|Elder Burt with President and Sister Fortunato, and Elder Dunford|
Is it New Year's already? There's not much left to 2013, a year that has been one of the most unique and miraculous of my life. Good stuff.
1) A Very Missionary Christmas- So I don't know if everyone is aware, but Christmas was this week. I'm still not sure what happened. I had so many Christmas dinners and lunches I don't know what to do with myself.
The Christmas week began on Sunday with a presentation of the musical we performed for the mission. But this time we performed it for all of the local stakes and visitors, which ended up being a packed house of more than one thousand attendees. There's nothing quite like performing for an audience like that, and the Spirit was overpowering. Innumerable hosts of teary-eyed visitors. It was like a missionary dream come true. I was so grateful to be a part of it.
Before I knew it Christmas Eve had arrived. The tradition here in Brazil is to have Christmas supper (supper? Not sure if that's the right word) at midnight with the whole family. That's when they open gifts and everything else. A member gave us dinner to eat at home, so Elder Dunford and I had Christmas dinner in our apartment at 9:30, talking about Christmas memories and traditions.
The next day was Christmas! I had an enormous, magnificent lunch with our mission president and his extended family. I was ready to explode when I had to run to the office to Skype my beloved family (who I may have accidentally left waiting an extra 15 minutes. They were hysterical when I finally called.) I was extremely happy to get to see and talk to them for the short time that I did. The best family a missionary could ask for.
And that was my Christmas! Now you know.
2) Comfort Those that Stand in Need of Comfort- Okay, not quite. A missionary Christmas isn't quite finished without a little missionary work. We headed out, as usual, at 6:00 to teach. Clearly, not a lot of new investigators would let us in on Christmas, so we went in search of people we already knew who would need or appreciate a Christmas visit. This included Irá, our friend who is under house arrest. He had spent Christmas alone until we got there, as his mother had left the day before. We read a couple scriptures and, hopefully, brightened his day a bit. The next visit was to a less active who hasn't left her house in months because she's afraid to leave her dog alone. This visit was a little sad, as we could see her deteriorating mental health due to her extended solitude. I think we're some of the only people she ever sees. We also shared a Christmas scripture with her and invited her to return to church. She needs it.
So all in all a wonderful Christmas. Focused, primarily, on our Savior and doing what He would do if He were here. Not quite as well, I imagine, but we do our best.
3) Payoff- I mentioned last week that Elder Dunford and I were working like crazy with what little we had--with all of our investigators on holiday and no one to visit. Well, as is prone to happen, the Lord blessed us more than we could have expected. We were going into church on Sunday with nothing. One week after I had sworn that the secretaries would never again deal with no investigators at church, we had nothing. Not a single possible person that we knew of. I was feeling a little downcast Saturday night, but did not completely give up hope.
And on Sunday (as always) a miracle happened. We got to church and found that a member had brought a family (FAMILY) to church with him. What was more, it happened to also be a contact that we had made in the street two months ago. And they live in an apartment next to the chapel. And they enjoyed the church. And did I mention that it was a member that referred them to us? And that they're a family of five?
We visited them once during the week (it wasn't easy due to the holidays), but they received us very well and understood the lesson. The son seems particularly excited, and we'll continue working with them a lot to help them progress.
I love the Lord. I did nothing to find this family, and it just goes to show me that it's not me that has the power to do this work. The Lord does everything. I just have to try my hardest to follow Him and prove my desire. I can't even begin to express how grateful I am. Words fail me.
I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas. I hope everyone took a little time to do service and help out someone else. It's the best thing to do this time of year. And if you haven't yet...it's certainly not too late.
I love you all. You're amazing. Work hard, share the gospel, don't be afraid.