Monday, November 24, 2014

O Evangelho é Verdadeiro (The Gospel is True)

Oi família!

This week was full of unique and interesting challenges.  Now that our area includes the whole ward we´re trying to figure out when to visit our half and the half of the other élders.  Finding equilibrium between the two is interesting, but it´s working out.  We´re having some amazing things happen and we´re really seeing the hand of the Lord in our work.  We´re still facing challenges, but like Élder Holland said, "How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?"  The challenges are giving me a unique oportunity to understand even better the Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I cannot even begin to describe how my love for Him has grown because of my missionary service.  This truly is His gospel.

But because of that, His gospel must also include miracles.  It makes sense.  What was in Christ´s primative church must also be in His modern church.  We had such a miracle on Saturday.  Our zone was having some challenges in finding new people to teach and especially in baptizing.  So, we organized a zone fast to be able to reach our baptismal goal for the transfer.  As we were fasting, we passed by Neto´s house.  Neto is living with an inactive member of the church and hasn´t had much religious background in his life.  We managed to catch him at home with his wife and we began to talk.  As we discussed things, we saw that he was confused about religion.  We live in a neighborhood here that is full of churches, practically one on every corner.  He wanted to know why and which one was right.  So, we began teaching the Restoration.  It was awesome.  The Spirit was so strong.  We got to the part about Christ´s original church and explained "So, Christ established his church using the foundations, A prophet, 12 apostles, and his authority (1 Corinthians 12:28).  Without that, the rest can´t fall into place"  and he said "Wait, so the church needs a prophet and apostles?  I didn´t know that."  He loved the lesson.  When we explained the First Vision the Spirit was so strong.  After I recited the words, we let the Spirit hang in the air a little and testify.  That little moment of silence was amazing as the Spirit explained to them that Joseph Smith was a true prophet.  My favorite part was the end when we made that final, ever so important, invitation.  We reviewed how we can obtain an answer through the Holy Ghost using Moroni 10:4-5.  We talked about real intent and then said "and you Neto, when you have an answer that this is Christ´s true church on the earth, will you follow His example by being baptized?"  And he said, "Why not?" 

I know that miracles are real because I see them every day.  Fasting is a true and powerful way to call down blessings from heaven.  I know this is the Savior´s true and living church here on the earth today.  I am His servant. 

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, November 17, 2014

Birthday pictures

 1) Birthday pizza (it's hard to make out, but my box says "21 years" and Elder Muniz's box says "1 year and 8 on the mission" also, it's written in Portuguese)


The Freestyle Leg

Oi família!

Well, the birthday went well.  I feel older and a lot wiser than I felt last year.  That happens on the mission.  You learn a lot, you grow a lot, and you´re blessed a lot.  I feel like I´ve learned, grown, and been super blessed during this past year and a half.  I´m happier than I can explain that I still have six more months.  This whole being 21 thing is a little weird.  I don´t feel 21.  I still feel 20.  But at least I´ll be home for 22 so I can listen to the Taylor Swift song.

We received word about transfers today.  Élder Muniz and I will be staying in our area, which grew!  Our super small area was divided between two companionships, but now the other one was taken from the area, so now we have the whole ward to us!  I´m going to miss having Élder K. Oliveira and Élder T. Anderson in our house, but Élder Muniz and I are super excited to get to work.  Things are going to be awesome!!!

This week was super good.  It was hot.  The sun was super strong.  I thought I was going to die because of the heat, and the sun was really powerful.  These are the complaints of a Cearense missionary.  It was also hot with really strong sun.  But it was still awesome.  We got some solid referals from people, we found a new family to teach, and Victor came to church!!!  I had a number of super awesome spiritual experiences, but our lesson we had with Victor was a stand-out.  We´ve been teaching him in the street on a little patio because his family isn´t super receptive to us.  Teaching in the street during the afternoon isn´t terrible because they´re few people until about 4 or 5 o´ clock.  But, it´s still not the best atmosphere.  So, we headed over to a member´s house, Irmão Wandemberg.  Wandemberg is a returned missionary that served in Riberão Preto (other mission in Brazil).  We focused on receiving answers to our prayers.  As we were talking I saw how excited Irmão Wandemberg was to be teaching and to share the good message again.  He talked about his mission with such love and especially talked about the power of his conversion.  Eventually we got to Victor and he said "I´ve prayed 3 or 4 times about the Book of Mormon and I still haven´t gotten an answer."  As we asked a little more he said that he was waiting to hear a voice tell him that it was true.  We clarified that answers come by means of our feelings.  Then he admited that he had always felt really good when he was with us, when he read, and when he prayed.  But the best part was that he saw that for Irmão Wandemberg, the gospel isn´t just something we talk about.  It´s a way of life.  It was awesome.  He came to church, liked it, and is excited to learn more.  The Lord poured out miracles and the member of the stake presidency that spoke talked about how he saw a lady on his mission give up smoking.  Guess what Victor´s problem is?  Smoking.  Ah.  Miracles are real.

But why, you may ask, The Freestyle Leg?  (for those of you who don´t understand swimming, you´ll need to ask my parents about my swimming history)  The mission of an Élder learning a foreign language is 16 transfers in the field.  The 400 Individual Medley is 16 lengths of the pool, four of each stroke (buterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle).  Today, the sisters of my MTC group (mission of 12 transfers) went home. I´m on my last 4 transfers here in the field, or in other words, the freestyle leg of my mission.  I always gave the 400 IM my all during the whole race, but I always had something special in the tank for the end, the freestyle leg.  So, with four more transfers to go, I´m going to give it 120% every single day.  We´re going to find.  We will teach.  We will baptize like crazy.  Why?  Because this is the truth.  I know it.  I teach it.  I live it.  I love it.

Até o próximo!

Élder Evans  

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Book of Mormon

Oi família!

So, things are going along.  We had some ups and downs this week, just like every week as a missionary.  We went to contact a referal we had received and it turned out to be a member who hasn´t been to church in over 20 years.  We passed by and started talking with here and we invited her to church.  She said, "Alright, I´ll go to see how it is again."  She came yesterday and really enjoyed it.  She just began talking to everyone and getting to know everyone and it was awesome.  Yesterday was the Primary Program and it was great. Altogether, it was a cool little miracle that we had this week.

We had an exchange this week in house with the other élders who live with us.  They work in the same ward, just on the other side.  I stayed on our side with Élder K. Oliveira who´s from the state of São Paulo, but another city within the state. We went to teach an investigator we have named Victor.  Victor´s family and friends are unfarmiliar with the church and what we believe so they generally have a lot of questions for us.  This particular day we had a number of questions about the Book of Mormon.  The explanation went really well.  They understood very well what is the Book of Mormon and how it came about.  But the biggie was at the end of their questions.  They all enjoyed the explanation but the end reaction was something like "well, that´s cool.  We have the the bible and we don´t really want anything more.  The book is cool I´m sure, but we´re good where we are."  Then Élder K. Oliveira bore his testimony.  Élder K. Oliveira has a great love for the Book of Mormon and said without hesitation "As declared by a prophet of god the Book of Mormon is the most correct of all books on earth and any man will grow closer by reading and abiding by it´s precepts than by any other book.  I know this because I´ve read and I´ve prayed to know that what this book teaches is true.  I love The Book of Mormon and if you pray and ask our Father in Heaven if it´s true, you will know."  It was a very spiritually powerful moment.  There in the middle of an obscure street in Fortaleza, there was no denying that the Book of Mormon is true. 

I think about these things a lot.  The more and more I serve as a missionary, a representative of our Savior, the more and more that I study and learn, it becomes an undenyable fact that what we teach every single day is true.  Scriptures both ancient and modern will show that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord´s true and restored church on the earth.  Are there ways to prove it?  Absolutely.  But the best proof we can receive is an answer to a simple prayer.  Like our Heavenly Father answered Joseph Smith´s prayer in 1820, He still responds to people each and every day.  Every time I have prayed He has responded to me without fail. I know that He will always respond to you.  Don´t forget to ask Him, because He is the one with all the answers.

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, November 3, 2014

Well, things are improving!

Oi família!

Well, the challenges here in the Conjunto Ceará 3 ward are many and varied, but miracles are happening frequently!!! We´re beginning to find people who actually want to learn who have never heard from the missionaries before!  Élder Muniz and I are working super hard every day and the Lord is rewarding our patience, diligence, and faith.  This week we´re hoping for big numbers in sacrament meeting.  It´s going to be awesome!

A few weeks ago we ran into a guy named Cândido.  He has a small family and is catholic.  We were talking with him the other day and he said, "Prayer and bible study are always important things for me, but I´m not a huge fan of church.  It seems like everyone is arguing with everyone and I don´t know which one is right."  Wow.  Golden.  It´s so wonderful to know that our loving Heavenly Father has restored the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth.  It´s such a blessing to be a missionary and a representative of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.

We had an awesome activity this weekend.  We organized a talent show with the ward and we had a number of stakes that participated!  The chapel is a ways away because ours is under construction, so we haven´t had an activity in a while.  But we decided that it was time to have one and the ward loved it!  We had a party and it was good to just have some fun.  Now the ward is more excited than ever and we´re going to see more and more miracles as the work of the Lord progresses in the ward!

Sei que esta é a obra do Senhor.  Ele está me dirigindo todo dia e sou tão grato pela oportunidade para servi-Lo.

Amo vocês

Élder Evans