This week we focused our efforts on Silvana´s family and Natacha, who had progressed the most. On Tuesday we visited them both, teaching Natacha the commandments and Silvana the Gospel of Jesus Christ. During our visit with Silvana she told us how with all the other pastors and church organizations that came on a weekly basis to their home, her youngest (Brenda: 2 years old) always cried and hid herself. However with us, ever since the first visit she laughed and smiled the whole time. One time she stumbled to the gate to wave goodbye to us and said "tchau tio!" (bye uncle, which is how the kids refer to anyone older than them). For Silvana that really struck her and so she paid more attention to what we had to say.
The next day we brought the other missionaries to Natacha´s house so she could be interviewed, and she passed with flying colors! We set her baptismal date to be this Sunday. We visited Silvana´s family almost daily and helped them to stop drinking coffee. This was a real challenge with them because as they are a very poor family, they don´t have much to eat and coffee becomes the main beverage. We brought things to help them out and without hesitation they stopped drinking and decided to be baptized this Sunday as well. I taught my companion Élder W. Silva how to make cookies and we brought some to Silvana´s family which they enjoyed very much.
After we´d visited them so many times, the kids began memorizing our names and getting better at saying prayers. Every time we left, we´d say a prayer and everyone would fight to be the one to say the prayer. During their prayers they never forgot to ask that their friends Andrew and Silva would be safe. Wednesday afternoon I called President Wright for the last time to say goodbye before he caught his flight to Salt Lake City.
On Friday we had a Zones Conference in Porto Alegre to meet the new President. His name is President Campos and he comes from Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. The same city that my companion comes from. We all teased him that he´ll be the next Assistant to the President because of that. When he told us how the change of presidents happened on Wednesday, he said that when President Wright met him at the airport he said excitedly while hugging President Campos, "You´re the president now! Make sense?" We all burst out laughing because it´s exactly how President Wright is. We all liked President Campos and his wife right from the beginning. They have 4 daughters and 1 son. As a missionary he served in the Porto Alegre mission, and the areas he had in our current mission were Lindóia (Porto Alegre) and Bento Gonçalves.
In honor of Independence Day I used a red tie with my white shirt and a blue sweater and sang America the Beautiful, My Country ´Tis of Thee, and the Star Spangled Banner. Afterwards I said the Pledge of Allegiance to an American Flag I´d drawn in my planner! Saturday was very busy as we ran around reminding everyone about church the next day and arranging rides for everyone. There was a Primary party at the church as well which we got Silvana´s whole family to. They enjoyed themselves very much and couldn´t get enough of the trampoline, cotton candy machine, and friends.
Sunday morning as we were heating the water in the baptismal font we were surprised to see Jacira show up having walked all the way from her house with her two little grandkids. She lives a few miles away and had been so determinded to go to church that she refused a ride. During Sacrament Meeting I confirmed her a member and she received the Holy Ghost. After church Natacha´s mom came to be there for her baptism. We had organized a really special baptismal service and I baptized Natacha and 6 of Silvana´s kids: Kauana, Luana, Luan, Vinicius, Willian, and Kelvin. Natacha was baptized first but instead of changing back into dry clothes directly after, she stayed in the door to watch the other 6 be baptized. After everyone was in dry clothes again, Élder W. Silva and I sang another special musical number, "Count Your Many Blessings," which really brought the Spirit to the meeting.
We ran out of white jump suits so after I baptized one of the kids, he ran in the bathroom to change and give his jumpsuit to his brother!
As the bishop signed the 7 new member records he said with a chuckle, "Good work elders, now I´ll have one less talk to assign for next Sunday due to all the confirmations!" Lunch that day was with Filipe and Grasi, who had bought a huge box of food for Silvana´s family after seeing their situation the last week without even being asked. When we delivered it to them, we also brought 2 big bags of clothes that Jacira had brought as well. That night we brought a friend that Natacha had made at church to her house and I made Pancakes with Buttermilk Syrup for them. They went crazy taking pictures because they wanted to show all their friends on Facebook that they were eating 'American Pancakes'! After everyone had eaten, we watched Joseph Smith: the Prophet of the Restoration.