Life's good. Oh, and the keyboard i'm using is stuck on Portuguese, so there may be slight punctuational errors because for the life of my I can't figure out where the apostrophe is. (Editor's note: I think I fixed them)
In the last letter, I had mentioned Alexandre and Bete's family. They are still doing well, but Alexandre has still not been open or talked to his wife. He told us he did, but later when we spoke with her she said she hadn't. The family came to church together, though. I'll see if next week I can get a picture with them. Tonight we have a meeting in the chapel with just Alexandre and Bete, without the kids. We will be sitting with them, with either the branch or district President. Hopefully we'll be able to help this family decide to have a happy united one. Another family we are teaching, Fransisco and Daina have opened up the marriage process! They are set for Sept 21. So far there are only 3 families in the Manga Zone who have the marriage process open. There should be about three more who open it up this week. I'm hoping to have another collective marriage on the first week of October.
The Collective marriage idea was great, and has worked a lot until now, but elder Thomas and I have been working with our branch president, Abdala. We feel that things need to be done differently. Currently the district pays for the party and ends up spending a lot of money, and because of the quantity of families getting married, those families have a limit on how many people they can invite to their own marriage. This limit has ranged between 18-20. Personally I don't like restrictions if we don't have to have them. Together in branch council this week we talked of ways that we might find a solution so that the world outside of our church doesnºt see us as so restricting. (I'll keep you all updated on how that goes)
This week we went to Francisco and Daina's house to teach them. It had been a while since we went. When we got there they were super busy doing the equivalent of a spring cleaning. So we offered to help. We stayed there for about an hour as together we worked. I imagine that it was incredibly funny for other people to see two white guys working. (I think for some reason here they don't think that we actually work doing physically straining work.) When Elder Thomas and I walked off with a lot of buckets to a nearby well to draw water there were many amused and surprised faces. When we got to the well we started filling up the buckets. As we did so, and as we looked at the not-so-clean (more on the side of dirty) water we looked at each other, saying can you imagine using this water to drink or to cook? When we got back, most of the work was done. Daina had left because she was late to something and Francisco was cooking something for us. We told him we didn't need any food but he insisted. By the time he finished he placed the food on the table and said, enjoy, its made by a man. Haha. We laughed, (the men here hardly ever cook, it's always the women so we enjoyed his little sense of humor) As we ate Francisco kept working on a few last minute things. Elder Thomas and I looked down on our plates and smiled, well the joke was on us, because we are eating and drinking from the same water that we went and pulled.
Sunday was marvelous. We had a record of 221 for the frequency in our branch. And another miracle happened. At the beginning of the Transfer we had a meeting with President Abdala to ask him what we could do to help his branch. He gave us two inactive families. The one that lived in our area had not been to church since their confirmation, and apparently didn't want anything to do with it.
On Wednesday when I was on division with Elder Peterson we passed by his house, and he happened to be there. (In the past we have tried so many times to go by their house but he has never been home.) When he answered the door he had a bashful smile on his face (I'm sure in his head he thought, blast they found me again!) We smiled back, for some reason I felt we should take a different approach. Instead of going in with the purpose to help reactivate him we decided to pretend like we didn't even know that he was inactive. I explained to him that we are the new missionaries in the branch and that we are getting to know the members. I explained to him that we really need his help in teaching a family nearby. It went SOOO SOO well. He relaxed and said he was happy to help. It was a really good way to break the ice. We sang a hymn and left with a prayer on our knees. We had marked for the next day to go teach a family with him. That day when the time came, he was home he let us in and we sat there while we thought that he was getting ready. Then he came and sat down on the couch. (Yes, he has a couch and few people do!) We asked him if he was ready to go and he asked, where? Haha, so yeah, there was definitely a confusion, he thought we were bringing the family to his house. But it was no problem, we just stayed there and sat with him a little longer because we weren't able to leave the house. He had to stay with the kids because his wife was out at school. His little daughters are so cute and great. For the opening prayer he had his daughter Belmia give the first prayer. In her 11 year old voice, she humbly asked the Lord to help his Dad and Mom come back to church. It was such a sincere prayer. At this point he kind of let us know that he was inactive and we kind of responded like, oh yeah? We didn’t know. We had a great talk with him about what he believes made him inactive. We committed him to come to church with his whole family and he did! To me, it was such a miracle. It had been months and months since he was baptized and now he's back. Also his neighbor who was inactive who we've been working with received the priesthood yesterday. Rescuing the lost is just as important as converting new families.
This week was a blast. After church I did a just a few baptismal interview's for Elder Peterson, the district leader in Manga 3. Just a few of them. I started at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and 17 interviews later I had finished at 8 o'clock in the evening. It was really special to interview all of those people who are going to be baptized next Saturday. Well….that s about it. I love you all and you all have my permission to write me.