December 27, 2009

Christmas on the continent

Merry Christmas from the Portugal continent!  We celebrated with the 6 zones on the continent with an amazing talent show, a catered dinner, a gift exchange, and then the traditional reading of Luke 2 with actors from among our missionaries!  We're just grateful that even though we are away from our families during this holiday season, that we have a big, loving family here in the Porto mission!

Madeira Christmas

Merry Christmas from Madeira!  The 12 missionaries, along with President and Sister Walton, had a dinner at the Rodrigues family one night, caroling in downtown Funchal, and then the annual Christmas dinner at the wonderful restaurant "Estrella Do Mar" where an investigator worked.  The gift exchange was fun and the lights were magical as we celebrated this Christmas season with our little zone in tropical Madeira!

Elder Causse Mission Tour

During the month of December Elder Causse came for a mission tour in all of our zone areas.  It was a whirlwind 4 day visit, but he inspired us to be better and to work harder to find and baptize the people the Lord had already prepared here in the Porto Mission boundaries.  The last day here, he met with our zone leaders in a special zone leader council and left us feeling energized with the Spirit.  He even treated the zone leaders to a piano solo, "If You Could Hie to Kolob".  He is a gifted pianist!

December 3, 2009

Porto Christmas 2009

The first day of December found Elders Charon and McLaughlan decorating the office Christmas tree in anticipation for the month-long focus on the birth and life of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Hopefully we'll have fun photo's to post every week so parents, families, and friends can see just how much Christmas spirit our band of Porto Portugal missionaries has.

The baptism of Ester

It was an exciting day for Elder Jensen and Adams who began teaching Ester many transfers ago, and now the fruits of their labors are being realized!  It was especially wonderful for Elder Jensen who was technically not in our mission anymore, but who was travelling with his parents and returned to Porto just to baptize Ester, before he and his family departed for home!

Porto Mission Thanksgiving 2009

Every zone in our mission celebrated Thanksgiving with a traditional American football game, a district/zone meeting focusing on gratitude, culminating in the big feast with all the trimmings. These photo's are from the Porto zone, but if the other zones will send Irmã Walton some photo's, she will publish them on our blog so we can see just how each one celebrated.

November 2009 Departures

Nine of our finest missionaries concluded their missions and we were left to say goodbye as they move on in their lives to great things.  Four Irmãs and five Elders all finished with honors and were sent home to America, Brazil, and England!

November Transfers

November 19th found us sending 3 missionaries out to the island of Madeira, and saying goodbye to 9 missionaries - 4 Irmãs and 5 Elders.  It was extra difficult because we had no missionaries arriving from the MTC.  Irmã Ray and Elders Vidulich and Imbuqui were very excited to be going out to our tropical island.

November 10, 2009

Mission Life

Missionaries always love being together since they don't get to see each other very much.  Here is a sampling of some of our missionaries.  Look in flickr for more miscellaneous pictures!

November 9, 2009

October Departures

We say good-bye to 5 of our best missionaries.  We are grateful for the examples of Elders Ewing, Jacobe, Tidwell, Ramsey and Cibrian.

October Arrivals

On October 8 we had 5 arrivals from the Provo MTC.  Two Sisters - Beckstead and Bateman, and 3 Elders -  Abreu, Jenkins and Wood.  Then on October 28, Elder Coxi arrived from the Madrid MTC.  We put them right to work with their trainers.  The two sisters are with Sister Maddox in Braga - a tripla!  Elder Abreu is being trained with Elder Lovell in Coimbra.  Elder Jenkins went to Vila de Conde with Elder Beard.  Elder Wood is way down in Leiria with Elder Lolofie.  When Elder Coxi arrived he went to Vila de Conde with Elder Beard.  What a great new group of missionaries for the Porto, Portugal Mission.

October 1, 2009

Porto Air Race

In September, the Red Bull Air Races came to Porto.  Some of the missionaries went down to the Douro River to do some contacting and see the show.

September Zone Conferences

For all three of our separate zone conferences we focused on working with members, teaching the less active and part member families, the importance of the area books as a Liahona for the missionary work in their area, and with post-it notes, remembering to thank the members for their support.  Our missionaries continue to be such good examples of the work here in the Porto mission, and they make it so much fun.  On Madeira, the whole zone practiced and presented a musical number and also organized a hike to the only part of the island that doesn't look like a tropical paradise.  In Porto, the judging of the area books was certainly a surprise when the sisters area book took first place.  And in Coimbra, the zone meetings afterwards turned into relay games with spoons and eggs, and fun discussions of what they need to do to be successful missionaries.

Madeira Zone

Porto, Maia, Gaia, and Braga Zones

Coimbra and Viseu Zones

September 8, 2009

The Lighthouse - President's Message

After only two months in Portugal, we love the country, we love the people, and most of all we love our missionaries. You are our heroes. We love your dedication and your desire to serve the Lord with all of your "heart, might, mind and strength" (D&C 4:2). We recently met our historic new Area Presidency in Preston, England, along with all of the other mission presidents in Europe. The new Area Presidency is comprised of all Europeans (President Kopischke of Germany, Elder Caussé of France, and Elder Teixeira of Portugal). After a spiritual experience with them in the Preston Temple, the Area Presidency told us of their vision for the Lord's Church in Europe. They believe the active membership of the Church in Europe will double within ten years. To achieve this vision we need to reactivate one less-active member or baptize one new convert in each unit every transfer cycle. With the Lord's help, we can achieve this by working in unity with the members.

The Center for Young Adults in Porto, which was organized in May, continues to grow and has already had several baptisms. Another center with great potential will open soon in Coimbra. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was also with us in England. He and Elder Kopischke said that the future strength of the Church in Europe will be among the age group of 18 to 30, and that is where the missionary success with be achieved. We must each do our best in our small part of the Lord's Vineyard, and then as Alma said, "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass...and by very small means the Lord does confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls" (Alma 36:6-7). This is the Lord's work, and we are privileged to be a part of it.

September 6, 2009

The Lighthouse - Message from the Missionaries

We have all heard of golden investigators, but this is a story of a truly elect woman of God. One day a woman walked up to the other Elders in Leiria, and gave herself as a reference. We tried to contact her for a while with no luck. Finally we taught her the first lesson; it was a miracle in itself that we found her house, but that is an-other story altogether.

We found out that she was a Jehovah’s Witness for almost fifteen years, twelve of which she served as a local missionary, putting in 70 to 80 hours each week knocking doors. After a time, the elders of her church dealt unjustly with her, and she left their church, disgusted with church, religion and God. After three years, she felt a need, a yearning to have God in her life again. She had always heard that next to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons were the next closest to the truth, “except for their false book, the Book of Mormon.”

She told us after our first lesson with her she thought, “These kids know nothing of the truth or how to teach it.” However, we taught her all of the lessons, and she kept her commitments (sometimes reading her assigned reading the hour after we left). As she began to apply the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, she felt the power of the message. One powerful witness came from a miracle that happened because of prayer and fasting, a principle not taught among Jehovah’s Witnesses. She gave up coffee, read For the Strength of Youth in one night, and came to church on Sundays, missing only twice because of work. She answered gospel questions correctly in Sunday School, dived into Our Legacy and took a special interest in the Doctrine and Covenants.

She received every principle with an open mind, not always accepting it as the truth immediately, but completely willing to read and ask God. Many complications arose, including her decision to change her baptismal date; she originally wanted to wait a year, but later decided two weeks was enough. She conquered all the ploys of Satan, armed with the word of God, prayer and fasting. She set her own baptismal date for the 29th of August, and she even called to see if we needed someone to wash and press our clothes.

It is an honor for us to have worked with one of the truly elect, and see the Spirit enlighten and expand her mind and testimony. Isabel Paulo was baptized on the 29th of August and confirmed the following day. The baptismal service was beautiful, without problems, and she had her family there with her. It is truly an honor to serve the Lord and help God’s children back on the path to eternal life. 

Written by Elder Zabriskie