It´s only been 5 days since my last email so the updates aren´t quite as many, but I´ll do my best to give you all plenty to read. First off, we´ve been being really blessed lately with a pretty big teaching pool--the biggest that it´s ever been for me in the field. Referrals have been falling from the sky like crazy. And good ones too. We got one referral from two Elders in our district--2 young men that went to church in their ward with their aunt but live in our area and still aren´t baptized. We went there Friday night and they have a baptism marked for this coming Sunday. Super exciting! Their names are Vitor (13) and Ayslã (14). They´re hilarious and have a strange liking for Justin Bieber. So when I told them I knew the rap part to "Baby" they were just about dying to hear it. I gave in and sang it for them while they danced along. Probably didn´t understand any of it but I think they got a kick out of it. Gotta live a little on the mission right? I´m not sure if it´s a good sign or a bad one that I managed to remember the lyrics though...haha. Another family I´m pretty excited about is Antôntio and Gabriela. They´re a young couple with 2 kids that we found knocking doors. Gabriela recently lost her mom and grew up in a religion that taught that after death she wouldn´t be able to remember her daughter. So she´s been really shaken up lately and really needing the gospel. Their curiosity is through the roof and I´d say their potential is too. We´re going to try to teach the Plan of Salvation to them tonight or tomorrow and set a date for their baptisms. I´ll be sure to keep you posted. We´re continuing to work with Almir so that he can stop smoking completely (he´s still hovering around 2-3 cigarettes a day) and be baptized this Saturday and be confirmed Sunday. I´m exciting for when his day finally comes...he´s come so far already and I´m optimistic about this weekend.
Sunday we had Stake Conference which was an absolute treat for me. There are six wards in our stake and probably a good 400 active members between all of them. The Church has a beautiful chapel downtown where we went Sunday morning to be able to participate. Seeing the chapel absolutely filled to the brim did a world of good for me. Our ward in Vila União only has 65-70 that come everyweek, so seeing so many members gathered together at once reminded me a little bit of my ward back home. The choir did a super nice job and the focus of the whole meeting was missionary work (no complaints there right?). One of the high council members shared a really neat story about how his brother-in-law was baptized and converted. He´d shared the gospel with him for 10 years with no success but decided to go to the temple one day with the intent to have a missionary opportunity spring up in the near future. He left the Celestial Room feeling he should call his brother-in-law again and invite him to hear the gospel. To his surprise the answer was an excited "yes" and his brother-in-law made the 300 mile trip from Rio de Janeiro to Campinas that weekend just so that he could hear more. He did that for 2 and a half months, met with the missionaries and was baptized. Now he calls every week with updates--family home evenings that he´s having, friends he´s bringing to Church, how dramatically the realationship he has with his family has improved, etc. It was a good reminder to me of 2 things. 1, the gospel really does have the power to transform lives. More effectively than anything else on earth--whichever other psychiatrist or religion or whatever it may be. 2, when we ask, God gives. President and Sister Perrotti were also there and shared powerful testimonies about missionary work. I left feeling--I think pumped would be the best word--to be a missionary.
On the lighter side of things, Wednesday night after the English Class that I´ve been teaching Elder Barbosa and I and 4 other missionaries from the zone that were there bought a MASSIVE pizza--I´d guess a good 2 feet in diameter. We brought it back to the kitchen in the chapel and were about to bless it when an older sister from the local ward who´d gone to the English class walked in. She said something along the lines of "my goodness, what an amazing smell!," took the pizza out of the wrapping and started piling slices on her plate while the rest of us stood staring in disbelief--slightly annoyed but mostly bewildered. How she knew there was pizza in the kitchen I have no idea, and why she felt entitled to start serving herself I don´t know either. She just came in, opened up the pizza, took 3 or 4 slices (and on this pizza the slices were massive), and walked back out the door. We didn´t know what to do so we just laughed. Kind of bizarre. But funny all the same. What else? Oh, Sunday night a drunk man who thought we were missionaries from a church called "A Igreja Universal" started screaming a stream of profanity at us in absolute fury. That was interesting. I don´t know what that church did to him but I feel sorry for him. I just stood there laughing a little bit at how upset he was until he walked away a good 5 minutes later. Something to go in my journal I suppose...haha.
Well, best be going! Our district leader is headed home next week so we´re having a party for him. Better still there´ll be a piano there so I´ll be taking full advantage! I love all of you and miss you.
Love, Elder Sears