Antonio and Felismina Melo were living in Lisbon with their two children in 1989 when Antonio received a job opportunity over 1,400 km (870 miles) away on Graciosa, one of the small islands that make up the Azores. They had joined the Church just two years earlier and were reluctant to leave behind their ward, but they were determined to make the most of it. “Sometimes the things that are most difficult in life are the things that give us the most happiness,” said Antonio. “I think that there was a reason for us coming, maybe more than a professional job.”
For the first few months on Graciosa, the Melos struggled to find a place in their new community. Rumors spread about the newcomers as they were the only Latter-day Saints on the island. During the transition, their home became their sanctuary. Just as they had in Lisbon, they honored the Sabbath day. “Sunday is a day to renew our baptismal covenants and to forget the problems of the world,” Antonio said. They faithfully held church meetings in their home at the same time each Sunday, keeping a record of proceedings in a journal. Even after their children left home to attend college, Antonio and Felismina continued to hold all the standard types of meetings, down to separating for an hour for individual study from Priesthood and Relief Society lesson manuals. “If I can’t be here with a hundred, then I’ll be here with just two,” said Antonio. “It is my duty and privilege.”
Over time, as the Melos consistently reached out in kindness to their neighbors, attitudes toward them improved. Wishing to share the gospel with his neighbors, Antonio started a weekly radio program. “At one time people didn’t want to talk about the gospel on an individual level,” he said. He found common ground by starting out with topics like honesty, work, and faith. Eventually his audience was open to listening to Latter-day Saint hymns and teachings of prophets.
“This is a worldwide church,” Antonio reflected. “It is the Church of Jesus Christ.” No matter where he lived, he would be true to that testimony. “We may not have a chapel, but we have our home.”