It’s been a little while….

From August 15, 2016

And so, since there have been a few implications in my schedule and things have been crazy these last two weeks, I have not been able to right anything formal to anyone. I apologize with the following experience, which I am pressed for time to write, but I will try to include as many details as possible.

From the first week that I have been here in Jardim Modelo we entered into a very humble viela. We found a family and we started to work with them. The family of E.

The same day we found a boy that has 11 years and live with four other siblings and his mom. His mom wasn’t home so we just talked with him in the viela and invited him to church and to be baptized. He said he would like to. In fact most people say that they would like to be baptized when we invite them, but it is a question of who acts and goes to church and is progressing. So we didn’t see him again for a while. His name is Leo. We tried to return but we never found his mom in the house and when she was home, she didn’t come to the door and said that she was busy. Usually this means that the person doesn’t want our visits. So we kind of lost contact with Leo and just left the invitation to go to church Sunday.

So that first week we worked with E and her family and helped them prepare to be baptized in two weeks to come and to go to church Sunday. Come Sunday, nobody went. We discouraged and rather sad, but we returned to see what had happened.

E told us about how her son who doesn’t live with her was arrested and she had to go get him. We were surprised, and decided that we would continue to teach them. Just to say, when the people don’t go to church, it is their way of saying: No, we don’t want to anymore. It’s too much to do. And so generally we try a few more times with these people until they just don’t progress, then we let them be and we teach other people. So we saw that her excuse was valid, so we continued to teach her.

Later that week, we had found Leo. He asked us why we hadn’t talked to him at church. We were stunned. He had gone to church alone! Even, more, he had called a less active member of the church, Nicolas, and took Nicolas with him his first time going. But they being new and Nicolas who is nine, they didn’t know where they needed to go, and ended up going to the other ward in the same chapel. That’s why we hadn’t seen them at church.

A rule that we have here is that someone with 8-11 years of age needs to go to the church four times and can be baptized, and so we started the process of hunting down his mom.

We continued to teach E’s family. Everyone in the family accepted firm dates to be baptized. They never said, “We will think;” they said, “We will go to church and be baptized–because we want to be!” Since that is something hard to refuse, we focused with them.

Arrived one more Sunday and we never caught Leo’s mom in the house. We visited more E’s family because Leo never really showed such interesting being baptized or going to church. He seemed to like the church, but was always saying, “Ah, I don’t know; we will see.” And so it was hard to follow up as much with him and teach, especially since we never talked to his mom.

Once again, Leo went alone, which was cool to see again. But then E’s family didn’t go once again.

Monday we followed up to see what happened. This time this E’s son had gone to a street party and a raid arrived and started shooting at people with guns! Everyone ran, including him, but he fell and was run over by a car. Broke both legs and hit his head. E explained that this was why she didn’t go again.

Well then, so we had to give her another chance clearly! How crazy! So we continued to teach her thinking, why in the world is this woman being prevented from going to church like this? Why is this happening? Is there something special about this woman being a member of the church that Lucifer doesn’t want to happen?? Yeesh. So we continued to focus on her and not Leo.

Leo went to church two times, but we never found his mom. Still we started to give more attention to him; teaching him in the street when we could, or giving him commitments.

Arrived the third Saturday. We didn’t find E in her house and so we knocked on Leo’s door. This times his mom, Arleta, answered with a big, genuine smile on her face. “Hello missionaries!!!” We were a little confused because first we had imagined a person who didn’t really want much in life or didn’t really want to talk to us. But she invited us in and we talked briefly with her about when we could find her in her house and about Leo going to church. She seemed to be open to the idea that her son was going to church. We talked briefly (because our curfew was arriving) about our intentions to help Leo be baptized. He wasn’t even there. She said that she liked the idea, enough that she signed the baptismal form. We left feeling more confident that it would work out, but we had just talked with her for five minutes, so I, in particular wasn’t ready for what was to come the next visit.

But one more Sunday, and Leo went and E didn’t. This time we didn’t even bother to see what had happened with E because we perceived that the entire time she was leading us on and really just didn’t want much to do with us and didn’t want to commit herself. We are not completely oblivious. . . .

And so we returned to visit Leo and Arlita Monday night, which was the specified time to find her in house. We found her and her other four kids that live with her. She has eight,  but four have moved away. Anyway. We were invited in with smiles, laughter, and a lot of positivity. She talked about the family and the difficulties, how her first husband had passed away eight years ago and how she was fighting to keep her family and teach them correctly. Among all the stuff that has happened she never said anything negative.

We talked about Jesus Christ, his example, and our purpose being missionaries. We invited everyone to be baptized. A few accepted and Arlita explained how she was happy to support them. They started talking about the church and how we were helping her family. She got a cake that she had in the oven and gave it to us, and Leo literally ran to the supermarket and back to bring us something to drink. It was the first time that I started to cry while eating cake. Everyone was excited for the baptism of Leo. I have never felt the presence and influence of Christ so strong in a family like I felt that day in theirs. We left feeling uplifted. We then received a feeling and answer as to why we were led on by E: so that we would give importance to return to this viela to find Leo and teach his family. If E would have said no, we probably wouldn’t have had returned. God is mysterious.

We taught Leo during the week until Saturday. We arrived Saturday and just him and his youngest sister were in house. He told us that his stepfather had died and his mother went to visit. We explained a little about the plan of salvation to him until he felt better and we left.

Sunday (yesterday) was father’s day and the scheduled day for Leo to be baptized. At church he explained how he was sad that his stepfather had passed away but he was going to be baptized. His mother and family hadn’t returned from the funeral yet. We asked him if he wanted to wait until another day when they could be there; he said no. He wanted to be happy and wanted it to be that day. He said that his mother had said Sunday morning to him that he was big and was capable of understanding and would do what he needed to do. She had told him to still be baptized that day!

So he was baptized. We took a lot of pictures for his mom.

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We went there yesterday night to see his mom and talk with the family.

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We entered the house and nobody talked much. You could feel the sad spirit in the room. We talked gently with them about the situation and how god has a plan for us all. Arlita bore her testimony about how she knows that God had a plan and that she knows that God doesn’t leave us. And she is missing this man, but she isn’t sad. We felt prompted to teach the plan of salvation again and to share the pictures of the baptism of Leo. We did and the sweetest spirit beyond description entered the room. We felt prompted again and we re-invited each person to be baptized 28th of August . . . the last Sunday of my mission. Everyone, including Arlita accepted this time, the first time having demonstrated lack of will to be.

This family is scheduled for baptism, all together, the 28th of august.

I have a testimony on this gospel. I know the church is true and that families may be eternal when we follow the example of Christ. I look forward to this day in which God will be very happy with this family being baptized, which will help them follow His plan for us.

I love you all and hope you all have had a wonderful week. I have.

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