Well, things are changing around here in Brazil as well as in the mission. Firstly, elections are coming up, and as Austin will surely remember, it's about the most annoying thing that exists. There's stupid billboards EVERYWHERE, there's flyers all of the street and shoved in everyone's mailboxes, but the worse is that here, you don't vote using the name of the candidate. You use a code, like "André Alves: 31007" (That's a real candidate and that's actually his number, I'll explain how I remember) and what they do to advertize, is they create jingles that have annoying yet catchy tunes that make the number stick in your head. It's an absolute confusion when two of these cars pass by blasting their insane music haha. Good times though, makes me annoying thinking that I'll get home right in this time for elections...
Here in the mission, President Fortunato is opening up a few of the rules that Presdent Parrella (he was really strict btw haha) had, and today is the first day in like... 19 months that I'm able to write a long winded email guilt-free because before we had to use the computer one comp at a time. Since I usually have more emails to read and write a lot more, I always felt bad with my comps sitting there basically falling asleep as I typed away, but President allowed us now to both us comps at the same time!!! It's SO nice to finally be able to just go at my own pace haha. Also, just to advise, he's also changing our pday to be on monday instead of wednesday. So, starting next week (the 13th) you guys can write me like sunday night and I'll read and respond on monday. I'm excited for the change, it's gunna be really a lot better this way. Tomorrow we'll have a zone meeting and maybe there'll be some other changes. I'm kinda curious to see what happens.
As for the biggest miracle this week, it all started about 2 weeks ago when we knocked on a door and met a lady named Angela. She's a 40 year old single mom, who's husband died about 6 years ago, and lives with her 3 kids. At first we just taught her, her 14 year old son Ramon (ha-mon) and 12 year old Alan (ah-láh) They all are very very shy, but they showed desire to have better lives and accepted a baptismal date. We continued teaching, and the three of them went to church. We returned after their visit and they were a little bit doubting. They though that the baptismal date was really close, and didn't know if they'd be ready by the next sunday. We taught them more about the BoM, and promised them that receiving the answer about it being true would be the biggest help they could have. We were a little worried cuz the family is SUPER shy, so we weren't really able to read if they were excited, or uncomfortable, etc. with the conversion process. The next day we went back there, asked them how they were, and they were TOTALLY different from the day before. They were smiling a whole lot more, everyone just seemed to be getting along better. We went on to find out that all of them had read, and had felt the Spirit testify that the book is true!! It was absolutely incredible how big of a difference they had after receiving that answer! It just went to show me just how much we missionaries DON"T do, it's totally the Spirit that makes these miracles happen.
The next day we met her other son Felipe (feh-leep-ee), who is 17. He's huge for his age, works out so is all tall and buff, and has a mohawk. We first met him and didn't know what to think, but as we talked to him, he turns out to be an extremely intelligent and awesome guy. We found out that even though we didn't say anything, he had been reading the Book of Mormon as well. We invited him to be baptized with his family, and even though he hadn't been to church or anything, he accepted as well :) One of the best moments was a few days back we asked the family, "What has changed here in your home since we've been coming here?" Angela told us how before, the boys had all been really snappy, been using swearwords and cruddy language, and there just wasn't a whole lot of unity at the house. But then explained how since they'd gone to church and had been reading tje BoM, the whole atmosphere at the house had changed. Man... it's unbelieveable what the gospel does when it's truly put into practice. All was just doing wonderfully when we talked with Angela and she embarrassedly told us that she was worried about her baptism cuz of... girl problems!! AHH!!! So awkward just cuz we don't even know like anything about this, so we tried to... offer solutions haha, but she just said that it wasn't gunna work for the date we'd marked. It was really cool though cuz even though she was worried, Elder Pereira offered that on saturday, if it was still happening, we'd give her a blessing and all would go fine.
Saturday arrived, we got there that night, and we asked her how she was doing....(drumroll)...... It had stopped!!! It was such a great feeling!! Everyone was just so happy and excited!!! The other highlight that day was how Felipe said the closing prayer, and in his prayer said, "Thank you for letting us find the true chruch" Man... when you hear an investigator say something like that totally sincere in a prayer... It's undescrible how much the spirit testifies. The next day, we went there, everyone was all dressed and stoked to go, and we headed to church. Everyone was participating with the classes, and at the end of church, Angela and her family were baptized!!!! It's such an incredible feeling to see a family like this be baptized!!! On monday we went back to see how everyone was doing, and Felipe even said that once he finished his army duties and stuff, he wants to serve a mission :) Man... Let's just say my joy is full.
I'm so happy to be out here, I'm so privileged to be a missionary. I love this mission, and love the Lord. Hurrah for Israel!!!!
Ramon, Felipe, Angela and Alan. Amazing family :)
- Elder Ballard
This was Angela and her family leaving their house, heading to church for their baptism!!!
All of us right before their baptism, such an amazing feeling :)
|I was able to do a baptismal interview in Itabira this week!!! I saw my old branch president, his wife, as well as an awesome RM who is now the elders quorum president! It's been over a year since I've seen all them, it was awesome seeing everybody.|