Arthur got baptized!

Sister Sousa, Arthur, Sister Faulconer
Photo Credit: Elder Richard and Sister Sandy Tidwell

Arthur* got baptized!!!  We had been visiting him basically every day for more than a transfer, so we have been praying and hoping for this baptism for a very long time! It seems like he decided to change his life all of a sudden, and that’s made all the difference! One day we went to visit him and found out that he had gone to a friend’s house after leaving church early.  This was a bad sign, so we showed up to his work thinking about ultimatums.  E.g., you need to do x thing —we like you, but we can’t continue to visit people who don’t try to change, but then we found out that he hadn’t smoked in two days! We taught him about Christ and the rich young man. I was going to explain the parable but he started explaining it! He said that for him, smoking was like the young man’s riches! It was very special. Two weeks later he still hasn’t smoked!  We are so excited for him.

Caroline still really wants to get baptized.  She bore a great testimony yesterday!  Unfortunately she and Luan are having serious troubles with their proof of residence, without which you cannot get married.  Her niece, Ana (from last week’s post), did not get baptized this week, which was too bad. But we are in hopes of helping the young women integrate her a bit more — I think befriending other young women will help a lot. 

Two people stopped us in the street this week to ask to be visited.  Isabella told us she wanted to get baptized but her parents hadn’t let her.  She was taught two years ago and went to church five times  Later we met her father, who said he has also been to church and loves the Book of Mormon! It was a miracle. Unfortunately they and a lot of our other investigators who were all set to go to church had a variety of disasters Sunday morning. The power in their whole house burned out and they couldn’t go! That was too bad, but hopefully next week works out better. Although a lot of investigators did not go to church, a few investigators did manage to go, which was great.  Caroline and Ana went, as well as two awesome new investigators who are member references and a couple that are the parents of a missionary from Casa Forte!

The missionary’s mother has started reading the Book of Mormon every day and praying about it! We hadn’t seen them for a few days, and when we showed up they said they were really wanting to go to church! She said she wants to go to the Church of Jesus Christ every week now! A miracle — her husband had been taught for a while without any progress but apparently she hadn’t really been to church or been taught before. She says she hasn’t received an answer yet, but I think she must be feeling the spirit!

Iara was one of the member references. We have been trying hard to invite all the members to pray about references. Then we follow up to see if they have prayed and thought of anyone.  It worked! Sister Andressa took her friend to church on Sunday and then we taught her a lesson afterwards! It was overall a great lesson.  Andressa bore her testimony and I think everyone felt the spirit.  

It has been raining every day for the last two weeks!  It’s funny; I read my Grandpa Trent’s missionary letters the other day.  HE said the same thing! Tomorrow we are going to get Sister Sousa’s passport and then go to interviews at the mission office. Fun fact — we are reimbursed for the travel we do to district meetings, splits, interviews, etc.  Our reimbursement here is less than a tenth of our reimbursement in Gravatá!

Sister Faulconer, Sister Sousa, Sister Houseman, and the Houseman’s daughter
Courtesy of Lori Houseman

Last week we traveled for visa things for the third week in a row, so today our plans include staying at home.  I am going to make Thai curry!  Brazil has many wonderful foods (this week I ate at a vegan shop that had the most heavenly Brazilian vegan food) but it is seriously curry-deprived!
Love you all!  

The Come, Follow Me manual is great.  I am inspired by Paul’s missionary efforts and his faithful attitude.  It seems like every verse of the New Testament is packed with meaning.  

This verse from Romans 1 is a classic

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16

Thanks for your prayers! Like Paul, I am praying for all of you!

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers . . .

Romans 1:9

*As always, names of investigators are changed to protect their privacy.

Desire and the will of the Lord

Fun fact about Gravatá: There are lots of butterflies here. Sister Ribeiro and I joke that we feel like Disney princesses. Both Palmares and Gravatá seem to have lots of animals: there are tons of (often well-fed and well-kept) dogs and cats roaming the streets.  When I got to Palmares I was shocked several times to see dead dogs in the street — only to realize that they were actually sleeping. They like to sprawl on the ground because it’s a cooler surface, and there isn’t enough traffic in some places for them to be in much danger. 

We are seeing a lot of miracles in our area! This week a lot of our investigators went to church, including some people that I thought didn’t have much potential, but went to church all on their own.  We taught the Word of Wisdom to the families of Isabela and Matheus this week.  We were a little worried because we could tell that they would have to change their lives quite a bit to follow this commandment. I prayed a lot before our lesson with Isabela’s family that they could be prepared to hear about the Word of Wisdom.  When we showed up Camilla said she drinks coffee all day long (i.e., more than four cups of coffee a day) and wouldn’t manage to stop drinking it.  We asked her how many cups she had drunk that day and found out that she hadn’t drunk any in four days!  What an answer to prayer.  That definitely makes it easier to give up!  She said she just hadn’t felt like it. She really wanted to drink coffee right after our lesson, but we decided to take advantage of the fact she hadn’t drunk in four days. 

We walked all the way back to our house and then back to her house with some cevada (a roasted ground barley coffee substitute) a member had given us for investigators. She didn’t end up liking the cevada, but ended up buying chocolate drink powder and hasn’t drunk coffee since! Her sister, 11 yr old Isabela, immediately said she would give up coffee when we taught the Word of Wisdom and hasn’t drunken since either. She is awesome.  Their friend, Matheus, was also very reluctant to give up coffee.  We tried to explain the Word of Wisdom well, but it seemed like he didn’t really get it, and he had to leave suddenly before the end of the lesson. 


https://www.homemdaterra.com.br/

We prayed for him to feel less desire to drink coffee if that was the Lord’s will.  Then we visited him after church to help him understand better and he said he hadn’t drunk coffee that day at all!  We called him to remind him to get ready for church, and then showed up to walk with him, and it was so early that he didn’t bother making any. When he got home he planned to drink coffee but saw some juice to drink and sort of just forgot about the coffee!  At the beginning of that lesson he had a very “maybe someday” attitude about baptism but at the end he was agreeing that the Church is true, that he should get baptized here, and agreed to pray about whether now is the right time!  He is marked for baptism for this Saturday — we will see how it goes!

Many of these people also drink alcohol.  It’s a bit of a culture shock for me — one of the family members of someone we are teaching is fourteen and was basically passed out asleep one day because she had been drinking. The Word of Wisdom is a blessing!  The spiritual blessings are numerous and the physical blessings are obvious — we know a lot of people here who have family members who were shot because of drugs.

Funny moment this week — we were sort of close to Camila’s house (but not really, she lives far away) and thought “Why didn’t we mark to visit her today instead of in two days?  We should follow-up with her today since we’re already close!”  When we showed up it looked like nobody was home.  As soon as we knocked on the door we realized why hadn’t marked to go that day. They had said they couldn’t because they might go to a birthday party.  It turned out to be a surprise birthday party that was happening in their house!  We showed up about 90 seconds before the birthday boy. We were this close to ruining the surprise!  That was embarrassing but a good funny memory. 

We also had splits this week.  Sister Ribeiro went to Garanhuns — the area her dad opened on his mission thirty years ago!  Now it’s a stake (i.e., her dad taught the first members there and now it has thousands of members in a couple different congregations!)!  There weren’t any members in Gravatá before! It is so cool to see the gospel spreading and blessing the lives of thousands of people in such a short span of time.  Some cities are being opened close to us now — they could be stakes when I have children going on missions!

The Church has grown in Guaranhuns

It makes me think of this Book of Mormon scripture:


4 Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon. . . .
6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.


Alma 37:4,6

This scripture is being brought to pass today!  Something small like inviting a friend to church, or bearing your testimony about the Book of Mormon can result in great things.  Two of the people who went to church this Sunday were brought by a member!  We asked him for a reference and stopped by to talk to them. On Sunday he helped them visit church for the first time! 

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.