September 8, 2009

The Lighthouse - President's Message

After only two months in Portugal, we love the country, we love the people, and most of all we love our missionaries. You are our heroes. We love your dedication and your desire to serve the Lord with all of your "heart, might, mind and strength" (D&C 4:2). We recently met our historic new Area Presidency in Preston, England, along with all of the other mission presidents in Europe. The new Area Presidency is comprised of all Europeans (President Kopischke of Germany, Elder Caussé of France, and Elder Teixeira of Portugal). After a spiritual experience with them in the Preston Temple, the Area Presidency told us of their vision for the Lord's Church in Europe. They believe the active membership of the Church in Europe will double within ten years. To achieve this vision we need to reactivate one less-active member or baptize one new convert in each unit every transfer cycle. With the Lord's help, we can achieve this by working in unity with the members.

The Center for Young Adults in Porto, which was organized in May, continues to grow and has already had several baptisms. Another center with great potential will open soon in Coimbra. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was also with us in England. He and Elder Kopischke said that the future strength of the Church in Europe will be among the age group of 18 to 30, and that is where the missionary success with be achieved. We must each do our best in our small part of the Lord's Vineyard, and then as Alma said, "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass...and by very small means the Lord does confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls" (Alma 36:6-7). This is the Lord's work, and we are privileged to be a part of it.

September 6, 2009

The Lighthouse - Message from the Missionaries

We have all heard of golden investigators, but this is a story of a truly elect woman of God. One day a woman walked up to the other Elders in Leiria, and gave herself as a reference. We tried to contact her for a while with no luck. Finally we taught her the first lesson; it was a miracle in itself that we found her house, but that is an-other story altogether.

We found out that she was a Jehovah’s Witness for almost fifteen years, twelve of which she served as a local missionary, putting in 70 to 80 hours each week knocking doors. After a time, the elders of her church dealt unjustly with her, and she left their church, disgusted with church, religion and God. After three years, she felt a need, a yearning to have God in her life again. She had always heard that next to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons were the next closest to the truth, “except for their false book, the Book of Mormon.”

She told us after our first lesson with her she thought, “These kids know nothing of the truth or how to teach it.” However, we taught her all of the lessons, and she kept her commitments (sometimes reading her assigned reading the hour after we left). As she began to apply the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, she felt the power of the message. One powerful witness came from a miracle that happened because of prayer and fasting, a principle not taught among Jehovah’s Witnesses. She gave up coffee, read For the Strength of Youth in one night, and came to church on Sundays, missing only twice because of work. She answered gospel questions correctly in Sunday School, dived into Our Legacy and took a special interest in the Doctrine and Covenants.

She received every principle with an open mind, not always accepting it as the truth immediately, but completely willing to read and ask God. Many complications arose, including her decision to change her baptismal date; she originally wanted to wait a year, but later decided two weeks was enough. She conquered all the ploys of Satan, armed with the word of God, prayer and fasting. She set her own baptismal date for the 29th of August, and she even called to see if we needed someone to wash and press our clothes.

It is an honor for us to have worked with one of the truly elect, and see the Spirit enlighten and expand her mind and testimony. Isabel Paulo was baptized on the 29th of August and confirmed the following day. The baptismal service was beautiful, without problems, and she had her family there with her. It is truly an honor to serve the Lord and help God’s children back on the path to eternal life. 

Written by Elder Zabriskie