I apologize for the sparse letters these past few weeks. Things have been going nuts lately. I have lots of emails I’ve not responded to for lack of time. These last two P-Days we’ve had to go off to the other side of the city, which messes up the normal routine.
I guess I’ll start by resuming what happened during my last week in the mission office. Sunday night (8 days to departure), I got a call at about 10 PM from a member of the ward named Marcos. I answered and he said, “Elder, I have a new investigator for you guys and she wants to be baptized next week.” Obviously astonished, I immediately started asking about this individual. He told me her name was “Zilda” which astonished me even more. Zilda is his mother in law who is 74. She has been attending church for years with them but never was baptized because she never felt the desire within her heart. Long story short, she was very touched by a Primary Program that had taken place in one of the other wards in the stake, as well as a talk given by the Bishop of said ward that very same day. I was told that as soon as they got in the car to go home that all she could talk about was her desire to be baptized.
We spent several nights that week visiting and teaching her. It was absolutely one of the coolest spiritual experiences I’ve had on my mission. I’m so grateful to have been privileged enough to take part in her conversion. I truly feel that part of the reason Heavenly Father left me in that ward so long is because I needed to be one of the missionaries that helped her along the path. I’m honored to have been able to help her “seal the deal” 22 years after she first took part of the missionary lessons. She requested that I baptize her as well!
My last Sunday in Jabaquara was pretty awesome. That day we baptized Zilda, and it was also fast Sunday. Bishop Douglas asked me to be the last person to bear my testimony. Right before it was my turn, he got up and bore his own. Before I got up there, he told the ward that I would be leaving after 11 months there and he thanked me for my work. It was a really awesome and unique opportunity that most don’t have!
Monday passed by in a blur and before I knew it I was in a car on my way to Rio Grande da Serra. The last two weeks have absolutely flown by! In the beginning, my body complained a bit as I got back into the normal routine. My current area is the very last one in the mission, being the farthest away from the mission office. It takes roughly 90 minutes to get here by 2 metrô and one train. Technically, it is part of the metropolitan region of São Paulo, but it is its own municipality. The area stretches over miles and miles of greenery. It has lots of brush, hills, natural life, waterfalls, and the like. Everything we do and all the people we visit live far away from each other. My pedometer broke several months ago, but I would love to know how much we walk! I’ve lost roughly five pounds so far. Just a few more to go to make up for all the weight I gained over the past 11 months!
My companion, Elder Macedo, is a newer missionary. This is his second transfer in the field and I’m finishing up his training. He’s from Belém, Pará which is way up in northern Brazil. We’re getting along great and work really well together!
On my birthday last week, I got a call from President and Sister Broadbent. They sang “Happy Birthday” to me. It was a nice surprise! That day, one of our investigators (who has now been baptized), Márcia, had a cake made for me!
This past week has really flown by. We taught right around 50 lessons and found 21 new investigators. Elder Macedo had some ingrown toenails as well, so these past two P-Days we’ve traveled to the other side of the city of São Paulo to get them taken care of. All is now well!
I had the opportunity to do my first division and baptismal interview as a District Leader this past Thursday. I went to the neighboring area called Pêrola da Serra and Macedo stayed in our area. I enjoyed learning new techniques from Elder Marks. He’s from Manaus, a big city that sits right in the middle of the Amazons. He’s an awesome missionary and really gave me a different perspective. I interviewed a girl named Mariani that they’ve been teaching. It lasted 1.5 hours. She had lots of questions that required detailed responses. All in all, it was an awesome spiritual experience!
As Christmas draws near, we all naturally turn our hearts toward the Savior as we remember His birth. We give presents and share our love for others, which is a tradition started by the wise men who visited the Christ Child over 2,000 years ago. As we approach this commemorative date, I’d like to share some thoughts that have been shared with us recently by my mission president. The only gift that we can give to God is that of our own will – our desire to set aside our own wishes and do that which He would have us do. Our agency is the only things we can give back to God that He hasn’t already given us.
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Christ was born so that we could be born again. Through His atoning sacrifice, we can transfer our burdens to His shoulders and “take [His] yoke upon [us]” so that we may “find rest unto [our] souls”. His promise is simple, clear, and powerful. If we give up our will to the Lord’s, we have the opportunity to live with Him again for all eternity. As Christ stated in that scripture, His way is the easy way. As we realize the truthfulness of that statement and really decide to do His will, we can and will be continually and eternally blessed.
With all my love,
Elder Chapman Tew