It's still October, and the miracles are still happening at a rapid pace here in dear old Divinópolis. We're working like crazy to make this the best month of our missions. I imagine that one amazing month will set everyone up for a brilliant future on the mission. And in my case...one last good month wouldn't hurt.
1) Free Ice Cream- Blessing of being a missionary #324235: you get free ice cream. This happened on Thursday. We were returning from a different neighborhood, after a very hot day with much walking in the sun, when we passed an ice cream store we'd stopped by before. We waved hello to the owner, who asked, "you guys aren't going to buy anything?" I asked, jokingly, "How much is it today?" The owner smiled and responded, "it's on me. You deserve it, you're doing God's work." We took our pick of ice cream, and had a great talk with the couple who owns the place. We explained the doctrine of Christ, the church, life, a little bit of everything. They loved it and kept asking sincere questions for a good half hour. Free ice cream forever? I think so.
2) Throw it on the Ground- Another great experience: we're working with a young woman, part of a member family, who has serious smoking problems. We set some goals with her, and with a lot of help from the Book of Mormon (which she carries around everywhere), she reduced the number of cigarettes considerably. We found her one day (after working with her about a week) waiting at the bus stop with her member grandmother. She had a pack of cigarettes in hand. I told her that it was time to end this, give me the pack. She reluctantly agreed, keeping just one in hand. I took it, pulled out the first cigarette, and threw it on the ground. "Step on it," I said. She did so. One by one, we stamped on all of them.
As we waited, she lit the last one, claiming it to be her last cigarrete smoked. I pulled out the special temple edition of the Ensign and started showing her the pictures. She took it in, telling us it was her dream to go to the temple. After a little, she took the half-smoked cigarette from her mouth, and threw it on the ground. And that was the end of that.
3) "His Speech"- To wrap things up, I wanted to mention one last miracle. This week we found a lot of new investigators, and many of them were at church with us on Sunday. One particular couple stands out to me, Laudir and Eunápia. They're a little older, and both are rather inactive in their respective churches (Catholic and Baptist). Both are very welcoming--offer us food, juice, and their attention--but Laudir was a little more closed when it came to gospel discussion. He's very set in his traditions, and also not fond of leaving home to go the church.
On Sunday, they arrived in their old pick-up. Eunápia hurried up to me and said "your speech won over my husband!" She was excited and took a little to explain. She said that her husband had been touched at the fact that someone like me would leave my family, my country, and my culture to come to Brazil, knowing nothing of the language, to share what I believe. He said there must be something special about this church. So he came. And loved it.
I love being a missionary. I truly do. It has its challenges. Ups and downs, difficulties and setbacks. But there is nothing quite like it. You feel as though you are set apart from the world. Not from the people, but from the standards, the desires, the needs that the world offers and supports.
I love you all. Stay strong. The world may sometimes appear to be against us, but there are more that be with us then there be with them. Don't give up. Stay strong. Please. The Lord needs you to be an example.