I found out this weekend that my nearly 10 months in Castelo are coming to an end on Tuesday. TRANSFER! I packed my bags for the first time since last August. It´s a bittersweet feeling--I´ve grown close to so many members and recent converts here. Last Sunday was fast and testimony meeting and I had the privilege to see Shelia, Igor, Fabio, Gabrielly and Raquel (Barbara´s mom)--all recent converts/reactivations--bear their testimonies. It was exactly what I needed after a rather difficult weekend. God is so mindful of our every need and pleading--it´s impossible to serve a worthy mission and not come to that conclusion. Small tender mercies appear all over the place. For instance: during my testimony on Sunday I quoted the hymn "Where Can I Turn for Peace." Just a few hours later during a baptismal service for Norton (one of the sisters´ investigators) our ward mission leader put the same hymn as the opening hymn. Fabio and Ademir were both ordained priests in the Aaronic Priesthood during Elder´s Quorum. Placídio was there, as usual, with his family, only accompanied by Jaqueline (his rebel teenage daughter) this time. Almost every single recent convert since last August in the ward was there in full force. Tonight´s the adult session of stake conference, and our stake president asked Ricardo and Sheila to each bear their testimonies. So that´s the sweet part. Sweeter than sweet. The hard part will be leaving it!
More tender mercies--Thursday and Friday I spent some rather painful hours with the foot doctor close-by taking chunks of skin and toenail out of the side of both my big toes. It´d been a while since I´d felt like screaming so hard! :) I got to thinking about every ounce of suffering Christ overcame during His infinite atonement and felt so grateful and in awe of His ability to endure and conquer everything. I couldn´t take two hours just for me, but He did it for every human soul for hours literally without end (at least that´s what I understand of the words "infinite" and "eternal" used to describe what He did). This morning I woke up feeling so much better and so relieved.
The work yesterday took off too after a pretty slow beginning to the week. There was not a single person we talked to on the street that did not accept our invitation to stop by another day and explain more about the restored gospel. That NEVER happens! We were on such a streak by the end of the afternoon that even when we got "no" as an answer 2 more minutes of talking had the contact passing us his address and asking us to come back at a specific time later in the week. We found a 20 year-old named Vinícius that let us in on the spot, and a single mom named Zulene that will be at stake conference tomorrow. Pretty sweet.
I need to say a huge thank you to everyone reading this for your prayers and fasts and support in behalf of my family and me. I have felt literally lifted up by your love. I´ve received several priesthood blessings throughout my life promising me ministering angels in hard times, and each of you has been one to me this past week. I can´t thank you enough. How I love you!
Love, Elder Sears