Hey there everybody!
I hope all is going well at home, because it certainly is going great here! The past two weeks have been awesome. I’m getting pretty lazy about writing letters home and I’m anticipating a firm chastisement from my mom. So I guess I’ll beat her to the punch!
I would say that, by FAR, the coolest thing to happen this week was on Thursday. I had been preparing a group of missionaries to take to renew their visas for a couple of weeks. I got everything ready and got up a little early on Thursday so that we could make it to the Federal Police building early to beat the lines. When we arrived, we got out of the van/shuttle that I rented to take us there and proceeded to walk the remaining 100 yards from where we parked to the ominous gray and purple building which is the Polícia Federal. As we rounded the corner, I saw a massive group of missionaries waiting in line to enter the building. Upon recognizing the man who was herding them inside, I knew that they were from the MTC. I knew that this meant that I was going to be there forever. I had seven missionaries to take through, and there were already these 30 in front of us. We continued walking to this little building next door to the Police headquarters so that I could have some pictures taken of the missionaries for their new ID cards before we continued inside. As we approached this other building, I saw yet another group of 13 missionaries waiting in line to take pictures. I knew they weren’t from the MTC, so I started looking for familiar faces. Before too long, one particular figure backed out from behind the rest and showed himself… It was TJ! My best friend from back home that I hadn’t seen in almost a year… We ran towards each other like one of those super sappy scenes in a chick flick where two people are frolicking towards each other from opposite sides of a forest grove. It turned out to be a good thing that we had to wait on all those other missionaries! We were able to talk for a couple of hours, which was awesome!
Other things in the office have been fairly normal. We’ve had lots of missionaries with some health problems lately and I’ve spent lots of time on the phone talking to various doctors and making appointments. I also got to go to a meeting with President Broadbent at the church’s Brazil Area Office. Other than that, not too many unusual things going on here.
Last week we baptized a kid we’ve been teaching named Juan. I mentioned him previously, but I spelled his name wrong… Portuguese still gets me sometimes. His family is super jacked up, but he was really excited to be able to be baptized. The night that we baptized him, we took him to the church and got him changed into white clothes for the baptism. I showed him the baptismal font, and we went outside to take some pictures. From that moment on all he could ask was, “let’s go NOW”, as in, “I want to be baptized right now.. I don’t want to wait!” It was awesome to see that excitement on his face. I hope and pray that he’ll be able to make a difference in his family, and be able to influence them for the better.
Last week we also got to go to the temple. Once again it was an awesome experience! I’m grateful that we have a temple close to our mission, and that we have to opportunity to go every couple of months. The Spirit is always prevalent and uplifting. I had a cool experience while in the Celestial Room after I had been working in the temple for a bit. I had been taking the time to think through some things. I thought about my mission, my progress both temporally and spiritually, what I’m doing to get better, etc. I sat down in the Celestial Room and grabbed the only available set of scriptures in the room. I said a quick prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me find something that would help me out and ease my mind. As soon as I finished my prayer I almost immediately felt prompted to open up to Hebrews 5:4. The reference sounded vaguely familiar but I went ahead and flipped to the indicated section. It reads, “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” In that moment I felt a confirmation within my heart that what I had read was what I needed. It confirmed that I have indeed been called of God to serve a mission here in Brazil, and that I have an honorable mantle upon my shoulders. Looking back, I can see that I have been prepared in all aspects of my life to be exactly where I am at this moment. I know I’ve said that before, but it’s absolutely true. The skills that I’m using and refining right now have been being created since the moment I was born. I truly believe that I wouldn’t be here right now had the Lord not wanted me to be. I know that I was born into the family that I needed to be so that I would be more than adequately prepared for the life that the Lord needs me to lead. Looking at all these blessings, I know that I need to be more grateful for them, and use them to their full potential. Where much is given, much is required. Especially when those things involve the Lord.
I always heard that my mission would prepare me for my life to come, and I can definitely tell that it’s preparing me in more ways than I can even recognize right now. I’m growing in my spiritual capacity, learning tons more about Christ and His Gospel, learning more about myself and what I want with my life. It’s really amazing. I’m having incredible experiences that are refining my thoughts and actions in ways that I know wouldn’t be possible were I not on a mission.
In just a few more days I’ll hit my year mark (or “hump day”) on my mission. Looking back, it feels like I’ve just been here a couple of weeks. The time is absolutely slipping through my fingers. I’m so grateful to be here and to be able to have been chosen to serve the Lord in Brazil. It’s really a wonderful place. I really want to come back afterwards to explore some of the vast natural beauties it has to offer. But don’t get me wrong… I love the good ole’ U.S.A. and miss it dearly.
I end my letter with my testimony and a promise. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the restored church of the Savior Jesus Christ restored on the earth today. I know that God calls living prophets to guide and direct us in this tumultuous world in which we live. I know that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets on the American continent. It serves as “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” by being a second witness to what was taught by the prophets in the Bible. By believing in it, I know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet to restore Christ’s church on the earth in these the latter days. The people that make up the membership of the church are far from perfect. I know because I’m one of them. That aside, the doctrine that makes up the Church’s teachings is absolutely flawless. We are all imperfect and have a long way to go before we can be truly prepared for Christ’s return to the earth. I know that if we seek the Lord’s guidance in our lives that he will provide it. He loves each and every one of us more than we can possibly imagine. He’s with us since the very beginning, even from the pre-earth life that we can’t remember anymore. He know’s our heart’s desires, and He knows how to lead us away from harm.
If you yourself don’t believe that what I’ve said is true then you have to ask God himself, He who is the font of all knowledge. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” That is an invitation and promise that comes directly from God. If you lack this wisdom ask for it from God, He himself promised that he would give it unto you. I, too, invite you to know for yourself if this is true. Get on your knees and have a conversation with your Maker. Ask Him what He would have you do with your life and which path He would have you follow. As His representative, and in the name of Jesus Christ, I promise that if you ask with all the faith you can muster your prayer will be heard and all your questions answered. I seal my testimony and promise in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Chapman R. Tew