Dear Family and Friends,
There is no one secret. To better my Portuguese, I recently picked up an inspirational book called O Segredo, which tried to explain the secret to a successful life through obedience and understanding to one single rule: the law of attraction. No offense to the author and her poorly structured and repetitive livro, but this cure-all answer is a little naïve and childish in my opinion. Success in life cannot be measured by obedience to a law developed by man...sure, it might open up a few doors in this life but, at the same time, will shut doors with eternal consequences. The secret I have been able to understand can be found in a combination of 7 areas. The most important of these being obedience, which allows one to fulfill all other responsibilities with exactness. The areas are as follows:
Making of goals
Service to others
Obedience to the commandments
This week I would like to write a little about the faith our investigators are showing. As of now, we have 5 people with dates marked for baptism: Alcides and Walquiria (a couple), Simone and Pedro (mother and son), and Geovanna. I have been extremely impressed with the faith I've seen practiced in their lives in such a quick manner. One way I have been able to better visualize the idea of faith is through a poem by Emily Dickinson:
Faith — is the Pierless Bridge
Supporting what We see
Unto the Scene that We do not —
Too slender for the eye
As the poem says, faith is like a bridge that can bring us knowledge which mankind may not consider to be scientific proof or certainty. So, essentially, we just need to take that first step on the bridge. We do not need to see the whole bridge...just take the first step. The reality of it all is that the test of our belief is our willingness to act.
With much temptation and confusion in her life, Geovanna will be postponing a trip to Venezuela, so everything can go well for her baptism. I can't say that I would have the same desire or self-control if I were put in the same situation. It's experiences like these which give you a great respect for those you teach and a better understanding of the power of God. He created the world in 6 days...by all means, it is no task for him to realize the conversion of a human being.
As you know, we had the great opportunity to hear the words of Bishop Edgley, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, and Elder Holland. I wasn't able to be there in person, but Elder Holland gave us a shout-out through the webcam (haha). Monday and yesterday, we ran around getting the whole set-up ready for today's big show. Elder Holland talked about a lot of things but mostly about the influence the mission will have on your entire life. He spoke of how a day has yet to pass that he doesn't remember or share an experience from his mission. He stated that his mission was a preparation for him to make all the decisions he had yet to make in his life. Elder Holland also warned us against the lowering of personal standards after returning back from the mission. He cautioned us of the dangers and the disappointment he would feel if we fell away from the Church after dedicating two years of our life to teaching the gospel. He said, "If I find out any one of you has become less active or inactive in future years, I will personally hunt you down in your sleep and scare you silly back onto the straight and narrow." He jokingly said, "I'll surprise you so good you'll be screaming for your mommy in the middle of the night." Can you imagine? A mom asks, "What is it?" Her frightened returned missionary replies, "It's Elder Holland...he's in my room!" It was cool listening to these men speak, and every time I heard them say the words, "Manaus Mission," a smile would grow on my face knowing I am part of that effort.
As for this week's news, we will be having the baptism of Geovanna, with the participation of the local institute program, on Saturday and the wedding of Tito (João Paulo) and Giselle the following week. We were invited to Tito's bachelor party soccer game. It was pretty legit with regards to competition, including some guys who have a good shot of working their way to the professional level here in Brasil (one being my companion, Elder Lima, who was working his way up to play for the city of Vitória team). Fortunately, my American skills came into play and I scored a sweet goooooooooooolll!!!!
That's all I have for now. All is going well with the work here and I'm super excited for our May prospects. I'm really hoping I get to stay in my current area, because with all that the zone has lined up, it will make for quite the grand finale. Have a great week!
Elder Taylor Mackay