Today started well with a joint effort by my companion and I to write a new song called "Baptismal Day" while I ironed my shirt. We're still working out the finer details, but I think that our enthusiasm more than makes up for the lack of musical precision. And the enthusiasm was immense, due to the miracles that happened this week and the two baptisms that will occur tonight.
1) Back and Forth- That enthusiasm (coupled with stress) was only fueled by the work within the office this week. Aside from the other twenty houses that I now am on track to rent, which involved many visits to rental agencies, I was ridiculously worried about finding an apartment in downtown Belo Horizonte for the recently arrived senior couple.
I'd been working on the rent for a while, but the date of arrival was fast arriving last week and the rental agency was taking forever. I was the middle man as the contract was sent back and forth between the church's lawyer who takes care of all of Brazil, and the rental agency. That happened over the course of a week, and the day they arrived looked like it still hadn't been resolved. So, with President's permission, I dropped that apartment right as we were finishing to use an apartment offered by another rental agency that I've already used and are friends of mine. We made the contract within a day, got it signed and notarized, and I was ready to get the keys on Friday...but then it turned out the landowner was having doubts. I waited anxiously for a response over the weekend and got one on Sunday during lunch, when I was informed the apartment was no longer available. So then, on Monday, I had to return to the first rental agency asking for the apartment again. That was embarrassing. We began to finish that up when the second rental agency called me back in, offering a new apartment that was far cheaper and already ready to go. This time, though torn, President didn't let me switch back because he didn't think it would be good for the church's image. I agreed, and I finally got the keys to the apartment yesterday. Moral of the story: bureaucracy is frustrating. And I have a stressful job.
2) Dreaming- This week I did a lot of dreaming. Some very vivid dreams while sleeping and some even more vivid dreams while awake. We had a meeting on Friday with all of the district leaders in the mission, and President talked about that. "Don't be afraid to dream", he said. Dream big. Things that don't seem possible. I like a particular quote I recently heard: "The impossible is only a matter of opinion."
This was particularly evident to me after an amazing lesson that we had on Wednesday with recent converts Neia and Vitória, and Neia's sister/our investigator Adna. We had a very spiritual lesson and talked a lot, without any formal lesson guideline, about the Holy Ghost and baptism. All of our explanations were on-the-spot answers to questions she brought up. She was worried about falling away after baptism, and not keeping the commandments. I asked if she had ever seen a child learn to walk. I compared the difference between a person learning with the help of a parent, versus a child learning alone. Both would stumble, but clearly the child alone would fall more. Similarly, a new member who is given the Holy Ghost will have the help of a loving Father in Heaven, and will fall considerably less than someone trying alone without baptism. At the end of the lesson we had everyone kneel in prayer and each, in turn, prayed to know if Saturday was the right day for the baptism. Adna said that she would have a serious discussion with Daniel (Neia's husband) about baptism. Before leaving, I left a pamphlet with her stating the date of baptism as Saturday, and our number to call when she had talked to Daniel.
As we left the lesson, I was feeling very excited and doing a lot of dreaming. I began to imagine (and explain to my companion) how people and missionaries need to stop assuming that their personal efforts can't individually change things. Many people assume that they can only play a small role in the progress of the church. And someday, down the line, when there's a temple in Belo Horizonte, they can say "I laid a couple of bricks in that temple." Well that's true. But I think it's putting an awfully small amount of trust in the Lord.
Sure, as an individual I can't do much of anything. But as an individual surrendered completely to the Lord, letting Him work through me, I can do miraculous things. Imagine if Ammon had showed up in the land of Nephi and said "well, I'll baptize a couple of these servants and fifty years down the line, if they work hard, we might have a whole ward here." No. Like Ammon, I'm not entirely satisfied with that. The Lord can do a lot more. Stop waiting for other people to step up and do things. Stop waiting for your situation to change. Just do it.
And so I sat there after the lesson, at a bus stop in the evening, dreaming of how the work offered by me, by my companion, by the mission president...how the work of us as individuals, if sanctified by the Lord, will directly result in a temple here in Belo Horizonte. In the salvation of thousands of our spiritual brothers and sisters.
That's what I dreamed of.
3) The Phone Call- And then, after arriving home a little while later, we did our daily planning. We finished, said the closing prayer, and stood up. I realized that my phone, which I had left on the bed on silent, was ringing. I didn't recognize the number. I picked it up.
"Hello. What time can we mark the baptism on Saturday?"
Miracles happen. The Lord has so much to offer us. I can't even begin to explain the miracles I saw this week. They are many.
I love you all. This is the Lord's work, and we need to realize that. We are capable of so much more. Dream big.