Wednesday, June 29, 2016
AlecrimSo I honestly don´t have a lot to tell you guys about this week....I think I´m just getting lazy about writing these emails, to be honest. :) It was a good week with super rainy weather, which I love! We´re still helping Valtemir, who had a couple of relapses last week but is still making huge progress. Depending on his progress this week, he can get baptized on Sunday!
This month is an exciting one for northeastern Brazilians. June/July is the time of year where they celebrate São João and they have what they call festas juninas with traditional dancing, traditional foods made out of corn, and stuff like that. On June 23, everyone lights a bonfire in front of their house, which is cool, despite being a huge hazard. :) Plus, tons of people have been throwing firecrackers on the street, which always gives us a good scare. It´s been pretty crazy around here.
And...that was pretty much our week. I don´t have a lot to relate in terms of investigators, because a lot of the people we´ve found haven´t progressed a whole lot. But keep Valtemir in your prayers, please!
Me and Sister V. Lopes
All of the missionaries who go home in August
Us with President and Sister Soares
Our district (us and Elder Petter and Elder C. Silva, the secretaries)
Pictures of Rakelly´s baptism
Monday, June 20, 2016
So, this week was our last zone conference with President Soares. It´s weird to think he´ll be going home in less than 2 weeks. I felt the Spirit very strongly, testifying of the reality of Jesus Christ.
This week, we did an exchange with the sisters who are serving in Canguaretama, a small "interior" city that´s close to Natal. I stayed in my area with Sister Zavaleta, who is from Peru and has 5 months on the mission. It was a good week, and we baptized Rakelly, the granddaughter of two recent converts. She´s been attending church for several months with her grandparents, and finally decided she wanted to be baptized. Her baptism was very special.
I don´t have time to write more than that, since our stake president and his wife are going to take us out to see some historic parts of Natal. Sorry! I´ll send pictures next week!
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
This week started out with what we call conselho, which is a meeting for the leaders of our mission (zone leaders, secretaries, assistants, and sister training leaders). The meeting was on Tuesday, but the sister training leaders from the interior came on Monday and spent the night in our house, which was fun. The meeting was similar to the zone conferences, just with less people. The secretaries, assistants, President and Sister Soares all spoke, and we talked together about how we can have more success and be more obedient as a mission. As part of the conselho, the people who go home at the end of this transfer bore their testimonies, and it scared me to think that the next group bearing testimony will be my group. Whoa.
, we had a zone meeting so that we could teach the other missionaries what we learned in the conselho. I got to meet more of the sisters that I´m responsible for, which was great.
This week, we started teaching Cleide and Joacir´s daughter, Greice. (Cleide and Joacir are recent converts). Greice and her husband Marcone attend a church called Congregação cristã and is better known as the church of the veil. Something like that. I don´t think it even exists in the US. Anyway, they´re really receptive and we were able to teach them about the Restoration, and they surprised us by going to church(they didn´t commit to going but said they would go if it worked out). Marcone didn´t go because he had to work. And during sacrament meeting, Greice´s 4 year old daughter asked me "Where is Jesus Christ? Is he here?" I explained to her that He was there but that we couldn´t see Him. Her question was so cute and showed the pure, innocent faith of a child. She was in His house, so naturally Jesus Christ must be there.
There´s a recent convert in our area named Wilmer. He loves to buy presents for people, and he´s been wanting to buy açaí for us for a while, but it´s never worked out. But this week, since my throat was better, we accepted his offer and he sent us a liter of açaí. It was sooo good. :) I also got to eat a lasagna this week that tasted like it came from Olive Garden.
And the best part of the week was Valtemir. We found out that he started drinking and smoking when he was 8 years old. Yes, 8. And he is now 56, so it´s been a while. He even went through a period in which he used injectable drugs (though luckily doesn´t anymore), and occasionally uses crack. But this week, he made amazing progress. He went to church for the second time, and he hasn´t even been leaving his house so that he won´t get tempted to drink. He´s been studying the Book of Mormon and praying, and always humbly asks for forgiveness and for help to overcome his addictions in his prayers. It is such a pleasure to teach him and to see how much he wants to change. And I know that even though he´s been addicted for 48 years, he can change. That´s the beautiful message of the gospel: that the Atonement doesn´t have limits, and that God can truly do miracles. I believe that with all my heart and know that Valtemir can change and can start a new life.
All my love,
Elder Aguiar, my best zone leader ever (from Mossoró)
Our sisters <3
Monday, June 6, 2016
MiraclesOn Tuesday, I was still pretty sick, so Sister Soares took me the doctor and he prescribed me some antibiotics and now I´m all better :)
This was a pretty hard week and we got a little discouraged because we weren´t seeming to find good people to teach. This area is a little bit difficult. On Sunday morning, all of the people we went to pick up didn´t go to church, so we arrived there without any investigators. But miraculously, a man we had invited during the week (Edmilson) showed up, and so did a man that we had invited while we were picking up investigators (his name is Valtemir). And so did a young woman named Joice, who wants to be baptized but her mom doesn´t let her.
Another miracle this week was that we met a 20-year-old man named João Victor who had already had contact with the church but didn´t end up getting baptized because he had left town. But he accepted a baptismal date for this Sunday!
So this week, we saw clearly God´s hand in our work. One thing I´ve learned is that God can use our imperfect efforts to do great things. He can do miracles. We were humbly reminded that this truly is His work, and not ours.
On Sunday afternoon, a member of our ward named Franco went out with us to introduce us to some less-active members. While we were with him, a car stopped right next to us and the driver was a man who served in the João Pessoa mission 15 years ago and served in the Alecrim ward! He had come back to visit Natal, and he and Franco both told us to take advantage of this time we have left, because it´s one of the best phases of our lives. They told us that we will never ever forget our missions, even after we have our own families. It made me excited to think that one day, 15 years from now, I can come back to visit northeast Brazil, this wonderful place that will forever be in my heart :)
Pictures of my apartment in Alecrim
The picture is one that every companionship is sending to President and Sister Soares, since they´re ending their mission. They go home on July 1!