At 6:00 pm we had a family night at our branch president´s humble house that we helped him move into last monday. I had done a contact with their neighbors (Rute and Alana) and invited them to participate in this family night. We sang hymns, prayed, taught the Restoration, then sang more, and and finished the family night. We slept that night, totally unaware of what was about to happen that night. My companion had caught a cold so he went to bed quickly. I stayed up cleaning the house, and organizing myself for the week. I wrote some things in my journal and then went to bed.
We slept well, but i woke up earlier than my alarm. It was bright out and I looked at my watch and saw it was only 5:30 am. It smelled like smoke outside, but I just assumed it was someone burning something in a field like normal. We did our daily morning routines, then taught an investigator named Milena before going to lunch at Sister Gracieli´s house. We got there and while we were eating lunch they asked us if we knew what had happened the night before. We had no idea. They told us and we were shocked. They showed us videos and pictures. Let´s just say I feel lucky we were safe and not hurt. So this is what happened. Monday night, after midnight there has occured a major incident here in the city. The world wide security company called Prosegur. They do a lot of business with cash. They work with banks, for large events, and many other things dealing with lots of money. There is a local headquarter located here in the center and there are always those big armored yellow trucks driving around, going in and out. So last night that place was robbed. It was blown up. They blew it sky high, killing everyone inside, shattering glass and windows of nearby stores from the shock of the explosion, and they ended up stealing a quantity of money equal to 15 million dollars. They had set off a number of other distractions in the city to distract the police. They set fire to a car in another street, they blew up one of those big yellow armored trucks, they let their guns fire off in the air in various locations to distract as well. It seemed to be very well planned out and must have been because they got away and no one knows who did it. But the scary thing was that we live so close. This all happened in the center, and WE LIVE THERE! Where the explosion happened is literally a 3 minute walk from our house. So after lunch we walked through the center to get to the hospital for my check up, and we saw all the confusion. There was news reporters, broken glass everywhere and we saw the blown up, burnt Prosegur building. I discretely snapped some pictures on our crappy cellphone, because i didn´t have my camera. Close to the hospital we found the burnt down car. It was all pretty crazy. The hospital wait was longer than we expected and i ended up remarking to return two weeks later.
While we were in the hospital we received news from Salvador. We were informed that President talked to Elder David A. Bednar and got permission to let all the zone leaders and people that were coming to salvador for our mission council on Wednesday, to stay for the live devotional / training that would take place on Friday there in Salvador in OUR MISSION!! So we had the choice to go to salvador, participate in mission council, and stay until friday to be able to participate in the Elder Bednar event. So we we left Tuesday night at 7:30 pm to salvador. It was a 12 hours bus ride to Salvador and we arrived around 8:00 am. President Bangerter picked us up and took us to the mission home. We had mission council with all the staff, zone leaders and sister leader trainers all day. It went really well. We had lots of good experiences and trainings. I wish i could share them ALL! Before catching our bus back to Salvador I raided my old house in Rio Vermelho and stole back all the stuff I had forgotten in that house. We were the only zone leaders that left wednesday night back to our area because we had a baptismal interview marked for thursday night and a baptism marked for saturday morning. We got back to Eunápolis at 8:00 am after another 12 hour bus ride. Although I hardly slept it was a cool ride, because we were seated in the top floor of a double decker bus in the front looking out a window that looks like a drivers seat view.
It is funny, because it turns out that on Thursday the interview didn´t even happen, things didn´t work out for a few reasons, and we resolved by having our investigators be interviewed saturday morning before their baptism. So guess what that means?? we could have stayed for this Elder Bednar devotional!!! But everything happens for a reason. I was kind of sad that I wasn´t able to make it to the meeting with Elder Bednar. My companion and I really prayed and thought if we should go, or if we should stay so our Baptism didn´t fall through. It´s funny, because we saw so many blessings because of our efforts. We encountered 3 new people, and they are interested. The first person was a guy named Clayton. We were on our way to a different appointment, but this lady stopped us and told us her son Thyago was baptized in our church a while ago and is less active. She told us where he lives and told us to go talk to him, because he is "off the path". Thyago´s friends where there and we ended up teaching everyone. Clayton was one of them. He is a 19 year old dude and seemed intereseted. He commited to reading and praying. Next we were walking and I did a contact with a man named Carlos at a construction store while i was buying super glue for my shoe. He is a 20 year old guy who seems really mature for his age. I marked to visit him the next day on Friday and left him a restoration pamphlet for him to read in preparation for our visit. Just so you know hardly ANYONE reads them. They always confess that they didn´t read anything when we ask them about it in our visits.
On Friday we watched the Elder Bednar transmition. Watching from the Internet was as spiritual as if I were there. We learned a lot of things and I am grateful for technology allowing us to participate as we were able to. Even though we didn´t get to watch it live, there in Salvador, I am very grateful for how everything played out. Lord really blesses those who sacrifice. Here is an example. After the transmition and lunch we went to follow up with Carlos. We arrived at his family runned construcion store and we went to the floor above where he lives. He told us he read the whole pamphlet. When i asked him what he understood, he told us everything exactly correct about the restoration. We were so suprised. He was very attentive during the lesson. We notice he was a knowledgeable guy and he accepted to give the closing prayer! Man, I just smiled and smiled during his whole prayer! I think a tear almost escaped my eye during his so very sincere prayer. I don´t think Carlos noticed, but to us his prayer was THE PERFECT PRAYER. It was a sincere conversation with God. He expressed his feelings, and related himselft to being like Joseph Smith. He asked in his prayer to help him find a church with a true living prophet, 12 aposltes, and authority. He went on describing how he feels like Joseph Smith felt when he was looking for a church to join, etc. His prayer was just amazing! It was probably the highlight of my whole week. That night we went to the church to prepare for the baptism. We cleaned up the font and left it to fill up overnight.
In the end, Giovana was baptized on Saturday and it was a success. Her sister Stefany passed the interview and was supposed to be baptized together with her sister, but she backed up last minute. Their dad and stepmom are both recent converts and are going through some VERY difficult situations. There were definitley obstacles as always, but with President Smarçaro´s council to their parents we were able to baptize Giovana. Its a long story, and i think it should be kept confidential so i won´t share more details.
After the baptism Ana Lucia had her missionary farewell party! Lots of tears were shed by the people there and it was a good time. Sunday morning we left early to pick up investigators. It was raining and no one we invited went to church. We took the long walk back to the church in the rain and had our meetings in church. Sunday afternoon we did some visits with Brother Cabuia. At 8:00 pm Ana Lucia was set apart at the church. It was a special moment and I was reminded of when i was set apart as a missionary.
So what did I learn this week? I learned so many things from the mission council meeting, and the Elder Bednar training / devotional. One thing I loved was this:
Sister Bednar said that every day Elder Bednar starts the day with three questions!
Do you feel happy?
Do you feel healthy?
Do you feel wonderful?
We should feel happy - optimistic - wonderful and healthy. I hope every day we can wake up like this. The visit of Elder Bednar was such a blessing. It is as if we have received a visit from the Apostle Paul and had him with us to train us. It is such a rare privilege that most will never receive. I am grateful for everything that I learned and experienced this week. So many things happened that some would consider coincidences, but I know that everything happens for a reason. I am excited for my birthday on Friday even though probably nothing will happen. Just being here alive, and not being blown up in that whole terrible heist is enough for me. Thanks for all the emails and things you´ve shared with me! I love you fam!