So it is sooo hot here! I didn't think it would get this hot here. Especially because we are further north. But it probably has something to do with the fact that we aren't on the ocean... Ha. But that is the only thing that is hard cause we only have two plug in fans. So last night it was so hard for all of us to get to sleep! Ha. I have never sweated so much in my life! At least not constantly. So I now have a newfound respect for AC! Oh, and American food. I don't know why but our food is just so good! I never realized it until now. Lol. Ok, so everytime that we walk to the church we have to go uphill and up these never ending stairs! And I was already dying, so as we approached the stairs, I said a prayer to give me strength in going up the stairs (cause we already had sweat dripping down our faces... it was so gross! Haha) So once we started up the stairs, I felt each step getting easier, and after the first set of 4 stairs, I felt like I was gliding up the rest of the stairs! It was amazing and it was a miracle! I can't tell you how happy I was after that! I know it was a simple prayer and it isn't that big of deal on the surface, but we had been out for hours in the hot sun already and just thinking about going up those stairs was killing me. God is so amazing. And he answers even our little prayers for comfort and strength. So that gave me energy and I was more ready to take on the rest of our day. (: So we had a sports night. Our district planned it-us four sisters and the four elders. I realized just now that I haven't told you their names... Ha. So it is me, Sister Brooks, Sister Call and Sister Lofgreen, Elder Checketts and Elder Eddington, Elder Richins and Elder Dunford. I love them all sooo much! Anyways, we had volleyball (Which we played the majority of the time and it was so fun!) basketball, ping pong-I didn't get the chance to play that- That donut game that you play as a race and you have to eat the donut off the string without using your hands. (I came up with that idea ha) Us sisters all raced eachother and it was hilarious! One of the members here-and she served a mission in the U.S. so I can understand what she is saying! ha-recording the whole thing on her camera. I want to get a copy of it from her cause it is funny. Anyways, I don't remember if I told you about Edna. She is so cute, she is 16, and she read in the BOM and prayed before we met with her for the first time because she was a referral from the sisters because she lives in our area. And she felt it was true and agreed to be baptized once she knew for sure because she didn't want to be baptized just because it is cool (She said that in her own words ha) Anyways, she is golden! So we ran into her mom one night and told her how awesome her daughter was and her mom was so nice! Then we tried to call Edna and she didn't answer so we decided to call later. And since then we haven't been able to get a hold of Edna! I am sooooo sad..... She is just so perfect and cute. It seriously breaks my heart... Anyways... we have this other new investigator named Maria. I love her so much! We met her on the street and said we could come back to teach her more. So we have met with her twice so far. The first time-oh, and she speaks English! So she will speak in English for a while and then go back to Portuguese, but when she changes back to Portuguese I can't understand what she is saying. They speak so fast and they don't pronounce their words very well or clearly. But Maria said when she first say me in the street, she recognized me, but she knew we had never met before, but she knew that she had met me before because I was so familiar to her. How cool!!!!! I was starting to tear up when she told me this because her words touched my heart and I truly believe that we probably knew each other before this life. She seriously has the sweetest spirit and I feel so much love for her. She is amazing. When I was baring my testimony to her about how much God loved her it made me cry because I could feel how much God really does love her, and I loved her so much more and it was just an amazing experience. I can't say it in the way that I would like to. But it was just so good. So our other investigators, Sophia and Armando, have been together for 10 years and have two super cute kids! The youngest, Tiago (Which means James in English) is the cutest little boy I have ever seen!!!! Ha. He is so funny. Anyways, Sophia has wanted to get married for a long time, but Armando had no desire and didn't want to because he didn't see the reason why it mattered cause you just have to pay and get some paper signed and what not. But they have agreed to be married! And it is so cute because Sophia said that it is because he has found God, and now has God in his life that he wants to get married. It was so cute! And me and Sister Brooks are planning it! I picked out the paper for the invitations and we are just hand writing them and Sophia only wants her Family and a couple close friends to come. I am sooo excited! And then after the wedding which will be on Friday at 3:30 they are getting baptized at 6:00! It will be an amazing day! Two huge events in the same day. Ah! I love it! Ok, I can't believe Cassidy is 16!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How is this possible!!!!!!! Our family is growing so fast! You HAVE to tell me when she goes on her first date and EVERYTHING about it! Actually, tell her she HAS to tell me! (: Anyways, so HAPPY LATE BIRTHDAY CASSY!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!! And I hope you are just loving life! I miss you! Ok, so I have been getting, for some reason, bloody noses more since I have been here. Maybe it is just that I am not used to it here or something. But I started to get one while we were teaching at Edna's house a little bit ago and I panicked and thought oh no! Not here, not know. So I quickly said a little prayer asking Heavenly Father if He could make it stop because we were teaching and have a spiritual experience and I didn't want to ruin it because I was about to have a bloody nose. And when I have them, they last forever it feels like! I do not like them. Ha. But as soon as I prayed, it stopped! I couldn't believe it! I mean I could, and I knew that if it was ok with God that it would stop, but at the same time, I was so excited that is stopped! Heavenly Father is sooooo amazing! Experiences like these are what keep me going strong and remind me just how much our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be happy and succeed in all of our endeavors. So at our apartment, we have a deck, and the view is so pretty! It is so pretty here. But the deck was disgusting! It was covered in bird poop. Like no one ever stepped out on it because of how gross it was. And we found out that there was a nest on it in the corner hiding behind some old wood. And the bird has two eggs. Anyways, me and Sister Lofgreen decided that we would clean it. So she swept it a little - but not much- but I decided to use the mop and mop it clean. It was so gross! Haha. But it it so clean now and we can walk out on our little deck now. (: I should have taken a before and after picture though because it made a HUGE difference. So we had our first creepy man! Ha. When we met up with him after our first contact just to get his information and set up a later time to meet. He said something about how happy he was that we liked him too! I thought I miss heard him because he-of course- was speaking in Portuguese, but no. That is what he said! So the whole lesson was weird and it was just uncomfortable. And he calls us ALL THE TIME! We aren't really sure what to do. But ya. He thinks me and Sister Brooks are so pretty, and as we were about to leave, he touched my arm and it was in a very creepy way. Ah! Lol. And when we were giving the lesson he would just gaze into our eyes-ya the whole thing was a little weird. Even our initial contact was weird but we thought we have to talk to everyone and give them a chance. But ya. We are going to try to give him to someone else. Probably the Elders and see if he actually is interested. So I have now had two meals at Sophia and Armando's house! Both times it was a little interesting. It was pasta both times (I think because after the first meal I said how much I loved pasta-and so the second time it was pasta again. Haha) But the weird thing was the meat. The meat in the first one was soooo weird! The texture was sooo strange, I could not stab it with a fork! Ha. And when I ate it, hm I just can't even describe it. It was hard to eat and it kinda freaked me out a little. Lol. The second time the meat was normal and I was so grateful! it tasted good and everything, but there were little bones in the pieces of meat. I hurt my tooth a little... And I had to try and get the bones out of my mouth slyly because I felt bad but I didn't want to swallow them. I ended up swallowing one on accident. Dang, this is getting long! Ha. So my feet have swollen! My shoes are tighter than before because of how much we walk! And my hands got swollen a couple times too. It is so weird! So yesterday I think was the hardest day for me because people were not being very nice to us... and I was just having a hard time and I started to think how hard a mission was. But we had Maria scheduled to teach last night. And honestly, meeting with her made everything ok again. She is seriously the sweetest person and she is funny. And when we were leaving her house, she told us through the door that she loved us! Right then my spirits jumped and that moment really made my whole day! Sister Brooks said she was so surprised because she said the Portuguese people just don't say I love you. She said when they are talking about their own wife, they will say "I really like my wife" But they don't really ever say I love you. So then I said, you know, I think God just knew we needed to hear it. Because we were both having a hard time yesterday. The thing I have learned the most since I have been out here on my mission is that Heavenly Father loves us so much and He wants to bless us so much! And He does bless us! I have seen His hand in my life so much since I have left! It is amazing and my testimony continues to grow everyday. God is a God of miracles and I know that it is true because I am seeing it first hand in this work. I can't think of anywhere else I would rather be than here, doing the Lord's work and blessing the lives of the people here in Portugal in helping them come closer to God and to Christ. I hope all is well at home. I love you all so much!
Sister Amanda Stokes
P.S. Shout out to Dad!!! HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you have a fantastic birthday!!!!! I love you!