June 10, 2013

This week has just been great! I got to the bus station and met with the swarm of other missionaries who were transferred and found out that I was made senior comp and stayed in the same mission!!! I was pretty happy to stay in the same mission, but pretty nervous to be senior comp. My comp is Elder Batista, he has four transfers in this area and he is just awesome! Works super hard and is super spiritual.
This week has been the best one of the mission for me! The bishop of the ward came and got us from the bus station and we stopped by our house so I could get settled in a little bit, but it was fast.  I kept talking with Elder Batista about the area and it got me super excited so we got out of the house quick, went and ate lunch with our bishop and got to work. The bishop here is great, he reminds me of Miguel, really easy going, really helpful and hilarious.
We cover the wards here in this area, one of them is Jardim do Lago (lake garden) and the other Jardim das Bandeiras (flag garden). The areas are divided by a highway and one area is a favela (ghetto) with dirt roads and tons of unfinished little brick shacks and the other is quite normal. We only work in the favela. Ha-ha all of the humble and receptive people live there. It was a perfect first day; we ended it off with teaching an investigator and his daughter the first lesson with the bishop.
I found out on day 2 who my district leader was, turns out its my old comp, Elder Albuquerque and the other two missionaries in our district are sisters. One of them is from the same MTC group that Elder Albuquerque and I are from. Our entire district has 7 months or less on the mission. Probably the youngest district in the mission. I am loving it.
So we have a few investigators that have already been taught everything and didn't get baptized yet, their names are Andressa and Deliane and Claudia. All of them have a bit of a different situation and Elder Batista and I decided to fast to know how to teach them and how to help them be baptized. The Lord worked miracles this week with us and prepared families for us. We were able to mark a baptismal date with Andressa and Deliane. It has just been so crazy, I have encountered so many situations this week where I wouldn't have known what to do if it were last week, but the spirit has been with our companionship and I have seen the Lord's hand guiding us in the right direction. I have no doubt in my mind that he has accepted our efforts of last week.
Friday I woke up pretty disappointed with the night before, we had gotten into a bible bash for the first time and it was just ugly. I was pretty mad that we had gotten into one because the spirit had fled from us for the rest of the night. The same feeling carried on in the morning for me, but it didn't seem to for Elder Batista. Before we left the house that day, I asked him for a priesthood blessing. It was incredible, he said exactly what I needed to hear and it gave me the energy I needed that day. It turned out being the best day of the week for us. We went tracting down a tiny little street in the favela and couldn't finish knocking all the doors in three hours because so many people were letting us into their houses!
We taught a 17 year old and marked a baptism with him and he was so excited, we came back the next day and his mom answered the door and said she didn't want us teaching him because she is from some other church, even though he isn't part of it. I was pretty upset because we saw him light up when we taught.
That night we went to the 18th birthday party of one of the ward young men. He had bought about $200 worth of meat for a big bbq and the whole ward was over at the house along with the neighborhood. It is pretty cool the way it works here in Brasil, the whole world stays together and just laughs and eats and jokes around and dances like its nobodies business. There was so much food that they had barely killed off half of it before the night was over.
Church was the following day. It was pretty good, our first session is from 9-12 and then we ate lunch and went back for our second ward from 3-6. It is pretty relaxing, but I was asked to speak in both sacrament meetings for ten minutes each. Welcome to missionary work. It all went well. During priesthood, the young women’s leader asked us to go and teach the young women about the priesthood, and it was a really cool experience. We could really feel the spirit, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to hold the priesthood and to see the power of god work miracles here on earth every day.
We had some incredible experiences giving blessings this week. We gave a blessing to a member who is terminally ill with cancer. He could barely leave his bed, but the following day, his wife called and said that he got up and walked down the stairs for some fresh air on his own. It was incredible. Anyways after the last session of sacrament, we brought Eva, a single mother investigator, to the baptismal font and showed it to her. Eva, Elder Batista and I leaned against the railing and talked about her baptism and the church and sacrament. There we marked her baptismal date. We had felt the spirit pretty strongly and it was so incredible.
The Lord has guided us every step of the way this week. I have learned so much. The greatest thing I have learned is that I can't do anything without the spirit, and thank the heavens the Lord granted all that help to us this week. It has just been perfect. I love this area; it sits in the city of Campinas itself. It has just been great. I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you!
Elder Paynter

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