Wow! So many great emails from you all this week! I am so happy that you are all doing so well and happy! The Stevens girls are back from the tour in the NYC and Grandma just had to rub it in that she saw FOUR shows while she was out there, thanks Grandma haha. And now I know that my prayers have been answered with Grandpa´s health improving. Thanks so much for all the info this week; I am overly-filled with happiness having heard so many awesome things from my awesome family!
Well, this week was filled with so many cool little stories. I´ll start with the first one, because that´s always a good place to start, right?
We had another baptism this week! We were visiting one of our recent-converts who hasn´t been confirmed yet, and we met her little brother. The first visit and conversation we had with him about baptism didn´t go too well. He didn´t like the idea of not drinking coffee and things like that, but something happened between the first visit and the second. We entered his house and left a really spiritual message about baptism and how we all need it if we want to return to live with our Heavenly Father. The boy´s name is Leandro and he said after the message that he wanted to be baptized! We got to Church on Sunday and he loved it! We went to another chapel that afternoon (because our chapel is just a rented out garage for the time being), and he was baptized by Elder Fernandes. After the baptism, I saw Leandro looking at a picture of Christ. He came back and he showed me his cell phone. He had put the picture of Christ as his wallpaper so he could always remember who´s name he represents now. I was so touched by the Spirit at that moment because it really hit home for me. When I was in high school and started to feel weak in my ability to avoid temptation, I, too, put a picture of Christ as my wallpaper on my cell phone. I was so impressed with the way that Heavenly Father used Leandro to strengthen my testimony of my Savior.
Leandro is also friends with one of our other recent-converts, Dión. Dión was the first person we baptized in this area and he´s been going strong ever since his baptism. Since his baptism, he´s already received the Aaronic Priesthood and passed the sacrament twice, and also started his reading of the Book of Mormon. A lot of recent-converts have a rough time with reading the Book of Mormon because they just don´t want to set aside the time to read. But Dión is already a pro and he´s already passed 2 Nephi! We were visiting him and asked him how he was doing with his reading. He said that reading the Book of Mormon has helped so much that his reading skills have improved immensly! He has already seen the blessings that come from studying the scriptures and now he is set for the rest of his life. That is really what we all need. For ANY of the commandments of God, we need to have a personal testimony that God blesses us based on our obedience to that commandment, and the way to gain a personal testimony... is simply just doing it! Obey and you will see the blessings.
Dión has an older brother of 16 years-old named André. André has heard only one of the discussions but ever since he has been wanting to go to Church, but he only works on Sunday at the mall and only in the morning. I called Dión yesterday after Church and André picked up the phone. This was our conversation:
"Hello. May I speak with Dión?"
"Who would like to speak with him?"
"This is Elder Clark."
"Elder Clark!!! Guess what! I switch my hours at work. Now I can go to Church with you guys!"
I was so happy after that phone call that I forgot why I evened needed to call Dión in the first place.
We also visited a friend of yet another of our recent-converts this week. Her name is Michele and her mom, Maria. We taught the Restoration to them and the second visit they had already gotten an answer to their prayers that it was true. We marked Michele for baptism this next Saturday and we will continue to help her mom quit smoking and get married to her husband (they just live together). Michele is really excited for her baptism and her mom told us something very neat. She always passed our chapel on her way to work and always thought to herself that one day she would get to know this beautiful Church, and her opportunity has come.
We had our interviews with President Moreira this week as well. It was really my chance to settle with him some of the difficulties that I´d been having with my companion. As I sat in the chair in front of my president, I couldn´t think of anything that I could say. There are so many people who run to the president with every little problem they face and they never learn from their experiences. Everything that has happened to me and Elder Fernandes has been a blessing in the sky. Were these last three months hard... yes. Did I want to have a different companion... many times. But I know why I was supposed to be with him. I have improved so much with my teaching and my confidence in my ability to help people and I know that I would not be at the level I am if it weren´t for his help and my perseverance in hard times. The Lord blessed his people with inumerable amounts of blessings when they endure to the end with patience and humility. The difference between the Elder Clark in November and the Elder Clark now is amazing. If you would have told me that it was going to turn out like this back in January, I would have called you a liar, but I have seen the Lord´s work and I am so very grateful.
In our last companionship inventory, or our last set-apart time to work out our personal difficulties, I told Elder Fernandes that at times I didn´t want to listen to him because I didn´t like the way he always made fun of me, and because of that I may have missed out on a lot of chances to learn. I told him sorry for being hard to work with and really meant it. During these last three months, we have never given each other a high-five at any time, but I stuck my hand out after I said those words, with a slim hope of him accepting the apology. He lifted his hand, thought about it for a little bit, and then landed one of the sweetest-feeling high-fives. It felt like every problem just went away after that. Now we are ending the transfer today and President Moreira said that he´d be leaving and I am going to the senior companion from now until the end of my mission. I am so very grateful for the things the Lord gives me. From the tiny little experiences of pain and difficulty, to the great big moments of joy and happiness. I love you all and hope you have a great week! Notice the small blessings and the big problems will go away.