I received so many e-mails from all of you that I´m not sure I´ll be able to respond individually to each of them. If I don´t manage to, please know that I read each one and I am very grateful for them. You all have been heaven-sent and are helping out perfectly. So, obrigado.
I´m sure you´re all anxious to know where I wound up after the transfer so here goes--I was transferred to Nova Vinhedo, a city just about half an hour outside of Campinas. The ward here seems to be just as missionary focused as Castelo, for which I´m extremely grateful. Elder Jairo Mazzagardi, 1st counselor in the Brazilian Area Presidency, lives here. His son is Bishop. Our ward mission leader is an ex-mission president--irmão Toledo. He´s one of those leaders that stares at you and you do what he wants you to :) We ate lunch on Thursday with an ex-stake president that is now the first counselor in the bishopric. So yeah--lots of power weapons!
Sunday Ricardo and Sheila invited us and about half the ward over to say goodbye. It was kinda surreal. Everyone was all smiles though and it was so good to be with them and be able to see some of the fruits God´s helped us harvest during 10 months in Castelo. Rafael, who was confirmed in August 2013 my first Sunday in Castelo, posted a really touching message on facebook that Elder Boring, the returned missionary I replaced in the ward, forwarded to me through email. How I love everyone there! Monday night Marcos and Isabel Damico came by to say goodbye and we had a good chat. Marcos, not big on emotions, teared up a little bit and so did I. I was so blessed in that ward. BUT, Faith is forward and I´m super excited for the new opportunites in Nova Vinhedo as well. I´m training a missionary from Brasilia named Elder J. Rodrigues. I couldn´t have asked for a better companion. He returned to activity in the Church a year ago and was serving as ward executive secretary and Young men´s president when he left for the MTC. I´ll send some photos towards the end of the email.
We´ve already witnessed a few miracles together. President dropped us off in our new area Tuesday night and Wednesday we went to work full force. Only one problem-my blessed in-grown toenails got worse and I wasn´t managing to put any weight on them. I went to see the doctor Thursday and he told me I needed to stay off them for 2 days straight to let the swelling go down. I bought some extremely stylish church sandals to get out of shoes and let my feet breathe a little bit, which helped. Let me just tell you though--being locked inside for 2 days without being able to proselyte is torture for a missionary. I kind of panicked a little bit when the doctor told me I´d need to surgery in a week after the swelling died down, and that the recovery period would be about 5 days. Nooo!! We´re opening an area here and we need all the time we can get on the street and with the members to get things started here. Friday morning I was kind of bummed about the whole situation but the comfort was almost immediate. I was reading in 3 Nephi 26 (I think?) when I read 3 verses that were exactly what I needed to hear.
11: "I will try the faith of my people."
15: "the second time that he showed himself unto them, and had gone unto the Father, after having healed all their sick, and their lame, and opened the eyes of their blind and unstopped the ears of the deaf, and even had done all manner of cures among them, and raised a man from the dead, and had shown forth his power unto them, and had ascended unto the Father"
17: "And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost"
I was amazed at how specific each of those verses were to my situation. I was growing impatient, but God reminded me that He was merely trying my Faith. After passing the test, He would cure me and my toenails just as He "had done all manner of cures among them." And in spite of not being able to work 100 percent in our area, He would help investigators "come unto [us]" in the moments that we couldn´t come unto them. We said a pleading prayer together that by some miracle, we´d have some invetigators at church that we could start teaching. Three of them showed up out of nowhere. Jacqueline, a young mother, showed up with her member friend that invited her and gave her a ride. Adriana and Rafaela were there with Irmão Rómulo, his wife and daughter that aren´t members yet. We marked with Jacqueline and are working with the ward council to mark with Adriana and Rafaela. I know this probably seems like such a simple, silly thing to make note of as you´re reading this, but seeing them walk in through the chapel doors was such a huge answer to our prayers. God listens!
So that´s how our week went. Lots of tests in the middle of it followed by sweet relief at the very end. I wish I had time to write more!