Gaining the Trust of the Ward

The area that I am serving in, Jacira, has had a lot of problems in the past with “miscommunications” between members and missionaries. In other words, when I got here to the ward, the members weren´t huge fans of the missionaries, which is absolutely the WORST situation possible to be able to help the church to grow. I mean, the members are the people that really find the people who are most prepared to receive the gospel.

These past two weeks, we have seen how we have gained that trust. The members ask us when they can go on visits with us. They ask us to have family home evenings in their house with their friends. They ask us if we can teach their friends. I have learned a LOT in this area about how we can effectively work with the members of the ward. I think there are three basic things that help:

1. ALWAYS CONFIRM LUNCH APPOINTMENTS. (and get to lunch on time)

2. Work close to the member´s houses and pray that God prepares the people that live in their neighborhood.

3. Plan Family Home Evenings in the members´ homes.

These three things seem so simple. But there is such a magic in them. These past two weeks we found various new investigators who are LIFE-LONG friends of members. We had incredibly spiritual experiences with these people, and when we asked them if they knew any member of the church nearby they say, “Yeah. Brother Brown was the best man at my wedding.” “Yeah. His daughter is married to my son” or something of the type. Afterwards, we pass in the homes of these members to share the sacred experience that we had with these people. Every members hopes that their friends will join the church. Many members invite. But for some reason, these people don´t respond. Everyone responds like this “Some Sunday I will”. I have seen in these weeks the joy in the faces and hearts of the members as we brought them to their best friends´ homes and felt the spirit with someone they thought would never accept the invitation to go to church.

This was a good week. It is SO GOOD to work with the ward.

Eu amo todo mundo!

Um Domingo de Milagres

This week was good… but Sunday was awesome.

I always feel the spirit on Sunday, but this Sunday was about 10 times more spiritual.
There are so many good things that happened that I won´t be able to explain through email, but I will try to explain a few of them.

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Batismo do Miguel

A few weeks ago, we began working with a less-active/part-member family, Alexandre & Cintia (and their 3 kids). Cintia was the only member in the family. Just to jog everyone´s memory, we met Cintia doing contacts in the street and she told us that she had been baptized as a kid but soon afterward became less active. Anyway, we have had the joy of teaching this family. They have an awesome son named Miguel (10 years old) who practically begged us to be baptized. His baptism was Sunday. I can´t really explain how much I love this family, But I love them A LOT. Alexandre always had a course on Sunday that he was taking so he could be a Bus driver for children with special needs. This Sunday his course ended and he came to church for his son´s baptism. Besides having a course on Sunday, he was really reluctant to come to church because he doesn´t see himself as the type of person who “goes to church every Sunday“. The family had an incredible experience at church, which ended with Cintia giving the closing prayer at the baptism, in which she began to weep, asking God to help her family to be sealed in the temple. There is nothing that brings greater joy than watching somebody return to the light of the gospel and bringing their family with them.

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Baptismo do Miguel

Also, that same night, we taught a new couple, Renã and Monica. We met Renã Saturday night. He is the next-door neighbor of a really active family, Andrea and Jamerson. As we were leaving Andrea and Jamerson´s house, we felt that we should knock on their neighbor´s door and ask for a cup of water. We did so and Renã greeted us. We talked to him briefly and marked an appointment for Sunday night. He told us that we had to “be careful” because his wife is really active in another church. When we arrived on Sunday night, they greeted us warmly and we taught them the Restoration. There are few times in my life that I have felt the spirit as strongly as I did that Sunday night. Near the end of the lesson, the phone rang (as it always does) and Renã went to answer it. Monica leaned over to us and whispered, with tears in her eyes, “I have tried SO HARD to bring Renã to church with me. I know that you are messengers called from God because he has never listened to anyone and I have never felt this way in any church in my life”.

I know that God lives and loves each of us. I feel so privileged to receive his guidance and direction to find his children and families that are seeking the truth, but “know not where to find it”. Like we learn in Preach My Gospel, the gospel fills an emptiness in our hearts that often we didn´t know was there.

I LOVE my family. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is so much more than the world says it

P.S. Grandma: The weather is about the same as you said it is. Between 65 and 75 degrees everyday. It is great.

Happy Mother´s Day!

Mother´s day was fantastic. This week was crazy in our area. We had a surprise transfer where we had to spend a night in the Mission Office (without taking a shower, shaving, or brushing our teeth… yay!) waiting for our new companions.

My new companion is Elder Castro, from Argentina. He is great. I think he is shorter than Mom.

I´m not really sure what news I have this week other than that. I think all of the news I shared with Mom on Mother´s Day. I am learning a LOT about patience and humility and my personal conversion. My favorite scripture, which I never had in my life until now, is Ether 12:27, where we learn that God ALLOWS us to have weaknesses in our lives so that we may be humble and strong. I think that is my theme right now.

Eu amo todo mundo!

Sorry for the shortest email of my mission!

MTC District and Spokane North Stake: 22 months later

This week was awesome and encouraging and inspiring and discouraging and everything. But it was a good week.

Ivone and Luiz, the last active couple that I talked about last week (Ivone forgets everything, remember?) went to church on Sunday. It was awesome. We had already talked a lot with the ward leaders about the family, and when they got to church they were welcomed by everyone. She already talked to the relief society president and will make lunch for us this week. I am so impressed by her faith. She doesn´t even remember that she was baptized or anything about the church, but she is willing to believe and to serve because she knows that she believed and she served.

Also, the son of another part-member family we are teaching (just the mom is a member… and inactive 14 years… the husband and kids…not yet) named Miguel bore his testimony in sacrament meeting on Sunday. It was awesome. He talked about how his life changed the moment he started to learn about the gospel and he invited everyone to his baptism on May 17th. His mom started crying. We just need to get his dad to come to church!!!

Last Sunday, we received a miracle referral. We were leaving the church when a car honked at us. A couple from another ward yelled at us “Are you the missionaries that work in Jardim das Oliveiras”. After our affirmative response, they told us, “You have to visit our niece and her husband! They are getting married in June and they want to get baptized!” Without thinking twice, we took down their information and went to this referral´s house. It really was a miracle that they passed missionaries in the street that live in the same road as their niece. We should have left the church a lot sooner, but we had to help the ward secretary and the very moment that we left the church property, they passed us. To make a long story short, and a LOT of searching, we found this family, Alex and Aline. They are awesome. There isn´t much else to say about them other than that.

Also, we had a meeting with Bishop Caussé this week. It was an incredibly spiritual experience. We had the meeting together with the São Paulo South mission. I had the opportunity to talk to Elder Starr and Elder Palmer afterward. It was kind of a surreal experience.

The missionaries from our MTC district (The Provo MTC).

 

Elder Palmer, Me, and Elder Starr

We had a special meeting with Bispo Caussé with the mission São Paulo Sul (their mission) and so we had an awesome opportunity to talk for a few seconds afteward. I can´t believe it has already been so long! It seems like we were in the MTC two months ago!

I love everyone. This week was good and I know that this coming week will be even better.

Até mais!

PS Mom. Our ward is 2pm-5pm. I probably won´t call until 6:30 or 7:00 PM Brasil time, maybe later, depending on who calls first, me or my companion. I think 6:30 PM here is 2:30 in Spokane, right?