The miracles continue here in Castelo. At an amazing rate. It´s really neat to see how the work is being accelerated with two duplas in the same ward. Just to answer a few questions, Elder Chagas stayed in Castelo as well but we´re helping President train some of the Americans that have been waiting for their visas for a while while serving in the States. I´m staying with Elder Elswick. We always have something to talk about and get along really well. He´s incredibly punny (mom, you´d love him) and he´s already understanding about 80 percent of what everyone says. I´m hoping in the coming weeks I can help him feel more comfortable with the speaking part too. He´s already brought plenty of miracles with him, fluency or not!
The first miracle actually happened the night before he got here. Elder Chagas and I were on our way to a family night with Kevin and Alzira in the car. I´m pretty sure I mentioned them these past few weeks but just in case I didn´t: Kevin is 18, his mom is Alzira and was baptized in 94. She fell away just a few months later but through a few dreams and a few invites she came back to church and brought Kevin with her. We were all in the car talking about I don´t know what, when all the sudden Alzira stopped and said, "Brothers, Kevin´s got something to tell you." And then the sweet sound, "I´ve decided I want to get baptized." Yes! Milagre :) Again. I really don´t quite know what´s going on here other than the fact that God is taking really, really good care of Ala Castelo. We talked with him and decided that since he´s already been going to Church for a month now and we´ve been teaching him during that time, there would be no problem whatsoever marking his baptism for Sunday. So we did, and he accepted!! Elder Chagas baptized him and it was, again, a really special experience for me. As it was for Elder Marshall and Elder Elswick who got in just this week. My favorite part of the whole thing was Kevin being completely familiar with all the hymns during sacrament meeting; I sat next to them and he told his mom she wasn´t singing it right. haha :) They´re an amazing mother-son duo and I´m really optimistic about Kevin serving a mission. He already had a dream a few years back in which he was side by side on an airplane with another young man his age dressed in a suit. Now he´s coming to understand the significance of all that :)
Milagre number 2: Adrianna, out of nowhere, accepted a baptismal date for November 24, next Sunday! Elder Chagas and Elder Marshall went to visit her on Wednesday and she started the conversation with something like "alright boys, I´m tired of trying to decide when I need to get baptized and when I´m ready so I´ll let you pick." And, most wisely, they picked the 24th! She came to church all smiles Sunday and without her wheel chair. She´s amazing. We followed up on Thursday after she accepted the 24th and she seemed a lot lighter. Not sure if that´s the right word but it gets the point across. The ward´s super happy with her progress, seeing that they´ve known her since the end of September. It really is a rewarding feeling to stick with someone for so long and finally see them make a breakthrough. And then another one, and another one. Conversion for me is the best miracle to be able to witness.
Milagre number 3: Daniel, one of our investigators who we´ve been teaching since October and served for 25 years as Pastor President of the Assembleia de Deus Church in the Campinas region, had an incredible experience with us at the temple this Wednesday AND ACCEPTED BAPTISM FOR DECEMBER 7TH! On the way there he told us that God was making it beyond obvious to him that the Church was true. Here´s the short version: after watching " The Restoration" he said he felt something he´d never felt in 25 years of ministry. Something that made him want to laugh and cry and go out and tell everyone about it. 3 weeks later he went to the video store and bought 5 movies. None of them worked on his DVD player, so he brought them back and noticed what he thought was a romance on the shelf and picked it up on his second trip. When he put the movie in, not only did it work but do you know which one it was??? Work and the Glory! He just about fell out of his seat when he saw it was narrating the same Joseph Smith story he´d felt so good about watching The Restoration. When I asked him in the temple waiting room if he felt those confirmations were enough for him to believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the only true church on the earth, he responded: "I already understood your question. You´re not asking about confirmations, you want to know if I´ll get baptized." Elder Chagas and I smiled and nodded and he said, "well, I guess there´s nothing left holding me back. I have no need to ask for another confirmation. Let´s mark a date." It was incredible. My mind is just beginning to comprehend the difference he´s going to make in the Chruch. He said he´s already talked to one of the main television channels in Brazil to start a story about his conversion and pass it on primetime (his connections with the Assembleia de Deus are pretty high-up, needless to say). It´s amazing. I´d go into way more detail but time is short.
Milagre number 4: Gabriele, a 13 year-old who´s been going to church the past 3 weeks and whose dad is a member but lives in a different ward, is going to get baptized on the 24th on November as well!! Bianca, who paid for Ricardo and Sheyla´s wedding and is the young women´s president, invited us and Gabriele over to her house and bore a testimony that touched Gabriele to such a point that she went from wanting to get baptized in January to next week. Once again, the blessings of such a mind-blowing ward.
I have 2 more miracles to tell but my time is now non-existent, so I´m owing you for next week! I love you, and enjoy the pictures! And to my dear, sweet family, thank you THANK YOU for the Thanksgiving package :)