Dear Family, friends, da da da...
I hope you're all doing great! Wow, it's kind of crazy to see Karalee's pictures of snow. We're living in very different parts of the world right now. But....they're getting ready for Christmas here, too! It's so cute. Sister Garner and I were noticing that everyone has Santa Clause climbing up ladders as decorations, or on a hang glider, or a parachute. What's up with that, we thought! Then we got it--no one has chimneys in Brazil! But everyone has walls surrounding their house, so he has to get over their walls! Aha!!! Hahaha so dang cute. Another fun tidbit--the words to the song that's the same tune as jingle bells is all about Jesus Christ. Super cute!
We had an incredible week! We had exchanges this week with our Sister training leader. The closest one is 2 hours away by bus, so her and her companion just came her and we split up in Cerquilho. In a crazy turn of events, they happened to be the other American companionship. So 4 americans in the same city! It was fun, and I learned a TON from Sister Butterfield. She's going home next week, so she had a lot of wisdom to pass on!
Remember Angelica, who I mentioned I think a couple of times already? She's doing soooo great. This week she accepted a baptism date! She was showing us what she had read in the Book of Mormon and read outloud 4 verses that had stuck out to her--Moroni 10:4, 5, 27, and 31. Then she just stopped and looked up at us, and we said, "I think you already have your answer." And she said, "Yeah, I do!" She came to church and loved it (it was the primary program--soooo good!) and is really so amazing. She had been worried that it would be hard to change her lifestyle, but told us yesterday that Saturday night, she had gone out with some friends. They all bought drinks, she bought water. They all danced, and she stood there. "I just didn't want to anymore. I didn't feel good there. But I felt good at church, and I feel good with you." We read Mosiah 5:2--about the mighty change of heart that the Spirit brought to there, so that they had no more dispoistion to do evil, but to do good. It was a really special moment!
Another miracle this week was Isaías. Remember the slightly creepy way that we started teaching him? He's not creepy. He's just really, really spiritually hungry. Oh my goodness, we had such a good lesson with him! Ah! I love all of our investigators! Isaías is studying the Book of Mormon. He's using the scripture guide, footnotes, the pamphlet we gave him...and he's understanding so much. "What I'm starting to understand is that God wants us to be happy. He wants us to be happy now, and to have joy in the life to come. And for me to have that joy, I need to repent and do as it says here (pointing to a verse in 2 Nephi 31)--enter in through the gate of baptism" It was so incredible! He's had a lot of challenges in his life, and they had caused him to lose faith in God for a while. But he knows that was wrong now, and he's learning where to turn. And he loves it! The best part was when we invited him to say the closing prayer. He didn't want to, and when I asked what was stopping him, he asked, "Will my prayer count if I don't yet have much faith? Will it be registered in the heavens?" I basically quoted Elder Holland's talk "Lord, I Believe" and told him that it's not the size of our faith that matters, but the integrity we give to it. We had an amazing teaching moment, and he said that he would pray. And then came the most beautiful prayer I have ever heard! It rates up there with the father of King Lamoni's prayer, with just real, honest intent and so much faith. "O God--I want to believe. And so I will trust in you, and I will believe that I can be saved. I will follow what it is you want me to do, and I will change..." ...and so it continued. It was INCREDIBLE, and it made all three of us cry! He told us he hasn't cried in years, but has already cried twice since he's started studying the gospel. He said he used to get home and just want to watch TV--he doesn't like to read--but now when he gets the chance, he just picks up the Book of Mormon to study. He's seeing the change in himself, and he likes it. He liked church but thought there was "too much time in between the classes". (AKA he doesn't want to socialize--just study!) He's so great!
Well, I'm out of time. I love you SOOOO much!
Photo--Sister Garner, me, Sister White, and Sister Butterfield