This was a good week! I saw the miracle of member reactivation and the fulfillment of the promise that Claudio Costa made us last August that every time we reactivate a family in the church, we will baptize. We found a family this week, a really special one, too. 2 sisters and all of their kids, which is a lot. *SIDE NOTE: The sisters remind me a lot of Katie and I, they even have only 1 year difference in ages. Maybe I really can live with Katie for the rest of my life???
Anyways, their names are Cleide and Neide and they were baptized a few years ago, but we quickly learned that only one of the kids was baptized with them, and that the rest of the kids very much wanted to be! So.... we have been working with them, and Saturday told them that we would swing by 8:30 Sunday morning to take them to church. Tudo bem. Problem: Sunday morning we show up (late) and they are gone, everything is shut up, locked up, and now we are praying someone shows up. We began to pray and then a neighbor walked out next door and said, Cleide left! We asked if she knew where she went and she said, “I dont know... she was saying she was going to baptize her sons.” I cannot begin to describe the gratitude I felt in that moment. I immediately called a friend of mine at church to see if indeed the family was there. And sure enough, this family is AMAZING! They went to church alone. And, just FYI, that never happens here- sometimes we have to pass by the houses of members to remind them to come to church... So Eduardo and Duvan were baptized! It was really cool!
Cute story this week comes from Nadja, a 4-year-old doll face that I would adopt if she didnt have a mother. She is Maria´s (recent convert) niece, and she comes to church with us every Sunday. Someone was trying to get my attention, and she put her arm around me and said, “NO. This is MY Sister (Missionary)”. Its so cute the way they say ``sister`` they dont know what it means, but its cute that they try anyway. Love that girl.
That just about sums up this week. The next week is looking great! I am stoked to talk to y’all on Sunday. And then.... its transfers already. (This was a 5-week transfer). So I will be emailing again next Wednesday.
So, this morning I have been thinking about a phrase I heard the other day, “Faith is more than a belief, and charity is more than a feeling.” Think about that. One thing I understood was that faith is not merely believing,for when we truly believe, we ACT. Likewise, charity is not merely loving, for when we truly love, we ACT. We serve, we´re humble, we FORGIVE.
Lately, I have been doing a lot of study on leadership. Whoever we are, wherever we are and whatever do, leadership is always your example- not your calling or position. James E. Faust defines a leader as someone who “must cause things to happen and lives to be affected. Something should move and change. He must see that those under him do not fail. But it should be done in the Lord´s way. He should be the instrument in the hands of the almighty for changing lives. He needs to know where he is now, where he is going, and how he is going to get there.”
If you think about it, as members of the church, we are all leaders- and our call is to ``lead, guide and direct” the rest of God´s children back to Him. The task may not be easy, but there isnt anything more important.
Yesterday, we went to a devotional to commemorate 3 years of having a chapel here in Guarabira. The district president shared an interesting story. He said on his mission, he and his companions, along with a few members, took a bus one day to get to the church. As they approached the chapel, it was time to hit the button or pull the cord overhead to inform the bus driver that they wanted to get off/ stop the bus. For whatever reason, one elder thought, “I dont need to do it, because surely my companion will”.... He didnt realize that his companion was thinking the same thing! And all the members sat to, perhaps thinking the elders would tell the driver, “Someone else will do it, it doesnt have to be me...” Well, no one informed the driver, and they missed the stop and consequently had to backtrack nearly 2 miles when they could have arrived at the front gate of the church. He likened the idea to missionary work. And as Elder Holland would say, This story really isnt any more about bus passengers and the bystander effect than any of the other parables are about sheeps are goats...This is real. We as members oftentimes think, “No, no, I dont have to be a missionary- the missionaries will do that!” Or bishop will do it! Or, of course the elders quorum president will do it or Brother and Sister Smith... or someone. Surely SOMEONE will do it- it doesnt have to be me. It is disheartening to think that many of us have though this way from time to time in relation to the work of salvation. When we do this, we forget whose team we are on.
We are not a ``starters and benchwarmers`` team. Lets leave basketball on the sidelines. This is God´s team, and on the Lord´s team, everyone pitches in.
We all have work to do- lets be leaders in this work through example and effort. Do what you can... and then do a little more and wait and see how the Lord is anxiously willing to bless you.
Just before the devotional, we went to a less- actives house to give them food. C. was doing laundry when we showed up and my companion and I quickly went to work to help her out. After opening a few cupboards and seeing a few shelves, I quickly realized they have nothing. Their kitchen is full of empty glasses... the broken sink was full of dishes. In the panty they have bags and bags of powder to make cuzcuz (ground up dry corn almost that people eat with beans and rice). But thats all they have... they dont have food. I was grateful that we were able to bring them food yesterday because I had NO idea how badly they needed it or how little they had. They use newspaper and notebook paper instead of toilet paper and sleep 7 people to 2 beds. I cried as I mopped the cement floors in the house they call a home....
And the greatest part... they are happy. They smile, they laugh, they dont complain, and they eat the food they have. I wept as I thought of how ungrateful I am.... and I wept as I realized, once again, how much I have been given.
Truly even in the bitterest and bleakest of circumstances, we still have so very much to be grateful for...
Anyways, I love my mission. I see so many miracles here every single day and my mission is changing my life in every way- its like they say, ``The best 1.5 years`` some say ``OF my life`` others say ```FOR my life``. I say BOTH.
I love you all and am excited to see you Sunday afternoon. Until then, have a great week.
Love, Sister M. Seal