Merry December, everyone!
It's been a crazy week, with tons to do and lots happening. There was a transfer this week, and my new companion is Elder Dunford, an old friend from the CTM. I'm excited and ready to work like crazy to reach our goals this month. December has to be the best month to be a missionary. Christmas is awesome.
1) Conference- Let's start at the beginning, with stake conference on Sunday. As a missionary thinking a lot about the kinds of spiritual and uplifting experiences that people need to have at church, I was extremely excited for the conference with an Area Seventy participating, as I knew it would be a good Sunday for visitors to feel the Spirit and realize the strength of the Church. I was walking to church in the morning with a number of people in mind, and was firmly confident that today would go well. I had absolute certainty that a miracle would happen. I didn't know what. But I was ready for it.
Fast forward. We were in charge of greeting people at the doors, and we had a kind of weird experience out front (this is not the miracle. I'll get to that.) This weird homeless guy with voodoo bracelets was yelling at us and the members about Satan, and tied some kind of red voodoo band to the fence around the church. Then he picked up a good-sized rock and hurled it at the church building, and then punched a couple cars. Fortunately, he soon left and we were left in peace, and kind of spooked to have seen someone who seemed pretty possessed.
Fast forward again! The members brought a bunch of investigators, we had a couple less actives show up, but our own investigators didn't come and we didn't get any firm responses from the visitors. We left, uplifted by the conference but still waiting on that miracle. That night was Ward Council, and it was there that the members passed us a reference of two people who had visited the church and had some kind of fight, but at the end of it one desperately asked to be baptized, if we helped cast a demon out of her daughter. So that was a weird set up, but I accepted all the same.
2) Heaven-Sent- So on Monday off we went to visit them with the Relief Society President. We were well-received, and taught an extremely powerful first lesson. The Spirit testified powerfully that there was one true church, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon was the key to all of this. And so they accepted our baptismal invite for the following Sunday. Boom. Miracle. And they both are extremely good people. I haven't really seen anything crazy, they just have some tensions in the relationship. Guess what the cure is? The gospel!
We visited them on Tuesday, taught the Word of Wisdom, and again on Friday to teach the Plan of Salvation. We arrived on Friday and they asked that the baptism be moved forward, as they didn't feel prepared. We talked to them about it, but as we haven't had time to teach all the commandments yet, we moved the date forward a bit. But I'm sure that it will happen this next week. They're very accepting and willing to follow, and have already expressed the desire to continue attending the church. Awesome sauce.
3) English- An entertaining thing about this week is the sheer amount of English that seems to have been spoken. We taught English class, taught a lesson on Wednesday in English, the new investigators I mentioned speak English well...and I realized something funny. I feel more comfortable talking in Portuguese to these people than I do in English. It just seems more natural. So that's kind of cool. The language is going well.
It's been a great week. I'm so excited for the Christmas season and the chance for everyone to remember Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. It's a little warm (96°) in Brazil, which as I mentioned last year makes it feel a little less like a normal Christmas, but for me, being a missionary, it seems even more special as I have the chance to focus completely on the Savior. And on helping others to recognize Him. There isn't a better time or place to be a missionary!
Work hard, do good, and take a little time to remember the true purpose behind the Christmas season.