24 June 2013 Baptism and Protests
Hello Family and Friends,
Wow, there is a lot to write about today. First things first, we had 4 baptisms Saturday night!!! It was an incredible day. A, T, E, and G were baptized. It was a 5 month fight with A and, with T it was only three weeks, but they both overcome more than the average person should ever have to go through. I won't write their stories in this email for obvious reasons, but know that they are warriors and a living examples of the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They have shown me that there is literally nothing in this life that you can't overcome with the grace, and mercy of our Lord and Savior. I was privileged with the opportunity to baptize A and it was a really spiritual experience. I had to baptize her twice because the first time her feet came flying out of the water, just like a seesaw. We all explained to her that she needed to be fully immersed in the water in order for the baptism to be performed correctly. So I got to put her in the water again and when she came out she told me, "I had so many sins that I needed to baptized twice!!!" I thought that was pretty funny. All in all it was amazing to see these people that had gone through so much in life, clean from the stains of sin and ready to start the journey to eternal life. This is what we missionaries live for!
We went to the Temple this week. It was an extremely raining day but all in all we made it there and back safely. I bought white baptismal pants, a white tie, CTR rings for our recent converts, and Mormon Tabernacle choir CD's. The temple is such a nice experience, and I'm a little mad that I took it for granted before the mission. It is definitely a place you can go to clear your head and focus on the things that really matter. The spirituality and tranquility that exists inside the temple is indispensable and necessary in this world of so much noise and confusion. It was very much different inside the temple than what was happening outside in Porto Alegre, protests.
The protests in Brazil having been increasing in size this past week. First, they started in the major cities of Brazil, but now it has even reached these small cities in which we are serving. There are people here that are really fighting for their rights and others, vandals, that join in to break everything and steal stuff. Anyways, I will be fine and they will end eventually.
On to some big news, drumroll......... I will be leaving Butiá tomorrow to go to Dom Pedrito a small city a little farther than Bagé. Just to let you know it is the farthest area from Porto Alegre in the entire mission, and guess what Elder Weber will be my District Leader! I will be the Senior companion and Elder Machado will be my companion. Elder Machado has almost 4 months on the mission and is from Florianopolis a Brazilian state really close to Rio Grande do Sul. He is basically a recent convert to the church and is 18 years old. I have done a division with him before so we already know each other which is cool.
So Dom Pedrito is about 8 hours away from Porto Alegre and is the coldest area in the mission. I'm going to freeze my buns off this winter, but my super sleeping bag will save my bacon. Also, I forgot to mention that we will be opening this area up, because the last companionship was taken out of the area for reasons unknown to me. We are going to have to gain the confidence of the members and find a way to work with them. The vision of missionary work is changing rapidly ever since Thomas S. Monson changed the age limit of missionaries. The apostles had a world wide transmission last night that laid out the plan. It is basically this, members, members, MEMBERS!!! Every member a missionary and the proselyting missionaries - us - are only here to assist in the work, which is to invite their friends, family members, and neighbors to come unto Christ. They also mentioned something about the missionaries having local Facebooks and Internet to work more efficiently with the people in this "digital age." Also, the chapels will be open to the public for visits and activities every day which the missionaries will organize, I think. So yeah, tomorrow I will be heading out into the boonies. I think I will be serving in another branch. President Castro is really testing me now with this new responsibility. It will be tough no doubt, but it will be good for me because there is so much I need to learn to become the missionary Christ needs me to be.
These past months in Butiá have been priceless to me. I have grown a lot and I now have an idea in mind of what I need to do on my mission and who I need to be after. I have met countless people that are dear to me and that I will never forget. I have a special in my heart place for our recent converts here in Butiá, P, J, J, A, T, E, and G. I have made two life long friends as well, Elder Weber and Leal. We all did a really good work here that the members of the branch will never forget. The frequency of members Sundays is up to 60 per week, a lot better than about 40 when I first arrived here almost 6 months ago. Little by little and according to the time of our Lord, Butiá will get it's chapel and will turn into a ward. Elder Leal has an excellent group of investigators that I have failed to mention in my latest emails. He will continue to work with them and all will be alright. Elder Leal has thanked me for my obedient example these past 3 months and has committed himself to more obedient himself in my absence. That made me feel really good to hear that from him. So far on my mission I have been blessed with my companions.
My time is up now and I have to go. This last week was truly a humbling experience and I'm grateful for every bit of it. I'm grateful for every thing, literally everything and I ask for your many prayers as I leave to continue my mission in Dom Pedrito. It is going to be a real adventure.