So why is the subjest line cheers? We met a foreign exchange student here in my area that is from New Zealand. He lives in a small twon outside of Wellington the capital. It was a lot of fun to teach in English (not to mention really hard). The kid is turning 18 this week. He was explaining to us that the two main reasons he decided to come to Brazil as a foreign exchange student was to learn a language and learn about religion. He told us that the religious atmosphere in New Zealand was a lot more low key and he wanted to come here to experience it more. I bet he didn´t think he would run into two American missionaries did he?
This has been an awesome week all around. Last week´s district meeting, my companion Elder Hepworth made a challenge to focus a lot more on marking baptismal dates. We decided that even though we hadn´t had any investigators in Church these past few weeks we would still mark dates with people. We met our goal of 5 marked dates for the week and we were blessed to get four of those 5 to Church on Sunday. We were so blessed this week. We met a group of kids that are all super excited to get to know the Church. I don´t think I´ve ever encountered so much desire in youth before. There is an 18 year old kid Marcelinho who is already baptized but was inactive that told his friends about the Church. We met Rodrigo and his sister Raiane. They are truly elect children of God. Rodrigo is the kind of guy you wouldn´t expect to care about anything we have to say. He is all tattoed up and has gauged ears. But he completely accepted the commitments even of baptism in the first day we taught him. His sister Raiane is amazing as well. She was already participating just like everyone else in Church on Sunday and said a prayer inour lesson Sunday afternoon exactly like youth kids do. She learned super fast. We are planning to baptize them next Friday or Saturday. There are also some little kids that are relatives of Marcelinho that we took to Church as well.
I really learned this week how the Spirit can touch people and influence them to seek the right path. Raiane told us an interesting experience of how she felt that the Church was true. She said her alarm clock failed to go off but her dad woke her up to get to Church on time. This came as an answer to her that the Church is true because her dad usually wouldn´t be up at that time of day and wouldn´t usually care about them going to Church. Rodrigo was asking alot of questions about needing to take out his ear gauges. We also were think about how we would need to ease them into the idea throughout the week of walking themselves to Church. We were a little nervous about that, but out of the blue yesterday afternoon he was asked if they could go alone. He didn´t want to take up car space for other people. Me and my companion just looked at each other and were rather stunned. It was an awesome experience. And we just barely met these kids on Friday of last week. We just need to focus this week on teaching the parents of all these kids and hopefully bringing the whole families into the Church.
We helped one of our ward members this week practice English for a job interview. He wants to work in the garment factory in São Paulo and they require that he knows basic English. We taught him some of the lessons in ENglish which was a major chore. It´s so weird how teaching only in Portuguese makes it difficult to teach in English. It was kind of fun too. We were mixing our phrases in English Portuguese like crazy. it had to be funny to watch. And the good news, he passed his interview. It was fun to be of help to him.
So, to sum up the week. The more we show our faith in doing everything in our power to further this work, the more the Lord will bless us. We dedicated ourselves to marking baptismal dates, and not only did we mark the dates, we got people to CHurch for the first time this transfer. We went from being the only companionship in the Zone not getting anyone to Church to the companionship´with the most investigators at Church. We were so blessed this week. I hope all goes well for everyone of you this week as well. Do everything in your power to do the Lord´s will and He will see your readiness for the blessings and give them to you.
Well Everyone, today is the 11th of April. Which means I have been exactly 8 months on the mission. Can you believe that I'm already 1/3 of the way done? I can't believe how much time has already passed. Elder Hepworth hit his one year mark last week. Today we are gonna party it up. Not really, we're just gonna browse around the street vendors in the Centro of the city. But it's amazing how fast the time goes. I wish I could start my two years over again right now with the experience I have now. I wish I could get the time not understanding Portuguese back. I also wish I could get back the wasted time that unfortunately happened in past transfers. But oh well, I just need to work as hard as I can for the time I have left.
Last week the President of the mission made some changes in the way we work. He always set weekly goals for us to work toward as companionships. He has changed it now to a daily standard. It's to fix the unfortunate trend of working hard one day, or for one week and using the next day or week as a rest week. Now that we have to report on our work everyday we are working a lot more efficiently. It's amazing to see how just the President making us this promise has increased our oppurtunities to teach. We are in a really tough area right now and it's been waring down on us. But this last week was a lot better. We taught a lot more people, even though we still didn't get any investigators to church. We haven't been able to get anyone to Church yet this transfer. It's a very difficult area. Everyone promises to go but Sunday morning ``something创 happens and they don't go. But it's improving, every week we are getting a little closer.
Yesterday we went out to make a couple of visits and got caught in the middle of a gnarly hail(hale?) storm. The hail was about the size of a nickel. The storm came out of no where and only lasted about 5 minutes. But it took down some trees and powerlines. And all the Brazilians were out playing in the hail afterwards like it was snow. It was kind of funny. I took a video of the storm so soon you will all be able to see it.
Not much else is new. just plugging along like usual. I'm still super excited for this transfer with Hepworth. We are working together really well. But I have a feeling we won't stay together becasue next transfer we will be getting 18 new missionaries! We finaly are getting more than are leaving. So I have a feeling we will be split up to accomodate. Probably one of us will train (I hope it's Hepworth....I'm not ready for that yet). I guess that's about it. Until next week folks!
I absolutely love General Conference! I got to watch all of the sessions...and in English too! They always set up an english room for the missionaries to watch at the stake centers. I only didn´t get to watch the Priesthood session live, but I did see it early sunday morning. I had to wake up at 5am to see the re-broadcast. I loved all the talks. Elder Holland´s declaration ``God´s word will be heard`` was one of the most chilling testimonies I have ever heard. Also the testimony he bore about President Monson was amazing. Another of my favorite talks, though hard to understand the with just one hear was Elder Pratt´s talk about the ``to be´´ and ´´to do´´. Many of us have to do list lists, but do we have to be lists? It was a fantastic talk. I´m just glad I didn´t have to try and translate that one. Another favorite was Elder Samuelson´s (BYU President) talk about the steps of gaining a personal testimony. ALso closely related with Bednar´s talk comparing light to the gaining of a testimony. Sometimes it is immediate and intense, others it is gradual like the sunrise. I absolutely love conference. None of us could believe it was already over.
Conference Sunday was marvelous. One of the closed areas in our zone had a baptism and it was done in between the two sessions. The second picture is a group of us from the zone that were involved in the baptism of the girl. It was a real neat experience having it right in between the sessions. The First picture is my district. Starting on the left, Elder Peterson, Elder Shelley, Elder Hepworth and me (notice the tie I´m wearing?). Conference on the mission is so awesome! The last picture is the last baptism I did while in Birigui before I was transferred. The picture is me and Batista, Sisters Lewis and dos Anjos and the familly of Layana that was baptised.
Last week before conference was probably one of the most difficult weeks of work I´ve experienced so far. We have really hit a slump in the work. We went two days without getting into a single house to teach...which is pretty drastic for the normal Brazilian mission atmosphere. But at the same time I´m about the happiest I´ve ever been on the mission. Elder Hepworth and I are working as hard as we can and we know we are doing our part. I would much rather be giving it my all and having little success than having a little success without giving it my all. It´s definitely been a week of trials but I have grown a lot.
Well I hope everyone enjoyed conference as much I did. I can´t wait to get the Liahona to reread all of them. The notes I took will have to do for now. Até semana que vem!