Monday, April 27, 2015

The Tale Comes to an End in Light

Oi família!

Well, it´s really here.  I´ll be home here in a few days (don´t ask me how many, I´m not counting nor do I plan to) and it´s a really, really, really weird feeling.  But just to let everyone know, May 6th, 10:30 AM, Élder Evans will be back in Salt Lake.  Weird.

But this week had some ups and downs.  We had a baptism, which is always awesome!  Irmã Filáucia decided to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized a member of the church.  It was an extremely spiritual service.  Irmã Filáucia is a very simple woman with a very strong testimony.  She was talking to us on the way to her baptism on Saturday night and she said, "Well, I was talking to my friend who´s from another church and I told her that I´m going to be baptized in the Mormon church.  She didn´t like that (yeah, there´s anti-mormons even in Brasil)" and we said, "Oh, and what did you say?"  and she responded, "I said, Well, it´s where I feel good and I know it´s what´s right, so it´s what I´m going to do!"  She got spunk, Irmã Filáucia.  We had a member who helps us out a lot, Matheus, baptize her.  It was awesome.

Remember that family that we brought to church last week of 5 that accepted baptismal dates for this Saturday?  Well, it didn´t quite work out.  It was one of the most dificult but spiritual lessons of my mission, We headed over to talk and the dad began to explain why it wasn´t going to work out.  He said that they weren´t ready to live what we taught and that they had given up.  We began talking about the Plan of Salvation and how each of us began as a spirit child of our Heavenly Father.  We explained that we had chosen to follow Jesus Christ before this life and that our purpose was to follow Him in this life as well.  We explained that this life is our time to prepare to meet God and that we need to prepare today because we never know what tomorrow holds.  We talked about how one day we will be judged for our actions in this life and that we will have to explain to the Lord why we did what we did and why we didn´t do what we didn´t.  We finalized explainig, "Look, we´re not to simply bring you to another good church.  We´re not here to tell you that your whole life is sin and that you need to change.  We are here because the Lord loves each and every one of you and He wants you back home with Him.  We know that what we teach is true and that it will bless you guys beyond your ability to comprehend, but you will have to make a sacrifice.  Are you willing to sacrifice everything you have to follow Jesus Christ?"  They thought about it, and thought about it, and finally decided, "I know that I need to.  But not now.  Not today."  With that we invited them to pray about the decision that they had made and kindly reminded them that the church is always open to them.  Though it was a sad lesson, the Spirit was really strong as we taught and testified.  Even though they decided to turn us down, they understood what they were rejecting.  I think that was almost the worst part, but at the same time, we can´t condemn others for the choices they make, just counsel them with how to do better.  But, I am extremely grateful to be a missionary, born of goodly parents, who taught me the ways of the Lord.  I´m grateful to know that as I hold fast to gospel principles and truths that I and my family will be blessed, guided, and protected all the way back to our celestial home. 

How does it feel to have to come home?  It´s really weird.  It´s also really sad, because I love these people and I will miss them greatly.  But at the same time, the words of scriptures that I have already shared explain more deeply the feelings that I have of my service as a misionary.

Alma 36:24-25

Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

 Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors

Doctrine and Covenants 58: 6-7

Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you—that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come;

 And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand;

Alma 26:14-16

Yea, wehave reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.

Yea, they were encircled about with everlastingdarkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work.

Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

From the beginning to the end, I have loved every minute.

Eu amo ser missionário.  Nunca na minha vida eu imaginei que seria algo tão maravilhoso quanto que era.  Eu louvarei para sempre o Pai Celestial e meu Salvador por tão grande uma oportunidade.  Até o último minuto eu farei tudo que eu posso para a salvação de meus queridos e amados irmãos.  Amo vocês.  Até casa.

Pela última vez, (For the last time),

Élder Evans 

1) Filáucia´s Baptism
2) We did it!

3) Looking to the future with hope

You probably always do this, but here is the translation from google translate; what a great summary.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Penúltima Carta (The Penultimate Letter)

Oi família!

We´ve moved!  We moved from our extremely far away house to the edge of our area.  Thursday morning we got up and packed everything into the moving truck and moved real quick-like.  It was fun.   

I know that after perserverance, the blessings of the Lord come.  We were blessed with an extremely productive week with a number of people that are progressing in the ways of the Lord. We had 7 people attend church with us yesterday, a woman and her nephew, and a family of 6!  Filáussia and Robson (aunt and nephew) are excited to learn more and more about the church.  Filáussia said that "ever since that [we] arrived in her house, [she] knew that this was the true church."  Robson has a lot of desire to follow Jesus Christ, but he´s fighting with a few addictions still.  The two of them have baptismal date for this Saturday.  We´re excited and praying for their success.

We also had an awesome family of 5, Aurelio, Lindaura, and their 4 children.  We found them through a member, that was actually kind of a funny story.  Last week (April 11th) we recieved a referal from a more-or-less active member to visit this family.  We went and they were really excited and said they would come to church.  Well, they didn´t come that week.  We returned last sunday (April 12th) and taught them about the Restaration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Spirit in the room as we taught was strong and at the end of the lesson I felt like we should ask about their feelings.  We asked them and Irmã Lindaura said, "I feel peace.  Just peace."  We testified that this was an answer from the Lord that this was the true church that He had established.  We continued passing by during the week and helping them to get excited for church.  Yesterday everyone came and everyone loved it.  We passed by a little later with Felipe, a recent-convert who is awesome to talk a little more with them.  We discussed the Gospel of Jesus Christ and really focused on baptism and confirmation.  We asked Felipe, "Felipe, do you remember your baptism?"
Felipe: "Of course I remember."
Lindaura: "What was your baptism like Felipe?"
Felipe: "My baptism was awesome.  I remember that it was the moment that my life turned around completely.  I was able to really begin following Jesus Christ."
Élder Helvey: "We would like to help all of you to also follow Jesus Christ by being baptized."
Lindaura: "I want to.  I don´t know about Aurelio, but I know that I want to."
Aurelio: "I want to as well."
Felipe: "We would like to establish a goal with you all for your baptism on May 2nd.  Do you all accept this date as the day for your baptism?"
Lindaura: "Yes"
Aurelio: "Yes"
Children: "Yes"
It was awesome.  We testified to them that true happiness only comes from the true and living church of Jesus Christ and following the gospel that he established for us.  We´re excited to be able to help them come unto Christ and be baptized on May 2nd.  It´ll be awesome.

I was going to send pictures this week, but my computer here doesn´t have a slot for my memory card.  So, until next week.

Até o próximo!  Amo vocês!

Élder Evans

Monday, April 13, 2015

Que bom, né? (It´s good, isn´t it?)

Oi família!

Well, this week was full of cool spiritual experiences.  A lot of stuff happened and we had a lot of miracles.  At the same time we also passed for a lot of difficulties and challanges, but what´s new in missionary work?  I´ve come to see how every single moment of the mission is inspired because until now I´m learning things that I know will help me in the future.  I´ve seen how in these super critical end moments of the mission is when the Lord is really beginning to warn me about the challenges I will face in the future and how the mission has prepared me for that.  That being said, I still have a lot of things to work on, but I know the timing of the Lord is perfect and I will be able to improve before the end.  I testify of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  It is the fact that the Lord suffered and died and ressurected for us that we will be able to better ourselves each and every day.  The Sacrament is our oportunity each week to review our performance with the Lord and promise to Him that we will do better in the following week.  I felt this powerfully yesterday as I reviewed with the Lord my efforts to become more humble and how He has helped me.  In that we reviewed how I can better myself even more, because of my Savior Jesus Christ.

We had two experiences this week that I wanted to share because the two were so cool. So, reviewing.  Remember Roseangela?  The one who has a son named Zeus?  Well, we went to see here again this week. We began conversing with them and seeing how life was and how the Holy Week was (the week before Easter is called Holy Week here) and how things were in general.  Then we got around to the church and the message of the Restoration that we had left with them.  They admitted how they hadn´t prayed to ask if it was true and then Irmã Roseangela said, "I really liked the church of Jesus Christ and I want to go back.  I also really really like being catholic though, so is there any problem if I keep going to church with you guys and still not be baptized?"  We explained that she would be welcome at church any and every time that she wants and from there we began reviewing prayer and answers with her and her kids.  The Spirit was so strong as we taught and testified of the truthfulness of the gospel.  What was even better was that they understood completely about the restoration of the pristhood, the authority of God, in these last days by means of a living prophet.  We explained how they will only be able to know these things through prayer and we, together with our member-present Wylamis, know of these things because we received revelation from on high.  It was awesome.  They really enjoyed the lesson and accepted the invitation once again to pray and lear that all of this is true. 

The other was with Irmã Aurileni.  First, she was confirmed yesterday and it was awesome!!!  We´ve been working our tails off for months now and the Lord has rewarded our work with an amazing convert.  We headed there on Friday night to see how things were doing and to explain about the confirmation and all of that jazz.  Well, we taught and she was excited and then she began asking us "Why did you guys decide to serve a mission?  Did you guys feel a confirmation from the Spirit that this was necessary?"  We all testified that we had and I related my experience about the day after I received my calling.  I remember that I went to the temple to do baptisms for the last time and as I was walking through the halls of the baptistry, it just felt right.  There´s no other way to really describe it other than that.  I knew that it was the Lord´s will that I served a mission and that I was doing the right thing.  Then I explained why.  Exactly because He knew that one day I would run into Aurileni and be able to help her accept the gospel.  Then she said to us, "Well, I know that you´re here for the right reasons then.  I asked to know if you were here serving because you felt an obligation to be here or if you were serving because you truly love what it is that you teach.  I know that you are here because you truly love this message."  We testified that that is true.  I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church that He established in these last days.  One things I have learned as I´ve been reading the Ezra Taft Benson book from this year is about what it means to love the church, and more importantly, why this matters to us.  I know that this is the Lord´s restored church in these latter-days and I love it with all my heart.  I love to be a member of it and to be able to proclaim this message to every creature.  This is the truth.  There is no other way.  Christ is calling us.  We need to respond.

Amo vocês!  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Foto -  Aurileni´s baptism!!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Construir o Reino (Build the Kingdom)

Oi família! 

Wow!  Who loved conference?  It was an awesome oportunity to be able to recieve revelation for our daily lives and learn what we need to do to get better.  If you missed the conference (or just want to watch it again) check out the church website:

It´s good stuff.

But this week was good stuff.  We had some really cool experiences and the highlight of the week was a BAPTISM!!!  Aurilene was baptized yesterday between conference sessions.  It was a really spiritual service and she was really excited.  This week as we were teachng her she said a number of times that she knew that the Lord had responded to her prayer that this is the true church of Christ on the earth and that she had to follow the answer that she got.  The coresponds perfectly with the way that the Lord teaches us that we should seek in James and in Moroni.  In James 1:5-6 we are taught that we have to ask in faith, nothing wavering.  That means that we have to trust that the Lord will answer our prayer.  In Moroni 10:4 we learn that we have to ask with real intent, or, with the plan to follow the answers that we get from the Lord.  Aurilene is full of faith and a true seeker of the truth.  I know it was inspiration of the Lord that led us to her.  It was awesome. 

The other cool experience we had was with Maia this week.  We headed over on Good Friday (which is actually a celebrated holiday here) because we knew that she would have the day off and given her busy work schedule we hadn´t talked with her in a while.  We got there and she and her family we excited to see us.  We talked a little about General Conference and then we asked if we could give a brief message.  We left a message about Easter and then we asked each person if they could talk a little about what Jesus Christ meant to them.  Well, it got to Maia´s turn and she said, "You know, when we begin to truly follow Jesus Christ and His church, it all seems so hard.  But then as we practice and we work we realize that it´s truly the best thing that can happen to us. I can´t imagine my life any other way than the way that I live now as a member of the church."  That is conversion.  I loved her answer.  It´s for these moments that I serve a mission.  It´s such a blessing. 

I know that it is my privelege to build the kingdom of God on the earth. The Lord explains very clearly our calling as missionaries and member-missionaries in the work of salvation in Doctrine and Covenants, section 58.  He says,

6 Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you—that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come;

 7 And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand;

And we have the blessing and the oportunity to stand as the witnesses of this great latter-day work.  We live in an age that has been prophesied of since the beginning of time.  We live in the blessed dispensation of the fulness of times and we are priveleged beyond all measure to take part in these wonderful latter-day blessings.  The blessings of the sealing power encircle the earth as more and more temples are built and as more and more people join the cause of good.  The forces of the Lord are with us, and though the enemy may be strong, he is destined to fail.  As we stand strong on the side of the Lord, He promises us His aiding hand and His great power.  As we pray, study the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, and renew our covenants every week in Sacrament Meeting, we will be fortified against the temptations of the adversary.  Jesus Christ is our great eternal head.  He loves us.  He knows us.  He will always be there to strengthen us as we work to fulfill his plan for us.

Amo vocês!  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fwd: itinerary

Well, it came.

Looks like I´ll be back home 10:25, Wednesday morning, May 6th.  Not super pumped for the 10-hour flight between São Paulo and Atlanta, but at least my friends from São Paulo said they would come visit me in the airport.  Amo vocês! 

Cadê a fé? (Where´s the faith?)

Oi família!

Well, my last 25 is going well.  We´re trying to give it a 100% sprint the last transfer.  The heat is always fun, but we´re working hard.  We´d hit something of a brick wall this week because we contact everyone possible and everyone says the same thing, "Oh, if I have time I´ll go by", "I don´t want to promise and then not fulfill" and things like that, and we were super frustrated.  Then we were at lunch on Saturday and the sister of the ward who we were eating with said, "you know, the only missionaries who I saw who passed by here asked me who they should pass by who was less-active with family members that weren´t members.  They went there, reactivated a bunch and baptized a bunch too."  Élder Helvey and I got super excited and we said, "So who do you think we should visit?"  and she said, "Well, go here, here, here, and here" and we went that afternoon.  It was really awesome because the less-actives we all like, "Wow!  I haven´t seen the missionaries in forever!  How´s it going?!?"  And all of the ones we visited said they would come to church yesterday.  One family came and they young man brought his girlfriend too!  It was awesome.  The Lord has given us a new direction in our work and we´re super excited to see what happens.

But we also had a really cool experience with finding this week.  Friday we had planned to do contacts from 2 until 3 as close to the church in our area as possible.  Now, contacting people during these hours is already extremely hard because there are few people in the street because of the heat, but we had no one that we could have taught at that hour, so we went for it. As we were getting ready to head out we learned that our lunch had been delayed for an hour.  So our plans changed from doing contacts from 2 to 3, to doing contacts from noon until 1.  So, doing contacts from 2 to 3 is hard.  I thought that doing contacts from noon until 1 would be impossible.  After noon until 2 here in Ceará is difficult because everything closes for lunch.  Houses, buisnesses, schools, everything. But earlier that day we had prayed that that day we would be able to find an elect family in that area.   So, we headed out and began working.  About noon we were waiting under a tree looking for where to go that had people and we saw a mo walk by with here two kids.  We quickly walked up and said, "Hey, we´re missionaries!"  And we began talking with them.  So we met Irmã Rosangela, and two of her children, Zeus (seriously, how cool!), and Antonio Marcos.  We asked if we could come back later and talk with her family and she said that we could.  We returned later that day and met her daughter, Mayra, and we had a great lesson as we discussed the Resoration.  The kids were so engaged in what we were teaching.  They said, "Yeah, let´s go to church mom! We want to find the true church!"  It was really cool.  Then, they came to church yesterday!  It was awesome!  The Primary presidency said, "The children of Irmã Roseangela were awesome!  We want them back next week!"  It was really cool to see how the Lord answered our specific prayer.  I´m a little sad that when we headed out that I didn´t have more faith, but the Lord rewarded the little faith that we had that it would work out.  And it did!  This week we´re going to head out and talk to everyone about General Conference and we´re going to take a bunch of people there.  I´m pumped.

As you all prepare for General Conference think of some questions that you would like the Lord to answer and write them somewhere.  Then as you watch the conference I promise that the Lord will respond to each and every question you have.  He has never failed to respond to my questions.  I love conference and I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord´s prophet for the earth in our day.  As we listen to and follow his counsel, we will be following the cousel that the Lord has for each and every one of us.  As He said in Doctrine and Covenants,

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all befulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of myservants, it is the same (D&C 1:38)

I know that these words are true.

Amo vocês!  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans   

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Last 25 (Yep, more swimming analogies. And I promise that I´m not getting trunky)

Oi família!

This week was fun.  We´ve had a number of missionaries that had to go home early this transfer because of school, and the majority of them were Zone Leaders.  So, Tuesday night, our District Leader, Élder Toffoletto, got a call from the Assistants congratulating him that he had been called as a new Zone Leader in the Sumaré Zone!  I heard that and I just about went crazy because that´s where I began as a Zone Leader.  I was telling him a bunch of stuff, "Élder you´re going to meet Antonio, and Marília, and Irmã Meire, and Irmão whatshisbucket and Irmã brazilianname and it´s awesome there!!!"  So, because he was transfered, we were walking in trio this week with Élder R. Oliveira until the real transfer.  It was a little crazy because we were covering a really big chunck of area, but we worked it out. Élder Helvey and I are staying together for one more transfer.  Élder Lessa will be coming in as Élder R. Oliveira´s new companion and Élder R. Oliveira is our new District Leader!

We had some awesome experiences this week with Aurilene from last week.  She´s been devouring everything that we´ve taught her. After our last lesson that I reported about the Book of Mormon she has progressed a lot.  We headed over there Tuesday and we asked, "so, did you pray about the Book of Mormon?"  She said that she had.  She explained, "Well, I went to read the Book of Mormon and beforehand I prayed to know if it was true.  After I prayed I was filled with the most wonderful feeling of joy!  I was so filled that I didn´t know what to do, so I hugged the Book of Mormon!  I know that our church is true!"  It was awesome. But in general she´s be progressing super well.  Every time we go over she has a bunch of questions for us to answer.  The best part is that she studies the stuff that we leave with her for the next lesson.  Saturday we left the Word of Wisdom pamphlet and the assignment to begin reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning.  When we got to her house yesterday she said, "So, I read the pamphlet and I wanted to know a little bit more so I did the addicional study here in this back part.  If you guys could open your scriptures to..." and she began to teach us about what she had learned.  Then we were reveiwing the Book of Mormon and she said, "It makes so much more sense when you read from the begining.  I´ve already read until 1 Nephi 13."  Seriously.  She read 13 chapters, the Word of Wisdom pamphlet, and the addicional study in one day.  Elect?  100%!  We talked with here about baptism as well and she´s accepted April 5th as here baptismal date (conference baptism!) and we are so excited.  Élder Helvey and I had a rough last transfer with people falling through, people moving, people disappearing, but now we´re begining to see the fruits of our labors. I´m also seeing the power that the Book of Mormon has in our lives.  I´m so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the difference that it has made in my life. 

So, why is my e-mail entitled "The Last 25?"  If you remember, in my e-mail from November 17th, I talked about my history as a swimmer compared to my service as a missionary.  (For those of you who didn´t receive this e-mail you can find it at )  In this e-mail, I explained how the mission is comparable to the 400 IM because it´s 16 lengths of the pool, the same way that the mission for foreign language elders is 16 transfers in the field.  Well, I´m on my last one.  My last transfer.  My last length.  For those of you that know how my race strategy was, this length is a full-out sprint.  There´s no more playing around.  120% until the end.  This is the truth.  There is no denying it.  This is the one and only message that can bring true eternal happiness to this world.  I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. 

Amo vocês!  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Photo: Planalto Zone during our last Zone Conference (3 weeks ago)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mormons? Are you kidding me?

Oi família!

I´m happy to report that this week I won´t be complaining about the rain.  It rained a little last Tuesday, but after that it was a sunny and clear week.  Like normal, it´s now really really hot, but it´s fun.  I´m still not tan, but I have faith that before I go home the Lord will bless me with at least a little something. 

On another fun note, my companion got a package from home a week or so ago and his family sent him bags full of cereal!  Cap´n Crunch, Lucky Charms, Golden Grahms (?), and Honey Bunches of Oats.  So, yesterday, for the first time since the MTC, I ate Lucky Charms with milk.  It was so awesome. 

But, we had a cool experience this week with a lady we met named Aurilene.  Élder R. Oliveira and I were on an exchange in my area and we were contacting everyone we saw.  Near the end of the night we were walking down the street and there was a lady standing at the door of her garage.  Élder R. Oliveira walked up to her and we began talking.  The first question she asked after we presented ourselves was, "What God do you worship?"  We responded that we worship God, our loving Heavenly Father and that we were messangers to share a message with her.  She made an apointment with us and we headed out.  We were also on an exchange Friday, when we had set the apointment, so I was unable to teach her, but Élder Helvey said, "She´s awesome!  She´s coming to church on Sunday!"  Then one of the best parts, SHE CAME!!!  We headed to her house afterwards and began talking with her.  She explained, "you know, I always said to myself, 'If there´s any church that I will never join, it´s the mormon church.'"  She explained how so many people speak so poorly of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and how she never wanted to know anything about it.  Then she explained that she had been praying for a long time to be able to know which church was right as she asked the Lord to put her on the right path.  She said that she was confused because every church she had been to spoke something different about God and His purposes in our lives and how much she wanted to know which one was right.  She said that when she was asking that was just the day that we talked to her.  She´s been praying and seeking for the truth.  She felt something at church, but wants to confirm her feelings.  So, we presented her with the Book of Mormon.  The Spirit was super strong in the lesson as we explained about the divinity of this amazing book.  I know that it is true. 

As Élder Neil L. Andersen has said, the world will not glide calmy to the Second Coming of the Savior.  He explained that acording to the prophecies of Moroni, many will speak bad of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of the work of our Father and Savior in these latter-days.  But, I know that as we seek spiritual responses to spiritual questions that we have, the Lord will lead us, guide us, and answer our sincere questions.  I know that this is true.

Amo vocês!  Até o próximo! 

Élder Evans

Monday, March 9, 2015

Uma igreja da família (A family church)

Oi família!!!

We´ve been receiving rain this week again.  It´s really weird because Ceará is known as one of the drier states in Brasil, so it´s super weird to have consistent rain.  Because it never rains here most of the roads aren´t really prepared for it and they end up turning into mini rivers.  But it´s been fun.  On the bright side, I arrived to church yesterday with shoes completely clean because it started raining on the way there and my shoes got soaked.  But, they looked like they were polished, so it made the experience a little more exciting.  The Lord loves me so much.

We´ve been facing some difficulties in the work this week.  We had 17 confirmed that they would come to church yesterday, and we ended up with only two.  But we´re still staying positive.  We´re talking with everyone we can and inviting everyone to church.  We headed out to work yesterday after lunch and the first person we talked to accepted the invitation to come to church!  We walked with him to his house and we began talking to him and he said, "brothers, (almost everyone calls us brothers when they first meet us), I´m a little confused.  Why is it that there are so many churches today?  Isn´t there only one Jesus?"  So, we explained the Restoration.  He really enjoyed the lesson and said that he´ll come to church this next week and keep learning with us.  It was awesome.

But the real cool expierence of the week was one we had way out in Tabapuá. We were out working and decided to visit a less-active member of the ward, Irmão Mendonça.  When we got there, we met his daughter, Ohana.  Her family was baptized when Irmã Mendonça was pregnant with her.  Because he family fell away when she was 6 years-old, she was never baptized.  We began talking with her about the church and the importance it places on the family.  She talked about how much she wants to be able to raise her family in a good loving atmosphere, specifically one that focuses so much on the family, for that reason, she wanted to raise her family in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  As we taught about the importance of the family and how our families can be together forever, I felt so strongly that what we taught was true.  I began to understand better how the gospel and the church were placed on the earthto bless our families.  What was more important was the appreciation that I felt in my heart for having had the oportunity to be born in the new and everlasting covenant to faithful parents who placed gopsel learning and principles first.  I began to review in my mind all of the broken homes I have visited as a missionary and I then realized how blessed I was to see how my home isn´t that way.  So, shout-out to mom and dad, thank you guys for giving me the best that the Lord has to offer.  But the lesson was great and we all really felt the Spirit testify that the Lord loves the family.  I am so grateful for mine.

Até o próximo!  Amo vocês!

Élder Evans  

Monday, February 16, 2015

É bom, né? (It´s good, isn´t it?)

Oi família!

Well, this first week with Élder Helvey was really good!  He´s a little crazy, which mixed with my insanity, makes for a good pair.  We´re trying to head out and contact everyone that we can see and it´s working out.  We´ve had some funny experiences this week, but also some really good ones.  We´ll focus on the spiritual though.

On Wednesday we contacted a lady this week named Juliana. We began talking with her and she said, "Well, I attended your church that´s in Parque Rio Branco (a neighborhood in Fortaleza) for about 6 months a few years ago."  As we talked a little more I discovered that it was the same ward where I began my mission (Parquelândia) and that she was friends with a few people that I know from there.  We invited her to come to church and she said that she would. We returned the next day to meet her husband and daughter, Carlos and Julia.  We taught about the importance of keeping the comandments of God and the Spirit was so strong.  They said they would come to church and we asked if we could come back on Saturday to prepare them for church the next day.  They agreed and we returned on Saturday.  We began teaching about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was amazing to feel the Spirit testify during the whole lesson.  From the start until the end the Spirit was testifying, "this is true."  They agreed to come to church once again, and we left.  Yesterday they came to church and really enjoyed it.  I asked them afterwards what they thought and Carlos replied, "It was way better than I imagined it would be."  We visited them yesterday and they were so excited about everything that happened.  They talked about the peace and tranquility that they felt in the church and how aliviated they felt after they left.  They talked about how wonderful they felt even when we were in their home and then we asked, "So, do you two feel that God has answered your prayers to know that this is the true church on the earth?"  Juliana replied, "To me, it always was the true church.  Everything today just confirmed that to me."  and Carlos said, "More than anything now, I believe that this is the true church."  and here on March 21st, they´re going to be a part of it!

I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Joseph Smith was a prophet.  Thomas S. Monson is the Lord´s prophet on the earth.  Jesus Christ lives.  He is our Savior.  The Book of Mormon testifies of Him and will bring us closer each day that we read it.  I know these things of myself because God answered my prayer.

Amo vocês!  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, February 9, 2015

Inspiração do Alto (Inspiration from on High)

Oi família!

It was hot this week.  On another note I didn´t work in my area for almost the whole week.  Tuesday and Thursday we did exchanges, Wednesday, Élder Borges and I traveled to Itapipoca and back which took up almost the whole day.  Friday, we took Élder Borges to the mission office for the final dinner and training with President.  Saturday we picked him up from the office.  Sunday was normal, except church in the morning.  One way or another, it was a fun week.

I left Élder Borges at the mission office for the last time this morning since he´ll be returning home today.  He was an awesome companion.  I know that it was inspiration that we worked together.  When I got here I didn´t have that same fire passion for the work that I had in the past, but working with Élder Borges quickly turned that around.  He was an awesome companion and I´m ever so grateful that we were able to work together.  What I love even more than gaining new companions is gaining new friends.  I feel like Élder Borges and I were truly friends and that we´ll be able to help each other out for year to come.  He´s awesome.

On one of our exchanges this week I headed out with Élder Ribeiro, the "greenie" in the zone.  I worked with him in his area to see how he would do given that he´s only been here for about6 weeks.  We began the exchange and I said, "Élder, today is your day.  You´re the senior companion.  Show me what you have."  He just said, "Ok, let´s go."  It was a good exchange.  He wasn´t scared to talk with people in the street.  He contacted everyone that we saw.  I love how I was able to see his testimony by the way that he worked, not just the words he spake.  But the highlight of the day was about 3-4 o´clock.  We went to a street to contact people to find the street 100% deserted.  There wasn´t even a dog or a cat or anything.  And we began walking.  As we were walking we heard some sound coming from a house in front of us and Élder Ribeiro said, "Let´s clap there." We clapped and a man came to the door and said, "You´re from the Mormon church?"  We responded that we were and he said, "My wife and mother-in-law are from this church.  Would you like to come in?" So, in we went.  It was super cool.  This family moved to the area 3 months ago and they were wondering where the nearest church was.  They said that they had given the address to the sisters in their old ward and they thought we had come because of them.  Truthfully, it was the Spirit that sent us there.  We had a nice visit and the mom said that she has a goal to go to the temple before the end of the year.  Talking with the élder that works in that area he said, "Wow, that family is amazing!  They came to church and the husband cried during the sacrament he felt the Spirit so strong!"  It was cool.  Much like the experience from last week, the Lord is very aware of his elect and knows where they are.  As we seek them in faith, the Lord will show them to us and help us to know how to help them enter on the path of eternal life.

That this week each one of you can pray for someone to find with whom you can share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is my prayer.  I know that He will show someone to you and give you the words to speak.

Amo vocês!  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ovelhas perdidas (Lost sheep)

Oi família!

Well, this week was one of those weeks where nothing and everything happens.  We had a few tough days where seemingly nothing happened but some really cool miracles happened as well.  We´re working hard and sweating a lot (it´s really hot here) but we´re having fun.  This is Élder Borges' last week of the mission and we´re going to work like crazy.

We received a list of referrals from the mission office this week that we had to contact to give feedback today.  We went hunting after some of them on Friday and it was discouraging to say the least.  As we went after them we found out that the majority of them didn´t exist.  I saw one name on the list that we hadn´t contacted, Tiago.  We looked at the map and saw that Tiago lived way at the end of our area which was even more discouraging.  We had to contact him one way or another so we headed out there.  The whole way there I just kept trying to think positive.  "This is going to work out.  He´s going to be the elect.  We´re going to baptize him."  When we finally arrived at a street I had never seen in my life we began looking for his house number, 290.  We got to the spot where his house was supposed to be to see two houses, number 294 and 288 but no 290.  We asked a few people if they knew Tiago and they said, 'He lives a little further down" and the "thought" (inspiration) came "maybe it isn´t 290, maybe it´s 190 and we just got the number wrong."  So off we went.  190 existed, so we went up and clapped (we don´t knock much here, we clap).  A man came to the gate and the conversation went something like this:
Us: Hey, do you know Tiago?
Man: Yeah, he lives on the other side of the street.  Are you guys Mormons?
Us: Well, it´s a nickname people give us.  We´re from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Man: I was baptized there.  You guys want to come in for a little bit?
Us: Sure!
So, we met Cléssio.  He was baptized about 8 years ago but after his father died it was hard for him to keep going to church.  After that he invited his girlfriend to hear our message too, Irmã Rose.  As we were getting to know them Rose said, "You know, we´ve been looking for a church to attend and we´ve been attending many different ones.  But Cléssio always says, 'I want to return to the Mormons.  I feel the best with the Mormons."  We proceded to teach about the Restoration.  After Élder Borges recited the First Vision the room was full of the Spirit.  We asked Cléssio and Rose, "How do you guys feel right now?"  and they responded, "I feel so good.  Happy and peaceful.  It´s amazing."  We testified that it was the Holy Ghost teaching them that what we had taught was true.  Then we threw out the big invitation, "Rose, with a certainty that these things are true and being prepared, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the resotred priesthood of God?"  and without pausing she said, "Yes, I will"  we testifeid about how we knew that the Lord had sent us there to find them at this critical time and how He was looking out for them.  We prayed and as we were leaving you could see the emotion in Cléssio´s eyes because he knew that the Lord was aware of him.  They came to church yesterday and loved it.  They are 100% commited to learn of and apply the gospel in their lives.  It´s awesome.  But what I learned is that even way at the end of an obscure neighborhood in Caucaia, Brazil, the Lord knows where His lost sheep are.

I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ restored to the earth today.  I know that Jesus Christ lives.  He is our Savior.  Joseph Smith was His prophet and Thomas S. Monson is His prophet today.  I am His representative.  This is His gospel.

Amo vocês!  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

O campo já está branco para a ceifa (The field is white already to harvest)

Oi família!

This week was fantastic!  A bunch of fun stuff happened and if I wrote it all the e-mail would be huge!!!  So, we´ll stick with the brief highlights of the week.

So, last Monday after p-day we headed out to work.  A recent-convert in our area said "hey there´s this family tat lives close to me that attended church a long time ago that want to meet with you guys."  So we headed over and met Raimunda and Francisco.  They attended church 20 years ago and were preapring to get baptized but the week before their baptism there was a problem and it didn´t end up happening.  We were just getting to know them and the impression came to challenge them to baptism.  Without much preface I said, "Knowing that this is the true church of Jesus Christ, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the authority of God?"  The two of them just sat there and then they both said, "Yes."  We set a date with them and they are super pumped for February 8th (Élder Borges´ last day in the field).  They came to church yesterday with their daughter, Erica, and they loved it.  The Lord has prepared them so much.  We taught the Word of Wisdom and told them that they can´t drink any more coffee.  We passed by yesterday night and Raimunda said, "I have a terrible headache but I can´t drink coffee.  Oh well.  It´ll pass."  Super elect.

I also had a great exchange this week with the assistants in my first area, Ala Parquelândia.  The assistants were transfered there when I left and I haven´t been able to go back until this past tuesday.  Remember the family Vasconcelos that I baptized there?  The youngest son recieved the Melchezidek Preisthood this week and they´re preparing to go to the temple in March/April!  YES!!!

But the cool experience of the week (yeah, I had more!!! THIS WEEK WAS AWESOME!!!) was when we headed to Tabapuá.  Our área is huge and there´s a young man named Renan that always helps us out.  He lives in a neighborhood called Tabapuá that´s way on the edge of our area.  Élder Borges had never been there and we decided to headed out there to see if there was work for us there.  We left lunch at 1:30 and began walking.  About 2:30 we arrived there.  It was a lot longer than we thought.  But, we got to work doing contacts and knocking on doors.  Missionaries haven´t visited Tabapuá in over 30 years so all of the people out there don´t know a thing about the church.  It was awesome.  Everyone seemed interested, especially Erica, a young woman we met.  She´s 18 years-old and just moved here from another state.  Élder Borges contacted her and we marked to come back to her house a little later.  We came back a little bit later and began talking with her and her parents.  We prayed and began explaing a little bit of the Restoration.  After we explained the First Vision we paused for a minute and asked, "Erica, how do you feel right now?"  and she said, "Well, I´ve been feeling lost for a long time now.  I was in need of direction and I didn´t know where to go.  Then you guys stopped my in the street and began talking to me and I felt like I was full of light.  I feel like God is answering my prayer!"  We testified that it was true and that this is the church of Jesus Christ restored to the earth. Renan who was with us said that the next day she was super excited to learn more about the restored gospel.  I know that the field is white already to harvest.  We´re going to baptized all of Tabapuá. 

I know this is the Lord´s church.  I am His servant. 

Élder Evans

1) The Vasconcelos Family baptism (March 16th, 2014)

2) The Vasconcelos Family, without a few because they were working (January 20th, 2015)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Natação! (Swimming!!!) (I wasn´t breaking rules)

Oi família!

So, we had a fun week.  Adriano and Andressa were baptized!!!  And here´s the funny story.  So, we showed up a little early at the church to fill up the baptismal font.  The other elders had gone earlier to do a baptismal interview and when they had finished they started filling up the font.  The church ran out of water (about 10 AM) so we thought "well, there should be water a little later" so we came back.  Long story short, no water.  So we called bishop.  He said "Well, we can reschedule, or we can do it at Romualdo´s house in the pool"  So, we did it in the pool! The baptism was scheduled for 7 PM and when everyone showed up we said "Everyone, pick a car!  We´re going to have to travel a little!" I got to baptize Andressa which was awesome.  I always feel the Spirit so strong when I perform a baptism.  It´s fantastic.

But the other fun experience of the week was when we traveled. I should preface this saying that I set a goal to begin to fast every once in a while to have a greater conviction that Joseph Smith is a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that this is the church that Jesus Christ restored to the earth to guide us today.  I felt on Tuesday that it was time for such a fast.  We headed out on Wednesday morning to Paracuru to have District Meeting with the sisters there.  They´ve been needing a pick-me-up recently because the work has been a little more difficult than normal.  I was wondering what I could share with them that would help excite them.  As I began the training about "declaring repentance" I was filled with the Spirit as a confirmation that this was what they needed to hear.  We had a normal training and afterwards when we came back together for feedback I felt the need to bear my testimony.  I began explaining, "Sisters, we cannot be afraid to tell people the truth.  This is the church that Jesus Christ has brought back to the earth.  Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  Thomas S. Monson is the Lord´s prophet on the earth today.  Sisters, in all of the people that live here in Paracuru, you four are the only ones that have the comission and the power to help these people return home to our Father in Heaven.  No one else in this city can bring these blessings, only you."  AS I was speaking I felt the Spirit fill me again and confirm to me that what I was speaking was true.  The Lord answered my prayer and fasting and I know that this is the Lord´s true church restored to the earth today.  The Spirit was so strong in the room and I felt that it was exactly what the sisters were needing at that moment.

I know that Jesus Christ lives.  He is our Savior.  I am his representative in this great Latter-Day work.

Amo vocês!  Até o próximo! 

Élder Evans

1) Élder Borges, Adriano, Andressa, and I in front of the pool
2) Me, Maia, and Élder Borges (from last week)

3) Me, Irmão José, and Élder Borges

Monday, January 12, 2015

Água!!! (Water!!!)

Oi família!

Guess who got baptized?!?  That´s right, Maia and José!!!  Maia told us afterwards about her feelings during the service.  She said, "I felt so strongly that regardless of what I had done in the past that after I left the water that all of my sins would be forgiven 100%."  It was an awesome day. 

We had a super awesome experience this week during an exchange.  I took Élder Toffoletto to my area to work.  We were on fire!  We talked to every person in the street and we had some awesome finding experiences.  We ran into one woman and we said "Hey, what´s your name?" and she said, "I´m Ana Paula, yes I can visit your church with you".  We were both thinking, "seriously, this never happens!"  We didn´t even say where we were from, or that we wanted her to come to church, she just invited herself.  But the really cool part was the end of the day.  We were on the way after our last apointment fell through and we passed by this house with an older couple sitting in their garage.  We walked by not thinking much, and then Élder Toffoletto and I stopped, looked at each other and said, "we need to go back there".  So, we headed back and they let us in.  As we were getting to know them I saw a lady back in the kitchen that, after seeing us, quickly left my sight.  We said, "Who is that back there?" 
Them: Oh, that´s Natalia
Us: Invite her to come hear our message
Them: Ok.  NATALIA!!!  COME HERE!!!
Well, Natalia was the sister of the lady that I saw but during the conversation she said, "ya know, I always wanted to visit your church, but my mom never let me" so we began a little lesson.  We opened in the scriptures to 2 Nephi 2:30 which reads:
I have spoken these few words unto you all, my sons, in the last days of my probation; and I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet. And I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls. Amen.
We explained how today there is a living prophet leading and guiding the children of God here on earth and how we knew these things.  More than that, we testified that they could also know of these truths if they would pray about our message.  It was amazing to feel the power of the Holy Ghost testifying to what I said as we spoke to them.  We finished with the invite to come to church and Natalia said, "I will go.  Absolutely"  The parents didn´t have much interest, but I loved how the Lord used us as tools to find one of His daughters who is ready to hear the good message. 

I know that Jesus Christ lives.  I know that His church is restored here on the earth in our day.  I know that Joseph Smith was His prophet and that Thomas S. Monson is His prophet on the earth today.  I know that the Lord will respond to every humble seaker of truth the same way that he responded to me and to millions of other people on the earth.  I love this work.  I am His servant. 
Amo vocês!  Vocês são os caras!  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, January 5, 2015

Que alívio! (What relief!)

Oi família!

Well, it´s official, 2014 has come and gone.  I cannot believe how fast it passed.  I remember at the end of 2013 I was thinking, "Well, 2014.  The only complete year I will spend as a missionary. It will be hard, but also super rewarding" and it has been in all respects.  I don´t think I´ve had a year in which I have learned and grown so much.  I remember at the beginning of 2014 when we had interviews with President Souza.  I was looking at my Zone Leaders and the Assistants and thinking about how little I was compared to them.  I remember that the Lord gave me a feeling of my potential as a missionary, lider, and person.  As I´ve worked, studied, and prayed, I´ve felt my "potential meter" (it´s a hard feeling to describe) filling more and more.  I´m amazed to see the person I am now compared to who I was when I entered the MTC.  But, I still have 4 more months, so I still have plenty of growing to do.

This week was a good week.  We were able to teach a lot of lessons and we had some amazing things happen.  Maia is dedicated and super excited for her baptism on Saturday.  Her ex-father-in-law (Jusé) will be baptized this Saturday as well and it´s awesome.  We had a lesson with Maia yesterday and a recent-convert (Raquel) asked if she could come with us to teach.  It was an awesome lesson.  Raquel testified of how the gospel has truly changed her life and how her decision to have greater compromise with our Father in Heaven has brought both trials and blessings.  Raquel has been through a lot in her life, much in the way Maia also has.  They related one with another really well and it was awesome to see how much the two of them grew during our little lesson.  We taught about the Law of Chastity and a the Spirit World.  It was cool because at the end of everything Raquel bore testimony about how baptism in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has not just brought blessings in her life, but has been a blessing in her life. She talked about the security and the guidance that the Lord has given her through the gospel.  Her testimony was so powerful and I felt how proud the Lord was of her for the sacrifices that she made.  Maia loved the Spirit that she felt and everything was just confirming the descision that she made to be baptized.

Beyond that, we had an exchange this week and after 3 weeks in my new area I asked Élder Borges if I could try to take command of the area instead of go to the other area.  He concented, and I was scared out of my mind.  So, I prayed a lot for guidance and the day was awesome.  I was with Élder R. Oliveira, who has about 7 months on the mission.  Even though we had a few things fall through, I felt guided by the Lord to such a point that we didn´t ever have a time when we were stuck thinking, "Now what?"  We had something effective to do from 10 AM until 9 PM because the Lord answered my prayer.

Feliz 2015 família!  Será um ano de bênçãos!

Élder Evans