A note: Other than the information that is meant just for the family, I usually publish these letters in their entirety without editing. Stephen has always been a writer and doesn’t have much trouble with the use of proper English. It is making me giggle as I am beginning to see small errors creep into his letters. I guess the Portuguese is starting to stick!!! ~vlj
The new music (from Elder Dattilo´s mom, I haven´t gotten the new package yet) has been wonderful. Though Elder Dattilo has divided opinions over what is appropriate on every day other than P-Day and is very willing to cut a P-Day short for any reason involving investigatos, it makes the home so much better. He likes study music; I usually don´t, but then again, I´m walking a thin line when he decides to put music into place. Come on, when is Pirates not appropriate for work-out?
He does teach me valuable lessons though, so it looks like every vice of mine has to go at the expense of this (at least, during the transfer). Music, flexible (no pun intended) workout schedules, language study (CRAP), and Root Beer (though to be fair, that is a cultural thing). We have had more success this week. A baptism is scheduled and we got 13 new investigators. (Big Family.) Wonderful developments will be happening soon. We are having a zone conference on Thursday, so we´re looking forward to that one.
I also had a division with Elder Hadley (Yes, Mom. THAT Elder Haldey. You talked with his Mom) this week and we had some wonderful lessons on Tuesday. It was the first time I used “The Family” proclamation out here and that was given to a family where the father doesn´t believe that you need to be married to be with your family (and he also has a problem with his “other” children) in the eternities. We had yet another person here say that I look a lot like Peter Parker when I have the glasses on. Finally, we had a recent convert do another huge spill on how the missionaries have given her everything. She has a heart problem, and thus her emotions flare up really easily. It was just great and the spirit was strong there.
Yesterday, I delivered a thought based on President Monson`s “The Divine Gift of Gratitude”. I´ve been enjoying using the conference issues as thoughts and we are looking so forward to Next Month´s opportunity to reaffirm our testimonies of living prophets. I got ups yesterday during sacrament meeting and bore testimony of miracles occuring everywhere. At which point, I gave them 2 examples: Elder Dattilo and I. Two kids from Washington, not knowing a lick of Portuguese, and less than 5 months later, we are teaching the people the fruits of the tree of life in their own language. It´s been a long, difficult road to get to the low stage of proficency of Portuguese that I´m in now. However, with each lesson, practice, and conversation, the Lord is opening doors for his servants. However unworthy I feel, I cannot help but marvel that His promises are still being fulfilled.
Speaking of joys, I received 4 letters this week. 3 from Dad and one from Corbin. The first words I read in district meeting were these: “You win.” I nearly killed the meeting with excitement. My best friend will be putting in his papers after he gets his driver´s license. Elder Dattilo has a friend in a similar situation, and we both rejoice that others who have been with us since day 1 are following after us and joining the ranks of God´s mighty army. Thank you, Corbin. Your letter will be sent shortly.
On that note, let me share something that I´ve learned this week. In 1 Kings, we read that the Spirit operates in a still small voice. Everything about the Spirit is delicate. Even his presence. It doesn´t take much to drive the Spirit away, and he will stay away until you repent and make restitution. For us out here, we cannot operate without the Spirit. We would be teachers that deliver strong messages, but the message don´t penetrate the hearts of others unless we live worthy of the Spirit. Elder Dattilo tried a music experiment. We´ve been talking a lot about the power of music this week, so Elder Dattilo took one song (Lord´s Prayer) and then played some other song. The Spirit that the previous song had built ran from the house and we had to work to get it back. It was a profound lesson that I hope others will try. I don´t reccomend driving the Spirit in and out often, but try it once. You will be amazed at the difference in the atmosphere, if you are really listening.
In closing, I recommend the experiment of sincerity from Alma 32. He was talking about faith, but this faith could be applied to anything. If you want a testimony about prayer, sincerely pray. Even if you can no more than desire to believe, let that desire work within you to prepare a place for the seed, and don´t cast it out. Nothing will happen if you are not actively working on the experiment. Pray every morning and every night, and don´t use repitions. If you don´t feel grateful for it, or if it´s a routine thing, don´t include it. This is a prayer of sincerity. Afterwards, work to be grateful for those things and learn to appreciate the things that are around you. I have so many things to be grateful for in my life. Mom, Dad, Cora, Gennie, Joe, Matt, Brian, Natalie, Tony, Elena, Michelle, Kris, Brayden, Katie, Landon, Addie, Grandpa, Corbin, Daniel, Alan, Christine, the cousins, etc. And those are just some people. How about the earth, the sky, the scriptures, the prophets, our leaders, music, the Spirit, and last but not least, the Atonement?
Eu amo vocês!