Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013 "Six Months Out!"

So, today is officially 6 months from the day that I set foot on an airplane headed for São Paulo. How time flies when you´re having fun. And when you´re blessed to be a constant witness of miracles that perhaps you don´t deserve but that come anyways because God is so good and so merciful. I think I mentioned last week that we were working with 3 people to be baptized this weekend--2 teenage boys and Almir, who was having an incredibly difficult time staying away from drinking and smoking. The teenagers didn´t work out but ALMIR GOT BAPTIZED SATURDAY AND CONFIRMED SUNDAY!! It´s been a miraculous week for him and for me. Last Monday night walking back home we saw him standing in front of a bar completely drunk. He´d gone a few days without drinking so seeing him relapse was pretty discouraging. We stopped by Tuesday night to see what was the trigger this time and let him know, somewhat sternly but lovingly, that if he wanted to get baptized this weekend as was the plan he´d need to decide that day not to drink again. He´d already come such a long way with cigarettes (30 a day a few weeks ago down to 3 or 4 at the beginning of last week) so I knew he had it in him to do away with drinking as well. We gave him a blessing and promised we´d be passing by once, sometimes twice a day for the whole week to check in, setting a goal for him to smoke his last cigarette Thursday, be interviewed for baptism Friday, baptized Saturday and confirmed Sunday. And we did just that. Everytime plan A fell through Almir was plan B. Every daily planning session and every prayer we said had him in it. Wednesday night around 11 or so we woke up to a phone call from him and answered fearing the worst (he usually calls us when he´s just getting over the hangover and the guilt starts to set in). But instead he´d called to say he had taken us up on our challenge to start reading The Book of Mormon from the beginning and had just finished 1 Nephi 4. Thursday when we checked in he was already at chapter 10 (and that´s A LOT of reading for him because he´s not all that used to it). The cigarettes went down from 4 to 1, and the last cigarette he smoked was Thursday after lunch. He passed the baptismal interview Friday and Saturday morning we decided we´d do our 3 hours of personal/companionship study with him to make sure he didn´t put another cigarette in his mouth. We got to the chapel at 4:30 for his baptism at 5:00 and he was there waiting for us. His baptism was a particularly special one for me, because I sincerely felt that we´d been the instruments in God´s hands to literally transform one of His sons into somebody completely new. Sunday night after his confirmation we stopped by to see how he was feeling and he said something that I absolutely loved that needs to go in my journal. He told us that when one of his friends passed by inviting him to get a drink at the bar he answered back, "Have you lost your mind? I just made an oath with God that I wouldn´t do that anymore and you think I´m going to break it now?" So, long story made a little bit shorter, Almir made our week. The baptism itself was a little crazy because Bishop, who had the keys to the chapel, got there way late so we had to fill up the font super fast. So Almir, Elder Barbosa and I turned on the font and in the meantime started filling up buckets of water in the bathroom to speed up the process. That was fun. I´ll send along a picture soon.

Really quick, in other news our district got to go to the temple this week for my second time in the field. That was, as always, super neat and renewing for me. Friday night Elder Barbosa was bored so he took the steel wool we had in our kitchen for cleaning and lit it on fire, spinning it around on a hanger in our bedroom with sparks flying everywhere. It actually turned out looking really cook, only one of the sparks landed on my pile of dirty shirts and burned a hole right through one of them. Whoops... Oh, and last thing, tomorrow will be the beginning of transfer number 4 for me in the field. Elder Barbosa and I are staying in Vila União. Love you all and until next week!

Elder Sears

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