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