In Which, One of Us Has to Go to the Hospital

"Penelope fell in gym and got a gash on her forehead. We think she needs stitches."

Is what I would've said, if I worked at the school and called us. Instead we got a call with:

"Penelope's hurt. Come now. Just come NOW!" (translation)

So we did. As we were pulling on our shoes and heading out the door, we heard an ambulance, with sirens blazing, speed down our street.

When we got out the door and around the corner, we saw that yes, it was parked in front of the school.

The worker at the gate let us in with eyes down and a "sorry" (not a translation). I gave her a thumbs up.

We could see a crowd of people (school employees, paramedics) surrounding Penelope. They did not part for us. I had to duck to see under arms that Penelope's eyes were open; she was breathing; her skin was a normal color; and she was sitting up in someone's lap... so no spinal injury. All I could see was someone putting pressure with a bandage to her forehead, which is all it was. I was thinking maybe a broken bone.

They really set us up for panic, but I knew the whole time everything was fine, because I trust the Holy Ghost. And the Holy Ghost was telling me nothing was wrong.

They took Penelope by ambulance to the better hospital, a half hour away, because they have a pediatric unit. Woo rode with her, not just because he speaks Portuguese, but because he's by far the best parent for these situations. Frequently in pain himself, he has a lot more compassion than I do. Plus, he's funny, and a good companion to have along in a strange situation.

Penelope was taken to the ER where they exceeded our expectations for care. Other than having to walk through a room containing rows and rows of beds of elderly ER patients (it definitely weirded Woo out), she was seen quickly and her gash was bonded shut (no stitches).

Meanwhile... I had all the other kids at home. I served a failure of a dinner (too spicy), that none of the kids would eat, and was waiting for a text from Woo to pick them up. This is only the second time I've driven in Portugal, so I was a tiny bit nervous.

With Herbie's help (standing outside, gauging my proximity to walls and poles) I got out of the garage without too much trouble, and we were off. Ruby sat in front and texted Woo our progress and updated us on theirs, while I drove and navigated off the other phone.

It went okay, other than I'm only pretending to know what I'm doing on a roundabout (I do think I got it on the way home), and I took one wrong turn. I found myself on a oneway road, looking up a very narrow, steep, cobbled exit that I refused to take in my giant van full of kids. I was afraid I would stall, among other things. The road was deserted, so I backed up (hitting one of those cone-like rubber barrier things), and turned around to drive 100 ft the wrong way. Ruby, Herbie and the one other guy who saw me did not approve, but I did it anyway.

We drove past the hospital, Moses and Linus yelling at me to stop, but I was on another hill, paying attention to the immediate road and my phone, which said I still had half a mile to go, so didn't see it. After some more awkward (but not illegal) turning and parking and walking, we found an exasperated Woo and a happy Penelope.

And then to top it all off, we ate dinner at Burger King. The kids got a crown and a toy and every one of the kids went to bed thinking the day had really been spectacular.

At one point on our drive Herbie had told Ruby to text Penelope that we love her. Woo had let her read it herself and Penelope was very touched. Overall, it was a fun, exciting experience for her, where she got to feel everyone's love and concern. When she got to school this morning, she was surrounded by a crowd of kids, all wanting to know what had happened and what her wound looked like.

In other news... Woo's parents have come to visit! The kids have been excited for weeks. Herbie helped move Archie into his room (we'll see how that goes), so Woo's parents can have Archie's room and the downstairs bathroom while they're here.

Other tidbits:

Ruby and Herbie did a lot of good work preparing Grandma and Grandpa's room. Ruby cleaned out the closet (even down to q-tip detail!) and Herbie blew up and made the beds.

Moses is our best octopus eater.

Herbie (testing to see if Moses is smarter after eating octopus brain): What is cheese?  
Moses (in an authoritative voice): An orange type of food. It’s called moldy milk. 

We had a few very warm days this week. Linus ran around with his sweat pants bunched around his knees all morning until he could change into shorts at lunch.

Nellpea had a birthday party before Grandma and Grandpa came at one of those kid play places like Kangaroo Zoo. Ten minutes before Grandma and Grandpa were due to arrive, we all went to pick her up. I asked if we could have Penelope.
"No," said the guy. "We haven't sung Happy Birthday yet."
And he was totally serious.

Only when Woo explained that her grandparents from the Unites States were due to arrive, did he decide he could release her to us.

Nellpea: Where’s New England?  
Archie: Oh! It’s by France!

And Woo and I found the world's most amazing napkins.

"I'm just glad they've finally found a way to employ all the starving artists in the world."

Hope your week was great!


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!