Mormon Journal

By


The Word of Wisdom Changed My Life

One Sunday, seated in front of the television with my cigarettes and usual bottle of wine, I heard the doorbell. Opening the door, I saw two young men in blue suits, with name tags identifying them as missionaries. The room I invited them into was full of smoke and the smell of alcohol, but they were undeterred and began to question me about my beliefs. Did I believe in God?

That made me stop and think. Though I had been baptized as a little boy, I had never been a churchgoer—I thought religion was not worth it. Rather, I believed in my conscience and the need to be honest with my fellowmen. Yet I surprised myself and answered yes to their question. As they continued and began to teach me about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, it seemed as though I had already heard their words. An indescribable feeling began to come over me, and I loved these young men. When they offered a prayer, I began to cry, and my heart began to swell until I felt it would burst.

We made an appointment for the following Tuesday, and during the interval, my life passed before me as in a film. Until the age of twenty, I had abstained from alcohol. But then a business failure and financial difficulties sent me into a deep personal crisis, compounded by my wife’s illness and two-year convalescence in a distant hospital. I sought comfort in alcohol, and before long I began to drink quantities of strong spirits from morning until night. Add to that the 70 to 100 cigarettes I smoked daily and you can understand that my physical condition deteriorated gradually to the point where I was embarrassed about it.

At one point I entered a hospital to be detoxified, but the doctors were unable to help me and I became even more depressed. I had a good job and a wonderful family, but I needed to get out from under these vices. In desperation I abandoned myself even more completely to alcohol, at one point even attempting suicide. I tried to enter a private clinic for help, but could not afford the treatments. It was at this point that Elders Sorensen and Waterman entered my life.

When they returned for our second meeting, the two missionaries spoke to me of many new things that I did not know but felt were true. When they told me about the Word of Wisdom, I felt my heart sink, and I said “Tell me how I, of all persons, can give up alcohol, since I have tried every way I know how, and have had no success.” They asked me if I believed in God and in the things they had taught me and if I felt that I had faith in the Lord. I replied that I did.

“Good,” they said. “If you will listen to us, we’ll help you and the Lord will give you the power to overcome your problem.” “I’ll be infinitely grateful,” I answered. Their exhortations filled me with joy, with hope, and with faith, and I really desired in my heart to follow their guidance. When I prayed I felt more and more self-confidence, and from that morning, with my newborn courage, I imposed the rule that I would never drink cognac again. And I was able to maintain that rule though I suffered greatly. With the help of the elders, and with humility, I was able to gradually reduce the doses of other alcoholic beverages and of cigarettes. It was not easy, but I felt the Lord near to me, helping me. I felt that I had to do my part and that I would not be alone in this trial.

After a month and a half I was able to overcome my vices. Finally free, I felt ready to be baptized, with my wife, on December 28, 1977. I came up out of the baptismal waters renovated in body and spirit, sure that the Lord forgets our sins if we are truly repentant. I can’t explain what a joy it was to abandon the old me and see myself reborn full of trust in myself and love for my fellowman. I had an immense desire to recover all the lost time showing gratitude to the Lord with a commitment to do everything that he commanded me.

Following my baptism, my health improved day by day. At first I continued to arise in the morning full of aches and pains. Getting up was a painful trial. But after prayer, I was able to go about my work serenely until the evening, when the problems returned. But then, one great day, I arose and realized that I was finally free of the pains. From that time forward I have had no problems.

After a year of Church membership, we were able to go to the temple, where my wife and our three daughters were sealed to me. Now we are truly a united family. I have been blessed with a number of challenging callings in the Church and can bear witness that, with humility and faith in the Lord, there is nothing impossible for man. I know, too, that observance of the Word of Wisdom brings health and strength—and the desire to use that strength in the service of the Lord.

Brother Controzorzi is president of the Milano First Branch, Milan Italy Stake.

The life of a professional athlete can be very strenuous—practices, training, exercise, traveling to and from games or matches, meeting the press and the public, and the constant responsibility of performing well. Athletes who are members of the Church testify that living the Word of Wisdom helps them cope with their rigorous lifestyle.

One such athlete is 25-year-old Milton Queiro da Paixao—affectionately known to his fans as Tita—a member of the Brazilian national soccer team. Tita says he owes a great deal of his success and ability to observing the Word of Wisdom.

“Since I was baptized,” he says, “I have diligently followed the principles of the Word of Wisdom. A good diet and a morally clean life have been of great value to me in keeping in excellent physical condition.”

Being in top physical condition is necessary for Tita and his teammates as they participate in soccer matches in various temperatures and climates and at various altitudes. Known for his diligence and concentration in practice and training—he is always one of the last to quit—Tita lives his religion comfortably, and he never misses an opportunity to explain why he doesn’t join others in smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages or tea and coffee.

Luiz Ziwi Pires, a reporter with the publication Zero Hora has commented that Tita is a “well-mannered, clean-cut young man. He treats people courteously and he is always willing to respond to questions about his religion.”

Tita was born 1 April 1958 to Milton Henriques da Paixao and Walstir Queiroz da Paixao. His father was Catholic and, before her marriage, his mother was active in the Methodist church. It was through one of his mother’s brothers, Walter Guedes de Quieroz (former Brazil Porto Alegre Mission president) that the family was introduced to the Church. Eleven-year-old Tita was baptized in 1969 together with his mother and two brothers.

His interest in sports found its outlet in soccer and he participated in Church and school tournaments. His activity with a soccer little league brought him to the attention of the “Flamengo” club and he signed with the Rio de Janeiro-based team. He was drafted to play for the national team in 1979.

A favorite of the fans, Tita’s ability on and off the field has earned him favorable press coverage. But Tita has used his fame not to promote himself but his religion. For example, he used the publicity surrounding his recent marriage in the Sao Paulo Temple to explain that he and his wife-to-be had to live specific standards to be worthy to be married in the temple and enter into an eternal covenant. Among the standards, he told the press, were the principles of the Word of Wisdom.

Tita, a member of the Tijunca Ward, Rio de Janeiro Andarai Stake, said that he and his wife want to be worthy of the eternal covenants they have made. His other goals include living the commandments and being a good example to those with whom he comes in contact, taking advantage of missionary opportunities, and harmonizing his professional life with the standards of the Church.

Brother Da Cunha is bishop of the Tijunca Ward, Rio de Janeiro Andarai Stake.

How I Overcame the Coffee Habit

It’s been five years now since I drank any coffee but sometimes the smell of it reminds me of those years when I drank so much of it that now even I find the amount unbelievable. My day would begin with a cup of coffee as I told myself I needed that energy boost to meet the demands of being a mother and homemaker. After that first cup I needed little or no excuse for more whether it was the visit of my mother or a friend, or a belief that I needed a cup of coffee to keep up my energy or to help me relax. It was cup after cup after cup. And as I had convinced myself that the day had to begin with coffee so I convinced myself that it had to end with coffee. I just “knew” that I wouldn’t be able to sleep without my bedtime cup of coffee, even though logic told me that coffee was a stimulant—after all wasn’t that why I used it throughout the day? It never occurred to me that so much coffee was harmful to my health.

I didn’t face that fact until the day two missionaries knocked at my door and introduced me to the gospel. I willingly accepted their message and their challenge to be baptized. But, they explained, for me to accept baptism I also had to accept the Word of Wisdom, and that meant no more coffee.

Somehow I wasn’t completely surprised by their injunction so I was prepared to meet their challenge. The people who were surprised were my husband and my daughters. They knew that coffee was an integral part of my life and they were convinced that I would never give it up.

But something inside me had changed. In accepting the gospel message I accepted all its precepts. As I did so I felt a tranquility enter into my life and I knew that the Lord would help me live his commandments.

Of course, it was not easy to stop drinking coffee; my body had become so used to relying on it that for a week after I quit drinking it I walked around in a daze, my legs trembled and my arms felt weak. But with the help of the Lord my desire for coffee had gone. There was no way I was going to go near that coffee pot. It was a marvelous sensation and more than once I found myself on my knees thanking the Lord for his help and strength. The missionaries regularly visited me to see how I was doing and to give me encouragement and my watchful family was constantly surprised to hear me say how good I felt.

Today I can look back on five years of happiness. Not only do I have the energy to fulfill my role as wife and mother, but I’ve also been able to serve in a number of Church callings. On the rare occasions when I may feel physically tired, my spirit is always ready for more and that helps rejuvenate me. Is it any wonder that I have a testimony of the Word of Wisdom, and of the gospel that brought it into my life.

Sister Vitaloni is Relief Society president in the Milan Italy Stake.