Nearly 6 years ago, I was serving as a missionary in the Colombo Branch in Brazil. The branch averaged about 20-30 members a week. The area was a much more humble area than where I'd previously served in the rich and buzzing city of Curitiba. Here the homes were much smaller--often only a room or two. Few had cars. The roads were dirt, but quickly became rivers in the daily rain. But the people were wonderful.
At the beginning of my mission (whether I should have done this or not), I wrote down a few miracles I would like to see in my mission. One was that I would like to find and teach a teenage boy who would one day serve a mission.
My emotions are running high today as I received word that Bruno Barbosa de Oliveira, one of my miracles, received his mission call.
As I watched the Facebook feed to find out he had received it, I called him up on my Skype app and got the news firsthand (isn't technology awesome?) A little hope I never even dreamed of. He was called to, of all, places Salt Lake City, Utah! You don't even know how much I've cried for joy today. What an awesome experience. As we chatted about his call, he told me how wonderful it was that he was called to the very place where one of the sisters who taught him lives.
Bruno opening his call.
Sometimes the Lord answers prayers in very unexpected ways.
Bruno was an unexpected find on a terrible day.
My companion and I were diligent at making street contacts. We talked to everybody everywhere to try and find people who were willing to hear our message. I remember the exact street corner, across from a make-shift soccer field. My companion and I were hurrying with a member to try and make a lesson. But we saw a couple walking and stopped to talk to them. We chatted for a bit, explained our purpose as missionaries, and they politely declined. But our dear member friend spoke up and told them how the message we had would bless their family and change their lives. This couple quickly changed their demeanor and said they would love to have us visit. We wrote down their contact information and put a smiley face next to their name-- a symbol we used to indicate we felt this was a good contact.
Several weeks later, my companion and I had an incredibly insane Saturday planned. We had booked about 10 lessons in the afternoon and were not sure how we were going to teach all of them. But they were all close together and we figured we could average about 30 minute lessons and be ok. We were so excited to get out there and teach, teach, teach all day long! And then it started to rain. Never a good sign for missionaries. And our first appointment fell through, and then the next and the next. All afternoon we walked to all the appointments and to our back-up appointments to no avail. No one was home. We stood on the corner, opened our planners, and asked for a little heavenly help in the drizzling rain. We scanned our contacts and realized we were about 2 blocks away from that contact with a smiley face. It couldn't hurt to try. So we headed toward the Oliveira home.
We clapped our hands at the gate and the dogs came charging toward us. We quickly backed off and thought this was definitely a no-go. But the owners called the dogs off and Lu and Orias welcomed us in to their home. They called two of their children in to hear our message. In came Bruno and Gabriel. Bruno was about 14 at the time.
We shared a beautiful message about the Restoration. They were Seventh-Day Adventists, but were seeking truth. They wanted to know more. They wanted to read the Book of Mormon. I can still feel a sweet spirit when I think of that first meeting.
The next day, Bruno came to church by himself, which was a pleasant surprise. He quickly made friends with the members, who loved him right off the bat.
When we had scheduled our second visit, I was on splits visiting another family so my companion went to visit Bruno. I remember us both discussing how strongly we felt about Bruno and how we needed to invite him to be baptized. When Sister Rebêlo and I met up later that evening, she told me he wanted to be baptized. I was ecstatic!
And then I was transferred. I anxiously waited for word about the family. They were progressing. Bruno was coming to Church. He was reading the Book of Mormon. He was gaining a testimony. And then he was baptized.
Bruno's family later joined the Church as well, although they are not as active as he is. But Bruno has stayed strong these many years and has served well in that tiny branch, bringing many to a knowledge of the truth. And the two times I have been back to Brasil have been beautiful reunions with him and his family. He has become just like a little brother to me over the years and a blessing in my life.
When I read this morning that his call had come a few days early, tears came to my eyes. When I asked to teach a young man who would one day serve a mission, it may have been a selfish request. I wanted to feel like something that I did on my mission would continue forward. But even if it was selfish, the Lord was merciful enough to let that miracle happen--but not for my sake. For Bruno's. Because he has changed his life through the gospel. He has let that testimony build and burn within him. I am excited to see the miracles that he will perform as he serves here, where I live. You can bet that missionary is going to have a lot of member lessons and will never have a day without food!
I am grateful for that smiley-face contact, that wonderful member who spoke up, that rainy awful day when all our plans fell through, but mostly for the Spirit that testifies of truth. That is what made the difference.
Deus vos guarde com o seu poder, Bruno. Sempre esteja ao vosso lado.
(May God keep you with His power and always be by your side).
*This is how "God Be With You till We Meet Again" is translated in Portuguese.
Labels: Curitiba Brazil Mission, mission miracles, mission stories