My husband and I had the unique opportunity to live in Brazil from 2004 to 2009. Our time there left us intimate witnesses to the blessings of that country – and also the trials.
Carnival is by far the biggest holiday in South America’s largest country. While it might have started out as a religious celebration, most people will tell you it is now as earthly and carnal as possible. Pleasure in all its forms is highly encouraged and acceptable. And for the suggestible teenagers of the church, it can be devastating.
For many years now, the church has encouraged holding their annual Girls Camp during Carnival as a way to get them “out of the world.” Now, that includes a Young Men’s Camp as well. (Keep in mind they don’t have the scouting program down there like we do in the United States; no High Adventure Camp!)
As bishop, my husband got to know and love these fabulous young men individually – and I did too. The contrast between what THESE teenagers were doing during Carnival compared to MOST teenagers in Brazil … it’s astonishing.
Can I mention that nearly ALL of these boys were recent converts in this picture?
Can I mention that eight months before this picture was taken there were only three young men in the ward?
Can I mention that there are young men pictured who have stopped drunken fathers from killing frightened mothers?
Can I mention that there are young men pictured who have been held at knife point while their step-father attempted to rape their sister?
Can I mention that there are young men pictured who have to deal with drug dealers at recess?
Can I mention that there are young men pictured who walk 3km on dirt roads to get to the bus stop that takes them to church?
Can I mention almost all of them are the only members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in their family?
Can I mention that I get goosebumps every time I see them in white shirts and ties, when I think of how they looked like gang members not long before I met them?
Can I mention that my heart wants to explode every time I look at this picture?
Becky, I am in tears. What sacrifices people make to be part of the fold. Wow! Thank you for this insight.
Can I mention how much I admire these boys? And you?
I live in Roraima, northern Brazil. Where did you live while in my country? Thank you and your husband for making the difference in these young men’s lives.
Becky, thank you for sharing the remarkable character of these young men. My heart wants to burst when I look at this picture too.
Thanks for mentioning all of that! I love working with the youth and am continually amazed at the good choices they make when the bad choices would be so much easier.
I just love what the Church does for the youth. And I love seeing youth grab hold of these things. There is real power in living truth, and it’s often seen most powerfully in youth who understand and live that truth.