Today marks 1 year and 2 months in Campinas, and yesterday was 16 months in Brazil. It continues to be surreal to me how fast it´s gone by. Yesterday was Stake Conference, and a particularly special one for me. 7 men in the stake were sustained in the office of Elder, and 5 of them came from Castelo, Ricardo, and Gilbert among them. It has been so rewarding seeing the way they´ve grown and progressed, and how committed they are to keeping their covenants. It´s hard to measure conversion, but with them I´d say they´re well on their way. Seeing it all happen is a joy even greater than I felt on the day of their baptisms. Saturday night all of the missionaries were invited to participate in the adult session, which was focused exclusively on missionary work. Several recent converts and recently returned missionaries in the stake bore their testimonies, ward mission leaders spoke, and the entire Stake Presidency shared personal missionary experiences that they´d had on their missions. The stake is on fire. AND, Daniel told us something pretty fantastic yesterday. The presidency of the Assembleia de Deus church (in which he used to serve as presiding pastor) wants to know what on earth made him change his mind and go after "Mormonism." So they invited him to give a 2 hour presentation in Belém, Brasil (Assembleia headquarters, wayyyy north of São Paulo) in front of the church vice president and 400 pastors. He´s stoked! We´re going to call the Missão Brasil Recife mission president so that he can go with Daniel and get all the referrals he´s sure to generate. The Stake Presidency is working on sending the story in to the Liahona. We´ll have to see......still, super exciting!
A quick update on our teaching pool before I go (this week we have multi-zone conferences so the schedule´s a bit rushed). Barbara went through a minor, planned surgery but is recovering well. Her mom invited us over for dinner this week. Elvis has kind of fallen off the map, but in his absence Elizabeth and Fábio are coming along super well (baptism marked for Groundhog´s Day!). We taught them after English class in the chapel on Tuesday, only the power went out because of a huge storm. So we taught by cell phone light. It brought a new meaning to gospel symbolism for me. Silvanna (the lady who first talked to her in the shopping line) invited them over for a family night on Friday and we taught a cool object lesson on the importance of daily scripture study. It´s absolutely impossible to describe over email so I will not even attempt to, but suffice it to say it was cool :) We contacted Sergio this week, a referral we got from a new member in the ward, and the second lesson he accepted baptism for February 2nd as well. So, when all goes according to plan, Punksatony isn´t going to be the only town celebrating :)
Vos amo muito! Happy Martin Luther King Day, and until next week! Sorry this is a little bit shorter than usual :/
Love, Elder Sears