Bom dia amigos e familiares! :)
Time is, unfortunately, really short today so I´m going to try to fly.
First of all, this past Tuesday our zone had a choir practice (we´re preparing for a "cantata" at the temple this coming Saturday as a Christmas celebration) and while I was there I got to pick up 2 more packages and what I think was 6 letters! A huge, huge t hank you to the Idiart´s and to my dear family for each of the packages, and to Sister Helsing, the Larsen´s, the Fife´s Grandma Sears, and Andrew for the letters that I got as well :) For good or bad, I am currently the Elder Van Pelt of the di strict right now pertaining to the amount of mail I´ve been getting. I consider it 100 percent good. It makes my week every ti me I have a chance to open something from home, so please know how very much I am grateful. Two Elders from the district stayed the night on Saturday because of a "divisão" and we had a feast with the Hot Tamales I´ve been accumulating. I did not however, tell them I had more candy stowed away :) Seriously though, t hank you so much for your love, your prayers, your letters, your packages, and most importantly, your examples to me. It is so much easier to serve with a solid foundation of so many people that love and support me and have shown me the way throughout my life.
This past week probably has been the hardest of my mission so far. The sun has been merciless as has been the opposition. We taught two golden families this week the first lesson and both committed without hesitation that they´d come with us to church yesterday. At the last minute, of course, both backed out . We have some following up to do this week! Tuesday and Wednesday I came down with some strange sort of the flu ( insp ite of my extensive water-drinking, vit amin -taking, and sunscreen -applying) w hich made it really difficult t o w ork effect ively and with the right attitude. As soon as I got better Elder Alcântara came down with something similar. Both of our baptisms (VIctor and Cristiane) have had their own difficulties this past week and we missed both of them at church yesterday. Nobody accepted the invitation to be baptized and we have a l ot of work to do to find more investigators that will actually progress. But, I´ve been trying. And I know that God is very mind ful of my situati on and my efforts to endure. On Thursday I t hink it was I pleaded with Him that He´d let me know in some way that He was there. During the lesson I taught during Sunday School the previous Sunda y I challenged everyone there to write down one thi ng t hey could do in the coming week to apply/use the Atonement in their lives. I had wr itten down that when I felt like I wanted to give up I would remind myself that Christ had already walked my path , that He would walk it w ith me side by side, and that it definitely was not impossible. As I was praying I remembered t hat commi tment I´d made and prayed that I would find something during my personal study that would help me keep going and believe in the power of Christ´s inifinte sacr ifice. I was studying in Preach My Gospel about what th ings I could do t o impr ove my te aching and one of the suggested references was Alma 31: 34 - 35. I do n ´t know why but I f elt t hat I should look up t hat reference in English instead of in Portuguese as I normally would. I did, read the scripture and enjoyed it, but noticed a different scripture I had marked in my English scriptures next t o it. In verse 30 Alma is praying that God will re move his afflictions from him perta ining to the wickedness of the Zoramites, As he prays, however, his request changes until he asks that God´s will be done in all things. I had marked that change in attitude because my dad had pointed it out during a Sunday school lesson that he taught t his past summer. I enjoyed how he pointed out t hat prayer should always be an alignment of our will with the wi ll of the Father . I´m so glad I chose to mark those verses be cause I really needed to read them this past week. I needed to be reminded that Heavenly Father is in char ge and that it is His will, not mine, that matters. I read on until verse 38. Mormon comments t hat because Alma prayed in faith and submitted his will to a much greater one, every single affliction that he was called to pass through was swallowed up in the joy of Jesus Christ. That verse was an u nquestionable answer to my prayer, using almost the exact wording that I had prayed w it h an hour before and that I had used when setting my goal to use the Atonement this past Sunday . Going forward fr om Thursday mor ning, the w or k was not any easier but I felt so much more determined and supported t o do it.
And, God gave me some reasons to smile after that prayer that I´d offered as well. Saturday we did a companion exchange. I stayed w ith Elder Johnson in my area w hile Elder Alcântara went to his companion´s area. I learned loads w ith him and loved watching how an other missionar y t aught. He t ook the t ime to pract ice tea ching with me and offered feedback that I ´ll be certain to apply in the coming week. He ´s really good at making peo ple laugh and we did a l ot of t hat . Sunday I finally got to play the piano in sacra ment meet ing--yet another reason to smile! I took advantage of the opport unity by playing a postlude that pr obably lasted a good half hour or so :) Haha.
Well, gotta go, but I love you all and hope you know I´m thinking of you. Until next week! And 15 more days until the call home!
Love, Elder Sears