April 1, 2013

Well hello everyone,
What a week! It has just been so awesome! Started out a bit tougher than I would prefer, but I have learned so dang much and my love for the mission, the people, and the Lord has grown exponentially! We had a great zone meeting on Tuesday and I learned so much. I also found out that some of my Brasilian friends from the MTC are now in my zone and it was so much fun to talk with them and share ideas about different situations. I love our zone tons now. We went out to lunch with our zone and they took forever to cook it so we missed our only bus back out to Amparo, so we stayed in Bragança and did a division. I went with an elder who is finishing his mission after this transfer and it was so good to see a master go after it. I really learned a lot from him and I was super grateful that we missed our bus. So we went back spent one more night, and got up at five in the morning to catch the early bus back to Amparo. As I was half asleep on the hour and a half sketchy bus ride on the bumpy mountainside, I looked out and saw thick fog. It was a little scary because it isn’t the safest bus ride, but not five minutes later we were out of what I thought was fog, I looked back and saw a bunch of poofy clouds sitting on the hillside. It was a super beautiful sight. The Spirit just confirmed a little truth to me. Although trials at times make us blind and feel like a rough and bumpy road, we just need to keep going carefully through life, and shortly they will be gone and we will see that they were a beautiful opportunity and blessing in our lives. Just like I was so grateful to see that beautiful sight. I felt the love of our Savior at that moment, and I although I was a little sick with some things, I knew that shortly it would all be great and I would be grateful for them.

     We just started into a really rich neighborhood and nobody gave us a chance to speak until we found a worker that was painting one of the houses and we started talking with him and he said he didn’t want anything, and then his brother came out of nowhere and said "I want to know more about it!" We were so happy to finally find someone that would talk with us, and this guy was super excited! He lives way far away and was traveling for Easter so we didn’t get to start teaching him yet, but will very soon! The next day, we went back into that neighborhood because we had faith that at least one of the people there would be prepared to hear our message; we knocked, and knocked, and knocked on some of the biggest houses I have seen. They are beautiful here and have such a beautiful view. But nobody answered until this little old guy with sun glasses comes out. He looked just like a Brasilian Jack Nicholson. The first thing he said, was "hey, you are both Americans!" ha-ha. He had already had missionaries in house before and his daughters and sons-in-law live in Georgia. He has been to the states a few times. He let us in his house, gave us some water and talked with us for a bit but didn’t really want the messages. He was super nice and told us to pass by more. But he was the only guy in the entire neighborhood who we got anywhere with so we probably won’t be seeing him anymore. It was a little gem of the day. Then we went to our recent convert family's house for a nice family home evening. It was good to see how well they had progressed and the mother bore testimony about the Book of Mormon and it was super cool.
   Friday was a day we had marked to visit with one of our contacts at three in the afternoon. Her husband is in the hospital, he has been in a coma for about fifteen days now. When we went there a lot younger guy answered the door, and ordered us to enter. We were a little shocked by it but entered and started talking with this guy and asked for the lady. He said she was at the hospital and wouldn’t be back for a while. He is her son, his name is Michel. He usually works but because of Easter they were given the weekend off, including Friday. We talked more with him, and he said he was in jail but got released four and half months ago and was baptized by an evangelical church while he was in prison. He told us about his experience of changing his life from drugs and violence into God. He wanted to hear our message and we gave it to him. It was a super cool experience and he was super receptive. He accepted baptism if he got an answer. We were so excited to hear all of that! It was so good to teach him, the spirit was really strong there. And after the lesson he even said, "You guys don’t drink coffee do you?" and we said “no”. He wanted us to help him quit drinking coffee too!!! It was unreal! I was so grateful! After him, we tried some other marked appointments but they all fell through like usual. So we started walking through the neighborhood and saw a run down dirt road of a street with a bunch of little shacks for houses. I was so happy! My eyes got big and we started knocking! Every single person that answered their door wanted us to come back and teach! I couldn’t believe my ears! I was so excited! We took off from the street before it got too dark and went to Laides for another huge dinner full of laughs and love with her. It was a great day!
   Saturday we went back to visit Michel and see if he had gotten an answer yet. And his mom (the lady we marked an appointment with before) answered the door. Her name is Jurema. When we had first marked an appointment with her, she didn’t seem all that excited to have us in her house and kept changing it, but this time she was really excited to see us. She talked all about the Book of Mormon and about Michel and they had a great discussion about it! She sadly had to remark another time with us but said she was so happy and excited to see us again and couldn’t wait for the lesson. The Lord works in such great ways, and gives us opportunities to bless the lives of others and opportunities to lift where we stand. And if we take advantage of those opportunities, we will be blessed with even more trust from Him, great blessings, and greater opportunities to work with. It was so great of a miracle! After that we went back to our dirt road street to finish knocking those doors, and once again, everyone was super receptive! We marked so many appointments for this week with entire families, and I can’t wait to see what is in store. We knocked a lot of doors and got to one where nobody answered, we were just about to turn away when the owners of the house rolled up in their car, and asked us what we wanted. Immediately they let us in their house! They are a cute young couple that has so much love for one another. You could just feel how great they were by being there, and I just felt so grateful to know them and have time to talk with them. During the lesson, everything went absolutely perfect. I had never felt the spirit so strong in a lesson. They committed to baptism on the 20th of April when they receive an answer, remarked for our next appointment and told us to write down the date so they don’t forget. They almost started reading the Book of Mormon before we could even get out the door! I am so excited to meet with them again this Saturday to see how things went! I was literally on cloud nine! We went to the church to grab our Easter eggs that a member's daughter made for us, and said a prayer to thank our Father in Heaven for all of the blessings and miracles he has shown to us. After that we went to the store to grab some last second hair gel and soap and what not, when one of the cashiers who is a friend of ours said that she wanted us to go teach her and her husband and that she was looking to go to a different church now! She gave us her address and it turns out she lives far away, but pretty close to the painters that we talked with earlier that week. Again I couldn’t believe my ears. It was miracle after miracle this week. It has been a tough area but I feel like after a trial of our faith, the Lord has blessed us with all the opportunities in the world. We finally had incorporated love into our work instead of working for numbers and it has made all the difference in the world.
    No investigators came to church this week, but we will just say that’s because of Easter. We had an awesome discussion about the priesthood, and after that all the members in the ward fattened us up with great food and Easter chocolates. It was such an incredible week, thanks to the Lord for blessing us with new eyes of love and service, and with His Spirit so we work in His ways.
     I am so grateful for each and every moment I have to do this work. For every second that I get to say I am a missionary, that I am a servant of our Savior and that I have been chosen to spread the gospel by the very authority of God. I know that this the only true church on the face of the earth, that it contains the only true prophet of God, with 12 apostles, and the only church on the earth with the authority of God Himself. I am so grateful that he has trusted me with all of the opportunities and to carry his priesthood power. I am so grateful for the Sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us. That we can be with our families forever in never-ending happiness and that because he made that sacrifice, we are never alone with any trial, thought, temptation, situation, or sickness. He knows exactly who we are, and what we need. He loves us perfectly, and allows the right trials into our lives so we can grow. He is making Gods out of us, and I pray every day that we all learn what he would have us to learn. I love this gospel. I love this work. I love my Father in Heaven and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope your week is as good as mine was. 
I love you all.
            Èlder Paynter

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