Dear Family and Friends,
It´s been a special week here. The work continues to be hard and difficult, yet I have a great love and gratitude fills my heart for the people here. The members, few, yet faithful, have really made us feel loved.
Yesterday, the branch had a giant family home evening type activity, and at the end celebrated my birthday as well as Pres. Luis with lots of cake.
And today, we went and toured some old plantation houses (as last week rained) and then had a delicious and special lunch. So, in short, it felt good to celebrate. There´s no fireworks, no town celebrations, so it was nice to keep something the same as at home, with cake, etc.
Touring the houses was wonderful. We visited some old slave houses from 150 years ago, and where the descendants still live. And the old sugar cane plantation houses. Almost all of them have fallen into disrepair and are abandoned (yet protected by the city) and yet emanate beauty. I really like the style they were built in.
This week was also the day to celebrate Nossa Senhora Aparecida. The town, traditionally Catholic, closed down for the day and held a parade. We heard the pólice sirens blazing and I was expecting something big, but it was just a long line of cars with one float put together by the catholic church with a statue on it.
Also, Friday was a festival celebrating the people who live in the country, i.e. farmer, and we visited the festival briefly. Filled with lots of incredible homemade treats to purchase.
Sunday, for faith and testimony meeting, everyone bore their testimony. Usually, at least one or two people stay on the stand talking about their lives for a while, but yesterday it was one person after another bearing a quick and powerful testimony, like we are counseled to do. It was perfect. Except, being a small branch I realized everyone had already bore their testimony except for me and the 2nd counselor in the branch presidency, and we still had about 20 minutes left in the meeting. I didn’t want to discourse, so I got up next, bore my testimony, and couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the counselor. But he did great, shared some scriptures, bore his powerful testimony before letting the branch president get up again and close the meeting, right on time.
A member gave us some fresh from the farm milk, and we’ve been enjoying avocado smoothies, or papaya, orange, and banana smoothies every day for a while now. Its gets you going in the morning.
As I mentioned recently, we’ve had opportunities to leave prayers with people in their houses. We returned to one on Thursday, and the man was waiting for us. He had felt the spirit strongly, and asked us if we had the time to go to the house of his mother. Of course we agreed, and headed over with him. When we get there, the mother explains that she´s been separated from her husband for some time, and a couple months ago, he came over to visit, and during the visit, fell, was hurt badly and ended up dying in the hospital after an 11 day stay. And, recently, a lot of weird things have been happening where he fell, i.e. stuff falls off the table for no reason, chairs topple over, etc. So she asked us to pray. I´ll admit that I had some goosebumps, but we shared a message, talked about the peace we could have in our lives. It was definitely a memorable lesson.
Yesterday was the first time we had investigators in the church this transfer! And it was definitely a miracle, as we had two and weren’t counting on having anyone. And, after church, as we went knocking doors, and were rejected and rejected and rejected, we were feeling challenged to keep going, when we tried again and it was the best reception we’ve had since I’ve got here. A married (legally!) couple answered, definitely prepared with a desire to hear or message. After not entering in houses for a long time, they asked us if we could enter and share a message with them. I think we just stood there wondering what was going on. Honestly, talking with Elder Cavalcante afterwards, it turns out we both thought they were less actives. But no, just people with a desire to find the truth. Had a great lesson, and they are both excited to read the Book of |Mormon.
That’s it! It´s been a good week, and we are excited for more here in Quissamã!