“You Are with Me Always”

19 05 2014

By Josephine M. Dalton, Vassar, Michigan, USA

Poa Monday Night

Poa Monday Night

 

Growing up in the thumb of Michigan, I never imagined traveling outside the USA. The joy of belonging to a worldwide faith community and doing ministry in another nation never occurred to me. As a young adult my family struggled with working-class poverty. I assumed my life in the church would remain in Michigan.

Then at a spiritual-renewal retreat, Tony Saraiva, a seventy from the Rose Lake Congregation, asked if I would consider going to his native Brazil with him in a year. One year later he told me that if I would get my passport, the way was taken care of.

When I arrived in Poá, São Paulo, Brazil, in October 2012 my life changed. I met a beautiful, loving people who quickly became like family. Carlos Carvalho, pastor and seventy, adopted me as his “American daughter.” My Brazilian family soon expanded with many members.

Before I left, I told Carlos I would return to visit in July for three weeks, sensing my work there was not done. Knowing my finances at home, I could not believe what I was saying, but I prayed God would bring me back.

After returning to the USA, I stayed connected to the congregation through Skype during Monday-night worships. I was fully participating, offering the closing prayer each week or sharing a testimony with scriptures. I studied Portuguese for long hours to be able to do this.

I knew the building needed a new roof, and each week, I noticed it needed much more. Rain had ruined the back wall, and the church exterior needed to be painted.

Congregants worked to repair the church, but the painting would have to wait. After much prayer, I told my husband I didn’t want anything more for holidays or birthdays; I just wanted to go back to Poá to paint the church.
Many people provided angelic sharing to help me buy airfare and paint. I met Earl and Dana Watt, members of the Rose Lake Congregation. I did not know them well, but I asked them to come with me. I later discovered they had lived in Brazil for 10 years and have a fantastic ministry of compassion.

Many blessings happened. A store owner gave us the paint for half price. He was amazed someone would come to Brazil just to work and paint. A contractor fixed the cement walls for a highly reduced wage and paid his helper to paint and mix cement.

By day we painted, and at night we visited with families and shared in a weeklong congregational revival. Each day congregants delighted in the changes. Before we left, a sense of healing seemed to wash over the church members, and 11 new people were present for the last worship.

We literally were leaving for the airport when a young girl shouted at me, “Stay with me!” she gave me a handwritten note in English that said, “I love you.” I praised her work and in Portuguese said the only thing I could say without tears: “You are with me always.”

I have learned that everyone has a place in worldwide mission. There is a need for prayers, workers, and financial support. If you are simply willing, you can do mission. I had almost let my own fears keep me from doing what I had been called to do. I have since been drawn to Doctrine and Covenants 164:9e–f, which calls us to let go of our doubts, and experience the blessings of mission.

The challenges and opportunities are momentous. Will you remain hesitant in the shadows of your fears, insecurities, and competing loyalties? Or will you move forward in the light of your divinely instilled call and vision? The mission of Jesus Christ is what matters most for the journey ahead.

For me a blessing of continued ministry in Brazil awaits. But the call to serve in many nations is present for us all.

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