This is one of the most amazing stories of my mission. It’s about Lucindo a 21-year old from Fogo. He has been out of jail for 8 months for having consumed some of the worst drugs offered here in Cape Verde. He is 5.6 inches tall and about 141 lbs. He’s a small guy, but strong as no one can imagine. He hated everyone. He started coming to church as a result of a less active member that invited him. He wore sunglasses to church and talked to no one - one of the most anti-social people that I have ever met. He always wore sleeveless shirts, so that everyone could see his muscles, and he always had a strong cold glare with his dark brown eyes. He wore an earring of a skull in his right ear, and he smoked so much that I could smell him a meter away.
When we met him, back in October of last year, we didn’t know that he was an investigator, but rather we thought that he was a less active member. The branch mission leader later told us about him in correlation meeting. He mentioned about the serious problems that Lucindo was undergoing. He told us about how probably getting him to baptism was going to be really difficult because of all that he did, and how he didn’t like to talk to anyone. As a result, no one talked to him.
Hmmm...ok. So the following Sunday, my companion and I went to church and found him. I extended my hand out to him, and he looked at me with this "What are you doing?" face. I kept my hand out there, and he grabbed it, every muscle in his arm contracting. I pulled him into me and gave him a hug with my other hand. He said nothing about it, managed a smirk and a snuff from his nose and walked away. I thought to myself..."Ok that’s a start".
Well he came back to church, and I did the same thing again. This time he chuckled as I pulled him in for a hug. This continued 2 more weeks, until one day as we were stopping by the chapel, we discovered that he started to go to Institute.
As elder Weiss and I were figuring out how we were going to contact this person to start teaching him, a day came where all our appointments were cancelled, and I suggested trying to find Lucindo. After 15 minutes of walking, we found him cleaning the back door of a taxi. He looked up to find us on the other side of the taxi. I said to him "May we speak with you?" He said, "Not now". Some two seconds of silence and I just gave him a kind of "ok...?"
He responded, "But I do want to talk to you guys. Can you come over on Sunday at 5 in the afternoon?" I responded "Of course, we can meet then" as we shook hands. I punched him a little harder than normal on the shoulder and gave him a hug. This time he had a full smile and managed a giggle, and we parted.
Teaching started, and he had tons of doubts. He shot questions, like a meteor shower, in this impatient, slightly exasperated tone of voice. As we talked, he grew more impatient. I could tell he was not too friendly to accepting new principles. We finished the lesson, and I don’t think we really um....well got anywhere. But I did punch him on the shoulder again. He smiled, laughed and managed a hug.
Ok, so he still likes us. We set up a few more teaching appointments and taught the restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith. This blew him away, and he was like "How could this be?" We just answered "Pray about it” He agreed.
We didn’t see him for some 2 weeks after that. One evening we found him washing a car, and he seemed really angry that day and told us that he didn’t want to talk to us anymore. He started explaining on how we didn’t understand that he didn’t like to talk to anyone. He didn’t like to study with people and that he knew the bible well enough and that he had no need to be taught any confusing things such as the ones we were teaching him. I was sad for him. We shook hands and left in a taxi. I thought of how hard we’ve been working to establish some sort of connection with him, and how close - I thought - we were to having him accept. Oh well that was that.
About a month later, as Elder Abularach and I were walking close to the chapel, out of nowhere, Lucindo walks out of the chapel and walks towards us. He asked "Why don’t you guys say hello when you pass me on the street?" I replied: I just thought you didn’t want to talk to us anymore" He paused and smiled and said, in probably the softest tone I have heard from him up to this point, "Of course I want to talk to you guys".
"...um ok. Well when would you like to meet? Sunday at 6? ...ok we will be there".
As Sunday came around, Elder Abularach got really sick due to food poisoning, so we arranged for a member to stay with him, and another member to go out with me. We went down to Lucindo’s house to teach, and things went 100 percent better than the last time around. I made this kind of special connection with him as I taught him about the Book of Mormon and about it being the heart of everything that we teach. I told him that it was essential for him to pray and obtain a response. We left it at that, and instantly, I felt that he was much more humble to that which I was teaching him.
Abularach and I taught him for the next several weeks, until it was time to teach him the Word of Wisdom (The smoking...) We went to his house and found him on his doorstep. We began the lesson, and I asked as I did every time we taught, "did you receive a response?" Lucindo, being a very frank person, responded "...I think it’s true".
WOW- Breakthrough point! Take that Satan!
We encouraged him to continue praying and set up goals to quit smoking, so he could be baptized. He accepted everything.
At about this time, Lucindo and I were becoming really close friends. His countenance was changing, and so was his personality. He no longer was that rude, anti-social person that I remembered. His smell of cigarette smoke was not so strong anymore, and the earring was gone. His heart had been softened to all the times I told him that I cared for him in our teachings. We started visiting him every day to see how the smoking was going. I started to plead to the Lord for him.
Then an incredible night of my mission came! Abularach and I found ourselves with too many appointments including Lucindo at 7 pm in the church. We split, taking with us two members, leaving me with a member and Lucindo in the chapel. Lucindo was right on time to our appointment, and he started confessing that it was difficult for him to stop smoking. I sat and listened and waited for him to finish. He looked at me and asked "Do you honestly believe with all your heart that this is true?".
I looked at him with tears forming in my eyes, and I just said "I don’t believe. I know it’s true, and I’ll never deny it".
He paused for a minute, staring at me and said "Then I know it’s true, too".
I was puzzled "What do you mean?"
He responded to how he felt that he was receiving impressions the whole time along, but that he didn’t think that anyone could be completely convinced that one path was right. However, he said that he felt the spirit confirms to him all the impressions, and that it was true. He then testified to me that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Lord had resolved all his doubts. I was screaming for joy inside.
I then began to ask him about his past, about why he smokes, and why he appears to have this anguish in him. He told me one of the hardest things I have ever heard in my life. He spent a year and 3 months in jail, where he was emotionally damaged, claiming that he saw hell. Both his parents died when he was just a kid and was abandoned with his 4 brothers, one now dead, to look after themselves. He learned from no one and taught himself everything he knows. He has had no one to love him or be his friend. This man had finally come to the point of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. At the end of all this, I asked him "Are you still hurt?" he paused and his face softened. He responded very softly, looking down, "Yes I’m hurt".
I then taught him the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the power of pouring out his heart to him in sincere prayer. I taught how the gospel of Jesus Christ will cure him and will take that pain and anguish away. We finished the lesson with a promise from him that he’ll quit smoking and will prepare for baptism and that he’ll pray as often as possible. We ended and walked out of the chapel. I gave him a hug, and I said "I love you brother".
...and then he responded "I love you, too".
I looked at him, again, tears in my eyes. I said to him "I’ll be your friend forever. You’re my brother" He responded "I know".
What a transformation! What a miracle. Now he’s just waiting for President Oliveira to interview him, and he’ll be in those waters of baptism.
I know without a single doubt in my mind that God loves all his children. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and He lives. He loves, and he cures. He transforms the angry to the heartbroken. He listens to all of his followers and tells them the truth. Lucindo is a different man. He now hangs out with several members of the branch. He smiles and calls us over every time he sees us. Lucindo is going to Family Home Evening this week with Helder and is changing his life from drug addict to LDS, one step at a time.
Miracles Happen. I’ll follow up on his baptism.