Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I love the work I am doing & I know Chist was ressurected!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well as far as the week goes it was not super super exciting as far as lessons we taught but you know what it was a really good week for us to organize our plans and update a lot of the work that has been done in the past. It´s the last week of the transfer and I know Sister Sousa will be leaving me because she has been here for 4 transfers!!! It´s so cool because that´s how I was in Viseu my first area :) She reminds me a lot of me!
Well I think one of the biggest miracle we saw this week was in a young man named José Mario. Soooo two weeks ago I ask Garrett (my younger brother) to send his testimony in the form of a letter to José Mario because he is 15 years old and reminds me soooooo much of Garrett haha well anyways he isn´t really keeping his commitments and we got kind of sad because trying to motivate a young man to read the scriptures is kind of hard when the world tells you that playing football or video games is a lot more fun and convenient! hahaha So we watched the movie "how great a treasure." Something like that that shows two stories of how the lives of these men changed because of the Book of Mormon. José Mario is very intelligent and understands profound deep things very easily he is gifted but yet he is still young so it´s hard for him to put the value in things and prioritize his time. hahaha well after the movie he explained that the book must be important, I pulled out Garrett's letter and I translated what he wrote, man José Mario was so intrigued that my brother from the United States would personally write him a letter and tell him how much the book of mormon and church meant to him. José Mario was so happy because he actually speaks some English, so I gave him the letter and the picture of Joseph Smith that Garrett sent me and he read in English "who is your hero?" and I bore testimony that Garrett really did gain a testimony of Joseph Smith because he put sometime aside to see if it was true and I know that my brother was able to recieve the knowledge for him self. It was a neat experience for me to feel the love I have for my Brother and what a help his testimony was in our lesson. We have been trying to get him to come to church for weeks now but he likes to sleep in like every other teenager.. well we asked him if he would take my brother´s challenge to read the Book of Mormon and give going to church a chance. He said very quickly yes!!!! We were so surprised with how touched he was and how inspired. It's very clear that the young people just need help from other young people! Anyways Sunday comes around and we combined to go to their house to pick them up in the morning well when we got there no one answered the door or the cell phone. we were a little sad because we were so excited for him to get to know the church (he never had been to a normal church just a cult). So we went to church without him... man i was so sad because he said he´d give it a chance. In our class I prayed to God that he would help one of our investigators come because we really worked hard this week inviting a lot of people to come to church with us. Well sacrament meeting started and we took the sacrament and still no one came. After the first talk all of the sudden a member tapped my shoulder and I turned around to see José mario and his mom Ana Paula walking through the door. I was so shocked that he came!!!! I felt something hit my heart so hard I knew that it was a blessing and a miracle from God :) everyone at church was so happy to meet him and the two young men we have were so excited that another was there too! They shook his hand and started playing soccer with him!!! Man these jovens really know how to include others!! I was so impressed we didn't even have to ask them to! Then we went to the baptismal font and showed him the clothes! One of the members came up to him and asked well are you going to be baptized soon? Sister Sousa said nahhhh we are just showing him how it works, then all of the sudden José mario said yeah I think so! :) We were so happy for him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! His mom asked him well what do you think do you want to come back next week? and he said I´d like to! He just didn't know what it was like and was nervous it would be weird. But once he saw how normal it is he really enjoyed it! We are super excited for him and are excited to start teaching with the young men at church :) I felt so much love from God in that moment I can´t even explain!!! I am so thankful for these experiences I´m having on my mission to teach me God is really there and answers our prayers. He knows each one of us and Know what we need :)

We also had a zone conference with President Amorim. Wow I don´t really have a whole lot of words to describe the conference because it was the best one yet! We talked a lot about chapter6 in preach my gospel which reviews the attributes of Christ. It was such an amazing experience to really think and discuss of why the attributes of Christ are so important in our lives. We reviewed and read the last supper and what happened that night. I felt so much love for Jesus and what he did for me. I know that as I strive to become more like him the more happiness I will have in my life. We really are seeing so many little miracles! I´ve really been pushing my self to talk to more people and inviting more people to get to know our message and our church. Wow the day becomes much more exciting when you really look for all the little opportunities to talk to people. We actually met the aunt of a member in my last area (Foz) it was a miracle and hopefully we will be able to teach her this week :) God really leads us to those who he wants. It was really good to see a lot of missionaries from old areas and to say goodbye to some that are leaving this week! I still can´t believe that the end is coming!!!! I just feel like I want to stay here for another 6 months!!! We got to visit sea life its an aquarium with some cool animals!!! It was pretty fun but to be honest the one in Utah is 10 times better 🙈🙊🙊 theres also a picture of my district it´s a good one! Elder Jones will be going home with me so I won´t be alone whooohoo!! I love the work we are doing and I love sharing the love of Christ with others. It´s the most valuable thing I could do with my life and time. I love you guys a lot! I hope you share the gospel with those who need it! Stay safe and have a good week! 

(Sister Makelle Smith) 
This week was pretty normal.
We went to the centro for some appointments this week so 
we didn't have a whole lot of time to find new people. But we taught Romulo who is progressing and wanting to be baptized!!! Also we taught Robert who is going strong for his baptism date in August! We taught a new investigator Rejinaldo. He is a husband of a member and has been going to church for a year, but always didn't really like the elders because he is a policeman. Haha he likes us a lot! He has a lot of doubts about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. We are super excited to invite him to exercise the Faith that he has in Christ to know that this is his restored gospel on the earth today! We had our ward Festa de Junina which is basically a cowboy/hillbilly party. They all dress like country people with plaid shirts and we eat things with peanuts, pinhão, candica, corn, cake. It was a super fun party!! They do a huge square dance. There were a ton of investigators there, super fun!! Ive been learning a lot this week about oração do coração! Which means we need to put our heart in our prayers. I have been trying to make my prayers more meaningful and really try to picture as if God was there talking with me. I know that God exists and is real, he listens to our prayers and is wanting to converse with us. He LOVES to hear from us and what is happening in our lives, he TRULY does understand the things that we are passing through and knows exactly how to help us. I have also been learning a lot about the Resurrection of Christ. I read a conference talk this week and i have learned that the resurrection what a miracle. That there have been more that 500 witnesses that Christ is alive only in Jerusalem. But also all of the Nephite people, Joseph Smith, and our Actual Prophets and Apostles. I know that Christ resurrected and that is a fact that I know in my heart. Christ fulfilled what he said he would do. And truly because of the resurrection the rest of the promises made by him and his servants will all come to pass and will be made true to us!!
My FAMILY is ETERNAL, this literally is the biggest blessing and promise that has been made to me as long as I am faithful!! I love this mission and this gospel!! Have a great week!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Baptism & 16 Months!

(Sister Makelle Smith) 
BAPTISM!!!!!!!!!!!! Patricia was baptized and it was one of the most special yet!!!
So Patricia is deaf, and the whole ward is starting to learn sign language to be able to communicate with her!! At the baptism there was a translator and the kids sang a hymn and another deaf boy signed the words:) Wow so so cute!!! She said she felt so good and that she was happy!! Wow you could just feel the love the God has for her and her family!!! Everyone is so inspired by her!! I love her so much!! I got to do her hair and makeup after and that was a ton of fun!!! 
We weren't able to visit Robert this week we thought he wasn't interested anymore because he said he had a bday party on Sunday so he couldn't go to church. But then Sunday came around and he came and brought his cousin for the first 2 hours!!! So neat, I just love him. We will be visiting him tonight and we will try to mark a date for baptism!! We taught Carlos and Marcia, they both said they know the BOM  is a true book they just are wanting to know if this is the true and only church.  They said they would pray about that this week! Marcia started crying and said that we have a light in our eyes, we know that truth and we are certain that this path brings us back to the presence of Heavenly Father!! Wow I know that the spirit testifies and bears testimony of the truth to Gods children!!! 
Ok so scripture of the week Mosiah 3:17-18. Truly it is only through the name of Christ that man can be saved in the Kingdom of God, We are able to take upon us the name of Christ through the covenant of Baptism. The name of Christ literally has the power to protect, guide, and save us. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ!! He is the creator of all things and is the God of the old testament, I know that He is our Lord and our redeemer that guided and gave revelation to the prophets of the old testement. God and Jesus Christ are one but two separate beings who exist and can help us everyday! I know these simple truths and they have saved me life. 
I love this mission and the opportunity to share this gospel with Brasil!
love you guys!!
(Sister Courtney Smith) 
Well I'm pretty sure this week went by way to fast we weren´t even able to keep up!!! I really am starting to forget everything that´s happening in the week because we kind of do the same thing all day every day you know? :) But some cool things happened this week.... 
1. Our numbers skyrocketed!!! We found 5 new people to teach!!! We taught so many first lessons this week it was amazing!!!! We watched the restoration with a couple investigators and it was super cool!! I don´t think I can count how many times I've watched it on my mission but it never ever gets old! Yesterday we watched it in English with Maria do Carmo and Zé Pedro (her son). They are very posh and old. They watch movies in English hahaha. It was super cool to teach them again because it´s been since the division we had last transfer that we taught her. The cool part is that she said she has a huge curiosity of what we teach. She reads the Book of Mormon every day at work when she has time and she wants to know why two young women would spend a year and a half of their lives to helping others and not get paid for it. Hahaha we told her because the Holy Spirit testified to both of us many times that this message is true. And as diciples of Christ we believe it's our responsibility to share what we know with others so they can feel the peace and happiness that comes from the restored gospel. Shes so cute she just was in awe and is excited to know more :) Her husband is in England and just so happens to be staying in a mormon home!!! Miracles do happen! 
We have been teaching the mother of a recent convert Tynara! She is the mother of the Brazilian family :) She fell at work so she got a week off!!! We took advantage and taught her almost everyday!! She believes our message is true and says that one day when she knows more her and her husband will be baptized together!!! She works like crazy and until Syderly can get a job she can't come to church. Syderly, Tynara, João, e Pepe came to church this week!!! It was a miracle!!! :) They haven't come to church in a while and Syderly has been avoiding us! It was his birthday on Saturday so we made him some cookies and sang to him happy birthday :) We wanted to show the importance of going to church so we made up a little skit :) Hahaha girls camp experience comes in handy on the mission ;) We pretended that it was my birthday and that I was super excited for sister Sousa to come to my party, we brought out the cookies and the decorations and the family got excited hahahaha. Then sister Sousa didn't come to my party so I gave her a call and she said she forgot and that she wanted to sleep. I was really sad that one of my best friends couldn't celebrate with me. They were all really sad because I was at my party all alone... hahaha. Then we let them know that this is how God feels when we don't remember Him on his special day. Sunday is the Lord´s day and we go to church to remember Him. We take the sacrament to celebrate the ability to be free from sin and have a happy life as members of his church. They were really impressed! Syderly said see Tynara you need to go every week! Then Tyrnara said your´re right! Then I said well Syderly you know God feels the same way about you too when you don´t go! It got really quite and he understood! So when he came with the family it was such a blessing to see how the spirit touched them in that lesson :) 
We taught a family from Angola!!!! Oh how I love people from Angola!!!! I have met so many people on my mission from Angola who are so prepared for the gospel! This family is one more of those!! Their kids kill me I promise I will adopt some Angolan kids when I get older and have a family I have a special love for them!!! 
We also taught Melena from last week about the Book of Mormon and she got way excited to read it :) She is amazing! We also met Ulga a widow her husband died when she was a young mother of a daughter who was 13 months. She has had a lot of hard times in her life, we taught the first lesson ( she has already talked with many many many missionaries) but she became more calm during our lesson she started crying as we told her because of the authority brought back to the earth she will be able to see her husband again and she will have more light in her life. We sang Josephs first prayer as she was crying, it was a lesson I will never forget. I love testifying of the truth and how people can find out for themselves!!! I love being a missionary and helping people know more about this message thats so important! We said goodbye to Ándres, Tyrnara´s cousin. He went back to England. He had been coming to church and the activities. We read the message from the Prophet Thomas S Monson about making choices. And he really felt that´s what he needed to know that we need to make the harder right choice than the easier wrong one. We sang to him God be with you until we meet again, we bore testimony of the friendships we create in the church and how the spirit will always help us lift one another. He started crying. He prayed and asked God that we would always be teaching people and that more people would open their hearts to hear our message. He  told us it was such a blessing to get to know the missionaries and our message and that he will continue reading the Book of Mormon in England. He is a special friend that I will never forget. Although we didn´t baptized him while he was here I know that we planted a seed that will never be lost in his heart. I am so thankful for my mission that has helped me see the importance in serving our brothers and sisters. I make 16 months today and I couldn´t be more grateful to be here on the mission. We sang my favorite hymn yesterday at church I stand all amazed. There's a line in Portuguese that says all that I have, my life I give unto him because of how wonderful it is to me to know that my savior lived and died for me. I bawled in sacrament meeting as we remembered of the savior. This is my chance to give my life and everything I am to the people here in Portugal but as well to the Lord. I couldn´t be in a better place!! Love you guys!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Firm unwavering testimony!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was pretty cool. To be completley honest I can´t really remember a whole lot of what happened besides the fact it´s been crazy hot here!!! I´m sweating like crazy!
We were really trying to prepare for the Arraial which is a typical Brazilian party! We gave tons of invites!!! We made some posters as well for the food :) As far as missionary work goes it´s been good, we are in a phase where we are trying to find the elect people who are ready to be baptized ;) We unfortunetly had to let go of quite a few investigators this week because they really just don´t have interest in learning and progressing... So we spent a lot of our time knocking doors and contacting people. Something that I actually really like about this area is that it´s quite easy to talk to people! :)
As time goes on the easier and easier it is to talk to random people! I´m really trying to let everybody know about our message and how it can change their lives! Well the party finally came and we brought Tynara and her cousin Andres & Steph couldn't come because she had to work! but they abosolutley loved it!!!!!! hahaha they are from brazil so they felt right at home! :) I got to see sister Nagliati which was a blast and meet her investigator. I also saw the Ashbys which is always a pleasure! They are pretty much my favorite missionary couple out here! We got to watch some dances and there were a bunch of games :) We also had a visit from Elder Kearon again. It was really inspiring to hear his words and feel his love for us. I have so much respect for the leaders of the church. They are very big role models to me of how I want to be when I´m older. Something that I´ve been learning this week is how important it is that we nourish our own testimony. I´ve been studying a lot and learning about the early church in the book Our Heritage. I finished today and it is an amazing compilation of the church history. I am amazed and the legacy they have left for us. It really makes me appreciate the history we have and how much faith our brothers and sisters had in the Lord and his restored gospel. I would highly recomend reading it! It reminded me of a talk I read today in conference given by Bonnie Oscarson. She talks about faith and how as members sometimes we know all the facts or the main stories in the scriptures but do we really BELIEVE the doctrine and the principles that we claim the know? I was pondering about my testimony and how really it is so important to help it grow every day or sometimes we can doubt what we know to be true. Something I'm striving for is a firm unwavering testimony of Jesus Christ and his church so I can always say "I believe" in all times and all things and all places :) I got chills reading this talk and really inspired me to be constantly looking for opportunities to build my personal testimony and those that I teach. I know that this church is true and that God has plan so perfect for us. :) I'm so thankful for all of the lessons the mission is teaching me. 9 more weeks ahead!!!!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Plan & fill the treasure chest!

(Sister Makelle Smith) 
This week was great!! We did a training in our district meeting about how we need to plan and fill the treasure chest. Which represents we need to study and plan for our investigators so then in the moment the Spirit will guide us of what we need to say and teach! It was super fun. We had balloons with treasure inside and they had to throw the balloon in the chest! 
This week we taught a family Marcia and Carlos who have been to church 3 times now!! They are super interested and are praying to know if the restoration happened!! They are really spiritual people!! The whole ward loves them!! 
Robert is having a rough time but this week we will talk with him if he wants to get baptized or not, so please everyone pray for him!!! 
Patricia will be baptized this saturday!! This sunday a irma(sister) did the relief society lesson in sign language!! Patricia felt so happy!! She is so so ready and I love her so much! She will have her sisters graduation after so I  will do her hair after. I'm super excited!!:) 
A young man Mateus has been going to church for a while but felt like he couldn'tcouldn't follow the church for the rest of his life. We had a lesson and Douglas an awesome member here went with us and helped him understand why baptism is so important, they both want to be pilots!! Mateus accepted the date 23/7/16!!! Wow miracles are happening! We are trying to work hard and it's paying off!! We are just being so blessed here! I literally love this ward. It has been the best ward I have ever lived in!! This ward is a true example of how the church is!! I know that God lives and He TRULY listens to us when we pray. I know that He answers prayers and will help us in our lives!!

Have a great week!!!:)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July, about 2months!

(Sister  Makelle  Smith)
So this week will be pretty fast, but time is just flying over here!!
This week a lot of our investigators fell through and didn't have interest anymore. Super sad when you start to really love the people and hope that they will choose the right thing, but we did our part and helped them be able to choose and know the truth! Our president came to our ward this week and we had 10 investigators at church, so awesome!!! The members are really helping us out! This ward is the best!! We had zone conference and we had the theme jump from the boat. He told the story about peter and when he jumped out of the boat and walked on water. We need to be like him and try to do hard things. It was neat because there was a real blowup boat in the room and Sister Irizarry and I were able to jump out of the boat promising that we will work hard until the end of our missions!! Special experience!! 
Patricia will be baptized this next week and Robert is having doubts, I think his mom isn't wanting him to be baptized, we will talk with them tonight, pray for ROBERT!!!!

We are happy and doing good here!! Have a great week!!!:)
(Sister Courtney  Smith) 
Well this week got back on track! Another week that flew by :) So I guess all I have to say this week is that miracles happen :) We are helping quite a few people here but they all have situations that are complicated! I remember the chapter in Alma  that talks about faith it´s like a seed and we have to plant it and believe that something will happen. Well we started this week with a lot of fire and faith!!! We have been teaching a family from Brazil one of the daughters Tynara is a recent convert but the rest of the family isn´t baptized yet. well she has her two cousins that are staying with her for a little bit named Stef and Andres they are pretty cool and super interested in our message! Well we had a bunch of faith and we asked them to be baptized Andres said he would think about it but it was the very first lesson he had so we weren´t surprised but stef said she would pray about it and then respond to us the next day, well we went back and we taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ and after we talked about the 5 main points we asked her if she took our challenge to pray to see if she needed to be baptized in the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints! She said she prayed and she felt a really peaceful feeling and a lot of joy :) It was incredible so we asked her if that was a yes and she said yes!!!!!!!!!! :) man We left that lesson on cloud nine!!!! I just remember praying the night before and that morning with a lot of Faith that she would feel something so great! We said a prayer of gratitude and I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I know now more than ever that God answers our prayers, he listens to what we say, and his spirit testifies to us what is true in this life! I am so so so so grateful for this chance to feel the joy that comes from helping others know and feel the truth. I'm thankful that God trusts me enough to share his message with the people here in Portugal :) I'm thankful to know the plan of salvation is real and we have a purpose here in this life! I love being able to help my brothers and sister come unto Christ there is nothing like it :) Fourth of July was a good Pday! :) I really like the beach, it ´s cool how every day I´m coming to know my savior Jesus Christ  he´s helping me become a better me! 10 MORE WEEKS ITS REALLY CRAZY 10 MORE WEEKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm only freaking out a little bit!  :) Love you guys!!