Wednesday, March 4, 2015

76 weeks- oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt?

Hey there everybody,

Mom, you are the best! I know that people tell you that all the time, but
I'm saying it at least one more time =) I can't thank you enough for the
help witht he BYU housing! It's going to be awesome down there! I wasn't
worrying about it too much this week, but it was on my mind once or twice.
It'll be nice to get back into the swing of things and to be going home.
However, I have much more work to do!
Unfortunately, the great and wonderful gift of agency (and I mean that
honestly, not sarcastically) decided to take its effect in full this week.
Every single one of those nine baptisms fell through. It was horrible and
so hard to see. My companion and I couldn't believe it. We were in absolute
shock at how it all turned out. It's not that the people didn't want to get
baptized (well, one wants to wait longer), but they just didn't get
priorities straight. There were some who left town, some who weren't home
when we went to get them, some who didn't show up to church, some who got
sick, etc. It was CRAZY!

We described it like a UFC fight haha. We were in the first round (Monday
through Wednesday) on top of things and feeling good about the week. We
through some punches and even got some great advice from our trainers
(Elder Cook, Elder Aidukaitis, and President Castro). Round two was an
exchange of blows. We took a couple of jabs, but were hanging in there.
Finally, in round three (Saturday and Sunday), we just got a roundhouse
kick to the face and it was over. It was like a one-punch knockout. We
tried to block it, but it just didn't work out haha. The worst part, our
members just kind of looked at us with expressions of, "that looks like it
hurt Elder, but cheer up because you did everything you could." Now, I'm
grateful to say we did everything we could (fasting 3 times, visiting them
almost daily, praying, visiting with members, etc), but in the end, they
still didn't get baptized, and that hurts a lot.

However, Heavenly Father loves us and comforts us when we need it. I was
just praying in Sacrament meeting and trying to find something to be
grateful for. I told Heavenly Father about how sad I felt and wanted to
know if we really had done everything, or if that was just my pride telling
me that. I received my response during the Sacrament. I looked at my
missionary planner and saw the picture I've put on the front of it; it's a
picture of the Savior reaching out to Pedro when he was walking on the
water and started to sink. It says underneath it in Portuguese, "And Peter,
beginning to sink, cried out, 'Master, save me!' and Jesus stretched out
his hand immediately saying, 'Oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt?'" I
felt very similar to Peter in that moment. I could feel how much Heavenly
Father loves me and could feel Him with His arms around me. I received the
confirmation that we had done all, but will just have to continue doing so
to help these people =) It was great motivation to continue into the week
with a smile on my face and love in my heart!

I'm glad to hear that Haylee is loving school and has so many great
friends! I was praying for her again this week =) tell her I said I'm glad
she's liking school so much!

I forgot to mention last week that we watched a python catch a rat behind
our house! We heard a commotion out in the hallway of our apartment complex
and a lot of people talking and running around. I went to the window and
could see a boa constrictor on the ground with a rat! It was AWESOME! We
took a ton of pictures haha. All in the life of the Brazil Manaus Mission!

We also saw a miracle this week with one of our investigators. Fabio has
been investigating the Church since Christmas with his family. He and his
wife are family of some members, but haven't really been progressing too
quickly and have come several times to being dropped. Joeli (his wife) has
been really liking to learn from us, but Fabio has only appeared somewhat
interested. He is a great guy, but used to be a pastor in another church
which is usually very hard on missionaries. However, we decided to go and
ask Joeli to get baptized on Wednesday and were hoping that Fabio would
agree as well. Turns out, he was the only one home, but still invited us
in. We went in and small-talked before teaching about very aspects of the
Church (temples, chapels, the Book of Mormon, etc.) We asked him how his
reading of the Book of Mormon is going, but he said he hadn't read it for a
while. Elder Battraw asked him if he thought the Book of Mormon is true, he
said yes. Elder then asked him if he thinks that Joseph Smith was a prophet
of God, he said yes. We were feeling pretty excited at this point, but
needed to be sure he meant what he said. Elder Battraw then said, "so you
believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only
true church on the earth?" Fabio looked at him and said, "yes." We then
decided to really put him to the test and invited him to be baptized in two
weeks. Fabio accepted! He said, "ever since you have come to visit our
family, our problems have gotten smaller. I don't know how you did it, but
you showed up exactly when we needed it. Our problems haven't disappeared,
but they are smaller. Jesus really does walk by your side. I've seen it in
what you teach us and have seen it in my family's life. I'll talk to Joeli,
but yes, I want to get baptized." THAT is why I serve a mission =) the Holy
Ghost was so powerful that I felt like I would explode from the inside out.
We are going to visit them this week and prepare them to be baptized as a
family either this week or next week =) Pray a lot for them, especially

The conference with Elder Cook was fantastic as well. We got to be with him
for two hours and it was great! He is very nice and a great people person.
We got to shake his hand, Elder Aidukaitis' hand, and our area 70's (Elder
Rais) hand. The actual conference was great. I would love to tell you
everything, but will just give a few brief notes. He really taught us the
importance of helping ALL people (members, non-members, recent converts,
less-actives, etc) to come unto Christ. It is our calling as missionaries
to strengthen the Church and to help build it up in the wards and branches
where we serve. He also told us to always follow our mission president and
to study Preach My Gospel daily and to focus on the points where the Spirit
is the strongest, and not so much on the actual material that is to be
taught. I will have to show you my notes when I get home =) It was

That is about it for this week!  A storm is rolling in, so I'm going to get
going in case we lose power!

Love you all! Have a B-E-A-utiful week =)

Elder Sanderson

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