Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in northern France, southern Belgium and Luxembourg.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The miracle of my mission

Guys. This is incredible.

It was about a year ago when my trainer, Elder Wheatley, and I decided to go to a part of our sector in Paris to which we'd never been before. We didn't have any amis or members there, but I guess he felt that we should go, and I followed him because that's what blue missionaries do.

The whole story can be found on the post entitled "Coincidences? I think not!" from February 2015 and so I won't tell it all again. If you're feeling like it would take too much time and too many clicks to get there, suffice it to say this: it was a lot of prayer plus some surprising "coincidences" that led us to Helder's door and into his home.

Shortly afterward, with my second companion, Elder Harris, we had an incredible lesson with Helder that left us on a spiritual high for hours. And then...nothing. He texted us and cancelled everything. We later learned that Helder's had some really tough things in his life that were coming back and messing everything up. But we kept leaving the occasional message or text, and after some time he answered. He ended the phone call with five words: "Don't give up on me."

A couple of weeks went by, and I was transferred. That's where I leave the picture.

Fast forward three months. On transfer day, on the way from Belgium to Strasbourg, I was chilling in the underground Paris metro system with Elder Wheatley for a couple hours. And walking through the crowd, guess who we saw: our miracle find, Helder! He was looking as classy as ever. He approached us and told us that he's been moving forward with the missionaries in our old area, and that he was determined to keep going despite the barriers that were holding him back from baptism.

That was almost six months ago now. After many setbacks, some huge miracles, and much prayer and effort on the part of many missionaries, our brother Helder went into the waters of baptism yesterday. And although I wasn't able to be there, I can tell you that his life has changed forever. The old Helder is gone: he died as he was plunged into the water. The new Helder, a disciple of Jesus Christ, was just born.

Never forget that our Saviour can change any situation into something bright and beautiful.


Elder Stanford

Four of the missionaries who taught Helder

PS (Jordan wanted to include this email from Elder Wheatley, a former companion who, according to Jordan, said it better)

Hi friends,
When I first came on a mission, I was stupid. By that I mean, I thought the only way to measure missionary success was by dressing in white and standing in the water with someone ready to follow Jesus Christ. I was so set on baptisms. I wanted to baptize lots and lots of people and say at the end "what a good boy I am!" Stupid right? This week I had another experience that opened my eyes to the reality of true missionary work; or might I say, this week I saw the wrap-up of something that started over a year ago.

On the 26th of February of 2015, Elder Stanford and I were out working in a small town in the bordering region of Paris called Chilly-Mazarin. This town was over an hour away from our apartment, and we had come out because we were running around trying to follow
inspiration. It was raining lightly and after two hours of rejection we started feeling pretty frustrated. We prayed for further direction.

During this prayer we felt that we needed to tract -- which at 2:30pm on a Thursday is not the most efficient way to work. We started knocking doors, and saw little fruits. After an hour, we came upon an apartment building with about 10 names on the intercom. We started ringing. Finally we rang the last name under TAVARES, waited for a few seconds, rang again and then finally... nothing. A bit disappointed, we felt like there was something better we could be doing so we decided to pray again for direction, there in front of the door.

About a minute or two into the prayer, we were interrupted by someone who answered the intercom. His name was Helder. He told us that he was too tired and to come back the following week on the same day at the same time. We made the journey a week later and were disappointed when Helder stood-us-up. We wrote a note, left it in his mailbox and said if he calls, great, if not, we're not coming back.

That night we received a phone call from the sister missionaries in Antony who told us that, while talking to their investigator, they asked for a referral. Their investigator gave them the name of a man
who was having a tougher time in his life and wanted to change; a man who lived in Chilly-Mazarin; a man named Helder. We were blown away. Of the 10 million people living in the Paris region, they gave us the very name of the person we had tried to see that very same day!

We went back the following Thursday at 4pm. He was there. We taught him the message of the Restoration of the Gospel and about God's plan for happiness, and the spirit was so strong. At the end of the lesson, Elder Stanford asked Helder to pray, and in doing so, Helder started to cry. He wanted to proceed in the teachings. I was transferred right after this encounter.

Teaching Helder was a complicated process as it took a year. He stopped taking the lessons multiple times, but he couldn't deny the spirit he felt and always came back. Yesterday I was able to attend
the baptismal service of Helder Tavares, and I don't think I've ever attended a more spiritual service in my life. Here was a man who literally changed his life through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ; a man ready to forget his past, to embrace a brighter future. At least one missionary from each companionship that taught him after I left attended this service, and you could see the love they all had for this man. Each of these missionaries saw miracles in teaching Helder.

You know what? I didn't even touch the water of that baptismal font, but my joy couldn't have been fuller. Missionary work goes well beyond the actual baptism. I praise all those who have the faith and the courage to take part in the little steps of sharing the Gospel, whether it be on Facebook, through text messages, inviting friends and family members to ward events, teaching with the missionaries, driving people to church/seminary/whatever. If you participate in the conversion of your fellowman, how great will be your joy in heaven, and might I add, on earth as well.

I invite each and everyone of you to pray tonight. Who can you help? Who searches for this message? For those who have not yet entered through the gates of baptism by proper authority, I invite you to
learn for yourself by talking to your member friends, and searching for yourself at and with the missionaries - they don't bite, or at least I don't. Finally those of you who have strayed from
what you once felt and loved, I invite you to honestly humble yourself before God in prayer. No matter how far you think you've strayed, it couldn't be worse than Peter denying the living Christ three times. Look where he ended up after he repented. God loves you and wants you back.

Elder Nicholas Wheatley

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