Monday, October 28, 2013

So, I hope I didn't forget anyone in the sent mail, but if I did, forward it to them.

President Bell just called and informed me that my VISA came through!  I fly out of Kansas on November 11th at 11:00 AM and arrive in Fortaleza the next day at 3:00 PM or something of that nature.

This truly is a bittersweet day. I love Kansas, but I know I am to be in Brazil one day.  I love you all and thank you for your support.

The Book of Mormon: The Rock of My Eternal Happiness

Oi familia!

This week was so awesome.  By the same token, I had to go through some of the hardest things I've gone through during my missionary service, but it's really helped my fe' (faith) to grow and I've really had to rely on the Lord. It's been truly amazing to see the hand of the Lord blessing our service and helping us find those who are prepared.  

On another note, Spencer Staten received his reassignment.  He's headed out to the California Roseville mission (north of Sacramento).  I doubt his Mission President is anywhere near as cool as President Bell, but I suppose any mission president is supposed to be cool.  But let's be real, President Bell is straight awesome.

So, the experience of the week.  To be honest, this week was jam-packed with awesome experiences, but we had one super cool experience with one of our investigators named Jared.  Jared is in high school and we dropped by his house to give him an overview of the Restoration.  We started talking with him a little about the Book of Mormon and we just started testifying.  I told him about how when I was in college I would read a chapter out of the Book of Mormon each day before I would start my calculus homework, and because of it I got an A in the class and was able to ace the final.  We testified of how when you read the Book of Mormon before you do anything else, you always have time to do everything you need to.  As we were testifying of all these blessings he would receive he stopped us and said "Whoa, it's just a book."  Well, let's be real.  It's not just any book.  I know that the Book of Mormon is scripture and that "[anyone] will get close to God by abiding by it's precepts than by any other book" {Introduction to the Book of Mormon).  The Book of Mormon has brought me guidance and strength in my life in a plethora of ways.  I've received peace and happiness in times of frustration and bitterness.  I've received guidance for my most difficult problems.  I've found friends in the loneliest of times.  Through it all, the Book of Mormon has been my constant rock and something that I would be completely lost without.  These blessings are available to everyone!!!  When we told Jared this he said "This all sounds so great, but what's the catch?"  Well, that's the great thing about it.  All you have to do is read it.  President Benson once said of the Book of Mormon: "It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (see D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance."   I know these promises are true!  So go!  Pick up that Book of Mormon!  If you don't have one, get one and watch the blessings flow!

This is the Lord's work.  I am His servant.  As a representative of Jesus Christ I give my undying testimony of this record.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God!  I have seen it bless my life and the lives of many others.  I know that there is no greater work than the work of salvation, and now is the time to hasten it.  

Vos amo!

Elder Evans

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Promised Blessings

Oi familia!

So, I love Kansas. It's really weird.  I always remember when I would hear missionary homecomings I felt like every single time they would stand up and say "I loved my mission and I really love the people of *insert lugar (place) here* so much..." and I'm beginning to understand why.  Kansas is so beautiful.  It's really fantastic living in the country too, because there's less light pollution so we can literally see millions of stars! Hopefully my camera can pick it up and I'll try to e-mail you all a shot of the sky at night.  The first picture was a sunset that we caught the other day.  The sunrises and sunsets here are magnificent.  But even so, there's something beautiful about being in the country and not being surrounded by civilization all the time.  Beyond that though, the people are so fantastic.  We rarely get doors slammed in our faces.  Most people are genuinely happy that we're sharing the good word of Jesus Christ with people, though they have no interest in learning about our message themselves (yet). More than that, the ward is so fantastic.  I feel like they've truly taken Elder Weaver and I in as their own children in a way.  I feel so loved whenever I associate with them and I absolutely love them.  I had the opportunity to speak to them yesterday in sacrament meeting and I felt so compelled to tell them how much I loved them.  It was a very powerful moment.  

But beyond that this week was quite fantastic.  The beginning of the week our zone leaders called us and talked with us a little.  We discussed how Elder Weaver and I had had very few member present lessons over the past little while and asked how we could create more.  Member presents are very had to come by down here because we have very few set appointments.  Most people say "just drop by" or "we're always busy" or whatever the case may be.  But after that Elder Johnson said "you know, I know standard is 5, but I promise you if you get 2 member presents this week, you will see miracles.  Will you get 2 member present lessons this week?"  We said, "absolutely".  That's one great thing about being a missionary and associating with other missionaries.  As representatives of Jesus Christ when we promise something, it will come.  So fantastic.

Anyway, so we went about our work.  We took a recent convert to a lesson with Katie, our person on baptismal date.  At the very beginning of the lesson when we reviewed baptism a little bit he said "wow, that's a really special date.  I'll never forget my baptism" and throughout the lessons we'd turn to him and he was able to say exactly what she needed to hear.  It was so awesome.  They connected so well and after we left the recent convert said "wow, that was so cool! I've never done that before and it was such an amazing experience."  He was feeling the Spirit big time and Katie was too.  One way or another, she's progressing steadily towards baptism and it was awesome.  Then last night we were short one member present for our call ins with about an hour to go before we had to turn our numbers in.  We were eating dinner with the Brundages and Sis. Brundage asked how things had been going with Richard and Bonnie Strickland.  We said, "actually, we haven't visited them for a little bit and we were going to see them tonight.  Would you two like to come with us?"  Brother and Sister Brundage agreed and we headed over.  We felt really strongly that we needed to speak with Richard about eternal families, though it wasn't something we'd ever brought up before.  We brought that up and the Brundages both shared powerful testimony about Eternal Families, but about their experiences about the gospel in general.  Then, partway through the lesson Bro. Brundage just opened up and shared some powerful experiences he'd had in the Air Force that confirmed to him that the gospel was true.  The Spirit was so strong in that room and you could tell that Richard was feeling it.  Every time we met with him we felt like we were running into a brick wall over and over and everything we said really didn't matter to him.  Then, the miracles came.  It's truly amazing to see the Lord's hand in his work and how we're helping those prepared to enter the Kingdom of God once again.

I truly love being a missionary and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.  The gospel and the church has brought me so much peace and happiness that I can't help but share this!  The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ is truly the greatest message that has ever graced the world, second only to the coming of Jesus Christ himself.  

Vos amo!

Elder Evans

P.S. The second picture is of Elder Weaver and myself laying down the law... of God.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sometimes you're prompted to see someone...

Oi familia!

Tudo bem? (means, everything good?)  Coisas (things) are good here in Kansas.  We've been experiencing some cooler weather recently, which is really weird.  I still remember my first day here when Elder Sutherland and I walked all the way around Anthony and it was a million degrees and I felt like I'd taken a bath when I was done.  Now, it's cooler and I hardly sweat at all.  It's super weird.  In fact, the beginning of the month, we walked outside in the morning and there was frost on the ground.  Granted, that's never happened since, but it's been different than what I'm used to for sure.

So, cool experience for the week.  We finished dinner with Sister Shaw on Friday night and we were wondering where to go.  I pulled out of her complex and Elder Weaver started reading down the list of names and when he said one of them I had a very strong feeling we needed to go over there.  We went over and they weren't home, but their neighbors were out front digging up sidewalk. So, we went over and began talking to them.  Cheryl (?) and Forrest are a young married couple who recently moved into the area and have some interesting views on religion.  He was baptized Catholic and she was baptized Christian but both have taken detours away from their church.  We talked with them for a little bit and just got some good BRT (building relationships and trust).  Then she started asking us questions about the mormons.  She said her grandma was mormon and she didn't know a ton about them.  We answered her questions and eventually we asked if we could return and share a little bit more of the message with them.  They said yes, so we went away fist-bumping.  The next day (saturday), we went over to see them and began teaching lesson 1.  It was so fantastic.  Cheryl was asking fantastic questions and wanted to make sure she understood what we were talking about.  At one point she said "so, you're saying priesthood authority was lost after the death of Christ and the Apostles, so who has it now?"  Best question ever.  We testified of the Restoration, of the divine call of Joseph Smith, and of the blessings of the gospel as families.  We invited them to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know it was true and they said they would.  We commited them to attend church and to continue on this journey they had begun.  They accepted! Elder Weaver and I left that lesson so thrilled for the blessing that it was.  The Spirit was so strong and we're so excited for them. The message of the restoration is so powerful, and more important, it's so true!!! What a blessing to have the Book of Mormon, modern-day prophets, and continued revelation from our Father in Heaven.  I know the Priesthood authority is real and I'm honored and humbled to hold that gift.  

Well, keep it real family.  Have fun.  Because as Elder Weaver will tell you "Elder Evans always says that his brother says "If you ain't havin fun you ain't doin it right"

Te amo!  Ve, e compartilhar o evangelho com todo do mundo!
(Love you!  Go, and share the gospel with all the world!)

Elder Evans

Monday, October 7, 2013

Muitas experiencias! (Many experiences)

Oi familia!

Entao, this week has been crazy.  The Lord has really been blessing Elder Weaver and I with a lot, despite a number of setbacks we've received.  But things are rockin' and we love it!  Being a missionary is so awesome!

So, the picture I attached is kind of random, I know.  But, WE GOT A NEW CAR!!! And when I say new, I mean new.  The picture is the odometer just a few minutes after we picked her up.  Literally, the car had 37 miles on it when we picked it up.  It's a 2014 Chevy Cruze and she is absolutely beautiful.  We named her Sadie. I'll try and send you a picture of her before I sair for Brazil (but who knows when that will happen). We were super bummed to have to give up Maximus (out truck), but Sadie is one of a kind. 

Speaking of visas, my friend, Elder Smith, from the MTC received his visa this week. Brazil is clearly processing them, the question is how long it takes.  Well, I know I'm here in Kansas for a specific purpose, and when that purpose is fulfilled I'll receive my visa.  Until then, I'll continue to "joyfully do all things within my power" (D&C 123:17)

Meanwhile, in the spiritual department, how about confernece?! I loved how so many people emphasized member-missionary work.  There are things that need to be done in the field!  The work is hastening across the world and we have the wonderful opportunity to be a part of it!  We have the single greatest message which has ever graced them world, second only to the coming of Jesus Christ to redeem mankind.  We have living prophets! Prophets are not just something of the past, they are of today as well!  God always called prophets to guide His children in the past.  God does call prophets today to guide us, and he will call prophets throughout the rest of time.  Following conference last night, Elder Weaver and I had the opportunity to visit Lancy, and investigator of ours.  He had a really rough weekend and was exhausted but we tried to talk to him anyway. I bore testimony of prophets and how we truly have prophets on the earth today.  After I finished my testimony he said "Wow.  You really believe that don't you?" We left the lesson a little later and Elder Weaver said "When you were bearing testimony of prophets, the Spirit was super strong.  Even though Lancy was totally out of it tonight, you could tell he was really feeling something too."  God loves us, and He has given us prophets to lead and guide us because of His infinite love for us.  

We also had an amazing lesson with a lady named Katie this week.  Katie came to us by way of referral, kind of.  Last week Bro Albert told us to go visit a man named Alvin Crippen who is a less-active member of the Wellington Ward.  We went to drop by and Alvin was there with his girlfriend, Katie.  She said she was searching for the right church.  She said she'd been to "every church in the world, except the mormon church".  We talked about that a little and we gave her a Book of Mormon and said "if you want to know what we're all about, just read the Book of Mormon" we came back the next week (this past Thursday) and started talking with her.  She'd already read to 2 Nephi 16!  We then had a super awesome lesson and we challenged her to baptism for November 9th.  Without skipping a beat she said "Yes".  Wow.  The Message of the Restoration is truly an amazing and powerful one.  

We've had a number of amazing times so far, but those seem the most pertinent right now.  I love being a missionary!  We had dinner with the Lawrence family before Priesthood session, and they have a grandson who is going to one of the Las Vegas missions on the 23rd of the month.  He seemed a little bummed, and I felt like it was because he realized this is his last conference with his family before the mission.  As we were leaving Elder Weaver and I both said "The mission is an interesting thing.  Though stressful, tiring, and downright painful sometimes, it's literally the best experience ever.  We love being missionaries and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world"

Ate mais!
Eu te amo!   

Elder Evans