Not a Coincidence

September 8, 2014 north of Lisbon

Hey Mom!

My schedule is the same, but Elder D is kind of the polar opposite of Elder S. Elder D is very clean, neat, and tidy, but Elder S worked in whatever mess and didn’t care either way. We have an apartment check tomorrow, so we spent 3 hours last night and today cleaning because our apartment was terribly dirty. But now, Elder D says it’s the cleanest apartment he has ever stayed in. Elder D is from Utah and is 100% obedient.

We meet in a regular LDS chapel which is VERY rare here in Portugal. Most are just a house or apartment-like building that they fashioned into a meeting house. It looks like LDS church buildings we’re used to seeing in the states, it’s just a LOT smaller and has way fewer rooms.

We have a recent convert named R who is Brazilian and she invites us over almost every night. We go over to her house to eat if we don’t have another appointment. She cooks amazing food every time.

This city is pretty poor but there are lots of tourists and rich people that come from around Portugal to visit the beach. There are cars around, but most people don’t own cars here, which I still find odd.

We eat lots of bacalhau, which is like cod, and also a lot of pork. Elder D doesn’t trust pork, especially here, so he tries to avoid it when he can.

Elder S and I used to buy normal milk, because it tastes a lot better than shelf-safe and it is only slightly more expensive. But Elder D and I buy the shelf safe kind and it really doesn’t taste that bad. Drinking it straight does have a little weird aftertaste, but if you eat it with anything else it’s very palatable.
It’s weird, I can hardly remember what I did this week or the week before or even how long I’ve been here; everything is kind of molding together. But one crazy thing that happened this week is we contacted an awesome African girl named E. She was one her way to work, but she told us where she lived and told us we could come by. She also said she was from an island in the Gulf of Guinea. Elder D was really excited because he said every single person he had met from there was “elect.” I didn’t really believe him though. Anyway, so we stopped by her apartment the next day which had 16 floors–a pretty big apartment building. If you don’t know about how apartment buildings here work (because I didn’t until I got here) I will tell you. Outside every apartment building there is a little panel full of doorbells–one for every room in the prédio (which is Português for an apartment building.) When you ring the doorbell it buzzes someone in their room and they usually can see you on a little camera and have the option of talking to you or unlocking the outside door of the prédio. Missionaries usually call these things a “Quem é” box, which means a “who is it” box.

Anyway, back to my story. So, we rang the room number that E had given us and she didn’t answer. We tried ringing a bunch of other rooms too, just to see if someone would let us in. Just when we were about to leave, a car pulled up and dropped off a young woman. We started talking to her and she said she was also from the same island! We asked her if she knew E and it turns out that she did, and they even live in the same room! Remember, this predio has almost 100 rooms in it, and she happened to live with the girl we were trying to reach. We asked her if she had time for a short message and she invited us up. We were able to teach her a nice lesson in the doorway and commit her to read the Book of Mormon and pray of its validity. We also met her friend who is also from the same country of evidently elect individuals. I am now a firm believer that everyone from that island is elect. It was a miracle that we were in the right place at the right time with just enough patience and determination to stay at the prédio just long enough to witness this miracle. The odds of all of that happening like it did, I feel, are too small to be a coincidence.

It rained really hard here during the morning of the last two days, but never while we were out proselyting. Hope everyone is doing well!

Love you all!

Elder Zwahlen

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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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