Monday, June 23, 2014

This week was so good! Helena, our recent convert went with us on a division! :) Though all our appointments fell.... But she was excited to do so! Ha. And also, she has changed so much! Since her baptism. There truly is a light that shines from those who have received the gospel, and live according to its teachings. She is sooooo much happier! She used to be just so sad all the time. She would cry because of the death of her husband. But now she is always smiling. Also, she used to be one of those people the Book of Mormon talks about. Only the Bible and nothing else. Even after her baptism, she struggled with the concept, and said that the people who wrote the BOM read the Bible, and then wrote it in the BOM. Ha. But she has come to LOVE the Book of Mormon! She has been studying only from the BOM for the past few days! It is amazing! The Book of Mormon truly has a spiritual power when our investigators and recent converts truly read its pages with an open heart. We can know for sure when someone isn't reading the Book of Mormon because we won't see that change in their eyes, or in their heart. And they won't gain a testimony of the book. Also! We have a 15 yr old investigator, Paloma. She is super cute. She is also talking with the TJ´s. Though, she said she is learning a lot more with us than with them she said. We have taught her the first two lessons, and SHE IS MARKED FOR THE 6TH. In our last lesson, she asked lots of questions! And it was the first time anyone had ever asked, "Então, porque Deus colocou aquele ávore lá no jardim?" "So, why did God put that tree there in the garden?" Ah! She made the connection that it was all a part of the plan! All by herself. We hadn't explained anything yet! At the end. We knelt in prayer, and asked her to pray, and ask God if everything we have taught her is true. Me and Irmã each ended up saying a prayer before she would say one. But she prayed! (A really big deal for her- in front of us)  And she said she felt good. She said "Eu sei que esta igreja é verdadeira. Não sei como explicar como eu sei, mas eu sei que é." "I know that this church is true. I don't know how to explain how I know, but I know that it is." !!!!! We were soooo happy! In our district meeting last week. Elder Knight, (DL) told the story about when Joseph Fielding Smith went to England, and how he jumped out of the boat and when he landed on solid ground said (Something along the lines of) " I am the first missionary with the restored gospel!!!" And Elder Knight could barely tell the story! The spirit was so strong, and it  was just the cutest thing. It made us all excited to go out and preach the gospel with the excitement that Joseph Fielding Smith had! We also had divisions this past week. I got to go to Setúbal! It was fun. :) It is weird being in an area that isn't your own. But I liked it! Though I feel like all the areas in this zone look the same. Ha. We also had lunch at Helena´s! We ate grilled fish.... With the head, skin, and all.... I didn't eat the head. Yes, I chopped that off. And I peeled most of the skin off. But it was very fishy tasting. Ha. I wasn't a big fan. I ate mostly the potatoes. :) Bruno was also there. Our recent investigator who we are also teaching english. That is how we met him. Helena talked with him and told him we could teach him english. He was interested! So one day, when we were at Helena´s. She asked if she could go and get him. We said sure. She went out the door, then quickly peaked back in and said "Oh! And don't forget to talk about the gospel with him as well!" Hahahaha. It was super cute. Then she left and we watched her walk down the street in her sun dress and hat. :) We love her to pieces. So... Irmã has recently been telling me many times that I am a "lady." And she tells everyone else as well. Then she goes on to explain how. She then mimic´s  some of the things I have done that only "ladies" do. I was so embarrassed! Ah! José was baptized! I talked about him a long time ago! I found him on a division with our sister training leaders! He was the one with the perfect question. That already went to many different church's and basically didn't know which one was true. And then we told him that there was someone with this same exact question. In the end we invited him to church and he came! And it was fast sunday. So everyone was baring testimonies, and he got up and bore testimony!!!!!! It was the most precious thing! And he said he would like to be affiliated with us in his testimony. He was the perfect investigator and I just loved him right from the beginning in the road. Though we had to pass him over to the Elders because he didn't live in our area.... But he was baptized yesterday and I can't tell you how happy it made me!!!! I called him the Friday before (3 days before) to invite him to our activity as I always do. And he told me he would be baptized on sunday! And then went on to say how it will always be because of me that he found the church and how grateful he was. Oh it made me sooooo happy! I wasn't ever able to teach him, but I always felt that he was partly ours. :) And we always saw him in our english classes and friday activities. :) (Almost every week) Anyways, I am just loving the mission! Life is so good. And the Lord is just so good! I am one of the most spoiled missionaries in the whole world! I hope you all all doing well! I love you all sooo much! Stay safe! Till next week!
Love always,
Sister Amanda Stokes :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

 Fabrícia, Jesse, and me (I don't know what Jesse was doing with her eyes. haha. She complained about the sun... ) This is at a ward activity. It was a sardinhada. Which means basically a BBQ but with sardines. ha. 

The tree looked cool above our heads!
Irmã .... Ah! I can't remember her name! Sad.... One of our Elderly members. :) 

HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD!!!!!! I know it was yesterday, but I hope it was a good one! I also just wanted to thank you for everything you do for our family. I really couldn't ask for a better dad. I love you so much and I can't wait to be able to tell you that in person. Thank you for your testimony and for helping all of us gain our own. I am pretty sure I speak for all of us when I say that you had a big part in helping each of us gain our own testimonies. 
This week we found Sebastião. He is the sweetest man. He has so much faith in God, and it truly humble. He is stuck in a wheel chair because he doesnt have a right foot. After he showed us his foot, he went on and told about how much the Lord has blessed him and how him not having a foot, is nothing. That made us super happy. (Because so many people don't recognize the blessings that they already have!) He also has studied (Not sure if in depth) many religions. Including ours at one point. He has a Book of Mormon antigo! Ha. It was funny to see the difference in the font and pictures. We taught him the first lesson so far. And it went so well! We focused on asking lots of questions. Irmã asked a question mesmo inspired. She asked him "Quem deu os apostolos autoridade? -Ele repondeu, "Cristo." Depois ela perguntou, "E quem deu os homens quem criarem as igrejas autoridade?" - Ele pensou.... "Homens..." Translation; "Who gave the apostles authority? - He said, "Christ" After she asked, "And who gave authority to the men who created churches?" - He pondered.... "Men..." #Click! The spirit was so strong and he made the connection "for himself!" We are now focusing on teaching by asking questions. It truly helps the investigator understand what we are saying, and it makes it so we aren't talking and talking and they lose focus. Questions are key to helping our investigators truly understand our message and to help them realize that our message makes complete sense. For even THEY find the answer BEFORE we tell it to them. It was amazing! Kinita stopped smoking! She knows that the reason is because she has been reading in the Book of Mormon. But we are struggling trying to get her to church. She has depression, and recently has been getting headaches. She says that she needs to sleep and that she can't wake up early. We told her that the blessings she is receiving IS because she is reading, and gaining a testimony, however, that the blessings won't prolong for a lot longer if she doesn't continue to put her faith in practice, and go to church to sanctify the Sabbath day. For it is a commandment, and she is not keeping it. She still said that it was at a bad time.... So we will keep trying! Other than that we are in the state of finding new investigators! Anyways, stay strong! And happy! I love you all so much! Sometimes I feel like my heart will explode out of how much love I have for you all! Till next week.
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes

Monday, June 9, 2014

oh its true. I took a picture of a bug. :) It is so strange! I have never seen a bug like this one before.
 It is quite interesting. Ha. So I took a picture!
This week we found an amazing women named Ana. And Fernanda who we found last week is still amazing! I don't think I told her story yet? Fernanda lives in an area where you would not normally think to go. It looked as if no one lived there and was in a ways. But we had felt we should go there and see. The little area where she lives has 6 mailboxes next to the little gate you pass through. But the whole lot looks almost abandoned like no one lives there. But we saw one door that someone lived in for sure. Her door was the first one we knocked. And she answered! As we talked we came to find out that she has a friend who is a member of the church in Lisboa. She said she has already been thinking a lot about our church, and how she doesn't agree that their pastors' don't marry. (She is Catholic) Her friend had also left her a pamphlet to read. As we talked to her, she could feel our love for her and she started to cry. She said how she is having a hard time. She is alone and she works a lot. And she has a lot of questions and doubts. (Perfect! We have the answers!)  We left her with the first pamphlet. She said she would read it, and we then marked our next appointment with her. When we showed up for our appointment, she wasn't there! We were soooo sad! We just kept saying, there is no way it is because she isn't interrested. She was so excited to talk to us. She had cried and thanked us, and she had given me the biggest fluffiest hug! There is just no way. She must have forgotten. So we left a church invite card under her door. Then we left. Later. Around 6, we felt we should return to her house and see if she had returned home. We knocked.... And she opened the door! She said she literally got home a few minutes ago! She also said she got our card and that it made her happy! She said when she got the invite, she knew that she needed to go to church the next day. But she was a little nervous. Then, the fact that we showed up in person, she said it was for sure what she needed to do, and what God wanted her to do. She basically testified that we were truly sent from God. (We are seeing so many blessings since we started truly trying, with REAL INTENT, to be consecrated missionaries! Our investigators can truly FEEL the difference) It was the sweetest thing. We talked to her a little, and left her with a prayer.  She said she would go, but that it doesn't mean she is changing religions. Ha. We then said of course, and promised her she would feel a sweet spirit there. Sunday arrived.... and she didn't make it! We caught her just leaving her house later that afternoon, and she said she couldn't make it because her sister had fallen. So she went to her house all worried. The second is Ana! She is amazing. She felt abondoned by God. She is having problems with her family, and simply feels alone. And she said that she isn't quite so sure anymore that God is truly there. We read her a scripture using the Book of Mormon. She loved it! When we offered her the book, she asked how much it was. We told her it was free. As she took it, she held onto it like it was the most precious thing she had. When we use the scriptures in our contacts that apply directly to our potential investigators. They realize that this book has answers specifically for them, they can feel the power of the Book of Mormon in our first contact, and feel the spirit and truly recognize us as servants of the Lord. They will also have a much greater desire to receive and then read The Book of Mormon. She left with tears, and with a re-found belief that God is truly there, and with a knowledge of our love for her.And I left with an even greater love for others, missionary work, and for the Book of Mormon! Sometimes I think I will be so full of love my heart just won't be able to handle it anymore and it will explode. But there is always so much more room than I thought! I love being a missionary!!!! I love having the opportunity to show people how much I love them, and even more importantly, to show them just how much their Father in Heaven loves them! And I just love these people so much! This week was a rough week, but an amazingly blessed week as well. For the Lord has blessed us with Fernanda and Ana. :) Never forget how much the Lord loves you! I hope you have a fabulous week! (And don't forget to tell the ones you love that you love them! And then show that love through an act of kindness :)...) Till next week!
Love Always,
Sister Stokes
p.s. Sorry, this week I didn't take pictures. Well I took pictures of Irmã. Haha. But she doesn't want me to send those. :) Love you!

Monday, June 2, 2014

 me, Sister King and all her other comp's. haha.  
 Jesse (recent convert) she turned 20!
 Mayara is the member behind her
manuel mayara and me :)
 my hair is growing! :) 
It is growing a lot slower than I thought it would.... hahaha

 Jumping at the beach (from Elder Mehl's camera)

 Haha. This is so funny because none of 
us three knew he was
 taking a picture and we are all looking different ways (distracted). Haha. 

 This was from a while ago. 
It is from Elder Tavares camera

This past week has been a little sad... Two of our marked investigators fell.... Kinita and Diomantino. Kinita didn't make it to church because she started getting a bunch of headaches and she didn't feel well. She said she will be going to the hospital this week. So we will be praying for her. Though we aren't too discouraged because we know she will still be baptized. Just that the date will be pushed back. Diomantino got a new job. And this job doesn't leave him a lot of time or days off on sundays..... We talked to him about talking to his boss to see if he can get sundays off. So we will try to get both of them ready for baptism as quickly as we can. :) João is marked for the 21st of June. He didn't make it to church, but he still has two sundays to make it to church both times. :) All three of them are amazing and I have no doubt that they will all be baptized. Just getting them ready for baptism and teaching them everything with the time they have is more complicated now... But thats ok! The Lord will prepare a way. Ha. So we have this family. Manuela and Nuno (the nephew), and Carlos (neighbor inactive). They haven't been keeping any invite we have been giving. They keep forgetting to read in the Book of Mormon, and they have a hard time praying with us. Though they say they pray alone. But irmã had a good/funny idea. We made contracts with them. :) It is a contract between them and Heavenly Father to better the relationship that they have with Him through prayer and reading. Then at the bottom we had them sign it! We are excited! Hopefully they will be better about reading and realize that reading and praying are critically important, and that without them we can't have a true relationship with our Father in Heaven. We met a women named Fernanda! She is amazing! She said one of her friends already is talking to her about our church and gave her a pamphlet. In the end she told us that we were sent from God as she had tears in her eyes. Then I just gave her a big hug. And she just held me. It was the most precious thing! I loved her so much instantly! We will be seeing her again on saturday. (big work schedule) We are excited! Ah. We met with a member and she basically told us her whole love story. :) Irmã Chaves. It was so cute because back then, (here in Portugal) they didn't even take each other by the hand before marriage. And the man she loved was a poor man who didn't have parents. And that was something that was a big deal back then. But she didn't care because he had already stolen her heart. It was just the cutest story! She is about 75 years old? I am not sure. She is older. She was converted and baptized about 40 years ago. Her husband to this day is not a member. But she knows he will accept the gospel one day. Even if it is after this life. :) Anyways, I have so much more to say, but I don't have time and my fingers hurt. Haha. I love you all so much! Stay safe! Oh! Do you have fun plans for the summer!? Love you!
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes

This was what I wanted to say that week when I didn't send an email cause I thought I had already sent it but I didn't... Then last week I forgot to send it. oops... :) So three weeks ago!

This past sunday we didn't have a single investigator in church... But we did see a miracle. One of our members, Emalídio, is a dedicated member mesmo. He always goes to church and our activities. His entire family are members. Though, they are all inactive except for him. We have talked with his mom several times before- because if she goes, the rest of the family will go. So when we visited with her this last time, we really focused on the sacrament, and on the blessings that she wasn't receiving because she hasn't been taking the sacrament or giving that time to the Lord. She is currently in a rough situation when it comes to finances. Our bishop is helping their family out. (through the church-financially) She is very open about her situation, and told us everything, and how hard it is to not have money sufficient enough to simply place food on the table for her family without additional help. And the fact that the church is supporting them so much is hard on her as well. But she said if it wasn't for that help, her whole family would be out on the streets. So as we talked to her about the sacrament, we applied the blessings to her personally. As a result, she realized that she hasn't been giving time to the Lord, and that she is missing out on many blessings that she currently desperately needs. So...This past sunday, she made it to church! We stopped by their house again sundaynight. Teresa (the mom), wasn´t home. But Jessica (Emalídio´s sister) was. So we talked with her. She said that next sunday, she will make it to church with her mom!!! We are soooo excited! Shortly, Emalídio will have his whole family in church with him! This is a huge blessing. For it has been years since they have all gone to church as a family. Sorry, this is already so long! But that was our biggest miracle this week. Which is an amazing one! We are excited to see Emalídio with his whole family together this next sunday in church!