Feliz Natal

Hello Everyone!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! Christmas here in Portugal is very magical. We had fun contacting everyone in the street and saying Feliz Natal! It was so special. We even wore Santa hats. Christmas Eve, we worked like normal. But then we went to the Marinhos’ for dinner. That was so fun because they’re British. We had traditional British Christmas food. (and we spoke English :)) We played games until we went home. They are an amazing family.

Christmas day, we woke up and opened presents. I made German pancakes. Then we made lunch to bring to a widowed sister. She would have spent Christmas alone!! We ate with her and listened to all of her stories from Angola. Afterwards, we skyped our families. That was so fun. I was so happy to be able to talk to my family. The next time will be for Mother’s Day.

This Sunday, we had 5 investigators in church! Adelino and Isabelle came; but they left right after the sacrament. We were a little sad. They said they were going to pick up their son. They’ve made it kind of clear that the biggest reason they want us to come is so that we can “fix” their son. We love them and we’ll pray that they can listen to the spirit telling them these things are true. Miguel came to church again with her son Miguel. Apparently he had been looking forward to it all week. She loves coming to church now. We try teaching her during the week but she’s sooo busy. We’ll keep praying that we can teach her this week.

We won’t be able to teach Alice until school starts again. Please pray that our investigators can start progressing again.

Happy New Year’s everyone!

Love Sister Runyan.

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Blessed to Witness Miracles

Hello Everyone!

This letter will be a little shorter; because I don’t have a ton of time.

One of the biggest miracles this week happened on Saturday. It was kind of a slow day and we had finished making some cookies; when we decided to pass by one of our investigators who is a reference from a member. She owns a bakery, so we stopped by there to give her some cookies. She gave us something to drink and amazingly the members were there. In the beginning of the week, we had taught this investigator for the first time, with the members in her bakery.

The members told us that after our lesson with her, there was a woman watching and after we had left she came up to them and asked what we had been doing. The members explained to her about the church. She particularly liked the part when we said a prayer. So the members did a prayer with her. After that, the members called her to come and meet us. She told us that something inside her told her to ask what we were doing. She felt a strong desire to start a habit of prayer in her home after that as well. She has a new rule in her home that they pray before every meal and before bed. We were shocked by what she was saying. We talked with her a little about the church. She has a lot of questions and she’s already done some research online (not all of it good). She said she wanted to come to church and hear our lessons. Yesterday, she came to church and she said she liked it; but she was a little sad and we still don’t know why. We felt so grateful to Heavenly Father; because we recognized her as someone who has been prepared. I feel so blessed to witness these miracles.

This Christmas, we are going to be with Manuela. She will be alone so we feel like this will be a very special Christmas for all three of us.

Love you all!

Merry Christmas.

Sister Runyan

P-Day Explanation

Last week, we went to Guimarães; which is the birth place of Portugal; because that was where the first king lived. We went bowling (instead of seeing the castle 😦 ….)

Today, we went to the Braga Cathedral, the oldest cathedral on the Iberian Peninsula. We had a tour guide and everything and it was so interesting we learned a lot. Apparently, Braga is really important in the catholic world. There are pagan ruins with a face of the sun god. There was a naturally mummified archbishop. He was actually a Templar and was buried with the Templar robe. When they discovered he was mummified, they put him on display and changed his robes because the Templar are very controversial. There was an archbishop that was only a meter and 30 centimeters (4’3″) tall, so he used high heels (pictured).

Conversion: To Want What God Wants

Hello Everyone!

This week has been pretty good. Some of the highlights for this week were that we had our ward Christmas party. It was really cute. We had to do a play for everyone. Sister Nagliati and I were the bull and the donkey. There was a video taken. I don’t know where it would have been posted.

We had Francesinhas with Antonio. Francesinha is a Portuguese dish that everyone loves. To give a quick description, it´s a sandwich with just meat inside it that has been fried, covered in cheese and has an egg on top with a special sauce. It’s really heavy and normally I don’t really care for it; but the place that we got it was really good I actually liked it a lot.

 

This week, on Tuesday, was day of the mother. It’s the day they celebrate Mary. I don’t know much else about it.

Other than that, not many exciting things happened. The center of Braga is all lit up for Christmas and it’s really pretty. I’ll see if I can take a picture sometime soon.

This week I’ve been contemplating a lot about repentance and conversion. It’s so funny that I’ve never tried so hard to be good; but I’ve never felt this guilty. Conversion, I’ve found, is not a pain free experience. We can’t just wake up one day and be perfect. It’s about changing our desires. That’s the difference between the law of sacrifice and the law of consecration. It’s so interesting studying the Old Testament and seeing how often they obeyed commandments, received blessings, forgot and were humbled. In other words, this is the pride cycle. I think true conversion and living the higher law is meant to break this cycle. It requires that we follow the savior in every aspect, even his desires. We are required to want what God wants. I think often times what happens is that we obey out of impure desires and this is an example of building our foundation upon the sand. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve done what I was supposed to do but I didn’t actually want to.

The trick is getting yourself to want to do the things you’re supposed to do and to repent every time you don’t.

With that thought have a Merry Christmas!

Love Sister Runyan

“God Is Not Dead nor Doth He Sleep”

Hello everyone!

Another excellent week in Braga:) The weather’s been great, and everyone is getting ready for Christmas. The Christmas decorations in the city center are beautiful. The only rotten thing about this time of year here is that there’s constantly smoke in the air; because all of the apartments here have fire places. So after a day of working we always come home smelling like smoke.

We are preparing for our Ward Christmas Party; which is this upcoming week. We will probably do a musical number and we’ll also be a part of a play put on by the relief society. It should be fun. Christmas in Portugal is so pretty. All of our contacts are about Christmas.

Actually, it’s been really neat to think about Christmas as a missionary. I’ve been thinking a lot about how, yes, it’s true that we should think about Christ every day of the year; but something about Christmas is really special. A member here put it like this:  “Christmas is a special time of year because normally the world is an Antichrist; but during the time of Christmas, in many ways, the world becomes more Christ like. People are kinder to each other, there is more cheer and charity in the air.” For me, as a disciple of Christ, it is a tender mercy from the Lord.

From my favorite Christmas hymn, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong that mocks the song
Of peace on earth goodwill to men
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor doubt He sleeps
The wrong shall fail the right prevail
With peace on earth goodwill to men

 

I feel this way every time I think of the Savior’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. As a missionary, I have the unique privilege to be one of these Christmas bells that proclaim the good news that “God is not dead nor doth he sleep.” People are feeling more and more despair in these perilous times.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers for Pedro and my other investigators. Please pray for our investigator, Eliane. We really want to help her come to church this week.

Merry Christmas!

Sister Runyan