As you can all tell from the headline of this e-mail... it´s kind of hot right now. This week was pretty difficult to keep working in the hot sun all day and listen to people not want to hear the message, but I was able to take another bath in the baptismal font on Sunday, so it was all worth it! I am so overly joyed at what took place this week. Yesterday was one of the most fulfilling moments I have ever had as a missionary. We helped bring FOUR of God´s Children to baptism! As I stood in the font, waiting for them to descend into the water, I saw the happy look on each of their faces. I want to tell the story of Douglas, an 18 year-old who was baptized yesterday.
Douglas is a friend of the less-active member who stopped us on the street two weeks ago. Douglas has had a pretty rough life. His uncle killed his dad when he was a little baby and was raised by his aunt for the majority of his life. He has gone through some pretty rough stages in his life and experimented with just about everything the world has to offer. Despite all of these things, Douglas is one of the most optimistic and open-minded people I have ever met. From the first time we taught him, he accepted the challenge to ask God if everything we taught was true. The next day, I asked him how his prayer went. He said, "I asked, but He did answer me yet. I think it´s because I didn´t really ask with much desire to know... because I think I already know it´s true." From that day on, he dedicated himself to prepare for baptism. When he passed his baptismal interview, he asked us if he had to take out his gauges that he uses in his ears. We told him that if he felt comfortable to take them out already, he could, but if he needed more time to remove them, he could wait a while. He immediately took them out and threw them away. As I was waiting for him to enter the water yesterday, I sawa huge smile on his face. When I placed his hand on my wrist, I felt him squeeze tightly and close his eyes just as tight. I knew that he was thinking a lot about what he was about to do. As I said the prayer, I could feel the Spirit testifying to me that I was about to baptize a truly repentant soul. He came straight out of the water and had an even bigger smile than before. I know that repentance is true. I know that God forgives all of His children who humble themselves. Douglas left a mark on me, that´s for sure.
We went back to work on the house we were building last week. I find that I am always looking forward to doing hard manual labor during the week. I think it´s because I get to use normal, comfortable clothes. I never used to get so much joy in serving others that I do right now. When I was a kid, I used to HATE getting up to haul hay, or lay sod, or do anything that involved sweating for no reason that would help ME personally. I am now seeing the selfish person that I was and still am. I saw the look on the face of the member whom we are helping and I know that all of this effort is going to make his and his wife´s life easier. Building the house is fun because I get to really talk with our bishop in this ward. We talk about less-active families and people whom he thinks could be possible candidates for baptism. We have gaines SO much trust from the bishop and other members through this service project and now it´s going to be that much harder to leave this area.
Oh one piece of news for you all back at home... As of this month, Brazil São Paulo East is the highest baptizing mission in Brazil. And Brazil is the highest baptizing country in the world! I am so extremely grateful to be a part of such a great work here in this mission. My mission president is such an ispired man and I am so lucky to have him here. He works us to death and I am pretty sure that if he could he would take away our P-day, but he knows how to work and I have learned a lot about setting high goal because of him. He told us that when we set a goal for baptizing people in one month, we need to, firstly, pray and ask God if that is what He wants, and then we need to go looking for those people. He said that the goal we set during the month is JUST as important as the covenants we made in the temple. God revealed to us that we need to baptize x people, so He has already prepare x people, we just need to find them. This is true in everything we do in life. We promised that we would keep the commandments, so we need to find a way to keep them because God has already prepared the way for us.
I am so very grateful for my family and all that you do for me! Know that I am doing extremely well out here and this mission is litterally changing my life. I hope you all have a great week and that everyone is able to recognize the little blessings we have when it seems that everything is going wrong. I love you all!