[As we continue our visit to Brazil, we invite you to submit your experiences and stories. The young elder in the following story, Roger W. Call, is Dave Crockett's dad (step-dad). Elder Call served a mission to Brazil in the mid-1950's, and later returned as the mission president of the Brazil Sao Paulo South Mission from 1984-87. Helio da Rocha Camargo, the subject of this story, was the first General Authority called from Brazil.]
[Helio da Rocha Camargo was born February 1, 1926, at Resende, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was brought up in the Methodist Church and he had enjoyed to read and study the Bible. He had a great desire to find answers to theological questions. Finally he enrolled in the College of Theology to prepare himself for the Methodist ministry.]
"One of the practices of the college students at that time was occasionally to invite leaders of other religious communities to give lectures. Several representatives of other churches and creeds had already been invited to speak to the students and professors. At that time the Mormon missionaries were very active in Sao Paulo (as they are now) and I thought it would be timely to suggest that they be invited to speak, so that we could evaluate them, what they were preaching, and what they professed, thus placing ourselves in a position to deal with them on the basis of a knowledge of their cause.
"After the suggestion was accepted, I was assigned to establish contact with the Mormons. I went back to the LDS mission home, this time carrying an invitation to President Asael Sorensen. I remember counseling him to come personally, fearing that we would waste our time if he sent us young missionaries who certainly would not be in a position to confront such a specialized audience. But the president was unable to come, since he had another appointment (at a district conference). He assured me that he would send competent missionaries in his place."
[President Sorensen sent David E. Richardson and Roger W. Call to the meeting with the ministers. President Sorensen instructed them to present the first three missionary discussions "just as you would to a group of investigators." David Richardson later commented: "When we entered the auditorium, our hearts almost failed us, for we saw about fifty ministers waiting eagerly for us. But calling silently upon the Lord once again for inspiration and support, we commenced the discussions, Elder Call writing the notes of the lessons on the blackboard." Brother Camargo continues his story: ]
"The young men came on the day designated. Still very young, they impressed us first with their height (six feet four inches). They were Elder David E. Richardson, second counselor in the mission presidency, and Elder Roger W. Call, who had recently arrived from the United States and at that time knew very little Portuguese.
"In the interest of brevity I will just say that the main result of the meeting was the deep impression caused by the testimony of Elder Richardson. The general comment was more or less expressed in these terms: 'Everything they preach may be wrong, but the conviction they seem to have is astonishing.' Another impressive aspect of the meeting was the courage and calm with which those young men confronted an audience consisting of students, professors, and even doctors of theology who had completed many years of study and held various titles.
"In spite of the impression created and the interest these missionaries had provoked, we soon forgot the matter as we went back to our studies and work. Life in the college continued without any changes."
[In later months Helio Camargo became troubled about the Methodist practice of infant baptism which was being discussed by students of religion. Finally, he became so troubled about this inconsistency of this doctrine, that he resigned the ministry of the congregation he had been entrusted with. However, he continued his studies at the College. Soon, the dean summoned him and three other students who had doubts about infant baptism. They were told that if they did not retract their opinions by the end of the quarter, they would be expelled from the school.]
"Within the designated time period one of the four went back, recanted, and was readmitted. The other two and I, unable to find justification for infant baptism, withdrew completely from the institution and from the Methodist Church."
[Helio Camargo started to study the doctrines of other churches to find the one he should join. He prayed, asking God to show him the true way. Soon, he started to turn his attention to the LDS Church.]
"Seeking a more direct contact with that Church, I began to attend the meetings at the Sao Paulo Central Branch, even inviting its president, Elder Scott Fisher, to my home where we could discuss some points of doctrine. From these contacts and discussions, as well as from the visits with Elder Richardson and from reading the various books which were lent to me, the truth was gradually becoming obvious and the clarity of the LDS doctrines and their perfect matching with the Bible were becoming apparent.
"But with all this I still lacked a testimony. I began to pray more; and I returned to reading the Book of Mormon, always expecting a ray of light to flash through the heavens. One day, however, already tired of so much study and confrontation, I started to make an objective analysis of my religious position: I meticulously weighed every point; I examined the consistency of all the LDS doctrines one with another and all of them with the Bible, and I perceived that there was no need for a violent flash of lightning to illuminate my path. I had waited anxiously for a swift streak of lightning; but I now realized that I had already been walking in the fulness of light for a long time. The knowledge of the truth had not come to me suddenly; it had come gradually in such a gentle and natural way that I had not perceived that it had already been shining upon me for so long
"I kneeled and thanked the Father for revealing his truth to me. I was baptized into the Church in June of 1956, and shortly afterward my wife (Nair) was also baptized. Today by the grace of God we are counted among his Latter-day Saints."
[Helio da Rocha Camargo served later served as the first mission president of the Sao Paulo East mission, in 1968. In 1985, he was sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. After serving the designated 5 1/2 years, he then served as the President of the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple from 1990-93. His son, Milton da Rocha Camargo, is currently the president of the Brail Porto Alegre South Mission.]
(Sources: Hartman and Connie Rector, No More Strangers, 2:103-9, Church News)