Hellooo meus queridos,
Lot´s to tell and lots of questions to answer. Mostly about my new companion and area, so here we go...I got transferred from Ouro Verde to Ponte (meaning "bridge") and my new companion is Elder Vianna from Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil!! He´s got 2 more transfers than I do on the mission and we´re both work horses so we´ve been tiring ourselves out this week. The chapel in Ponte is GORGEOUS. 3 stories, brand new, and with a piano in every important room. I´m quite enjoying it :) It has it´s own basketball court which is super nice because 2 weeks ago basketball was made "ok" for missionaries to play on P-day. You can be sure I´ll be going to the court today :) But that´s probably an unimportant detail...the ward itself is...small. I think we had 60 at church this past Sunday. Our Bishop is really helpful and charismatic though and I´m excited for the opportunity to help build up the ward along with our investigators. We´re part of a newly created zone in the mission--Zona Flamboyant. President Perrotti divided 3 of the larger zones so that each stake would have its own zone of missionaries. So it´s me, Elder Vianna, and 6 other companionships in Flamboyant. It´s a lot easier to get to know everyone personally this way and I´m looking forward to getting to know everyone. I knew just one other when I got here. Elder Vianna reminds me a lot of me. He´s a little bit on the quieter side so I have to push the conversation at times but we both are loving just being able to focus on the work. He´ll turn 21 in December and has been a member all his life. It´s been a switch from Elder Hill but a good switch. I suppose transfers are always good switches, even if they´re not as comfortable in the beginning as what you were used to. Our area is huge. A little bit bigger than Ouro Verde I think. It´s on the richer side of Campinas which makes knocking doors and street contacts rather unproductive. So we´ve been talking a lot about how to help the ward help itself out. The good thing about being on the richer side is that our house is pretty good. The fridge and shower and stove are all brand new. Oh the washing machine too. And we have a hammock!! There´s loads of details to tell but I think that´s probably good for now. I´m adjusting well and I´m happy and even though we started basically from 0 on Tuesday we´ve got a pretty decent teaching pool going on now. So little of that has been us though, as always seems to be the case.
I got word that one of the two baptisms Elder Hill and I helped prepare went through in Ouro Verde. Felipe!!! Maria is still getting over coffee but will be baptized soon. I feel really happy for them. As far as the week in Ponte went for me, the week was dominated by a miracle that happened yesterday after sacrament meeting. I think it´ll probably be easier just to copy the story out of my journal:
"Moroni was right to call out everyone who believes miracles have ceased. Because we have a PROMETIDO (that means someone who has confirmed they´re going to be baptized in the coming week) this week! She´s got a story that gives me goose-bumps a little bit. Her name´s Andreia. 10 years ago she was baptized in the Universal (a popular church down here) but fell away and went to every church imaginable looking for something she felt was missing in each one. The missionaries passed by twice during that time--the first time she threw out her copy of The Book of Mormon and the second she waved them off without letting them in. As time passed she lost her job and had to resort to nail painting to get by. A member invited her to work for her salon about 2 months ago and last month she made it to church for the first time in Ala Progresso that shares our chapel. She told us she liked it and had a hope that the thing she´d been looking for would wind up being in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--but she wasn´t certain. She´d told us during these 10 years she was bothered by the fact that Mosaic Law talks about the Sabbath Day (Sabbath and Saturday are the same word in Portuguese) and yet every church meets on Sunday. But she kept going to Ala Progresso and kept liking it and kept praying to know if this was it. Only this weekend she said she felt she needed to go to Ala Ponte (that´s where she lives anyways). During Sacrament Meeting one of the speakers gave a talk about the Sabbath Day, citing Acts 20:7 and John 20:1 and explaining why it switched to Sunday from Saturday. Andreia started crying when she told us that part was an answer to her prayers she´d been saying for 10 years. She knew in the moment that the Church was true and that it was there she needed to be a member, not just another face in the congregation. She was so excited with the answer she got in sacrament meeting that she went up to the Bishop and told him she wanted to get baptized. I didn´t know that when I helped her take her stuff down to her car, so when I and another brother asked her what she thought of church she started to cry and said the same thing she told Bishop. I grinned. Elder Vianna and I went to visit her after lunch and listened for a half hour to the last 10 years of her life, amazed at how many details fit together in so many ways to bring her to where she is today, asking to be baptized without even being invited. We read Acts 2 with her and invited her to be baptized next Sunday. She accepted. "
So yeah! Miracles are real!! And they have nothing to do with any type of missionary work I could do by myself. This Sunday will be the day for her, so I´ll send pictures next week. Also, when I got to the area Elder Vianna and his last companion were preparing a couple (Claúdio and Edna) to be married and baptized afterwards. They already had a date set for August 9 when I got here. 2 more blessings from the Lord. We made tapioca with them Saturday night and I had a little bit of it for breakfast this morning. They´re super cool and are two more "prometidos" for 2 weeks from now. I´m just pumped in general! I´ll admit I was a little worried coming to Ponte because lots of people say it´s a hard area to baptize and the ward is super small and not all that supportive, but I´ve seen none of that. God has been really, really good to us.
Before I foget, HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY SPENCER!!!! I know you´re in Idaho right now so you probably won´t be reading this for a while but know that I´m thinking of you and proud of you. You´ll make a great Teacher. Speaking of birthdays, mom, I got your package this past week and have been waiting to open it until next week. Works out well by birthday falls on a P-day :) I also got that 16 page letter you sent about Trek and read all of it while eating lunch on Friday and really, really enjoyed it. Thank you :) I know some of you have mentioned some other things are on the way so I´ll let you know when they get here. Ponte is relatively close to the mission office (on the outskirts of downtown Campinas) so it should be easy to pick things up. Thank you soo much!! I love you all and hope you´re doing well. Have an awesome few weeks left of summer! And good luck to Sister Shell (jr.) in the field! You´ll do great.
Love, Elder Sears