Saturday and Sunday were tough on us. Doing a fast in 35 degree celsius weather and walking a bit takes its toll. But, Elder and I knew better than to complain. I knew the Lord would come through, and He did. We had nine people come to sacrament meeting, including one that just got back from a trip. We have a wonderful young woman called Mariana who feared opposition from her Catholic boyfriend. But, as perfect love casts out all fear, he has come to church when he can, and has been received warmly by the ward. He has voiced his support of her future baptism; we just need to get her over any personal doubts. We also have an investigator who reminds me a lot of Joe. (long hair, loving disposition, loves to study with the nerds, etc.) He had a lot of doubts when I met him three weeks ago, but he is strongly prepared for the 11th. That´s almost a certainty. The father, who came yesterday and last week, has been doing nothing but leaping for joy. He loved that everyone is just so warm and that the Bishop (one of our returned missionaries) said hi, gave him a hug and repeated the process again at the end of sacrament. I´m very pleased with the way the ward treats our investigators.
I pray everyday for the success of the Zone. Some things are happening here that remind me that we are fighting the kingdom of ugly bucket down here and he doesn´t give up without a fight. I participated in my first mission counsel on Thursday and it was a pleasure to be instructed by the other Zone Leaders, the Sister leaders, and especially President and Sister. We came out with a game plan, and Elder Faustino and I prepared a special Zone training tomorrow for everyone that I hope will be effective in fighting the problems of the Zone. I spent New Year´s night (the 31st) in a different bed than my own (divison with Sao Roque); it´s one experience I can now share with the drunks! Oh, and I did my first baptismal interview last Tuesday. It was so good.
Yesterday provided us with a challenge. We have some people (recent converts) that stopped going to church. We paid a visit and the wife started hurling the problems. She feels like she´s being watched by the brethern (the fact that we know when they didn´t come to church, why the missionaries always goes together, why members have to go to church when they can study the gospel at home, etc.) She also thought that the Mormons are too superficial; there must be something else larger out there. I shared with her the great scripture for Jacob 4 about not looking beyond the mark. The focus of our journey here is to better ourselves, not to look to understand the things which are beyond our reach. (For now)
And as to compelling things, the reason why I stay here on the mission and why I stayed with the church is because of the simple profoundness of the gospel. We must have faith in a perfect being that His commandments are for our good. Along the way, we have the promise that we will know the truth of these things and be qualified to inherit ‘all that the Father hath’. What a magnificent idea! I would be honored to spend my life in search of this. The promises of wealth untold and the joy that the love of God brings to my heart; that is enough to keep me busy for a lifetime.
I know that faith is the power that carries us on. The Atonement provides the source of this faith in Christ, but it is faith that brings in the miracle. By faith, we have found dying souls, so to speak, to bring into the kingdom of God. By faith, I have found the strength to keep going. By faith, I have felt a power that does not come through any other thing on this earth. Faith is the great stone of stumbling that we must turn into our foundation. I love this gospel for this; I feel better about the things that I can control, and I have a better idea how to control the things I can.