Well, after three months of blood, a lot of sweat (seriously, it´s really hot here) and tears, we´re having a bunch of progress! Well, I guess that "a bunch" is relative, but compared with what´s been happening until this point, we´re having some good things happen! Élder Muniz and I set a goal to be more bold with people and to invite everyone to baptism in the first lesson, even if we´re a little bit scared to do so. And, things are going well!
We had some cool experiences happen this week with Victor. He has a baptismal date for this Saturday (please pray that he can stop smoking before Friday) and one day we decided to talk about missionary work. As we were explaining things he said, "Well, I have this friend, Paulo, that you guys can talk too. He´s cool but he attends another talk so I don´t know if he´ll want to hear from you guys." So, he went and talked to Paulo. Paulo said he was interested in hearing a little so we invited him to a ward family night. In the message we talked about "The Starfish Story". This was one of Todd´s (my swim coach) favorite stores. It goes like this:
One day, a man was walking along the beach after a terrible storm. He was amazed at the beauty that he found during his walk with pieces of driftwood, shells, and starfish along the sand. In the distance, this man saw a figure that seemed to be dancing and celebrating. The man was thrilled to see someone so excited and joyous about life. As he drew closer he noticed that the figure was a youth who seemed to be performing some practice over and over again. As he arrived at the side of the youth he saw that the youth was repeatedly bending down, grabbing a starfish, and throwing the starfish back into the ocean. The man, curious, asked the youth what he was doing. Said the young man:
"I´m helping these starfish. Soon the sun will come out and it will be extremely hot. All of the starfish will dry up and die. So, I´m throwing them back into the ocean so they can survive."
The man was impressed with this act of love. Then looking up and down the beach he said to the youth:
"But don´t you see? There are miles of beach here and millions of starfish! You can´t possibly hope to make a difference here!"
The youth pondered this briefly and replied, "Maybe you´re right", then he bent down and plucking another starfish from the sand he throwing it into the water he said, "But it made a difference for that one."
Everyone really liked that story. We talked about how the gospel is a gospel of "ones". Ou seja, that people come to the gospel in ones. One at a time people are invited, people commit, and one by one people are baptized. We talked about how the Savior´s Atonement is a personal sacrifice. He sacrificed himself for each one of us personally. He knows who we are and what we struggle with in our lives. I know that my Savior knows me personally. With this brief message we marked another day to visit with Paulo.
We took Paulo and Victor to the house of a member here in the ward two days later. There, we watched "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" and the Spirit was strong. Victor liked the movie, but Paulo was intensely interested the whole time. I don´t think he took his eyes off the TV for a single second. Then at the end the members bore testimony about their own conversion and how they prayed to know that it was true.
Then, to make things even better, he came to church yesterday! Miracles are real. I´m beginning to see more and more the promise that the Lord makes to us in Alma 37:6-7 about how many times, miracles are brought to pass by small and simple means. I know this is true.
Eu sei que esta é a igreja verdadeira de Jesus Cristo. Amo essa oportunidade que tenho para servir e ser represente Dele. Amo vocês.