Monday, February 9, 2015

Stand Back and Watch the Miracles Happen

Hot day at the bus stop in Quinta

Calendar for Artur

Elivelton and Bruna

Fernando and Renato

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ina, Thais and Gabriele

Sunshiny shower at the church

Typical "Cachorro Quente" (hot dog)

February 9, 2015

Even though we have fewer pictures to share, it has been another busy, but rewarding week.  The weather has been hot with less rain.  And we have, once again, done lots of walking.
For a change we had a quiet, relaxing P-day and were able to catch up a bit on cleaning and laundry.  We also did a lot of preparing for Family Home Evenings and lessons for the week.
We finally caught up with Elivelton and Bruna.  Our luck hasn’t been too good with them lately.  They always invite us to come, set up the appointment and then they forget.  I guess newlyweds have other things to think about and do besides visit with a couple of old missionaries. We are in about the eighth month of follow-up lessons for the baptism of Elivelton.  President Castro has encouraged missionaries to continue to teach for a full year after baptism.  We found them at home this week. It was actually our first official visit to their new home.  They live next door to Bruna’s parents who are very active in the branch.  We know they join together for regular family home evenings with them.  So we haven’t been too concerned if we don’t get in our regular visits.   We had a good discussion about the priesthood, complete with some short, but nice videos.   They were enthused and welcoming.  They insisted that they would like to have more lessons and told us that they enjoyed the lessons.  So we will continue to teach them.  We were pleased on Sunday to see Elivelton pass the sacrament for the first time.  It was obvious from the big smile on his face that he was pleased too.
It has been a week full of family home evenings on most every night of the week.  We met for another FHE with Claudia and her family.  We had even more of their family present this week; three of the four daughters were there, plus the boyfriend of one and the daughter of another.  Grandma, Iná was there too.  Counting us, we had nine people there.  It was a full house and we had a great lesson and discussion.  We talked about hope, prayer and the importance of reading the scriptures.  We love singing church hymns with them.  They know the songs and sing well.  We say it is like singing with a “choir of angels”.  At the conclusion of the lesson, Gabriele surprised us by saying that she wanted her 8 year-old daughter, Thais, to be baptized.  But she wanted us to teach her all of the discussions and Gabriele wanted to hear all of them as well.  She said that she, also, was ready to turn her life around.  She wanted the lessons for Thais to be taught in her own home, not in the home of her mother.  So we set up an appointment for the next day.  That shocked us.  We were surprised, but so pleased!  We went away feeling like “stand back and watch the miracles happen”!! 

The next day, we went to the home of Gabriele and Thais to teach the Plan of Salvation.  We decided to start with that one as family is so important to them.  Iná, (who is great grandma to Thais) joined us too.  When we arrived, we noticed how clean the house looked and commented on it.  Gabriele and Iná had been cleaning all day to make the house look good.  This was in spite of the fact that the entire city of Cachoeira had been without water for the entire day or day and a half.  There had been a problem at the city water plant.  (Fortunately, for us at our apartment, we still had water because there is a water holding tank on top of our building).  Anyway, Gabriele was really pleased that we had noticed how clean things were.    We tried to present the Plan of Salvation lesson on Thais’ level with figures, etc on the white board.  She is a really nice little girl and is anxious to please her mom too.  We also presented her with a Book of Mormon with our testimonies written in it along with a red pencil to underline scriptures that were important to her.  One of the scriptures that we had her read was the one in I Nephi 3:7:  “….I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded…..”.  

Interestingly, her mother, Gabriele, was reading that very scripture with her the night before.  Gabriele remembered it from her Primary days as being one of her favorites.  So we had to sing the Primary song about that too.  It was a really nice lesson.  They both had questions and Gabriele helped explain some things to Thais.  Gabriele told us that she would like to wait for Thais to be baptized when she, herself, had returned to full activity.  We suggested a tentative baptism date of March 7.  They agreed!!!  They planned to come to church on Sunday.  For some reason, however, they didn’t come on Sunday.  Don’t know if they lost their courage or what.  But Claudia and another daughter, Juliana, came to church!  It was the first time back for Juliana.  As Claudia says, they are taking small steps, one at a time (one daughter at a time, evidently)!  We have another appointment on Tuesday with Thais and Gabriele for a lesson about the Restoration and Joseph Smith.  Claudia asked if we would come as soon as we are finished with Thais and do another FHE in her home with the rest of her family.  We are feeling pretty happy! 

We met with Artur and presented him with a little fridge calendar with a picture of him and us outside of the church.  We circled April 20 in red!  That is the day our mission officially ends. (We think!).   We hope it will encourage him to find the courage to set a baptism date for himself.  He comes to church every Sunday and is a good participator.  He seems to have a testimony.  He seems ready to us.  He has had several missionaries before us.  We feel some concern that he will actually be able to find the courage to follow through.  We will keep trying. 

It was a good visit with Rosangela and the kids this week.  Julio wasn’t home.  But we met up with him on the bus as we were going home and had a good visit with him too.  Fernando is growing so fast. He is a heavy baby.  He still has colic too, but is a great eater!   He had just had his vaccinations and was feeling pretty miserable.  They had planned on coming to church.  Rosangela told us that she wanted to come to church just as soon as the baby was ready.  They want to have him blessed. But come Sunday, the baby still wasn’t feeling too well.  Julio sent us a text message apologizing and letting us know that they wouldn’t be to church.  We were glad he had felt committed anyway.
It was another wonderful surprise yet this week.  Renato, the hot-dog man, decided it was time that he came to church!  He has been an inactive member for many, many years, probably over 35 years.  We have had many really nice discussions with him over the past year. (And many hot dogs as well!) We nearly fell over when he said that he wanted to come to church this week.  He lives within the boundaries of the União branch.  That worked out well as we would in the same building attending sacrament meeting with Claudia and family in the Marina branch. Renato had a busy Saturday night selling hot dogs and didn’t get home until about 4 am.  But he came to church!  We were out front waiting for him.  We went to sacrament meeting with him.  It was an especially good meeting.  Our branch president, Presidente Samuel, spoke about procrastination and how we don’t always have time to put off something until “one day”.  (A talk by President Eyring).  Renato thought meeting was great.  But he was tired and so he planned to go home after sacrament meeting.  We attended sacrament meeting with Claudia and Juliana and Artur.  Afterwards, we found Renato had been befriended by several branch members and decided to stay for the entire block of meetings.  He even gave the prayer in Sunday School and we were told that he prayed just like an active member!  He seemed really pleased about everything. He kept telling members that there was a light about us.  We think that he will find that there is a light about every member who has a testimony!  It was another rewarding Sunday! 

This week we also dug out branch records and decided to go out and meet inactive members that we haven’t had the opportunity to meet yet.  We did a lot of walking in the hot sun.  We met some really nice people and met some others who weren’t so pleased to meet us. But we were out there trying to do what we were supposed to do.  One fellow that we met at a bus stop who is a member and recently moved to Cachoeira, asked for directions to the chapel.  He actually showed up at church on Sunday as well! 

This should be a busy, interesting week too.  Carnaval starts this week.  Leaders are taking the youth out of town for their encampment beginning next Saturday.  They will be gone for most of the week.  It should be a wonderful experience for the youth!  With so many youth and leaders gone, União and Marina will meet together for Sunday meetings next week.  As for us, will be experiencing a second year of Carnaval.  In Cachoeira, the main route is up the street in front of our apartment building.  We anticipate a lot of noise and sleepless nights.

We like President Castro’s scripture of the week, Mosiah 2:41:  “….consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God, For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual…..”    May we all be blessed!  Fique firme!  (Stay strong!)  We love and miss you all! 

Eu te amo!  

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