Londrina June 13, 2011

Happy Birthday one more time! I am so glad you had a terrific birthday and that the family came over and everything! The pictures look terrific! I´m so happy to have such a great family like you guys!
Thank you a ton for the advice about lifting others too. This really is important. It is sometimes really easy to require lots from people without praising their success. Our mission has a huge need to improve, but that does not mean that good things aren´t happening. I will be more positive this week and try to get to know even better the zone leaders. I loved to see all of the pictures of the family at the cabin and everything! What great memories. The mission is super-duper great and stuff, but there is nothing like sitting down by the creek at the cabin and roasting marshmallows in the wheelbarrow. Maybe if it had tereré. I will bring home some tereré. It is super good. Happy birthday to Sharon too! What did you get? How was girls’ camp? Was Bear Lake super freezing? Details! I need details! :) Other thing. Whaaaaat?! Ya´ll is goin on a cruise? Bom demais! Brazil is good too though. It has finally turned cold and I am thoroughly enjoying not sweating profusely at any given moment. Brazilian hot chocolate is super good too!
Here’s what happened here this week!
Firstly, leadership conference was really good. We had a super good lunch and had a bunch of great trainings to help the missionaries. It is not really focused on teaching how to hold meetings and agendas and things like you sent, but more for the zone leaders to help them animar and motivar a zona. (Animate and motivate the zone) I learned a bunch of great stuff and I hope the Zone leaders learned some stuff too! After that we worked here in our own area for a change and we found a bunch of great families that have been to church and we have mais ou menos 10 (more or less 10) people that have potêncial a batizar this weekend! Yesterday we had a super miracle as well!
There was a man named José who went to church 2 weeks ago. We taught him right after church and he immediately said that he believed everything and received an answer, but he lived really far away and after that he sort of disappeared and nobody could find him. Saturday night we had a huge activity at the church to celebrate the harvest here. It was awesome! There was tons of cake and soda and hot dogs and fried chicken and I ate way too much, but lest you think we were just slacking off, we had a booth at the party and we got more than 30 references from the members and gave away an entire box of Books of Mormons! Waaaay better than knocking doors! Anyways, soon José showed up at the party. It was near the beginning and there weren´t many people there yet, so we took him aside and taught him about the Book of Mormon and Word of Wisdom. He didn´t use anything in the WoW and didn´t even like coffee! He agreed to go to church the next day and be baptized the following week. The next day at church he showed up and loved it! He was feeling the spirit super strong and we pulled him aside again and taught him the rest of the plan of salvation and gospel. Guess what? He agreed to be baptized that night! After church we taught him once more and he passed the interview and marked the baptism for that night 7:30. Everything was super perfect. We called a member to fill up the font and heat the water (it is actually rather cold here right now.) When we got to the church around 6:30 to our horror we discovered that the natural gas to heat the font was empty and the water was still freezing! Elder Ayres was still recovering from a really bad cold and poor José doesn´t have perfect health and so we were super worried about the situation. There was an extra can of gas in the church, but it was locked up and nobody had the key, only the maintenance company who clearly we couldn´t call on Sunday! We were confused and looking at the padlock of the gas can. Elder Ayres says to me, “Remember in the Book of Mormon when Nephi prays and then breaks the cords binding his wrists? Let’s pray for strength to break this padlock.” Sweet! So we pray that we will be able to break the lock and then Elder Ayres grabs it. He yanks as hard as he can and................... nothing. Ah crap, so we don’t have faith AND José is going to die of hypothermia at his own baptism. The only good news would be that he would go straight to the celestial kingdom right? It was about 7:00 now when suddenly one of the members here shows up with a huge wrench. Why I don´t know, but we explain the situation and he goes over and busts open the padlock!! We switch the gas and heat the water and José was baptized! Tudo mundo feliz! (Everybody’s happy) So this is my testimony this week that God answers prayers, even if it isn´t in the way that we were expecting. Miracles are totally real. I know that God lives and loves us and that our families can be forever. I am so thankful for all of your prayers and love and concern. I am praying for you every day and I know God will bless our family.
Never give up. NEVER surrender.
-Elder Markham

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