Happy Easter my friends!!
I hope that you´re all able to feel the missionary spirit this weekend, seeing that Christ´s victory over death and hell is the greatest missionary moment in history. How grateful I am to be serving full-time in His service, helping others recognize what He´s done for them and how to accept it. We are being so blessed in our efforts.
This week was CrAzY, but crazy good. 36 hours of multi-zone conferences is enough to drive anyone insane, but I was insane to begin with so it´s all good. I sent along a few pictures at the end showing some of the trainings and practices. The emphasis was planning (Preach my Gospel chapter 8). The multi-zone was set up like a regular missionary day. We started with daily planning, then personal and companionship study, then the actual lesson itself and finally and evaluation of it all. During the companionship study part we got to practice preparing object lessons (that´s why you see Elder Riquerme gleefully waving around his hammer in the second picture I attached). It was a really good experience. President showed the Church´s new Easter video in the end to cap everything off. Friday I accompanied another missionary singing "His Hands" to bring the Easter spirit. It went really well, in spite of not really being able to see the last few measures of the sheet music because my eyes were fogged over with tears. Really special.
AND, work in the field has been an absolute joy. Ana Claudia asked us on Sunday if she could be baptized Tuesday after mutual so that all the youth could be there. After coordinating with her family and the young women´s organization, bishopric and ward mission leader, that´s what we did. It was a really, really special baptismal service. Her brother Douglas is A okay for tomorrow too :) Ademir and Wanda didn´t make it to the cartório this Saturday because it´s closed for Easter. Kinda forgot about that, but we remarked for next Saturday. Ademir, who is simple by nature and sometimes a little slower to understand what he´s reading in The Book of Mormon, told us 2 days ago that he was reading in the Gospel Principles book about the millennium and felt a bunch of goosebumps all over the place. He said it was a feeling he´d never had before, and because of it he resolved that 12:00 a.m. Easter Sunday he would give up smoking. He´s only been smoking 2-3 cigarettes a day, but for Elder Nelson and me his experience with the Spirit was a miracle. We asked the family what´s been their favorite part of getting to know the Church and the missionaries--Ana Claudia was the first to respond with "knowing that I made the right decision in getting baptized." They are a really special family. Ana Claudia and Douglas passed Jacob in their Book of Mormon reading. Viviane (almost 8) is following along in the Book of Mormon picture book we bought for her at the temple. We talked about enduring to the end the last time we met, and to demonstrate I got down on the floor and did a "plank" (it´s an annoying ab exercise Elder Nelson and I have to do as part of our P90X exercise routine in the morning) for as long as I could while talking about enduring to the end. We explained that at baptism we set ourselves up in the right position, but the only way our muscles grow (spiritually) is when we endure to the end. They seemed to understand. So, all smiles on that front :)
I talked a little bit about Paulo and Adriana last week. We had one of the most spiritual lessons of my mission with them on Thursday night with a ward member named Jean and his wife Ana Luiza. Our plan was to follow up with 3 Nephi 11. When we did so and asked what most stood out to them Adriana responded with "well I thought it was interesting how Christ called Nephi to be one the 12 apostles in the Americas just as He did with Peter in Jerusalem. Then he gave him power to baptize. I also liked how Christ warned against contentions because of different doctrines about baptism, which is basically what you see happening today." I´m gonna go out on a limb there and say she got the gist of 3 Nephi 11?? I can´t explain how much I LOVE teaching people like her, not just because she accepted but because she understands the doctrine in The Book of Mormon. People that gain a testimony that way, really embracing and feasting upon the word, are the type of members that build the Church and don´t fall away. Paulo understood similarly well and told us he´d read the testimonies of the 3 and 8 witnesses as well. The time came when we invited them to be baptized. Paulo was a little reluctant because of his involvement in another church but Adriana cut him off before he could finish. She told us that she´d been praying for a long time to know the truth, and that the first day we showed up and talked to her daughters was moments after they´d had a huge fight and were needing a little bit of the "palavra de Deus" to calm them down. She told us that, as she receives a spiritual confirmation that The Book of Mormon is true, she´d more than willingly be baptized, and soon. I felt really strongly to leave 3 Nephi 15 with them and promise that that very night they´d receive their witness. 3 nephi 15 because she talked a bunch about what Christ meant when He talked about "other sheep which are not of this fold." We´ll be seeing them tomorrow at Church and following up with their answer. I´ve never felt more confident that they´ll have received it. Their faith is inspiring to me. Especially Adriana´s.
Placídio and his family are coming along well. Elder Nelson and I have been very bold and direct with them and I feel they´re on the edge of accepting marriage and baptism. We have a lesson with them tonight at 6:30.
Oh, I think I mentioned a month or so ago an exchange that I did in Jundiaí, a nearby city, and finding a really special family there. Well, I got a phone call from Elder Batista Thursday night tellig me that the whole family will be baptized by May. The kids this coming Sunday and the parents a little bit afterwards because they need to get married. But they have a date marked and are going to the cartório this coming Friday. Sweeeeett!!
Life here is going really well, summing everything up. I´m losing myself in the work. It was maybe 30 minutes ago that I realized that Monday will mark 2 years since I opened my mission call after coming home from freshman year at BYU. How time flies.
An incredible, spiritual, memorable Easter to you all.
Love, Elder Sears