Hot! Hot! Hot!

This week was…. you guessed it… HOT! Really, really, hot. Every day we get to lunch and literally my shirt is already drenched in sweat. In case anyone wanted to know that delicious fact. And don´t worry, I am faithfully using sunscreen. Every day.

But besides the heat, this week we also worked until I didn´t think we could work anymore. We sacrificed, we fasted, we prayed, we fought to save baptisms, we went crazy to overcome opposition, we did divisions almost every single day, we brought a missionary to the hospital (he´s okay now), and I AM TIRED. Physically, of course, but also spiritually. It is a different kind of tired. Actually, I was tired until Sunday. Sunday has the miraculous effect of recharging my spiritual batteries. And P-day recharges my physical batteries.

Plus, we are going to the temple this week, which is going to be fantastic. It doesn´t get much better than a trip to the temple.

So, it is official now. My return date isn´t either of the dates I said before. My return date is JULY 1. Set in stone. Well, more or less. It could be up to two days before that. But it will be that week. And now I will let you worry about it so I don´t have to think about it again until at least June 30.

On Sunday, we brought to church with us two 18 year old brothers. Twins, Bruno and Diogo. Bruno and Diogo have some sort of deficiency in their legs and feet. Diogo is constrained to a wheelchair and even has a slight mental deficiency. Bruno, his brother, can walk, but not very far. And the gospel of Jesus Christ IS DOING MIRACLES IN THEIR LIVES. The first time we went to their house, they weren´t really even interested. But they felt the spirit. It is incredible the effect the spirit has. It can take two kids who have never had responsibility in their lives stand up and want to serve the Lord. It can take a tattooed gang leader who doesn´t believe in God and make him a clean shaven loving father. Our job as missionaries is to bring that spirit into the lives of other people. I love it. I love to see the changes that from the world´s perspective are unexplainable. From God´s perspective, and from ours, these changes are because of the Holy Ghost. He touches are hearts in a way they were never touched. And this feeling is so good, so pure, that we become willing to sacrifice ALL to have it more abundantly in our lives. In Matthew (in think 13), Christ speaks of a parable of a man who, walking through a field, stumbles upon a treasure. Seeing it´s worth, he gives up all that he has and buys the field to gain the treasure. Or, in another parable, a seeker of pearls, discovering a pearl “of great price”, sells ALL that he hath to buy the pearl. Why? Because the treasure, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is worth any price. There is no price too great.

Nothing brings me greater joy than the gospel of Christ. And my family. I was thinking this week about another way that The Church of Jesus Christ is different than any other church. Other churches, people will go there to feel good or to be among their friends. The church of Christ is not a social organization. It is a hospital to save souls. It is a factory to bring exaltation to the sons of God. We don´t just go to feel go, we go to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father and have everlasting joy.



Yes, I was transferred

I´m not sure if I made it very clear last week, but yes, I was indeed transferred. I am now serving in Santa Tereza Ward. My companion is Elder Farias. I definitely did not think I was going to be transferred, especially since Elder Padilla only had three weeks in São Luiz before I was transferred out. But, that is missionary life. Santa Tereza ward is fantastic. I believe this ward has the best Bishop in the mission. This man is incredible. He called us in Sunday after church to have a “counsel” with us. To see how we are, what our challenges are, what we are doing, and what we can improve. We made a goal to have a frequency in the ward of 200 by the end of the year (we have 135 right now) and us missionaries will fast together with the bishopric so we can baptize and retain more people in this ward. Thank you for transferring me here. I love Elder Farias. I love the Bishop. I love the ward. He also showed us a list of all of the recent converts of the past two years, and marked which had gone inactive or with baptized without preparation and which are continuing strong. It is awesome because of all the baptisms of the past year, NO ONE has gone inactive. And it isn´t just one or two people. More like 30 or 40. He definitely has the right vision, and I am grateful that I will have the opportunity to work with him.

This week, Elder Farias and I were really busy. It seemed like we were just running from lesson to lesson. We are teaching this couple right now named Vitor and Luana. Vitor and Luana were a contact the week before I got here. They are about 25. They are great. They already know the Book of Mormon and Restoration are true and when we taught them about the law of chastity and told them we could help them be married for free they told us that this was the answer to their prayers. In Brasil, it is really expensive to get married (more or less 400 brasilian dollars), and they didn´t have the money to get married. They had already gathered all the information they needed to get married and had tried many times to get married, but they were never able to because of the legal demands. But now they will. And they are already excited for their baptism (and wedding, of course).

We also gave a lady and her daughter a blessing this week. This lady is the sister of a member, but previously had no interest in the church. Her dad has been slowly dying, and from the stress of helping him she hasn´t been able to sleep, has lost 25 pounds, and hasn´t been able to eat. Her daughter also caught a deathly illness and was given 5 days to live. So, we went and gave both of them blessings. It was a really sacred experience. The next day, we past the two in the street. We didn´t recognize her, but she called out, “ELDERS!!!!!” We turned around and she said “IT WAS A MIRACLE!” She went to bed the night before and slept through her alarm. She didn´t even wake up to take her daughter to what they thought would be her last doctor´s appointment before she passed away. When she woke up (around 11:00 AM) she made herself a huge breakfast. Her daughter was completely better and had no sign of the sickness that was literally killing her the day before. I think I learned this week a LOT about faith and the power of the priesthood. The blessings given literally saved this family´s life.

I´m so grateful for the opportunity I have right now to serve as a full time missionary. Sometimes people talk about things they did before the mission and I realize I don´t even remember what it is like to not be a missionary. My life before the mission seems like a foggy dream. All the matters now is my mission and my family.

I´m also grateful to have such inspiring parents that are working miracles in the lives of the people they around surrounded with. I´m excited to here about Angel, and the baptism of Mary, and all of the other great things that are happening because of the incredible example of my parents (Thanks Mom and Dad!). That example inspires me every week to keep working harder and harder.

As for my return date, it is still a mystery. I will try to find out as fast as possible.

Thank you for the pictures, Mom. I really appreciate them.

I love everyone!

Guess Who Was Transferred? Also, I love to cry.

Yet another transfer has passed and now I´m starting transfer 14! It is strange to think back on the beginning of my mission when the weeks seemed like they lasted years and P-Day would never come. Now it is definitely the opposite. Every time we have P-Day I think “It can´t have seriously been a week since last P-Day”.

Thank you, Mom, for the pictures! They made me so happy! I love seeing pictures of our family and the temple and snow and everything that to me represents happiness. The more time that passes, the more beautiful our family becomes. Also, Mom, thank you for including that facebook post from Tanasha. Tanasha´s perspective is so encouraging. It built my faith. I cried when I read it. My last companion, Elder Rezabala, always made fun of my because I never cry. He would call me a “cold American who doesn´t have a soul”, because in spiritual experiences he would always cry and I never did. Not because I don´t want to cry or I don´t feel the spirit. The water just doesn´t leave my eyeballs. My theory is that I cried SO MUCH and was probably such a brat as a child that I was cursed and I no longer have the ability to cry. Until yesterday. when I found out I would be transferred from São Luiz. It wasn´t the fact that I would be transferred that made me cry. It was when I was telling a recent convert, Marlene, and she bore her testimony about how she has hope that her family can be eternal. And I cried. And then today when I was reading Tanasha´s comments about her family, I cried again. I think the curse has been lifted off my eyes. I´m capable of crying.
Elder Rezabala said when you cry it means you are alive. So, Mom…. don´t worry. I´m alive.

This week we have been focusing a lot on our investigator named Eric. He is Djalma´s roommate (Djalma that got baptized a month ago). Eric is awesome. We have pretty much taught him everything. He will get baptized this Sunday (of course, right after I leave the ward). Even when Djalma had an emergency this Sunday and couldn´t go to church, Eric still went. We read Alma 32 with him one day (which talks about how faith is like a seed that we plant in our heart until it grows into a sure knowledge and our faith becomes dormant… read the chapter!) and afterward we asked him what he thought. He said, “This is exactly what happened with me.” It is so incredible to see the faith of someone grow. There is no other experience like it on Earth. I think the only other experience more gratifying is raising a family. And why are these two experiences so gratifying? Because we have the opportunity to participate in The Plan of Salvation. We have the opportunity to help bring everlasting happiness to another one of God´s children. IT IS SO GOOD! The work is hard. Harder than anything else, because there is nothing Satan will try to destroy more than the work of the Lord (i.e. Missionary Work and Families).

I love what Tyler said in his email, and what Kimmie sent to me in an email. We, as members of the church, have the responsibility and oportunidade to be representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what is his work? To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Every time we act to bring the light of Christ into the lives of others, we are fulfilling this calling, be it that the people with which we share the gospel accept or reject.
So let us fulfill our callings.
I´m so happy to here how Mom and Dad our having incredible opportunities to share the gospel with others. Truth is light. The gospel is light. And light brings happiness.

I´m so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a representative of Christ, both as a missionary and a member of His church. He is using this imperfect vessel to spread his light throughout the world. My job is to be a worthy vessel so that the light can shine through me, and then to be willing to do what He asks. How great is this calling.

I´m grateful for my family. Every time I receive another email or picture of our family I feel a joy so great that I can´t contain or express it. It is a joy that makes me smile and laugh because I am not physically capable of containing that joy. And it comes with an immense gratitude for every sacrifice and righteous act that Mom and Dad made for our family. For the example that they set.

EU AMO VOCÊS! (Família, amigos, e quem que esteja lendo)