Another package? I don´t think I´ll be able to make it till Christmas. Most of the Elders here want to kill me because I´ve gotten 2 packages within 2 months. I didn´t dare open up the package at Zone Conference because I knew that suddenly, everybody would become my best friend. Thanks for the kind words, Mickey. I´m pleased to know that at least I can see that someone is benefiting from these letters. Speaking about Katie, I absolutely love her picture for me. It´s up on the fridge, very prominently. I miss that little ball of fun. Especially since there are so many young children in the favela about her´s and Brayden´s age. I would love to talk with her on Christmas through Skype. Chances are I might still be here in Novo Osasco for that. Yes, Brayden. You are freaking epic! I LOVE the new picture of Landon and his sister. So many people love to see pictures. We had a new family with a seven year old daughter named Evelyn. She couldn´t wait to have us come back for the second lesson so that we could show our pictures. (It´s kind of the unsaid deal. Second lesson comes with pictures)
Speaking of success, we had a day long Zone Conference on Thursday. I was so happy that I understood so much of it, enough so that I could write notes. That meant our Thursday was shot, and so we wanted to try hard to put the new practices into place. Keep in mind: the prophets have said that 35 lessons a week is the goal. We got 22 lessons within 2 days, with several new strong investigators. We just put some of the new suggestions into practice and we were blessed with a typical week´s worth of lessons within 2 days. Oh, happy days!
I appreciate the music highly! It´s been wonderful to finally have Nauvoo and Sound of America around. (Inspired choices, Mom) Also, after a day of working our butts off, to hear “Not My Will” from the Garden made us have lumps in our throats. I´m also learning temperance with the Skittles and Tootsie rolls. They are still arounf, but will be gone by tomorrow. The scriptures are also nice to have. Lunches in the house are becoming wonderful. (Yes, I´m referring to the pasta and the potatoes)
Want to know another tender mercy of the Lord? We have had to deliver Gospel Principles for the last 2 weeks. Elder Dattilo took the first week, so I was stuck with teaching the 2nd half of both the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation. Completely in Portuguese and I almost ran out of time. Am I confident in my langauge abilities. Hecks-to-the-no. But I can effectively teach in Portuguese. Now my worry is the fact that some new people still can´t understand me because of my “thick” accent. Yeah, that didn´t help my fragile ego.
Well, spiritual thought for the week:
Reading Doctrine and Covenants for the first time all the way through and I´m at section 93 right now. This last day and a half, after our big push, have been a winding down and humbling period. (I thought I was making progress here) Life kind of sucks like that. You feel like you are making progress, and then you see that the dear Lord has something else in mind. At the end of the class on Sunday, I was so happy. I thought the bulk of my Portuguese troublews were over, but as I walked out of the class, we talked to a friend of a member who atended. She liked the class and liked the things that were taught and she will call us sometime soon for lessons. There was a catch though: she couldn´t understand a word I said. I was heartbroken. Later this morning, we did a Christ-like attribute activity from Preach My Gospel. The one I found that I needed to work one (not surprisingly) was patience. Elder Dattilo and I shared our needs, and he proceeded to launch into another one of his infamous 20 minute discourses on this and other things. I love the man; I really do and I´m grateful for his counsels. However, I wanted to say at the end that it´s times like this when I feel like crap. I don´t feel like I´m doing anything right by the end of it.
Elder Reis (The zone leader) and I did a division, and he said the thing I lack is confidence. I can certainly see that. I feel like Joseph in Liberty Jail. The elements, at times, seem to be conspired against me. Things that should be comfort are turning into adversity and at other times, other than the prescence of my companion, I feel alone in the world. Through all of this, I know I´m never alone. I know that, at the end of the day, the Son of Man hath descended below them all. With Him and His infinte love (which is very real), I make it through. I endure to the end of the day. Yep, people. This is another Atonement thought. But really, are you surprised? That is the center of our Faith, and the very hope of the Gospel. The Savior of the World has given us so much, but above all, a way to return to Our Parents and the perfect example.
Now, even at what seems to be a low point in my feelings, I feel cause to rejoice. I´m suffering as the Apostles of old, Paul, Alma, Shiblon, and the early saints. I feel cause to rejoice that I may take a few lashes for the name of the Savior. The only thing that dims this joy at times, is the length of time. I still have another year and a half to go. I still have a long way to go in my language skills. However, the Lord has promised us. “Son, peace be unto thy soul. Thine afflictions and thine adversity shall be but a small moment”. The hardships will end, though not in this lifetime. This long period of construction in my life will end, and then I may come home to my family, friends, and eventually, a wife and kids. The Lord has promised us the fullness of the earth, hidden treasures, and several times, even The Kingdom of Heaven. How long must we suffer to obtain this glory? As long as my Savior and Redeemer sees fit. He is the one with the keys to eternal life. He will never ask us to do something we cannot do. If this is the sacrifice, the price, the qualification that I must fill in order to gain it, let me do it. Don´t hold me back and don´t stand in my way; I´ll take you with me for I´m not stopping. I´m taking as many as I can with me. Whose on the Lord´s side? Who?
I leave with you the words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie: I believe in Christ, so come what may….With Him, I´ll stand in that Great Day…I´ll raise my voice in praise and joy, in grand amens, my tongue employ.
Eu amo vocês!