Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wait..... what?!?!?

Oi família!

So, first a big shout out to Trev and Kenz on getting hitched eternally!  WOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!  The blessings of the Restoration are real and alive! Parabéns!

Things are hot here in Brazil.  We had a little bit of a scare this week but it was followed by a super awesome miracle.  So, I´ve already talked a little bit about Sheisla, who we met a few weeks ago. She´s from another city in Ceará but she´s living here for a while to do a surgery and maybe do college later.  Well, things have been going super well with her.  She was preparing to be baptized this week.  Then we showed up Monday night to walk to Family Night with her, and her aunt answered the door and said "She´s going back home and won´t be returning here until December."  My heart dropped.  She was going so well, and suddenly it was over.  So, we worked Tuesday and Wednesday normally.  Thursday morning we called our ward mission leader to see if we had the integration activity.  He responded that we did and that Sheisla would be there.  Sure enough, it didn´t work out that she went home and she was as firm and steadfast as ever.  We made an apointment to pass by on Friday.

We passed by with a member of the ward, Irmão Wandenberg.  He´s one of those members that´s just awesome.  He takes whatever chances the Lord gives him and just runs with it.  As we were talking with Sheisla she was talking about her thoughts and feelings about what we had been sharing.  She began sharing her doubts and her feelings about baptism in another church and what that could mean for her.  Then Wandenberg spoke up and explained about his baptism.  He began explaining how when he was 12 he had many of the same doubts that Sheisla has been having.  But explained that after his baptism he felt absolutely amazing, like he wanted to get up and proclaim to the whole world that this was the only true church of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Then Sheisla began to talk.  She explained how testimonies and conversations from members had been answers to her prayers. She said that she had received so many answers to her doubts in the scriptures.  The she said that when we said "this is the true church on the earth" she was shocked.  The she said something that I will never forget.
Sheisla: "This is the true church.  Joseph Smith was a prophet.  Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today.  This church has the authority to baptize"
Along with a few other things.  It was a super intense lesson.  She explained how much she loved every meeting, every activity, and that every time she calls home, she talks about the amazing things she´s learning in church! It was amazing.  She´ll be getting baptized during conference on Sunday.  She is so prepared.

So, the church is true.  I hope you all are pumped for conference, cuz I sure am.  It´s going to be awesome.  Where else will you find talks given by true and living prophets? Only in the true church of Jesus Christ.

Amo todos de vocês.  Fiquem firmes

Élder Evans

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bread Brings Miracles

Oi família!

First of all, big shout out to Trev and Kenz for getting hitched this week!!! Congrats for the awesome decision to be sealed eternally in The House of the Lord!  I would love to be there, but we´ll try to help other people become eternal families that day too.  I´m so excited for this amazing oportunity you will have to begin your own eternal family and help bring more and more of Heavenly Father´s children back home.

But, this week we had a cool experience.  A few nights a week we pass by this bakery to buy little breads, cookies and things because we don´t eat dinner until after we get home.  It´s cheap and it´s good.  Here in Brazil they have this cookie/bread deal called "Mariamaluca" (or something to that effect)  that is like a cookie (more or less) that has coconut.  I really like it.  Anyway, we pass by there ocasionally and the same woman is working there every single day. I had always thought "Maybe we should contact her..." but I don´t generally like to contact people while they´re working.  But one day she said to me "So, you two just go around the whole day preaching the word of God?" and I "Yes.  Have you already spoken with other missionaries?"  She explained that her daughters had but she personally hadn´t before.  We marked a day to visit Adriana and headed out to eat.

Fast forward to yesterday, which was when we had marked down to talk with here.  We  arrived at her house to find her distraught.  We entered and she began explaining everything that had been going wrong.  She began to explain about her family problems and the sadness she was feeling and how she had no idea what she could do to overcome these problems.  As she was talking I remembered the explerience I had with Clayton (see experience from May) and how what we taught resolved his problem.  Before I could say anything, Élder Espinal began talking about how God has prepared a means that our families can be happier by means of prophets.  We began teaching and everything that we taught just clicked with her.  As we explained prophets she began to light up and see hope for her torn family situation.  She recognized that a true prophet of God would be able to help her family have more peace and happiness.  Then we began explaining about how Jesus Christ as a prophet, organized His church during his earthly ministrty.  We began to ask her a few things about her thoughts about our message.  She agreed that if she found this church that Christ had organized, she would follow it.  Then she asked the question that every missionary wants to hear: "But, how can I find this church today?  There are so many!"  Perfect.  We explained the Restoration and she loved the message.  It was so fantastic to see how she went from seemingly hopeless at the beginning of the lesson to almost literally full of light at the end.  She loved the lesson and said that she would pray to know if it was true before we even invited her!  Then she closed the lesson with a prayer and said "Thank you Lord for sending these angels to help me when I needed it and help me to know that what they said is true..." it was an amazing experience.  

So, the gospel brings miracles into people´s lives.  Even in the simple form of bread.

Amo vocês!

Élder Evans

Monday, September 15, 2014

É tão simples... (It´s so simple...)

Oi família!

WOW!!! This week was AWESOME!!!  Like any week of missionary work, it was ups and downs, but it was all a good time.   We had some awesome lessons and some awesome experiences.  I gave a talk in church yesterday about inviting our friends and family members to hear about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ through the church, family nights, integration nights, and other cool stuff like that.  Some of the ward members seemed excited so I´m happy.  We´re really trying to get the missionary work going in this ward.  It´s a really small ward (geographically and numbers-wise) and we´re trying to take advantage of that and make some miracles happen.  In general, I´m pumped to be here.

But, the experience of the week was cool.  One of the missionaries in our house has been sick for a while and his companion was getting some cabin fever.  So, we´ve been doing in-house exchanges for a little while to give Élder K.Oliveira some breathing room.  I was out working with him on one of these days.  It was hot and everything that we were trying fell through.  As we were walking along a street, I happened to look up and see a woman in the window of a house.  We said hi and passed by.  As soon as we passed the house I felt the Spirit say "Go back"  So, what could I do?  We went back.  We introduced ourselves and asked if we could share a message with them about Jesus Christ.  They let us in and we began teaching.  We met two cousins, Elídina and James.  James was a little less open to the message than Elídina, but that´s what was so interesting.  James has a bachelors degree in Philosophy, so he´s decently well-trained in twisting your words and quetions around to confuse you.  He kept asking us these seemingly complicated questions to try and confuse us and see if we honestly knew what we were saying.  What impressed me is that with each question, a simple tesimony was enough to answer his complex questioning.  It was so impressive to me that everything we do, everything we have as church members is so simple in nature that even a child can understand the doctrines necesary for salvation.  The Spirit testified well in that lesson and I was very thrilled with the oportunity I had to teach them. 

I know that the gospel is true because it is simple.  The message we bear is an amazing message, because it helps each and every person regardless of prior education.  The gospel is simple.  Jesus Christ is our Savior.  He restored His gospel through the prophet Jospeh Smith.  This is His work.  I am His representative.

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, September 8, 2014

Werd... The Scriptures are COOL!

Oi família!

Well, Élder Feliz is feliz this week.  It wasn´t exactly one of those weeks where you have huge numbers to report to the mission office, but it was a rewarding week.  For the first time in my life I talked to a Jew!  Okay, I met one jew once in Salt Lake, but beyond that I had never met one before.  We had Leadership Council on Thursday and afterwards my companion and I went to Burger King for lunch.  Not my number one choice, but afterwards I saw why it was inspired.  We walked in and I saw this guy wearing a yamika (?) and I thought "Wow, I always wanted to talk with a Jew before" and as we were waiting for our food he called me over and started talking with me.  He told me how a Mormon had saved his life and how he was eternally grateful to him for that.  Then he told us what a good influence this membr of the church had had on him and that according to all of the research he had done, the Book of Mormon has to be true. He said "It's simply too perfect.  Everything fits."  It was a super inspiring discussion that I´m super simplifying, but it was awesome.

But the experience of the week was with Sheisla again.  We taught her this week about baptism and the need for proper preisthood authority and she spent the week praying and seeking an answer if she should be baptized.  We arrived one day and she began explaining to us what she had been receiving as answers.  Generally, she prays, asks for an answer, and then opens the Bible.  She said that one day she had been praying and she began to cry.  She had the most amazing feeling as if she was been hugged super tight by our Father in Heaven and that he had aliviated all of her suffering and sadness.  Of course that was an answer to her prayer, but how could I explain that?  As soon as I had this thought a scripture came to mind, Matthew 11:28-30.  We read it together.  "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy leaden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowley in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" and she agreed that that was exactly how she felt.  It was soooo awesome to feel so guided.  We explained that when we are baptized we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ using Mosiah 18:10 and explained that she could feel the same aliviation and relief she had felt by being baptzied.  She said she would pray one more time and ask, but that she was feeling that she should.  It was an amazing lesson.  The next day, she said she would be baptzied!  So, we´re preping her this week and praying that this week will work out! It´s been an amazing journey.

I love being a missionary.  I know this is the Lord´s work.  He´s watching over us.

Até o próximo

Élder Evans

Monday, September 1, 2014

Élder Feliz (Elder Happy)

Oi família!

Things are going good here in the Conjunto Ceará 3 Ward.  It´s a small ward, but a good ward.  Yesterday everyone began to know me as "Élder Feliz" which is Portuguese for "Élder Happy".  We had lunch yesterday with a member and the food and everything was so good.  I told her "Sister, this food is amazing, the drinks are awesome, I´m loving this ward..." and things of that nature.  As it turned out, this sister was also one of the speakers in church that afternoon and she talked about gratitude.  She talked about how I was so happy and grateful for everything and called me "Élder Feliz" while she was speaking because she still hasn´t learned my name.  So now everyone knows me as "Élder Feliz". 

That wasn´t the experience of the week, but I thought it was cool.  But, this week we´ve had some super cool experiences already.  Our area is super small (more or less the size of our ward back home, if not maybe a little bigger) but we´re seeing some amazing things happen.  One of the things was a young woman we met named Sheisla.  She lives in the interior of Ceará, about 8 hours from Fortaleza, but she´s in Fortaleza to do a surgery, so she´ll be staying with her aunt for a little bit.  We talked with her one day on the street and we marked an appointment to return Sunday morning before lunch.  We headed out to teach her and I was excited.  Appointments before lunch are generally a little sketchy because people tend to be super busy making lunch (it´s a super big deal here) but we showed up and there she was.  Even better, she was excited to hear what we would explain.  We began explaining about the church and what it means to us and what it could mean to her.  She had some amazing comments about Jesus Christ and what He did for each of us. I was amazed to see the absolute love and admiration she has for our Lord and Savior.  She understood everything and the Spirit was super strong.  At the end of the lesson we invited her to pray about what she had heard and she said, "You know, there are some things you can just feel.  The whole time that you two have been speaking I´ve just felt the Spirit like a hammer saying 'It´s true, it´s true'"  Wow.  She agreed to pray and then we invited her to come to church with us that afternoon.  She wasn´t sure if she could, but said she would try.  We passed by later that afternoon to see if she would come and she said "Yes.  I already went and talked with Brother Lisboa (who she has never met) and he´ll give me a ride with his family.  Can my cousin come too?"  She came to church and loved it!  I´m super pumped to see her progress in the gospel.  But as we were walking we began to think about that.  We met here on Thursday night and made an appointment for Sunday morning.  Sunday morning two American strangers told her that our Father in Heaven has called a prophet once again on the earth and that she should visit the church with us.  She went and talked with a member she has never met to get a ride to a church she has never seen in a neighborhood she doesn´t know.  How amazing is that?!?  Élder Espinal and I were amazed by her faith.  It was a true testimony builder to me to see how powerful the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ really is.  It´s amazing to see how the Spirit is able to mold and shape people´s hearts so that they can see the importance of the message, even before they know it completely.  I´m soo grateful for the opportunity I have to teach people this miraculous message.

But seriously, with all of this happening, what reason do I have to not be happy?

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo.

Élder (Feliz) Evans

P.S.  This Sunday is Brasil´s Independance Day.  Who´s excited?  I´m excited.