Dear Family and Friends,
No, I did not go to Rio for the Olympics. Itaperuna has a similar statue and we made the loooong climb up to visit it. I´ve seen the statue every single day here, and have wanted to visit it since coming here.
This week, I´ve been thinking about how we can come to Christ, and about taking everything that would prevent us from doing so out of our lives. Elder Maxwell taught that if we want to live in the Celestial Kingdom after this life, we have to take everything that is not celestial, out of lives.
This week has been pretty crazy but definitely a good one. And nothing epitomizes crazy like Manoel. I wrote a little bit about him last week, how he is so happy despite suffering countless accidents. He´s still beaming smiles, and I´m starting to understand why he has so many accidents. We were walking and he passed us on his motorcycle, and waved at us emphatically in his sincere pleasure in seeing us. But remember, he only has one arm! I couldn’t help but laugh as he raced past us without any hands steering the motorcycle. Despite many physical hardships, Manoel is coming to Christ. He´s shed many a tear testifying of the love he´s felt from our Redeemer.
Igor is 20 years old and has attended church now 4 times. We’ve been teaching him, and it´s been amazing to see him change. His sister was baptized about a year ago but he never had a desire to visit the church. Just before I arrived here, he woke up wanting to visit the church and since then he´s completely changed. He works at night and sleeps during the day which makes it hard at times to visit him, and so were surprised when he called us this week asking what he needed to do to be baptized and prepare for a mission! It was definitely a great surprise. He struggles with same sex attraction, but has a great desire to come unto Christ, and knows there is no other name whereby salvation cometh, as well as in the gospel is found true happiness and peace.
And, we also met a young women, Michelle that has also completely embraced the gospel. We met her talking with people in the street. She went to a church activity about 3 hours later and has impressed me with her sacrifice to come to the church the last two Sundays. She lives way out in the country yet has made it to church before us both times. Her whole family just drinks on the weekends, yet she is setting the example for them and I am sure will help bring them to Christ.
When we hiked up to the Christ statue I was taken aback by what we found. Besides the Christ statue, the only thing there is a bar. A giant bar, with 100-200 people drinking and partying at the feet of our Savior. Yet, like President Hinckley I feel optimistic. Because while there is plenty of evil in the world, there is also light. Christ is the light, and we, as followers of Him, have to share it with others, and not hide it under a bushel. It wasn’t easy to walk up the mountain to Christ. It´s the highest mountain in the city. And its not always easy to follow Him in our lives. But it’s the only way if we want true happiness. When we´re tired of hiking up the mountains in our lives, we can always remember that Christ is at the top, with open arms inviting us to come to Him.
Enjoy the view