The first full week in Divinópolis has passed by at lightning speed. The weather is heating up, the work is hastening, and the miracles don't stop. This is Brazil.
1) Family Nights- This week was full of family home evenings with numerous families and lots of great opportunities for members to interact with investigators. It was a great chance to show how the family environment can promote the feeling of the Spirit and God's love.
We had one on Monday night with an active member family and a family of investigators. It was cool to see these investigators who had never even been to church yet singing along to the hymns and participating in the lesson. The second was on Wednesday with a less active family who accepted our invitation to hold a family night for the first time in years. In attendance was their whole extended family and some visitors we brought, along with a couple active members. The house was full and everyone had a good time and all of them spoke of a desire to return to church. On Sunday a number of them came (for the first time in 10 years) and the others will soon follow.
2)Piano Man- For those of you who aren't aware, for a number of years I took piano lessons, up until about five years ago. Many Brazilians were also not aware of this, which I took advantage of for the last two years of my mission when members asked me if I played the piano, and I gave a half-hearted, "kind of," and they left me alone. Well, due to an error on my part, the secret got out here in my last area, and I've been recruited as the official branch pianist. I don't play well at all, but since they're used to a young 11-year-old kid learning to play, I'm one step below Beethoven and two below Bruno Mars on their scale of talented musicians.
I didn't invent the scale.
3) Finish Strong- This week I went on a division with one of the elders in my zone who has one year and eight months on his mission, and has officially stopped trying. He has the number of days remaining written on every single day of his planner, he is having a lot of difficulty staying focused.
So we spent the day working hard and talking. I talked to literally everyone I saw on the street, and soon he was doing the same. He began to get more excited, talking about the best parts of being a missionary and past experiences on his mission.
As we neared the end of the day, I asked him what he wanted from the rest of his mission. What he was hoping for. I talked a lot about my feelings at this point of my mission, and challenged him to make some goals as to things he wants to accomplish.
Because, the fact is, and I can't deny it anymore, the time is drawing near. In Book of Mormon terms, it's almost time for me to "give up the ghost." I'm not ready yet. I don't like people drawing attention to it. And it isn't over 'til the fat lady sings. But the time came this last week to ask these same questions of myself while there is still time: What do I want to accomplish before the end?
That question is still bouncing around incessantly in my head. There are a lot of answers, but what I most desire is to use every last second in this metaphorical refiner's fire to perfect myself. To become more like Christ. To become more loving, more patient, more humble, more diligent, more obedient...because I keep seeing how much more there is to learn and change and grow.
I love being a missionary. I love this work. I love the Lord. And I will finish strong. The end of a race is the moment for a runner to speed up, to give it all he has. And that is exactly what I will do.
I love you all. Work hard, live every day to its fullest, and try a little harder to be a little better.