Friend to Friend


Adhemar Damiani

I was born in the big city of São Paulo, Brazil, in 1939. World War II began that year. Because of the war, my family faced many challenges. Food was scarce, and we had very little money. At that time, life was not as easy and comfortable as it is today for many people. We did not have televisions or vacuum cleaners or computers. We used a fireplace for cooking.

My four brothers and I loved to play soccer in our backyard. We had no money for a soccer ball, so our mother made us a ball out of old clothing. We used two fruit trees in our backyard as our soccer goals.

When I was very young, my brothers and I learned to help our mother do chores around the house. Our parents taught us that every job is worthwhile. They said we should always do our work well and happily.

To pay my way through school and help my father support the family, I got two part-time jobs when I was 14 years old. To get to my morning job on time, I got on the bus at 6:30 A.M. In the mornings I worked as an office boy, running errands up and down the stairs to offices in a 15-story building. In the afternoons I made deliveries all over the city. As soon as my afternoon job was over, I went straight to school. My classes were from 7:00 to 11:00 at night. I didn’t get home until around midnight. I studied on the bus and on Saturdays. I had to give up many other activities. Later I also worked hard to attend the university.

Because I was willing to work hard, I did very well in school and later I had very good jobs. I was the director of a big company for the whole country of Brazil. I could do these things because of the sacrifices I made as a boy.

What goals would you like to reach? If you will work hard and make sacrifices, you can achieve any goal you have.

When I was a mission president, I learned that the best missionaries were often those who had to make big sacrifices to serve a mission. I knew one young missionary who earned the money for his mission by delivering newspapers. While he was serving his mission, his younger brothers sacrificed for him too. Without telling him, they kept doing his job and saved all the money they earned. When he returned home, they gave him the money so he could attend the university. He is now about to graduate.

When I was 20, the missionaries baptized my girlfriend and her family. The missionaries taught me too. After I read the Book of Mormon, I received a testimony and was baptized. When I was 23, my girlfriend, Walkyria, and I were married. Several years later, we traveled to the Los Angeles California Temple to be sealed together. We couldn’t afford to take our children with us, so they were sealed to us when the first temple in Brazil, the São Paulo temple, opened.

When this temple was being built, Church members who lived nearby helped build it. They were asked to spend one day a month working on the temple. Sometimes people had to risk losing their jobs to take a day off to work on it—but it was worth it! Many children also helped build the temple.

Church members are usually not asked to help build temples anymore. But every time you pay tithing, you are helping temples be built all over the world. And because of your sacrifice, people in many countries will be able to go to the temple. Now there are four temples in Brazil!

For many years, I worked in the São Paulo Brazil Temple. I saw many families come there to be sealed. Many of them had to make great sacrifices to do so. I remember one family who had traveled for three days to get to the temple. They had six children, and only one of the children had shoes. The father was embarrassed that some of the children had only sandals to wear. But he knew that coming to the temple was more important than having shoes. It was a wonderful experience to see this beautiful family sealed together in the temple.

You can make a difference by making sacrifices. You can give up some of your free time to help others. You can work hard to do well in school and reach your goals. You can pay tithing to help temples be built and pay a fast offering to help poor people have food to eat. The sacrifices you make will bless you and others too!

Below: Working as an office boy. (Illustration by Emily Reynolds.)

Left, top: At age 9 (left) with his brothers Paulo and Antonio. Left, bottom: At age 20 in the Brazilian military.

Far left: The São Paulo Brazil Temple, where Elder Damiani served for many years. Left: Elder Damiani with his wife, Walkyria.

Elder and Sister Damiani with their two children, their children’s spouses, and their five grandchildren.