Monday, July 27, 2015

Best of my mission! & Frozen hot chocolate!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week has been the best of my mission! Baptism of Stephani! Wow what a neat experience!! She was so excited and so ready for this! We had her baptism and then we  had a testimony meeting after. The spirit was so strong. I had the opportunity to bear my testimony to Stephani and her family of the gospel and I cried so much. But I know without a doubt in my heart that this is the church of Jesus Christ on the earth. I felt a glimpse of pure happiness and gratitude in my life that I have never felt before! I want to always be obedient to the gospel and it's teachings! I know that through this gospel our families can be together forever, and we truly can have eternal life through making covenants with God.
We had a Mission tour in the Centro of Floripa! This is when half of the mission gets together to listen to the president and listen to a member of the seventy speak! Wow, I learned so much from them. The biggest thing I learned was that I need to do everything I can to create an environment for our investigators to choose to feel the spirit and act. They need to follow the Savior and use the atonement in their lives. I also need to be brave and have courage to open my mouth. I have a greater desire to find the people that are ready to receive the gospel. We saw the elders and the tour and that was awesome.
I really feel like I have a family here! I have been so grateful this week for the plan of God. I know that all of the hard times and heart breaks in my life happened because I needed to grow my testimony and I needed to be pushed on this mission. Because of the experiences I have had here, already I am a changed person and I only want to try and be better. We hit our four month mark and that was way awesome! Time is really flying by. I love this mission and I
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well it has been an eventful week! The first of the week we´ve really been focusing on Alex and helping him!! He´s still progressing but I know with him it will just take some time! His family is hilarious they are so fun to be a round! He´s looking for truth but is having a hard time with reading and praying so we are just encouraging and inviting and it´s ultimately up to him to choose for himself :)
Oh yeah so Sister Johnson and I found a little café in the middle of Viseu that we never noticed before, and it has Frozen Hot Chocolate!!!! My dream came true to have one in Europe!!!! We were literally jumping when we found it! So we took a picture with them haha we also laughed because mine was dark brown and hers was white. We crack jokes all the time like that!
Then on Wednesday we decided to take an hour and a half bus ride to the outskirts of our area to go meet with some people and contact and guess what? Our district leader called us and told us we have interviews with our new President the next day and that we needed to be on a bus at 6:00!! So we ran from where we were to catch a bus back to Viseu to get on another bus to Coimbra! Coimbra is a bigger city it has so many apartment buildings compared to Viseu! I´ll send a picture of Sister Johnson and I! We had to sleep over at the sister training leaders house the night before and we had to make a mega bed because there were 10 sisters there. It was pretty much a party!!
We FINALLY met President and Sister Amorim! And can I say that I already love them soooooo much!!! They are incredible people and have so much love for us already! President gave a little presentation about him and what he expects for our mission and he is just so inspiring!! So the things that I really liked that he said were about how they will be an example to us so that we can be an example to the people here in Portugal! They also said that we will be able to say that Portugal Porto mission will be the happiest mission. Because everyone already says that theirs is the best, we´ll be able to say we are the happiest because we are striving to be exactly obedient and love the people :) He is so cool! I had an interview with him and he was so cool he gave me a ton of advice and told me my Portuguese is coming along really well! He said I need to be striving to be exactly obedient because I will be a future trainer and leader! How cool?! I love how encouraging and loving they are! Sister Amorim is so beautiful and kind, I already feel like shes my mom! They put so much effort in getting to know us and took notes they are so cute! I feel so blessed to be serving here. Improving my language and communication skills, and most importantly my testimony and knowledge about our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
The last of the week we just took a lot of pictures with people because this is our last week together! On Tuesday night we have transfer calls and we will see where we end up going!!! We took a ton of pictures with members, everyone thinks I'm´m staying and sister Johnson is going! So we´ll see!! Oh yeah the other ward had a party of the letter C and it was really cute we played lots of games and talked about Christ! I will try to send the video all the missionaries here were in a band and we are dancing and having fun the members loved it! I think the best part about the mission so far is that I get to grow my own testimony while helping other grow theirs too!! It makes me so happy to be able to see the change in others lives and as well in my own conviction of the gospel!
I am loving Jesus the Christ it is blowing my mind!!!!! I´ve been reading the chapter about our need for a Redeemer! I love how we teach the Plan of Salvation to our investigators and how the Savior is vital in God´s Plan! 1 Cor 15:21-22, For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the Dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. I love this scripture so much! Because it´s so true!! I can feel so much truth in the fact that because of one man (Adam) all man were condemned to death,Through one man (Jesus Christ) we are all able to live again :) It´s only through Christ that we are able to overcome physical and spiritual death to live with our Father in Heaven again! Only Christ was able to be the one man and I am so thankful for him and his literal sacrifice for each one of us! I get to wear his name ever single day and it makes me so proud to see people accept him in their lives!I know that he lives! I love you all so much and I hope you guys are looking to get to know Christ as well! I love you all! Have an Awesome week!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The real deal & Love more & be obedient!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was alright. I don´t have much to say but we did a lot of work! We´ve really been focusing on finding and contacting! Its so cool to feel the spirit helping me understand and speak Portuguese! I can´t believe I'm actually doing it! I am starting the Book of Mormon in Portuguese and also I'm starting to read Jesus the Christ! Sometimes the days go by slow but the weeks fly by way fast! Well I hit my four month mark already! We were actually supposed to have our transfers yesterday but we still need to meet our President next week so we will wait a couple more weeks! I actually would like to stay here! Sister Johnson has been really sick so on Wednesday we had to go to Coimbra and go to a special doctor! We had time to do a little sight seeing while we were in Coimbra! In the picture is an Italian coconut gelado and a little ham sandwich with a Portugal background! I feel so European!!! Living the dream :) 
I love that I get to be serving the people here!! It´s so funny because I actually gave my first talk this last week like Makelle! One of our members was sick so they called us last second and told me i´d be giving it!! I was a little nervous but I knew it would all be OK! Its was actually really neat to see that God prepares us for what's to come in life! He gives us little experiences to help prepare us, we just don´t know it all of the time! In my study time for some reason I decided to study in Portuguese but we are supposed to in English. I learned a lot and was able to write down my feelings and impressions in Portuguese! Well it just so happened the next day I was giving a talk on the very subject I studied!! I know the Holy Ghost is real and he helps us everyday when we listen and follow!! 
We haven´t been able to talk to Zé so we will see if we can talk to him this week. Update on the really elect family we found a couple weeks ago! So they love the church and they know it's true, they even are reading the Book of Mormon everyday! But the husband isn´t totally on board yet so they aren´t being baptised yet, but the sisters there are working with them! Well we are teaching Alex. We found him through our fourth of July party!! We have taught him a lot this past week, we even watched the restoration movie with him and he really liked it!  So we asked him about baptism again and how he felt and he said good! We marked him for two weeks!! We are teaching all of the lessons and he seems to be accepting all of it except black tea hahaha he's funny! We also went to his house today and his mom and sister did Sister Johnson's braids!! It was so fun and actually easier than I thought! So I might be doing them for clients when I get back!! Its so cool to be taught by African Woman. It's the real deal!! :) 
So I just have a quick thought for the week! I was reading in the talk "Stand by the tree" by elder Keven Pearson. He said enduring to the end requires TOTAL commitment to the Savior and our covenants!! This includes the little things we agreed to stay true to in our baptismal covenants! I love it and I hope we can all stay true to the commitments we made and true to our God and Lord Jesus Christ! I hope you all have a great week love you all!!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
We had interviews with the president this week! I loved my interview. It is so funny to notice how much I can understand now compared to the interview my first day here. I literally understood nothing. But now I pretty much understood everything he said to me! President Silva said in 4 more months I will laugh at this moment now. But he really helped me with the way I teach. He reminded me not to compare my teaching style with anyone else's because the best way to teach is by what you know to be true! If you have a testimony that is all that matters. "Use the scriptures, talks by the prophets and preach my gospel and you will be a good teacher". I felt so much love and concern from him, I really feel like he is my dad here in the mission. 
This week I finally got to the point of feeling comfortable with making contacts in Portuguese! It is so awesome i don't really have that fear in me anymore. I know my purpose, I know that this gospel will bless the lives of all who will listen, I have this knowledge in me and I want to share it! 
I have been having problems with my back lately, its because we carry heavy bags and the beds aren't the best. But i made a rice sock and i like to warm that up before bed it really helps! Stephani is progressing a lot! She is still on date for this Saturday, she is so excited! All of her brothers are coming to church too! One of her brothers Alliston reminds me of Garrett, I really do love this family! They all read and prayed to God if this church is true, they all said that they felt pure joy and Alliston who is 10 said that he felt like he was flying in the clouds and was really happy when he prayed. Seriously though in that moment I felt more joy in my heart and had the biggest smile. That right there is what brings true happiness in this life, helping others find God and Jess Christ!:) I am loving this work! 
The beaches here are so pretty. Especially with the sunsets, they have the most gorgeous colors in the sky here. I stare at the sky and can't help but know that God is real and created colors for us to enjoy this world. 
This week I truly learned that in this life we need to love the people around us, to do this we need to have charity, the pure love of Christ! Second I learned how important obedience is! If we are trying to be obedient the best we can and the commandments and standards of the Gospel, God has promised us that He is bound and He needs to bless us. Wow what a blessing that is so sure and straightforward. These are the goals for me this transfer, love more and be obedient! I love my Savior and this Church it really does bring us joy in our lives! Have a great week!

Monday, July 13, 2015

A pretty fun week! & So Awsome!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week has been a lot of fun! It's been a little bit slower finding people to teach but the work is still moving forward! We'll update with Zé. We had another lesson about the plan of salvation and we rescheduled him for this Saturday, but he needed to come to church in order to be interviewed. And he didn´t end up coming to church! It was really sad too because we set up a ride for him and everything and he said he was ready but didn't answer his phone when his ride was there! So we will try to reschedule him again for next week!
So our new mission president, President Amorim and his wife received their visas and are just waiting for their passport! They will be coming hopefully in the next couple of days and we have interviews with him sometime in the next two weeks! He seems like a very hard working man and his wife seems very nice as well. We are all really excited to get to know him!! We had a Zone meeting this week and it was pretty intense because our mission leaders all met over skype with President and also with Elder Teixera! So they told us a lot of cool things! We even got to see a little clip of our President! He promised that if we are completely obedient to all mission rules, work really hard in all moments we can, and love the people with all of our hearts we will start seeing a lot of miracles! He promised that we will baptize more than the whole Portugal mission before. That's a lot too because we are now cut in half!!! He seems very inspired!
So Sister Johnson and I have really been getting to know two specific families this past week. They are all from Congo! They are all members except one boy named Alex, and the other families daughter got baptised last week! They are so much fun!! They are so nice and we just laugh and laugh and laugh! Alex seems to like the church a lot! He says he doesn't want to be baptised again because God will be angry with him if he's baptised 5 times! Hahaha he's already been baptised 4 times! But he really likes it and he came to church! We have been spending a lot of time with him and his brother Remi who is already a member! We know he will be baptised it will just take some time! I had my first African meal this week! It was soo cool! Garrett will love this! So you roll up the mash potato bread and you just dip it in the green sauce with your hands! So your hands are just messy and goopy by the end! :) It was really good! We also made a Plan of Salvation Game for the kids! They are adorable and they loved it! Seriously they were going crazy! It was kind of like candy land and you have to go through life and get the faith, repentance, baptism, holy ghost, and endure to the end cards! Whoever made it back to the Celestial Kingdom first got the candy! Well they were all going crazy because the mom Salome won and she was so happy. So we said wait don´t you love your kids and want them to be happy there too? and she said of course! So we pulled out more candy and they all got some once they made it back too!! They loved it and wanted to keep the game so they could play together as a family more :) They were less active but now they are coming back to church and loving it! They also taught me how to do African Braids!!!! It was so fun! They are pretty easy I just have to practice! I think I might start doing more braids when i get back with my clients! :)
We also had a girls night with our recent convert Isaura and a member Leandra! We had popcorn and soda and watched a movie! We also got to ride in the famous trolley here in Viseu! It was a pretty fun week!!
Well my spiritual thought this week is just my testimony. The zone leaders asked us to have questions written down about what we want to learn from our meeting. One of my questions was "how can I have more strength and peace as I serve here on my mission and throughout my life"? The answer I received is that when we do His will we have peace for Eternity. And when we are obedient to what He asks us to do it is strength knowing where we stand with God. It was really neat to me because I sometimes feel I can´t speak perfect Portuguese or understand very well I´m not giving all I can as a servant of the Lord. But if we remember the parable of the Talents and how God has given us gifts that we are able to use in this life, it is up to us to use them to the fullest. I know we all have gifts and talents to share with others. Sometimes it is not the same or we many not feel like we have enough to give, but the Savior has declared We Can Give Enough, and we can serve enough to show our love for Him as long as we follow His example and use His Atonement in our lives :) Well I hope you all had a good week! Love you tons!!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week has been so awesome!!!
We are really working hard in this area. We always have appointments and this makes me feel really good! We have a lot of investigators right now the only problem is that they need to have a strong spiritual experience and feel the spirit in their lives that this is the true gospel!
This week we went to a huge BRECHO. This was really fun everything was only 1 real so you better believe I bought a lot of new skirts :)! After a member owns a pizza restaurant and we got Pizza!!
We had a lesson with Stephanie and she still feels this is the right path for her! We are moving her date to next Saturday, I am so excited! She really loves this gospel and the Book of Mormon! This Sunday I gave a talk in sacrament! I was so nervous but it went really well I actually talked too  much they had to give me a note that said time is over hahaha. Well now I know I can give a long talk!!:) I talked about knowledge. I studied this attribute of Jesus Christ this week and I learned a lot!
I learned that our testimonies and knowledge about the restored gospel is not only for us but to help the people around us and our families! I learned that to gain more knowledge in our lives we need to plan when we will study doctrine, pray ponder and feel the spirit and let it guide us to share our testimonies with other people! I love this and I know that God wants us to have more knowledge about His love for us and His son Jesus Christ! I love you all!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Really felt the power of the Gospel!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
4th of July!!! This week I really felt the power of the Gospel! We were able to teach our investigator Stephanie and her family! They are all so cute! We taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how through this plan we can return to God with our families one day! The kids all want to be baptized and her dad wants to study more! We all walked through the steps of the gospel until we were all with God as a family! Wow, the spirit was so strong and their desire to learn about Christ and His gospel are so real! Stephanie is on date for the 19th of July! She is so excited and tells everyone that she is going to be baptized. She is reading the Book of Mormon and bore her testimony that this is the true Church and that she wants to raise her children in this gospel! Wow, she was truly prepared and really wants the spirit! Sister Huaman and I are becoming more united as a companionship and our communication in lessons is getting so much better we try to both testify on every subject and that really brings the spirit into our lessons! I am so happy with the work and I am loving this ward! We are finding more people and the members are coming with us too! We taught a training on missionary work on Sunday and everyone raised their hand when we asked if it was a commandment and a blessing. The members are really starting to get excited about the work here! I love this area and I never want to leave! We are teaching a lot and trying to teach by the spirit. This week my testimony has been strengthened in that Jesus is the Christ and it is only through Him we can truly be happy in this life and feel peace!

4th of July Party!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
So this week went really well!! I´ll first talk about Zé. We had our second lesson with him but we felt prompted to talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ with him befor the plan of salvation. Oh boy he just ate it up! When we talked about faith you could just tell something hit him. He has so much faith in Jesus Christ and he wants to follow him! We set a date for July 11th  but he didn´t show up to his lesson or church but we did get a hold of him and we will teach him and hopefully reschedule him for the following week for baptism!! He works a lot but I know he has a true desire to follow our Savior!
Well this week was actually a lot of preperation because guess what??!! WE HAD A 4TH OF JULY PARTY!!!!!!!!!! Yes we really did! Sister Johnson and I thought it would be a great opportunity to have the members invite their friends to come and see the church and it´s members!! We spent all day making desserts and planning! They all LOVED IT! We had charcol hamburgers, homemade lemonade, chips, salad, rice crispy treats, and apple crisp!!! Portuguese people love America already so they thought it was the funnest thing to all get together and talk! Then we played water balloon volley ball with the towels and you pass it over the net! It was a blast! It pretty much just ended up in a water fight but it was fun! I even did my hair and everything but the youth went crazy and didn't care! They were still talking about it the next day! They all told us we need to do more parties like that! The pictures say it all!
Well my spiritual thought for the week is from the talk of Elder Hales, Through our faith in Jesus Christ, believing in His Atonement, repenting of our sins, and being baptized, we may then receive the supernal gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift provides knowledge and understanding, guidance and strength to learn and gain a testimony, power, cleansing to overcome sin, and comfort and encouragement to be faithful in tribulation. These incomparable blessings of the Spirit increase our freedom and power to do what is right, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

I  read this talk on the 4th of July and I thought it was very fitting!! It´s so true!! It is so important that we have our religious freedom, because when we have this we are able to more fully feel the spirit of God in our lives! We truly have freedom to be close to our Heavenly Father and his Son! I know that the history of the world and of America was all meant to be! And because of America, God was able to call another Prophet Joseph Smith to restore his gospel on the earth once again because He LOVES his children! He is our Father, He knows us and what we need. But we need to use our agency and choose to protect the freedoms we have so we can endure to the end! Anyways love you all and hope your 4th of July was amazing!

Last weeks letter that finally came through!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week has been so great!! We are starting to get to know the members a lot better! Some even come tracking with us! The members are really who help convert the people because they will stay here to help them once we leave! We had a really cool activity in the centro of Floripa this week! We had these pictures of the Book of Mormon and we went trying to get people to come look and have a mini lesson of our Gospel! It was so fun and a lot of people talked with us! I had to find people and teach all on my own and I was a little scared but the people were really nice and everyone wanted to learn more so we got their information! It helped with my confidence with street contacting for sure! We had lunch at a members home and the mom had cancer and it has been really hard for her family. She bore her testimony on the atonement and how through Jesus Christ our faith can grow and He can help us with everything. I felt like she was talking to me. I felt with all my heart that through Jesus Christ I can be better with Portuguese everyday and even though it is really hard I can do it, if I have faith!
We went to the beach today and it was so pretty. I am so lucky to be here! We found a girl named Stephanie and she came to church. She really likes everyone and she wants to read the Book of Mormon. So awesome! I can't wait for this week to start teaching her! The days are starting to go by really fast, but it is great because it makes me excited for lessons and to see our investigators grow in their faith! My language is starting to get a lot better and I am starting to actually understand!!! It really is a miracle and the power of God is so real! I am so grateful to have the experience because I know that through Him I can do this!!