Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two for One! 13 January 2014 and the week before

In case you didn't know, Kieren is a sweetheart. I really enjoyed her kind words and the nice update from the past two weeks. She left as an incredible person, but you can tell how good the past few months have been for her. Take the time to enjoy this letter, and send her some love when you get a chance (email: kieren.smith@myldsmail.net)

Hello Everyone!

So last week as I was about to write, the computer blacked out. I only had 15 or so minutes left of computer time so I didn´t want to make a hassle. So. Sorry for not writing, but it was a great week last week! Lots of good lessons and stuff. 

The theme of these past two weeks is: reactivation!!!!!! I have learned time and time again that often all people need to come back to church is someone to take notice and care about them. Read the talk by Elder Uchtdorf from the last conference. I think it is called, Come, Join with Us or something like that. It is incredible and helps us gain perspective about how everyone is struggling with something or another, and we have the potential to act as God´s angels and help his beloved children. The talk explains how when people stop coming to church it is usually not for just one reason and not because they lack a testimony. There is a girl in our ward here that has been active since birth, goes every week, attended seminary daily, sometimes being the only one there, but is thinking about stopping going to church because she feels that there is not a single person there who cares about her or even notices that she is there. No one goes up to her and talks to her and she just sits in the back with her mom and leaves without having interacted with anyone. Imagine what difference it would make if just one person went up to her each week and talked with her for 2 or 3 minutes. It would make all the difference! 

Also, Miguel Janes, who went to the choir concert, came to church last week! And this week! And all we did was pass by his house, see if he was home, talk to him for a bit, and invite him to come back. This week he even brought his daughter, who is not a member! Last week, when he didn´t show up at the very beginning of church, we passed by his house and I yelled ´Miguel!!!´ until a very irritated sister of his came to the window and said he was getting ready but he was definitely going to come. It was such a wonderful feeling to see him at church. It had been years since he had come to church, and now he is even bringing his family. And all it took was a little reminder that someone was thinking of him. 

Also, a lady in our ward (Danielle) was concerned about her cousin Paloma, who hasn´t been coming to church for a while. We visited Paloma (super sweet, quiet 15 year old) and helped resolve some of her concerns. And guess who was at church on Sunday? Paloma. :)

Also, we had been visiting a girl named Gabriela for some time now. She is a single mom and works 6 days a week with only Sundays off. She is incredible. And she came to church last week! After years of not going! (She wasn´t there yesterday so we will have to see what is up and visit her). But people. It is so simple. Extend a hand of friendship. Notice those who are not in church, or those who are there but sitting along. Be the friend that Christ would be. Sometimes it is not that simple. Sometimes people won´t come back after one visit from a friend. But sometimes they will! And even if they don´t, the visit is well worth it. 

We often visit a less active member, Maritania. She has a son, Tiago, with Down´s Syndrome, and he is quite active and makes life pretty difficult for her. This visit, I sat on the couch with him and sang hymns. Every time we do that, he completely calms down and becomes practically a different person. I was also able to talk to him and calm him down when he was attacking my companion with chocolate. It sounds kind of funny probably but it was a really great experience because after we left, my companion said she was really impressed with how I was able to connect with Tiago. When you are in a foreign country and don´t know the language or culture perfectly, and you have a native companion, sometimes it feels like you don´t really have a lot of influence or make a big impact on people. I am also generally more reserved and don´t talk a bunch, but this experience was a testimony to me that all of us are needed in different ways and that there a place for each person´s gifts and skills to be used to help God´s children. 

Also, this week we were teaching an investigator named Anna. She recently moved from São Paulo and is having a hard time adjusting. She says she constantly thinks about desisting and gong back. She has a daughter, Mariana, and stays at home with her while her husband works at the Pier. When we were teaching a lesson with her, she told us that she had prayed that we would come back because she felt an emptiness in her heart and felt that we would be able to help her fill it. She is incredible and has great faith to stay here and work through her problems with the Lord´s help. It was a wonderful blessing to be an answer to her prayers. This is not the first time this has happened and I am sure it will not be the last. When we are doing the Lord´s work, He will always use us to answer the prayers of his beloved children. Don´t wait for someone to pull you out of your house or tell you they need help, just go do something good for someone else and you will be surprised with the results.

The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Each heart you touch is of inestimable worth. God is watching over each one of us. Christ is the good shepherd. He knows His sheep and they are numbered. 

Have a wonderful week!

Sister Smith

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