Monday, August 31, 2015

Efapi, Chapeco & Transfers next week!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
Ahhhh I am in love with this area! Efapi is so small but there are a lot of people who live here. They are all so nice and willing to hear our messages! No one has heard of Mormons or the Book of Mormon and I can really feel that through this book they can receive answers!
So my companion is sister Santos from Fortaleza Brazil. She is amazing and this is her last transfer in the mission! I will be the one to kill her (missionary saying) haha. She is really cool and so so funny! The other two sisters sister Belo and Sister Cardias so cute and so sweet! I love their personalities, they want to learn English too! Seriously I think this is the happiest I have been on the mission! Here we started with 2 investigators and one Geneci she is so cute and already knows the Book of Mormon is true! She is on date for the 12 of September! We found 8 new investigators this week! So awesome, the people here and so great! I have been transferring all of my English marked scriptures to Portuguese. I'm going cold turkey with English, I think this will really help my language! Everyone here thinks I am ending my mission because I speak well! I have got to thank the gift of tongues for that one! I really feel the spirit in our lessons. I have learned as I rely on the spirit the people will feel the truth in their hearts and they will start to think with an eternal perspective! I can feel my testimony growing so much in this gospel, I know it is true and that is all I have to testify! Until next week!!:) Favorite scripture 1 Nephi 9:6 I know that God puts experiences in our paths for our good, He has all the wisdom and knowledge we just need to try our best to follow the will of God in our lives and He will show us the best path to happiness and greater faith! I know that this principal is true with all my heart!
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this was the last week of the transfer!! I will be finding out where I go tomorrow night :) I could stay or go at this point but we are pretty sure one of us will be going! So if anything I will be getting a new companion! It´s kind of scary to think of sometimes but I know that it´s good to move forward!! I can see soooo much progress even just from last transfer! I feel a lot more comfortable now! Something that i´m learning about my self is that I actually really like to learn! At first Portuguese was such a challenge because its just all kind of thrown at you, but now where I have more of a base to work off of it´s really fun to gain more of an understanding with the work and with the language!
We had a family night with the Afican family again :) We played uno and they absolutley loved it!! You can just feel how much love they have for each other! We are still reteaching them but I believe that once they understand they will really work together! It will just take a litle bit! We taught his brother Alex again with the one of the APs haha they drove all the way from Porto to come teach him a lesson! Haha it was really great and he felt the spirit really strong, I know he will be baptised one day, he just needs to not be lazy and start acting! We also taught his mom and sister finally! It was a pretty crazy lesson though! She had a lot of doubts about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. It´s just sad because they don´t speak a lot of Portuguese so it takes a long time to explain things! But things are for sure progressing with their family so that´s all that matters! Its been kind of a crazy week because we´ve had an ET with Sister Barratt because she broke her foot! So we had a bunch of sisters in our house! Oh and we went to a Brazilian Rodízio! Whoo hooo!!!!!!!! It was so good :) They had all of your favorites Mom, Dad, and Garrett!!! Turkey wraped bacon, garlic steak, chicken hearts, pineapple! It was a fun treat :) Mom this is for your class: Living in the world but not of the world. Something thats really kind of hit me here on a mission is how real the plan of salvation is!! Sometimes we just think that the gospel is just a part of our lives, like we got to church on Sundays or we have young womens on tuesdays nights, but it´s more than just activities we have its about they way we live :) So many people here think the way they dress, their instagram or facebook, and what they do on a saturday night is what makes them who they are but when we know God´s plan for us we can know who we are :) We are SONS and DAUGHTERS of God :) in moses it talks about how he talked with God and God Told him he is his son and is similar to our Savior. God knows our potential, We just need to remember every day who we are and why we are here. Moses 1: 13 and 25 are my favorites! Well I hope it makes sense i don´t have much time love you all so much!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Such an adventure! & Transfers for Sister Makelle Smith!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was such an adventure!!! It felt like everyday something new happened! Well My Birthday was absolutely amazing!!! The other sisters in my house made it so special! I woke up to a big sign in my room that said `Feliz Aniversario Linda´ :) Sister Johnson made me French toast with carmel syrup and then we went to the fair and got bracelets :) Oh yeah our neighbors kitten found it's way into our apartment. We made Alfredo for lunch one of my favs! The other sisters came back from Porto with my Bday package from parents and grandparents (seriously a miracle), and the other sisters and my recent convert got me a little gift! Oh and the Elders made us cinnamon rolls too :)
Sister Johnson hit her one year mark with me!!! Wow it´s so crazy how fast time is flying! We made lunch with the elders. Elder Ruggles knows how to make wingers sauce, and we made some fries and got a watermelon too!! Needless to say it was pretty great!
The weather here is going crazy, I'm pretty sure Portugal for Europe is the Utah! I think it´ll be pretty cold this winter! Well transfers are coming up next week already! Everyone thinks I'm going to leave so we´ll see :) I love Viseu I probably could stay here for another three if they asked me to!
Well I also colored my hair today! It was a lot of fun! I really miss doing hair! But I know there will be plenty of time for that when I get home :)
As far as the work here, we have been working hard and feeling the spirit! I know that God guides us to who he wants us to talk to! Right now Zé is working a lot and so is Marlow but we will be teaching them this next week and fingers crossed, we´ll be marking them too :) Alex is still moving very slowly! We´ve had a couple lessons with him and he´s still not opening his heart to accepting things, we´ll see how this next week goes. Salomé and Monga are progressing a lot!! They were baptised six years ago but we can´t find their membership papers so they can be members in our ward so we have to reteach and re baptise them. But it is actually really good because they don´t really remember the lessons or anything so it will give their whole family an opportunity to start coming back to church and strengthen their testimonies! ( They´re that cute African Family I have pictures with)
Well As far as my spiritual message this week I really have been learning about the importance of keeping the commandments! I was Reading first Nephi 17: 13 And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led. I love this scriptures because Christ is not just talking to Nephi he´s also talking to us! He promises us that if we keep the commandments He will be our light in our `wildernesses` and we will return to the presence of God in our `promised land´ in the celestial kingdom :) I know that our Heavenly Father has provided us our way that is our Savior Jesus Christ and if we will follow Him and do the things in this life that He asks we will have Eternal Happiness :) There is so much hope and peace that come from the scriptures! I am so happy for my opportunity to be able to help others have this same happiness that comes from His gospel! I hope you all have an amazing week :)
(Sister Makelle Smith)
So trasfers are this week!!!!! I will be transfered to chapeco! To an area called Efapi. It is right out of the centro of chapeco and it is a branch of 40 members and there will be 4 sisters in the area! The bus ride is 12 hours haha! I thought I would be for sure getting out of traveling for a while. It is the longest distance area in the mission! My companion will be Sister Santos and she is Brazilian.  I am so excited to learn more Portuguese!!! Really I am sad to say goodbye to Sister Huaman,  Sister Espin and Sister Irizarry! I love them all so much! But I have such great hopes and love for Efapi already! It is a really small town the roads don't even have names!! I am so excited! This week I made a lot more contacts and I am feeling so much more comfortable in Portuguese. The people think I am from Uruguay because of my accent!
We had a special conference in Floripa today. We had a conference with Elder Niel A Anderson an apostle of the Lord! It was so amazing and we sat in the front row, it was so neat to be able to watch him speak and bear his testimony. He speaks Portuguese! Wow it was an experience I will never forget! I got to shake his hand!!
I am really learning a lot about myslef and who I want to be not only in the mission but when I come home. Something that Elder Anderson said was that real conversion is when we are truly changed and have the desire to keep getting better! That is what I want to do and what I invite all of you today is use the atonement in your lives everyday and you will be a better person and will feel the love of God in your life more! Love you guys!!
-Read the talk "Where Justice Love and Mercy Meet" by Jeffrey R Holland. It is truly critical to understand the plan of salvation to understand the atonement. (my favorite conference talk) :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday! 20! Aug 18th
(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week was really funny. Last p-day the sisters in the house all played charades with the different elders here. It was priceless!
I have been reading a different conference talk everyday and it has helped me a ton!! Really I know that the prophets are called for us in these last days to give us revelation for our lives. What I have learned the most is that we need to be having spiritual experiences daily so that we can marvel at the gospel in our lives, so we can be grateful for it! I have realized that I have been marveling at the physical beauty of Brazil but now I need to marvel and the small miracles that happen everyday spiritually. I know that this will help me see Christ more in my mission.
Our investigator Lucas is progressing and loving the Book or Mormon! We are trying to find more people and I am starting to love tracking! We will ask people for some water and it will turn into a lesson. We met this couple and the husband is from Germany and he spoke English. They are really interested in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith! People don't know about our religion, how else will they hear about it if we don't offer it to them! I have been opening my mouth more and I have felt a lot better.
Sometimes people can't understand everything I say but I know that they can feel the spirit. I am starting to understand basically everything the people say. Some words are really hard and I have never heard them before, but I am feeling more comfortable with the language every week! I am grateful for this mission and for the attributes I am starting to have! I love my Savior and I know that He lives and loves us! Favorite scripture of the week Alma 26:31. We will be happy in our lives if we are sincere in our actions and our love for others! Love you all!!
Happy 20th Birthday! Aug 18th
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Wow this week has been incredible! I don´t think we´ve felt the spirit more in our lessons!! I´ll first start with Zé remember him from the other week? We finally had a lesson with him! It was pretty cool but also super funny because we made brownies and we taught the first lesson using candles and we demonstrated how Christ was our light. He established His church with 12 apostles and how after His death and the death of the apostles the light of Christ was taken from the earth. But when Joseph Smith was called to be the next prophet in the latter days and restored the Light of Christ back onto the earth! It was pretty cool! He really loved it and when he said the closing prayer he prayed and asked God to help him know that our church is true because he really likes it and wants it to be true!
We also had a lesson with a man named Celio and he is from Angola. So we actually set up an appointment with him and he forgot and didn´t come. But two days later he called us and said that he needed to speak with us as soon as possible because he was going to Porto. So we ran over to meet him and he was just smiling and said that he woke up that morning and something told him that he needs to hear the message that we have because he needs it in his life. We taught him and talked with him and he was just happy. He said he doesn't have a religion but he knows that if he prays everyday God will be with him! After the lesson I asked him how he was feeling and he said really good. He said he feels light and has more of a will to go to Church and learn more!! He is going on vacation but will be back in a couple weeks but he promised he´s going to read the Book of Mormon :)
We also taught a man named Marlo and he is from SãoTomé. We contacted him the other week and we finally had a lesson with him! He is really cool. He is catholic but he isn´t practicing. He believes in the bible but has a lot of questions! He has a true desire to learn more and act! He especially wants to know what he needs to do in this life to prepare to meet God on judgment day! He is awesome! During our lesson with him yesterday we got to the First Vision and I just started crying and had to pause. I know without a doubt that when we asked to feel the spirit and feel the Love of God in our prayers with a sincere desire God will give it to us! He really liked our lesson and what we had to say! He works a ton and we can´t have a lesson until Saturday but he accepted "convite suave" so we have a lot of faith in him :)
It´s so crazy to think that I'm actually here teaching people about God and his plan for us! I am so thankful for the role of the Holy Ghost and how God doesn´t want us to feel lost and alone. He has blessed us with so many things so we can return back to him :) A quote from the Women's General Conference that I loved was given by the Second counselor of the Relief Society Board and she said: Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ are Perfect, their Hopes for us are Perfect, their Plan for us is Perfect. I love this! They really do have perfect hope for us and our lives! I know that if we show our faith and accept the atonement in our life that is the only way we will be able to feel true happiness in our lives! I am so thankful for all of these experiences I´m having here and I know I´m really growing a lot!
I can´t believe that I'm going to be 20 years old tomorrow!? Well I´m hitting my five month mark tomorrow too! It's already flying by! Oh we went to the fair and got Farturas they are kind of like churros! We found some pretty flowers and put them in our hair Hawaiian style! Sister Johnson is going to let me stay there with her in Hawaii when we get back from the mission :) It´s nice to know people! Well I hope you have a good week! Love you!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

After the Rain comes the Rainbow & A Seriously Elect Person!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
Wow this week was awesome! It's true what they say, after the rain always comes the rainbow! This week I learned how to have patience. I received about 45 bug bites on both legs and I was wearing bug repellent! The hardest part was that the bites were on the bottom of my feet so it was super uncomfortable to walk. I prayed every step that I could continue walking and have a smile on my face. Really it helped me to know how I can react to experiences with a smile. I know this will help me on my mission to act better when hard things happen!
Best thing that happened this week was a guy named Lucas. I talked to him on the bus a month ago and we finally got in contact with him. We ended up teaching him this week the first lesson. When we were talking about prophets and about how he could receive revelation for himself and his future family, his eyes lit up. He said "wow I didn't know that, that is so cool"! This was a moment I will never forget, seeing the interest in his eyes. We taught him again about Joseph Smith and the first vision, he said he wants the priesthood and he wants to read all of the Book of Mormon! So cool! He came to church this Sunday and is on date for baptism! He really was prepared for us and I know he will join the church one day!
Sister Huaman and I are doing really good. I am opening up to her and being more silly. She likes to joke a lot and do silly things! We had papa gourmet where the dads make food and the investigators judged it. It was so fun! We had a lot of people there and the winners got fruit for their trophies. Super cute!
A scripture I loved is in Mosiah 27:7 and the Lord did visit them and prosper them. What things can we do for the Lord to visit us? Obedience is key and when we keep the commandments of God, He can only bless us! I will be sending a lot more pictures next week when I receive my camera!! Love you all!
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Hey so this week was pretty fun! First off Sister Johnson and I have been getting Alex ready for baptism this coming week on the 15th! He is actually progressing and reading and praying! He is getting there! We now just need to keep helping him see the faith that he does have. It is now up to him to walk with faith and follow our Savior! I´m super excited for him so keep him in your prayers :)
So last week I told you that it was kind of a dry week and guess what happened this week??? We found a seriously elect person!!! His name is Zé haha another one :) Well we were actually on our way out to go see Alex and we decided to go back to an apartment that we passed by the other week to see if someone was home. Well there was a guy out on his balcony smoking and we said hi. We started talking with him and he said oh I've actually been to your church 6 years ago! But it was in Lisbon and he hasn't been back since. We invited him to church and he said he´d like to come! We went up to his door inside and started to talk to him and he all of the sudden was saying how he grew up catholic but he has a lot of doubts about the church and certain things they do like baptizing babies, idols/saints, and number of times of being baptized! He said he is very curious and wants to know what the truth is about this life. He knows that this life and world isn´t in vain!! We were literally shocked we haven´t talked to a person like this in forever!! We bore testimony that God has a plan for him and has restored his church back on the earth! We asked if we could share our message with him later in the week and he said yes! Well we also asked if we could give him a Book of Mormon, and he said oh wait I think I already have one. He came back with two and said this ones my sisters and this one is mine I've actually read all the way to here, Alma 31! What? who reads that much of a book with out really knowing about it?! He told us that he likes reading it at lunch time because it is very interesting!!! So naturaly we gave him Alma chapter 32 about faith for him to read! We both walked down the stairs and we said a prayer to thank God for placing him in our path! The spirit was so strong, I know God is with us and a part of our work! We are his tools to help others come unto Christ! He hasn´t been home the last times we´ve passed but we know he is ready we just need to catch him at the right time in his schedule!
Another fun thing that happened is that there is a cute woman in our ward named Isabell. Her family from London is staying with her for a couple of weeks! They speak Portuguese but their kids speak English! They are really cool! They are our age and Mark maybe wants to serve a mission! It was Mark's birthday on Sunday so we had a big party with pancakes at the Silvas house! They are a blast!! We are going to the fair with them next pday! We went and checked it out today and it was way fun!! We got hot dogs and cotton candy! It is one of the biggest fairs in Portugal! The fair of Saint Mattew!
My thought for this week is about Faith. I used to think faith was just a thing that we need to have to believe in God and His gospel. But I know that without faith nothing is possible!!! We need faith in order to act and to live. I know that when we have Faith in Christ we are blessed with power and strength to do all things in this life! Ether 12:16 Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after. I know that miracles happen in our lives because of our faith in Christ! Just like this scripture says I know that God wants to bless us and help us and if we can always show our faith and do the little things every day he will bless us!! I know it´s true because it´s happening here!! I love you all!!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Fun week & Always worth it!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was way fun!! A lot happened! So first off TRANSFERS!!!!! Sister Johnson and I are staying another transfer together!! Who knew?? I guess they usually don´t keep the newbies with their parents so I got lucky!! It was way nice because neither of us had to stress out about packing or changing areas! Then we went to Porto to do my residency!!
Well looks like I´m officially a resident of Portugal!! It feels good :) We ran into Elder Camargo from the MTC it was good to see a friend! We also got to eat a Francesinha! They are pretty much bread, meat, a lot of cheese, in a red sauce!! It was awesome! They call it the Food of the North!! Sister Johnson and I were so happy to try one together in the North!! Well worth it! We only could stay for a couple of hours but it was beautiful!! I hope to serve around there one day!
Other than that we have really been working hard with contacting and trying to find new investigators!! But sadly we didn´t find anyone :/ Alex our marcado also is not progressing as much as we would like him to.. So I had kind of a frustrating moment after our lesson. Sometimes the Lord is just trying us to see if we will stay faithful and do what he asks of us. I know that we will be blessed and that I´m still fulfilling my purpose even if we don´t have a ton of success! Sister Johnson called this my first dry week hahaha! But I know God will always lift us we we are in low places, because that´s when our faith really grows! My faith really grew and I know that all we can do for other people in this life is help them feel the love of Christ! We had another lesson with him and I tried my very hardest to just love him and help him understand. He´s kind of stubborn but he actually said a prayer with us and asked God if this was the true church and about his baptism. We just waited a little bit but I immediately started to cry! I felt Gods love so strong in that moment! I know He loves all of His children and wants them to make covenants with Him so they can return! Alex said he could feel it and he will keep reading and praying. I know that through the Holy Ghost we are able to know what to choose and how to act and that we can feel the Love of God in our lives if we let him in!!! I always was so self conscious about crying when I feel the spirit but I know it is a blessing from God, because I know in my life when I want to feel the spirit. I know without a doubt that God is in my life and I can feel him working with me!
Well it´s kind of a short letter this week but i´ll write more next week!! love you!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week was really hard. Almost all of our investigators aren't progressing and we had to stop teaching a lot of them. It breaks my heart to see people not choose the gospel. And it is hard when we put in so much hard work and prayers for these people too. But I know one day they could possibly want it, so it is always worth it. One of our investigators has been coming to church for two weeks now and he is on date! He is doing really well and he wants to find God in his life again!
This week in district meeting the district leader gave me the assignment to give a discussion on the email of the president. I was so scared because it is really hard for me to understand the email first off because it is all complex Portuguese. But, I decided to push myself. I studied the email and prayed God would help me understand to be able to have a conversation about it! It went really well and everyone said that I did a good job and they learned a lot! I felt so blessed that even though I don't understand everything God is going to help me fulfill the things he asks and wants me to do.
I saw monkeys this week when we were tracking and it was the coolest thing ever!! I don't have my camera so we didn't get a picture, but I felt so lucky to see one! It really made my day!
I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting this week and I really do know that this gospel is true. I know the Book of Mormon is true and blesses our lives. I know that the prophet and apostles are true and by reading their talks and the scriptures together will bless our lives and give us revelation we need. I know there is a reason why I am here in Florianopolis, I just need to keep working harder and be obedient everyday! Have a great week!