Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Tender Mercies" in Cajazeiras

Entering Cajazeiras
 We love working with the young missionaries here in Sousa, in Pombal (about an hour west) and Cajazeiras (about an hour east). There are 2 sets of missionaries in each city, and we schedule time to spend an afternoon and evening with them, splitting the time with the two sets of missionaries. They schedule visits with members who need some extra attention and with people who are investigating the church. We enjoy hearing them teach and teaching with them. Of course Sister Petrie makes the visit to the missionaries special by taking them an assortment of treats that she has made that they can't get in Brazil, such as brownies and assorted cookies.

Lake in the middle of Cajazeiras - a pretty city.
Elder De Oliveira, Elder Da Cunha and children of a family that the Elders are teaching.
Sometimes the streets make us feel like we'r off-roading!
Great Missionaries! Elders De Oliveira, Da Cunha, V. Silva and Lemos
 A recent to Cajazeiras brought an unexpected challenge - while driving down Avenida Pedro Moreno Gondin about 7:30 at night, the engine in our car died without warning. No missing, sputtering or unusual noise - it just died. We coasted to a stop and efforts to start it again were futile. We pushed it out of traffic and after a few minutes of panic started going through the glove compartment to find insurance papers as one of the Elders suggested that perhaps our insurance included a benefit for towing the car.

We found an 24 hour 0800 number on the insurance papers, called the company and verified we indeed have breakdown coverage. The insurance company called a towing company in the city and sent a tow truck and a taxi to take us back to Sousa. The taxi took us to our apartment and the tow truck left the car at the local Chevrolet dealership.
Loading up for the trip home.
The scriptures talk about "tender mercies" of the Lord. We felt two of those tender mercies that evening - first, the insurance coverage got us home rather than having to spend a night away. Second, the breakdown was in the city on a lighted street rather than on the dark highway where there is no cell coverage and little traffic that time of night.

But wait, there's more.

I went out to the Chevrolet dealer early the next morning to find a mechanic working on the car to see what was wrong. He was starting to disassemble the top and side of the engine to get to the timing belt as he was sure that was the problem. He asked me if we were moving or stopped when the motor died, and if I tried to start it while we were moving. I told him we were moving and yes, I tried multiple times to start it while we were coasting to a stop.

He shook his head and said, "That's too bad. 100% of the time when that happens you will have serious damage to the engine as the valves will hit the pistons. This will be an expensive repair and will take a lot of time."

My heart sank - we certainly weren't prepared for an expensive repair bill, and being without the car for a long time would seriously hamper our work.

As the mechanic continued to remove parts from the engine to verify his diagnosis I watched and prayed - really prayed - that somehow we would avoid a lengthy and expensive repair. The mechanic confirmed his diagnosis and was certain we had damage, but agreed to put on the timing belt and try to start the engine.

The engine started right away but the sound and the vibration indicated we had some damage. But as the engine ran, the sounds and the vibration began to decrease. The mechanic exclaimed, "O motor está normalizando!" (The motor is 'normalizing'!) He called for another mechanic to come and see. He was amazed, and said he had never seen anything like it. I said, "This is good, correct?" He responded, "This is wonderful!" The car was back together with a few new parts and on the road by 11:30.

The mechanic couldn't understand what happened. We know what happened - we know that prayers were answered and we received a special tender mercy that day from our Heavenly Father.

It is wonderful to be here serving the people in Brazil. We see miracles all the time - particularly in the lives of those who accept the gospel of repentance, make covenants with the Lord and change their lives. We see families strengthened and happiness and peace replace despair and discord. We see people find new purpose to their lives and turn outward to help others. There are not words to express our joy in seeing these changes and for our love for the people we serve.

These are the most special "tender mercies" of all.

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