Last Saturday after our P-day ended we had an hour and a half planned to find new people to teach. We were heading home when Elder Nelson said he felt we needed to take a different way back, taking a left turn instead of continuing up the avenue. So, we did, and immediately saw a family of 3 headed our way. I talked to them and after a few minutes we marked for Monday. Monday we found out that they´re part of a family of 5, with 3 kids 8 and up. Placídio is the dad´s name, Marlete the mom, and Janaina (19), Jacqueline (15) and Jessica (8) are their three daughters. Huge blessing, right? It was pretty clear to us we needed to teach the plan of salvation first, so we did. The first half on Monday and the second on Wednesday. Since Monday they´ve knelt 5 days out of 5 in family prayer, a tradition that they didn´t ever have in 20 years together. Placídio said it´s making a difference. We talked a lot about eternal families (Placídio and Marlete aren´t married), and Friday we hit pretty hard on that key again. It´s incredible how open and bold we´re able to be with them even in the 2nd/3rd visit. They´re understanding well and everything´s set for them to watch the Sunday afternoon session of conference tomorrow. We´ll have to share Elder Andersen´s talk with them because it´s perfect for their situation. So, score one more family for the Castelo teaching pool!
Thursday we had a pretty interesting lesson with Fábio. He said in the beginning that he´d "cooled off" a lot about the whole church/baptism thing, but we didn´t really buy that. It was kind of an odd lesson in the sense that neither I nor Elder Nelson remember what was said. I just remember saying something about the Holy Ghost and then Fábio saying, "you know based on what you just said I want to get baptized this Sunday. I can´t because my mom´s going to be out of town and she´s gonna want to see it, but I´ll see with her and choose a date and get back to you." We shook our heads okay but inside my heart was pounding and overflowing with gratitude. We felt it was best with him to let him feel 110 percent in control, so we didn´t call him the day afterwards to see if he´d come to a decision. On Friday HE called US, asking if Elder Chagas could stop by to do the baptism after he decided the date. And Elder Chagas is headed home in 3 weeks so Fábio will be a baptized member of the only true Church in 3 weeks tops. Amazing! God is taking reallllyyy good care of him. Fábio´s been trying to fight the spirit for 2 months but he´s losing. Just about the only situation that I like to see an investigator lose :) It was a really important experience for me to feel that I was worthy of the Spirit to the point that I said what it told me to say and because of that Fábio felt the desire he did. Yet another reminder that God is the real missionary in this work.
We managed to get a date marked (April 8th) for Ademir and Wanda to get their wedding underway! We continue to teach them 2-3 times during the week and, slowly and in spite of lots of worldly pressure not to, they´re progressing. Hallelujah. We´ll have to see if I´m around to see their baptism. Either way I´m happy to have helped them to this point.
One thing that I´ve noticed during all the difficulties here is that I´m growing in my ability to recognize small tender mercies. Things that probably went unrecognized for a long time in my life. I loved President Eyring´s line about waiting for blessings because that´s the only way we can build our faith and receive a blessing at the same time. One actually rather large blessing that I recognized this week was an email I got from Vania Madeiros, who was baptized in Vila União last February. I´d gotten a letter from her a few weeks earlier in which she was completely discouraged and lost and frustrated with her situation and with God. She´d moved to another state to help her parents out with a sickness but was totally rejected in the process and left without a place to live. Her plans to enter the temple were frustrated because the temple where she lives is pretty far away and she didn´t have the money to get there to take out her endowment. BUT, in the email I got from her this morning, she´s feeling loads better and has been attending church in the local branch in Paraná, Brasil. I´m praying she finds a way to the temple soon. Grandma Julie sent me some temple clothes that I decided I´m going to send to her. So, hurray for Vania :)
Gotta go to get ready for the next session, but know that I love you. Hope you all receive loads of personal revelation in the hours to come. I´ll have to share some of my impressions next week. From Saturday morning seems like the theme so far has been defending the truth and our standards, which I loved. Elder Holland knows how to put the world in its place.
Love, Elder Sears