|Horse hide hat with a horse tail. Nay Verily Nay : )|
This week was a bit of a whirlwind. When the winds finally settled at the end, we found that three of God's children were able to enter into the covenant of baptism with HIm. What a blessing! I will explain.
Elisabeth and Teresinha: Elisabeth and Teresinha had baptismal dates for Saturday. However, last Sunday there was an announcement in Church that almost shook them from their goal. The bishop announced a youth dance. Yes, a youth dance. You see, Elisabeth and Teresinha have been hard core Evangelicals for seven years now. That is not easy to shake. Another thing that almost shook them was a discussion last Sunday in Relief Society about baptims for the dead. That was a scary doctrinal point that only added to their fear. Well, Monday rolls in and we're having noite familiar. During the refreshment, Elisabeth started interrogating our recent convert, Vania, if she knew about the church having dances before she was baptised. Vania said that she didn't know. It's true, we forgot to teach her about the church's doctrine on dances. The next day we went to teach them, and Elisabeth was very scared that this could be something she could lose her soul over. She said that she would join the church, but that she was strictly against the idea of a dance and would never attend. That seemed okay, but still a very precarious position to be in, outrightly opposed to an activity of the restored church of Christ. Let's just say that the next hour was a very intense battle in which I had to take many deep breaths, force my voice to be low and quiet, and ask people to be courteous in our discussion. At the end, everything was quiet and settled. They sought more spiritual enlightenment, and we prepared to be baptised on Saturday as they had planned! I am so grateful for the inspiration and calming influence that comes from God. He was able to make things right. Faith in His power carried us to fulfill His designs.
Ian: Ian is the son of Vania and was baptised on Sunday. NOthing went wrong with him this week. At the end of sacrament meeting, his cousin and grandfather appeared. We've already taught them a little bit, and look forward to help them to make sacred covenants this coming week. Grandpa Antonio loved the church and wants to know more!
Nelson: Nelson is an 18-year-old who had a baptismal date for Saturday as well. At the beginning of the week, we tried many times to make contact with him, but we were unsucessful. By the middle of the week, we were desperate to talk to him and help him get ready for baptism. He had already told us about the witnesses he had received of the Book of Mormon. What was going on with him? We called him many times in a row until we were added to some sort of blacklist that could not call for him. We used a calling card to call his number from a pay phone. He answered the phone, but hung up when he heard Elder Rodrigues' voice on the other end. We were absolutely devastated about this. What happened? HOw could he have been so inspired by the Spirit in his reading of the Book of Mormon and then turn completely rude against us? More than that, he was throwing away something precious that might not be offered again to him in this life. I felt very sad. I felt more than sad. It was heart breaking.
On Saturday night, after the baptism of Elisabeth and Teresinha, we went to a devotional transmission of Elder Holland speaking in Rio de Janeiro. It was absolutely wonderful. He would say a little bit in English, and then the translator would say the same thing in Portuguese. It was very cool. I feel especially blessed because all of his powerful statements sunk into my heart twice. He talked about difficulties in this life. He talked about their purpose. He talked about the symbolism of our sacrifices. Everything in this life is symbolic of the life, sacrifice, and victory of our Savior. We experience pain in small symbolism of the ultimate pain He felt. Unlike times of old, we do not offer little lambs in symbolism of the big lamb. We offer a more spiritually mature sacrifice of a broken heart in token of his broken heart. Elder Holland said that a broken heart was the actual physical reason for Christ's death. When the centurion pierced His side, blood and water flowed out from the wound because of a burst heart, a heart that had burst from the powerful weight of the sins of the world. You can read more about this in "Jesus the Christ". It was amazing to contemplate. Elder Holland also spoke about the account in Mark 4 about the calming of the Galilean sea. This was very poignant. He said that the apostles should have trusted more in the Savior to bring them across the sea because He told them himself that they would make it to the other side before starting the journey. I'll have more to tell you about that when I get home.
Suffice it to say that there are many journeys in this life. We must listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. He will give us the peace and hope that we need in this life. He will tell us of "white shores" and "safe harbors" and then expect us to use our faith in arriving there. Don't jump out of the boat because the storms rage. They will rage. Oh, how they will rage. Perhaps the experience will break our hearts in fear. Perhaps we will break our own hearts in humble submission to the will of God. Iin either way, God will prepare us for a better land of promise if we put it in His hands. I know these things to be true. I love you all. Stay in the good ship.
Love, Elder Parker Ayer