Actually, my celebration started yesterday with Rafael´s baptism! I think I explained a little bit about him last week. We street contacted his mom and found out Rafael had gone to church several times a few years ago but wasn´t baptized because he wasn´t old enough yet. When his family moved, they lost contact with the Church. Until we stopped them on the street! He asked me to baptize him. I´ve already attached a picture. We´re working with Miguelina, his mom, but she´s not married. She´s going to church every week though. I feel super bad for her. Her "husband" is always out drinking and when he´s home doesn´t even acknowledge her. Rafael is the light of the family. The whole three hour block he was asking when his baptism would be. We took Bishop over to meet the family during the week and get to know the situation a little bit better. Tonight we invited them to a family home evening with some members, and later in the week we promised him a visit (that may or may not include us bringing over pizza...).
Ricardo and Sheila (I´ve been spelling her name wrong for the last 3 weeks) continue to amaze me. We taught them and the family the plan of salvation Thursday night. Friday, during lunch, Ricardo called us just to say thank you for the lesson. He told us everyone loved it and resassured us everything´s in order for the 13th of October for their baptism. Patience, Elder Sears. Seriously though, Ricardo is amazing. Yesterday after sacrament meeting he made it a point to come up to each new investigator and explain to them his decision to get baptized and the difference we´ve made in his life. We just sat back and watched him do our missionary work for us. And he hasn´t even been going to church for more than a month yet! I´ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference that a simple invitation can make. With Ricardo, it was a 14 year old kid that offered him a Book of Mormon. Now he and his family are all going to be baptized. We had another investigator, Wellington, that came to church because his next-door neighbor who is 50 years older than him and doesn´t know him all that well invited him. I´m starting to think the only invite more effective when made by the missionaries as opposed to the members is baptism. Everything else--going to church, receiving the missionaries, reading The Book of Mormon--it´s the members that have a much more powerful influence. Yesterday we were invited to a birthday lunch for one of the member´s moms in the ward. It´s a part member family and somehow we got onto the discussion about life after death. We taught a snippet of the plan of salvation to get the non-members interested but it was Irmã Isabel that invited them to read and pray about The Book of Mormon, and they accepted. Just another example of the influence y´all have!
Thursday I got to go back to Vila União on splits! We stayed there just a few hours to help out some elders there, but it was enough to see the same sights I saw at the beginning of my mission and bring back a flood of memories--good and good, but painful. Haha. Last night in the chapel after a ward meeting I happened across 3 members from Vila União and caught up with them a little bit. So that was fun.
Friday...I like to think of Friday as the day God wanted to see if we really wanted a baptism this week or not. Everything fell through and the contacts we did seemed to be with people having a realllyyy bad day. When I went to talk to a man about the English class we´re having in the chapel (I start teaching tomorrow), he took a look at the pamphlet I was offering him and slapped it in disgust, basically punching my hand in the process. I was like, dude, I´m offering to teach you English for free and this is your reaction!? I shook that one off and a little later went to talk to a lady about the Church. I got to "good afternoon" before she looked at me and booked it (literally, running) across the street to get away from me. I´m not sure if Friday was a bad hair day or what but it was interesting. The highlight was that morning, when President came by surprise to do personal and companion study with us. He shared his insights about Captain Moroni and that scripture in Alma 48 that everyone knows that talks about how if every man was like him the gates of hell would be shut forever. But he pointed out something different. The next verse says that Captain Moroni was "like unto Ammon" and the sons of Mosiah, who were all "men of God." He told us that if we can call ourselves men of God, we are no less important and no less powerful than Captain Moroni in making the gates of hell close forever. I found that really cool. We can all be Captain Moroni´s.
I´m sure I´m forgetting something but that was my week! Love you all.