Yes, I know that we will be talking face to face as a man speaketh with his friend in a few days, but there is still so much to tell you. I think that I could never write an email that would be sufficient to tell you about all of the wonderful experiences that I am having here in the mission. By the way, I have programmed with a family in our branch that I will call from their house at 11 am our time here. I would check on the internet the time difference. Usually it~s just an hour difference, but I don~t know because the time got moved around here for the summer. Thank you so much dad for the music! I downloaded it. Currently, however, I discovered the lds radio online and I~m listening to Archy. :D
Anyway, this week was so great! Some highlights. Monday we went to the supermarket to get groceries. While I was buying presunto, a man came up to me and started mumbling some words to me. He seemed a little crazy and I was just frankly eager to get away from him. After a little bit, I realized that he was asking for some rice for him and for his family. Usually in the street when people ask money, I just kind of keep on walking because it~s usually not a good idea to give people money. I usually think, what are they going to do with the money? Anyway, I moved away from this man in the store and we kept on shopping. I started feeling really bad. A scripture came from King Benjamin~s discourse came to my mind, reminding me that I have been a beggar before Heavenly Father, and my petitions have not been in vain, but have been heard and answered. I realized that it didn~t really matter what my perception of this man was, I should be able to help him, especially if it was to buy some food for his family. I was glad for a later opportunity to see him in the store, standing by the rice. I went to talk to him and he asked if I could buy a large bag of rice for him. It was only 6 or 7 reais, or 3 US dollars. I felt humbled, and a little chastised, by this humble petition. It was a good lesson for me to learn. It was also a wonderful opportunity to feel some real live Christmas spirit.
This whole week really was awesome. I could go through every day, but it would basically sound the same. A whole bunch of awesomeness. Every day this week, we were finding so many people to teach, and so many people accepted the opportunity to follow Jesus Christ by being baptized. By the end of the week, we had found 19 new investigators and 14 people with a specific goal to be baptized. It was so awesome! I have been praying so hard that the Spirit can be shed in the hearts of the people here so that we can baptize them unto repentance. See Alma 8:10 I just want to much to be able to bless these people here with the ultimate blessings of the atonement of Christ. I have been so glad to see our prayers being answered. The people seem to be paying mais attention to what we have to say. They want to know if the Book of Mormon is the word of God. We are also being led more in the words that we should say so that we can help God~s children in their specific difficulties.
An especially good Christmas moment this last week was our branch Christmas activity. Not that many people showed up. It was really just the very faithful members of the branch that showed up, but it was great! It was designed to focus more on the Savior. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was shown from the christmas devotional singing The First Noel. I don~t know what was so different about hearing the music this time. Maybe because it was in English after a week of only hearing Portuguese. Maybe because I was in an attitude to really hear what the spirit was singing. I thought about that little Christ child. I thought about his fragile form with his powerful spirit tabernacled inside. I thought about the miracle of life made even more miraculous by the birth of the God of Israel. I thought of the tender feelings of a mother for her child. Maybe that~s why it was so good. That day we had just finished teaching a family from the northeast of Brasil. They had a little child of four months whose name was Emanuel. That was probably it. I cannot even imagine the love that must have been there in that little stable as these two covenant parents looked on the Savior who had been prepared for them. With wondering awe they must have looked on that child as the still feelings of the spirit gave them the promise of salvation. I love Christmas!!!
Another wonderful Christmas experience happened yesterday. The mission had its Christmas Conference with the entire mission! I know that I cannot be home for Christmas, but that was about as close as I got to being home for Christmas. There were so many beloved missionaries there that I got to see and talk to. My good friends from my MTC district (8 of the 14), my several companions (especially Elder Alexsandro), and Presidente and Sister Cascardi. On top of all that, I was back in Juiz de Fora (nicknamed Manchester)! I will tell you on Quinta a little bit more about the great misison conference.
For now I have to go. I love you all so much! I am so excited to see all of your familiar faces, hear your sweet voices, and get to know my new sister. You are always in my heart. Underneath a calus of focused hardwork, you are all there motivating me to go forward and declare this message with power. I love you all.
Love, Elder Parker Ayer