This week was definitely one of the more different weeks I´ve had in the field. We spent maybe 15 hours total in Castelo and the rest on the road visiting cities kinda not really close by. The cons, our teaching pool didn´t really get the attention we wanted to be able to give them. The pros, I learned loads with so many missionaries in several parts of the mission and, in spite of not being able to serve our investigators 24/7 we were able to help out and talk one on one with a lot of missionaries who were needing it. It was a different rhythm than I´m used to in the field, but I felt satisfied after it all. Following up with the work in so many areas opened my mind up to new ideas and a new vision of everything we really can accomplish as set apart, full-time servants of the Lord. I was reading in Alma 27 today about the way that Ammon felt about the Anti-Nephi-Lehites that he served, and the way they felt towards him. They literally looked at him as an angel sent by God, and sometimes it´s easy to lose that perspective in the rush of everything going on as a missionary.
On Tuesday we participated in a zone meeting in Itatiba, a city an hour or so from Campinas. The zone leaders talked about the importance of letting each investigator know why we were there in the first visit, explaining about the commitments we´ll extend and the vision that we have for the investigator. It helped me in several lessons and exchanges throughout the week. I noticed that each lesson was a lot more effective when we left it super clear for the investigator to understand that we´re here to show him not just the path to membership in the Church, but eternal life. In one of the few lessons Elder Nelson and I had together in Castelo we taught a couple named André and Claudia and their 70 year-old, lifelong Catholic parents. I think that participating in so many meetings and talking with so many missionaries helped me feel a 100 percent confidence during the lesson that independent of their beliefs and objections, we need to be clear in showing we have something new and eternal to offer. I felt the Spirit during the First Vision in a way I hadn´t in a long time, and because of that André and Claudia accepted baptism. They were pretty reluctant about a date, but I´m confident they´ll come around. I remember André telling us "look, you´re asking us to change 45 years of tradition" and then me asking, "which change do you think would be more drastic, joining a new Church or raising someone from the dead to life?" "Raising someone from the dead I suppose." Then we testified that we KNOW Christ is the head of this Church and no other, and that by the same power He raised Lazarus from the dead He would help that family leave behind 45 years of tradition. It was a powerful experience, and it was so so good to be back in the area to be a part of it and get back into the rhythm of things.
Other highlights of the week--we found a man named Fernando who didn´t want to go to Church but t gave us 8 referrals to contact. One of them, named Sara, accepted the baptismal invite. Goes to show anyone, really anyone, can help out the missionaries by just stopping to think for a few seconds about who needs the gospel message. Also, Igor and Daniela were married this morning! It was a little different than other weddings I´ve been a part of in that earlier in the week we had to let them go from our teaching group (they told us they weren´t willing/ready to keep basically any of the commitments), but we still were there in support and I was happy to see them start the repentance process in at least one aspect of their life. I know they´ll be blessed because of it. As for Elvis and Fábio--they both cancelled on us this week and we´re trying to remark. Sometimes missionary work has its downs and you´ve just got to keep your head up looking for more of God´s elect. Because I know they´re out there. And sometimes we (especially me) just need to be more patient. I´m learning lots of patience lately :)
But I´m doing well, and I love you. Happy Carnaval! (it started yesterday and ends next Tuesday)
Love, Elder Sears