Monday, February 24, 2014

Atitude de Gratidão (Atitude of Gratitude)

Oi família!

Well, this week was fun.  After our wildly successful week last week the Lord saw fit to try us a little bit.  But, it all worked out for the good and we actually had a pretty good week, all things considered.  Sadly, our family of 5 didn´t get baptized.  But, fear not, we re-invited them last night and they committed!  They´re still unsure of a date (yeah, not something I like either) because the Dad has to go to Receife for work for a little bit and they want to wait until he comes home. On the bright side, about half the ward is going there next week for Carnival and during this time the Bishop´s wife is going to try and visit the family and take them to the temple grounds.  Sure, they can´t go in, but maybe this will motivate them to do so one day.  They really are an amazing family.  The Lord blessed us bountifully to get that referal.  On another happy note, Aluizio received the priesthood this week and has been called as the first counselor in the Sunday School Presidency.  Ah.  Felicidade.

And this brings me to the topic of the day: Gratitude.  Like I said, this week was decently difficult.  We had a number of appointments fall through, and sadly, some of them were people I really wanted to see.  I want to see all of our appointments, but you know those ones that you think "yes, future bishop here" and then those ones fall through?  Yeah, triste de mais. And this was the feeling.  As we were doing weekly planning I thought about the mound of things that we needed to do, the huge number of people we needed to see and in general I felt inadequate.  I had no idea what to do and I was in desperate need of help.  For a few days I had felt the Spirit tell me that I needed to fast during this day in particular.  Though I had no idea why, I figure the fast was so we could overcome the hesitance of the family and baptize them this week.  But, as I pondered as I prepared to start my fast, the Spirit whispered "fast in gratitude."  Gratitude?  You´ve got to be kidding me.  I was shocked.  With everything that I needed at that time and the blessings that I deperately wanted for Joaquim, Eliane, and their children, and the Lord wanted me to fast in gratitude?  But I pondered on that and said "you know, alright.  Yeah, I´m desperate for blessings right now.  But I trust the Lord" so I began my fast.  It was simple just "Father, I feel the need to fast.  So, I fast in gratitude for all of my many blessings" and we hit the street.  I can´t say that we had the Red Sea part or that we found a family of 25 ready for the gospel, but I saw a number of miracles that day.  I´m living in a foreign country with the oportunity to share the greatest message in the world with people.  Yeah, I´m a really long way from my family, but at the same time I always carry a piece of them with me on my nametag. As we were walking away from another appointment, I saw a vine covered in beautiful little yellow flowers and I noticed the beauty of the world around me that the Lord has created for each one of us.  And this was what happened throughout the day.  I noticed and saw tons of mini miracles that were swirling all around me.  But, I never saw them before because I wasn´t looking.  Sure, there´s plenty of things in the world (and especially as a missionary) that are out there to try and bring us down.  To make us focus on ourselves and our problems and why everything is terrible.  But at the same time, there is so much good to be found as well.  Our families, the scriptures, the gospel, the church, all of these amazing blessings have been given to us.  We have modern technology that allows us to talk with people that are literally on the other side of the world almost instantaneously.  We have ice cream.  We have Oreos. We have living prophets that speak with Jesus Christ that lead the church today.  Most important, we have the Atonement of Jesus Christ to aid us with every single thing that could ever go wrong in our lives.  Sin, taken care of.  Mistakes, mended.  Sadness, consoled.  Inadequacy, fulfilled.  Yeah, there´s a lot of bad out there.  But remember, Jesus Christ overcame all of that for us.  So, the next time you´re having a bad day, look for the good.  Pray specifically to find something good and I promise that if you open your eyes and look, the tender mercies of the Lord will be made manifest all around you.  Because as we learn in 1 Nephi 1:20 "the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen because of their faith."  I won´t lie, a gratitude fast took a lot of faith, but it was something that I´ll never be able to forget.

Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, February 17, 2014

Semana de Milagres (Week of Miracles) - Messengers of the Lord

Oi família!

Well, there have definitely been things this week that have tried my ability to laugh, but I´ve tried to keep to it.  Like I said last week, we´re all going to face challenges and tests in life.  I won´t lie, the mission is a grand test.  Trevor described it to me once as "The refiner´s fire on steroids (or something to that effect)" but there are still amazing things happening every single day when we search for them.  So, review last week´s letter.  I throughouly enjoyed that talk.  And that´s the news for the week.


So, to say we had some awesome experiences last week is an understatement.  To be real, it was an awesome week, even with it´s difficulties.  Much like the e-mail from a few weeks ago instead of one grand experience I would just like to relate a number of mini miracles that happened that I particularly loved.

Aluizio was confirmed yesterday!  I was able to stand in the circle as he was confirmed and the Spirit that was felt was marvelous.  I can´t really describe it in words.  But what happened before was even better.  Last Monday we had a mini party at his sister-in-law´s house with happiness and Elder Tribino and I left the message of the night.  We talked about eternal families and the power of the temple in our lives.  Aluizio and Regylani are so excited to go to the temple and be sealed as an eternal family.  We visited them during the week and talked about Enduring to the End and that was a great visit as well.  They have other relatives that have fallen away as well during the past few years and we´ll be visiting them this week.  But the best part was yesterday during the Gospel Principles class.  There Regylani made the comment that they we´re experiencing some hard times and challenges during their lives and they were unsure of what to do.  Then, we showed up.  She said that we were truly sent from God.  Wow.  Emotion time.  I don´t cry much, even as a missionary, but that one hit home.  Changing lives.

Joaquim, Eliane, and sons
Joaquim, Eliane, Tailon, Joaquim Jr. and Thynã are a family we´ve been teaching that was a referral from a member in the ward.  They´re awesome!  All of them are on date for baptism this coming Sunday.  Thynã has already started doing seminary and he´s reading the Book of Mormon faster than his entire family combined.  Joaquim (father) generally has to work on Sundays but yesterday we prayed that they could come to church as a family and the Lord granted our request.  Miracle. All of the children are willing and want to be baptized. Miracle. Then yesterday after church Joaquim said "We felt like our faith was weakening and then all of a sudden, you guys showed up in our lives."  Miracle.

The Rest of the Week
This whole week in general was a blessing.  We´ve been blessed to teach a large group of people, and we´ve found a large number of new people who are actually interested. We´ve been blessed to find many new ways to teach effectivey and one of the greatest blessings in general is that Elder Tribino and I have start working together like never before. He´s such an awesome missionary and I´m learning new things from him every single day.  I know the Lord put him in my life for a reason and I can´t wait to see more miracles.

Wellington Ward
Remember the Wellington Ward where I served in Kansas?  Elder Weaver recently e-mailed me to say that they were able to really get the work moving after we left.  The ward is becoming more unified and the missionaries have been blessed with more refferals.  Sure, I´m not there anymore, but I left part of my heart in Kansas and I´m just happy to know I helped start a new era for them.

I guess my message for the day is that we´re always exactly where we need to be.  Aluizio and Regylani.  Joaquim, Eliane, and family.  Other investigators.  My dear beloved Wellington Ward.  Whether we serve with a nametag or not, the Lord has placed us in specific locations for specific purposes.  We just need to look.  I can promise each of you (and remember, as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ my promises are always valid) that if you look this week, you will see miracles.  You will find someone to help.  You will be able to help someone com closer to Jesus Christ.  Yes, you may have to look, and look, and look harder.  But, miracles never come without faith, and faith is a principle of action.

Até mais!  Vos amo com todo de meu coração.  Certamente O Senhor nos abençoa em grande maneiras todos os dias.

Elder Evans

Monday, February 10, 2014

BATISMO!!! (that´s Portuguese for Baptism)

Oi família!

Well, I´ve got good news, and I´ve got good news.  Guess who got baptized?  ALUIZIO!!!!!  Practically two months and now he glady entered the waters of baptism and covenanted with our Father in Heaven to take upon him the name of Jesus Christ for the rest of his life.  It was absolutely amazing to see how everything came together and the Spirit that was felt.  I truly learned in a very powerful way about the promise of the Lord in Doctrine & Covenants 18:15 that if we sould labor all our days and bring but one soul, how great shall be our joy.  Sure, I´ve had the opportunity of baptizing about 10 people, but still, Aluizio was something special.  To be able to see a family united under the gospel as they prepare one day to become an eternal family is something I will never forget.  I´ll try to send pictures soon.  Our initial plans for computer usage today kind of fell through so I don´t actually have my camera with me right now.  But, I have pictures, and they´re marvelous.

Truly the Lord has blessed us a ton this week.  In general, I´m learning a lot about positivity and being able to laugh and not take things so seriously.  We had a decent week.  It was one of those weeks on the mission where you have things happen that you´ll never forget and when things happen that you can´t wait to forget.  We had a number of appointments fall through and a number of plans drop as well.  But I´ve learned well to take council from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin in a talk he gave a number of years ago called "Come What May and Love It".  In this particular talk Elder Wirthlin gives suggestions for the things we can do to face adversity and difficulties in life while still remaining happy and upbeat.  He gives four suggestions in particular:
1) Learn to Laugh
2) Seek for the Eternal
3) The Principle of Compensation
4) Trust in the Father and the Son
Although this week has had it´s ups and downs, I really focused on the firt suggestion this week, Learn to Laugh.  I´m pretty sure that in the course of my doing this, Elder Tribino thinks I´m crazy, but it´s been amazing at the results.  I don´t come home at the end of the day mad thinking "Ah what a waste of a day" instead my thoughts have become "Well, we did everything we could."  Sure, our days aren´t perfect but I´m truly learning the power of positivity.  Missionary work sure isn´t easy (shocker) but Trev once wrote me and finished the e-mail with "Be happy because Jesus would´ve been" and that´s the truth.  When we´re truly engaged in the cause of the Lord, with certainty we will face challenges, but just smile and laugh.  Things work out in the end.

Até mais!  Eu vos amo!

Elder Evans

Monday, February 3, 2014

O Livro de Mórmon - Outro Testamento de Jesus Cristo

Oi família!

Well, to put it simply, this week was the worlds biggest emotional roller coaster.  We had some absolutely amazing miracles, and some other really depressing things happen.  One way or another it´s been an amazing week that I´ll never forget.

In short on the miracles:
Aluizo was marked for baptism this Sunday!  He´s thrilled for it, along with his whole family. I can´t even begin to describe how amazing the lesson was that we had with him when we invited him to baptism.  Long story short, his wife asked him why he wanted to be baptized and he bore a very simple but powerful testimony.  So wonderful.  Pictures to follow.

We received a referral for a friend that a member brought to church.  We visited them and invited the whole family to hear the message.  The result?  5 new investigators (parents and the 3 sons) ALL of which have an extreme interest in the gospel.  Every single one of them has an amazing desire to know if this really is true and the youngest son Tynã, basically bore his testimony about the church yesterday when we went over to visit.

But to be real, these are only just pieces of much larger experiences.  What really ended up happening with Aluizo and with the family were a series of very powerful events.  When I get home, I´ll tell you all about them.  But as I contemplated what to write to you all about, the Spirit spoke to me about another powerful experience that I had this week with Elder Tribino.  Because he´s sitll new, we have training every day after Companionship Study where we follow a basic 12 week program as constructed by The Bretheren.  This past week focused on the Book of Mormon and the role that it has in our conversion.  We read in Chapter 5 of Preach My Gospel about this marvelous treasure.  As we read a powerful Spirit filled the room and testified to both of us of the truthfullness and the importance of The Book of Mormon.  I contemplated this more during the week and then we had training on Saturday about "Revelation through the Book of Mormon."  As we studied we learned of the power of The Book of Mormon in our own lives and also in our own personal conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we considered our own conversion, we continued on into the conversion of our investigators.  As we studied in greater depth the Spirit whispered something to me I don´t think I´ll ever forget.  Simply put, the reason we haven´t seen the success we wanted to, the reason we´ve had fewer baptisms than we would like, the reason for the lack of anything we´re striving for is because we aren´t focusing enough on the Book of Mormon.  I then remembered a quote from Elder Wirthlin that we find in Preach My Gospel “Please do not take the Book of Mormon for granted. Pray for a vision of how the Book of Mormon can be used more effectively in your mission. I promise that as you do so, your mind will be enlightened with the direction that you should take."  So, we fasted for a way to use the Book of Mormon more.  Essentially, what I felt is that the Book of Mormon needs to be the centerpoint of EVERYTHINNG we do.  Not just during Lesson 1 when we want the investigator to read more.  Not just to show them Môroni 10:3-5 and promise an answer. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, and should be used as such.  The first thing we learn about the Book of Mormon on the title page is that the purpose of the book is to convince everyone that "Jesus is the Christ". In the introduction to the Book and as well in Preach My Gospel we learn the same thing.  Our purpose here is to show everyone that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.  But, the Book of Mormon does more than that.  It testifies that Jesus Christ lives, and He is not silent.  He speaks today still, through a living prophet.  The Book of Mormon proves that "the holy scriptures are true and that God does inspire men and call them to His work in this generation as well as in generations of old (D&C 20:11)."  I imagine that the Lord still has grand things to show me rearding the Book of Mormon. Because of what we know of the power and divinity of this marvelous work we know that we could spend lifetimes studying the Book of Mormon and still not learn everything there is to learn, but I wish to close with my testimony of this Book.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  The reason I am serving a mission today is because of the Book of Mormon.  I´ve read it, and reread it, and read it again, and every single time the Lord has revealed to me that it is true.  The blessings that are available by means of this book are grand and impossible to describe.  The Lord will bless us in every single aspect of our lives the instant we begin to study this inspired work.  I know without a doubt that there are still grand miracles in store for me as a missionary, and I now know, that the Book of Mormon is the key to those miracles.  So, my invitation to each of you is to read the Book of Mormon.  But more than that, treasure the Book of Mormon.  Make sure that every single day you are reading and seeking, and searching, and applying the teachings written therein.  Truly, there is an undenaiable power in this Book, that I can´t wait to share with the lovely people in the Brasil.

Vos amo!

Elder Evans

Now, I did not sail with the brother of Jared in crossing an ocean, settling in a new world. I did not hear King Benjamin speak his angelically delivered sermon. I did not proselyte with Alma and Amulek nor witness the fiery death of innocent believers. I was not among the Nephite crowd who touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord, nor did I weep with Mormon and Moroni over the destruction of an entire civilization. But my testimony of this record and the peace it brings to the human heart is as binding and unequivocal as was theirs. Like them, “[I] give [my name] unto the world, to witness unto the world that which [I] have seen.” And like them, “[I] lie not, God bearing witness of it.  - Elder Jeffery R. Holland