How are you all? I hope this past week for you has been the best of the year so far. It´s been, overall, a good one for me.
Continuing on with training Elder Barbosa has been nothing but a blessing for me. He has a really good attitude and a strong desire to get to work. I told Joseph in an email I sent to him that he has a sense of humor pretty similar to Elder Barbosa. He told me that in the months leading up to his mission he took a technology course at a local college, which he used to build household bombs out of lightbulbs and batteries and such. Fun stuff. I think it was Wednesday night that we got home after a pretty exhausting, frustrating day of work without a lot of visible success. Elder Barbosa, to cheer up a bit, started rapping freestyle (in Portuguese) about how frustrated he was with people that just don´t get it. I can see him making something of his talent in the future because he has a gift--my job now is to help him do the same thing in English so that I can actually understand more than half of the words he´s saying. Anyways, it was really nice just to be able to relax and laugh a bit while we made ourselves some sketchy juice from some lemon/lime/orange fruit-things we´d plucked from a tree earlier in the week. The juice was nasty but I drank it anyway--lots of sugar helped.
As far as the teaching and the work goes, 2 solid weeks of sweat and lots of prayers and planning have given us a pretty decent teaching pool. We´re finally spending more time teaching than finding, which I love. One because it´s less walking for me and two because teaching is what I was actually called to do. We´re working in particular with two men--Almir and Julho--Almir who is preparing to be baptized this Saturday and confirmed this Sunday. Almir was a referral we got from a member in the ward. The first time he went to church (2 weeks ago I think) he smoked a pack a day and had a pretty nasty habit of drinking moonshine whenever he got down on himself. Now he´s down to 3 cigarettes, no alcohol or coffee, and excited for the opportunity he´ll have to be baptized and cleansed from the stains he´s been building up because of his addictions trailing after him basically his entire life. We gave him a blessing to help him overcome his desire and I marvel at the Lord´s power working with him. It´s been really neat to visit him (daily is our goal until his baptism and confirmation) and actually see progress--physically and spiritually. It´s the first time I´ve really had to follow up with the Word of Wisdom with an investigator and it´s fun in a way to always be planning and praying for what we can do next to cut down the cigarettes from 20 to 3 to 0. If all goes well and I have faith it will, Saturday will be the big day for him.
Julho has a similar story, although finding him wasn´t so easy. He was a street contact we did last week and marked to return another day when he wasn´t so busy so that we could sit down and teach. I didn´t think too much of it until Sunday morning. We had confirmed Saturday night that a man named Rodrigo and his family would go to church with us Sunday morning, only Rodrigo had asked that we call in the morning to wake him up so he´d be ready to go. We called loads of times Sunday morning and he didn´t pick up. So, with just half an hour left before we had to catch the bus to head for the chapel, we booked it over to his house to try to wake him up in person since he wasn´t answering the phone (he lives a good 20 minute sprint-walk away from our house). We stood there knocking and calling his name for a good 5 minutes or so but nobody answered the door. We sprinted back to the bus station but missed our bus by just a couple of minutes. The next one that would pass by the church would only head out in another hour. So we decided we´d take advantage and try to do some more street contacts in the hour we had. We passed by Julho´s street and remembered about him. We knocked and his door and woke him up and invited him to church. He got ready in 10 minutes and we headed back to the bus station just in time to catch our bus to go to church. On the way we discovered he´s had a really rough past and he, like Almir, struggles with smoking. He´s been in and out of a bunch of churches but never really found one he liked all that much. We briefly explained to him about the apostasy and why it is that there are so many churches today in the world. I asked him, kind of on a whim but perhaps being led a little bit by the spirit, if he´d like to be baptized in the very church that Christ Himself organized on the earth. He said yes and we marked March 10 for him to enter the water. Who know where things will go from there...he´s only been to church once and we still haven´t been able to teach him the first lesson (don´t worry, that´s scheduled for tonight at 8:00). But I do think there´s a lot to be learned from the mere fact that he agreed to come to the only true church on the face of the earth--and that our invitation for him to do so was only possible because we missed the bus. God works in mysterious ways, but to me it´s not mystery that He works. Sunday morning was a tender mercy from Him in my life.
One last piece of rather important news before I go for today...we found out Thursday morning from our Mission President that July 1 the Brazil Campinas Mission is going to be divided in half and the Brazil Piracicaba Mission will be one of 58 new missions announced to start up this year. I don´t know anything more than that--but it´ll be interesting to see which mission I go to/stay in. Either way, I´ll be a missionary all the same.
Love you all!