Our zone leaders crashing in Maricá (Elder Van Wagenen on the left, Elder Sea on the right of me)
Thank you sooooo much for the birthday emails and messages! Holidays and birthdays are very different during the mission, but your love and thoughtfulness were greatly appreciated. Parabens for Jeff for the PR!!in the marathon! That´s incredible! He´ll totally be ready to break 3 hours when he runs down here in Rio... Ha. Mom has an iPhone.... no I´m not jealous at all. It´s not like us missionaries use a small flip phone with a limited number of credits to call people. I kid. That´s way cool news, especially with the new phone plans. I smiled when I read that :)
As far as money goes, things got a lot better this week since the relief society president was at church and I was able to meet her and coordinate lunches with members this week. She lives super far away (2 hours by car from the church) and she was visiting her mom in Belo Horizonte who had been having health issues.Yesterday was a very difficult day for Elder Evans and I. We marked to have 17 investigators, members less-active, and recent converts to visit the church yesterday. We called the day before, visited people yesterday morning, but only one of them showed up to church. It´s a tradition here in Brasil to party the night before Easter, and we think that may have affected it. Many active members also did not show up, so the attendance was less than expected. Elder Evans and I ended up teaching theschool class, and we gave talks during sacrament meeting.
After a very difficult and slightly dissapointing attendance in the branch yesterday, Elder Evans and I did some hardcore planning with the leadership to get some real results coming. Home teaching and visiting teaching here was completely non-existent, and members here have problems trusting other members because of a history of gossip and rumors, but we´ve set some goals to help everything out. With two holidays this week, we planned to visit investigators and less active members with the branch pres, the relief society president are visiting less active sisters for those two full days,and the EQ pres with a representative from the stake will visit lots of families. Elder Evans and I also have been planning a ´´Family Home Evening´´ at the church building. The first activity here since missionaries started serving in the branch 6 months ago. I´ve never planned an activity for an entire branch/ward, but the Spirit has been helping us out get everything organized and know how to help strengthen these wonderful people here.
For my birthday, our zone leaders helped us out do a weekly planning to help this branch and everyone we´ve been teaching. I got pretty overwelmed, because there´s like a bajillion things that needs to get done. We´re working on it one thing at a time, and sooner than later, Marica will explode with families to baptize, complete, and reactivate! We also visited Jaqueline and Alexandre for my birthday and they made me a cake! Pictures will certainly be included.
Goodness we found an AWESOME family. We were just done teaching an awesome lesson to a family, Willis and Ivana, and as we left the house, a guy was driving by and stopped us and said he was one of Pres Limas counselors (I didn´t even know he had them), and had just left his brother in laws house in Maricá. He showed us where this guy lived and we met Adenilson, a less active member who had never been to the church in Maricá. but moved here recently. We met his wife Adriane (sadly, they aren´t married, but have plans to do so) and their kids Gabriel, Gustavo, Isabel, and Guilerme (15, 13, 6, 3years old). We briefly taught about our families and who the gospel bless them. It was so powerful! Adenilson gave the closing prayer, and felt he felt the spirit sooo strong. He said it was like he was lost but was found again. Elder Evans and I did a Drake and Josh style ´´Hug me Brother!!!´´ after that lesson. We were so happy and hope to see them progress towards being married and sealed as a family!
I love this work! At times, my faith gets tested, but just as Ether 12:6 teaches, that is necessary for us to truly be converted in this restored gospel. Happy week of birthdays and Easter to everyone from Brasil!!!!
Me and some birthday bake
PS I forgot to add that Pres Lima called me this week letting me know that a lady named Andrea that I was teaching in Ramos was baptized last week! I´m positive I talked about her in one of my letters back in February.