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