This week was really great, probably because I was on a TLC high from talking with my family. You never can get too much carinho.
The weeks seem to really fly now, and my mission seems to be passing me by ever faster. This week, our first misionary of the branch returned home from her mission in Santa Maria. I´m just getting to know her, but I´m so grateful for the example she is to the members here, especially the few youth. She´s dying a little bit from not knowing what to do, so we´re planning this week to put her to work and aproveitar the time she has here.
Seeing a missionary return home and talking with my family has made me think a lot more about what it will be like. I´m terrified. Even with all the stress and let down hopes we experience day to day, I can´t imagine going a day without helping someone or really serving in the Lord´s vineyard, or a day without goals or planning. Sister Felix and I joked the other day about practicing making contacts in the real world while on the cruise and afterwards sending the mission president my end of week number report- lessons with member, lessons without, baptismal dates set... ha ha. In thinking about everything that has happened in this past year, it´s really made me realize how much I love this mission. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve in the Brazil Belém mission, and I want to make these last 6 months count- not so much in numbers, but in really giving my heart to the mission and the people here, something I haven´t been able to do as much as I know I should have so far.
Recently I´ve been trying to focus more on people´s good qualities- members, investigators, and missionaries- and love them in spite of their bad ones, which seem to automatically stand out to me in neon red letters. The natural Sister Barkdull really is an enemy to God. It´s been going really great, though.
While we haven´t baptized all of Mosqueiro yet, Sister Felix and I are definitely seeing miracles. People are stopping us in the streets to talk to us, our investigators are really progressing- actually studying the Book of Mormon, changing their habits, and you can see a different light in their eyes- and, maybe I´m just seeing the members differently, but they seem to be supporting us more in the work. This week, two of our most special investigators came to church, and we ALMOST got the family of Karina to come to church. Sadly, she got sick, and they decided to wait until next week. So family, you all will just have to sit on the edge of your seat all week to hear about howgoes.
We´re also seeing GREAT success with the projeto piloto, a project that the First Presidency here in Brazil assigned to test out in our mission and I think Curitiba. We were given a list of all the people that were baptized between September and January in our area and told to re-teach all of the lessons while trying to help integrate them more with members. In reality, we´re already supposed to be doing this with the ward missionaries, but RARELY does it actually happen. However, in really focusing on retention of new members and using them to get references (we´re getting really creative on how to ´´persuade´´ references from them), we were given the ´´prophetic promise´´ that our number of baptisms will double. So, we´ve been working away on brining this promise to pass. Recent converts that had fallen away and didn´t even want to tak to us in the beginning came to church yesterday and are making goals to go to the temple. The branch frequency was way higher this week, and without visitors from other wards! Also, our teaching pool is slowly starting to get bigger with people we´re finding due to this project. Things are looking up!
So, all in all, it´s been a great week. Something I´ve been studying this week and trying to put more into practice is sacrifice. I´m so grateful for this year I´ve had to learn that giving up yourself for another person, or persons, while it seems contradictory, is how you gain the greatest happiness. I never thought I could learn to love a more dirty, hot, unhealthy, stinky, sexually explicit, superficial, violent, ´´talk of God with their lips, but their hearts are far from me´´ place than this, but I have. I really, really love Pará, and I can´t imagine leaving here and going home in 6 months. It makes me want to cry. I think that´s why they call this mission the ´´mission of miracles´´, haha.
Boa semana pra tudo mundo e muito amor!
*This email may be an adaption of ´´cut and pastes´´ from the many other emails I sent today, including my email to the president. I hate re-writing my week like 5 times. Sorry if something doesn´t make sense.