Monday, January 30, 2017

Splashtown Odivelas

Tudo Bem? Somos nos os missionários da Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Últimos dias. Temos uma mensagem que vai abençoar tua vida muito. Podemos entrar?

It was really wet here this week. It was basically splashtown Odivelas but not just because it rained every day. We also had two baptisms this week here in our ward. Elder Harker and Elder Welch baptized a investigator that they have had for a while, he is covered in tattoos it's pretty cool. He was a tattoo artist before he started meeting with the missionaries. He has a tear drop tattoo under his eye, a spider web tattoo on his forehead, and he has familia tattooed above his eyebrow, it's impressive. Sister Hart and Sister Willies baptized their investigator too, he has no tattoos.
Elder Thompson and I have two amigos that are getting close to baptism. One is named Costa. He is from Angloa. He is working here and going to school at the same time. Usually we meet up with him at 9:00 at night and we need to return to our apartment by 9:30 and he lives 40 minutes away. Elder Thompson says the math works out on that but we always seem to get back late. Anytime he can meet up with him is a miracle. It's cool to see how his prayers have improved through the time that we have been teaching him. He didn't really know how to pray and needed help constantly at first but last night he did it all by himself, he basically a professional. 

Our other amigo is called Wilker. We contacted on the street just like any other person. We asked if we could share our message and he agreed. We invited him to be baptized on a park bench and he accepted. We have already taught all the lessons to him and he came to church yesterday. He really like it. In the priesthood meeting we was chosen to help the teacher draw the plan of salvation on the board. He did a pretty good job for only hearing it one time before. 

Personally I have grown up thinking that 3 hours of church on Sunday is a lot but we taught two sisters that wanted to be baptized but couldn't because they work on Sunday. It was really funny because they were like ''you guys need more church, how are people supposed worship God once a week, you need church on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays too''. I was personally thinking ''ta bem, this is going to be the first time anyone is not baptized because they want more church''. We usually have problems getting our investigators to stay for the full three hours.

Trials are a manifestation of Heavenly Fathers love for us. There is opposition in all things, that is the adversary. Through trials we can learn and grown. The times I have felt I have grown the most is when we walk out the door of an apartment where every door is slammed in our face. I get to show heavenly father I am here for him and not my own purpose.

Elder Fogg

Monday, January 23, 2017

"Do you think this is Basil?"

Olà! Tudo Bem?

One transfer down. Seventeen more to go. Party. So transfers were last week. Elder Harker, Elder Welch, Elder Thompson and I all are staying in Odivelas. It's basically a party here all day everyday. Since we have four dudes living in the same apartment we buy a lot of food. It's funny going to the grocery store because all the Portuguese people look at us like we are weird because we have like three shopping carts overflowing with food. This past week we almost couldn't fit all of our food on the same conveyor belt.
Elder Welch and Elder Thompson also are trying to teach Elder Harker and I how to cook but this week Elder Thompson and Elder Welch had a meeting with the other Zone leaders so they were gone for lunch. Elder Harker and I had the opportunity to cook lunch all by ourselves. The problem is that neither of us really knows what we are doing. Another problem is that all the spices and foods are labeled in Portuguese not in English. So it was like, "Hey Elder Harker, do you think this is Basil?"and "I don't know, lol. What's a teaspoon?" as we dump the whole bottle of spice into the sauce. Let's just say that the sauce had a pretty funky taste.
In the Missionary hand book it says that the monthly fast is good enough but I guess we are just too righteous. We choose to fast once a week. By the time Sunday rolls around we don't have any food so we don't eat. It's a party. 
Let's all imagine I had a really good segway into talking about the weather. It's really cold here. Everything here is in Celsius so I don't actually know how cold it is. This week the wind decided to start blowing really hard too. So it was really cold and really windy. It is sufficient to say that my time in Virginia has turned me into a weather pansy.
This week I have been working on explaining the Book of Mormon to people in Portuguese. I have been talking about it in lessons and I have been explaining it on the street. We found out this week that a member of the seventy is visiting our mission in February. President Tavares announced that the whole mission is going to read the Book of Mormon before he arrives. That's about 25 pages a day. I decided that I am going to read it entirely in Portuguese! As of right now I don't understand much but I can feel the power in that book. It is the word of God. It is true. I am really excited for this challenge. Read the Book of Mormon -- you will find a power in it that is in no other book, a power to resist temptation and a power to do good.

Monday, January 16, 2017

When we are being rejected by everyone, it testifies to me that there is a God

Olà, Tudo Bem?

I hope that everything is well back home. Thanks for all the Birthday wishes this week. The big 19 -- wow I am so old. We celebrated my birthday by eating Kebab. This was like the third time we went to that restaurant to get kebab in the past two weeks but it was still special-ish.
We meet a lot of interesting people here in Portugal. There is so much diversity here it's so funny the different reactions we get from the young African guys to the old Portuguese women. It also makes street contacting extremely funny (especially when it's one of those old Portuguese ladies that has a walker and is trying to run away really "fast" because she is catholic). Everyone wants to practice their English with us but we only respond in Portuguese. We pretend that we don't understand English (which is pretty hard for me because I don't understand Portuguese. So I guess I just look really confused and stupid all the time). People don't believe us because we are two tall white dudes that look nothing like we are Potuguese. Elder Thompson likes to ask people where they think we are from (it's obvious we are not from Portugal  because of our accent). We met this Indian guy that would only respond to us in English. He only wanted to talk about America, so we asked him what he thought about America and he responded with his Indian accent "Oh I love America, America number 1". Good times.
This week was pretty rough. We had three straight days were we had a lot of appointments set up that all fell through. After this week I am thinking about becoming a professional speed-walker after I go home. I am getting some pretty good training with the amount of walking we do in between appointments that have fallen through. I don't know why and I don't understand how but when we are being rejected by everyone it testifies to me that there is a God and we are doing his work. I am here to do  his work and his will.
I know that I can't do the Lord's work with my own power I need his help. This week has shown me that I REALLY need his help. We have met and taught people by the Lord's hand. This is His work and he will do it by his will. I feel like Alma: I know that I am nothing ; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things ; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Portuguese Improving?!?

Olá Meus Amigos! Tudo Bem?
On Sunday last week, President Tavares announced that the schedule for missionaries was going to change. We usually have an hour of personal study, an hour of companionship study, an hour of language study and because I am new we had an hour of training too. With this new schedule we only get 30 minutes for each companion study, language study and training. This is aimed to get us out on the street for a longer amount of time. With the old schedule, we also planned for the next day the night beforehand. Now we plan the morning of. With the new schedule, we are out on the street early and talking to people basically all day.
Since my companion is one of the Zone Leaders, we have to go on splits with the District Leaders once a transfer. We had to do two splits this week so we started calling our apartment "Hotel Odivelas". I learn a lot going on splits with other missionaries because everyone has a different style of doing things. You get to see what others do well and try to apply it into your own style. The bad part about having a Zone Leader as a companion is that he has to go to meetings a lot. This week he had a meeting so Î had to go on splits with Elder Harker who arrived here the same day I did. We have only been in Portugal for five weeks so it was pretty scary but after a little bit it was really fun. We got to see how much we have improved in our Portuguese.
This week I am starting to see that my Portuguese is improving. I can understand what people are saying pretty well, but I still have problems. Like yesterday a man was walking towards me and I asked if we could talk for a minute.  He said something that sounded like sure. So then I asked him what his name was. He said "Porgan". I thought,  Porgan that's a pretty weird name, but I was like eh whatever it's Portugal everybody has weird names. So then I said "Porgan have you talked to the missionaries before". He proceeded to look at me as though I had tried to explain string theory completely in all it's complexity in those 7 words. After 5 very awkward seconds the realization finally made it to his face and he waved me off like most the other people we try to talk to. That was pretty normal so I continued walking when I realized a couple steps into the road that Elder Thompson was not walking next to me.  I turned around and say that he was laughing his head off. When I asked why he was laughing he explained "The guy asked Porque, he didn't say his name was Porgan". So yeah, I guess I don't understand people that well.
Elder Fogg

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!!

I hope New Years was good over there; it was kind of crazy here. They really like to party here. It was weird working New Years Eve - lets just say we taught a lot about the word of wisdom. They also have no regulation on fireworks, that was pretty crazy. Two streets over people started shooting off huge fireworks that were exploding right outside our window. It was crazy. It sounded like we were in a war zone all night. We went to bed at 11 like good missionaries, but things got too crazy and loud at midnight that I woke up. People where banging pots and pans and honking their horns. In the morning it was a ghost town. We were literally the only two people outside in the whole country of Portugal. Fun.

We have been meeting more people that are open to hearing our message. A consequence of that is that we have been teaching more lessons, which means I have to "communicate" with people in Portuguese. My Portuguese has improved, I can "have a conversation" with some people. It depends because there aren't just Portuguese people here. We talk to a lot of Brazilians, Angolans, Cape Verdeans, even people from India (and they all speak Portuguese). In history class, they were not lying when they said that the Portuguese sailed around the world and set up colonies everywhere because they did. Angolans and Brazilians have moved to Portugal so it's basically a giant mixing pot of people that speak Portuguese. The bad part about that is that they all have different accents. They actually pronounce the letters differently. Brazilians speak differently than Portuguese who speak differently than Angolans. It's easiest to understand Brazilians.
Since Portugal is a giant mixing pot of all the Portuguese cultures we eat a lot of different food from all over. We eat a lot of chicken and rice. The food is interesting, I like it. But their bread is amazing! Also their pastries are so good too.
We were teaching a lesson yesterday to a couple of Africans. We like to open with an opening prayer and we usually ask what we can include in the opening prayer to help them. They wanted us to pray for their health, their families and that they could have more money. Elder Thompson asked if I could say the prayer. I gladly accepted. I prayed for their health and families but I forgot the word for money in Portuguese. So in English I said "that they can receive that cash money flow". I have grown so much on my mission.
We had another pretty cool lesson this week. We are teaching a couple of people in this house with a blind DJ, an amateur Brazilian skater, a homeless guy, another Brazilian and this women. As we were teaching the women (we had already taught her once), she said that she had thought about our baptismal challenge, and that she recognized her baptism wasn't like how Christ was baptized and that she wanted to be baptized. She recognized that she wasn't living the commandments and wants to change.
The Book of Mormon is true. I know it is. Joseph Smith was the prophet Christ chose to restore his gospel in it's truthfulness. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died for our sins. We can change thought his atonement.
Elder Fogg