here on earth!
I know my Savior lives because every time I think of Him or bear testimony of Him I feel His love and spirit! 3 Nephi 18:24 Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up, that which ye have seen me do. We have the opportunity to share our light and our testimony the best way to share our testimony is be that light. Try to be as close as our Savior is as possible. When you think about making a decision or acting a certain way, think of how our Savior Jesus Christ would act and you will never regret a thing!
I am so grateful for my opportunity to serve here  and be a representative of him! Even though I´m not able to speak or understand much it's improving! And they all say I´m doing so good and I speak perfect! Well expect some awesome baptism pictures next week of me with a huge grin!!!!!! Love you!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Very Adventurous & Starting to Love Montana

P-Day Hike
Sister Doman & Sister Smith
Little church on top of the mountain
Small town, an 1 1/2 hour drive
This cow obviously didn't want the missionary discussions :)
Seriously look at that face! 
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Todo bem?? Well this past week I would say was very adventurous! It just flew by so fast! Well I´ll start out with spiritual things and then go into the funny stuff. Well A* has been progressing! He knows that he wants to be baptised and we asked him if our goal for June 2nd was still good but he didn`t say anything. We asked sooner or later? He said that we would find out! What a jokster!
We taught another lesson to a man from Africa. He's in his 20's and is here for work and school. We had the first lesson this past week and it went perfect and I think that's been our best lesson together yet! He said he was really interested in reading the Book of Mormon to see if it's true! I love how our gospel traces back to the BOM because if that isn`t true nothing is! But when we feel the spirit and feel the joy that comes in our life when we do read it, we can have a testimony for our self that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that we have living prophets today!
We have just been doing lots of contacting and its been getting really hot. I´ve learned that I´m not here for myself, I'm here to find people who are ready for the gospel! I just have to keep telling my self that and stay positive! If there is any negativity that's when I start feeling sad or frustrated.
OK ready for the funny things? So first funny thing that happened this week was that there was a big Fatima parade. Fatima is one of Portugal's saints and apparently she came down from heaven and blessed children in the city Fatima. They ALL worship her! Its actually really creepy!!! Anyways one night we walked around the corner and at a church the whole street was jam packed with people all praying to this big statue of Fatima!!! Sister Johnson and I just looked at each other and were creeped out!! So we started to walk the other way to get away from it and we ran into and talked to a crazy guy! After him we kept walking and Fatima was following us! They were carrying the statue around the city with candles and singing chants!! We started running and ran into another one! Hahahaha we just kept saying apostasy is literally chasing us!! It was a pretty funny night!
The next thing that happened this week was we ate with some members. They were so nice to feed us. I´ve definitely learned my lesson to eat very slow!! They always ask you if you want more and even if you say no they just say "So um mais!" Only one more! Until you eat more!! The nice part about being new is I get to just sit back and listen to conversations and if I don`t know what they are saying, I just smile and they start to laugh. So even if I can´t say much at least I'm making them smile.
Another thing that happened was there was a really big soccer game here in Portugal and I think it was the playoffs! There are two rival teams Benifica and Porto. Well they had tied in their previous game, so they played a different game to see who would win it all. Anyways Porto lost and Benifica tied so that made them the winners! All the sudden in the streets everyone starts honking their horns!!!! People all come out of their houses to the center of the city and just start singing and honking and shouting about how Benefica won! It went on for three hours! People were standing on the fountains with flags, fire, fireworks, and everyone was just chanting! It was really entertaining to watch but we did no contacting that night! It was fun to see how big into soccer they are here!
The last thing that happened this week was that we went on a hike to a waterfall. It was really pretty but I'm pretty sure I'm the worst hiker ever. Oh well it was a blast! Even though I'm not by the sea I'm still enjoying a different country in Europe. Things are just moving a long here with our investigators but I'll let you know about any baptisms. Love you all!!!

Out doing the work

That is one monster Montana tree!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week has changed my perspective as a missionary! God is here with me and I have felt Him. It was just what I needed to keep pushing forward!
We taught a woman V* she is possibly the sweetest lady I have ever met! She is so golden and so ready for the gospel. She said that the Lord has answered her prayers and led us to her! She accepted the invitation for baptism and is on date for June 11th! So amazing, what a miracle. In my first area too! Wow the Lord is with us and is truly guiding us!
One night Sister Madsen sat down with me and talked about the feelings I was having being scared, stressed and alone. When she was serving in Costa Rica before she came here she said she had all the same feelings! She talked with me about her experiences even when it was hard for her to tell me because she is very shy. It meant the world to me that she talked with me. It helped me know that we are all on the same team here. God knew she would be able to help me at that exact moment and I am grateful for that!
I've been reading the New Testament with the Book of Mormon every morning and my faith is growing!! I know that through them both we can become closer to God. I know that for sure now!
We got to eat at CafĂ© Rio and Texas Roadhouse this week, so good! I tried not listening to the country music it was sooo hard! Country music is something I miss a lot. So that was fun!
I had an interview with President Meecham this week. It was so good. He said I was in this companionship for a reason. I am supposed to be the leader even though I'm the one being trained. When he said that my perspective changed about my companionship and that I needed to step up and be the role that President wants me to be! He said I have qualities that were meant for a mission. He says I have a vision of what Billings could be and I make it happen. He said when he prays he feels a sweet feeling about me and that the Savior knows me and loves me. I had been struggling feeling the Saviors love but when he told me it hit me like a rock! I know the Savior loves me and I shouldn't ever doubt it! He said I will go through trials here and after my mission I wasn't prepared to face but through the atonement the Lord will help me get through it and feel His presence. He said you were meant to lead. Your smile shows kindness and love to everyone you meet. I don't expect you to be here longer than 30 days more, so keep you shoulders back head up and do this. You know you can. Wow, my President is so awesome. I was scared of him at first but he knows the Savior so well. What an example and leader he is in my life!
I have met so many people here who are addicted to drugs and drinking. They all say "I had big dreams for myself but look where I am". Wow the gospel has such a huge affect in our lives we sometimes just can't see it!! I am so grateful for the life I have been given, I am so blessed. I want to help others feel that in their lives. I gave a talk this Sunday about the importance of marriage and family! I can't wait to have this for myself! But more importantly this is why I'm here because I knew a family out there needs the gospel and I want to be the one to give it to them!  We were able to.....
There is a less active woman whose husband is Buddhist. He said that religion is just man claiming it to be true, then walked away. We showed this women "The Because He Lives" video and I was able to bear testimony to her why the church is true. And it is because it's not exact knowledge but we can know by the way we feel! I know this church is true with my whole heart not only because of the blessings I have received but because I have felt it in my heart. Through the spirit we can know that it is true and this is available to every man on the earth!
I'm starting to love Montana as I am getting more comfortable here. I love the colors of the homes. All super small but crazy colors. Courtney would love the teal homes here. I like the pink and peach homes. They also have a lot of gardens and flowers here! There are also a lot of old trucks, I love that! It can be beautiful everywhere if you look for it.
I fasted for my companions and I have received this witness of the Holy Ghost that we just need to take that step of faith first and the Lord will lead the way for us! I can't say how much I love the gospel with my whole heart!! I can't wait to see what this next week brings! Keep the faith<3

Monday, May 11, 2015

So much better! & Working really hard!

Happy to be in Portugal....NOW!
Apartment in Portugal
Streets of Viseu
Living quarters!
Shopping on P-Day! Their favorite store :)
Very European! I'm jealous! 
(Sister Courtney Smith)
So this past week has been so much better!!!!!! I can´t even believe how fast my outlook on this mission has changed! Well for one I was able to skype home and that just lifted my spirits so much to see my family that loves me so much!
The biggest thing that I wanted to talk about is how our conversion to Christ includes us consecrating our lives. This life isn´t just about us knowing there's a Christ and feeling His spirit, it's about giving everything we have to Him so He can then perfect us! I had a bad attitude last week because I felt like everything wasn't the way I wanted it to be, but then I read a talk about being a consecrated missionary and in that moment it flipped a switch and I was able to commit to being better! I´ve learned that God is not going to let us be content with our struggles, He will push us and asks for our all. But in return He makes our weaknesses strengths because if we are humble we are able to turn our lives to Christ even more than we thought before. I´m able to walk through the streets, have courage to talk to people even though they can´t understand me, and take criticism day after day. I know Christ is making me stronger and is preparing me for the rest of my mission! After teaching a couple lessons with A*, I am able to feel the true spirit of missionary work when I am able to bear testimony of things that are true! We don´t have a lot of investigators yet, but that's because we are opening up this new area. I know my job right now is to work hard and find the people in Viseu that need the gospel. This helps me stay happy even when people are rude or don´t want to talk, I know when we find that one family or that one person all the hard work will be worth it! I believe in Miracles!!! Plus I do get to eat gelato throughout my week so that makes me pretty happy :) Even though it's hard right now I can see the person God is molding me to be, and that's our Savior :) We are all in the refining process and it will take our whole life, but as we see our progress and feel His love we are able to withstand the heat and pressure till the end! I love you all!!!!

This is Montana?!
Not sure what this is doing on the porch.....
Now this is Montana! 
This is too!
If you look close the Temple is behind the barn.
Newest girl band...?
Sisters in the district!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
This area is slowly getting better! We keep working hard and I am starting to see small growth here! We had transfers this week and sister Van Ausdal came, she is such a great example to me!!  She is the Sister training leader and made me talk with people and get out of my comfort zone!! It strengthened my own confidence! I owe her a lot for that. We found a lot of interesting people and things while tracking this week! Haha but that's what makes it more fun!! We found this guy and I was testifying about the Book of Mormon and all of a sudden this other man came over counting his money and traded some drugs right as I was testifying! He took the BOM and said he wanted to come to Church. We were so scared! We went through all these alleys and a guy on a motorcycle stopped us and we talked to him. We tract in the ghetto and boondocks of Montana! It is so different than what I thought!
Then we drove west and visited a member. Her house was so cute she even had a barn and a view of the temple. This is what I expected Billings Montana to be! A lot of our appointments cancelled on us but Sunday was a miracle. Our new investigators came to sacrament and the two less active families came as well! We received a lot of referrals and contacted a lot of old investigators. We are trying to get this place moving!! We have about 15 investigators now, starting out with only 1!! We are working really hard to get the area book organized too. God is helping us, it is slow here but I am glad to help this place progress. I love these investigators some of the people here I feel so grateful to have met. They are just so sweet and care about God! They all need the Gospel! Til next week! :)

Best Mothers Day Ever!

It was so great to hear and SEE them! My heart was so happy! But it did come to an end :( How will I make it till Christmas?
I love technology! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Paso e paso & No pain No Gain.....I guess.... :(

A Trio! Sister Smith, Sister Huerta & Sister Madden
Living quarters, guess which is Makelle's!
What is she doing in........Montana?!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
Wow I am here in Montana! It is so different from what I expected but it's starting to grow on me. It was way hard for me to say goodbye to Courtney but I know she will do amazing things in Portugal. On the plane I got to hand out a pass along card to a girl named Marne and that was way neat!
When I first got here we got to meet President Meecham and his wife! We stayed at the mission home for a few days and it was nice to be with my old district for a little longer!
We got to go to the Billings Montana temple and that was so neat! It was really pretty! We then went over a lot of the mission rules and we got our new calls! I have been called to serve in the Billings Montana mission with two other companions Sister Madden from California who served in Costa Rica then Sister Huerta from Tijuana Mexico! I have two trainers and we are over two wards and we are responsible for all Spanish investigators and the Spanish ward here!!! Ahh so crazy I was really scared at first because I know Portuguese. Apparently President Meecham changed me to be with companionship at the last second. He told me I have a maturity about myself that will help this companionship! It is a blessing because I can understand Spanish and we speak Spanish and Portuguese in our apartment! It is weird having a trio companionship but I feel like I am protected when we go tracking haha! I miss Sister Irizarry we were best friends. It is hard to adjust to new companions but I am starting to love them, I am just so different from them.
This is an iPad mission so that has been an interesting change. Our iPads didn't work for a few days and that was interesting because we couldn't even get on the area book. Also our apartment doesn't have WiFi so if we need to get on we have to go to the church.
When we got to our apartment the previous Elders didn't clean! So we cleaned everything so many meat packages in the fridge, so weird :/ haha! We then did weekly planning, the area book is a disaster. No one was scheduled for lessons, so unorganized. If there was a name then there wasn't a phone number and the address would be wrong. It has been frustrating here to find people. But my companions try to cheer me up at every door saying "maybe this will be the person who says yes" haha. Sister Huerta always makes me laugh or gives me a shoulder massage whenever I feel stressed I can tell she cares about me and loves me. She always says the words "destroy and jeepers". And she tells everyone "we don't know nothing about the area." Haha she cracks me up! She always says we will get better step by step!
The members are really good here. They always feed us :) haha. One family and their little boy from Taiwan sang princess songs for us, he wants to be on Broadway. The members are so great it is fun to talk with them! We have had two lessons with investigators one with the Aguilar family! They speak Spanish and the room was packed, they seem super interested and Sister Huerta and Sister Madden did awesome with Spanish. They were grateful for us! I didn't say much but I could understand them. There were probably 8 people other than us there. They brought friends from work! They came to church and that was great. We have another lesson this week with them.
Then there is the Macintire family, older couple. Man they can talk! We didn't even get to our lesson, but they said they trust and respect us so that is good. We have another lesson with them. They have been to all of the churches around here, they said fast and testimony meeting last month was boring haha. They want church to be fun. I didn't know what to say other than "church is for friendships and doctrine not ice cream, bands and astronauts". Cute couple and seems interested though!
We met both wards and they both seem to like us better than the last Elders. I think they just did whatever during the day. It all shows in the area book. I have appreciated my time so far though, it makes me want to leave this area better than we found it. I bore my testimony on faith and missionary work, we also got to teach the New Testament class! They ward members really like us! Paso e paso! I know it will get better here as we keep working! I love and miss you all!

Looking out her apartment in Portugal! 
President Fluckiger & Sister Fluckiger
New companion Sister Johnson
I'm guessing it's Gelato! She couldn't wait for it :)
European pastries! I'm so jealous :o

(Sister Courtney Smith)
So my thoughts are kind of jumbled this week because I have so much going on!!! Well I'm pretty sure I died from the airplanes, I don't want to ever fly again for a long time!!!!
I'll kind of give you a little summary of what happened this week! So I arrived in the airport and President and Sister Fluckiger picked us up and we drove to the mission home! I met my new trainer, we ate a Portuguese sandwich and that was really good!
We had a zone meeting already the next day so we just rode a train to Coimbra and stayed over night with the Sister training leaders! I shouldn't have packed so heavy because we had to drag my luggage all over town! It was so hard to stay awake! It was a rough day..... I was sad because it's not what I was expecting. Then we ate at McDonald's which was nice because I was starving, it made my entire day! They are a lot nicer here! Then we got on a train and had to drag my bags all the way to my new area which took about 4 hours to Viseu! I've been so exhausted this whole time so I just fell asleep! We got to our apartment haha it makes me laugh because it's not that nice but it works for what we need!
Haha my first day contacting, not one person would want to talk to us! One man looked me straight in the eye and started talking and the only words I could make out was satan and church. Haha so I guess he called our church the church of satan! So that happened again our second day which wasn't that fun. On our third day we were walking and my companion Sister Johnson was making a call and we were just sitting on the corner. I didn't really have anything to do and someone was walking by so I decided to say "hello and how are you" to him, well he stopped and we started to talk. We got to a point where I couldn't understand him and luckily Sister Johnson was there and she stepped in and taught him a lesson about the Book of Mormon and the restoration! It was so cool! His name is Andre he is a spiritualist and doesn't believe a lot of the same things but he seemed so interested in what we had to say! He even wanted a Book of Mormon! So just talking to someone here is a miracle and giving a Book of Mormon to him was even better, it just made my entire day! The story doesn't end there though! Later that night there was a little festival and people were singing and cannons were going off. There were a lot of people there so it was a good opportunity to contact so we went back and we saw Andre there in the city! He lives a little bit away so it was cool to see him, but the best part is that he was only holding his Book of Mormon in his hand!! So we talked to him and he said that he had been reading it a little bit! We have an appointment with him today for another lesson!! It's so cool that even from me starting a conversation with him we have a new investigator! He's one in every fifty people we talk to but they are out there! That's the only thing I'm holding on to! I can't understand that well what anybody is saying but I can say hello and start conversations so I am doing as much as I can do at this point!
Well I was able to make it until Sunday and it was fast Sunday! We were able to meet all of the members and they were all so nice! They would give us the kisses on the cheeks! It made me feel so loved!!! So I went up and bore my testimony! I was crying so much and it was hard to think of what I wanted to say but I was able to do it!! It was such a good feeling! Everyone came up to me and told me I spoke perfect Portuguese! Haha so I think I did ok! The only hard part is that I don't know what everyone else is saying! So I just sit there and smile!! I do my best and that's enough for God! My scripture for this week is Helaman 10:4. It talks about dedication. Nephi was so dedicated in serving the Lord and he wasn't able to see immediate blessings but The Lord did bless him. That's who I'm trying to be like right now! I know when we do what the Lord wants He will bless us because we are aligning our life with the Lords! Love you all and thank you for your prayers!