Monday, August 25, 2014

Eu me sinto que.... (I feel that....)

Oi família!

Well, President Bonini changed the way we do transfers.  Instead of everyone meeting at the Montese Chapel, now we receive an e-mail that has all of the information to find our new area and companion.  So, I´m being transfered!  I have loved my time here in the Sumaré Ward and I´m excited to be off on another adventure.

Well, this week, I can´t say that I had any super mind-blowing experience.  But, I remembered an experience from a few weeks ago and then tie it in with what I felt this week.

A few weeks ago we were teaching a man who used to be a preist for the Catholic Church.  Eventually he decided that the life of a preist wasn´t for him and he became a pastor for an Evangelical Church.  One way or another it was an interesting lesson.  We began explaining the Restoration and he had good questions.  We responded and the spirit began to grow more intense.  As we neared the end of the lesson we mad the usual invitation of "Will you pray to know that what we taught is true?"  and he responded with the best response I´ve yet heard, "I know that what you´re teaching is true because I feel the Holy Ghost telling me it is"

Fast forward to this week.  This week, Élder Tamanho and I were seeking some new investigators.  Every single time we taught the Restoration, the Spirit whispered to me that what we were teaching was true.  It was an amazing experience.  That the church that Jesus Christ established was lost and restored was nothing new to me, as I´m sure that it isn´t to all of you.  I´ve prayed a number of times about the church and every single time, the answer is yes.  But that´s the beauty of what I saw this week.  Every single time I have prayed, every single lesson we have taught, every time someone testifies that this is the restored church of Jesus Christ the Spirit testifies. That is the beauty of the message we bear.  If it weren´t true, the Spirit wouldn´t testify.  And for the Spirit to testify only some of the time would make it partially untrue as well, because the Spirit always testifies of truth.  But, I can sit here throwing out proofs all day, but the only way to truly know is to ask of God (James 1:5).  So, I invite each of you this week to pray to know if the gospel really was restored.  Regardless of how many times you have previously done so, I know He will respond.

Our Father in Heaven lives and loves us.  Our Savior, Jesus Christ lives and has payed the price for our sins.  I know these things because I feel them in my heart in an indescribable way, much like many of you.

Amo vocês!  Amo a ala Sumaré, e sei que tudo vai ficar bem!

Élder Evans

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Restauração (The Restoration)

Oi família!

Well, things are going well.  In general I´m as happy as a clam.  It would be a lie to say that this week has been a bed of roses, though we´re working for that.  We had a number of difficulties, but we´ve also been very blessed.  We headed back to Canindé this week and once again, it was like the road to St. George.  I got to observe some awesome missionary work by the élderes in Canindé and in general, I´m thrilled with how the zone is progressing.  Being a zone leader is a taxing experience, but we´re seeing some awesome miracles.  I´m learning a bunch and we´re having an awesome time.

We´ve been having some super cool experiences with teachig over the past few days.  I remember one lesson in particular where I had the opportunity to feel the Spirit very powerfully.  I particulary felt so during one time when we were teaching the resotration to a family.  I always like to explain very carefully about the Joseph Smith story using our own surroundings to tell the story.  Here in Ceará, churches are more common than churches in Utah.  But the difference is that they´re of all sorts of denominations.  Every single one teaches something different and every single one claims to have the way back to our Heavenly Father.  So, as we explained this we put them in the moment.  We talked about how this young man, Joseph Smith was confused because of the many churches that he had seen, all claiming the authority of God, but not knowing which one was the true church that Jesus Christ had restored.  We explained how Joseph Smith turned to the Bible looking for answers and found scriptures that indicated to him the organization and structure of the church of Jesus Christ.  "One Lord, One faith, One baptism" (Ephesians 4:5)  "that upon this rock I will build my church" (Mathew 16:18) and finally "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God..." (James 1:5).  I remember keenly the feeling I had as I explained the first vision using the Prophet Joseph´s own words.  "I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.  When the light rested upon me, I saw two Personagens, whose brightness and glory defied all description standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, "This is my Beloved Son, Hear Him"" Wow.  How are you feeling right now?  As I was explaining this the Spirit filled me with the conviction that this is reality.  God and our Savior really did appear to the boy prophet Joseph and it was by him and through him that the gospel was restored.  I was filled with such profound joy and gratitude to Father in Heaven for this profound gift and I know that the investigators felt it as well.

The Book of Mormon is the proof of this in these our days.  We watched "The Restoration" with Vitória´s family (the young woman we baptized last week) and afterwards we asked her to explain how she knows that the Restoration is true.  She explained, "Well, He translated the Book of Mormon so it must be true!"  It was a very powerful moment.  The Book of Mormon is the powerful and living witness we have that these things are true.  I know that it is true and that it will help anyone "draw closer to God...than any other book"

I invite each of you to ponder on the message of the Restoration, and the profound happiness that it brings in our lives.  Think about the blessings that you all have received because of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you struggle to think of some, I invite each of you to pray and talk with Father in Heaven.  He will help you see.

Amo vocês.  Fiquem firmes!

Élder Evans

Monday, August 11, 2014

Semana de Milagres (Week of Miracles)

Oi família!

Wow.  This week was full of ups and downs and very few in-betweens.  I guess you could say that things are getting harder in the work as many of the people that were progressing lost interest and desire.  While the week was a little more sad, we had some amazing things happen with a family that we´re teaching that will be the theme of this e-mail, the Week of Miracles.

Let´s backtrack a little.  Two weeks ago, we were preparing a young girl named Vitória to be baptized.  We had initially be teaching the family, but all of them decided that they didn´t want to participate for now, except Vitória.  So, Vitória has been faithfully reading the Book of Mormon, stopped drinking coffee, and has attended church every single week for over a month.  We were talking with the family and everything was going well.  They said that Vitória could be baptized without any problem, even though they didn´t want to be at the moment.  We were so pumped.  The day of the baptismal interview, we passed by to go to the interview when the father answered the door and said "well, we´ve decided that we´re not going to let it happen anymore."  We entered and began discussing with them what was happening what they were feeling and for what motive they had suddenly denied their daughter the opportunity to be baptized.  It was a super powerful experience for me because as a missionary sometimes it´s hard to be bold and straightforward about some things.  But as we were teaching and explaining that Vitória wants to be baptized in the only church that has the authority of God, the Spirit was very strong. He testified that this was truly the way that Vitória needed to follow and that her parents needed to let her be baptized to obtain the fullness of our Father´s blessings.  One way or another, her parents decided that they would have to think about it and that we could return the next week.

That weekend, we did a fast with our zone that we could have more baptisms and that they people we´re preparing could be baptized during this month.  The day that we marked to return to speak with Vitória´s family, we (well, I) approached the door with aprehension, praying that we would have the Spirit.  We knocked and he father opened the door.  The conversation went something like this:
Us: Hey, do you have a little that we could talk to you guys some more?
José (Vitória´s father): Yes, is it about Vitória being baptized?
Us: Yep
José: We´ll allow it.  No problem.
I almost fell over backwards.  The week before had been a battle just to get a return appointment and now they would allow the baptism?  They sure did. 

This past Saturday was Vitória´s baptism.  The Spirit was so sweet as we were at the baptismal service.  The young women sang a beautiful number that filled the chapel with the Spirit.  What was even more amazing, all of Vitória´s family came to watch the baptism.  They all enjoyed it. We invited them to come to church the next day to witness the confirmation, but they all said, "I don´t know.  Probably not, but we´ll see."

The next day Élder Tamanho and I were walking to church.  We looked in front to see Rosa (yep, our recent convert) with Vitória walking to church.  I saw another woman with them too, that I though was a member that lives close to Rosa and Vitória.  Then as we got closer, I realized that it was Fransisca, Vitória´s mom!! It was awesome!  We had almost no investigators with us in chruch yesterday, but the simple fact that a mother and a daughter could be there together for that special moment was everything.  The meeting yesterday was so full of the Spirit and was very powerful.  We passed by their house afterwards and Fransisca said "one of these days I really want to stay for the classes afterwards, but if I have the courage next week that I had this week, I will go to chruch with you next week."

I´ve seen a large number of miracles on my mission.  Most of them were small, little things, like the tender mercies of the Lord.  But what I saw and witnessed this past week was nothing short of a miracle.  My God is a God of miracles.  He has never ceased to be one and will never cease to produce such wonders in our days.  As we exercise our faith, the Lord will work miracles in our lives.

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo milagres

Élder Evans

P.S. Have I already said that I love being a missionary?!?!?!?!?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Poder do Sacerdócio (Priesthood Power)

Oi família!

Well, it´s been a good week.  I guess you could say that it´s been one of those weeks that had ups and downs.  But, let´s be real, that´s life.  And especially missionary service.  I´ve been having the awesome opportunity to think a lot about our Savior and how the mission is kind of like what He went through, though in a condensed and edited version.  I truly love our Savior, Jesus Christ and each day I am so grateful to Him for His sacrifice for each of us.  It is such an honor and privelege to be his representative.

We had some awesome experiences this past week and I was truly able to see the power of the Spirit as we taught, testified, and called people to repentance.  But, what really touched me was something that I learned about the priesthood this past week.  We have a lady that does manicures and things like that here in the ward, and she also has a knack for removing ingrown toenails.  My companion, Élder Tamanho, had a toenail that was starting to become ingrown, so we headed over there Sunday to have her fix it up.  Afterwards we asked them how we could help them and serve their family and the husband said "I want a blessing.  I´ve been having migranes recently."  So, we gave him a blessing.  It was odd initially, because after I blessed him to have health and that his migrane would leave, I began blessing him with respect to his family and home.  Though I felt a little confused, I went with it and finished up the blessing.  We thanked them, said goodbye, and headed out.  Then, yesterday, lunch was at their home.  As we were finishing up, we asked them what we could do to serve their family.  They began to explain how their son was inactive and was having a number of problmes.  As they continued explaining to us what was happening, I couldn´t help but remember the blessing I had given just the week before.  I had no idea that they were experiencing family troubles.  I had no idea they were looking for extra divine help with their son.  I just felt inspired to say it.  As I´ve reflected more and more, I´m beginning to see a number of opportunities I´ve had as a missionary where the Lord has used me as a priesthood holder in ways I never thought possible.  I´ve seen and given blessings at the exact moment needed, when no one was aware it was nescessary.  No one, that is, except the Lord.  With these experiences I´ve truly seen how the Priesthood is REAL.  It is truly the power of God on earth, and the Lord has blessed me to have this power!  Think of that!  I am a bearer of the power of God!  And with it, the things I can do to bless people are amazing. 

I´m so grateful to be a member of the Lord´s only true and living church.  I know that the priesthood is real and is the power of God on earth.  What a blessing that the Lord has restored His authority once again.

Até mais!  Amo vocês!

Élder Evans