Another week that went by in a matter of minutes!
I hope all of you are doing tremendously well. Mom, I got your email and was smiling and laughing during it. I hope the other missionaries I'm sitting next to don't think I'm having too much fun! It is so good to hear from you. I know I say that every week but I mean it every week as well. Are the Shell's just planning to communicate through Mission Ties from here on out? I miss their emails! But please tell them that I've written them a nice long letter that I'll be sending off in a couple of hours. Please tell Abigail I wish her the best of luck with swimming and that I'm so proud of her. Please tell Spencer and Andrew congratulations for me! I'm sure they're the best on their team. I loved going to their games and watching them while tossing the football on the sideline with the rest of the family--little things like that make me so grateful for all of you. I wish I could be there in person watching! Joseph, keep on acing your APUSH class. I have no doubt whatsoever that you have the highest grade in there. You deserve it. Keep on (harmlessly) scheming as well...it'll keep you sane :) Dad, so neat to hear that you're in South Bend! The image of you being surrounded by Catholic nuns is an interesting and enjoyable one. I'm so glad things are continuing to go well for you with work. I'm glad that Sunday School went well however. I'm sure you're not giving yourself enough credit. And thank you for consistently sending letters and emails. It's the highlight of every P-day hands down!
Please pass along to Sister Helsing that she is the kindest 89 year-old I have ever known! God bless her for her goodness. Please tell her I am very much looking forward to hearing "Amazing Grace" when I get back. That is so kind of her to still be thinking of me.
A few more "items of business" really quick: I'm hearing it's taking about 4 weeks for hand-written letters to arrive from Brasil to the States. So, please let me know when you get some of those that I have sent! Some are copies of the mission ties letters but I think I sent at least one different letter by mail back home. I've also sent hand-written letters to Kirsten, both sets of grandparents, and the Savages. While I'm thinking of it, please wish Kirsten happy birthday personally for me this Thursday!! I sent a birthday card in the mail but that probably won't get there until November.
This past week for me has been another really, really good one. So much to write about. I guess I'll just start with some of the highlights.
This past Wednesday by instructor, Irmao Mauricio, approached me and asked me what I thought about possibly being moved to an all Brazilian district! His opinion is that I'm progressing really well and that the best way for me to be learning at the quickest rate would be to be around Brazilians 24/7. I was so humbled by his opinion. A little frightened too! A change of that magnitude would mean a lot of other changes as well (companions, wards, districts, rooms, etc.). It's still up in the air as to whether or not the logistics are even possible, so I'll be sure to update further as I hear more! My plan is to accept that change if it's a possibility, but it's definitely going to require a lot of my faith and my patience (with myself). I am so excited though, and so grateful to the Lord for His goodness in blessing me with the gift of tongues already.
Wednesday night brought another highlight for me. We were playing volleyball when President and Sister Degn walked in. I guess there have been more ankle incidents during gym time (Elder Carter is almost completely better now) so they wanted to check in on how safe the missionaries are being. Just about a minute or two after they showed up, the other team hit a high, floating ball that landed perfectly over the net to the point where I could get a pretty good spike on it. I absolutely crushed it straight down onto the floor and it felt sooo good! Haha, yes, I know--I'm such a boy. Sister Degn looked bewildered that I could hit it so fast! She's played a little bit of volleyball herself from what I hear so it was fun to be able to smash the ball so hard (and not hurt anyone while doing it of course). Hopefully I won't be the reason for a ban of volleyball in the future!
Wednesday and Thursday night I got two separate packages--one from Grandma Julie and the Utah cousins and one from the Savages. They had sent me pictures about my mission and conference and adorable little notes. One said, and I quote directly, "hope you baptize pepole Elder!" That one, along with several others, are now decorating our class room. I shared them with the rest of the district and we were all laughs and smiles. Please pass along to everyone involved in sending something that it definitely made our week!
Music has been a big part of this last week as well. I explain in fuller detail in a letter I'm about to send off after I finish this, so I won't go into everything here. But, my spiritual highlight of the week did come through music this week. For the Sunday night devotional the CTM choir (in which every missionary here sings) performed a rendition of Joseph Smith's First Prayer. I don't think I've ever felt the Spirit as strong in the CTM as it was while we were singing. The last verse, when God the Father testifies of His Beloved Son, we sang without the piano in perfect 4 part harmony. When we finished the song, President Degn rose to thank us from the pulpit and could barely get his words out. He was crying because of how much it had touched him. Coming from a concert pianist, that meant a lot to me and all of us. He asked if we could sing it again for him. We did, and the second time was just as powerful. It honestly felt as if we had angels from Heaven singing with us. One of our speakers from that night, the mission mom for a mission close to the CTM, tried to start her talk by thanking us and she couldn't get the words out either because of tears! When she finally got one sentence out in Portuguese there was even more silence because the translator couldn't muster a translation (he was crying too). And, of course, I was crying. Tears, tears, tears. It was such a tender experience and a tender memory. It left absolutely no doubts that the message of the Restoration is true. I am so grateful that I could be a part of that choir. I'm accompanying the choir tonight for "THis Is The Christ," so I have a lot of work and praying to do to make tonight even half as powerful as Sunday.
Oh, can't believe I forgot! This past Saturday was our half-way mark at the CTM. Can you believe it's gone by that fast already?? 1/24 of my mission is already behind me. I continue to grow everyday, and I'm finding my desires to become better and testify with more conviction increasing every day. God is working miracles in me, and I cannot wait to be the instrument by which He will work miracles in the lives of the Brazilians. My companions and I have set a goal and prayerfully prepared to try to place at least one Book of Mormon today. I will let you know how that goes!
I love you all so, so much. That love grows everyday because my love for the Lord grows every day. Sunday night we watched 17 Miracles and I was just so grateful for the pioneer's sacrifices to be with their families in Zion. It made me love and miss mine so much more. Please know I'm thinking of you (and all my friends as well). Mom, if you could pass this on as always, that'd be much appreciated :) God bless you!
Love, Elder Sears
Oh, and no new roommates yet :( I will wait patiently!