This week has been pretty nuts. Or rather the past 3 days, since when I went to transfer meeting on Wednesday my greenie wasn't there!!! (my missionary life never goes according to plan). So that night I couldn't go home alone with the sisters, so I slept at the APs apartment and spent the next day in the mission home with all the missionaries that were going home! TRUNKY FEST! I even heard all of President's "marriage and dating" advice. So useful for me right now.
Anyways, turns out he was still in Utah because after the MTC he had to go back to his home in west jordan to take an american citizenship test. Because.... he's BRAZILIAN! and his name?
I thought when I watch Lopinho #1 drive away I would be Lopes-free for a good long while, but this new guy just wanted otherwise. So here's his story:
Elder Thiago Lopes, born in Sao Paulo to part member parents, moved to utah at 4 years old, after several years and sets of missionaries his mom joined the church and is now stalwart. Lived in Sugarhouse (the homeland of my mother for those who don't know) and then moved to West Jordan. Went to Westminster college in Utah to play soccer. He's fluent in portuguese and even more fluent in english, aka perfect for brockton. He's got ears like satellites and is just a really relaxed and happy guy-- something I need with my tendency to overstress the little things. It's gonna be good stuff here.
Our first day as real life missionaries was Friday, Sexta, and his very first lesson (unplanned but prompted while walking the street) was someone we contacted on the street a few weeks ago. He took us in and talked about his dissatisfaction with religion and how the concept of confession to a priest didn't make sense to him. We talked about the true nature of repentance and left him Alma 22 and 36 to read-- he held the Book of Mormon/Livro de Mormon with tenderness I haven't seen very often here in Brockton. Good first experience for Elder Lopes, neh?
We were driving to another appointment when I felt like we should turn around-- we stopped by Niquinha's house where our long-lost friend Malique happened to be inside. Were able to teach quickly from Matthew 24:9 and figure out the family issues that are keeping him from being baptized.
Our next lesson was Jesse. Before we went in I decided to share Mosiah 24 and talk about how the Lord can relieve our burdens without taking them away. When we talked to him he was down... and at the end of the lesson said that he had been thinking of leaving the church until his family situation improved. He said that we showed up and shared exactly what he needed, and he wasn't gonna leave. Elder Lopes thought that was totally sweet...
Another tender mercy: Elder Lopes 2.0 loves dragon ball z. so our Epic Dragon Ball Z Moments of History can continue with william unabated!!! good thing too because I know absolutely nothing
Then at the very end of the day we decided to stop by Jose de Barros, who we haven't been able to meet two weeks. Talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how in order to be baptized he would have to give up some things. Good thing E. Lopes can speak Portuguese because he picked my mess up off the floor after I tried to explain an overview of the law of chastity.... I had him lead the discussion with Jose and his did fantastic. He's a natural teacher. All he needs is the scriptural resources and he'll be a complete package. The Lord's going easy on me with this one.
And I'll end with the most exciting news, which actually happened before Lopes 2.0 arrived and before Lopinho packed and left Brockton. Last Monday night, after I emailed you guys, we went over to Raymond and Djara's house so Lopinho could say goodbye. And when we got there, Ray hit us with a surprise... he's decided to get baptized! After many sets of missionaries and probably 2 years of teaching, he received the answer he was waiting for. It came through a recent convert that I sent to go talk to him in church before sacrament. I don't know all of what he said to Raymond, but he decided right then he would do it. All his many doubts and fears, about the priesthood and joseph smith and everything else, have been gradually answered or soothed. He's ready. Language can't express what I felt when he told us that. On Lopes' last night with them here in Brockton.
The Lord loves us and he chastens and lifts and surprises us every day. Even when we don't know it. Especially when we don't think we deserve it. I've felt it firsthand here in my "extremities". See you all next week!
p.s. i realized that this email makes training sound really easy but don't worry, it's the hardest thing I've ever done
p.p.s. lopinho with raymond and fam after he told us,
america, cape verde, canada and brasil