Monday, October 27, 2014

 So funny! Those are real make up supply 
things under the sink! 
We celebrated our Zone Leaders birthdays!! Haha. 
They are so funny!!

 Cool train station in Oriente
me and Sister Stewart! Yes, we were sitting on the ground :) ha

 Silly face :)
My area! (At the Braga train station)

 I ate all of these by myself. :) It is a type of bean that you bite the tip- the shell- and sqeeze it into your mouth. They are super fun to eat! Hence, why I ate so many. :) haha. They don't have a ton of flavor. But they are good. 

This week was so good! Joaquim got the Aaronic priesthood!!!!! He was so happy! He is super excited to be able to baptize! ha He wants to baptize Felipe- his friend. He is marked for the 9th. He just has to stop smoking. That will be the most precious baptism though! Cause Filipe is the reason Joaquim came to know about the church. :) Anyways, guess what today is!? Joaquim's birthday!!!  So last night we gave him his birthday gift! We had to go down to Lisbon for Sis. Stewart to do residency. So while we were down there. We went through the suits left by Elders going home. And we picked one out. As well and a white long sleeved shirt. And we also found one of those sweaters you can wear over top that look good. And we gave him all that in a brown paper sack for his birthday. He was soooo excited and happy!!!! haha. He is so fantastic! I just love him soooo much! He told us that he volunteered on sunday to clean the church this saturday. He is super excited for that! I loved that, cause generally no one wants to. haha. But he is excited to. He also is excited to help and serve people. He said he just wants to make a difference in the lives of others. I truly don't think he could be any more perfect. He is an example of someone who is truly converted. He really will make a big difference in the church over here in Portugal. :) So sickness is being passed around. I haven't gotten sick yet. But our Zone leaders both got sick. And Sis. Stewart got it! The poor thing. It was a flu. She didn't feel good AT ALL. The whole time though, I felt really good about the fact that I wouldn't get it. I don't know why... But up till now. I haven't gotten it! :) Let's hope it stays that way. Well, Elder Lopes called me "Sister Animada" and "Sister Feliz" this week. haha. I have no idea what I did though. But hey, I guess that is a good thing! OH! Hah. And our investigator, Sabastião, at our appointment with him. In the beginning where we just talk and see how he is before starting our lesson, he looked me in the eyes, and sang a poem that talked about "beautiful eyes." And yes, he made it up on the spot! I died! hahaha. He is hilarious. He is the cutest old man ever! I think he literally thinks that we are his granddaughters. :) So we met 5 Ukrainian men!!! Super cool. Though all but one are struggling to find jobs. But 4 of them said they would go to our Halloween activity on wednesday and then church on sunday! And they all would love to stop smoking! They didn't believe us when we said we helped someone stop smoking in 2 weeks (or less maybe?). ha. But others have stopped in even lesser time! But we are super excited to work with them. We got all of their numbers. :) So the work is going great! I don't want it to ever end! ha. But I really do feel like this is my life. Like, I could join the three Nephites and just serve the Lord for the rest of forever and I would be so happy! Ha. Jk. But really. Well, I hope you all have a fantastic week. I love you all so much! And I hope school is going well for the girls. Keep making good choices! :) Love you! 
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Email Jeff sent to the Girls and Amanda's Response :)

I hope this note finds you both well and enthusiastic in the Lord's work. Home front is all good, everybody is busy doing good things with work, school, dance etc… we watched the movie"Meet the Mormons" as a ward the other day and it was fantastic. I hope you get the chance to see it while on your missions. I found it very inspiring. If only all the children of our Father in Heaven could see it, what an effect it would have.
I went out with the missionaries again last week. It reminisced of my mission but I have to say I've lost the boldness that is required to be an effective missionary. I hope you girls are being bold, Our Savior didn't hold back in his teachings and I'm sure He will pour out his blessings to you if you work hard and lose yourself in the labor and are bold! It goes against our nature somewhat to boldly declare our message but how grateful will our brothers and sisters be one day if we can just pant the seeds of the Gospel.
I'm so happy with you sisters, you bring such joy to me and to the whole family. Thank-you for making our family a "missionary family". what a fantastic family legacy you are making. Well, may the Lord continue to bless your lives as you consecrate everything to Him. Time goes fast so make hay while you can!
Love ya
I didn't know you went out with the missionaries!!! I love that! That is the first thing I want to do when I get home!!!!! I love that! And I think I we are actually super bold. Haha. But that is what brings the spirit, and they see that these things are serious and they gain a testimony and want the blessings for themselves. Cause they will see how firmly we believe in the promised blessings as we make and keep covenants and commitments, and they will see the blessings of them in our lives, and they will yearn to have the same thing. That gospel is amazing! And I got to be oh so blessed to see another soul enter the waters of baptism this past sunday. Joaquim. He is incredible!!!! His story is incredible! And it is all the Lord!  I can't get over how blessed I am to see the process of conversion first hand, front row, front and center. Thank you so much for raising our family in the gospel. I am so greatful to have a dad like you! All of us are. I love you so much! And I hope you have a fantastic week! And keep going out with the missionaries! That made me so happy to hear! I believe that is an amazing experience. I can't wait to do that on a members end! Love you!
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes 

Pants! (Rarely happens!) We were going to go to Bom Jesus. But it isn't going to happen because Sister Stewart´s foot is hurting. Pretty badly. She got a blessing today... 
I hope it gets better! 

 Joaquim and us!!!! And Elder Muñiz. (he baptized)

 Filling up the baptismal font. :) We were worried cause we turned the water on late..... We had another member using the sink in the kitchen with a HUGE pot. We used the boys bathroom. :) ha

Joaquim is the one in the middle. :) In white! He is AMAZING! His friends are on the two sides. The one on the right is our investigator (From before Joaquim- he is the reason Joaquim found the gospel!!!! He was a reference from an investigator basically! He invited him to church. Joaquim decided to go and see. And loved it! We marked an appointement, helped him stop smoking, and the rest is history!!!! He is now baptized into the true and restored church of Jesus Christ! :) 
I love happy endings!)

 Me and Joaquim! He wasn't quite looking at the right hole on the camera. ha. But thats ok! 
Me and the guys! They will ALL be baptized! Felipe (middle) is next. He is stopping smoking. And Nuno (we met him at the baptism- invited friend) will be too! 
He really liked the baptism. :) 

 I was cleaning out random floaties in the water with a big spoon that had holes. :) 
Sister Stewart said she just had to get a picture of it. Ha.
 more baptism pics!
 Elder Muñiz drew this :)

 Nunu (a friend Joaquim brought to his baptism) then Joaquim , then Filipe (the one marked for the 9th of Nov)

Oh I love to pieces the silly face one on Joaquim! He is so funny and cute! 

This week was full of miracles! I simply can't believe how good the Lord is. Joaquim was baptized this past sunday! (yesterday) Oh it was a beautiful sight! Seeing someone who completely changed their life around. Someone who was sad. And after the Lord brought him to the knowledge of the gospel, has a new light in his eyes! It is amazing! And the fact that he was invited by an investigator we have been working with is incredible!!! It is funny cause Joaquim got baptized first. But he progressed so fast! If I have seen real intent and desire in someone who wanted to align their lives to God, it is him. He is going to be an amazing leader in the church! And he speaks portuguese and english. :) Better english though. Ha. But as we were teaching one of his last lessons before baptism, he turned to us and said "you know, there is something that I haven't told you two. Before I met you, I was praying to God for him to send me someone, or something. To send me an angel. Cause I was in a sad place. And I needed a change. Two weeks later. God sends me two angels. And now I am happier than I have been in a very long time." It was so precious!!! And so sincere. I wish you could have heard the story from him. He is one of the most humble men I have ever met. So willing to learn, understand, and make changes. In his baptism, we asked him to bare his testimony at the end. (Which we never do) But Irmã felt prompted for us to ask him that. He was nervous but accepted. And it was so precious! He told the members the angel story. And that God sent him two angels. The spirit was so strong. And the members, because of his testimony, were able to see that he was truly converted and has a strong testimony! We had our ward meeting a few days later, and at the meeting, one of our members wasn't happy because not a lot of members came to his baptism, and the member (Irmão Bento) told of his testimony he gave, and said it is things like that, that members need to go to and hear. That at the baptisms of our new members, is where we can grow to love our new members and reach out to them and give them our support. And it is so true! So I encourage all of you to go to any and all the baptisms that we have. So that they can feel loved and included in our big family. :) So our other investigator that is marked on the 9th. (Antonio) We took his cigarette pack from him!!! Ha. ) He thought it was funny. But he doesn't smoke very many. Only 1 or 2, sometimes 3 each day. But he said he accepted our invitation to not smoke any more! Though as the week went on. He has smoked. But he is so close! Our new investigator,Carlos, is someone that doesn't believe in God. We found him on the street as we were hiding under a store out-reaching porch thing. (I don't remember what we call those? The covering things?) But we talked with him. In the end I gave the last prayer. After I said amen, he looked up at me and said "that was the most beautiful and sincere prayer I ever heard" (he speaks english. I mean, the prayer was hard cause I had to say it in english and I kept wanting to revert to Portuguese. But it meant a lot hearing that he was touched by the prayer. (Though it wasn't me, it was the spirit!) So we made another appointment, which was yesterday. After the first prayer and a little bit of talking, he turns to me and asks "remember what I said?" -I wasn't quite sure as to what he was referring to- " Your text, or prayer you said, was the most sincere and touching I have ever heard.... that is why I am here" Oh that was like fireworks inside, and a huge responsibility-type feeling rushed over me. I just couldn't mess up, him deciding to believe in God rested on us - me and sister Stewart. At the end of our lesson. He said " you are chipping 5 inches off of the door of God" (He is poetic ha) But he then said "you are convincing me to believe in God" He left with more faith than he has ever had! That is the most amazing thing about the gospel and the Holy Spirit! It touches people in a way that they have never felt before at times, and in a ways where they can't deny that is is coming from something or someone higher than us. Not something natural or human. But spiritual. From God. I love being able to see these miracles! Seeing someone discover that seed of faith that each one of us has. And learning how to make it grow (And even realizing that it is possible for it to grow) I love this gospel! We are even more blessed! We have a family! Already prepared. Mariana (mom) two sons Nuno (12) and Sérgio (6). They are marked to be baptized this next sunday! (We will confirm it again tonight, cause we first had said the 1st of Nov.) But she has gone to church many times with a friend where she used to live and loved it! But they moved and she didn't know where the church was. The Elderes miraculously talked to her son Nuno. Passed the reference to us. And Wah lah! We have a family! And Mariana and her son Nuno will be baptized! And Nuno is amazing! He answered all of our questions perfectly. He is so smart! Everything made perfect sense to him. He made the connection on why Joseph Smith had to receive the priesthood from Peter James and John (we used that picture cause its in the pamphlet- so we didn't mention john the baptist yet- two priesthoods. a little too confusing right now.) But he was interested the whole time! And the fact that he answered our questions perfectly! We are just sooooo ridiculously blessed it is amazing! But we have so much faith and the Lord is preparing the north to open a new stake! That has been the goal we have been told, and we are seeing that is is the the Lord's will! Anything is possibly if you will just believe! And we believe that we can find and baptize all those willing to humble themselves and make and keep sacred covenants with Heavenly Father. Thank you for all you do. I love you all so very much. Have a great week!
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

 One where you can see her face. ha 
Elder Rigby (came in with me from MTC- though wasn't in my district but he is fantastic! and Elder Taylor- in my district while I was in Quinta do Conde for two transfers. 
He is awesome too! ha. 
Me getting kissed by Sister Shumway. haha. 
She is a sweet-heart! I love her. 
She goes home the same time I do.

 Me and Sister Stewart!
Our fabulous zone leaders! (Elder Lopes and Elder Muñiz)
 We tried a fruit we have never seen before. We decided to be brave! :) And it was super yummy!!!

 Our Zone! :) (with an additional zone! Porto and Porto North -I am in Porto North- we were spoiled and had a two zone, zone meeting! :) I got to see lots of people! Including Elder Mehl my district leader for two transfers. He is cool. I wanted him to talk to Steffy. :) hahaha. Yes that one. 
Did I mention that??

So this week has been so good! I am loving it so much here in Braga with Sister Stewart! We are having so much success and getting to know and love so many people! As of now we have three marked for baptism! And one that is thinking about it. ha. But he basically already is a member. He goes to church every sunday, the members absolutely adore him, and he calls the church, his church. ha. He will be baptized. :) And many more whom we will find! We are pumped! So Joaquim. He is down to smoking just 4! He is getting there! For today we told him no more than 3! We are so excited, and he is excited! He said he has tried for so long to stop smoking and he hasn't been able to do it. And now that the tobacco is tasting real nasty to him! We are so happy! He will be baptized this saturday if it all goes smoothly. And it will. I have full faith in him! He will do great things in the church. He lived in Florida for 30+ years. Though he was born here. His parents moved to the US. Then later he moved back here. But he likes speaking in english better. So i get to teach in english! And yeah. It is weird and a little hard to do... But I can't even tell you how incredible he is and how much he is changing! And even he says it! He is so much happier now! And all because a friend invited him to church. And this friend isn't even a member of the church! We are talking to him too! And he is our recent one marked for baptism. His name is Felipe. He too has to stop smoking. But he is ready and willing to stop. We talked to Joaquim about how with the time difference in their baptism dates, he would be able to baptize his friend. Oh you should have seen how happy that made him! It gave him an even stronger desire and urge to do everything he has to to be ready for his baptism date! That gospel is incredible and I don't even know how I was so lucky and blessed to be able to see all of the wonder things I get to as a missionary. The Lord truly loves His children and wants to help us to become better. We taught an investigator (one of our marked for batpism) Antonio, in the home of Margarida (R/C) and it was amazing! She bore a powerful testimony, and talked so good about us, and thanked us so many times for all we do. For her and for others. And Antonio did the same thing! It was such a sweet touching moment to see that we can truly make a difference in the lives of others. In the church and out. Whether we realize we are or not. Oh! I forgot to say. When we marked Antonio, we were talking to him about baptism, and how it is done and why it isn't right when babies are baptized. (he was baptized as a baby) He felt the spirit strong, and you could see it in his eyes, as soon as I stopped talking, the next thing he said was " What do I have to do to be baptized?" It was incredible!! We hadn't even gotten to marking him, and he asked the question. I left that lesson so amazed and happy! Anyways. I just want you all to know that I know that this gospel is true. And how grateful I am for all of you and your testimonies and examples. Thank you mom and dad for raising our family in the gospel and making it possible for us to serve missions. So far we have all served missions that have been able to! That is amazing! I never realized that before! Thank you for all you do for our family. I love you so much. All of you. I hope you all have a wonderful week! 
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

 Oh. And his owner is that man looking over at him trying to get him to keep coming. ha
 Colombo :) (Mall in Benfica)
Me and Sister King! We did our residency so we saw our whole group!!!!!! 
All of us from the Mtc! The whole mutley crew!!! It was fantastic!!!

 My first Francizinha. (if that is spelled right? haha) 
Me and Sister Stewart with our first Francizinhas!! 

cool church we saw on the way to an appointment
Cool building we saw! Not sure what it is. haha

I love Braga! I am excited to serve here. :) We have an amazing investigator, Joaquim! He is so incredible. He has been at a rehab to help him stop drinking and he gets out in three months. He has been changing his life completely around. Last week, his friend (one of our members) simply invited him to go to church with him. He didn't have any others plans. So he went. And he loved it! A little later we meet up with him, and give him a Book of Mormon and explain a little about it. In the end he was excited and told us how he just wants to be a better person and that he is really trying. And that recently he has been praying more. He also said that seeing people with so much faith like us helps him have more faith, and to want to believe more. He thanked us for the faith we have. It was so precious! THEN he did make it to conference! And he loved it! We taught him our message of the restoration right after the session ended. We had our fabulous member, Jessica (From England) , with us. And one of our zone leaders. And Joaquim speaks english. (and Portuguese of course) But the lesson was in english. Can I just say how amazing it was! The spirit was so strong! My companion was in tears (She is just the sweetest most amazing person ever) and in the end, Joaquim was marked for baptism for the 18th! Talk about miracles! He is so excited. And we know that he can stop smoking in time. :) We feel so good about this. And we all just can't wait! I am so happy right now! Life is just so great! And I can't believe how much the Lord spoils his missionaries. We are so unbelievably blessed to be able to be entrusted with this work of saving souls and bringing them to Christ. It is such a beautiful work and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have a front seat in it. I love you all so much. And don't you doubt the gospel for even a second. But if you do, but your knees to floor and ask for help from our loving Heavenly Father. I promise you that He will speak to you through the spirit. Thank you all for the wonderful examples that you are to me. I don't know how I got so blessed to have such a wonderful family. I love you all so much. Stay safe. 
Love Always,
Sister Amanda Stokes
ps. The interresting event of this week is we saw a  pig, yes a pig, walking down the side walk as if it were a dog. People have pet pigs! ha. Never thought I would see this in Portugal in the middle of the city.