“Find the Missionaries for Me”
In 1998 my father was suffering from a serious illness. A year earlier his leg had been amputated just above the knee. This resulted in various circulatory problems and a great deal of pain and infection. Finally the doctors determined that a portion of his femur—the thighbone—would also have to be amputated. We spent many days in deep concern and sadness.
Since my hometown is small and did not have the resources to treat such a serious health problem, my father went to a hospital in Marília, Brazil, where my sister lives, to be tested and receive aggressive treatment. Nothing seemed to help, however, and many days passed. I went to Marília to be with my parents, and we all sought to strengthen and comfort each other.
My parents were members of the Church, but I wasn’t. At times I had even acted against the Church and had denied the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. But every time I went to visit my father in the hospital, he spoke to me about only one thing: “Luisinho, find the missionaries for me! I need a blessing.” I had searched for the missionaries, but I couldn’t find them. Now time was getting short.
The day before he was to have surgery, I went to visit him again. That day we were particularly apprehensive. We knew the treatment had not been effective, and the next morning my father would have an X-ray to determine how high the doctor would have to amputate.
That day my father asked something different. He was sitting on his bed, putting on his prosthesis so he could go for a walk with my mom through the corridors of the hospital, checking on his friends who had had surgery that morning. As he stood up, he said, “Luisinho, go buy me some water please.”
I immediately went down the stairs and outside to search for a bottle of water. While I walked I saw a group of missionaries down the street. I forgot about the water. I started running after them, and the only word I could get out was “Elder!” They stopped, and I managed to explain my father’s situation.
When my mother and I left the hospital later that day, we saw Elder Alves and his companion enter to visit my father. And that night we received a telephone call from my father. He told us that the mission president had also been there, and my dad had finally received the blessing he wanted so much.
We spent the night wondering what would be the result of the X-ray the following morning. Nonetheless, something comforted us.
The next morning we awoke to the sound of the telephone. It was my father. “Come and get me,” he said. “I am free to go.” Joy overcame us as he explained that the nurse and doctor who examined him couldn’t understand what had happened. “What did you do during the night that caused your X-ray to come out so clean and your bone so perfect?” they asked.
When I remember that day, I feel more and more that the priesthood is real and that it is on the earth once again. Within three months, I had received a testimony and was baptized. Later I served in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro North Mission, sharing my testimony and my love for the things that I know are true.
A Perpetual Education Fund Loan Changed Our Lives
I had always dreamed that I would study something relating to medicine. And as a missionary I learned that the Lord always prepares the way for His children to achieve what He desires them to do.
Shortly after my mission, I met a young woman named Fabiola at institute. We began dating and fell deeply in love. The Holy Ghost confirmed to me that I should ask her to be my eternal companion, so I proposed and she accepted. As we planned our future, we realized that my salary would not be sufficient for the necessities of daily living. Fabiola offered to continue working for a time to support me as I finished school. But that would take quite a bit of time, and we wanted to have a family. So we prayed to Heavenly Father for His help. We wanted to do His will.
During my mission I had heard President Gordon B. Hinckley speak about the Perpetual Education Fund. As a returned missionary, I had attended some meetings at the institute about the PEF program. My eyes were opened and my hopes encouraged; I knew it was a program that could help my future family progress. So I spoke with Fabiola, and we set goals regarding my education.
I decided to study physical therapy. I wanted to wait a while to fill out my PEF application, but my fiancée insisted I do it right then. I submitted my loan request in December 2001, and also that month—on 22 December—Fabiola and I were sealed in the Mexico City temple. My loan was approved in January 2002, and I started school soon after.
One day when I was making a tuition payment, I met the director of my school. During our conversation I mentioned that I was a member of the Church and explained the PEF program to him. He told me he knew some Latter-day Saints and they were good people. He also said he had had some LDS students.
After I had attended one month of classes, the director invited me to finish my major early by taking double classes, graduating in 14 months instead of 24. I explained to him that I would not be able to pay the extra tuition until the next year when I renewed my loan, but he told me that my word was good enough since I was a Latter-day Saint. So again I was blessed. I began taking more classes, even though this required more studying and more hours in class, while continuing my part-time job.
I was amazed as I attended school how the Lord blessed me by increasing my knowledge. As part of my education I have helped people who had back problems, scoliosis, sprains, sciatica, and neck pain. Helping others improve their health and their lives through rehabilitation therapy is a pleasure—and a dream that has become a reality.
Everything is going well. I am elders quorum president in my ward. By the time I graduated in April 2003, I had taken all the required steps to have my own practice, and Fabiola and I were expecting our first child.
I know that the Lord has established the PEF and that this program helps us to be self-reliant. With my new employment I can better provide for my family, serve in the Church, bless the lives of others, and pursue further studies at the university.
Our lives have changed thanks to the Church and the PEF program. I know that the lives of many young people can change if they will follow this inspired program.
Alone in the Dark
Sometimes it takes a challenging experience to help us realize that if we put our trust in the Lord, He will support us in our trials (see Alma 36:3).
This principle was reinforced in my heart some years ago when our little family stayed for seven months in the North African country of Tunisia, where my husband, Keith, did research for his doctoral degree. As students on a tight budget, we had no phone and no television. Our home was a tiny fifth-floor apartment in El Menzah, a suburb of the capital city of Tunis, and our daily routine was simple: Keith studied at the national library while I stayed home with our baby boy, David.
As far as our Church involvement went, we were the Church in Tunis. Each Sunday, Keith administered the sacrament and we read the scriptures. We sang our favorite hymns and listened to conference tapes. Then we finished with a lesson from Keith’s priesthood manual.
Although we met some wonderful people and made some good friends, there were still times when I felt alone and even fearful. One of those times was when I returned home from grocery shopping to find that we had no electricity. A thin blue envelope had been shoved under the door, and inside the envelope was a letter written in French and Arabic. When Keith got home he translated the letter. To our dismay, we discovered that the previous tenants had failed to pay their electricity bill and that we were now responsible for it. We wouldn’t have lights until the bill was paid.
We used candles over the weekend, and on Monday morning we rode the bus to the electric company. After we paid the bill, we were assured that within two days the lights would be turned on.
But would two days be soon enough? Suddenly I realized that Keith’s night class was on Tuesday. He had to attend to keep his scholarship, which meant that little David and I would be alone in the apartment. Solitude was difficult even under normal conditions. What if David and I ended up being all alone in the darkness with only a few candles? Even thinking about it frightened me.
Monday passed, and we still had no electricity. On Tuesday afternoon, Keith returned from studying to find that the people from the electric company still had not come. We discussed our options, and finally Keith said, “I feel we should pray.”
With humble hearts we asked for help. After we finished, Keith hugged me and said, “Everything’s going to be all right. The lights will be turned on by tonight.”
I still felt skeptical, but I depended on his faith. By 4:45 that afternoon, however, doubts filled my mind. After a silent prayer, I again felt a peaceful assurance. Then at 4:55 the people from the electric company arrived to turn on the lights.
Experiences like this increased my faith and helped me know that I was not alone. During the months of our stay in Tunisia, I depended on the power of prayer often. I am grateful to Heavenly Father for His watchful care and love, and I am also grateful for the faith-building experience our family had in Tunisia—an experience that is still a source of strength to us today.