Monday, March 30, 2015

Baptismal Day for Thais!

Thais after being baptized

Song practice with Natalia, Debra, Gabriele, Claudia, Samuel

The whole family at Thais's baptism

Thais and her mom Gabriele

Thais with Elders Purificacao and Costa

Four generations:  Ina, Claudia, Thais and Gabriele

Singing "Secreta Oracao (Secret Prayer)" at the baptism

Confirmation day with Thais

Bus stop in Passo d'Areia

The Elders in Cachoeira do Sul - March 2015

Gift for Cristiane's baby

Jean Rodigues on his bike

Practicing getting the message out in one minute

The Sisters in Cachoeira do Sul - March 2015

Suziele and her son Eric

March 30, 2015

It’s been an intense, but rewarding week!  Here are a few highlights….

We fit in lots of visits.  We are still working our way through the list of people that we want to be sure to visit before we leave.  Plus we visited all of our regulars.  We had some help from a daughter this week with a thought and a short video about “Flecks of Gold”.  It seemed to apply to lots of the people we taught this week (especially Artur) who are looking for the “big miracle” and don’t see the small ones all around them.  We really liked the scripture in Alma 37:6-7 which says that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.  It’s something that applies to all of us.  We enjoyed discussing that several times this past week.   We were very grateful for the help.

Cristiane Rodrigues is due to have her baby May 6.  She tells us that we can’t leave until the baby is born! Unfortunately, we will be gone.   She has five boys and this will be their first girl.  The whole family is thrilled.  (Cristiane’s husband, Daniel, is a non-member).  It is a long bus ride out to their place and we don’t visit them very often, although we see them every week at church. We decided to visit them this week.  Eric, the son of Suziele (Cristiane’s sister) also lives out there in Paso d’ Areia.  He has wanted Elder to come out and listen to him play his guitar a little.  It has been hard to figure out the bus schedule as the bus only goes out there a few times a day.  But we managed to catch it and really enjoyed our visits with these two families.  Some of the ladies in the branch are throwing a shower for Cristiane this next Friday.  They actually assigned what gift we were to bring.  We were asked to bring little shoes!  That was a fun thing to shop for!  However, we have also been invited to a baptism on Friday, the day of the shower.  Marcello, who was in an English class that we helped with, invited us to come to his baptism.  We really want to go to this baptism.  So we decided to go out and visit and take our baby gift early.  We wanted Cristiane to wait to open the gift until the shower.  Family warned us that she would not leave a gift unopened.  They were right.  But it was fun to visit with her and be there when she opened the gift.  The whole family, including the boys, enjoy seeing the little girl things!  The baby’s name will be Luisa.  They promise to send pictures.  Eric seemed so happy to have Elder Shirley see him play the guitar.  Eric is actually pretty good.  He was also anxious to get a few tips and wanted to learn a “Beatles” song.  It was a really good visit with both families.  Jean, Cristiane’s son asks us to visit almost every week!  He is a good kid! Good families!

 Our main focus this week was Thais and her upcoming baptism.  We wanted to be sure it happened this week.  The family all seemed enthusiastic.  We visited them and they all came together for a song practice.  They wanted their song, “Secreta Oracão” (“Secret Prayer”, which was their choice) to be perfect.  We tried to encourage Claudia’s 14-year old son, Samuel, to join in the singing.  He did join in on the practices, but backed out when the actual performance came.  But he is a good kid.  We have enjoyed getting to know him a little better too.  He is a member, but not active….yet!  Thais’s mom, Gabriele, expressed the thought to us many times that she really wanted things to be special for Thais’ baptism. We spent a bit of time inviting people, making goodies, etc. for the occasion.

Baptism day finally arrived!  Saturday was the day.  We went over early to clean and fill the font.  We also spent a bit of time sweeping and mopping floors.  The Elders helped us with a nice table display. We had some nice music recorded and video to show.   We wanted everything to be nice.  A lot of family members came.  Unfortunately, not too many branch members were there.  It was especially touching to see the family stand together to sing.  They are all at various stages in their attempts to return to church activity.  So it was extra special.  We saw tears in many of their eyes.  Elder Shirley was asked to do the baptizing.  Sister Shirley was asked to pray.  Presidente Glauber presided and gave a talk. Glauber always does a fantastic job.  He really knows how to make people feel welcome.   Elpidio, who is an uncle to Thais and is in the branch presidency, also gave a great talk.  Family also helped with the refreshments.  There was some nice socializing afterwards too.  The day was just so great!  We had lots of comments from family about how special it was.  Gabriele kept telling us how happy Thais was and how she couldn’t quit smiling!  Gabriele just seemed really pleased with everything.  Juliana, Gabriele’s sister, now has hopes that her boyfriend will listen to the missionaries.  (He attended the baptism which really surprised her.)  So that will be the next challenge. 

Sunday was the day for Thais’ confirmation.  We were still on a high from the baptism the day before.  We went to the sacrament meeting for União first and then went out into the foyer to find Thais and family and welcome them to the sacrament meeting for the Marina branch.  We found great grandmother, Iná, grandmother, Claudia, and two aunts and an uncle, but no Thais and no Gabriele!!!!  We really couldn’t believe it!  We know that Gabriele likes to sleep in, but she had told us that, without a doubt, she would be there!   Juliana, sent her non-member boyfriend, Daniel, on a flying trip back out to pick up Thais!  In the meantime sacrament meeting started.  Elder and Sister Shirley waited outside the chapel, wringing our hands, and watching, and hoping and trying in vain to call Gabriele.  Half way through the meeting Daniel arrived with Thais on the back of his motorcycle.  It was a cool morning.  She had wet hair, no coat and was freezing cold. It was evident that she had just got out of the shower.  But she was there.  We escorted her into sacrament meeting.  They were singing the rest song, half way through the meeting.  So it was a good point to do the confirmation.  Elder Costa did a great job with that.  No one in the family knew what happened with Gabriele. She didn’t come, in spite of her good intentions the day before.  Something is going on with her; we just aren’t quite sure what.   Family was pretty upset with her, especially Juliana. We plan to visit.  A nice thing was that after the confirmation, some family stood up to let Thais sit with them and she wanted to come back and sit with us!  It made us feel good anyway!  This eight year old is such a nice, cute, well-mannered girl.  We hope she will be able to continue coming to church. It is amazing how attached we can get to people we visit.  It took a few hours for our blood pressure and racing hearts to return to normal.  Daniel was the hero of the day in our eyes.  We were grateful to him for getting Thais there.  Now we hope to be able to get missionaries in to him.  Missionary work is never done!

Artur attended the baptism.  We all joked with him about giving him a push into the font already filled with water.  He seemed to enjoy the attention. 

Sunday evening we visited with an active Sister in the branch.  We didn't really know her story, but had noticed her smile was not there anymore.  We set out Sunday night just before the rain set in to catch a bus and go visit her.  We had just begun our wait at the bus stop, knowing that buses are few and far between on Sunday evenings, when a guy stopped to offer us a ride.  We didn't know him.  But he was friendly, spoke good English, and we were late.  So we accepted the ride.  We managed to arrive right on time.  We had a nice, but sad visit with this Sister.  She is going through some real trials in her life and in the life of her family.  We always wish there was more that we could do than just listen.  Her only request was that we pray for her!  She is a strong, good woman and we do pray for the best for her.  When we left, it was dark and rainy.  We started out walking, sharing one umbrella, when another car stopped.  This time it was Luciano from the União branch.  He gave us a ride home.  Someone was really looking out for us this evening! 

We are feeling grateful this week.  We are so grateful to see Thais baptized!  It felt like more than just a “fleck of gold”.  It was a good-sized nugget!  But we suppose it was by small and simple things that this great thing came to pass!  We hope to be able to give this family some more support during the remainder of the time that we have left.  There is such a lot of potential in this family.  We are going to miss them.  They have taken a chunk of our time and our thoughts (and our hearts) for a long time.  It has been more than a year ago since we first visited with Claudia.  I am sure that we will continue to worry about them no matter where we are!  We will be released from our mission in about three weeks.  It is hard to believe!  But we also love and miss family and friends back home and look forward to our reunion!
Hope it has been a good week for all of you!  We love you!
Eu te amo!

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