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Monday, May 30, 2016

Transfers-- Goodbye, Itaquá


Well, this week was great. Even though one day we walked for hours on end from one appointment falling through to another, we sat down to rest in front of a guy's house and after talking for a lil', we were able to get in and teach. We've been coordinating lots more with the members, stopping in to visit quickly, teaching their friends and neighbors, then returning the next day to tell them excitedly how it went if they couldn't come with us. Lots of the problems we struggled, struggled, struggled with seemed to resolve themselves little by little as we simply involve members more in our work. The key to success is members!

But always when things are going the best, there's got to be a change. Yesterday we got the transfer call and despite my hopes and prayers, I'm leaving Jardim Odete. I'm sad, I won't lie, but I know it's the Lord's will. I'll be opening area (meaning both my new comp and I will be new to the area, which is exciting because we won't know where ANYTHING is) in Penha (pronounced "pain-yuh") which is close to the center of São Paulo. At least I'll still be able to keep up with Elder Vasconcelos at the leadership councils!

One night we went to teach a member's neighbor. When we entered the humble house, it was full of people, her friends, family and all of their children (who were running around making noise, as children do.) We began to teach the Restoration and it was going super well until the part about the First Vision and the Book of Mormon, when the grandpa cut in and began to explain rather forcefully why he only believes in the Bible and how anyone who says different is of the devil, then went on to say how nobody can see God (He said that Moses didn't really talk to God face to face, it's just an expression) and how prophets ended with John the Baptist; basically he told us we were fools wasting our time teaching people nonsense. We asked him if God answers prayers. He said that he believes He does, so we challenged him to pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and if the Book of Mormon is true, since God is the one who knows everything, not us. Afterwards he launched into a whole nother round of tense, angry words. When he finished, his daughter (the original reference) and her friends looked semi-scared. I wanted to just rail that dude for his close-minded rudeness, talk about hisotrical facts and show all the scriptures in the Bible that prove he's wrong. I didn't, because that wouldn't be right. My patience almost snapped and boy, did I want to. Instead, I softly bore my quiet but firm testimony that I know the Gospel has been restored to the earth, that I know that God still love us and speaks to us through a living prophet, and that I asked Him and He told me it was true and that they could all recieve countless blessings in their lives if they just ask Him if it's true as well. The uncomfortable and angry tension in the room left and the sweetest, coolest Spirit gradually filled the air from one simple testimony. Depite my previous un-Christlike feelings, I felt that God loved each one of those people, even that man, and even me despite my imperfections. The look on the man's face became slightly less firm, but the countenance of the women had changed completely. They each said "I want to read and pray" and gratefully accepted copies of the Book of Mormon. I walked away grateful that Heavenly Father didn't let me lose my head (and the Spirit) and instead showed me that His was are higher than my ways. Left to my own, I would've lost a tender opportunity.

Even though I spent little time here, I'm so grateful that the Lord allowed me the wonderful experiences I had walking the streets of Itaquaquecetuba.

I love you all!
Elder Merrill

The Odete Gang 
​Jorge and Rayne
My bestest little amigos!

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