Well this week I have officially turned six. I even burned a tie in commemoration of it. I took a video of the event but it ended up being 5 min long because we had nothing to ignite the tie with so we had to use a can of roach killer and I couldn’t get the flame to go. But eventually we got it burned!!! Anyways this week was a pretty good one. We had zone conference (which I will talk about in a little bit) but probably the biggest thing this week was the family that we encountered. One of our members has been bringing her cousin to church over the past several weeks (we honestly thought that she was a member cause on fast Sunday she bore her testimony) but we talked to her after church and asked if we could visit her and her family. She said that she would talk to her mom. Later this week we got a text message saying we could visit her on Sunday. Then on Saturday we got a call from her uncle (member) who said her mom wanted us to have lunch at their house, which is crazy cause she has never seen us. But sadly we had lunch marked this Sunday with a member so we had to cancel, but we rescheduled for next Sunday! We are really excited for this family, I have been putting forth a lot of effort to really try and get more baptisms in this area. When I got here the area was literally destroyed. We had one investigator who was going to be baptized. My old comp didn’t improve the area either but now with my new comp we have been getting a lot more investigators and actually holding on to them for once. But for the past two transfers we have basically just been planting seeds. I am not sure if I will get the chance to reap any of them with transfers coming up in another two weeks and my chance to leave. But I will go where the Lord wants me to go even if it means leaving all these seeds I have planted.
But today for p day my comp and me had to go to the mission office to meet with my mission presidents wife so that she could take us to get my second shot for hepatitis A cause only select hospitals have this vaccine and none of the health posts in the neighborhoods have them. So she took us to this hospital, which was in the nicest part of São Paulo, I have been in (it was really, really nice) and the hospital was built to match. It was really strange riding in a car with air conditioning (it as been unusually hot the past several weeks and it hasn’t rained for over 50 days.... this winter has basically been summer for even them here!) But the hospital was really nice and they even gave me a sucker after for not crying, and my comp got one too.
But the biggest thing this week has really been our zone conference. Our mission president mostly just burned us all for not doing everything Elder Costa talked about when he came here in July. But he did say some things that were really interesting. Probably the one that struck out most to me was about ordinances we do. Really we as missionaries are not just teaching about another church or even trying to baptize people to be members of this church. Really we are teaching baptism. There exist two ordinances, which are not affiliated with the church at all. They are directly linked to the Kingdom of Heaven; they are baptisms and sealings in the temple. All other ordinances we do are affiliated with the church in some way. We perform baptisms because it is what must be done to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, not to be members of the church necessarily. Once you are baptized you have opened the door, which allows you to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. However, sealings are done not just to make families eternal, but also to give you the rights to rule in this Kingdom. Without the sealing ordinance you cannot rule in the Kingdom of Heaven. Another interesting thing that was talked about was actually given by Sister Martins (mission pres wife). During the conference we had an alarm go off and the elder (a zone leader) said it was because every morning at 10 the whole zone prays. Really doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but later that day when it was Sister Martin’s turn to talk to burned everyone (but especially this zone) over false translations. This act of everyone praying at a set time is a false translation. Why? Because nowhere in the missionary hand book or church manuals does it say to pray at 10 o’clock. Clearly you can personally pray whenever, but this event was a planned group activity, which deviated from the rules, which have been given to us. We all need to be careful how we interpret church manuals and we do need to give strict obedience to what the prophets have said and how the church manuals say we should conduct ourselves. One example Sister Martins gave us, which I am sure you all can relate to is centerpieces for Relief Society. Nowhere is it written that you need or should have a centerpiece, and asking anyone to do so or feeling the necessity of one is a false translation. Also other things we do in our church classes which may seem harmless or cute but which do not follow standards set by church leaders. Anyways this was new to me too, and quite an eye opener. But that is really the most important thing I can tell you all about. All the other stuff was mostly just for us missionaries.
But I hope you all have a good week this week and I hope you all are doing well. I am praying for all of you and hope you all are happy! Know I am doing fine and that things are coming along well. I love you all so so much! Keep up the support. It really does mean so much to me and it helps so much as well. Thanks for all the love!
Elder William Shelton