Faith in Christ

Olá Familia,

Everything is well.  In the beginning of the week, we went to the hospital, in Porto, for Sister Smith’s foot. It was an adventure! Everything’s pretty much different here, health care included. All I will say; is I hope I never have any medical emergencies here in Portugal. We did talk to some really nice people while we were at the hospital.

We’ve been teaching a little old lady, named Maria José. She’s probably going to die soon. We teach her with a member, also called Maria José (name creativity isn’t really a thing here). They are so cute and so childlike it kills me. Maria José wants to be baptized; but she never feels well enough. We told her she needs to act with faith. She came to a baptism of the daughter-in-law of the other Maria José. She like it and agreed to be baptized next week. Yay!

Maria José and Maria José with Sister Runyan

This Sunday, they had a 5th Sunday lesson on reverence. It got pretty heated. I love this ward and all the unique and interesting people in it. I’ve heard this is one of the best wards in Portugal. It’s very big and a lot of the members are absolutely fantastic. Transfers have been postponed until Wednesday. I really hope I will stay here.

This week, I’ve been studying in 3 Nephi. The thing that has really been sticking out to me is how wicked the people were before Christ’s birth. People can be given signs and blessings; but this does not help them develop true faith in Christ. True faith in Christ comes from our own actions. This is the principle that I want our investigators to understand; but it’s not something they can understand until they’ve tested it.

Today, we had a district P-day with the elders. We went to a mall in Porto. There is a crazy cool store here called Primark. It’s always super busy. They have cool clothes for super, super cheap (a shirt is 3 €). I bought a shirt and a cardigan. It was goodJ. We also ate at a sit down Pizza Hut with a buffet. It was weird. I really like Porto. I think it’s really beautiful.

Well, love you all! I hope everyone is adjusting to school and life.

Love, Sister Runyan

P.S. The Portuguese love American baking. Send me more recipesJ, like the best stuff ever. Also, look up how to make good brownies in Europe; because mine always turn out like cake.

Also, I decided that when I come home, I need to reread Harry Potter and look for all the Portugal related things.

Ema Cruz, Ana Cruz and Sister Smith
Sister Runyan & Sister Smith with Members of the Ward
Sister Runyan, Sister Smith and new converts, José e Liliane
Gaia Elders at a Member's Home
The Elders with Avelino
Gaia Elders at a Member's Home
The Elders at Xeca and Avelino’s house
Gaia Elders at a Member's Home
Elder Pedro

I Absolutely Love Portuguese People

Hello Everyone!

This week was interesting.

One of the elders went home today. That made me reflect a lot on my own mission and how I’m already 6 months in. Crazy!!! Actually, this week was kind of a turning point for me. It was a little rough at points; but I’m learning so much about myself and the gospel.

I am so thankful for my amazing companion, Sister Smith, I’ve learned so much from her, it’s insane. We have a lot of fun together, navigating the streets of Gaia (sometimes in the pouring rain).

I’ve decided that I absolutely love Portuguese people. They are hilarious and there are so many times you can’t help but love them.

This week we are kind of breaking up with one of our investigators, José Leite (Zé ), a very interesting guy. He’s 35, Obsessed with MMA, has the mentality of an 18 year old at times. He used to meet up with us all the time; but now he’s super hesitant. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it; but he left his copy with his mom, and he still hasn’t done it. We told him that this was the only way to receive an answer if the things we were telling him are true. I think he might be a little scared to receive an answer.

Fortunately, we found someone else, Bruno. We found him on the street during a division. We invited him to church and he was just like, “ya, I’ll come to church!” Yay! He came.:) We still haven’t taught him yet’ but he has a lot of potential.

There is a member here who sells things. One of his things is called a Bimby. It’s German and apparently, everywhere besides Portugal, it’s called a thermal cooker or something. Any way, it’s pretty cool. He loves to invite us over and show us how it works. There are videos of it on YouTube apparently. He also speaks perfect American English. Sister Smith and I decided he sounds just like Brian Reagan.

Well, love you all.

Sister Runyan

Progressing Investigators

Olá everyone!

This week has been pretty interesting. First we have three progressing investigators. Gabriel, he’s 20, and a medical student. He speaks English with a perfect American accent. His mom is from Angola. He has been an investigator for a while now. But he is slowly making progress still. He is on the verge of getting baptized. He wants to, he’s just a little nervous about the changes in his life that would happen, like maybe loosing friends, getting callings etc… We challenged him this week to thoughtfully pray and choose a date that he would like to prepare to be baptized.

Sister Smith and Sister Runyan with Gabriel.

We also have Zé a 35 year old martial artist. He also speaks English. (Here, a lot more people speak English.) Sister Smith had a spiritual prompting to talk to him on the road. Since then, he’s come to church, and we’ve had a couple lessons with him. It was going well until this Saturday. We found out that he has some doubts. He told us things about his dysfunctional family life, and said his motive for doing all this is to find answers to help them get their lives together. He didn’t come to church this week; because he didn’t wake up. He also told us that he gets more excited about MMA (mixed martial arts) then church. He then said that maybe MMA is his church. He’s a little confused; but it’s not a problem. We will continue to help him try and keep his commitments, to read the Book of Mormon and to pray.

Last, we have Carlos, another eternigator (eternal investigator). He comes to church, reads, prays; but he has a lot of doubts and concerns, specifically about all the suffering in the world. We’ve had a habit for the last few weeks to send specific scriptures to him to help him. He told us that he cries some times when he reads, and we told him that was the spirit speaking to him.

We taught 2 Cigana (aka gypsy; I don’t really like this word I’ve heard that it’s offensive) families this week. One family was hard core, like the women aren’t allowed to read, and they can only wear long skirts. That was actually kind of sad, but they are sooo sweet. The other is an evangelical Cigana family. They are more integrated into normal society; but they’re still distinctive in the fact that they still only follow Cigana laws and not necessarily the laws of the land.

The Cigana culture is very different and it is very interesting to actually get to know them. They are wonderful people individually, but the culture causes problems sometimes. The Portuguese people don’t really like the Ciganas.

Things are going well though. We did some sight-seeing for P-day. It was fun.

Love you all!

Sister Runyan

Time Flies Fast

Hello all!

This week was spectacular! I absolutely love Sister Smith. We have a lot of fun together. Gaia is a really special area. I love being so near to Porto and all the people that live here of course.

The members are soo sweet. There are so many members here that love the Sisters and always want us over. Gaia is actually really breezy; so it doesn’t get nearly as hot during the summer as the rest of Portugal.

Some of the highlights for this week was one day we contacted a man on the street and we said something about the holy spirit and he was like “I have 10 spirits… do you want one? And we were just like “What?!” He said “I have 10 spirits, here’s a spirit and here’s a spirit look now you both have one.” We were like “ok?” And then he asked where we were from, and Sister Smith said Idaho. And he was like “oh ya, where the Indians live, you know in one of my past lives I was an Indian. I’ve had five, so ya.” And I was doing everything in my power not to bust up laughing so we just said “It was a pleasure to meet you. You’re always invited to come to church,” and we left. One of the upsides of talking to everybody in the street; you get to meet all the crazies.

One of our less actives actually has schizophrenia. It’s very interesting working with him. He needs a lot of help; but unfortunately Portugal doesn’t really have programs for people like that. He is always depressed and he always tells us how hard it is. The only thing we as missionaries can do for him is keep telling him to pray, read scriptures, and go to church. It’s a really different situation. He is such a sweet guy but he struggles with living the commandments.

We have other people who are preparing for baptism. There is Gabriel, he’s a 20 year old kid who has received an answer that the church is true. He’s just a little scared. We’re working really hard at finding new people to teach right now.

Oh, also I’ve officially hit my 6 month mark. Time flies way too fast.

Love you all

Sister Runyan

Transferred to Vila Nova de Gaia

Hello All!

To kind of summarize what happened this week (because a lot happened.) Tuesday night we found out where we would be transferred. We were in the chapel with some branch members. We found out that Sister Da Luz was staying and that I was heading up to Vila Nova de Gaia (across the Duoro River from Porto). One of the sisters from the branch cried and I cried too. Their family was incredible and I will miss them. I also said goodbye to Fabiana and Monica (Recent Converts). I will miss them so, so much.:(

A few of the branch members found out my train schedule and they drove us up to Santarem, to catch the train. I said goodbye to them and “enjoyed” my 3 hour train ride. When I arrived, my new companion, Sister Smith, and members Xeca and Avelino picked me up. Xeca is a RM who was less active. The sisters helped reactivate her and baptize her husband, Avelino. She is an incredible woman. We love them a lot.

The last few days, I’ve been getting to know my new area. There are a lot of things that are really different. For one, it’s a lot bigger. Also, there’s a lot more to see and do here, so P-days will be great. There are 2 wards in Vila Nova de Gaia and in our ward there are 3 companionships, 5 Elders and 2 sisters.  Our apartment is really nice here. But the elders are trying to steal it. There are 5 of them and our apartment is bigger than theirs. So I’ve been holding off unpacking a little.

Coming from the south of Portugal I’m really sad to say goodbye to all the Africans, because not very many Africans live up here. The Portuguese are great too, it’s just that Africans treat everyone like Family and they are very dear to my heart. But I’m going to be eating actual Portuguese food now, so that will be fun.

I should tell you about the culture of all the immigrants in the Portuguese speaking world. Cabo Verdeans are basically African but not? I really don’t know how to describe it. The church is really, really successful there. Watch the video about them on the church website on the Cabo Verde page. They’ll probably get a temple before Portugal; because they all pay tithing. Angola is a little more modernized from what I can tell; but they’ve had a lot of wars there. Sao Tome is an Island. They are really fun, loud and love to party; but at the same time are super chill. Guinea is like what you imagine Africa; they wear traditional clothes; they have darker skin and everyone is family. They are literally some of the sweetest people I have met in my life. There are also some scary ones. Brazil:  before the mission, I didn’t really have a very good concept of Brazil. I thought they were more South American; but they’re not, they have their own culture. They are very polite and courteous. But they have really good music and other things of that nature. Their accent sounds really funny to me now. The African accents sound the most normal for me at this point.

I love the people here already. I can tell that this is going to be a really great area.

Love you all so much,

Sister Runyan