Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Moved by the Spirit / Laughter / Lions

Elder Burt painting tables for a service project.
So I wanted to start by sharing some good news. On August 31, Ipatinga will officially be a stake. We found out this week that Salt Lake has approved the papers. We're working harder then ever now, but it was immensely gratifying to hear that the Lord had accepted the work done here in Ipatinga and that the church would be more permanently established in this richly-deserving area.

1) Moved By the Spirit- We had a really cool experience in the bus returning from the leadership counsel in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday. We were pretty beat after not having slept the night before (I was in division until 10:30, then caught the bus at midnight to BH where we arrived at 5:00 in the morning), so it would have been nice to have just slept in the bus. But there was work to be done even during the trip.

A man who was sitting across from us turned and began to talking to us, asking if we were missionaries, then what church we represented, why we were in Brazil, etc. We asked where he lived, then the conversation died down and we returned to near-sleep. As we were arriving in Ipatinga, he talked to us again, sincerely insisting that he would visit the church. He said he felt an enormous need to find out more about us, that the Holy Ghost had moved him to talk to us.

We passed the reference to the missionaries in that neighborhood. They visited him, and without them having to say anything, he asked to go to church, learn more, and watch a baptism that was scheduled for that Saturday. He needs to get married before he can be baptized, but he plans on acting as fast as possible. The church is true.

2) Laughter- This week I laughed so hard I cried more than once. During lessons. Which isn't a good thing, usually, but there were some really funny things that happened. We were teaching about the Great Apostasy, and this 81-year-old man wouldn't pay attention. He kept going on about how the Bible had books for 11 of the 12 apostles (really?), but where was the book for Judas Iscariot? These were the kind of questions we needed to be asking, he insisted. I boldly tried to bring us back by informing him that Joseph Smith had restored all things. He said "one man took the place of 11 apostles? He must be really smart." And then he just started laughing. The situation was so ridiculous that we started laughing too. And there we sat for several minutes, two missionaries and the investigator laughing for completely different reasons. We couldn't really get a hold of the lesson after that and soon parted, and he promised to come to church when he had the chance.

3) Lions- President Fortunato spoke in the leadership counsel about courage and facing difficulties. He told us we need to be like lions, not turtles. Trials will come, we will be attacked...but we can't back down and let it happen. We have to fight back, working harder, not letting the trials distract us, and work miracles. Faith overcomes all fear. And God works miracles according to our faith.

I felt kind of attacked after that point. We taught pastors, atheists, people who did all but outright ridicule our beliefs...but we didn't back down. And at the end of the week we had investigators at church, less actives returning, and baptisms marked for Saturday. When life gets rough, we stand up and face it with all the courage that we have. All the courage that comes with a surety that Jesus is the Christ, this is His church, and we are doing His work.
And I have that surety.

I love you all. Thank you for your support and prayers. Stand firm for what you believe. Be of good courage. Remember you are not alone. This is the Lord's work. Forwards, and not backwards, and on, on to victory.

Much Love,

Elder Burt

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