Fruits of Brazil and Proselyting Priorities

Wise men and women still seek him! The counselor to the Branch President is a sculptor of this plasticky-y material. He restored a creche for the city center. 

I had a great week this week!  We have a lot of people to teach and are trying to follow-up with all of them. It’s really hard to know how much time to spend with everyone and when we should stop visiting someone.  This area is great because lots of people accept visits, but that makes it a little hard because if we talk to everyone all the time and visit all the people who accept visits, we end up with too many investigators!  It’s hard to know at first if someone is really interested or not, and what if they don’t seem interested but really they deserve a chance?  


But those are good problems to have.  We are also trying to get more of our investigators to church.  It is sad when people say they will go and then don’t show up, because I know how important it is for them.  It’s a special opportunity to show God you are trying to remember the Savior and His atonement, learn more about the gospel, and help the other people in the community.  We can take the sacrament and have our sins forgiven!  If we are really trying to improve and follow the commandments, we can be completely clean from all the mistakes we have made.  I know it will be  easier for me to prioritize going to church when I get back from my mission.  I also know it seems easier to go to church from a missionary perspective than from everyone else’s!  But it’s worth it. 

The caju [cashew apple]. Lots of people eat this by sucking out the juice and not eating the flesh because if it’s not super ripe it burns your throat a little when you swallow it. I learned that the hard way! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew#Cashew_apple

More about Caju

Wikipedia: “Cashew apples”

Miracle from this week: We were worried that none of our investigators were receiving answers to their prayers about the Church.  Literally none of them felt like they had received a response. [Then] we fasted for them and some of them received answers!  The ones that didn’t mostly weren’t actually praying.  You have to ask to get an answer! Some of the people who received answers were people who hadn’t been acting interested at all. 

Sister Faulconer poses with a blue glass plate with a white cylinder of rolled-up tapioca on it.
First tapioca! The texture is much thicker than a crepe and chewy. You put the flour in a pan, press it down, and wait, then flip it. You roll it kind of like a crepe and fill with similar fillings. We have been eating lots of tapioca with banana.

It has started raining more and more and I love it.  It’s not rainy season yet but we’re getting there.  I have always loved rain and it’s even better when the alternative is sun that wants to burn you to a crisp!

I also experimented using pants this week.  Pants are great, especially if you are walking through lots of weeds and hills and mosquitoes.  I might send pictures next week. 


We bought a jackfruit!!! At first I wasn’t sure if  I liked it but then I decided I do.  The yellow parts are seed pockets. You rip them out, remove the seeds and eat them.  I was very excited to finally eat jackfruit and now I really like it. 

Fun fact about jackfruit — it makes your hands terribly sticky, and the stickiness does not come off with soap!  But I did not know the word sticky in Portuguese and was having trouble communicating my problems.  I finally managed to explain it and a member told me you can only get it off with oil.  Those of you who have good access to the internet can figure out which chemical property of jackfruit juice makes it oil but not water soluble.  

Sister Arce with a sonho (“dream”) which is similar to a donut. It has filling — goiaba [guava] or carmel-y stuff and is fried and has sugar on the outside. It’s very good.

More about sonho

Pictures!

Dried jackfruit cube in front of the cityscape of Palmares, Brazil
This is my attempt to take a picture of a piece of dried jackfruit. It tasted like dried fruit — not especially different but good. I was trying to come up with things to take pictures of! This is the view from our house.
A man working with a machine that has a large wheel. The machine makes caldo de cana, sugar cane juice.
This machine makes “caldo de cana.” You feed huge sugarcane stalks in the first hole and yellow juice comes out the second hole and goes through the strainer. It´s super cool! Unfortunately Sister Porcote [from Curitiba, Brazil] said the one we had wasn’t a good specimen of caldo de cana, but on the bright side, now I have an excuse to try it again!
A styrofoam cup filled with caldo de cana, sugarcane juice. In front of a display of bread, as at a bakery.
[Finished product?  Caldo de cana–or sugarcane juice]
Left to right: Sister Porcote, Sister Dolores, Sister Faulconer. Sister Porcote and Sister Faulconer are each holding a cup of a dark liquid that must be Cevada--some sort of substitute hot drink for coffee.
Sister Porcote and I with Sister Dolores, who got baptized my first week in Palmares. We see her a lot and she is awesome. She used to drink coffee all the time, but then she discovered Cevada, which she says is very similar (but you have to buy the right brand). It´s good.
Sister Porcote and I and people we know at "District Conference" which is like stake conference [a semi-annual meeting where several wards or church congregations meet together] but for branches [these are smaller church congregations for locales where there aren't as many church members].
Sister Porcote and I and people we know at “District Conference” which is like stake conference [a semi-annual meeting where several wards or church congregations meet together] but for branches [smaller church congregations for places where there aren’t as many members].

I know basically all the people in this photo. On my right are some boys who got baptized this year or a year and a little ago. We see them all the time because they´re doing an awesome job of teaching with us and they´re really good friends with each other. Two of them are ward missionaries! They are blessings and downsides of living in a big ward [church congregation] in Utah. I wish I had the chance to teach with the missionaries!

My companion did my hair.
Missionaries with Presidente Houseman at District Conference--November 2018
Missionaries with Presidente Houseman at District Conference–November 2018 [Photo courtesy of Sister Houseman]

Oi! Happy Thanksgiving!  Nobody celebrates Thanksgiving here, but they do celebrate Black Friday. All the shops had sales and the city center was a mad house. The gas station had a huge reduction in price and we could hear the loudspeaker from our house while we were trying to study. It’s a little sad to have Black Friday but not Thanksgiving, but on the bright side it means the Christmas decorations go up even earlier!  There are lots of fake evergreen garlands and red bows and lights: pisca-pisca [Portuguese for blink, blink]. We bought some lights for our house!  I will try to send a picture next week–I have more pics than I sent this week already and the internet is still super slow.  I am trying to make the camera work [for wifi downloads] but am having trouble.

Sister Porcote and I will be together until after Christmas. That is normal for training — you have the same companion both transfers.

In the CTM [Brazil’s missionary training center] several missionaries in my district knew someone who went to Japan and said they came back more quiet, reserved, etc.  I imagine that transition might have been a little easier for me. I am suspicious that Heavenly Father decided I needed to be more outgoing or more of a hugger or something and sent me here! But the transition hasn’t really been that hard. I’m really blessed not to be having health challenges or super hard things happening in Palmares.

You asked how often we get to eat with the members.  We have lunch planned every day but it is often money instead of actual food. Less exciting than it sounds because we keep eating at restaurants and from my perspective the restaurants all seem the same.  But the fruit is really good!  And the members make really good desserts sometimes, so I´m grateful.

This was a family home evening for a recent convert who had a birthday. He had never had a birthday celebration before and was very excited.
This was a family home evening for a recent convert who had a birthday. He had never had a birthday celebration before and was very excited.  

We have been trying to teach a young man, “Rafael” for a while, but kept having trouble actually finding him to teach because he is very busy.  He goes to seminary every day, but works before seminary and goes to school after seminary!  (School can be before lunch or after lunch or at night here).  He is awesome — super interested in religion, really wants to follow God.  The only problem is that he was reactivated in a different church a little while back and wasn’t sure if he wanted to change.  Yesterday he said he hadn’t received an answer with certainty yet.  He said he thought he wanted to get baptized but not yet because he wanted to keep participating in his other church´s youth program.  But during our lesson he started crying and said he would get baptized on the 8th!  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see someone get an answer to prayer like that.  The promise is true — if you pray about the Book of Mormon with sincerity and a real desire to follow God’s will you will receive an answer!  Sometimes it takes time, but it comes.

Love you!

Lunching in Palmares, apartment pics, and the story of the fishermen

Oi!

Typical food at a member’s house for our lunch (lunch is the main meal here)

white rice
beans (sometimes with squash, kale, or meat, but often just beans)
spaghetti with a little bit of tomato sauce
one or two kinds of meat, often chicken
(frequently without sauce, but sometimes with)
vegetable salad/some cooked kale/a plate of sliced tomatoes/possibly fruit
Fruit juice and/or soda.  (It´s not normal here to drink water or milk with dinner. Coca-cola is very popular — I’ve had a lot more Coke so far than Guarana.  Lemon-lime and orange soda are also popular.  The fruit juices are amazing. )
Cake or pudding for dessert!
The food here is good.  Most people don´t eat very spicy food.
The pineapple here is amazing!  It is less yellow and more translucent here, super sweet, and extremely delicious. Papaya and mango are also possible. There are lots of fruit vendors with carts in the city center.  They have bananas (often green and sweeter), mangoes, grapes, watermelon, coconuts, pineapple, papaya, sometimes nuts, corn, and  several fruits I don´t know the name of (graveola, aceola?, etc).  I also tried a jackfruit otter pop/popsicle-ish thing the other day.  That was super fun.  I use shredded canned unripe jackfruit at home to make barbecue-style tacos, but I’ve never tried a ripe, sweet jackfruit.  It didn’t taste super strongly of anything, but it was good.

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This week was very special.  We met the mother of the young woman I told you about last week (parents forbid her to see us, come to church, get baptized) on the street.  She lifted all the restrictions, said it was a misunderstanding and she didn’t have anything against us, and apologized.  Then her daughter came to the baptisms we had this week and went to the dance afterwards!  So it looks like we’re going to be able to teach her again.  Our prayers that her parents’ hearts would be softened were answered!

I didn’t go to the dance of course (not really a missionary-approved activity! We´re supposed to listen to church and classical music and eschew all romance-related activities so we can focus on helping people get closer to our Savior), but some less-active members, investigators, and recent converts did and everybody was excited about it.  Hopefully we can figure out how to have those dances more often.
Right after we met the first mother on the street we met a mother of one of our other investigators.  The day before she said he couldn’t get baptized last week because he needed to be 18 and spend many months learning about the church before making that decision.  We were concerned — he has a strong testimony, has learned all the lessons we’ve given him by heart, and we felt strongly that he should be baptized on the date we had chosen.  The discussion was going badly when I suddenly had the idea to share the story of Peter and the other fishermen who immediately left their nets and followed Christ’s invitation “follow me” (Matthew 4:18-22). It was a little tough because I couldn’t remember the exact word for fisherman and  “follow me´´ is a little hard to conjugate on the fly!  But I got close enough that my companion could correct me, and I think the sister understood.  Then she agreed to allow him to get baptized!  It was a little miracle.  The other young man who got baptized this week also had trouble with parents’ permission and we were worried he wouldn’t be able to make it to sacrament meeting to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, but everything worked out in the end.
Love you!

Mission life–Different than expected!

Oi!
     We had a good week this week!  People in Palmares are really open to hearing about the gospel.  Of course lots of people don´t want to change churches, but they´re open to hearing our message in the street or listening to a scripture. People are definitely more religious and more open to talking about religion here than in most of the US.  There are scriptures stamped on walls, cars, signs, shops, houses, etc.  There are also cars with loud speakers that go around playing religious messages.
     Our investigators so far have been very open to our message and willing to act on it.  We had a baptism last week and another one this week.  I´m so happy for them!  It´s really great to see someone developing a testimony, learning about the gospel, and being blessed.

Baptism edited
Sister Porcote, a newly baptized member, and Sister Faulconer

     Something really sad happened with one of our teenage investigators who was planning on being baptized.  She has a really strong testimony and her faith is inspiring.  She was excited to be baptized and convinced that it was the right step. One of her parents had agreed to sign the baptismal form.  Unfortunately someone told him that the Church was a cult/sect, etc. and her parents decided she wasn’t allowed to go to church or have any visits from the missionaries!  We had been praying for her so much, hoping that her parents’ hearts would be softened, and on Sunday she showed up at church with an older sibling!  It was amazing.  We´re still not allowed to see her and don´t know what the future will hold, but that was a little miracle.
     So far missionary work here has been pretty different than what I expected.  We have a lot of recent converts and less-active members that need to be visited, but our branch [small local church congregation] is small, so we do the vast majority of visits.  So one or two days we did more work with members than with investigators! Consequently it´s been pretty tough to do any street contacting at all, because we always have more people to visit than we have time for, and no time to teach more investigators!  But we´re going to focus more on finding new investigators this week.
     I’ve had serious trouble with being understood this week. It´s a little sad because I remember all the right words, use the right grammar, manage to express myself in Portuguese well, and then the person doesn’t understand me!  Some people can’t seem to understand a single sentence I say — one person even said  I was speaking English! That was a really bad sign!  My American accent is just too thick, but I´m working on that.
     Hope you all have a great week!

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

Portuguese-o-phile

Oi familia,

We got called as the Sister Training Leaders today.  We are training two sisters, Sister Hale and Sister Faulconer. That’s right, we are in charge of . . . ourselves.  The other American sisters are going home or are in other branches. And no sisters are coming next week either, so who knows when we will have a real job!

I am learning a lot!  I achieved the goal for my first ten days –memorizing Joseph Smith’s account of the first vision, the missionary purpose (to invite others to come unto Christ, etc.) and a baptismal invitation, as well as 75-ish sentences and lots of vocabulary.  Memorizing in Portuguese is much harder than in English! I learn the words’ meanings first, but I don’t know the grammar so I have to memorize each word separately. For our next four weeks we’re supposed to memorize 20 scriptures, 2500 words, 500 phrases, and our entire grammar book. My instructor said the CTM wants 90 words/day and 18 memorized phrases.  Very little of the day is open for learning this stuff. We have some grammar lessons but mostly I`ll be learning this in the halls, at meals, in the 30-45 minutes of language study, the hour we have for getting ready for bed, and any time I get if something finishes early. It’s very intense!

I was feeling a bit overwhelmed about this two days ago and so then of course I also started to feel bad about all my other failings, why don’t I receive/understand more specific revelation from God, I could’ve been better pre-CTM, blah blah blah. I decided to pray about it right then while I was getting ready for bed in the bathroom.  Just as I was finishing my prayer, someone`s speaker (I think – I haven’t heard music there before) got louder . . . it was the chorus for “I Can Go the Distance” from Hercules. It was the Vocal Point cover I’ve loved ever since it posted on YouTube.  The chorus says “I am on my way; I can go the distance . . . this is where I’m meant to be!” It’s all [about] how your goals are within reach, and it was the tender mercy I needed right then.  The great thing about tender mercies is how small they are. I didn’t desperately need help — I wasn’t very upset and would’ve gotten over it soon. But often God just sends us little reminders that he loves us. And sometimes it seems like he [doesn’t], and I can’t explain that. I guess that’s life on earth.

Anyway, our schedules are a little stressful but it’s a good way to see the gift of tongues in action.   My Portuguese is terrible but for 12 days of Portuguese experience it’s pretty terrific! On my 9th day of learning Portuguese I was talking to some Brazilian sisters in the gym about weather, post-mission plans, and pluses and minuses of the Brazilian, Canadian, and American government health care — I know, I´m crazy, but it came up in the conversation and one of the sisters was super knowledgeable about it.  You really do learn so much when you can talk to native speakers! I also taught four lessons over today and yesterday on the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the atonement and God’s plan for us — sans notes!

Anyway, that’s the novel for this week. Ciao ciao!