This week was good. Rafaela* came back early from the beach. Unfortunately she wasn’t very interested in receiving a visit, so we were feeling a bit sad about that. But she went to church on Sunday! And then she asked Sister Ribeiro out of the blue “What hours will my baptismal service be?” She said she was trying to schedule her Saturday and wanted to know what time it would be. Lots of people are marked for baptism but aren’t actually planning on getting baptized. We tell them to pray about it and plan to get baptized if they get an answer. People in this situation are marked for baptism but haven’t confirmed it yet. So it was super exciting when Rafaela asked what time her baptism was because that means she is actually planning on being baptized! She has been feeling and recognizing the spirit a lot while reading the Book of Mormon and at church. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to teach her the commandments as early as we would have liked to because she was busy, but hopefully that works out.
This week a man walked up to us on the street and said he wanted to go to church. He said he had been taught by the Sisters and was almost baptized. We were super excited but we didn’t find his house and when we called him he hung up when we started talking. And he didn’t go to church. So that was too bad — life is weird sometimes!
A number of people said they would go to church and didn’t, but more people than usual went! Rafaela went, which was great because we thought she wouldn’t be able to go until next week. The owner of the LAN house we are using today also went with her four young daughters. That was cool because when we taught her she wasn’t initially very interested in going, but ended up being excited about it! We are teaching a young man called Joao Vitor who said he would go. We thought he hadn’t made it but after the Sacrament Meeting we saw him! He had come in late and we hadn’t seen — we were excited! He is marked for baptism.
We went to Itambé twice this week. You pay six reais, and everyone smashes themselves into the sardine-can-van and then we drive forty-ish minutes to Itambé. It’s an adventure! We went to see Júlia and her family. The first time we met we met her son and niece. We also said a prayer in her grandma-by-consideration (grandma of the heart –not her actual grandma but she might as well be)’s house. The second time we got there and she said “I invited two people to hear the message, okay?” That’s more than okay! She had invited her two friends and we met her younger son. She’s already a great missionary! She is reading the general conference talks that we will discuss at the next Relief Society meeting! I think she is more involved in the Ward Whatsapp group (Whatsapp is a text messaging and videocall app that is very popular internationally) than most members. She and her family are definitely worth going to Itambé for. We invited her children and her sister (who is a member)’s son, Bernardo, to baptism, as well as her two friends and several of them accepted. Unfortunately, because of scheduling and transportation issues, only her sister and brother-in-law made it to church. So that was too bad. But hopefully they manage to go next week. Mostly fortunately (but a little unfortunately) next week is Stake conference [a big regional church meeting held twice a year], which will happen in a different city — Paulista. We are hoping for a miracle this week of having more success than usual at taking investigators to stake conference.
It was a miracle this week with baptismal invitations–we managed to meet a lot more people this week who we had the opportunity and privilege to invite for baptism! And two of them went to church and stayed marked for baptism (Joao Vitor and Rafaela)!
One interesting thing about studying the scriptures without a search engine (i.e., studying paper scriptures without a smartphone) is that there is no way to look up all the results for faith in the Book of Mormon or all the scriptures about prophets or death. This highlights the importance of reading the scriptures straight through as part of scripture study. If you don’t read the scriptures, you won’t find many helpful passages not included in the topical guide. A few months ago I noticed this scripture while reading the Book of Mormon:
11 And the bodies of many thousands are laid low in the earth, while the bodies of many thousands are moldering in heaps upon the face of the earth; yea, and many thousands are mourning for the loss of their kindred, because they have reason to fear, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are consigned to a state of endless wo.
12 While many thousands of others truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness.
13 And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men.
14 And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life.Alma 28:11-14
I really like how this scripture highlights how the gospel can help us when we lose a loved one. It also mentions the importance of diligent missionary work and that Christ is the reason for hope and joy in our lives! It is only because of his sacrifice for us –the Atonement that we hope for a better world (Ether 12:4), the resurrection of ourselves and our loved ones, and have access to the power of repentance in our lives. We can also know that he can comfort us because he hath borne our griefs (Isaiah 53:4 — in Portuguese it says that he took upon himself our pains) so he knows how we feel.
The number of talks I am assigned to read per week for the missionaries who are returning home is increasing! I think that means the end of my mission is getting closer! The talks are very good; this week was about serving others and the welfare program in the church.
*Names are changed to protect privacy