I Chose to Serve
Elder Maer Emanuel Gonçalves de Carvalho
- Elder de Carvalho's mother came to the temple from Angola with her branch in February not knowing that she would be at the Johannesburg Temple the very same time as her son. What a thrill it was to be with her son in the temple! Isn't God's timing wonderful?
Everything changed because I had a testimony and I had to share it.
My mother was baptized in Portugal, 1989, by a missionary who devoted two years of his life to serve the Lord and bless my family.
My brother and I enjoyed listening to Book of Mormon stories which my mother shared with us when we were little. She used to put Book of Mormon stories on the walls of our room and we loved them! We had a little box where we put our money for our missions when we grow up.
We had family prayers every day, and my mom read the scriptures to us. We sat in the living room every Sunday morning from 9:00 to 12:00 for our Sunday meeting, because there was no church in Dundo City, a little and lovely town northeast of Angola. We prayed, sang, and listened to stories that mom read to us.
I came to Luanda from Dundo to study when I was 14 and attended church there. I studied the Book of Mormon and gained a testimony of its truthfulness when I was 16.
When I was 18, I finished high school and was part of a music group called Dream Boyz Angola. The band was so successful that I did not even think of serving a mission.
But everything changed because I had a testimony and I had to share it.
I submitted my mission papers and received my mission call in April 2012 to serve in New Zealand, beginning July 2012. The dates began to change because I could not receive my visa. I fasted and prayed but did not receive an answer.
I decided to concentrate on my music group, and our success increased to such an extent that we were known throughout the whole country.
In November 2012, I received news that my visa had been denied. I thought of giving up serving my mission. A few days later I received the news that my mission had changed to South Africa Cape Town Mission. I no longer had the interest to serve.
My band was approached by many record companies with offers that could help me and my family financially. I had to make the final decision to serve or not. I knew I had to serve and could feel it!
I came across a young boy whom I introduced to the church and baptized. Being in his presence motivated me to think of serving of my mission again!
I began to reflect on the love Heavenly Father has for me, how blessed my family is to have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and how my life would have been if that missionary had not made the decision to serve. I prayed a lot and read the scriptures daily.
I chose to serve a mission because I know that this gospel is true, and could not keep its blessings only to my family; I also had to share it with the children of God that needed the truth. D&C 88:81: “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”
Serving a mission is a commandment and a privilege which gives one the opportunity to grow spiritually and be the person the Lord desires him to be. I know God gives commandments to his children so they can be happy. To serve is not just a commandment--it's a mission.
Missionaries leave their eternal families behind for two years so other families can be forever.