This has been another wild week. Sometimes I feel like we have no investigators at all and have no idea how we will fill our day and then we get to the end of the day counting our blessings. I guess that is how a mission is. Complete uncertainty in the beginning and then you look back and smile at what unfolded.
The sister of the awesome recent convert family, who got baptised 2 weeks ago has disappeared off the face of the earth. Luckily we have it confirmed that she is alive and well, but she isn't replying to any calls or messages, so we haven't been able to see her or even work out what happened. The Ashby`s were lovely enough to take us out to her house in Camara de lobos (it's a miracle we found it really, as I have only been there once before!) and we left cookies and a note, but still did not find her. I hope it is nothing major and we can get into contact this week, or at least before I go home.
We had a great miracle this week. I had actually seen the name of this less active family on our ward list a while ago and wrote it down in case we ever needed something to do. Last week I felt strongly prompted to go and look them up. We met the mum, who seemed surprised to see us as they had been baptised in the Asores 14 years ago, fallen away a bit because of family pressures and since moving to Madeira had never been contacted by anyone in the church. Thank goodness their records moved at least! We made an appointment and went back this week. Well we turn up to find not only are both she and her husband there with their handicapped daughter and baby, but her mum is also there and armed with questions. Not even annoying antagonistic ones, but a genuine desire to know. They have already presented the Book of Mormon to her church discussion group at the local catholic church. They are literally hanging off our every word as we answer their questions about how we baptise in the same way Christ was baptised, how we remember his sacrifice during the sacrament, what will happen after this life and how we can know which church is true for ourselves. Then the Father prays and thanks Heavenly Father for sending us (messengers) to them. They are excited to come to church when he gets a Sunday off work and I am so excited to teach them again this week. I truly feel like I was sent to this family.
We also used a powerful invitation to church with one of our long time investigators that has always been coming up with reasons to not come. Just one evidence that our district meeting can be really useful. I didn't feel too sure she meant it when she said she would come and we could come by to take the bus with her, but when we left the house (forgetting my bus pass so I had to pay!) and arrived she was waiting for us. She enjoyed church, said everyone was happy and hopefully she will progress more now.
Even our recent convert came to church after we used another tactic discussed in district meeting and his sister thinks her boyfriend would be interested in hearing from us.
Then we had this miracle Sunday night after knocking a lot of doors and a man and his mother let us in. They have been living in the states for 50 years, but come to Madeira regularly and it was such a blessing to be able to teach them. Hopefully they will read and pray about what we shared.
I truly know that Heavenly Father is always there for us. We were having a bit of a hard time staying motivated and decided to ask Elder Ashby for blessings. I know that priesthood blessings work, every time I have received one on my mission I have felt a power helping to sustain me through out the day. It really makes such a difference. Our situation doesn't always change, but we are given the strength and attitude to deal with it.
It is great to see the members getting more involved in our work. They are really looking out for the recent convert family and helping give us references, so we have people to teach. I am so blessed to be finishing my mission here on beautiful, strong Madeira.
It is so strange to be coming towards the end of my mission right now. So much has happened that 'real' life doesn't seem real at all. Every day seems like a dark tunnel, but I guess that should be exciting, because each day anything can happen and any day can lead to anywhere!
This week we were very lucky to find 7 people! We started off well with Sunday night and finding a lovely little family of 3 at the end of some fairly hopeless door knocking. We were gob smacked when they let us in and invited their daughter to join us before we could even ask if there was anyone else at home! We had a wonderful lesson and they really seemed to understand how no other church has the fullness of the gospel in the way that Jesus Christ presented it, citing changes like the fact that catholic priests can marry as not in accordance with what Christ taught. So, we are very excited to go back and teach them tonight with a member.
We were also finally able to teach the friend of a recent convert in her house. Her friend was really open to the message and accepted the invitation to be baptised. We just have to help her overcome this feeling of depression and get to church with the tricky bus timetables.
President also came up with this 'neat' idea of setting us various challenges throughout the week upon which the zone pride would rest. I am very grateful that, miraculously, we have managed to complete them all. We were blessed on Saturday morning, a few moments after the challenge was set to find a new that day. He's a Buddhist and doesn't think he wants to practice two different religions right now, but he was very interested and enjoyed finding the common ground. We were also saved with last nights challenge which arrived with 3 hours to complete it. We had to find a father at home and offer to give a prayer to bless their house (as it was father's day in Portugal yesterday). We knocked door after door during those hours and only found women at home. Then we had to help a recent convert over the phone with a housing situation that involved calling and checking up with a lot of members, but luckily at 8:30 we were inspired to stop at this house and a lovely old man with grown up children spoke to us and would have invited us in if his wife had been more open :)
We were also able to go back to Maira and Samuel's house to teach them with her mum and their daughter. They were filled with questions as ever, but really loved the message we gave. We are really hoping that they will be able to come to the activity that we are having this Saturday and church because it is his day off this week. It is really just lovely to be recognised as servants of the Lord and have people ready and waiting for your to arrive rather than fighting to teach anyone!
Oh... so I really loved church this week and learnt some valuable lessons. Elder Zanni took the gospel principles class at the last moment and did a fantastic job. It kind of stemmed from the book, but took on a brilliant life of it's own with lots of quotations from prophets, personal stories and class participation. Anyway, he said two things that impressed me (hope nothing is lost in translation between his Spanish thoughts and Portuguese words and my English typing!). One 'Sacrifice should become a privilege'. When I started my mission (and still sometimes) I feel like I shouldn't have to sacrifice stuff. That it is hard and unnecessary, but we shouldn't complain, it is a great opportunity to show our love for God and our fellow man. Two 'The commandment that is most important is whatever one we are having difficulty keeping'. I've heard this before, but I think it is really important that we personalise the gospel for ourselves. We shouldn't get complacent just because we think we're not doing 'big' things wrong, but we should be actively focussed on what we need to improve.
The other thing I wanted to share that I found this week was something from this month's Liahona magazine (Bruno has generously turned into our rotating library and is the source of more recent church material!) Some one was talking about two types of virtues: 'resumé virtues' and 'eulogy virtues'. The resumé virtues are obviously good, they are our skills and things that we offer to the workplace and other creative enterprises, but we must make sure that we spend sufficient time developing the more important virtues such as love, patience, kindness, helping out with children, grandchildren, strangers, which make up the sort of things that people will eulogise us for when we are gone.
I hope we are all prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to develop these 'eulogy virtues' and enjoy every day we have.