As you can see by the title, I only have 100 more days as a missionary today. These are according to some very sophisticated calculations made by the brainy and highly reputed Christian Ayer. I want to let you know that I am not counting the days, but yes, making the days count. Who am I kidding, I´m doing both of them. However, I have realized the need to stay very focused these last few days of my ministry, and I am making some goals to make these last moments all the more sweet. I hope that you will all join me in these goals. First, I will have meaningful Book of Mormon study every day. I will completely read the entire Book of Mormon in Portuguese. For the port. edition, that means 6 pages more or less every day. Second, I will make my prayers more meaningful. This goal is a little bit harder to measure, but I will make sure that I pray for those within my stewardship and that I stay awake for the beginning, middle, and end of my prayers. Third, I will write every day in my journal. Just a warning, I pretty much haven´t written in my journal since West Virginia. I am telling you now so that the ear cuffing you give me later won´t be as vicious. Let´s give thanks in each of our entries so that we can keep a record of our ´journeyings without murmurings´ (1 Nephi 17:2). I invite all of you to join me in this 100 day growth so that when we see each other we will see each other as we really are, more purified by the powers of scripture, prayer, and gratitude. Please follow up with me in the coming weeks to make sure that I am doing all that I said I would do.
Anyway, this week was great! There were some wonderful experiences. Tuesday in district meeting we talked about the importance of promise blessings with our commitments. That day, we taught the law of chastity 3 times! That was a lot of requiring commitments in one day. It was interesting to see how the people reacted to the commitments. I realized that we often think in terms of costs and benefits (thank you, Mr. Porusta, for the economics lesson). We want to make sure that the cost of changing our lives and missing out on a pleasurable experience will bring a benefit that will outweigh the cost. This is natural man thinking. Sometimes we have to work with this thinking in others to help increase their faith and bring them to taste of the joyous fruit of righteous living. In reality, we can see that the cost of not living the commandments is rather high. We should review D&C 19 if we forgot what the cost of heathen living is. That empty feeling we feel as the Spirit withdraws himself is just a taste of the bitter pain and suffering we will feel in hell if we continue on without repenting. Our ultimate motive for obeying the commandments should stem from our desire to show our love for God and to be loved by Him (John 14:15,21).
This last week we very involved with some great families we are teaching. We found two families that are related who are very excited about the restored gospel and baptism. We lifted some members to their houses to teach, and oh what great spirit was felt as the members testified of the truth of the gospel and the blessings he brings. On Sunday, the members successfully lifted our investigators to church. We had twelve people in Church on Sunday! It was one of the greatest miracles I have seen on my mission. The families are preparing to be baptized on May 2nd.
This last week we helped our prime family of Fernanda, Michel, Debora, and Joel move from once house to another. It was great to help because the step-dad, Michel, is Catholic and not very interested in the message. I think that his heart opened up when he saw that we were willing to sacrifice our time to help his family in a critical moment. Friday was the 16th birthday of Debora. We were invited and attended with the pretense that we had to bring our district leader to interview Joel for baptism. Anyway, everything went great. Joel was baptized on Saturday. Debora is a little crazy and not sure if she wants to be baptized. She is feeling the spirit. On Saturday at the baptism she said that she would be baptized if she didn´t have to use the ´white capoeira jumpsuit´ (capoeira is a Brazilian type of martial art dance, look it up on the internet because it is super cool). Anyway, they are all being very well integrated into the branch. We are so excited for them all to be a strong family in the church. Even Michel showed up for priesthood meeting on Sunday (that´s the first meeting here). They are very dear to us.
Well, I got to go. I will leave you all with one last thought. 1 Nephi 8:34 The wording in Portuguese is a little bit more direct and exact. It says that all who gave attention to the mockers were lost. Do not give attention to those who mock the Church, the Book of Mormon, the gospel, Christ, church leaders, or you will be lost. I love you all. Be strong and faithful. I know that this work is truly the work of God here on the earth.
With all of my love until we meet again, Elder Parker Ayer
P.S. 100 days until we meet, but only 2 more weeks until Skype!