A Day In My {Missionary} Life: February 1st, 2003

From my journal February 1, 2003 Saturday {serving in Valadares branch}

"We taught 5 unplanned palestras today! Sofia marked a baptismal date! We helped Gina clean her house! I sewed tights w/holes with blue thread! The Ave Marias from  yesterdays autocarro ride (missa via radio) still mumble empty in my head & a palestra w/Dona Margarida and her fairy tale castle house almost drowned all of my energy today--but! No correlecao! One stressful thing to put out of my mind."

Sis. J: This was a mini village that we passed through on our walk from our apartment
in Rechousa over to the capela in Valadares. {January 2003}

I must have been exhausted, sounds like a very busy Saturday. I remember Saturday nights in that particular area, we were usually busy calling members of the branch who had cars to give rides to those who said they wanted to come to Church on Sunday. There was a small selection and Sis. P always made the calls (I was not confident in my Portuguese yet--especially on the phone!) was a frustrating process. I remember thinking then that when I was home again I would always offer rides when needed. I have not lived in a ward with those kinds of needs until now where we are in MN.

Five unplanned 'discussions' must have felt awesome. At that time we were still using designated outlines with points to cover to count as a full 'discussion'. By that time, I was still learning the ways to explain things and the questions to ask to really get a good conversation flowing. I relied a LOT on Sis. P and I was grateful to be serving with her to refine my language skills. She is from Lisboa  (southern Portugal--more urban) and often made comments about the dialect/pronunciation differences in the north, which was fascinating to me (much like the differences between the 'north' and 'south' in the U.S.).

I remember helping Gina clean her house. Gina was a member--with a welcoming smile, trusting eyes, tired wrinkles, and dark hair pulled back. She was a single mom who spent all of her extra energy to provide a nice home and extras for her two (spoiled) teenaged sons. The boys "helped" a bit while Sis. P & I hurriedly  dusted, vacuumed, and cleaned the glass surfaces. The younger of the two sons had his music blaring from his room while we worked. It was American rapper Eminem --I was the only one really affected by the tone in the offensive words because the sharp meanings didn't really register to the ears of the non-native English speakers (at least not with the same emphasis it did for me).

I do remember feeling quite "domestic" to be fixing tights with a needle & thread (where normally I would likely have thrown them away). They were my favorite--thick, black, best for cold February days. I could not risk not finding a good replacement. The only thread I had was bright blue--so I darned them up and wore them that way for the rest of the cold months. They became a symbol to me of the hard work & long hours I was putting in every day--and the new skills of "making do" in my simplistic missionary life.

The "Ave Marias" that I mention (sometimes my journal entries seem dramatic/cryptic/poetic...a common theme in my stacks of journals) were from the Catholic mass & prayers that was regularly played in the evenings on the radio. Some buses tune into them and that was the case with the one we had ridden the day before--lots of repetitive, mumbling words--or at least that was my perception.

Unfortunately, I have no recollection of a fairy tale castle house--but the idea of it sounds lovely, doesn't it? I should have explained that one...perhaps it was a beautiful house with collections of ancient grandeur? One thing is for sure, the correlation meetings in that area were not ideal and in addition to the very long walk to get to the chapel, they almost always left us frustrated. Thus, my relief that it had been cancelled for that day.

Sis.J--this is my bed--where I wrote in my  journal many nights!
 (Jan. 2003: Rechousa, Portugal)
Those scribbled words on Saturday night probably took two minutes to write down but open a little window to that 
busy, cold February first--ten years ago today.

May we remember to rejoice in the unplanned, offer our hands of service with a smile,
mend that which is broken,
and put stressful things out of our minds.

A Day in My {Missionary} Life Series: Revisiting memories from my missionary adventures in Portugal--one day at a time. This year marks 10 years since I returned from my fast-paced, emotion-packed missionary life. I'll be sharing photos from my cheap camera, paragraphs from my tattered missionary journals, and bringing to life some of the memories that, while bright in my heart, are becoming dim in my mind. 

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