This week was another great one for the work here in Aracati, but we also had a great conference with President Claudio M. Costa, the area president of Brazil.
Here in aracati:
--we started weekly activities here in the ward on wednesday nights to work on integration. President Dalton wants us to have weekly activies, even if they are as simple as Family home evenings, to strengthen the wards and use our chapels better(because everyone always comments that our chapels are always closed). This week we showed the little film He is the Gift and played Indian Chief. The ward loved it!
--Luciana who was baptized this week is on fire and introduced us to like all of her neighbors. She even brought 7 people to a baptism and the ward christmas party on saturday night. We are teaching her kids and neighbors now.
--Eva, the mom of 2 boys that are recent converts, came to church on sunday and wants to get baptized. She has tons of desire make this christmas special for her family even though they are going through a lot.
--I am starting up an english class here on wednesday before our ward activies and on saturday because we want to get more members at the activies(lots want to learn english) and help our investigators, who want to learn english, get into the chapel and feel the spirit there.
Also this week we had a very special conference with President Costa. He is a spiritual GIANT. He was called to be a general authority the same day as Pres. Uchtdorf. He was in the presidency of the seventy but now he is the area president of Brazil. He has been a general authority for more than 20 years. President Dalton told us that he looked up some numbers to see a better perspective and saw that President Costa, as the area president of Brazil, is in charge of more members of the church than President David O McKay when he was prophet. Brazil is the 3rd largest country in membership (after the US and mexico) and the 2nd largest in number of stakes (after the US). He was also a recent convert at 27,when his whole family was members and one day sister missionaries were in their home teaching about the restoration. that night, he decided to read Joseph smith history and pray after each paragraph. 14 hours later at 6 in the morning, he knew with a perfect knowledge that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and he asked to be baptized that weekend (incredible witness of how to gain a testimony). Anyway, it was incredible to hear from him. But first to start the meeting, he told us that he wanted to shake all of our hands.He said that for a general authority a handshake is the equivalent of an interview. He would know what he needed to say to our mission after he shook all of our hands. (I didn´t know that before). Then he shared a bunch of counsel--I could write pages of what he said. He counseled us to follow whatever counsel we receive from our mission president. To show us how much he and the other leaders trust these men as mission presidents, he told us that we as member have to have 3 signatures to enter the temple(bishop, stake president and ours), but the mission president gives himself an interview and signs his own recommend. (at that moment, President Dalton was sitting behind him and he said ``I didn´t know that`` it was really funny but a powerful lesson--our mission presidents are the best of the best) Then he told a really cool story that I will sum up because I just loved it. When he was the mission president of Manuas(he opened that mission as the president), 2 elders called him because they wanted him to come to a lesson where their investigators had invited their pastor(7th day adventist). President accepted and felt a prompting to bring a copy of the Bible in english. when they got there that night, there wasn´t only the local pastor but also the area pastor of the area of the amazons, and also the pastor of the whole 7th day adventist church in Brazil. He first had the impression of the scripture that the small and weak will confound the strong and wise. He asked the ministers how much they studied to be pastors (8years, 9 years, etc. the pastor of all of brazil spoke fluent english and knew hebrew and greek). Then the pastors asked how much training they received-19 days for the brazilian elder, 2 months in the mtc for the american elder, and 3days for the president of all of the mission in brazil. Then the pastor asked the big question, ``What day of the week is the sabbath day?`` In the portuguese bible it says in the commandments to keep the day of `sabado` which is a direct translation to saturday. The pastor showed that verse and then President Costa asked if he had read the bible in english, yes. What word does the english bible use? sabbath day. President Costa asked him to find the english word saturday in the bible; doesn´t exist. Then he asked about the hebrew word for sabbath--what it means? the pastor said ``day of rest`. Then president asked everyone in the room: what is your day of rest? they all said sunday. Then he had the prompting ``do what Nephi did to Laban`` and he thought ´´cut off his head???`` yeah spiritually. He then opened the bible to where the jews condemn jesus for doing miracles on the sabbath day and he said ``i always wanted to know what religion these men were and now I know they of your religion.`` Then he said the pastor didn´t say one more word (if you cut off someone´s head they can´t speak anymore).He told us that we have to know the scriptures well, use them well, and follow the spirit with exactness.
Also yesterday I talked to the elders and sisters serving in some of my old areas and they had some good news. First, in Jardim Campinas, my first area, Jennifer was baptized this weekend! Her mom finally let her get baptized and even went to her baptism with some of her siblings. Second, when I was in Parelheiros, it was like my last week there with Sister Mota and I felt like we needed to visit some of the less-actives in our area. One day we knocked on the door of Talita, a less-active and the only member in the family; she lost all contact with the church and hadn´t been visited in years. Her husband, Washington answered the door and we talked to him and set up a return appointment. Anyway, he ended up going to church that week and wanted to get baptized and now he just recently received the priesthood--that ward really needed more priesthood holders and he is such a cool person. I don´t say that to be a ``G.H.``--which stands for ``gloria dos homens``(glory of men) but I was happy to hear that something I did had later consequences down the road. I like the song more holiness give me and especially the line that I have come to love since the MTC when we sang it in General Conference ``more fit for the kingdom, more used would I be.``