This week was filled with miracles. I don't think I'll be able to include all of them or where I should even start.
First off, Sister Olla and I have become best friends and we were able to help one very special son of God enter the waters of baptism on Sunday. Lazaro is 26 years-old, but he is "special" and the doctors say that he has the maturity of a 10 year-old. He is the neighbor of "Os homems" [“The fraternity of men”] and often sits outside when we are teaching them. Sister Olla told me that before I arrived here, Lazaro's Mainha (mother) never spoke with us or allowed Lazaro to go to church when the missionaries asked. However, as we passed by each day since I got here, his mother started warming up to us.
When we invited Lazaro to come to church with us last Sunday, his mother surprisingly agreed as long as one of "os homems" accompanied him (Nataniel is now preparing to be baptized). He came to Church with us and absolutely loved it. He especially loved singing the hymns. He makes up his own words and often just sings the word "Jesus" over and over again. Last Sunday, Lazaro was present at Thiago and Roberto's baptism and afterwards told everyone that he wanted to be baptized. After Lazaro's first Sunday at church, Lazaro's mother totally changed. Whenever we passed by "Os Homems", she would cook us dinner or make us juice and she listened intently as one of "Os homems", who still hasn't been baptized, explained and shared his testimony of the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity.
This week we taught Lazaro all of the lessons in a very simple manner. When we asked his mother if she knew that Lazaro wanted to be baptized, she told us that she did, but she didn't know if he could, seeing that he was "special". We told her that we would speak with our mission president about this.
The other night we called [our mission president] and he told us that Lazaro could be interviewed by the bishop and, if the bishop thought it was appropriate, Lazaro could be baptized. Of course, Sister Olla and I were hoping he could be baptized, but I told myself that if Lazaro did not need to be baptized, it would not be a bad thing and I would be content with the bishop's decision.
On Saturday, we brought Lazaro to church and the bishop had an interview with him. Afterwards he told us that Lazaro could be baptized and our district leader arrived and interviewed him. Lazaro was very excited and showed [our district leader] and other missionaries multiple times how he would be baptized by plugging his nose and leaning backwards.
After the interview, [the district leader] told us that during the interview, Lazaro spoke a lot and repetitiously said the word "Jesus" over and over again, and [our district leader] had to help him by explaining many things to him, but when the last question came, [the district leader] told Lazaro to pay attention because this question was very important. He then asked Lazaro, "Quando você for batizado, você faz um convênio com Deus de que está disposto a tornar sobre si o nome de Cristo e guardar Seus mandamentos durante toda a vida. Está pronto para fazer esse convênio e a esforçar-se para ser fiel a ele?" (When you are baptized, you make a covenant with God and are required to take on yourself the name of Christ and keep his commandments throughout your whole life. Are you ready to make this covenant and remain faithful to it?") Throughout this entire question (very long compared to the others), Lazaro said nothing. And at the end, he replied, "Eu estou pronto." ("I am ready.")
Lazaro was baptized yesterday. As we walked with him to church, he invited everyone on the road to church ("Vamos a igreja!" - "Let's go to church!", "Vamos ao batismo!" - "Let's go to the baptism!", "Vamos ser crente!" - "Let's be crente!" *"crente" is a word used to describe people who attend church every week, who keep the commandments, who are very faithful. Lazaro calls Sister Olla and I "crentinhas") Lazaro's baptism was one of the most spiritual baptisms I have ever attended. During the baptism, Lazaro was so excited and said "Vamos cantar!" ("Let's sing!"), "Estou pronto!" ("I am ready!"), "Vamos!" ("Let's go!"). The bishop baptized him and afterwards, in the water, Lazaro gave him a big hug.
After Lazaro was baptized, the bishop got up and spoke. He told everyone that yesterday when we arrived at the church with Lazaro, he noticed that Lazaro stopped to looked at all of the pictures of Jesus on the wall and continuously repeated the word "Jesus". There was primary music playing, that the bishop was listening to as he and a few other members were cleaning the church, and the second Lazaro heard it he began singing, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!"
The bishop told all of us that during the interview he had with Lazaro yesterday, he was truly was confused and didn't know what to do. He didn't know if it was the Savior's will the Lazaro be baptized or not. But as the bishop spoke with Lazaro during the interview, Lazaro continuously repeated his two favorite words "Jesus" and "Familia", and as the Bishop spoke and listened to him, he suddenly felt in his heart the love the savior had for the amazing son of God who, although did not understand everything about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, had such a strong desire to follow our Savior by entering the waters of baptism. It was at this point that he felt that he should allow Lazaro to be baptized.
As I listened to the bishop share his testimony, tears began freely falling down my cheeks as well as the cheeks of my others. Afterwards, one of the members asked Lazaro how his baptism was and Lazaro replied that it was "muito bom!" ("very good!"). The member then playfully asked Lazaro if he wanted to be baptized again, to which Lazaro responded, "Nâo. Somente uma vez." ("No. Only one time.")
I have heard many say that the Lord sends only the most precious of his children to earth with conditions like Lazaro has ("special"), and now I truly have a testimony of this. This amazing young man is an outstanding example to all of the people around him (e.g., "os homems" and his own mother). If it were not for him, Nataniel, the man who accompanied him to church the first time who wouldn't have gone if it weren't for Lazaro's mother's persistent pleas that someone accompany her son to church, has taken all of the lessons and is considering being baptized. Because of him, his mother is now considering visiting the church.) This man's amazing faith and desire to follow our savior stands as an example to Sister Olla and I. If only more people were like this. But I have a strong testimony that Lazaro will help many of his spirit brothers and sisters become closer to our Savior.
Miracle of the Week!
Lazaro, Sister Dyer, and others at a baptism