Happy Father´s Day, Dad! Happy birthday to Grandpa Ayer on Thursday!
Anyway, this last week has been a little strange. It has been good. It was strange to leave Ubá after only one transfer. It was weird to return back to Juiz de Fora to serve. It is weird to be able to see the boundary of my old area and the bairros where I used to work on the hills of the other side of the city and not be able to go back there. It has been a little strange, but good too.
Tuesday I took the bus from Ubá to Juiz de Fora. I really was quite sad to say goodbye to my missionary friends there and some of the members, but what else is new as a missionary. I think I get most frustrated when people say that missionaries always forget the people they met on their missions. I think I would die before forget these people, and then I would just hang around talking to their dead ancestors on the other side. Anyway, I got to the Juiz de Fora bus station about 2 o´clock on Tuesday and talked to all of the other missionaries there, many people I will probably not see ever again in this life because there won´t be another opportunity before I return home. I was very happy when I got an early birthday present from the mission secretary...A PACKAGE! I was so happy to get the package from Will and Steph. It was full of all the most wonderful pictures and letters. My favorite pictures were the beautiful picture of the happy couple on the big day with Steph´s hair down and the picture of the sonogram. Little Liam has a lot of growing to do before he can be a jedi knight like his namesake, Liam Neeson (Quigonjin?). I am sure that Liam Neeson isn´t really his namesake, but no matter who the namesake is, I love the name. A little later, my new companion , Elder Ribeiro, came to pick me up. We took a taxi and got to our apartment. Then we worked a little bit. It was good.
Wednesday was very strange. I woke up thinking about how I am 21 years old. (I have 21 years). I didn´t tell anyone because I really didn´t want to be THAT missionary getting into an area telling everyone it was his birthday and demanding attention. I told Heavenly Father that the only thing I wanted for my birthday was to be able to find an elect investigator to baptize. That day we received several messages on our phone with some media referrals. What a present! We are working with the referrals and have set a baptismal date with some members of the families. How wonderful! We´ll see how they progress. Despite not telling anyone about my birthday, I received several special birthday messages. It seemed like the `Feliz aniversário´ message kept popping up all over the place. Even during lunch the Sister received some junk letter in the mail that had a gigantic happy birthday message across the front. It was nice to think that Heavenly Father was mindful of the day even though everyone else was oblivious. That night President and Sister Cascardi sent a happy birthday text as is their custom. When my companion found out, he insisted that we buy pizza. Well, I didn´t refuse. It was good, but we´ll have to eat Sal´s when I get home. Sorry, I am talking a lot about going home. It´s not because I am always thinking about it; it´s just that it´s a very real and impending truth.
The rest of the week went well. We taught several lessons on Friday that made me happy. Unfortunately, the lessons weren´t very effective. I mostly just defended the Book of Mormon against all of the opposers. Something I am still learning is to use my time wisely testifying against those who are contrary to the Church and its teachings. We have better things to do than to worry about those who don´t want to believe in our words. We are not sent to save them. We are sent to call those who recognize the voice of the Savior and who want to follow Him. They are His sheep.
Saturday there was a special activity in the Church. We had invited and confirmed all of our investigators to go with us. However, no one ended up going because they all went to the March for Jesus that happened downtown. It was frustrating, but the activity was still good. It was a special FHE type activity to celebrate the birthday boys and girls of the first half of the year. Well, it was cool because my birthday was this last week and they sang and had cake and everything! It was fun.
Sunday was puxado. We got ready quickly so that we could go bring all of our investigators to church. Well, we got to their houses and yelled and yelled, but no one responded. Everyone pretended to be asleep. It was really frustrating. We did so much to bring them to Church, but they weren´t willing to do what was necessary to go. Well, we fortunately started inviting everyone in the street and finally the neighbor of a member said that he would go to church with us. He got a ride with the member, but we had to walk back to the church. It was a long walk. As we were racing to ge there, we got a call from the other missionaries that President Cascardi was there. Usually it would be alright to get to the Church a little late here because Priesthood meeting is usually first. However, this ward has Sacrament Meeting first. I was really worried because I thought that we might miss the sacrament. Also, there was the factor that Presidente Cascardi would chew our heads off. Well, we got there at the very end of the sacrament hymn and were seated for the sacramental prayers. I never want to think that I could miss the sacrament again. Anyway, after the sacrament, I was witness to a very special tender mercy. I found out that that very day the bishop had been released and a new bishop called in his stead. They gave their testimonies, and the whole time I thought of Dad and his calling. After church, we got to watch the setting apart of the new bishop. When they said his name and the name of the ward and stake, I inserted: John Brewster Ayer, Laconia Ward, Concord New Hampshire Stake. It was an emotional moment, but a very satisfying one. I was so happy to see here what was going on in my very own ward many miles away. Dad, I know that the Lord will support you in your new calling. You are the same John Brewster Ayer, but now with rights, privileges, and keys as a common judge in Israel. I think I will start counting time now according to the years of John Ayer on the ´judgment seat´. But seriously, I love you and know that the Lord does too. We often receive responsibilities from the Lord that seem to overwhelm us. This very life seems overwhelming. We look at our bodies and think, How will I overcome this carnal flesh? How will I be able to change and be a saint? What we seem to forget is that worlds before this, we were learning directly from our Heavenly Father as His exalted spirit children. Now we just need to let our ´living soul´ become what Heavenly Father knows it can be.
I love you all so much and pray for you constantly. Know that I love you.
With so much love it is hard to contain a hundredth part,
Elder Parker Ayer