Hey fam, how is it going back there in the big states?
Well, another week has gone by, quicker then the last. We spent those two days up in Porto and that took out a chunk of our week. Then straight from Porto we had to go down to Castelo Branco for ward counsel and then the next day district meeting. So monday, tuesday, and wednesday were taken out. But we still had a pretty good week here. Let me tell ya all about it.
So up in Porto I wanted to show Elder Maldonado a little bit of my home town, so first we stopped in Espinho to go to the feira there. Its so big and so insane I love it haha. People just yellin everywhere, MENINOS, MENINAS, ANDA ANDA! 5 EUROS 5 EUROS!!! hahaha funny stuff. He liked it. Then we headed up to Gaia and we visited a couple cool spots, like the view up above the entire river and stuff, and after headed over to my old bispos house, N F, to talk to him and his family and see how things are going back up in Gaia 2. Its so crazy how much a place can grow in so little time. People who I never thought were ligit investigators are now looking into the church big time and other people are getting closer to batismo.
For example, my first transfer me and Elder Griffiths were just walking down the street and a lady stopped us and asked us who we were and invited us over to her house. After, me and Elder Imbuqui went there and we had a licao geral, or a general lesson, to see who they were and explain our purpose. When we arrived she had her whole family ready to hear us haha, but ended out she had about zero time to talk to us because of some kinda schooling. She is the same lady who fed me liquored filled candy haha. Well, I just found out that she randomly called the missionaries back and was like, alright, I am ready to be dedicated to what you guys have to say..... boom miracle!
But after the visit to a familia Fonseca, we headed over to my good friend M house to eat dinner with her and her future husband. M is someone that has always meant a lot to me and has been the golden investigator of my mission thus far. The only thing holding her back from being baptized is she has to get married to her boyfriend, whom she is living with, which she just announced is going to happen this summer!!!! So she will be baptized right after that happens! We had a super good dinner with her and we had a good time there. C, the boyfriend, who I have also known since the beginning of my mission, kept doggin me for not being able to say an impossible word, Bekelhau. It means Cod.... he is such a cool guy though.
So going up to my old city was so good. Good to see my old investigators, eat with them, and just see the beautiful city of Porto. Porto will always be my heart as long as I am on my mission. Along with the soccer team Porto as well. Elder Imbuqui tried to get to me and change me to the dark side but.... I stay blue:)
Something big that happened for me this week also was I got to sit down face to face with the Stake President here, President P, and talk to him about the situation in Covilha. Because the lack of Church on every sunday is really starting to hurt more then help. And that is pretty much what I told him. I have talked to President W about it as well, and even got President W to talk with President P about it..... but the other day it was just me and him hahaha. So I let him know that we got o sacerdocio melquesedeque and 22 ativos that could and want to come to church every week and how much this place is growing and needs sundays here every week, but he still said probably three more months.................... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh............... such a heart breaker for me! These people need this so much and it is not helping at all, its stalling the work here and it will continue to stall the work here until it changes. So I stated my case AGAIN with more emphasis on the importance and he told me that he would talk to Elder R, the General Authority over a bunch of Portugal, about the situation. His side of the case, on why we cant have it every week, is that he doesnt want to branches here in this area, because Castelo Branco is still a branch. But in about 3 or so months, they could become a ward, and then that would somehow allow Covilha to be its own branch. I understand a little bit of that, but I am pretty sure you dont have to be a branch to have meetings here every sunday. Or at least that is what President W told me. But in the end, I must be obedient, and continue to work with what I got. Sometimes I kinda feel like my legs are being cut out from under me here hahaha but heck, I can work with stubs too!:) It is a case that means a lot to me. Not because I want some kind of glory, or I just want what is on my mind, or to have my way, but I WANT THIS FOR THE MEMBERS! The members here mean a ton to me, they are like family to me. We take care of each other, and help each other, and we grow together, and return to church together, and THEY DESERVE TO HAVE CHURCH HERE! hmmm....... it means a lot, cuz they mean a lot. I love them. But once again, I will always obey my leaders:)
So, haha I made him promise me that he would talk to Elder Rocha about the situation, and like Nefi, must obey:) If it means another 3 more months, then I got another 3 more months of planning out crazy fun activies to do with the members to keep them coming back to the church weekly and reestablishing that habit. Which is alright, we can deal with that, and I am actually super excited if that is the situation, because then we need to keep being creative and doing different activities with the members, to build them up as a family, and keep them feeling the spirit.
And thats the thing, they need to have a weekly thing, whether it be Sacrament meeting, Family home Evening, or an activity, to help them get in that habit and help them feel the purification of the spirit and the power of repentance. So far in the past, the weeks that we dont have church, we have family home evening. Problem is this week, we didnt have church because it was the 5th sunday of the month, and next we wont have church AGAIN, because it is the 1st Sunday of the month, and here in Covilha we only have Church the 2nd and 4th Sundays. 2 weeks without church..... not cool with me. But anyways, me and Elder Maldonado are going to start up a bunch of activities to get people at least returning to the church, whether they let us have Sacrament or not. One of these activities is a personal favorite of mine called Fathers and Sons, that we will be doing here around the last week of June and the First week of July. Should be super fun.
So I keep saying that the work here is all with menos ativos helping them become ativos, and less with actual looking for, finding, and teaching investigators, but I havent really explained what that even means or what we do with the families. So this is what we did. After getting to know the people here, we starting writing a list of all of the members, name by name. Then we made a prayer and we went through that list one by one and decided how is it that we can show our love for this person, and help them come closer to Christ? Whether they be in their 80s or whether they be 4 years old, we prayerfully considered each and every one of them and made a plan on how it is that we can help them gain a testimony of Cristo. For one, it is helping a young man who has a inactive father, know what his responsibilities are as a young deacon. For another it is making a daily reading plan ( and making it super creative of course!) for the book of mormon. For a mother, it is making a Noite Familiar, FHE, plan and then teaching her how to hold her own. For another it starting off on a deixar a fumar, stop smoking, progam. But the point is, we are going through every single member that we know, ativo or menos ativo, and we are doing something for them to help them grow. This is the plan and this is the work that we are doing here in Covilha. Because once again, the work here has to start with the members. We need to get them active and coming to church. We need to create a branch here, and once we have members coming, learning, teaching, then we can start bringing in the investigators. Its just how it works, and though ALL the other missionaries are purely looking for people to baptize, our job, is to REBAPTIZE the members here, with a TRUE TESTIMONY, so that when it comes down to it THEY WILL NOT BECOME INACTIVE AGAIN.
I am very impressed with the faith of my companion Elder Maldonado. A young greeny who has learned so much and taught me so much. While the rest of his MTC district is out there purely doing what is considered REAL MISSIONARY work, he is remaining very faithful with the work that has to be done here. I look up to him a lot for the persistance that he has, and I know that really the Lord called me and him to open up this area and do this work. He said something the other day that I loved, when he realized that bringing back a soul to Christ is the important part, whether it be through baptism, or bringing back a menos ativo to the church, it is the same. But he said, maybe I promised a Familia Gomes a long time ago that I would look for them and I would find them when it came to it, and I would be the one to help them. And its so true:) I love it! We are really meant to be here right now, and to help this place start the feeling of the blessings of the Lords Church in their home.
This work is incredible, the work that we are doing is elect for who we are, we are elect for the talents that we have, that God himself has intrusted us with, to help in HIS WORK and HIS GLORY, which is bringing to pass the immortality of men. Being apart of this work is helping me grow so much, it is helping me mature and helping me become the man that I need to become. Its helping me come closer to my potential, which is, as a son of God, to live with him again.
Thank you for all of your love, and all of your prayers. God answers prayers, of this I am a witness. He whether you feel the affects right now or not, he answers your prayers, all we have to do is show that we are willing to act on our faith. Por exemplo, the other day we had activity to clean the chapel and to work out in the back yard of the chapel, and after have a BBQ:) About 30 minutes before it started to rain. like RAIN haha. So Elder Maldonado and I, kneeled down in the chapel, and asked the Lord to stop the rain so that we could have the activity. After, I had zero doubt that the rain would continue, so I showed that. I walked outside the chapel, it was still raining, and I started to prepare things for the members, hahaha walking around in the rain, no doubt that it would stop. I gotta a little wet, but it stopped directly on time. After we were done with the activity, just about the second that we were done, it started to pour again hahaha. God loves us, he answers our prayers, whether it be small or large, we just need to act on our faith, and allow our faith to live, and not die. So, act a minha familia:) And through prayer, find out what is Gods will.
I love you all, I hoped you liked a BIG LONG LETTER haha and if you happened to have the patience to finish this letter, thank you, I love you haha.
The Church is True, What Else Really Matters?
Elder Daniel John Hatch