June 6, 2016 Matosinhos, Portugal
It’s always great to be able to write to you guys each week about my experiences on the mission. This next Monday will probably be the last time I’ll get to email because of the activities we will be doing at the mission home on the 20th. So, if you have any more questions, make sure you send them to me THIS WEEK 🙂
This week was just filled with little miracles.
On Saturday, I was doing a division with a new Elder in our district from Lisbon named Elder C. He’s one of my favorite Elders – humble, always happy, and hard-working. The first miracle was when we went to visit a man named A_, who has come to church many times and is simply amazing, but I’ve never been able to teach him because of schedule conflicts. We went up to his apartment building, from which a man was leaving. We asked him if he knew if A_ was at home and he looked a little confused and told us that A_ actually lived in the apartment building right next to the one we were at. I had been ringing the wrong door this whole time. So, we went over to the correct apartment building, rang the doorbell and we were able to go up and talk to A_. He had to leave, but we talked to him a little bit in the doorway. He said something that made me want to cry. We asked him a little about his life and he explained how he adored soccer. Even when he was just a small child in Guinea Bissau, he would play soccer every day, and he was really good. He decided to drop out of school to be able to devote more time to practicing the sport. He was basically addicted. He continued to play soccer and put his whole life at risk because of it. But then he said that the only thing that could be more important to him than soccer and make him decide to start a family and get his life in line is JESUS CHRIST. I felt very humbled to see a man who has so much love for the Savior. I thought to myself about all of the things that I sometimes put before the Savior. The mission is 2 years where we learn to get our priorities straight. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). I realize that this promise is a true one. Just TRY it! When we put God first and try to do His will, our will becomes more and more like God’s will. It was truly a miracle to be able to find A_’s house and learn this little lesson about priorities.
Later that day, I felt we should check on a kid I had only met once like 2 months ago. We hadn’t originally planned to check on him, but I felt like we should and he was actually in the house and we were able to teach him a little about the restoration. It was really cool talking to him.
Then we taught our Catholic Pastor friend named Ao_, with the Bishop. Ao_ is a practicing pastor who has known the Elders for about 5 years, but had left the country for a while and then talked to me and Elder S in the road. He’s incredible. The last lesson we had with him, which was also our first, he said that one of the things he didn’t like about our church is that you can’t know “everything” before baptism, being that only members are allowed to enter the temple. He felt that being baptized into the church would be like entering into a contract without reading all of the fine print, and he wanted to know why. Anyway, we started off the lesson by reading Ether 12:6 with him which talks about how you can only receive a witness after the trial of your faith. He read very intently. Then the lesson took an unanticipated turn. The Bishop started talking and spoke pretty much the whole rest of the lesson. Normally, okay, pretty much always, when a member starts talking too much, the lesson is pretty much a fluke. But this time it was incredible. The Bishop talked about many things. He said to Ao_ that he wasn’t just a normal investigator, so he wouldn’t treat him as one.
He talked to him as person who was at his own spiritual level. The spirit was ridiculous; we all felt it. Ao_ explained that he didn’t have a strong knowledge about whether or not we really lived with God before this life. He only knew what the Catholic Church believed about it and what the Bible teaches. The Bishop quoted the scripture from the first chapter of Jeremiah when the Lord tells Jeremiah that He knew him before this life and before this life he was called to be a prophet. Then we stepped in, reminding him about what he had been taught about the Plan of Salvation; we told him the basic things: “God is your Heavenly Father. He loves you. He knew you before you came to earth. You had a name given to you by Him, Ao_, God talked to you before you came to earth telling you it would be hard, that you would have difficulties, but if you trusted in Him and kept his commandments, you would be able to return to Him someday.” Simple truths, taught in a personal way to people, make a difference.
The Bishop continued by testifying of the truthfulness of this simple plan and we all started crying. Ao_, the Catholic Priest, then told us how he felt a “warmness” in his chest as we conversed. Wow. What greater manifestation of the Spirit can you have!!? It was pretty amazing. The Bishop was also kind of blown away at the power that we all felt. Ao_ will convert. We are asking him to change EVERTHING about his life. His work, lifestyle, beliefs, literally everything, and be baptized into the church. He hasn’t accepted yet, but he will. If there was one thing I learned, it is that we often take for granted the simple truths restored in Christ’s church. We should cherish them and share them with those who thirst for them, like Ao_.
The ward members are just awesome here. When we need them, our awesome ward mission leader gets them to help us. He’s just so cool. We’re working on getting his listão rolling with him (the really big list of all the people he knows). That’ll really help the work go better in this área. (Btw, I’ll have to do this listão with you guys when I get home; you’ll think it’s pretty cool.)
Well, one more week gone. I love you all and I will talk to ya’ll for the last time next p-day 🙂