“Friend to Friend: ‘Be of Good Cheer’” Friend, Jan. 2002, 8
Let me tell you how I got my unusual first name. In my family, there were three boys. My parents wanted their children to be unified, so they named us for the three main characters in a famous book, The Three Musketeers. This is a book about the adventures of three friends whose motto was “One for all, all for one.” My older brother’s name is Aramis, my younger brother’s name is Dartagnan, and my name is Athos. Each of us is very different, yet we have always been very close.
When I was about ten, my older brother had a serious health problem. The blood in his hands was not circulating properly, and they hurt very badly. At that time, my family lived in a small town on the border of Brazil and Argentina. The medical facilities there were not very good, so my mother and my brother traveled to the big city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to see the doctor. Because my father had to work during the day, my baby brother had to stay with another family. So every day I went to visit him. And every day I prayed for my older brother.
The doctors told my mother that they needed to amputate (cut off) my brother’s hands. Mother refused. “No, I know that the Lord will take care of my son,” she said. One night after my mother and brother had returned home, he was in great pain. I shared a room with him, and I remember him crying because his hands hurt so much. While he cried, Mother knelt by his bed, praying. The next morning, I saw him sleeping peacefully. Mother was also asleep, still kneeling at his bedside. We were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Mother had great faith. Eventually my brother’s hands did get better. He lost the tips of some of his fingers, but he did not have to have his hands amputated.
Mother also had great courage. And she taught us to be of good cheer. She told my brother that even though he had lost part of some fingers, he still had everything else. So my brother did not get discouraged. When he got older, his first job was as a typist. Today he is an attorney.
It is very important to be unified with your brothers and sisters and parents.
Also, when you belong to the Church, you are a member of a big family. And we must be unified. Remember the motto of the Three Musketeers: “One for all, all for one.”
It is also very important for you to obey your parents. I had an experience that taught me the importance of obedience. I love horses, and I love to train them to jump. As a young man, I was invited to compete in the Pan-American Games, which are something like the Olympic Games for the countries of North, Central, and South America. For two years, I worked very hard to train for this competition. Then one day not long before the games, I disobeyed my coach. I had just finished my training session, and he had told me that it was time to stop. But I decided to make a few more jumps. As I did, I fell with my horse and was seriously injured. After all my hard work, I was not able to take part in the competition. We must all learn to be obedient to our trainers—our parents, our leaders, and our teachers. They know how to help us avoid dangers and problems.
Working with horses also taught me to be patient and to never give up. Progress comes a little at a time. Once I had a colt named Planchet. Someone said, “That horse is weak. He will never be worth anything.” But someone else told me that if I would be patient and exercise my colt’s muscles, he would someday be a good horse. I fed Planchet and took care of him and loved him. For one whole year, I just walked him to strengthen his muscles.
I worked and worked with him. And, sure enough, this weak colt became one of the best horses in Brazil. He won the Brazilian championship in a three-day-long competition.
You may think that you are weak now. But never give up. One day you can be strong. But you must be patient in doing simple things. Pray to the Lord. Study the scriptures a little bit each day. Love and obey your parents. Love and serve your family and friends.
I am a happy person. Whenever someone asks me how I am doing, I answer, “Better than I deserve to be.” Many times in the scriptures the Lord has told us to “be of good cheer” (see D&C 61:36; D&C 68:6; D&C 78:18; John 16:33). One of my favorite words is enthusiasm. This word comes from Greek words that mean “God within.” When you are of good cheer, you have the Spirit of God in your heart.
One of the most important days of my life was the day I was baptized. I was forty years old. The missionaries had knocked on my family’s door in Brazil. We were taught by the best missionaries in the world! Whenever I read in the Book of Mormon about the sons of Mosiah, who were such powerful missionaries, I think of Elder Hansen and Elder Furness. They were well-groomed, so it was easy for us to invite them into our home. They were well educated and polite. They had beautiful smiles and a good spirit with them. I love those missionaries who taught me to know the Lord.
After I was baptized, they placed their hands on my head to confirm me. I cried a lot because I had never had such a wonderful feeling. And I have had this same wonderful feeling ever since.
One of the most important times of my life was when my wife and I were serving in the São Paulo Brazil Temple. We could feel the presence of the Lord in His house. Whenever I saw families being sealed, I could feel how much the Lord loves His children.