Christmas Baptism [sent on 12 Dec 2011]
I hope that things are going well at home. I have lost hope that the birthday cards I sent for all those November and October Birthdays will get to you all. But just know, I sent them! Almost six weeks later, Happy Birthday to all the fine women in my life:)
This week, we will have a baptism! I am pretty excited, the very first one, and just in time for Christmas. President Dias has encouraged us to have a baptism on Christmas eve or the actual day as a birthday gift for the Savior. We will see what next week brings, but this week is looking up.
Ribamar is really awesome. He is 45 and lives with his mom, and has never been married. The first time we met him he was a drunk as a skunk but asked us to return some other day. about two weeks later, we returned and he was very excited to see us. He told us that he just knew that we would come back.
He has had some problems with drinking, hence the living with his mother, but he is very eager to learn. Ribamar has seen missionaries before, and said that he wanted to talk to us because he wants the discipline that he has seen so many of these young missionaries have.
When we started talking about the gospel, he mentioned Joseph Smith and not drinking coffee. We asked him how he knew so much and he told us he had some books.
HE brought out a Book of Mormon with the cover ripped off and the title page just ripped to shreds. He also had the sunday school manual teachings of Brigham Young, without a cover. He found them in the street and decided to keep them. He had already read part of the Book of Mormon.
We invited him to chruch. and He was there 30 minutes early! We had 3 investigators at chruch before the Bishop arrived yesterday, awesome! We had 8 investigators in total there yesterday.
There is a family that was baptized about six months ago, and the father sat down with Ribmar during Priesthood and bore his testimony to him right off the bat. It was a wonderful sight to see. Almost half of elders quorum were our investigators. It is such a great experience to see the potential of so many men holding the Priesthood here in this ward. I know that the Lord directs us to find future leaders. Ribamar is going to be great. He will be baptized this next Sunday Evening, after the Christmas devotional broadcast. Hey! We get to watch the Christmas devotional! I am so excited!
We have the DVD Joy to the World which we have been showing to our investigators this month. I love it. The first time we watched it, it was like a knife to the heart to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the lights on Temple Square. So beautiful, I miss it. But it is also beautiful because of the message. He lives, His life is a gift, and we want to praise Him forever.
I have been thinking of what a gift it is that we can reflect on the Birth of the Savior. Think of all the people who lived before His time, and what joy and relief there was that the Messiah had finally come. There was hope for not only the mankind before, but mankind today. Natal (Christmas) is such a time of hope, that we can reflect on the fact that He came. He made a sacrifice for us, and because of this we can live forever. What a gift.
I am pretty excited for this week, and I am excited to talk to my mom soon!
Merry Christmas! [sent on 19 Dec 2011]
Yesterday, I got to see the first baptism of my mission. It was wonderful. Ribamar is wonderful, and I am so excited to see him be so happy with the gospel in his life. His story is quite remarkable, and his faith is too. The ward has been very kind and loving, and I have been impressed by the number of people who have come to befriend him.
After church yesterday, the ward had lunch together for Christmas, it was really fun. And great to invite our investigators to church, there will be food.....! We had 10 investigators at chruch, it was awesome.
The stake also aired the broadcast of the first presidency Christmas devotional, and the baptism was held afterward. It was so cool to be able to SHOW people the Prophet. We talk about having a living prophet all of the time, but there is a special spirit when He speaks. One of our investigators, AnaCarla, came for the devotional and baptism. She really liked the devotional and said that she would look up more videos on lds.org later. I am thankful that I am a missionary in a time of technology.
Other than our Sunday of awesome, the week was pretty slow. It is hard when six or seven consecutive appointments fall through. I am of a firm belief that missionary work is not under my control, but certainly is in the hands of the Lord. How else could we have found the time to return and talk to Ribamar that day? When the days get tough or everything seems to change because of one tiny event, I just remember that our work is fluid because the Lord needs it to be. I am learning a lot more about being flexible for other people. We met a couple who have been together for 18 years, Marcone and Angela. He was a priest or something religious for seven years and knows his Bible very well. He told us that he had one concern, that he believes that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are different people. I can´t wait to go back. He was very funny and very kind, but we had to leave at a certain time because his favorite tv show was about to come on. Marcone is definetely a character.
Christmas is coming! I can´t believe it is actually coming. People have been decorating since I got here in the end of October. It will be weird to go grocery shopping without Christmas music next week. the four of us, the others sisters, sister borges, and I are going to make Christmas dinner together and have a small gift exchange. This is my only missionary christmas, so I better use it wisely. It does not matter where I am, the meaning for the season is the very same. I know that the Savior´s life is a gift and that everything good we have stems from his crucial sacrifice. I am so thankful to have His gospel in my life and I am so thankful in turn to share it with others. I read a great Scripture about this, Mosiah 2:41. People that follow His commandments are happier. That is what this is all about, happiness!
I Love you, and miss you. I miss the candy houses, I missed decorating a tree with Grandma, and I am certainly going to miss cooking a Christmas Eve Dinner. I hope this week is merry, bright, and safe for the travelers.
Four Baptisms and a Funeral [sent on 26 Dec 2011]
Merry Christmas! I hope yesterday was a great day and that talking to Trevor was also a success. I have so much fun emailing him, and wow! He has had a lot of baptisms. What a great missionary. He told me about a day where he and his companion talked to over 80 people in one hour, Elder Beckstead wears me out just thinking about it! Good job Trevor!
Talking to my mom and dad and Taci and Jake was awesome! Skype worked about perfectly and it was fun to see their faces, even if Taci was tearful the whole time. Oh man oh man, I don´t know how she stayed hydrated. It was really fun, and for Mother´s day, I hope I can see some Beckstead faces too:)
Christmas was a fun day, the night before We made dinner at home and watched the Testaments Dvd. We exchanged small gifts with the other sisters and listened to some Portuguese Christmas hymns.... phew I am glad that people know how to sing. This wasn´t one of those people.
After the phone call, we went to a hospital to sing some Christmas carols to the patients. We got there at 5;30, and they only allow visitors until six. but, we were able to sing to a few people and spread a few smiles. Brazilian Hospitals are a little frightening, I better take my vitamins and not get run over. Eeek!
We visited some members in our ward and in our stake, we talked to a Brother in our stake who served a mission in Rio about 30 years ago. He was telling us all about his mission it was so much fun. His mission president is a friend of Grandma and Grandpa, I don´t remember his name, but he is currently the temple president in Porto Alegre.
On to the subject of the email, four baptisms and a funeral. We had two last week, one was our friend Ribamar and the other was a baptism of the elder´s who don´t have running water in to fill the font in their chapel.
Then on Wednesday, a member of our ward had a daughter pass away. She was only 24 and had throat cancer. It was very sad, but we visited the mother on Friday, and she told us, `yes, I am sad, but I need to be positive. I have the plan of salvation, and with this knowledge, I need to be an example for other people who don´t have it´ Isn´t that something? The young woman passed away at 8 am on Wednesday and was buried at 6pm that evening. Funerals here are basically just viewing and a few words before traveling to the cemetery. Right before her burial, my companion and I walked by another burial that was just tragic and the mourners were borderline hysterical. What a difference the gospel makes. Again, it is that eternal perspective.
On Friday, we had two more baptisms, one in our area and another of the other sisters. Thiago, the young man that the sisters baptized, we actually began teaching, so it was neat that the baptisms were in the same service. Hopefully the water comes back soon in the other building! We baptized an 8 year old named Rodrigo. He has been coming to church with his aunt and uncle, (ages 14 and 11 respectively) and really wanted to be baptized. It isn´t the coolest thing in the world to baptize just a child without his family, but his mother is supportive and even will read the scriptures with him because it is important. One day, she will accept the gospel too.
A week of Christmas with many things to do. It was a great week , and I hope to have another great one. minus the funeral. Happy New Year! Love you lots and lots!