YET ANOTHER transfer has come and gone… something that I absolutely cannot believe. And SADLY, INFELIZEMENTE, Elder Farias was transferred. I am definitely going to miss him. It is a bummer that we only got to be companions one transfer. This next transfer I´m not sure yet who my companion will be. I will find out tomorrow.
This week was fantastic. Every year during Carnival, all of the youth in Brasil have an “Acampamento” or “campout”. Here they don´t have scouts or girls´ camp, but they have this 5-day camp that starts on Friday and goes until Tuesday. Igor and João, the brother and primo of Bruno and Diogo (that were baptized two weeks ago) would have been baptized on Sunday. However, the bishop invited Bruno and Diogo and Igor to go on the campout, which is going to be (or is being, since it is happening right now) an incredible experience for them. “Acampamento” here is pretty much like EFY. The youth go with a testimony and come back converted. So because they are on the campout, they will be baptized this week instead. But it is definitely worth waiting a week for them to have this incredible experience, because they have never done anything. They haven´t been to the beach that is 40 minutes away or been to the mall that is 10 minutes away or been to a movie theater. So a 5-day camp as new members (or soon to be members) will literally transform their life. We received a letter from one of the cousins of this family, thanking us for the light that the gospel has brought into the life of her family. It is incredible to see the joy the gospel brings to families. There is nothing that compares.
Also, the sisters in our ward, Sister Magalhães and Sister Fonseca, baptized a young man named Andson (like Anderson, but he spells it… different). He is 22 years old. Another missionary (Elder Cáceres) and I had the opportunity to teach him a few times because he had a few difficulties that he didn´t really want to talk about with two 20 year old girls. He had passed weeks and weeks at church, afraid of the baptism, but apparently prepared and worthy. But he had one thing he hadn´t told anyone about, which is when Elder Cáceres and I felt the prompting that we should go teach him. It is incredible to see how the spirit works. We just felt like we should go, so we asked the sisters if we could go teach him and they said, “We were about to call you to ask if you could”. When we went the first time to teach him, he shared with us how he couldn´t bring himself to admit to the sisters the things he had done because he felt they were too pure (apparently Elders don´t have the problem of being “too pure”…). He shared with us the guilt and shame he felt for what he was doing and we had the incredible opportunity to help him repent.
The next day we came back and his countenance was changed. The moment we finished the opening prayer to begin the lesson we all felt the spirit incredibly strong, witnessing to each of us that now he was ready to be baptized. This experience taught me the importance of the order of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is FIRST: Faith in Jesus Christ, SECOND: Repentance, THIRD: Baptism by immersion for the remission of our sins, and FOURTH: The laying on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And FIFTH: Enduring to the end. On Sunday I had the opportunity to baptize Andson. I saw that all of the fear had left his eyes and his heart and that he knew that now he was ready.
It is incredible how one small thing, or rather, one thing that seems at first to be small, can prevent our eternal happiness as long as we let it. I really felt this week in the life of Andson the miracle of forgiveness.
I am grateful for the sacred calling I have to be a missionary. I am grateful for the daily experiences I have that build my faith. I wondered before my mission, if all the world, the prophet, and my parents were to deny the truthfulness of the gospel, would I believe? This week I have realized that the answer is yes. Because I have FELT, from God, the healing balm of the atonement. I have seen the miracles in my daily life. I can´t deny that.
I love my family! And I am eternally grateful for the knowledge I have that our family is an eternal family.