Dear loved ones,
The journey is almost over! As surreal as it seems, my 2 years are almost up. I had a pretty special experience during district meeting as we were studying Jacob 5 together. Verse 71 caught my attention in a way I´d never seen it before: "And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come."
When I read that, the phrase "for the end is nigh at hand...and ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself " jumped out at me. I´ve questioned myself several times on my mission, especially towards the end, if I´ve done enough and gathered as many fruits unto the Lord as He wanted me to gather. But when I saw that phrase again I noticed that God doesn´t say "ye shall have joy in the fruit which ye shall lay up unto me" but rather "ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself." I felt a strong reassurance that I can feel total joy in all of the fruits the Lord has layed up unto Himself because of my mission. So that was a cool new insight.
We´ve been teaching a 45-50 year old couple named Sandra and Carlos over the past 2 weeks. When we related the First Vision Sandra cried quite a bit and was touched signficantly by the Spirit. Unfortunately she´s having a really tough time making the decision to leave the church she´s been attending for 25 years-- a church that she presented to her Family and because of her, all of her family participates. Elder Rodrigues and I felt during companionship study that we should read with her in Matthew 14, the part where Christ invites Peter to walk on the water. We compared the comfort of the boat to her membership in her church. It´s a safe place, a good place, and a familiar place. But, it´s not where Christ is. Christ is on the water. The way to Him is treacherous, but it is afterall the way--the only way. We explained to her that when Sandra felt the truth of the first vision, she, like Peter, felt a sudden desire to jump from the boat and run to Christ. She did so, but then took her focus off of her goal and put it on the winds and waves around her (the fact that changing is difficult--that it would mean the rest of her family questioning her and such). She understood the comparison well but insisted "I feel like what Joseph saw was real, but I don´t feel like God´s calling me to be part of your church." So we reread with her in JS-H 1:19 when Joseph receives his answer that none of the churches were true and asked her, "if none of the churches were true, where does he want you to be? In the boat or on the water?" We saw the truth sink into her eyes. She knows it´s true. I´m just hoping that she acts on it. I love teaching people, not lessons.
I got a surprise phone call from guess who on Saturday--Ricardo and Sheila!! Ricardo´s sister lives in Vinhedo and he and his family got together for Father´s Day yesterday (it´s in August here, not June--shoutout to the best dad on Earth by the way!). So I got to see them again :) They continue 100 percent active--Igor goes to seminary every day and has been called as teacher´s quórum presidente. Diego is serving as 1st counselor in the deacon´s quórum presidency, and Ricardo as 2 counselor in the Young men´s organization. In 2-3 weeks they´ll be starting their temple prep. course so they can be sealed as afamily exactly one year after their baptism--October 27, 2014. I made them promise me they´ll do a Skype session the day after they´re sealed. I´ve said it before but I´ll say it again--there is no greater joy as a missionary than seeing your recent converts active and keeping covenants. What a special family they are!
Oh yeah, we finally had a decent group at church yesterday, so that´s a plus too.
I love you all! I think I´ll have a few minutes to write next week so this won´t be my last email. I´d like to send along some of the lessons I´ve learned while in the field, so that´ll be next week.
Love, Elder Sears