July 28, 2014
One more weekly letter....
My feelings about the mission are mixed at this point. I'm in the final stretch and I think that this is my last week in this area. Mixed emotions.... As much as everyone says, "don't think about home", at the end, it almost seems impossible. I find myself trying to squeeze every last drop out of my mission. Regret at this point is my worst enemy and it's crunch time. At this point, I'm happy with my progress as a missionary and even as a child of God.... I've mastered the language and the culture too. I've reached a point in this area where I feel really comfortable with the members and even with the work. We have some really good investigators and a few are progressing really well. The Spirit is like an energy that appears to put words in my mouth and thoughts in my head. It's incredible how the Lord enables us when we are helping him in his work.
Yesterday we had lunch with a dude who just got off his mission from Venezuela 3 weeks ago and he was telling us how weird it is when you get back. It makes me a little bit hesitant to go back. Here I feel like a different person. More elevated... more confident. We have a huge role in the lives of a lot of people. In the past 7 months, I've been able to help people to accept the true gospel and to get excited about it too!
Marcos and Yonara are on fire. This week they went out with us to teach people and they just got excited about the work. Yonara has been a member for 6 months and Marcos has been a member for 4 weeks, and both of them are daringly bearing testimony of the Gospel they love. They really enjoy going out with us and seeing how people are blessed by the gospel. Both of them want to go on missions, so a year from now they're going. How cool is that? Two recent converts who are just dying to get out there to preach what they believe in. Their testimonies are pure and without doubts, and really bring the spirit into the lesson. It's amazing because Yonara's family does not support her about the church and even ridicules her. She has a calling as an indexer in the ward and her mom doesn't let her do it at home, so she walks to the beach to do it on her phone. Marcos is just awesome, and all the members just got attached to him when he joined the church. He already has a ton of friends and we're teaching his mom. As soon as she stops smoking, she'll be baptized.
In the Piedade ward everyone is pretty excited about the work because Bishop Gustavo just implemented an Family Home Evening program in the ward. There's a calendar where all the families that can, choose a night to receive the missionaries and investigators in their house to have a family night. It's something that's bringing a lot of success to the ward. We had two this week that were great and there were a lot of new people for us to teach. Graça, a lady in the ward did one in her house and we were the first ones to arrive. She said she had invited people but it took a while for people to show up. It turned out being a good deal. There were a lot of women there. One of them had just lost her husband and there was another who was asking about salvation. So what did what we do. We whipped out the Plan of Salvation and cleared up their doubts. We could tell there was some relief when we looked at the face of the woman who has lost her husband.
A couple of nights after that, there was another FHE. We were in a lesson right before the FHE when the power went out in the whole city. Everyone screamed as usual and we began walking to the FHE in the dark. If Yonara and Marcos weren't there with their cellphone flashlights we wouldn't have been able to navigate our way through the muddy roads. Graças a Deus. The family we visited had invited their neighbors who had just moved in. Gloria and Nara. The dad, Manoel was afraid that it wouldn't be good because of the power outage so it almost didn't happen, but we insisted haha. It was great! Manoel had prepared a couple of activities that stretched our brains and were related to the scriptures too. Gloria and Nara liked it and went to church the next day.
Sunday was great, like always. We baptized an 11 year old girl named Efigenia who has been dying to be baptized for about 4 months now. It was hard to get her mom's permission, but we did it. She always goes to church with her neighbors who are members so she was set. I even think she's been to the Recife temple more times than I have! haha. She's from the Jardim Piedade ward which is great because it had been a long time since we baptized someone from there. There were a lot of people there to support and her parents were there too. Her step-dad surprised us with his excitement about the church. We taught her parents a long time ago but never again because they are super busy. But when we taught them, he didn't have a job and we prayed that he could find one. A week later he had a job and when we talked to him on Sunday he said, "the prayer worked! I have a job. Now every time I pray, I thank the Lord for the job he gave me..." Sometimes we underestimate the power of the prayers we say with the investigators, but they really help to strengthen their faith in Christ, even though they aren't members of the church.
Gloria and Nara went to church. Turns out they are aunt and niece. Gloria has a salon in her house and has two young kids. Nara is 18 and speaks English fluently because she was a foreign exchange student in New Zealand. They both loved church. When we visited them after church, we went with Marcos, Otavio, and Lucas and it was a party. These girls were prepared to hear the Gospel. They used to live in a city that doesn't have the church a month ago and then came here. Gloria said they left the Assembly of God because of the many apostasies that exist there. We usually try not to agree too much when this happens... we kind of just smile and nod, because there are really A LOT of apostasies in that church. The Book Of Mormon is super correct in saying that whatever church that isn't the church of Christ is the church of the devil. But the lesson was great there. The spirit was present because of the many testimonies we brought with us and we invited them to be baptized this weekend before I get transferred. They accepted but with one condition. They have to pray and be certain before they decide. Easy. Their hearts are super open so the spirit will just invade them with good vibes.
So Sunday we'll find out if I'm transferred or not. I've been here for almost 7 months and if I stay one more, then that means I will have to stay 2 more because Varela is going home on the next one. If I stay, he´ll go home and I'll have to show another guy the area before I go home. I HAVE 2 TRANSFERS LEFT. The recent converts and members are sad that I'll probably leave on this one,,,, it'll be hard to leave this area because I feel like I'm a member of the ward! It's getting weird, but my work ethic is not going to change. Gotta end it puking! (See the end of the letter for explanation)
On that note, I'd like to wish you all a good week. Remember who you are and what you stand for. You stand for CHRIST. And nobody else.
Love you all,
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll
When Dallin was in high school he ran on the Cross Country team. If a runner performs his absolute best during a race and puts every last ounce of energy he has into his run, sometimes he will end the race and puke as he crosses the finish line. "Puking" was an indicator that the runner had ended his race, putting forth the best he had to offer and didn't hold back. So "gotta end it puking" is a good thing for Dallin. It means he's going to work hard and diligently until the very end of his mission, putting forth his best effort.
Some old pictures that popped up on Facebook! Gotta love it when that happens!