Recife to Provo to Edmonton!

Yesterday, just as Sister Sousa and I were finishing a weekly planning session and had put something important in every single hour of the week, we got a phone call.  It was our mission president, President Houseman. Sister Sousa got on a plane to Provo to the Missionary Training Center this morning!  After waiting such a long time, she will finally be able to study English and then finish her mission in Edmonton, Canada, where she was originally called.

Sister M. Ribeiro and Sister Delmiro are the two sisters on the right–Sis. Faulconer is not pictured
Photo courtesy of Sister Lori Houseman

I am now in my third trio of the mission . . . with Sister M. Ribeiro and Sister Delmiro! I trained Sister M. Ribeiro and am happy to be with her again! They are serving in the Madalena area of Recife, and have four people marked for baptism this week and one marked next week and think they all have potential to actually be baptized.  So that is crazy!  Sister Sousa and I also had a few good people who need to be followed-up with in the Casa Forte area. So, our new trio will work in both areas.  It will be an adventure.  I am excited to work hard and help all these people.  It will be hard to figure out where to go and what to do but it will work out! 

Iara* did not get baptized this Saturday but she is marked for two weeks from now.  Please pray for her!  She is great and went to church this week.  It can be scary and different to change and decide to get baptized but I believe it will work out for her! 

We have been teaching Willian for a while–He is 19 and wants to get baptized!  He is great but hasn’t been able to go to church yet.  It was another week in which he reallly wanted to go to church, we realllly wanted him to go to church . . . but his mother asked him to help with something at the last second and he couldn’t go.  I sure hope he can go next week.

Funny moments: the other week one of our investigators told us that some ladies that we taught once were talking badly about us.  We asked what they were saying and she said “they said that you guys are huge gossips!” That was hilarious, because you could accuse us of all sorts of things that are true or rooted in truth that could sound bad (“They think their church is the only true church” “really pushy´” “annoying”)  but we are definitely not guilty of being gossipers! We don´t know anything about those women to gossip about!

Here is a cool scripture — On the mission and in my life I want to be like Nephi:

2 And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him.
3 And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying:
4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God.

Helaman 10:2-6

*Names of investigators are always changed

Teaching the Word of Wisdom, Making Language Mistakes, Eating Curry

August 2019 Zone Conference
Photo courtesy of Sister Lori Houseman

Iara is still marked for baptism this Saturday!  Yesterday we asked her how she was feeling about baptism, and she said she didn’t know if she wanted to change.  I asked her what she was afraid of changing and she said she wasn’t sure she wanted to give up drinking on the weekends.  We taught her the Word of Wisdom, and though she was initially unsure (why coffee?)  she accepted!  I love it when people start out the Word of Wisdom lesson totally taken aback (I love coffee!  I will never give it up!) but say at the end that they will start living the Word of Wisdom from then on.  She says she hasn’t received an answer yet about the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith, but we are hopeful that she will be able to recognize God´s answers this week.  

Isabella decided to go to the beach instead of going to church, but she also accepted the Word of Wisdom despite being initially against it, and she hasn’t drunk coffee since, so that was a good sign.  The couple who are the parents of a missionary didn’t go to church last week, but we will visit them today. Hopefully we can figure out how to see them more frequently.

Sister Faulconer and Sister Sousa (far right) help clean up at zone conference
Photo courtesy of Sister Lori Houseman

Funny language mistake: in Portuguese you have to use intonation when asking questions because the sentence structure doesn’t change, so if you don’t change your voice people will think it is a declaration rather than a question.  Yesterday I was trying really hard to put this into practice and consequently wound up putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable — I asked a member if she had put pieces of poop in her cake!  I meant to say coconut but it didn’t quite come out right!

It is still raining here.  It is going to be a shock when summer comes.  The temperature now is awesome.  

I made Thai curry last week and it was awesome.  Not as good as Thai Drift, but it still filled a curry-shaped hole in my heart! 

I would like to send photos but now my sd adapter doesn’t want to work. 😦 


Love you all!

Arthur got baptized!

Sister Sousa, Arthur, Sister Faulconer
Photo Credit: Elder Richard and Sister Sandy Tidwell

Arthur* got baptized!!!  We had been visiting him basically every day for more than a transfer, so we have been praying and hoping for this baptism for a very long time! It seems like he decided to change his life all of a sudden, and that’s made all the difference! One day we went to visit him and found out that he had gone to a friend’s house after leaving church early.  This was a bad sign, so we showed up to his work thinking about ultimatums.  E.g., you need to do x thing —we like you, but we can’t continue to visit people who don’t try to change, but then we found out that he hadn’t smoked in two days! We taught him about Christ and the rich young man. I was going to explain the parable but he started explaining it! He said that for him, smoking was like the young man’s riches! It was very special. Two weeks later he still hasn’t smoked!  We are so excited for him.

Caroline still really wants to get baptized.  She bore a great testimony yesterday!  Unfortunately she and Luan are having serious troubles with their proof of residence, without which you cannot get married.  Her niece, Ana (from last week’s post), did not get baptized this week, which was too bad. But we are in hopes of helping the young women integrate her a bit more — I think befriending other young women will help a lot. 

Two people stopped us in the street this week to ask to be visited.  Isabella told us she wanted to get baptized but her parents hadn’t let her.  She was taught two years ago and went to church five times  Later we met her father, who said he has also been to church and loves the Book of Mormon! It was a miracle. Unfortunately they and a lot of our other investigators who were all set to go to church had a variety of disasters Sunday morning. The power in their whole house burned out and they couldn’t go! That was too bad, but hopefully next week works out better. Although a lot of investigators did not go to church, a few investigators did manage to go, which was great.  Caroline and Ana went, as well as two awesome new investigators who are member references and a couple that are the parents of a missionary from Casa Forte!

The missionary’s mother has started reading the Book of Mormon every day and praying about it! We hadn’t seen them for a few days, and when we showed up they said they were really wanting to go to church! She said she wants to go to the Church of Jesus Christ every week now! A miracle — her husband had been taught for a while without any progress but apparently she hadn’t really been to church or been taught before. She says she hasn’t received an answer yet, but I think she must be feeling the spirit!

Iara was one of the member references. We have been trying hard to invite all the members to pray about references. Then we follow up to see if they have prayed and thought of anyone.  It worked! Sister Andressa took her friend to church on Sunday and then we taught her a lesson afterwards! It was overall a great lesson.  Andressa bore her testimony and I think everyone felt the spirit.  

It has been raining every day for the last two weeks!  It’s funny; I read my Grandpa Trent’s missionary letters the other day.  HE said the same thing! Tomorrow we are going to get Sister Sousa’s passport and then go to interviews at the mission office. Fun fact — we are reimbursed for the travel we do to district meetings, splits, interviews, etc.  Our reimbursement here is less than a tenth of our reimbursement in Gravatá!

Sister Faulconer, Sister Sousa, Sister Houseman, and the Houseman’s daughter
Courtesy of Lori Houseman

Last week we traveled for visa things for the third week in a row, so today our plans include staying at home.  I am going to make Thai curry!  Brazil has many wonderful foods (this week I ate at a vegan shop that had the most heavenly Brazilian vegan food) but it is seriously curry-deprived!
Love you all!  

The Come, Follow Me manual is great.  I am inspired by Paul’s missionary efforts and his faithful attitude.  It seems like every verse of the New Testament is packed with meaning.  

This verse from Romans 1 is a classic

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16

Thanks for your prayers! Like Paul, I am praying for all of you!

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers . . .

Romans 1:9

*As always, names of investigators are changed to protect their privacy.

The Plan of Salvation

Our last district in Casa Forte before transfers

This week has been super rainy.  Sometimes they are tiny raindrops, but sometimes it rains so hard that in about a minute it looks like you jumped in a swimming pool!  Everyone who can manage it stays inside.  But we are enjoying the rain on the street!  It´s cool, because it’s rainy and not as hot.  The downside is that everything gets wet and stays wet, but we have to have opposition in all things.

The perks of living in the city — I found peanut butter! Without salt, etc,. but I added some and it was not the same, but still good.

Arthur is still struggling with the last cigarette.  But he managed to do a 12-hour fast last week and we are hoping that this week a brother from our ward will show him around the temple grounds.  I love living in the area of the temple.  We don’t pass it super often, but when we do  walk past we are always excited.  Living near the temple is a blessing!  

Caroline and Luan went to start their marriage documents this past week but unfortunately they were missing one, and then the rain kept things from progressing.  Also, they did not go to church again this week, which was sad.  We talked to them Saturday night, but then on Sunday morning we called and called.  We shouted outside their house for a while — we could hear the cellphone ringing on the inside but no one ever answered!  But the cool part was that we marked both of their daughters for baptism on the third.  One of them, Ana, had already been marked for baptism but then it fell through the day of.  The other, 
Beatriz, hadn’t been interested.  But she went to church once and liked it.  Then we taught her the Restoration, she remembered a lot of it from the sisters’ other visits and even had a Book of Mormon but had never read or prayed about it.  She said she would and she did!  She hasn’t gotten an answer yet but I believe she will.  We taught the Plan of Salvation to her family this week.  Beatriz thought it was so interesting she took a picture of our little visual representation of the plan. 

Lots of times we teach the plan of salvation and people don’t really pay attention. But when they do pay attention it reminds me of how special this is. Lots of people don’t have this wonderful knowledge.  Caroline’s family thought that the only options after death are heaven or hell, and that people who don’t hear the gospel will go straight to hell after death.  How wonderful to know that isn’t the case!  People who don’t have a real opportunity to hear the gospel will hear it in the life to come.  And the vast majority of people will live in a good place after this life, even those who didn’t fully follow God.  Families can be together forever!  Lots of people here think that in heaven we won’t be able to remember anything or recognize our family members.  I am so grateful for an eternal family.

We have another investigator, Cristina, who has many difficulties. Her daughter has cancer and is very, very sick.  Her husband shows signs of Alzheimer’s and can’t be left alone. A member introduced us to her without knowing this backstory.  When we met her she was crying and asking why God punishes people with things like this.  We taught her the Plan of Salvation and testified of God’s love and support in our lives, as well as the truth that she and her daughter would have eternities together after this life.  She asked us several times if it was really true.  Now she has prayed about it and believes!  Every time we see her she has a little more trust in God and seems a little happier, even though her situation hasn’t really improved.   I know Alma 7:12 tells the truth — Christ knows what we suffer because he has felt all of the things we go through.  He suffered all that in order to know how to succor us!

Sister Sousa eating the chocolate molten cake I made, topped with peanut butter

Love you all!

*Names are changed to protect privacy

Everyone is from Vasco!

On the bus to the consulate, already wet

Today we left our house at 8:30, went straight to the bus station to go the American consulate, and didn’t get back until 3:40!  We spent a very long time in front of the American consulate waiting for Sister Sousa’s interview.  She got approved!  The hours in the rain were worth it. She is going to pick up her passport in ten days.  Nothing happened with transfers–we’re going to stay here together.  Consequently I am extremely curious about what will happen when she goes to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah [before beginning the English-speaking portion of her mission in Edmonton, Canada].  But we don’t know what day that will be either.  Lots of unknowns!  

Arthur had a recaído [relapse] this week. Anyway, it was sad, because he smoked 10 cigarettes, and that made it hard for him the rest of the week.  But he is still working hard, so here’s hoping everything works out. We also had trouble with contacts – we had a running joke this week that all the elect people in contacts turn out to be from Vasco.  We had so many references for Vasco.  We still haven’t passed them all on.  We talk to people who are sitting on porches in the middle of a little neighborhood — and it turns out the person is visiting from a different city!  Another reference.  The running joke got a lot funnier on Sunday. We had a miracle: the server at the luncheonette where we ate lunch one day called us to confirm the Sacrament Meeting time. We had invited him to church and read a scripture with him — but he had to leave so it was really fast. He said he would go, but I have never once seen a street contact show up at church. I always hope they will show up, but it has never happened. But he showed up!  All by himself!  He said it was different but he liked it and wanted to learn more. But when we introduced him to the bishop, we found out that he was actually from Vasco! That was pretty funny. And a little sad. I have faith that one day the elders from Vasco will find us someone awesome!

Caroline and Luan are going to start the marriage process tomorrow!  I am super excited. We have been having lots of trouble getting into their house to teach them, because they keep cancelling on us.  But this is progress!  Hopefully we manage to teach them this week.  We met a number of good people in contacts last week that I am excited to teach this week.

This week it has been raining quite a lot.  People had been telling us that it was the least rainy, hottest winter they’ve had here in a while.  After this week, I´m not sure if that’s still true!

This Week in Recife

This week was good!  We managed to teach a lot more first lessons this week and we finally have more investigators in our teaching pool.  Caroline and Luan* are going to officially start the getting-married process here!  Unfortunately, this is not Las Vegas and you can’t get married in one day–it could take two months for the papers to get through! In other updates, Arthur is still working on dropping the last cigarette.  He is working hard, so I am sure it will work out eventually. 

Unfortunately, none of our new investigators went to church — it was another Sunday of sudden illnesses, rain, a death in the family!, sudden work opportunities, and general busyness and flakiness.  But Luan and Caroline went to church again, as well as Arthur and Viviane. Viviane is an awesome young woman who has been wanting to get baptized for the last year.  Unfortunately, her mom won’t let her.  But she is persevering  admirably and a very active member in the ward.  The only thing that is missing is the water! (and confirmation).  She is going to ask her mom again this week — please pray that her mom’s heart is softened.  

Cool story — we are teaching a Hare Krishna who stopped us in the street!  He wanted to hear about the temple, which apparently is built in a place an old Hare Krishna temple used to be.  He also wanted to know about meat, because Hare Krishnas are vegetarian, and he talked with a vegan member of the church who told him that our scriptures said something about not eating meat.  So that is pretty crazy, because I am vegetarian and was vegan before my mission because of those exact scriptures. [However, it should be noted that the majority of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not vegetarian].  And I have been to a Hare Krishna temple before and read a little bit about the religion because I think it’s interesting. Weird. We focused on the more important doctrine of the Restoration and his questions about that instead of talking about meat, but I thought that was a funny coincidence. 

He called to cancel our second lesson because something came up but said he had been on the church’s website ComeuntoChrist.org and was loving everything.  He was talking about how the church is such a great example of service, teaching children, etc., etc.  He said he would go to church this Sunday and wanted us to preach him the Bible!  . . . And then on Saturday he called to say he had  been called to go on a mission for a week as a Hare Krishna and didn’t need more visits.  So that was bad timing.  But we told him that we had found a member who had already been to the Hare Krishna temple and would visit him when he got back.

Today we went to get Sister Sousa’s fingerprints taken.  Next week (the day we find out about transfers!) she is going to do her interview at the American (embassy? consulate? don´t know).  Her Canadian visa went through a week after the interview, so if she gets lucky she might be going to Canada really soon!  Who knows if we will be in a trio this next transfer again or if I will end up getting transferred to another place when she leaves . . . or just receive a different companion. I´m not sure. 

We stopped by the beach.  Oh, how I love the sea.  And lakes, and rivers, and ponds. . .  It was picture perfect–yellow sand, blue sky, picturesque clouds.  We did not go to the beach, obviously, but I admired it from a distance!  The water was a little dirty because of the rain, but the benefit of not being allowed to walk on the beach is that it’s harder to see that it is dirty!

Love you all!

*All names are changed to protect the privacy of the investigators

Loving and Welcoming Visitors

This week was good. We have one couple, Caroline and Luan,* who we are teaching.  When we arrived in this area we were very confused because we couldn’t find Caroline’s teaching record.  A teaching record is a form we fill out to say what we taught people.  That way if both the missionaries get transferred, or if you can’t remember what you taught, you can look at the teaching record and see what’s already been taught. I turns out that she doesn’t have a teaching record because she’s never been taught! Her daughter was taught, and she had already been to church and knew the missionaries quite well, and had already reached the Isaiah sections in the Book of Mormon, so we thought she must have been taught something already. But it turns out that she had been drinking and smoking a lot– so much that she was too nervous to sit through a lesson.  The Sisters tried to teach her but she would leave.  But now she sits through lessons, listens, learns, and is reading the Book of Mormon a lot!  She has been to church a total of three times. She wants to get baptized and understands the importance of faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, etc.  All without ever being taught!  

Caroline also really wants to get married in order to keep God’s commandments and be baptized. And our ward is helping them out!  They already went to the marriage office and things are progressing!  I have taught lots of people who needed to get married before, but nothing really ever worked out.  Her husband Luan could use some prayers that he can find work.  He seems very driven — he is really working hard to find a steady job to support his family, but now he is just doing whatever odd job he can find.  

Recife Temple
Courtesy of ChurchofJesusChrist.org

One thing I would like to remember as an ex-missionary is the importance of loving and welcoming visitors.  As a missionary I am definitely better at not unrighteously judging people and focusing on encouraging them in their successes. As a member who just sees a visitor or recent convert show up to church without knowing the backstory, it is sometimes easy  to think judgmental thoughts about their behavior or dress or attitude.  But as a missionary I am thrilled when people show up to church!  Being a missionary has definitely helped me develop more charity and empathy for people.  Our investigators are very rarely accustomed to the way church members act or dress (and frequently don’t have the resources to buy church-y clothes anyway), but that is normal.  We are just so happy when they show up to church, because we know it will help them get closer to Christ.  There is a huge difference between people who go to church and people we teach who never visit church.  There have been a couple of times when members’ feathers got a bit ruffled because of someone’s odd behavior, or because a recent convert talked about a weakness they have.  That is sad because it can make that person feel unwelcome and stop their forward progress.  But the majority of members are very welcoming, and we appreciate all the people who visit investigators, give car rides, and help in other ways.  

We are teaching another young woman, Viviane, who has been going to church for a year but hasn’t been baptized. Her mom doesn’t want to give permission.  She could use prayers as well (and for us, so we can run into her mom and know how to help!).

Arthur is still struggling with cigarettes.  He has made huge progress but the last cigarette is really hard to give up.  But we have high hopes for this week!  

Caju fruit
Photo Credit: Victoria Rachitzky Hoch, Flickr

Fun fact — a while ago I sent a picture of a caju fruit.  This week I bought another one to eat.  It was tasty . . . and burned the side of my mouth!  The first time I ate one it burned my throat a bit.  My companion said I needed to buy a sweeter one.  This one seemed sweeter . . . until I noticed afterwards that my lips were a bit burnt!  I am starting to wonder if I have some kind of weird allergy just to caju fruit.  Other fun fact — cashews are taken individually from that weird thing on top of the caju fruit!  Now I know why they are so expensive — they have to remove them one by one!  

I have been studying the church´s Come, Follow Me manual. This year we are studying about the New Testament. This verse really touched me: 

40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Acts 5:40-41

Here Peter and John are arrested for preaching the gospel, told not to talk about Christ, beaten, and then let go.  And what do they do? They rejoice in their sufferings . . . and continue preaching about Christ, because their allegiance to God is greater than their allegiance to man.  I  have known about Christian virtues all my life–if someone slaps you, turn the other cheek, trials help us grow, if someone makes you walk one mile with them, walk two, etc. — Sometime it is easy to get so used to hearing these things we don’t really think about them.  It is really difficult to do these things!  And are we doing them?  I certainly am not yet on Peter and John’s level.  I haven’t gone through anything anywhere near as difficult as they did, and yet I am not as Christlike as they were.  Luckily, we have this scripture from the D&C (the Doctrine and Covenants are a book of scripture that has revelations from God given to modern prophets like Joseph Smith) to guide us:

13 Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.

D&C 67:13

Repentance is not the backup plan, it is the plan!

Hope you all have a wonderful week.

*Investigators names are always changed to protect their privacy

The Work Continues

This week was good. We managed to teach first lessons to more investigators this week and our church attendance was better than last week — São João winding down definitely helped. People celebrate São João the entire month of June.  There are three different saints who have special days — Anthony, John and Peter.  All three are celebrated — and people celebrate the day before as well as the day of and sometimes the day after!  We really need to find more people to mark for baptism, but we are making plans for this week so hopefully that can happen.  Arthur went almost four days without smoking!  A miracle.  Then he had some problems and his baptism didn’t work out, but we re-marked him for this Saturday.

On Saturday he was very different — he smoked three cigarettes and was depressed.  He didn’t think he could manage to change.  We tried all sorts of things to help him but it didn’t work very well.  He was tired of not seeing his friends for a while and said he thought it would be a good idea to test himself by going to a party with lots of temptations and seeing if he broke commandments or not! He would go that evening after the ward June fest party.  We were worried about the ward party, because as missionaries we couldn’t attend. We were worried he would be all alone — we asked members to stick with him but weren’t sure if it would work. But I was hoping and praying he would go to the ward party and then choose not to go to the other party afterwards. He went to the party and enjoyed it so much that everyone in the ward commented on how he enjoyed himself. Then he didn’t go to his friends’ party! Another miracle. 


This week we had a little miracle in the middle of a not-very-productive contact. I thought the people didn’t look like people who would have a lot of potential but felt like we ought to talk to them anyway. They really  didn’t have potential but in the middle of the contact, someone else walking down the street heard the contact. They asked us if we would visit them and said they had been looking for missionaries that could stop by! I am excited to visit them and our other contacts this week!  

Paperwork!

The other thing that happened this week was interviews.  I thought that since we live in Recife we would waste a lot less time going to interviews than when I was in other areas.  Turns out that that isn’t necessarily the case!  We live much closer to the mission office, but there is so much traffic and the busses have very complicated routes sometimes, so even though we live in the same city and there were fewer people being interviewed (fewer opportunities for the interviews to run super late) we still ended up spending a looot of time not working that day— the whole day.  But we did have time to do our studies and eat lunch and visit Arthur.  I thought that it was pretty funny that it took so long even in Recife! But I don’t mind talking to the people at the mission office — they are all pretty great!  I
 also spent a little longer there because I had to sign something to get my identity card to show that I’m here legally.  It’s pretty funny — we went to the office one day the other week to do Sister Sousa’s paperwork.  They forgot I had to sign my paperwork too, so we went back the next day.  But the courier did the paperwork wrong, so I had to re-sign it during interviews!  But I was already there for interviews so it didn’t take too much more time. It’s good I’m not still in Gravatá or Palmares!  I don´t know if the missionaries there have to travel to the mission office to do this paperwork, but if so it must take a lot of time. We will probably have splits this week.  That at least should be a lot less time consuming. It will be very strange to spend less than an hour going to another area instead of the four hours it takes from Palmares or two and a half from Gravatá!

Scripture thought — 1 Peter 1 is pretty awesome.  I had heard parts of it before but read it more carefully recently:   

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Flaxen Cords

At the mission office for interviews
Photo courtesy of Sister Lori Houseman

This week was pretty crazy. Sister Sousa had headaches and Sister Damaceno was also sick. We found out on Tuesday night that Sister Damaceno was going to fly home the next morning. We had no idea that would happen, so it was a shock. I will definitely miss her but hope she can get better at home! So now it is just Sister Sousa and me again.

We had trouble finding people at home, but we found a lot of new people to teach. Arthur ended up smoking this week — addictions are hard! But he didn’t smoke on Sunday or Monday — definitely a miracle. A member talked to him at church and apparently that helped a lot. Proactive members are a blessing, take note! You cannot go wrong offering to do specific things to help the missionaries.

We have passed a ton of references to other areas. Right now is an especially bad time to do contacts here because there is a huge park next to the church which has been having São João parties all month. Yesterday everything was closed for São João and there were bonfires in the street every few yards to celebrate! We have started doing contacts only far away from our house and that helps. Also making rules like — if someone is on the street exercising or has a dog, stop them, because they probably live here. We have to be detectives — what can we look for to know if someone is from our area or not? School shirts — usually a good clue. Shopping bags — hard to say. It is pretty funny.

We are teaching a couple, Raquel and Leandro*. Leandro went to church last week. We went to see him Sunday morning and convinced him to go — and he went! In the rain! He is blind, so he was really a trooper to go. This week a family member got sick at the last second and they couldn’t go. Sicknesses are on my hit list: Also, family members who visit without telling people, trips to the countryside, and sleepiness. They all cause problems. Raquel and Leandro have to get married in order to progress toward baptism, endure to the end, temple, etc. After much conversation we helped them get to the realization that they want to get married and know that that is what God wants for them. But they had a list of reasons they couldn’t get married soon, didn’t even want to plan the day, etc. Procrastination is a serious evil. Definitely one of the flaxen cords of the devil. But I was praying and praying for their hearts to be touched, and yesterday it happened! Raquel was even happier than usual. Sister Sousa thought about lots of creative solutions to get over the roadblocks and Raquel accepted all of them. Her engagement lunch is planned for the twentieth of next month and she promised to mark a day for her marriage yesterday night. I hope it happened!

Recife Temple with the whole zone–First chance since last December
Photo courtesy of Sister Lori Houseman

A story about language difference difficulties, even for native Brazilians: Sister Sousa was webchatting with her parents just now and said one of the other missionaries isn’t from her zone. A lady came over to whisper to tell me that we can’t say “zone” because in the Northeast it is a place where prostitutes go! Apparently we just shocked everyone in the LAN house.

Some scriptures I wanted to share with you: In the CTM I read the last few verses of Romans 8 about God´s love for us which really touched me:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yesterday I read a different scripture I don’t remember hearing before, Hebrews 4:14-16. Powerful!

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

*All names are changed to protect the privacy of investigators.

Sister Faulconer joins yet another triumvirate, gets very, very, wet, and gets to know Casa Forte

Sister Faulconer, Sister Damaceno, Sister Sousa

I’m now in Casa Forte [near the temple in Recife]!  It is really different here.  I can see apartment buildings from all the parts of my area.  We have parts of our area that are normal Brazilian houses but also a lot of areas that are apartment buildings.  It was a serious pain to get here — two large suitcases and bumpy sidewalks, a metro and a bus.  I am not a good example of a cool, collected traveler, but I did manage to get here eventually!  I am in a trio again!  I have a companion, Sister Sousa, who is waiting for a visa to go to the Canada Edmonton mission!  That’s where my uncle lives. Hi Uncle Deryl! My other companion is Sister Damaceno, who arrived here in the same group with my trainee from the last transfer, Sister M. Ribeiro.  Both of my companions are from São Paulo, Sister Damaceno is from the city and Sister Sousa is from a small town in the interior. 

The day before the transfer Sister Ribeiro and I visited an investigator for the second time.  His sister was in the same room, listening to really loud music.  We started to read the scriptures and began to ask her questions as well and invite her to read.  Eventually she turned off the music and became engaged in the conversation.  Near the end of the lesson, she told us that her family had once been very active in their religion.  But they began to have questions that no one answered, and decided that that religion had practices that were not in line with the scriptures and the Savior’s teachings.  She said they needed a church to go to together and to have more religion at home.  She said she believed we had been sent in that moment by God to help them better follow Christ and show them the way to a church they could go to together!  That was a very special experience — I hope to receive a letter from Sister M. Ribeiro saying that they really have begun working to better follow Christ. 

Crazy thing that happened this week — our second day here it rained, and rained, and rained and rained some more.  The streets turned into lakes.  I literally could have swum part of the way to our lunch appointment — we were knee high in water!  We had to go slowly because the sidewalks and streets have big holes sometimes, and you can’t see through the water.  It rained all day.  Definitely an adventure and a cool experience, but it does make proselyting a little more difficult.  The rain is so loud it is harder to hear people and no one wants to go outside!  Also alllll the things get wet – clothes, our bags, everything.    

Wet!

We are talking to  a lot of new people because there weren’t many investigators being taught here. We need to find more people with potential. I talked to one couple the other day in a chic-y (fancy) part of town that said they were agnostic and not interested in talking about religion.  It was a weird experience — I wasn’t sure if I was in Brazil or the United States for a second!  We talk to a lot of people on the street and someone that claims to be agnostic is very rare — I think this is the third time in my mission that I’ve talked to an agnostic.  The other two were open to religion. 

We have one investigator, Arthur*, who is awesome.  He reads the Book of Mormon every day, hasn’t drunk alcohol in a month, goes to church, and is changing his life.  The only difficulty is smoking–but he didn’t smoke a single cigarette yesterday.  If he continues that streak he can be baptized this Saturday!  Please pray for him.

Also, our ward here is awesome–large, and with members who want to be actively involved in missionary work.  

Here is a cool quote from one of the twelve apostles, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“If we give our heart to God, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to be magnificent, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Why? Because our Heavenly Father wants it to be! He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life is the very object of His merciful plan for His children! It is a plan predicated on the truth “that all things work together for good to them that love God.”10 So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.

“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard?” Isaiah cried.

“… They that wait upon [Him] shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. …

“[God] giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. …

“For … the Lord … God will hold [their] right hand, saying unto [them], Fear not; I will help thee.”11

Love you guys!

*To respect their privacy, the names of all investigators are changed.