Teaching that Christ Visited the Americas

Picture of Sister missionary, Sister Hannah Faulconer, videochatting with her parents

This week was great. We have a wonderful investigator that I told you about last week, Alexia.* She is an amazing example of someone who studies the gospel. She is reading all of the material we give her and asking for copies of the Pearl of Great Price and True to the Faith because she read about them in the pamphlets! She is being integrated well, which is really good. But it was a bit of a roller-coaster this week because on Sunday she didn’t go to church. She said she was sick. Alexia’s mother had said she would pray about the church. She said she prayed and received an answer that she should stay in her church.  But she also said she believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  So hopefully we can help her understand that if Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has to be Christ’s restored church. One of our other investigators, Willian, unfortunately, had to work a lot this week; we are still hoping he can be baptized.

We did not have a lot of success with teaching lessons this week, but the upside was that consequently we did a number of contacts and managed to meet a number of new investigators who seem to have a lot of potential!  We have really been trying hard to put President Nelson’s advice from his missionaries-only broadcast from Brasilia  to missionaries into practice.  He said that the most important part of the Book of Mormon is 3 Nephi 11, when Christ visits the Americas.  He said we should have people read the 3 Nephi 11 chapter heading because after reading that they wouldn’t want to put the book down!  Initially, I had been worried we weren’t doing it right because I wasn’t sure if people were understanding the chapter summary. But this week some people really seemed intrigued as they read the chapter summary.  Several people asked us how much it costs to buy a Book of Mormon before we had a chance to tell them that we would take it to their house for free

I believe Christ truly visited the Americas.  I am so grateful to know that our loving Heavenly Father wanted His children on both sides of the globe to hear His gospel.  The Book of Mormon is a blessing in my life. Did you know that the Church of Jesus Christ is publishing Book of Mormon videos?  I watched the first one today and it is cool!  Watch here.

I also saw this article by Sister Eubank** on the church website today that I really liked. It has a really great explanation about the difference the Church can make — even in the lives of great people.  Evangelical people we meet always want to tell us to go talk to someone who isn’t Christian instead of wasting our time talking to them.  But the truth is that the restored gospel has a wonderful multiplying power.  If you start as a wonderful Christian you have the potential to become an even better Christian with exponentially more opportunities to serve and bless.

“But let’s say a good woman or man encounters the restored gospel. She makes a covenant at baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ that promises her she can receive priesthood power: God’s power. Is her life and power vastly different from before? Yes! I believe her good power is greatly magnified by her covenants . . .”

We also have zone conference this week.  One downside of living in the Central Zone is that our conference is on Tuesday.  It doesn’t help with my never-yet-achieved-goal of having the 2 five-minute talks we are asked to prepare prepared well in advance!  This week the topics are Personal Conversion and the Day of Judgement.   

On Friday I am going to go to the airport to renew my visa!  That’s weird.  I have a new card to show off my legal status as well.  Other people apparently can tell that I have lost a little weight since my passport photo on entering Brazil.  On Sunday Sister Barros will turn 21!  Also, I found out that I will be flying home March 31st, arriving at home just a few days before my 21st birthday.  Weird weird weird. 

Picture from District interviews, courtesy Sister Lori Houseman

*Investigators’ names are always changed to protect their privacy

**Sister Sharon Eubank is the first counselor in the general presidency of the Relief Society, the Church’s organization for its six million female members ages 18 and over.

Easter

Carrying an umbrella to block the sun is common in Brazil. This is a bridge we walk over quite often.
Look closely . . . the water is filled with turtles!

There are lots of walls with photo-op graffiti here

This week was great!  Remember, Isabela, the girl on the bicycle who wanted a Book of Mormon from from my previous post? Isabela’s family is awesome — we are teaching her family, her friend’s family, and her friends’ cousin and other friend, her other friend, her other friend and her aunt now.  Isabela, as well as Guilherme*, and Ester (both friends of Isabela’s family) went to church.  Isabela’s older sisters had to work because of the craziness that is Easter here in Gravatá but will go in two weeks with her mom. Their other friends Matheu (a young adult) and Maria Clara (a young woman) and Rafaela (little girl) went to church too!  Their sister Marcela would have gone but she stepped on a nail the night before and had to go to the hospital. 😦 Crazy things happen Saturday night.  Because of Isabela’s family and friends, the number of contacts we taught a first lesson to improved quite a lot this week.  We often have trouble with not finding people at home but they have been great!

Sister Faulconer with Isabela and her friend Guilherme

Isabela and her friend Guilherme are reading the Book of Mormon and said they prayed about it and felt really good.  Isabela told us she wants to go to church next week!  Her sister, Camilla, who had to work, prayed and has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.  Her aunt told us she said she wants to be baptized! Marcela read the Book of Mormon, prayed, and was describing to us how she felt.  She felt the spirit really strongly –“chills all over!” and really joyful.  She said she she has a testimony now!  Matheus forgot to read several times, but on Saturday he remembered!  He told us on Sunday that he had had a similar experience.  He said he started praying and had a feeling that God was there, and that they were literally having a conversation.  He asked about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and said he felt that God responded that they are true! He told us that he has visited several churches but never felt the spirit like that.

Their other sister, Maria Clara, didn’t recognize any response the first time she prayed but said she started to feel the spirit more as she continued reading and praying.  That is certainly more typical of my experiences — many times we don´t get an answer the first time we pray but it will come with patience and continued effort.

Anyway, finding them was a miracle for sure.  The day Isabela stopped us in the street we felt a bit frustrated because we had been searching for a contact’s address for a realllly long time and no one knew where it was.  I am so glad we didn’t find it right away — we needed to meet Isabela!

Missionaries with treats at zone conference
Formal picture with the Housemans

We also had zone conference in Caruaru this week.  It was good.   We have guides for our lessons with different topics.  We don´t have to stick to a specific script but often we present the topics in the same order — God loves us, so he sent us prophets to guide our families, the most important prophet was Christ, etc. etc.  President Houseman talked about treating our lessons like wheels rather than linear lists of events.  Present the topics in whatever order works best for the investigators!  This was a lightbulb moment for me, but now nothing is linear anymore!  It can be confusing.


I have lots of food art skills. “Soy meat” (TVP or textured vegetable protein in the US) is more popular here in non-vegetarian places than in the US. 

Several members have made some for me at lunch and they all already know how to cook it.  I have seen a few restaurants that have things like “Chicken with soy meat sauce.”  People make soy meat sometimes just for diversity´s sake.  I tried it out and it was super good!  I also discovered soy milk recently (pro tip– ask people where things are instead of assuming you know where they keep the milk — I had forgotten that they sell milk in cartons rather than in the refrigerator section here)

Happy Easter!

Easter is very popular in Gravatá.  At night there was bumper to bumper traffic on the roads. Gravatá is definitely a tourist-y city — this week the city was way way busier than usual.  There were also signs for chocolate easter eggs on all of the street corners.  People like to eat large (like ostrich-sized) eggs made of chocolate and boxes of assorted easter candies are also very popular. Sister Ribeiro wrote this on the wall in makeup — she is very creative.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.  When someone gets an answer to their prayer about Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon it sometimes feels like a yes or no sort of thing — either they can say they believe or not.  What is harder to measure, but also happens, is the repentance process.  That’s the whole purpose of missionary work — we invite people to pray about the Book of Mormon and to follow its precepts — repent, be baptized (i.e., take the name of Christ upon you, promise to remember him and follow his commandments), get closer to Christ.  We tell people that Christ is the center of our message — and it’s true.  I have been reading this scripture with people all week:

But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.

He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.


Mosiah 16:8-9

The scriptures are so beautiful! I can’t say it better than that.  I also love this Easter video: Because of Him

*Names are changed to respect investigators’ privacy.