As you usually start: Thanks for being in the same meeting with me. I´m not going to lie; I looked down at my nametag and thought: “Next general conference will be my last with this.” I almost cried. I´ve loved being in the Lord´s service, even if I get a headache because of the unbelief of some people. (Yes, even Brazil has unbelievers). It´s the small group of sincere people that make each day worth it.
Conference was great. It was the first conference that I had to watch entirely in Portuguese. In order to save 52 reais, we talked with the Zone Leaders and the Branch President and they were gracious enough to let us use the computer in the President´s office for the Saturday sessions and watch with the Branch on Sunday. Disappointing turnout of only 10 people, including us and the Branch President´s entire family. However, it was so cool to sing ‘Called to Serve’ in Portuguese and ‘Put your shoulder to the wheel’ in English. Mom, did you like the shot of the foot pedals of the organ. My companion looked at it and went: “Wow, I didn´t know.” I told him that organ is a tough thing. I know from experience. 😉
Anywho, the work has been slowed here because of an interesting, but sad problem: people needing to get married. Cohabitation is the norm here. I´ve only ever met 3 couples here that were legally married before they were baptized. We had an astounding 8 couples, several of which could be baptized. I got a little heartbroken at the lack of obedience to this very sacred and important law. Hence why I appreciated the brethern´s counsel. If only our investigators were there to see it. Sigh… I had an interesting thing happen Monday night. So, we went to visit a couple who are progressing. As we finished the visit, I asked if we could help in anything. She wanted a blessing for the two of them, and they sat together. I was about to explain that we usually do blessings one for another, but the thought passed through my head of ‘Leave it.’ Confused, but not wanting to delay, I placed one hand on each head (Elder was so confused, but followed suit) and I gave a blessing directed for the two of them. I didn´t feel too weird about it, but my brain ran back to other points when something like this happened. I thought: Hey, if Jacob could blessed Ephraim and Mannassah this way, it´s good enough for me.
We also had a young kid who didn´t seem terribly interested in our message. We marked a chapter in the Book of Mormon and John 3. (The only time I´ve ever marked reading material from the Bible, as I did it because he requested it.) When we came back two days later, he told us: “I didn´t get to John. (I thought, ‘Dang’) I was too busy reading the Book of Mormon.” This kid read, in two days, 1 Nephi to 2 Nephi 4 in two days and could tell us all the major stories. He was just so thrilled about it, so before we taught, we had our first geekout session about how awesome the Book of Mormon is. (He didn´t go to church, though) Another great thing was last night after conference. We went and visited a kid named Bruno. He is now the ex-boyfriend of a less-active and was in tears when we met him. He is the same person with whom I shared Alma 32 last week, so I´ve been very interested in his progress. We talked about conference, so he pulled up the internet and we watched two talks. The second was the Prophet´s Sunday Morning talk. He seemed to be moved by it (why was I the only one who laughed at President Monson´s reaction to ‘he´ll know what to do’?) and said that we helped him a bit. I sincerely hope this kid doesn´t push this to the side because his ex-girlfriend is a member.
Much of the Brethern´s counsel was so relievant. (Don´t judge me, spell check only works in Portuguese here, so ninety persent of my words are highlighted red) I found the greatest message for me was something that Mom said to me once. “There is safety with the brethern” Surely, I felt that safety again and again while I´ve been here on the mission. When I have taught directly from the prophets, I have found the Spirit to be the strongest. I also recognize that I am kept away from sorrow and danger if I obey the Prophet´s words. We teach many of these people about a new prophet and they just don´t seem to understand fully what that means. The biggest issue is authority in baptisms (that is a subject for another time), but people don´t seem to have too much of a problem with new prophets. It just seems to make sense to some of them. My favorite experience was with Natalie´s mom. (The Natalie I baptized) Her friend was freaking out because Elder Braga and I were teaching someone close to her. Natalie´s mom defended us with: “The Elders? Muita gente boa (means ‘really great guys’) Don´t worry about them. My daughter attends their church.” She proceeded to explain that our message, especially Joseph Smith, makes logical sense to her. If we had prophets before, why not now? This made my day.
Yes, it is a blessing to have living prophets today. But the greatest blessings come from following their words. I have yet to remember one time when I wasn´t blessed for following the prophets (and for that sake, my priesthood leaders). The Lord helps us in so many ways and certainly the prophets are perhaps the greatest modern-day evidence that He still loves us and care about us. Elder Claudio Costa was said that the prophets are more important to us than even scripture. That made me stand up. The scriptures only point the way. The prophets are the Lord´s way of keeping us on the strait and narrow. Feast on their words and watch your life be blessed in abundance.
Eu amo voces,