First email from Portugal

August 25, 2014

So the mission office address is

Rua Jorge Barradas Nº14C,

1500-370 Lisboa

It’s best just to send anything there.

I have a couple minutes right now to email and then an hour later in the day.

How´s everyone doing? I hope everyone’s ready to get back into school and stuff!

So, my area is a coast city about an hour outside of Coimbra. It’s sooooooo cool!!! And totally different from anywhere I’ve ever been before. My trainer is Elder S and he’s way cool! He’s actually from Idaho and has been out for about 15 months and we get along great. Here we are the only missionaries, and we are over a small branch of about 12 active people. The branch president is pretty new, and Elder S is the branch secretary. We had a branch picnic on Saturday, which was awesome! I got to meet pretty much all the people in the branch and had some AMAZING food. As a side note, most all the food here tastes better than in the states, especially the juice–probably because it’s actually juice; high fructose corn syrup doesn’t exist here.

We do A LOT of street contacting: that’s how we get most of our new investigators. It’s really hard for me, but I’m getting better.

Anyway, I’ve got to go, but I’ll finish my letter later… Love you all!

(Later…)

So, here’s some more information about the city. I think it’s actually north of the Mission home in Lisbon. Elder S has been here for 4 transfers and knows the city really well. We walk everywhere in Figueira. I heard that this area used to have bikes, but doesn’t anymore. They would probably be nice, but people drive so crazy here we’d probably get hit for sure. Seriously, when I first got to Portugal, I wondered if European cars weren’t equipped with blinkers, because seriously nobody used them! People drive crazy here! There is also an unnerving amount of stairs around that we walk up every day. It is like one giant hill. Also, there are a plethora of little old Portuguese ladies here, and they’re all named Maria, Mariana, Mara or some form of that. Names are going to take me a while to learn.

The weather here is fabulous. It’s never too hot because there is usually a cool breeze from the Atlantic. And luckily the nights cool down.

For p-day today, Elder S gave me the tour of the city. We went out to see the lighthouse, went to a hole in the wall restaurant, and then got some ice cream. It was a great respite from the stress of missionary work.

The first night we got here, we happened to run into a man the missionaries had met on the street one time before. His name was A and he was awesome and invited us in and we were able to give the first discussion. He has a young son and we’re really excited to continue to teach him. It was so awesome and raised my spirits a lot! The next couple days were harder. We had a lot of lessons fall through and few street contacts were willing to meet with us again. Elder S always tells me, “The Lord knows whom He wants in His church. We are just looking for those whom the Lord has prepared. We just need to find those people.” It’s easy to get discouraged during the work. It’s hard. But it’s worth talking to 10, 100, or 1000 people who reject us, if we can find that one person–that one family–who will listen to our message and receive the covenants of baptism.

One of the mission goals is to baptize enough converted people to run the temple when it is built. Currently, there’s more than enough members, but not enough who can go to the temple. It’s really cool to have a purpose like that though. Like I said before, the branch here is really small, and in the past the members haven’t been very supportive of missionaries, but we’re trying to change that. I actually had the opportunity to share my testimony on Sunday, and Elder S gave a talk; the branch President gave the other one.

I love it here. Elder S always says it’s the Promised Land. The natives are almost impossible to understand, but I’m learning. I will admit, this is the language they taught me in the MTC, but that doesn’t mean I understand any of it, haha!

I’m grateful for this opportunity to serve. I know without a doubt I wouldn’t be able to do this on my own. I wouldn’t be able to march up one more set of cobble-stone steps, or talk to one more person on the street without the enabling power of the Atonement. Hope everyone is doing well!

Eu amo vocês!

Elder Zwahlen

Figueira beach

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About Elder Zwahlen

Elder Cory Zwahlen is serving a 2-year proselyting mission in the Lisbon, Portugal area, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He entered the Provo MTC on July 9, 2014. One of Elder Zwahlen's favorite scriptures is Alma 29:1-2 "O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth."
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