What I learned

This week was a whirlwind!  We spent a lot of time practicing our presentation for zone conference.  The topic was “the witness of two nations”– referring to 2 Nephi 29:7-9 which talks about how the Bible and the Book of Mormon work together

Know ye not that there are more nations than one? . . . Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

Sister Anaya and Sister Faulconer teaching at Zone Conference

I don’t know if I did a good job of explaining what I learned, but I truly learned a lot studying for our presentation.  This talk from President Nelson was especially enlightening. This one from Elder Callister is also good.  I didn’t remember hearing President Nelson’s talk until I reread it, but it is so powerful!  Without the Book of Mormon, we don’t have all the truths of Christ’s gospel.  The Book of Mormon confirms and clarifies the steps of His gospel, e.g., how to baptize, how to give the gift of the Holy Ghost.  It especially clarifies the doctrine of the atonement.  Our prophet, President Nelson said:  “This important word—atonement—in any of its forms, is mentioned only once in the King James Version of the New Testament!. In the Book of Mormon, it appears 39 times!”

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When I studied the scriptures in the Bible and the Book of Mormon about the atonement, I could see how they work together in harmony.  The Bible teaches us that Christ’s body, blood, and sacrifice cleanse us from sin.  The Book of Mormon teaches us how this works (See Alma 34:8-17 — it goes so well with Hebrews 7 from the Come, Follow Me reading from the other  week!)

I had been thinking about President Nelson’s invitation this conference (and his talk a few conferences ago) to think about what the Book of Mormon adds to our lives and where we would be without it.  I wanted to study more about this but was a little unsure where to start and had a hard time balancing it with the other things I was trying to study.  Studying for our presentation was a heaven-sent opportunity to learn more.  Without the Book of Mormon, we wouldn’t have these wonderful truths about Christ’s gospel.  We also wouldn’t have this wonderful proof of God’s love for all peoples and places — God talks to people in every part of the world, and he doesn’t stop talking!  That’s why we always invite people to pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon is God’s word.  We know he will respond because we’ve already asked! 

Almost without exception, the people we stop teaching are the people who don’t ask and don’t read the scriptures.  At home I thought people didn’t join the Church of Jesus Christ because they felt they received other answers from God, or because they believe God didn’t respond.  But usually (here at least) the problem is that people don’t even try to receive an answer.  If we knock he will open it (i.e., the truth) unto us! 

At zone conference, President and Sister Houseman told us that the Brazil Recife mission is going to split!  How exciting!  If I understood correctly, they are going to find 30 new apartments!  Each transfer, the number of missionaries will grow and grow until the Housemans go home and the mission splits.  We need to redouble our efforts to help the two missions be strong.  They also changed some of the goals we track — instead of counting how many times we talk with someone new or read the scriptures, we will count how many invitations we make — to church, baptism, read the scriptures, pray, etc.  It will be exciting!  

President and Sister Houseman

After our presentation, I thought all the stressful parts of the conference were over.  I said this to Sister Anaya . . . and about one minute afterwards Sister Houseman asked me if I would translate her talk for the conference!  The stress was not over!  But it´s not every day you get to try and develop the gift of the interpretation of tongues.  I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to practice.  I think I probably messed up all the genders and said “uh…” way too much, but for the most part I think it went pretty well.  Except when I started translating about Sister Houseman’s great-grandchildren.  Oops!  They’re not old enough for that!

After zone conference I went right to Tamandaré for splits.  The next day, instead of going home, I went to Jardim Massangana with Sister Pereira because our companions were both going to the temple before going home. 

This Sunday, Wesley*, another new investigator, went to church! We met him last week while eating lunch at a self service.  While eating, I was thinking about the Safetyzone video that instructs us to remember that we ought to act like missionaries in every circumstance.  People are always watching and we need to be representatives of Christ.  A few minutes later a man walked up to our table and asked which church we were from.  He said he was curious about religion and wanted to know when we had church meetings so that he could visit!  He apologized several times for interrupting our lunch — he didn’t need to worry about that!  In case anyone is in doubt, we LOVE being interrupted by people who contact us!  Feel free to interrupt any lunch I have!  We had a great lesson with him this week and he actually showed up to church this Sunday!  Miracles!!!   

Sister Anaya got on a bus this morning to go to the mission office.  I will definitely miss her!  I can’t believe she’ll be in Mexico on Wednesday.  It reminds me of the temporariness of my own mission–I wish I could serve two years but I will work on making good use of the three transfers I have left.  Now I’m staying in Jardim Massangana for two more days with Sister Pereira.  On Wednesday I’ll get a new companion (who? who?) and we will go back to Candeias.  I am accepting all prayers for the gift of discernment of directions and the gift of not screwing things up!

*Names of investigators are always changed for their privacy

Sister Anaya's Last Week

Refrigerator picture–Eddy Mulyono–Flickr

Update on the bananas: It turns out that bananas fresh from the bananeira (banana tree) get ripe very slowly.  We left one bunch on the counter.  After many days they finally turned yellow and we ate them all very quickly before the next bunches that we took out of the fridge had a chance!

This week three people went to church for the first time!  We have been having a lot of difficulty with getting people to church.  One of them was Renata, Davi’s daughter. Unfortunately we stopped by Davi’s house to make sure he was going to church (he doesn’t live with his daughter) and he wasn’t there.  Then we heard that a member had seen him in the street drunk the other day . . . So that was pretty sad.  Hopefully we manage to find him at home this week. 

Image from Needpix.com

We also went on splits with the sisters from Escada.  We called them when we got there because they hadn’t shown up yet.  We explained where we were so they could meet us, but they said they didn’t know which place we were describing.  That seemed weird because we were right in front of their house, but we told them we would meet them at the bridge instead.  We waited and they still didn’t show up, and their phone had no signal so we couldn’t talk to them. Finally they called us — and we found out they were on the bus in a different city an hour away.  ???  Apparently they thought they were supposed to go to our city!  I was very grateful this happened with the sisters from Escada and not with the ones from Palmares (twice the distance!)  

Sister Anaya taught me how to make refried beans.  We took refried beans, ruffles, and guacamole to the District meeting (now renamed district council with the new handbook!)  It turns out that making refried beans is super simple and tasty.  I started missing Mexican food so much!  I think something like refried beans seemed very everyday normal, tasty, but not exciting in the land of ubiquitous Mexican food.  Now, after a year and a few months without eating Mexican food, eating refried beans gave me huge Mexican food cravings!

Krista–Flickr


This week we are going to zone conference on Wednesday.  The talk topics are joy and discipleship.  Here is a great talk about joy. It is Sister Anaya’s last week in the mission!!! I can’t believe how fast this transfer flew by.  I don’t know where I will be next Monday — I will drop Sister Anaya off and then probably stay two days with another missionary.  Maybe Sister Pereira.  Not sure if I will stay in my area or a different area.  It will be an adventure.  We are also going to go on splits with the sisters from Tamandare this week; I will stay here in Candeias so pray for my directional abilities!  

This week in Candeias

Candeias has vegan sushi!

Grandma Deleyne sent me an email today with a summary of an MTC devotional from President Uchtdorf. He said his missionary grandson is serving in a difficult area in Europe. Apparently he is grateful for lots of things — including the almosts. They almost marked a visit, they taught a great lesson and almost took a couple to church. I can relate to that! This week we almost took a lot of people to church! Unfortunately the fact that they did not go to church means we need to stop visiting several of them, but we also met a few great new people that I’m excited to teach this week. We are trying to teach Renata,* Davi’s daughter. We hope we can take her to youth activities this week and to church.

Cityscape

We also met a great young woman from a Spanish-speaking country (Colombia), Taynara. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and it went really well. She understood everything and accepted an invitation to baptism. I think she has a lot of potential. It was sad because we somehow forgot to mark her for baptism. I left the lesson thinking that we had marked her for baptism but then realized we actually said the day but hadn’t actually invited her because we got sidetracked inviting her to church. But I have high hopes for next week!

Sister missionaries! Sister Faulconer and her companion Sister Anaya are on the left.

“It is the responsibility of members to provide the . . . missionaries with the names of individuals and families to teach.” –Pres. Spencer W. Kimball

We had an activity about motivation to be a member missionary — and let´s just say that it did not have a lot of attendance. We ended up not doing the activity and just giving them the handout. We asked the people to write the names of their friends who weren’t members and then respond to a couple of questions about them. Would you like this friend to know about the gospel? Do they already have church materials — Book of Mormon, videos, family proclamation, etc. Then you can pray about those names and ask God which person needs an invite to a church activity, a Book of Mormon, your testimony, a verse from the Book of Mormon, etc. We also shared some counsel from President Kimball:

It is the responsibility of the members to provide the stake and full-time missionaries with the names of individuals and families to teach. Sometimes we forget that it is better to risk a little ruffling in the relationship of a friend than it is to deprive him of eternal life by keeping silent.

and a different quote about how the best-case scenario is that the members find the investigators and the missionaries teach them. There weren’t many people at the activity, but I shared a scripture about the sons of Mosiah. They were few as well, but they ended up bringing thousands of souls to Christ. You should feel free to try this activity as well! Writing down names and then praying about them with real intent is a great way to get revelation about how to do missionary work. Also see Sister Franco’s recent conference talk about missionary work — it is awesome! Lots of good suggestions.

Stock photo from peakpx.com

Funny story: we were teaching Leonardo the other day. Suddenly he asked “Do you want bananas?” We said thanks, but you don’t need to give us bananas. “No no, a bunch of bananas for each of you!” “Oh, you really don’t have to, but thank you.” “No, no!” He left and started cutting bananas from his banana tree. He put two bunches of bananas in a sack and we said “thanks so much, we will have to work to eat all those bananas!” Then he got another sack of bananas. “Um, just the one grocery bag is fine. We live alone. We only manage to eat so many bananas!” He said “If you don’t take the bananas I will be sad!” Um . . . he said this several times and we ended up walking around with four huge palms of bananas!!! We wanted to give some of them to a different investigator but didn’t remember to take them to church. They were very green, so we tried cooking the green bananas like fried plantains the other day. Sister Anaya said she had done it before but they were too green for it to work out. So now we have a ton of very, very green bananas! Anyone have simple banana recipes that use lots of bananas? We are in need!

*Names of investigators are always changed to protect their privacy.

Robbed–annoying, not scary!

The horchata Sister Anaya made was very good.

This week was a rollercoaster.  We spend one day walking  all over trying to teach people and nothing —- no first lessons, nobody marked for baptism, nobody at home.  Then the next day we teach four people a first lesson, five people marked for baptism.  That was a pretty great day!  Then another day of nothing.  Sometimes we struggle to find two investigators, sometimes we have a ton. 

Yesterday we left the house at 10:30 — the sun is super high, it might as well be noon, there are people in the street, and . . . we were robbed right in front of our apartment.  We saw the guy before he robbed us, but he looked like a normal person — on a bicycle!!  He stopped right next to us, and for a second I thought he wanted to talk to us or something (hey, it happens).  Sister Anaya was calling our lunch appointment and he tried to grab the phone out of her hand.  She sort of reflexively moved away but then realized he was trying to rob us and gave him the phone. [For safety, missionaries are not supposed to resist in robbery situations.] It is almost a little annoying to be robbed by some guy on a bike whose only recourse is shouting “Gimme the phone! Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” in order to get what he wants, but on the other hand, way better than being robbed by someone who is actually scary, right?  He took the phone, started leaving, came back and demanded my phone as well . . . ha ha, joke’s on him. “I don’t have a phone.” “Gimme the phone, let’s go, let’s go!” “We only have one phone! Her phone is my phone.  I don’t have a phone.”(I was almost laughing because it was such a ridiculous situation at this point).  He decided to give up. 

Note to the wise: missionaries are easy targets because they don’t resist, but robbing missionaries = not a lucrative way of gaining a living! We were glad he only took our phone, and afterwards we marked lessons with five new investigators before lunch.  After tribulation cometh the blessings?  We joked that next time we will give him our bags as well so that we can help people go to Sacrament Meeting!   Sister Anaya didn’t get robbed until the last month of her mission!  I was hoping to go a whole mission without getting robbed, but if I had to get robbed it was definitely one of the least scary ways to get robbed.

Yesterday we had an interesting experience. We were teaching a great family.  They had already been to church in the past and were interested in the lessons.  But unfortunately they think it is interesting to find super crazy doubts/questions about everything but less interesting to actually read the Book of Mormon and pray.  If you never knock, God may not respond!  We prayed before the lesson for discernment.  We retaught the restoration, and it was a spiritual lesson. But it was so obvious that we should stop teaching them — one of them kept standing up and leaving, the other one kept saying totally unrelated things . . . Sad, but we were grateful to not be confused about whether we ought to teach them or not.  We have some investigators with potential who will said they would go to church next week.  I think our teaching pool is improving — hopefully they really go this Sunday!

Broa is a northeastern specialty — it is a lightly flavored biscuit-sort of thing. Although it looks like a donut, sadly it otherwise has very little resemblance to one. Okay with milk.

Today (for preparation day) we are going to get a new cell phone and hopefully we will get to visit the oldest synagogue in the Americas.