Monday, February 29, 2016

Us against the world! & Transfer to Foz Do Douro :)

(Sister Makelle Smith)
So this week was great! I got transferred to a new city called Içara! Sister Irizarry´s old area!! It's cool because everyone knows her and tell me stories! I am with Sister Cabaña from Argentina! She speaks English so we get to joke a lot! I am determined to learn Spanish with her!! She is already helping me say prayers in Spanish, pretty sweet!
This area is huge, seriously gigantic and it's only the two of us against the world!! But we are both so ready to work hard this week to find new investigators. Before I left Imbituba I read a scripture in 3 Nephi when the Lord speaks with the worried Nephi that the sign of the coming of Christ will never come, and He Said lift up your head and be happy tomorrow the sign comes. I felt like that scripture was just for me that this next area I would see miracles and be so happy!! I got to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting, and all the members are nice here!
This city is so hot! There is no wind so it just hits you as you walk outside! We made some contacts this week that felt so natural. We just start talking with them and they accept us to visit them, it just felt right. It was neat to see that God is truly putting people in our path that will accept our message! We have met some crazy people this week seriously no one will understand, hahaha i have never laughed so hard or felt so awkward, luckily sister Cabaña laughs with me, I feel happy even when things don't turn out perfect!!
We met an old man who was a prostitute for years. And he was addicted in drinking and drugs, we showed him the book or Mormon and said he can change and be clean from all of those things. I bore my testimony of baptism and the atonement of Christ and I invited him to be baptized. Sister C and I felt the spirit so strong and we thought he would accept, but he made an excuse.
We are here and are so ready to get working again!! I feel so excited and grateful to have this time here to serve the Lord and invite others to come unto Christ!!
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was actually really crazy because we got our transfer calls!! I don't have much time to explain today everything but I got transferred!!! Wow what a surprise!! i was not expecting it especially because I thought I would finish the training of Sister Gouveia!! :( we were pretty sad about that one!! Well I had to say goodbye to Gaia and all the new friends I have made!! As you can see by the pictures I was devastated!!! ah man I was so sad to leave everybody!!! I'm so thankful for the memories I have they are so special to me!!! I got to say Goodbye to Fátima my recent convert and it was one of the hardest goodbyes yet!!! She is such a special friend and I know we will always stay in touch!!! Well I got my new comp Sister Nagliati and she is Italian but lived in Brazil her whole life! Lets just say she is perfect!!!! She is such an amazing comp and I already feel so blessed to be serving with her!!! She is so nice and loves to talk so its perfect for me I know we will find a lot of success!! I will write about the people next week because I have a lot to say!!! But I LOVE YOU all and I hope you have an amazing week :)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

11 Months!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
11 months!!!!! Well this week was actually one of my favorite weeks yet!!! hahaha Sick all week got to love it! we went up to Porto on pday and we got to see a cool statue, eat some little hamburgers (they were so cute), and say goodbye to Abel! He's in the MTC!!! Il'l be honest something about the mission that's always kind of bugged me, is how a lot of people make really high goals. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed because the goals are TOO high to reach. Some people could say it's a lack of faith or not enought effort, but I just thought maybe in this sense i'm not cut out exactly for the mission. Well this wek our District leader gave us a really really high goal that I sure wasn't prepared for! Well I went home with tears in my eyes because I wasn't quite sure how I'd handle the next week! Well I prayed and I felt a lot of peace and I knew God would help me out!
I was really sick so I had to stay inside for a good part of the week!
Well we had an amazing opportunity to have a HUGE Mission conference with our the area 70 Elder Kearon! Holy Cow he and his wife are just angels!!!! Seriously I was pretty much in tears the whole meeting! They spoke with such power and conviction!!! I loved it! The part that was the coolest was that I came with a very specific question of why in the mission we have such high goals? I've been wanting this to be answered for so long so I was very excited to get it answered! Well it's like they were speaking to me and my circumstance!!! Seriously some of the biggest advice is that they said sometimes you just have to LET IT GO :) Here in the mission you meet a lot of stress and I've felt a little bit anxious at times. It was sucha good reminder to put my faith in God and let things go how they are supposed to go :) But one of the coolest things was that the holy ghost spoke so clear to me it was like he was revealing a secret I was waiting to hear!!! All I heard was that goals are meant to stretch us! I had a flash back to when we did Cheerleading and I remembered how hard it was at first to do the splits because we hardly were flexible. But with time it got easier. Sometimes the instructor had to come push us down and it hurt really bad because we had never stretched that much before! We didn't do the splits perfectly but the next attempt we were able to stretch farther than before. That's what big goals do for us! They help us get to our destination a lot faster :) WOW!!!!!!! I can tell you guys how much of a blessing it was for me to hear that through the voice of the Holy Spirit! I felt so comforted and loved that Heavenly Father really was listening to my prayers and knew how to respond so that I would listen! I will never forget that day! I literally felt a weight lifted from me that night!
At the conference we also got to see all the missionaries in the mission so i got to see al the Elders from the MTC district and zone!!! It just so happened to be our 11 month mark!!!! :) I also got to say goodbye to some special sisters!! Sister Johnson my mom and Sister Rovig my aunt haha. They were so special and helped me grow a ton here on the mission!
Sister Rovig let me know how much of a difference I made in Viseu in my first area and how people still remember me as the girl who always had a smile on her face! She also let me know that my recent convert Denis said I am one of his favorite missionaries hahaha it just made my whole day :) My heart was just absolutley full of love :) Awww there is so much to say this week but I don't have enough time! The mission is just flying by and I'm loving it so much!!!
We are also teaching another family from Brazil and we taught the plan of salvation, it was so neat to bare testimony that death isn't the end that God is full of love and has a plan! I was able to share about my grandmother and how she is about to pass away but I know how we are able to be together together. I shared how I couldn't imagine eternity without my family because I've only been away from my family for about a year and it is really hard! God knows how important our family is to us! He is our father and doesn't want us away from him too :) She lost a son a year ago and she had tears in her eyes and she said she was so happy to know that really her son is ok and she will see him again :) What a special moment that I will never ever forget!!!!
I love you guys sooooo much!!!! Have an amazing week!!! my theme scripture Alma 26:22 hahaha baptisms here we come :) OUR MISSION IS GOING TO TAKE OFF  :)

(Sister Makelle Smith)

Fatima & Thomas Baptism!

(Sister Courtney Smith) Last week's letter
Fátima e Tomás foram batizdos!!!!!!!! What a week!!! :) I can´t express how happy of a week it was to see two more people enter into the waters of baptism!! I don´t know if you know but they have actually been taught for about 4 months now! We have been helping her recognized Gods plan for her and how she can receive more peace and joy in this life!!! So we actually taught her parents the first lesson on Tuesday night and it went really well!! They are very religious and they were very surprised about our message of having a prophet like the bible! Fátima even explained why there shouldn´t be so many church's but only one led by God and a prophet! :)
Then later in the week we had her interview and reviewed word of wisdom. Our district leader said he was very impressed with how they both answered the questions and how they both really do have the desire to follow Christ! We ate dinner at a members house and she taught us how to make a classic Portuguese dish! I´ll make it for you guys when I get home! We also taught an investigator named Roberta with her daughter Laura! She read the book of Mormon and even said a prayer like we asked! And she said she felt really good about it and believes our message is true! And they even excepted our invite to be baptised! She just can´t do a lot right know because she is pregnant and will have her baby in 10 days! So we are working with her family :) Well were so excited for Saturday!! I even made some caramel popcorn Dad! It´ll never be the same!
But the Baptism was so beautiful! Tomás was super excited and they just had big smiles the whole night! I gave a talk about the Holy Ghost and it was such a cool experience because it was the first talk I´ve given in a baptism! I explained how the Holy Ghost is like a best friend! He helps us feel happy, he gives us peace, he´s loyal to God, he is there for us when we need him, he is comforting, but more importantly he is the friend that will help us become more like Jesus Christ! He helps us know the things we can do or change to become like him :) When they entered into the font Fátima just had a smile and peace that I hadn´t always seen! They were so happy! We had dinner at a members house and they were just glowing! It felt like they had already been members for a while!! They´ve really accepted the fact that they are members of the church :) Tomás is soooo cute he asked us one day why don't you guys get a newer and nicer phone? we said because we don't need a new one this one works just fine! And he said oh is it because you want to follow Jesus? We said yep!! hahaha then he replied because to Jesus things like phones aren't important he just likes to love others!!! hahaha :) When they received the gift of the Holy Ghost the next day they were just so happy :) Tomás wanted a `bíblia sagrada` all morning! (bible) They are just awesome examples to me of blind faith, they really had to put their trust in God that this is his church and his way back to him :) and it´s easy to feel that that's exactly true :) I´m so thankful for the opportunity to help teach her all of the lessons and to be there at her baptism! They are a very special family to me and I know one day Tomás will even serve a mission! I can´t explain the happiness that becomes complete when you watch one of your brothers or sisters follow Christ and start a new life! I know the gospel is true and I know God will help us every step of the way! I'm so blessed to have the truth in my life and to feel of his love :) I hope you all have an amazing week!!

Monday, February 15, 2016

God answers prayers &

(Sister Makelle Smith)
So this week I have been learning a lot! I have been studying and learning a lot about how God answers prayers. Our investigator Franscine, she is loving the Book of Mormon, but she just isn't receiving an answer if it is true or not. We thought that that was weird. So we read Moroni 10:3-5 and the Introduction of the BOM with her. We said that anyone can receive this answer if you have real intent to follow it. She has been having problems accepting the word of wisdom, but she is really trying to live it in her life. We have been making goals with her to read and live the word of wisdom. I know that as she does these things one day she will know so clearly that it is true and this church is true!! Their family is so elite, really they are so perfect for the Gospel and His church!
I also read Helaman 7:29 where Nephi receives revelation from God not from himself. So it is the same, God will always always always answer our prayers, sometimes it will take a little longer than we want but He is always listening and ready to speak with us! We just need to be ready and listening as well to receive it! This week we had interviews with the President Silva. He is so so amazing. He really does care about us as his missionaries.He makes me feel so important as a missionary and helps me overcome my challenges.
Rafael (brother of Filipe) came to church!! He is trying to return to the church and he came it was a good Sunday this week!! I taught the gospel principles class and it went well, first time alone!! But i felt more confident for sure!! I learned that God loves us so much so he has prepared everything we need to help us in our lives!! He will always provide a way as long as we are faithful!! Love you, have a great week!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pics only again! & A week of miracles!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was super crazy!!! haha so I´ve been sick the whole week so that made working really fun ;) We worked a lot with the ward list and find less actives and incomplete families! We actually already found a couple and are working with them! Sometimes missionary work is more than we think! Its been a week of miracles! There have been countless contacts and lessons with lots of tears!!!
Well Sister Gouveia and I are improving a bunch! She's very shy and embarrassed easy so she is finally opening up and we are talking a lot more.
Well we had a division this week!!! I was a little bit hesitant because I felt really sick, but something told me that we needed to do a division so I went to Gaia 1 and served with Sister Hillam :) It was seriously such a blast!!! It has actually been one of my favorite days on the mission! I don't know why but I just felt like a great missionary! We were talking with literally everybody and testifying about Gods plan for them! Such a powerful day! :) Well later that night I got a call saying that Sister Gouveia and Sister Morais marked Faitma for Baptism!!!!! hahaha I could barley talk my voice was pretty much gone but I let out a little scream I was sooo happy! Well later that week on Saturday we went over and retaught the law of "tithing" because she still wasn't 100%. We had such a powerful lesson, we used 10 oranges and told her that this was her income, she's a single mom so she's very frugal. We showed how tithing is when we give one orange to the Lord because that's what he asked us to do, then we read:
Mattew 6:33 & Malachi 3:10 Then we pulled out two bottles of Orange Juice :) she just started laughing. We explained that sometimes God won´t give us back our oranges or in the form that we want it but he will ALWAYS give us more than we gave to him :) It´s just a trial of faith :) I know its true!!! I'm so thankful for the opportunity to prove my faith every month and pay my tithing! Well we confirmed she still wanted to be baptised and she said yes!! haha but what we all didn't realize is that the baptism is this week!!! haha so the next day after church we went to her house and talked with Tomás about baptism as well and we had them try on their baptism clothes!! Wow the spirit was so strong as we testified they are following the Saviors example :) Something changed completely about Fatíma. She just seems more at peace without as much confusion!!! The Gospel changes lives :)
We also taught the Angolan family with their Dad Jose! It was such a powerful lesson and they all came to church yesterday!! :) God is just really blessing us with little blessings! Well I hope you all have an amazing week! I'm just on cloud 9 here in Portugal! Pray for Fatíma e Tomás :) Love you guys!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Room full of tears! & pics only

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was great!!! Pretty much the same old same old :) We've been teaching the cool families and also we are still teaching Fatima :) Sadly the family from Angola is going back to Angola next week!!!! We were so sad to hear that they have just been staying here because the Grandmother has a heart problem and was here to see doctors :( We went back to teach them about the Book of Mormon and they loved it! We also invited them to be baptized and this is when they told us they were going back!!! Oh it was sooooo sad.
We also taught the family from Brazil and Roberta has so much desire to learn and read the Book of Mormon! Shes actually heard a lot about our church and really has real intent! Sister Gouveia bore testimony that when she read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it she knew it was true and decided to follow those feelings!! My comp was baptized in 2 weeks!!! Hahaha she was an elect investigator!!! :)
Fatima is still drowning in doubts. We keep trying to help her see what God has already helped her see and feel is true but ultimately its up to her to make the decision!
Well something cool that happened this week is that we had an activity where we watched Meet the Mormons in our church!!! The members invited friends and family that aren't members so that they could get to know more about our church! It was great! :) We had 13 investigators there! We made popcorn and cookies :)
We also ate lunch at the family from Angola's house! They made us food typical of Angola!! They are super cute and they are going to continue talking with the missionaries in Angola! We taught them the plan of salvation and they really loved it! They've had many close members of their family pass away and have struggled with depression and they started crying. It was really neat to help them understand that if we do what God wants us to do He will give us everything He has and we will be able to be with our loved ones for eternity :) It was such a sweet experience when I got to testify how I want to be with my family for forever and how much love Heavenly Father has for us that He too wants to be with his family for forever with each one of us :) Room full of tears :)
I know it is true and that Gods plan for us is absolutely perfect! I am so thankful for the knowledge that I have and the blessing it is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ!! Love you guys!!!

(Sister Makelle Smith) No Letter, just pictures this week.