This week saw a lot of entertaining experiences, several disappointments, and, as usual, a lot of work.
1) Today is the Day!- On Thursday, we woke up excited for what we were sure would be one of the best days ever. Why? I'm still not entirely sure. We had good lessons planned, expectations were high, we were feeling the Spirit, and I'd promised to buy milkshakes for the two of us after lunch.
Things didn't quite go as planned. The difficulties began in the morning when I went to pick up my shoes which I'd sent for repairs...and the cobbler had lost them. We went to lunch, and afterwards to the burger stand for milkshakes. There were no more milkshakes.
At this point my companion just about gave up on life, but I rallied us with the reminder that "Today is the day!" and off we went to teach our lessons. Most went well, some fell through, we visited an older woman whose son was ridiculously drunk and sat crying as we prayed and read in the scriptures, then a member came to pick us up and take us to a neighborhood in the middle of nowhere to teach a young woman who'd come to church on Sunday.
They weren't at home. As we were starting to return on the dirt roads, we heard the wonderful sounds of a flat tire. We pulled over to the side, in the dark on an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere. And the member realized his car jack was broken. Elder Souto and I set off in search of help, and after a number of misadventures (running at full speed to escape an angry dog, the member hitting his head on the car door and earning a bloody goose egg on his forehead) we found help and were soon on our way again.
Due to the difficulties, I promised milkshakes for everyone present (us and the two members) from Bob's, the local milkshake place. However, the hour was late and there would be hardly enough time to buy them. And, seeing another car pulled over by the side of the road needing help, we decided that service was more important then milkshakes. We stopped, asked what we could do, and one of the passengers asked if we could take him to his school, where he was scheduled to give a class at 9:00. We said of course, and asked where the school was. He gave the address and said "right next to Bob's. Do you know where that is?" We all began to laugh--we got there at 8:55, in time for his class and our milkshakes.
And so the addage was born: "Every good day ends with milkshakes."
2) Member Missionary- So after that rather long, very random story, I guess my time is short for other stuff. I wanted to mention quickly a very succesful activity that we planned and performed on Saturday. It was a missionary related activity with the branch in the park--we set up a number of banners explaining about the church, and set the members making contacts with people using an "opinion poll" about the Plan of Salvation. We were surprised when the members caught the missionary spirit and spent more than two hours talking to everyone in the park, showing the banners and actually getting adresses. We ended the day with over 60 member references. So that was cool.
3) Where's the Coffee?- I went on a division on Tuesday, which went well. I learned a lot with the other elder, the district leader in Itaúna. We taught one fun lesson about the Word of Wisdom to a simple man named Ezequiel. We invited him to stop drinking coffee, and he was very hesitant in commiting to stop, just saying "I can try!" Not satisfied, I stood up in the middle of the lesson. "Where's the coffee?" I asked. Confused, he said in the other room. I asked him to show me, and off we went. He showed me the thermos full of coffee, and I told him to throw it down the sink. Without another word, he made his way to the bathroom and proceeded to pour nearly two liters of coffee down the drain. In the words of my dear old companion, Elder Newman, "sometimes you have to help people use their agency the right way."
So that was my week. Well, that was a very small part of my week. I wish I could talk a bit more, but my time is up. I love you all. I love being a missionary--not because it's fun, but because there is not a more satisfying, rewarding work in existence. We're in the middle of a war saving souls. The best and the worst of Heavenly Father's children are with or against us, and I'm at it full time. It's exhausting. But I love it.
I love the Lord. I wish I could be better. I'm trying to be better every day. That much I can promise.