I ran across this message written for the benefit of our loved ones just before we left Brazil. I thought it might be well to share it here. I truly feel that our mission to Brazil was a time of much growth for me. I know that it was a time of sacrifice for our children as well and we became more aware of their love for us. We are grateful that Families are Forever and we are especially grateful for our family. Here, then, is our “gift” to them from Brazil:
We thought and wondered and prayed about bringing souvenirs and gifts home for all of our family. We really didn’t know what you would like and didn’t want to fill up our bags with meaningless trinkets. So we are following President Hinckley’s ten suggestions for gifts to take back home--these are the things that we have learned while serving here in Brazil:
* We bring to you a greater knowledge and love of God, our Eternal Father, and His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a firm testimony that they know and love us individually and bless us according to our individual needs.
* We have developed an even deeper knowledge and love for the scriptures, the word of the Lord. Personal messages of inspiration, hope, and love are embedded in the scriptures for each one of us. They have inspired us and they will continue to inspire and direct our lives because we will never stop reading and searching the scriptures. We especially love the Book of Mormon which is another testament of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We love reading the Book of Mormon and will be finished reading it by the end of this year as our Prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, has asked us to do. We have been reading it verse by verse, first in English, then in Portuguese.
* We have an increased love for our children and grandchildren. We have been humbled at the love and service and support that has been provided us. We are so grateful for this blessing in our lives of a wonderful family.
* We grew to love the people in Brazil, and to appreciate their culture. We discovered that they are warm, caring, and wonderful people—both in our Belém Ward and the neighbors who greeted us each day as we walked to and from the Mission Office. We learned much from them, especially that our Heavenly Father loves all His children no matter what part of the world they come from. We learned that even without becoming fluent in their language, they loved us and made us feel welcome and needed. We also loved associating with the Elders and Sisters who qualified themselves to serve our Heavenly Father by laboring in the mission field. We watched their diligent efforts as they planned and worked to bring the gospel to those who are searching for the truth. We especially appreciated the Elders who helped us so much both in the office and with personal endeavors. They helped make calls to arrange for services and appointments that we have needed and could not accomplish on our own because we didn’t have enough language skills. We learned that the happiest missionaries are those who work hard and put forth every effort to be successful. They love and enjoy what they are doing and enjoy their associations with one another. It was such a treat to see their joy as they interacted during conferences, transfers, and other occasions when they were together.
* We have gained an appreciation for hard work and the rewards of serving our Heavenly Father. As President Hinckley has said, “Nothing happens unless we work.” When we first arrived, I wanted to turn around and go back home. I am grateful that we stayed for we learned much and grew from sacrificing for the Lord and His children. We have especially gained a greater appreciation for our great country and what it offers us. In spite of the difficulties and struggles that the United States of America may have, it still is the greatest country in the land.
* We have received the assurance that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is always available to us. We have discovered that sometimes it is necessary to be still and listen to that quiet, still small voice. We have appreciated the guidance and direction we have received, especially in the quiet hours of the night when fear was making its stand. We want each one of you to know how important it is to live so that we can have the Holy Spirit as our companion. The comfort and peace that came through this association made all the difference in the world to us (especially me) all during our mission.
* The next gift is the blessing of teamwork. We worked as a team both at home and at the office which brought us peace and contentment and deepened our love for one another. What joy it is to know that we are united in our desire to love and serve the Lord.
* We have learned the value of personal virtue. We have always known that we can, to a large extent, control the thoughts that occupy center stage in our minds. There is much comfort in that knowledge, in addition to a great sense of empowerment. Agency, or the right to choose, was God’s gift to us from the beginning. That agency begins with the thoughts we choose. Therefore, choosing to surround ourselves with an environment filled with wholesome reading material, sights, sounds or conversation provides us with a firm foundation on which to build integrity and virtue.
* The faith to act. Faith begins with hope and ends with charity, or the pure love of God. Real faith leads us to righteous action. We discovered that it is so much more satisfying to act in righteous ways, rather than to re-act to negative consequences occuring at times as a result of our choices and at other times because of outside circumstances.
* The humility to pray. We have power available to us that is greater than we can ever imagine. The Lord is there for us. We know that He guides us. He magnifies us. He protects us always if we let Him. He has always been there for us our whole lives, but He has especially blessed our lives during our mission. We will never stop praying for we know it is our very lifeline.
These are special gifts that we would like to pass on to each member of our family, for they will last for eternity. We are still continuing to work on them every day and are grateful for the joy and success that we have had. We are grateful for the success and joy that we see in your lives. May each one of us commit daily to live these gifts to the fullest, so that we can endure to the end in righteousness.
It was nice to review these thoughts that were recorded while we were yet on Brazilian soil. Our mission changed us in ways that yet endure. We learned things about ourselves that we could have discovered in no other way.