The new year has started and we´re off and running. Last Thursday we had another transfer and......Elder Chagas and I are companions again! In Castelo! I´m pretty pumped about the coming weeks and all we´re hoping to do together. I got pretty sick from Wednesday night to Thursday morning but made it. The work here is going, but not as fast as I´d like it to be going. Elder Elswick and I did, however, have one really spiritual experience together a few days before he headed off to his next area. Here´s what I wrote in my journal:
"Remember Elvis right? We managed to mark with him for Monday. The conversation started out about his experiences at church. He said the feeling he got was definitely a step for him knowing it was where God wanted him to be, but much like Daniel he wanted a further confirmation. I felt I needed to promise him he´d get that confirmation before a certain date on which he could be baptized, and invited him for 2 Sundays down the road, January 12th. When the invited came out Elvis kind of looked at me and, apparently shocked for some reason, asked me if I´d really said January 12th. He repeated the question, going on to say he was feeling chills all over his body because that day is his birthday. Then I got chills. And then I smiled, once again a witness of a "heaven-planned coincidence" as I like to call miracles sometimes. "Elvis, do you believe what just happened is proof from God that this is His church/" "Wow, I never imagined something like this would happen. I´ve got goosebumps all over." "How´d you like to celebrate two birthdays on the twelfth then?" He accepted, and it´s a firm date marked. The timing of it all is what´s incredible to me. We started teaching Elvis the second week in November, and basically went a month without teaching him because of his hectic job schedule. I was pretty impatient at times because of the difficulty we had scheduling even 15 minutes to sit down and talk, but now I understand why. We for sure would have invited him to baptism way before January 12th, and a confirmation that he felt 2 nights ago wouldn´t have been nearly as personal or dramatic. God knows what He does and how to do it! I´m really glad to be on His team."
That was pretty amazing to be a part of. It was even more special because a few days earlier I´d asked God in a prayer if He was accepting everything I was doing and if He considered me to be a worthy servant. I felt strongly that the experience we had with Elvis was His way of touching both Elvis and me at the same time. How I´m grateful that Heavenly Father always responds to sincere prayers. I bore my testimony about the experience on Sunday and choked up a little bit. A few members did too. It´s just really cool to be a missionary. Unfortunately Elvis has waned some in his certainty of the need to be baptized on the twelfth and didn´t go to church that week, but we´re praying and hoping and confident that he´ll go through with it.
Continuing on with the journal entries:
"Friday was a pretty tough day when I found out that Matheus hadn´t kept the law of chastity over the weekend. He´s not progressing like he should be and it´s frustrating. I talked to him yesterday and he said he slipped again this past weekend, and that from the beginning church hasn´t really been a priority for him. Ouch. I think we´re going to have to let him go, at least for a little while. The frustration continued Sunday morning when, again, neither he, Elvis and his family, Igor and his family, nor Andreia showed up for church. Pretty annoying to be honest. But, God shapes our back to hold the burden placed upon it. It wasn´t until after sacrament meeting that we discovered that we had 2 unexpected visitors: Elizabeth and Fábio, mother and son. Silvanna, one of the members in the ward, struck up a conversation with Elizabeth while waiting in line at the mall and wasted no time in inviting her to Church. She came! AND she´ll be moving to our area in the coming weeks. Elizabeth loved church, came to English class yesterday, and when I told her I´d see her next Tuesday she corrected me and said, "No, Sunday--at church!" We´re playing basketball with Fábio for P-day. Several doors seemed to shut Sunday, but a better, more promising one opened--because a woman with 1 year of membership invited a stranger in the mall to church. That´s missionary work."
Yet another cool experience. Yes, a huge part of our teaching pool isn´t progressing like we´d like it to be, but God´s helping us feel in the gaps bit by bit. So that´s been a lift and a comfort to me.
Oh yes! Before I go, here are some of my New Year´s resolutions for 2014:
-finish my mission with peace and satisfaction, knowing that God accepted it
-increase my gratitude: one thing per day written in my journal for which I´m grateful
-read the New Testament from start to finish before the end of my mission (260 chapters)
-finish The Book of Mormon (Alma 6-Moroni 10) and read it 2 more times before finishing the mission (one time marking all words/titles referring to Christ, another of my choice)
-achieve baptism goals each transfer; help baptize another complete family
-Christlike attribute in focus: diligence
-see Lena and Reobe confirmed
-P90X, jump rope every other day
-keep a notebook of scriptural questions
-make a piano CD with only my compositions on it
-review these goals monthly
Amo vocês todos muito e oro por vocês,