Just two years after a mission was formed in the heart of the Amazon jungle, more than a hundred Saints from Manaus, Brazil, determined they would go to the temple—no matter how difficult the journey.
And the journey would be difficult. In 1992, when members in Manaus made up their minds to go, the nearest temple was on the other end of their vast country, in São Paulo. The trek would have been easy by air, but the Saints in Manaus lacked the means to buy plane tickets. So Church leaders planned a trip by boat and bus, instead. Covering something like 2,000 miles over six long days—each way—the trip represented a huge sacrifice for many Brazilian members.
Benedito Carlos do Carmo Mendes Martins, his wife, and their three children carefully saved their money in order to take the trip and be sealed together in Sao Paulo. But after their careful efforts, the two weeks Martins needed to take off work were too much for his boss; times were busy, his supervisor said, and he simply couldn’t be spared.
The Martins family prayed for a miracle, and the day before the boat was scheduled to leave Manaus, they got one.
“I was diagnosed with parasites,” Martins said. “I was so happy to be sick!”
With a form calling for a two-week medical leave of absence in hand, Martins and his family left the Port of Manaus the next morning among a group of 102 Saints bound for the temple.
The Saints traveled more than 400 miles by boat, sleeping in hammocks in crowded spaces on the deck but grateful for the fresh air and food. Two days into the trip, the group marked the eighth birthday of a girl on board by stopping at a beach along the way so her father could baptize her—after ensuring the water was clear of piranhas and alligators.
The next day, the group arrived in Humaita and boarded a bus. While the next three days would cover far more territory, the cost was high—where roads existed, they were often poor, and the group traveled over the rough terrain day and night to make the most of their time. Along the way, they stopped in LDS chapels or homes of members who had arranged to feed them. Mechanical problems with the bus were plentiful, but the Saints pushed onward, often arriving hours late at meal stops but always finding members still waiting for them.
Six days after their departure, the 102 Brazilians from Manaus arrived at the São Paulo Temple. Over the next four-and-a-half days, the members worked in the temple, receiving ordinances for themselves and their families. For many, it was the realization of a long-held dream.
“Today I am going to the temple for the first time,” one woman wrote. “Yesterday I celebrated my 20th anniversary as a member of the Church—so many hours, days, and years of waiting and preparing. My heart is full of gratitude and happiness for my friends, priesthood leaders, and especially Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and this opportunity to go to the house of my Heavenly Father.”
By the next weekend, the Saints were on their way back home. They retraced the long journey back north and arrived safely in Manaus, sixteen days after they’d left and forever grateful for what they’d gained.
“I have no doubt that if we keep the covenants we make in the temple, we will have a happier and more abundant life,” one man wrote. “I love my family, and I will do all I can to have them with me in the celestial kingdom.”
For Brother Martins, the two weeks had done much more than give the medicine his doctor had prescribed time to rid his body of parasites.
“I came home with faith in and a testimony of the ordinances of the temple,” he said, “especially the ordinance of being sealed to my wife and three children.”