I Met the Most Incredible Woman Ever!

HI Everyone.

This week I´ve been adjusting to a new area. Braga is beautiful!! People are a lot more receptive here as well. I’m really happy to be serving with Sister Nagliati as well (the g is silent). A little about her. Her parents were both born in Italy, but they moved to Brazil. She was born and raised there. Recently, she spent a year in England, before her mission. So she speaks English very well. She is so cute and fun, and an incredible missionary.

Here in Braga, we have a ward with an excellent bishop. He will actually be a mission president next year. There are two sets of missionaries that serve here; Sister Nagliati and I, along with Elder Pedro who is serving here with a brand new missionary, Elder Jensen.  This ward has about 70-80 people in regular attendance. We have an abundance of investigators to teach as well. People are generally receptive and friendly. There is a recent convert here that loves to teach with us as well. His name is Antonio. He’s about 65 and he loves going out with the sisters; because he’s retired and he has nothing else to do. He is the funniest little man and he makes us laugh every day.

There are a lot more Brazilians that live here than I’ve already seen. There are a couple universities here, with a lot of historic sites and lots of tourists. There is a lot of Shopping centers here as well. This is the most well developed city I’ve yet seen in Portugal; except for one thing, they don’t have trash bins here. You leave your trash bags on the side of the road and they come and pick it up. I promise I’ll take more pictures this week.

We have some progressing investigators right now. We have a Brazilian woman named Eliane, who we taught on Monday. She is very receptive; but she doesn’t have a lot of time to talk to us during the week. We talked to her again on Friday. And that night she passed her friend as a reference to us! That has never happened to me on the mission. We’ll go and teach her friend this week. We are also teaching a couple of African women who have a lot of potential.

Since Sister Nagliati is Brazilian, she doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving; but she was nice enough to let me make a “nice” lunch for us. The turkey just wasn’t the same unfortunately. It kind of looked like one of those Thanksgiving dinners they give at homeless shelters; but what can you do.

Yesterday, no one came to church. We will try even harder to help people to come next week.

Yesterday, I met the most incredible woman ever! She lived in Angola during the Revolution there. Her husband had a high position in the government there; but they were on the side of the Angolans. Her husband stayed home with their children, with guards protecting them while she went out and fought. She was one of the only 2 Portuguese women who fought in the revolution. I think she was a nurse or something; but she had a gun. She said she never killed anyone though. Also, she made all of the furniture in her house. She’s writing her life´s story right now and I hope I can read it someday, I don’t know how she found the gospel; but she has so much faith. She has a lot of pain; but her spirit is still so youthful and lively she’s just a joy to be with.

I can tell this will be a great transfer. Please continue to pray for Pedro and Descio. I got the news that Pedro got baptized this Saturday! I am so happy for him. The first year is critical; so he still needs a lot of prayers.

Love you all

Sister Runyan



We Can’t Even Believe How Good the Lord Is

Dear Familia,

First, I am leaving Gaia. I am absolutely heart broken. I’m moving to Braga; which I’ve heard is a beautiful area. My new companion is Brazilian. I still haven’t met her yet.

Second, yesterday was a day of miracles. Sundays are usually hard for us because no one comes to church. But Descio (Descio is from Angola, but is in Gaia receiving cancer treatment) and his family decided to come and say goodbye to Sister Schill; because they love us a lot. It was the Primary Program!!! Descio had been hesitant in the past to come; because he had been hurt by other churches. But he finally decided to try it out. He loved it!! We had been praying for a family to be baptized all transfer. We didn’t get to see a baptism; but Desciosaid that he would come back for the rest of his life. Also, his wife, who is working in Angola, will be here for Christmas. So the whole family can be baptized! We can’t even believe how good the Lord is.

Third, Pedro came to church as well. Which is actually a huge struggle; because he has a job that asks him to come every Sunday. Pedro decided to turn down the job yesterday and come to church. That same day he got a job that has him come in every day except Sunday. THE LORD LOVES THAT MAN! We are so happy for him. He will also be baptized this Saturday, like Susie. (Susie is our mail carrier and friend in Folsom. We are very excited that she is getting baptized!)

I am sad to say goodbye to everyone. I cried my eyes out last night, when we found out they were closing our area. We have so many people preparing for baptism; but I know that the Elders here will take good care of them.

Love you all.

Sister Runyan

Vida é Assim

Hello Everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Portuguese Culture. Since Sister Schill is ending her mission, we have been talking a lot about why we love Portugal so much.

  1. They take their food seriously! Their meal times are sacred. It’s a high offense to knock doors during lunch or dinner hour. Children often times get picked up by their parents to eat lunch at home and then return to school.
  2. Fatima!!!! So the story goes that Fatima is a village in Portugal where the Virgin Mary appeared to three starving children. So they call her Fatima. (I don’t know why) So all the Portuguese people make pilgrimages to Fatima during the year to ask her for stuff. Sometimes we’ll be talking about the first vision and they’ll just be like “It’s just like Fatima!!!” It’s kind of interesting.
  3. The old people all had really hard lives. It’s actually really sad. We talk to a lot of old people and they’ll just sit there and talk about their health problems and they all say the same thing. “Vida é assim” “vida de pobrezinhos”; which translates “That’s life and life of poor little people.” I love the old people here. They just need a lot of love. There are seriously a lot of old people! Every day we see like 3 different hearses in the road.
  4. The people here are very disheartened by churches; which it makes it really difficult to help people realize that they need a church.
  5. Mental healthcare isn’t really a thing. We meet so many people here who would really benefit from some medication.

There is just so much more to talk about. I learn something new every day. This week we decided that we would wash our clothes in one of the washing pools they have sitting around everywhere. We’ll send pictures.

So we had decided to take pictures at one of the little washing wells they have all over. We stopped at this one and there was a stray dog that wanted to be in the pictures too.

This week we tried our hardest to find a family that we could teach. We didn’t find anyone new this week; but I know that we have good things in store. We were a little disheartened that our only investigator in church was Carlos. But we decided that we will not doubt the Lord’s plan and just be grateful for all the miracles that have already happened. Not much has happened with Pedro. He just needs a lot of prayers. We are just coming to realize that our area is very catholic and very set in their ways. We always have more success contacting people in the Elders area than our own. Maybe the Lord is just testing our faith. But we know good things are coming.

Love you all.

Sister Runyan

Picture explanation: Today we wandered around Porto (bottom).

Last P-day starts with the picture of the harry potter cape. We walked into a uniform store and asked to try on the cape they were actually really nice. We spent the day with a lot of other sisters. Sister Elliot  (MTC companion) was there, also Sister Johnson (trainer companion).

The Savior Will Always Help Us

Hello Everyone!

I’m not going to lie. This has been one of the craziest weeks on my mission. We have been working so hard to find a family that we can help get baptized before the end of the transfer. This is Sister Schill’s last transfer, so we are trying to work as hard as we possibly can.

This week started out fantastically. Pedro was progressing again, he was getting ready to be baptized this last Saturday. We were seeing so many miracles as well. We found a lot of people with potential that we can teach. We were thanking Pai Celestial (Heavenly Father) for everything he had been doing for us. Things started to tense up later on in the week as we were helping Pedro quit smoking and we had a lot of meetings that were taking our time away from working. Sister Schill went into Porto for the day on Thursday while I worked in Gaia with Sister Smyth. This is her second transfer. She’s so spunky! I love her. The day ended well and we were grateful. But at this point we were feeling the pressure of getting people to come to church. If we are going to baptize a family by the end of the transfer, ideally this Sunday would be crucial to give them 2 opportunities to come to church before the baptism.

Friday, we had our zone meeting. It was very uplifting. We talked about the Atonement in missionary work. I have seen a video called The Atonement in Missionary work 3 or 4 times on my mission and it brings me to tears every time. It´s a combination of talks from Elder Eyring and Elder Holland that tell us how salvation is not cheap, and as token of the eternal sacrifices the Savior made for us, our journey cannot entirely be pain free. We can be lifted and strengthened by the atonement in every effort we make to serve him.

Porto zone

Right after the zone meeting, Pedro had his baptismal interview. Before the interview, he was excited and ready to be baptized. But because Pedro has some issues with anxiety, the interview process was really rigorous and long for him. He didn’t entirely feel comfortable. After, we asked him how he was feeling. He kind of shrugged everything off but we could tell he was a little troubled. That night he sent a text that said that he no longer wanted to be baptized. We tried calling to ask him why; but he just said to talk to him the next day. The next day was his baptism day and we had already gotten everything planned out. We were so sad and worried for him. That morning we tried talking to him but that night he had worked all night long and hadn’t slept. We know Pedro well enough, that we know when he’s tired, he’s not himself. He was freaking out about everything, so we told him to get some sleep and to talk to us later on. At that point we decided that we needed to cancel the baptism. We called everyone. It was the saddest thing in the world:( That night, he was feeling a little better. He came to the capela and we talked things over. He got a blessing and he told us that he still wants to be baptized he just doesn’t feel ready. We told him to pray about it and pick a date he feels comfortable with. This whole teaching process with him has been a struggle because of his personality. But he is an incredible person and we can see that he’s trying so hard in spite of the obstacles in his life. We can feel the love that Heavenly Father has for him. But at that point we may have been too frustrated with him in his shortcomings.

The Lord decided that we needed to develop more empathy for him. Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my mission but also one of the most memorable. First, NONE of our investigators came to church. We went out in the street to find someone who could come… No one. We were feeling a little depressed because of that and then the rest of the day we had rejection after rejection; each one more harsh than the last. And if that wasn’t enough we found a man in the road who was going to commit suicide that night! We tried calming him down, but he was drunk and he just kept telling us that no one cares about him. We didn’t know what to do, and he got away from us. We were feeling kind of shaken up about that and we didn’t know how to help him without any information. We were catching a bus to another part of our area. He was on the bus and he was causing a scene because he hadn’t bought a bus ticket. We tried talking to him and we got his information; but we just decided that we would tell the bus driver the situation. We told him that he was going to commit suicide and that he should call the police. As we were walking out the bus, the bus driver basically said that it doesn’t matter to him. We were feeling so shaken up about that; but we had to prepare for a lesson we were having with Xeca and Avelino. We stopped by the house and realized that we didn’t have our keys. I was about ready to sit on the ground and quit. We went to Xeca’s house explained everything and even though they were having rotten days too, they helped us look for the keys. We tried getting in the door using a card trick. Finally we gave up and decided to stay the night with some other sisters. For that night, we were homeless and it was really frustrating. But this morning we realized this experience helped us have more empathy for Pedro and to realize how hard it must be for him to have so many uncertainties in his life. We called a key place to open our door. It turns out it wasn’t locked and we had left the keys in the inside (Portuguese doors can’t be opened from the outside it’s really annoying). We paid the guy 35 euros for something we could have done ourselves; but I was soo greatful.

The Lord takes care of us and has a plan for all of us in how we can grow and help others grow as well. I’m so thankful for all the terrible things that happened. I needed those experiences; but in the moment it was still hard.

The Savior will always help us.

I love you all.

Sister Runyan

The Lord Will Try Our Faith

Bom Dia!

This week has been another emotional roller coaster ride. We have been working so hard, and we’re so tired, but we’re loving every minute of it.

First of all, Tuesday, we had torrential rain, but we didn’t have any appointments so we were contacting people in the street the whole day. Also, Pedro stopped talking to us again. By the end of the day, we were so exhausted. We were trying to find the address of a woman we had contacted in the street. It turned out she lied about where she lives. We were trying to get information from her neighbors. We were about to give up, but we said a prayer that Heavenly Father would guide us to someone who was interested. The last door we knocked on was a woman who had lost her husband and we were able to enter her home and teach her a lesson. That was a sweet moment for both of us. The Lord will try our faith. He wants us to push forward until the very end. In that moment He will show his mercy.

We were also guided to another woman named Nequita; who received us into her home. We taught her and helped her to feel our love and the love of the Lord.

Finally, on Saturday, Pedro decided that he wanted to keep talking to us. That was the day he would have been baptized. He has been struggling with keeping his jobs because they have been late at night. Because of that, he had been humbled and had realized what he had been denying by stopping talking with us. We were so happy for him. He decided to re-mark his baptism for this week. He is still very anxious about his future, and he needs all of your prayers. It has been so interesting being a witness of his own spiritual progressions and regressions. The Lord has a plan for our lives and being on the mission we have a unique perspective seeing into other people´s lives.

We had a Halloween activity with our ward. It was super cute and the Elders went all out with the decorations and games. Our investigators enjoyed themselves too.

This week is my half way mark. That’s crazy!

I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

Love Sister Runyan