I think I´ll start with Wednesday. The night before we sat down to look at the map and plan where we´ll be knocking doors until the end of the transfer (next week) because the neighborhood we were working in is pretty burnt-out. We said a prayer asking for Heavenly Father to prepare His elect to be taught there in the coming days and week. Wednesday afternoon we found Maria Aparecida. She was in the middle of a phone call but asked us to wait for her to finish. A good fifteen minutes later she came back to the door and we started to talk. She told us that that morning she had planned to watch a Catholic Mass online but nothing was working out right--the Internet, her interest level, a few things that had left her disillusioned a little bit with her religion, etc. She mentioned she felt like she needed something else, and when we showed up and taught her about The Book of Mormon she got super excited and asked us to return a day later. She told us that was super unusual for her because in the past when someone showed up with a message about religion she shrugged them off, but she felt different about us. In our follow up visit, to use her own words, she "devoured" the chapter we left with her and decided to read further. It was super neat to see how God had worked in her that very day to open her heart to receive us as His servants. She didn´t make it to church but if nothing else, I´m confident that a very large seed was planted. I´m excited to continue to work with her this coming week. Friday we found Nazaré one street above Maria Aparecida. Her story is strikingly similar. Once again, she told us about her disinterest in religions outside of her own (Catholic), but when we offered to teach more about Christ and another testament of Him she felt she needed to accept. It was another spiritual lesson, and yet another evidence of God preparing His children to be taught. I have to say it´s a pretty good feeling to know that, as missionaries of the true Church, we´re working and living in a way that helps people realize there really is something different about us. Something that some part of them wants to get to know better. I don´t know if either of them will get baptized (of course, I am very much hoping that they do and believing that they can), but it´s neat to work with people prepared in a way that only God is capable of.
Speaking of one of those people, we´ve been working for the past month or so with Luis Ricardo. His wife and family are members and have been for 18 years now, but he´s never really had a desire to make the commitment to be baptized. He´s super open and has always accepted the missionaries well, but lately his interest has grown significantly. Last Sunday in between visits and after having prayed to know if he should be baptized, a series of things happened to help him know that was the right thing to do. He didn´t go into too much detail but explained it like walking down a hallway with a bunch of doors and having all of them close except the one at the end, which he described as the door to his baptism. We got there Wednesday night with a lesson all planned out but didn´t manage to teach it because he was so excited to tell us that he´d decided to be baptized this coming Sunday (April 21). I don´t remember if I smiled or laughed or cried or fainted when he said that, so out of the blue, but I know I felt SUPER happy and super grateful, especially in the context of how hard the past month has been. Elder Barbosa and I had fasted that Sunday for a miracle--for someone to come out of the wood work that we could baptize--and it was that very Sunday that Luis Ricardo explained everything started to go right and become crystal clear. I don´t know what we did specifically with him to help him get to this point--probably nothing--but I am super happy with his progress. SUPER happy. The whole ward knows him and has waited a long while for this day to get here. When Bishop announced the news yesterday in Sacrament Meeting everybody turned to their neighbor and started whispering. 3 or 4 testimonies toughed on how grateful and excited they were for the step he´d decided to take. Once again, it´s just neat to be a part of. And it was a very tenderly timed tender mercy, because just a few days later Lena and Reobe backed out of being confirmed AGAIN :( To make a long, painful story somewhat shorter and less painful, some pretty shocking and hurtful things were said by one of the members straight to their face and Lena told me yesterday that she doesn´t want to even set foot in the church anymore because of it. The whole situation is super frustrating and saddening for me. But I´m glad God gave me something to hold on to because of the people we´ve been finding and the drastic (in a good way this time) changes that´ve been happening with Luis Ricardo. I´m trying to focus just on his baptism this Sunday.
Really quick before I upload the pictures, Thursday was a bit of a shocker for me at our Multi-zone Conference. President Perrotti had told everyone to thoroughly study 2 Nephi 31 about the doctrine of Christ because he´d be asking one missionary at random to give a 30 minute training about it in front of everybody. And I happened to be that missionary. Woot! It went well I think though. I went through each of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel and then applied them to the life of Alma the Younger (Mosiah 27 and Alma 36) in his transformation from a persecutor of the saints to one of the most powerful missionaries we have in The Book of Mormon, seeing that he baptized thousands. Not going to lie though, my stomach did a couple of twists. Haha.
Anyways, I love you all incredibly much and hope you have an amazing week. Know that I´m smiling and doing well, because of and inspite of everything.
Loads of love from Brasil,