I have so so much to say. Thankfully I have Monday as well to write to yall.
First thing's first, I learned that the phrase: "Time flies fast when you’re having fun" isn’t always true. These two and a half weeks have been what I think to be the slowest in the mission. But they have also been, without a doubt, the best two and a half weeks of my life. And the slowness just made it better, as I could then enjoy every precious moment, as there have been a lot of them. I feel like the skype call certainly didn’t give my happiness the justice it needed, because I was still a little stunned by the massive amount of flooding the city was undergoing. The pictures show what I’m talking about, I think. All of those flood photos (and the churrasco photo) were taken on Christmas. Saturday it got even worse, but then it all went back down. It’s still flooded, and some people are still out of their houses, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was.
So what makes my week so really awesome? Well, I am constantly at the side of two of my very best friends - Elder Anfuso and the Holy Spirit. The three of us make a pretty awesome team. Actually, the Holy Spirit's doing all of the work, but Elder Anfuso and I are just along for the incredible, sweaty, ride.
It seems like I've been here in Alegrete forever, because so much has happened. I will have to tell you guys about one person at a time. I won’t get to everyone, but I’ll get the rest on Monday.
Daniel - Daniel is 18. When I first met him, he was doubting his faith in God. He didn’t know if God existed. But in just two weeks, his faith is strong, He accepted to be baptized on the 9th of January, and he has decided that he will serve a mission. When he talks to us, his very countenance glows in his eyes - a huge change. Yesterday, we asked him if he was praying and reading the scriptures daily. He said he has been waking up at 4AM every morning just to find time to do just that. We were pleasantly surprised. He said "I saw a little video clip called "Patterns of Light" by a man in the church (David A Bednar) that said that sometimes the spirit talks to us in the form of memories. He said that the spirit can let us remember, like, our mom telling him to say our morning prayers. My mom doesn’t do that, but I remember you guys." He then went on to explain that he has seen all the bible videos and Mormon messages on LDS.org
Ivo and Renan - I don’t even know how to begin. Like, wow. Ivo was taught by the missionaries 3 years ago, but stopped going to church, and stopped receiving the lessons. Well, he is part of a service-oriented society, that, every time they meet, a prayer is offered and a scripture is read. There are a ton of different religions there, so sometimes it’s the Bible, sometimes it’s the Koran, sometimes it’s the Torah, etc. Well. It was Ivo's turn to share a scripture. He thought "Well, the Book of Mormon is scripture to me, I'll share one from the Book of Mormon." This sparked some... discussions within his youth group. He then defended the Book of Mormon and the LDS faith. After his defense, he had many opportunities to share the message of the restored gospel with his friends. One of these friends is Renan. More on him later. But anyways, he started studying again.
Then, Elder Anfuso and Elder Sousa (his last companion) were doing a service project in a nursing home, and Ivo and his group were there as well. He seemed like a nice kid, so they got his address. However, they did not know how much Ivo had been prepared. The missionary exchange happened, and I came in. We passed by Ivo's house a few times, but he was never there. Anyways, the flood happened, and at its worst point, (Saturday Night) only two small parts of our area were not underwater, and separated by about 40 minutes of walking on the train tracks (because the roads and bridge were all underwater). Our plans had all been completed by about 7:30 that night, and we were on "our side" of town (the part with our house). We thought about teaching some short lessons with some recent-converts and less-actives close to home, but then we thought about Ivo. The spirit pressed us to make the hike. So we took the perilous train trail across the flooded city of Alegrete and got to Ivo's house. His mom greeted us and took us in. My companion's eyes widened. Firstly, he had never seen such an elegant house, but secondly, he directed my attention to the bookshelf. There, on the bookshelf, were all 15 of the "Teachings of the Prophets", the Book of Mormon, Gospel Principles, and other LDS books. There was even a Book of Mormon in English, haha.
Soon, Ivo and his friends all showed up, sweaty from helping other people in the flood.
I’m sorry, guys, for the cliffhanger, but I have to sign out. For now.
Com Muito Amor,
The end of the exchange with Elder Alves in Santiago:
The floods in Alegrete:
The churrasco photo: