Fruits of Brazil and Proselyting Priorities

Wise men and women still seek him! The counselor to the Branch President is a sculptor of this plasticky-y material. He restored a creche for the city center. 

I had a great week this week!  We have a lot of people to teach and are trying to follow-up with all of them. It’s really hard to know how much time to spend with everyone and when we should stop visiting someone.  This area is great because lots of people accept visits, but that makes it a little hard because if we talk to everyone all the time and visit all the people who accept visits, we end up with too many investigators!  It’s hard to know at first if someone is really interested or not, and what if they don’t seem interested but really they deserve a chance?  


But those are good problems to have.  We are also trying to get more of our investigators to church.  It is sad when people say they will go and then don’t show up, because I know how important it is for them.  It’s a special opportunity to show God you are trying to remember the Savior and His atonement, learn more about the gospel, and help the other people in the community.  We can take the sacrament and have our sins forgiven!  If we are really trying to improve and follow the commandments, we can be completely clean from all the mistakes we have made.  I know it will be  easier for me to prioritize going to church when I get back from my mission.  I also know it seems easier to go to church from a missionary perspective than from everyone else’s!  But it’s worth it. 

The caju [cashew apple]. Lots of people eat this by sucking out the juice and not eating the flesh because if it’s not super ripe it burns your throat a little when you swallow it. I learned that the hard way! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew#Cashew_apple

More about Caju

Wikipedia: “Cashew apples”

Miracle from this week: We were worried that none of our investigators were receiving answers to their prayers about the Church.  Literally none of them felt like they had received a response. [Then] we fasted for them and some of them received answers!  The ones that didn’t mostly weren’t actually praying.  You have to ask to get an answer! Some of the people who received answers were people who hadn’t been acting interested at all. 

Sister Faulconer poses with a blue glass plate with a white cylinder of rolled-up tapioca on it.
First tapioca! The texture is much thicker than a crepe and chewy. You put the flour in a pan, press it down, and wait, then flip it. You roll it kind of like a crepe and fill with similar fillings. We have been eating lots of tapioca with banana.

It has started raining more and more and I love it.  It’s not rainy season yet but we’re getting there.  I have always loved rain and it’s even better when the alternative is sun that wants to burn you to a crisp!

I also experimented using pants this week.  Pants are great, especially if you are walking through lots of weeds and hills and mosquitoes.  I might send pictures next week. 


We bought a jackfruit!!! At first I wasn’t sure if  I liked it but then I decided I do.  The yellow parts are seed pockets. You rip them out, remove the seeds and eat them.  I was very excited to finally eat jackfruit and now I really like it. 

Fun fact about jackfruit — it makes your hands terribly sticky, and the stickiness does not come off with soap!  But I did not know the word sticky in Portuguese and was having trouble communicating my problems.  I finally managed to explain it and a member told me you can only get it off with oil.  Those of you who have good access to the internet can figure out which chemical property of jackfruit juice makes it oil but not water soluble.  

Sister Arce with a sonho (“dream”) which is similar to a donut. It has filling — goiaba [guava] or carmel-y stuff and is fried and has sugar on the outside. It’s very good.

More about sonho

New Companion: Sister Arce

Sister Arce and Sister Faulconer with the hills of Palmares in the background.

Oi!

This week has been great.  I love my new companion–Sister Arce from Argentina. She is kind and we are getting along really well.  She has the most beautiful accent.  We worked really hard this week and we are visiting a lot of people who haven’t been visited recently enough.  The other day we walked up 240 steps and a huge number of hills!  Sister Arce has disillusioned me—apparently not all the other areas in our mission have this many hills ;).  Fun fact about her: she is “viciada” [addicted] to “Cresingho” a creamsicle sort of yogurt frozen thing that comes in plastic bags.  You bite off the corner and eat it.  It’s very good. 

Lots of miracles happened this week. I am extremely grateful that we did not get very lost and that I did not terribly mess anything up while showing Sister Arce the area [At home, Sister Faulconer has a reputation for having no sense of direction and getting lost very easily]. We went the wrong direction once or twice but not for very long.  We haven’t been lost and we got to several hard-to-remember places without a hitch!  My memory of places is mais-ou-menos [sometimes better sometimes worse] but nothing that bad has happened and it hasn’t been a big problem.  Definitely a blessing to remember some of the confusing routes to different places.

Also, one of our investigators I thought wasn’t interested said she was going to challenge herself to only smoking tobacco once today.  In the not far distant past she was smoking 28 cigars!  She really wants to change.

Sister Faulconer with new friends from the Palmares branch

I hope you all have an awesome week!  Love from Brazil!

Eating customs & 8 hours on the bus!

Boa tarde!

A sister training leader and Sister Faulconer, two sister missionaries sitting on a bus bound for Guarahuns
A sister training leader and Sister Faulconer on the long bus ride to Guarahuns

I hope you all are great. We had a division this week. In divisions, one companion stays in the area with a sister training leader, and the other companion works in the sister training leaders’ area. Our sister training leaders work in Guaranhuns — four hours away by bus! Divisions last 24 hours and missionaries have to have a companion the whole time so it can get pretty crazy. I stayed in Palmares this time, but I had to travel four hours to Guaranhuns to get Sister Porcote and drop off our sister training leader, then we waited an hour and a half and got back on the bus for another four hour bus ride. The busses shake and bump a lot, so after eight hours of driving I felt a bit sick. The first time we had a division, last transfer, I remember being grateful I knew the word “shake” in Portuguese. I memorized it in a list of vocab words in the [missionary training center] even though I thought it seemed like a less important word to memorize — and it turned out to be useful! Anyway, I sympathize with easily-carsick people who have to go to Guaranhuns.

Sister Porcote, "Rafael," and sister Faulconer. The two sisters, each on one side of Rafael, are showing their thumbs up signs. Rafael is dressed in white baptismal clothing. The sisters are each wearing their church dresses.
Sister Porcote, future missionary Rafael, and Sister Faulconer

“Rafael” got baptized this week! [Click here to read Sister Faulconer’s earlier post about him]. He insisted on coming to our weekly ward missionaries and full-time missionaries meeting because he said he wants to be a member missionary and get ready to serve a mission. He is awesome!

A piece of cocada (coconut sweet) and the evidence of fries eaten the Brazilian way. 

The above photo is what you get when you can’t take your camera very many places (robbery=serious problem) and you don’t do a lot of photogenic things. The brown thing is cocada, a popular sweet made from coconut. It is crumbly and pretty good. It is on top of the remains of some fries that I bought. On display is a toothpick you get with all fry orders here. This is so that your fingers do not have to touch the fries. Then they usually squirt mayonnaise and ketchup on top of all the fries. There are things people eat with their hands here, but actually touching the food with your hands is less common — usually you get lots of napkins or a paper package or a toothpick.

Pictures!

Dried jackfruit cube in front of the cityscape of Palmares, Brazil
This is my attempt to take a picture of a piece of dried jackfruit. It tasted like dried fruit — not especially different but good. I was trying to come up with things to take pictures of! This is the view from our house.
A man working with a machine that has a large wheel. The machine makes caldo de cana, sugar cane juice.
This machine makes “caldo de cana.” You feed huge sugarcane stalks in the first hole and yellow juice comes out the second hole and goes through the strainer. It´s super cool! Unfortunately Sister Porcote [from Curitiba, Brazil] said the one we had wasn’t a good specimen of caldo de cana, but on the bright side, now I have an excuse to try it again!
A styrofoam cup filled with caldo de cana, sugarcane juice. In front of a display of bread, as at a bakery.
[Finished product?  Caldo de cana–or sugarcane juice]
Left to right: Sister Porcote, Sister Dolores, Sister Faulconer. Sister Porcote and Sister Faulconer are each holding a cup of a dark liquid that must be Cevada--some sort of substitute hot drink for coffee.
Sister Porcote and I with Sister Dolores, who got baptized my first week in Palmares. We see her a lot and she is awesome. She used to drink coffee all the time, but then she discovered Cevada, which she says is very similar (but you have to buy the right brand). It´s good.
Sister Porcote and I and people we know at "District Conference" which is like stake conference [a semi-annual meeting where several wards or church congregations meet together] but for branches [these are smaller church congregations for locales where there aren't as many church members].
Sister Porcote and I and people we know at “District Conference” which is like stake conference [a semi-annual meeting where several wards or church congregations meet together] but for branches [smaller church congregations for places where there aren’t as many members].

I know basically all the people in this photo. On my right are some boys who got baptized this year or a year and a little ago. We see them all the time because they´re doing an awesome job of teaching with us and they´re really good friends with each other. Two of them are ward missionaries! They are blessings and downsides of living in a big ward [church congregation] in Utah. I wish I had the chance to teach with the missionaries!

My companion did my hair.
Missionaries with Presidente Houseman at District Conference--November 2018
Missionaries with Presidente Houseman at District Conference–November 2018 [Photo courtesy of Sister Houseman]

Oi! Happy Thanksgiving!  Nobody celebrates Thanksgiving here, but they do celebrate Black Friday. All the shops had sales and the city center was a mad house. The gas station had a huge reduction in price and we could hear the loudspeaker from our house while we were trying to study. It’s a little sad to have Black Friday but not Thanksgiving, but on the bright side it means the Christmas decorations go up even earlier!  There are lots of fake evergreen garlands and red bows and lights: pisca-pisca [Portuguese for blink, blink]. We bought some lights for our house!  I will try to send a picture next week–I have more pics than I sent this week already and the internet is still super slow.  I am trying to make the camera work [for wifi downloads] but am having trouble.

Sister Porcote and I will be together until after Christmas. That is normal for training — you have the same companion both transfers.

In the CTM [Brazil’s missionary training center] several missionaries in my district knew someone who went to Japan and said they came back more quiet, reserved, etc.  I imagine that transition might have been a little easier for me. I am suspicious that Heavenly Father decided I needed to be more outgoing or more of a hugger or something and sent me here! But the transition hasn’t really been that hard. I’m really blessed not to be having health challenges or super hard things happening in Palmares.

You asked how often we get to eat with the members.  We have lunch planned every day but it is often money instead of actual food. Less exciting than it sounds because we keep eating at restaurants and from my perspective the restaurants all seem the same.  But the fruit is really good!  And the members make really good desserts sometimes, so I´m grateful.

This was a family home evening for a recent convert who had a birthday. He had never had a birthday celebration before and was very excited.
This was a family home evening for a recent convert who had a birthday. He had never had a birthday celebration before and was very excited.  

We have been trying to teach a young man, “Rafael” for a while, but kept having trouble actually finding him to teach because he is very busy.  He goes to seminary every day, but works before seminary and goes to school after seminary!  (School can be before lunch or after lunch or at night here).  He is awesome — super interested in religion, really wants to follow God.  The only problem is that he was reactivated in a different church a little while back and wasn’t sure if he wanted to change.  Yesterday he said he hadn’t received an answer with certainty yet.  He said he thought he wanted to get baptized but not yet because he wanted to keep participating in his other church´s youth program.  But during our lesson he started crying and said he would get baptized on the 8th!  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see someone get an answer to prayer like that.  The promise is true — if you pray about the Book of Mormon with sincerity and a real desire to follow God’s will you will receive an answer!  Sometimes it takes time, but it comes.

Love you!

“No Sister, you will die! You will die!”

Last week I said that people don’t eat very spicy food. Really they don’t eat any spicy food, but sometimes there are bottles of hot sauce.  A couple weeks ago we were having an activity at a member’s house.  She had a little plastic bottle of homemade hot sauce made from whole peppers marinating in vinegar and some members (teenage boys) were daring each other to try a little drop. Some of you may know that I looove spicy food, so I put several drops on my soup and they were very worried for me: “No sister, you will die! You will die!”  The hot sauce was extremely delicious, and I did not die, so I haven’t completely lost my spice tolerance yet. Later the same member gave me a little bottle of her hot sauce! I was very very happy!  But it didn’t last long 🙂

Palmares has year-round fruit and vegetable carts in the city center, which is really exciting for someone from Utah where we only have farmer’s markets a couple months of the year (because ‘winter’ is a thing in Provo).  I’m going to be eating very delicious pineapple and cheap mangoes while the rest of you are languishing under two feet of snow!  Hopefully that will help me with the saudade I’m going to feel for Provo’s grocery stores (*sniff* Trader Joe’s *sniff*).  Saudade is a noun in Portuguese that describes the feeling of homesickness or missing something.  I knew food and grocery stores would be really different here, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so different!

It turns out that Brazilians don’t have canned food.  Like, they have canned corn and maybe a can of pre-prepared feijoada (black beans and pork sausage) but that’s it!  I really miss canned tomatoes and canned beans, especially because we’re not allowed to use pressure cookers for safety reasons, so if you want to eat beans you have to use the very slow boiling method with dried beans. I am also going to have serious saudade for sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pie, and So Delicious Snickerdoodle ice cream around the holidays, but I think the mangoes and pineapple will get me through it.

 

Zone Conference 2018-10-30

My companion was sick at the beginning of the week, and we also spent a day at a mission conference, so less happened.  We are a little concerned about some new members and investigators who have had trouble making it to church.  But we talked to some members yesterday about ways ward members can help, and I think that will be super great.  Members can help so much.  We had one man this week who told us that he felt really accepted at church.  A young boy in a tie walked up to him his first Sunday and said “Welcome to our church!” and shook his hand, and that was a really big deal for this man.  It was a good reminder for me–when I get back from my mission I want to work on doing little things to make people feel welcome–members and non-members.

It’s really great to see the people we’re teaching develop testimonies.  Some people we’re teaching don’t know much about scriptures or religion (e.g., we were explaining what God does and who Christ is the other day), but they have a strong testimony that God will tell them where they should be.  It is so great to hear their testimonies when they receive that witness.

Love,

Sister Faulconer

Lunching in Palmares, apartment pics, and the story of the fishermen

Oi!

Typical food at a member’s house for our lunch (lunch is the main meal here)

white rice
beans (sometimes with squash, kale, or meat, but often just beans)
spaghetti with a little bit of tomato sauce
one or two kinds of meat, often chicken
(frequently without sauce, but sometimes with)
vegetable salad/some cooked kale/a plate of sliced tomatoes/possibly fruit
Fruit juice and/or soda.  (It´s not normal here to drink water or milk with dinner. Coca-cola is very popular — I’ve had a lot more Coke so far than Guarana.  Lemon-lime and orange soda are also popular.  The fruit juices are amazing. )
Cake or pudding for dessert!
The food here is good.  Most people don´t eat very spicy food.
The pineapple here is amazing!  It is less yellow and more translucent here, super sweet, and extremely delicious. Papaya and mango are also possible. There are lots of fruit vendors with carts in the city center.  They have bananas (often green and sweeter), mangoes, grapes, watermelon, coconuts, pineapple, papaya, sometimes nuts, corn, and  several fruits I don´t know the name of (graveola, aceola?, etc).  I also tried a jackfruit otter pop/popsicle-ish thing the other day.  That was super fun.  I use shredded canned unripe jackfruit at home to make barbecue-style tacos, but I’ve never tried a ripe, sweet jackfruit.  It didn’t taste super strongly of anything, but it was good.

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This week was very special.  We met the mother of the young woman I told you about last week (parents forbid her to see us, come to church, get baptized) on the street.  She lifted all the restrictions, said it was a misunderstanding and she didn’t have anything against us, and apologized.  Then her daughter came to the baptisms we had this week and went to the dance afterwards!  So it looks like we’re going to be able to teach her again.  Our prayers that her parents’ hearts would be softened were answered!

I didn’t go to the dance of course (not really a missionary-approved activity! We´re supposed to listen to church and classical music and eschew all romance-related activities so we can focus on helping people get closer to our Savior), but some less-active members, investigators, and recent converts did and everybody was excited about it.  Hopefully we can figure out how to have those dances more often.
Right after we met the first mother on the street we met a mother of one of our other investigators.  The day before she said he couldn’t get baptized last week because he needed to be 18 and spend many months learning about the church before making that decision.  We were concerned — he has a strong testimony, has learned all the lessons we’ve given him by heart, and we felt strongly that he should be baptized on the date we had chosen.  The discussion was going badly when I suddenly had the idea to share the story of Peter and the other fishermen who immediately left their nets and followed Christ’s invitation “follow me” (Matthew 4:18-22). It was a little tough because I couldn’t remember the exact word for fisherman and  “follow me´´ is a little hard to conjugate on the fly!  But I got close enough that my companion could correct me, and I think the sister understood.  Then she agreed to allow him to get baptized!  It was a little miracle.  The other young man who got baptized this week also had trouble with parents’ permission and we were worried he wouldn’t be able to make it to sacrament meeting to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, but everything worked out in the end.
Love you!

Presidente, Proselyting, Pdays and Pig Fat

On Sunday, during devotional, the CTM president told us the speakers at the devotional were the new CTM president and his wife!  We had no idea this would happen. Apparently President Martins-Silva´s wife has been quite sick for a while, so the general authorities decided to release him.  I don’t know much about the new president, but I love him and his wife´s speaking styles. They are Brazilian, but they spoke slowly about simple subjects and repeated themselves, so I understood most of their talks!

For proselyting on Saturday we stopped people on the street, introduced ourselves, talked about their beliefs, and asked for addresses so missionaries could give them a message about Christ or families. Unsurprising fact: stopping random people is not one of my innate skills. But it was fine. We found some people who were excited to learn more about the gospel.  I’m excited to go to Recife and teach people! But I suspect I will prefer knocking on doors. Doors are great — they never use headphones, don’t have to board buses, and they stay put instead of walking mach speed down the sidewalk.

Hannah and Sister Hale at Mr Cheneys--improved
Blurry yet beloved photo courtesy of Mr. Cheney’s (treat provider to the CTM) & Missionties.com

Anyway, I am great, but if you want to pray for me, pray that I don’t get lice (and that I learn Portuguese). A sister in my hall has lice and I really don’t want any. Unsurprising fact #2: the CTM is sickness central. All eight people in my district have been sick! I had a painful sore throat/cold my second week here which lasted 1 ½ weeks. I mostly recovered . . . then this week I got the same virus + eye inflammation. People keep asking if I’m crying because I´m sniffing and my eyes are red.  Mom, I feel a little misled; sleeping eight hours every night and constant handwashing ought to prevent this! I was healthier with less sleep at BYU! 😉

This week I wanted to tell you more about P-days.  They are great! It takes an hour+ to see everything in our boundaries, so I don’t feel too confined.  It’s mostly residential streets, but they’re residential streets IN BRAZIL!! So they’re exciting. There are huge, vibrantly-colored red, pink, orange, and yellow flowers blooming everywhere: the gardens, the parks, the trees. It’s super green (“verdant” describes Brazil perfectly). There are several types of palm trees and lots of flowering trees — but instead of cherry-tree-sized buds they have green leaves and lily-sized flowers that cover the sidewalks! I love it.

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capuacu fruit [stock photo]

On P-day I tried some Açai, which is sorbet-ish with ice cream consistency. I also tried a strongly-flavored melon-y sorbet-ish thing from a capuaçu fruit (google for pics). Delicious and exciting, because both tasted so unrecognizable that eating them is like what I imagine discovering a new color would be like.

We’ve also been to a bakery several times. My companion loves their banana bread. First I got a “cinnamon sugar” roll, (turned out to be savory fennel? seed roll) then a roll I thought had nuts (actually chunks of pig fat & skin! – not what I wanted!) and then finally correctly identified a coconut-shred-filled sticky roll, which was good. Hopefully knowing more Portuguese will improve my success rate in the future!

I love Brazil, Portuguese, and the CTM! I´ll be sad to leave in two weeks.

That´s the novel for this week,

Sister Faulconer

 

Halfway through the CTM experience

Oi!

I’m halfway through the CTM experience!  I’m not sure how to feel; I’m excited to leave the [CTM] and teach people, but teaching people in Portuguese is still scary.  On Saturday we’re venturing out into the real world for real-life “street contacting” where we’ll share short messages about Christ (in Portuguese!) and get contact information.  The prospect of using 22 days of Portuguese study to stop random people on the street is fairly terrifying! But I learn more words every day, and the other missionaries who did it all survived, so I’m sure it will turn out fine.

My mom asked if I can tell I’m in Brazil inside the confines of the CTM.  I definitely can! We have a great view from our window of the city. The water taps are separate, the plugs are different, everything has signs in Portuguese, and the water fountains have buttons for “natural water” (room temp) and “cold water.”  The computer keyboards are very confusing. Typically, breakfast is fruit (papaya, melon, banana), ham & cheese paninis, baguette rolls (delicious but I miss whole wheat bread) and extremely sweet porridge made with sweetened condensed milk.Portuguese keyboard detail

[for illustration only–no photos from the CTM yet]

For lunch, we have beans, white and brown rice, various kinds of meat, grated vegetables (beets, zucchini, carrots, etc.), lettuce, and one or two other vegetables — often one I can’t recognize.  Dinner is similar. Sometimes we have something different like pasta, hot dogs, or soup. They have dessert which is usually some kind of jello or pudding. It’s usually quite sweet and not flavours I recognize.  The food is good, if not what I would choose to make myself. It’s not very flavorful, but they have good hot sauce. I think I use more hot sauce here than at home which is saying a lot! There are no labels so some foods are a surprise. Once I got something I thought was roasted carrots but turned out to be strangely-colored hot dogs!  I also had fun explaining to some Brazilians that US sweet potatoes are orange or purple, not greenish-white.

[Stock photos of the CTM cafeteria from LDS.org]

I felt the spirit a lot this week.  Some elders in my group got priesthood blessings, where an elder puts their hands on the person’s head and says whatever the holy spirit tells them to bless the person with.  I felt the spirit so strongly when they got blessings. I just felt so clearly that the blessings were from God. I’ve also memorized some great scriptures recently — Mark 9:23 about how everything is possible through faith, and Moroni 10:3-5 in the Book of Mormon, which says that if you pray about the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart and real intent, God will help you feel that it is true through the holy spirit.   They are both great!

Boa noite!

Sister Faulconer