I was looking through my mission letters and realized that I was missing a week in September! After some searching on my mission email account I found it.
Oh! Oh! Oh! We had an incredible week, and yesterday was the cherry on the top. We had seven of our investigators at Church yesterday. Seven. I know! Okay, so this would be dismal in Brazil, but for us here: a miracle. And, thankfully, everything went smoothly at Church. Even when you have one ami at church you seem to have this motherly fuss over them, and for seven it would be impossible. But, the members stepped in and took care of each of them. They made me proud. President Ulivaka said once that the missionaries try so hard to bring the investigators through the door only to be met by members that kick them out window. This week missionary and member alike kept them safe inside the fold.
We received some new missionary training from our leaders concerning the doctrine of Christ and how we need to extend the baptismal commitment at each lesson we teach and a date. We have already been doing our best to do this, but at our district meeting we did some effective role playing that helped us experience and see new ways of how we should present and ask the baptismal question. I was surprised at how well the role playing went. Sometimes it can be ridiculous. For example, you can have either bad investigator acting (too mean or too unrealistic) or missionaries (okay, me) who don't take it seriously enough. I remember attempting it a few times with Soeur Seiko in Paita but she would break out laughing and I can never be much of a realistic investigator. Well, this week the role playing was, like I previously stated, effective.
Anyway, all this new training is derived from Preach My Gospel, but it approaches the work in a more inspired, concise way. I can see how the work is going to develop and be enhanced in the process of this new training. My love for Preach My Gospel has grown over my mission and does not decrease; I see how inspired the prophet and his apostles are/were in creating and honing our use of this volume to increase the efficiency of our work.
Since that training my companion and I have been diligent in teaching our lessons in a way that it evolves around the baptismal commitment, because really, shouldn't our investigators know exactly why we're there? And, shouldn't our end goal be commonly shared?
At our second lesson with Victoria and Roger (newer investigators) we were doing a recapitulation of the Restoration. We used Book of Mormon scriptures to describe the ministry of Jesus Christ and how it is necessary for us to follow His example. Roger asked us if we could baptize him right there on the spot because he said he hadn't been baptized. Roger is very zealous. (Funny side note: Roger also told us a few days ago how once Moses came into their garden with a bunch of forest animals to talk with him.) Victoria, who is level-headed and thoughtful, told us that she too wants to be re-baptized because she didn't remember even making the decision to be baptized (she was sprinkled as an infant - "infant baptism is a solemn mockery before God" - Moroni says it all for me). We talked about authority and the necessity to be baptized by someone who holds the Priesthood of God, restored to the Church through the prophet Joseph Smith. We asked them if they would like the be baptized on October 9th by someone who held the Priesthood of God and become members of the Lord's church on earth. They said yes. The Spirit was so strong and tears came to Victoria's eyes. She said that she had had a dream a few weeks ago (fyi: revelatory dreams are not only not uncommon here but also not looked upon as strange) and saw two young women coming towards first Roger and then towards her. She said we were a miracle for her.
There are a lot of odds and ends that need to be tied up and changed before Victoria and Roger can be baptised, but we will teach them what they need to know and pray that they'll have the courage to follow the nicely lighted straight and narrow. That's something I love about the Gospel: God doesn't hide anything from us; all that is necessary to our salvation is illumiated and simple. He shows us the EXACT way we need to go. We just have to search, listen, repent and obey.
Victoria and Roger were two of our seven amis that came to Church on Sunday. For them it was a first. Unfortunately, testimony meeting started with a testimony that was far far far from a testimony; a member got up to the microphone and when he began talking his phone rang. I was surprised ( thinking, "wow, that's conicidental") until he answered the phone and said "Oh, hello Heavenly Father." This is when surprise met shock. He then pretended to have a little conversation with God on the phone while still at the pulpit. I wonder what was going through his mind as he was pre-mediating the execution of this little "testimony." I had to quickly explain to Victoria and Roger, people who haven't gone to church in years and completely NEW to all of this, that that person did not have a special phone in connection to God. It was so uncomfortable for everyone listening, and I was nervous for our amis. However, I think everyone realized what was going on and all the other testimonies that came afterwards were powerful, truth-based and edifying. No more phone calls from "Heavenly Father." Phew.
During our Relief Society lesson we had a great discussion on "The Church of Jesus Christ Today" and the Restoration. It was perfect for Victoria. She drank everything up. She kept commenting to me, "This is true, this is true." She had all her scriptures with her in her backpack and informed me that she had read the entire brochure we had given her and had completed the scripture study found at the end. It was one of the best experiences to be next to her and Roger throughout all the meetings and see the knowledge and light of the Gospel entering into them.
Francois decided this week to "put the Lord to the test" and quit smoking for good. There is a marked difference in his countenance from when we first met with him. Now when we come to pick him up on Sunday morning (with a member) he is in his buttoned white shirt and his tie is around his neck by the time we arrive to church.
Soeur Paepaetaata and I are experiencing a lot of joy. We are seeing miracles in the work we do. We feel the closeness of the Spirit's presence and the love that Heavenly Father has for these good people.
I love you all.