These past few weeks, Elder Mesquita and I have been focusing on meeting all of the “Standards of Excellence” for our mission, which are the goals for investigators at church, baptismal dates set, lessons taught with a member, etc. that are mission-wide. Generally, they are challenging. For example, the standard of excellence for investigators at church is 10, which would be 1000 people in church every week. Our mission averages about 300-400 people in church every week. So, to make a long story short, Elder Mesquita and I have been focusing on realizing as many of these standards each week as possible. But, even though we had been doing what was expected of us, our teaching pool was shrinking and the people we were helping to come to Christ rejected us. It was really frustrating. However, I´m grateful for inspired leaders. Our zone leaders gave the zone a theme for the week, “Go The Extra Mile”.
Elder Mesquita and I realized immediately what was wrong. We were doing everything that was technically expected of us… but we were not doing everything in our capacity. God doesn´t expect us to just reach a point and plateau… he expects us to always do everything in our power. If we want standard blessings, we can put in the standard. If we want everything God has to give us, we have to do everything in our power.
We have a theme as a mission to “Sair nossa zona de conforto”, or always leave our comfort zone. This week, Elder Mesquita and I saw the blessings of that. We were contacting in what we call “A Escada dos Milagres” (in English… The Stairs of Miracles). We have found a lot of solid new investigators there contacting. As we were about to leave there one day, we decided to talk with one more person. Two, actually, Luiz and Ana. Luiz and Ana are about 45 and we taught them about chastity and how they need to be married. They excitedly invited us back to their house and talked about how they have wanted this for a long time, but they didn´t have the money (The fact that we can marry people legally for free is a great finding tool here). Also, sometimes you can just feel when a person is really open and prepared to receive the gospel. And they are. So we came back and taught them the Restoration and why they need to be married to receive the blessings of The Restoration. Luiz told us, “I feel like when we met you in that staircase that I should trust you. I would never talk to two teenagers I don´t know in the street, but I feel like God wanted us to meet”. The whole experience was a miracle and they are super excited for church next Sunday.
Also, we went to contact a referral from our ward mission leader. The referral lives in this horrible viella (like a tiny alleyway that leads to the poorest parts of the favela that don´t have access to a street). Elder Mesquita literally has to turn sideways and suck in his belly to fit between the buildings. We were about to descend into the viella when we saw two extremely drunk guys stumbling out of the viella. Normally, the last thing we would do at the end of the night in a dark, narrow space is talk with two bêbados (drunks), but we followed the spirit and talked to them. One of them, Francisco, listened as intently as he could as we taught about the Word of Wisdom and told us to come back to his house because he needed to get sober. He also promised he would come to church on Sunday. We honestly didn´t have very much faith in him, especially when we returned the next day and his neighbor said he wasn´t home. However, instead of dropping him as we normally would, we returned Sunday morning to bring him to church AND…. nothing. Empty. Lights off. We got to church, a little discouraged but not to surprised, and took our seats. Just as priesthood was about to start (which we have first in our ward), we felt a tap on our shoulders and turned around to see Francisco´s unshaven but sober face grinning back at us. It turns out his neighbor just lied and told us he wasn´t home. He said he waited three hours for us. We taught him Sunday nght and he is seriously committed to stop drinking, smoking, drinking coffee, and using illegal drugs so he can be baptized on the 27th. Woohoo!
Also, at the end of the week it looked like had done everything and wouldn´t have anything to show for it. However, Sunday, everything fell into place and we met all of our goals.
Sometimes, we just have to do a little more. We just have to push a little harder than we did the time before. And when our hearts are depressed and we want to turn back, then the blessings come.