But mother why can’t I be Mary?
Because someone else was already chosen and you do a good job being an Apostle.
I sat on the floor watching my brother try his angel outfit on, all in white, it didn’t seem fair. He even had wings made with real chicken feathers, tears came rolling down my face, I was devastated. I tried hopelessly to convince my mother that I had to be Virgin Mary for the Easter presentation at the church.
After all I new exactly how to hold a baby and how to sit properly with my legs crossed. I had long curly hair that would look beautiful in a long braid. I went on and on, and on. Finally, my mother looked at me and asked:
- Can you focus on the true meaning of all of this work?
I just sat their totally confused, Thinking to myself, where did this come from? Are we talking about the same thing here?
After a long silence, my mother stood up and walked away, my brother was thrilled of the idea that I had crossed the Line and that I was definitely in big trouble. He loved to tease me and he sure did.
I felt really bad and went after my mother; I decided that I needed to apologize.
I found my mother looking in her closet for something. I was very sure that she was trying to decide a way to punish me and couldn’t figure out when or how.
Here it is, She exclaimed with tears in her eyes. She showed me a book very old and torn, she opened and started reading.
Unfortunately I do not have that book but this last week I came across a children’s book that is very much like the one that my mother read to me and I would like to share it with you. It is called Easter - By Gail Gibbons.
Just think of the joy that you will bring to others by doing this. My mother told me as she gave me a big hug.
My parents were both Catholics and loved to help the church. They participated in a lot of the activities and helped many people. They spent hours preparing everything for the Easter presentation because for them Easter was the most important holiday of the year.
The Easter program was held the week before Easter since most people would be out of town on Easter Sunday.
On Saturday the week before, we presented the scene of the crucifixion and resurrection
Sure enough that evening there I was dressed as an Apostle at the scene of the last supper having my feet washed. I was the happiest 8 years old in that room.
On Sunday my mother made sure we prepared ourselves spiritually for the next week. Usually we fasted until Monday and we ate fish to remember the Savior. A popular dish in Brazil is Bacalhau. (Salted cod Fish cooked with peppers, potatoes and spices).
After the fast it was time to start packing. We were going on a 12-hour trip to Bras Pirez, Minas Gerais. A little town that is not even on the map, but I can assure you that it does exist. We were going to My Grandparents’ home for the Easter Festival.
Sure enough Tuesday morning around 2:30 AM my Dad would get us out of bed to help him pack the Avocado Green Volkswagen, he did not like driving with the crazy rush hour of Sao Paulo that usually starts around 4:30 AM.
My mother had a basket of her homemade goodies that she prepared specially for the trip. My sister, my brother, I and our little dog Sissy (the baby of the family) would all sit in the back seat.
And we were off Singing and telling jokes. Around breakfast time my mother would give us some bread with salami and fresh fruits.
As I look back, I realize that Getting there was very challenging. We would drive for miles on dirt roads sometimes we had to stop and wait for the ranchers to move the cattle across the road, at one occasion our car fell in a huge hole.
I just remember bumping my head on the roof of the car and hearing my mother’s screams, which was definitely no way to wake up your child.
We all had to get out of the car and help my dad push the vehicle across this vast crater to continue our trip.
After the ordeal was over we realized that the rains had caused the hole. The reason for that hole in the middle of the road was no other than that the bridge was washed away and there was no money to build another bridge or to place warning signs on the roadside.
Boy we were all so anxious to get to Grandma’s house.
The Easter Festival was almost like a harvest fest. It was a time to thank the Lord for all the crops and abundance of food. People would decorate their homes and the streets.
In the center of town there was the Praca (a big park with a beautiful fountain in the center) and there some families would make beautiful pictures on the ground with grains, rice, beans, corn. They would color them in different colors and create portraits of the Savior and the different passages of the New Testament.
All the families had lots of cooking and talking to do so everyone spent most of their time in the kitchen. The kids loved to watch the adults chase the pig that they were trying to catch and butcher for our Easter meal, my parents would get so dirty and tired.
After all that exercise and the pig was finally cut up it was time to prepare the meat. Everyone got involved. We would make sausages and season the ham; we would laugh so hard recounting the pig’s chase.
My grandma was the quitandeira, the baker for the town. Most people would place orders for her cakes and Famous biscoitos and Broa de Milho, a kind of corn bread.
Grandma had a brick oven outside the house. Every time she had to go outside to get a new batch, my cousins and I would sneak into the kitchen and steal some goodies.
Little did we know that grandma was very aware of us and that she always made extras. Grandma was also a very strong Christian; she never missed church and prayed frequently. She loved to sing hyms and would never forget her black veil that she wore in church.
Saturday the night before Easter everyone in the little town of Braz Pires went on the procession I loved to hear all the people singing hyms and carrying their candles in the dark. The city looked so beautiful.
It was a reverent time, a time for meditation, a time when all the family was together thanking the savior.
Sunday morning we would get up and get ready for church. We would wear our new Easter outfits and most people that lived in town would walk the narrow cobblestone streets while the church bells rang calling everyone to come to mass.
After church we had a wonderful Easter Lunch. People sat everywhere, there were so many of us. After the meal the kids would go play outside and climb on the Mango, orange and papaya trees, while the adults would take their naps. My mother sometimes would sit on the veranda and play her guitar.
In the afternoon my grandma would call all the kids to come and sit with her while she told us a story.
My Grandma could not read Portuguese. You see she was Italian, but she could speak Portuguese very well. Sometimes my older cousins would help her with her pronunciation, I loved her accent.
We had done this many times before and knew exactly what she was going to say, but we still loved to hear it from her lips.
Bambinos, bambinos, this is my favorite story so listen carefully.
That was the last time that my Grandmother told us that story that she loved so much. I miss her very much I love her for her example. My family helped me to know the savior when I was very young and they also helped me to nourish that knowledge.
I treasure those moments in my heart dearly. As you see I came from a very different background but I was taught to love the Savior just the same way that you were.
I am very thankful for family traditions, for a family that placed Jesus Christ in the center of our lives.
I remember asking my grandma if Jesus could visit other places and she would always say: -
If you and your parents traveled so far to see me, don’t you think that Jesus would do the same to visit those people that he loves?
The first time that I read the book of Mormon it changed my life and also brought me the answer that I wanted my grandma to give me for so long.
I love reading about the savior’s visit to the Americas found in 3 Nephi 11: 1 – 17.
1 AND now it came to pass that there were a great multitude agathered• together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land bBountiful•; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the cgreat• and marvelous change which had taken place.
2 And they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the asign• had been given concerning his death.
3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a avoice• as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a bsmall• voice it did cpierce• them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they aunderstood• it not.
5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did aopen• their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
7 Behold my aBeloved• Son, bin• whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they asaw• a Man bdescending• out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
9 And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
11 And behold, I am the alight and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter bcup• which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in ctaking• upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the dwill• of the Father in all things from the beginning.
12 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude afell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been bprophesied• among them that Christ should cshow• himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.
13 And it came to pass that the aLord spake unto them saying:
14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may athrust• your hands into my side, and also that ye may bfeel• the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the cGod• of Israel, and the God of the whole dearth•, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and adid• feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did aworship him.
Indeed - Hosanna! Bless the name of the most high. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.