We have been so blessed this week. We went back to a house where the family had just been moving in when we knocked and asked us to come back in May. We literally turn up at the accompanha and say 'remember us, you said we could come in May, it's May now' and they let us in. Miriam has the sweetest 4 children. Ravi is 14, but so polite, kind and helpful. Ines is 7 and really sweet. Then there's Vasco and Hugo, the 21 month old twins, who are just adorable. We got to talk a lot as she was coaxing Vasco and Hugo to eat something - turning their noses up at cabbage soup in favour of bananas (the little minions). It was just great teaching her. She already had a Book of Mormon that the missionaries had given her a year ago and had missionaries in her home sometimes as a child. It was just such a testimony that everything we do is part of a bigger purpose. Truly, these people usually have lots of small, positive, experiences with the church before they are ready to accept the gospel. Perhaps we will just be one of these steps, but it makes you realise that every good impression is important. She talked about how she wanted to instil good values in her children (seems like she's doing pretty good already) and protect them from the world. Sometimes it sounded like she was teaching us! I am so excited to go back there and share another message. Just hope they will come to church soon.
We also taught another couple of new people that day. Tina feels very alone, especially at the weekends now that her daughter is moving to Switzerland. I really felt for her and just realised how much the gospel truly does bring us happiness. When I hated University the most in first year and felt things were fairly pointless and alone, church on Sunday was the beacon of hope each week. I just hope she catches how coming to church will bless her life. Ana Maria, who we have been trying to catch all transfer, let us in as it was POURING with rain. She proceeded to tell us that she wouldn't commit, that she doesn't even go to 'her' (Catholic) church and would not let us pray with her because she 'doesn't believe any more'. Clearly some of the sickness in her past and death of family members has affected her adversely and it was really sad to see someone so defeated. Sister Waddell did a great job of subtly getting the second lesson (we lived with God before this life, he created a plan for us and we can live with our families forever afterwards) in and she let us sing a hymn, so we felt good. I just feel so much more love, even for these 'difficult' investigators now.
Maria de Lourdes is such a great member (even if she did miss church today so that she could clean the house for us to come and eat dinner!) It is wonderful to see someone progressing in their journey after baptism. It is so important to keep that strong connection, so that people don't feel they are making that change alone. Somehow we got through a 4 course meal with cornbread appetisers, cabbage soup, feijão and rice and then 2 desserts! I swore I wasn't going to eat again and yet today we already had pancakes for breakfast with the sisters, pizza and have a dinner appointment tonight! Getting fed by members is surprisingly hard work!
For Noite Familiar we taught about the restoration of the church with the elders. It was a whistle stop tour with the 4 of us sat on a sofa and getting up for our allotted section. Seemed to work out alright. The new investigator willingly received a Book of Mormon and everyone else looked suitably edified. This led into a rousing game of musical chairs (never again!) and jantar as ever! It seriously is one of the highlights of my week.
Was extremely cool to see Melanie, one of the members from Viseu, at church this week as she is studying here and stayed for the weekend because of the festivities. More of God's continual mercies.
After a slightly confusing start (my companion's parents thought 7:00 in the morning was an unreasonable time for them and rejected her first attempt) we enjoyed SKYPING our parents. (Is that a verb, does it need to be capitalised??) The surreal experience of trying to do scripture charades across the cameras was certainly interesting. I look forward to being able to see everyone again properly (and hear a little clearer) but I am so glad to be here at the moment. It really isn't just about baptising people, we are changing people's lives for the better, because I truly realise now that living the principles of the gospel and knowing that God loves us enough to guide us with a plan that includes Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice, brings lasting joy that many people in this world are lacking.