Noite Familiar was great last week. It was a bit of a rush to get things ready as we were miles out in our area when we found out that we needed to provide the food. The elders were broke so we had a make a mad dash for pizzas before meeting someone to walk to the chapel with. He was a guy from Nepal that we had invited in the street called Chandra! He is really cool as he used to work as a guide in the Himalayas! Luckily there were enough Elders and English speakers on hand to chat with him and he seemed to really enjoy it. We tried to play a game of `heads down thumbs up' but apparently Portuguese adults struggle to grasp the concept of games created for primary school children! It was funny though!
This week we have had patches of torrential rain in between sunny skies, so I have been carrying round my waterproof, living in boots handed down from a pesquisador in Viseu and resorted to buying an umbrella this week (which is still in one piece, so a good choice!) That's the rain part of the title!
THE FIRST BAPTISM OF SOMEONE I TAUGHT!!!! Yay! So we were lucky enough to get back from zone conference in time the week before to mark Maria de Lourdes for the 17th. We set up times to see her this week, had some great lessons about family history work and the power of the priesthood. Then she had her interview. After a phone call from President (which I think we manage to to convince her was to make her feel special rather than worried) on Saturday we were all good to go! Saturday was filled with the stress of making the programme and realising that we really don't know the members very well. Portuguese people have this way of having at least 5 or 6 names and in some cases not using any of them in normal day life, so every time we called someone to see if they could do a talk or a prayer we had to ask for their full name, as finding them on the ward list was often impossible! Then the printer refused to do double sided printing in any normal way, so we were a little late home after arguing with it!
All the craziness aside (Maria threw up several times before the baptism service, because she was so anxious, the members had to be herded into the meeting as they were so excited talking and preparing the Almoço da Ala - Munch and Mingle, singing turned into a solo from the conductor at one point as everyone was writing notes, a very steamy baptism font, and Maria de Lourdes gave an extra prayer rather than her testimony) it was a lovely baptism. Gil, a recent convert, was so excited to baptise her. The words of the actual ordnance are so simple and yet profound, a baptism is performed in the name of God, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost and is just the first step in our journey back home. This is the only path that leads to living with God and eternal families, Jesus Christ is the only name by which it can be validated.
In other news, we managed to get Carlos to church. He was baptised the week before I got here and missed church the last 3 weeks! We got an early bus (Sunday bus schedules are a nightmare!) and arrived nearly 1 hour early, so waited in the rain for a good while, contemplating how our sacrifices bring forth the blessings of Heaven! He was still a little resistant to making commitments with the church, I guess because he realises how important they are, and then we got a lift to church together. The blessing he was given as he received the gift of the Holy Ghost was simple and personal, as he is studying and trying to find work and it mentioned how he would gain knowledge from the best books. I know now he will be supported by the guidance the Holy Spirit can give to our minds and hearts.
Almoço da Ala was carnage! There was so much good food - Portugal has the best bread, chicken dishes and rice, and nearly all of the cakes provided by Sister Waddell! Everyone was just so hungry and chatty, but it was great. Nella and Miguel, that made pancakes for us in Viseu were there, as he was travelling on Stake duties. It was so awesome! Finally there are people that know me from other places, which makes them so much more excited to see you as you instantly have this common ground. I'm beginning to feel like I'm actually in the main part of my mission now!
It was pretty hard getting lessons this week as no one was home. Still, we managed to get people to Noite Familiar and Ala Ingles (even though we weren't able to be at Ala Ingles and had to send the elders to pick some of them up for Noite Familiar, as we were in the other side of our area!) It all worked out in the end though and it is great to remember that we are all just part of one big team. Definitely working with other missionaries is the best part of my mission so far.
Interviews with President were overrunning, because they came after a zone conference for Viseu and Santarém. It was actually a tender mercy of the Lord though, because it meant that we got to chat to missionaries from Viseu for over an hour. It's amazing how much you miss people when you leave them! The interview itself was really lovely too. All my encounters with President now are just confirming that he does really love and care about us. He gave some great advice about making a greater effort with pesquisadores in the beginning, just like friction needing a greater force against it to start something moving than it will need later. When explaining that I hadn't really felt like a missionary or helped any one, he talked about the book about the 5 people you meet in Heaven and how usually you don´t see how you have impacted other people's lives. He said that he was really proud of the progress that I had made, which was just what I needed to hear as most of our time is spent worrying that we aren't pleasing President. Also... I have to keep working on my Portuguese as apparently, I will be senior companion `soon' AHH!!! (but an exciting ahhh as well as fearful)
I think that's the main news. In the words of one of the messages I opened from last Christmas today... I am beginning to learn a lot of `blessons' where we see the blessing in each of our trials that teach us lessons. It can take time, it is still pretty painful as you go through it, but I know that it will all be worth it.