One more week that felt like a day. I cannot begin to describe this feeling. It’s rather quite scary. About one week after I hit the one-year mark, time literally began to fly. This week that just passed went faster than any other. It didn’t even feel like a whole day. My mission is slipping through my fingers already as it is more than 55% over, and time is speeding up.
This week was awesome! We worked very hard so we could continue to help people prepare for baptism and talk to everyone. It was awesome. I will tell the story of the baptism this week.
About a month ago, before everyone was transferred, I was on a division with my zone leader (this is where we work with a different person by trading companions for a day). To end the division, we told the other elders to meet us at the McDonalds kiosk (a little stand that McDonalds has to sell ice cream on the corner of the street). It is a good reference point because it is on the border of both our areas.
So we waited there and we got some ice cream. We started talking to the young woman selling food because there wasn’t much traffic at that time of night. Her name is Gislene. We talked a little to her about the missionaries and the church and we invited her to come to church. She said that she would love to. We didn’t manage to get her address because she had recently moved to a new house and didn’t know how to describe where she lives. So we got her phone number.
We spoke to her on the phone a few times, but never visited her. She said she would go to church, so we waited for her. The Sunday before General Conference, she showed up for the last 30 minutes of sacrament meeting. Due to her job she had to leave the moment it ended, but she LOVED it!!
We continued to try to visit her, but nothing was going right. We saw her at church again and at work, but never found where her house is. Then we received a message this past Monday that said “My house is on Tower Street in an ally next to a post.”
Alright . . .
We started searching and walking all over the neighborhood and surrounding favella to find this street. We finally found it the next day. When we found it, we also found that it had five different alleys with posts next to them. Yeesh. So I think the whole neighborhood of that favella knows us now because we started to search for her, asking everybody and anybody where a girl with 17 years of age and the name of Gislene lives. We also know all the ins and outs of that favella now. Anyway, then we started calling her. For four days we called morning noon and night to her cell phone to ask her to stand in the street so we could find her and her house, but every time we called her cell, it rang and rang and she never answered. We were starting to wonder in she was trying to avoid us or something. We almost gave up.
Friday, we tried one last time and we started to climb the hill that led to this Tower Street. It started to rain. Hard. We didn’t have umbrellas so we just kept walking, but everyone in the street had an umbrella. We were going up the hill and we walked past two people—both women, one older and one younger. The older one was talking, but we couldn’t see their faces. We passed them like any other people. Of course we didn’t notice anything different because the street is always full of people. Why would these women be any different?
I had a strange little feeling like something wasn’t right. I stopped, looked up the hill, looked down the hill, looked at the shops on the street and I looked at our cellphone. I decided to turn around and descend the hill. Elder Knudson gave me a questioning look like: “What are we doing? We were ascending the hill and now we are going to descend? I think my trainer is crazy!”
I told him to just wait a minute and to walk with me; so we acted like we had forgotten something and started to descend the hill again (just so we didn’t look like idiots, you know? Who just turns around and walks the other direction for nothing?).
We passed these two women and I decided that I would talk to them, but I needed an excuse to talk to them, so I asked the older woman, who still hadn’t stopped talking, where we were, even though I already knew. She raised her umbrella and it was, like I had thought, a little old lady. The other woman didn’t raise her umbrella, but the older woman continued to tell us that she had no idea where she was because she was just there visiting her family.
I don’t know why, but at that specific moment, I had a very distinct impression that the other person under the umbrella was Gislene—an impression so strong that I knew it was her. Out of nowhere came this feeling. And I almost said: “And you, Gislene, do you know where we are?” But not seeing her face yet, I didn’t want to freak her out. So I only said: “And you, miss?”
She raised the umbrella, and no surprise to me, it was Gislene. She saw us and almost jumped in surprise. When I saw her face I understood what had happened, but I will explain afterwards.
The older lady was her grandma and she was going with her to the bus stop because her grandma lives in another part of São Paulo and was, like she had said, visiting. So we went with them to the bus stop, and then we went back up the hill with Gislene to her house.
She then explained what the Spirit had spoken to me previously in that moment that I saw her face—she had just been super busy and all the attempts to contact each other went wrong. She is exhausted. She has been working like crazy and arriving at home late. She had also gotten another phone and hadn’t picked up the other for several days, so she didn’t see that we had called. When we passed in the street, she explained that she was so tired that she hadn’t even noticed us. She had just been listening to her grandma talk while looking at the ground and walking with her umbrella. But she was very happy to see us.
I started to get excited because I knew what would come next. . . .
At about this time, Elder Knudson wondered who this was and if this was the girl we were looking for since I had spoken with him a lot about her. I had to laugh because I said yes, this is the Gislene that I was talking about, and he had an ah-ha moment only after we had already entered the house, spoken with her, and she explained to us. I also felt a little bad for him because he doesn’t understand what people are saying completely quite yet. But he’s doing well. We just laughed.
So we started to teach her. She is incredible. That’s why I started to feel excited, because I could feel that she was ready for what we had to teach her, just that she didn’t know it yet.
We explained the gospel of Jesus Christ and about baptism, and then we invited her to be baptized. Of course she said it was too soon, that she wasn’t prepared, etc. But that is not what the Spirit was saying to me, so we kept trying. We explained to her that she didn’t feel prepared because she didn’t know what she needed to know in order to be baptized. We challenged her to listen with her feelings and listen closely about baptism and if she felt prepared at the end, she could be baptized.
We spend four hours teaching her all five lessons from Preach My Gospel (the five lessons that need to be taught before someone is baptized).
She couldn’t get enough of it. She ate up all the material. I have never seen someone so attentive to listening. She was fascinated. She asked questions, listened, read scriptures, and gave all of her input.
At the end, we asked her again if she felt prepared. She said she felt it. And so we explained that there would be a missionary to interview her and we marked her baptism for the following morning. She accepted very excitedly.
I couldn’t help but think of how powerful the Spirit is to prepare a person, teach them in a few hours, and to testify so strongly that she accepted to be baptized the following morning. It was incredible.
She was interviewed and baptized Saturday morning.
I have said it once and I will say it again: The gospel is true, people. Believe it.
I love you all and hope you all have a wonderful week!!!