This week we had an adventure! We did splits with the sisters of Guaranhuns but while I went to Guaranhuns, the keys to the apartment in Guaranhuns went to my apartment in Gravatá! [hours away by bus]. We ended up sleeping in a vacant apartment with sheets borrowed from the owner.
We started teaching a new family — Marcos and Carolina, and their daughters Fernanda and Raissa.* We taught Carolina the The Restoration the other day. She said she believed that the Book of Mormon is from God. We could tell she understood the lesson because she told us she was sad that her baptism, something very special to her, hadn’t happened the way Christ told us it needs to — with the proper authority. We had the opportunity to tell her that we don’t share our message to take things away from people, but to add onto the wonderful things they already have. She already chose to be baptized to follow Christ, and for sure she’s been blessed for that!
Bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it.
One funny moment was when we did a contact with a Catholic lady. People here are very loud in their devotion to Mary — it’s very common to see people with t-shirts that have Mary’s face on them. Sometimes her face is the size of their entire chest. This woman didn’t have a Mary shirt but she had a little Mary necklace. We tried to tell her about the Book of Mormon, set up an appointment to talk more about the scriptures, but she was not interested. She kept saying “you have a mother!! You don’t just have a father in heaven, you have a mother” really loudly, because we aren’t Catholic and therefore don’t worship Mary. It made me think of the wonderful doctrine of our Heavenly Mother. She’s right, we have a Heavenly Father, and that seems to suggest we ought to have a Mother in Heaven as well. And we do, and she is just as divine as our Father in Heaven.
Capybaras are related to guinea pigs, but much larger–as big as 145 lbs! The world’s largest rodents, capybaras are herbivores, semi-aquatic mammals that live in groups near the banks of rivers and lakes.
We have zone conference this week, so we are preparing talks. I haven’t had to talk at zone conference yet, but it could happen!
Other cool fact: our ward had a temple trip and two recent converts went — Lucas and Victor!!
We have had a lot of trouble with getting people to church and finding people at home this week, but we have a ton of new contacts and we’re excited to meet them all this week!
[*As always, names are changed to protect investigator privacy].
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!].