April 8, 2013 by jennaljackson
So I’m sitting here emailing from a computer in the church in Vila Real, Portugal. Excuse the lack of punctuation or capitalization because the keyboard is all weird. ANYWAY the basics are: I’m here in the north of Portugal. It’s a little tiny town divided between two companionships of sisters. It’s technically a branch with like 30 people, but I think that is just a myth. The most we had at a session of conference was like 15 people and the least was one. Yeah one. Perhaps lots of people are watching at home?? But the members I meet are nice to me! Everyone tries to speak English to me which is funny but also helpful because goodness knows I can’t understand anything they’re saying in Portuguese. Oh yeah haha turns out I’m retarded and can’t understand anything here. Note to self for future children. When the MTC teacher says that he speaks normally to you and that they don’t speak that fast in Portugal, he is lying. I don’t know why he would say it but it’s blatantly untrue. Because I def went from understanding like 95% in the MTC to, well, much less. Oh, also my companion is a native Portuguese sister who does not speak English so that has been interesting for me. Has forced me to speak and learn more, but is also definitely a challenge. She probably thinks I am the most boring person in the land because I don’t know how to make jokes in Portuguese yet. Everyone else in our group got American companions…..aiaiai #instanthumility! I know it will be a blessing later on and also everyone says she’s a bomb missionary and from what I can tell it’s definitely true! I have already learned so much from her.
More about Vila Real…..COLD. No for reals I am cold like 100% of the time even in our apartment, because turns out Portugal doesn’t believe in central heating. Our apartment is huge and has four rooms, one where we all sleep, two study rooms, and a room to keep all our clothes. It also has no shower rod/curtain so that’s super fun to stand there in the freezing cold holding the showerhead and saying “this isn’t even my priesthood duty”. Just kidding, just kidding. It wont be bad at all once it warms up though, so if I stay here next transfer (not at all a guarantee since they need alllllll the experienced missionaries to train–30 sisters coming in and only 40 here already) (also they’re creating lots of new areas) it should be warmer and if I head south well…so much the better, weather-wise!
As far as the work goes…it feels slow sometimes, but I also don’t know whets normal for Portugal yet. We had one progressing investigator when I got here but since I arrived she has not returned any of our calls and won’t answer the door when we go by. Too sad. We have knocked lots of doors with basically no success. one lady told us we could come back this Thursday so were livin on a prayer that she didn’t purposely give us a time she wouldn’t be home haha. We did find a number for a guy the elders had taught previously and when we went to visit they were totally stoked. They brought out a framed pic of them and the elders and the guy seriously loved them. He told us all about his relationship with Christ and clearly he has tons of faith. Not totally sure yet why he was never baptized but probably just because he’s catholic judging by the rosary he showed us and how much he talked about liking the new pope. I’m guessing if the elders never could baptize him he’s pretty stubborn, but maybe he’s ready now! We shall hope pray and see. A lot of people we talk to don’t up when they say they will or wont let us visit them because their `dogs are really mean´ and other fantastic reasons like that. we haven’t done a ton of street contacting yet which I hope we will do more of this week, not that I’m like looking forward to it or anything, but it seems like all that’s left. We talk to lots of homeless people though! I had one homeless man tell me I had an English face and one say in English “ohhh American girl! *kisses my hand* we need to party!” so that was gr8. Seriously I just laugh to myself all day because everything is funny and I don’t have the language skills to explain most of it to my companion hahaha.
Even if it doesn’t sound like it, I really am doing great! I don’t get sad in the day. It’s more of just the reflective stance that makes it seem like nothing is happening. Though I do hate the cold though, every minute of my life. All the people are like isn’t it colder in the US?? and I’m like ok sadly no it is warmer in Utah than here and secondly I HATE THE COLD THERE TOO SO GET OFF MAH BACK. I think I have a disease because seriously I wear sweater socks under tights under boots and my toes still get numb walking around. circulation, ugh. but anyway. it is probably just other peoples prayers that are getting me through this sooooo keep them coming because I need muito. But I can tell that my testimony grows more every day and I really do love the Lord so if nothing else good happens in the day, I can feel okay.
Anyways, I loved all of conference. one of my favorite talks was Elder Eyring’s talk on righteous desires. I must have been humbled without noticing it because usually in conference I find something to roll my eyes at but this time I just soaked it all in (whilst reading the English subtitles that I made the whole branch watch for my benefit) and loved every word. We are all so blessed to have this truth in our lives already and even though the church is made up of imperfect people, god is so good and we get to live with Him again because of what we know. Oftentimes we, at least I, forget that simple fact. And a woman prayed! score! Also one hilarious thing is that I think they try and get the language translators to sound like the apostles. Like we were watching Richard G. Scotts talk and I swear to you the Portuguese translator said everything EXACTLY LIKE RICHARD G SCOTT WOULD TALK. it was so funny but I was the only one who thought so because I was the only one that’s ever heard Richard G Scott’s real voice. you take some things for granted and forget that people not in America have different lives. like we were at this member’s house and she was watching pretty little liars and she asked if I had ever seen cheerleaders before. just funny.
Anyways, I love you all so much! Thanks for all the encouragement you give me. For now just #harvesting2013 in Portugal. Be back soon!