Man my love for this branch and for the members here continues to grow more and more as the days pass by. This last sunday is a prove of why Benfica is growing so fast and doing so well. The chapel was over flowing and we had to bring in about 15 extra chairs because of all the people that came (remember this branch split just 2 months ago). There were a ton of people there that we didn't even know, they were invited and brought by their member friends, needless to say we ran around quite a lot this last sunday trying to get everyone's names and numbers and times to pass by their house sunday. One of these people is Carlos and his wife Eduarda. They are a family that came to church from an invitation from an investigator. We passed by their house later that sunday and found out that they are a legally married family looking for the truth and a church that worships in peace and reverence without yelling, screaming. We knew once again as soon as we started our lesson that this family was once again prepared by the savior, and once again we have the great privilege of being in their lives and helping them along the path. Carlos at the end of our lesson said many times that after church hes been having the feeling that they have just started down the correct path. So we challenged them to turn that feeling into a surety by praying and searching and receiving and answer to their questions. It is truly amazing the miracles that can happen when the missionaries start to work with the members. We are currently teaching 5 families, 2 are legally married and doing VERY well, 2 are unmarried but one of them is about to put in their documents, and the other is going to get married this coming weekend. We are also teaching quite a few single people, mainly members of families who aren't married, and they are all doing VERY well as well. I also got word from president this week that i will stay in this area until december!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!! i couldn't have asked for anything better, so hopefully by the time that i leave there will be 5 new families in Benfica... thats the goal anyways! what a great time to be alive and to work here in benfica.... i am an outrageously blessed man.
Also is week i learned a lot about external and internal drives. The 2nd councilor in our branch Joaquim Puto, had taught me a lot about this. As missionaries in Angola we love to teach about families and marriage, but a lot of the time that desire to have people keep the commandments and be married turns to be our only concern and teaching point. I was like that until Joaquim sat with us and shared some of his 19 year old young father wisdom. In essence he said that a man with a testimony is more willing to follow the commandments then a man who is pressured from outside sources to follow the commandments. It was so simple but yet so profound... and gave us a little slap to wake us up.. I thought back to leaders and bishops ive had in my life and the best ones i ever had were the ones that never pointed out the bad and what i needed to change, but the ones that strengthened my testimony and helped me have a desire from within to do my best and to follow the savior's example (Shout out to Ma and Pa and the NUKE). So we decided to stop teaching "marriage" and to start teaching repentance through our saviors atonement. The family that we had stressed marriage a lot with was Celson and lurdes when we first found them.. but we stopped that and started to strengthen their testimonies and what a difference it has been. Celson is working like a mad man because he wants to keep the commandments, and Lurdes is playing hymns daily to try and bring the spirit as much as she can into her home. Its been really cool to see the changes in their lives because of their testimonies and not because some 19 year old punks are telling them they are breaking some commandments. So that little principle on strengthening peoples testimonies and knowledge of our savior instead of beating on them repeatedly to change and to keep the commandments has helped make some HUGE miracles happen in Benfica.
Thats pretty much my week in a nutshell.. our investigators are doing really well, members are awesome, the leadership is great, and we are being blessed every single moments and without his help or his tender mercies i would still be in the gulf of misery i was in the first couple weeks i was here in Benfica... ohhh those were some of the worst weeks of my life.. but now i am having some of the best experiences ever and never wanting my time here in benfica to end and getting blessings on blessing on blessing.. just goes to show what a little hard work, obedience and diligence can do.. it my be super hard at first.. enough to make me want to break my leg... but itll all turn out and youll be rolling in the blessings that you will receive. And for that i will be forever grateful to my father in heaven and my savior.
hahahahaha good ole zach and joseph huh... that was a solid laugh! Thanks for the lovage and the prayage it is muchly appreciated. If you are thinking of sending a package let me know because of i some stuff that i want but dont really need, so its no big deal.
The magic lives on