When you are in the service of your neighbor you are in the service of your God. That experience and one more manifested this truth to me very clearly--
This week we did two service projects. One was for a member who is renovating the land around their house. The other required the work of 6 missionaries (they came from areas outside ours) to do. I don´t know what we did is called (I only heard it in Portuguese) but we mixed materials to make cement, shoveled it into buckets, passed it up to the top of the house, and layered the cement on the roof. I don´t know anything about construction and I won´t pretend to, ha ha. I can tell you though, that it was hard work. I bet Dad is laughing right now because he has probably done something similar. It was tough. I couldn´t count how many buckets we filled and lifted up to the top of the house. Each bucket was about 35lbs. I was mainly in charge of lifting them up from the ground to a platform above me because I´m tall. Anyway, that description was not necessary. What I want to say is I learned something through this project. My back has always hurt a lot ever since marching band (carrying tenor drums). After the first service project I thought I wouldn´t be able to get out of bed. When I learned we would be doing this for 4 hours, I knew for sure my back wouldnt hold up. As I started doing this, I thought I´d have to stop after 5 buckets. It hurt. I decided I was going to do it until I absolutely had to stop. Before I knew it I had already lifted 10+ buckets and didn´t feel any pain. I kept going and going and still didn´t feel anything. I continued lifting these buckets full of cement for more than an hour. It was hard, and I was sore, but my back didn´t hurt. Never have I done anything like this (something so straining on the back) and been able to muscle through it. Somehow I continued until the work was done. I knew something was different. Something didn´t feel the same. I don´t know how it didn´t hurt and Im still amazed. When we are in the service of our neighbor we´re in the service of our God. When we act as an instrument for serving others, the Lord will help us. I can´t deny that I was being helped physically that day.
Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting in the ward. It is very nice and relaxing to sit in sacrament meeting after a week of business. Many of the youth went on their first temple trip on Saturday. Many of them shared their testimony of temple work (particularly baptisms as a proxy for those who have died) and the reality of the importance of the temple. They have to travel a long way (to Recife) to go to the temple. It´s often cheaper to fly there. It was great to hear the testimonies of the youth and it reminded me of our temple trips. After church Elder Parada and I had a delicious meal at a member´s house. I ate tons of ice cream and drank a lot of soda (he had root bear and cream soda -- not common in brazil). I wouldn´t have, but they encouraged it, haha. I´m loving Brazil. The people really are really nice here. I´m doing well.
I love you all!