Oi! I have no time this week but hope you are all great! Here is a picture of us with a Christmas box we made. We collected food from ward members [people in the local church congregation] for a family of a recent convert that really needed help. The mother of the family has been working for the city for three months without pay — apparently this is not uncommon here.
That was a great experience because I know we were really helping them. It was a little miracle because members answered the phone and found things to donate really quickly — we made the box and gathered the donations, and did some things to help at their house house in just a few hours! Service is the true spirit of Christmas! We always have a goal of doing planned and unplanned acts of service but we have a lot of people to visit so we’ve been having a little trouble following through. One unplanned act of service this week was carrying some heavy bags for some member missionaries from a different church. That was a great experience. They were doing a service project as well and I could feel the spirit strongly talking to them — I know they are following Christ´s example through the work they are doing.
Also on display: some Christmas lights we got for our house! We are both people who really like Christmas and of course we’re very excited to talk to our families too!
It is getting closer to Christmas and there are more and more Christmas decorations up. It’s weird that it’s still so warm but I’m getting more used to the idea that Christmas is coming now. As missionaries, we’re especially excited for the church Christmas program this year! [Some have already seen it. Watch it here.]
This week had several difficult parts but I have high hopes for next week. We spent several hours one day looking for a man who was supposed to be at the church for an interview. We waited and waited and waited at the church–we walked all the way to his house with the district leader [the missionary responsible for interviewing him to see if he’s ready for baptism] and his companion, but the man wasn’t there and a family member said he had left hours before–then we walked around the streets looking for him. We finally heard several hours later that he had had some questions on the way to the church and apparently decided to take a verrry long walk instead of being interviewed! Then he didn’t show up to church. 😦 Hopefully we can figure out how to best help him next week.
Oi! Happy Thanksgiving! Nobody celebrates Thanksgiving here, but they do celebrate Black Friday. All the shops had sales and the city center was a mad house. The gas station had a huge reduction in price and we could hear the loudspeaker from our house while we were trying to study. It’s a little sad to have Black Friday but not Thanksgiving, but on the bright side it means the Christmas decorations go up even earlier! There are lots of fake evergreen garlands and red bows and lights: pisca-pisca [Portuguese for blink, blink]. We bought some lights for our house! I will try to send a picture next week–I have more pics than I sent this week already and the internet is still super slow. I am trying to make the camera work [for wifi downloads] but am having trouble.
Sister Porcote and I will be together until after Christmas. That is normal for training — you have the same companion both transfers.
In the CTM [Brazil’s missionary training center] several missionaries in my district knew someone who went to Japan and said they came back more quiet, reserved, etc. I imagine that transition might have been a little easier for me. I am suspicious that Heavenly Father decided I needed to be more outgoing or more of a hugger or something and sent me here! But the transition hasn’t really been that hard. I’m really blessed not to be having health challenges or super hard things happening in Palmares.
You asked how often we get to eat with the members. We have lunch planned every day but it is often money instead of actual food. Less exciting than it sounds because we keep eating at restaurants and from my perspective the restaurants all seem the same. But the fruit is really good! And the members make really good desserts sometimes, so I´m grateful.
We have been trying to teach a young man, “Rafael” for a while, but kept having trouble actually finding him to teach because he is very busy. He goes to seminary every day, but works before seminary and goes to school after seminary! (School can be before lunch or after lunch or at night here). He is awesome — super interested in religion, really wants to follow God. The only problem is that he was reactivated in a different church a little while back and wasn’t sure if he wanted to change. Yesterday he said he hadn’t received an answer with certainty yet. He said he thought he wanted to get baptized but not yet because he wanted to keep participating in his other church´s youth program. But during our lesson he started crying and said he would get baptized on the 8th! It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see someone get an answer to prayer like that. The promise is true — if you pray about the Book of Mormon with sincerity and a real desire to follow God’s will you will receive an answer! Sometimes it takes time, but it comes.