August 18, 2008

The other day my companion and I were walking from one appointment to another and we went up the wrong street because I was on the phone with a lady from the Ward and not paying attention. When I hung up and realized we were going the wrong way we stopped and turned around and started walking up a different street. We passed a house where there was a woman outside talking on the phone. She said to the person on the phone "Oh the missionaries are passing by right now". We immediately stopped to talk to her. She hid her face like she'd made an awful mistake. I've learned to just give a REALLY big smile with these kinds of people. She started talking to us and she mentioned that she was a member and had just moved to Vila Planalto. Karina is her name. She started explaining to me in English that she used to live in the US and met her husband there and they were married in the Mount Timpanogos Temple and then moved to Brasilia.
Her husband is a returned missionary. They have two little kids. He's since left the Church and is living in Atlanta while she is here. He has a goatee. They're not divorced but "just kind of separated for now", as she says. Her own faith has been dwindling since her husband decide that Joseph Smith wasn't really a Prophet and wanted to go back to the US to work. She hadn't had much contact with the missionaries or the members of the Church where she was living before moving to Vila Planalto. The day we passed by her house was a Friday and she said that up until she saw us and started talking to us she wasn't planning on going to Church on Sunday. She did go. We've since gone over to her house several times to answer questions for her and help her faith start growing again. She says it has been.
She had me read her patriarchal blessing. Almost all of it talks about marriage and family. Several things had already been fulfilled, but certain blessings she considers revoked or impossible now because her husband left the Church and seems to be entirely uninterested in coming back. This made me remember once again of the importance of family in regards to receiving exalted blessings. It also made me really mad at her husband. We told Karina that now is the time in her life that her faith needs to be at it's highest and her prayers at their most meaningful, so that her husband can come back and her little kids can grow up in the right way. We reminded her that the plan of salvation is perfect and makes it possible for her to still receive all the blessings promised her even if her husband never comes back. But her obvious preference is him. As it would be with anyone I imagine. She wants to be with the one she's been sealed to in the Temple and had her kids with. I left with an even greater resolve to be a good husband and father someday. And that means being a husband and father that lives the Gospel of Jesus of Christ. You can be someone who decides that there is no such thing, or someone who just doesn't take it seriously, and destroy your family's happiness. Or you can be committed and remember that whatever blessings apply to you, apply to your wife and kids.
We baptized a 15 year-old boy named Irivaldo yesterday. He's so great. When we were changing clothes after the baptism he started talking to me about Arizona and how he doesn't want to go there because it's too close to Israel and Iraq and he's afraid he'll die. I'm gonna give him a tie. The baptismal service was really good apparently, according to the three or four people who said so. So I'm happy. The mission is baptizing a lot less these days though. President Pizzirani wants quality and that means families. We just don't seem to have the faith. The mission baptized 17 this week. A sharp difference from 104 per week this time a year ago. Things will get better though. President is burning everyone. He's sending missionaries home like crazy, having meeting after meeting with the leaders, challenging everyone. I'm glad we baptized this week.
Family, send pictures. I miss pictures! I'll send some next week I PROMISE.
I love love LOVE you.

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