For anyone who wants to send me stuff (sending through the office was slow before, imagine how bad it must be now I'm a plane ride away) this is my new address:
Rua Dr. Pita 23 2c
So it was an adventure. We had our district meeting as normal on Tuesday, except the zone leaders and their district showed up as well, because their computer didn't work. Then we were directed to look at transfers and I couldn't believe it! It was 13hoo and at 20h15 my plane would be leaving for Madeira. It was quite a shock and the surprise didn't really register as reality (still hasn't!). After some hurried organisation, last district photos and eating of food that members from the other ward had brought (still not sure what they were doing there!) we rushed home and started packing. Thankfully sister Sousa donated a suitcase, because mine really wasn't ready for a plane journey! Then we had to get to the office to pick up our flight plans and the other 4 missionaries going to Madeira. We were really lucky to bump into missionaries I had served with in Coimbra, especially as one of them will be going home this transfer and it was my last chance to see her!
Then the stress really hit! We waited for our last missionary to get to the office and rushed out with 2 or 3 suitcases each for the metro. Catching the metro was a nightmare in itself as the first time we didn't think a head, all tried to get on one carriage and only Elder Casper made it, so we waved dolefully at him as he left us on the platform. We then learnt the need to split up to a separate set of doors each for the next train. After transferring in Trinidad we were extremely tight for time (like we would arrive 50 minutes before the plan was set to LEAVE!) The baggage people were not best pleased, especially as most of our bags were overweight (no one had told us the correct limit) and we found out we were allowed two bags. It was all very confusing, we just had to pay the scary fines, trusting that we would be reimbursed (which we were, in record time!) As we ran through security we could hear them calling our names!! However, it all kind of paid off in the end, as ours were the first bags to come off the plane.
It is literally a dream being here on the island of Madeira. I feel so removed from the rest of the mission, which is pretty much a good thing as you don't feel so stressed or in competition with other people. Everywhere is just beautiful. I have never seen so much sea before (you see a lot more from the heights of the hills) and sometimes I like to pretend I'm in the Caribbean (with the beautiful old ships). The apartment is also the best I've been in, with a sofa that has reclining (what is that?!) and a breakfast bar and a balcony we actually keep clean and use. The only downside is the ridiculously hard mattress, but the missionary couple here assured me that ALL the mattresses (they tried new ones) are like that!
The people here are amazing. We have found so many that just let us in! We also went out to find this reference from Elder Listão and we passed this family on the walk out. Sister Bento felt like they were probably the people we were going to see and when we waited at the door they said 'the owners are about to arrive!'. We shared a great little message, the son Miguel is really excited about the restoration DVD we left with them and we have a return appointment! Yay!
Oh... so Sister Bento - she is in her 4th transfer, so has only been here on the island. She is from Brazil and she is super awesome. She just wants to do everything right, but doesn't stress about it! We are already getting on so well (bonding over a love of Disney and Harry Potter always does wonders) and learning so much from each other. It's so sad that she is probably leaving after this transfer!
People are really nice here. So far we have been given an umbrella from an investigator, a massive meal with all 8 missionaries by another investigator (who is a friend of a member) chocolate and cookies from a less active, some kind of vegetables from a recent convert and that's just what I can remember. The ward is obviously crazy - they forgot to announce me as giving a testimony during sacrament meeting and weren't making the clearest signals from the stand, so another member thought it was testimony meeting and started bearing hers as I hurried to the stand. The gospel principles lesson wandered so far from the topic even the teacher decided he needed to teach that lesson again next week! However, it is crazy that I already feel like this is home (it does help that lots of people have connections with England!) and am really excited to serve here.
Heavenly Father really does know what it best for us! Happiness really is in our hands.