Thanks for being married for so long. It's been the best 20 years of your lives. And 20 out of 24 isn't that bad! :) I love you! Have a great day!!
This last week was disappointing as we didn't see John get baptized. He is currently trying to quit drinking coffee, make restitution with others, and leave his former church. It seems a little overwhelming to think about all these setbacks that came up all at once, when the finish line seemed so close. But I feel comfort in knowing that he truly seems to recognize the gravity of the covenant of baptism and the necessity of repentance. He told us that he would be baptized this Saturday instead, but yesterday at church he had an interview with the branch president and told him that he wanted to wait until the 7th. We're not completely sure what to do at this point, because we're afraid that he might continue to procrastinate the day of his baptism. We're going to try and get him baptized this week though.
Maria is doing great! She understands scriptures so well (if she reads them in Portuguese) and we set a solid baptismal date with her for the 7th of March. A sister in the church that lives nearby has been a key tool in helping her. Now we just need to get Maria's husband, Valdir, more on board... with both legs in the boat. He enjoys our visits, he's just more timid and not so quick to commit. He's hilarious though.
Jerome is a newer investigator that's pretty sweet. He's about 28 and single. His parents are from Guyana, one of them is Jehovah's Witness, the other is Muslim, and his aunt is trying to get him to join the 7th Day Adventist Church. So he is right in the middle of a war of words of religion, not knowing what to do. He's super smart and he accepted a baptismal date as well for the 7th of March. He loves learning and wants to come to church, but wasn't able to yesterday because of work.
This week I had a great revelation from Mosiah 26:37--"And it came to pass that Alma did regulate all the affairs of the church; and they began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly... receiving many, and baptizing many." Alma was an incredible leader and a great example in establishing the church. As missionaries, we are supposed to follow his example in establishing the church in the units where we serve. I find so much pleasure in helping branches "regulate the affairs" through helping organize Sunday school classes, suggesting people for callings, helping advance members to the Melchizedek Priesthood, and organizing branch councils, etc. And the blessing from doing that is that it gives the branch the capacity to "receive many, and baptize many." It's something of which I wish I would have understood the importance at the beginning of my mission.
Some of the greatest happiness I have on my mission is outside of the normal things that I tell you in these emails. It's the work we do with the members, less active members, and recent converts. That's going to be one of the things I'll miss most about my mission. Living in Utah just won't be fun. There's not as much gratification because there honestly just isn't as much that can be done. But working in small units (in the only branch in an entire country) you begin to realize how much there still is to do and what you can do to help out. Back in Utah you're truly missing out.
P.S. There are a lot of photos. But I don't have time to explain them. We went to the zoo today for our activity!! It was fun! :)
Elder Belnap and Dayton in their office.
Kind of a sad little umbrella...
The French Guiana Zone, a little wet after their zoo adventure!