This week began with a birthday celebration! Maria de Lurdes, a less active member who is blind, wanted us to be part of her birthday celebration at a fancy pizzaria. We accepted. It was really fun and she was so happy the whole time and introduced us to all her family and friends. Her son, Dante, was a great example of Christlike service. He got up and served her salad from the salad bar and made sure she had everything she needed, and when she opened her presents, he would describe what they were like, for example she got a nice purple hand towel with lace and he was decribing the colors and the details. It was a lovely evening.
This week we also taught Giovane, an older man that we found batendo palma. He likes to talk. A LOT. But he is super receptive and when he prayed at the end of the lessons he thanked God for sending us to teach him and help him feel how he already like to feel. He is very in tune with the things of God and he is funny because he will always say, I have always thought...(some gospel concept).... and then he will be like "I know I´m a little crazy" and we will say "No! We believe that too!" He is super prepared and super great to teach, the challenge is getting a word in when we are there and also he works most sundays. But he is seriously so nice. We were going to our appointment with him one morning, and we saw him leaving his house and heading up the road. We called out and asked him if he forgot and would like to reschedule, and he said no and that he would be right back. I was thinking ´what could he need to do that can´t wait just a few minutes but whatever, not a big deal´
He came back and we started conversing, and then he got up and grabbed three glasses and pulled out of the fridge some pop that he had just bought and gave it to us to drink. Before we came, he did not have anything to serve us, so he had literally gone to the store and back just to have something to give us while we were there. I was touched.
Side note- I have always thought smoking was super dumb and find the warning labels very interesting and at times entertaining. There was a giant stand of cigarettes in one of the stores we went to and on the side there was a giant poster that said (translated) SUFFERING! (Then showed a picture of a man in a hospital bed with a crying child by the side) The ministry of health warns that the use of cigarettes results in suffering, pain and death. It´s pretty clear yet people still use them, If you think about it, we have clear warnings from the prophets about everything that will cause us physical and spiritual suffering, such as pornography, substance abuse and simply refraining from doing what we need to like reading the scriptures and praying daily. It is up to us to heed the warnings or not, but we cannot say we have not been warned.
Oh! Also yesterday () was on of the awesomest Sundays I have had yet on my mission. The first hour was combined with training by the Bishop. He decided to speak on misisonary work. We were in full support. He showed the video of the branch that wanted to have a new building and decided to have the faith to find more people and invite them to join with them so they would be able to fill the new building. He talked about how we are receiving a new building (actually the old one being reformed-it has been under construction for a couple of years and is just about ready) and how it is our duty as a ward to fill it. He then invited us four ward missionaries (two companionships of sisters) to talk about Missionary April! We decided to try a program where for every day in April one family signs up to hold a Family Home evening and bring investigators. We bore our testimonies and the Spirit was definitely there testifying of the importance of members and missionaries working together. We were about to go sit down, thinking that hopefully some people would sign up after church, but Bishop Munhoz said "hold on, stay up here a little longer." He then talked directly to the ward members. He said that this tuesday was the first day of April. He then asked " who can hold a Family Home Evening this Tuesday?" There was silence for about 15 seconds and then a hand went up. I was suprised to see that it belonged to President Soller, the Stake President and one of the busiest people I know. But apparently not to busy to set an example of leadership and faith. Bishop then asked who could take Wednesday and another hand went up. Pretty soon people were calling out dates and we almost filled the entire month! We are super excited and know that we will see many blessings in this ward because of their willingness to work with the missionaries.
Then! In a brief ward council meeting, Bishop started talking about the need for rescue and retention, and started talking about specific families about which he is concerned and what needs to be done to help these individuals. He had tears in his eyes as he discussed the needs of the people and I couldn´t help but think of him as a good shepherd, truly concerned about his sheep.
It is so nice to receive the help of the ward and the members. It makes us as missionaries feel happier and less alone. I would encourage all of you to continue praying for and helping the missionaries. All of your efforts are appreciated!