Dear Family and Friends,
Elder Costa and I have definitely seen the Lord´s hand in our lives this week. Some special experiences: We received a referral and went with the member to give a member of the family a blessing. There, we met the family, mom, stepdad, 15 y.o. twins, a 10 y.o., and a 6 y.o., just a nice family. And we learned that one of the twins was just diagnosed with cancer in her leg. If it isn't healed by the radiation and chemo, which usually it isn't, they will be cutting off her leg. So when we went there, you could tell how hard this had been for the family (and the stepfather has been unable to find work), and the atmosphere was truly humble. The Spirit was strong as we left a blessing, and we've taught the family a couple times since. It's hard for them right now, as the daughter can´t leave the house with her weakened immune system, and they will be leaving to stay in the hospital for awhile, so I don´t know what we´ll be able to do for them, but it was special, and I knew we are acting as representatives of Jesus Christ.
On Thursday, we went with a member to visit a less-active who hadn't been to church since her records were transferred here, so no one knows her. We went, and it turns out that she is bed ridden and has been for a couple years. She moved here so her daughters can take care of her. We gave her a blessing as well, I actually did in Portuguese for the first time, instead of just anointing, and I´ll honestly never forget it, as I felt prompted and knew the exact words to speak. She won´t be able to come to church, but we arranged to have some members visit here again.
Sunday morning, we visited another referral, and taught two kids and their mother. The daughter is 9 or 10 and has come to church now for a couple weeks and loves it, and the mom wanted to learn more. And she loves it as well. They both want to be baptized, and were truly an answer to our prayers. The mom drinks coffee and smokes a lot. We taught the word of wisdom after church, and the Spirit again was so strong. I really liked what Elder Costa said. He related how quitting will be hard (we challenged her to quit immediately) but asked her to remember the Savior´s sacrifice for us, and how nothing we do can do will ever repay him for that gift of the Atonement. But he asks that we keep the commandments. She said she wants to quit, and we´re excited to keep working with the family this week.
On Saturday, our lunch was changed from noon to 1. We were working when the member called, and because we had some time we hadn´t planned for, we decided to visit a recent convert of a year, Murilo, who is 19 y.o. We went and when he saw us, he was elated. He told us how he had prayed on Thursday that the missionaries or someone from the church would come visit him before Sunday. And here we were. How many times has lunch for us been pushed back? I can´t recall one time. But that day, we needed to visit him. He has been having a rough time, and his parents aren't interested in church, but we were able to help him, and it strengthened my testimony as well, that God knows us and loves us. And he works through his servants.
Wednesday, there will be a worldwide broadcast for all missionaries, which we are excited for.
Dad mentioned the recession, and I am 99% certain it's not the worst since 1901, but it is bad. Inflation was over 10% last year, and right now I think it's about 15%. And Serra is fairly affluent (compared to Cacheiro or Vitoria) and there are some members here who are struggling. They have really good jobs with the oil/gas industry (some work offshore) but that whole industry is struggling right now, and some of them won´t receive pay for two months. And for us, last week, the cost of the bus went us from 2.45 to 2.75 a ride, so that hurts.
I haven´t heard much about the Olympics. People here generally watch the games, but at least here, there´s not much excitement. They paint the streets every four years with soccer pictures/murals, whether the games are being held in Russia or like last time in Brasil, but I haven´t seen anything like that here.
Love you all!