Transfers! I stayed in Capao with Elder Sepulvida (from Chile, first Hispanic), and it´s interesting. Though he has a command of the Portuguese language, you wouldn´t notice that he still has problems with it. He also is another joker (but, as you know, overkill just kills). He tries pretty hard and has a positive attitude about the work. With Elder de Araujo gone, I now have to plan the days out, which can be hard. I thought it´d come easier, since I did the same thing in all the other areas, but for some reason, it´s difficult to fill the day with ‘sure’ appointments. However, we were able to mark 5 dates, with the potencial for 5 more at the end of this week. Half the zone (which, being small, was only 3 Elders) was transfered and Elder D. Santos, a friend of mine from Alphaville is my new Zone Leader. The other is a friend of mine named Elder Lowe from Florida. He has a lot of friends in that Disney World program that Lela did and I´ve known him since he received Elder Viana aftr I did. I´m excited for Tuesday.
The greatest bit of news, however, on transfers was from Elder D. Santos. Alexander, the Assembly of God pastor husband of Maria Jose Makyama, was baptized while I was here. I fell to the ground with joy about that. Not joking; I fell to my knees with excitement. He was starting to talk about it when I left, but it was still an amazing thing to hear.
I´ve been very impressed with my reading of the Gospels these weeks. I still do my studies in Portuguese and will continue to do so, but I wanted to read the Gospels out loud at least once. I´m in Mark and I´ve gained a new appreciation for the details that Mark adds that no one else has. Today, I was impressed with Jesus´ reprimand to the disciples after calming the tempest about fear and faith, and also the seed that groweth secretly. I never paid attention to this parable, but after the baptism of Alexander, it stuck out with me a lot.
I have many things about my service that I´d love to tell you, but I simply don´t have enough time. Fortunately, my journal contains the better part of my writings (consider these emails as the small plates of Stephen), together with my study journal. Remind me to tell you about my Abinadi study from this morning.
As I was listening to some Elder Holland talks, I listened to his May 2012 talk about Forgiveness and Mercy, using one of the Savior´s parable from Matthew. In my farewell talk, I used this story as the foundation of my talk, but, unfortunately, I had yet to take it in and ponder it. There is a difference between remembering the stories and applying the stories. Remembering is something we all can do; it got me by for 17 years; applying is what true disciples do. They may not remember the story per se, but they pause and ask, “What can I learn from this story? How can I apply this principle now?” My heart was touched as Elder Holland talked of divine forgiveness. This is something that fills my heart with gratitude every-time I think of what the Lord has done for me and my life. I have been abundantly blessed since the day I decided to take this gospel seriously. The constant messups are being cleaned up and the guilt forgotten. The process of sanctification has had its effect on me.
I feel much more calm, ready to face the storms with the determination that God hasn´t forgotten about me. Rather, I rejoice in the knowledge that, on my knees, I may receive of that healing balm and take my troubles to the throne of grace. I haven´t obtained ‘that happiness that was prepared for the saints’ yet, but I don´t worry too much about the journey anymore. Whatever comes, I know that I can win, because my Master has ‘overcome the world’. Take your problems to Him and lay them at His feet. You´ll be glad you did.
Eu amo voces,
Watch ye therefore, for ye know not the hour….