Monday, November 30, 2015

Just Love & So So Thankful!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well another week already flown by!!! I cant even tell you how fast the weeks are flying! This week has been kind of funny because our house is actually getting painted! Finally, it is kind of run down! So we've been having to do studies at the church!
I will first start out with our lesson with Ruí, Isabel, and Augusto! Ruí promised us that he would make us brownies with his bimby machine and so he greeted us at the door with some nice brownies! Then we sat down and they didn't even want to chat that much they really just wanted to hear our message! So we taught them the Plan of Salvation! WOW! I remember just sitting down and getting the chills!!!!! The spirit is so strong in that house! It was such a great feeling to teach that lesson with such love and testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ! That's why we call him our Savior or in Portuguese its Salvador. Eu sei que nosso Salvador vive! We bore power testimony with tears in our eyes and they were just so attentive the entire lesson! Isabel even started crying! :) I LOVE this family!!! I know that they will be baptised one day! We are moving slow with them but we are actually teaching them tonight so I will update next week about asking them to be baptised!! :)
We are really excited about them! We also taught Fatima about temples and she really liked it! One of our members who's going to Japan on his mission just went through the temple and when he bore testimony the spirit was there and she knew that it was very sincere!
Thanksgiving was a complete blast!!! We have a family in our ward who the dad is Portuguese and the mom is Polish! They told us last year they made the turkey and they didn't drain it or clean it so when they cut it to serve to the elders blood went all over their white shirts!!! :) Too funny! But she actually did a great job! We had turkey, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, and apple pie with vanilla ice cream!!! We walked home stuffed!!! They also were playing just dance as a family and we did a dance with them before we left to a meeting :) It was a really great thanksgiving!!! :) Another miracle we saw was we have a firm goal of contacting/inviting 50 people every day to either assist church with us or hear a message about the restoration. We were in a rut and then one day we were dedicated and we just talked to every one we saw! We were passing one guy and he almost got away but I decided to stop him, well I said Hi we are missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ and he said Oh you are them! and we said yes we are with big smiles :) he said my wife always talks about how much she loves you! We said who is she and he said Virginia! She is one of our investigators we've been teaching for a while! We had been wanting to meet her husband for forever!!!!! But he literally works all week and is home for a half a day and is back on the road! But we met him!!! He is way nice and wants to talk to us next week! It may not seem to big but it showed us God puts people in our pathway when we are dedicated! :) My testimony has been growing a ton! Ive been doing a lot more in depth studies in the bible, omg we just had some crazy contacts with people who know the bible inside and out and wow I've just been getting so frustrated because a lot of people like to accept false doctrine! And sadly the bible wasn't translated perfectly and like we know a lot of plain and simple truths have been taken out! One day we had these long conversations with people accusing us that we don't follow the bible exactly, how we aren't allowed to pass out cards with Jesus on them, or even celebrate Christmas!! I got kind of frustrated and one morning I decided dedicating my time to how I could contact with the spirit so that those ready to accept the gospel would recognize we are servants of the Lord! The biggest and clearest response was just LOVE!!!!!!!! I just starting crying because I think we all know that deep down we just need to show love to others like Christ did. He was so selfless and just helped people! John 13:34 That's what he asks of us to do!!! Love Others!!! Challenge of the week: Be more conscious of how much love you are showing towards others!! :) Its a good self check! I know that all God wants us to do and the spirit will stay with us! After I did that even when we ran into people who wanted to pick fights we just showed the love and they ended up taking our convite and were happy :) Our example means more that we think!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
Wow this week was so great!! I am literally so so grateful to be here in Imbituba! The highlight of the week for sure was the baptism of Jaira and Hugo, they are so very special and ready for baptism!! We were talking about the plan of salvation and Jaira said yeah the celestial kingdom I don't know about you but I am going there! Haha it was so sweet to witness their special day! We sang my favorite hymn at the end Joseph's first prayer and there was a line that stuck out to me! o eterno guirà os passos seus, translation the eternal god will guide your steps! Wow I felt the spirit hit me so hard that God really is guiding me in my life and I am really feeling his blessings!
Filipe is progressing and loves the gospel, he will be baptized this week, this area is blessed! I asked him Filipe why do you want to be baptized and he said, clearly because without baptism I wont enter in the celestial kingdom, then he said I need to go to church every Sunday because after I get the priesthood I will bless it and help the church, the church needs me, wow this kid is so ready and prepared for the gospel, he wants to serve a mission in the states and learn English!!
The sisters and ward here are great and the views are fantastic, honestly I have nothing else to say but that I am truly grateful!!:) I love this gospel I know with out a doubt in my mind it is true, this work is so real and i am apart of helping others come unto Christ!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

8 month mark!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Hey peeps! So this week it was Sister Barrett's turn to be sick!!! It was so sad!! But she actually got it worse than I did! They call it `gripe´. But she´s doing a lot better :)
I forgot to tell you about an activity that we had last week!! So they have a holiday here called São Domingos or something like that and they pretty much just roast castanhas which are chestnuts :) We literally were just eating for an hour! They are great! We also met a really cool girl named Filipa! We also had Manuel a different investigator there! Well last pday was pretty fun!
We got together with a bunch of missionaries in the north and we played football and soccer! I realized that I´m actually decent at soccer!! :) I actually really love this area, the members and the missionaries! I´m just feeling really blessed to be surrounded by so many great people!
My sister training leader Sister Schill is going home tomorrow! So we took a picture like it was her funeral!! its a little blurry but it was way funny! She trained my trainer so she´s technically my grandma!! Weird how time is flying by! I hit my 8 month mark!!! weird!
We ended up teaching Filipa later that night and it was an amazing lesson! I remember praying as we were walking to her house that I would be able to teach with the spirit and power so that they could understand our message! Especially because Sister Barrett was loosing her voice that night! It was one of the most powerful lessons I´ve taught so far! The spirit was so strong and they want us to come back and teach them more! It started out weird because they are not really religious and don´t believe much, but when we left they told us thank you for helping them understand and they genuinely want to read the Book of Mormon to find out if it is true :) I know the spirit was for sure teaching them! We left with sooo much happiness! We are excited to go back tomorrow night!
Unfortunately we had to stay in for a couple days because sister Barrett couldn´t talk and we so sick! I was able to study the bible a ton! What a blessing it is to know that our church not only follows the bible but we have another testament plus modern day revelation!!! We met with a member of a different faith and she was talking about what they believe and how the bible is word for word what we need to follow and it was very interesting to hear their point of view and opinion on the doctrine of Christ! But it was very sad because we asked her more specific questions and she said unfortunately we don't know because God hasn´t revealed them! And we said he has through a prophet in our day and age :) It was such a beautiful moment to share why it is so important we have a modern day prophet who talks with God and is able to reveal more information that we need to know! We have the eternal gospel in our lives!!! How blessed our we!!! I was able to read in JSH and it was neat to hear the same story we explain in Portuguese every day in English and how it really is because of that one prayer a young boy had God was able to give his children more light and an opportunity to know more truth :) Read his story this week if you have time!!!
We also had a cool night on Saturday! So we are teaching a really great family and they actually know a family in our ward, well the family Lindezas invited us all over to their house for dinner and we watched meet the Mormon's with them!!! :) The spirit was sooo strong! Members help hasten the work with more love! We are hoping to mark them for baptism in the next couple of weeks!!
Sunday was great it was the primary program and the children were sooooo cute singing little songs in Portuguese like follow the prophet and trying to be like Jesus! :) Well this is the first day of a new transfer! And we are all staying!! :) We are way excited to all stay together for the holidays!! Well that's it for this week! I know this is Gods kingdom established on the earth and we are apart of bringing more joy to the world with good news! I am soooo thankful to be here!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
Imbtuba!!! I am loving it here! The weather is so nice, and there is always a view of the beach!! This area is so nice! When I got here I only heard the Imbtuba is hard and everyone leaves here depressed. But this past week I have seen nothing but literal miracles, I am so so happy! We have been finding new people to teach and have been making a lot of contacts! Two investigators Jaira and Hugo are one date for next week to be baptized!:) They are my favorite, Jaira and her mom Zumilde crack me up they are the funniest people I have met here in Brazil. The mom doesn't have a whole lot of interest, but they are really nice. They always stare at me because I have green eyes. Everyone says I look like a doll haha kinda weird!
Literally the people here are crazy! They act very strange, there is something in the water here! Our other investigator Felipe will be baptized the 12 of December. His mother in law is a member and he was introduced to the gospel about 2 months ago. Everyone loves him. It was neat he said I stopped believing in Christ but when I went to church I felt really happy. We invited him to be baptized on the 26 of December and he said no!!! And we asked why he said, I want to be baptized like NOW! Haha wow I will never forget that moment, he is so excited to get baptized and go to the temple with his Mom!!
Miracles are happening and I am so blessed to have been called to serve in this area!! My companion is awesome she is such a great teacher and we both are wanted to be better. She pushes me to make higher goals and to have higher expectations that I have for myself, but I know that literally anything is possible if we have faith in Jesus Christ!! Nephi 3:7 ❤

Monday, November 16, 2015

Transfer to Imituba, Tubarao (shark)! & Sick again :(

(Sister Makelle Smith)
I have been transferred!! I am in Imituba, Tubarao(shark) haha that is exactly what city I need to be in. If anyone knew me they would know I hate sharks, but I really do think I will love it here! I am living with 4 Brazilians I really hope my Portuguese to be better this transfer! My new companion is sister Pomponio from Brazil! She is super nice and she has 4 months here in the mission! I am the sister training leader here in the area. I am so excited for this new area and for this opportunity to change and be a better missionary! I have been learning a lot about my purpose here as a missionary and why God gave me the impression to come. I really think it is because I know through the things that are happening here and for the trials I am having, I know that I am a better daughter of my heavenly father, and I am a better follower of our savior Jesus Christ!
(Sister Courtney Smith)
So it´s been kind of a slower week just because I actually got sick again! Wow I guess I have a really weak immune system! So the end of the week was very lame because we had to stay in the house but the beginning was really great :) So last P-day Sister Barratt and I cooked all day so we could have Cafe Rio salads on her Birthday on Tuesday! Lets just say I´m learning how to cook a lot better here on the mish. I totally made the meat and it turned out great :) I´ll send pictures. Tuesday after our district meeting we celebrated sister Barrett's Bday! The other sisters made brownies and the Elders brought cookies! It was a blast :) But sadly later that night we visited two families who have cats and smoke so my lungs got all puffy and started burning. Then the next day I had the flu :( We were able to teach a couple of our investigators but other than that we didn´t get to leave the house! I´ve really been thinking about a couple of things 1. The Plan of Salvation is literally our purpose. Once we know about the plan of God we immediately have peace and happiness because our minds are enlightened. Commandments are to help us achieve Eternal Life. That why we have them Alma 12:32. They are to help us live our lives worthily so we are able to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus again. :) 2. With all of the news about the bombings and shootings everyone here is very worried with how the world is just bad. They just are drooping around in the world literally! It´s crazy how Satan uses things like this to put fear in the hearts of men and to blind them from the truth. But there's a scripture in 2 Nephi 2:11 it explains how it´s necessary that there is an opposition in all things. This gave me a lot of peace and it makes sense. God created all things. So there has to be bad so that we can know the good. So when there is a lot of bad, according to the laws of creation, it has to mean that there is a lot of good too :)  That joy comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ :) What a blessing for those who know and have chosen to follow him :) That's why i´m so happy i´m here to spread not only good news but help them find eternal happiness! :) Oh yeah Jorge from Viseu an older man I marked for baptism my last day got baptised the other week!!!! I´ll send a picture! Well love you all!! Have a good week :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Over the moon happy to be serving here! & Just pictures this week

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Hello!!!!!!! Well this week was pretty fun! It flew by!!!! All I can say is that God blesses those who endure to the end!!! We finally got to meet with a couple people in an area called Valedares. We found a new investigator named Joao and he really liked our message! Our lesson was very simple but powerful. I remember leaving that lesson feeling like a missionary :) We also visited a less active member Fatima who has cancer, we shared with her the story of Liberty Jail and I shared a personal experience with her and how when I visited that church site the spirit told me that no matter what, God is with us :) We were all crying and I know that even though she's in a hard time right now God will help her through it!
Can I just say we have some amazing members here!!!! Not only do they feed us but they are genuinely wanting to help us with the work! :) Sister Barratt hit her 9 month mark!! So cool to be serving with her :) Mines gonna catch me before I realize it!
We also got in contact with a less active family here, they got offended over something so they haven´t been coming to church. But they really just need some love :) So we made them brownies and went back to their house and taught a lesson about keeping the sabbath day holy!! They loved it and in the end the mom said in her prayer that our visits were exactly what they were needing to heal their spirits! So hey I learned we make a bigger impact than we think!
We had a really great Zone meeting that really touched me!! :) We talked a lot about how we can be better missionaries and have a good reputation! :) We also did practices with our zone were two random duplas had to teach a lesson in front of everybody!!! Of course guess who they choose out of everybody!? Sister Barratt and I! haha it went well! They judged us very harshly and we still got a great score!!! :) especially on the Portuguese! we got a 4.9 out of 5! :) Haha I'm learning how to be more humble and how to accept the will of God!
We have been also teaching a Mother and her son Named Fatima :) she also has to other daughters my age, and one of them works as Levis!!! hahah we were talking about Levis for a while and then they were interested in why we are here!! We have been teaching her about the BOM and how through prayer, reading the scriptures, and attending church she will receive and answer! She said she will be baptised when she knows it's true :) She is amazing!!! I feel really happy when we teach her!!
Well We were super excited because by Sunday almost all of our goals were being met we just needed one more lesson with a member and then three investigators in church! Well it was kind of a high goal but one showed up right away, we ended up calling people but they said in the end they could show up! So we were kind of Sad because we worked really hard to get a lot of people there! But right after the sacrament one of the investigators walked in and sat by sister Barratt with a big smile, and then 15 minutes later another one Fatima walked in with her son Thomas!!!!!!!!!! I literally started crying in sacrament meeting knowing that God was blessing us for all of the hard work we were putting in :) Later that night we our lesson fell through so we decided to pass by a reference to see if she was home and randomly she was and we had a lesson and marked another for Wednesday! :) We were literally smiling all day long :)
I am just over the moon happy to be serving here in Gaia! Even though the work can be hard it is 100% worth it! I know that last week was just a week in preparation for  this one! I know when there are trials, there are blessings. They follow when we show God we will stay faithful!!! :) sometimes they don´t come right after but they do come!! I also tried hazelnuts :) its a big thing they roast them in the wintertime!! It´s super fun Portugal is always full of fun traditions! :) Well have a good week!!!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
No letter this week :(

Monday, November 2, 2015

We can do hard things & My eyes have been opened!

Portugal's Temple Announced!
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Happy Halloween!! It´s weird to think I won´t be here next year for the holidays! Before I start out this weeks letter I want to tell some funny stories from last week that I missed. The first one is that we taught a woman named Diana and she lives in the yoga studio with all her yoga friends and they all speak English so we totally taught the first lesson in English with a big group of people sitting on yoga mats!! Haha it was pretty interesting! The other funny story is that when we were teaching maria de jesus her son Pedro was going crazy!!! The best way to describe him is a mini Shrek! He had this tube and was blowing in it to make a noise and was putting it right next to Sister Barratts head!!! He will just randomly scream and smile! I will have to take a picture of him next time so you can see what I mean! Haha!
But this week was really interesting! I actually felt really sick! I didn´t know what was going on. Part of me thinks it´s all of the Portuguese food that I'm eating! I really like Portuguese food the only bad part is that my stomach is really sensitive to food with a lot of oil and that´s pretty much how they make everything! So I had to stay inside for a day because I was throwing up. Well I don´t know why but I felt super under the weather that day.
Portuguese is still not easy. A lot of people would think by now it kind of just comes, but the hard part about learning a different language is that the more you study the more you realize you are making mistakes! So you get frustrated when you don´t say things right. This week I for sure felt that. Well we went and taught an amazing normal family that night!!! They have so much curiosity and want to really know if our message is true! Rui, Isabel, their son Rui, and his father in law Augosto! :) We felt the spirit really strong and we are going back on Thursday! :) But because I wasn´t feeling that great I guess I was saying things with a very American accent and Rui just kind of laughed at me and told me how American I am. Idk why but when we got home I just felt really sad because I felt like I was giving all I had in that lesson because I felt so sick. The next day I still felt really sick and sad so I got a blessing from one of our amazing members Ivo! :) They feed us every week and their family is amazing! It was really neat to receive a blessing in Portuguese! I felt so much love and I know that God is happy with the work I´m doing even if it is just an American girl trying her best to speak a different language! I know that I´m really playing a part in Gods work! I immediately felt to much better! It was like the sickness was just taken away from me and my head stopped hurting! I know the priesthood is really the power of God!
The next day we were able to help one of our other investigators receive a blessing as well and she felt a lot better after too :) It was really neat to testify to her after mine that it would help her feel better and how powerful blessings really are :)
We also passed by a member who has cancer and so we felt like it would be good to go talk to her and see how she´s doing! Well we just so happened to go over on her Birthday!!! She was so happy to see the missionaries! I know it was inspiration to go visit her that day :) we brought her a little cake and she was just smiling from ear to ear :) I love helping God help his children! And later that night Sister Rovig in Viseu called to ask for information but then later told me that our other investigators Jorge is going to be baptised the weekend and that he stopped smoking!! :) I knew that was God´s way of reassuring me that I am playing a part here in Portugal! I am so happy to see these people choosing to follow our Savior!
Well Halloween was funny because Portugal doesn´t technically celebrate Halloween! But the kids and the teenagers do! It´s becoming more of a holiday here! But the funny thing that happened was that we taught a guy we found in the road, and he seemed really nice last time, but when we met we started talking about prayer and Jesus but he just stopped and said I have felt so happy ever since last time we talked. We said that´s great! He then said he had been laughing a lot more because of how pretty I was. Then it got awkward! He said I was a princess and the most beautiful girls hes ever seen! So I guess that was my costume for Halloween, a princess :) Hahahahaha we just awkwardly laughed it off.
Last funny story! So we visited a less active member named Virginia. She is so nice and has a really cute cat, but at the end of the night the cat started choking and couldn´t breathe! it was kind of scary but he was fine well the next day in class we talked about prayer and how we should even pray for our animals, Virginia was sitting right next to me and grabbed my arm and starting laughing so hard! She shouted we forgot to pray for my cat last night! The whole class busted up :) I love the little silly moments that happen here! I know that sometimes God asks of us big things to do, if it be trials or maybe characteristics about ourselves that we want to change. I KNOW that God is wanting to help us and will if we let him :) When we are humble and have a sincere heart God will always turn our weaknesses into strengths :) This week was a testimony of that! I like what Elaine S. Dalton said: I can do Hard things! :) I know we all can do hard things with the help of our Savior and his atonement. He lives and the atonement is real, I know it :) I love you and I hope you had a great week!!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
Wow this week my eyes have been opened! I have been learning so much about myself, the gospel, and the things I need to do not only to be a better missionary but a better disciple of Jesus Christ. Geneci and Jair are starting to plan to get married! And Jair is committing to read the Book of Mormon!
Tuesday and Thursday we made a ton of contacts and just started talking to everyone outside! We made our goal this week of 13 new investigators!! Our two new investigators with a ton of potential are Jersey and Mari they are both really awesome, different families but they both are open to really ask God what is true and find what is right! Angelica still wants to be baptized we just need Marcos to want to take her to church! He said that he would pray about baptism and the Book of Mormon. For the first time he prayed by himself at the end of the lesson it was so cool! What progress! Just to see the people pray and start to develop that relationship with Heavenly Father helps me to feel like I am fulfilling my purpose.
For our activity of integration this week we did the Iron Rod. We had this huge rope and a real tree with white bon bons as the fruit. It was a neat activity and everyone loved it! Our investigators Beatrice and Lucas were there! Beatrice has 11 years and her Mom is Maria. One lesson we invited them to be baptized and they said yes! She said from the first time you talked about the Book of Mormon I felt something in my heart and I know it is true. Wow people can really feel the spirit about the restoration. We are finding a lot of people to teach. It is only sometimes they don't understand the importance of scripture study and prayer. So it has been hard to find people with real intent to know the truth or if they just let us give them a lesson because we are two Americans haha.
Michael and Ana are progressing! We read Alma 22 with them about King Lamoni and how he had a huge desire to have eternal life and be born again. They both said that they want that to and they will ask God if the Book of Mormon is true and if Joseph smith was a prophet. Wow it has been so long and now they finally have the courage to ask God what is true. I am so happy that our investigators are now starting to have that desire!! Their mom LaLa, she is catholic and never was open to change but this past lesson she asked how we pray and she wanted to try and see if it works!!
I have been learning about remission of sins. One of our investigators said they believe baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost isn't necessary they can just pray and be completely clean. But the true doctrine of Christ is in the Gospel of Christ  is clear. To truly receive this remission of our sins we need to have faith, repent, be baptized by someone holding the priesthood of God, receive the holy Ghost( participate in saving ordinances) and endure to the end by keeping the commandments of God. As we do these things faithfully and with a humble heart following Christ we will receive a full remission of our sins and be clean. I Know this to be true.
We received a referral this week and we visited her and she said to come back another day. We returned yesterday and her house was completely gone, destroyed. She only had a door left. "Sister Wright- The house is gone". HAHAHA! We make a contact, and they destroy their house! We soon learned that her house flooded so they are rebuilding! Halloween!! Sister Wright and I switched clothes and we were one another, it was fun for the night! There were kids dressed in black screaming, dolces dolces!!! So I had a few caramels and threw them out the window, they all screamed and were happy! So fun! I am grateful to be here with Sister Wright, she is such a great example to me and with her I am truly learning how to be a better person and servant of God!:)