Today is officially 6 months in the field and yesterday was 8 in the mission. Crazy huh? The transfer is coming to a close in 2 weeks and once again I´m left wondering where all the time went. But it passed by in all the right ways for me this past week. I´ll start with Gildete, who was baptized yesterday shortly after Stake Conference. YES!! We passed by a bunch during the week to help her put a stop to her smoking habits, gave her a blessing, and she passed the baptismal interview on Sunday just a few hours before we had the baptismal meeting scheduled. One of the talks in Stake Conference was about the temple and went into a level of depth that I was afraid would overwhelm her. But instead she came up to us after the meeting and told us her favorite part was about the temple and that she´s excited about being able to go there a year from yesterday. It was an absolute race to get the baptismal service ready because we didn´t know she´d be able to be baptized until that day when she passed the interview. We scrambled to call everyone we could and got to the chapel to set up the room and look for baptismal clothing of her size. We found one suit (is that the right word--I´m forgetting it in English?), but the zipper was broken. We looked everywhere but there were only children´s sizes. I think Elder Miller and I said about a thousand frantic, silent prayers that we´d be able to find one. He opened up a random cabinet in the relief society room and there was a suit just her size at the bottom. One more miracle from the Lord. The service itself was small, short, and simple, but felt so good and so right. Gildete, who is not huge on smiles, seemed really happy and starting talking about the members in her family left that she wanted to get baptized. Her daughter, Gabriela, has a date marked for June 2. So, in light of the baptism, my week and my Sunday were super good.
Stake Conference itself was really neat. So many people came that they had to set up tv´s in 3 different rooms for everyone to watch. We had 9 investigators there which was a huge, huge blessing and each of them seemed to like it bunches. Elder Leal, one of the area 70´s here, spoke about the importance of daily Book of Mormon reading and weekly partaking of the sacrament. A good reminder to me, you, and all. Baptism and conference aside, the first part of the week was frustrating! We found 4 consecutive couples that had lots of interest in the gospel but none of which were married. And marriage, if you remember how it was with Lena and Reobe, takes forever to get going here. But we´ll be marking lots of baptisms for June 29 with these couples so we can have a huge marriage and baptismal celebration with everyone together. I´m really hoping it´ll work out. Ever since Elder Anderson showed that picture in General Conference of a solid 10 couples from Mozambique getting married and baptized on the same day I´ve been dreaming of a similar situation. Saturday night we finally found 2 investigators with interest that didn´t have marriage as a barrier. We were knocking doors and I started talking with an older, very stern lady named Maria. Before I could start talking to her she came to the door and said "what do you want?" She thought we were Jehovah´s Witnesses. Haha. But when she found out we weren´t she opened up a bit more and invited us in to talk with her son, Jean. He got super interested and said he´d had a lot of contact with the Elders in a neighboring city but lost contact when he moved away. He told us the fact that we found him here was a sign to him that God wanted him to find out a little more about the Church. He and his mom both accepted baptism for June 2. We still have to get to know them better and there´s a lot of work left to do (including helping him to stop smoking), but I´m excited to have the 2 of them to work with. And I´m glad Maria doesn´t answer the door the way she did the first time :)
Today, for P-day, Elder Miller and some other Elders from the zone in their last transfer went downtown to get some presents for their families. I went along and got to know "Shopping Dom Pedro," supposedly the biggest mall in Latin America. I was skeptical at first but it was HUGE. I was beyond amazed. For lunch we stopped at a Burger King that was there and I had my first-ever hamburger in Brazil. It was a Whopper. It was good but not as good as I remembered. And expensive...18 reais (9 dollars) for the sandwich, small fries and a small drink. But hey, at least I can say I did it.
Love you all loads! And happy birthday to Brother and Sister Shell (the 17th and 21st)!!
Love, Elder Sears
P.S. this computer is not letting me send along a picture of the baptism. Grr. I´ll see what I can do next week.