Monday, December 28, 2015

Christ will help our unbelief and raise us up! & Pics only

                                             
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Hey!!! I hope you all had such a great Christmas!!!! This week has been absolutely crazy and I have literally a ton of pictures so I'm going to have to divide it up into days so I can get it all in!! :) It will be fast this week and then I can give more info next week k?! 
Monday: So we actually went to Porto and visited two places really cool! The first place is a really big tower that overlooks all of Porto! You have to climb up sooo many steps!! it is so pretty and the view is amazing! I´ll send the pictures! and then we went to a famous little library here! So this is where J K Rowling got inspired for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies! Sister Barrett loves those books so it was super fun to check it out!! It was beautiful! We also checked out the train station!! 
Tuesday: Fatima!!!!! We love her sooo much! We taught the 10 commandments and she said she´d live all of them :) as well as the law of chastity! She is really progressing! 
Thursday: So Christmas eve is actually more celebrated here than Christmas Day! They have their Christmas dinner on this night instead! But earlier in the day we went to an old home and sang for them some Christmas songs and they loved it!!! Haha it reminded me of Grandma Georges old home!! Then we went over to a members house Sonia and Abel and we ate with the other sisters and some elders in Porto! They had three rounds of food and TONS of desserts! They eat codfish, potatoes, carrots, and an egg! Then just a lot of cake it is called Bolo Rei it´s pretty much like fruit cake, Pão de Ló which is just a regular cake, and a noodle dish that's like rice pudding but with noodles instead! haha and of course chocolate! :) Don't worry I ate very very well this year!!! A couple of our cute members gave us little gifts too! We felt the love!! 
Friday: Woke up and opened our Christmas packages and letters, then we made our selves a Christmas breakfast!! Chocolate chip pancakes with our special white sauce ;) Thank you so much for all of the letters and gifts! We wrote sister Barrett's family and then we went over to Fatimas house for lunch!!! She is so sweet to invite us because it was her family's Christmas lunch! So we met her brothers and her parents! :) They asked us a bunch of questions and we got to explain to them about our church! They even said they´d come by and see how our church is :) Fatima is already a missionary!!! She was totally defending our church and saying there is just something special and different about it! Super cool! Then I got to talk to you guys which was really great!!! I thought I´d be fine because on mothers day I was fine, but I'm not going to lie it's really hard being away from your best friends!! Luckily right after we went over to a less active family's house and they just told us how much they loved us and how much they need us :) Wow it was so neat to feel the spirit so strong! I know that it´s a little bit of a sacrifice right now, but really it's because we are helping our brothers and sisters have more happiness and in the end eternal families!!! I love Julia's family!! They made me feel like I am fulfilling my purpose! 
Saturday: Fatima got a blessing! She has been feeling a lot a pain and so we told her about blessings and she wanted one! Wow it was such a special experience!! She said she felt something inside her that's really good!! We testified that it was the spirit and she was really happy! It was really cool because she still wants more time to study and pray before she commits to a baptism date because she's nervous she will make mistakes after but I was able to share my experience about when I went through the temple and I was a little nervous but that's because of the promise I made. God gave me strength to keep my covenants and I became a better person after I chose to act :) I love the gospel of Jesus Christ! I love my Savior!! She also came to church!
I had such an amazing week! I know that I am here in Portugal for a reason and that I am making a difference in my own way!! :) Read in Mark 9. Shares a story about the Savior and how He can help us if we choose to believe in Him first! He will help our unbelief and raise us up :) He will heal our mistakes and make us strong :) I am so happy for this time of year!! :) Love you guys!!

(Sister Makelle Smith) Just Pics this week!

9 Months too!                                   Best Gift Ever!
   
                               Good Bye Sister Pomponio! Sister Smith Loves You!

Monday, December 21, 2015

1/2 Way! Only 9 Months Left!

9 Months! Hahaha!
(Sister Courtney Smith)
So this week was the week! Half way done with this mission! It was such a weird feeling because it has gone by so fast but yet it just means it's coming closer to an end! But it was such a great week! Sister Barratt and I are really getting into a groove! We are contacting better, teaching better, and we are even speaking better! :) There was a day when we felt a little down but then immediately we saw the blessings that God gives us when we stay faithful! I know that God understands our needs and will bless us when we are humble and willing to do his will!
So we also had our ward Christmas party!!! Haha we did karaoke! oh my goodness it was a riot! The members really got into it! Some of the young men sang backstreet boys! We sang a special hymn of silent night and it was sooooo funny because one of the investigators stood up exactly in front of us and took a picture with a camera that you have to wind up! So Sister Smyth started laughing in her part so we all starting laughing! Fatima and Tomás came!!!! She even made a cake and everything! It's practically like shes part of the family! She came for sacrament meeting as well! :)
It's so fun being here on the mission during Christmas! I always thought it would be hard because I would be away from family but itś really neat how the members really treat you like family and you feel the love like it was your own family! :)
Well I'm just going to send a bunch of pictures and I will be talking to the family this week!!!! I'm so excited :)
Mosiah 23:10 haha sorry its in port. today10 Não obstante, depois de muitas tribulações, o Senhor ouviu meus clamores, e respondeu às minhas orações, e fez de mim um instrumento nas suas mãos, para levar tantos de vós ao conhecimento da sua verdade.
I love how all of the prophets teach and testify of the savior and how he has saved them. I too have this testimony that the Savior is my best friend and helps me every day with my trials! I'm so thankful for this time to celebrate His birth! :) Merry Christmas!! Love you all :)
(Sister Makelle Smith)
Half way there baby!!! This week was so awesome!! Feliz Natal everybody!! I am so happy and excited for this week! We had our Christmas conference with the mission! I got to see Sister Irizarry and Elder Meredith! I missed them so much! We watched some videos and played some games. We also had a white elephant game! I had a lot of fun and it was nice to have a little break!
We found a lot of people this week to teach. I am so grateful for the guidance of God here in the mission. I have been learning how I can use the gift of the Holy Ghost and discernment here in the mission. I have been able just to ask God in my heart if I need to talk to a certain person or to knock a certain door and He answers me every time and when He says yes, usually they accept us to come in!
We found a woman named Dina and her husband passed away recently. She is so so so sad. I don't know how she feels, but I remember parts of my mission when I was sad but I knew God was here for me and there is a bright future. I remember bearing my testimony with power that she has a purpose and it doesn't matter how dark it is, there is always room to find happiness in life!! We invited her to be baptized so she can have an eternal family and she accepted!
I also got to teach a lesson in English to a man named Orlando. He has talked with the sisters before but never wanted to accept a lesson. One day we were so tired we didn't want to do anything so we sat on the corner to rest. Orlando walked up to us and sat down. We started talking to him about the Book or Mormon and Joseph Smith. We grabbed a Book or Mormon and I taught him in English so he could understand better. Sister Pomponio understood everything it was a miracle. At the end he asked me a question I will never forget, "Do you really believe that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ?" I was able to answer him YES! With my whole heart I believe it. We invited him to read the Book or Mormon and pray, he said he would. The part that hit me the most was that he reminds me so much of my dad he is only 46 years old. I just remember looking into his eyes pleading with him to read and to pray. I thought that if this was my Dad I would do anything for him to accept the gospel. He left and I just started crying. I have seen just how much my testimony has grown.
This week made 9 months half way done!! I am so so so grateful for this mission and for who I have become! God gave me the answer to come here to Brasil, learn another language and be apart of this glorious work. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows me better than I know myself. He really does guide us in our lives, and when we follow Him our faith strengthens in Him every time!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

104 contacts! & So many miracles!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week was amazing!! We had our ward Christmas party and it was so sweet!!
They had a tree with all of the names of the people in our ward and our names were up there too! I felt so so special, after the ward gave us a huge box of food for our Christmas feast, we all starting crying because we can really feel the love the ward has for us missionaries! I really feel part of this ward! The past few weeks we have only been teaching Jaira Hugo and Filipe preparing them for baptism so we hadn't had a lot of contacts or new investigators. This week we were able to make 104 contacts!!! So awesome, it made me feel so good that we could talk with literally everyone we saw! We found a ton of people to visit this week! One guy even said "I have always been curious about your church, me and my wife use the family search indexing" like what??? The Lord really is guiding us here and helping us do his work!!
I gave a talk in sacrament meeting using Mosiah 18:8-11 I talked about our baptismal covenants and how really being a disciple of Christ means being a member missionary at ALL times, not just one day a month but everyday trying to help the people in our lives come unto Christ! I know that by serving this mission I am fulfilling my covenant I made with my God. I know that Jesus is my Savior and through Him and His atonement I am clean from my sins. I know that we can feel peace as we plead and work together with God in our lives to be better people everyday. I learned that there is a difference within sin and weakness. Christ never sinned but he did have weaknesses he overcame. I know that because Christ payed for all, HE knows exactly how we feel and exactly how to help us in our trials and temptations. We just need to trust enough in him to follow and obey, then the miraculous power of the atonement will come! I know this to be true with my whole heart! I am learning a lot that I am needing to really forget about myself and get to work in unity! I know that if we forget ourselves the Lord with really use us as instruments in this Life! I love you!!
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Hey!!! So I actually forgot to tell you guys about the temple ground braking! What a blessing it is to be here in the mission! It means that God has many people in store for us to baptise so that they can do their work in the temple when its done being built!!! Well this week was fun! We had a Mexican lunch with a Ranata and her family! It was so great to have something a little bit different! :) Haha but I actually threw up afterwards because my stomach is so sensitive!! whoops!
Anyways As far as investigators Rui and Isabel are progressing and reading the Book of Mormon! We pretty much just had a review lesson about the first and the second just to make sure all their questions were answered. Isabel absolutely loves our lessons and literally lights up when we talk! We bore strong testimony about the atonement of Jesus Christ and thats why hes so important to us! It was really great! Rui was kind of getting up and getting things so we want to have a more calm lesson and mark them next time! Fatima is really progressing!! We taught her the third lesson and she really liked it! We asked her to be baptised and she still is waiting for a firm response, but she hasn't been reading in the Book of Mormon, so we challenged her to read and pray about it with real intent and she said she would. We also invited her to the baptism of Telma the sisters investigator and she came!!!! :) She came right before the last speaker and was able to see it! She also came to church! It was really weird because we ran into her a bunch right before the baptism and I know it was not a coincidence! It was God letting her know that she needed to go! She really likes church and her son Thomas has a ton of friends already and hangs out at one of our members house! The baptism was so pretty though! Telma was so happy to be making the decision to follow Christ especially because it took her a lot of faith to stop smoking! :)
Well the last miracle of the week is that we finally got to teach one of our investigators named Rosa! It had been forever since we taught the first lesson! She has depression and has to got to the doctor a lot so we haven't been able to pass by a whole lot! Well we went back and she said she had read until Alma 42!!! :) Soooo cool! So she literally reads every day! She said that this book is very different and that it brings a peace to the soul! :) She even says she likes it more than the Bible! And she knows the Bible inside and out! :) I love the mission because it shows all of the little miracles that we see during our week! Well I know that we are doing our Fathers work and preparing the people to go through the temple!!
Oh yeah random fun fact Sister Rovig let me know that two of our recent converts are actually dating!! :) yay!! Isaura and Denis are such a cute couple and both have great standards!! :) I'll send a pic! Anyways love you all!! 2 Nephi 22:2

Thursday, December 10, 2015

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Hey family! So this week is going to actually be a little shorter because I don't have much time to write! But some cool things happened this week that i really like to share!! So we've really been looking forward to working hard and finding new people to teach! It was kind of crazy because on Tuesday one of our lessons fell through because he had a doctors appointment and we had a little time in the area so we prayed that God would lead us to people who needed to hear our message! well we knocked every door on the street and we ran into a couple that are members of a church that is very similar to ours and we taught them of the restoration and said a prayer and the wife started crying! They want us to go back this week! We also met a woman named Monica and her mom and we also taught the first lesson and we asked her how she felt and she said just very calm relaxed and safe! She originally said she didn't have time to talk to us but then she invited us to come visit her every week and to meet her husband!!! The power of the spirit is real! We also taught a woman named Susana and her daughter Beatrize the first lesson and we asked how they felt after and she said she didn't have words to describe how she felt!  We asked if she felt good? and she said yes but it wasn't in a way that she could describe! Because she felt something so different! We asked peace? and she said yes but different! We testified that that was the holy ghost speaking to her! Wow We hit our goal of 6 new investigators!!!! God was helping us this week for sure! The power that the gospel has is so unique and special it really changes lives :) Also We taught Fatima with one of our members and their sons are actually best friends at school so it was an instant connection! we taught he about keeping the sabbath day holy! and she accepted the invite to come to church with us again! She came!!!!!! :) We have plans to mark her and Rui and Isabel this week for baptism!! Can I hear Christmas miracle? :) Well I love you guys and I hope you have a great week!!! p.s. read the chapter 13 and 14 in Mosiah!!! Our Savior was prophesied before he was born :)
(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week was so amazing!! Filipe was baptized that for sure was the highlight!
Filipe is such a good example to me of how to walk in faith! We had his interview and he said he didn't have a solid testimony of Joseph Smith so we sang Josephs first prayer and he said he really felt the spirit. He then that night prayed read the restoration pamphlet and the Book of Mormon prayed and then prayed again. He said in his last prayer God gave him a very strong feeling he had never had before and he said he knew it was his answer! We called him the next day and he screamed - consegui testemunho!! We were all screaming of Joy! He was ready and prepared, he wants to serve God with all of his heart, really Filipe is a Young man I will never forget, I am so grateful to have been apart of his conversion to the true church of Christ! This week we had zone conference and they asked me to give a 20 min training in front of everyone, and I was so so scared! But in the end we planned everything out had a fun game and it all worked out! Thankfully God gave me the courage to get up there, for my first training it went well, now I know for next time as well! At the end of the week i was talking with the sisters here and how at the beginning of my mission I felt like I was a horrible missionary and I didn't do anything right. And they helped me recognize my strengths and gifts. I felt so much love for the Lord and for all of the things I have passed here, seriously I feel like I have just improved so much and my testimony is so much stronger. Without this mission I wouldn't know the savior as well as I do now! I know this mission is changing me into the person God wants me to be! I am so HAPPY to be serving and helping the people here find testimonies of their own of this Gospel!
Alma 36:24 I want the people here in Brazil to feel the joy that this gospel can bring!:)