Monday, February 18, 2013

First Baptism!

Well, my loyal friends and readers, this week was extremely awesome. I have come to the end of my first transfer in the field...hard to believe. (A transfer is how we mark time in the field. It´s six weeks long, and at the end of a transfer the locations of missionaries are switched up.) I´m pretty sure my companion and I will stay here in Pedro Leopoldo for a little longer, but I won´t know for sure until tomorrow night. Exciting stuff.

But not nearly as exciting as Saturday, which was my first baptism here in Brazil! I mentioned last week it would happen, and fortunately all went through with relatively few bumps in the road. I have no doubt that Delmir will be a firm member of the Church--he´s excited, willing, and very strong in his decision. Let me talk a little about how this first baptism occurred.

I talked previously about how we´ve been teaching Delmir the lessons and that he was firm in his desire for baptism. Well, nothing changed in this last week of lessons. The biggest 'worry,' actually, was getting in all the lessons before the baptism. His house is reallllllly far away, and we had a hard time getting there for the last lesson. We finally did, catching the last bus to his house, teaching the lesson, and catching it coming back. We´d done this a few times already, but on this last occasion the bus drove right past us. It was actually pretty funny, pretty much everyone had an immediate big reaction. The investigators were stunned, I was waving and shouting for him to stop, and my companion leapt up with a stunned expression, and without hesitation started sprinting at an admirable speed after the bus. Fortunately, my somewhat more reasonable response got the bus to stop, and I casually jogged after my companion to get on. Delmir and his sisters thought it was the funniest thing.

Then came the day of the baptism! I´ve heard enough horror stories from missionaries about baptisms gone awry that I was a little apprehensive. But everything seemed to be going right: the font was filled, the district leader was there ready to interview, the members showed up in force, a less active friend of ours even came! The only hiccup was that Delmir didn´t show up for his interview until the minute the baptismal service was supposed to start. That hour of waiting without any word of his whereabouts was a little nerve-wracking, but as soon as he showed up he was interviewed without a problem and the baptism actually happened. A member of the branch who taught with us performed the ordinance while my companion and I acted as witnesses.

That joy of watching a child of God come up out of the water cleansed of sin -- the same joy that occurred the next day in shaking his hand after giving him the gift of the Holy Ghost -- is a feeling I want many times on my mission. Nothing compares, a fact that is made abundantly clear throughout the scriptures. I read Alma 26 today and it explains pretty well the ideal feelings of a missionary.  So, rather than write more, I´d just encourage you to go read that.

But hang on! My week had a few other exciting things occur. None quite as marvelous, but good nonetheless. Well, most of them were good. Let me begin with the less than awesome experience.

So I have no idea why it´s so early, but Daylight Savings Time occurred here in Brazil yesterday. It is one of only TWO days on the mission where you can sleep for more than eight hours during the night. And guess who forgot about it and showed up at church nearly two hours early? That´s right, Elder Burt and Elder Wilson. Sigh. The pain and agony.

Now on to bigger and better things! This week we found several new investigators who have enormous potential. Things are clearly picking up--we have at least two baptisms next Sunday and we could have one more. Plus we met two new investigators I want to mention quickly (my computer time is coming to an end).

1) Jardir. He was a reference from a member with whom we taught the first lesson. He seemed relatively accepting but has a big problem with cigarettes. That first lesson he said he´d stop, but we had to run out the door without extensive conversation because we were out a little late past our curfew. I went back the next day on splits with our district leader´s companion (meaning I was senior companion for about an hour) and we taught the second half of the restoration. He said he´d be baptized on the second of March, and has diminished his cigarretes (within one day) from two packs to only eight cigarretes! And he said he wouldn´t buy anymore. I have a lot of hope for him, but he didn´t come to church on Sunday so I´m a little worried. We´ll see how´s he´s doing later tonight.

2) Marley. Marley is the boyfriend of a member of the branch here. He´s been to church a large number of times, to the point where I thought he was a member until last week. We talked with him a couple times and he has a clear desire to be baptized. They just need to get married first, and then he´ll be baptized - without a doubt. They already have plans to visit the temple in a year and a half! Golden. I hope I´m still here in a month and a half when the marriage papers/process finish up. In our last lesson he said something really interesting. It´s clear he has a ton of respect for us as missionaries, and he said that when we pray he feels like we are speaking God´s words, not our own. Now THAT is something you want to hear from an investigator. Or anyone, actually. Very cool.

So that´s that for this week. I hope everyone is doing well back home in the states. I love you all. Stay classy, do the work, share the word, follow your heart, and I´ll see you on the flippet-flip!

Elder Alex Burt

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