Elders Get a Car!

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December 1, 2015

Hey!

So ya, I’m here in Portalegre. I still haven’t been to church yet, because last week we had district conference in Santarem. I met a few of the members this week. The ones who consistently go, consist of only two families.

The frequency (attendance) at church has been higher and lower, but we have a chapel near the center of the city near the bus station. It’s well-situated, as far as I can tell. It’s the smallest chapel I’ve ever seen, but for the amount of members we have, it’s very spacious. There are a fair number of less-actives in Portalegre and the surrounding areas. Transportation is a big problem for many of them that live outside the city. The reason we, in Portalegre, have one of the few cars in the mission is because it’s actually cheaper for the mission than having us buy bus tickets, because Portalebre is SO far away from anywhere else. We have 2 other companionships in our district, in Abrantes and Tomar.

Wow! It sounds like you guys had a fabulous Thanksgiving with the family (even though everyone was forgetting things, haha!) I’ll tell you about my thanksgiving in a sec.

Christmas package: I know you don’t want to hear this, but I have most everything I need 🙂 If you want to send me something, some of that Jell-O chocolate pudding (instant and cooked) would be good. I’ve been looking around to buy a speaker for about 15 Euros because I’m sick of my iPod music, but I can’t change it because nobody has iTunes. This speaker can play USB or micro SD. I already have a scarf and a beanie from last Christmas, Underarmor, and all of that kind of thing. I’m trying to put together a little Christmas gift for you guys, but I always forget when I’m at the store….

So, I kept a good journal this week. Here are a few things that happened:

Monday: Transfers- Elder M stayed in Leiria, and I got to Portalegre late at night.

Tuesday: We started off the transfer right, with a bunch of street contacts and found some potentials. People here generally stop to talk. I’m learning from Elder T how to be funny with people as we first meet them. We met our Progressing investigator, on her way to work and she’s super cool. Hopefully she’ll accept the invitation to be baptized here shortly. We went and visited a couple who make up a large part of our group. They’re super cool and invited us to eat dinner with them (and of course, I accepted!) I told them I have a problem: I can’t say no when someone offers me food! They actually have a 22 year-old son who is serving a mission in London. We ended the night by passing by the other member family here, who are actually recent converts and live right across the street from us! It’s a mom and two kids, age 9 and 15. She also has an older son that is not a member….yet 😉

Wednesday: We started off the day pretty normal, until we got a call from the office telling us we had to get a bus to Porto at 3:00pm so we could get a license and the car. We had to go past a couple of people, telling them we couldn’t come by later, and I had to take out $30 in personal money just to pay for the ticket. In doing that, we were running late and we had to run nearly all the way across Portalegre (including that hill you and Dad saw on the map) in order to get to the bus station on time. We made it…….. and got on a 6 hour bus ride to Porto.

Thursday: There wasn’t time for me to do my medical exam for my driver’s license, so just Elder T got his license. After that, we got into our little OPEL MARIVA (It’s a gutless little thing) and headed back to our promised land of Portalegre. When we got back, I realized something sad: It was Thanksgiving! I had been planning in Leiria to have turkey and everything, but I had forgotten all about it with all of the changes. After rummaging around in the family cookbook in the pie section, we reasoned that apple pies would be the best, so we bought a bunch of apples and made 2 pies. I hadn’t realized before we started, that the crust calls for shortening, a luxury that unfortunately we don’t have in Portugal. So, we had to substitute it with spreadable margarine. It made the dough way hard to work with, but afterwards both pies actually turned out really good. We took one over to the member couple, and a few slices over to the other family. We also tried to bring a slice over to the recent convert’s house (especially because it was her birthday!), but when I got back into the car, after my comp backed out, I unknowingly sat upon the slice that had been so carelessly placed on my seat……..Oooops….

Friday: We found a friend of the missionaries out on the street–this really old man who always complains about everything. We talked with him for a few minutes and a teenager passed by that Elder T already knew. He had his guitar with him, so we all took turns playing. Well, my comp played, the teenager played, and I just kind of dinked around. Anyway, he’s a Seventh – day Adventist, and we’re gonna try to invite him to the next activity. As we were there, we got a call from the couple missionaries over our zone. They were waiting for us at our house ready to do a surprise house check. I was a little worried because the house wasn’t super clean due to transfers and pies, but we survived. There were actually 2 sets of couple missionaries, the Stucki’s (who lived in Idaho Falls for a long time and are ending their mission this transfer) and the Robinsons, who are new and being trained. When they were over, I thought of you and Dad as couple missionaries. You’ll be so cute!

We were also able to “mark” (made an appointment) with a guy whom we contacted in the road. We went to his house and taught him the first lesson. He was pretty distracted, but he likes us a lot and wants us to come back.

Saturday: Because of the lack of members, we have to clean the chapel every week, which we took care of in the morning. For lunch I made some super bomb chili (using the Mexican spice you sent me) with French fries. Later we were supposed to make some invitations to our Christmas party, but only our teenage recent convert, showed up, so we’re going to have to whip these members into shape.

Sunday: Instead of church, we had District conference in Santarem. We had permission to bring the Palmeira family with us in our car to Abrantes, where we got on the bus with the members from that city. The Conference was really good. President Texiera, the area 70, Presidente, and Sister Amorim all spoke. President Texiera talked about how, when he was 26, he was called to serve on the Stake Presidency in a Stake from which he had recently moved. He had bought this new house after 5 years of saving, but as a result of his new call, if he were to accept, he would lose the house they had saved up for. They tried to even move the Stake boundaries for him but it was denied. In the end, he decided to sell the house, a couple of weeks after buying it, in order to serve as the Lord had called him. He said it was a hard decision, but after making it he never looked back.

So, that was my week. I hope you guys have a wonderful week to come. Merry day-before-December!

I hope you like my email this week and find it very informative. Love you mom!

Love,

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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