This week in the news...all went well with regards to the baptisms we had marked for Simone Gualberto, Pedro Henrique Gualberto Thomé, and Gercé de Lima Tomaz. I must say a key factor in the conversion of Simone and her son, Pedro, was the casal Francisco. They made several visits and really took good care of the family and helped integrate them into the ward. With all our combined effort and hard work, the ball is now in Simone and Pedro's court whether or not they stay active. After the baptisms, which took place at the District Headquarters, there was a cool, little presentation by the District Young Men and Young Women organizations about modesty.
This week I'm really starting to feel the effects of my 2 years serving a mission...2 years away from family and friends. When 10:30 p.m. arrives and my head hits the pillow, my mind starts to travel and think about the future, goals, ideas, and things to do differently upon my return and it becomes almost impossible to sleep. I find myself awake until 1 in the morning (haha) just thinking, and without an iPod plugged into my ears, it's darn near impossible to evade these thoughts...unless we have another day like yesterday when we walk the entire city frontwards and backwards.
The zone is doing really well with regards to the goals we made in addition to the ones made as a mission. So far this month, there have been 6 baptisms (3 of those being men and 2 being families). This week our branch has the possibility of 1 baptism (Angelo) and Elder Seastrand has the potential of 2 others. The work continues to move forward as we are still rolling with the preparation process. As 3 people took a big step in becoming members of the Church this week (Simone, Pedro, and Gercé), we were also able to mark (in 3 days) a goal date for a family that has ties to the Church (10 of July). Their names are Márcia and Francisco.
It was interesting to read the emails today because I was thinking a lot of the same things. On the mission, you are like a coach...you find people with potential, you teach them, they become part of the "team," and when you leave, it's gametime. You can do all the motivational talking there is, but it's up to the runners or players to put their technique and skill into use. It's up to them to stay physically and mentally strong. That's the reality of free agency. After I arrive back home, all I can do is stay in communication and pray that those we helped on the mission stay on the straight and narrow.
One thing that President Jayme has emphasized a lot on the mission is what he calls "Personal Victory," or in other words, personal study. Teaching as a missionary can be likened unto a Kung Fu Master going into a fight. If he hasn't prepared himself with the necessary knowledge or technique, it's GAME OVER when it comes time to battle.
Today, as a zone, we went to the 7th BIS Jungle Warfare Unit of Boa Vista. It was cool to see the lifestyle of a soldier and become familiar with many of the animals one might encounter in the greater Amazon jungle. Although the majority of animals were obtained because of animal trafficking and will never be able to return to the wild, it's good to see that someone cares about these rare creatures in Roraima, Brasil (the region in South America with more animal trafficking than any other).
Boa Vista has been a good place to die. The people here are great and like to talk with the missionaries. There are a ton of hippies that sell cool stuff you can't find anywhere else in the world. It's interesting talking to them because they aren't what some people might call brainless. They are just a different breed that has chosen a different path in life. I believe it is because of this factor that they are really interested in our work and our personal story.
I'm not going to lie. I'm way excited to finish the mission and return home to fulfill other duties. Yeah, it'll be extremely sad to say goodbye, BUT that's the way it's got to be when you serve a mission thousands of miles from home. Fortunately, with modern technology, my Brazilian friends will only be an email or instant message away.
Elder Taylor Mackay