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. 

Good Problems

Last week I said we had too many investigators — a good problem, but difficult because you don’t want to forget anyone or not follow-up with them enough! But God has been helping us out. I had been thinking that one spiritual gift I lack is the gift of discernment, and it would really be useful to have when trying to decide which investigators to prioritize. I shared this with Sister Arce and started praying specifically for the gift of discernment (read this Liahona article: “Adding Gifts of the Spirit to Your Christmas List” — it is excellent and I have been applying it to more physical things like organization as well) in my personal prayers and our companionship prayers. The day we started praying for this we suddenly had a ton of rejection.


Gifts of the Spirit–Illustration by Josh Talbot–published in The New Era, December 2018

Our problem was that everyone was happy to listen to us but not necessarily motivated to try to find out if God wants them to join the Church. That day a lot of people were unusually blunt about not wanting to see us. Partway through the day I told Sister Arce I thought God was sending us point-blank rejection to help us out with our lack of discernment. She said that He has a sense of humor and I think she’s right! We have had a lot of rejection this week — it was pretty sad, because we have people who have strong testimonies that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ is God’s church on earth — and they don’t want to follow those answers, or they won’t pray or go to church because they don’t want to have to follow the answer they might get! It’s really sad to see people choosing to live beneath their privileges, but it’s their choice.

We still have a ton of people to teach, and this week is going to be pretty difficult because we have a zone conference (one day of zero proselyting) and a division with the Sister Training leaders (one day of proselyting lost in favor of eight hours of riding the bus to and from Guaranhuns). I don’t know how we will do it but I’m working on having the faith that it can be done!


We walk on this path every day. In these photos we are walking on the train tracks to keep out of the mud. We have been doing that a lot recently. I am deliriously happy about all the rain. I love rain. It is rather inconvenient for keeping all our paper proselyting stuff dry, keeping my shoes clean, and if I am wearing a long skirt (Have you ever tried walking through mud in a soaking wet long skirt? It is hard.) But wearing a long skirt and walking through mud all day makes me feel a little like Elizabeth Bennet (but not hoping to find any Mr. Darcy’s at the moment — my heart is locked, thank you very much). I am excited for the real rainy season to start!

We are eating pitaya [dragon fruit] which is like acai but bright pink and tastes a bit different and avocado cream.
A half-eaten piece of grilled corn on the cob with many blackened kernels.
Grilled Corn

I finally got a grilled corn.  There is a lot of grilled corn.  Apparently the Northeast is known for it’s corn — vendedor de milho (corn vendor) is a well-known occupation.  The corn is strangely chewy here, like a potato. It’s weird how corn can be different — I did not expect that. There are also lots of different kinds of corn (and bananas).  I liked the grilled corn but was reminded of when I made grilled corn back home.  This corn was grilled a bit better, but was lacking the sriracha/Just Mayo/lime/cashew sauce I made.