Marijuana and Parsley

Ruby's still good for a laugh with a mixed up word. Maybe even more so, now that she's learning another language and many things are just a wisp of a memory for her.
Ruby (seeing a packet of parsley seeds): Hey look! Like Essley Parsley?
She was referring to Elvis Presley... probably a stage name for Essley Parsley...
Ruby (I missed the first part of her sentence): ... with the marijuana-- 
Me and Woo: What?? 
Ruby: What's that dance... ? 
Woo: The mariachi? 
Ruby: No. 
Woo: The Macarena! 
Ruby: Yeah! --with the Macarena--

Moses loves graphic novels and occasionally writes his own. His latest is titled: Moses the Hero. It's dedicated "to my family," and the first scene opens with, "In Portugal, Super Moses is fighting some big ninjas. HYA!"

There's always some debate about where English speaking kids are from.
Someone: He's Canadian! 
Moses: No! He's U-K-en!
But that didn't sound right.
So he tried again.
Moses: I mean English.
But he doesn't like that either.
Me: Moses, what do you call people from the UK? 
Moses (without a blink): U-K-ens.

Somehow we had no idea that Penelope was starting her swimming unit on the first day back from school. She wasn't able to swim because we hadn't sent anything with her, but she wasn't disappointed. She was very excited. The first day mostly seemed to be a tour of the pool and going over rules, and she enjoyed watching from the bleachers above the pool when the other kids jumped in for a bit.

We're prepared now, though. We got her a one piece suit, some pink flip flops and her swim cap was provided.

Herbie hasn't complained of bullies or being scared of anyone for a long time. A couple months ago, when it weighed heavily on his mind, we were reading scriptures as a family and after reading his, Herbie said, "I keep reading this scripture! I've read it like 5 times!"

So we read it again to find what the message was for him.

I'm not sure Mosiah 2:31 is the exact scripture, but if it wasn't, it was very close, "... even so if ye shall keep the commandments... your enemies shall have no power over you..."

He didn't see anything, so I asked, "Do you have any enemies, Herbie?"

It took him a second, but he smiled, got his marking pencil out and seems to have been at peace ever since.

Woo's getting too old to stay up late working on projects. He did last week and is sick this week. He's done a lot of extra sleeping and lying in bed. Yesterday was a warm, sunny day with perfect waves. It was killing Woo to not be surfing. Part of the reason he couldn't was because we had a district primary activity in Santarém. He hurried home with the idea of putting kids in bed and catching an hour in the water, but he laid down and fell asleep before I'd even told all the kids good night.

I know you thought it was impossible, but Linus gave out 4 more Books of Mormon this week. He's keeping a running total and says he's up to 23 since we've been in Portugal. Linus is such a cute, outgoing kid; he's excited to talk about his religion and he has people asking him questions about his baptism and for Books of Mormons regularly.

Archie didn't want to go back to school the first day, but I had Linus take him to his class room to avoid a crying stand-off at the door and it went fine. Since then, he's been excited to be back. He's really improved the last week or two with doing his chore the first time asked, and also extra things like picking up a room-full of legos. I credit the Moneypants app that I've been beta-testing. It makes the kids weekly progress visual and more tangible for even little kids like Archie.

That's all I have this week. I've included my (very short) talk at the bottom.

Ten years ago, the Spirit told me that I would speak at my grandma’s funeral. At the time, my grandma was perfectly healthy.

Eight years later, my grandma was in the hospital. When I prayed about her I was not told she would get better. I was instead told I would speak the words the Holy Ghost gave me with power and authority. I was nervous, but I waited.

A couple weeks later she died. I was not surprised when I was asked to speak, but I was surprised when I could not write a talk. I did not panic, but again I waited. This time for the Holy Ghost.

It came the morning of her funeral. I wrote the whole talk down, as it came, in 10-15 minutes, got the kids up and ready and left. I stood up at the pulpit and said the whole thing without looking at my notes once. The talk truly came from God. I spoke with the authority and power of God.

Two weeks ago President Nelson said:

“It is a remarkable blessing to serve in the Lord’s true and living Church with His authority and power. The restoration of the priesthood of God, including the keys of the priesthood, opens to worthy Latter-day Saints the greatest of all spiritual blessings. We see those blessings flowing to women, men, and children throughout the world.

We see faithful women who understand the power inherent in their callings and in their endowment and other temple ordinances. These women know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen their husbands, their children, and others they love. These are spiritually strong women who lead, teach, and minister fearlessly in their callings with the power and authority of God! How thankful I am for them!

Likewise, we see faithful men who live up to their privileges as bearers of the priesthood. They lead and serve by sacrifice in the Lord’s way with love, kindness, and patience. They bless, guide, protect, and strengthen others by the power of the priesthood they hold. They bring miracles to those they serve while they keep their own marriages and families safe. They shun evil and are mighty elders in Israel. I am most thankful for them!

Now, may I voice a concern? It is this: Too many of our brothers and sisters do not fully understand the concept of priesthood power and authority. I fear that too many of our brothers and sisters do not grasp the privileges that could be theirs.”

I don't have the answer, but I know that it is our privilege to have the power and authority of Jesus Christ with us as we carry out his work with dedication. And I know it will come as we are humble and repentant and seek it. I know this to be true.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Dez anos atrás, o Espírito me disse que eu falaria no funeral da minha avó. Na época, minha avó estava perfeitamente saudável.

Oito anos depois, minha avó estava no hospital. Quando eu orei por ela, não me disseram que ela melhoraria. Em vez, foi dito que eu falaria as palavras que o Espírito Santo me deu com poder e autoridade. Eu estava nervosa, mas esperei.

Algumas semanas depois ela morreu. Não fiquei surpresa quando me pediram a falar, mas fiquei surpresa quando não consegui escrever um discurso. Eu não entrei em pânico, mas novamente esperei. Desta vez pelo o Espírito Santo.

O discurso chegou a manhã do seu funeral. Eu escrevi todo o discurso, como veio, em 10-15 minutos, acordei as crianças e saímos. Eu fiquei no púlpito e disse o discurso sem minhas anotações. O discurso veio verdadeiramente de Deus. Eu falei com a autoridade e o poder de Deus.

Há duas semanas, o Presidente Nelson disse:

“É uma bênção extraordinária servir na Igreja verdadeira e viva do Senhor com Sua autoridade e Seu poder. A restauração do sacerdócio de Deus, inclusive das chaves do sacerdócio, provê aos membros dignos da Igreja as mais grandiosas bênçãos espirituais. Vemos essas bênçãos se estendendo a mulheres, homens e crianças em todo o mundo”.

“Vemos mulheres fiéis que compreendem o poder inerente a seu chamado, à sua investidura e a outras ordenanças do templo. Essas mulheres sabem como invocar os poderes do céu para proteger e fortalecer seu marido, seus filhos e outras pessoas a quem amam. São mulheres espiritualmente fortes que lideram, ensinam e ministram destemidamente em seu chamado com o poder e a autoridade de Deus! Sinto imensa gratidão por elas”.

“Semelhantemente, vemos homens fiéis que vivem de acordo com seus privilégios como portadores do sacerdócio. Eles lideram e servem por meio de sacrifício à maneira do Senhor, com amor, bondade e paciência. Abençoam, orientam, protegem e fortalecem as pessoas pelo poder do sacerdócio que possuem. Eles proporcionam milagres àqueles a quem servem ao mesmo tempo que protegem seu próprio casamento e sua família. Eles se afastam do mal e são élderes vigorosos em Israel. Sou extremamente grato por eles”!

Ele continuou.

“Agora, posso manifestar uma preocupação? É a seguinte: muitos de nossos irmãos e irmãs não compreendem plenamente o conceito de poder e autoridade do sacerdócio”.

Não tenho uma resposta, mas eu sei que é nosso privilégio a ter o poder e a autoridade de Jesus Cristo conosco ao realizarmos Sua obra com dedicação. E eu sei que ele virá como nós somos humildes e arrependidos e o procuramos. Eu sei que isso é verdade.

Em nome de Jesus Cristo. Amém.


Last Week of Vacation

One day was a little crazy. Lots of arguing, etc. (Well, except for Penelope. She would jump and do whatever we asked and buzzed around doing extra chores.) At scripture time we just happened to be reading in Mosiah 18. Woo reminded everyone what it REALLY means to keep your baptismal covenants (aka not argue constantly with your brother), and then Penelope raised her hand.
"Do you know why I was so good today? Because I said lots of prayers that I could be like Jesus."
The other kids were not super happy about that at first, but then Penelope, smiling and trying to be like Jesus, stood up and went around the room, giving each of us a big hug.

She moved all of them to repentance. I know Herbie made a personal goal to pray like Penelope. They all went to bed after scriptures, and in the morning, before Woo and I got up, they had all cleaned their rooms (with Ruby doing an especially amazing job), most of them had already done their chores, and several did extra things they saw needed to be done. (Moses even mopped his ceiling!)

That lasted most of the day and into the next morning.

We had a few sickies. Most notably Woo.
Woo (lying sick in bed already getting a hug from Herbie): Archie! Can you tell me 3 nice things? 
Archie: Yes. Hug. Forgive. And... I can’t think of another.
Wait! Daddy, is repent the same thing as forgive? 
Woo: No. 
Archie: Okay. Repent, Dad!

I had a crowd of kids watching me cut Linus' hair until Penelope suddenly jumped up and ran off.
Mom, I have to leave, cause watching them get their hair buzzed is making me want to buzz my hair!

There were a lot of people in town for Easter. Woo wasn't used to his waves being so crowded. He decided to go surfing during the hour or two of daylight after the kids went to bed. He went on his old beginner board a few times and had a lot of fun. Sometimes it's nice to be reminded of how far you've come instead of how far you have to go.

Woo organized a branch activity to pick up garbage on the beach. It ended up only being us and the missionaries (other branch members cleaned the church), but we still had fun.

I was reading my last conference talk from October 2017 the night before conference. It was Elder Rasband's talk--By Divine Design. I read the words: "entering 'the city by another way.'" And my mind was enlightened to know that I needed to enter this city by another way. Facebook to be exact. So, four years or so, after closing my Facebook account, I'm back on. This time trying to do stuff in Portuguese.

You might remember that I started tweeting a month ago. I'm tweeting almost straight scripture and I've had a lot of exchanges with people from all over the world. I gave away my first digital Book of Mormon this week, to a woman in Gambia.

Anyway, kind of a quiet week for us. This is Amelia, a member in our branch. Visiting her is sort of like visiting a grandma. The kids all love her and she always brings out snacks and interesting things for them to try.

Hope your week was great!

Testimony Below:

I love general conference because I can hear the word of God through His servants, our prophet and the apostles.

Three years ago, I began to read a conference talk each day. I received personal inspiration for my life every time I read a talk. Especially if I had read it many times before.

Like the Liahona, the talks in general conference work according to our faith and the attention we give them.

I know that the prophet speaks for Jesus Christ and this is His church.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Eu amo conferência geral porque eu posso ouvir a palavra de Deus através de Seus servos, nosso profeta e os apóstolos.

Há três anos, comecei a ler um discurso de conferência geral cada dia. Eu recebi inspiração pessoal para minha vida cada vez que eu leio um discurso. Especialmente quando eu já li um discurso muitas vezes.

Como a Liahona, os discursos de conferência geral funcionam segunda nossa fé e a atenção que os damos.

Eu sei que o profeta fala por Jesus Cristo e esta é sua igreja.

Em nome de Jesus Cristo, amém.



The kids were out of school, but the van was in the shop. We couldn't go anywhere, so I decided to try an idea I read years ago... rotations or stations... I think we've settled on "rotations."

Basically, 2 hours of our afternoon are spent by kids rotating through 6 stations for 20 minutes each: khan academy math (by grade level), online library books (twice), drawing or craft, legos, and play doh.

It's worked pretty well. The kids are excited about it, and have asked me to extend each session to 30 minutes, but I think 2 hours total is long enough. It gives their vacation days enough structure to keep everyone satisfied. We've also played soccer at the park as a family in the mornings, and they go back again when all their friends are there before dinner, and chores and meals, and times to do their own thing, of course.

It's worked so well, I realized I've found the solution to our two hours or so on Sunday afternoons where we struggle to keep the kids involved in Sunday activities. Today was our first and not very organized, but these are the stations I have in mind: study The Living Christ, write in journal, read any scripture outside the Book of Mormon, study scriptures about Jesus Christ from the Topical Guide, family history (includes reading my blog for the younger kids), and writing notes, letters or emails to family.

We did finally change our clocks forward Sunday, so even though it's vacation, I don't think a single one of us has slept-in any day. We had a couple nights of Linus and Moses whispering instead of going to sleep and Archie opening his curtains and getting out his toys after being put to bed. I had a few nights of staying up too late myself. Anyway, we all have some annoying cold like thing. Ruby has a headache; Herbie is grouchy; etc. Penelope is probably the only one who seems completely fine.

Our internet stopped working yesterday afternoon. We think we've found a pattern.
Woo: What if our internet problems are as simple as one of our neighbors coming into town for the holiday and switching their internet on? 
And honestly, it seems pretty likely. It's like clockwork.

Luckily, we've been able to watch conference tethering off our Portuguese phone. We're pretty excited for our new prophet and apostles. Our family felt like we'd won some sort of prize when the new apostles were announced. We hadn't speculated at all, but Woo (and his children) always hope for Elder Soares. (He was Woo's mission president for a few months.) And about an hour before conference started, my mind was on some other train of thought, when I suddenly thought "Elder Gong" and texted Woo.

The only reason I think the Holy Ghost would tell me (of all people) anything like that is because I've said several prayers for the new apostles and their wives over the past two weeks. I'd been on a biography kick and had read Spencer W. Kimball's and Hugh B. Brown's own accounts of what an excruciating ordeal it was to be called as an apostle.

I've had two or three nights/days in my life that seemed similar to what they were describing, and for that to go on for a week or more... I felt compassion for them, and also knew that two men and their wives were probably going through the same thing at that very moment.

Anyway, I know that God has called them and will strengthen them. I'm excited to learn from them and for President Nelson as well. He's certainly grown in stature in my eyes over the past year or two as I've come across his old talks. He is a humble man who will lead the church in the way Jesus Christ instructs. He has my full confidence.

His direction to learn more of Jesus Christ has definitely influenced my life. Easter means more to me now than ever before. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He directs His church in preparing His people and the world for His Second Coming!

I love you!


Field Day in March

Field Day for my kids means magicians, bouncy houses, popsicles. Field Day for me means races, and I was more than a little let down when I finally had kids in elementary school and saw what Field Day had become.

Little did I know that all I had to do was move to Portugal. There's plenty of races here. The elementary school held theirs the week before Easter Break and it was actually called The Race of Easter (translated). For a second we thought maybe it was a giant egg hunt, but thank goodness, no.

There are three or four elementary schools in our city and all the 1-4 graders were pitted against each other according to grade. And they went all out with the huge blowup start/finish line, a DJ pumping hits (I assume), a starting horn, water bottles and snacks at the finish line, and an awards ceremony.

Penelope, Archie and Linus did lots of sprints in the house in the days before to "get ready" for the race. And it's always amusing to me to hear the things they (and Woo) say to reveal their dreams or fears for the race.

We'd learned from Ruby's race to tell everyone to get on the front line, which they did. But before the race, someone told all the first graders to not go too fast and trip other people. Penelope took that to heart. She ran a strong, but not too fast pace the whole race. Here she is taking the time to wave.

I told her to pass the person in front of her, which she did in about five very fast steps before returning to her slower pace to take second.

Linus thought he might win, but wasn't sure. He led almost the entire race, and was passed at the very end by this kid from another school, who Linus later told us should be in the grade above, but didn't pass last year. I don't know if that's true, but he's big enough. Linus made friends with him anyway, and they were giving each other high fives as they left.

Moses knew he was way faster than any kids in his school, but was worried about kids in other schools, especially kids who might've been held back. He was in the first pack of boys, that was way ahead of anyone else. Moses tried a couple times to pass the boy ahead of him, but that boy was too competitive and Moses was too willing to let him have his way and backed down. He got fourth and spent the rest of the day feeling kind of down that he was "the only one in the family who didn't get a place."

Ruby came home from school announcing she "counts as a boy in P.E." The P.E. classes here are both boys and girls and when teams are chosen, there's a rule to pick a girl, then a boy, etc. Anyway, because Ruby is better than most of the boys at most of the sports, she has to be chosen during a boy turn. She felt pretty good this week when they played soccer and she was the most coveted player of all three teams.

Herbie, Archie and I kept up our afternoon running on the dunes. Some days were really windy and it was painful to be caught in the middle of so much sand, but mostly we had fun. At least, I thought we did, but Archie and Herbie started complaining to do something else. Our decision was made for us Friday when we were coming down the stairs and some guy honked, then yelled out his window.
"It's no good, run on the dunes! Damage the dunes!"
And he sped away. I was a little weirded out to think this man I'd never seen knew who we were and what we'd been doing: English speakers running dunes. (Stupid Americans stand out no matter where we go??) But I guess he has a point. We've moved on.

Archie as the Man in Black:

His elf tucked in bed that he snuck to school.

Also, Archie's flipflop shin guards:

Skateboarding in the garage: A popular Daddy Day activity these days.

The waves were crazy big and rough most of the week (except one day when Woo took Linus and Herbie out). Woo's friend suggested surfing in a new spot. Within an hour, Woo had bashed his knee on a rock and his friend had broken his board. Woo could hardly walk for a day, and when his friend suggested they go to the same place the next day (presumably to redeem it?), Woo was happy to have the kids' races as an excuse to back out. Luckily, his knee feels a lot better now.

Anyway, that's enough for this week. Hope your week was great! I'm excited for Conference on Saturday!