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!

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.