I´ll just get straight to it then...first, sorry the email´s coming on Wednesday. Monday we had another meeting which threw the P-day schedule off a little bit. But I´m doing just fine! It was a tougher week this week but with a really happy ending. That seems to be the theme lately. Celson told us when we went over to see him that he and his family had decided to stop having the discussions. We asked him why and he told us he felt uncomfortable with some of the commandments we´d been teaching (i.e. marriage instead of living together). We did the best we could to explain that that discomfort comes from God as a way to motivate him to keep the commandments and that it wouldn´t go away until he took steps to start living the commandments. He understood but told us the gospel wasn´t something he wanted anymore and was pretty rough with us at parts. Of course that left us feeling pretty sad and we explained that to him as well. That God had loads of blessings waiting for him and he´d be missing out. We bore testimony and, as with Romoaldo, the Spirit was super strong. There is no way he did not feel that the sure way for him to have his family forever was to be married, baptized, and sealed for time and eternity in the temple when we told him that. It´s interesting how you can see it working in people´s faces. But Celson fought it and wouldn´t let it in. It makes me remember one of Elder Bednar´s talks about how the Spirit will carry the truth unto, not into, the hearts of the children of men (2 Nephi 33 I think?). I walked out of Celson´s house pretty down about the decision he made. I don´t know why it has to be this way but it seems that you don´t realize how much you grow to care for an investigator until he tells you he doesn´t need you anymore. But I also left at peace with the way we handled the situation. The elect wil hear and hearken God´s voice as spoken by His servants.
So that was the rough start to the week. The happy ending came Saturday night when Weverton, a 16 year-old we´ve been teaching from the Viracopos Branch, got baptized!! And as always there was the last-minute drama right before. He´s a pretty big kid and not a single one of the baptismal suits we had in the chapel fit him. He was starting to get pretty flustered and Elder Hill and I were worried he´d back out at the last minute. So we said a prayer and kept looking. We didn´t find anything so the Branch President said he´d drive the half hour back to his chapel to see if he could find a bigger one. Only on the way Elder Hill remembered the week before he´d gotten some white elastic shorts in his birthday package. So we ran home to pick those up and also happened to find a shirt 3 sizes too big at the bottom of Elder Hill´s suitcase that fit Weverton perfectly. It was the first time on my mission I´ve seen someone get baptized in shorts and a Sunday shirt but everything turned out just fine :) We were really happy to end the week baptizing, and once again amazed at the timely (and often creative) ways God answers prayers.
Our fourth of July celebration wasn´t nearly as cool as how I´ve heard it was at the Provo MTC, but the 4 of us living together made the best out of it. We all put on our American jeans and did our own rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Our poor neighbors probably didn´t like the volume we sang it with but hey, I think I´m entitled to be patriotic at least 1 day of the year. Afterwards we bought some ice cream, made cookie dough, and mixed the two together because Elder Hill and I have really been craving Dairy Queen´s cookie dough blizzard lately. It turned out really well I think. Possibly better than the original. Cheaper too if any of you are interested.
Sunday night we were on a bus on our way to an appointment and we decided to do something different. I went to the front and told everyone we wanted to sing to them. We got out our mini hymn books and sang "Lord I Would Follow Thee" to the delight of a group of super religious old women in the back corner. I think we sang to a good 20 people. It was strangely exhilarating :)
Monday we had a training meeting with President and I walked away from it super motivated and excited to get back to work. He showed us a clip from "The Guardian" when the new rescue diver asks his boss how many people he managed to save during his career. He gets 22 as an answer and gets a little confused, thinking it´d be a lot more. But then his boss cuts him off and says 22 was the amount of people he failed to save. It was the only number he counted. President related that to our desire to save souls and how careful we need to be in being too casual when one of them winds up not getting baptized. The room got super quiet and we were all left thinking what we need to do better so that we don´t lose a single one. It´s an insight that I hope will be able to guide my work these coming months.
Time´s up...hope you all are well!
Love, Elder Sears