Hello Dearest Family!!
I hope ya´ll had a very Merry Christmas! Mine went great! The call with Mom, Dad, Emily, and Rachel was wonderful. I got to hear the voices of some of my awesome family, and Rachel´s melodious laugh! I opened Kit, Kev, Ryn, Elle, and ???´s present -- THANK YOU!! That was an awesome little picture booklet, showing all of the Nine and clans, and well laminated to last! Elder Prince and I also had a present from Irmã Fátima - we had eaten at her and her husband´s house Christmas Eve for dinner, along with the Irmãs and their investigator Maria Augusta and her two kids, Daisey (7) and Vítor (6). Anyways, Irmã Fátima had given each of us elders a thing of shower gel / body wash. I think she works at some shampoo place, otherwise I guess she´s sending us a message, haha.
After the Christmas call we went over to the Rocha family home for a huge lunch. (Elder Rocha is an Area Seventy, Third Quorum if I haven´t mentioned that already.) So there was us four missionaries, Elder and Irmã Rocha, their oldest and youngest sons (2 out of 3 - the middle one is on his mission in Mozambique), and Elder Rocha´s sister and mother. They were very generous and the food was great. Then when we were done they brought out all this stuff for dessert, including pastries, breads, cheeses, and chocolates. They had this one kind of cheese that was marinated in a jar of azeite - olive oil - and they were ´daring´ me to try it. They thought it would be too strong our something, I´m not sure. Whenever people try to be sneaky about food I always assume it´s spicy (thanks to Rachel and that one Japanese restaurant - remember?). It wasn´t bad, but I´ve had better cheeses. Little do they know I´ve been in Texas, Brazil, and France! So after the big lunch Elder Prince and I went home to whip up some Betty Crocker mix cookies that his parents had sent him, and we went out to share them with some members and investigators that lived nearby. We only sort of caroled to an old member couple, since caroling isn´t done here much ... at all really. Then we met up with the Irmãs to visit some more people and carol to them - Mafalda who is a recent convert who has been a little sick lately, and an inactive lady named Carla. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!! and it´s GREAT TO BE A MISSIONARY!!
Other things of this week. Saturday December 27 was the double header baptismal service for Simão (9 year old of a member family) and Maria Augusta, the Irmãs´ investigator. Elder Prince and I had come to the chapel early to get the font filled, and for some reason the water wasn´t coming out hot or warm. So after some calls, Feliciano, Simão´s dad, finally was able to come and get the heater to work. The baptismal service went very well. Lots of members came and were very supportive, and I was able to be of service by playing the piano. (I´m sure Mom is happy to hear that! ;) Sunday Elder Prince and I helped with Maria Augusta´s confirmation, and then I gave a talk on the blessings of serving (a mission) at Christmas time. Bishop Durão surprised us by willingly accepting our progress record when we gave a copy to him and then invited us into his office to ask us if we needed any specific help this week and authorized us to give the sacrament to Artur and Elvíra (that old member couple we caroled to). This was a pleasant surprise because previously the bishop had not really been working with us. He´d designate stuff to the ward mission leader and try to not accept our progress record copies and stuff, but he´s really warming up to us now. I think a large part of that probably came from when Maria Augusta had asked him to baptize her. The Lord works in wonderful ways!
Sunday evening we had a great lesson with that Brasilian family, and we had brought Diogo and Carmen, a Brasilian member couple with us. It went great! And Monday was very interesting in that we had two members who aren´t in our area or ward call us up to arrange lessons with us to teach friends of theirs who lived in our area! Tina lives not too far away in Miratejo and wanted us to teach her boyfriend who ``needed to hear the word of God``. Then Telma who lives really far away came all the way over and we met up with her and her friend Elsa to teach them in a member´s house (Fernando). Great stuff! And yesterday we found out that Elder Prince is being transferred over to be a zone leader in Oeiras, and Elder Corry will come over here to be my new senior companion and district leader of Seixal. The Lord is leading His work!
Well I love you all and wish you all a Happy New Year 2009!! This year really has flown by. Thanks again for all of your love and support! I am going to pick up some package that was ``volumoso``, so thank you to whoever it is from! And as to any other presents that might still be in the mail - better late than never, right? Thanks again, and I love ya´ll!
Elder Ellis V
PS - Mom and Dad, I received the two snail mail letters of December 14 and 15 that ya´ll sent to my apartment address on Monday, December 29. The address ya´ll have is correct for the next 7 weeks at least!
PPS - Hey Em, wanna do me a favor?