August 3, 2015 Funchal, Madeira
I also had a busy week! On Tuesday, we had transfers and Elder P and I had to get on a flight with 3 hours notice to Lisbon and then to Porto. Luckily for me, I wasn’t leaving so I just had to get some clothes together. Elder P on the other hand was leaving Madeira and had to pack all his bags really fast. Anyway, we took a flight to Lisbon first because it was the only flight that the office could get us (it’s kind of cool that I got to leave my mission boundaries for a couple of hours, haha!) After that we took another flight to Porto and got there at 1:30am! Elder P got sent to Covilhã, which was in my district when I was in Castelo Branco so I know that area quite well. I didn’t leave Porto until early Friday morning because I am training AGAIN! Maybe I’ll get it right this time…… My new greenie is ELDER G. He’s a super amazing Elder from Lisbon. He’s technically Portuguese but has ancestors from Cape Verde. Obviously, he speaks really good Portuguese, but we’re still working on the English. He has a burning testimony, being a convert of only a year and a half and we’ve already had some really cool experiences working together. It’s actually quite different than training an American. We can focus on other things than just the language and teaching skills! It’s great! How ever much work I put in, he rises to match it. It’s nice not having to do EVERYTHING by myself like when training another American.
The day we got back, we started working really hard right from the start and tried to talk to as many people as we could. We actually had a really funny experience that day too. We started talking to a guy named M_ as we checked the bus schedule and it happened that he was getting on the same bus. He said his daughter is a member (of the Funchal 2nd branch). We kept talking to him and he gave us his address to pass by another day. We got on the bus and I sat behind M_ only to start talking to another M_ whom we were also going to go visit. Anyway, the first M_ got off the bus (we made sure to remember which stop) and kept going. A couple stops later we realized that the man had forgotten a head of cabbage on the bus so we decided to grab it, and go and find his house. We had to ask a couple people where the street was but we found it pretty easily. We knocked on the door and a woman came out. She started to put up her hand and tell us she wasn’t interested, but before she finished we held up the sack of cabbage and told her it was for M_ and that he had left it on the bus. When she heard it, her whole face and attitude changed and she graciously came to the door to get the lost cabbage. M_ had come in, dropped off the food and left immediately so we weren’t able to see him then. A couple days later we happened to find him again in a random place and we also got his number and he thanked us for bringing back his cabbage. It was really cool to see how working hard and trying to serve others brings miracles. We’re going to teach this family early this week.
So, on Saturday we made good specific plans with L for him to get to church but Sunday came and he didn’t show up. His phone was off so we decided to leave early during the first class to make sure everything was alright. We got to his house and he was there. He told us he hadn’t renewed his bus pass yet because it was the beginning of the month and he didn’t have money to pay. We told him we’d pay so he put on his suit and we got to the bus stop. This whole time we were fasting and praying that he would be there and that he could get to church and get confirmed. Well, when we got to the bus stop, we realized that the soonest bus would leave the top of the mountain at 11:00 and Sacrament meeting would start at 11:30, and there’s not that many announcements to give us time to get there. We kept in touch with the Branch mission leader and he told us to call when we got down to the center of the city (There, we would have to get on ANOTHER bus just to get us close to the chapel.) Normally it would take about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the chapel. The bus picked us up at about 11:12ish and we rode down to center. When we got there, there just happened to be the perfect bus waiting for us, ready to go so we could get to church. It seemed like even the traffic lights were in our favor. We walked into sacrament meeting right after the opening prayer so that L could get confirmed this week and not have to wait to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Phfew! I was soooo glad that it all worked out!
So, last night we started talking to a guy in the street who had talked to the Elders one time before but not for a long time. As we talked to him, he seemed to like what we were telling him, but then told us “Ah, this stuff is only for special people; I’m not special.” In the beginning of our meeting he told us he wasn’t sure if God existed. We were able to testify to him that he has a Father in Heaven who loves him and who knows him personal and that he, R, was special to God. It was a fairly long conversation, but by the end it was plain to see in the man’s face that he had felt the spirit and was ready to learn more about the gospel. We marked an appointment with him and we gave a card on which I wrote, “R, you are special.” He thought that was pretty funny haha!
Anyway, it’s strange to think that the transfer is already almost half-way over but it feels like I just started haha!
The mission has so much change in it that change doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to. Every day I testify to people that change is part of life. No change, or rather, the inability to change, is what the scriptures refer to as ‘damnation.’ It’s not necessarily a bad place, or an unhappy place, but it’s a place where people can’t learn anymore. They stay with the knowledge and glory they have and they can’t have any more after this life. Thus, we learn that for us to learn and grow and change is the purpose of this mortal life.
Anyway, it’s awesome to hear from you Mom. I love you.