First of all I have pictures, though it appears now that the USB may or may not be able to function, making it impossible to send them. We'll see.
I love a good p-day : ) It's absolutely refreshing and when I don't have much work to do on the computer and can just write to you it's even better.
This week was wonderful as well. (All weeks really should be during the mission.) We began the week well as we had rested on p-day the week before. Tuesday we had a wonderful zone meeting with the zone of Tiradentes, led by the zone leaders here. We had a good time and were accompanied by two young men we brought from our ward who are soon going on a mission. The highlight was perhaps when we inflated lots of balloons and tossed them into the air, trying to keep all afloat (our baptisms from falling). The zone leaders called out different groups to try and keep all them afloat e.g. district leaders, one district...When he called out assistants it was a mad rushing effort by the two of us to keep all the baptisms from falling. Message? We can't do it alone. It takes everyone to have a successful zone, which is exactly right. I have observed that if you want lots of baptisms in your zone or district or mission (and its upheld by the number for the last ten years) you have to help the most missionaries possible baptize. Teamwork. Tuesday we were also visited by the head church auditor for Brasil who audited our mission. Interesting but nothing to note other than after our successful audit President and Sister Genaro were happy and so they bought us all pizzas : )
Thursday we were called to the office before lunch to complete the artwork for our open house banner (more later). We ended up giving the design responsibility back to the President who had his own graphic company and thus was the obvious choice for banner designer. He did a wonderful job and then brought us to the printing shop to deliver our design. We lunched late and then headed back to work. We are pursuing the less actives as I have noted before and going after the plethora of names on the list of members that we don't recognize is generally how we work during the day, of course with other work mixed in.
Friday was special. We held a very large open house the majority of the day in the stake center in the middle of Londrina, complete with banner, open family history center, center for unemployment, the institute building, the whole zone of Londrina and President and Sister Genaro. We worked around the building from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, doing contacts with everyone who passed, and conducting them to the elders and sisters designated to give tours of the chapel. In all we had 78 people enter the church and double this in references. Exciting! Our last blitz as we called it, has already had at least one good effect that I know of, a surgeon general graduated from the best college in Brasil and extremely influential here in Londrina will be baptized this week as a result : )
Also, I've never been so rejected in my whole mission. The inner city crowd is very worldly and we suffered some unkindly remarks, lots of avoidance and one man who crossed the street four times to avoid the missionaries. Plenty of people wouldn't shake our hands, etc. I had a small taste of the mission in Japan, as, out of Londrina's healthy population of Japanese, not one stopped to even talk to us. . . I stuck with Elder Dantas during the day, who is an excellent elder, and we were able to bring 13 people to the church, two of which marked to attend institute the next day : )
Saturday we held our weekly meeting with our ward mission leader who is doing an all-star job in his calling. We also brought investigators to mutual, then headed off to participate in the Saturday night session of the Londrina stake conference, presided by Elder Gavarret. The session focused on missionary work. It was interesting and was not very well attended. Especially by ward mission leaders whom Elder Gavarret asked to stand and was shocked when only two were counted present. Ummmmmm. . . he was so disconcerted by this that he paused in his talk unable to continue, obviously surprised. yup. He's a lot shorter than you would think. Very short, very stern and perhaps a little awkward publicly, but certainly a called and chosen servant of the Lord. I had the pleasure of meeting him and introducing our missionaries to him quickly in between sessions.
Elder Junot, Church Educational Systems director of Brasil was also present and gave a wonderful talk. The best of all however was our beloved President Genaro who blew the roof off with his irresistible humor and at the same time, firm teaching to the members that we the missionaries are here to help YOU! Please seek us out, help us, ask us (the missionaries) we can help you. Family Home Evening (FHE) as a missionary tool was mentioned successively five times by the visiting leaders. Coincidence? Think not. Elder Costa's similar focus in his visit to us shows us that. Get the FHE machine going. President Genaro also introduced a program I had helped produce of 21 days of praying for a list of people you'd like to have taught by the missionaries, and accompanying scriptures. We'll see.
Sunday we stuck around in our area. It was as it tends to be a day when the spirit is sweetest, where the fruits of our work seem closest and when lunch is also best : ) One young man received the Aaronic priesthood as a teacher from his uncle as we watched. Lunch was provided by our recent converts and boy oh boy was it good ! They did a full on BBQ for us : ) They are doing very well and have a calling already in the Sunday school, and one soon to come. He is a house builder, or pedreiro as they are called, and surprised us at lunch when he began to sing from memory the latest mutual music from the church. He almost teared up professing how much he loved the message of the music which spoke of preaching the gospel : ) We taught his cousin after lunch of 19 years who will certainly be baptized in the coming weeks. The spirit was strong as we testified of the healing power of Christ's atonement in his life, and the sacred ordinances that direct that power into our lives. I consider him a blessing at the end of this week for having sought not our own glory but to do His will, seeking out His lost sheep and not baptisms, which may sometimes be considered a more glorified pursuit. Of course we are looking to baptize as well and will this week, quite a bit.: )
Sunday was capped off with other sweet lessons, with the feelings of pure intelligence flowing unto those we taught. There is no better feeling as I have before said. It is the approbation of the Lord in this His own work. Time continues to fly by, but I couldn't be happier and there's not a thing I want in the world, except maybe my hair back : )
I love you. I pray that all is well. I know it is because it is according with His perfect plan. Have a great week!