Dear family and friends,
We will begin with some announcements. All those who can sustain Elder Ayer as a missionary, please give the customary sign (send letters, pray, don~t forget about him in the middle of the mission...). At this moment, we would like to give a vote of thanks to all those who have been doing so much (Mom, Dad, Will & Steph, Sarah, and Christian in particular). We are very grateful for the service you have rendered. Now, we know that Christmas is approaching and all the members of our family have been preparing. One the day of December 25 (ten days from today), there will be a skype exchange between Elder Ayer and the Ayer family. Please be present for that moment. There will be more announcements next week as to time. As far as next week, the normal day for communication will be postponed until Tuesday due to the Christmas holiday. Thanks to all of you for your understanding. Now we will begin with hymn 210 (or thereabouts), Angels We Have Heard on High.
Well, that was fun. Now on to our normally scheduled programming...
Monday night we had one of the greatest miracles of my mission. It really was a small miracle. It wasn~t a large display of godly powers in moving mountains or turning the sun back, but it was a miracle nonetheless worked by the faith of Christlike people. Last week we made a contact with a man in the street. He couldn~t meet with us in the moment, but we set up a time to come back. He asked if he could invite ather people to the appointment, and we agreed. We showed up on Monday not really remembering much about our exchange with him, but just expecting to teach the Restoration and find some new investigators. The night before, setting goals, my companion had looked at our goal for new investigators and asked if 3 would really be reasonable. Well, according to our plans it was achievable, so we marked it down. When we got to the appointment, we found Marcos and his wife Teresa. We were ready to teach the Restoration just to them, but they asked us to wait for a little bit as others would be arriving. Well, we waited. Others arrived, and others, and others, and others. Pretty soon we had a very large multitude gathered together of the entire extended family. You might say that it was a clan, as might exist in Ireland, or more specifically, Kilarney. Well, no matter, it was a meeting with ´all of the folks at home´. There were 19 people there above the age of 8, and still more children running around. It was one of the most awesome experiences I have had. Imagine more than 20 people all gathered together to hear the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ! I bore my testimony about the moment yesterday in church, and I just started tearing up because of the overwhelming feelings of the spirit. We bore powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon, the First Vision, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Restored Church. I could not have been happier to testify. I thought of this family gathered in the sealing room of the temple to be joined together. There would not be a happier scene in this whole world. Everyone loved the message and agreed to have us come back. It was a little difficult to extend the baptismal commitment to everyone individually, so we are going to go back and teach each family that was there. At the end, one of the family members offered a prayer with many of the others giving their added ´glorias´and aleluias´. I have never been so happy to hear those words, and I felt like offering them myself. Thanks be to God for the gift of His Son. Thanks be to God for the restored knowledge of HIs Son through His Prophet Joseph Smith. I thought of several examples of the scriptures when multitudes were gathered together to hear the word of God, including the experience of Amon and Abish and the Nephite gathering at the temple in Bountiful. I only imagined that if this man, ignorant of the true joy of the message, could gather his entire family to hear our message, what should be required of us who are not ignorant of the true majesty and import of our message?
There were other great moments this week. We had interviews with President Cascardi on Wednesday. It took up the whole day, but it was good to be able to talk to him.
Saturday we had a very interesting experience. We were looking for someone and a neighbor gave us some help. After we were unsuccessful finding the person, she invited us to participate in a family prayer that they would be having in a few moments. We accepted the invitation and entered the home. We found out in a few moments that the entire family was gathered together for the birthday of the family~s patriarch, a pastor in a prominent church called ´Christian Congregation in Brasil´ (translated). There are a sect of Christianity that is a little extreme. In prayer all of the women wear veils. In the church services, the men sit on one side and the women on the other. We were allowed to enter into their home. We were told to kneel down and the birthday boy started praying. I will temper the word praying with the word shouting or the word moaning or the word louvor-ing. He prrayed in a very loud and somewhat feverish/angry voice for what must have been 10 minutes. At the same time, all of the other people around us were also involved in shouting, moaning, and making all sorts of other anguished noises in the praise of their god. My mind reflected for a moment on the priests of Baal and Elisha. After the priests prayed, Elisha asked if they had to scream and yell because their god was on a journey or was sleeping. I also thought of Alma 31. I think these people also had a false understanding of prayer and election, and their comments later proved this to be true. After 10 minutes, another voice started gritando a little louder and took over the prayer for another 5 minutes. It was quite the experience. Afterwards, we arose and were offered some birthday cake. Fortunately or unfortunately were were in jejum. Before leaving, we offered to give a prayer as well. The prayer was politely declined because the pastor thought he would be denying Jesus´ power if he had to accept an additional prayer, and that from someone of another faith. Well, I quickly reminded him of the Savior who prayed 3 times in the Garden of Gethsemenae. He told me that he didn~t study the scriptures, but waited for the Spirit to tell him what he needed to say in the exact moment. Then he proceeded to give his testimony of his own faith to be registered by the angels. Then I gave my testimony of the essential doctrines of salvation for the same registry to be presented at the great judgment day. We will see which comes out in testimony against whom.
Sunday there was another awesome experience. A few days ago, a couple in the street asked us to pray for their daughter who was very stressed out about some final exams. When offered, they also accepted our visit in their home to hear a message. Sunday we went there and taught the Restoration to them. The family is golden! They are Jalson and Patricia, and daughter Thaina. The father said that he felt that what we were teaching was the truth. We all felt it. He sincerely thanked us for going to his home to share the truth with them. THey started asking lots of inspired questions about the Prophet Joseph Smith. At the end, the dad offered a sincere prayer to know the truth and finished it off with Psalm 23. I have never heard a more beautiful recitation of Psalm 23. This man didn~t know how to prayer very well without the memorized words, but he had a sincere desire and humility. His lack of understanding was accounted unto him for a blessing. They will be baptized on January 4. We are so excited for them!
I am so excited for Christmas and to see all of you. I close this email with all of my love and my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Love, Elder Parker Ayer