This week Sister Pereira and I helped two children of God enter as aguas do batismo. R., D.'s cousin, was finally baptized. As well as L., the wife of a recent convert.
R. was really really really nervous on the day of his baptism. It was to the point that he asked us if he could just sit in another room in the church during the meeting until the time for the actual baptismal ordinance to be performed at which he would be baptized and then change and return to the same room. Our ward mission leader just laughed and told him that the meeting was for him and that he couldn't miss it.
In the end it went really well. O., L.’s husband, who recently received the Priesthood after battling drinking problems after his baptism (I saw him drunk on more than one occasion), performed both L. and R.'s baptism. It was really special.
Afterwards, the bishop talked about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a bit different from other churches, which often require people to attend church for a certain time period (months) to be baptized, in that it does not impede anyone with a desire to follow the example of the Savior from being baptized (the time period is one week, 2 Sundays).
As I have seen, many times, rather than strengthening and preparing people better for baptism, time often just allows the enemy to put more stones in the way of our investigators (doubts, people, ideas, etc.) that prevent them from being baptized. After the baptism our bishop gave an amazing present to R. and L. (which he also gave to D. at his baptism last Sunday). Our ward's next temple trip will be on the 13th of September (Recife Temple), and our bishop told R., D., and L. that all of them would be able to go free of charge. What an amazing gift! Sister Pereira and I will do our best to help our investigators prepare for this priceless experience. Although many believe that missionaries are just out there to baptize. Our real purpose is to help our investigators PERSEVERAR ATÉ O FIM (endure to the end) and see them enter the doors of the temple (a casa sagrada do Senhor).
This week, our investigator, “Ray” [not his real name] (who left the slums, quite drinking, cut his hair, took a bath, etc.) returned to the slums. Sister Pereira and I spoke with him and he told us that he felt like a kid living with his sister and brother-in-law and so he left their house. We spoke with him about humility and about enduring to the end, seeing that he needs to attend church for three months until Presidente Soares will write a letter to President Monson to see if he can be baptized because of a past crime he committed (he was later declared innocent). “Ray” told us that he would continue reading The Book of Mormon, praying, and going to church (he was our only investigator at church on Sunday).
I was really worried about him and spoke with him for a long time about how he needed to stay strong and leave the slums, but he didn't have a desire to do so. Sister Pereira didn't have much hope for him, seeing that she has lived with people who have done drugs before, and later told me that if he was not at church at Sunday, it would confirm all her suspicions (he did end up making it to church; Yay!).
Yesterday, we randomly met up with a recent convert of Sister J. Silva and Sister Hunt who has been going through some hard times and has started drinking again. We are not allowed to visit his house (only priesthood holders are in this case), but met him on the street. I spoke with V., while Sister Pereira kept her distance (after telling her V.'s story, she was really nervous). I spoke with him for a long time and told him that he needed to come to church, talk with the bishop and ask for help. He just told us that he was too ashamed to come to church and that he was really prideful and couldn't ask for help from the bishop. I asked him if he wanted to repent and change his life, but he told us he couldn't. We finally left.
After this, I was feeling really down. Later, Sister Pereira told me that she knew that I wanted to do all I could to help the people here, but that she was worried about me. She said that if people didn't have a desire to change, they wouldn't and that I had to be careful, because some people weren't all that great. She has been around the block and lived with people who have done drugs and other bad things (She is the only member in her family). I am learning a lot from my “daughter”, who is actually a lot older than me. I know that the Lord will protect us after all we can do and will be more careful in our area from now on.
Sister Pereira (far left) and Sister Dyer (far right) with two members in white ready to be baptized
Sister Pereira (far left) and Sister Dyer (far right) with member to be baptized and member who was baptized the previous week