So let's wind back to the beginning of this week, which seems like a year ago. On Tuesday Elder Casper and Garcia and Sister Moraes and I had a little trip back to the continent to participate in the mission leadership council. We were so blessed to have the Ashby's drive us to the airport. Unlike the recent attempt to fly to and from Madeira, we were there in plenty of time and had a leisurely wait in the airport. I was kind of anxious not to be able to work in my area for two days, but Sisters Hansen and Araújo did a fantastic job of finding some new people.
Sister Moraes and I decided to work in Matosinhos for a few hours the night before the conference as it's close to Porto and the airport. I feel so lucky to have visited my recent convert family, once more before they go back to Brazil. As always be talked about how miraculous that first meeting was and how they have completely changed their lives because of this wonderful gospel. They have found so much more purpose, it is amazing! But more than that, Julio said to me for the first time that during that first contact he could feel that I had a different kind of spirit with me and that was what made him curious to find out more. As a missionary, that is literally what we strive for every day - to have the Holy Spirit with us. I am so glad that for at least one moment, I was able to achieve that. There really are no tricks, no fancy things we can say to entice people to come unto Christ, there is only our example and being worthy to have the Holy Spirit with us.
Then, the day I got back we went to teach Miguel and Rosalia. I was determined that we were going to mark them for baptism no matter what. So, of course Satan was fighting all he could. We had Rosalia`s sister who is kind of interested get up and leave to smoke half way through the lesson. Then, just as I am making the baptism invite, Carolina wakes up. We manage to get a calendar out, which helped them visualise the time they had to prepare and Nadia was actually really helpful in getting Miguel to choose a date. We still had some other people turn up as we were trying to work things out and Sister Hansen started to think perhaps this was a sign to leave it, but we stayed firm and now they are marked to get baptised on the 8th of January. We still have a lot of work ahead of us as they need to stop smoking completely and Miguel needs to work out a way to not be working during church, but we have faith!
On Saturday Rosalia and Miguel jnr. came to the baptism we had in the ward (baptisms are seriously Godsends to make more baptisms!) and Miguel was so excited he marked himself for baptism `when can I get baptised like that?'. It was such a magical moment. I love seeing the desire come from them, rather from our encouragement.
The activity on Saturday was also pretty fun. There were just so many people there that it was hard to get around to everyone. It was great to listen to the words of and watch the nativity. I am so pleased to have the same opportunity as the angels to `bear these good tidings of great joy` to everyone here on Madeira. We are really lucky. There was also some pretty interesting `talent`. We attempted to sing `Joy to the World` as a choir (mainly missionaries) but the director cut us off in the third verse, then changed his mind and tried to bring us back in again, which caused great confusion with the piano! However, I think the family managed to top us with `worst singing` that involved some swaying and interesting dance moves. The youth did some fun presentations and dances, but were upstaged by the 2 year old girl trying to copy them. We had so much fun that we didn't eat until 9pm and then had to leave early to get home in time for bed :)
Sunday was extra spiritual this week - thank goodness, because I'm not sure President would appreciate the standard Funchal spirit! The 3-year- old daughter of our pesquisador was very excited to colour my Disney princess book, so excited that I am now no longer in possession of it, but was so rambuncious that she came close to running into President. I don't think we've ever been as on edge during a sacrament meeting. Then we had a different teacher in gospel principles and talked about the atonement of Jesus Christ. I always love the parable about a man who took out a debt so that he could buy something he wanted. He knew that justice was on his side when he signed the contract. Then he worked to pay back the money, but got lazy and when the time came to repay the debt, he didn't have enough. The creditor called for justice and demanded his house to repay the debt. The man called for mercy and more time to get the money together. There they were, justice and mercy unreconciled. Until a friend of the man turns up and offers to pay the debt if the man will accept new conditions. Both justice and mercy are satisfied. The friend is obviously Jesus Christ, our advocate with the father, who will always plead our case. How blessed we are to have someone interested in our cause and able, because of his perfect life, to help us.
It will be interesting to see how the second Christmas on my mission goes. I just hope I can focus on my purpose and be a light to those around me.
FELIZ NATAL e um BOM ANO NOVO!!!