Hello Family (and Friends)!
Well, let's see. We did many things this week -- un data di kuzas. I learned that this week. :) I love my companion.
Our whole district (all four of us) has sort of caught the Christmas bug. This week, the Elders put together a little choir and we went and sang Christmas hymns in a little square by the chapel. It was, of course, very embarrassing and only little kids came to hear us, but there were a few adults and I saw one woman in Church on Sunday, so that was cool. But it was fun for the members and they all went and passed out pass-along cards so it was super good.
And I didn't have to teach English class. :)
Also, this week was Sani's baptism! Sani is Artur and Eduardo's cousin. She's super smart and very sweet and looked like she was going to freeze after stepping into the water. Ha. But it was a good day. I think Artur was more excited than she was--that kid is so awesome. During church I saw President send him on a little errand to ask the priest at the back of the chapel a question. He looked so dignified--and he received the priesthood last week. Man, I love that family.
Oh, and speaking of Artur's family, it was Ana, his crazy little sister's birthday. We just stopped by with a little cupcake for her and of course they made us sit down and eat more cake. (It would have been rude to refuse.) The great thing was, all the kids had already had their cake, but of course they were hanging around, grabbing swipes of frosting, etc. Anyway, I just had a little piece left on my plate, and Ana came over, lifted the little piece, handed it to me and took my plate. I thought she was very anxious to be helpful, but then she started licking the crumbs and frosting off my plate. She then did the same with Sister Vicente's plate. Hey, it's her birthday. Haha.
I'll stick this story in the middle, because it's not a particularly happy one. We made a goal as a district to find a new less-active every week to teach (not hard), because with the focus on baptisms, all the missionaries come to the branch, baptize a million people and we create 'generations' of church members. There are little groups of recent converts/less actives from every missionary era and it just keeps cycling out so the current members hardly know the less actives baptized a few years ago. Anyway, so we learned about a man who joined the church when it first started in Sal. He was very active and served as branch president. Well, apparently, there was some error or something with the accounts of the branch and during the audit (every few years an area authority comes to help/does an audit of sort) this man got offended because there were 15 escudos missing and he felt like they were accusing him of either stealing or causing the error. (We learned this from him.) Anyway, he kept talking about these 15 escudos and how the church made a huge deal about these 15 escudos and so he asked to be released and after a little while left the church.
We were just sitting there in his house and I was praying so hard to know what to say and all that came to my mind was that we needed to be so careful. That this wasn't someone who needs one lesson and it’s going to be all fine and dandy, but seriously needs to reach down and apply the atonement to his life and remember the reason he chose to be baptized and serve in the church. Sister Vicente and I were so quiet afterwards, but it's just sad to see that 15 escudos can make someone forget they had a testimony. And that no matter what someone says or does to us; it doesn't change the fact that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. People start basing their opinions and decisions on what people say or do and then they need physical evidence to reassure them, but we teach every single day that the only way to receive spiritual truth is to humble yourself long enough to ask God in sincere prayer.
Don't let 15 escudos keep you from the Celestial Kingdom.
Okay, anyway, we had other lessons that were much better and not so sad. Cisa gave us some references. She's the best. She just marched us over to some neighbors' houses, told them to sit down and hear the word of God. Haha. But we had some good lessons with her references. It was a huge blessing too, because we've had a super hard time finding new people.
Let's see...yesterday, in church, there were 122 people in Sacrament Meeting. People had to sit up on the stand because there wasn't enough room. It was awesome.
This week I read an article in the Liahona by President Uchtdorf, about how often he would take off from a dark and stormy airport only to break through the clouds to a bright blue and clear sky. He spoke about how prayer is often our spirtitual 'lift' to be raised from dark and challenging times. I liked thinking about the way that we as missionaries have a chance to help people find the way to break through the barriers in their life with the help of the gospel.
But we also got to see a more physical kind of 'lift'. (Gosh, I'll probably be smitten for relating this to the gospel.) We were walking down the street and there was this man and woman just screaming at each other. Some neighborly argument--I couldn't understand a word of their angry Creole, but the man, in his anger, stormed out of the yard and gave this little dog and good kick on his way. The dog flew, spinning, up into the air--at least six or seven feet--landed yelping and scurried away from any other possible injuries. Gosh. Poor thing. But he's okay now.
Well, this email is really long. I'll just finish with my early Christmas present:
We walked into this little store and they must have gotten a huge shipment of American stuff because I found cake mixes and Reese's Peanut butter Cups and all sorts of good stuff. I was seriously almost crying I was so happy. And we found chocolate chips. I haven't seen chocolate chips in over a year. Goodness. I spent a lot of money, but now our stocking stuffers are all set.
Okay, love you all! MERRY CHRISTMAS! And I'll talk to you on Sunday!
You got my travel plans?!