So Elder Timmons and I are pretty sure we work in paradise. Ilhabela is freakishly beautiful, the weather has been incredible, and the work is going really well! I feel like I haven’t stopped to catch my breath all week.
On Tuesday we had the arrival of the new missionaries, which is always great. It took a little while because there were so many new ones, but everybody was very excited! After the presentation and the singing of the mission hymn (which we are all still learning hahah) Elder Timmons and I caught a bus to São Sebastião, where we got in at about 11:45 and spent the night with the elders there. I had never been that far north in the mission and let me tell you, once we got past Bertioga (which was my first zone) it is nothing but windy roads up and down hills on the coast. But we eventually made it! And then on Wednesday morning we finally got a glimpse of our island. The only way to get there is by ferry (here’s a picture of us on the ferry). We took a look at the house, grabbed the Area Book to plan our day, and headed out. We had the most incredible lunch–I wish I had had my camera! We ate with a young couple who built their nice little house on the side of a steep hill that leads right down into the ocean. There were incredible views of São Sebastião and the mainland! And to top it off we ate octopus. Which he had caught with a harpoon in the ocean right below us earlier in the week. It’s delicious, by the way!
On Thursday President came up from Santos to meet with the zone here–all of us except the zone leaders (E. Winstanley and Veneziano) are new here in the zone, and we’re here to help the São Sebastião District become a stake. There are a lot of experienced elders here, and everyone is excited! The meeting was really, really good. We didn’t get back to the island until about 7:45 that night, and we still had lots of lessons to teach and people to talk to! At about 9:15, we still needed two more lessons and so Elder Timmons said, “well, we might need to split up a little and teach two people here on the road.” So I said “Alright, I’m going to stop this guy on his bike!” I had never done anything like that, but when I put out my arm and said, “Hey!” the guy stopped his bike and I taught him about eternal families. He was super interested, accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 5th of September, and came to church yesterday! And I have never seen such a good reception of any visitor to the church like the one he got from the members of the branch here yesterday.
The members here are great! The attendance here is about 45-50. We’ve gotten to know most of them and they are all excited, friendly, and helpful. Yesterday afternoon we went teaching with a woman who’s been a member for 20 years–when she was a teenager she was baptized, and when she was 19 her father said she had to renounce the church to keep living in his house. So she put everything she owned into a bag and walked out! How incredible is that?
Some pictures–my last night in Rio Branco with the group leader Adriano and his son Rafael, who will be serving his mission in Salt Lake City, Elder Timmons and me on the ferry, and some pictures from our morning run on Saturday. Eric and Scott can say they’ve run faster than me and in cooler races, but I’m the only one who can say he’s run along the beach on a tropical island paradise. I think.
This email’s a little long! haha. Have a great week, everybody, love you all!