Well family this will be the last week of my mission!
Let me explain a bit better how this will all happen: Sunday after stake conference here in Santo Ângelo I will take a bus to Santa Maria 4:15, arrival time 8:20. We will stay at the traditional Hotel Appel that the mission constantly uses with all of the other missionaries who are finishing their missions, there are about 22 I think in my group. Then on Monday it really isn't a "P-day" because there is a whole schedule that we go through with a self-reliance course, last interviews with Presidente Parrela, a final testimony meeting and to top it all off dinner at the best churrascaria (shoo-hask-areea)(Brasilian stake house) in Santa Maria, Bovinos! And because we wont be able to sleep anyway we head off to the airport in Santa Maria 3:20 am on Tuesday (the 5 other Americans from my group and I at least). Then starts all of the flights: First from Santa Maria to Porto Alegre. In Porto Alegre we will have the amazing opportunity to go to the temple! (this is why we leave so early in the morning). After the temple trip its back to the airport and we fly to São Paulo. Then from São Paulo it's a 10 hour flight straight back to the USA baby! (where for sure Ill have a temperature shock since its been super hot down here getting ready for the peak of summer in January). And after a 3 hour wait in the Atlanta airport I will arrive in Greensboro 9:21am!!! (I don't know why that time is so specific...why not just 9:20 or 9:30... whatever)
|district meeting selfie|
This past week was amazing :) Here are some funny things that happened. On Tuesday morning before our district meeting we got a call from Presidente Parrela. He called personally so that there weren't any misunderstandings and he said "Elder Pierce you are now junior, the leadership of your area and of the zone will now be passed to your companion Elder Souza Santos. Elder, now is the time for you to focus your thoughts and studies on your goals and plans for your return home. But remember no one in this mission dies". That pretty much changed nothing that we do but it was still funny to tell everyone that I was junior haha.
|Soaking wet before 6:30am|
|my flooded shoes|
We also worked super close with the family of Irmão Pedro this week and we had a great Noite Familiar (Family Home Evening) with another family who they are friends with from the ward. The message was about the blessings that we receive in our lives from obedience to the commandments, especially baptism, which went well. The game we played was hilarious where you had to unwrap a candy with socks on your hands using spoons and do that as many times before someone else in the circle rolled a 6 on the dice when they will have give the socks and spoons to the next person to try and eat as many of the candies that they could unwrap.
|noite familiar with the entire family|
The candy game.
Saturday was the big day! after about 4 months of visiting their family and 11 straight weeks of them visiting the church Pedro, Janice his wife, and 2 of his daughters Carol and Kauane were baptized! It has been a long process and its only the beginning but the baptismal service was super spiritual and totally worth it. It's been 2 weeks that Pedro hasn't smoked and now they were ready to take this step in their lives :) I had the honor and privilege to baptize Pedro, Irmão Carlos 2nd from the right baptized Janice, Irmão Gelson on the far right baptized Carol, who is next to me, and Kauane chose Elder Souza Santos to baptize her :) And it was funny because we thought the water in the font wouldn't heat up fast enough but when I stepped into the water first the water was super hot! So that will be the memorable part haha because everything worked out great and everyone was so happy :) (I think you can tell from all of the smiley faces haha)
|All in white :)|
And that's it... haha its weird to know that this will be my last email to you all. We planned many things too help this week go by fast and I'm sure it will be a blast. I cant wait to see you all in just a few days (pretty much)!!! I know this time that I have been serving the Lord have been the best two years, until now (as it says in that returned missionary manual Mantenha O Espírito). The time that I have most served others and in doing so served myself. Of all the experiences that I have had for these past 2 years what I most value is the testimony that I now have of the small and simple things of the gospel. Now I know with a different certainty and a new depth that the gospel blesses families. That the church was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. That we have a living prophet today. And above all to know through faith that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lives and loves us.