I'm really enjoying these last few weeks. My companion is sweet. We have the same sense of humor so it keeps things interesting. I beat up on him a little bit at home so he knows who's boss. We're playing the slug-bug/mystery machine game where you whale on the other guys arm when you see one. If it were a competition I would say that I'm winning and his arm is getting destroyed. We're also having a good time getting to know the members and making friends in the ward. I think the ward was a sleeping giant but when we got here with the other missionaries in the ward things are starting to pick up. The leadership is helping us out a lot. We knocked a ton of doors this week and we changed our strategy. We figured that since the chapel is actually a run down house, we should probably focus on the more humble people to try to boost up the church attendance, so we're in the favelas again. There are some really interesting people in the poor parts of Brasil. It's an experience that is hard to describe. A lot of loud music, naked kids running around, old people sitting on their front steps, and horses eating out of trashcans. But these people's humility is amazing. They don't have hardly anything but have a strong faith in God and really seem to have a dependence on him. We invite people to go to church, they say they'll go, but they don't go. It's pretty depressing. The people here lack a lot of commitment though they have open hearts and a will to follow Christ.
Some investigators for y'all to follow up on:
Ana Paula is a mom of four kids. One of her kids is a member and is 20. The father of the family just died and the family is suffering a lot with depression. Apparently she didn't even let the missionaries in the house when he was alive but now she is really open to us visiting her and helping understand the plan of salvation. We taught it to her the other day and she cried the whole time. We could tell that all her doubts about life and death were cleared up and she was really quite satisfied with the message. She thanked us a lot and at the end we taught her a little about the temple and the sealing power that Jesus gave to Peter. She's a little apprehensive about going to church still but we told her that we insist that she goes to church so she can seal herself to her husband with the power that can only be found in the temple. All of a sudden she got more interested and we marked to talk with her this Friday about the restoration.
Mateus is a kid we found in a dark alley at night knocking doors. He's an elect. We actually took him out of his house to teach him on a bench and another married couple showed up and we did a contact with them and included them in the lesson too! Everyone was listening closely and agreeing with everything. The Spirit was testifying of every word we said and their open hearts were receiving the message. Mateus was asking all the right questions and said that he believes that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. We invited all to be baptized and they all said yes. We marked Mateus for this weekend but he didn't go to church this week. We'll have to push it back another week.
We had an activity of integration on Saturday where all the youth went. There were some adults too. We took Mateus and showed him the chapel(house) as we waited for people to get there since we got there early. As we were waiting some young men showed up and pulled out the goals to play futebol in front of the house and Mateus jumped right in! We played too..... haha. I'm terrible at soccer. I just use my athletic instincts to do what I can haha. But consider Mateus.... integrated. The activity was about prophets and why we need them. Elder Cruz, one of the other elders who works in our ward gave the message and guided the game. The game was Noah's arc. Everyone received a piece of paper with an animal written on it. Everyone had to imitate their animal to find the other person with the animal they had. It was noisy as heck because we were in the "chapel" where there is a huge echo. Good times.....
Since we're opening this area up and the Stake Presidency here wants the ward to be able to divide, President said he wanted us to work closely with the Stake President, so we had a meeting with him and made some goals. Each family in the ward has to give 4 referrals, and we have to baptize 100 by the end of the year..... woah. I'm not going to be here but I'll help get it started!
The elections are happening in Brasil right now so that means tons of noise. TONS. They literally fill their car trunks up with speakers and blast the candidates music through the city. It's like an election drive-by ambush. When One passes while we're teaching we have to wait like 20 seconds for the car to pass so we can start teaching again. There was one night where the whole road was infested with honking, sounds of blasting cars advertising their candidate. I got a video don't worry! I'm pretty sure if the candidates did this in the states, nobody would vote for them. Would've been a good idea for Obama.... haha.
My Birthday was good! Full of door-knocking and teaching. What else would I do. The other Elders called us lying about a family night that we needed to be at. We showed up and it was actually a hot dog dinner with chocolate cake. They sang the last para bens I will receive on my mission. It was us and a sister from the ward. Woohoo! I liked it. Food is a missionary's best friend.
Thanks to everyone who sent me Birthday messages! I really appreciate it.
Even though I'm at the end I've realized that I still have a ton to learn. I'm learning new things about the gospel and the mission every day! I think that's why they call it eternal progression.... because your spiritual progression is never going to stop! Jesus is the Messiah and He is the way. Follow him with all your heart and you can't go wrong.
Love you all!
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll