This week´s been full of several tender mercies. My journal tells them better than I can come up with now, so here goes...
"5 March 2014...
Yesterday I was on exchanges walking back from a referral (that didn´t exist) when I heard, in English, an "excuse me!" from across the street. It came from an 18 year-old named Phillippe who just so happens to be from Alpharetta, GA--maybe a half hour from Lost Mountain. He came here 2 weeks ago for Carnaval and on the way over had a 2 hour conversation with a missionary headed for the CTM. His first question for me was "who goes to the Celestial Kingdom?" I had one of the best, flowing conversations with him that I´ve ever had on my mission. I was stunned at how naturally the English came out, since I´ve never taught the gospel in English in 17 months and the one time I made an attempt during a companionship practice it was the worst lesson of my life. We sat down on a doorstep downtown and talked for 35 minutes. I asked him if he believed in God. he said yes, but to him God was energy. I asked him if he´d ever felt that energy stronger at times than others. He said yes, that when he was on a 3 day road trip he needed to know if there was a God or not so he asked Him. He said he felt a surge of energy rush over him for 10-15 minutes straight. I explained that was how God answered questions, and used the experience to invite him to ask God which church was God´s church (Specifically if it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), promising him he´d receive a similar answer. He agreed, and since we were close by we took him to the mission office and got him some Church materials in English. He heads back to Georgia tomorrow but he wrote down the chapel address there, the Bishop´s phone number, and Elder Frutos is going to email his contact information to the Atlanta North Mission. It was so good to be able to preach the gospel in my own language to another American. I finished the conversation so renewed and grateful to still have some time left as a missionary.
7 March 2014
The other miracle I mentioned was a golden referral named Eva. She attended church for 1 year in São Paulo but was never baptized. Monday she saw some other elders on the street and called them over. She´d just moved here from the capital and wanted to know where the nearest chapel was. And she now lives in our area :) We contacted her with Bishop and discovered she´s been reading The Book of Mormon this whole time and she has a huge testimony that ours is the only true church in the entirety. We marked her baptism for March 23rd."
Two really neat experiences that I was really needing. Eva´s all set for going to church tomorrow. I think it was Wednesday that we checked in on Ricardo and Sheila. They´re doing super well. Can I just say how much I love that family? Towards the end of our lesson with them I bore my testimony and shared my love with them and could not hold back tears. They are amazing people that are enduring a lot because of their membership in the Church. I cannot wait until we´re all in the Celestial Kingdom one day.
Other news...we had a successful training on Friday, focused on the why of missionary service. I´ve studied a lot about motives and desire lately, and have come to the conclusion that the only way to fully fulfill our purpose as missionaries (and human beings) is to do God´s will because we love him, nothing else. Elder Holland spoke so perfectly on that a few conferences ago in a talk that I´ve studied called "Feed my Sheep." I have felt my love for God, my Savior, you, my companion, each of the missionaries in Campinas, and the Brazilian people grow substantially this week, and I´m really happy about that.
Next week we´ll be having another mission tour! This time just with Elder Costa. Should be fun and really inspiring.
Love you all,