Adding On

9 months on the mission!
(Don’t worry, no rocks were defaced in the making of this photo, it’s just dust from another rock.)

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 on to 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.

General Conference 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley

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!  

Bolo de Chuva– Raindrop doughnuts
After this step, we rolled them in sugar.  They are supposed to be rounder but they were good.

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 Way of Happiness

The way of happiness
The living Christ–Cristo Vivo

Last week we went to Cruzeiro to see the Cristo Vivo.  You can see it from the city.  Cool fact: there is a staircase that goes up to a big cross next to Christ.  It is called the Way (Path) of Happiness.  Cool that the the Way of Happiness leads to Christ, right?  **Deeper meaning**  Wickedness never was happiness!  

I forgot to tell about a miracle we had last week.  We had a district meeting and then the car that takes us home was super late.  We needed to visit Victor to teach him some things he had to know before getting baptized.  We had moved the appointment forward an hour but we ended up leaving lunch at the time we needed to be at his house . . . and he lives 40 minutes (walking distance) away!  Just as we were talking about how late we were, we saw a member of the church in the distance.  As we walked towards her her neighbor passed by and offered to pick her up.  She invited us too!  We arrived about eight minutes later and had enough time to teach the lessons we needed to. 

Sister Ribeiro and Sister Faulconer

One awesome experience we had is teaching our investigator “Maria Eduarda.” When we met her she started saying that she didn’t believe in God.  We listened and tried to read some scriptures with her, but she was pretty upset and kept cutting us off.  But it quickly became obvious that she did believe in God — she was just upset about the situation she was in.  She didn’t understand why God lets so many people suffer so much.  She felt he didn’t listen.  But we listened, testified of our belief in God’s love for us, invited her to pray, and marked a different day to go back.  When we went back, she hadn’t prayed.  We taught her, invited her to pray again, and left. The next time we went she had prayed!  She said she felt so much better, and she knew that our visit was an answer from God.  She felt like he didn’t listen, but our presence was a sign that he cared about her.  She is reading the Book of Mormon too!  She did not go to church because of a headache but we have high hopes for next week.  This is a huge example of someone changing their life through the gospel for me.  She feels better and she is praying and reading the scriptures for the first time in a long time!

Acaraje: These brown things are fried bean balls.  Like falafel but not quite as amazing. 

Tomorrow is Christmas

I’m very excited for Christmas! It’s great to be a missionary at Christmastime — we get to spend all day inviting people to be more Christmassy by coming unto Christ.  It’s also fun to share the church’s Christmas program with people (Illumine o Mundo Light the World.  I remember watching videos from the church’s program other years with the missionaries and now I’m the one presenting the videos!

We had some wonderful little miracles this week with finding people.  When we had a division [when you switch companions with another sister temporarily] my sister training leader and I marked a man named “Daniel” for baptism.  He didn’t give us his address because he didn’t spend any time there and apparently it’s hard to describe, but he was really special and I wanted to teach him again.  He said he would visit the church but wasn’t able to go on Sunday.  Two weeks later our investigators (reference of a recent convert) gave us a reference of a neighbor, “Douglas.”  On Sunday we took “Douglas” to church and I asked him about his family.  He started talking about his siblings — and I recognized the description of one of them.  “Daniel” is his brother!  


I asked a different member, “Rodrigo” for a reference this week while my companion was calling someone.  He thought about it and suggested we visit a less-active member of the church, “Júlia”, who I had never heard of before.  He started to explain where she lived “in front of the postal office, on the side of road xxx” and at the same time my companion [on the phone] said “Ok, so your house is in front of the postal office on the side of road xxx.”  She had finished her first call when she randomly had the thought to call “Júlia.” I’ve asked “Rodrigo” for references many times, and only this time he suggested “Júlia.” Clearly she needs a visit!

This is the son of a member in our ward.  He is great. He is showing off his cool clothes here.  It is too hot outside for that jacket!  He is getting surgery right now so he can use some prayers.  We are at the grocery store.

[For regular readers of this blog: it turns out there was a letter from Sister Faulconer last week that somehow didn’t get sent. I added the text to the pictures in last week’s post.]

Christmas is coming!

Oi! I have no time this week but hope you are all great! Here is a picture of us with a Christmas box we made.  We collected food from ward members [people in the local church congregation] for a family of a recent convert that really needed help.  The mother of the family has been working for the city for three months without pay — apparently this is not uncommon here. 

Sister Faulconer and Sister Porcote, Sister missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are holding a box of food and other things they put together for a family who needed help. In the background, the green, red and purple Christmas lights they strung up around their apartment are visible.
Sister Faulconer and Sister Porcote–Lovers of Christmas!

That was a great experience because I know we were really helping them. It was a little miracle because members answered the phone and found things to donate really quickly — we made the box and gathered the donations, and did some things to help at their house house in just a few hours! Service is the true spirit of Christmas! We always have a goal of doing planned and unplanned acts of service but we have a lot of people to visit so we’ve been having a little trouble following through. One unplanned act of service this week was carrying some heavy bags for some member missionaries from a different church. That was a great experience. They were doing a service project as well and I could feel the spirit strongly talking to them — I know they are following Christ´s example through the work they are doing.

Also on display: some Christmas lights we got for our house!  We are both people who really like Christmas and of course we’re very excited to talk to our families too!  

It is getting closer to Christmas and there are more and more Christmas decorations up. It’s weird that it’s still so warm but I’m getting more used to the idea that Christmas is coming now. As missionaries, we’re especially excited for the church Christmas program this year! [Some have already seen it. Watch it here.]

This week had several difficult parts but I have high hopes for next week. We spent several hours one day looking for a man who was supposed to be at the church for an interview. We waited and waited and waited at the church–we walked all the way to his house with the district leader [the missionary responsible for interviewing him to see if he’s ready for baptism] and his companion, but the man wasn’t there and a family member said he had left hours before–then we walked around the streets looking for him. We finally heard several hours later that he had had some questions on the way to the church and apparently decided to take a verrry long walk instead of being interviewed! Then he didn’t show up to church. 😦 Hopefully we can figure out how to best help him next week.

Sister Faulconer and Sister Porcote, sister missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are pictured smiling and holding coconuts with a straw sticking out. They appear to be at some sort of a coconut juice vendor stand as there are several other people with coconuts.

Love you all!