Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Week of Gratitude

Lesson outside Jose's home on a hot afternoon

Bruna & Elivelton: we love this couple!

On the bus to conference on Sunday

Elders Hoopes & H. Silva: P-day lunch and showers at our place

Elders catching a bus ride to conference

Having fun playing Escravos de Jo

Fun on the bus!

Teaching a lesson on tithing to Artur

Repairing the shower for Elders Buhler & Gorham

"Grateful for you":  Love this cute card that expresses how we feel!

New pass-along cards for Christmas: "He is the gift"

November 24, 2014

We have been feeling grateful this week!  It seems like everything we did and everywhere we went, we had cause to ponder just how blessed we are in our lives.  It was just kind of a “feel good” week.  That’s not even taking into account the fact that it’s Thanksgiving this week which is a favorite holiday of ours.  In fact, if we really thought about Thanksgiving Day itself, we might be feeling homesick as it is a day when our family has always gathered together.  We have loved those good times.  We miss family a lot.  We look forward to more of those great get-togethers in the future.  But for now, we are thinking of the blessings we are currently experiencing. We have been thinking about how the Lord has blessed us with good family and friends and a great mission experience here in Cachoeira do sul, Brasil.  We have been here over a year now and have come to know many good people here.  They are also blessings in our lives.  We are grateful for the opportunity to know them.  We are also grateful for the blessings of the gospel in our lives and for the direction it gives us.   There is no better feeling than putting in a good day’s work as a missionary, especially when you have the opportunity to experience the Holy Ghost at work too.  There is no high like a “missionary high”.  We have felt it and enjoy seeing other missionaries experience it.  We are told “great shall be our joy”.  It’s true!

Early one evening as we were leaving our apartment for an appointment, we ran into Elder Freeman and Elder Lopez on the street in front of our apartment.  These two Elders normally work in the nearby city of Ca├žapava.  They had come to Cachoeira for the weekly District Meeting.  They along with the other young missionaries were spending the afternoon doing what is called “District Friends”.  All 10 of the missionaries combine and saturate the area of one set of missionaries, helping to scout out new investigators for the two missionaries in that area.  Elder Freeman and Elder Lopez had just finished a visit with a lady who had prayed just that morning for guidance in her life.  She couldn't get enough of the gospel message they brought.  They felt the Holy Ghost testifying to her.  When we met these two Elders on the street, they couldn't quit smiling and talking about their experience, telling us what she said and what they said.  Elder Lopez told us that it was one of the best days of his mission.  It was so wonderful to see their enthusiasm.  It’s a great feeling to bring the Gospel to someone else.  They hated to leave and return to Ca├žapava.  They asked us to visit her too.  We found her to be as enthused about the Gospel as the Elders has told us she was.  She is full of questions, “thirsty” to know more.  Sister Costa and Sister Harrick will be the two Sisters who have the opportunity to teach her more.  They will be perfect to teach her as she also has a 17 year old daughter who appears to be very receptive.  Anyway, it was great to witness the joy and happiness of those two Elders!

Elder Hoopes and Elder H. Silva came to our place on P-day for their showers as they were still without water.  They also stayed for lunch and to send off their emails to home.  Fortunately for them, their water was turned on later that day. Other good news, Sister Oliveira's leg is feeling better. She and her companion are able to get out and about again.   More good news yet, Elder Shirley was able to fix the shower for Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham.  They can now have hot showers again.  Although with the hot weather, they tell us a cold shower hasn't been all that bad!  Great attitudes!
Elivelton and Bruna invited us to teach them another baptism follow-up lesson.  We taught the Plan of Salvation.  We are feeling blessed to know this young couple.  It is so great to see them anxious to search the scriptures, anxious for more knowledge.  And it’s great to see Bruna turn to Elivelton for answers sometimes even though he is the new member.  They have set a wedding date of December 26.  We are so happy for them.  They can’t quit smiling.

It was another good visit with Artur.  We talked with him about tithing again.  He seemed to be ok with it.  December 13th is coming up.  That was the date Elder Buhler had us challenge him to be baptized.  (Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham visit him regularly too).  He says he does'’t think he is “organized” for that yet.  We don’t know what that means.  But it was such a good visit.  Elder told Artur that he was just a “dry Mormon”.  Artur enjoyed that!    He continues to tell us it will happen before we go home.  He came to District Conference on Sunday (Stake Conference).  There were lots of good messages for him.  People in the district were nice and friendly with him.  He seemed to enjoy it!

We spent a lot of time out delivering printed invitations to the District Conference (like Stake Conference) on Sunday.  We always enjoy that.  We love to visit everyone.  That’s probably why we have been feeling so grateful this week.  We have got to visit with lots of good people!  The Uniao branch also had arranged for a bus to pick up people and take them home after.  One of their stops was right in front of our apartment.  Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham came walking down the street on Sunday just before the bus arrived.  So we all rode.  It was a full bus.  Everyone was excited!  You would have thought that we were going to a party!
We also stopped by our favorite store, Pedal de Ouro, to deliver invitations.  We hadn't been there for a while.  We got a really warm welcome.  Gilli took us right away to Fernanda who was anxious for us to know that she was going to have a baby.  We came away from there feeling grateful for the good people there.
Julio and Roseangela’s baby is due within the week.  We had an especially good visit there.  We had quite a frank discussion with them about why Julio quit coming to church.  With a new baby coming, three really great kids and a wonderful wife, they need the blessings of the church.  Roseangela told us the only thing holding her back from baptism was that they needed to be married.  Anyway, it turned out to be a really good conversation.  Hopefully, some of the issues can be resolved.  We told them that we would be fasting for them on the next fast Sunday.  They are a great family!  Polite, sweet kids!  Again, we feel blessed to know this family!
Besides the Sunday meeting, we had a Saturday evening meeting for adults in the District as part of District Conference.  Meetings were well attended.   President and Sister Castro were in town.  We love them.  We always comment to each other about the strength and leadership we feel from President Castro.  We were just comfortably sitting, enjoying President Castro’s message, when he asked Elder and me to come up and each bear our testimonies.  He hadn't warned us in advance.  It was spur of the minute!  He said “A surprise is better”.  Not sure we agree.  It was scary, but we did it.   Then on Sunday, in addition to President and Sister Castro, President and Sister Warthen of the Porto Alegre temple came.  We always love seeing them too.  It’s nice to have someone our age to speak English to.   Sister Warthen came bearing cards and gifts for us, as usual.  It was a good conference.  We enjoyed it a lot.  We felt grateful for so many as we had the opportunity to visit with members of all of the branches. They are so friendly and welcoming!  They have truly become our friends!   We love the youth at home.  But we also love the youth here in Brazil.  We tell them that they remind us of our grandkids.  They keep things lively and also make us feel welcome!  Maybe it’s because the end of the mission is in sight., but we are now realizing that we will really miss so many people down here.  For now, we are just feeling grateful for them and for this incredible experience!
Mail was also delivered from the mission office in Porto Alegre on Saturday night.  That’s always an exciting time for all missionaries. It’s fun to watch!  We had some stuff too.   We are grateful to all those who sent cards and gifts!  We love you all!
We are excited to say that we have met a goal!  We have finished reading the Book of Mormon in Portuguese!   We have been at it a long time.  We have been reading it out loud together, along side of an English Book of Mormon.  It has been a fun way to end each day.  We have enjoyed it immensely!  Almost hated to see it end.  We put off reading the last chapter for a couple of days!  We wanted to just savor the finish!  Now we want to start over and see if we can do it again before the end of the mission!

All in all, we were just feeling grateful this week!  And this is a good week to continue to ponder our blessings!  Happy Thanksgiving to all!  We miss you!  We love you!

Eu te amo!  

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