Monday, November 25, 2013

Ah!!!!!!!!! So much is happening at home it is just crazy!!!!! I can't believe Steffy's misison papers are in!!!!!!!!! I am so so so excited for her! I can't wait to hear where it is she is going to go!!!! She will be so great! And I hope she leaves soon! And the other news. Ah! Brooke is engaged!!!! Craziness! I am soooo happy for her! I can't believe it! It is sad because we have always had plans to be together for this part in our lives and the things we would do together before. Ah! But they are so cute and perfect! :) So we had a baptism on Sunday!!!!! His name is Eduardo and he is 24 years old. He turned his life completely around. If you saw him before you would never think him a candidate for getting baptised. He was always drunk when we saw him. He smoked and he did drugs. But he showed up at church last week! And so we set a time to talk with him on Tuesday. So we taught him about the Restoration. And we ended up marking him for baptism for the next sunday. And he excepted!!!! We didn't think he would! So at the end of the lesson. We had him pray and we told him to ask if this was the path that God wanted him to follow right now in his life and if he needed to be baptized on sunday. He said the prayer, and we waited. And waited. And waited. His phone rang. He stopped it in his pocket and went back to pondering with his eyes closed. We probably sat for at least 10 minutes. (we had Aline with us. A member. She is super cute!) When he finally looked up we asked him how he was feeling. And he says that he felt a peace that he has never felt before in his life. A peace that he can only get close to feeling when he does yoga. Ha. We told him that is the spirit. :) We met with him throughout the week to teach him everything else! We ended up teaching him everything in 3 days!!!! Which is super crazy! He was supposed to have his baptismal interview on Friday. We called 15 minutes before he was to have it and reviewed the questions with him and had him explain everything to us. And he passed! He said he was at his grandparents house and he would try to make it in time.  But he never showed up! We began to be super sad. And on Saturday he wasn't answering any of our calls or texts... We started thinking he might have relapsed and gave in to smoking or doing drugs or drinking or something. Then sunday morning just before church, he showed up in the mission office and told the Elders that he was there to get his interview. Ha. We were sooo happy! But sooo upset with him little stinker! He should have told us! Luckily we kept planning it and calling people to do things even though we didn't know if it was going to happen or not. Talk about a test of faith! We were quite stressed sunday morning though. Ha. Little punk. ;P But everything turned out really great the members said! Me and Sister Wach didn't realize because we were too busy worrying about everything. Ha. So he will get the gift of the Holy Ghost next sunday! Anyways, I hope all is well at home!!!! I want you to know that I am super happy and loving it here so much! Even when we have crappy days. The next day makes it better! Or there somehow always seems to be something in the day that makes it all worth it. Plus, when a new day comes, it is like all the bad from the day before has been wiped clean from our memories. It is the weirdest thing. But I like it. Oh!!!! Another big news!!!! I chopped off my hair!!!! It is gone!!!!! I never ever thought I would actually get myself to doing that ever. But I did! Right when the Portuguese lady chopped the first piece, Sis. Wach said, "Well, it's too late to turn back now" hahaha. That is what I thought too! It is crazy! I haven't had short hair like this since I was little! It was quite the experience watching her chop off my hair! There was soooo much hair on the floor! And My head is much lighter now. I felt like I had no hair on my head. ha. But I am super excited. I will send picures!!! ;) Love you guys so much! 
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes

Monday, November 18, 2013

Yes I got the girl's letters!!! Thank you for making them write me!!!! Oh I loved hearing from them so much! They are so cute. And I think it would be good just to send it all in one box. I would think it would be cheaper that way anyway, and it would be harder for it to go missing because the box would be big. Ha. And I have so many more pictures to send! Ha. I don't think I can send them all. But I will send as many as I can. So we just got a new rule that we can't use computers outside of church computer's! I am not happy with this rule because now all missionaries have to share computers! In Viseu it was perfect because there was a computer cafe that was free! And it had new super nice computers. And now they won't be able to use that. And they will all have to take turns using the computers at the church. And for us, we use the computer in the basement in the mission office now. But there is only one and it is super slow. So it is frusterating. I feel bad for all missionaries. It takes away from our P-day time because we have to spend so much more time, or we have to cut our computer time to be able to have more time to go out and do things. And yeah!!! I haven't heard from that girl since I left that punk! Ha. And I ran out of her cute little notes she hid in all my stuff. :) Yeah, I would love one of dad's pumpkin pies!!! But ya, it probably would be quite scary by the time it got here. Ha. And we aren't sure yet. We are going to see if we can do a thanksgiving party with the ward. Ha. We will see if they are willing. :) Holliday's on the mission are really sad... Atleast Halloween was. We did a Halloween party in Viseu that Saturday before transfers. But the day of the 31st we didn't do anything cause it was a normal missionary day. Though like that picture, Sister Wach gave us that "Halloween Surprise" meal. Ha. She is so funny. And I don't remember if you can take pictures or not. I am sure you should be able to. Though there were certain things they said you couldn't. So I'm not sure. Are  you going to record it? Cause I want to see it when I come home! I am sure the dances are super cute! Oh I miss clogging so much! Ha. So I got a little letter from Sister Warburton's brother! Cause we all wrote him a little note because I guess he had a hard day at work and so we all decided to write him a little something. And he sent back a little something to all of us. Well, I had already left Viseu, So Sis. Warburton sent it to me. And I forgot he had served his mission in Las Vegas! So he said "My last area on my mission was in the Desert View Ward in the Las Vegas South Stake. I think it was just inside Henderson. Still, when Cath tells me she's got a comp from the Silver State they already have a place in my heart! Thanks for your note, enjoy the chocolate and serving with Cath!" So I can't remember who is in the Desert View Ward or if we know them. Ha. But I thought that was cool. Oh he is such a goof. He sent us pictures of himself, three in a row, in the positions of saying "I love you" with his hands. And on the back of the pictures he wrote the I then the Love and then the You. (On each corresponding picture) He sent it to all four of us. Ha. So now I have three pictures of Sis. Warburton's brother in my journal. :) Oh man. It was funny though. And I am good on clothes I think. I have a warm jacket. I have that white snow jacket I got on sale before I left. :) Well, maybe tights would be nice. not the thin kind, but not the ridiculously thick gross looking kind. :) That would be great! In tan, black, and maybe brown. That would be good. So I can at least match them. :) I had just boughten gloves last P-day cause I realized I didn't bring any... And about that box I sent home. If you haven't opened it already you can! But some of it is for Christmas. But I wasn't able to wrap any of it. But yeah. I put a little sticky note in there somewhere that talks about everything that is in there. So our investigator Arlindo (He is the grandpa of the cute 10 yr old girl Jessica) We found out that last sunday after the member dropped him off from church, and tried going up the stairs by himself (He can't walk good at all because he is paralyzed on one side (though he has a tiny tiny bit of control and movement but really not much) and he had fallen... We feel so bad! And we didn't realize he had left with the member already... So he didn't end up coming to church this last sunday because he just hasn't been walking at all. We are going to get him a blessing this week. Last week we had a brigadeiro activity. We made brigadeiros! They are this chocolate treat. They are super yummy. But we made them using the microwave! Ha. It was a Joven and young adult activity. Only one investigator ended up coming. But she loved it! And she even went to young women's that week too! It is nice because she already has a friend in the Ward, Arlene. They go to the same school. After that we visited Jessica with a member named Marisa. We couldn't stay too long because Marisa has to be home by 9:30 and she lives about a 40 min walk away. More like 45. So we left and we ended up having to run\walk. And we didn't feel good about letting her walk the rest of the way home alone. So we knew we would be a little bit late and we would have to call our zone leaders. But we wouldn't let her walk alone. So we speed walked home. But once we hit the point next to the stadium, there was an explosion of people!!!! The soccer game had just ended and we were encircled about by tons of people!!!! I have never been so close to so many people since before I left! Ha. It was so strange because as missionaries, we don't touch people. But here, I couldn't do anything about it! And there was one point where me and Sis. Wach lost eachother! It was scary!!! She got through, but I got trapped behind and couldn't find a way through to catch up to her. It was a long 15 seconds! Actually, it was probably more than that. But I didn't like it. But we finally got out and ahead, but by then we were going to be even later. So we had to call them again and tell them we would't make it home even by ten... They were not happy with us at all! We felt so bad. We thought we would be able to make it, but that rush of people stopped us, and we couldn't even walk for a little. It was crazy!!! I haven't seen so many people in such a long time! It was Portugal against Sweden. And Portugal won! (We asked a nice looking young man ha) But we booked it home when we got free of the people. And I honestly have absolutely no idea how we went so fast! We ran the whole way!!! And I know I never could have done that! Especially at the end of the day. Even in general because there are hills and just walking is hard. It should have taken us at least 25 minutes to make it home. But we got home in 15! It was incredible! I don't think we could ever do that again. Ha. I don't even know how we did it that time. Sister Wach said we had angels at our sides helping us make it home quickly. I actually believe that too. The Elders were even surprised because we had told them where we were. And they told us to run. So we did! And with great time! So just last night we met a super cool guy named Rugo. He speaks english and he learned it because he has a girlfriend that lives in New York. Ha. And they skype eachother! That would be a hard relationship. He says he visits several times a year. I didn't ask how long they have been dating. But he is super cool and super nice. We are meeting with him this week to talk more. :) But I hope all is well at home! Things here are great! It is starting to get colder here though! They say it will be really cold this week... :( It has been so nice so that is sad. Well, I love you all so much! 
Love Always,
Sister Stokes

Monday, November 11, 2013

 My new zone!
We ate burger king


Leaving Viseu

Halloween surprise 
Me and Sister Wach

 Bruna's birthday party at the church 
(Jessica 10 yr old in the middle of the three girls

 Lunch out at that restaurant the members 
pay each week for us to go

 new apt
us and Jessica with her school broom project

 Halloween meal surprise from Sister Wach

 We ate at burger king!
 On the bus

Last P-day was so fun! We got to see a giant monestary! And the Torre de BelĂ©m!! And that same place is where Christoffer Colombus left and set said to the Americas! Did you know that Christoffer Columbus is Portuguese?? But they wouldn't pay for him to go. But the spanish did. Ha. But the Portuguese still love him so much, which is funny because they didn't help him. Oh the Portuguese. :) And I got to take the metro! I have never taken one before! That thing that travels underground! It was cool. :) Though you can't see anything. So travelling in Portugal I like the bus better. :) So while we were on the metro, we talked to a Chinese mom and daughter. They were super nice. The daughter offered us some homemmade something in a bag. They were round small balls of something. So we decided it looked like it could be good. So we both took one and popped them in our mouth. The very second that ball thing touched my tongue, my taste buds whirled in protest! It was the nastiest thing I have ever allowed in my mouth! It was sooooo hard not to make a face! The mom told us how she makes them. They are made out of yogurt and cheese, and she leaves them out in the sun in balls to harden like a rock! But the flavor tasted nothing like yogurt or cheese. I can't even explain the flavor. But when I took it out and threw it into the trash can I started gagging and coughing. Ha. It was so gross! For a minute I actually thought I was going to throw up. So we have been struggling the past two weeks. And we have been getting quite depressed because we haven't been having any success. And we started feeling like bad missionaries and like we weren't fulfilling our purpose. Then the time came for our interviews with Presidente. And right after I said the first prayer and started talking to him, I started balling! Right in front of my mission president. Oh I am so embarrassed! But I had retained all my feelings and I think because of that, they just exploded on him. Ha. I told him how I was struggling and how we didn't have anyone to teach. And how we were trying to find people to teach, but that no one would even give us the chance to talk to them. I mean, I honestly don't think I have ever met so many unkind people in my entire life. And I also don't think I have ever felt so low and unliked in my entire life. So it was rough when it all finally hit me. Cause it literally hit me like a train. I had lost all desire to talk to anyone because I knew they would not have anything nice to say. And they wouldn't have any desire to hear what I had to say. We had a little meeting with our district leader. Just me, Sister Wach, and Elder Ryan. He challenged us to pray a whole lot more. And to ask Heavenly Father for help and for Him to place those who will listen to us in our pathway each time we prayed. And that night. (Right after that meeting) We stepped to the side and prayed. (We only had about 15 minutes left of the day) We told Heavenly Father, we hadn't had a single novo (new potential investigator) all day. And that we only had a little time left. And that we will talk to whoever we see that is still out at this time and that they will want to listen to us and feel the spirit, and have a desire to learn more about our message. So we started walking and we saw and older man up ahead. We decided to talk to him. When we started to talk to him, he looked at us, smiled, and STOPPED!!!! He talked to us! We talked to him for about 5 minutes! He was sooo sweet! I felt completely healed and happy after that. I just needed someone who would listen and talk back and be nice. He didn't end up wanting anything. But he told us a couple encouraging things, and we said goodnight and split ways. But now I was super happy again! And then, up ahead was one more older man with a bucket. So we talked to him as well. And he smiled at us too! And he talked to us for a couple minutes. He was so sweet, and not only that, he wanted to meet with us again and learn more! And he let us pray with him to bless his night. So we got our novo on the way walking back home for the night! And just yesterday, everysingle person we stopped to talk to was nice to us! Every single one. That has never happened. Ever. It truly was a tender mercy from the Lord. And me and Sister Wach were just so happy I am sure our faces were gleaming out of pure joy! So now I am so happy again! I am loving the work. And I know that sometimes, Heavenly Father will test our faith. He will have moments in live where we just have to keep pressing forward even when we truly don't want to or when it is almost impossible to. And right there in the very end, when you feel you are at the end of the rope, and pours down His blessing upon you because you held out till the end. And, in the end, you are better off than you were in the beginning. You are happier, you feel the love of God more strongly, and your testimony has been strengthened. I am so greatful for the trials in my life, and for the opportunity I have to be here on a mission. Even though it is so hard at times. I have never had so many moments of almost overwhelming happiness as I have here. God is so good, and He is more involved in our lives than we realize. And He loves us so much more than we realize. I hope you all are super happy this week! I love you all so much! And guess what, in 4 days, I hit my 6th month mark. That just blows my mind. The time is going so fast. It is a bitter-sweet thing. Ha. Sad cause it is going to be over before I know it, but happy because I will get to see all of you again. Remember to make every moment count. Life goes by faster than we realize in the beginning. I love you!
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes

Monday, November 4, 2013

The new area is good. It is actually quite hard. We don't have really anyone to work with right now. We only have one true investigator and he is marked for baptism for the 17th. He finally stopped smoking! We ran into him on the street and he told us he hasn't smoked in two days!!! He is taking this medication to help him. So whenever he gets the desire to smoke, he takes a pill and it helps. So we are just helping him prepare and be ready for then. But he is literally the only one. So we are talking to a lot of people in the street. Which is really hard because I have come to realize there are a lot of really rude people in this world. It is super sad. So we have this 92 year old member who was baptized not too long ago. She is the funniest thing! She is so lively for being 92! And she can walk so fast! It just makes me laugh so! And she is so fragile looking, but she is seriously so tough. And she is super short. Ha, and she thinks her neighbor is a witch. So she is a little bit crazy. Some of the things she says are just so darn funny. She is just old. Me and Sister Wach (pronounced walk) were talking about how we should have gotten her a witch hat for Halloween. She would make the perfect witch. Though she despises witch's so I don't know if she would let us put it on her head. Lol. And there is Jessica. She is a 10 year old that was baptized a month ago. She is soooo stinking cute! I love her so much already! Our goal is to baptize her mom and her grandpa now! Though right now it is hard with her mom because she just had a baby and he has been in the hospital for 3 months. And so she is there a lot. And sunday morning so she hasn't come to church recently. She has only gone to church one time. The day of Jessica's baptism. So apparantly we have a member family that pays for us once a week to go eat at this really nice restaurant at the buffet! They are so sweet! And the food was so good! We ate with the Elders this last tuesday. And I had my very first fried banana. I was nervous to try it cause it looks funny and it is breaded. But it was actually soooo yummy!!! Ha. I want another one! And apparently we teach a drug lord. Ha. But I haven't met him... we went to stop by his place in this ghetto, and his door was wide open with all his lights on and his tv on, but he wasn't home. Haha. I think that is so funny. It's like, he knows anyone would be crazy to steal from him. That's kinda sad actually. But Sister Wach said he actually truly wants to change his life around. And we got frusterated a little bit with the Elders in the area next to us because we met this man (Sister Wach had given him a BoM) And when we saw him on the street. He re-told to us the entire story of Nephi and his brothers and Laban and about Joseph Smith and the angel and the plates and how the angel came three times and so many things that were very specific. And he said his prays everytime before he starts to read to ask God to bless him with understanding so that he can understand what he is reading. He is soooo cool! And we called the Elders at least three times, so multiple days, and they still hadn't tried to get in contact with him! I don't get that. He is so amazing and I wish he was in our area. He is so sweet too. Oh! So it was Halloween!!!!! Ha. Though it didn't even feel like it. Sister Wach did a Halloween dinner surprise. She is so cute. She was talking about how excited she was for it the whole week. And she made me go into the bedroom while she prepared the food and stuff for it. Besides that, the only Halloween-ish thing we did was help Jessica, that 10 yr. old recent member decorate her broom for her class. Cause they were having a contest the next day in school (so on Halloween) on who has the best broomstick. :) So holy cow! I seriously can't believe it is almost November!!!! My 6th month mark is this month! How crazy!!!?? Ha. Where did the time go. On the 15th of November. Sister Wach said we have to do something special. (Well, as special as us missionaries can actually do ha) So we will probably make a cake. :) And go out to eat for lunch. We actually rarely ever go out to eat unless it is with a member (which I actually have never done) or we just randomly decide to one day. But it is just more expensive so we just never do it. So two days ago, we were in that ghetto place (and it is all black people that live in there, and they are all super nice!) and we met a 22 yr old  named Emilson. He is so cool!!! He knows english! And we got talking to him about school and we told him about BYU! So we gave him BYU's website and he said he would look it up. We told him he has to go there for school! How cool would that be!? We invited him to english classes too, but he never showed... But thats ok. We will go visit him again. Me and Sister Wach joked about how if we were stuck in Portugal where there really weren't a lot of guys to date, we would date him. Haha. It was so funny, I voiced it first and then she said, OH! I was thinking the exact same thing!! It was funny. So two days ago I went a day thinking I had lost my agenda! And I was so sad!! Cause it was the secret santa gift from Sister Duran. She was the one that made mine. But it turned out I had just left it in the mission office. Ha. I don't even remember sitting it down in there. But I was so happy when we walked in there and I saw it sitting on the desk! Anyways, there isn't a whole lot that happened this week. Oh, besides the fact that the ground has literally been out to get me this week! I don't know what it is but I feel like I have never tripped so much in my life! Ha. But luckily they all have ended ok. So no need to worry. :) Well I love you guys! And I will  post pictures this time! It should work this time on this computer. Sorry, it wouldn't work last week on that computer. And that is right! I did let Steffy have that necklace during the duration I am gone to remember me!!!! I completely forgot!!!! Ha. I love that necklace. It is so cute. So wear it everyday Steff! :) Well, I hope this next week goes well for you all. I love you all soooo much! Don't forget it! Until next week!
Love Always!!!
Sister Amanda Stokes :)