Well, this week was fun. After our wildly successful week last week the Lord saw fit to try us a little bit. But, it all worked out for the good and we actually had a pretty good week, all things considered. Sadly, our family of 5 didn´t get baptized. But, fear not, we re-invited them last night and they committed! They´re still unsure of a date (yeah, not something I like either) because the Dad has to go to Receife for work for a little bit and they want to wait until he comes home. On the bright side, about half the ward is going there next week for Carnival and during this time the Bishop´s wife is going to try and visit the family and take them to the temple grounds. Sure, they can´t go in, but maybe this will motivate them to do so one day. They really are an amazing family. The Lord blessed us bountifully to get that referal. On another happy note, Aluizio received the priesthood this week and has been called as the first counselor in the Sunday School Presidency. Ah. Felicidade.
And this brings me to the topic of the day: Gratitude. Like I said, this week was decently difficult. We had a number of appointments fall through, and sadly, some of them were people I really wanted to see. I want to see all of our appointments, but you know those ones that you think "yes, future bishop here" and then those ones fall through? Yeah, triste de mais. And this was the feeling. As we were doing weekly planning I thought about the mound of things that we needed to do, the huge number of people we needed to see and in general I felt inadequate. I had no idea what to do and I was in desperate need of help. For a few days I had felt the Spirit tell me that I needed to fast during this day in particular. Though I had no idea why, I figure the fast was so we could overcome the hesitance of the family and baptize them this week. But, as I pondered as I prepared to start my fast, the Spirit whispered "fast in gratitude." Gratitude? You´ve got to be kidding me. I was shocked. With everything that I needed at that time and the blessings that I deperately wanted for Joaquim, Eliane, and their children, and the Lord wanted me to fast in gratitude? But I pondered on that and said "you know, alright. Yeah, I´m desperate for blessings right now. But I trust the Lord" so I began my fast. It was simple just "Father, I feel the need to fast. So, I fast in gratitude for all of my many blessings" and we hit the street. I can´t say that we had the Red Sea part or that we found a family of 25 ready for the gospel, but I saw a number of miracles that day. I´m living in a foreign country with the oportunity to share the greatest message in the world with people. Yeah, I´m a really long way from my family, but at the same time I always carry a piece of them with me on my nametag. As we were walking away from another appointment, I saw a vine covered in beautiful little yellow flowers and I noticed the beauty of the world around me that the Lord has created for each one of us. And this was what happened throughout the day. I noticed and saw tons of mini miracles that were swirling all around me. But, I never saw them before because I wasn´t looking. Sure, there´s plenty of things in the world (and especially as a missionary) that are out there to try and bring us down. To make us focus on ourselves and our problems and why everything is terrible. But at the same time, there is so much good to be found as well. Our families, the scriptures, the gospel, the church, all of these amazing blessings have been given to us. We have modern technology that allows us to talk with people that are literally on the other side of the world almost instantaneously. We have ice cream. We have Oreos. We have living prophets that speak with Jesus Christ that lead the church today. Most important, we have the Atonement of Jesus Christ to aid us with every single thing that could ever go wrong in our lives. Sin, taken care of. Mistakes, mended. Sadness, consoled. Inadequacy, fulfilled. Yeah, there´s a lot of bad out there. But remember, Jesus Christ overcame all of that for us. So, the next time you´re having a bad day, look for the good. Pray specifically to find something good and I promise that if you open your eyes and look, the tender mercies of the Lord will be made manifest all around you. Because as we learn in 1 Nephi 1:20 "the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen because of their faith." I won´t lie, a gratitude fast took a lot of faith, but it was something that I´ll never be able to forget.
Até o próximo!