In 1997 we moved to a beautiful village named Wintham (see photos here) to live nearer to my office. We lived in a small house with a beautiful garden. We lived there for three years. We then attended church meetings at Sint Niklaas, the unit of the stake president at the time. We enjoyed church there, comparing with Leuven it was like the window has been open and fresh air was invading a very dusty room. The members were very nice and the youth was simply the best you could have. My wife and I were called as Young Men president and Young Women president. We had wonderful lessons and activities and they came to us with their problems. The youth really trusted us. Once during an auxiliary meeting with the branch presidency I asked the branch president to stop “terrorising” the youth because we have been receiving complains about his attitude towards them. We were approached by the youth crying about dignity interviews and also other interviews.
It was as hell as frozen. The branch president took my remarks so seriously that since then, without me knowing, each time he needed to talk to me he was not friendly anymore. As if it was because of my wife and I that the youth came out crying from his office. Some time later I received a phone call from the relief society president. We talked about the youth and later she called me again. She apologized because she has been obliged by the branch president to call me about the youth while he was listening in the second line. When I confronted him with that he was not comfortable but defended his action on using someone else to be spying on me.
He made everyone’s life a misery. His second counselors asked him repeatedly to stop treating me the way he was doing at to take care of the youth and stop playing the big Master. No ears were given. One evening we were called by a missionary from the Antwerp Second Ward to welcome us in his ward. I replied that he must be mistaken because we were members in Sint Niklaas. He informed us that the borders had been changed. I could not believe my ears, so to get us out of his ward because we defended the youth, the branch president requested for the borders to be changed.
As I wrote before, we were living in Wintham (near Bornem), and for us to start going to our new unit, we needed first to drive to Sint Niklaas (Sint Niklaas ward boundaries) and then take the highway to Antwerp, or we needed to drive to Willebroek (within the Mechelen branch and then take the other highway to Antwerp. No way that I needed first to drive through another unit to be able to attend my brand new unit. Besides, Sint Niklaas was only 20 minutes away and Antwerp 2 was 40 minutes away. I could not go directly because we were separated by a river and within the borders was no bridge.
I tried to explain the situation to the stake and ward leaders and as usual, “inspired leaders never make mistakes” and they made us move because it was for “our own growth”. So I said, if you want us out of Sint-Niklaas, OK, so we go to Mechelen (we were looking for a house there and the unit has just been reopened). Later in the week, when they counted their priesthood holders they were dismayed because if I left they were not able to qualify to become a Ward (they would have a priesthood holder too short). They called me trying to convince my family not to leave but we reminded them that “for our growth” we had to leave Sint-Niklaas. So we left anyways and they hided that fact from the GA’s and they counted me to become a Ward.
It was hard to get a confirmation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church) that they had removed my name from their records as I requested on Jan 8 2010. After many phone calls to the stake presidency, messages left on voice-mails and many written e-mails, I only received a mail from the local bishop informing me that I was out but that it was against the rules to write me a letter just to inform me that my wish had been granted and that I no longer was a member of the mormon church. After my mission I worked for the Member and Statistics Department so I know why I had to request for an official confirmation.
After talking to my attorney, I turned to the church central offices in Salt Lake City (where I first sent my request to) and they also didn’t take the dignity to send me a confirmation document. After a few weeks I sent another letter informing the church’s headquarters that I would inform the press and ask my lawyer to sue them if I did not receive a letter within the next 3 weeks. 24 hours after receiving my letter a confirmation letter arrived at my home.
By the end of November 2010 I requested to be removed from the Catholic Church and on January 10 2011 I received a letter from the office of the Lisbon Cardinal informing me that my wish had been granted. A very correct, polite letter. Once again I must recognize that I always have been treated with a lot of respect within the Catholic Church, and even knowing that I have left them to join the Mormon Church, still, they kept their love and respect for me and my family. After all I gave and sacrificed for the Mormon Church, a simple letter is not asking too much… after all, there are so many things their leaders do and they don’t even care about their consequences for others, on the contrary. It may destroy hearts, homes and families as long as it doesn’t affect the church’s reputation.
Here I would like to write a few priceless quotes leaders made me during my 25 years of church membership.
- Why don’t you date sister…? Are you afraid of not being able to handle her in bed? (Stake President)
- Even if God tells me, I will never call you to be a Bishop, Counselor or member of the Stake High Council. (Stake President)
- While I am Branch President you will never work with the youth. 10 years ago they all went inactive because of you and your wife (Branch President). He later apologized recognizing that he was wrong.
- If you ever want to be a leader go back to your country, what are you doing here in Belgium? (Stake’s First Counselor)
- Why are you here in Belgium and why are you marrying a Belgian member? Did you forget what the church says about it? (Belgium Brussels Mission President 1994)
- I represent Jesus Christ and God. If you don’t make time for me before Sunday I will take measures against you, your wife and your children. (Bishop)
- If you wear a light suit you are not a good missionary and you will not find converts to baptize. (Europe Area President, Elder Carlos E. Asay, during my mission. All missionaries in the Zone had between 1 and 3 baptisms and my companion and I had 10). I still remember our Zone Leader, Elder Pearson, smiling when he said that he was proud to have this Portuguese couple in his zone 🙂
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Faz-me rir a quantidade de tempo que os telejornais gastam a falar da Cimeira da NATO e sobre as medidas de segurança previstas. Trabalho em Bruxelas desde 1994 e nunca vi tamanhas medidas de segurança para reuniões com chefes de estado dos países que compõem a União Europeia nem da Aliança Atlântica. Só falta fecharem Portugal à chave e ninguém poder sair de casa para ir trabalhar nem ir para a escola. Mentalidade triste qb… os dirigentes políticos que se deslocam a Lisboa devem estar perdidos de riso com tanto teatro.
Recently I started publishing History videos on my blog because History is one of my main hobbies. I love to read and watch shows about the History of the 19th and 20th centuries as well as about my native country: Portugal. Enjoy.
This is one of my favorite places here in Mechelen:
Originally uploaded by DirkVandeVelde
I always love to bike along the Chanel Mechelen-Leuven.
Originally uploaded by Mr. Pi
The Woluwe Park…