I know it's really easy for missionaries to measure success by how many baptisms they've had, but more and more the daily growth I'm seeing in Nathanael is so obvious to me. I'm proud of the man he is becoming. He is so sweet and sincere. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that from the time Nathanael was a little boy I've told him that I will consider him successful at whatever he accomplishes as long as he does it with kindness and he hasn't let me down. I'm very proud of his kind heart.
I've missed you guys this week. This week was full of blessings but kinda bombed. Lots of good things and some challenges too haha. Challenges is definitely the right word because I know I'll be better for all the difficulties I have. Just gotta keep going. Ok -- so this week started with force (is that only a Brazil expression? I don't know) on Monday when we went to Botucatu so that my companion could go to his leadership meeting on Tuesday. On Tuesday I stayed with an elder in Botucatu that didn't want to work that day so we stayed at home and watched Shrek. We almost watched Transformers but I talked him out of it, haha. So that was kinda a crappy day. But that's ok! Wednesday was really good. We had a mission conference and I really enjoyed that. I got to see all my friends from the mission, including Elder Carlson who got here this transfer, and Elder Baldwin and Elder Work from the MTC. I really enjoyed that. Good times were had.
We came home Thursday, which was fine. However I don't know why but Friday especially and also Saturday I felt incredibly discouraged. It was like someone turned on a switch. I struggled a lot and for me those were some of the hardest days I've had in a while. I guess the mission stress combined with traveling and the extra pressure of receiving a bunch of instruction from President Bangerter (after a day like Tuesday even though I couldn't do anything) was just a lot to deal with. It also rained really hard all day Friday. It was a lot haha. But on Saturday we had a really cool experience!
We were in a part of the area we've never visited before, looking for a less-active member, when we saw a man and a woman in the street. The woman was talking frantically on her phone and asked us to help. The man was having convulsions (don't know how to spell) and so we helped him to sit down. The woman went to get help and while she was gone the guy started to get worse so we helped him lay down. We ended up giving him a blessing on the sidewalk. That was definitely one of the most general conference-y types of experiences I've had on my mission. I felt the Spirit really strongly and felt inspired to bless him that he would improve and that it would pass. He didn't get better right away but started to calm down a little bit. We were also able to talk to his family (who eventually came to pick him up) about the church. They didn't go but hey. And we're going to try to contact them again this week. It was neat because I was feeling really really down on myself at the exact moment we saw this guy but luckily I was prepared spiritually to help this guy and everything was ok.
I also had the opportunity to give my companion a blessing on Sunday morning because he woke up feeling really sick. That was also a really special experience. I felt the Spirit so strongly. I love to give blessings. It's really humbling and I haven't done it that much but it's an opportunity to invoke the powers of heaven and invite the Spirit with the unique purpose of blessing someone else's life. Very amazing.
The thing about discouragement and stress is that the feelings make it seem like the sky is falling but in the quiet moments when I take time to ponder, I feel the Spirit tell me that everything is all right. I also receive specific instruction from time to time. I struggle sometimes to love the people, because the culture and language is so different, and I've been praying a lot for charity and help to love them so I can better serve them. On Sunday, I felt inspired to hold back my judgemental feelings towards them and let that go. To me, that was really practical advice that I'm trying to implement now. This morning I was feeling discouraged again but on my knees in a quiet moment I felt the peace of the Spirit and was impressed that the Lord is tutoring me and that the most important thing I can do is follow those promptings and do my thing. Growth truly is line upon line. I also read an article on LDS.org today called "What if the Answer is Peace?" or something like that. While reading that article I had the same feeling, and I almost felt as if the Lord asked me, "Why do you need to know the details?"
I'm reminded of the hymn "Lead, Kindly Light." It says, "Lead thou my feet. I do not ask to see the distant scene/ one step enough for me." In Portuguese (just to brag that I remember, plus it's cool) it's "não peço luz a fim de longe ver/ somente luz em cada passo ter." I know the Savior lives. I know He loves me and that He's directing my paths. I don't see how all the little promptings are going to solve all my problems, and they probably won't right away, but that's the point. Growth is slow and we have to trust the Lord. I'm thankful that He's merciful enough to be patient with me, give me the light I have, and help me to understand the process more and more.
So I've rambled on a lot. The point is that I had a difficult week but I'm doing really well. Só alegria! I can't wait to talk to you guys soon. And don't forget, only 3 weeks till Mother's Day!!! Woohoo!!!! :)
Love you guys.