I had the privilege of working with a new Elder this week in his area. We walked forever in the rain, but one lesson made any physical trials worth it. We visited a referral of a recent convert. It was the first time he went there, so as usual, it started a little awkwardly. This Elder has been on the mission just a few months and that day had the daunting task of leading me around the area and taking the first steps in breaking the ice and starting to teach. As we started to teach the restoration, I could tell that the people we were teaching were more focused in proving us wrong where they could instead of listening. I couldn't really understand why they talked in a tone of disagreement as we explained the role of the Jesus Christ and God in our lives. I believe they were a little surprised that many of our Christian beliefs were the same as theirs. Before my companion got to the part about Joseph Smith they had talked quite a bit and already left the room--I guess because they couldn't find a point on which to disagree with us. I marveled at my his patience in responding their loaded questions and in calmly explaining what we believed. As he did so, I began to feel something take the place of the anxiety and impatience I was feeling. I felt compassion for him and for the two others. I really just wanted them to know that we loved them and wanted them to feel the truth of what we were saying. I felt compassion for my companion as well, seeing him defend himself with calm charity. I had only felt this quality and quantity of feeling in a lesson with a family in Santa Maria that rejected the Book of Mormon. I still wonder how my feelings changed so quickly and calmly from impatience to love and sincere care. It's incredible that while witnessing blatant indifference to our message, all I felt was compassion towards those that were demonstrating it. I now understand a fraction of a little bit better how the Savior could ask his father for forgiveness on the people's behalf, even as they crucified him. Or how Mormon could continue suffering for an indolent and bloodthirsty people as they killed their own race. There's no way I could muster that compassion by myself. It comes from an outside source, which I know is Heavenly Father.
I mentioned Silvério last week. He is 75 and recently got out of prison. I was humbled by his diligence on Saturday. He heard last Sunday that there would be a meeting at the church on Saturday. He didn't hear what the meeting was, though. Even though he lives far away, he walked to the chapel and got there fifteen minutes before 5, when it would start. We teach English classes at the chapel at 5 every Saturday. We saw him waiting there close to the chapel when we arrived. He just said he heard there was a meeting and wanted to be there for it. We explained it wasn't a church meeting, but an English class. He smiled and said it was alright and that he'd see us the next day.
I always repeat that I wish you could meet the people here. Katiane and Fabrício haven't got baptized yet but they're basically members. They've been going to church for months. They just have to get married before getting baptized. We asked them if we could do a family night in their home last week. Yesterday when we got there we were surprised at how many people came. They invited so many people! Their family is wonderful and I love seeing how much they've changed since being taught by the missionaries.
I attached a picture of the people that were there.