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Monday, 25 July 2016

A God of Miracles

It shouldn´t surprise you all that this past week has been as crazy as the rest! 
I feel like half the things that happened this week, didn´t actually happen this week, but about a month ago....time just doesn´t make sense on the mission.
We did a super successful activity with a Family from our ward this week. Our mission is always focused on getting references from the members, so we decided to go to the house of Família Garcia and make cookies with them, and then we put together little packets of the book of mormon with their testimonies inside, the restoration pamphlet, and of couse our number. They turned out super well, and they got so excited to do it. The best part was that we were able to present on of the packets to their oldest daughter and her husband who aren´t members.
We worked in a new area this week called Quinta do Anjo- it is an area that not a lot of missionaries have worked in in the past, but we had Incredible success there! In a period of only one hour we found 3 families that let us in to talk to them, and look like they have real potential! And altogether from the few days that we worked there, we found almost 7 potentials. One casal was incredibly nice, and we found out that the husband actually studies religion and has already completely read the book of Mormon.
My mind was Blown.
I had my final zone meeting and mission counsel this week. It was a bit surreal to be sitting in those meetings knowing it would be the last.
Ugh. I don´t like thinking about it.
It seems like there hasn´t been a week yet that I haven´t had to drive to some place unexpectedly. This week it was Lisbon. I had to drive to Lisbon twice this week to attend mission counsel and also so that Sister Ditton could get her eyes checked for her driving license.
Saturday was a bit of a trying day. Maria has been out of Setúbal this week because of a sick uncle that she had to take care of, but it actually turned out to be a miracle, because when I called her at the beginning of the week to see how she was doing she said that she wasn´t able to smoke in her uncles house. I was super happy and it was literally a blessing because she had to stop smoking by the middle of this week in order to be baptized on the 31st.
Unfortunately, when she finally returned home, and we visited her on the Saturday she received us with a great big smile, but then told us that she just couldn´t change religions. She loves us a lot, but she said that she thought about it a lot and she just doesn´t feel like she can give up the catholic church.
I was crushed. Literally. 
Presidente Tavares has put a huge focus on having enough faith to make things happen, and I felt like I was putting all the faith I could into helping Maria be baptized, but in the end I just felt like my faith wasn´t enough. It was a hard thing for me to accept. Mainly because I have grown to love Maria so much, and I wanted to see her baptized before I leave. There were definitely a few tears shed...or many, but if there is anything that I have learned on my mission, it is that God is a God of Miracles. I knew in that moment I had 2 ways that I could respond to the situation. I could have continued to be sad, and dwell in the fact that our only person marked for baptism fell through, or I could continue to work even harder to find someone that is just waiting by the baptismal font, ready to jump in. I said a big long prayer at lunch, started a fast, and we went right back to work. We ended up working in Azeitão Saturday afternoon, and We saw tons of tender mercies from the Lord. Including teaching Joana-Alexandre´s girlfriend, and also visiting with a woman who´s son is severely brain damaged and discovering that her mom was actually a member of our church. I can´t even begin to explain the many small miracles we saw from the Lord this week. He is so loving, and knows our every need. I was reading in Mormon chapter 9 this week, which I feel describes my week perfectly. You should all go read it. It´s one of the best.
I love you all! I will see you in ONE WEEK!!!!!!!! Don´t get too excited. Keep calm and say a prayer :)
Paz e Bênçãos.

-Sister Selk
Maria Victoria and Raul came to church with us yesterday!

our avo here in Portugal- Victor :)

It´s super hot here, so just ignore the appearance. 
Familia Garcia

Recidencial do Gaio

I met some of the coolest people I have ever met before this week. And they all ranged from about 60-90 years old.
We received a reference from the other Elders In Setubal saying that they had run into a less active lady on the street that lived in our area in Palmela, so we were able to get the contact from them and set up plans for the beginning of this week. Her name is Raquel and when we called her she told us that she worked in an elderly home, but told us to stop by there to talk to her. I was a little bit confused at first as to why she would tell us to stop by her work, but on Tuesday afternoon we headed to Palmela and showed up in front of Recidencial do Gaio. It basically just looks like a normal home from the outside, but from the moment we stepped inside I literally felt like I was living in a film. We found out that Raquel is acutally the owner of this Elderly home, and she has about 8 residents living there that were previously mistreated in other homes. She is honestly the coolest person. You should all go look at their facebook page. All the Elderly people are SO cool as well. I wish I had time to go through and introduce everyone to you guys, but everyone has such a different personality and they are Hilarious. For example. We were all sitting around this table eating and there is this man named Zacharias- I literally didn´t know if he was super coherent to be honest. He didn´t say much at the beginning, and just looked a little bit like a skeleton, but then as we were eating he just started cracking all these jokes! It started with him drinking the lemonade and making the funniest little yelp along with a super ugly face followed by the comment "What are you serving me? Vinegar?!" 
Oh my gosh..I died.
And then he started hitting on Lurdes across the table from him- blowing her kisses and everything. I haven´t laughed that hard in such a long time.
I have so many stories to tell you guys when I get home.
Other events of the week: 
We had a division this week. I had to drive to Cascais to pick up Sister Barron and Drop off Sister Ditton on Wednesday morning. Sister Barron and I worked here all of Wednesday Afternoon, and then on Thursday morning I had to drive all the way back to Cascais to drop up Sister Barron and pick up sister Ditton again. It was super tiring, but we got through it!
As for an update on Maria.
She is slowly smoking less and less, and absolutely loves our visits. I have grown to love her SO much! She has to get baptized before I leave. She has to quite smoking 10 days before her baptism, so basically we are praying that she will be able to quit by quarta feira. We did a fast for her yesterday, but unfortunately she still wasn´t able to make it through the day without smoking, so we might to another one with her this week. I am so confident she is going to get baptized though! It´s going to happen!!
Well folks, Life is good! I am living a dream, I love the Lord and I love all yáll.
Fiquem Bem!
Paz e Bênçãos!

-Sister Selk
Sister Vanaquer spoiled us this week.....we like food way too much 

Sitting by me is victor (capitão chefe do lar) and then next to Victor is Zacharias 
Working hard or hardly working (Sorry it´s upside down...we get a little crazy in the car)!


This is where the jovens in our ward were "camping"

Sunday, 17 July 2016

July 11

We saw some amazing miracles and some strong opposition this week in Setubal. Sister Ditton and I have been working super hard, and because of that we have seen Satan working even harder against us, but we have also seen more miracles than ever.
The youth in our ward had their yearly camp this week, and we were invited out to give the spiritual messages a few days in a row. Their camp consisted basically of just all the youth camping, playing on the beach, and dancing to music......nothing super spiritual at all, so it was neat for us to be able to add another dimension to the camp. The best part about it was that out of the 30 youth that were there, I think about half of them were either less active or nonmembers. I am going to be completely serious and say that we have quite a few punk youth in our ward, but then we have this group of angel jovens that reminds me of the 2000 stripling warriors because they are so incredible!
I will talk about 2 youth specifically that are absolutely incredible- Alexandre and Simão.
First of all Alexandre is one of the coolest young men I have yet to meet here in Portugal. He is already an incredible missionary and is only 16 years old. At this camp he had 2 friends who are recent converts (Simão and Fabricio), he also had his girlfriend there who was not a member, invited another nonmember friend, and also Fabricio was there with 2 nonmember friends. So just because of this one young man there were about 6 other people there.
We went out to their camp on Friday morning and did an activity with them. We decided to do the activity about the atonement and the doughnuts. We had a great big giant box with 36 doughnuts, and all 30 of the youth were there. We actually asked Alexandre if he could do the pushups. (Keep in mind that Alexandre is a pretty skinny dude that said that his max amount of pushups was 40.....I can do better than that, but I didn´t tell that to his face) I think all of you already know this story, so I won´t explain, but I went down the line and started asking every person if they would like a doughnut. For every answer of no or yes, I asked Alexandre to do 3 pushups. He hadn´t even gotten through half of the people and I could see that he was already getting super tired and weak. At one point he was starting to collapse and I honestly didn´t know how he was going to make it through the other 15 people. 
I have done this activity before, but I have never been the one giving out the doughnuts, so this time gave me a whole different perspective on how Heavenly Father must have felt as he watched his son suffer for all of our sins.
But by far the most spiritual part was when Simão (Alexandres friend and recent convert) got up without being asked, went over by alexandre´s side and started doing pushups with him. It was honestly one of the coolest experiences I have seen on the mission. Almost instantly Alexandre got more strength- I still don´t know how or from where, but he was able to do the 90+ pushups. 
I think it was definitely a touching moment for a lot of the youth.
I wish I had time to tell you everything that happened this week, because we honestly saw so many miracles!!! Including marking a lady named Maria for Baptism! She is such a cool lady, and she came to church with us this Sunday. She told us beforehand that she was really nervous to go to all 3 hours of church because she doesn´t do well sitting down for very long, but after church she said, "I can´t believe I made it through all 3 hours! That must be a sign!"
We will be teaching her tonight, so I will probably tell you more about her next week, but she does smoke, so if you could all pray for her this week, I would really appreciate it.
I am extremely grateful for the miracles that I witnessed this week. I know God is looking out for us, and helps us in each step of this work.
Love Yáll.
Talk to Mason for me. #jealous.
Paz e Bênçãos.

-Sister Selk

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Too legit to quit!

I was reading Mason´s email from last week and realized that I had a pretty similar week to him this week, so it might be a bit of a repeat, mas tudo bem.
I was thinking about what happened this week, and we really did so much this week! 
First off, I will talk a little bit about Olhão!!! It was super fun being able to drive down to Olhão and spend a few hours visiting with everyone I know there. We really didn´t have that much time, so we didn´t get to visit everyone that I was hoping to get to visit, but I was super content with every visit that we made. I got to see Rosaria! We went and knocked on her door and her mom answered and said that she was working, so we asked for her number, but then her mom told us to wait one second and went and knocked on their next door neighbors house. Sure enough Rosaria opened the door! I was so not expecting that, and I know Rosaria was not expecting to see me because when she saw me her mouth dropped wide open and she came and gave me a big hug.
I also got to see Nato and his Family. They came to the church to visit with us for awhile. Bruno is preparing to serve a mission and we actually just found out yesterday that he will be serving in Spain! So that is super exciting!
Definitely the highlight of the day though was being able to go visit Avo Rosalia and Nuno. I knew that she wouldn´t recognize me, because her memory is not the greatest, but I died when I saw her. She is honestly the most Precious woman I have met here in Portugal, and is just the most dedicated member. She still walks to church all by herself, even though I don´t know how safe that is for her to do, because of the issues she has with her memory. But what made my day is when she still talked about the "lourinha" missionary that was so "querida"- That being me :) Although she didn´t completely recognize me, she still knows and remembers who I am. She was talking about me and asking where I was and Nuno had to tell her that it was me, and she just got so excited and happy.
I cried.
So basically it was a super succesfull trip to the algarve. 
On tuesday we had zone conference. Like Mason mentioned in his last email, all the missionaries bear their testimonies in the last zone conference, so like him, I also had to bear my testimony and my feelings were about exactly the same. I have seen so many other missionaries get up and bear their testimonies that it almost didn´t seem real that it was my turn. 
I honestly don´t want to and can´t think about that. Just sitting in my last fast and testimony meeting here in Portugal yesterday had me bawling.
I´m a mess.
But I am taking advantage of every minute that I have. 
As our final testimony they ask us to bear our testimonies on "why our mission was a success" I stood up and had to change that a little bit to "why my mission is a success, and will continue to be a success."
I love the mission so much.
We met the sweetest couple in one of our areas this week. They are just the cutest little things! Maria Vitoria and Raul. They are 83 and 86 years old, but they are goers! Man they probably work harder than I ever have! I feel pretty blessed sometimes as a canadian, because other people that have any connection to canada always love me. That was the case with Maria and Raul. They lived in Canada for many years and Raul was a very good carpenter. (He actually reminds me a ton of Grandpa Johnson.) They raised their family there and everything, and one of their sons still live there, but they moved back to Portugal with their other son. When They found out I was from Canada they invited us back to have lunch with them, so we returned and got to explain more about the book of mormon. I think the funniest part is that they are just this cute little couple but they have the most massive, terrifying dogs I have ever seen in my life.....I will try and send a picture.
I kind of got to celebrate canada day! We went to Claudia and Bruno´s house and I made them poutine....I have to say, I just pretend like I know how to make poutine everytime, but everytime it turns out pretty dang good.....What can I say, I am a true canadian.
Another cool story of the week! We have a family in our ward that is super firm, but they have a son who is 13 and has never been baptised because it is the second marriage of the mom, and his dad never allowed him to get baptized. But finally they got it authorized, and he was baptized on Saturday!!!! It was honestly one of the coolest baptisms I have attended. He was SO happy, it was incredible. He has been religiously attending church his whole life, and has always had to sit and watch the other deacons of our ward pass the sacrament, or hear about the other youth going to the temple, but finally it was his turn, and he is officially the newest member of our ward. That baptism definitely had me crying.
The rest of the week Sister Ditton and I were just working out bums off trying to find new people to teach. We visited a TON of our members to ask for references and when we weren´t doing that we were knocking doors like crazy!......It is definitely smoking here is Setubal. It was a solid 40º yesterday.......But I honestly cannot complain. I love this work, and every little struggle is so worth it.
Amo Vocês! Fiquem bem! BEIJINHOS.
Paz e Bênçãos.

-Sister Selk

Minha Filha now serving in my weird!


Minha Querida Avo!!!

Nato e Familia....and Luis....haha

Maria Vitoria e Raul

Some pics from the past few weeks

I never got to send pictures or talk about the baptism of André, but it went really well, and it was super special! Here he is!

Cristo Rei e Belema

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The final 6

Let me just say right off the bat that this week made me extremely grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I mean I wouldn´t be out here preaching the gospel if I wasn´t already grateful for it, but this week we got pretty exposed to some other religions, and let me tell you...The church is true my friends.
One of these experiences being with a Jehovas witness. We met this son and father knocking doors a few weeks ago and they invited us back to talk a few times, but our lessons just turned into more of a discussion of the scriptures more than anything else, so this time I was determined to go back there with purpose to find out if they really had the desire to learn more about this church. We prepared a lot for our lesson, and brought e member, and in the end it was a super good experience. 
We ended up dropping them, but it was still a super cool lesson.
We realized that they were more firm in their church than we thought and were basically inviting us over to try and convert us. At one point in the lesson João (the son) was saying something about the fact that he just couldn´t believe in someone like joseph smith and said that any true prophet of God, does not speak of himself but only of the will of God. It was at this point that I was able to bear one of the strongest testimonies I have shared about Joseph Smith. There is no doubt in my mind that Joseph Smith is a prophet called of God. I shared with him just a few of the things that joseph did in his life- including leaving his family and friend behind to die for this religion, and then I asked him if he thought any man who was just establishing a church for himself would do something like that. 
He got pretty quiet after that.
In the end, he really had no desire to change his life, but for me every minute was worth it, just because of the fact that I myself gained a greater testimony of the Prophet Joseph smith and this gospel.
We were also invited to the 7th day adventist church on Saturday, so we attended a few hours of that church as well, and it was basically the same story all over again.
The church is true fam.
We are still teaching Vitor and it is going well. It is a pretty slow process with him, and even though he doesn´t have the greatest intelectual capacity, he has such a desire to change his life which is amazing.
Oh! Also, another super cool experience that happened this week!
We were invited to Bruno and Claudia´s house to eat dinner on Saturday night (they Always give us food! They would invite us over everyday if us was up to them!) but anyways, bruno had to give his first talk in church this week, so we were helping him with his talk after dinner, and the best part was that his brother was there having dinner with us. He is a super nice guy, but you could tell he was kind of trying to keep closed to make sure that we knew he wasn´t interested in anything we had to say. But there was one point where I just shared my testimony of the atonement. I don´t remember exactly what I said, but I do remember saying that I wished that every person in the world had a greater understanding of the atonement because everyone would be so much happier. I continued to share my testimony, and as I was talking Bruno´s brother was listening so intently. I then asked Bruno to read Alma 7:11-13, and I think that scripture really hit him. We finished up with a prayer and while we were praying I got the strongest impression that I needed to ask him-actually not just ask him, but basically tell him- that he had felt something as we were talking. As soon as the prayer was done I looked straight into his eyes and said, "you felt something didn´t you." He responded without hesitation and said a simple "yes". All I said after that was, "when you want to feel that again, you have our number and we are available whenever you want to talk to us."
It was such a cool experience! Ahhh. It was crazy! I´m excited to see where it goes. Yesterday his little 8 year old son came to church with Bruno and Claudia, so that is a start.
To end, we got transfer calls last night and I found out I will be serving with Sister Ditton! It is going to be a blast. Also we are going to have 2 canadians in the house...the only canadians on the mission, so that is pretty cool! Sister Bravender is from Edmonton and is only in her 2nd transfer and will be serving with Sister Vanaquer. You better believe we are going to have a great 1st of July in our house! Whoop.
Hope you all have a great week. Love ya lots! Fiquem fortes! Só mais 6 semanas...Ahhhh!
Paz e Bênçãos.

Sister Selk

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Serra de Arrabida

               Me attempting to do a breakdancing move that Sister Vanaquer taught

I like catching crabs and stuff