Conversion Story from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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One Convert at a Time

One example from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, shows the important role of the missionary.

Valentina Alexandre was a young mother of three children going through a crisis. Her husband, José, had passed through a difficult experience that resulted in the loss of his means of supporting the family.

To make ends meet, he had begun driving a taxi seven days a week, 12 hours a day. Valentina was desperate. Christmas was close, and there would be no presents for her children.

One morning after a difficult experience with one of her daughters, Valentina went to her knees and in desperation pleaded for help from the Lord. After leaving her bedroom she began cleaning the floors of her house.

Someone knocked on her door. Outside were Elders Charles Allison and Paul Hindmarsh. In her despair, the last thing Valentina wanted was to talk to a couple of Americans, and she asked them to leave—which they did. She returned to cleaning her floors.

A few minutes later she heard the same knock on the door, and again the two American missionaries were standing there. She was even more upset. This time Elder Allison apologized and explained to her that as he was walking down the street away from the house he felt a strong impression that he needed to return.

In desperation, knowing of no other way to get rid of them, Valentina asked what they wanted. Their request was simple. They desired a few minutes to leave a blessing on the house. As these two missionaries knelt on a partly cleaned floor and began to pray, Valentina had this statement come clearly into her mind:

“You asked for help, and I sent it.” The entire family was soon baptized, and most have remained true and faithful to the Church. (See Valentina Alexandre, Oral History, interviewed by Mark L. Grover, April 24–25, 1990, Provo, Utah. Copy in possession of the author.)

Notice the way this experience unfolded. Because of difficult times in their lives, a young family was ready and prepared for the gospel. Valentina had pleaded for help, and the response of the Lord was to send the missionaries to their house.

The activities of the missionaries interest me. Elder Allison told me that he has very little memory of that day. He doesn’t remember anything different or special that they did prior to coming to her door.

Why were they in that neighborhood at that exact time? He doesn’t know. How much of the coincidence of their presence was due to the fact that two worthy and faithful missionaries arose from their beds at six a.m. that morning, had scripture study, and prayed to the Lord to be guided to the homes of those who were prepared for the gospel?

But, most important, as they were walking away from that house and received the inspiration to return to a place from which they had just been turned away, they responded and did as they were inspired to do.

I have no doubt that had they not been worthy or had not followed the Spirit that day, the Alexandre family would have somehow been guided to the Church in another way. But Elders Allison and Hindmarsh would not have had the privilege and honor of being the instruments of the Lord through which a worthy family joined the Church.

I wonder how many times we have not been privileged to be an instrument because we were not worthy to receive or willing to follow the spirit that whispered to us, “Return to that house.”

Conversion to the Church is not something that occurs easily. It requires faith, prayer, fasting, and work on the part of the missionary.

here is also often a long and difficult period of preparation in the life of the convert. I am moved when I watch our young missionaries get their calls and listen to their farewell addresses, knowing that at that very moment people are being prepared and readied for that exact missionary.

Excerpt from "One Convert at a Time" - BYU Devotional by Mark L. Grover - August 7, 2001