Here's another fantastic update from your fave missionary! I thought it was interesting because she said for Halloween there, they roast chestnuts... Um, Christmas anyone? Haha... Who actually does that anytime actually? Ok - maybe you do. Sorry if that was offensive - haha!
"November 2, 2009
SO, this week was filled with all sorts of first. Who would have thought that I would be getting firsts this far along! However, we have a recent convert in our ward who is already less active. The Elders have been working with her, but as of this week we started preparing to help. Why would that need preparation you ask? Well, she is deaf so we have been starting to learn Portuguese Sign Language to be able to communicate. It is actually kinda fun, but very strange at times. When praying only the person praying closes their eyes because everyone else obviously needs to be able to watch, but it is still really weird. I also get to make up my own sign for my name....Anyone have suggestions? It is actually much easier to speak in sign that Portuguese because you don´t have all of the crazy verb conjugations...there really isn´t any grammer-you just throw all aspects of the sentence in there and everyone gets the gist. Weird.
Anyway, this week was the finale of the new student orientation-ish party that the university had, so we had a bit of time where there wasn´t really anything we could do outside of our apartment as it was quite the party in our area of Coimbra, we did have some interesting experiences trying to get home, but it was pretty funny. They have a huge parade where all the Coloiros, freshmen, are dressed up by their madrinhas in something related to the course they are in and then marched from the University all the way to the river where the madrinha or padrinho then baptizes them and they are officially recognized as students. However, they still can´t use the uniform for the first year. Yeah, pretty funny.
As for Halloween, that isn´t celebrated as much in Portugal except by the tradition of roasting chestnuts , so we had a ward activity in which we did just that. It put me in a very Christmasy mood as I then had "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" in my head all day. I have to admit though, roasted chestnuts are not my favorite and it seems all the fun came from the fact that your hands end up very black with soot and then everyone chases each other around trying to wipe blackness on them.
They also have November 1st as the day to visit your ancestors graves. SO, us being the followers that we are...we followed the people. This meant we also went to the cemeteries...armed with a whole bunch of Plan of Salvation pamphlets. It was actually really a great experience all the way up until it started pouring rain. Not too much of a problem except that I had left my umbrella in the house....oops. We had some amazing experiences and it really made me realize what my purpose is and how I have become a different person in the past year and um pouco. Who would have thought that one day I would be standing in a cemetery in the pouring rain praying with a woman in a different language and reassuring her that one day she would see her Husband again. I am so thankful for the wonderful knowledge we have of the Plan of Salvation. Sometimes I think I take it for advantage how I know our purpose here, where we came from and where we are going. It seems so simple to me, and yet it is such an amazing concept to these people who have no hope- to see the marvelous change and the light that comes into peoples lives as they come to know that there is a loving Father in Heaven who cares about them and that there is someone who will always know how they are feeling. How every one of us has someone we can turn to in any instance in our lives.
Well, hope that everyone has a fantastic week and it is great to hear from you. Love you!!
November 9, 2009
Well we had another absolutely stellar week here in Coimbra. Irmã Draper and I have been really praying and working on developing more faith in the ability of the Lord to work miracles, even in Portugal. Well, it has been a couple weeks of planning every minute of every day, working our tails off (more than we had thought was possible) and doing a whole lot of praying. After a couple weeks it has finally started to catch up to us and we saw a whole lot of miracles this week. We also were really able to work with our members (seeing as how we have the greatest ward in the country) and it has been amazing to see the amount of people that have started to change their lives and to see the differences and light that have come into their lives as a result. The greatest thing is that we feel like we aren’t even doing anything. We had a ward record this week in that with us and the zone leaders we had 8 investigators in church!!!! That might not seem like a lot to some of you who served in other areas, but it definitely was a miracle here in our tiny country. Even more of a miracle was that we didn’t know 4 of them before Sunday. I have been realizing more and more on the mission the way that the Lord guides each and every one of our paths. Definitely the master planner of the universe, because there is no way we could get everything to work out so well even if we planned for 10 years.
On a completely different topic we went to a really old monastery as a district today and it was really cool. Amazing that everything is still hanging around from the 1300´s….okay so it has been restored, but it was still super cool. Unfortunately my camera is now dead, so pictures will have to wait until next week.
As for the transfer question…calls come in on Saturday, so we will have to see. It is a pretty best bet that I, like Andrew will be relegated to the coldest area on the mission for the winter….I had the second coldest last winter, so Andrew, I feel your pain. We need to work on our luck. I have pretty much given up my Island hopes since you usually stay for 4 transfers, and I only have 3 left including the one that is coming. Weird. Hard to believe that so much time has passed already. Love and miss you all!
The Best way to write Sarah is:
1) On the internet go to dearelder.com website.
2) There is a drop down box on the right hand side down just a couple inches. Enter her mission which is Portugal Porto and then click "write a letter" just below where you select the mission.
3) On the next screen enter your return address and Sister Sarah Ray in the address line, add your email in the email box below the envelope.
4) Write your letter in the text box and then hit the "send letter" box under the text box to send it on.
This site does require US $.98 Postage. You can set up an account and it will deduct the postage each time you write.
2) The alternate way for sending anything (i.e. letters, packages, etc) through regular US mail is below. This method requires US $.98 postage for letters.
Sister Sarah Ray
Portugal Porto Mission
Rua de Amalia Luazes
No.23 Sala 1
4200-052 Porto PORTUGAL