I can do all things through Christ–Goodbye to Casa Forte

Sister Barros and Sister Faulconer at the mission office, Courtesy Sister Lori Houseman

Good news: Willian* still wants to get baptized. He is reading the scriptures and praying every day! We managed to follow up with a couple more of our contacts than usual this week, which was good. Some of them seem to have potential. We also got a cool reference from the elders today — someone stopped them on the street and asked how to visit the church!

We really thought Willian would get baptized this week but it did not work out. We saw him several times, we finally managed to take a member there, and he said he was excited! He has been saying he wanted to be baptized for a while! We have been teaching him for more than three months. On Friday we got a baptismal jumpsuit and carried it around only to get a call from him. I immediately knew this was a bad sign but hoped he was just calling to double check his interview time. Nope. His mom is going through some difficulties and asked him not to get baptized. He was going to get baptized anyway, but decided to wait in order to help her out. So anyone who can offer prayers on behalf of Willian’s mom and Willian would be greatly appreciated.

We have an investigator, Erick, who went to church two weeks ago. He is from the religion “Spiritualism” or “Kardecismo” which is related to the teachings of Allan Kardec. Everyone thinks I ought to know who this is because he is American but I had never heard of him. Anyway, one thing to admire about spiritualism is that it is very focused on charity. Erick was very focused on getting answers through dreams. We tried a lot to help him understand that you could get an answer in a dream but it could also come in a variety of other ways. We thought we hadn’t had any success, but the other day he said he got an answer reading the Book of Mormon that it is true! Unfortunately he hasn’t gone to church these past two weeks because he likes to stay up late reading and then doesn’t feel like going to church until nighttime. He reads and studies a lot and is very excited about sharing his finds with us. We are working on having a balance between us sharing about the gospel and hearing about his opinions as well. Hopefully he goes to church this Sunday.

Newsy news:
I am going to be a sister training leader in Candeias. It is a bairro (neighborhood) in the city of Jaboatão. I will go there this Wednesday. It is 2-3 hours from here. Apparently you can see the sea in Candeias! I am very excited. I always thought it would be super cool to see the sea! That means my companion and I will be in charge of doing divisions with a couple of companionships of sisters in the Litoral zone. Also we will present something at the zone conferences. My companion will either be Sister Anaya (Mexico) or sister Vargas (Sao Paulo). Sister Vargas trained sister Barros, so that would be funny. Probably it will be Sister Anaya because she is newer in the area, but I won’t know until Wednesday! I am sure both of them are great. Next week I will go to new leader training and afterwards the mission leadership council. I am nervous but I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!

Today I said goodbye to Casa Forte at Pura Vida, the vegan shop I went to a while ago. I am going to have to figure out how to make jackfruit coxinhas at home. Tasty tasty.

Aline, the investigator I talked about the other week, has disappeared. We keep calling her and going to her house but only manage to talk to her mother! Sad, but hopefully she is just busy and it works out in the future. Also, the only person who went to church was Viviane. That was sad, but it is great that she always goes to church.

One scripture that really helped me out this week was Alma 8. Alma goes from a city where he baptizes tons of people to a city where no one is interested in the gospel. He pours out his soul praying for and caring about the people but they spit on him and cast him out of the city.

14 And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying:
15 Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you.

Alma 8:14-15

A good reminder of the importance of caring about people, praying fervently, and being obedient. Also the importance of joy — I hope I can always be joyful for the same reasons as Alma — because I have been faithful in keeping the commandments of God. Reminds me of Elder Eyring’s talk: Holiness and the Plan of Happiness. It is great! Also the Come, Follow-Me this week is wonderful and talks a lot about joy in trials as well.

*Names of investigators are always changed

Sister Faulconer joins yet another triumvirate, gets very, very, wet, and gets to know Casa Forte

Sister Faulconer, Sister Damaceno, Sister Sousa

I’m now in Casa Forte [near the temple in Recife]!  It is really different here.  I can see apartment buildings from all the parts of my area.  We have parts of our area that are normal Brazilian houses but also a lot of areas that are apartment buildings.  It was a serious pain to get here — two large suitcases and bumpy sidewalks, a metro and a bus.  I am not a good example of a cool, collected traveler, but I did manage to get here eventually!  I am in a trio again!  I have a companion, Sister Sousa, who is waiting for a visa to go to the Canada Edmonton mission!  That’s where my uncle lives. Hi Uncle Deryl! My other companion is Sister Damaceno, who arrived here in the same group with my trainee from the last transfer, Sister M. Ribeiro.  Both of my companions are from São Paulo, Sister Damaceno is from the city and Sister Sousa is from a small town in the interior. 

The day before the transfer Sister Ribeiro and I visited an investigator for the second time.  His sister was in the same room, listening to really loud music.  We started to read the scriptures and began to ask her questions as well and invite her to read.  Eventually she turned off the music and became engaged in the conversation.  Near the end of the lesson, she told us that her family had once been very active in their religion.  But they began to have questions that no one answered, and decided that that religion had practices that were not in line with the scriptures and the Savior’s teachings.  She said they needed a church to go to together and to have more religion at home.  She said she believed we had been sent in that moment by God to help them better follow Christ and show them the way to a church they could go to together!  That was a very special experience — I hope to receive a letter from Sister M. Ribeiro saying that they really have begun working to better follow Christ. 

Crazy thing that happened this week — our second day here it rained, and rained, and rained and rained some more.  The streets turned into lakes.  I literally could have swum part of the way to our lunch appointment — we were knee high in water!  We had to go slowly because the sidewalks and streets have big holes sometimes, and you can’t see through the water.  It rained all day.  Definitely an adventure and a cool experience, but it does make proselyting a little more difficult.  The rain is so loud it is harder to hear people and no one wants to go outside!  Also alllll the things get wet – clothes, our bags, everything.    

Wet!

We are talking to  a lot of new people because there weren’t many investigators being taught here. We need to find more people with potential. I talked to one couple the other day in a chic-y (fancy) part of town that said they were agnostic and not interested in talking about religion.  It was a weird experience — I wasn’t sure if I was in Brazil or the United States for a second!  We talk to a lot of people on the street and someone that claims to be agnostic is very rare — I think this is the third time in my mission that I’ve talked to an agnostic.  The other two were open to religion. 

We have one investigator, Arthur*, who is awesome.  He reads the Book of Mormon every day, hasn’t drunk alcohol in a month, goes to church, and is changing his life.  The only difficulty is smoking–but he didn’t smoke a single cigarette yesterday.  If he continues that streak he can be baptized this Saturday!  Please pray for him.

Also, our ward here is awesome–large, and with members who want to be actively involved in missionary work.  

Here is a cool quote from one of the twelve apostles, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“If we give our heart to God, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to be magnificent, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Why? Because our Heavenly Father wants it to be! He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life is the very object of His merciful plan for His children! It is a plan predicated on the truth “that all things work together for good to them that love God.”10 So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.

“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard?” Isaiah cried.

“… They that wait upon [Him] shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. …

“[God] giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. …

“For … the Lord … God will hold [their] right hand, saying unto [them], Fear not; I will help thee.”11

Love you guys!

*To respect their privacy, the names of all investigators are changed.