I am thrilled to hear you are learning Portuguese! Wahooooo! Yes, Dad, the language feels WAY different in your mouth than Spanish. Especially Portuguese in Portugal (not Brasil). I love it so much.
Speaking of learning Portuguese, we had some fun bloopers this week. Sister Stewart speaks very well and is learning incredibly fast, but there are still funny moments sometimes. For example, we were learning bedroom words. I told her to say "guarda-fatos" (closet), and she said, seriously, "guarda-fatso". HA!! Later in the week she accidentally told someone she is studying "enfermidades" (infirmities) instead of "enfermagem" (nursing). The joys of learning a new language. :)
Have I told you anything about Isabel? She was a referral from our digeridoo-playing WML, Ruben. She's around 65, gentle, into Eastern Philosophy, does "sound therapy" for a living, and for many, many years has been looking for a church in which she feels good.
She first came to the ward BBQ a few weeks ago, then we got her contact info and invited her to church. We've started teaching her with the RS president. She is super sensitive to the Spirit and seeks to know deeply and understand. She's been reading the BOM and told us that when she reads she feels something different -- something changes. It's hard to explain, she said, and we're thinking BINGO that's the Spirit!!
She loved the Plan of Salvation (I love how much my affection for and understanding of the Plan of Salvation has grown on my mission). At the end of the lesson, I realized we technically should have planned to extend a date because this was the second lesson with her. Frankly, I didn't want to. She struck me as someone who would take her time and come at her own pace and yada yada yada.
But I wanted to be obedient, so I prayed in my heart "God, I am going to extend a date. Please cushion it and carry it unto her heart in the way it needs to be carried." I couldn't remember which days in August were Saturdays, but I remembered August 30th was, so I took that and ran with it.
"We will be having a baptismal service on day 30 of August," I said, "Will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that day?"
She looked at me, smiled, and said, "Yes. That is what I want to do."
Truthfully I was very SURPRISED. I didn't expect that. But it was a beautiful moment. Isabel is a humble, truth-seeking person. It is such a privilege to know and teach people like her. Also, moral of the story: PMG is always right. :)
Maybe I'll be here for her baptism? I have no idea what they're planning to do with me for the last 2 weeks of my mission.
Andre came to church! I wish I had time to tell you the funny story about that.
Joao, Sira, and Sara came too! We are planning their baptism for next Sunday! I don't have time to tell you more about them, but will you pray that they can continue to feel the Spirit and have courage!? They are so cool and so ready.
I am learning a cool lesson about the power of the spirit. I feel like the Spirit is a healer. Let me illustrate this with a brief anecdote: Last night we were out working and I was feeling really pretty horrible. (This is not uncommon --- it was a Sunday night -- last day of the week -- you're exhausted and ready for Pday and it's summer and it's hot and your body is breaking down because missionary lifestyle is unnaturally demanding etc etc.) We sat down on some grass and made a few phonecalls and were conversing a bit. A man with a backpack and a scruffy dog passed by us. I didn't feel like I even had the energy to talk to him, but thankfully I have an amazing companion.
Sister Stewart really felt like we should talk to this man, so we got up and crossed the street to catch up to him, and started conversing with him. I remember thinking to myself at the beginning of the contact, "I don't know if I can do anything else after this contact. My head hurts, my body hurts, I just want to lie in my bed and sleep for 14 days and then I can move on with my life." But as we continued talking to him, and bearing testimony of the Restoration, and listening to him talk about what he believes about God and life, those thoughts faded away. The Spirit helped me stop focusing on myself and start being genuinely interested in this guy, Fernando.
We said a prayer with him and gave him a BOM (this is a spiritual gift of Sister Stewart -- she is so good at placing BOMs in the street) and and arranged to meet with him again on Thursday at the church. It was a brief encounter -- no more than 8 minutes -- but the Spirit was present and we felt it and he felt it.
As we walked away, I felt an evening breeze and smelled the summer grass and thought, "Hey! I feel good! I can definitely make it until 9:30."
This type of thing happens again and again and again for me. As missionaries, we are constantly exhausted. That is just part of the great adventure. But the one thing that never fails to give me animo and make me feel better is teaching. Teaching about eternal truths and feeling the Holy Ghost is transformative. One good lesson can change a "meh" day into something wonderful. It is remarkable, actually. I am so grateful.
Well, we're off to Sintra for pday.