We had a long week. The Leadership Conference was really amazing and we actually weren't “burned” as much as I thought we would be ("burned" as in disciplined or castigated? I’m not sure if castigated is the right word but in Portuguese it's "castigado"). We had some amazing trainings that I will definitely put to work in our area as well as use to help the other sisteres here.
This week I am heading back to Abolição (same area I served in) on a division with Sister Cunha and Sister Pereira will be coming over here to Urick Graff to spend a couple days with Sister Francis. I talked with minha filha on the phone the other day and it seems like she has been missing home a lot recently.
Originally the plan was that Sister Francis would head over to Abolição, where she started her mission (she has been really anxious to go back to visit everyone there), and I would stay here with Sister Pereira, but when Sister Francis talked with the AP, he said that it might be better if Sister Francis stayed in our area with Sister Pereira and let Sister Dyer go back to Abolição.
This week we had two baptismal interviews planned. However, Friday morning, when we went to look for our investigators L. and E., we bumped into the adversary (as usual).
We found L. lying on the ground in front of his house (I almost thought he was dead) out like a rock after drinking the entire night mourning the loss of his wife, who passed away seven years ago. He proposed to her the first time he saw her and eight days later they were married civilly. They were married for 40 years until she passed away and, as he constantly reminds us, he never traited her (I don't think that makes sense. What’s the verb for "traitor"? [comment from Sister Dyer’s dad – that would be “betray”]).
He has told us their story every single day since the day we met him and constantly shows us photos of her. He always kisses them. It's really cute. In this world, where many do not believe in marriage and don't believe that men could ever remain faithful to their wives, it is so nice to find a man who is so dedicated to his wife, even seven years after her death.
When we went to find E. and bring him to the chapel for his interview, he told us that he had a bunch of doubts about Joseph Smith. We tried to answer his questions, but it seemed like every time we answered them he would go back to the beginning and ask the same question over again. He then said that he had to go give a cell phone to his nephew's wife who had a baby the other day and that he would talk to the Elders later.
Elder Findling and Phillips, who had come to our area to interview E. and L. were forced to go back to their area. When we returned to see E. after he finally returned home, we told him that the Elders would meet him at the church to interview him. E. then said that he didn't want to go to the church and that the Elders would have to come to his house to speak with him. His house is pretty far away from the church. We tried to reason with him, but to no avail. We called Presidente Soares and he finally said that the Elders could go over to E.’s house for the interview.
Like I mentioned before, E. has epilepsy and takes medication at 7 p.m. The medication will make him fall asleep. So, at 5:55 p.m., the Elders finally arrived at the church. We were still at E.’s house (far, far, away). Sister Francis almost didn't believe that the Elders could make it here in time. We just ran for it. We ran, and we ran, and we sweated, and we ran almost all the way to the church. We made a 30 minute walk into an eight minute run. (I timed it). And then we couldn't find the Elders.
After searching for 10 minutes, we finally found them, and then we ran, and we ran, and we sweated, and I fell and scraped my knees good while trying to make it up a hill to the freeway (vou cair antes de meu batismo vai). But, we continued to run until we finally made it to E.’s house and Elder Findling started the interview. Then, Elder Phillips and Sister Francis and I started teaching the Restoration to a bunch of drunk men while we were waiting.
An hour later, Elder Findling came out and told us that E. had passed the interview aside from a grave crime he had committed 30 years ago. Elder Findling tried to call Presidente Soares, but Presidente texted back (in English) "I can't talk to you right now" (Presidente Soares loves speaking English. It's really cute listening to him. My first interview here in the mission was in English.)
Saturday, Elder Findling called us and told us that Presidente had said that E. would have to attend church for three months, after which he would send a letter describing what he did to the First Presidency and President Monson would decide if he had repented and could be baptized at this time.
We went to visit E. yesterday and told him what Presidente had said. E. reacted by saying that he couldn't repent, that he was feeling horrible ever since he spoke with the Elder and that he would just wait until death, which was the only way to end his misery. We tried to explain the miracle of the Atonement of Christ and show him that going to church would help him in the process of repentance, but it seemed like he just didn't want to hear us and accept this. He said that it had been 28 years, and he still remembered what he had done and felt shame. How could going to church for three years take away this shame that he felt?
Finally, after trying to reason with him for a while, we had to leave to visit with someone else. Yesterday, I was filled with sadness as I listened to this man, desperate, yet feeling helpless, filled with shame but with no faith. Our ward mission leader had a meeting with us yesterday and told us that we were experiencing just a little bit of what Christ experienced. Christ wanted to help all of us so bad, yet there were many who would not accept him, many who would not believe in his atoning sacrifice, many who could not accept the fact that by small and simple things (going to church for three months and being baptized), great things could come to pass (forgiveness). I have come to understand the miracle of forgiveness and the amazing power Atonement of Christ on my mission. It is a miracle I will treasure and share my entire life.