We´ve had a couple of interesting experiences this week that don´t happen (or at least I don´t think they do) all that often in the field. Tuesday we had scheduled a lesson with a man named Geraldo and his 2 sons Ivan (22) and Gilson (30). Just Geraldo was there and really didn´t show a whole lot of interest, but he said we could come back another day when Ivan and Gilson were there. Two days later we were passing by his street to get to another appointment and saw Ivan sitting on the sidewalk crying. I recognized it was him and we sat down next to him to see what was up. He told us just an hour earlier Geraldo had died from an infection he´d gotten from some sort of bug that he never really got checked out. I was kind of stunned at the news. Tuesday night he seemed completely healthy. I felt so sorry for Ivan and his family and didn´t really know what to say so we just listened for a good while. We left a Plan of Salvation pamphlet with him and told him we´d be stopping by often to help him through things if that´s what he wanted. He asked us to do that so we have been. It´s been a week now since we found out about Geraldo and it´s been neat to see the difference the gospel has been making in the way that family is dealing with the situation. Ivan told us he wanted to be baptized. He still has some changes to make but I never cease to be impressed by the way God works to prepare people for trials and to receive the restored gospel. It´s a situation He tailored individually for that family, and I´m so grateful we´ve been able to be there for them as they´ve been needing it.
Then there´s Jeffrey, 16. Thursday afternoon while knocking doors he came up to us and told us he´d gotten to know the Church in São Paulo but never found it again after he moved to Campinas. He asked us to stop by the next day so we did and taught him the first lesson. He accepted baptism really easily and asked us to stop by on Saturday. So we did. Only we got there a little bit late and nobody answered. About an hour later we got a call from Felipe, a member of the ward, saying Jeffrey had made his way to the chapel looking for us. Felipe happened to be there and showed him around. When they got to the baptismal font Jeffrey stopped and asked, "so this is where I get to be cleansed of everything? Really everything?" Felipe nodded his head and Jeffrey started bawling. Felipe told us he asked to get baptized in that moment. He´s still got to go through the interview process and we´ve got to talk to his mom, but wow, what a miracle right?! Definitely a story to go in my journal.
Gabriela got confirmed Sunday and is coming along really well. Almost every other night we stop by to check in (and teach Jaime, her dad, who we´re trying to help stop smoking so he can get baptized too), and Gildete always invites us in for dinner or dessert or something of the sort. I think back to some of the blessing I´ve received about making eternal friendships on my mission and I can´t help but think this family has to be one of those. They´re always a highlight of my week.
Monday we had a meeting with President Perrotti and Elder Hill and I had to give a short training that went well I think. Then President talked about the cause in which we´re engaged and how our vision of the effects our missions will have really ought to be unlimited. He showed a video of a man who worked during WWII to rescue Jewish children from the Holocaust and get them out to other countries. Years later a lot of the people he saved got together and planned a huge thank you event in his honor. He went without really knowing he was the guest of honor, but halfway through the MC asked everyone to stand up that had had their life spared because of his heroism. Every single person in the auditorium stood up. Parents, kids, grandkids, great-grandkids. The man burst into tears and could barely get out a simple "thank you." President asked us at the end, "have you every wondered what it must be like in the Celestial Kingdom for a missionary who served an honorable full-time mission?" That really touched me.
I´m sure there were lots of other things that happened but I´m going blank. Plus we´re now allowed 30 minutes less time on P-days for internet so I´ve gotta run. I attached two photos--one of Gabriela with Gildete just before her baptism and one with Elder Miller and I and our roommates with all white ties on for his last Sunday in the field and Gabriela´s baptism. Mom, I got the two missionties letters you sent with the articles you wrote and loved them, especially the one with a short reference to me and Grandma Donna when I was younger :) Kirsten, I got word your P-day might be Friday but want you to know I´m cheering for you. Absolute best of luck! (I´m sending a short letter in the mail too so you can expect that in maybe 2 weeks).
Love you all loads,