So, first week with Élder Muniz was awesome. We´re working super hard every day and it´s going well. He´s from São Paulo but speaks English fluently. It´s funny when he says things in enlish because it catches me so off guard but it´s always something funny so I end up laughing too. Attached is a photo with the two of us, and yes, I´m still white as can be. You would think that after a year in the Brazilian sun something would have changed. No such luck.
But the cool experience of the week was with a guy named Anderson. Though the week was full of effective work, the Lord is trying us to see how strong our faith really is. Our area is known for being a little tough (little isn´t an exageration, it´s smaller than our ward back home) but we´re working super hard. One day we were doing contacts after a few days of rough work and we knocked on a door seeking after a referal. We knocked to find a woman that wasn´t the person we were looking after. We talked to her for a little and during the conversation she asked "Would you two like to come in and share a message with my husband and I?" Score! Her husband was asleep at the moment, so we set a return appointment. We explained the importance of the Restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. They even thought it was interesting, though he refused to pray to know if it was true. He demanded that we prove our message was true. Then Élder Muniz said something extraordinary. "The only person that can convince you that what we´re saying is true is you. We´re here to invite you to find out for yourself if this is true. I have prayed and I know that what we are speaking is true for myself because God answered me. I have never been more sure about anything in my entire life. I´m not here to preach this message because my mom told me to, I´m here because God told me to." It was a super powerful moment and I left thinking "How can I obtain conviction like that?"
The next day I was reading in the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. I had landed on Chapter 12 that particular day which is Moroni´s explination of faith. I was especially touched by verse 6 when Moroni begins:
I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. (Ether 12:6)
I realized that faith needs to be tested in order to be strengthened. Though what he had said to us had shaken me a little, I returned to the fight with a stronger and stronger testimony. In swimming we don´t know how good we are until we are in the race. In the gospel it is the same message. We don´t know how strong our testimony is until we are put to the test. What´s more the Lord will reward us according to our faith like he did with the Brother of Jared:
For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin,Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith (Ether 12:30)
What power our faith can have! But, we need to show our faith before the miracle will come. This chapter explains that it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto the people of ancient america (Ether 12:7). Why is this important? Well, I´ve never seen Christ. Therefore, I walk by faith. Sure, there are a few hundred years of archeological evidence that the Book of Mormon is true, but that doesn´t develop trust in our Father in Heaven. What I know to be true I know because I prayed and I received an answer from the Holy Ghost and no one can take that away from me. Historical facts may fail. The persuasions of men will not always win. But the witness from the Holy Ghost is something that will never be taken away if we continue to nourish and grow it (Alma 32:42).
I know the gospel is true. Not because anyone told me. But because God answered me.
Até o próximo queridos amigos e familiares
P.S. The other photo is from Sheisla´s baptism. From left to right: Élder Espinal, Irmã Bia, Sheisla, Me
In front: Letícia (Irmã Bia´s daughter)