I’m Officially in the Portugal Porto Mission

Wow lot´s to say little time to say it.

  1. I´m officially in the Porto mission. We will meet our new mission president on the 10th I think. I don’t think he has his visa yet.
  2. Zaina and Sara don’t want to progress right now. They have a testimony of the Book of Mormon; but they don’t want to act on what they know and be baptized. A lot of people here think that all churches are the word of God and that there can’t be one true church. I don’t really get it but it’s their way of thinking.
  3. One door closes the Lord opens two. We found a family that have already been taught by the missionaries and they are really receptive. We think the reason they weren’t baptized before was because the father didn’t like the church. But now he has passed away they are ready to listen to this message and feel peace and comfort in his passing. We have taught a lot about the eternal nature of families and the importance of the temple for them. They accepted to be baptized on the 12th of July. The mom, Upili, said that she wants to wait until she does something in her culture. We don’t know exactly what, but it has something to do with her husband (Ginné). We are going to teach her the importance of leaving behind the traditions of our fathers to follow the Lord. We ate chicken feet with them. I feel like by the end of my mission, I’ll already have eaten every kind of food imaginable.
  4. We found another family in Azambuja. The dad was less active; but now he has come back to the church and is teaching his family. They are going to church in Lisbon right now; because the bishop there is a family friend and helped reactivate him. They are going to start coming to our ward now and we are going to baptize the rest of his family. They are solid! They read the scriptures every night, their kids are going to EFY this month and they go to church every Sunday. They are going to help our branch grow tremendously.
  5. Today, we went to Tomar with our district. It was really hot! Still, it was by far the best P-day I’ve ever had. This is my favorite district tooJ. Tomar is super cool. Right now they’re preparing for a festival called Festa dos Tabuleiros (Festival of the Trays). Look it up it’s really interesting. Some of the festivals in Portugal are really neat. We had a picnic in the park and afterwards we went to see a really cool castle. The castle part is closed but you can walk around an old monastery. It was really neat.

Everyday I like Portugal a little more. Just like any culture, Portugal has it’s ugly parts; but there is a lot of good here too. Presidente Fluckiger told us how the great people who made Portugal great in the past are waiting on the other side of the veil to receive the blessings of the gospel. Portugal has a lot of promises if the people are ready to receive the gospel. It’s promised that this can be a great country once again, if the gospel is received.

I know that my Savior lives and that he loves and knows us perfectly. I know that there is only one way to be happy and that is to be one with our Father in Heaven. In other words, have the same will, or in other words, obey the commandments. I have seen this principle in action over and over. There are so many people here who are absolutely miserable. They feel alone, abandoned and hopeless. The circumstances of our lives often dictate how we feel. But through our Savior, Jesus Christ, happiness can always be the answer. Through our experiences that are hard, we can grow anew in a strength that is unparalleled. With the attitude that we can do anything through him we can!

Today was almost unbearably hot and I’ve heard this is only the beginning. This week, I will have already done 5 months in the mission. Time flies like crazy; I can’t believe it. I love all of you so much!

Sister Runyan



Ingredients For Happiness

Wow! This week has had some ups and downs!

We met this woman the other day. She grew up in New York and is basically in love with the United States. She asked me to write the national anthem for her, haha. But she is in a really dark place right now. She is really unhappy and really alone. Many of her family members have died; her husband is mute; he beat her in the past; she feels really, really alone. Right now, her dog is sick with kidney failure and when we were with here she was inconsolable. She said that she doesn’t have anyone and that this dog is her only company. But the saddest thing of all is that she refuses to turn to the Lord. We asked if we could say a prayer for her dog; but she doesn’t want anything to do with God. She says that she tried praying in the past, but nothing happened. Her heart was so closed that it was useless trying to help her be happy. I asked her are you happy right now? Do you want to be happy? I told her to try opening her heart to the Lord; but she did not want any of it. With a really heavy heart, we left her in her misery.

This is not the first time, nor the last that I will meet people who choose to be sad. At times I feel inadequate to help them; because in comparison, my life has been relatively easy. They don’t want to hear what I have to say about the Atonement; because they feel that they know more about life than I do. In a sense this is true, and sometimes I wonder if I would be the same in their position. I just have such a strong desire to help them; it makes me so sad when they won’t even try.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. These people are deep in the depths of Satan’s snare. They aren’t bad people; they’re just deeply unhappy and the ingredient missing in their lives is hope. I have realized how important hope is in this life. In Alma 32, we learn that hope is faith, and Faith is the first principle of the gospel. I’ve worked out that the ingredients for happiness are this:

  1. We need to have a desire to be happy. Everything starts with desire.
  2. We need to have hope that we can be happy. If we don’t believe that we can be happy we won’t ever be happy.
  3. We need to Act. We need to put our hopes and dreams into fruition by our own labors. Being happy is a goal, just the same as any other goal.
  • Pray
  • Read scriptures
  • Go to church
  • Obey the commandments
  • Serve
  1. We need to recognize our blessings. We need to have an attitude of gratitude to open our hearts to the Lord. Most importantly, we need to recognize the blessings of the atonement.

Anyone on this planet can be happy if they do these things. Sadly, very few actually will.

I have decided that it is not up to me to be sad about this; but to do my work and help as many people as will listen and be happy for those few who do accept our message.

One of the sweet things that happened this week was our less active, Hironette, came to church and taught with us. I am so happy for the decision that she made.

Sister Da Luz has 9 months in the mission! We celebrated with cake:)

Our conference in Coimbra was neat. Coimbra is a really cool city and it was good to see the Fluckigers for the last time.

I love you all!

Sister Runyan



Olá Familia,

This week was pretty good. Tuesday, another sister was staying with us to wait for the sister she’d be training. That was a pretty good day. I had a headache, but we taught a Brazilian woman. She is super cute. She accepted to be baptized the first lesson! She works Sundays, and to be baptized, people need to come to church 2 times. We’re working with her to find new work.

We found another woman who was collecting the things of a 90 year old woman who threw her stuff out the window on the 11th floor (poor thing). We helped the woman. Her name is Virginia. She was very sweet. We will pass by and talk more with her this week.

We also found a woman named Suela, who is living alone with her 7 month old son. She was very grateful for our visit and also agreed to baptism. She couldn’t come to church this week, because of work. But she asked her boss if she could switch. He said no this time. Another issue is that her family doesn’t like us. But I know she will continue in the right direction.

Kaity is really progressing. His testimony grows every time we see him.

Edmilson moved, so he lives farther away, but he still has a car. He hasn’t been to church in a while.

Our Branch President is a great man, and I can’t even imagine how hard it is to be Branch President. Our members love us, but we’d like them to better understand the importance of the work. Sister Da Luz and I are gonna get a lot more creative. We’re going to do a mini MTC with the members. Also, Saturday, I taught English lessons. We’re using this as a way to find new people.

Yesterday, a little Russian boy wandered in for Primary. He really felt the Spirit. He stayed after everyone had left. We offered to take him home. His mom came running to him. She had been looking for him for 3 hours.  She was so scared and she was crying. I felt so badly for her. She couldn’t really speak Portuguese or English, so we had trouble communicating with her. But we prayed with her and we sang for her. I felt the Spirit really strongly. She did too. She said that she was really worried, but that after, she felt peace. We gave her a Book of Mormon in Russian. She was so grateful for us. We have plans to visit another day and have a lesson. Her son will translate.

We received a call today that we have a conference in Coimbra. We have to leave today and spend the night there.

Thank you for the package! I love the dress, the skirt, the top, the jewelry, everything! Good work. I have a package too, but we never have enough time to send it.



Staying in Carregado!



I’m staying with Sister Da Luz! That means I’m in the Porto mission. No Azores grandma. Sorry. (The Azores are in the Lisbon Mission) They changed up our mission presidente. Now he’s an American. I don’t know his name though. (Originally, Joni Koch, from Brazil, was announced as the Porto Mission President, beginning in July)

We had a week with some sad moments. We dropped Sara, she hasn’t been progressing at all and we stopped by for the last time and she told us that Fabio doesn’t want us teaching them anymore; because he feels that we just want to change their lives. We promptly told her that our purpose is not to force them to change, but give them the opportunity to learn for themselves how to choose the right. Honestly, I feel so sad for them. They could be so much happier if they accepted the gospel.

It has been really enlightening serving with Sister Da Luz; because her family lived in really poor circumstances, there were times when they had absolutely no food in their house. But they were happy!! They had each other and understood what is important. She gets really frustrated with Português people sometimes; because they always complain that life is so difficult and are constantly miserable. They say they are poor and don’t have food, but they have Money to by tobacco. She tells me they have flour, rice, pasta. “When we had rice in our house we had a festa!” I learn more and more with her every day.

It is so true that we need to put things into perspective and learn how to be grateful. When we have gratitude, we can be happy in any situation. We have tried teaching these people how to apply the atonement in their lives and give them the recipe for happiness, but often times they choose misery. It makes me so sad sometimes. When it comes to families, the children will suffer so much more than the parents. And it turns into a cycle of children learning misery from their parents.

I have witnessed a lot of unhappiness already on my mission. This week, one of our investigators had been struggling with her boyfriend, she had scars on her face. We were pretty sure that he had beaten her. I haven’t told you this yet, but Portugal has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the world. These women endure so much pain, and sometimes I have no idea how I can help them have peace in their lives. But then I remember the atonement and even though I can’t understand their pain, he can. If I can teach them about the Savior, that is all they need to remember their worth as a daughter of god.

We had happy moments too! Kaity is awesome! He is 20 and has been an investigator for a few weeks. He asks a lot of questions and sometimes the questions are really funny. He asked us why he can’t just wait to be baptized until he’s really old and die and be saved. He was joking. He was baptized yesterday. It was really cool; because it was an activity for our district; so President Fluckiger was there.

This transfer we are going to baptize a lot of people!

Love you all

Sister Runyan

Questions & Answers:

How are you feeling about being in the Porto mission?

Good. It will be fixe! (Pronounced feesh & means cool)  It is also literally cooler there and so I’m really excited about that.  It is getting really hot here and no one has air conditioning!!!!!! I will die. They all have air conditioning in their cars, but they don’t use it. I think they just don’t believe in air conditioning. I’ve already seen Lisbon and now I will be able to see Porto too!

Are the streets in Azambuja really dirt or do they bring in dirt to cover the streets for the festival?

They bring in dirt. Now it’s all gone. I think it’s to soften the fall?


Portugal, the Land of the Crazy Testosterone Infested Men!


One more week until transfers. Will I be in the Porto mission or Lisboa mission? I have no idea. Anything could happen. I will be sad if I leave Carregado or Sister Da Luz; but It will be kind of exciting to see what happens.

This week was kind of cool. In Azambuja, they had a Festival de Torros!  The people here are kind of weird. The festival is a really big thing and everyone comes. They let bulls loose in the streets and these stupid drunk men try to taunt it and evade it when it chases them. Every year people die. Someone died the other day but they keep going like nothing ever happened. It’s kind of barbaric. I have videos; but I don’t know how to send them. Look it up online. (The festival is actually called “Festa Brava no Ribatejo”; which translates to “Mad Party in Ribatejo”. Ribatejo being the region where Azambuja is located. Here’s a video from 2009.)

Also, I ate snails with one of our members. It’s really nothing to write home about, but it’s not terrible either.

We have an investigator who is preparing to be baptized this week. He is really awesome. He’s the uncle of the sisters, Hironette and Sonia. We’re also going to work with a Brazilian man and his daughter. They’ve known the church for a long time; but we think that soon they’ll be baptized.

We turned over our old house to the owner yesterday. He was really rude with us. He’s probably really upset; cuz there’s no way he’s going to sell a house on the 11th floor without an elevator. (I again asked why the elevator isn’t operating. She replied “It’s a diferente world here mom. The people in the building weren’t paying for it, including our owner, so they shut it off. I really don’t understand either.”)

Domingos said that he’s going to propose to Antonia soon. I sure hope so!

We have a couple of less actives who are coming to church. This isn’t good; because they cause a lot of havoc in our branch. We aren’t allowed to teach one; because she was disfellowshipped. All of our members are handling it ok; but it’s hard because she said some really mean things to almost everyone. I think she probably needs psychological help.

We had interviews with the mission president. That was kind of neat; but probably the last time I’ll see him.

I did residency this morning. It wasn’t really all that exciting. I just took a picture and took fingerprints. Afterward, we went bowling with other missionaries. That was pretty fun.

Every week is a new adventure here. I’m always exhausted. But it’s good; because we work really hard.

I love you all. Pray for us that we can be really obedient this week; to help our investigators. I think that will really start to help our work. Things like exercising and using our time wisely can be really difficult; but we’re trying.

Love you all

Sister Runyan