Monday, December 30, 2013

Prayer as a Process

Oi familia!

So, it was awesome to talk to y´all last week.  (My english might be lazy when I get home because we have simpler ways of saying things in Portuguese)  It was kind of cool that it was actually hard for me to speak in English.  Frustrating, yes, but cool.  I just never speak in English here so doing so is rather uncommon for me.  But, I hope you all learned a few new words and had a lovely time.  Glad to hear you´re all doing well and maybe we can actually Skype on Mother´s day.  I´m learning that we have ways of doing things here that aren´t explicetly stated, like using the computer in the chapel.  But, live and learn.

So, my experience for the week happened yesterday.  Actually, the Lord saw fit to teach me a number of things this week and I feel I´ve changed imensely over the course of this past week whether by study, faith, or the refiner´s fire, I´ve grown so much this week.  But, yesterday morning as I was eating my pão e maçã (bread and apple though it´s not quite pronounced how it´s spelled) for breakfast I was reading a talk by Elder Bednar of the Twelve.  In this talk he explained that some of our most powerful and best prayers are prayers of gratitute where we ask for little to nothing.  So, I got on my knees and thanked the Lord sincerely for the grand number of blessings I had recieved.  It made me realize just how blessed I am and how the Lord is truly always looking out for us with His tender mercies.  However as I did so, The Spirit descended upon me like I´ve never recieved it before.  It was truly a powerful experience.  But, this isn´t all.  The talk goes on to mention how prayer shouldn´t be viewed as a series of events throughout the day, but a continual process.  Thus, our morning prayers lead to our daily prayers which lead to our nightly prayers which prepare us for our prayers the next morning.  So, I considered this prayer as a process and began such yesterday.  Combined with the Spirit I mentioned earlier, the day was quite profound.  During church, our teacher for Gospel Principles was absent so I had to teach the lesson.  What happened?  Inspiration and the gift of tongues.  I thought "hmm, Gospel of Jesus Christ today" and I was able to teach the whole lesson.  I didn´t have to use my dictionary, look to my companion, or pause for long periods of time.  It was amazing that I could speak the thoughts and intents of my heart and mind without difficulty.  Truly, the Lord was with me.  As we continued through the day, I felt impressed to go to a specific street in our area and bater portas (tract) because the Lord had prepared someone.  We went and sure enough, we met a man who is displeased with his church and was very impressed with our building when he passed by.  He lives a minute away by walking and is seeking to find more truth.  Golden contact.  As we continued through the day, the Spirit was strong and urged me to find, speak, and prepare those of God´s children to one day enter His kingdom once again.  So, I want to invite you all to try this this week.  Offer a prayer of heartfelt gratitude, and then consider your prayers as a process and watch for the miracles that ouccur.

Truly, this is the Lord´s restored church on the earth once again.  Prayer is real, and I we can talk with God, our Heavenly Father at any time or place.  Joseph Smith knew this and he applied this principle and through him the church was restored.  We all can recieve the bounteous blessings of heaven as we pray with real desire and intent.

Vós amo!

Elder Evans

Monday, December 23, 2013

What's the Lord's plan?

Oi familia!

Wow.  This week has been the biggest roller coaster of emotion.  My new companion is Elder Tribino (pronounced Tree-bee-noh) and he´s from Rio Grande do Sul.  Funny enough, he lives in the Santa Maria mission, where Scott Omer served.  Sadly, he doesn´t know him.  He lives right on the boarder between Brazil and Uraguay.  When I picked him up Tuesday night I said ´Welcome!  You ready to teach a lesson tonight?´ He was like ´Well, yeah.  Let´s do it.´ So, I was pretty pumped.  We saw two miracles that night.  First we taught a lesson to Augusto about the Restoration and I said to my companion `Okay, I want you to share the Joseph Smith story and the Restoration´ and he did it flawlessly.  It was amazing.  Augusto totally got it and he´s going to be baptized this coming Saturday!  Then we headed out for a family night with a part-member family, though the wife (member) hasn´t been active since her baptism about 14 years ago.  We talked about eternal families and I shared a scripture from Matthew 19 about how marriage means ´becoming one flesh´and that they could be together forever.  Then Elder Tribino offered his testimony that we can be with our families for eternity.  The Spirit was so strong and the room felt like it was on fire.  We closed and the husband offered the closing prayer.  As he was praying he asked our Father in Heaven to know more about eternal families and there was a little catch in his voice.  He stumbled through the rest of the prayer and when he closed I looked up and both he and his wife had tears streaming down their faces.  It was such a powerful moment to see that they trully have a desire to be an eternal family.  One day, I know they´ll enter the temple together to be sealed.  What a blessing.

During the rest of the week we had a number of appointments fall through, but I quickly learned that man´s extremity is God´s opportunity.  We continued to work hard and talk to all the people we could.  We found a few potential investigators and we ran into three families one day!!! Three!!! Sadly, two of them live way outside our area, but we ran into one that I have high hopes for.  Something new we´ve been trying is going to people and saying ´We´re missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we´re going around spreading a message about Christmas.  Can we sing a Christmas Hymn for you?´ Almost everyone says yes and it´s an amazing way to bring the Spirit.  We went to one house and sang for them and afterwards she said ´That was so beautiful, thank you.´ And we marked for another day to return.  This was the other family we found and we have an appointment with them tomorrow. But that´s the key thing.  We we´re far from our house and had little idea of what to do, but it´s in those moments that we have to buckle down and say ´Well, our plans didn´t work out.  What does the Lord have planned for us?´ I´m learning that what I talked about in my farewell is completely and 100% true.  Sometimes, we just have to hang in there and do what we can.  As D&C 123:17 tells us we should "cheerfully do everything that lies within our power".  Sure, sometimes it´s hard, but what matters is that we´re giving the Lord our best.  100%.  All day.  Every day.  Until our work is finished.

And after all of this, our Christmas Miracle.  We´ve been working every week with a great couple Ronald and Cleid who were baptized within the past 6 months but since fell to inactivity.  We´ve been trying and trying to get them back to church and nothing was working.  We headed over there with Elder Tribino and our Ward Mission Leader and I was thinking about what to share.  On the way over I though, ´Luke 2´ so we read Luke 2.  The Spirit was so strong and testified that we truly have the church of Jesus Christ on the earth again.  We visited them the next day and they said ´we read the scriptures as a family and prayed together.  It was great!´ And the next day (yesterday) guess who came to church, Ronald & Cleid!!! It was so amazing to feel the Love of Christ for those two wonderful people.  Truly, the Lord works miracles every day if we´re willing to strive until the end.

Feliz Natal!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Foto da Conferencia de Natal

Picture of the whole mission at Conferência de Natal!

Feliz Natal!

Well, wasn't expecting that...

Oi familia!

This week has been buckets of interesting.  We had a shortened transfer because of Christmas so transfers were today.  I´m chilling with my new comp right now, except he isn´t actually my comp.  He´s a temporary because I´m training!!! AHHHHHH!!!!! (scared scream, not necessarily excited, just mostly nervous but faith-filled at the same time) Everyone getting transfered went to the Montese Chapel and President Souza read off the new Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and trainers. My Zone Leaders have been joking continually that I´ll train this transfer and as President Souza was reading through trainers he just kept listing names.  The more he listed the more I was thinking ´yes! not training!´ Then he read my name.  We have 43 missionaries coming in this transfer (yeah, seriously) so we´ve got buckets of trainers.  This will be a very interesting transfer.  I feel so humbled and so unprepared all at the same time.  Whatever happens, I know it will be the will of the Lord.  I think it´s very interesting that I gave my farewell on how we need to focus on the will of the Lord and not our own, and the Lord has seen fit to test me in this very thing.  But let´s be real, we all knew it would happen.

But the news of the week was something I didn´t even see coming.  We had a fairly normal week, though as always adjusting to a different mission culture is difficult. Tuesday night our Zone Leaders called and said ´we´re having an exchange tomorrow.  Elder Evans is coming over here with Elder Lima´ which was abnormal.  We´d already had exchanges this transfer but I went with it anyway.  When I woke up Wednesday morning I was overwhelmed with this monsterous feeling of inadequacy, like I was the world´s words missionary and I didn´t have a prayer of ever accomplishing anything.  Then we headed out to exchanges.  Elder Lima was jubilant and thrilled to be working.  I looked at him and realized that he reminded me of, me, when I was in Kansas.  I reflected on this and at one point he told me ´you know, making contacts in the street is so hard for me, but I keep doing it.  One day I´m sure it´ll get easier´ and I realized that he had struggles just like I had, but he was still thrilled to be a missionary!  Sometimes, yeah, missionary work gets you down.  But, we´re sharing the greatest message the world has ever known!  Christ lives and He and our Father in Heaven love us SO much!  Because of that we have prophets on the earth!  How awesome is that?!?!  No greater message has graced the earth before!  The next day we had Conferência de Natal (Christmas Conference) and we watched a motivational clip about a guy named Billy Peck.  Billy lost his left arm and part of his leg in the war, but he doesn´t get down about it.  He focuses on always doing his best and fulfilling the expectations of his leaders.  As I considered this the thought came to mind (yep, I´m thinking the Spirirt) ´Am I living up to my best, what the Lord expects?  Or am I creating a higher standard than the Lord expects?´ Essentially, the film was exactly what I needed as well as the exchange.  Basically, the word of the week is that the Lord loves us.  Because of that, sometimes he gives us what we need, even before we realize we need it.  I love the Lord and He loves me.  More important, he loves each one of you more than you can ever comprehend!  Even better, he is ALWAYS looking out for us.  Just call him whenever you need something.  His prayer line is always open :)

Feliz Natal!

Elder Evans

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pennies (centavos) from Heaven

Oi familia!

Fun fact! They don´t have pennies down here!  Well, all of their coinage is called centavos, but they don´t have 1 centavo coins.  They have 5s, 10s, 25s, 50s, and 1 real (pronounced hey-al) coins.  But anyway, this actually has significance.  I´ll explain later.

I hope the challenge went well this week.  It´s been reminding me to be more charitable this whole week and has brought back many good, happy memories of grandma. Another thing that helped was the talk Sunday Will Come by Elder Wirthlin.  It was given at the OCtober 2006 general conference.  Elder Weaver showed it to me when I was in Kansas and since then I found the Ensign with it in my apartment.  Tender mercy?  Absolutely.  I discovered that we have some amazing old conference Enisgns in the apartment (yeah, Ensigns, not Liahonas, so they´re actually in English) and they´ve been a major blessing and tender mercy. 

Anyway, centavos from heaven.  In the movie Elf (which Brazilians know nothing about, sadly) when Buddy first goes to New York there´s a great little jazz ditty playing in the background called ´Pennies from Heaven´ and it talks about how when it rains we can find our fortune falling all over town.  Buddy proceeds to have a blast with all the new things he finds about New York.  Revlolving doors, gum, free flyers, the world´s best coffee, etc.  Well, I imagine he was quite aprehensive about first going, but he went there filled with faith that he would find his dad and everything would be hunky dory. Well, I had a similar experience.  This week we did two exchanges.  The second of the two was quite eventful.  I was paired with Elder Rector.  Elder Rector is a great guy who is from Arizona.  He entered the CTM (in Brazil.  Apparently a few Americans get their visas straight off.  Not common, but it happens) in October and we came to Missão Brasil Fortaleza on the same day. LSS, (long story short) he has the same amount of field experience in Brazil that I do.  Neither of us can communicate super well. But, I had faith that the Lord would help us out. Anyway, I picked up Elder Rector and we headed to lunch at a members house.  After some advetures in finding the house, we went in and sat down.  They began talking to us and miraculously, I could understand them.  I was blown away.  Then, the next thing I knew, I was able to respond! It was amazing. The rest of the day proceeded the same way.  Suddenly, when I was challenged, I wasn´t afraid to open up and share with these people.  When I did open my mouth, the Lord filled me with words, conjugations, and vocabulary.  When I didn´t have the words, the natives helped me (Brazilians are so nice :)), and we made it through the day!  At the end of the day, we went to make a visit to a family we´re teaching, Aluizo + Redilane.  Redilane (hedge-ee-lan-ee) was baptized about 16 years ago when she was 9 with her family.  She doesn´t have much of a testimony of the gospel and really knows nothing about the church.  Aluizo is her husband who is not a member.  Elder Rector and I went over and reviewed the Restoration with them.  I asked Elder Rector to share the Joseph Smith story and he still struggled, but it was amazing.  As he was speaking, especially with the story of the First Vision, the Spirit intensified gradually until the room felt like it was on fire.  Seriously, I´ve had some pretty awesome experiences before, but I think that was one of the most powerful moments in my life.  Elder Rector bore simple testimony at the end and we asked them ´So what do you think?  Do you think that God would call another prophet?´ and they said ´Well of course.  God has always worked through prophets, why would he not call another one in our day?´and on.  At the end Redilane gave the closing prayer and it was so powerful.  She asked for God to reveal the truthfulness of the message to her and her family if this really is the church of Jesus Christ on the earth once more.  Wow.  We left and Elder Rector said ´Wow, that was amazing.  I´ve never had a lesson that good before.  And now I know that the gift of tongues is real´ Yeah it is.  So, that was our day.  And the whole day I felt like I was recieving pennies from heaven.  A prompting here.  A word there.  A conjugation here.  A little more faith there. 

I know that I have been called of God to share this message with the world.  I know that I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I know, without a doubt, that the Book of Mormon is TRUE!  I invite you, along with President Eyering, to ´drink deeply from it´s pages every single day´.  Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and restored the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth.  Thomas S. Monson is his rightful successor today and I know this message is true.  

Vos amo!

Elder Evans

P.S.  The computer said I´ve spelled everything wrong EXCEPT my testimony.  Penny from heaven?  You know it :)

More pictures!  The first is Guilherme´s family.  He was the only one baptized. His aunt can´t be baptized because she isn´t married.  Yet...  His dad doesn´t live in our area.  First time we met
Second, us with Guilherme´s family
Third, Guilherme and Elder Lima (Zone Leader.  Guilherme wanted him to baptize him)
Fourth, us and the chilluns

Monday, December 2, 2013


from our baptism last week.  I seem to always forget my camera when I go to baptisms (I don´t carry it on my person at all times here like I did in Kansas.  Kind of a different environment) so these are from my companion´s camera.  I´ll send the past baptismal pictures later.

There Is Sunshine...

Oi familia!

Well, this week has been very interesting, to say the least.  I´ve learned a lot, and in turn I´ve grown a lot. I´ve seen a multitude of miracles pour out of my own mouth and I´ve been able to see the power of concecration in my life. 

The last e-mail I seem to recall mentioning something about how I missed Kansas terribly.  Well, to be real, I was beyond missing it terribly.  I wanted to go back.  I was seriously considering calling President Souza and asking if I could return.  I was seeking for some consolation or comfort or something to help me understand what was going on.  My companion and I returned to the apartment and he went to take a nap.  I chose to remain awake and study a little, trying to understand why I was so down on Brazil and why I wanted to return to the US so bad.  I was seeking guidance in the conference Ensign and felt to go back to my place in the Saturday Morning session and begin reading.  I read ´Do we know what we have´ by Sister Stevens, but I still felt nothing.  I continued onward to Edward Dube´s talk `Look Ahead and Belive` and the Spirit filled me. ´Look Ahead and Believe´ begins with an experience Elder Dube had when he was a child how his mother told him he must always continue looking forward, not back.  The talk continues to describe how we need to look back and learn from the past, but not live in it.  The Spirit testified very strongly that I had fulfilled my purpose in Kansas, that I was in Brazil now, and I have a work to do.  I had turned inward and focused on myself and the fact that was struggling but ignored that there are people here who are strugging as well.  The difference?  I´m here to help these people who are struggling.  I have the gospel, and these people need it.  I was focusing far to much on my own desires rather than how I could help these people.  I turned my head down in prayer and asked for forgivenes from our Father with a solemn promise that I would dedicate myself 100% to the work of salvation.  We went out that night and instead of sitting tight-lipped afraid to say anything, I opened my mouth, and suddenly I was able to speak freely.  I wasn´t concerned if these people thought I sounded uneducated and like I can´t speak Portuguese.  I have a message, and I needed to share it.  Many times this past week I´ve had to overcome fears and open my mouth, despite every time the natural man said that I shouldn´t do it.  It has been amazing to see the miracles that have come as the Spirit has filled my mouth in times of need.  At times, when I understand what I need to say, the Spirit strengthens me to be able to say it, but there have been amazing times when I´ve had out of body experiences when I´ve realized I´ve been talking, but it wasn´t me.  It was the Spirit. Truly amazing blessings.  This is the Lord´s work.  In addition, we had some amazing lessons this week, where the Spirit filled my mouth and cleared my mind. We´ve seen miracles in so many ways.  Lessons, baptisms, investigators, and some far more simple.  A word here.  A word there.  A powerful scripture in personal study.  A feeling of love from the Spirit.  Truly even in ´The Valley of the Shadow of Death´ there are sparks of sunshine to light the way.  What a blessing.

Now, on a more serious matter, Grandma has been weighing on my mind heavily lately.  Her passing has been difficult for all of us, I know.  In addition, yes, this will be the first Christmas without her.  As I mentioned in my remarks with her death, Grandma was truly an exaple of charity at all times and was always giving of herself.  So, I wish to offer us a Christmas challenge.  From when you read this e-mail until Christmas, I want each of us to do a charitable act each day.  It doesn´t have to be anything big, just a little something to help someone else out each and every day between now and Christmas as a way to remember Grandma.  As we do this, I feel to promise that as Malichi said ´the windows of heaven will open and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to recieve it´.  Though I don´t know what the blessings will be, I know they will be real.  I love Grandma and at times I miss her more than I can believe, as I know many of you do as well.  But, as I once told Sister Noland (awesome less-active lady in Wellington) I think the Lord takes people from us so we can remember what they would do, so we can follow their example.  May we ever be filled with the Spirit of Charity that Grandma always exemplified is my hope and prayer.

Vós amo!  

Elder Evans

Fotos de seu Primeiro Dia

Pictures of my first few hours in Brazil.  The first is of me with President and Sister Souza.  The second is of all the americans that got their visas.  Murica!