Monday, December 30, 2013

 Merry Christmas!!!

 Elder Fuller in his santa suit!!!!
 Christmas Eve dinner
Christams day donut stop!

 Elders Christmas Day baptism!!! (The one in the red tie) 
He looks like he could have been a member since forever huh!? He is great!
Us three sitting on Sis Kunz bed

 Me in the kitchen! Ha. I made our breakfast eggs!
 Just today! Before we got here to email!

 Scarf and stocking (she sewed) that Anna Rees (jason's mom) Sent me for Christmas!
It "snowed" at the mall -in the form of bubbles!!! 
It was so cool! 
I couldn't believe they did that inside!!! 
Ha. So that is what is in our hair! Ha.

Oh it was so great seeing you!!!!! Like in moving motion picture!!!! Ha. And hearing your voices! You all seemed to be doing so good and just loving and enjoying life!!! I thought it would make me super sad afterwards. But it didn't! It just made me super happy! And made me realize that I have been so blessed to have been given such a fabulous family!!! And now with New Years coming I hope we are all looking back on the past year and trying to come up with plans and goals as to how we can make this upcoming year even better!!!! I am going to be doing that. Though of course for me it will be a little different than for you guys. :) But guess what!? I am going to be able to say real soon that I am coming home this year!!!! How crazy!!! Ha. I seriously can't believe that I have been out already for 7 1/2 months! And that I have less than a year already! It is crazy how the time goes. But I do pray for all of you every night before I go to bed! So I want you to know that I do think about you all at home everyday! We lost some of our marked investigators because they didn't make it to church. One got sooo close! Him and his friend came and walked up and down the right road. But they didn't see it!!!! So they had gone back home! We were so sad! So that means he have to remark him for a week later because they have to come to church twice before getting baptized. But we gave them a church tour and our plan is to mark his friend too! But I have already known him! Me and Sister Wach actually had him marked!!!! I have no idea what happened with him! We had kept trying to get him to our lessons but he just didn't show up. And now he is back in the picture wanting to come to church. While we were in the Sacrament room, you could tell he felt the reverence there. Manuel tends to talk really loud, so João, kept shushing him. Ha. It was really cool! And it is perfect because we can baptize both of them together. :) And Guilherme is back from vacation! So we can remark him as well. And he sounded soooo happy on the phone!!! Haha. So he has gotten over his girlfriend breaking up with him. So that is great! And we have a new man, Antonio. He lost his wife a few years ago. And they were never married. And he has never been baptized. But he is a sweetheart and knows he needs to be baptized. He definitely felt the spirit as we were talking to him about baptism and showed him the baptismal font. He came to church yesterday. He said he really enjoyed my talk. So yes, I had to give a talk in church yesterday! Ha. They found me! I have gone until now without giving a talk! My companions couldn't believe it! But it went really well. But I found out how they get you to realize you are short on time here when giving a talk. They kick you in the back of the leg! Ha. It caught me off guard. I was glad I didn't make any noise, but I couldn't help from turning around. Ha. So everyone knew what had happened pretty much. And so I quickly ended it. Though I hadn't even taken that much time... And he tapped me three times in total. Ha. I wrapped up quick, I guess he just got impatient or something. Which was sad because all it did was make me a little bit annoyed. I told my companions that and they couldn't believe he tapped me three times at the end! Ha. Becuase I had wrapped up so quickly at the end after I had turned around from the first one. Lol. But it was good. I felt the spirit through all of it, the end made it a little hard, but it was good. It is so crazy though cause I get so nervous before, but then once I was up there. I was great! It is the spirit taking over. I love that so much. Well, I don't have much more time. But I hope all goes well with getting Steffy ready to leave! And anything else that is coming up! I love you all so much! Until next week!
Love Always,
Sister Stokes

Monday, December 23, 2013

 Saw Sis. Wach at the Conference!

 All the sisters I could rile together to get a picture. Another sister was trying but failed. So I yelled!!!! Haha. Got a lot to join it. :) Guess I've got a talent for getting everyone to listen to me. Lol.
Hopping over the chair in the van! There were tables in the back so we couldn't get in through the door ha

 Sister Pieper and Kunz walking ahead. 
Thought it looked cool. :)

 The clouds looked super cool!
Just outside our apartment window

 The trees have become bare. Winter is here!!!!

Christmas Conference Dinner plate! They piled it all on! haha. Salad on top of everything!
Me and Sis. Kunz at the conference 
 the one with the star in the cobble stone, me and Sis Wach found it. We thought it was super funny and cute
 Me and Sister Duran!!! 
(We stayed in the same house in Viseu!!!)

 all us in front of the bell

 Me and Sis Kunz
The bell!!!!

 outside of the church. I was tired so I rested my head on Sis Pieper, and Sis Kunz thought it was precious so captured the moment. Ha
Pres. and Sis. Fluckiger. Cute!

 Fruit roll up tongue tattoos. Ha. From Sis. Wach
 (Sis Wach's camera)
 Popcorn! I made popcorn using the kernals on the stove! We watched the Joy to the World movie in the church (they have a projector and screen.) It is really nice.


AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Steffy got her mission call!!!!! To Ohio!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ha. That is where Derrick went! Is it English speaking? That would be so hard for me now! I can't talk about gospel things in english anymore!!!! I can't even pray out loud in english anymore. It is so hard!!!! I always start transitioning back to Portuguese. I am going to have a hard time with that when I come home. You can't make fun of me though! And holy cow! Derrick has got a beard!!!! A legitimate beard! Haha. He could be santa!!! He just needs to dye it white. :) And I just can't believe Addy is soooo big! And running around like no body's business. Haha. She is so stinking cute! Well, everything here is great! As you know we are in a tripla!!!! Which I wasn't happy about at first because it makes street contacting super hard. But, it makes divisions with members soooo easy! We only need one member with us and we can do a division! We don't have schedule difficulties. It is such a blessing. I honestly can't believe it is almost Christmas and that we are gonig to be able to talk soon!!! And yes, we should be skyping at around 6 or just a bit later. ;) So keep it on! I am so excited!!!!! So our baptism we had marked for the 28th got cancelled... Because we went to Madeira!!! He went for Christmas and he won't be back till the 29th... So, we might just have ourselves a new years baptism!!! That would be fun! Vamos ver. Oh, I mean we will see. So, we are really hoping today that we will get to see santa and get a picture with him! You will find out next week if we succeeded. ;) We had our Christmas Conference! I ate too much... and of course we had fish. :) But I got to see Elder Lee, Collier, and Zaccarria from the MTC. :) It was good! And I got to hear my name as Stokeees again! I love it! Ha. After the Christmas conference, we ended up being stuck with the office Elders because they had to drop off tables to their appropriate church's, and we had gotten a ride with them. As they were bringing two tables to one of the church's-not sure which one we were at at the time, out of no where it started down pooring! Haha. It was so funny, and the church was locked! So they called the Elders that work in this area and got them to come open the church for us. They were actually quite upset... More than they should have been. Elder Lindsey said the one acted like he wanted to punch him... How ridiculous... So sometimes the Elders still need to work on their maturity level... But thats ok! We are all learning, growing, and improving together! That is one thing I love the most about my mission. How much I have grown since the beginning. It is the most humbling work. It makes all of your flaws stick out like black stains on a white cloth! So in the beginning it is like a slap in the face. And you realize just how imperfect you are -even when you thought you were actually quite good-and just how many stains you have got, and how much work you have in front of you. Ha. But slowly we are washing and scrubbing them out with pure bleach. Though, no matter how hard we try, they won't all come out, but we keep trying to get it as good as we can. :) Only through Christ, can they truly be made spotless. No matter how hard we try. We will never be able to make the stains appear as if they were never there, without Him. Oh, I love the gospel so much! And I am so greatful to have this opportunity to be on the mission during this time of year! And man has the world got Christmas backwards! Christmas is all about Christ, and what was Christ all about? Loving and serving our neighbors. And everyone around us. It isn't about the getting, but the giving. I hope we all remember this basic, yet beautiful, true meaning of Christmas this year. For our joy, our true and pure joy, doesn't come from man-made things of this earth, but from people. Spending time with our loved ones, influencing the lives of other people for the better. There is no better thing we can do than to make another person, smile. To make their life, just a little bit better than it was before. I love you all so much, and I am super excited to get to talk to you and hear your voices! And make sure you are on Santa's good list this year! ;P Till Christmas!!!!
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes

Monday, December 16, 2013

This past week was fun and interresting. We found out we are actually in a triplet! That was a surprise. Ha. Sister Kunz told us she was our new companion, and at first I thought she was just kidding. But I love her. I am excited to have this experience as a triplet. It does make contacting on the street harder. But now we can do divisions with the members easier! Cause we only need one of them! And it makes it easier to teach men in the church. Though we don't have a key tp the chapel still. And apparently we won't be getting one because of a Sister in the past that was disobedient to some rules. So now the ward doesn't trust the Sisters as much. When we were asking about keys, they told us that we couldn't have keys to the church because we are sisters. It hurt because I feel like they look down on the Sisters more here... but we are changing that! It is crazy that a mistake from one Sister from a while ago takes its effects so long afterwards. But the bishop told us he knows we are good sisters, but the rule is still in place. It is just frusterating because we can't always rely on the Elders, cause they have keys, and one of our appointments from yesterday fell because we didn't have keys to get into the church so he left because we didn't have anywhere to teach and he said to call him once we got into the church. But we never got it becaust they Elders were gone. It is hard here because there isn't a park nearby or a place where we can teach. But with time maybe they will let us get a key. So I don't know if I mentioned it last week, but Eduardo relapsed with smoking and he is struggling with that. But we are going to help him with that one day at a time. And Guilherme has a date to be baptized on the 28th of December. He will be an amazing addition to the ward. He is already being a missionary without even being a member! He told us he was talking to his friend about relilgion and how he was answering some questions his friend had about our beliefs. He is super cool! So right now we are trying to re-fill our pool of investigators. So we are talking to people on the street. We also want to focus on those who have fallen away more too. Our bishop started holding a meeting after church every sunday to list those who weren't in church and to assign people to reach out to them. I really like this idea. It really helps the ward be more unified and aware of all it's members. I am excited to have another transfer here in Benfica.So it is me, Sister Peiper, and Sister Kunz. Sister Kunz is 19. Sister Peiper is 22 and will be going home soon... They are great! I am sad I don't get a full transfer with Sister Peiper. But thats ok. So something happened to me for the very first time here in Portugal... We got flashed by a drunk women.... She was crying and talking about how she wanted to go back to Africa, to go back home, and that she needed our help. She wanted us to pray with her. So we went into the church -it was already opened- and we sat down and she said a prayer. Then she had all of us hold hands a say a prayer together. The reason she flashed us was because her sister had scratched her, and she was showing us the scratch marks. It was a little awkward... And the poor Elders! They were with her before us! The reason we came down -cause we were taking lunch in our apartment- was because one of them called us and told us to get down there. He said there was a women who was crying and he thinks she lives in our area. i was confused as to why he couldn't just finish the contact for us. But he insisted we go down. So when we got down there, Sister Peiper almost immediately gave the women a hug-which is what she needed. Then the Elders said "you-ve got this" and they left quickly. Shortly after was when she showed us her scratch. And man did it catch us off guard. We all freaked out but did our best to cover it up. Ha. No one expected that. But I did feel bad for her. I just wish she would have stopped lifting up her shirt. Oh those poor Elders! They have been scarred for life the poor things. So we calmed her the best we could and then she left with her cousin. So that was interresting. I just can't stop feeling so bad for those elders. Even a couple members saw it. Junior- a member that is putting his mission papers in-asked us if we knew what she did. We just smiled and said we know. But that is pretty much all for this week! I hope all is well at home! I love you all so much! And I can't wait to get to talk to you on Christmas! Love you! Till next week!
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes 
 Christmas chocolate count-downs!!!
Jessica (10 yr old) so cute!

 Renato- less active member. (didn't realize I was so close to him... But I automatically lean in when I am taking the picture cause I always feel like I'll cut myself out. haha) But I wasn't touching him at least. Ha.

 In the Columbo

 hats we got for christmas to give to "the missionaries" Though her's already got home. :)

Thanksgiving -me and Sis wach made thanksgiving dinner for us and the elders

Elder Munoz