This past week was wonderful! There were some pretty interesting events that took place.
We got a call on Wednesday morning and received the notification that one of the members of the ward (who was less-active) had died. He had passed away on Tuesday night, and that day they were already going to have the viewing and funeral. They like to do things fast in Brazil. All of the ward leaders were going to have to work most of the day, so they asked us to go to the Church and help take charge until just after lunch when the Bishop would be able to arrive. We spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon at the churhc with the Bishop’s wife and relatives of the deceased man. I had never met him, nor any members of his family. It was an interesting yet saddening experience to watch as they all said their goodbyes to him. I had the privilege of playing the piano for the funeral service. I had never done that before. Despite the melancholy air about the room, I was able to feel the presence of the Spirit as he comforted the family in their time of grieving. The Bishop bore his testimony during the funeral service. He spoke of the Plan of Salvation, and the opportunity that we all have to return to live with God again if we live our lives as He has asked us to. It was a powerful experience.
We were finally able to get in contact with a woman that the previous Elders had been teaching. Her name is Renata. Her daughter, Ana Paula (18), moved to the US two years ago for a foreign-exchange program. After she finished high school, she decided to stay there and study at one of the universities there. She lives in Utah, and consequently was converted and baptized in the church while there. Her mother, Renata, went out to Utah to visit her, view her baptism, and spend Christmas with her in December. While there, she had a number of spiritual experiences while at Temple Square, and her daughter’s baptism. She said that she was able to notice a marked difference in the environment in Utah compared to that of São Paulo. She said that she believed that the proximity that the population has with God makes a huge difference in the overall spirit of the location. We’re doing our best to help her recognize the Spirit in her life, and gain a testimony of the Gospel. We hope that within the next few weeks we’ll be able to baptize her and her two younger children.
We have an English class that goes on in our ward every Thursday night. We went for the first time this week and were absolutely astonished at what we found. There were at least 50 people there, three of which were members of the Church. We were able to talk to a few of them, and have made appointments with them for this week!
On Saturday we received money for our lunch instead of eating with members. We decided to use said money (and quite a bit of our own money) to go to Outback! There’s one right in the middle of our area attached to a mall. It’s situated outside of the actual mall, so we didn’t have to ask permission to go there. It was great! I was contemplating whether or not to get dessert. I thought about my mom and her love for the “Chocolate Thunder from Down Under” and decided that I would partake as homage. Sometimes you’ve just got to make the sacrifice!
We met a teenage girl named Taís this past Saturday. We invited her to church on Sunday, and she came! Generally people take some prodding to come the first time, but she showed up by herself 30 minutes before the meetings started. She’s 14, and an awesome girl. She has lots of desire to know more about the church!
Well, I’m short on time. To quote myself from a letter that I wrote to a friend today, “I KNOW and feel in every fiber of my being that the Gospel is true, and that it changes lives. It has changed mine continually as every day has passed by. I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store for me during my life. Following Him is not the easiest choice, but it is certainly the best one.” May the Lord bless each and every one of you.
Élder Chapman Tew