This week Bernardo* got baptized! Now their whole family has been baptized. I am super excited to see a photo of their sealing in a year! We didn’t invite anyone to the baptism because all the meetings have been cancelled. So it was him, his family, and a few members of the branch president’s family.
This week Giovanna is marked for baptism. She had been to church several times in a few different wards before we met her. Her boyfriend is a member. She said she had been to a few different churches and never felt the way she feels at church. She said she hasn’t gotten “an answer ” yet but is praying and reading the scriptures faithfully. She said she feels a confirmation (i.e., God confirming that these things are true) is coming little by little. We talked about Alma 32 and how often answers don’t come all at once. We are super excited for her! We have been so blessed this transfer to witness more personal conversions than we usually do.
People aren’t very panicked here, but the news is full of coronavirus. People have started to stop shaking hands — or to think about starting not to shake hands. We are trying to take each investigator to a different member’s house. We are in a branch [tiny congregation] here so there aren’t a lot of members. We have to plan a lot! But nowhere near as much as the branch presidents who have to coordinate all of the sacrament meetings in the wards and branches! That must be a ton of work. This week we had a number of people who said they would go to church — Mateus and Raiane, Mllena and her daughters, and Giovanna. But several people ended up being sick or having other things to do and not wanting to go, so we just took Diane to church. Diane is one of Mllena’s daughters. She is 10 and very smart.
We went shopping for food storage and medication as President Houseman had asked us to do. Food storage is pretty different in Brazil. In Recife I saw all sorts of vacuum packed pre-cooked food, but here in Goiana it’s like the rest of the interior. We have canned peas, corn, and canned peas and corn. We also bought the only three 10-1b cans of fruit in the store — but I thought the store wouldn’t have any canned fruit, so that was a victory! There are no food shortages here yet; they just don’t sell much canned food. We also bought beans, rice, cuscus, ramen, dehydrated soup, milk, pasta, sugar, salt, spices, pasta sauce, crackers, sweet crackers, oatmeal, water, toilet paper and tinned sardines.
As part of my preparation for general conference, I have been studying President Nelson’s talk: “The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like Without It?” He listed a number of topics the Book of Mormon clarifies or expands upon, and I have been studying each in the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Recently I studied the topics doctrine of Christ, what it really means to be born again, and the gathering of scattered Israel. It has been super interesting. I have felt the illumination of the mind that Alma talks about in Alma 32 on the mission more than ever before. The Book of Mormon and the Bible complete each other so well! Christ authoritatively states in John 3:5 that we must be born again. Mosiah 5:7-12, 2 Nephi 31, and Mosiah 18 explain what it means to take Christ’s name upon ourselves, the covenants we make at baptism, and what it means to be born again — a change of nature, desire, and action.
25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
Life is pretty crazy with all of these Covid-19 updates and scary news. It is weird to talk to people on the street and not be able to invite them to church like we normally do. We can’t really invite them to a member’s house if we’ve never taught them before. We are thinking about inviting everyone to church and giving them a card with our number to call if they end up wanting to go! But I am very grateful to be able to continue teaching the precious truths of the Restored gospel. I feel for all the missionaries who can’t do that in person any more!
[Update: Sister Faulconer wrote this March 16. On March 19th, she and her companion were asked by the mission president to stop going out and to remain in their apartment. The morning of March 23, she was asked to pack quickly and jump on a bus in order to join other American missionaries leaving Brazil. On the evening of March 27th, after multiple days of travel and many hours in airports in Recife, Sao Paulo, and Los Angeles, she returned home to Utah].
When I heard that Sacrament Meeting was cancelled, “All is Well” began to play in my head. On Sunday the branch chose that hymn to sing in all of the sacrament meetings! This scripture from D&C 101 was also brought to mind:
Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, December 16 and 17, 1833. At this time the Saints who had gathered in Missouri were suffering great persecution. Mobs had driven them from their homes in Jackson County; and some of the Saints had tried to establish themselves in Van Buren, Lafayette, and Ray Counties, but persecution followed them. The main body of the Saints was at that time in Clay County, Missouri. Threats of death against individuals of the Church were many. The Saints in Jackson County had lost household furniture, clothing, livestock, and other personal property; and many of their crops had been destroyed.
12 And in that day all who are found upon the watch-tower, or in other words, all mine Israel, shall be saved.
13 And they that have been scattered shall be gathered.
14 And all they who have mourned shall be comforted.
15 And all they who have given their lives for my name shall be crowned.
16 Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.
17 Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered.
18 They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion.