When the families that we teach see that we have picture books, they drop everything and come running. Suprisingly, (or maybe not) Landon´s gets the biggest grins. Katie with Addie, Me with Addie, the black and white family one, the one with you and Dad at Mulkeltio, Landon with his new sister, and the two in the back of Christine are the other highlights for people. “Muito Bonita” and other questions about the family come up. Some people, especially the teenagers, think Christine has got quite a sense of humor. (The cropped picture 😉 ) The pop rocks have been a big hit. You can´t find them down here, so the kids are a little hestiant at first. I stand up, open the package, drop a bit into my hand, say “Eu vou mostrar” (I am going to perform.), fill my mouth, and open it up. Dead silence, and then comes the popping. Hilarious.
Now for some highlights. We taught a less active family, where the two daughter are becoming far more active and one is preparing for her mission. One of them (Glaucia) wanted to see more photos on my Facebook, so I wrote down my name. She seemed to know that “Jean-Luc” is not my middle name, so I found myself having to explain Star Trek: TNG to her. She knew Star Wars, the 2009 movie, and Mr. Spock. It was pretty funny to have to describe Patrick Stewart since I didn´t know the word for bald. I´ll let your mind wander on that one.
We have had some tender mercies from the Lord a few times. We´ve recently been having investigators that we have taught only once before now sitting in voluntarily. During the same less-active family lesson, I delievered a thought based on 1 Nephi 1: 18, which is the scripture where Lehi immediately shares the word of the Lord with the people. Totally in Portuguese. In the aftermath, Elder Dattilo had to report our progress to the district leaders, and I found myself having a conversation using (what was in my mind) terrible Portuguese. However, the people seemed to understand without difficulty and even complimented me on my “fast” learning. I can sure tell you, It doesn´t feel fast. However, both mine and your prayers are starting to pay off, since more and more I am understanding and responding in Portuguese. We went to the temple this morning (July just felt so wrong without a temple trip), and I understood most of the lines and convents made.
Somethings tragic happened this week. We hit up a woman that called us, and since I couldn´t understand everything, I had Elder Dattilo fill me in on what I didn´t understand. This woman never got along with her mom and is convinced there are people out to kill her. Several missionaries have talked to her before and thought she was nuts. It was probably a good thing that I couldn´t understand everything, because Elder Dattilo said he just felt heavy after the meeting and we went to have a snack. Within our district, we also had a missionary walk out of his apartment on his companion who was getting out of the shower. President Martins was furious and almost sent the other missionary home for not following his companion. We´ve also had some people that have had baptismal dates marked drop out on us for one reason or another. One situation is with a woman who wanted to marry her boyfriend for 17 years, and he just kept saying no. Now, the tables have turned and she is getting her revenge on him. We are watching this one very closely as the daughter is enthusiatic about us and the father is the one who stopped us on the street.
That doesn´t mean our other investigators are being left behind. We have had several young women, either recent converts or investigators or friends of, that we feel could use good friends and positive influences. So we called up our young women´s president and we have a family home evening set up exculsively for them. We can´t be there (because of rules), but we are spreading the word out to everyone who is between 12-18. My other favorite thing happened last night. We´ve had a woman named Luciana who loves to meet with us and seems happy about what we share. However, she works mush of the time, so we have one day a week and usually at 8:00 to meet with her. Last week was awesome because she took us to an English class that she was taking. Two Americans in a class room with Brasilians trying to learn English? We were like kids in a candy shop, and we were able to deliever a short first lesson as part of their practice. Last night, Luciana had us make coconut filled Trouffes with her. As much as I hate chocolate (believe me, you feel so left out down here. I can´t begin to count the amount of times I´ve had to turn down desert), it was way fun! Packaging, stickering, filling, melting, everything! So fun.
One last thing, in case you are worried. I had to confirm Marcela last Sunday, and I was so freaking nervious. However, the Lord saw fit to bless me, because I did it well enough that I didn´t have to do it over again.
I continue to pray about you and hope that you are staying true to this gospel. Endure to the end, people. It´s seemed like forever, these 4 months. But, within that 4 months we have had miracles, tough times, 6:30 alarms, missing our “amigas melhor” (best friends that are girls), and wowing that some days seem to be flying by. May the Savior´s Atoneing light shine the way in front of you.
Eu amo vocês, and that will never change!
Stephen (Elder Jarvis)