What a nice avalanche of emails I see. My inbox is just over-flowing with elation from you guys. I´m glad to know people are happy and life is just as busy and crazy as normal. I´m looking forward to the pictures you sent! And I loved the ones you sent through email (especially the Halloween one. Thanks Ben, haha) Home hasn´t changed quite yet.
Before I forget--
Mom, you´ll love this-
Today I was walking down the street on the way to get some lunch and someone parked on the side of the road said "Hey! over here! Come here!" I didn´t even notice what they said because I was in Portuguese mode--it takes a second to switch. But I looked over and a nice lady was getting out of her car with a huge smile on her face. She said "Missionaries! I´m from Utah!". She was so happy to see us (Elder Parada, Elder Dos Santos, and Elder Higbee) walking by. She said she is visiting her daughter who lives in Lago Sul and couldn´t pass up talking to the missionaries when she saw us. She said she does this everytime she sees missionaries. She took a picture and said she wanted to call our parents to tell them how we´re doing and that she saw us. I laughed and was so happy because at dinner Dad used to always take a picture of the missionaries and mail it to their parents. Her name is Carol and she´ll probably call you soon. Her son served a mission about 12 years ago and she started crying just talking about it. She is so nice and reminded me of Mom. She asked all the same questions Mom would ask about how we´re doing and such. So be be on the lookout for someone with a strange number calling you asking about me and asking for your email.
This week we visited a lot of people in Itaipu. We found a lot of new people to teach, which is exciting. We met two people, Cida, and her husband (not sure how to write his name), and invited them to church. They live closer to the church in São Sebastião so they went there instead of Lago Sul. The other missionaries that live with us accompanied them at church though. Cida said she has really good feelings about what we´ve shared with her about the restoration. It´s also been a cool experience watching people pray for the first time. It´s so great because you know they´re learning something that will bless their lives significantly. I´m also so humbled by the people that live in Itaipu. They work so hard just to provide for their family. And Cida and her husband don´t judge anyone. They are honest, genuine people.
Saturday I went with E. Moreira (Zone Leader who lives with us) to Gaurá for a baptismal interview with Antonio, a guy that wanted to get baptized that Sunday. I didn´t know Antonio but I met him that night. For those who aren´t familiar with what a "baptismal interview" is, it´s just a time to get to know the person getting baptized and to talk to them about their feelings, beliefs (or testimony, as we say), and to see how their doing in their commitments to follow the commandments. Antonio can´t read or talk and he can´t understand very well because of a mental condition he´s had since birth. E. Moreira related his experience having a baptismal interview with him. His Mom acted as sort of a translator because she understands him better than anyone else. E. Moreira talked to her and she would relate it in a way Antonio could understand. If it were a question, Antonio would reply to E. Moreira. E. Moreira said he couldn´t understand what he said, but he didn´t have to because he could feel so strongly what he wanted to say. Just meeting him, I could sense Antonio´s happiness and spirit. He might not be able to read or write or understand very well but I´m pretty sure he could feel better than anyone that was there. I know the gospel is for everyone. No one is excluded from the blessings of it.
On the way home, because of this, I was in a more speculative mood than normal. We took the metro back home and I thought as I looked out the window as the metro beside us left the station. While it was moving, I couldn´t tell if our metro was moving or if it was staying still. I thought of all that point of relativity nonsense I learned in school for a little bit and then I shifted my attention to a different window where a cement pillar was stationed. When I saw the pillar, and that we weren´t moving away from it, I knew it was only the other metro that was moving and my mind finally stopped messing with me. Because I was mixing my thoughts from this experience and thinking about Antonio, the metaphor machine in my brain started churning and I thought about the relation that cement pillar had with the gospel. The standards and commandments given to us by the prophets and apostles act as a stronghold and a point of reference for us while we move quickly through the tunnels (haha, metro/subway tunnels) of life. Without the pillar as a point of reference I really didn´t know if I was moving and I felt unbalanced and uncertain. Because the scriptures and the modern revelation of our day are ever present, they act as an excellent guide for our lives.
Speaking of modern revelation, General Conference is coming up and I´m super excited. I think I´ll actually get to watch it in English too! Don´t forget to lay out my conference bingo card and tell me if I win!
Have a delicious week,