There is a certainty that was always told to me before my mission. Returned missionaries always told me that "these next two years will be very hard, but you will have a happiness that you can't describe." I have come to know the true meaning of this phrase. So, to begin, I would like to say that I am SO tired, but SO happy. :) This was a tiring week, but many great things are happening in the Lord's Brasilian Vineyard here in Rio de Janeiro.
I do not know why, but we always have cool experiences on Monday night, and like most of my letters in the past, I will start with a cool story from last Monday. We received a reference from our Mission office, and we called up a man, named Cessa, and marked Monday night to visit. He is a professor of philosophy, so of course the visit will be interesting! We passed by and called him on the interphone. He said we would have our visit down in the lobby of his apartment complex. So we entered and waited there until the elevator opened and an aged man, maybe 65, said hi to us. He came with two other men-- very muscular... and slightly creepy..... He brought security with him! He later explained that they were his sons, and he didn't know if he could trust us. So we taught this man a little about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon (with two angry guys looking down at us with folded arms at the chest), and he said he is interested in reading the Book of Mormon and getting to know the church. He was quite the guy. :)
Tuesday was a very stressful day, for we had to get up early to catch a bus to another area in Rio. We had a training with President, and he wanted to see how well we were training our greenies. :) So, 7:30 am, we boarded a bus and off we went to an area called Freguesia. We don't live very far from there-- only about 20 minutes by car. However, we finally realized after a little that we boarded the wrong bus! Yes, this bus passed Freguesia, but only after 2 hours... Long story short, we ended up arriving very late to the meeting, and it was really embarassing... but the meeting was really good, and President gave us many good insights as to improving our training.
Up until Friday, our week was normal, and we just worked worked worked. We decided to try some different tactics in finding new investigators. So, we decided to try proselytizing in some different areas... some of which being the favelas in our area. :) Now I know this probably sounds dangerous, but I can assure you that the favelas in my area are very chill. If I were to enter them thirty years ago, I wouldn't be writing now. :) Anyway, we began making contacts there and contacting some past street contacts, and through our efforts, we were able to find an amazing family! This family, Serlegy and Gerson, have never heard of the church, and we were able to sit down and teach a little bit about the church, missionary work, and invite them to church. We also had a Stake activity this week that we invited them to attend. We plan to work hard and baptize this amazing family. :) Friday night, we had the Stake activity, and boy was there a lot of people. We were able to get our ward really excited, because we were expecting 20 investigators or visitors to come to the activity. We were able to get the members to bring some families, and turn-out was really good. 11 of these visitors showed up, and it really got the ward excited. While at the party, the members kept offering us food, even though there was a small price to eat. We ended up taking a bag of goodies home. Around 8:45 PM, President Lima came to the party just to see if we were there helping out and if we had any visitors. He became very happy with our work when he heard of our success.
I know that through our hard work, the Lord is blessing us with much more success than I could have ever imagined in the last three transfers being in this area. Andaraí is beginning to blossom, and Elder Monte de Souza and I are working hard to do our part. This last Sunday, we received three references from our ward. In the past our ward never gave references, only Bishop! We are very excited to continue working doing everything possible to leave this area much stronger and fruitful than when we arrived.
My time is short, but I would like to end with a spiritual experience that I had this last Saturday. Bishop called us around 7:45 AM. A member of our ward passed away Friday night, and he wanted us to be at the funeral service at 9 AM. We agreed and saw this as an opportunity to pay our respects and help the family, who were non-members. We arrived in the chapel and sat with the others there. It was very peaceful in the chapel, and the casket of the deceased member was there opened for us to see. As I sat there, I began thinking about the Plan of Salvation. As a missionary, I have taught the Plan of Salvation many times, and I began to think about the importance of this plan and the steps that this beloved member is taking at this time. It was in that moment of thinking-- about what the future would hold for her-- that I was touched with the indescribable feeling of knowing that the Plan of Salvation is true. The only way to describe this feeling was that of when I read and prayed about the Book of Mormon. I can know testify with certainty, that I know this is the plan of our Heavenly Father. He knows us individually, and he loves each and every one of us. He gave us a plan, centralized in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that shows how we can return to live with him someday, together with families. Oh how I am grateful for this plan.
I love you all so much, and I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July. I definately don't miss fireworks, because I get enough of them here. Last night, Brasil won the Confederations Cup, against Spain, 3 to 1. Around 7 PM, no one was on the streets. No one! After every goal, people went crazy, throwing fireworks out the window-- one of which landed and exploded 20 feet in front of us, making me almost pee my pants. Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful week. I love and miss you all!
Boa Semana. :)