Thursday, October 29, 2015

Helping them come unto Christ & Your growth is amazing!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was fantastic! This last P-day we were able to visit Porto!!! Whooo! It was absolutely beautiful!!! It was a dream come true to be able to see that part of Portugal!! I am so blessed to be serving in such a beautiful country! :) We walked on the bridge and went below with all the cafes by the water! We went bowling afterwards and I actually didn´t lose! Our district is really funny!! We have fun together! We eat with the members here! They are so nice to us :)
So our mission has a lot of standards that our president wants us to hit! Last week sister Barrett and I didn´t do great because we had to get used to transportation and we kind of started from scratch. But this week we were so blessed!!!! Seriously! God has been blessing us like crazy!! We promised we´d do all that we could to make these lessons happen and help all of the eternigaters!! Haha and we hit almost every single one of our missions goals!! We taught 7 new people and one of them is a family! We also have plans next week with another family! It's pretty rare to actually teach full families here! A lot of people are divorced, but we are still helping them come unto Christ and finding the truth!!! I am so happy we have the Spirit in our work! Sister Barrett and I work well together and we genuinely want to serve with all our might mind and strength! Its amazing to see that after our lessons people really feel the peace and happiness that comes from the gospel! We had three investigators in church this week!! It was also stake conference!! Daniel and his wife Tatiana are amazing! He is already a member and she isn't but they are married and they really are interested in being active in the church!! It was amazing to teach a couple who loves each other and wants to do the right thing!! :) OH yeah Denis got baptized and I heard it went really well! They had four investigators there too!!! He looks so happy :)
We were able to visit the beach as well! I never thought I'd live close to the water! :) Its crazy because we´ll just walk down a street and there´s a beautiful view!
My thought for the week comes from the scripture in 1 Nephi 3:7. This week has literally been a testimony to that!! God provides a way to fulfill the things that he commands!! He will bless you when you have the desire to do what is right and are giving your maximum! :) He wants us to succeed and be happy we just have to show him we do! I'm so thankful for these building experiences! I really believe that this is our time to grow and learn. We choose who we want to be :) Love you all!!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
So this week our investigator Geneci decided that she wants to be baptized, it is her desire now! So awesome. Her old husband came back in the picture but he wants to support her so they will probably get married int he next few months and after they will both get baptized together! It is so neat, I don't know if I will be here for it, but it is going to happen!! Our less active Lucia hasn't come to church for a month because she doesn't have friends, but she came this Sunday and stayed all three hours!!:) i was so happy!
In sacrament it was the primary program and all the kids were wearing shirts with a plaque that says future missionary. So cute, it reminded me of all the primary programs I was in not to long ago and how much the primary really helped my testimony grow of the savior as a child.
So many awkward things happen when you aren't completely fluent in a language and you are a missionary in general. Funny story So sister wright decides to call our investigator George, she asks if he is home because we are in front and he says he isn't home and he is bringing a woman home. We said ok another time. So I decided to be cool and try and talk to the neighbor starting with hey how are ya we are missionaries trying to teach George do you know if he is home, she says yeah let me get him, WHAT!! He said he wasn't, hahaha. My plan wasn't good, he didn't come out so we ran away. Haha funny story I wont be using that line again!:)
We had interviews with the president this week, he said wow Sister Smith, it is like seeing a family who just had a baby and then you return and they have grown but he family doesn't see the difference because they are with the baby 24 hours. But he said Sister Smith I have seen your growth and it really is amazing, congratulations for your progress and deciding to serve a mission. He said another American missionary Sister is growing too and that in his interview he said she will soon be training. She got really scared and said she doesn't know if she can do it. President told her about me and said that she could. And She said well if Sister Smith can train that fast and be ok I know I can too. Wow that made my week that I can be an example to the other Sisters as well, as I accept the callings here and walk in faith.
This week I read the visiting teaching message on charity. It was exactly what I needed to make myself better. Thomas S. Monson said Charity is having a patience with someone who let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. Wow the Savior really had these qualities. I am sure he knew people that bothered him or offended him. But he went ahead and loved them anyways He still gave the chance of eternal life if they repented. I know that I need to have more charity in my life to be more like my savior. And that when I develop this attribute, I truly will know my savior more! :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

It was a very special moment & I finally feel like a normal missionary!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
So this week we worked so hard! We have been visiting so many people and our planners have been full of appointments! It has been cool to talk about the restoration and the Book of Mormon all day and see the different reactions of the people here! Our different investigators all have been reading the Book of Mormon but they have two giant problems. 1. They have the desire to know and read and come to church, but dont have real intent and won't ask God (the true desire to act on the response) or 2. They easily ask God what is true, but after won't follow their answer and will doubt. So we have been trying to really pray and recieve revelation to know what to do and say to help them progress and act in their lives. It has been neat to hear the stories of some people say they prayed and felt God answering it strengthens my testimony that this gospel really is true and God really does answer the prayers of his children!
Haha one of our investigators Michael is really smart but wants to live Gods will but doesn't want to ask because he doesn't want to stop doing things that contradict the gospel. He said it isn't necassary to be baptized to enter in the kingdom of God so what do I do I show him John chapter three, where Christ says without being baptized of water and of the spirit you can't enter in the kingdom of God. I asked him if he agreed with Jesus, and he said wow that is pretty bad when you don't agree with Jesus Christ. He knows it is true, he is just stubborn to change his life because he is comfortable the way he is! But I think one day he will have so many doubts the only thing left to do is to ask God what is right.
This week my testimony was truly strengthened on the sacrament. The sacrament is the time for us to to reflect in our lives and to focus on the sacrifice Christ made for us. We can recommit to take the name of Christ upon ourselves and promise to always stand as a witness of him in our lives. It is when we recommit to our covenants each week is when we can be clean through the atonement of Christ. Because we are clean, we are then promised the spirit with us always. It is with that spirit, we can choose to follow sacred and righteous paths and choices.
Sister Wright and I are so much alike it is really funny our personalities are very similar we can really relate to one another! When we were in church we had 4 of our investigators in sacrament meeting we haven't had an investigator in church for 3-4 weeks! I just remember them taking the sacrament and I start crying. I know that maybe right now our investitgators aren't ready for the covenant of baptism but they were there in church learning the gospel and feeling the spirit. I know that that is my purpose, to help people really feel the truthfulness of the gospel. It was a very special moment! I will never forget, I know that the church is true not because we are the only church who teaches and preaches about Christ but because we have the fullness of the Gospel with restored gospel keys and men who lead the chruch with the power and authority of God. Have a great week I love you!!
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was actually fantastic!!! I can´t believe how much I really love it here in Gaia!! Im pretty sure I had a permanent smile on my face all week!!! We are so close to the water!! We can see a little bit from our house!! So we have the beach area, so where ever we walk you can see the ocean!! It is such a blessing :) It really feels like a little beach town! I cant even tell you how much I love talking to everybody here!! Seriously everybody is so nice to us!! Not everyone wants to hear our message but they all just smile and chat for a little bit :) It is different up here :) Well Sister Barratt and I have been working really hard! It's been a little difficult because all of the investigators that they had before live really far a way so we´ve tried to find them on the metro but it got complicated! We are kind of starting from scratch but everythings going to be ok!!
The members here are AMAZING! We eat a meal practically every other night!! They really take care of the missionaries here!! The ward is about the size of a Utah ward!! We´ve been teaching a couple people but everyone is kind of in a middle ground stage so we are really preparing lessons that will help them feel the spirit! It's so cool serving with Sister Barratt because she only has one more transfer than me so we are really learning a lot together!
I finally feel like a normal missionary it´s great :) I have been talking to everybody!! We got a bunch of references from the other Sisters as well!! We had a lesson with one of them his name is Rui :) He´s in his 40's and has had a little bit of a rough past. Sister Barratt was really inspired to teach the third lesson first not the first lesson. So when we talked about baptism he was so happy!! We asked him if he´d like to be baptised and feel so clean and new :) He accepted immeadiatley! So we are going to help him get prepared to be baptised! We have a lot to help him through but I know it´s going to be possible!
OH yeah we went to the beach!!!!! HOLY COW a dream come true :) It felt so sureal!!!! haha and I love serving with Sister Barratt! We are seriously so similiar! She's so uplifting and has the spirit with her always! We also taught a class on Sunday last second! haha it went pretty well and I also introduced my self in sacrament meeting and everyone is very welcoming!! I´m already in love with Gaia :)
I´ve been reading the book "Our Heritage" latley and it is super inspiring!! There are so many miracles that happened with the early saints!! Something that I really admire is that although they had so many trails and tribulations they still kept the faith. I think that´s something we all go through every single day! In all of our decisions we are choosing if we will follow the Savior and his teachings :) I know that God wants us to follow him and will help us when we first have the desire to do so!! He helps us see our weaknesses so we can fix them and rise above them! It's a little process, I love the scripture in 2 Nephi 28:30 He wants us to learn in the little things :) I ove you all!! I hope you have a great week!! Get ready for tons of pictures :)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Seeing miracles & Transfer to Gaia!


(Sister Makelle Smith)
Wow this week we were really seeing miracles! Sister Wright and I are teaching a lot of people and we are trying to make a lot of contacts! This week we found 17 new investigators, that is so crazy how the work is moving here. The people are accepting us and are starting to act on our message. There are so many catholics here, but they don't really even know why they are catholic. But there are a lot of them that start to open their eyes as we talk about the restoration and the Book of Mormon!
Our main investigators right now are Angelica and Marcos. They are praying and reading every night! They prayed about Joseph Smith and she said I had a feeling really good in my heart. Also we have one named Donathan, he read a few parts of the Book of Mormon and prayed and he said that God confirmed in his heart that he was a prophet! One of our investigators even gave us a referral and are telling all of their friends about the missionaries.They are progressing and I have such great hope for this area!
I have been studying a conference talk by Linda K. Burton called "We´ll ascend together". She talked about the responsibilities of a father and one of them being the priesthood. She said, "There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary´s mischief will be that power". It hit me so hard that the priesthood is essential if we want a Christ centered home and family. For this the members need to marry within the church. She also said "Thee lift me and I´ll lift thee and we´ll ascend together". It is through baptismal and temple covenants that we can help our families reach eternal life!
My testimony was strengthened this week that marriage sealing isn´t just for me to be married for time and all eternity, which is a marvelous blessing. But that really being sealed in the temple we make a promise covenant with the lord, that literally will be sealed with my Heavenly Father my creator and my savior for all eternity. Now that is the true blessing.
On church this Sunday we talked about life after death and it reminded me of an experience I had in Montana, We left to go give a message to a man named Tom. Neilson, he had gotten surgery. We started talking and it ended up that he was an area seventy. He was a convert to the church and told us his life story. In the end he bore his witness of the Savior and the Plan of Salvation. It was the strongest testimony I have ever heard in my life, I was left in tears. I had gotten an email two weeks after I left Montana and he had passed away. But I want to bear my testimony I know exactly where he is. I want a testimony like his unwavering and doubtless, that I will live with God again with my family for forever. I have been working so hard here especially being the one with the most Portuguese of the two of us. I need to be a quiet leader and help Sister Wright obtain good missionary skills. I know that this week I did my part and God is truly blessing us with new people to teach and a lot of lessons! I know I am not perfect at Portuguese but the people are understanding, learning, and progressing in the gospel! I am truly grateful that I got to stay here in Efapi this transfer and witness the growth of this area. I love you all and can feel the difference of your faithful prayers! Have a great week!:)

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was soooo great  :) It flew by like no other!! Well I don´t have that much time to write today because I'm being transferred!! So we got calls last night saying I will be serving in Gaia with Sister Barratt!!! I thought they were joking because it was our wish we could serve together!!!
We went out to an area with a member to go teach her cousin!! It was such an amazing lesson!! I think she´s really interested in the church! They had us try a fruit called fozo haha its really cool it looks like alien head :)
We have taught 12 Lessons with members this week!!! It was such an amazing week!! our member have been so willing to help us out and God has blessed us with people to teach! Well the sad news is that Denis wants to be baptized this Saturday because his best friend doesn't have work, so I´m going to miss it!! But he´s set and I will send a picture of Sister Rovig and him next week!!!!!!!! :) I'm just so happy!!!!!!!!!
We also have been teaching an old man named Gorge :) he has really progressed and we marked him to be baptized November 6!!! I can´t believe all of the blessings!!! We have just been smiling all week :)
It was really hard saying goodbye to everyone!! We had one last pacake night with the Silvas :) I love that family!! Especially my recent converts Isaura and Andre!! Isaura and I were just crying! She was so sweet she thanked me for teaching her and helping her find Gods plan for her :) one of the coolest moments in my mission! As well AndrĂ© got his patriarchal blessing this week!!! What a proud moment for me!! Really happy to see when we endure to the end God WILL bless us now or in the future!!! :) God really tested us and asked us `where is your faith` we kept working hard and he made it all worth it! I´m Going to miss sister Rovig so much!! She is one of my best friends and taught a lot about how to serve others! She is an exempelary missionary and person!! On the bus ride to Porto I've really been thinking about the bast 6 months and all the things I've learned in Well this week was soooo great  :) It flew by like no other!! Well I don´t have that much time to write today because im being transfered!! So we got calls last night saying I will be serving in Gaia with Sister Barratt!!! I thought they were joking because it was our wish we could serve together!!! Well we went out to an area with a member to go teach her cousin!! It was such an amazing lesson!! I think she´s really interested in the church! They had us try a fruit called fozo haha its really cool it looks like alein head :) We have taught 12 Lessons with members this week!!! It was such an amazing week!! our member have been so willing to help us out and God has blessed us with people to teach! Well the sad news is that Denis wants to be baptise this saturday because his best friend doesnt have work, so I´m going to miss it!! But he´s set and I will send a picture of Sister Rovig and him next week!!!!!!!! :) Im just so happy!!!!!!!!! We also have been teaching an old man named Gorge :) he has really progressed and we marked him to be baptised November 6!!! I can´t believe all of the blessings!!! We have just been smiling all week :) It was really hard saying goodbye to everyone!! We had one last pacake night with the Silvas :) I love that family!! Especially my recent converts Isaura and Andre!! Isaura and I were just crying! She was so sweet she thanked me for teaching her and helping her find Gods plan for her :) one of the coolest moments in my mission! As well AndrĂ© got his patriarchal blessing this week!!! What a proud moment for me!! Really happy to see when we endure to the end God WILL bless us now or in the future!!! :) God really tested us and asked us `where is your faith` we kept working hard and he made it all worth it! I´m Going to miss sister Rovig so much!! She is one of my best friends and taught a lot about how to serve others! She is an exempelary missionary and person!! On the bus ride to porto ive really been thinking about the bast 6 months and all the things ive learned in viseu and the biggest thing that came to my head was just LOVE :) I am full with so much love for the people here I know this is the exact feelig God has for us!!! I also ran into Elder Camargo and Cox in the mission office!! :) We came from the MTC together! I´ll send pictures later tonight when I get to Gaia!! Love you all!!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pray for Denis & Training!


(Sister Courtney Smith)
Wellllll this week was incredible!!!! I can´t even explain how much love I have for Heavenly Father :) I really can´t!!! So this transfer has been really great, I feel like I'm really growing as a missionary and as a person, but we got home one night a couple weeks ago and I just could not not cry. I felt upset with Portuguese, how I teach, the people and just being frustrated. I don't like that feeling. It was a mix of everything. I asked God to help me understand why I was feeling this way, I felt comforted and the thought came into my head "Fica Fiel" which means "stay faithful". So the following weeks I´ve just been staying faithful and pressing forward regardless of what was happening.
We´ve really been looking for new ways to teach lessons! We started drawing the plan of salvation in a park one day and out of no where a huge dark cloud came in the air!!! It started pouring rain!!! You could see it coming toward you! Needless to say we took a shower that day :) The cars were pretty much driving in a river!
One of the best things of the week was that we were able to continue teaching Denis! We taught him the plan of salvation and he just had so many questions! He really wanted to find out the "whys" to everything! He´s also in Jacob in the Book of Mormon!! We also taught him the third lesson which is the gospel of Jesus Christ! He really liked it all and he brought a piece of paper full of more questions about what we believe and why!! We asked him if he had prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true and he said yes, that he went in a forest to pray like Joseph Smith! We also asked him if he prayed about baptism and he said no that he needed more time. He said he wants to read all of the BOM before baptism. He also said he´d go to conference with us!
Well on Friday we had a Zone Conference with President Amorim! It was so great! He asked us to prepare a mini lesson of five minutes about the restoration! Sister Rovig and I had been practicing all week so if he called on us we´d be ready :) Well he started out playing videos of missionaries singing in conference and I already started tearing up! It brought back so many memories of the MTC!!! Sister Amorim gave us birthday presents too for the past three months! Then we got to the part of the mini lessons, I hardly slept the night before just practicing what I could say. He asked if there were any volunteers to go first and sister Rovig volunteered us!!! Hahaha I couldn't say no so we were the first ones to teach President and Sister Amorim in front of everyone!!! I was nervous but I knew the spirit helped us! We actually did really good but we didn't end in time :/ it´s really hard in so little time! But then after us another dupla of elders went and then President taught us how to teach a mini lesson and it was wonderful!!! He taught so powerfully and then he helped us understand how to teach them about the spirit first so that they will recognize it when we share the first vision!! :) He answered so many of my questions that I have been having!!! I was expecting them to be answered in conference but he answered all of them in our meeting :) He asked a question about why it´s important to have faith in our investigators, and someone said because they are children of God too, and he said what else and the thought came straight to my head "Because God has faith in me." I know that was the spirit calming my heart with all my doubts and uncertainty! I am so thankful for the Holy Ghost! We had another Lesson with Denis after about the Holy Ghost and how he will help him receive an answer. We did exactly what President taught us and then one of our members bore testimony of when she received her answer! We decided we would fast for him the next day during conference so he could receive an answer! He was really happy and we invited him to say a prayer to ask God about Baptism we promised the spirit would testify to him if it´s something he needs to do. We knelt and he said a prayer he thanked God for the knowledge that he was receiving and the path that he is on, then he asked very humbly if he was prepared to be baptised and he just paused because when he said those words the Spirit was so strong in that room!!! I have personally never felt the spirit touch me in that way I literally struck my heart when he said baptism! When he ended the prayer he looked at us and said Do I have to choose a date tonight? with a big smile on his face :)
We were really excited for conference the following day! Well conference came fast and I was so ready!!  I won't share to many of my thoughts today about conference because I have to be fast, but Denis came and he was already fasting!! Conference was amazing and in the first prayer I felt the spirit so strongly that this is the true church of Jesus Christ!! The talks were so perfect for Denis! I was so impressed with how much they bore testimony about the Plan of Salvation!! It was great! The following day we ate with one of our members and we were able to watch the other session of Conference! Denis went early at 10, stayed with us for the one at 1, and then stayed until 5 for the evening session!! After the 1 session he just started asking about what a testimony is and about how we do baptisms, we walked to the fount and we talked about what would happen, that all of his sins would be washed away. He just looked at us and said I would like to be baptised on the 11 of October! Sister Rovig and I looked at each other and just smiled so big!!! He is an elect person Holy Cow!!!!! He has been so diligent in studying the scriptures and has been praying so hard! He received his answer that day in conference that he wanted to be a member!  wowowowow!! I will finish the details and story later next week because I'm out of time!! But I love you all and I know that God is watching over us and has a plan for us! He calls the weak and qualifies us for our callings :) I know these new apostles are called of the Lord!! Have a great week!!! Pray for Denis!!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
Hey everyone, so I don't have a lot of time to write but, sister Santos is going home, so I received a new companion Sister Wright!! She is from Virginia, United States! She finished 6 weeks of training, so I will be finishing the rest of her 6 weeks of training, my first baby girl!! I am super excited! I was nervous at first because I don't have a lot of time here but after conference my fears were taken away! The talk by Kim B Clark- when he was talking about the grandparents to serve in the Philippines and the wife said wait no he can't he has asthma! I applied this to my life, no God I can't train I only have 4 months speaking Portuguese and God said why are you worried? Don't you think I know that already? I will take care of you! Wow I was crying like a baby in the chapel. haha I know that this talk was exactly for me and even though it was in Portuguese I understood perfectly what my heart needed.
I want to bear my testimony that God calls men to do his work, I know that He really does qualify the unqualified to spread the gospel to the world. I know we have a prophet in this day with apostles to guide the true church of Christ! I love my savior and my God. I am grateful for this new opportunity to expand my abilities as a missionary of the Lord! Until next week! :)