Feliz Natal e Feliz Ano Novo!
I will most likely call between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM in Utah. That is the only window of time we have to make phone calls, because we study in the morning, have a lesson before lunch, have lunch, and then we have to be inside our house at 6:00 PM for safety reasons. So that probably means Tyler and I won´t be on Google Hangout/Skype the same time, unless he gets up at 2:00 AM to do Skype.
I will make a phone call of 5 minutes sometime on December 24th to confirm everything (probably… we have to go to the church to call and we will have to plan when we will go there because it is a long way from our area).
This week was much better than last week. We had a transfer this week because 11 people who would have finished their missions in three weeks decided to instead go home for Christmas (actually, President Dalton TOLD some of them they should go home for Christmas instead of stay…), so Elder Rezabala ended up being transferred. My new companion is Elder Padilla from Peru. He is super good. He has 7 months in the mission and he is super willing to do everything possible to qualify for the blessings of the Lord, which I am super grateful for. The thing I have learned most this week is the importance of SANCTIFICATION. I remember when I left on my mission, Michael (and perhaps Dave as well) told me that I am sanctified when I don´t talk about ANYTHING during the day other than missionary work. Before my mission, I didn´t really understand the significance of this phrase. But now I do. In the past two transfers, all of the other desires (that are still good) in my life have fallen to the side and my only desires now are those of my mission. I don´t even like thinking about things other than my mission anymore. I´ve talked to enough missionaries during exchanges about their family and favorite movies and the girlfriend they left at home. But in order to have the spirit with me 100% of the time, I need to think, talk, dream, and breath about missionary work (and the related goals) 100% of the time. That is when I will be sanctified enough to recognize and follow the promptings of the spirit 100% of the time.
One experience from this week: I did a division with another missionary, Elder Dean. We decided that during the day we would not talk about anything other than missionary work until after 10:00 PM. That is a sacrifice, because it can be cool during divisions to get to know another missionary. But, sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. During this day, we felt the spirit in every moment. We had a list of members with us, and we went by one house, only to realize that the member had transferred their records but not yet moved to the ward. However, as we were standing next to the members house, we felt that we should talk to the neighbor. (Just as a side note, in our mission we don´t “knock doors”. It isn´t effective in São Paulo and is discouraged as a finding tool by the area presidency). In front of the house, we called “Maria!” By chance (or not), there was a Maria that lived there, and she came up the steps and began to talk to us. She told us a member lived next to her for YEARS, and missionaries were always at the members house. She shared with us that she was always curious about “our religion” but never had the courage to talk to her neighbors, who have since moved away. As we shared with her the message of The Restoration on her doorstep, we remembered that a recent convert of 4 weeks lived on the other side of the street. We asked Maria if she knows Marlene, and she eagerly responded that they are best friends. Maria felt the spirit, accepted a baptismal date, and already has the strong support of some of her closest friends.
Did we have any idea that Maria lived in that house? No. Did we have any idea that one of her best friends was a woman that we baptized 4 weeks ago? No. Afterwards, we talked to Marlene. She has been inviting all of her friends and even random people she met in the road to learn about the gospel and talk to the missionaries, but every single person has said no. And little did we know, Marlene had been praying to God, pleading that she would be able to share the gospel with her friends. We had no idea. But God did. I am sure that if we hadn´t made the sacrifice to have the spirit with us in every moment, we would not have received the prompting to call the name of Maria at that door.
This is one experience of many that happened this week. If that is what happens when we sanctify ourselves, I´ll never talk about anything besides missionary work for the rest of my life.
Because it works miracles. Three scriptures that I love about “sanctification”. Doctrine and Covenants 88:68, Helaman 3:35, and Ether 4:7.
I love everyone. Merry Christmas! I will talk to you on Thursday!