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!

My new home & new sisters: Gravatá

On the left, Sister Centeio from Cape Verde, in the middle, Sister Faulconer from Provo, Utah, on the right, Sister Broadbent from Ogden, Utah. In the background, the very rainy streets of
Gravatá, Pernambuco, Brazil. [courtesy Amy Dawson Broadbent]

Now I have two companions!  I did not know I would be in a trio — it was a big surprise!  Apparently there are a few trios of sisters right now.  I don’t know why — President doesn’t want to open more areas right now?  Lack of houses to rent to missionaries? Revelation?  But it’s cool to be  in a trio.  I especially appreciate how much faster doing the Area Book is.  The Area Book is a large binder with forms that you update for every visit with investigators.  It also has forms where you write the information for every new person who wants a visit and forms we give to the Ward Mission Leader about the help our investigators/recent converts/other members need from the ward.  I do not enjoy doing these forms and having three people means it’s that much faster.  It is also cool just to have two people to talk to and do stuff with.  It’s different teaching lessons together – I was so used to having one companion!

Sister Centeio and Sister Broadbent [courtesy Amy Dawson Broadbent]


I really miss Sister Arce and want very much to know what is happening in Palmares (we were teaching a couple of people who were really progressing that I hope might get baptized and continue as strong members of the church).  But Gravatá is great!  It is a little cooler at night and I can tell that I am sleeping significantly better here . . . when I am not being eaten by mosquitoes.  There are a lot of mosquitoes in our house and I am their favorite snack.  My first night here I woke up unbearably itchy, covered in bug bites and my companions were untouched!  I don’t know why it’s so much worse here than in Palmares.  But luckily the anti-itch cream saved the day (thank you, Mom).  I am going to have to go to bed wearing repellent.  

My new district


It’s a ward rather than a branch here so there are a lot more members.  There are a lot of great people in our ward.  

I gave a talk this Sunday.  It was very mais-ou-menos because I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare it and I didn’t write out all the words but it could have been a lot worse;  I’m sure it was better than the testimony I gave my first month in Palmares! 

Gravatá is a tourist city, so it’s a bit bigger than Palmares and has more stuff.  I am anxiously awaiting the six-reais [Brazilian currency] acai I plan to eat later today.  I told Sister Arce I was hoping to get blessed one day with an area with cheaper acai and I got my wish!  It is a lot less hilly here and it has been raining like crazy. 

Drenched! Dad always says that when crazy things happen it means you have good stories to tell. It’s an adventure! [Photo, courtesy Amy Dawson Broadbent]

We were drenched yesterday;  I loved it, although it is a bit inconvenient sometimes because our stuff gets all wet, we were wearing skirts, and the streets here turn into small lakes.  There were a couple of times we had to walk through some very sketchy water and I was telling my companions about how Dad always says that when crazy things happen it means you have good stories to tell.  It’s an adventure!  So we had an adventure to remember yesterday walking through the sheets of rain and lakes of sketchy water.  

The streets of Gravatá. But it is only the beginning of the rainy season!

Miracle from this week — I was on the bus from Caruaru to Gravatá during the transfer.  At one point, I was praying for my new area and companion (did not know I would have two!) — that we could be led to the people who were ready for the Gospel, etc.  I found out later that at the same time I was praying that we could be led to the people ready for the Gospel, Sister Centeio and Sister Broadbent were walking down the street.  Suddenly, a man, call him “Danilson,” yelled out to them and asked if they were selling copies of the Book of Mormon.  They explained that we are happy to give free books away (click here for your own free copy).  He had read online about the Book of Mormon and really wanted a copy!  We will visit him today; let’s pray that he will recognize the spirit and that his heart will be open to follow its promptings.  

The Book of Mormon is really special — Helaman 15:7-8 is a scripture that touched me recently about the importance of scripture study. Alma 17:2-3 has the story of people who changed their lives through their scripture study!

As you might imagine, I am super excited about the announcement this week [about a rule change allowing missionaries to contact their families on their weekly preparation days].  We called our District Leader that morning because we had marked someone for baptism and he said “Have you guys talked to any members recently?  You should, you will like it!”  We convinced him to tell us about it, but the cellular started having troubles with sound.  We could tell something exciting happened but couldn’t hear to figure out what!  Finally he started half-yelling in English — Sister Broadbent and I were stopped in the middle of the street huddled around a tiny cellphone and I was trying to translate for Sister Centeio — it was difficult because we were all so excited!  It was really hard to wait until today to talk to you guys.  We kept imagining what it was like at home — I bet Facebook in Utah was exploding.  

Yes, an avocado!

I had thought about how cool it would be if the rules changed, but I didn’t expect it to actually happen!  I should get to do a video call with you guys soon!  I was all mentally prepared to wait until Mother’s Day.  [Update: Sister Faulconer attempted a video call Monday afternoon, but the LAN house (internet cafe) didn’t have a working camera or speakers, so it was simply texting with enthusiastic waving at the camera on the part of her family at home in Utah. We hope for the miracle of sound and video in the weeks to come!].

Pancakes for Valentines day — I made these with self-rising flour and something that might be baking powder or baking soda and chocolate drink mix and some other stuff!  Topped with fresh coconut from a member. 

New Companion: Sister Arce

Sister Arce and Sister Faulconer with the hills of Palmares in the background.

Oi!

This week has been great.  I love my new companion–Sister Arce from Argentina. She is kind and we are getting along really well.  She has the most beautiful accent.  We worked really hard this week and we are visiting a lot of people who haven’t been visited recently enough.  The other day we walked up 240 steps and a huge number of hills!  Sister Arce has disillusioned me—apparently not all the other areas in our mission have this many hills ;).  Fun fact about her: she is “viciada” [addicted] to “Cremosinho” a creamsicle sort of yogurt frozen thing that comes in plastic bags.  You bite off the corner and eat it.  It’s very good. 

Lots of miracles happened this week. I am extremely grateful that we did not get very lost and that I did not terribly mess anything up while showing Sister Arce the area [At home, Sister Faulconer has a reputation for having no sense of direction and getting lost very easily]. We went the wrong direction once or twice but not for very long.  We haven’t been lost and we got to several hard-to-remember places without a hitch!  My memory of places is mais-ou-menos [sometimes better sometimes worse] but nothing that bad has happened and it hasn’t been a big problem.  Definitely a blessing to remember some of the confusing routes to different places.

Also, one of our investigators I thought wasn’t interested said she was going to challenge herself to only smoking tobacco once today.  In the not far distant past she was smoking 28 cigars!  She really wants to change.

Sister Faulconer with new friends from the Palmares branch

I hope you all have an awesome week!  Love from Brazil!