Monday, March 9, 2015

The Songs of the Righteous are Prayers Unto the Lord

Cachoeira Zone

Another crowded bus, but we got seats

A bench full of Marina branch members waiting for a bus after church

Cute sisters in our zone

Elder Campbell made a cake for his last zone meeting

Elders in our zone

Hymn practice with Claudia and family

Luciano practicing "Spirit of God" on his guitar

Luciano's parents enjoying a chimarrao

Missionaries love mail!

Singing hymns with Luciano and family

Sunset from our veranda

Thais, Gabriele and family:  good singers!

Trail to the bus stop in Quinta

Visiting in Vila Verde

Waiting at a bus stop on Sunday beside a churrascaria. Wow that smells good!

We work with these two in the Marina branch:  Elders Costa (Brazil) and Gorham (California)

March 9, 2015
The week flew by again.  Our time is getting short.  (We have about 6 weeks left.)  This week, we decided that we had better make a list of things that we want to accomplish and people whom we feel we need to visit in the time remaining.  It was a long list. We started working on that list this week.  There are so many things we would like to see happen in the lives of people we have met before we go.  We are worried that some of these things may not happen.  That makes us sad.  Here are a few highlights of our week. 

When we visited Artur this week, we decided to pressure him a little more to make a decision about baptism.  He has been attending church regularly, prays beautifully, is reading his scriptures a little, etc.  Elder Shirley has done a little theater with him in the past to get his point across.  This week, Sister Shirley told a story, a kind of “imagine with me” story.  It was a story like Artur’s own, except told as if it had happened to us. (Artur’s wife died 30 years ago and he raised 3 kids alone).   Sister Shirley told the story as if she was deceased and looking down from heaven.  She told of some of her sorrows, her hopes for her family and for her beloved husband and her wishes to be reunited as a family someday.  We each tried to bear strong testimonies to Artur.  We tried to give it our all this week.  We are anxious for Artur to make that “leap of faith”.  We invited him to be baptized this month on the day that Thais is being baptized.  Unfortunately, Artur told us that he just doesn’t feel ready yet.  He went back to old excuses like teeth needing fixed, etc.  We tried to remind him of what is most important.  He also still hopes for a vision.  He has become our friend, someone we really care about.   We felt the urgency to be bold with him this week.  Hopefully, we didn’t push too hard.  We will continue to visit.  But we left his place feeling a little sad this week.

We sought out Cristina, Tarso, and Isabela.  Cristina is an active member of the União branch.  Her husband is a non-member and a really nice guy.  She had requested a blessing after church last Sunday because of a bad headache.  They live in a bairro called Vila Verde.  We have wanted to visit them for some time.  And we felt like we should check up on her after the blessing. It was a good visit.  They have a really cute home.  But she still had a headache and was going to the doctor in the afternoon.  We had the opportunity to check back again later in the week.  She improved during the week and was at church on Sunday. 

In Tischler’s, the supermarket across the street from us, we were waiting in line, when a son of a member came up to greet us.  When we were busy greeting him, someone kept tugging on Sister Shirley’s arm.  We looked and it was Melissa Reinbrecht, the daughter of Roberto and Marcia.  This was the nice, non-member family we visited so much a year ago.  We haven’t seen anything of them for a long time (except for a phone call from them at Christmas).  He has been out of town a lot for school and Marcia has been in nursing school.  They have been super busy.  But the whole family was in the store.  We had a nice visit. The kids have grown a lot.  Marcia is out of nursing school now, working at the hospital and trying to learn English.  She needs to learn that in order to immigrate to Canada, which they plan to do in a year.  It was a good visit.  They want us to come for a last visit sometime soon. 

If there was a theme to our week this week, it would probably be from D & C 25:12: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart.  Yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.”  Some of our favorite and most spiritual times this week were spent in the singing of hymns in the homes of members and investigators.  It wasn’t planned to be that way.  But it worked out that way. 

We met with Gabriele and Thais for the last pre-baptism lesson for Thais.  We talked about the Word of Wisdom, chastity, tithing, etc.   We had a fun activity for the tithing discussion.  It was a good lesson.  Thais seems excited and ready to be baptized.  And Gabriele seems anxious for that to happen too.  After the lesson, most of the family came over to sing some hymns. There were Thais, her mom, her grandma, her great grandma, and three of her aunts.   They asked Elder Shirley to play the guitar for accompaniment.  (President Castro gave permission.)  They are good singers (as we have probably already told you).  They know a lot of the hymns too.  They wanted to do the musical number for Thais’ baptism.  They chose “Secret Prayer”.  It was beautiful. They are going to try to get yet one more of Thais’ aunts (Debra) to join them.  Claudia is still having trouble smoking.  She may go to the doctor for help.  She also got some lectures from her daughters.  It looks like she has a lot of family support.  They all said they would come to church on Sunday.  Thais needed to be there one more time before baptism and also for her interview and to fill out some paperwork.  But we couldn’t believe it, on Sunday, Claudia, great grandma and a couple of other family members came.  But not Thais or Gabriele!!!!  We couldn’t believe it!  They had seemed so enthused!  We tried to reach them by phone, but couldn’t.  That meant Thais can’t be baptized on the 14th!  Family said they thought that Gabriele and Thais were still sleeping!  We were so upset!  Immediately after meetings, we rode the bus with family out to Promorar to visit Gabriele and Thais and to find out what happened.  We think Claudia texted another daughter, Natalia, to go over and wake up Gabriele.  When we arrived, Gabriele told us that Natalia had just been there and they just woke up.  She said that she hadn’t slept well during the night.  It was hard not to show our disappointment though. So the baptism has been postponed one week.  It will now, hopefully, take place on March 21 (if Thais comes next week).  We encouraged Gabriele to come too to help fill out the paperwork.  We have offered to come out early on the bus to accompany them.  It looks like she will take us up on our offer.  We have another little lesson scheduled with them this week. 

We had the last Zone meeting with the missionaries before transfers.  Elder Campbell will be going home.  We are afraid we may lose a few missionaries this time.  This will also be the last transfer we will witness in our mission. 

We almost forgot our appointment this week with José.  We remembered late and hurriedly grabbed a bus.  When we arrived, we could see him through the open door, sitting on his sofa, studying the Book of Mormon.  Good thing we remembered! 

It was a nice visit with Rosangela and the kids.  Julio was gone.  But Rosangela tells us that they are trying to get everything in order to get married before we go home.  (We will be surprised if they get paperwork done that soon!)  Although she has heard all of the lessons for baptism, she would like to hear them again.  We have offered to do that for her and Julian and Emanuele. (They call her “Manu"), but the Elders will probably do it.

Branch council for Marina has been moved to Sunday mornings at 7:30 am.  In the past they have met on Thursday evenings. This is kind of a new idea.   They are trying this new time out to see if more people can attend.  It seems to be too early for some though.  There have been a few complaints.    Last week not many were there, but this week they had a few more.  It may work out after all!   Also, Elder had to speak in Sacrament meeting in the Uniaõ branch.  His topic “Be Testimonies of God” based on the article by Dallin H. Oaks in the March Liahona.  He added a lot of interesting, personal stories and got lots of compliments.   

It was another session of hymn singing on Sunday.  We visited with Luciano and his family at their home in Noemia.  Luciano is the nice young man with the cool, curly hair that gives Elder such a firm handshake that it nearly breaks his hand. Luciano had some good news today that he will be receiving the Melchizedek priesthood soon.  Luciano’s mom also needed a blessing.  Elder was able to help with that.   It wasn’t planned, but after we gave a short message, Luciano pulled out his guitar and wanted Elder to play something.  Once again, we had fun singing some favorite hymns with a good family.  Luciano gave us a ride home afterwards.  Hymns teach a wonderful message.  Everyone loves them!    We think “Secret Prayer” has been the favorite of the week too.  They also all like “I Stand All Amazed” and, of course, “I am a Child of God”.  Luciano is learning “The Spirit of God” on his guitar.  Beautiful music! 

Anyway, we are trying to make the last weeks of our mission the best weeks!  We miss all of you at home!  We pray for you!  We love you!

Eu te amo!

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