Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Testifying in Brazil

So I went to the dentist on Wednesday. Dr. Goes eliminated all the pain and he will finish the procedure this Wednesday. Nothing that Dr. Goes did was painful because he numbed my mouth. We had a nice one sided conversation. You know how it goes. He's working on your teeth and asking you every question he can come up with while you answer repeatedly with the response that somehow every dentist can understand, "Arhhgguhss." It's even better when he uses prestigious medical terms in Portuguese. Oh, the dentist. 

This week I had a neat experience. Surprise! haha. Every week we all have them, really, it just hard to recognize them at times.
3 weeks ago, E. Quieroz and I were looking at a list of less active members whom we could visit as we walked around Jardim Barragem 4 (the names of these neighborhoods are very creatively misnamed). The bishop had asked us to find out of these people still lived in the address listed next to their name. We knocked on a door (clapped our hands in front of a big metal fence) to see if Rosimar lived there. Someone else answered the door. Rosimar had moved away but Glaucia, the girl who opened the door gave us Rosimar's number. She was friends with her and said she had seen missionaries like us at her house before. We asked if we could share a message with her about Jesus Christ. We started teaching her that week and she liked the Book of Mormon. She had a lot of questions about baptism and the need for the Book of Mormon in the beginning. She didn't understand why, if she were to join the church, she would need to be baptized again because she had already been baptized in her church. She also asked why we need the Book of Mormon when we already have the Bible. For each question she asked, thankfully, a scripture and explanation came to mind that answered her question clearly. Upon reading 2 Nephi 29 and 31, she received answers to her questions. We explained the need of priesthood authority to perform ordinances such as baptism and explained its origin, absence, and restoration. Each time we taught a lesson, she had questions which the Book of Mormon was able to answer for her. We continued to invite her to read and pray about the book. The week after we had these great lessons with her, she didn't answer her phone and her family gave conflicting stories about where she was when we passed by. For a week we couldn't get in contact with her. When we finally found her at home she told us that she was confused about a lot of things and her demeanor showed that she didn't want us to teach her anymore. We asked if we could pass by again to try to answer her questions and clear up confusion. She agreed. The next lesson we had was unexpected. She asked again why she would have to be baptized again if she had already been baptized. As a missionary you have to be sensitive in how you respond to questions like this--thankfully the spirit brought things to our remembrance to help us teach clearly and sensitively (John 14:26)  We kindly reminded her of the example Jesus Christ set when he was baptized and that he invites us to follow it. We opened the scriptures to support our explanation and emphasized that by knowing the Book of Mormon is true, she can gain a testimony of the things we say. We invited her again to pray to Heavenly Father to know what she should believe, but she didn't believe a prayer would help her. It was difficult to proceed because she presented the same doubts and questions she had presented when we started to teach her--one's she had said were answered by the Book of Mormon. She had invited her friend over and her friend started to ask questions about our beliefs. She told us why she doesn't believe in the Book of Mormon and accused us of many things. We calmly answered her questions and read scriptures from the Bible to support the reality and authority of prophets. It wasn't a heated argument like it may sound, but she wasn't very willing to listen and consider anything we said. Another person that was listening interposed to comment on how the Book of Mormon just substitutes the Bible and isn't true. We asked them if they had read it and they replied no. We explained our role as missionaries is to teach and testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that His gospel was restored by a living prophet--that we don't aim to convince, but rather to invite. I read 2 Nephi 33:10:

And now, my beloved brethren, and also aJew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words andbbelieve in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall cbelieve in Christ ye will believe in these dwords, for they are the ewords of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they fteach all men that they should do good.

After reading that verse I shared my testimony saying "Christ came to the Americas to teach his gospel and that a record of this occurrence is contained in this book. A reading of it and an application of the principles within will bring you closer to Christ" I could feel in that moment that they knew what I was saying was true, that the Book of Mormon is a testament of Jesus Christ. I invited them to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.  I am glad I was prepared to be able to share my testimony in such a way, and to feel the spirit testify to them that Elder Quieroz and I said was true. 

I hope that one day Glaucia and her friends will return to think about the Book of Mormon and that they can gain a testimony of it. Knowing that the Church of Jesus Christ is on the earth today and that His gospel has been restored brings so much happiness.

Elder Bryce Young

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