First off, a huge thank you to Grandma Julie and Grandpa Q, the Robinson´s, the Randall´s, and several of my Utah cousins. I got 2 huge posters from all of you in the mail this past week with a bunch of sweet notes from each of you. They made my day, so thank you.
This past week for me has been a super good one, although nothing too out of the blue happened that I´m remembering at the moment. Our house is still intact (Elder Barbosa´s been cooling it down with the pyrotechnics), and the weather is slowly becoming more and more tolerable. It´s been raining tons--water, and new investigators too. We have been ridiculously busy and blessed this week teaching lots of people that are progressing. Our planners for the week have been filled with names for people to teach and short lesson plans for each of them. 6 of them made it to sacrament meeting--Paulo (attended for half a year in 2012 without being baptized and is started to come back), Lucianna and Mateus (an awesome mother and son who, if all goes well, will be baptized this Saturday), Cris (14 years old, baptism also marked for this Saturday), Luis Augusto (grandpa of one of the young men in the ward who showed up in all white--I was tempted a little bit to lead him straight into the font even though we´ve only been able to teach him once so far), and Rafaela (girlfriend of one of the young men in the ward). The youth are doing their fair share of missionary work around here! It was such a blessing to watch the 6 of them walk through the chapel one by one, and all of them seemed to have a really good experience. To give you an idea of just how many people we´re working with right now that are genuinely interested, our list of investigators expected for Sacrament Meeting that we made Saturday night got up to 17. The Lord is opening up the area and the ward is rallying behind His work. It´s really neat to see.
Friday night we went to see Lena and Reobe and for the first time in a while were able to find both of them home at the same time. Henrique and Junior were over which made a spiritual lesson a bit difficult, but during the conversation Lena said something that got my heart beating a little bit faster than it was at the start. She told me that ever since she and Reobe decided not to come to church (it´s been 6 weeks now :( ) they´ve been noticing that nothing´s been going right. Reobe lost his job, they´re always tired and their relationship isn´t as strong as it was when they were going to Church. She told me that in spite of the dream she had, she feels like if God really wanted them to be going to a different church He wouldn´t let so many bad things happen. Just before the closing prayer, she asked me to say it and to thank Him for opening their eyes a little bit. And she said that they´re thinking seriously about being confirmed. What a joy it was for me to hear that! I bottomed out when they originally told us the Church wasn´t for them anymore, but now I have every reason to hope there will be a happy ending to it all. I´m learning to trust God and His timetable, and the unquestionable fact that He is well aware of their situation and it will only be Him that manages to bring them back. I´ll be sure to keep you updated on their progress!
What else? Oh, Elder Barbosa and I had a neat opportunity to be able to use our Priesthood this past week. One of the few times that our commitment with an investigator fell through, we decided we´d go visit a family in the ward that lived close by. When we got there, Sister Zuleica told us that the day before she´d really messed up her leg and that she was in a lot of pain and super stressed out. Her husband was gone and she was wanting a Priesthood Blessing, so she asked us to do it. Elder Barbosa happened to have consecrated oil on him and we gave her a blessing as she requested. I always find it amazing how close I feel to my Father when I´m able to use His power to bless the lives of His children. It´s a special bond, and when the blessing was over Zuleica was crying, thanking us for stopping by. Her grandson, Guilherme, was there, and we asked him if we could go visit a friend of his that had made it to mutual a couple of times but never meetings on Sunday, and never had been taught by the missionaries. He said no problem, so the three of us went to go teach him. His name´s Cris (one of our investigators I mentioned earlier that came to Sacrament Meeting). He loved the lesson and accepted to be baptized without a problem. When he showed up to church with Guilherme he told us that he´d read the Book of Mormon and knew it was true. We talked with his parents and they´re excited and supportive of his decision to be baptized. So to sum everything up--a priesthood blessing given, lesson taught, investigator at church, and baptism marked for this weekend all because one of our other commitments fell through and we wanted something productive to do. God plays a tremendous role in His work, no doubt about it! It´s super cool and gratifying to see His spirit guiding us in our efforts, even when we don´t realize it at the moment.
Really quick before I go, I was able to try a lot of...interesting foods this past week and managed to keep all of them down: fried eggplant (twice), some sort of seaweedish thing called "cobe", fejoada, and an herbal drink called chimarrão (that tastes like cut grass from the lawn mower mixed with boiling water). Just a fun little update for you all! I love you all so much and hope this week is one of miracles for you. And Happy Easter!!
Love, Elder Sears