Sense of Urgency

We had a great week!  My new companion, Sister Ribeiro, is awesome — she doesn’t really need a trainer but we’re learning lots of things together. 

Sister Faulconer & Sister Ribeiro

I loved General Conference; it is such a good opportunity to feel the spirit and receive personal revelation.  If you haven’t watched it yet, watch it now!  Our investigator, let’s call her “Emanuelle,” went to conference Saturday night.  We were super excited because she had had trouble going to church for many Sundays in a row, but she made it to conference!  She brought questions to ponder during the meeting and said she liked it a lot. 

During that session Elder Mathias Held told about his conversion story — he spent a lot of time looking at the church through rational eyes.  He saw a lot of wonderful things — service, hard work, family-centered worship, etc.  But he and his wife never felt totally ready to get baptized.  But when they realized they needed to use their spiritual eyes as well as the cold-hard-facts-rational eyes, they recognized that they needed to progress towards baptism because it was the Lord’s will for them.  He read a scripture (I think it was in this talk) that I love and have used with several investigators.

Mosiah 18:8-10:

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

David with his family and Sister Ribeiro and I. He was baptized this weekend!

If we are ready to try to follow Christ’s example, helping those who are in need and being witnesses of God, baptism is the logical next step!  Some times things in the church (patriarchal blessings, receiving a temple endowment) seem like huge commitments and we feel that we have to be practically perfect or super committed or have perfect certainty before committing.  But if we are worthy to participate in these covenants, and we have received a testimony that doing so is God’s will for us, we shouldn’t let fear hold us back!  God is just waiting to fulfill his side of the covenant, to pour out his spirit more abundantly upon us, to cleanse us from our sins, and help us progress towards eternal life.  For those of us who have already made these covenants, we can apply the same principles to repentance and following the counsel we find in the scriptures and general conference.  As President Nelson said, time is running out!  We have to prepare for the second coming today.  Now is the time and the day of our salvation, we need to act now so that God can immediately bless us with the Atonement (Alma 34). 


Acai, vegan strawberry and vegan pitanga at Madoska, an ice cream shop in
Gravatá to celebrate my 20th birthday. It was very tasty.

I felt that sense of urgency this week because I turned twenty!  I can’t believe it.  I also have 7.5 months in the mission field. It’s pretty crazy. On my birthday we went to Caruaru for our weekly district meeting and interviews with President Houseman.  We got back so late we ate lunch for dinner, but it was good.  We also taught a lesson to “Ramon,” the nephew of one of our members.  He was invited to church the other week and loved it.  We hope everything will go well!

I also experimented with making macaxeira [cassava] fries.  Macaxeira is like a potato but not.  Through much trial and error I learned that you need to boil them before frying them, that you need to cut large fries, that our kitchen knife is very dull, and that you need to boil them in salted water. 


The view from our windows. We go up that hill several times a week — occasionally twice in one day!

This week we are hoping to mark Emanuelle for baptism. We are also hoping that Ramon’s mother will get baptized, as well as Tiago!  Tiago has had some bumps in the road on his way to baptism, including things other people said to him, but we told him to pray about it.  It’s God’s opinion that counts!  He said “Whoa, my heart is beating really fast!” It was special — he is very sensitive to the Spirit and wants to do God’s will.

This is a picture of Tiago and I with my my companions from a few weeks ago.

Extra miracle: We thought at one point that we had lost our keys in the road.  We almost called a locksmith, but I felt like we should check the chapel first.  We wrote down the locksmith´s number, went to the chapel and . . . they were there on the bench. It was a blessing.

Triumvirate Travels Apart: Transfers are Trying

Sister Faulconer and Sister Broadbent: Excited about jackfruit

The day before transfers, Tuesday, it rained a lot.  I felt the tiniest bit cold, which was a strange sensation.  Sister Broadbent wanted hot chocolate, but that’s not very easy to find.  Instead, we ate munguza (sweet coconut milk with pieces of corn and cinnamon on top) which people sell on the street corners.  It was a cool moment — we were walking through tons of rain eating munguza.  It seemed very Brazilian!  Little did we know that our adventures were just beginning!

We leave at 10:30 am and return at 9 pm every day — we never return home during the day.  But Sister Centeio bought a suitcase during our dinner time so we went home to leave the suitcase there. Sister Centeio walked up the stairs and said “Uh-oh, there’s water in the house Sister!” Then she walked into the room where we keep our suitcases and clothes and said “There is a lot of water!!”  One day before transfers all the suitcases got wet!  There was about a quarter inch of water in that room!  It was a little miracle that we went home during dinner instead of waiting five more hours–it made a difference for the suitcases.  One book was ruined and some papers and letters got wet as well, as well as all of my clothes, but luckily the easily ruinable things were mostly in other rooms.  We had to spend some time taking all the stuff out of the room, throwing away wet boxes, and setting up the fans to try and dry out the suitcases, and using a “roda” to push all the water out the balcony.  A roda is a huge squeegee that you can use to push out water or cover with a rag and use as a mop.

Luckily the suitcases were mostly dry by the next day.  I rode in a car with some other people to the metro, then took the metro to a bus station, and then rode to a different road where I got off and walked to the mission office.  I was late because my area is far away, and the buses and cars only leave so early.  But it didn’t turn out to be a problem because some missionaries who lived super close were quite late–there was a protest with a fire and someone stole the copper cables from the metro!  It didn’t end up affecting my travel but a lot of missionaries had to get taxis and figure out other ways to get to the right places.  Pretty crazy for the day of transfers! 

My new companion is Sister M. Ribeiro.  She is awesome.  She is from
São Paulo, is 19 years old, and likes to take pictures. She speaks English because she spent a few months in the U.S. with her sister, so we are switching off practicing English and Portuguese pronunciation at home.  Maybe I’ll get home with a Paulista accent! 

First pic of new companionship: Sister M. Ribeiro [Hi-BEAR-o] and Sister Faulconer

Almost all of our people with dates marked for baptism had problems this week and the three baptisms we thought might happen fell through!  We have a couple people who have decided to break the law of chastity even though they know it is wrong, some people who moved to other cities, some people who got new jobs and can’t go to church on Sundays, and some people who just don’t want to get baptized right now. But we are all set to have David’s baptism this coming Sunday between sessions of General Conference and it should be great! He said that after going to church for five years, he finally decided to get baptized because of a member’s testimony last Sunday. Your talks and testimonies can be powerful, folks!

I like a scripture in Alma 4:19: “And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.”

It was sad to lose people we were so excited about, but I felt the spirit in several of those lessons. Sometimes you teach with the spirit and authority but people choose not to change their lives for the better.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

2 Nephi 2:27

It’s sad, because sometimes you see people choosing to follow the devil and be miserable. We have one investigator who always said he wanted to be happy. He told us how happy he was when he prayed about the Book of Mormon, when he went to church, when he stopped drinking coffee. But he decided not to follow the commandments and he won’t have the chance to feel the divine happiness people can experience on the gospel path.

I’m excited for this week working with Sister Ribeiro.  The good thing about when things fall through is that you have a clean slate to find lots of new people. 

I am also super excited for General Conference! We have told some of our investigators that the prophet has promised that if we write down our questions before conference, and then prayerfully attend, we can receive answers to our questions and guidance for our doubts. I know this promise is true–I definitely felt that last conference. Sometimes we don’t get the answer we want–maybe the answer is “wait” or “that doesn’t matter right now”–but we will get the answers we need, and our testimonies can be strengthened. Don’t miss out this week!

I will trust in thee forever

It’s transfers already!!  We were studying this morning when President Houseman called–I’m going to train someone!  I feel pretty nervous about that but I know that with God all things are possible. I have been thinking a lot about 2 Nephi 4:34:

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. 

I thought a lot about this scripture last transfer when I had to show Palmares to Sister Arce.  I know God is someone we can always trust in.  

Photos of Gravatá

We had a wonderful experience this Sunday.  A young man we didn’t know, call him “David,” showed up to church this Sunday.  We found out that he had been going to church for five years but isn’t baptized!  He said he just wasn’t sure he wanted to be baptized.  Usually we don’t randomly have time to schedule visits with people same-day, but this Sunday we did, so we visited him after church.  We found out that his dad has been less-active for 25 years.   At the beginning of the lesson he said he was waiting for God to touch him–he wanted some kind of answer from God about when he should go back to church.

We started teaching a lesson about faith, repentance, and baptism.  When we got to baptism we invited David to get baptized next Saturday.  When we invited him he looked at the ground and mumbled, “Yeah, I think I’ve thought long enough.” We weren’t sure if we heard him right, but he really is ready to get baptized next Saturday!  Then I started to invite his Dad to go back to church and I said “We’d like to invite you . . .” and he cut me off and said he would call the Bishop to return to full activity that very evening!  We were so happy for them.  That was really a miracle. 

Next we went to see Tiago, whose baptism had fallen through.  We thought he wouldn’t be able to get baptized because of family problems, but when we showed up he said everything had been resolved and he is going to get baptized this Saturday! 

We also had a baptism this past Saturday:  “Lucas” is a very special young man.  On Wednesday he said he hadn’t got an answer to his prayer yet, but we did a fast with him and he said that the next day he felt the spirit strongly all day.  He got an answer and got baptized Saturday!  I think one day he will be a missionary. 

Exploring the foods of Brazil:

Fries (Batata frita) are very popular here.  But the ketchup and mustard here taste different — sometimes you can see in the ingredient list that the mustard has corn puree.  This is hilarious because the northeast part of Brazil is known for its love of corn.  Apparently they even put it in the mustard!

The red fruit, jambo, seriously tastes like roses!

Pipoca, puffed corn, is sold on all of the corners and in all of the busstops and the busses and the metros.  There is a large part of Gravatá which has a factory that makes pipoca and there is a super strong smell of margarine in the air for blocks!  It reminds me strongly of packing peanuts but it is tasty in a not-popcorn-but-sort-of kind of way. [To read more about pipoca de isopor click here.]

The green fruit is an ubu. Like many fruits in Brazil you don´t eat the pit or the skin, just the inside fruit.

Love you all!  Hope you have a great week! 

The Right Place

This week we had splits, so I went to Guaranhuns one day with the Sister Training Leaders.  We also had stake conference in Caruaru. It’s an hour away, so this week was pretty crazy because we were following up with a lot of people about whether they could go, how it would be, etc.  There were a lot of people who we hoped would go that didn’t make it, but we had a couple of very special people who did.

We have one investigator, call him “Tiago,” who is older and likes to talk a lot about his life.  In the contact we did with him we weren’t sure if he was really interested in learning or not, but he accepted a baptismal date (in the middle of the road!) so we went back to visit him.  Lots of times we aren’t sure if he is paying attention or really interested, but then there are moments that we can see him progressing a lot. This week we were at stake conference with him and the stake president gave a talk about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon every day.  (See President Monson’s last talk about the Book of Mormonhere) I was inwardly very excited about this talk because we always tell this to our investigators but sometimes they need a second witness for the importance of the Book of Mormon to sink in. After the conference Tiago mentioned the talk and said “I am going to read this book at morning and at night every day!”  That was a very special moment.

Mission President and Missionaries pose for photograph at stake conference in Caruaru

I also wanted to share a story about a woman who went to church this week, call her “Natália.” She had been less active for years, and hadn’t been to church in quite a while.  But her son’s girlfriend, call her “Giovana,” is a member of the church. She always invites Natália and her grandchildren who live with her to church, but they pretty much never went.  One day Giovana invited Natália to church. When Natália said she couldn’t go because she had to make lunch, Giovana didn’t give up. She helped her make lunch and helped Natália until all of her housework was done. They showed up at church quite late, but they made it.  Natália felt a really strong feeling of peace and comfort, like the church was where she ought to be. After the church meetings, Natália found out that one of her children had died. Her family members were worried that this would devastate her. But Natália told us that because of the peaceful feeling she had from church, she knew that everything would be okay.

Later we taught her granddaughter the Restoration.  When we told about Joseph Smith’s first vision, Natália felt a prompting from the spirit that the feeling she had at church was like a first vision for her — an answer to prayer and a witness that the church was true.  Now she goes to church every week, and her granddaughter is progressing towards baptism!

I know all of us can have spiritual experiences like Natália´s.  Sometimes we have to be in the right place to recognize the promptings of the spirit — it was only once she went to church, after so many years of inactivity, that she received an answer!  We can also receive answers through the Book of Mormon, as President Monson promised in his talk, and through prayer. It is so special to be here on a mission seeing people receiving answers to their prayers.

Church

This week was a little crazy!  We had to go to Caruaru twice this week instead of just once because we had interviews with President Houseman.  We also spent a lot of time with Mirelle.  It turned out that she actually was smoking when she said she wasn´t  . . . which was sad.  But then she had to go to the hospital because of blood pressure issues and decided to never smoke again!  Which was wonderful.  So we spent a lot of time trying to help her learn the lessons this week.  She is learning!  But her baptism this week fell through — we will see if maybe she can be baptized on the thirtieth.

So we had less time with our other investigators this week.  But we saw the most important people and on Sunday we had a miracle — ten investigators who made it to church!  We always have an expectation of 15-23 people at church more or less, but usually less than five people actually show up.  So it was exciting because of the number of people, but really we were excited because we pray and hope and think about each one of them, and we know that going to church is really important.  So every time someone walks in the door we get super excited! 

A picture with some of our investigators

We spent an hour with a young woman last week before church.  She didn’t end up going, which was very sad, but this week she showed up!  We were trying to be reverent because sacrament meeting already started but we were very happy. 
I remembered this scripture which is about when the sons of Mosiah return from their missions and find one another:

17 Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.

18 Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.

19 Now the joy of Alma in meeting his brethren was truly great, and also the joy of Aaron, of Omner, and Himni; but behold their joy was not that to exceed their strength.

Alma 27: 17-19

I have a long ways to improve in order to be a  truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness but I can relate to the joy they felt here.  (I didn´t faint twice like Ammon, but still . . .) Every soul that is at church on Sunday, or reading the scriptures or praying or serving others during the week deserves a little celebration.  

I know doing little things like reading the scriptures, praying, serving others, and going to church really does make a difference — out of simple efforts, great things come to pass.  I have seen it in my life and I am seeing it in the lives of our investigators! 

Love you all!

Carnaval

Lots of older people here have been telling us that they are afraid of Carnaval even though it is quite small in our city.   One of our investigators, Mirelle, said: “I’m not leaving the house; everybody already dyed their hair.” I was confused — what does hair dye have to do with Carnaval?  Then over the next two days all of a sudden everyone in the street had hair dyed bright pink, red, blue, yellow, green, etc. She was saying that she knew Carnaval had already started because her neighbors already dyed their hair!  We’ve also seen a lot of people in costumes. There are little bands of boys and some adults walking around with costumes, sticks, and masks.  There are also lots of people in rainbow tutus. 

Frevo dancers holding little umbrellas and dressed in orange green and yellow neon clothing for Carnaval in Brazil

We haven´t seen much Carnaval but right before we got to this LAN house we saw some people dancing Frevo!  That was exciting.  We are hearing a lot of marching band sort of music. Our LAN house (similar to an internet cafe) was closed today but luckily there was another LAN house open.  It´s not very good — only two headsets and the computer lost power due to lightning in the middle of my video chat. 

Sister Broadbent, Sister Centeio, and Sister Faulconer, Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holding small frevo umbrellas in Brazil

We had to wait for computers to be open so we went to a store where I tried on this hat:

Sister Faulconer, a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, poses for a picture in a pretty hat.
The better LAN house

We have had a number of investigators hiding/don´t want to answer the door this week, so that was a little sad, but we did a ton of contacts and we have found a lot of great new people to teach. We have two great families marked for baptism but we have a stake conference coming up so we will see whether we can convince them to travel to Caruaru for that or if they will have to be baptized a little later. 

We already had trouble finding people at home for the lessons we planned with them, but now with Carnaval it is getting worse.  We mark a visit with someone one day and show up the next day only to see a locked-up house. We call them and they say they´re travelling for Carnaval!

We have been talking to a lot of investigators recently about how to recognize answers to prayer.  We have shown a couple of them this video with Elder Bednar’s thoughts on receiving revelation. It reminds us that we can’t expect answers to be huge signs from God — often they are more subtle.  On my mission I’ve found a few scriptures about answers to prayer that I really love.  One is Alma 5:45-46. Here he is talking to the people and asks them how they think he received an testimony of the gospel:


45 
And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

46 Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

Alma 5:45-46

This is cool because Alma saw an angel before this — but apparently that wasn’t enough to have a testimony!   He had to fast and pray — not just one time but for many days!

Sister missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints eating acai bowls.

I have been on a mission for six months!  We ate açaí to celebrate.  I can’t believe it’s been six months already!

Prayer helps me

The miracle of video chat

It was so great to do a video chat with my parents today!  I think the sisters and I might have found the only two don’t-need-to-be-installed-webcams in the city of Gravatá.  There are three of us, so we will have to see if we can find another.   

Our investigator “Danilson” went to Recife for several days, so we couldn’t see him.  But then one day we were teaching one of our other investigators next to a small outdoor bar and Sister Centeio said “Sister, I think we’ve talked to that man before!” We went over and it turned out to be Danilson!  So we taught him and a couple of other people the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the middle of the bar.  He was slightly drunk but pretty lucid, so he understood what was going on.  Later in the week one of the other men from the bar, Luis, stopped us in the street and said he wanted to hear more!   

We have a couple of people that are close to baptism, so we are pretty excited about that.  One of our investigators, Mirelle, is the grandmother of some recent converts that joined the church in a different city.  She attended the church there and really wants to get baptized!  There are a couple of things she has to resolve first, including a serious addiction to tobacco.  She was using chewing tobacco so much that she couldn’t tell us exactly how many times a day she uses it.  But she said she knows it is bad for her and wants to stop. 

One thing I’ve been working on is saying little prayers during the day about things I’m thankful about and the needs of our investigators (and my family).  Praying throughout the day helps me be empathetic, keep other people and their needs in mind, forget myself, and have more inspiration about how to help others.  So I have been praying a lot that she can be free from this addiction.

The miracle of the week is that on Saturday she smoked once or twice and on Sunday she didn’t smoke at all!  I hope she can stay strong during the rest of the week!  She learns very slowly, but I can tell she loves God and wants to follow Christ and be baptized.  

Some great scriptures about prayer are in Mosiah 26:39: (About what Alma and his fellow laborers taught): “And they did admonish their brethren; and they were also admonished, every one by the word of God, according to his sins, or to the sins which he had committed, being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things.”

And 2 Nephi 32:9: “But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

There is also a super great article by Elder Juan Uceda about how to pray better in the February 2019 issue of the Liahona.

We are excited to have a conference with Elder Adukaitis this week in Recife.  Next week will be Carnaval!  Carnaval isn’t crazy here in Gravatá. so we will be working normal hours, but people are putting up little decorations — lots of masks, colored umbrellas (the kind you use for Frevo), and colored streamers.  

I can’t believe it: I will celebrate my six-months-from-the-day-I-got-to-the-CTM anniversary on Friday!

Love you all so much!

My new home & new sisters: Gravatá

On the left, Sister Centeio from Cape Verde, in the middle, Sister Faulconer from Provo, Utah, on the right, Sister Broadbent from Ogden, Utah. In the background, the very rainy streets of
Gravatá, Pernambuco, Brazil. [courtesy Amy Dawson Broadbent]

Now I have two companions!  I did not know I would be in a trio — it was a big surprise!  Apparently there are a few trios of sisters right now.  I don’t know why — President doesn’t want to open more areas right now?  Lack of houses to rent to missionaries? Revelation?  But it’s cool to be  in a trio.  I especially appreciate how much faster doing the Area Book is.  The Area Book is a large binder with forms that you update for every visit with investigators.  It also has forms where you write the information for every new person who wants a visit and forms we give to the Ward Mission Leader about the help our investigators/recent converts/other members need from the ward.  I do not enjoy doing these forms and having three people means it’s that much faster.  It is also cool just to have two people to talk to and do stuff with.  It’s different teaching lessons together – I was so used to having one companion!

Sister Centeio and Sister Broadbent [courtesy Amy Dawson Broadbent]


I really miss Sister Arce and want very much to know what is happening in Palmares (we were teaching a couple of people who were really progressing that I hope might get baptized and continue as strong members of the church).  But Gravatá is great!  It is a little cooler at night and I can tell that I am sleeping significantly better here . . . when I am not being eaten by mosquitoes.  There are a lot of mosquitoes in our house and I am their favorite snack.  My first night here I woke up unbearably itchy, covered in bug bites and my companions were untouched!  I don’t know why it’s so much worse here than in Palmares.  But luckily the anti-itch cream saved the day (thank you, Mom).  I am going to have to go to bed wearing repellent.  

My new district


It’s a ward rather than a branch here so there are a lot more members.  There are a lot of great people in our ward.  

I gave a talk this Sunday.  It was very mais-ou-menos because I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare it and I didn’t write out all the words but it could have been a lot worse;  I’m sure it was better than the testimony I gave my first month in Palmares! 

Gravatá is a tourist city, so it’s a bit bigger than Palmares and has more stuff.  I am anxiously awaiting the six-reais [Brazilian currency] acai I plan to eat later today.  I told Sister Arce I was hoping to get blessed one day with an area with cheaper acai and I got my wish!  It is a lot less hilly here and it has been raining like crazy. 

Drenched! Dad always says that when crazy things happen it means you have good stories to tell. It’s an adventure! [Photo, courtesy Amy Dawson Broadbent]

We were drenched yesterday;  I loved it, although it is a bit inconvenient sometimes because our stuff gets all wet, we were wearing skirts, and the streets here turn into small lakes.  There were a couple of times we had to walk through some very sketchy water and I was telling my companions about how Dad always says that when crazy things happen it means you have good stories to tell.  It’s an adventure!  So we had an adventure to remember yesterday walking through the sheets of rain and lakes of sketchy water.  

The streets of Gravatá. But it is only the beginning of the rainy season!

Miracle from this week — I was on the bus from Caruaru to Gravatá during the transfer.  At one point, I was praying for my new area and companion (did not know I would have two!) — that we could be led to the people who were ready for the Gospel, etc.  I found out later that at the same time I was praying that we could be led to the people ready for the Gospel, Sister Centeio and Sister Broadbent were walking down the street.  Suddenly, a man, call him “Danilson,” yelled out to them and asked if they were selling copies of the Book of Mormon.  They explained that we are happy to give free books away (click here for your own free copy).  He had read online about the Book of Mormon and really wanted a copy!  We will visit him today; let’s pray that he will recognize the spirit and that his heart will be open to follow its promptings.  

The Book of Mormon is really special — Helaman 15:7-8 is a scripture that touched me recently about the importance of scripture study. Alma 17:2-3 has the story of people who changed their lives through their scripture study!

As you might imagine, I am super excited about the announcement this week [about a rule change allowing missionaries to contact their families on their weekly preparation days].  We called our District Leader that morning because we had marked someone for baptism and he said “Have you guys talked to any members recently?  You should, you will like it!”  We convinced him to tell us about it, but the cellular started having troubles with sound.  We could tell something exciting happened but couldn’t hear to figure out what!  Finally he started half-yelling in English — Sister Broadbent and I were stopped in the middle of the street huddled around a tiny cellphone and I was trying to translate for Sister Centeio — it was difficult because we were all so excited!  It was really hard to wait until today to talk to you guys.  We kept imagining what it was like at home — I bet Facebook in Utah was exploding.  

Yes, an avocado!

I had thought about how cool it would be if the rules changed, but I didn’t expect it to actually happen!  I should get to do a video call with you guys soon!  I was all mentally prepared to wait until Mother’s Day.  [Update: Sister Faulconer attempted a video call Monday afternoon, but the LAN house (internet cafe) didn’t have a working camera or speakers, so it was simply texting with enthusiastic waving at the camera on the part of her family at home in Utah. We hope for the miracle of sound and video in the weeks to come!].

Pancakes for Valentines day — I made these with self-rising flour and something that might be baking powder or baking soda and chocolate drink mix and some other stuff!  Topped with fresh coconut from a member. 

Goodbye to Palmares

I’m being transferred! I’m very sad to leave Sister Arce and Palmares but a new area will be an adventure. I will be in Gravatá, which is still in the interior. Apparently it is a big touristy city — I will have to wait until after our email time to ask Sister Arce more questions. Hopefully the transfer will go smoothly — last transfer my transfer instructions had the wrong times written and the bus was slow and I ended up waiting in the bus station for several hours — it is a little crazy because you travel without a cellphone, but luckily people are willing to lend cellphones if you need to call someone.

Recently we have started hearing frevo in the streets. People are practicing for Carnaval. I do not know much about frevo but it seems to be characterized by a very strong rhythm on drums that is catchy (and quite loud — we can hear it from far away). People dress up in bear costumes and say rhymes asking for money.

Today we went to a museum housed in an old train station. It is about a famous writer and actor Hermilo Borbo Filho and the history of Palmares. Very small but cool. I learned that in Brazil, slaves lived together on the dark, crowded first floor (senzala) of the houses and the plantation owners would live on the second floor. Apparently lots of slaves escaped and would start their own communities called Quilombos. They would stop sometimes in Palmares but the big gathering place was Alagoas.

This week we had some really special experiences with the Book of Mormon. People who read the Book of Mormon receive answers to their prayers and feel the spirit a lot faster than people who don’t. We have one investigator “Mariana” who is 18-ish years old, who I met asking directions. On our second visit with her, we found out that she visited our church once a long time ago. She said she felt a special feeling there and didn’t want to leave. She told God that one day she would go back — maybe a long time in the future (the church is not close to her house) but she would go back. This week we went back and found out that she took the Book of Mormon to school with her to read. She doesn’t like reading but she loves the Book of Mormon! She said she felt like some of the verses were written just for her. One of her friends asked her about it, read part, and started crying because she said she knew it was true!

The same day we visited “Nedna” who we almost dropped because she still hadn’t prayed about whether Joseph Smith was a prophet, if the Book of Mormon is true, hadn’t read the part we left marked for her, etc. But last week she read the part we marked for her (but didn’t pray), so we didn’t drop her. But she still didn’t seem very interested, and then her granddaughter was born and we didn’t see her for two weeks, so we were planning how we could make one last attempt at explaining the importance of praying and reading the scriptures. We showed up, and everything seemed normal, but then we asked her if she had prayed. She said, “Well, I have to tell you that I got an answer!” I was surprised. Apparently she remembered to pray and read the Book of Mormon despite all the chaos with her granddaughter’s birth (a miracle — we had invited her over several visits to read and pray, and she didn’t), and then she lost her cellphone in the middle of they city and asked God to help her get it back if the Book of Mormon was true. Someone found her cell phone when her ex-husband was calling her, answered, and arranged to bring the cell phone to him. This is apparently very rare here and she said she knew it was an answer from God. Note — I do not recommend just praying to God asking for a sign to know if the Book of Mormon is true. You have to read the Book of Mormon, pray, etc., if you want an answer — you receive a testimony after the trial of your faith (Ether 12:6) and the scriptures are very clear about the perils of requiring signs from God. Also, God responds to people in different ways.

Both of those experiences happened right after we ended a fast to help our investigators receive answers — it was special. It is so important to put in effort to receive answers from God — diligently read the Book of Mormon, pray wholeheartedly and go to church! We have stopped visiting several different people because they said they didn’t feel vontade (will, the urge, inclined) to read the scriptures/pray/go to church. They all said that if God sent them a feeling of vontade one day they would go to church etc, but they weren’t feeling it then. The devil doesn’t want you to pray, read, or go to church (the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray 2 Nephi 32:8), so if you wait for a feeling of vontade to do these things you will probably wait your whole life. We also have an investigator who is wonderful but keeps getting sucked into YouTube videos about the wonderful things the Church does instead of reading the Book of Mormon or praying. The documentaries are great, and now he has a lot of respect for church programs, but the scriptures are inspired books written by the power of God to guide us — YouTube videos are not.

Love you all!

Progress and Willingness to Change

For months I thought a really loud child lived on our street, but this transfer I learned from Sister Arce that it was actually just this parrot.  

Unfortunately it looks like our neighbor “Stephanie” who I told you about last week believes the Book of Mormon is true but does not want to consider joining a different church.  I hope that when she finishes the Book of Mormon maybe she will be a bit more open to considering it, but we will see. Recently, we have had trouble with having lots of people to teach but not having a lot of investigators who are actually progressing (Saturday night they say they will go to church, Sunday morning we show up to take them to church and they have surprise visitors, are sick, do not want to go, are busy, etc.)  Yesterday at 9:57 it wasn’t looking very good, but three of our investigators showed up partway through the meeting! We had already been to “Caio” and “Henrique’s” houses that morning, and they weren’t there, but they both went to church by themselves. I am so excited for them — “Caio” stopped drinking last week for good — his friend offered him beer on Saturday and he said he followed our advice and left right away! He is also stopping his coffee habit.  It is amazing to see the difference in progress between people who really want to change their lives and people who don’t. I have met some people who don’t want to ask God if the Book of Mormon is true or if they ought to stop drinking coffee because they don’t want to get an answer. Or they ask, but they don’t get an answer, and then we find out that even if God did respond to them it wouldn’t change anything in their lives.

***

I found brown rice!!!  I am very excited about that. The problem is that although I always want to eat when we get home I am seldom actually hungry because we eat a lot for lunch.  But I am eating brown rice today. We have to go to Recife to get a new cellphone and I will eat this on the bus. You can’t actually see the brown rice but it is under the other food.  The top left corner has sweet potato. I really miss orange sweet potatoes, but these are good too. There is also mango. Not very much mango, but I already ate a mango and a half today. A member gave us a bag of mangoes and they are delicious. There are also peas (protein-rich). The peas here are canned!  There are no fresh or frozen peas. Canned peas are very strange to me. If you heat them up and eat them with thyme and lime juice and hot sauce they are not bad (but very mushy). Lemons here are called Japanese limes and they are very rare and expensive, so I have been eating lots of lime juice. Mango with lime juice is heavenly.  I topped the dish with spicy ketchup. Ketchup is very popular here, but it is sweeter than I am used to. Spicy ketchup is also sold, but the “spicy” part is a lie.

Lunch packed for the bus on the way to Recife

Fun fact: I miss salsa.  Sister Arce [a native Spanish speaker from Argentina] had trouble understanding what I was saying when I told her that because salsa is “sauce” in Spanish.  I think I knew that but forgot.

September 2018–Sister Hales with avocado creams during our training in São Paulo.

Another thing I have been enjoying is avocado creams. Avocado is only eaten with sugar here. Here is a picture of the first “vitamina de abacate” that I drank while I was in the CTM [missionary training center in San Paulo].  It was a special moment — I had always heard Dad telling stories about the avocado shakes he drank in Brazil and then I actually got to try one! We have an avocado tree by our house but I have not actually eaten an avocado yet.