Friday night the branch had an activity to involve new members and investigators. We played basketball, UNO, and watched the movie about Joseph Smith's life. While we were shooting around with the basketball, a group of 4 boys who weren't members were playing on the other side of the court (the branch always lets people from the surrounding neighborhoods come play basketball or soccer in the court the Chapel has outside). As we were going in to watch the movie, on of the boys asked me if I wanted to play basketball with them. I kindly declined because we had an investigator with us and I figured that I should probably watch the movie with them. However, about 10 minutes into the film, the Elders came into the chapel and motioned for me to come to the door. "Sister Fernelius," they said, "you have to come play basketball, those boys out there are begging for you to come play!" I looked back at the movie and then down at my skirt, "alright," I said, "let's go!" When I exited the church, the boys playing basketball let out a cheer! hahaha! I felt so honored! For the next 30 minutes, with skirt and dorky, rubber sandals, I played some intense basketball with two Elders and 4 Brazilian teenage boys! I think I slept the whole night with a smile on my face!
After many weeks of hard work, we were finally able to see a beautiful daughter of God enter the waters of baptism!! We began to teach Thalyne and her family about 4 weeks ago, but her mother and siblings all rejected our message and became very hostile toward the Church. We continued to visit Thalyne because she expressed to us that she wanted to be baptized, and if someone is willing to fight for the Gospel, then there is nothing in this world that is going to stop me from fighting right alongside of them! Thalyne is truly an elect daughter of God! She is 12 years old and wants nothing else but to follow every commandment that we taught her. After we taught her about modesty, she altered all of her clothes to make them more modest. After we taught her about 'not dating before 16' she ended her relationship with her boyfriend. There was nothing that was going to keep her from being baptized...except for her mother. In order to get a feel for what her mother is like, I will tell a brief story about an interaction I had with her. During one of our lessons with Thalyne, her younger brother wanted to see me do some push ups. So, I showed him how to do a proper push up. Thalyne's mother was sitting in the other room and must have overheard what we were doing because after we finished teaching Thalyne's sister came out and told me that her mom wanted to arm wrestle me. (I'm already terrified of this woman, but I figured if I arm wrestled her and won she'd be more willing to let Thalyne get baptized) So, I headed back to the other room with the thought, "this fight is for Thalyne!" The two of us sat across the table from each other and grasped each other's hand. She looked me straight in the eyes with a piercing look that clearly told me that she was confident that she would win. I stared calmly back at her and began to apply pressure. After a few seconds I wanted to ask her if she had begun, I thought that might not be the wisest thing to say. hahaha! As you can imagine, I won our little arm wrestling match! As soon as I won, she looked at me with clear dislike, and said, "Voce e muito forte, mas minha fe e mais forte que sua." (You are very strong, but my faith is stronger than yours)! I let out a nervous giggle and replied, "Que bom!" stood up from the table and walked out of the room. Awkward!!!! Naturally, when the day arrived to ask Thalyne's mom to sign the baptism papers I was extremely nervous!! Sister Blanco had fasted and prayed muito that Thalyne's mom would sign the papers without causing too much trouble. We went to the house with Thalyne and Thalyne's cousin, who is also a member. The cousin thought it would be better if she talked with Thalyne's mom, so Sister Blanco and I sat in the other room listening to them talk in loud, emotional voices about the baptism. Sister Blanco and I just looked at each other with the gut wrenching feeling that the mom was never going to allow Thalyne to be baptized. After some moments, the cousin came out of the room. I was sitting in a chair, hunched over, looking at the floor. Ryassa, the cousin, showed me the baptism papers and to my utter surprise, there at the bottom of the page was the mom's signature!!!! We had conquered!!!! I looked up at Thalyne and the smile on her face was radiant!!! She was going to be baptized!!!
Sunday morning, the day of the baptism, Sister Blanco and I were studying when our cell phone rang; it was Elder Welch, the assistant to the President. "Sister Fernelius," he said, "I have some news for you. You will be transferred to Sousa tomorrow morning. We want you and Sister Blanco in the Escritorio tomorrow morning at 9:00." I couldn't believe what I was hearing, transferred...yet, I felt extremely grateful that the Lord had allowed me to stay in Guarabira long enough to see Thalyne be baptized.
To all of you who watched Conference and heard the change in ages for missionaries, I have one thing to say, GO GO GO GO GO GO!!!!!!!!!!! This is the Lord's work and I feel so blessed to be a part of it!!!!