Monday, May 5 2014
How are you all doing? Happy birthday Becca! I hope you hare having an awesome birthday, or maybe by the time you read this that you already had an awesome birthday. I know how it is with our family though, so you are probably having a birthday week! I hope you guys all had a fun week.
I had a good week, but once again one of the best highlights from the whole week was Sunday. We only have 2 hours of church here, starting with gospel principles, and then Sacrament meeting. It makes sense that we have gospel principles because all of our members are recent converts, except for 2. Gospel principles was great. We talked about sacrifice. Éder, Zé, Ricardo and Rosa Maria were all involved in the lessons, voluntarily. They were reading, answering questions, and asking questions. Rosa Maria pointed out that she had already made a sacrifice walking all the way to church in the hot sun even though doing so gives her headaches. It was awesome.
During sacrament meeting, for the first time Éder, Zé, and Ricardo all blessed and passed the sacrament together. Ricardo used the white shirt and tie I gave him a couple weeks back, Éder used a shirt that Maria and Zé gave him, (Zé as in leader of our group, not Cabo Verdeano Zé. I know it might be a bit confusing, but in Portugal there aren't a lot of names.) And Zé used a shirt that Elder Alves gave to him. They were all in white shirts and ties. It was a beautiful sight. We had our testimony meeting. Zé, leader of the group, bore his testimony first. Then his daughter in law Cristiana bore her's. After that I got up and bore mine.
To my surprise as I sat down next to Ricardo, he stood up and walked to the front of the room. He bore a powerful testimony of the book of Mormon, possibly the most powerful I have heard on my entire mission. He talked about how he prayed and received an answer to know that it is true, and talked about the change it made in his life, and how that also bore testimony of its truth. It was incredible. He said amen and sat back down next to me. As I put my arm around him, Éder got up and walked to the front of the room. This really surprised me because Éder isn't one to stand in front of people and talk, especially without anyone encouraging him to do so. However, there he stood bearing testimony that this is the only true church of Jesus Christ on the earth, and expressing his gratitude to us for helping him find it. Like dominoes, as he sat down, Zé stood up. Zé is the most quite of all of them. When he talks in his quite voice, using imperfect Portuguese with a strong Cabo Verdeano accent, you hear the words are coming straight from his giant heart. It was incredible. He too expressed his gratitude for having found ''[his] brothers Elder Lee and Elder Alves'' and that Éder had invited him to church those few weeks ago. He explained that since the very first time he stepped into the church he has been a completely different person ever since, filled with happiness.
After the 3 had finished, Elder Alves stood to bear his testimony. As he did so, I put my arm around Michel, who was sitting on the other side of me. Michel is a man with 34 years or so. If you looked at him you would guess he was about 24. He has a young face, and a soft mannerism. He has depression among other mental challenges, and is reliant on medication and his parents, living at home, working with his dad from time to time because they aren't sure if he is capable of holding another job. He isn't autistic, he can drive and do other things, he has full control of his body and can carry a conversation without any problems at all; it’s just that he doesn't have self-confidence. He is extremely quiet, and can't talk in front of groups of people. When he says prayers in church he says a prayer of about 10 seconds and then sits back down quickly with trembling hands. I love Michel. Anyways, there in sacrament meeting, I put my arm around him and whispered in his ear, ''It's your turn Michel.'' His hands instantly started shaking a bit, and he started to explain that he can't do it, that recently he has started taking less medication so it has been even harder and so on, but I grabbed his hand with my other hand and whispered., ''Michel, you can do it.'' I put my hands back at my side and left the rest to him. After Elder Alves finished bearing his testimony Michel stood up, wiping his sweaty hands on his jeans with his white shirt only half way tucked in. When he got to the front he stood without saying anything, just breathing deeply and trying to hold his hands from shaking. He was looking right at me, so I gave him a reassuring nod trying to say, 'you’re already up there, now you just have to talk!' He nodded back, and then gave the sweetest testimony. Just amazing. He said amen, and walked back to his chair and sat down. I put my arm around him and gave him a big squeeze. He leaned over to me and said in his not-so-quite whisper, ''I have been a member of the church for 12 years. That was the first testimony I have ever given.'' My eyes got a little wet (allergies). I was so glad I was there to see it.
To close the meeting Rosa Maria said another perfect non-Catholic prayer. It was probably the favorite Sunday of my entire mission.
Well, obviously the mission is going great. I'm never coming home, you can't make me! Hahaha, I am excited to talk to you all by telephone this next Sunday. I hope you have a great week; I love you all so much!
Hugs and Kisses,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! BECCA!!!!
Happy birthday Becca! I just wanted to tell you how much I love you...
I sure miss you! You are getting so old! Is that a gray hair I see? Does this mean you get to go to dances now? And wear mascara? YIKES! Becca is growing up!!!
Watch out for those boys. You tell em' I'll knock their teeth out when I get home...
How are you? I have a couple bits of news, and neither is drastic, but they aren't good either.
1. I can't Skype home on mother's day, just call. Our mission president is cracking down on us, he is pretty strict, but it is a good thing. I love him. But I do wish I could Skype home. A phone call is hard with all the kids =/ i really wanted to see your faces =(
2. I have to get glasses. I did an eye exam today because I have been noticing that my companion can see things from a far that I can't read. Well, went in, and turned out that I solidly need glasses. I don't know how it works with insurance or anything.
I only did an eye exam because it was free. So that was good. I know the mission has insurance for us, but I don't know if they will do glasses. Probably not but I will talk to sis Fluckiger tomorrow in Porto during zone conference.
President is just getting stricter. In his last letter he added a bunch more rules. It is good, but I don't like the fact that now we can't play soccer. So much for any P-day activity =( all they do here is play soccer. No elders can Skype home. We have good Elders; it’s just that President Fluckiger is inspired to be stricter. We have the white handbook, and then 3 pages of additional rules from President Fluckiger. And playing football? Hahaha... football... nobody here knows what American football is; we couldn't play if we wanted too =) And they don't have any basketball hoops here in Regua. We literally can't play anything else because we don't have anyone to play with unless we play soccer.
To call home I will need to use a calling card, but don't you have one already? I will have to call you; you can’t call me. I will buy a calling card. You all just be home and ready around 12 o clock. And don’t worry about no soccer. I don't really need to do anything to physical on p-day... I live on rice and beans, do rigorous exercises every morning, and walk at least 10 miles a day... I think I am alright. But yeah, I really like playing. It relieves a lot of stress. We usually play soccer with a group of Portuguese Jovens and Africans. I don’t know how long I can call for. The white handbook says 'preferably no longer than 30-40 minutes'. It will go quick, but it will be good.
As far as medical stuff with Elder Alves, we still know nothing and will be in the hospital again Tuesday and Wednesday, which means we will lose even more time to work. Aye yae yae
Just plan on getting a call from me on Sunday around midday.
I love you a ton! Elder Lee