This week was a wonderful experience! It´s another week in wonderland. I really can´t adequately express the love I feel for my missionary experience, or my love for you for that matter. I pray that I can live worthily of the Savior´s name and of our family name.
Anyway, This week started out great with a trip to Juiz de Fora, as I mentioned in my email last week. After visiting one of the families Elder Nogueira taught in the city, we went to the bairro of São Pedro to see my beloved friends there. We went to the home of Irmã Penha, but no one was home. We went to Lia´s home, but no one was home there either. Then we went to the house of an older couple I didn´t know too well. It was a good visit and they appreciated the visit. I was still very anxious to see my favorite family of Irmã Penha. We went back there and there was happily a light on in the home. When I called the family´s names, people came running out to open the gate. It was one of the happiest reunions I have ever had. Irmão Geraldo fried up some terresmo and mandioca for us to snack on. I really couldn´t have asked for a happier night in my favorite place in Juiz de Fora. Unfortunately, I find out that all of the people I baptized there are now less active. Luckily the members and missionaries are still working with them to help bring them back. The principle of prayer will have to be applied.
I slept in the home of the Manchester missionaries with all of the others that would be there for the mission counsel. It was wonderful to be able to be with the other missionaries. The next day was wonderful also as we met in counsel to talk about the needs of the mission and how we can continue reaching our goals. The month of March the mission was able to reach 111 baptisms and confirmations, so Presidente Cascardi took us all out to eat churrasco. Unfortunately, our zone was the weak zone and I was feeling pretty lame about that. We were determined to contribute more this month. Our zone since being split off from another zone hasn´t been able to reach more than 5 baptisms in a month. That´s mostly because the missionaries think that the zone is the armpit of the mission, which is a great big lie. We´re right next to a zone that´s always baptizing 20 or more. Anyways, we are raising the faith of our zone with a goal of 13 baptisms in the month of April. Our theme is 13 já! (which means 13 already!) During the zone meeting, everyone became very excited and determined to be able to reach our goal. It was wonderful during those two days of inspiring meeting to be able to feel the spirit of excitement, determination, and repentance that came into my heart. There was nothing I wanted more than to be able to declare the gospel to every creature and bring them unto Christ through the waters of baptism. Now what we have to do is to live in a way that will sustain that kind of continuous excitement and repentance.
Well, this past week we were preparing Karoliny and Loren to be baptized. Unfortunately, Karoliny had to undergo surgery on her breast to remove a nodule. Fortunately, the surgery went well and she will probably be able to recover and be baptized by the end of this month. Her sister Loren had a wonderful baptism on Sunday. It was great to hear from her baptismal interviewer that she bore a very sincere and powerful testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Until then, she hadn´t expressed her feelings much on the subject, but the Spirit has taken hold upon her heart.
I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know the Book of Mormon is Christ´s word. I know that the commandments lead us to joy that doesn´t end. I know that if we exercise a particle of faith in obeying a commandment, God will immediately bless us and we will see the truth. Let the Spirit have full sway in your heart and you will begin to feel a changing sensation inside of you. This is one of the most precious feelings that I know. We can change. We can be perfected in Christ. I love you all. Be diligent in prayer and scripture study and we will one day be brought together in white to worship God in righteousness. I can´t wait for that day. It is my most long-awaited day.
With Such Great Love, Elder Parker Alan Ayer