In 1991, my beloved husband, Gilberto, lost his life in a truck accident in Pôrto Alegre, Brazil. His death was a shock. We had all been happy and healthy. We had even recently rejoiced in Gilberto’s baptism. The rest of the family—Gisele, Pablo, and I—had been members of the Church for some time.
Unfortunately, the children and I did not overcome our loss very quickly. Days ran into nights and into days again, and nothing seemed to lessen our pain or our sense of abandonment.
Then we learned that we would not be able to get an insurance settlement because we lacked the necessary documentation. We had to sell our house and all the furniture because we could no longer make the payments. Three months later, we were able to buy a small apartment. But it seemed as if nothing could cheer us.
We spent three very unhappy years in that apartment. The school where I worked became more unpleasant with each passing day. The children were having problems at school, too. They were persecuted by the other students for being members of the Church. Rather than improving, life seemed to become more unbearable. We began to lose hope and even stopped going to church.
After a time, we decided to move to a city in another state. We felt that by moving to Florianópolis, we might be able to leave our grief behind.
We arrived with the modest funds we had received from the sale of our apartment. But everything was very expensive, and we soon became discouraged. Then, during Easter vacation in 1994, we went to look at a new house in a place called English Beach. We went only out of curiosity, not expecting to like it much and certainly not realizing the blessings Heavenly Father had in store for us there.
We arrived at the house and met the owner, a man from Argentina who needed to return to his country. He was ready to sell for any amount, as long as the money was available immediately. It was a wonderful house, very large and very beautiful. We knelt down and thanked our Heavenly Father for such a wonderful blessing. We felt guilty for having had so little faith in him. But the house itself was only the beginning.
Two months later, we met the LDS missionaries in the area and learned where church meetings were held. Soon we were attending regularly. The members were very concerned about us. They showed us that we were members of a large family—the family of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Day by day, we grew happier.
With the arrival of spring a few months later, the rental rates in town went up, and it became very expensive for the branch to stay in its quarters. So the branch began to meet in our home. We opened our home to the branch, and the branch opened their hearts to us.
When we came to Florianópolis, there were few members. Now our little chapel is full. Both of my children have been called as stake missionaries. I serve as the organist and teach in the Relief Society. Our family is planning to go to the São Paulo Temple to be sealed.
Today, I know that even in our most desperate times, there is a purpose to our trials. We realize now that it was necessary for us to come to English Beach, and our years of struggle taught me that there is no greater happiness than doing the Lord’s work. Now I know that even though my husband was taken from us, our Heavenly Father has not abandoned us. He will always provide.