Monday, July 14, 2014

To the Jew and to the Gentile

Dear Family,

This week was wonderful! Well, that is despite for the shame of the Brazilian soccer team. Yeah, I'll say a little more about that later.

Anyway, last Monday was really great. We spent the day having a churrasco in the house of a great member named Geraldo. Churrasco means barbecue, but the barbecue's in Brasil are really different from American barbecues. And to be honest, I like the churrascos here more. Basically, someone keeps making really salty, tasty meat on the grill until you explode from everything that you are eating. It is really great.

After the barbecue, we had a family night with our investigator Lia. We met her the other day in the street. She came up to us and asked to be taught. :D She has been taught in the past, but moved away. She finally got around to talking to the missionaries again. Anyway, she brought a friend with her to the family night. I didn't realize until we got there that the friend was an Israeli Jew who was traveling through South America, didn't speak any Portuguese, and spoke English. How cool! Anyway, I talked to him for the whole night. It was very interesting to listen to him talk about living in Israel. He said that he hadn't ever heard the name of Jesus Christ until he was an older teenager. His mother is kosher, but he doesn't practice like she does. He is very interested in learning about Jesus Christ. Some of this interest comes from a false perception of who He is because he believes that Jesus is some person who taught others to do what they want and just love people. I thought of the talk by Elder Holland when he denounced the view of Jesus Christ as a "smooth" God, but testified of the Biblical character of Jesus Christ as someone who established the importance of commandments. I helped him understand that Jesus Christ's message is a message of love through commandments that bring us joy. He asked another interesting question about how I am different from him today because of my faith. That was an interesting question. I am continuing to think about it, but the joy of the gospel of Christ is clearly that today we have the opportunity to receive a remission of our sins and strength in our trials. It was very interesting to talk to him. At the end of our encounter, I was more than happy to give him a copy of the Book of Mormon (luckily the member had one in the house). He was very interested to read it. Interestingly, I know I can trust the Book of Mormon to clearly teach the relationship between the Jewish faith and Christianity. Jewish belief in its purity is the same thing as Christianity. The prophets in the Book of Mormon knew of Christ, and the believers were even referred to as Christians because of their belief in Christ. Abinadi taught to foolish priests that the meaning of the law was fulfilled in Christ. I know that if this Jew reads it, he will know of the importance of Christ in his life. The Book of Mormon was written to the convincing of Jew and Gentile. The only thing that made this Hebrew encounter any better was that his name was Chaim. How great! I asked him about Fiddler on the Roof, and he said that he had already seen it. Le chaim!

Also, Lia is doing very well. We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it went just perfectly. We only made it to the front cover of the pamphlet. Elder Rodrigues asked if she would like to see the Bible video about the Samaritan woman at the well. I was confused why he felt like we should watch it. Despite my doubts, it went perfectly. We discussed the video afterwards. She talked about an emptiness she had felt inside of her when she wasn't being taught by missionaries. I talked about how Christ's promise to this woman was that she could have a fountain of eternal life springing up inside of her forever. Right now, Lia is coming to the well to draw water. She is meeting with missionaries to feel the joy of the Spirit. However, the promise of Christ is that through the cleansing of baptism, we can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost so that He can always dwell with us and we can receive a promise of eternal life during this mortal probation. We are empty because we have left the presence of a loving Father in Heaven. We will feel whole when we begin to accept the presence of His holy representative, the Holy Ghost, permanently inside our hearts. This is the pursuit of a lifetime. We must always live worthy of this eternal fountain. Lia was very moved by the lesson. She came to Church on Sunday and will be baptized this coming Sunday!

So, I am feeling more and more Brazilian. I can tell because I cringed during the entire game with Germany. (we were allowed to watch the match) It was really disheartening and sad. Well, afterwards we were scared of angry Brazilians. Apparently, some other American elders were threatened with death by a crazy Brazilian because they appear German. So, we took precautions and stayed inside after the jogo while things calmed down. The next day, everyone gave me weird looks and lots of people asked me if I was German. Nope, cuz I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free... (cue my patriotic music from last week). Anyway, it was really interesting.

I love you all! I am doing great! I feel your love and I am so thankful! One week left in the transfer. I am hoping for a little change. We will see!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

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