April 16, 2012
Well, here I am, a missionary with only 17 months left. I need to get to work, I don’t have much time left J haha, it’s really weird, we have a missionary in our Zone who is finishing his mission now. It’s Elder Marx, and he has 2 weeks left now. We keep making jokes with him. Jokes like “Elder Marx, we know you don’t have to write letters to your family anymore – you’ll arrive before the letter!” It was kind of neat, he bore his testimony to us, and said that he can end his mission now, knowing he served with Honor to God. That’s what I want, at the end of my mission. I want to be able to testify to other missionaries and my Mission president as I’m leaving and to the ward when I return, that I served with Honor in the Sight of God.
Of course, I still have a lot of time, but I’m starting to reflect each day if I served with honor that day. If I followed the Spirit, and served others to the best of my ability. The Lord is ready to work wonders through us missionaries, if we are exactly obedient and work our hardest. In the end, it will really be God who is working the miracle, but if we’re doing the right thing, we’ll have the privilege to be part of the miracle.
I learned this through a really special experience I had this past week. Elder Lopes and I have had a hard time lately finding new investigators. So, one night, when we were planning our next day, I decided to look through some old teaching records. When we teach somebody who doesn’t accept, we keep the record, so that other missionaries in the future can see the progress this person had, and continue teaching them. I found the record of w a woman named Zeneide. The missionaries taught her about five or six years ago, but she decided to stop investigating. The missionaries wrote on the record that Zeneide’s husband was interfering, and for this reason didn’t get baptized. But Elder Lopes and I decided to pass by and see if she would be more receptive this time.
The next day (Tuesday) we went to her address and clapped outside her house. She came out and we started talking to her a bit. We then asked if her husband was home, because it’s a rule that we can’t enter a house with women when there isn’t a man present. It was then that she said, “No, my husband died last Friday.”
WOW… I was kind of dumbstruck for a moment. What do you say to a statement like that? But we told her that we’d like to share a message of comfort with her, and she accepted. Luckily, her 30 year old son was with her, so we could enter the house! We taught her the Plan of Salvation, and she liked it a lot. It was really spiritual. After the lesson, she said she felt more peaceful when we arrived. She then asked if her sister had sent us. We said no, and asked what she meant. She then told us that here sister is a member! Even more, her niece attends the Bairro Novo ward!!!! Whaaat!?
Zeneide is amazing, and she is really progressing. Her niece took her to church this last Sunday, and she liked it a lot! Also, we left the Book of Mormon with her, and she read all the parts we marked. We asked her if she understood everything, and she said that she did. She then continued saying that the missionaries before had asked her to read (it turns out that several sets of missionaries have already passed by to teach her) but she never had understood any of the Book of Mormon. But now, it’s as if she was reading the Book for the first time.
After, we asked if she prayed to know that it was true and she said that she had and knows that it was true!! Yesss! We then taught a bit about Baptism (using liberally 2 Nephi 31. Read it) and invited her to be baptized on April 29th. She started to cry, and she accepted. She then said that at church she feels like she is with Family. She is…..
This experience has really humbled me. It’s taught me a lot. First, God always has people being prepared. We just need to follow the Spirit, and work hard to feed them. Second, we missionaries don’t convert people; God does, through the Spirit. Zeneide was quite literally handed to us -- we didn’t perform the miracle, God did. And third, if we do our part, God will bless us. We just need to have patience. I’m reminded of the story of the Brother of Jared with this situation. Ether 3: 1-6. The Brother of Jared was being obedient, and worked to solve problems. He molted the stones and then brought the stones to the Lord, and prayed. Because of his obedience and faith, God preformed the miracle -- what’s more, he saw the finger of God. With what happened with Zeneide, I have had the opportunity to clearly see the Lord’s hand here.
But the work keeps going here, and I still have a lot to improve. I have to pray every day for the strength to do all that I need to, and to look for ways to better serve. I’m trying to teach better, and show more love for those I teach. It’s hard, but the more we forget ourselves and go to work, the more God blesses us, and the happier we’ll be.
Something hard is the language. I’ve gotten to the point where I could go through the rest of my mission with the language skills I have now, and get by. But that’s not what I want, or what the Lord wants. Now, I hae to force myself to improve continually. Continue working on my accent, improving my vocabulary and saying things the way Brazilians say it. I just need to continue improving.
I got the Easter package! Wow, it helped a lot. I needed another pair of pants. And that sweater will save me when winter comes. What’s more, I’ve been meaning to change up my look with a rockin sweater vest. THANKS!!!
I’ve been getting letters lately from my Folsom friends. I got a letter from Elder Hodson, Elder White and Elder Olpin. They’re doing great, and having lots of success. Elder Hodson is already training a new missionary. They’re being a really great example for me -- they always have.
Things are going amazing here, and I want to know how it’s going out there. How is our neighbor? How is dad’s job and calling going? How is school going for Autumn? She’s already going to be a Senior, it’s crazy. Where is Amber living now? How is Bentley? How’s Aaron and his family? How’s the scripture study going? How was conference? What was your favorite part? Is Autumn still dating black boys? Tell me everything.
Oh, by the way, thanks for the journals. I’m trying my best to write every day, but sometimes I’m too busy. But I’m seeing more and more the importance of keeping a journal!