Monday, June 8, 2015

A Sacramental Reunion

Dearest family,

What a week it was!  Let me just tell you that this week was awesome!  It started out a little rough, let me explain.

Well, Monday was good.  We cleaned the house.  It wasn´t a very thorough cleaning, but we felt like it was enough.  We were complete goofs, however, because we found out on Monday that President and Sister Cascardi would be passing by on Tuesday for interviews.  Well, we didn´t think about it too much.  That is, we didn´t think about it too much until Tuesday morning when we got a knock on the door.  That´s right, Sister Cascardi was paying a visit to our humble abode to see if everything was in order.  Well, several hours had passed between our cleaning on Monday morning to our inspection on Tuesday morning.  She already entered with a disgusted look and some curt words.  Let me just tell you that it is the worst experience to let Sister Cascardi down, especially when you felt like you had a good relationship with her.  Well, she didn´t waste time.  She assigned jobs to everyone to fazer uma faixinha and she got in on the action also.  For an hour or so we went around like wild men doing everything that she mandated.  It was an unpleasant feeling, but in the end our house was clean...a Quality Cascardi Clean!  She reminded us that like her, the Savior would also come in an instant like a robber.  The only difference is that when He comes he won´t let the wicked be cleansed with sponges and soap; the earth will be cleansed by fire.  It´s probably the hour to read Alma 5 de novo to see if I´m ready.

Anyway, we had interviews depois.  They went really well.  It was my last interview with President before the exit interview.  It went well.  I will be pushing along with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength until the bittersweet end.

This week was wonderful.  You must remember the family of Neide of whom I spoke last week.  Well, everything went well this last week.  They were perfectly prepared to be baptized.  It was really amazing to see the conversion in their lives, and the continuing conversion in the life of José, the pioneer of the family.  One of the daughters, Ana Vitória, had her 11th birthday on Friday, so the gente did a special family night that was a lot of fun.  On Saturday, they were baptized.  It was amazing to see so much white!  It was the most people I had ever seen baptized all at one time.  It was wonderful.  The water was freezing (granted, we didn´t have to chop through the ice), but the baptism was wonderful.  On Sunday, they were all confirmed as members and received the Holy Ghost.  It was one of the greatest miracles.  I was praying that they could really be able to feel the influence of the Holy Spirit of Promise sealing the ordinances.  I have noticed that the preparation for baptism makes a big difference in the special feeling that come on the day of baptism and confirmation.  When people are really prepared and repentant, the Holy Spirit of Promise has a much greater influence to seal the actuality of the covenant upon the recipients.  When people are baptized and confirmed with that powerful influence, the moment becomes an anchor in the life of the person that will never be forgotten regardless of difficulties.  Well, the prayer was effective.  Last night Neide told the gente that she and one of the girls, Evilly, felt ´stars and lights´ crossing in front of their eyes and on their backs as the confirmation was realized.  It was such a wonderful feeling to hear that.  I also found out that night that José is very excited to receive the priesthood so that he can perform vicarious baptism on behalf of his deceased father.  I was so happy to hear that, too.  They are ordinary people who look like any poor family from the ghetto.  However, they are much more than this.  They are miracles.

This last week we also found someone else very special.  After José moved to another bairro, Elder Goes and I were feeling like we [the gente] had to go back to the alley where he used to live to knock some more doors...just that we didn´t talk to each other about the strong feelings we were having.  Finally this last week we discovered that we were both having the same feeling and we went back.  We went to knock the first door past José´s old house and someone at the end of the alley started calling us.  We thought that maybe he was the dono of the house and was going to ask us what we wanted.  However, it was the man living at the end of the alley.  He said that he had watched a special report about the owner of Azul Airlines in Brasil who said that he is Mormon.  This man, Jerry, said that he really wanted to know more about us.  That was the beginning of a miracle.  The first time he talked so much about Manaus and the US that we [the gente] could only give him the Book of Mormon at the end and explain a little bit.  A couple days later, we went back to teach the Restoration.  He next invited us to dinner at his house on Sunday.  We passed by there yesterday and it was a great spiritual lesson.  He had read until Nephi 5.  We discussed the part in Nephi 3 when Nephi is commanded to kill Laban and the importance of following the susurros of the Spirit.  We then began to talk about the importance of reading and praying to know the truth.  The Spirit was so strong.  He felt it.  We felt it.  At the end, we showed him the Church´s website and some videos of the apostles testifying of Jesus Christ.  He was very impressed by their words and by the Spirit.  There was some sort of great spiritual mutual understanding that all of us left with.  We knew there was divine purpose in our meeting.  It was very interesting to feel and participate in.  We just hope that he will not let other influences extinguish or smother the true influence of the Spirit guiding him in the right path.

Well, Sunday was probably one of the best days of my mission.  It was filled with so much joy.  It was because of the four moças that we confirmed and also because of the lesson with Jerry.  Also, it was because of a very special surprise that I received at Church.  After priesthood meeting (which always comes first here) I turned around to see Geraldo and his neto, Ítalo, from Juiz de Fora.  My friends!  They led me upstairs to see Irmã Penha who came with them.  Who I was completely not expecting to see was Lia!  Some of my favorite people in the world were there to see me.  They came so long, and I saw them after so long, and I felt so happy.  I really couldn´t hold back the emotion.  I found out that Lia is putting aside her inactivity and is going to church again.  That made me so happy. It was such a good reunion.  I sat next to them in the sacrament meeting.  During the sacrament, I started pondering.  In Portuguese, sacrament meeting is reunião sacramental.  It could be interpreted as a sacramental reunion.  I thought about that.  I thought about the special reunion that I had had that very morning with dear friends.  I thought about the purpose of the sacrament.  Really, the Sunday meetings were meant to be more than meetings.  They were meant to be more than just reunions with those we love.  They were meant to be sacramental reunions.  It really is so wonderful to think that we can be reunited with God.  We are lost and fallen, and He seeks to collect us.  He comes, and oh how He comes.  It is surprising how dearly He takes us back in His arms.  We are surprised, we rejoice, and we become emotional.  We think it is too good to be true, and it is.  Just think!  Through Christ, we can be redeemed.  We can be forgiven.  We can even be filled with the same glory that brings joy to the very Father of us all.  I know that this gospel is true and that it is the only way to make our way back to Heaven and Heavenly Parents.

I long for that joyful reunion.  I long for my reunion with you all.  I love you all with a perfect love.  Be strong and diligent unto prayer and study and service.

With all my love, Elder Parker Alan Ayer

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