This week in Jardim Ipê, we had the baptism of a 17 year old young man named Bruno. Bruno is the brother of a woman (Emelyne) who was baptized the week before I arrived in Ipê, and her husband (Julio) preformed the baptism. I love watching FAMILIES progress together! It was the very first ordinance that Julio performed (before passing the sacrament or anything!) and he did it perfectly. Saturday was a very spiritual day indeed.Saturday in the morning we helped a woman named Elizabeth build a house. The whole ward showed up in work clothes and we built the foundation. The next step will be supports and the roof. And on a third day, we´ll put up the walls and plumbing. I got to do my fair share of mixing up concrete and stacking bricks, but afterwards, I tossed on my suit and we headed to the chapel for the baptism!
This week, I received the birthday package from mom. Thank you so much for the object lessons and peanut butter. I´ve been taking around the eggs of Jelly Beans to share with people we are teaching, and everybody loves to eat one and guess at the flavor :) Also, Elder Yesquen rather enjoyed his first encounter with Swedish Fish.
Yesterday we had a telistakeconference with the Presiding Bishop, a counsellor in the RS Presidency, Elder Ellis of the 70, and Elder Scott of the 12. They had translators for the first two speakers, but not for Elder Ellis nor Scott. Elder Ellis speaks Portuguese almost flawlessly! It was rather impressive. Elder Scott speaks a pretty thick Portanol, but `da para entender.` Elder Ellis made a comment about agency that I appreciated. He said that many people mistakenly speak of `Free Agency` when in reality, there is nothing free at all about our Agency. There was a war fought in heaven, that continues on earth, as the devil continues to try to strip us of our agency. In heaven, he was direct... `Give me all the power, and I´ll save them all, without giving them a choice.` Here on earth, the battle is more subtle, as he tempts us with addictions and habits that limit our agency. Elder Scott talked about how we communicate with our Father in Heaven, and how He speaks with us. He talked about his prayers as a missionary, and how he always found a way to pray out loud, even if in a quiet voice. I reflected on my prayers, and I can say without a doubt, that when I pray out loud, even if just barely whispering, my communication with my Father is much better. My prayers become more fervent and sincere. My invitation to you is to say at least one personal prayer out loud daily during the week, and note how your communication with Heaven improves.