The Power of the Atonement
Hello Family and Friends!
Although it is incredibly hot here and I feel like jumping into a ditch to hide myself from the intense heat, I’m actually doing very well! The work is also moving along really well here in Russas. We have been teaching some great people who are super interested in the church. One of them is Elen’s friend (Elen was baptized a few weeks ago, along with her entire family). Her name is Rayani. She is 16 years old and comes from a strong Catholic background. Rayani’s mother is also a strong Catholic. So understandably, when we began teaching Rayani, she didn’t really show much interest. At the end of our first lesson with her, we invited Rayani to pray and ask Heavenly Father if what we said was true. It looked like she wasn’t interested in doing anything that we asked her to do. But a few days ago, we went back to her house for a follow up visit and found out that she had actually prayed that same night. And during the night, she had a dream where she was told that the church was true. When she woke up, she immediately called her friend Elen and told her about the dream and expressed the desire to be baptized into the church. Wow! This was an incredible miracle! We have had so many other miraculous experiences lately.
Elen has been an amazing member missionary, along with her mother Helena and her sister Gabriela. I have grown close to this family. They have been such a great help to the missionaries. Helena knows everything about Russas and knows everyone because she worked for the city for years. She has given us so many people to teach. And she is so kind to the missionaries. For example, she knew that I loved to collect random stuff made in Brazil. One day she bought be a Brazilian soccer t-shirt. Another day when I was visiting her, I mentioned that I liked French Fries and the same day she went to the store and bought potatoes to make French Fries for me. Also, whenever we need to have members teach with us, the whole family is always willing to go. I’m so grateful to have gotten to know them, teach them about the gospel, baptize each of them, and watch them grow in the gospel over this last month!
Impressions of Brazil:
- Milk is sold in little boxes and lasts a long time. But I am told that the milk companies, in order to make more money, add water to the milk. So in every box of milk is about 30% water.
- Not too long ago, I was teaching an evangelical woman and her daughter, and at the end of the lesson, we invited the mother to pray. She accepted the invitation and started to pray. The prayer started really slow and very calmly, and then slowly raised in volume until she was screaming and raising her arms up and down in the air like she was conducting an orchestra, and then she slowly lowered her voice and finished the prayer. At the end of the prayer, her daughter started clapping. I love that story.
- I heard that Russas is one of the oldest cities in Brazil. Russas is over 200 years old!
- A typical sidewalk food that people love to buy is corn.
The other day I was talking to Elder Santana (one of my previous companions), who is spending time with his family visiting some of his old areas before he goes home. We were in church and he made a comment about my unpolished shoes. He asked why I didn’t polish them before going to church. I said that I did polish them during the week but they got dirty again and I didn’t feel like going through the process of polishing them again. I asked him what is the point of polishing my shoes if the moment I step outside, they become dirty again? (I loved how he then used the moment to teach me.) He responded by asking this question, “We sin everyday Elder Nielsen, explain to me then what is the point of the Atonement?” I have thought about that question a lot. I realized that we often get so discouraged with our sins and weaknesses that we forget to call on God every day to use the Atonement to cleanse ourselves. The adversary would have you think that the Atonement is only used occasionally, when things are really bad. Or that you have used up the power of the Atonement and you have run out of chances to receive forgiveness. THIS IS A LIE! What I’ve learned from thinking about Elder Santana’s comment is that if we don’t use the cleansing power of the Atonement frequently, then we are not showing proper gratitude for all of the pain that our loving Savior suffered for us in Gethsemane and on the cross. We need to use the power of the Atonement EVERY DAY. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t look at confessing your sins to the Bishop as a punishment. It is a wonderful beginning to a fresh start in life. Be happy to do it. You will feel a closeness with God. He is waiting with open arms to transform your weaknesses into strengths. If you need to confess something, get it done immediately and don’t hesitate. Satan wants you to wait because he wants to stop you from moving forward to better things. I want all of you to know how much I love my Savior. I love him with all my heart, and I am so grateful for every drop of blood that he shed for me. I will strive to use the Atonement more effectively in my life because I don’t want his sacrifice to be in vain.