“Not Really Homeless,” New Era, Sept. 2004, 39
When I was 12 years old, my mother died, leaving my father with six children. There were few educational opportunities in our area, and many people were satisfied with a fourth-grade education. But I wasn’t. I held on to a dream of finishing my studies.
My opportunity came when I moved to the city of Santarém, Brazil, at age 17. My father arranged for me to live with some people he knew, and I began taking a few classes. My work barely paid for the school materials I needed.
During my first year there, the people I lived with asked me to affiliate with their church. I repeatedly refused their request. The third year came, and I still hadn’t joined their church. Then one day they asked me to find another place to live. I was devastated.
The next day I didn’t go to work or to school. I remembered my stepmother’s friend who lived close by and resolved to talk to her.
When I arrived, Maria Jose welcomed me. After I explained my situation, she asked that I go and get my things and come stay at her home. There seemed to be something extraordinary about her kindness.
After a few days, as she was preparing food, she told me that missionaries from her church were coming to eat lunch. Her goodness made me curious about her beliefs.
I spoke with Elder Riggs and Elder Marcio during lunch and set up a time to hear a discussion. By the appointment the next day, I had read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it but hadn’t felt anything unusual. But before the missionaries began, they promised me that if I would open my heart I would know that the things they would teach were true.
They didn’t need to say anything more, because while they spoke I knew by a strong feeling that this was the Church of Jesus Christ. Three weeks later I became a member.
I later served full time in the Brazil Curitiba Mission. I love this gospel and the opportunity I had to do for others the same work those missionaries did for me.
I couldn’t join one church—even when my decision left me homeless. But in finding a home and Christlike friend, I found the true Church of Jesus Christ.