First, I´m praying for Grandma Koetitz and I think about her every day.
Second… Mom, I´m still trying to think of what I would want you to send for Christmas. As of yet I have not thought of anything specific. Elder Mesquita requested more pictures haha but I think I already have a decent stack of them.
The Sunday I got into this ward (a transfer and a half ago), a guy named Luzivaldo was baptized. He is a man of simple, solid faith. Also, I realized when we took pictures at his baptism that I think he is shorter than Mom. He received the Aaronic Priesthood three weeks ago and this Saturday he baptized his two sons, Lucas and Daniel. Daniel is 11, Lucas is 9. I love watching families receive the blessings of the gospel. The experience was sacred because Luzivaldo was able to use the priesthood that he holds to bring the blessings of the gospel to his children. Luzivaldo lives alone with his two kids, works from 7:00 AM-5:00 PM and studies from 6:00 PM-10:00 PM so he can get a better job and helps his sons. He does this every day except Sunday. I´m always amazed by the sacrifices he makes for them. This being said, Lucas and Daniel didn´t exactly have a lot of supervision at home, and when we started teaching them, they were pretty crazy. It took a few tries to learn how to teach them, but with inspiration and help from our awesome Bishop, we watched them change. A LOT.
It was incredibly spiritual to watch Luzivaldo baptize his sons, with words that he had practiced until he couldn´t forget them. It is in moments like this that I realize how sacred and precious my mission is. Every hard moment disappears, or rather becomes of more worth, when we see the joy that we have helped bring into the live of another family.
Last week I talked about Francisco, the drunk that literally stumbled into us in a horrible viela. Today is his 9th consecutive day without drinking, smoking, drinking coffee, or using drugs. He told us that now that he has stopped, he has desire to do good again. He has desire to work again. He also told us that he has been going to other neighborhood churches every day of the week so that he can stay out of the bar, but he told us that he knows that the other churches don´t have “a prophet, twelve apostles, and the authority”, because he didn´t want us to think he was going there instead of with us to church. He´s so good! He invited all his friends to his baptism, and brought a friend with him to church that wants to be baptized as well. Francisco will be baptized Saturday.
I´m not sure if I have talked about Beatriz yet or not, but she will be baptized this Friday. We taught her Mom for a few weeks, but her Mom had some struggles that she couldn´t overcome and she decided she didn´t want to meet with us anymore even though she knows the church is true. Beatriz (or “Bia”, for short) is her daughter. Bia has gone to seminary every day for the past three weeks and she is so good! She is a testimony to me of fellowshipping, because she would definitely never have been interested without the help of the youth in our ward. I´m super excited to see her grow in the church.
Talking to Elder Mesquita this week, I think I realized what I have learned more than anything on my mission. I´ve learned that God expects us to grow where we are planted. We don´t know what experiences we will have and often don´t know where we will be, but God has always known. God always knew I would serve in Long Beach California for 11 months. He always knew I would come to this ward in Brasil. He knew it all. I don´t have too much patience with missionaries that say, “I´m a visa waiter!” or “My Bishop is horrible!” or “My area was dead when I got here!” or “My companion is lazy!” because these things are exactly what God knew we would have. And he wants us to grow. He wants us to do everything we can. We can learn to be happy and work hard in our tribulations. Maybe our situation isn´t what we thought would be best for us. But it is what will help us grow the most.
Eu amo minha família! I couldn´t have a better family for me.
Mom, I´m definitely not seeing any fall colors here… it´s spring here. But I don´t think I would see any fall colors anyway. Thankfully it has stayed cool the whole time I have been here but I have a feeling that my luck is about to run out.
Batismo de Lucas e Daniel por seu Pai Luzivaldo