We are only in Salvador for one Sunday but I knew exactly which ward I wanted to attend. There is one very special family in São Caetano that I absolutely needed to see, hug, and spend time with. First, it's such a small world, the driver of the taxi that we took to church has a sister that lives in Provo and served a mission. Furthermore, he's lived in the same condo complex as Jailson for some time now. Here we are headed to church in São Caetano.
The church building has been remodeled since I was there last, and maybe one day they'll even get air conditioning :-). The ward and stake has since split and there is now a branch for a part of the ward that was pretty far from the chapel. The members were singing Christmas hymns out in front of the church when we arrived, and we were invited to join in. They were so welcoming and all the women hugged and kissed Gina. She's getting really good at the double-cheek-kissing greetings. It was good to see some familiar faces.
|São Caetano chapel|
|The Reis (Reis translates to "Kings" - very fitting)|
After church they invited us to their house to see Luzinete (mom) and Hebert with his wife. It was so great to be walking the same streets here in Salvador with my friends. Brother Eronildes plays soccer each week at 67 years old with all the young kids out in the back of the church since he's been the Young Men's president in the past few years. The streets haven't changed all that much and I could almost find my way straight to their house.
|The streets of São Caetano|
|View off the Reis' back porch|
They were so kind to serve us lunch after church. We sat and chatted for much longer than Gina ever thought possible. It was awesome to reminisce about the first days when Elder Castro and I met them and when Elder Almeida and I taught them. The oldest boy, Hebert had prayed that God would help him find the truth among all the churches. Because of his prayer, my companion and I were in his living room the very next day reciting the first vision. It's amazing to look back at that day and see why we were working late in that area even though we hadn't worked anywhere near their street before. Previous missionaries had told us that they'd knocked (clapped) all the doors over there. That day we actually passed by their house without clapping and we now realize it was because Hebert wasn't actually home. When we came by later we decided to stop and clap at their door. The dad let us in and Hebert came home from running errands a few minutes later. The three boys are spiritual giants in my eyes. They read the Book of Mormon, prayed, found out the truth, and wanted to be baptized. The parents were a bit hesitant but the boys already had their own testimonies. The parents began to read and pray with the boys and soon they all decided to be baptized. The rest is history and they're still going strong today. I definitely came to tears a few times while in their home again. There is such a strong spirit there. True Christians.
|From left: Luzinete, Marcos, Rafael, Eronildes, Hebert, Rose, Gina, me|