The Book of Mormon is true

Stephen with Makiyami familyUnfortunately, this week was a dry week. (Both in weather and in baptismal perspectives.) As senior, I feel like a good part of that failure was my fault, so I went to the temple hoping to get an answer about how to save the lambs that are already in the flock. Father is very kind to us when we go to His house, so I got my answer that I wanted.

The Lord tries with our patience because there is always something to be fixed. I´ve thought a bit on the fact that when the Lord talked to the apostles (what we have record), it was usually some kind of correction. We can´t get discouraged. Think of it this way; He could be the kind of Father that just doesn´t care what happens to us. Our most promising investigator, Rosa, is still going on strong. I feel like she is just leaning over the edge, and she needs is a kick in the butt to get into the water. She still holds on to her unconventional beliefs, but with less conviction now. Going to church twice and reading the Book of Mormon could have a lot to do with that. Her fifteen year-old is also interested too; we just can´t get her to sit with us while we talk to her mom.

Yesterday was kind of fun. It was my turn to give the lesson at the family home evening at Makyama´s, so I did it on Joseph Smith. For a room full of recent converts, I felt it was necessary. It went very well; however, Satan is getting his licks in. We have five there that could be baptized, but something is always coming up. We may have to increase our visits over there.

I know I shared a bit of this with my family, but I want to share it with you all now.

Yesterday, we had a woman who was just stunned that we would go out on missions without much contact from our family. We´ve had others that marvel that we have such faith to do this. I always feel like my faith is weaker than it should be. Yes, I believe the things I teach, but it could be stronger. While I was going about my Father´s business, it occurred to me that this is my belief after it has been filtered through the hardness and unbelief in my heart. What could it be like if I was just a little more believing? The Savior once said to a suffering father, “Fear not, only believe.” To another, he said, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible”. To a doubting apostle, he said “Be not faithless, but believing.” Belief is a powerful thing. It´s not quite faith, but it´s the starting point. Faith is a little more reinforced, and is developed after trials. Faith is also a gift given from the Father. I have faith, but belief is the fuel to the fire of faith.

I invite all to accept the words of the prophets and apostles. We already believe the Book of Mormon (or if you don´t, now is an excellent time to pray about it), so why do we have so much trouble accepting our leaders and their counsels. The Lord said, “Whether it is my voice, or the voice of my servants, it is the same.” I realize I´m not exempt from this, but I´m not perfect either. My calling and responisibility is way above my head, so I feel like I can safely benefit from the words which are spoken by the Spirit. (Even if they come from my own mouth, or in this case, keyboard.)

The work is marvelious and a wonder. It is true. Joseph Smith was the Lord´s instrument in these latter days. The Book of Mormon is true and invites all to come unto Christ. The Messiah has come, and will come again. I don´t know about you, but “I watch for the day of gladness when Jesus will come again.”

Eu amo voces!

Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

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A reminder about humility

This week wasn´t good; Elder Braga finally succumbed to the recent flu that´s down here, so we had to stay at home for the better part of three days.

President gave us a “reminder” about Mother´s day, which none of us needed. Also, P-Day next week is Tuesday, as we will be going to the temple! YEAH!!! I might have to send a smaller letter today and next week, because some things get busy down here. We got a nice “purification fire” from the Elder´s President reminding to fulfill our duties, and not just do them. I felt a little guilty, because I know when I´m not being diligent in my calling. I should be an “example of the believers” as a member, and a “representative of Christ” as a missionary, which are kind of linked here. Yesterday, we had a great thing happen during testimony meeting. Maria Jose, who is the Mom that we baptized three weeks ago, stood up and bore a powerful testimony (Her non-member husband was in the audience). Marcio (her son) and I were in tears. Even if I left the mission tomorrow, I´d still consider it a success because I helped her be baptized. As Elder B. Santos left a while back from the area, I feel that I and Marcio share a special connection because we are the two people who were involved in every step of that process.

I´d like to send a reminder about humility today. President Ezra Taft Benson warned us once that pride was what destroyed the Nephite nation. Pride is a tricky beast. You need a righteous pride and to keep it under control. I used this kind this week when I straight out told an investigator that reincarnation is not true, I know it, and I´ve been commissioned by God to teach it. That was a tricky lesson, especially when she has the idea that my serving the Lord as a missionary will save me in the last day. (I´m particularly fond of letting people know that if the message wasn´t true at all and I didn´t have authority from heaven to do this, I´d be damned faster than you could blink.) Fortunately, the Spirit of the Lord bore a witness to her, and she is progressing wonderfully. The flip-side of pride is when you dominate things because you are “President, Senior, Assistant, etc.” I have a great fear of doing this, and so President knows that if the Lord needs me, I´ll serve with all my heart, but I´d prefer just to be the best missionary I can be in the normal places. Maybe it´s wrong to shrink like this, but the Lord knows me better than I do, so He´ll do the right thing.

We use power because it is needed. But, we need to recognize where the power comes from. We, as missionaries, are reminded that the power of the Atonement comes from something far beyond what we can imagine, and though we experience it day by day, we don´t comprehend it very well. “We” have nothing to boast about. The “baptizing missionaries” baptize by relying on the power of the Atonement and trusting in the mission of the Holy Ghost to testify and to direct us.

I love this gospel and all that comes with it. I hope all of us can gain a little more righteous pride of this gospel and a lot less self-pride for being privileged to belong to the true church.

BTW, Nephi and Captain Moroni are such bosses!

Eu amo voces.

Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

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Even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work within you

Well, I´m glad you all have had a successful week. We have, too. I have become the senior companion and am with Elder Braga from Belem. (I´m always getting companions from the north. Fortaleza, Recife, Acre, Belém, Marcial….) He is a delight and a half, and he brought with him a new method of teaching which I love. Fast, clear, and powerful. Basically, we spend less time on the “details” (Prophets, Apostasy, Creation, etc.) and jump to the things which lead people to baptism. (Book of Mormon, Eternal Families, The Restoration, and of course, Baptism itself). President Martins wants to take advantage of the fact that the heavens are open here, and thus we shouldn´t waste time preparing the cake with cream. That comes later, after baptism.

Thus, we have three more for this Saturday, and I will enter the waters again with a girl named Natalie. (Her best friend´s name is Carol. I´m sure only family members will probably understand the injoke with a Carol in the family.) We had four confirmations (as we have had two weeks without a regular sacrament meeting) and once again, Maria Jose had the ordinance performed by her high-counselor son, who was in tears to finally confirm his mother. This family is truly one of the miracles that I have had the pleasure to witness and to participate in. The mother is the most active 60 year old missionary I´ve ever seen. She didn´t even wait til baptism before sharing the gospel. We´re having trouble keeping up with her references.

I´m so glad that we are working together in the service of the Lord. This is a time that will be remembered for enternity, between us, the families we bless, and the Lord. It is a rare thing to have a family with one missionary out, another one that will be out, and a father who is ward mission leader.

Yesterday was a whirlwind of emotional stuff. We had lunch with a less-active sister who has one of the strongest personailties I´ve seen. She is only less-active because of her health problems, and was a young women´s president for a while. I took notes on her recommendations on finding an eternal companion. Unfortunately, the rest of her family have fallen away and we taught her son who is not a member. The kind of person he is reminds me very much of someone very close to me, and so the Spirit was able to bear testimony of what we said, because I felt like I was talking to this person. Ask me later about this person.

Elder Braga gave me a thought that I want to share with you all. We almost lost an investigator last night (we still might), and as Elder Braga spoke about the prayer that follows your reading of the Book of Mormon, he said something that has stuck with me. “When you ask your mother for $250 without telling her why, she´ll be hesitant to hand it over. The same with our Father. He is willing to give us answers, but He wants to know what we will do with the answer.” I pondered that for a while, and I believe it´s true. Earlier, we had talked to a woman who ticked me off. She studied forty years in seminary, accepted no scripture other than the Bible, and “knew” that Joseph Smith beat Emma 5 times before lunch. I thought about what her prayer might have been like, had we invited her to pray to Father about these things. I can´t imagine that she would receive a testimony easily.

In order to have faith, we have to open our hearts. We apply our hearts to know wisdom. Our feelings are not as fleeting as one might think. If you want to believe in something, that is the first step. The grand thing about the plan of happiness and the gospel is that it is the one sure thing that you will be justified in believing in. I promise you that this message is not to be left to the side to gather dust. The marvelous blessings that I and others have received are not faint wishes to think our lives are better than they are appear; they are real manifestations of a Father who has an infinite love for us all.

No, I´m not exactly sure how it all works out. I don´t know how One dying for us can give us the promise of eternal life. I don´t know how the ressurection works, or why the Father has such infinite mercy with us. But I have a fairly good idea about it all, and it´s enough to make me want to know. As my favorite scripture says: “Even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work within you.”

Eu amo voces!

Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

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Ye shall have eternal life

Speaking of missionary efforts, we had two more baptisms yesterday. So here´s the deal: The mother and daughter had some problems. However, we called President and scheduled a second interview with him after stake conference yesterday. 15 minutes later, we had to rush to ask people to stay and watch a baptism. The son (a high counselor who is our best friend in the work) had the wonderful privilege to baptize his mother and sister. Though I´ve enjoyed going into the waters myself, I knew that this was how it should be. Brother Makayama almost couldn´t get through pronoucing the names because he was crying so hard. I got to stand in as witness and I almost cried too. He has been working with his mother and sister for years, and Elder B. Santos and I were finally the ones to lead them to the waters. I also got to participate in talking about the gospel priniciples just before the baptism. So wonderful. The niece and a little friend of theirs are marked for next Saturday.

I love the scriptures. I hope you all know that. I also love this church (the only true and living one), our leaders, the members, the fruits, and all that is related with this journey of discipleship. I think, above all else, I´m grateful we have a Father who cares enough about us to not leave us alone. Elder Stanley G. Ellis delivered a good talk about this a week ago. (Elder Ellis was in President Martins´s position 12 years ago, leading São Paulo North.) He has not left us spiritually orphaned. He gave us much, and is willing to give us all “little by little.” For even as a child must learn to tolerate milk before meat, so we too must progress.

I´m grateful that the Father has so many proofs of His love for us, if we look for them. Wednesday night, I was feeling particuraly discouraged. I had the thought to pull out the hymnbook that Bishop Panter gave to me. I read the words to “Reverently and Meekly Now” (I´m pretty sure that´s the one) in which the Savior talks to us about His sacrifice for us and what He asks of us. It gave me some food for thought and I continued on into Thursday, which was a bright new day. This gospel is in no wise inconvient; it is the way home. I hope all will stay on this path, so that in the end, we might hear the Father say “Ye shall have eternal life.”

Eu amo voces,

Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

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Come and see

Wow, what a feast! I could hardly hold it in Saturday Afternoon when we stood and sang “Rejoice, the Lord is King.” Those last lines are some of my favorites in all of hymns: Lift up your hearts, lift up your voice! Rejoice, again I say, Rejoice! The magnificent blessings of the Restoration; when I start to list them, my heart sings. If you can´t get excited after that, you just can´t get excited! I also enjoyed the two talks on marriage, especially the seventy who talked about the 6 proverbs of his wife. “A child that sings is a happy child.” In the mission field, often behind the scenes, the missionaries break down and question the worth of their time or fight with their companions on the most minute details. However, generally, my mood doesn´t change too much overall. The secret is the hymns of Zion. These remind me of the promises made to us and the blessings that we may count as ours. When I think of this and sing them as the day goes on, it doesn´t change the day into a successful one, but it lessens the blow and I can go to bed happy that the work I´ve done has been accepted by the Lord. BTW, “catch the wave” of missionary work. We always have better success when the members do the bulk of the finding. We´re here to teach and to be guides, but we are two young men who can only do so much during the day. The work “hastens” when we go with you to your friends and family. Don´t worry about being rejected; we get it all the time. I can´t tell you how many times we´ve come across an “elect reference” and found nothing. I´ve even had 60 or 70 year old women shout at me: “You´re wasting your time, you devil-worshippers!!!!” I usually get a good laugh about that one.

I also had a good laugh during President Monson´s talk. After finishing his biography, I knew exactly what he was talking about when he talked about the cabin and his little friend. One sister came to me shocked that President Monson would have done such a thing. If you know what kind of child he was, it´s not all that suprising. One of my favorite stories was when he and a friend had been pulled to stay after school to write lines on the board. While they were doing that, a horn honked outside and the friend turned to the teacher: “That´s my dad; can I go home?” The teacher excused him and out he went! Tommy Monson thought to himself: “Wait a minute. His dad doesn´t have a car….”

In between sessions, we had another baptism. I went into the waters again to baptize Alexandre Soares Mendes. Next week, we have four more planned. The Lord is being extremely kind to us here.

As you might have guessed, Elder Holland was the standout, though less because it was him talking. It was because he touched on two points dear to me: Alma 32 and faith. I had always been concerned that I couldn´t truthfully say “I know that…” so the story about the 14 year-old boy that Elder Holland hugged was so appreciated. He also quoted the scripture most dear to my heart: “If ye can no more than desire to believe…” I had been born in the church, raised in it, participated in seminary, and went to Institute, but all failed to hit my heart just right. Not because there was anything wrong with them, it was because of the hardness of my own heart. I wasn´t a disobedient kid, but I did things within the church just to please people. I got a lot of knowledge and lessons out of it, but I just thought that, essentially, it was just another school among others. When I went to college, I had to live and do these things on my own. I took a Book of Mormon class with a friend who was investigating the church at the time, and we started in the middle of Alma. I remember reading that verse and suddenly, the wonderful feeling of Primary came back to me. That feeling of blissfully believing in Jesus and His power and that He loves little children. I took that scripture to heart, but didn´t do much about it. When I reached a crucial point a few months later, I reflected back to that same scripture: “If ye can no more than desire to believe, let that desire work within you.” I decided that, since I was going on a mission soon, I´d probably better do something about that little fire.

Now, looking back on it, I can´t believe how much I´ve missed because I was hard of heart. I also thank the Lord that at least He and my parents never gave up on me. I invite all who have wavered a bit to “Come and See”, for it is glorious to behold and I promise you that if you seek with real intent and having trust that the journey will be worth it, your Father will rejoice and you will have taken the first important step out of “sin and hellish darkness and despair.” Faith is always the first step to the Father, so start now. It´s never too late, as long as He says it´s not too late.

Eu amo voces,

Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

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Rejoice, again I say, Rejoice!

President Martins participated in a religious session on the national TV with 3 other high-up leaders of other churches. He did the first lesson, basically, and spoke of the Savior´s visit with the Nephites. He said to the camera; “Anyone who is watching: I invite you to find our missionaries. They will happily give you a free Book of Mormon.” He also spoke briefly of faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. When I saw it, it was nothing more than what you´d hear with the missionaries. However, the media was ablaze for a while about the “boldness” of President Martins. He also gave out five Book of Mormons to members of the studio who asked for it, including the evangelist in the debate. So cool.

So, yesterday was the day of visitors. We had one young man (good kid) who was visiting from another church. He started attacking us, because Gospel Principles was a lesson about the Priesthood, and he translated that into meaning that: if you don´t belong to this church, you are going to hell. He also attacked the logic of gold plates, the idea that a plowboy saw God, and that the Bible is complete. (Genesis is the beginning and Revelation is the end of days, so it must be complete cause there is no other time period). (The young man never understood the word “Priesthood” during the entire conversation.) I didn´t argue with him, but I show him some fault in logic. For example: the Bible was complied by men and not by order of revelation. i.e. Revelation was not the last book received. Also, the Catholics accept some additions to the Bible that were (allegedly) written by Daniel and Ester. Also, he was using a “study” Bible. He said that it was so he could understand the circumstances and the geography, not the teaching. (In spite of the fact that that particular Bible interpreted the “No man has seen God” part and “How you are justified by faith.”) When I broke his logic, he sat and thought for a minute about his positions, and it was clear that I had him. Unfortunately, he never accepted it but went on with attacking our claim to Priesthood. Interesting way to use 20 minutes.

We almost had two baptisms on Saturday, but the mother didn´t think the kids were prepared, so we´ve (with her permission) pushed it into in between conference sessions. We did confirm the couple from last week yesterday.

When we were talking with a family on Saturday, we noticed that our time remaining was short, and so we prepared to leave. The 11 and 8 year olds begged and pleaded for “estudo” (study) with us. I looked into their faces and I couldn´t say no. I looked to Elder B. Santos, and he pulled out the scriptures. They shouted for joy like they were getting an extra hour on the TV. You just don´t see that. EVER.

My goodness, how I love this church and the gospel of Christ that we live. I was talking to a recent convert yesterday about his experience yesterday at church. He then explained: “There is no way you can´t not like this church. You feel the Spirit the second you walk through the doors. The members are involved so much in your life and with their fellow non-member friends that my brother once came to me and said: ‘This church is true’.” This brother of his had just returned from his first visit, which was the first time he had had any association with the church. I marvel at the devotion of these latter-day saints to the Savior and His church.

Yes, my young friend from yesterday, this is His church, lead by prophets and apostles. I´m too excited to listen to them next week, and I hope you all are too. What a blessing to be guided by men chosen by the very hand of the Lord himself! Many of our friends don´t know that the Lord has not abandoned us in the slightest today. If anything, He is more involved in our lives than ever, helping prepare the world for His Second Coming. What a glorious day that will be! Hasten the Work! Rejoice, again I say, Rejoice!

Eu amo voces,

Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

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“The Bible gives me a testimony I can believe; the Book of Mormon gives me a witness that I can´t doubt.”

I had a weird and scary thought. I´m six or so weeks from being halfway done with the mission. Wait…. what? I´ve barely gotten started though. Last week´s email confirmed the fact that the family is more trunky than the missionary is. That´s alright, I´d be worried if Mom wasn´t making these kind of comments.

I´ve got to mention the President Martins miracle from yesterday. He was in a meeting with all the ward mission leaders and ward missionaries from our stake yesterday. He let out a loud call to repentance with all the muster of his soul. At the end of the meeting, one man (not a member) demanded that he be baptized last night. So, with some improvisation (they used the fire-hose to fill the font), they had a baptism right there and then. They´ll worry about the interview later.

Yesterday was a blessing to us. When I got here, there was a family whose mom was SOOO ready for baptism, but some of the Elders wouldn´t baptize her without the husband. The husband was ready too, but because of work, hadn´t been to church. While Elder B. Santos and Bishop were talking about it, I suggested to them a counsel I had from President: “We only need him to come to church once. Why don´t we plan for a Sunday after sacrament meeting?” When we brought the idea to the husband, he loved it! So, instead for waiting until the 30th, we baptized the husband and wife yesterday after church, and the whole ward loved them. Yours truly entered the waters again to baptize Joelma Soares dos Santos. Man, those waters were cold! Now, their 11 and 8 year old kids are read the Book of Mormon and begging to be baptized. Hoorah for Israel! We are also teaching a huge family of a faithful brother, with 5 reading and going to church. Unfortantely, we can only meet with them so often and after the 31st, the next regular sacrament meeting will be the 20th or so (General and then Stake conference), so the gift section will just have to wait.

Many here in Brazil wander looking for security. Thus, we get hit up a lot to “deliver the word of God” to people. Unfortunately, with their Catholic or Evangelical background, they turn the other way when we mention the word “more” and “Scripture/Bible”. (Scripture and Bible are the same thing to them) So, while we do have many people willing to listen to us, it´s only until we move into slightly new territory do they remain friendly. Sure, there is always wheat to be collected, but you must go through a field of tares to find them. And some that were tares become wheat later.

We were working with a family that really doesn´t seem too interested to hear “new” stuff when we decided to talk about the Book of Mormon. While talking about it, I heard a line in my mind that didn´t leave me: “The Bible gives me a testimony I can believe; the Book of Mormon gives me a witness that I can´t doubt.”

It´s wonderful the little bits of archealogical gold that is in the Book of Mormon (eye on the prize, things are they really are, the word that cures the wounded soul, watch yourselves….) along with the giant nuggets of truth (2 Nephi 2, Alma 32, Alam 42, 3 Nephi 11, Ether 12, etc.). The scriptures are to me, as my wonderful Mommy and Daddy once wrote to me, one of my greatest treasures, and I´m coming to know the truth in Nephi´s delight in the scriptures.

The Old Testament is a strong witness of the power of the Priesthood, above all else. (at least, I think so.) The New Testament shows us that there is hope in the darkness. The Book of Mormon exhorts all to drink deeply of the font of everlasting life. Doctrine and Covenants proves that this is the prophetic last days and that we are living in the times that phophets foretold and kings sung of. The Pearl of Great Price shows that the ways of the Father never change.

These records were preserved for us. The people involved with these stories went until their deaths in order to give us this words. They are the words of the Lord. They are the testimony of the Spirit. They are living proofs of the Father´s eternal love for us. And as for me, they remind me of the promises that were made to our Fathers that their children would finally prevail against the dark. Don´t worry about the “numbers of the church will be few”. Remember, every knee is to bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Christ. In the words of a favorite hymn of mine: “Lift up your hearts, Lift up your voice. Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!”

Eu amo vocês!

Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

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So, what are you waiting for? The longer you wait, the harder it will be.”

So, things happening here. We have several people being prepped for baptism, although Elder B. Santos is loosing some of his hair because one of our investigators hasn´t attended church yet. We are also working with a couple that have a smoking problem and the husband has been in depression for the last year. It´s terrible to see him want to have hope, and yet his mind shuts him down. He wants to work, he wants to quit smoking, he wants to be baptized, but he can´t make any real progress towards any of this. I was wondering about Mom´s B-Day, as I was working that day (Go figure). Fortunately, even with the apparent whitewashing of the place, we´ve had some very good prospects.

My favorite was a family of an active brother. The family has been attending church for the last 4 weeks, so all they need is to be taught. Because they can only meet two or three times a week, we live so far apart, and they can´t get together before 8 PM, it will be tough. We had a great meeting with them and the Bishop (Oh my gosh, I´ve found my new best friend!) and we taught the Restoration. Even though it was awesome and full of the Spirit, Elder B. Santos panicked a bit because he became unsure of the presentation. (When you jump from teaching 3 people to 15, your mind plays tricks on you.) So, we´ve been working on that.

Last week, we had Zone conference. In order to get to the building, we had to travel through downtown Osasco. Man, how I missed the place. With me, there was a Sister Keller, a group behind me, that was trained in downtown Osasco, and so we had a few kicks and giggles about the place. I have a friend from my group, an Elder Ray who got stuck in Provo, who is now working in Novo Osasco, so he asked me about a few people that were (surprisingly) still being taught.

Oh, to those who may be interested. The Mission Department has now authorized missionaries to email friends and converts through email. The rule before was only family; it´s still one hour though.

I had an interesting insight to the pain of the Atonement yesterday during Gospel Principles that I´d like to share with you, as it caused me to pause and think. You know how the record says that Christ sweated blood from every one of His pores. I learned that (if nothing breaks in the process) you have to basically destroy your finger in order to sweat blood from one pore. That´s without skin, bone, or nerves breaking. Now imagine the number of pores in one finger, and then multiply that to include ALL pores on the body. Kind of gives you a painful perspective. I definitely took the sacrament more reverently after learning that fact.

I went to a less-active´s house last night (same that I talked about in my message last week) and we asked why he didn´t come to church today (yesterday)? He said, “Oh, I´m waiting for the right time. Want to come back, but I don´t know if now is the right time.” I asked him my usual question, “So when will be?” I was then inspired to add a story that I know Mom will remember. So, we (Joe, Cora, Gennie, and I) were told always to clean our rooms. Most of the time, we were told that Saturday was the big cleaning day, but that we should clean our rooms a little bit during the week. Most of the time, if we did the little things (and especially the big cleaning period on Saturday), then we were on good terms with Mom. However, if we missed the big cleaning day, even the little cleaning periods didn´t help all that much.

I then gave the interpretation to him. The big cleaning day is Sunday, in this case. Even if you get the little things, like reading scriptures, praying, serving others; if you miss taking the sacrament and going to church, your week is going to be much harder and you´ll be more prone to loosing the blessed companionship of the Holy Spirit. He pondered that thought. He hasn´t even been doing the little things. Then I said to him, “The Church isn´t changing. The way the Church runs isn´t changing. Joseph Smith is still a Prophet. The people at church will be still imperfect. So, what are you waiting for? The longer you wait, the harder it will be.”

Friends and family, if you complain about the Lord and wait (or as Paul may say: kick against the pricks), you make it that much harder for the Lord to bless you. Doing these kind of things only hurts you, and breaks your Father´s heart. Why wait? It´s not too late, as long as the Savior says there is still time. Come back, there is a place prepared just for you and the Landlord is more than happy to have a full house at His gatherings.

Eu amo vocês!

Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

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Why do we run from Him?

So, I did get a transfer. The office said that this would be a transfer of surprises, and trust me, nobody was more surprised than I was. Because of the lack of missionaries (We lost about a good 20 on Wednesday), some areas were closed and others merged with existing ones. Indaiatuba no longer has its own missionaries and my friends from Jardim do Vale are taking care of our area and theirs. (Which is huge.) So, I got transfered to Santana de Parnaiba, which is close to Alphaville. (Alphaville is where I thought I´d go first). This place is in the middle of nowhere and reminds me very much of Rothenburg, Germany. To give you an idea, imagine the Bear River Canyon going from McGregor´s to the Hot Pools down south. Now imagine little pockets of a city every mile and a half or so. That´s my area, and it´s big. We have to take a bus to every lunch appointment. My companion was a nice surprise: Elder B. Santos. I believe I´ve mentioned him before; he was one of my Brazilian roommates in the MTC. Sad fact is that he arrived here 2 weeks ago because of an emergency transfer, so we know nothing here. It´s like opening up an area for us. Because the area is in green hills (more like the Brazil you guys think), it´s been a lot of fun to go out and explore the area.

Wonderful for Natasha. I had wondered if she would go too. Keep me updated. I wouldn´t be surprised if a certain Kovelenko put in her papers.

Alphaville is so close to Osasco that you could take a bus there, which I would do in a heartbeat if it wasn´t against mission rules. Yesterday was wonderful. I introduced myself to the ward and we´ve been doing well with the members here. As I was coming here to type the email, we stopped at a photo shop to grab some lunch money from the members for tomorrow (Zone Conference), and I sat down and talked with the Stake President´s daughter (I think). She is a 15 year old who just returned from a year of studying in Salt Lake, so I was doomed to help her practice her English (Yes, what a terrible fate!) She did amazingly well and it just goes to show that missionaries aren´t the only ones to receive gifts from the Spirit. Oh, and Elder Wilson gave me Root Beer extract, so I can finally have some of that goodness!

This week, we´ve been teaching a family that have been reluctant to join because of some family issues and because of the mother´s psychological problems. However, they went to a baptism from the other ward and we went with them. The father, who has been the most reluctant, felt the Spirit quite strong and has gotten back on track to baptism. We´ll keep you posted.

An experience that happened with us last night is the basis for my message to you. In honor of Mom´s birthday, it´s actually based on something she taught me about a year-and-a-half ago while I was passing through a hard time. We visited a less-active family last night and shared some snacks. I left a message based on Revelation 3:19-21. After some explanation, I asked if we could expect them at Church nest Sunday. The father and the children said yes. The mother said No. When we asked, she said she had some big problems with the church that had nothing to do with us. On a side-note, she has only picked up the Book of Mormon once since her baptism. This less-active sister was clearly hurting, and I sat thinking. I was inspired by Mom´s lesson and told her a brief summary of the story:

During my trial, I told Mom that I was only going to attend Sacrament Meeting, and then return home. When she asked why, I told her that Father and I weren´t on good terms. She said: “So you´re running away from Him?”

That struck me deep. I knew running from Him was the wrong thing to do. It is never Him that has the problem with us; it´s us that turn away from Him. Mormon once said: “…O ye fair ones, how reject that Jesus who stood with open arms to receive you?” (Mormon 6:17) Why do we run from Him?

I think it has something to do with the vision we have of Him as the Lord of Hosts, which He is. But, oftentimes we forget that Jesus taught about the unity of Him and His Father. We charaterize Christ as loving, while God as an angry Father. This blind the truth about the Father. He is our “Father”, with all the love, majesty, and affection that the title “Father” should imply. (Thanks, Elder Ballard!) I wonder if the Christian world understands that scripture that we are so fond of: John 3:16. That scripture is as much about the Father as it is about the Atonement. “For God so loved the World, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Father loves us so much that he gave up his Only Begotten Son, the thing that we´d think would be most precious to him, so that his whole human family might come back to him, not so that we might run the other way.

Don´t run from him. He wants nothing more than to bless you and to give you eternal life. You can, on his perfect and just terms. I´m learning so much about the nature of Father and his love that I´m becoming more and more suprised that we reject him and Christ. Goes to show the unbelief of our hearts. Let´s use the Atonement and reconcile ourselves with the Father.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

Eu amo vocês!

Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

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Have joy

So….Some fun things happened for both of us. We had the confirmation of Allan yesterday, lopped on top with another ward baptism. I´m sure that Sister Rolim is getting tired; she´s delivered talks at the last 3 baptisms, inluding ours. Thank you, Mommy, for taking the time to learn that bit in Portuguese. If it´s from Google translator, it´s the first I´ve seen in a while that´s correct. 

I wish to take a second here to thank everybody for the kind letters and comments they´ve made over the “carta azul” (Portuguese for “Dear John”, though it actually doesn´t translate out exactly). All of you have brigthened my day with your carinho. I´m taking the moment to respond to all very quickly. I say this as a “I´m alright” thing so that you may rest easily, and not because it´s the typical response or because I don´t want people picking at a wound: I would be a very poor missionary if I´d spent the last 10 months preaching about the ultimate source of healing, and I didn´t immediately use it myself for my own private woes. Also, thank you so much, Mickey for taking time to think and type out messages which Mom is diligently passing to me. It´s wonderful to know that my familiy aren´t the only ones being concerned or affected by my service to the Master.
 
We had a very scary experience recently that I can´t give full details about. We were involved in a case of casting out demons from a home here. Our recent-convert, Allan, and his mother has had some very frigthening and powerful manifestations of Spirits in their home, and when we went there Tuesday, they finally came forth pleading for us to do something about it. Elder Moura had apparently felt it before, but neglected to tell me anything. I shook off whatever feelings I felt as due to the trafficking business that goes on in the neighborhood. As we approached the house this time, I felt a definite unnatural heat emminanting from the place. Elder Moura stood petrified, not wanting to enter the house, saying that there were many spirits in the home. I knew, at that point, that I didn´t feel comfortable entering the home without some things done first. We offered a prayer to Father for help to rid the house of the Spirits, and then we turned around and performed a special fast. We arrived Wednesday night with the Patriarch to dedicate the house. When we approached the house this time, Allan and his mother thanked us for our help and stated that they felt comfortable in the home and since the prayer the day before, they had felt the heaviness lifted from the house. We dedicated the house, and gave them counsel on how to mantain the blessing upon the house.
 
So, priesthood power works, as does prayer and fasting. Just saying that.
 
Yeah, Manaus, the heart of the Amazon. While I was in the MTC, they dedicated the temple there, and I got to attend via tele-brodcast. It was wonderful, and I believe I talked about it a while back in June. Great for Doc. Permit me: “You have taken your first step into a larger world.” We also had a mission tour with Elder Mazzaguardi from the Seventy. I´m embrassed actually to admit that I said that Hoboken was in Canada, to which he promptly corrected me. New Jersy, people. That´s the answer.
 
I´ve had a kick reading John for the first time in Portuguese. As I finish the gospels again, I marvel at how much of a Master Christ was. Take time to read His responds to the Pharisees, Saducees, and scribes during His last week of his mortal life. I would also suggest reading Talmage side-by-side with it. Each was stunning in its own right and had emboided within it an eternal truth. I´ve been searching recently on how to better my teaching skills and so, how better to turn to thatn Christ, and also Jacob in the Book of Mormon. The simple, everyday eaxamples that they use marked upon the listeners something to think about. We have been blessed with intelligence from God. It is something we all posses, yes, even the cocounuts. We can make connections of all kinds. You´ve all seen it; the primary children saying profound things that has lefted you startled. I´m thinking about the Master´s examples everytime I go to work, and I hope that soon, I can use my own examples too.
 
Mary was commended for choosing the good part. While service and practice of the word is crucial, there must also be a time when we stop and listen. The still small voice is rarely heeded to in comotion. Listen to hymns, sing with them, take time to read the scriptures aloud. I´m so grateful for having to learn a new language, because now that I´m taking the time to read the things aloud, I´m catching literally pages of stuff I´d not seen before. The boring chapters of scriptures now become essiential in my eyes and I look forward to the next time I hit Jacob 5, Alma 5, or the Savior´s teachings on the 2nd day of His stay with the Nephites. I promise you, that as you slow down and take advantage of deep reflection, the mysteries of the kingdom will be opened to you and life can be fulfilled “to the measure of its creation” and you may “have joy therein”, (BTW, Gen. Did you read President Utchdorf´s talk yet?)
 
Eu amo vocês
 
Stephen
(Elder Jarvis) 
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