I´m really sorry I forgot to mention last week I´d be emailing on Tuesday instead of Monday this week. I´m alive and all is well. Time is also...really short :) So here goes.
So, last Sunday a little before the baptisms we found out a less active family (the Coelho´s) had come back to church after more than 8 years of inactivity. And when they came, they brought with them their 15 year-old son, Gilbert, who had never been baptized. As soon as sacrament meeting got over his brother-in-law came up to us and said "Elders, you need to visit this family and invite Gilbert to be baptized. He´s ready." So, we marked Monday night with them and said a thank you prayer for yet another miracle in Castelo. Monday we had family night with them and had a good long talk about their activity and (inactivity) in the Church. Fátima, the mom, told us they decided to come back after so long because Gilbert was being bullied a bunch in school (he´s got something similar to autism) and she knew the Church would be a refuge for them and a place where he could make some real friends. We talked about the temple and had them put a sticky-note on their fridge reminding them of their goal to enter there, soon, as a family. Obviously, Gilbert would need to be baptized for that to happen and we told them that. And they basically marked his baptism for this Sunday, we just agreed. It´s incredible how good God is being to me!! We met with them almost every day of the week, took them to the ward activity Wednesday night, and had the pleasure of hearing them say from here on out the plan is for them not to miss a single Sunday. The baptismal service was Sunday afternoon so that Junior, the brother-in-law that gave us the referral, could participate. Gilbert wanted him to do that baptism. So he did. Just with a few minor complications, since Gilbert is pretty terrified of water. He´d never gone completely under in his whole life. We were saying lots of prayers that it would work out, but his foot kept coming out of the water and after the third attempt kneeling down, he´d had it for the day. His whole family tried to convince him for an hour, literally, to give it one more go but he said he´d try again another day. I wasn´t at all worried about the baptism not working out (we marked tomorrow afternoon with them in a member´s pool with a lot less people watching), just how Gilbert was feeling and how his cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents (the vast majority not members) would react. But the ward here was amazing. He and Junior got changed and came back into the chapel and received the welcomes to the young men´s organization and the ward. Everyone was so positive, and congratulated him on his courage in overcoming something he´d never done in his life. I could tell his family members were impressed at how supportive the ward was, and who knows, maybe some of them needed to see that so that they could have a good impression of the Church and be open to an opportunity to learn more in the future. No denying, Elder Chagas and I were pretty exasperated after the third try to baptize him didn´t work out, but we said a prayer and felt a certain peace that everything would work out. So it will. Tomorrow! I´ll still send the pictures of him and his family today though.
Sunday, Ricardo, Sheila, Igor and Diego were all confirmed!! Marvelous! Sheila cried during hers and bore her testimony during fast and testimony meeting, a huge step for her since she gets pretty nervous in front of people. I continue to be amazed at their progress. Friday they invited us over for dinner and we talked about the importance of the gift of the Holy Ghost. We had Igor call us on his phone and cover up his headphones with his hoody. Then we blindfolded him and took him outside in the yard and decided where he´d need to go without telling him. And we told the rest of the family to shout all sorts of wrong directions in his ear, which they seemed to enjoy a little too much :) After him stumbling around a little bit Elder Chagas got on the phone without anyone seeing and started whispering directions to him. Everyone got pretty confused as to how Igor wound up in the right place, and we used the analogy to talk about how the Spirit works and how prepared we need to be to know how to use it. It was something different we did...I think it turned out well?
You remember Adriana right? She´s coming along really well after her surgery. Walking normally and finally good enough to go to Church now. Anndddd, another miracle with her! Sunday night Isabel, an awesome member in the ward, went over to check up on her. During the conversation Adriana asked her if her desire to be baptized was preparation enough for her to be baptized. Isabel bore her testimony and basically finalized Adriana for us. We´re going to do everything we can to pass by today and set a date :) The ward here is amazing. Of all the people we´ve taught or we´re teaching, maybe 10 percent of them we´ve found knocking doors or doing contacts. It´s easy to see why the First Presidency is pushing so much for members and missionaries playing on the same team and on the same page. There´s really no better way.
Funny story (that will come with a picture): I think it was Wednesday that Elder Chagas and I got back from lunch to find a lovely surprise in our kitchen. I was in the bathroom when Elder Chagas started screaming, "Sears, SEARS, get over here!" So I came running to see a VULTURE perched on our kitchen counter. Picking through our groceries. Apparently when Elder Chagas opened the door it came bounding out of the plants and went straight for the kitchen. I didn´t really know how to react, so I got my camera. Haha. Then I went around to the window from the outside and started banging on it with a broom while Elder Chagas shut the door behind the thing. Then I went to the living room window and started banging. Finally we got it outside after a lot of yelling and laughing and screeching. Pretty hilarious to be honest. The next morning I was saying my prayers when I heard more screaming from the other elders. The SAME little twirp had made it into the storage room and was causing more mayhem. I knew Brazil was exotic, but why couldn´t it be a parrot or something? By the way, the word for vulture is "urubú" which I find pretty funny in and of itself.
Here come the pictures...love you all! is it really only 3 1/2 more weeks til Thanksgiving?