This week was great. Our investigator/friend Rafaela* was baptized and confirmed this week. It was wonderful to see her having spiritual experiences and gaining a testimony and wanting to be baptized and confirmed. Three-ish weeks ago I think maybe I wrote about an experience I had in the street one day. I was praying in my heart to know who to contact because we had a few minutes before our next appointment. Suddenly I thought about all the people my companions and I had street contacted. How many had been baptized? I saw other people’s street contacts be baptized, and I contacted many people who had spiritual experiences, were marked for baptism, went to church, and almost got baptized. But in terms of actual results there was one man who was a street contact that was baptized. He didn’t go to church one of the last weeks that I was in that area (after going faithfully every Sunday!) and it sounds like he never went again and is super inactive. But I thought about it and realized that he could be reactivated someday. Also, I contacted a young woman who I later found out was baptized a few transfers later when a change of job suddenly let her go to church on Sunday. I hope she is still strong! One soul is an accomplishment. And I know that sometimes God wants our sacrifice, not necessarily our success. So I knew it was important to keep talking to people on the street. But regardless, it was a pretty depressing thought in the moment–I don’t think that thought was inspired by the Holy Ghost. I recommitted to continue working hard regardless of how other people use their agency . . . and then suddenly one of our very molle investigators we were persistent with got baptized this week! We had stopped her on the street to admire her dog near the beginning of last transfer and did a contact.
Rafaela was very excited to be baptized. After we taught her about the Word of Wisdom we asked her what she was going to do with her coffee and she said she would throw it out. We were going to help her throw it out but had to leave because it was late and we forgot. The next day she mentioned that she had thrown it out of her own volition! After being confirmed (she was confirmed on the same day because of Stake Conference [our regional meetings]) she said that she felt really good and at home. She said when she went home she would know she wasn’t alone!
We have also been very blessed in terms of marcados [people marked for baptism] this week. It is amazing how different some weeks are than others. Sometimes we have trouble marking anyone for several weeks in a row! Last week and this week we have been blessed with many opportunities to invite people to baptism — and they have accepted!
We are going to Itambé twice a week recently and teaching Júlia and her family. This week we had a lesson just with Bernardo, who is Júlia’s nephew. His parents and sister were baptized in December and missionaries have been teaching all of them since June. He almost got baptized twice and had accepted a baptismal date the other day in a group lesson. In our lesson together we discussed his concerns and he said he feels better about baptism now. He said he really would be baptized this Saturday! He went to Stake Conference this Saturday with his family. We are excited! It will be interesting because there is no way to personally visit him during the week! He gets out of school at 5 or 5:30 and the last van to Goiana leaves at 5. So we are going to call him during the week and are thinking of trying to do a video call with members.
We are working hard to follow up with the people marked for baptism while still meeting new people. That is a bit tricky because we want to prioritize the people marked for baptism but don’t want to neglect our responsibility to talk with new people!
Another side note — everyone who comes to Goiana (for district council or splits or to do an interview) says “It is really hot here!” Apparently it is hotter in Goiana than in Janga or Timbauba (and Timbauba is part of our district!) I said I wanted a t-shirt prize of “I survived the hottest area in the mission!” But then I realized that if everyone is deserving of said t-shirt it would be Sister Ribeiro II! I’m not sure if I said this the other week, but Sister Ribeiro II started her mission in Goiana 2 (the other half of the city). She often had lunch with members from Goiana 1 so she already knows a lot of people here. After this transfer she will have spent 6 months — a third of her mission in Goiana — and she will probably spend more time here! Those six months include two summers, so she is a trooper. Going from Guaranhuns (cold enough to use a blanket at night!) to Goiana is a bit of a shock!
This week we went on splits with the sisters from Janga. I spent the day with Sister Chaves — for the third time! I hope she doesn’t get tired of me!
On Sunday we went to Stake conference [regional church meeting]. We didn’t manage to take many people, but Bernardo went! We really wanted to take Mariana, who is 12 and was excited about going to church and being baptized, but she woke up with a very bad headache. She got up and went to the door, but when we talked to her she went back to bed. So that was too bad. President Houseman [who was a professor of entomology before he became our mission president] gave a great talk about termites and recent converts. Baby termites can’t live off wood — other termites have to feed them. Recent converts can’t be expected to be totally self-sufficient any more than babies can. We have to help them, care for them, visit them, and share the gospel with them!
I noticed that I had written this scripture down earlier to use in my lessons but had forgotten about it. This scripture is interesting because it says “as a lake of fire” which seems to suggest it won’t be an actual fire. People often say that the fire and brimstone in the scriptures isn’t literal, but it is nice to see what the doctrinal source of that belief is!
24 And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.
25 And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls.
26 Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever.
27 And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen.