Sunday, April 7, 2013

Paradox's Presidente da Missão

Elder Richard G. Scott's talk from General Conference has been weighing on my mind all weekend. Because I am preparing to be married at the end of May, I came into General Conference with a lot of thoughts and questions about how to build a Christ-centered home. His sage counsel reminded me once again of how much admire this servant of Christ for how he exemplifies in this regard.

Yesterday he told of a missionary who was the only member of the Church in his family. At the end of his mission he asked to spend more time at the mission home so he could observe a Christ-centered home and family. I admit, that story brought back some of the most precious memories of my mission because I had the same experience, with the same desire.

My mission president is the most Christ-like man I have ever met, and every time I saw him and his wife I rarely called them by their name or title. To me, they were always Pai and Mãe. That is how I genuinely feel about them. They represent everything I aspire to for my life.

What did I observe in them that engendered this level of esteem? What exactly did they do that I want so much to emulate?

President was always happy. Even when he was under intense pressure from having two districts in his mission, 180 missionaries, and a never-ending list of things to do with local church leadership all over São Paulo, he never complained. He was always smiling. No matter what problems he was having, he dealt with them with inspiration and power, then would laugh with us about them later. I cannot say enough good things about this dedicated servant of Christ. Every time he ever called me filha and said we would be together forever, I believed him and I look forward to it every day of my life.


His wife is in every way as much of a giant as he is. Wherever he was, she was there. I had the privilege of worshiping in the temple together with them as the witness couple, and I will never forget that experience. Having made that connection with them in those roles, I always see them there at the altar--giving everything they have to the Lord. Sister Pinho taught me about sacrifice and love, and what it means to support your husband through anything and everything. I can only imagine the conversations they had about all of us and how best to care for us, like only loving parents would. They helped me through some of the hardest challenges of my life, and they always did it together. I felt the love of a mother every time I was with Sister Pinho, even when she had to correct me for something I was doing wrong--like feeling sorry for myself, or drying my clothes in the microwave.

When I think about the mission home they created, part of me longs to be back there. I have been inside of million dollar mansions before, but none of them compare to how rich our mission home always seemed--and not just because those were the best 4 or 5 showers I took my whole mission. (President always used to joke that we loved being there because of the carpet.) But really, it was because their home felt like the safest, cleanest, purest place in São Paulo. The only other place we could feel such a spirit was in the temple. It was all the purity of being inside of the temple with the ability to talk and laugh with the people we loved as dearly as our own family. Sister Pinho's pão de quejo could make me cry right here, it was so good and I miss it so much because of the love I could taste in every bite.




The thing I treasured most was how they treated me like an equal--a powerful servant of Christ. They treated me with a love and respect so powerful that my entire self-perception changed. I saw myself as someone who could do miracles and follow Christ anywhere, even into hell--which is exactly where my service took me sometimes. When my self-confidence crumbled, they were there to build me up again in the image of my Savior. My life has been forever changed by nothing short of who they are.

I saw a thought that said that if I am able to see further than anyone ever has, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. That is how I view President and Sister Pinho. They are two of the tallest spiritual giants I have ever met personally. They have lifted me up to heights I had no idea I could reach.

I want to be like them because I know that if I do, I will become truly Christ-like.