So, last week Dad asked me to write a special email for you guys on some experiences throughout my mission that have helped my testimony grow. Well, there are a lot, so I will try and keep this short.
Being in a different country, far from family, speaking a different language, with people who I never even knew existed, made me grow up.... fast. I learned how to do things quickly and effectively that would help me and help these people. I thought it was me learning these things, but in reality it was the Lord, through the Spirit, teaching me these things.
When I came on the mission, I had a long list of goals that I wanted to accomplish like: baptize every single person I teach, or become a MASTER of the Portuguese language, or memorize the scriptures. Don't let me be the one to tell you that they can't be accomplished, I just happened to change the perspective of my goals. I decided that I would like to be more humble, more patient, less stubborn, and be the best missionary that I could be. These became my goals. Not unreachable, but definitely not the easiest thing for me. I knew that I was prideful, and that I was never the most patient guy, and I really could use being less stubborn. So, these goals were going to take some work, I'm not saying that I have perfected them, (a long ways actually) but I have really made some improvement. And it wasn't even me that did the work! I'll tell you how.
People change people. I have learned that this is a fact. Certain people act differently around one group of people and then change completely for a different group. That is a negative way people change people. But, there is a positive way too. Its all depends on how YOU want to be. Whenever I meet someone new to teach, I always think, "How can I help them?" Then we begin to teach them and we all feel the Spirit and they begin to grow, and as they begin to grow spiritually and start planting that little seed of a testimony, they begin to help you.
Once they really start to see a change in their own lives, reading the Livro de Mórmon and going to Church, they start to study it and then they share what they have learned with us because they are so excited to strengthen their testimony, and I can say 100% of the time, what they studied and told me strengthened my testimony. Seeing the light in their eyes and their lives helped me see that this work was made for EVERYONE and that it will help everyone become better.
In my first area, Continental, we were teaching a muleque named Matheus, (maybe you remember him) but anyways, we started to teach only him. We knew there were other members of the family, but no one else wanted anything to do with us. I was a little frustrated (I still wasn't very patient) because I wanted to bring a WHOLE family into the Church. But my companion, Elder Padilla, told me to just chill and it would work out. So, we start to teach him and it goes well and we invite him to come to Church and to be baptized, and he accepted! We then go back to his home to pick him up for Church and we get there and his Dad, Luiz, wants to go too! We thought, "Even better!" So, we take them to Church and they had a great experience and wanted to learn more. We then teach the son and dad and the mom, Katia, who had been pretty hesitant but starts to listen to what we teach from the kitchen. And soon after, she is sitting on the couch attentively listening to what we have to say! Then one thing led to another and they wanted to be baptized and then their oldest son, Felipe, who wanted nothing to do with the Church, sees the change in his family and begins to hear what his family has learned. It turned out that his family taught him more than we did! They used their testimonies and knowledge to teach him and to help him! It was the most beautiful act of love I have ever seen. They were truly worried and cared enough for their son or brother to help him receive this Gospel to become an Eternal family. They were all baptized! As we were teaching them the 5th lesson, they cut us off and began asking us questions, and then it turned into them teaching us! It was amazing, they helped me learn patience, because I wanted them all at once to be baptized, but the Lord knew what He was doing and put it all in place how it was supposed to happen. And even better, they invited their next door neighbors to go to Church with them and they got baptized too! People change people!
We also had a miracle this week. We were getting ready for a training and we get a call from a member saying that he has an investigator that only speaks English and that he was bringing him by the office in 30 minutes. Bangerter and I jumped at the opportunity to teach him! It was SO HARD to teach in English! I couldn't think of the words to say! We would start a sentence in English, but then end it in Portuguese and we would constantly have to hit each other under the table to switch back to English, it was so hard, but it was a really great lesson.
His name is Menick, and he is from Bangladesh. He fled his country because his political party made him a target for a terrorist group. He ran into a member close to his house and they started to talk about the Church and Menick wanted to learn about Jesus Christ. But the way he said was like this: "I want to learn about Jesus Christ from the Missionaries of Jesus Christ". When he said that, Elder Bangerter and I just got the biggest smiles on our faces as we could say,"We are the missionaries of Jesus Christ here on the Earth!" It was so cool, and it felt so good to teach again! He downloaded the Livro de Mórmon in Bangla, onto his ipad and now is getting ready to be baptized in December. We asked him to give the closing prayer and we asked him to offer it in his language. I didn't understand a single word, but I knew that he was praying for the truth and to know that this Church is true. He started to cry during the middle of it and it was a great spiritual experience for all of us, especially Menik.
These are a few examples of the many that I have experienced throughout my mission that have helped my testimony grow. I KNOW for a fact that this is God's true Church and that we are doing a marvelous work and a wonder here and around the whole world. I want you to know that I know that this is the only true Church on the earth today and that it was restored by Joseph Smith, who was a Prophet of God, and that we still have the same keys and authorities today, through President Thomas S. Monson. I love this Church and the work that we are doing for our brothers and sisters that I have come to call family down here in Brazil. It is all true. And I love it all. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amém.