Andrea was baptized yesterday!!! WOOHOO! Such a special day! After 9 months of being in the mission field, it was such a neat experience for me to finally see one of our investigators get baptized. Andrea was taught by Sister Pinon and Sister Paredes when we had two sets of sisters here so I didn't work very much with Andrea, but what a blessing to help her prepare for this special day over the past few weeks. Her daughter was supposed to be baptized with her but didn't come to church, so we'll keep working with her to resolve her concerns and strengthen her testimony. There is no greater feeling than to see someone you love as your brother or sister enter into the waters of baptism, to be washed clean and begin a new life as a disciple of Christ!
Ready for a miracle story? Last week a man named Wesley, the son of a less-active member of the ward, came to church for the first time. Sister Garner and I taught him the Restoration about a month and a half ago but a that time, he was not interested. At church, we noticed he was really involved in the lesson in Gospel Principles class and knew a lot about the gospel. This week during our appointment with him, we invited him to be baptized and he said without a moment of hesitation "Yes! What time??" He has been reading the Book of Mormon, all the pamphlets for the lessons, and the manual for Gospel Principles. He is what we call "firme"- firm and has a super strong testimony. He asked us to announce his baptism at church yesterday. What a miracle!!! Here's a man who wanted nothing to do with the church a month ago, but now, he is ready. I have no idea what changed. All I know is Heavenly Father prepares His children!
I just have to sit in awe for a moment at the Lord's hand in our area and with our many investigators. So many great things are happening and I know we are being blessed for our faith, obedience, and dedication to hastening the work of salvation here in our small vineyard in Santana, São Paulo, Brasil. I love this area, I love my companions (most of the time haha), and even though sometimes I really don't like Portuguese, I love it!! And even though sometimes I want to collapse on the side of the road because I am so tired, I LOVE being a missionary and there is nothing else I would rather be doing in my life right now.
As I look back over the first half of my mission (this is so weird to say), I think about all the incredible experiences I had in the Provo MTC, the Brazil MTC, serving and growing as a missionary in Sacramento, and now here in Brazil. No I didn't have a single baptism until now, but that doesn't mean my first 9 months were a waste. I used to think I was never doing enough, that I was never good enough, that the Lord didn't trust me to have a baptism. How wrong I was!
Everyone reading this letter right now, I want you to know one thing: numbers are not important. It doesn't matter what you scored on the ACT; it doesn't matter what your personal record for the mile was; it doesn't matter how many baptisms you had. What matters most is our dedication- that we try our best and do all we can possibly do. What matters is that because of our hard work, we are changing and becoming someone better by positively impacting the lives of others. As I look back over these 9 months, I don't remember the number of lessons we had in any given week. Rather, I remember the people I had the chance to meet, to teach, and to learn from- my companions, investigators, members, and random people on the street that I know were placed in my path for a reason.
Yes, there is no greater happiness than to see someone get baptized, to make that special covenant with God. But missionary work is so much more than that! It's about helping EVERYONE come unto Christ and receive the blessings of the Atonement- missionaries, members, investigators alike. It's about lasting conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for my mission experiences thus far that have converted ME to this gospel. Though I still have much to learn and do, I am stronger and more valiant in my testimony of my Savior than ever before. It is He whom I love and represent.
I'm ready to find out what the next half of my mission has in store! So excited and happy to be serving the Lord! I hope everyone has a great week. Love you all!
P.S. Pics of noite familiar (family night) from last week's email and Andrea's baptism! Enjoy!