This is so weird to think that Christmas is almost here! All of the things that I usually associate with Christmas (hot chocolate, snow, our fireplace, etc.) are so far away that it seems like I've almost forgotten that Christmas is just around the corner! I'm still trying to figure out what exactly to do for Christmas, but I think that for the most part we're going to keep on working! We get the opportunity to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with a member family (until 9:30), but we're also planning on dropping by each of our investigators and less active members houses to share a message with them. Thankfully we're going to spend the rest of our time with our M. in Nova Aldeota. She is the sweetest lady and takes care of the missionaries every single P-day!!! The entire family is always is there, so we always have a great time and it'll be great to have some kind of 'family' to spend Christmas with! Christmas here is something else though! They're shooting of a TON of fireworks the closer we get to Christmas! Also, they don't have any ban (or I don't know about any kind of ban) on fireworks here, soooooo..... Let's just say that the people here don't think twice before they shoot some off. We almost had a couple hit our apartment building!!!So there were 2 great things that happened this week. First, I got my new companion!!!! I'm lucky that I only have to train a Brasileiro! I don't know what I would do if I had to be a district leader, teach a missionary how to be a missionary, AND teach that missionary how to speak Português! Also, Elder N. is already a better missionary than I am! The only thing he needs to do better with is starting the lessons. As soon as we start the lesson, he just jumps right in and works like a missionary who's already been out for more than a year!!! Okay, so can you tell how happy I am to have my new companion! He is exactly the change that I needed! Elder N. is ready to work hard and is being a blessing in our area with our all of our investigators. Funny thing, my companion will just say anything random that comes to his mind….(which is exactly the opposite from Elder Gino). Sometimes it is annoying, but I now understand what my family would find annoying about my random blurts! He is also basically on the same nerd level as me, or maybe even a little bit nerdier. Hard to believe! If any of you watch Big Bang Theory, he's a lot like Shelton, but not as annoying or prideful, but every bit as nerdy! It's awesome! We can play together, work together, and really I am just feeling like this is how a companionship should be! Elder N. has already helped me grow spiritually, give lessons easier, and speak Portuguese better than what I learned in the past couple of months here.
This week has been a little bit slow, but we’re trying to expand our teaching pool into Cidade 2000. It's basically like opening a brand new area. Everything is going pretty smoothly….a heck of a lot smoother than my first week in the mission.
Things that happened this week:
Y. was baptized last Sunday and confirmed this Sunday. It's really been incredible working with him! I have seen a huge change come over him in just a manner of weeks. When we first taught him, he was detached, reserved, and I NEVER saw him smile. At first it seemed like he was just coming because his friends were dragging him to church. He would show up in jeans and a t-shirt and kind of zone out, but now he showed up in a FULL suit and tie! He's only 15, but he's already looking to prepare himself for a mission. I am super excited for him and I hope that he turns into one of the strongest youth we have in the ward! It just feels so good when you can visibly see happiness coming into the lives of people. To know that you are line of the people who helped open that door is even better! My invitation for everyone out there is this: try and bring a little bit of happiness into someone else's life this Christmas. Try to do something more than just giving presents. Try to do something that will last a lot longer than toys or trinkets. Give the gift of happiness!
We taught G. on Sunday and he just needs to make the commitment to be baptized. He has such a good understanding about the gospel and he knows more about the church than a lot of missionaries do. He has a lot of religious background and he likes to learn, and he is good at learning! He will ask very specific questions that require specific doctrinal answers, which he just understands. We’ve already told him that he does not have to know everything before he acts, because everything in this gospel is a learning process that never ends. For example, I am only 18, I’ve been a member all of my life and I still have a lot of things that I need to learn. But, everything that I am learning as I walk on this path is helping me to grow and change for the better. We invited him to pray with a specific question about the Book of Mormon to see if it is true. We explained that if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and this is the restored church of our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the earth today. It isn’t any profound doctrine, just a simple invitation for him to make the effort and do that humble prayer to ask God for the truth. That is our invitation to the world, because God is the only one who can give us the answer that we need. Sometimes it will come in a different way than we expect, but I testify that God does answer prayers. He listens to every one of his children and will help them if they ask Him.
Also, we have a newly returned missionary, Marcus Paulo, who just got back this week. It turns out that he is the cousin of our investigator, M. He will definitely be a HUGE asset to the ward.
Something completely off topic that has been happening a lot more frequently is that there are a lot of gunshots in the past week. It’s probably because everyone is drinking more for he holidays and they lose their sense of rationality. For example, two drunks got in a fight over a bird one night and one of them died! Over a stupid bird! I can definitely see the blessings of safety that come from being a missionary though. We haven’t had a single person react aggressively towards us. I think that that’s something that President Souza always prays specifically about for us.