This week we had transfers again. It was reeeally suspenseful and I hated waiting, but it all turned out all right. My companion got transferred to another area and my new companion is Elder Sousa, from Manaus. He´s from the same group as (i.e. he arrived in the mission field with) Elder B. Fernandes. It´ll be a really good transfer with Elder Sousa - I continue to get Brasilians! The Portuguese is getting better and better, and the accent is slowly developing for the better. It´ll be a good day when I say something to someone on the street and they don´t look at me like I´m trying to rob them or hurt their children. Also being called an "alemão" (German) or "polaco" doesn´t help. Better than calling the Brasilians Mexicans, though; they sure don´t like that.
This last transfer absolutely flew by. Granted, it was only 5 weeks, but I feel like I just got here and now here I am, being the Senior in the area. My comp was called to be LD, and so I´ll get to help him out with that new responsibility. Two giant things that I´ve been learning on the misison have been humility and patience. Without the two, you can´t be a successful missionary. I´ve been really learning to love Pregar Meu Evangelho; I have been studying in it about Christlike attributes whenever I can, and with choir coming to a close soon I´ll have more time to study, so that´ll be great. I love reading what it says in the manual, taking my own notes, and then reading the scriptures about each topic and marking them up nice. It´s amazing how many powerful scriptures there are! Before the mission I thought that the scripture mastery scriptures were the big hitters, and they are, but there are SOO many that hit so hard on each topic of the gospel. It´s obviously impossible to know them all, but I´ve got some awesome scripture tabs that´ll help me at least try. It´s an amazing feeling to be in a lesson, feeling the Spirit, and then feel a distinct impression to turn to a certain scripture that you might´ve studied that same morning. Experience time! We´re working hard with a family - Paulo and Daiane, and their little girl Gabriella - that really, reeeally wants to get baptized. Paulo has to stop smokng and they need to get married, but they´ve already gotten the papers all together to get married and it´s all underway - they´ll have a date for us soon, and their baptisms will be shortly after their marriage. We went to their house (which is at the veery end of our area; it´s always that way for the best people) and I was thinking about what we could share with Paulo to help him to stop smoking. I thought of what I had studied that morning, about Naaman (Naamã) and his leprosy. I read the story, explained it, and then we talked about how just showing our faith to our Heavenly Father will act as a trigger in helping us with whatever we need - in Paulo´s case, smoking. We explained about how faith is works, and without them we can´t show anything or receive anything from Heavenly Father. The previous day I challenged Paulo to stop smoking that second, and he agreed. I invited him to say a prayer and read in the BOM every time he had an urge to smoke. He agreed, but the next day (the day of our visit about Naaman) he forgot to take the BOM with him to work and he smoked. It was easy to see the dissapointment on his face with himself, especially because he and his fiancé really want to get married and baptized. BUT, in spite of his small fall, he accepted again the invitation to stop with vigor, and I have faith that he really will. We also have a baptismal date marked with Vanessa, Daiane´s sister, for this Sunday. She´s "firme", and will totally be baptized this week and be strong in the church. She´s also a severe snake and is trying to flirt with me at all costs. I´m like a Brick House. Not in the sense of the song by the Commodores. Yeah.
It was been 2 weeks since I last baptized, and I can´t stand it. It´s like a drug, and the withdrawals are ruthless. We NEED to baptize, and I know that with our work done in the Lord´s way it´s possible, if it´s His will. If not, we can at least prepare the people for someone else to baptize. It has been interesting to see that sometimes it´s not a fault of effort or faith, but the baptisms just don´t come right away. I know that we will, and I have a goal for 10 baptisms this transfer. It´s possible! I want to absolutely work myself into the ground, something that I couldn´t really do with my last companion, but that I think that Elder Sousa will be excited to do. We will run this town into the ground and call them to sincere repentance and baptism by fire, with God´s authority!
Our Bishopric got changed! Bispo Wilson, who had been serving for his 5 years (and had already served for 7 years before), just got released. New Bispo: José Antônio! He is the MAN! He´s only been a member for a little less than 3 years and is on fire. It will be awesome to work with him and get this ward into a baptizing frenzy. We have a meeting planned with him and the WML tonight and we will go over our investigators and what our plans our for these next 6 weeks. We want to start up a gincana (contest) and get people giving referrals like crazy. One thing that I´ve learned is that you can´t just ask and ask and ask the Bishop and the members for stuff. They will want to kill you and burn your nametag. You have to really show them that you´re good missionaries and that you´re willing to work and serve your heart out. There are several ways to do this, but the very best way is to go through the Bishop. Serve him, gain his trust, and then work with the rest of the leaders. After this happens, you only need one good division with the members to talk about how great the work is in the area. Then, Baptize! It really is a proven formula, and I´d love to put it into practice here as we did in Santa Felicidade. It really is miraculous to watch people´s progress, inside and outside of the Gospel. We are reformers and changers! We can´t allow anything to remain stagnant! Stuff will get done if we want it to!
Another crazy experience: we went to teach Gení (Recent Convert) and Camilla (referral of Gení; 16 years old with a kid and living with a guy the past 3 years. Yep.) and Camilla needed to go take a test or something. We talked to Gení about her day, and during our conversation her 6 year-old daughter was crying and screaming about her earache. I said that if Gení wanted we could give her a blessing, so after a few minutes of struggling and crying Giovana let us give her a blessing. I anointed and William, and 18 year old guy who I was doing a division with, sealed the anointing. It was really nice and afterwards we explained what the blessing was and how it works. Then Giovana began to act really strangely and make strange noises and flail around. She is a crazy little girl, but this was weird. I went in to see if she was ok, and she looked up at me with a really weird face and told me to get out. It was really strange, and I felt a really weird presence there. When Camilla finally got there, she shared an experience that she was having about her being alone in her house and feeling like someone was there, but no one was. We shared en experience about how Satan has power (darkness), but God does too (light), and darkness can´t abide the presence of light. Read Moses 1; you´ll like it.
I know this church is true, and that the baptisms are coming! Here they come!
Elder Brown, Autódromo, Pinhais, Missão Brasil Curitiba
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