Good morning, my beautiful family and wonderful friends!
I hope you are all doing well. Thank you for the emails and the pictures. I am glad the week was good.
My week was good here too. We worked hard and I learned that sun "block" literally blocks the sun. I always have it in my bag and when I forget to put it on in the morning and begin to feel the sun burning, I just put it on and it is instant relief. Sun block is a blessing. I also learned that when you take your shoes to a shoe repair place to fix the sole, they just put tire on the bottom of your shoe. But it was cheap and the shoes are good again. "Crusty" and ready to work. Good stuff.
This week we were blessed with the miracle of the baptism of Samuel! He is 9 years old and is the grandson of a recent convert -- Valdenícia. Valdenícia is the one I think I already wrote about. She doesn't hear and reads lips. We have been teaching Samuel for a few weeks. He learns fast and already had lots of friends and an aunt in the church. He stopped drinking coffee with the help of his grandmother. He really just has a pure heart. Of course, he still is a little boy and loves to play and run and yell, haha. But it's all good because really he is humble and willing to follow the Savior. There were a lot of primary children at the baptism as well as some other children who are being taught by the other Sisters here. Valdenícia was soooooo happy and she is very happy as well that this week other members in our ward will go to the temple and do the baptism for her son that passed away. Valdenícia really just glows with the joy of the gospel and is helping many people come to the truth as well. She really is an example that many should follow.
Sabrina (10) continues to come to church with her neighbors. She wore a beautiful white dress to church yesterday. First time she wore a dress to church! She really is learning and growing. She is always so humble and patient and kind. Especially with her mother who has not given permission yet that she can be baptized. We really want to work a lot with the mom this week that she will give permission and maybe be baptized soon as well.
This week Sister Costa and I did divisions with the sisters who work in Petrolina Central. I worked with Sister Yopan from Santa Catarina there in the center of the city. The area was a lot more busy -- an environment that I am more used too. I enjoyed the day. I didn't really know what I was supposed to be doing, but I just prayed a lot and tried to help the Sister with what she was needing help with. The Lord showed me and directed me in a little bit of the work there, even though I knew nothing about the people and the city there. We worked a lot on baptism invitations and a recently new key indicator that we have in the mission called "challenges". This key indicator is that we challenge people who have already visited the church to be baptised that very Sunday. When I first heard about this new change, I was hesitant. But with my experiences, I have gained a testimony of this. It really works when you act in faith. We challenged several people to be batized that Sunday. One of them was a woman that we met on the street who had visited the church several times 13 years ago. She stoped going because her brother who was a member passed away. We got to know her a little bit, taught her and challenged her right there on the street. and she accepted a baptismal interview and baptism if they tell her that she is ready. I don't know exactly what happened after but I think the sisters will continue to work with her that she can be baptized in just a little more time.
The calling of a missionary and the authority that a missionary has is truly real. I would never in my life invite and challenge someone that I had just met on the street 30 minutes before to be baptized in just a few days. But when we act in faith and with authority and with the Spirit, we really can see miracles.
I love being a missionary. It truly is awesome. I love how I feel the Savior so near and can see His hand in our days all the day long. I love The Book of Mormon. It truly is amazing and I would love to just spend the day reading it! Well, as a missionary I can't, but it's interesting that I never felt that desire before, as much as I knew it was true and was grateful for it. Read it!
I love you all very much. I always pray for you. I wish you a safe and healthy and fun week. Keep choosing the right and be examples to those around you and talk about the gospel with people!
Sister Lauren Olivia Villaroman