This week was good. It's rained a lot (which we're especially sad about because today we were going to go to an area called Tavira and go to a beach called Praia de Barril and play in the sand, sadly though, we woke up and it was rainy and cloudy, no worries though, patience is a virtue, and we'll just go next week.), but I'm still steadly working on my feet tan lines. Tan lines are the best. As a sister they're graduated tan lines on the legs (because of varying lengths of skirts), and super strong neck and feet tan lines. My face is still really white though thanks to some serious SPF 70 given to me by the dermatologist. Yeah! White face!
I really like my new area. As I already said, Sister Davis served here, but since then, there has been A LOT of growth. They have a new chapel and a whole lot of members. It's just a branch, but there are 60 or more members every week, which is a lot more than the ward in Almada. The members here are really great too. Almost all of them are recent converts from the last two years, and they're all still learning, but they're willing. They don't feed us though because the sisters in the past didn't want to "get fat" and so they refused all meal offers from the members, and so they stopped feeding the sisters (they still feed the elders though, so I think we can get them to feed us). Some people just get to worried about getting fat in the mission. You just have to be smart, but also remember that we're never gonna get this opportunity again! Speaking of which, my wheat and sugar free diet didn't work out. Sister Dukes (who was here for a transfer and a half before I got here) can't have either of those, because she's allergic to wheat and sugar makes her sick, so I thought that I would be a good comp and try and do the same, but I failed. By Wednesday I had bought 2 donuts and a loaf of bread. Turns out I'm a sugar and wheat addict. We have been exercising really well though, as in, we ran more than 12 miles this week. I think that the most I've ever run in one day in the mission is probably a mile, but on Saturday we ran 4 miles! I almost died. Turns out that I'm a little out of shape.
Sister Duke is really great. She is super cute and super nice and she always makes me feel good about myself. She's also a hard worker and has no fear. Sister Dukes also likes to run. She ran like I did before the mission, a marathon and just lots of daily distance running. The only difference is she kept running in her mission:). I'm lazy.
The chapel here is really nice. It's on a well known road called Avenida da Republica. It's number 216 if you wanna check it out. It's new and they're painting it again right now just for good measure. Though, actually, I just looked it up on google, and the picture is from before the chapel was there, and so it's just the front of the chapel which is totally graffittied by a famous graffiti artist here called Sen. He gets paid by the government to graffiti the whole place. But take it on my word, the chapel is really nice, though it's already too small for the use of our branch. Oh, and guess what, they don't have any one who can play the piano here! I've never seen a ward so happy to have anyone plunk away at the piano awkwardly. Who would it be who is playing the piano? This Sister here. Yup. I'm learning to play the piano in my mission. It's going alright, I'm not going to be a piano mastermind, but I've heard worse, and plus the branch here doesn't notice the difference, they're just glad someone is willing to play.
Our apartment is nice. It has a backyard (which is just a tiled area behind the house which is REALLY dirty, turns out that no one has stepped back there in a really long time), which has annoying dogs in the backyard that is next door and also a floor above, who always bark when we come outside. It's a perfect sized apartment. It's not so big that it takes forever to clean, but then not so small that it's cramped and dirty. We have two rooms and a small kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room. The water heater works perfectly which makes it already way better than the apartment in Almada.
I also haven't eaten any fish here yet, though Luis, one of the members, said he would catch some for us and bring them to us. I actually during my mission have eaten some really great fish. It's not my favorite food still, but it's growing on me.
For Easter we didn't really do anything. It was a REALLY slow day for missionary work, because not only was it Easter (which is not a very big holiday here), but also there was a soccer game between Benfica (my favorite team, and yes, they won) and the team from here in Olhão. Turns out that no one likes the team here, and so we heard honking and music and parties all night long because everyone was so excited that Benfica had won. But we did make ourselves some good food. For breakfast we had banana and chocolate pancakes (made with rice flour), then for lunch, bean burgers on rice cakes (Sister Duke's last comp was a vegetarian and so she taught her how to make them) and a chocolate bar we bought ourselves to celebrate, and then for dinner we had pork with vegetables and rice. It didn't really feel like Easter, though we did boil some eggs. Sister Duke decorated hers, and I was just too lazy, mine are still in the fridge.
We don't really have any investigators, and really aren't teaching anyone. We just do contacts all day with the Jehovah Witnesses. They're EVERYWHERE here. We do have a family, Família Santos, that was baptized last transfer that is really great.
The mom and daughter were baptized but not the father, who was smoking. He wasn't really progressing because he wasn't coming to lessons or church, but when we went there the other day, he was there. We've decided to really focus on the temple, and so that seems to have been the key. Sunday he came to church, and he's been at every lesson since I got here. Sister Dukes is a beautiful artist and so she drew a picture of the Spain Temple and gave it to them. I also gave them one of the pictures you sent me (it's on their fridge), and we gave them each a small pass along card picture of the temple to put in a spot they can see it everyday. Then, when we went over there the other day, we read a chapter in the Book of Mormon with them, and found out that he has been reading on his own and has read over 80 pages!!! He also is really understanding because he really liked 2 Nephi 4, which is the perfect chapter for people with addictions. He said that he knew it was for him. So his daughter, Tania, took all his cigarettes and threw them away, and then we took the box and we decorated it with the temple and scriptures from the chapter he liked, and then we put in rolled up scriptures that look like cigarettes. It turned out really great and he really liked it. We also had a member with us, Luis, who was reactivated last year by Sister Davis, and he gave him a blessing and did a really great job. The dad, Gilberto, his whole face just changed afterwards, it went from lined and wrinkled and tired to full of light, and smooth. It was really cool to see. He then said he would quit smoking and has been doing well since then as we can tell by the fact that he is shaking. Then we went and visited again, and we read 2 Nephi 31 and Mosiah 18:8-11 with them and we marked him to be baptized. When we teach with families, I really like to focus on the kids. No one makes it simplier than kids. So we were focusing on Tania and I had this idea, and I had her come over and I whispered in her ear things to repeat. It was super cute. I had her first ask her dad if he loved her and wanted to be with her forever, to which of course he responded yes (he loves his family a lot), and then we had her invite him to be baptized on the 27th, to which he said yes (we talked to the district president though, and he is a really smart man, and thinks we should move his baptism to the Saturday after the 27th, so that Gilberto can get the Holy Ghost on Sunday instead of waiting a whole week without it. Which we think is true, especially for someone who has been smoking, a week without the spirit would just be too much of a temptation to smoke, and when people smoke, they tend not to come back to church if they mess up, especially if they are waiting between baptism and the Holy Ghost. Plus, baptism doesn't mean anything without the Holy Ghost, its just like a nice little bath. We don't know how to go about moving the date, but we know it's right, and so the Lord will provide). We're really excited for him and his family. Afterwards, the mother, Ana, she asked if they were going to go to the temple, and he said yes. It was the cutest thing.
Thanks for the email! Have a great week! I love you tons!