Monday, April 21, 2014
I know with a certainty that God exists and that He loves us.
Bom dia! I hope you all had a great Holy Week! We forgot that Easter was approaching until Palm Sunday (Domingo dos Ramos) when we saw groups of church-goers (non-LDS) carrying bundles of palm branches. This week has been a week that was as difficult as it was edifying, as usual. More baptisms fell through. We´ve faced physical exaustion, a little contention within the companionship (resolved immediately, of course), and illness (of missionaries and investigators). We have been rejected, forgotten, mocked, scorned, and ignored. To tell you the truth, this is all so normal. We are already used to it. But why do bad things happen to good people, especially as they try to live and share the gospel? To quote Elder Holland, it is "because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation was never easy." It wasn´t easy for the almighty Son of God,a God Himself, and it certainly won´t be easy for us, being mortal, imperfect beings. Difficult things happen so that we can learn to turn to Jesus Christ, so that we can learn more about the Atonement and apply it in our lives. This world is extremely wicked. It was on the Passover, a Thursday, when Christ left the Upper Room for the Garden of Gethsemane. There, He suffered for the sins, pains, sicknesses, heart-breaks, temptations, misdeeds and unjustices of every soul who had ever or will ever step foot on this earth. Almost two thousand years after this history-changing event, you would think we would find reverent commemoration. But I am telling you that last Thursday night, and early Friday morning, during the exact hours during which Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, there was a party in the street. A party with extremely loud, filthy, pornographic music, inappropriate dancing, drug use, and a lot of alcohol. This is the world in which we live. This Holy Week, I learned how important it is for us to remember that we are not of this world. We are spirit sons and daughters of the Most High God. We are a covenant people, and we belong to the world to come. As we focus all of our thoughts and actions on obtaining exaltation, our eyes will be opened and we will see that "there are more with us than be with them" (2 Kings 6:16). Despite the number of the enemy, we will always be backed up by a great number of angels, seen and unseen, to protect and confirm. This Easter, or Pascoa, as it is called here, was so great! We had 4 people in the chapel! And we got 4 presents each! Three "ovos de pascoa" (easter eggs, which are giant chocolate eggs) and one king-sized candy bar. We had lunch with the Madruga family, who has one son in the mission field, and two more preparing to serve. It was really fun! The Madruga family is one of my favorites! Instead of a message, we watched the video released by the Church in honor of Easter "Graças a Ele" ("Because of Him"), and we shared what the Resurrection of Christ means to each of us. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the one, singular, true church on the face of the Earth. It is the only church that was established by the hands of Jesus Christ. It is the only church with the Holy Priesthood. It is lead by the one living Prophet of God, and Twelve Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. This church, with its apostles, seventies, high priests, elders, bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons, has the same organization that existed in the Old and New Testaments. This is the only church that has the authority to baptize, to administer the sacrament, and to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost. We are the only church that does temple work. It is only through this Church and this Holy Priesthood that we can be saved and sealed as families for eternity. Any other church or religion or belief system cannot and will not get anyone to the kingdom of God. It is only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can be saved. Those who leave this church, for any reason, are rejecting the Gospel of Christ, and, thus, refusing to enter the kingdom of God. As members of the one true Church of Jesus Christ, we must do everything in our power to preach the gospel, in word, in deed, in example. We must live our lives as saints, disciples of the Lord. We must obey the commandments of the Most High God. We must construct our homes and our families on the principles of the Gospel. We must study the scriptures and exercise our talents, to prepare for the day when Christ will return to the Earth. We must make and keep sacred covenants, and help others to do the same. If we do and keep these things, we will be found ready at the great and last day, and when we meet our Heavenly Father once more, and speak with Him face to face, He will say "well done, my good and faithful servant." It is then that we might take our rest in the bosom of Abraham, or the Celestial Kingdom. I know with certainty that God exists and that He loves us. I know that His Only Begotten Son, who is Jehovah, the God of Israel, came to Earth in the flesh and lived and died for us. I know that because of Him, we can live forever in the presence of our Heavenly Family. I know that there is a life after death, and that our time on this Earth is just the beginning of an eternity, and that the things we do in this life will determine how we will live in the next. I know that the Holy Ghost is real and that He loves us and that He is God´s messenger. Because of the faith of my parents, I was baptized and recieved the gift of the Holy Ghost when I was young. I am forever grateful to have been guided by the Holy Spirit as I prepared for adulthood. I am so grateful to be here, serving a mission. I am grateful to serve such a humble, hard-working people. This is a blessed land. Every week here is a holy week, a "semana santa". I look forward to even great times ahead. Today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better yet. I leave you my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen Elder Thomas Richins Ala Jardim Mirna Estaca Grajaú Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos