Just an fyi I´m going to try to get off the email to everyone right now, and I´ll come back in an hour or two to respond to all the kind people that wrote me individually :) Sorry if this isn´t super detailed but I shall do my best.
I forgot to mention something cool that happened last week. Elder Nelson and I were invited to give a pre-missionary training at our stake´s scout camp 2 weeks ago. We went out into the middle of nowhere and basically did a district meeting with role plays and all with all the young men from the stake (Igor and Diego and Sigfried among them). Super cool experience. The stake young men´s president gave us a Castelo hat and water bottle to remember the occasion. I have to say though, I left wondering if I was as wild as some of the Brazilian boys when I was 15. For my mom´s and Brother Barnes´sake, I hope not :)
This Wednesday Elder Nelson, Frutos, Lukas, Doman, Zacheu and I were authorized to go to the temple. It was one of the clearest experiences of personal revelation I´ve had on the mission. I went into the session praying for something specific that I was needing in the moment, and felt that I ought to take my patriarchal blessing into the celestial room with me. The moment that I opened it a phrase just on top of the fold caught my eye and was EXACTLY what I had asked for in my prayers that morning. I felt so loved and really well taken-care of by Heavenly Father. What´s more, Irmã Kikuchi from the CTM participated in the session with us! She was there supervising some missionaries from the CTM that came to Campinas for their P-day because the Sao Paulo temple is in maintenance. She´s 8 months pregnant and 20 kilos heavier, but it was super good to see her. As I like to say, it was another heaven-planned coincidence for me to be grateful for.
As for our investigators: lots of them are keeping their commitments finally :) Eva is progressing well and all set for her baptism next weekend. Marcilene, a friend of Irmã Cesira in the ward, has gone to church with her boys 3 times this month and also has a date set and intact for next weekend. Elder Nelson and I are pretty stoked. We´re working with her husband, Antônio Carlos, so he can stop smoking and drinking and join with her in the Church. We felt we needed to be pretty direct with him in our latest lesson and I remember asking him the same thing that so many Nephite missionaries asked their Lamanite investigators: are you going to follow the traditions of your fathers or are you going to follow God? Marcilene jumped in and bore her testimony to him and called him out in a way that only a wife can do :) It was pretty special to witness that, and how eager she is for him to experience what she´s been experiencing.
Fabio, Elisabeth´s son, is taking huge strides towards baptism again. We had a lesson with him last week in which he told us some friends starting questioning him about Joseph Smith and he walked away from the conversation with a ton of doubts. He told us he didn´t believe he was a prophet anymore. BUT, he told us yesterday that while he was on an airplane headed for Rio de Janeiro last week the plane started going through a bunch of storms and shaking all over the place. He said that he promised God he´d call us and keep the commitments if the turbulence went away. And it did, almost immediately. We unexpectedly got a phone call from him Thursday asking if we could meet Friday. He told us he´d read the conference talk by President Monson that we´d left with him and that he´d received another confirmation that Joseph Smith really was a prophet. He´s so, so close to baptism. He himself said it. He still didn´t accept a date, but please pray with him so that he does!
We´ve also been teaching the family of Ademir, Wanda, Douglas, Ana Claudia and Viviane for the past 2-3 weeks. They´re friends of Marcos and Isabel Damico (about the umpteenth referral we´ve received from them), and here´s what I wrote in my journal yesterday:
"Ademir and his family were all at church and are receiving the discussions 2-3 times a week. They´re getting married and baptized in April. They´re a really simple family but the Spirit has been doing wonders with them. At the beginning of yesterday´s lesson I asked them if they´d noticed any positive changes in their family since they started meeting with us. Douglas surprised me and shot his hand up right away. "I´ve stopped doing nothing in my free time--now I´m reading in The Book of Mormon." I asked him where he was and he said chapter 2. I thought--well, that´s a start--but then he showed me where he was and I saw "2 Néfi" chapter 2 at the top of the page. Wow! Ademir said he´s gone 25 days without drinking and Wanda said the once constant fights between her and her husband are non-existent now. Tell me tht´s not because they´re starting to live the only true gospel."
We´re going to the cartório with Ademir and Wanda early next week to mark the wedding/baptism date for next month.
As I mentioned last week, we had another mission tour with Elder Costa this week. It was super inspired and I took loads of notes. Here are a few things I wrote down:
-the earth is already organized for Christ´s coming; if he came today, Elder Costa would be President of Brazil...haha!
-D & C 138:56: we were called as missionaries before the foundation of the world
-when we feel the Spirit is at its high point in the lesson, we need to testify and leave
-never mix spiritual with social
-we need to BE missionaries (ser, not estar in portuguese)
-if we want people to teach, we need to always be smiling and always be opening up our mouths
insights he gave me during an interview with him:
-fun is a moment, happiness is a state of soul
-God made the earth with mountains and valleys--you´re happy when you keep going forward and you´re learning
-I have the right to ask the Lord for success when I´m diligently doing my part
Needless to say, it was a really cool experience, especially being able to talk with him one on one for a few minutes. I feel very lucky!
I think the thing that most caught my attention during the mission tour was when Elder Costa said he was 100 percent happy all of the time. I made a goal to be happier and smile always. It´s been making a huge difference already. Yesterday I did a street contact and got to "we´re missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ..." before the lady cut me off and said "não obrigado." I jokingly asked her which part she didn´t like..."missionaries" or "Jesus Christ." She laughed and it broke the ice super fast. She still didn´t accept, but I walked away from that contact laughing. Small things like that that are making a difference.
I love you all! Happy Saint Patrick´s Day to everyone! Here´s a picture of our zone with Elder Costa...
Love, Elder Sears