Well, I have to apologize once again for not writing to anyone these past two weeks. I really have been running around with my head cut off trying to organize everything during the holiday weekend. My companion and I were put in charge of putting together the Mission´s Christmas Conference. We had to arrange all of the missionaries´ travel tickets and we had to plan the lunch and we had to plan all the pictures and whoa!!! It was a lot of work but very well worth it! At the end we all got to play around with President Moreira. He made a slide show presentation about Preach My Gospel. It was exactly like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The ask the audience was all the zone leaders, which was hilarious because none of them knew any of the answers. We had a good time.
I loved being able to talk to everyone on Skype this year. I can´t believe how big everyone has gotten. It was so wierd, you know? Here, in Brazil, I feel like time has gone so quickly and that I really haven´t changed too much in 1 year and 7 months, but when I saw all of you guys I realized that SO many things have changed. It´s like I´ve been asleep for the past year and a half and I had a huge awakening! This, to me, just means that the mission really has been great. I litterally have not been thinking about home for the longest time. I love my family and I pray for you all daily, but throughout the day I don´t think I have a single thing from home that goes through my mind. I have learned very well from great companions that if you love the people whom you teach, your mind will always be turned towards their needs and not your own. We have been teaching so many people that I haven´t even had time to think about home, and so when I saw you all I got a little weirded out! But it was great!
On Christmas we were blessed with a family to baptize and in total we baptized 11 on that day. Well, on New Year´s it was just about the same thing. We baptized 10 more people! We had a couple who was working on getting married and finally did! The whole ward was surprised when they saw them in white! Next week we have another father whose whole family we already baptized and his daughters have been begging him ever since for him to stop smoking. He came to Church and told us that he quit and would be baptized next week! The Lord has been pouring blessings on this ward. Just to give you an idea, on Christmas and New Year´s, a lot of members didn´t go to Church, but the Chapel was full every Sunday. More than half of the congregation is our recent-converts. They never miss Church! I am so proud of them and I am so extremely happy to be serving the Lord here in this ward. I have been so extremely blessed for being here. I can literally say that I love working, and I will never stop!
I also had a chance to revisit a few of my areas that I used to work in this week. I found out that a lot of the men we baptized are already Melchizidek Priesthood holders! And another ward I used to work in finally finished the chapel they had been building when I was there. The attendance when I was there was about 80 or 90, but now it doesn´t ever get lower than 130-140! I still remember having to take investigators to a broken down garage for Church, and now they have a beautiful chapel!
Now that the year has ended, we looked back at how the mission went this year. We ended up baptizing 2,700 people! We shattered our record from last year which was 2,000. The area presidency is going crazy about the work that is going on here and all of the Stake Presidents are amazed at how many changes have happened already. They always tell us that never in the history of the Church in São Paulo has anyone baptized more than this. I truly do look at the brothers of Mosiah as an example. They went about the Lamanite people and baptized over SEVEN cities! I have a dream to go to some city here in São Paulo that has never heard of the Church and just start from scratch there! I want to know what the brothers of Mosiah felt like after seeing the Lord´s blessing after so much hard work and suffering. The mission is the best thing in the world! There really isn´t a more fulfilling feeling seeing the people you teach accept the Gospel and be baptized unto repentance. There really isn´t anything that I´d rather be doing.
I love my family and I know that the Church is true. As for my New Year´s Resolution I will try not to miss another week in writing you all :). Love you all and wish you all a great year of 2012!