December 16, 2009

I'm eating a banana as I write this. First of all, they decided at the last second to move p-day/transfer day to today because there are no missionaries going home this transfer, and because we aren't going to do our little family night thing we do every transfer day at the chapel in Asa Norte because it was being used yesterday and today. So this transfer is normal p-day. Sorry about the confusion. I promise it's not anything I had control over. The next one will be January 26th, which is a Monday.
I'm not leaving. Neither is Elder Chacon. The only person leaving our district is Sister Souza. Everyone else stays. Sister Souza is really nice, and a great missionary. I'll miss her a lot. We'll have Sister da Silva in her place now. I'll still be district leader. After this transfer I'll only have three transfers left, which makes me think I'll only have one more area after Arapoangas. As always, I like my area. I don't want to leave. leaving, at least for me, is the worst part of the mission. I hate leaving. For one, it's stressful, and messy. you have to pack your bag really quickly and run to the bus stop and you usually get lost at some point trying to find where you're going. No fun. I'm slowly working on getting rid of things though, luggage particularly. So that makes things a little easier. My plan of coming home with just a backpack will surely come to pass. That will be amazing. But even worse than all of that stuff, the hardest part about leaving is that you have to leave the members and investigators that you work with and become friends with. There is nothing good about that. There's never any time to say goodbye. I hate it.
Anyways, I'm glad I'm not leaving. And I'm excited about this next transfer. We're going to get a lot of good done, and we're going to be a lot more organized. Elder Chacon is doing a great job of helping me organize things.
One thing I do not have organized yet is the Christmas phone call. I'm sorry. I can't seem to find anyone who is able to help us out. We may have to do it on the cell phone again. I know it's expensive, but here's the thing... the few members here that have house lines are either going out of town or are not trustworthy at all. There is one member I can think of who will be here on Christmas who has a house phone but I'm convinced that something will "come up" or she'll just forget and leave her house. I will look around this week, maybe we can use an investigator's house. I can still update you next p-day (which is not Christmas day, it will be the 23rd) if we find a place where you guys can call. I'll be sure to let you know.
Let me tell you guys just really quick about the miracle that happened this week. We baptized a woman named Conceicao (kon-say-sown) on Saturday, and it was perhaps the most meaningful baptism of my mission thus far. We met Conceicao at the beginning of last transfer, Elder Cosme and I. She was living with a man named Francisco who she has two kids with, Davi and Debora. They aren't married, like a lot of people here. When we first met them Francisco seemed more interested, but over time he started to lose interest as Conceicao started to listen more and more to what we were teaching. In the time we've known them, they've moved to a different house, which is behind a new store of used furniture they opened up. They have two of these stores, Francisco takes care of one and Conceicao takes care of the other. After several weeks of teaching her we learned that Francisco argues with her over almost everything, doesn't ever help with the kids, and even hits her sometimes. She told us how she stopped loving him years ago and has been wanting to separate from him, but he has always refused. We gave the Book of Mormon to them on I think our second visit. Conceicao was the only one to pick it up and read it. She loves the Book of Mormon now. Over the past several weeks it was becoming increasingly clear that she was prepared and deserved to be baptized.
We'd already taught her everything; we were beginning to go over the lessons all over again, and even coming up with some fun object lessons from the Book of Mormon for her and her kids. The only thing that was getting in her way was the fact that Francisco was living in the same house with her without being married. They weren't breaking the law of chastity, they weren't even sleeping in the same room, but the rules of the Church with this kind of thing are very clear cut. Basically, you can't live on the same property as someone of the opposite sex (outside of your family) without being married if you want to be baptized. So Conceicao went several weeks wanting very much to be baptized, but not being able to because of this technicality. She didn't get discouraged though, nor did she allow such circumstances to weaken her faith. She continued to follow our counsels and read the Book of Mormon and go to church. We would come with plans to try and get Francisco out of the house. Leaders from the Church were called over to talk to him and explain things. We tried just simply moving his clothes into their other furniture store where there is a little apartment to live in. He wouldn't leave. And they would fight a lot. We recognized that it was entirely outside of our control whether or not he left. Our only option, after three months of teaching, and a sweet priesthood blessing given to her, was to fast and pray that the Lord would please not forget those who do his will. He answered our prayers this weekend, after the bittersweet test of faith, and Francisco finally decided he didn't feel welcome in his home anymore, and left. Conceicao was baptized on Saturday night and confirmed Sunday morning. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
She has been radiant these last few days since receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and is so excited to learn more. She feels honored to have the chance to be a full tithe payer and to be given a calling soon. I know with a surity now that I can't go home from my mission saying I didn't see miracles. Truly I can testify of the words Mormon spoke, "He has not ceased to be a God of miracles". My prayers have been full of gratitude, and hope for the future. We have a number of good people to work with on the horizon, so I'm happy I'm staying here.
I'm also looking forward to my new pants that I should get next week at zone conference, and I'm especially looking forward to our Christmas phone call!!!!! I'll be sure to let you know if I find someone's house we can use. If not, I'll give the cell phone number next week. I hope all is well at home. I miss you guys, I love you and pray for you.

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