Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweet Hour of Prayer

Oi familia!

Well, to put it simply, this week was really hard.  Which was great, because it helped me to learn how to rely more fully on our Father in Heaven and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  This past wek we were watching `The Lamb of God`with a less-active member and I began thinking about how I´ve come to know my Savior over these past 6 months.  I considered how I learned about his love for the people in Kansas and how I learned to love them as well.  I considered how His Atonement has been applied in my life.  It´s been amazing to see how, in those moments of desparation and depair, I´ve been able to call upon our Father in Heaven in prayer, and relief has come through our Savior.  I don´t understand how it works, but I know that it does.  The Atonement is so so real.

It´s in this manner that I wish to write this week.  I´ve been struggling with the language, horribly, and at times I really feel like I´ll never get it.  I know I will, but like we all know, sometimes in the moment it´s much more difficult than it is when you look at it before and after.  Through all of this, a lot of time has been spent on my knees pleading with our Father for things that I desparately need.  For saftey, comfort, security, and a knowledge that I can actuallybe a missionary, when I can´t communicate with these people.  Every time I have petitioned the Lord and, in patience, waited upon His response, the empty gaps in my feelings have disappeared.  I have felt that I can and will one day be able to feel side by side with my brothers and sisters in Brazil in this great work and not simply like I´m playing catch-up.  

In that respect, the other thing I learned this week is that fluency does not necessarily determine ability.  Yes, I´m still struggling with the language, but we had a rather telling experience with one of our investigators, Taceiane (I think is how you spell it) this week.  She´s been having some major reservations about being baptized and is struggling to accept what we have to offer.  We went over with the president of the Sociadade De Socorro (Relief Society), and spoke with her.  At the end of the lesson, I had the opportunity to bear my testimony to her.  I can´t say that I opened my mouth and that this long speil burst out using words I don´t even know etc. etc. etc.  No, I simply used what few words I could to describe my love for the gospel.  Though my speech was limited, I felt the power of the Holy Ghost flowing through me as I spoke, and the whole room seemed filled with it´s influence.  Still, she hasn´t been baptized, but it after I finished my simple but sincere testimony, I knew that she felt something, and she recognized that she did.  I´m learning quickly, that no matter the part, if you can´t fill it, the Lord will, if we are willing to cover all that we can.

Thank you all for your prayers.  I´ve felt them.  I know the gospel is true and though this ´valley of the shadow of death´has been extremely hard, it has also been extremely rewarding.

Até mais!

Elder Trent Evans

P.S.  Tender mercy?  I totally have zero jet lag from the plane ride.  Huzzah!  

Monday, November 18, 2013

One year older and wiser too...

Oi familia! 

Wow.  This week was nuts.  I can´t believe that it´s already P-day, and at the same time I can´t believe it hasn´t been P-day already.  But, that´s mission life.  What do you expect?

Fun facts:
My companion is Elder Gonçalves.  He´s a native of São Paulo and he´s learning English to go to BYU´s MBA program.  He´s super awesome and he´s been so helpful.  
Here in Brasil, apparently it´s cheaper to have three cell phones than one.  One for calls, one for text, one for internet.  We only have one, but apparently everyone else has multiple because putting all of the stuff on one cell phone is way more expensive.  I don´t get it.
Our Ward Mission Leader had us over for lunch on my birthday and surprised me with a cake.  It was quite exciting. Pictures will probably be on facebook eventually.  
We taught and baptized a guy this week.  Yeah.  All in one week.  Brazil rocks.

Well, I can try and sumarize events in order to tell my weekly story.  Hopefully this will all work out.

So, Monday was one of the hardest days I´ve ever had.  Leaving President and Sister Bell at the airport was so dificult.  I loved Kansas so much and I was so sad to be leaving.  But, I know it´s for the will of the Lord.  Anyway, we flew to Atlanta and I talked with everyone and then we boarded a really long flight to São Paulo. On the way over I started reading in Ether 12 about faith because of the trials I knew would lay ahead.  Much like I talked about two weeks ago, faith often requires us to step beyond what is comfortable into the darkness so that we may grow and learn to trust in our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ even more. As I was reading I felt prompted to read in Psalms 23. 

1 The Lord is my ashepherd; I shall not bwant.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he aleadeth me beside the still waters.
 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths ofarighteousness for his bname’s sake.
 4 Yea, though I awalk through the bvalley of the cshadow ofddeath, I will fear no eevil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they fcomfort me.
As I read I considered the ´valleys of the shadow of death´ in my life.  I considered how often in the moment we realize how dificult things are and we wonder where the light is at the end of the valley.  As I read that, I felt that I would be entering a ´valley of the shadow of death´ in my life.  I didn´t know what, but I felt it would come and that even though I wouldn´t be able to see the end from the beginning, or even the next step, I needed to run head-on into the valley.  We landed in São Paulo, and I realized that all these people were saying things to me, and I coudln´t understand a thing.  Fortunetely, the 7 of us headed to Fortaleza kind of stuck together and continued to speak English (yeah, not the best idea).  We flew to Fortaleza and were greeted by two of the office assistants and Sister Souza (President Souza´s wife) who took us to the mission home where we had dinner.  We went to the mission office where we had interviews and met our new companions and we were in our areas before the end of the night.  We had some extra roomates (other missionaries) that night for one reason or another, and one of them was an american so he translated most of what was said.  The next morning we went to District Meeting.  I wish I could tell you what an awesome experience it was, but honestly, I couldn´t understand a thing that was said. As the day (and week) progressed I realized that though I can speak to people (in very very slow and broken Portuguese) for the life of me, I couldn´t tell what anyone was saying to me.  This continued and slowly I began talking less and less because I was scared our of my mind and didn´t want to sound like an idiot.  I slowly began to withdraw and was finding it very difficult to do much of anything right, even though I knew I needed to.  So, I was reading one day in Alma 37 and I read verses 6 & 7 which talk about how ´by small and simple means are great things brought to pass´as I pondered these things The Spirit taught me that I´m not just going to fly down here and have native-like abilities with speaking and understanding.  I´m not going to be able to speak just like all of the missionaries who´ve been here for forever.  I need to learn line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, until I learn it all.  I know this particular valley will get much deeper before it gets better, but I do have one major advantage.  When I speak, I speak the truth.  I didn´t come to Brazil to talk to people about just anything.  Even though I speak slowly, I speak the words of God.  I am a representative of Jesus Christ and I preach His gospel.  Joseph Smith was His prophet and seer to restore the church in these latter days.  The Book of Mormon provides convincing evidence that Jesus is the Christ and that His church has been restored.  I´m learning that we must descend into our own ´valley of the shadow of death´in order to rise to our mountain of exaltation.  Sure, I´m slow, inexperienced, and weak.  But, as long as I remember Him at all times, in all things, and in all places, I cannot fail.  So, don´t worry about me.  I have the Savior by my side 100% of the time.  And at very special times, both Grandmas will be with me as well.
Te amo!

Elder Evans       

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Well, I don´t think I´m in Kansas anymore

Oi familia!!

So, after a really long day (or two or so.  Let´s be real traveling overnight to other countries is not even remotely fun) I made it to Brazil!!!!

Here´s the official address

Elder Trent Leon Evans
Missão Brasil Fortaleza
Av. Santos Dumont 1789 Sala 1612
Aldeota, Fortaleza-CE

This address applies to ALL packages and letters and everything else anyone may ever want to send me for the next 18 months or so.  

I don´t have a ton of time, but all I can say is that I absolutely love it here.  IT just feels sooooo good.  The Spirit has been so strong and I know I´m in the right place.  Kansas was definitely where I needed to make my start and now it´s time to give everything I have.  

You´ll get more details next week!

Vos amo!

Elder Evans

Monday, November 4, 2013

One week more...

Oi familia!

This week's e-mail may be really short compared to what you're used to because today is kind of hectic because of all the stuff we have to do.  Given that I'm leaving in a week we're trying to get on top of everything so we don't have to worry too much next week and we can just pack up and go.

Well, the theme of the week has been faith.  Actually, Elder Weaver and I have been big on faith in general lately.  Elder Weaver and I talk with people about it a lot, and because of such discussion, we now have 3 people on date!  Yay! But really, faith is an interesting principle.  We like to describe faith as the hardest easy thing to do.  Most people can give a brief definition of faith: "The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)," "A hope for things which are not seen which are true (Alma 32)," or basically a belief in something that we've never seen, but we believe is there.  Well, let me say a little about faith.

President Packer describes faith as "taking a few steps beyond the edge of the light (what we know) and into the darkness (or what we don't know)."  President Uchtdorf has a similar sermon that "faith is sometimes having to take steps into the darkness with confidence that God will place solid ground under our feet" which is something we have to do frequently especially as missionaries.  I have always enjoyed being the man with the plan. I like knowing exactly what is going to happen when it is going to happen so I can prepare for all contingencies.  Well, as a missionary, sometimes that just doesn't happen.  We made a plan for yesterday and headed to Harper after church to carry out said plan.  As we got there, something just felt off.  As we were walking we felt directed to visit Bro. Slaughter, so we did.  As we were walking away I mentioned to Elder Weaver that I just felt like we were hitting a brick wall over and over again while visiting people.  Elder Weaver said "well, maybe we're not supposed to be in Harper" and as soon as he said that the Spirit indicated it was the case.  So, we packed up and headed 9 miles down the road to Anthony.  As soon as we got to Anthony we felt we should go visit the Trotters, so we did.  They invited us over for dinner this next week and we had a nice chat and visit with them.  After we left we didn't have any particular plans for the night, but we hadn't seen an investigator in Anthony for a while so we started in that direction.  Shortly after turning towards their house Elder Weaver and I both felt the impression to return home.  Though we didn't know why, we turned and headed back home.  We had dinner and the thought came to share a message with the Brundages, so we did.  As we were sharing the message with the Brundages I felt we should visit our friend Troy with another member here in Argonia.  So we did.

Why did this require faith?  Well, I didn't know if God would illuminate the next step.  I had to wait upon Him to give us the next step in His timing.  Though God did illuminate my steps last night, He doesn't always work in that way.  Much of the time, God will cause us to test our faith and see if we're willing to follow what he presents even if it isn't what may be comfortable.  Every day Elder Weaver and I ask people to exercise faith by reading the Book of Mormon, by praying, and by attending church because as they do these things they will be blessed.  I know that sometimes, the path ahead is dark, but it's in those moments that we must trust that God will place solid ground under us.  I know that God lives and that He isalways watching over us.  I've felt His guiding hand in my life consistently and especially as a missionary.  Most of my experiences as a missionary were not like the one from yesterday.  Often times, I've had to just act, and hope and pray that that was the solution that God wanted.  I know that in all hours of darkness, with trust in God, we will never stumble on the unseen path in front of us.

I don't know what will happen in Brazil.  I don't know how I can ever truly leave Kansas behind.  I don't know how I'll be able to communicate in Portuguese, and I have no idea what my purpose is in Brazil.  What I do know is that I'm on the Lord's errand and He will not let me fail.  I know that I'm a representative of Jesus Christ, and I will serve him fully through to the end.

Te amo!

Elder Evans