Well, my time is getting short. This will be my last letter home as a missionary. I can’t believe that I’m a few hours away from boarding an Airbus A330 leaving from Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo, Brazil headed to Atlanta, Georgia and from there back down to Florida. My feelings are very hard to describe right now. I’ve been imagining this moment since I was a child. I specifically remember sitting in Sacrament Meeting and hearing Zack and Jacob Lawson, Nick Allen, and countless others talking about their missions and then bearing their testimonies in their respective newfound languages. As I listened to them, I remember thinking, “that’ll be me one day”. That day has arrived, and much sooner than I think I could’ve imagined when I embarked on this two-year journey. I remember sitting in the airport eating at TGIFriday’s with Garret Silfies talking about how long two years seemed. I remember talking to missionaries at the beginning of my mission who hadn’t seen Frozen yet and thinking that I would spend an eternity in Brazil. In the blink of an eye that time has passed by. I’ve treasured every moment, and will take the experiences and knowledge acquired with me for the rest of my life.
In Matthew 5:48 we’re commanded, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” That order is by far the most difficult one that we could ever opt to follow. In fact it’s literally impossible for us in our current earthly state. In Matthew 11, Christ gives us a much more appealing offer, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” When we choose to follow Him, we are choosing the easiest route by far. I know that when we try our best to do all that is possible to follow Him that our burden does indeed become light.
The Lord is significantly more intelligent than we are. He uses His omniscience to guide and direct us throughout this life. While on my mission, I’ve experienced the joy and peace that come through our obedience to God’s commandments. Due to my own stubborn pride, I’ve also experienced the frustration, doubt, guilt and emptiness that are felt when I’ve chosen to do something that is contrary to the will of our Father in Heaven. Like gold ore in a refiner’s fire, we too must be purified until the refiner (in this case the Lord) can see His own reflection in us. The process of purification requires time, lots of effort, and a whole lot of heat. The Lord never told us it would be easy, but did promise that it would be worth it.
I will now adapt the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland to fit my own circumstances: Let it be known by all whose eyes read or ears hear these words that I, Chapman Rex Tew, have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is His kingdom here on the earth today, and that it is the only place in which we can find the whole truth, restored to us in these the latter-days by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the Book of Mormon is indeed the word of God. It was brought forth at the beginnig of this last dispensation to complete our knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Thomas S. Monson was called as a prophet of God to guide us through the ominous labrynth which is the world today.
Every time I don my name tag, I put on display two names in big white letters on a black background, those being my family’s name and the name of Jesus Christ. As I have represented those two entities I’ve tried to do so as honorably and worthily as I could. While I have yet to reach perfection I’ve gained a desire to really do my best and offer everything I’ve got to my Father in Heaven. I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to all those who choose to follow His example through their faith, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and endurance until the end of this life. I know that if we follow the straight and narrow path that it will lead us back to our Heavenly home. I know that our families can be together forever, that these essential bonds can really last an eternity.
I know that Jesus is the Christ, that He is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and the Prince of Peace. He offers His gracious forgiving power to all those who choose to follow Him wholeheartedly. He is our Savior and Redeemer. He suffered and died so that we might live and enjoy Eternity in the presence of our Father in Heaven and our beloved brothers and sisters. I testify that His grace is available to all those who accept the offer He made almost 2,000 years ago to, “Come, Follow Me.” May my testimony be recorded both here on earth and in Heaven to serve as a catalyst for all those who are searching for their own. I leave these things with you, one last time, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whom I represent, Amen.
Élder Chapman Tew
Missão Brasil São Paulo Sul
2015 – 2017