Monday, March 31, 2014

2/3/2014 Where's your Baby?

Hi Family!

First off: mom, how was your cruise? Dad, how is your work?
Jeremy how's lacrosse? Hannah, thanks for keeping me updated and let me know how your auditions go.
Paul, build anything cool lately?
Tom, what have you been writing, or playing or creating lately?
Will! I love you! how's school?
Here comes the monologue:

This week was really amazing.

This girl we have been teaching who brought herself and her mom to church made the decision on Saturday to be baptized next Saturday. Every lesson that we have with her is one of the coolest lessons of my life. The spirit is so strong. I can just feel that she is going to do so many great and important things in this life for herself for her family and for so many others. 
And we have been teaching her with the young women's president of our ward. She went through basically the same thing as Margarida and her mom Ligia who is returning to the church. When she was baptized, she had so many questions and doubts, nervousness of not being supported by her family, but even so, she knew that she had gotten an answer that first night that she prayed. So she to confirm her answer and the need to really be baptized she opened up her Book of Mormon expecting an answer and what she read was that she needed to go to church and be baptized. so, having not yet read the whole Book of Mormon, decided she needed to see if that was really an answer or just a coincidence and read the chapter headings of the chapters near there (which was the end of 2 Nephi, so clearly they talked about baptism). so then she didn't go to church. and she felt horrible about it. so when the elders called later that night, she just burst into tears and explained everything that happened and he told her that she hadn't read it, but he had and he could assure her that the whole book wasn't that way. that it talked about lots of other things. so she took that and tried again. put God to the test, trusting that He would answer her prayer. she opened the book again several more times and she never again in that experiment came across baptism or church, just like she asked of God. Child-like faith is what we need.
So then at the end of the lesson. Margarida was still feeling nervous, mostly because she didn't feel like she had the support of her mom. I was at a loss of what to do. so I prayed in my heart and asked God to show us what to do and say to help her continue to progress. and Maria José (the member) asked her mom, ligia, how she was feeling about baptism. and she answered that just before they had come in she had opened up the Book of Mormon and found her answer. that nothing that is good denies Christ and that baptism is the right answer for her daughter. So. Margarida is getting baptized on Saturday! and the best part was. God answers prayers. mine, margarida's. Maria José's yearly goal to bring more young women into the church. Ligia´s desire to know if God loves her. and Margarida's desire to be supported by her mother. God answered my prayer by giving Ligia the answer before she got there and by giving maria josé the inspired question in the right moment. 

Adelino got the priesthood on Sunday!

Also. we went to visit this lady Lidia who has recently come back to church and her daughter, Lara, had a question for us. how do you know what church is true? 
so we said, has God ever answered your prayers before? 
and she said yes! I asked which church was true, catholic or the one we've been going to and he told me to think about it. and I decided this one and I felt a peace in my heart and so its true. 
And I was like: well there you go. I'm really confused about your question.
Sometimes you do literally nothing. the spirit just teaches people. its really cool. 
So double baptism on Saturday.
The Lord is preparing people the world over. we just need to be ready for them. Trust that God is preparing them, not us. its not our work. its His. we are just here to do it. And if we really believe that people are being prepared, we can't stop and give up if we aren't finding them. we have to trust that God is using our labors for His purposes, even if He sees fit to make us wait to enjoy the fruits of our labors until a later date. but usually he doesn't. usually we can feel the greatest of his gifts here on earth. the gift of His spirit, His peace, and know that He is happy with us each and every day. 

I decided this morning that everyone in the world needs to have this talk given in the next sacrament meeting they attend.
The lord has asked us ALL to get started in this work. the prophets and apostles have asked us time and time again to share the gospel. and because it is always a soul stretching activity it always has new and different challenges. no person is the same and so the ways and means that we will use to talk about the gospel is never just the same. so it is natural that we get a little nervous about it, BUT! the prophets and apostles know that! They know our reasons and excuses and fears. They know that sometimes we don't like to hear it or listen to it because we feel we aren't capable. This is what Elder Ballard said about what we feel when we hear talks about missionary work:
Now, we know that no one likes feeling guilty. Perhaps you feel you may be asked to do unrealistic things in your relationships with friends or neighbors. With the help of the Lord, let me remove any fear you or any of our full-time missionaries may have in sharing the gospel with others.
If God really knows us He will never ask us to do something we can't do in just the way He wants. He will help us. 
Brothers and sisters, fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members and the full-time missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father’s children, and surely those opportunities will come. These opportunities will never require a forced or a contrived response. They will flow as a natural result of our love for our brothers and sisters. Just be positive, and those whom you speak with will feel your love. They will never forget that feeling, though the timing may not be right for them to embrace the gospel. That too may change in the future when their circumstances change.
He will help us!

I just want to copy and paste his whole talk here, but I will resist. Just know that God will help us is we make goals and take action in faith that God can do it even if we can't. 

You don’t have to be an outgoing person or an eloquent, persuasive teacher. If you have an abiding love and hope within you, the Lord has promised if you “lift up your voices unto this people [and] speak the thoughts that [He] shall put into your hearts, … you shall not be confounded before men;
“[And] it shall be given you … in the very moment, what ye shall say” (D&C 100:5–6).
Sorry. can't help it. but really. It hit me today, that our fear and our faith can't dwell together. not to say that if we feel fear we don't have faith. but if we don't want to feel fear anymore, because that's not fun, all we have to do is choose to strengthen our faith, but acting in faith, reading praying trusting. 
Well I love you guys!
Just keep swimming. 
Things are good. I love living on an island. especially in the winter. its super nice here. I almost never need a jacket. mostly I just use a sweater at night. jealous? :)
So I hope you guys are having a good time and making the most of everything. I hope Hannah is still writing stuff :) and that Jeremy and all the boys are studying and that you guys are grateful for the great blessing we have of understanding basic doctrine that the rest of the world struggles with. and for having a family that loves each other. 
And I don't know how to not just talk like a missionary 100% of the time. Sorry, but still, there are worse things, right?

email title: you know that awkward moment when you don't know if someone is pregnant, just had their baby, or just a little overweight? but at the same time, if someone is going to be having a baby and you are RS pres or a visiting teacher or something, that's probably important to know. so you can't just not ask. my comp decided you just ask 'where's your baby?' you're super weird, but at least their not offended.
ok. not funny. guess you had to be there. 

Also. my comp loves hot rod, so basically, we are always preaching the gospel or quoting movies and YouTube videos. odd combo. 

Well, I love you guys. Have a great week. and do good things this week!

Steph\Sister Lofgreen

PDAY! People are the best

Hello family!

Well. Today has be a roller-coaster of a p-day. Ok not really. Just that I was expecting it to be simple and relaxing and it has had some unexpected turns. Mostly me leaving our keys in our apartment... some things never change. :)
This week has been pretty awesome. It feels like a lot more than a week. It hit me a little bit how fast time is going by and how easy it is to not make the best of it. it takes a constant effort. 

We spent the first few days running around taking care of the appointments that we had already made and trying to take care of the elders area because they ended up training. so since one of them was coming from the MTC they didn't get here until Thursday night. We did a lot of running. 

Blessings\tender mercies\highlights:
My companion's new music (new to me at least) the best missionary songs ever. There's this really great missionary on (or three) by Nashville tribute band. on the cd the work- the best ever missionary song: 'the hardest thing I've ever had to do'. and then there's one about work that is great. and one about a letter home and a few others that we just really like. but that has made this week pretty happy. I love music. 
my companion is hilarious.
also, I was hit by a flying banana peel in the street a couple days ago. no idea where it came from. 

And Domingos was confirmed! he is slowly getting the hang of things and with this pass off to the elders I hope things go smoothly. 
Adelino was baptized! He rocks. Basically ever since we started teaching him he has just taken in and applied and done everything necessary. He was contacted in the street by the other sisters a couple weeks ago, he has already been taught by some elders in the past, but never really wanted to do anything about anything.  but then with this contact, he decided to come to church with his friend Paulo and ever since then he just basically changed everything in his life. stopped drinking and smoking and is doing everything he can to follow Christ. He decided before we even met him that he was going to follow this path. so we just taught him and he accepted. it was amazing. 
Also, we are teaching this girl named Margarida who is amazing. She also just showed up at church. And she brought her mom. She had always seen missionaries around and had been by the church and always wanted to talk to them and go to church and be involved in things, but just didn't know what to do. wasn't sure what she believed. I don't know. then she found a Book of Mormon in her house and would read a little bit here or there but didn't really understand it. then she found out her mom was a member and was baptized 30 years ago and she made her mom come with her to church. Her mom said she wasn't ready to come back but she really wanted to go and didn't want to go alone. so her mom cam with her. then the next week they came to all three hours and then this week she just came by herself (don't worry, our branch president is a boss and already had a personal interview with her mom last week and called her after church this week.. he rocks). She loved church the very first time and prayed in our very first lesson to know if the church is true. but she wasn't really sure if she was getting an answer. So she talked to her mom a lot. and her mom said that back when she had an answer she felt a warmth in her heart. and she wasn't sure she was feeling that. So in our lesson after church on Sunday she said she wasn't sure how it would feel and then in the opening prayer told God that she wanted to know whether or not the 'apertado' or tight feeling in her heart that she got at church and when she prayed and read the Book of Mormon was an answer to her prayers. how much more perfect could it get. she prays so sincerely that you can truly feel heavens love for her when she's praying. its amazing. basically I should talk about a little more of my week, before I run out of time, but she's amazing. this is what the mission is about. helping people who are seeking find the truth. Also, she already talked to her mom about serving a mission. her mom said they didn't have enough money, but we said that it wasn't a problem. 
I love being a missionary. 

also other thoughts 
members in Portugal are totally pioneers. I feel like that's true of members wherever you go in Portugal, because they are working so hard to push the work forward that EVERYONE capable has to have lots of responsibility placed on them. I have met so many rcs in leadership roles and anyone who isn't a rc has the responsibility of looking after and supporting all the rcs in leadership roles. there's no time for slacking off. it really is a race of endurance. I look up to them so much.

Well, I love you guys and I hope things are going well. I love hearing from you and about what's going on in your lives.
Will! thanks for the email. I loved it!
and dad, don't worry. you'll get those kids to listen. there's this great article on open ended questions that I read the other day. maybe it could help.

And mom, you rock. Don't forget it. 
I'm making listening to and recognizing the spirit one of my highlights of my study as well to join in with the family. also, because its one of the most important things we can learn how to do here on earth. well I gotta go. I love you guys and hopefully I can get some pictures sent next time.

Love you! bye!


1/20/2014 Learning to Trust

Hey family!
Question: Mom, did you happen to find my patriarchal blessing?
If not, just let me know so I can know that you looked.
This week has been a little bit of a rollercoaster ride, but in the ups and downs, independent of the results, we need to trust in God.
Beginning of the week, our investigator, Domingos, that was marked for baptism, wasn't talking to us. And he lives really far away, so we could just stop by his house on any day to see how he was doing. It's like a 20-30 min bus ride up a mountain and then a little bit of a walk after that. So we finally got there on Wednesday when all our appointments fall through and he wouldn't answer the door. We left and prayed and low and behold, here comes Domingos. We talked to him. He was having a rough time with a lot of things and was pretty much just thinking of giving up. But we talked for a while and then asked him to pray about what day he should be baptized and he felt that it should be the day that we had marked before, or in other words, Saturday. So we said, ok. if that's right then you can't smoke anymore. And he did it! and we taught him the rest of everything (which was kind of a miracle too because lessons with him take a long time usually). and then he had his interview and everything went well. Except that we never were able to talk to him mom (who has been a member for years). We and the other sisters were only able to talk to her other son who lives with her and was baptized a month ago and her neighbor who is also a member. So saturday morning comes around and I decide to just call her one more time just to make sure she's coming. and no one had told her! and on top of that she wasn't feeling well and didn't want to come. so we prayed. and then! she came! It was amazing.
Also, our 18 yr old recent convert, Eduíno, baptized him! It was so cool. He felt the spirit so much and was so happy.
Eduíno is hilarious. He never talks and basically when we were teaching him the only thing that told me that he wanted to be baptized was that he came to church and quit smoking. but he never says anything that lets you know what he's actually thinking. but this week we got him to tell us how he knew the chruch is true. and it was because he didn't like church. he thought it was way annoying becasue it was just people talking and talking and talking. but he always woke up anyways and just felt like he had to go even though he didn't want to. its so simple for him. I don't knwo why, but I thought that was hilarious. 
Anyways... Sunday comes. Domingos comes to church for the first two hours. is in all the classes and then disappears right before sacrament meeting. I have no idea where He went. and I still haven't been able to talk to him, so we'll see what happens next week. But one thing that I know is that Heavenly Father guided us and worked a lot of miracles to have this all work out. and He knows what He's doing, and if we weren't supposed to do things in the way we did them. if we should have waited for the baptism or something else, He wouldn't have guided us in the way that He did, so we just have to trust in the things that He's already done and believe that He will continue to guide us. all the evidence is on our side for that one. and even if not, the witness in my heart says it. and 'what greater witness can you have than from God?' D&C 6:20ish.
So that was more or less my week.
I hope your cruise goes well, mom. you won't happen to be stopping by madeira, will you? I'm sure it will if you really remember all the things you said to me in your email and remember the peace that Heavenly Father has brought to your heart time and time again and how he has guided you beside still waters and through deserts and through years of raising crazy children :)
Dad, your the best. I love you so much. I hope you enjoy all the time you have at home and that the family misses you :) 

Tom and Paul! I'm sad I'm missing all your shenanigans of trumpet and sax playing. but you guys rock.
Jeremy. Don't forget to study your scriptures. when its the hardest is when its the most important. and I hope you are liking coaching lacrosse a little bit. I bet you're a bit like officer scott to them. 
And Hannah. thank you for the updates. they really do mean so much.

I love you guys. 
and yes, the rumor is true. my leave date is tax day(april 15th). but let's not talk about it anymore. k?  ok. thanks. :)
Have a great week. Fight the good fight. (its not over yet.)
Just do what you know is good.
Love you,
Steph\ Sister Lofgreen

1/13/2014 I am not a good Golfer

Hey Family!
Mom I have a request. Could you send me a copy of my patriarchal blessing. I had one, but I haven't been able to find it in a little while, so I think I left it in my other bag that is over on the continent aka mainland Portugal. I don't know if you have a copy and I don't know how to tell you where it is in my stuff because I don't know where all my stuff ended up being stored, but it would be in a file of spiritual stuff in the black plastic file bin with a clear top. If not, if its too big of a hassle or something, its OK, but I would really like to be able to have it.
We went mini-golfing today! By the ocean! Perks of living on an island.  I am not a very good golfer, but I have other talents. (Sometimes I just need to be reminded of what they are so I can thank God for them and use them more effectively.)

This week.
We have been working with a man named Domingos to prepare him for baptism. He has been working on quitting smoking, which is rough for anyone, and if you ever thought for a minute about picking up that habit (which you haven't) DON'T! It sucks.It sucks away your health, your energy, your money, your control over yourself, and not to mention the spirit. But he is doing great, and so we should be having his baptism on Saturday if everything goes well. Which is really so so great. His mom has been a member for years and his brother was baptized about 3 weeks ago. His sister that he has been living with the last few months had been investigating the church and was even about to get baptized, but then her husband got really anti-Mormon right before the baptism (its so crazy how often that happens). So basically its a great miracle and one-step closer to completing an eternal family! So that's what we have been working on the most. 

In other news, one of our recent converts who has been turning less active since her brother went on a mini-mission decided this week that she didn't know if she really knew that the church was true or if she just liked the elders who baptized her. and its so sad and frustrating because we have told her again and again, IF you don't pray, read, or go to chuch,THEN you will lose your testimony. It is so clear. IF you don't live the principle, THEN you will not understand it anymore. God is so clear. We get confused when we don't live the gospel. When we are living it, we grow; when we aren't we diminish. It really is that simple. And if you are willing to live it, it makes sense why too.

We are condemned when we live and act AGAINST what we know. When we don't know we are less culpable. If we knew 100% what we should do and we didn't do it, its a lot worse than if we just think we should do it and then don't. We aren't capable of living all the principles God lives. If we were we wouldn't have to pass through this life and develop them. So its really easier and nicer for us to develop them one at a time, having faith and learning to understand step by step than having all the information thrown at you all at once. A kindergartener would never succeed if he was taugh numbers, addition and calculus all in one day. We are the same. 

You just have to do it. Its so simple. Just do it.
There is no magic pill. There is no short cut. There is no steroid, or teleporter, or anything. We just have to brace our teeth and do it and he promises that He will pour out His blessings upon us. 

I have discovered the secret for happiness.
In the end it wasn't such a great secret, but for some reason people still have such a hard time doing it, being grateful for things.

Hey I love you guys and I love hearing about what's going on in your lives. Like Hannah's opera and Katy's everything.  Keep me updated. 
How is scripture study going? anybody learn anything cool?
How's the snow?
How was new year's?
How is going back to school been?

What's your favorite memory of the last week?
How are your new year's resolutions going?
Mine are going pretty great.*  I missed a few days of journaling a positive experience (which ruins the whole thing) but I'm getting back into it this week.
*Saying 3 things I'm grateful for, journaling one positive experience of the last 24 hrs, and working out daily (except Sunday) ~being happy
I forgot I need to be doing a nice thing for someone every day, so I will get back on that....
and praying with my planner or study journal near by ~recognizing the spirit
Love you guys!!!! I will talk to you next week.
Steph\Sister Lofgreen

1/12/2014 This week!

Hey family,

Mostly what I want to share this week is this: (Alma 37, particularly vs.5-12, 37, 38-46) you can are all welcome study it and tell me what you think about it or just talk about it together (or study whatever else you happen to be studying since you all have your own lives...)
This week was good. pretty normal. One thing that I noticed and have been thinking about is the importance of our decisions--our little decisions
God rarely does miracles in one big moment. And when he does, we often don't see all the preparation that he had leading up to it. For example, the Book of Mormon. That's a huge miracle. Joseph Smith translated 500 something pages in like 80 days. (I don't remember the exact stats but I remember being surprised by them.) During that time he was attacked by mobs, moved  from one side of New York to the other. And all that at a rate faster than modern translators are capable of in our day. But that's not all. God prepared that book under the hands of dozens of authors over a period of 1000 years.  All this is just background to these verses: Alma 37:5-12 and is related to the analogy made in verses 38-end and just wants to say,  we have to do the little things. If we follow God we will live forever in eternal glory. What he has said could not be more simple: love your neighbor; do good; follow Christ; read your scriptures; pray; go to church; serve your family, etc. And still. we don't do it.
In the missionary world the simple request is: open your mouth. and he promises he will do miracles and give you a strength that is not known among men. And still its hard. But every time you choose it it gets a little bit easier. If you choose the first time the next time is easier. If you choose not to the next time is harder-- just like a muscle.
Well I don't have much to say this week,  sorry for the randomness and lack of detail. We are teaching a man named Domingos who is progressing well towards baptism. We are working on making yearly goals with the district presidency for our branches and the island. We saw the Guinness book world record fireworks from the roof of our building on near years and drank hot chocolate. Some are progressing and becoming stronger some are falling away and it is heartbreaking.  I am working on talking more positively.  God loves us and wants us to become like him. 

Love you!
Fight the good fight! Never give up never give in. 
Steph\ Sister Lofgreen
p.s. letter to pres.:

Ola President.
Nosso marcado para dia 18, Domingos, filho dum membro do outro ramo está progredir bem. Está a ler, orar, vir a igreja, e progredir em deixar de fumar.
Ainda nao conseguimos com Leticia (nao vai marcar compromissos e mora longe entao nao da para so passar muito) mas ela veio a igreja esta semana e fez mais amizade com os membros. Vamos usar aquelas 2 mulheres em ensiná-la mais frequentemente. na casa dela e na casa daqueles membros.
Mario e Birgit falharam em todos os compromissos e nao estao a progredir. Se podemos marcar de novo, vamos tentar a passar la com um membro e senao vamos deixá-los por enquanto.
Maior problema sao ricardo e iliana que foram batizados e ainda nao foram confirmados. eles nao vao falar conosco (disliga o telemovel ou nao attendem, etc.) vamos orar para oportunidade a falar com eles e ajudar resolver o problema.

Milagre de semana. Todas as coisas que o senhor faz sao milagres, e o momento maior que fica em minha mente foi nosso reuniao sacramental e os testemunhos firmes dos membros que tem passado por dificuldades e sao ainda firmes e fieis no evangelho. Ana Freitas e Eduarda Jardim prestaram testemunho muito forte sobre a necessidade de nao ouvir as coisas que satanás fala a nos sobre outros, sobre nos mesmos, sobre lideres, sobre qualquer coisa que ia impedir nosso capacidade a estar na igreja de Cristo e sentir da presença de teu espírito.

E aprendi que paciencia e fazendo as boas coisas pequenas mesmo quando coisas sao dificeis. basicamente é diligencia em alguns aspectos. its enduring WELL. é falando com pessoas nas paragems de autocarro domingo a noite as 9:30 no caminho para casa com um paz no coraçao e confiança no senhor.

12/16/2013 I love your all!!

How the email time flies.
Christmas!!! Its coming! There are lights up everywhere and everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit! Is there snow there?
This week was amazing and crazy. 
Last week our area was combined with the elders that had been in our ward. Now its just us. Which means we picked up a lot more investigators. Especially because the Elders in our ward had been doing some really great work. They really love people and they really know that the gospel's true and people feel it, and as a result they left us with a family of 4 to be baptized this Sunday. So we  finished up the rest of the lessons and just go by and help them with any doubts and worries that they had up till then. They are amazing. One of them hurt her foot on Saturday night, but even so, she walked an hour to church in the morning to be baptized. that´s how you know people know its really true. when they are willing to make serious sacrifices. that happens because they know that the blessings are better. because they really love God and want to follow Him. 
Then Mario and Birgit came to church on Sunday. We tried to translate for them, but I'm not sure how it really went because I was pretty much just running around the chapel. piano, investigators showing up late not knowing where to go, nice handicapped lady in the ward trying to pick up investigators babies, etc. so yeah. I hope that went well. We just need to help her learn Portuguese. that seems like the best solution to me!
The thing with them is they have a little girl and she is teething and they don't sleep much and finding time for church stuff is hard for them. they make time. they read and let us visit and they pray a lot and sincerely. but they sincerely just say. when you aren't here its hard to have enough time to focus long enough to even think about anything.and I really know the truth of that. especially at Christmas. Birgit's 11 yr old daughter is coming for Christmas from Estonia and so things are going to get even crazier. and I just want so badly for them to feel the peace the gospel brings. I want them to understand what Matthew said in chapter 11:28-30
28 ¶aCome unto me, all ye that blabour and are heavy laden, and I will give you crest.
 29 Take my ayoke upon you, and blearn of me; for I am cmeek and dlowly in eheart: and ye shall find frest unto your souls.
 30 For my yoke is aeasy, and my burden is light.
But I realized for them to understand that I need to understand it. Really understand it. Taking on Christ's yoke doesn't just mean doing church or missionary things. it really means giving him our heart and soul. It involves asking to learn how to really trust Him. (and that's the part that sometimes I get a little nervous about. luckily He knows that and can help motivate me to be better and trust in Him by putting people in my life that I really love that need for me to learn that. like Birgit and Mario.)
Also this week! These two kids who always come to church got permission from their mom to be baptized! Their dad is a member and works out of the country most of the time but has been in town lately since their grandmother passed away about a month ago (he gave the most beautiful prayer and blessing over the grave I have ever heard) and with that Sara started talking about wanting to be baptized. She is super cute and gave the prayer in the baptism yesterday and lead the music last week (basically just waved her had around).
Milagres em todo lado!!!!
Also, Sally sent me this really cool paper about happiness and success that helped me recognize that success comes from happiness and happiness comes from gratitude. particularly gratitude to God. So try it.
1. Write 3 things your grateful for.
2. Journal 1 positive experience from the last 24 hours every day.
3. Exercise regularly
4. Meditate (or give yourself scheduled time to unplug and think about nothing. or just think about blessings or for me study and pray but also try not to think about your stresses.)
5. Conscious acts of kindness every day.
It works!!
Being grateful for blessings invites more miracles into our lives.
I love you all and I am soooooo excited for christmas!!!!
Steph\ Sister Lofgreen
P.S. Fight the good fight! (I was glad to see that scripture on Grandpa's funeral program. He fought the good fight :)

12/9/2013 Ramblings of a Roaming Red Head

Hi family. 
Thanks for all the things about grandpa. It was really sweet to read about everybody's testimonies and all of their memories of him. 
And thank you all for being amazing people and for working to live the plan of salvation day by day. by working to follow the savior and our father's plan for us all to be able to return to him.
This week has been really crazy. 
Probably one of the highlights of the week was when we found this incredible family of 3. We met the mom on the street and contacted her in English, because she is from Estonia and doesn't speak Portuguese. Which is in and of itself really amazing, because if someone doesn't speak Portuguese to us when we say hello as we pass, we often don't stop and talk to them (there are a lot of tourists here). But my companion stopped her to talk anyways and she turned out to be super cool. She invited us to come over to talk more on Friday and when we ran into her the next day she remembered! (good sign :) And when we got there her husband was there as well with their 1 yr old baby. her husband is Portuguese (from the area of Leiria actually) but since his wife doesn't speak Portuguese, we taught them in English. We taught them the restoration and Mario said: wow, no one has ever told me about this before, but I believe its true. So we invited them to be baptized and they both accepted. Can you believe how many people the Lord is preparing all over the world? The next day we went to visit a lady named Paula, one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met who is at the tail end of a battle of cancer that it looks like for now she has won. She has a 16 yr old son with big gauges and lip rings who likes to skate and be super sweet to his mom :) We have been trying to visit her for the past few weeks but haven't been able to find her at home, but when we did, she had read some of the book of Mormon we left with her and really liked it. we taught her about the restoration and she said about the same thing--that she could feel that it was true. (this was Saturday.) unfortunately she couldn't come to church on Sunday because she had an appointment at the hospital where her sister works to take care of her teeth that are falling out. (cancer sucks.) she is so patient and takes things with such grace. she committed to being baptized on the 22 as long as her health permits. Can you believe that? the miracles that God is doing through out the world! He really is hastening His work. and the more we look for the miracles that we already have, the more we will find. For instance, Sister Cardoso (a mais fofinha menina no mundo) shared with us this morning in her personal study how she has seen God preparing people. she read in alma 8:10 about Alma praying for people who really didn't want to have anything to do with him. and because of the prayers that she started saying for the people of Madeira, for the Lord to prepare the people of Madeira they found some apartments where 4 of the 4 doors they knocked let them in. those are some really good odds :)
And then on Sunday, Leticia came to church! On Friday, we called her to see if we could still come over for our appointment and she simply said, I'm catholic. and so I said, so can we come over and talk for a bit, and she said, I'm catholic. So I said, so we can't. and she said, I'll come by the church one day. so yeah.. what do you say? bear your testimony and that's about it. but then the next day we called her, just because.. ya know, we're missionaries and we always hope that people will change and that that day they will come to church will be that Sunday. and she had read just 2 pages in the Book of Mormon! and she just went off about it and she had loved it and decided to come to church. Did I mention she has to take the bus at like 8 in the morning. and walk up a freaking mountain. and she is pregnant and due on the 20th? oh yeah. and it was raining. (The Portuguese are kind of funny about the rain and getting sick. basically if water touches your head you are doomed to death.) She came all by herself even though her husband was kind of like mean about it. 
Also, transfers were this week. and we are absorbing the elders area. and they have 5 people marked for baptism on the 15th right now and another super elect family of 3. So basically we are going to have so much work to do and I am stoked! and Elder Stratford is going to continue as our district leader so if we have any questions about the investigators or get lost we can still just call him and get directions.
I know I didn't say much about grandpa, but the first thing I felt when I heard that grandpa had passed was.. the same. He was already here with me and so it was just the same when I heard. I'm not worried about him. I think he is living it up, serving the mission he always wanted to and bearing the testimony that he has been living and perfecting for the last 11 years. His testimony of the plan of salvation and the eternal nature of our family can be felt from the other side of the veil. 
How did we get so lucky?
I love you all and I am looking forward to talking to you on Christmas. to avoid confusion, please email me your skype names and emails (any that you might use, mom, dad, Jeremy, Hannah etc) in this next week so that we can be all prepared for Christmas. :) Love you guys!
Also, any good christmas missionary ideas?
Have a great week!!! I love you so much and I love this gospel. I hope I can have the strength and determination to continue growing every single day.
Steph\Sister Lofgreen
P.S. the gospel's true. (it encompasses everything, christ lives and we will too and we need to keep fighting the good fight every day.)
also, I sent a horrible picture of me with lovely picture of a house called the tardis. 
its the winter getaway home of a british family that comes to madeira to escape the time and space of the everyday :) hehe. I liked it.

12/2/2013 December, Here we Come

Tom!!!! Congrats!!! I am so excited for you to get your patriarchal blessing!!!! that is one of the most precious things that I have in my life. you will love it. and then you will read it again a few months later and you will love it more! I love you little brother and I am so proud of you.
And Jeremy! and I am so proud of all the things you are doing and deciding everyday to be closer to the Lord. you are and will be an amazing warrior for the right and leader of the people around you. (something I've learned on the mission is that leadership is so much more than a calling. we can be leaders for righteousness-- or just leaders for whateverness-- in any calling we are given. what matter isn't where but how we serve. whate'er thou art act well thy part.) keep doing and being good:)

anyways family! i hope you had a great week and a great Thanksgiving! It sounds like you did. I'm sad to have not been able to be there with you all, but I was so grateful to be able to be here on the island of Madeira and have a great conference with a member of the area presidency and his wife and then a thanksgiving lunch that was really really great. and then we got to take the left overs home too. 
And I got my pajamas from grammie too! (yes I opened them.. but then I wrapped them back up again and put them under the Christmas tree that sally sent a little while back). so it was a perfect thanksgiving. 
This week has been a wonderful week for me to learn the importance of gratitude. I'm still a very very very very very imperfect missionary, it almost seems that I recognize a new thing to work on every day. but even so, Heavenly Father blesses me so very much. And recognizing that is one of the most important secrets to being happy. We had an alright week as far as the work goes. We had some great investigators that were finally starting to progress, and unfortunately we have also had a bit of a hard time with finding new investigators this week. but since I was still feeling that we were doing things that we were supposed to and that things were going to even themselves out for that week with the progress our other investigators were making, I just decided not to worry about it too much. But then along comes Sunday and nobody comes to church. all of our investigators just kept falling through for one reason or another, not answering phones, bus passes expiring, cars breaking down, etc. And so because of this, none of the 3 people that we had marked for baptism can be baptized on their scheduled days. 
But then on Sunday night, we went to have dinner with a wonderful lady in the ward and her daughter (it really makes me so sad that she only speaks Portuguese and that my family only speaks English.) And after we gave a little message and really thanked them for all the work they are doing in the branch (because man do they do work.) Marilene just went on to explain how she feels about her service. because she thinks about Mosiah 2 (I think its Mosiah 2) every time that she hears someone thank her. that even with all the service that we give we are always still beggars before the Lord, because he has given us everything and on top of that made eternal life possible. and she thinks of that. and every time Satan whispers in her ear that she deserves a break or a pat on the back or she is so great and everybody likes her because she is such a good person she prays and asks the Lord to take that feeling away from her. Because it is good to feel loved and appreciated and important, but she doesn't want to feel like her service is about her. She wants to feel like all of her work and service and giving is given out of love for the Lord. is given out of gratitude to Him. so that night after reporting some of the worst numbers ever (which is only important because of what it represents the work and the love and the people coming unto Christ) I prayed and thanked Heavenly Father for all of the blessings I have been given. and I don't think that I have succeeded in being like Marilene (let alone Christ) just yet, but its a beginning. and I want every day of my service to be a gift to the Lord. a gift that I can give to him with a pure and willing heart and with a feeling of gratitude for everything and anything that we were able to get done. 
I love my Savior and I know that He is there for each and every one of us when we need it most. He knows us so perfectly and He knows exactly when and how to answer our prayers, of that I have a very personal testimony. 
I love you all so much and I hope you will pray for me and each other and the people around you who need to know the truth about the gospel.  I Love You all!

Steph\ Sister Lofgreen
p.s. can you believe that Christmas is right around the corner! I can't wait to talk to you all!
p.p.s. Madeira is int he Guinness book of world records for their new years eve fire works so I'm stoked for that too.


Hey family! 

What's up!?
Wanna know a secret? I'm still not used to Portuguese keyboards. I still search for apostrophes and question marks in the wrong places. This week has been really good. getting to know the area nd the people, trying (and not succeeding) to get used to how incredibly beautiful and perfect it is here and the sight of the sea from everywhere we go! its pretty amazing. 
This week was also great because I got two packages! One from grammie with Halloween candy! (its so nice to know that people still love me and think about me:) and one from sally with a Christmas tree and all the letters and ornaments from everybody, which I am very excited about. unfortunately I still have to wait a whole month on that one, so we'll see if I can make it.

Sorry I have been so bad about writing. Things have been a little crazy on Pdays lately. but it doesn't mean I don't love you and think about writing you guys all the time ( I try to make little notes of the good and important things to say during the week.)
This week was interesting because we started out in a tripla with sister call (my comp from Viseu who lives with us too) but then she went back to the mainland for a few days to pick up her comp the lovely Sister Cardoso. She is the cutest sweetest girl ever. Her family is from Angola, but she grew up in porto and so we finally have a source of real live Portuguese knowledge in the house. which is awesome.
We have been working with a family of recent converts that are a little bit less active at the moment and are still working to overcome some problems with smoking and some family problems as well. There strength had been the son who is about 18 or 19. He would get the whole family to church and to read scriptures and say prayers but this last week he has been serving as a mini missionary (as a full time missionary for a period of  6 wks to 3 months depending on his preference) on the other side of the city. so he can't even talk to his family besides by email and stuff like a normal missionary until he's done. so we've been working on getting them reading the scriptures and doing family prayer on their own with out him. 
I have really gained a testimony on my mission of the importance of the little things. Family prayer and scripture study really make a difference. Even just making the effort to make those things a priority, regardless of their quality makes a huge difference in you as a person. Õur actions really do define us over time.
We also have been working with this kid Eduíno who doesn't really talk much so we're never really sure how he's taking things, but he has been fulfilling with all of his commitments, including quitting smoking(and that would be really hard.), so he will be getting baptized on Saturday! Yay! 
My comp Sister Beard is amazing and everyone asks us if we're sisters. we get along really well. She prayed to be able to have a friend and I prayed to be able to have a happy transfer. and guess what! God answers prayers! So I'm excited for this transfer. Unfortunately she is sick today... so we will try to say in (and I will write letters so she can get better.) 
And that's more or less what's happening here in Madeira.

Other funny moments:
a random man named brother Jonah asking us if its true that black people don't like our church. which is funny because in Portugal you sometimes just feel like you are serving in Africa because there are a LOT of investigators and members from Cabo Verde and Angola and Mozambique and guinea.
we had a Halloween party and I bobbed for apples and definitely beat my comp.
we made candied apples and no one are them and now our fridge is full. I fell on lots of people on the bus...
I don't know what else but I'm out of time.

Love you all!


11/25/20013 I Have the Cutest Foot Fingers.

Hey family! 
Sorry about last week. That really sucked, but I will do my best to make up for it this week. 

Things I forgot to mention: somebody blasted our door with black paint on p day 2 weeks ago and I will be sending you a picture of that. Also, if you wanted to send me something for Christmas (no hints included..) it needed to be sent before the 21st or it probably won't get here until January.... so yeah. that sucks. but no worries! Just send it anyway! We should keep Christmas in our hearts all year round right?Well presents really help with that!

This week was good--I made banana bread this last Monday.
[tourists say the darndest things:you'd think they'd have a ripe banana in the land of bananas. (there were a lot of green bananas in the grocery store that day. Did I mention I live in the land of bananas? They're everywhere! and banana trees are really interesting.)] and I made up the recipe! and it was delicious. So basically I rock.

OK. On to the important stuff, that super cool investigator we have who came to church! He's still cool. He came and played soccer at the church on Saturday, and we taught him and his friend on the Wed. before that. And now he's marked for baptism on the 14th. The only problem is that we were teaching him with his girlfriend. One because everyone needs the gospel. 2. because its easier to just convert both of them and help them live the law of chastity. 3. because its seems like she would feel better about us if we taught him with her there right? Well, he's still legit and still going to get baptized, but she doesn't really like us and in typical Portuguese fashion he just told us. They're very straightforward about things here. so yeah. We're passing him over to the elders. 

But! in other news!

We did a division with the Sister Training Leaders this week and Sister Cutler and I met this lady named Leticia at the bus stop. and so on Saturday we went to her house which turned out to be really far away on a mountain super hidden down this skinny flight of like 100 cement stairs. but we found it about 45 minutes late and she was waiting for us! We met her husband and taught them the 1st lesson and they really got it (which you could tell because she would reexplain in her own words to her husband everything that we said) and they both accepted the convite to be baptized on the 14th! So we're really excited about that too. 

Unfortunately, we freaked out our other investigator, Raphael, who was marked for the 7th with the word of wisdom. I think we overwhelmed him a little bit. So we need to track him down to talk to him about it a little bit. He got overwhelmed but he just needs to know that he can do it!! And that he can do it at his pace and that he's not alone in it. 

Also... I opened some of the Christmas letters.. oops! But I just couldn't wait and I wanted to put some ornaments on the tree. 

Oh. and Sister Cardoso says that I have cute foot fingers because in Portuguese toes and fingers are the same word and you differentiate by saying hand or foot and she was studying English. and yeah.. it was funny. 

Hey! I love you guys!

Have a great week and eat lots of pie!


p.s. Fight the good fight!

11/18/2013 Time

Well.... I just wrote a really really really long email and now its gone and I don't know what happened to it.... 
so I'm sorry. Probably because that just happened to my comp on a lesser scale about 45 minutes ago and I didn't feel that bad for her.... so yeah... karma sucks.

Anyway--short version: love each other and the church is true. And those are basically the same thing.
Yeah.... and this week had some great stories too. short.

Conference of Eduino!
19 yr old Andre loved church in spite of the epilepsy attacks brought on by brawling members and a gospel principles lesson on the law of chastity taught over quarreling members. and he stayed for the baptism and loved it!

Charity is the greatest of all because it is all inclusive. You keep all the other commandments when you have charity.So, if you want more charity its the same as other traits: pray, study and fake it till you make it. aka keep the commandments and try to have the right motives (aka love) and serve--lots.

Well that's my weekly update. love you all and sorry I don't have time to respond to anything....

But I love you!!!!!

Steph\Sister Lofgreen
Fight the good fight (aka always keep the peace)