Woe is me if I preach not the gospel

I spent two days with Sister Figueira.  On Wednesday my new companion showed up — Sister Barros!  She is from a state in northern Brazil — not too far from here.  Talking to her has made me realize that some things I thought were Sister Delmiro’s personality and individual voice are actually the north/northeastern accent (Sister Delmiro is from Fortaleza–also the Northeast).  Sometimes when I get a new companion I think — whoa my companion has the same voice as  xxxx missionary!  Then I realize it’s not the personality, but that they are from the same place and therefore have some of the same mannerisms and accent.  It is cool to live with people from so many different places.  Sister Barros is great!

[Sister Barros is not in fact gaucha (from the South of Brazil) but this pic of Sister Barros and Sister Faulconer was featured on a Casa Forte area restaurant’s Instagram. They got the Americana part right.]

Fun fact — did you know that if you leave spices or popcorn kernels in closed containers for two weeks you might come back and find out they have mold or insects trapped inside the container when you get back?  I did not.  Fun facts about a humid climate!  I think maybe it is safer to just leave everything in the fridge.  

Other fun fact — I can understand a bit of Spanish.  It is very strange, because in my head Spanish is a language I don’t know — but because I know Portuguese I can sometimes understand some things people are saying on the street!  
Right now we are trying to get more good investigators— several of the good people we have moved or had other problems.  So we are working on finding more people this week.  A member helped out and it sounds like Caroline and Luiz have a proof of residence and they are planning to go to the marriage office today to start the marriage process!  

Awesome moment from the week — Wilian went to church!!!  I talked about him three weeks ago.  He is the only referral who has worked out for us until now.  He wants to get baptized, reads the Book of Mormon, keeps the commandments.  He just had to go church, but he had to help build an extra bathroom for many Sundays.  Then he said he could go several times but his wife and her mom pressed him into service at the last minute a couple of times and he ended up not going.  But yesterday he managed!  And he is marked for baptism on the 21st of this month!  Iara also went to church.  I am still sad she is going through some hard things and feels that now isn’t the time for her to have lessons but it was great that she went to church this Sunday!

Unfortunately, on Tuesday night we went to visit a recent convert and discovered that he won’t go to church for a month because he is working to buy a cellphone on the weekends.  Also, he is going to his mother’s church every week.  We knew that, but we did not know that he considers himself a member of both churches. We explained that he can visit other churches but that he needs to know which church is teaching Christ’s doctrine correctly — which church is the restored church of Christ.  He said he needed to make a choice; probably to stay with his family, united in his mother’s church. I felt really bad about that.  Last Monday the weekly mission newsletter was about how to better teach and follow up with recent converts. Although I had read the journal last week and thought a lot about it throughout the week and how I could better teach recent converts, we hadn’t visited him last week because there are a lot of recent converts in Madalena and Casa Forte and I did not prioritize visiting him. So that was frustrating–I had felt like I was doing a better job of recognizing the Spirit and his inspiration for my investigators in my studies, but apparently that did not carry over to recognizing a prompting to visit our friend. Anyway, hopefully members will visit him and he will pray and think more about this.  I think it will work out.  

Recently i have been thinking about a couple missionary-related quotes from Paul:

For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:16

  
We have to share what we know!

Palmares!!!

Oi!
     I am having trouble with the computer today in several diferente (!) ways.  It is trying to fix my spelling so if you see a random Portuguese word — that´s why.  Also, Google Drive isn´t working and I have less time than I expected, so blame any oddities in this email on that!
     My first almost-a-week has been great.  There are so many things I want to tell you guys!  You actually can feel the humidity the second you step out of the airport.  It´s so diferente (I can´t fix it!)  If I make my hand a fist it will be covered in watery sweat after a few minutes. My first area is a small city called Palmares. It´s very hilly, like San Francisco, except that there aren´t any trolleys to take you up the hills, so we do a lot of walking!  There is lots of greenery and a big river. It is hot, but there are clouds and a nice breeze.  The flowers are beautiful, the weather is great, the fruit is awesome, and the bugs are not bad.  It would be paradise if I didn’t need so much sunscreen!
     First area Palmares2Speaking of which, so far a couple diferente Brazilians every single day have said something like “You are very white.  Use sunscreen!”  I got a very mild sunburn my first day from walking to the Palmares bus stop in Recife (we waited for the bus for 3.5 hours!  It’s two-ish hours from Recife to Palmares.) but I´m making a serious effort to keep the sunscreen manufacturers happy.

     I have a very clear memory of someone in the CTM [MTC] saying that their instructor was praying they would get trainers who didn´t speak English so their Portuguese would progress faster.  For some reason, I thought that seemed super unlikely, because how could you possibly function if your companion didn´t speak English?!  Guess what . . . my companion is Sister Porcote.

Sister Faulconer and Sister Porcote
Sister Faulconer and Sister Porcote

She´s super awesome, she´s from Curitiba, she´s been on a mission for six months, and . . . we only speak Portuguese.  She learned some English her first two months here but not enough that speaking English helps us communicate better.  I understand enough Portuguese that we can talk about everything we need to talk about.  Obviously I ask her to explain lots of words, but not so much that communicating feels super laborious.  So that´s cool!

     I can understand other missionaries pretty well too, but understanding and speaking to Palmares-ians here is a lot harder.  Church talks and lessons are super easy to understand.  Outside of that, sometimes I understand enough to participate in conversations, and sometimes I only kind of know what´s happening.  The accent is very diferente, so hopefully as I keep listening I´ll start to understand better.
     My favorite thing about the past two weeks was General Conference.  I think maybe one reason I started my mission so late was because I needed to be in the CTM [MTC] during conference.  We got to watch all the sessions in English, whereas lots of missionaries in the field didn´t get to see all the sessions.  I felt the spirit so strongly, and I felt very clearly that the announcements and talks were inspired.  At one point, [Elder] Rasband said something about how if we are faithful and diligente our questions will be answered or we will be able to put them aside for now.  That resonated with me.
     2-3 weeks ago we had a devotional broadcast from the MTC with Elder Cook (I think).  He started off by saying that he had given lots of talks to missionaries in his lifetime but he had never talked about his current topic before, but that he felt inspired to talk about it that day.  Then he started talking about the very thing I had been praying about for weeks.  I had been praying especially fervently that day, and I really believe that talk was an answer to my (and others) prayers.  It was a little miracle from God for me. He didn´t actually answer any of my factual questions about the subject (why is this like this, etc;) but he answered all of my spiritual ones (why do I feel like this, shouldn´t I feel differently, is this right, what can I do to find answers to my questions).  The same thing happened at General Conference.  Some questions were answered, but mostly I just felt a profound sense of peace — that I was doing the right thing, that what the apostles were saying was true.  If you haven´t watched it [yet] you definitely should!
Love,
Sister Faulconer