February 16, 2015 Portugal
It’s great to hear about all of the going-ons at home! Sounds like everyone is doing pretty well.
So Valentine’s day passed just about like any other day…although I’m convinced that a Sister in the ward is set on somehow setting me up with her 30-year-old daughter …… In Portuguese the holiday is duly called “O Dia dos Namorados,” which means Boy/girlfriends’ day. Just another slap in the face to those who are unfortunately single 😉
So everything’s in order for I_’s baptism this Sunday. It will take place directly after Stake Conference, so there should be TONS of people there to attend. She’s really excited for it, albeit a little nervous, but everything should go well. She asked me to perform the ordinance, to which I graciously accepted. I pray everything goes well.
Yesterday, we were FINALLY able to get A_ (an 18-year-old from Cabo Verde) to church! It took a while, patience, and SPECIFIC plans and FOLLOW-UPS. And in the end, he really liked it and the ward was very accepting! Thank goodness too, because it’s hard enough getting people to church at all, and if the members don’t do their part it’s almost impossible. Truly, we’re all in this together. I was thinking this week a lot about the role of members in inviting, conversion, and retention after baptism. I think in the states we’re really, really, good at being good Mormons, but a lot of times we’re not all that good at being good neighbors and good member missionaries. If every member, or even every family, brought one person to every church activity, I’m pretty sure the missionaries would have more than enough work to do all the time. Speaking to ward mission leaders (and in my opinion, every member of the church)
Elder Nelson said: “Help [the missionaries] to fill their appointment books with meaningful opportunities and appointments so that they won’t have time to knock on doors searching for people to teach…”
Our little Branch doesn’t even have a ward/branch mission leader, but the members still try and do their part and invite their friends to activities. Sometimes they still need a little push, but they do their part.
In a talk directed to missionaries, Elder Callister said the following, “Sometimes in life we just have to square our shoulders and do it. There is no magic pill that makes us courageous, no passage of time that strengthens us, no memorized approach that emboldens us. We are left only with compelling counsel of King Benjamin: ‘and now, if ye believe all these things see that ye do them.'” (Mosiah 4:10)
I really like that quote, because learning comes as we do things that are difficult and as we align our will with God’s will.
We also had a little party in the church Friday night called Carnival. It’s similar to our Halloween in that everyone (including the adults) dress up in costumes and stuff, but there’s no knocking on doors for candy. The church was all decorated and there was lights music and LOTS of dancing. Portuguese people have no shame when it comes to dancing and partying. I remember a lot of ward activities back home and there were like 2 couples dancing to the music and everybody else were too shy to do it. Here, it seems, it is very different and like everyone knows how to dance; it’s sooooo cool! Even so, I still don’t really like dancing, haha! We were also asked to cook and prepare hot dogs for everyone. Apparently, because we’re American we know that kind of stuff. I don’t really know…. I also made ghetto cookies and brought them to the party. I say ghetto because we didn’t have baking soda, shortening, or real chocolate chips (we just cut up a hunk of chocolate instead, haha!), and also we only had really small pans that only fit 5 or 6 cookies and a really small oven that only fit one pan at a time!!!! But none the less, they were actually pretty good! I used the Zwahlen recipe in the cookbook.
The Branch President invited A_ and us over for dinner in his house tonight so it should be really good! I also really hope A_ can go to Stake Conference and see the baptism. Truly, Mom’s quote from Elder Bednar explains what enduring to the end means. We’re either all-in, or nothing, there can be no half-fast (sp? haha) covenant keeping.
Thanks Dad for your letter. Keep up the good work on your talk. You always have really cool insights that make your talks/lessons exceptionally interesting. We had two high councilmen speak in our Branch this past Sunday, and I’ll be honest, one of them was so boring, I can’t remember a single thing he talked about, haha!
Love you all!
P.S. Mom, good work on your internship! I’m sure it’s hard, but I’m sure you’re doing great!