Hello to all of you that are currently residing in my beloved homeland of the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave! Right off the bat I would like to ask your forgiveness and patience for any English mistakes I make. The last time I spoke English was a week ago, and I´m not seeing any English in the near future...
Because I have a new companion! Transfers were last week and, while I will stay in the same area, Elder Wilson headed off. Elder Alves, a Brazilian, took his place. Due to the change, I am now speaking only in Portuguese 24/7, which is definitely helping considerably. I´m learning a ton, we´re working like a couple of crazies, and overall life as a missionary is awesome.
1) A Simple, Humble Man- This last week Elder Alves and I have been working with a new investigator named Raimundo. We were knocking doors one night when we came across him. He let us into his very humble house. There is just one small room, with hardly enough space for a bed, a stove, a table and two chairs. We taught him very simply one night, and he accepted a baptismal date for the 23rd of this month. He doesn´t know how to read, but has an understanding of the gospel of Christ that astounds me. It is so clear that you do not have to be an intellectual to understand the steps of faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Raimundo, in our second lesson, stated the steps so simply and clearly without us having to teach it to him. I learned a lot just by hearing it.
But the most touching moment of all came when he agreed to say the closing prayer after our second visit. Without any prompting from us, he began to cry as he asked God for help in his life and in his preparation for baptism on the 23rd. I felt a great love for this beloved child of our Heavenly Father.
2) Finding Guida- Another new investigator that we found this last week was something of a miracle. We were coming back from lunch on Wednesday, making street contacts on our way to our next appointment in a different neighborhood. I talked to one man named Antônio Carlos, who said we could visit his home. Elder Alves asked if we could accompany him home right then, and he agreed. He works for a wealthy woman at her house (small world that it is, the same house where Raimundo works. Total coincidence, we met Raimundo on the other side of the city). He lives in a similar state as Raimundo, but also has some problems with drugs. We taught a quick lesson and set up a return appointment the next day. When we returned, he was nowhere to be found, but we managed to teach another employee of the house, a maid. Her name is Guida, and she was very receptive to our message. When we returned the next day, she said that she had read the section we had left in the Book of Mormon twice, and had received a testimony of its truthfulness. She also accepted a date of baptism, but didn´t come to church this last Sunday so we´re going to have to adjust it a bit. In any case, I have high hopes for her.
3) Portuguese!- A little bit more on the progression of my Portuguese now that I have a Brazilian companion. It´s forcing me to speak in a manner more understandable, which helps a lot in lessons. With an American companion I had no way of knowing if the way I was saying things made sense to a Brazilian or only to a couple of people who were used to speaking English. I´m learning a lot more words daily, as well as beginning to speak a lot more naturally. I´ve got a long ways to go yet, but I´m excited for the future. Also, it´s good to see that, while I don´t understand everything, I´m able to live comfortably speaking and listening to nothing but Portuguese. I will admit, though, that the small amount of English that I read during personal study is a lovely rest.
I´ve been feeling the Spirit very strongly this last week as I´ve been striving to think constantly on my investigators. I have felt an increased love for all of them, as well as an increased understanding of the importance of baptism and covenants in their lives. But truly, the people here are easy to love and every day brings a new great experience.
So please, work hard, love life, do what needs to be done, and never forget that I love all of you!
Elder Alex Burt