Happy Easter, everyone! What a wonderful time of year to be a missionary, serving the Lord and talking about Jesus Christ daily. I love what I do! This week has been full of good experiences and miracles, as always. I mean, you must get tired of hearing that from me every week, but they keep happening and I'm not complaining!
1) Past Addictions- We're working hard at helping an inactive member return to the church. We've made a number of breakthroughs while visiting her, including a very spiritual lesson on Thursday which seemed to have changed her desire to return. We returned on Saturday to discuss the church, and she explained that she didn't want to go as long as she was addicted to smoking, because she didn't feel right going if she was sinning at home. Our first approach was to convince her that the church is the best place to go--a "hospital" of sorts for people who want to repent. Her being old and rather hard-headed, I switched to a new tactic--getting her to believe she could stop smoking. What followed was the pep talk of the century, preparing her to stop smoking over the course of four days and be ready for church next week.
She got really excited and a little worked up, which was pretty funny. She went off talking about how when she'd come into the world, she'd been pure and free of addictions. On thinking about it, she revised her statement, saying she'd only been addicted to her mother's milk. "And if I was able to stop that," she said "why can't I stop smoking?!" "Absolutely!" I responded, "And just like your parents were there to free you from your milk addiction, we're here to help you stop smoking!" And we will help her.
2) Tears- I love the Book of Mormon. Honestly, we don't have a more powerful tool in missionary work aside from the Spirit. And the two work together magnificently to touch hearts and help people desire repentance. I saw this at work during a visit on Friday to an investigator we'd found last Sunday. She'd read the chapter we marked, and as we asked about it, she explained a spiritual experience she'd had. In her words, she'd been reading the chapter and came to a particular verse. As she read, a powerful feeling came over her and she began to cry. I was rather curious to know the verse, and she showed us 3 Nephi 11:33. Read it. I was nearly speechless.
We continue to visit her and the Book of Mormon continues to touch her heart. Alma 36:1 led to more tears and an important discussion on the law of chastity. For the honest seeker of truth, no book has a greater ability to touch the heart or draw us nearer to God than the Book of Mormon. I've read it since I was a child and my appreciation for it continues to grow. I'd encourage everyone to read it. Ponder on it. And pray asking God if it is true. Miracles will happen.
3) Easter- I want to end by taking just a few moments to write about the holiday we just celebrated on Sunday. Because it's important. Not because of the chocolate (though I love that as well), or because of bunnies and springtime and family dinners. But because of what happened on a similar Sunday over 2000 years ago.
I took the time this week to read the accounts held in the four gospels about the last days of Christ's earthly life and ministry. The betrayal, the suffering, the crucifixion, Peter's denial, the women's tears, and the loss of hope. I cannot begin to imagine what passed through the minds of the disciples as they saw their Master offer his last breath, cry out, and die. It hurts me just reading it all. But that is not where the record ends. That is not even the climax. The climax comes with three simple words offered by the angels by the empty tomb: "He is risen."
He lives. I know it. He overcame death for us, and on this particular day of the year we take the time to celebrate it. It is the ultimate message of hope and joy. I'd encourage you to take the time to watch this short message, it's great.
This is the glorious message that I am striving to bring to the people here in Brazil. That He lives. Because of His sacrifice, we can live eternally with our families if we do our part. It's not always easy. But it wasn't easy for Him either. Just remember: shortly after every Gethsemane is an empty tomb. Don't ever give up hope. The fight is worth it.
I love you all. Thank you for your support and prayers. It helps.