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! 
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.

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!