God Gives the Increase

This week has been crazy!  We have spent 120 reais [about $29] going back and forth between Casa Forte and Madalena this week!  The problem is that in theory it would be more effective to just pick a few days where we only work in Madalena and a few days where we only work in Casa Forte.  But in practice you can’t just neatly plan out the investigators on the preferred days — they all have their individual schedules, etc.  So we actually did a better job of following up with people in Casa Forte, going there almost every single day. Crazy, but way better than just leaving Casa Forte without missionaries for two weeks.

This week we had three baptisms in Madalena!  It was eventful. Things were a bit stressful, but it all worked out!

Baptism of Thais*

I have an Alma-ish (probably misguided) wish to find people and teach them and then have them get baptized so that I can feel like someone got baptized just because of me, but that doesn’t happen very often. This week I suddenly thought of the New Testament scripture 1 Cor 3:6-7 that happens to be part of the Come Follow Me readings this week about how one person plants, another waters, but God gives the increase. You get the crown based on your work not the watering. Paul says he was not called to baptize but to preach (1 Cor 1:17). I was thinking about other investigators that weren’t my contacts who I wished I had been the one to initially make contact. Then afterwards I realized this was especially applicable for this week. I haven’t had a huge part in these three baptisms but it is a privilege to see them and have a little part in them.

One of the people baptized this week was Vitor.* He first met the sisters in 2015! He didn’t believe in God. But he has been learning and strengthening his testimony a little more each day. Before I got here, the sisters had used an excellent metaphor of a staircase. He said he started at 0 — not believing anything. This past week he was still having a few moments of doubt even though he had progressed a lot. He said he wasn’t sure if Christ really was the Savior, had done miracles, etc. But after our lesson he said he was half a stair step higher on the staircase — at 2.9 (instead of 0)! We could see his testimony growing more and more each day this week, and when he got baptized, he said he was at step infinity! We told him he can now start climbing staircase 2.0. He really looked like the sort of person who was starting a new life.

Baptism of Vitor*

Unfortunately, one of the young men who was baptized on Saturday overslept and didn’t get confirmed on Sunday. I felt very bad about that. This prophetic quote was playing over and over again in my head:

You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), p. 95

Fortunately, I think João Pedro* really will end up getting confirmed next week. 

Splitting their time between Casa Forte and Madalena–Sisters Faulconer, M. Ribeiro, and Delmiro

Funny thing that happened the other day it was raining as usual (winter in Recife) and we saw rain falling on the other side of the street — but we were dry. As we were watching, the rain got closer until we got wet, and then it went away down the street!  This happened about four times– we saw the rain coming, it rained on us, and then we saw it going away down the street!  It was so funny; I thought that only happened in movies. It reminded me of Harry Potter or Flubber 2 where there are magical (or science-induced) rain clouds for specific people.  We joked that maybe someone was praying for rain and we were watching God send it to them!

Sad thing that happened– Iara* doesn’t want more visits.  She is going through some personal struggles she didn’t feel comfortable enough to share and doesn’t feel she can focus on reading the scriptures and praying right now.  But she said she wants to continue going to church, so I hope that her heart will be touched eventually.  It was frustrating that we couldn’t go to church in Casa Forte so that we could see her (We were in the Madalena ward), but next week. It is sad when this sort of thing happens.  We were so unsure afterwards if we should have been more insistent or persistent or said things other than what we said . . . But hopefully we can see her at church in Casa Forte next week.

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.

The Plan of Salvation

Our last district in Casa Forte before transfers

This week has been super rainy.  Sometimes they are tiny raindrops, but sometimes it rains so hard that in about a minute it looks like you jumped in a swimming pool!  Everyone who can manage it stays inside.  But we are enjoying the rain on the street!  It´s cool, because it’s rainy and not as hot.  The downside is that everything gets wet and stays wet, but we have to have opposition in all things.

The perks of living in the city — I found peanut butter! Without salt, etc,. but I added some and it was not the same, but still good.

Arthur is still struggling with the last cigarette.  But he managed to do a 12-hour fast last week and we are hoping that this week a brother from our ward will show him around the temple grounds.  I love living in the area of the temple.  We don’t pass it super often, but when we do  walk past we are always excited.  Living near the temple is a blessing!  

Caroline and Luan went to start their marriage documents this past week but unfortunately they were missing one, and then the rain kept things from progressing.  Also, they did not go to church again this week, which was sad.  We talked to them Saturday night, but then on Sunday morning we called and called.  We shouted outside their house for a while — we could hear the cellphone ringing on the inside but no one ever answered!  But the cool part was that we marked both of their daughters for baptism on the third.  One of them, Ana, had already been marked for baptism but then it fell through the day of.  The other, 
Beatriz, hadn’t been interested.  But she went to church once and liked it.  Then we taught her the Restoration, she remembered a lot of it from the sisters’ other visits and even had a Book of Mormon but had never read or prayed about it.  She said she would and she did!  She hasn’t gotten an answer yet but I believe she will.  We taught the Plan of Salvation to her family this week.  Beatriz thought it was so interesting she took a picture of our little visual representation of the plan. 

Lots of times we teach the plan of salvation and people don’t really pay attention. But when they do pay attention it reminds me of how special this is. Lots of people don’t have this wonderful knowledge.  Caroline’s family thought that the only options after death are heaven or hell, and that people who don’t hear the gospel will go straight to hell after death.  How wonderful to know that isn’t the case!  People who don’t have a real opportunity to hear the gospel will hear it in the life to come.  And the vast majority of people will live in a good place after this life, even those who didn’t fully follow God.  Families can be together forever!  Lots of people here think that in heaven we won’t be able to remember anything or recognize our family members.  I am so grateful for an eternal family.

We have another investigator, Cristina, who has many difficulties. Her daughter has cancer and is very, very sick.  Her husband shows signs of Alzheimer’s and can’t be left alone. A member introduced us to her without knowing this backstory.  When we met her she was crying and asking why God punishes people with things like this.  We taught her the Plan of Salvation and testified of God’s love and support in our lives, as well as the truth that she and her daughter would have eternities together after this life.  She asked us several times if it was really true.  Now she has prayed about it and believes!  Every time we see her she has a little more trust in God and seems a little happier, even though her situation hasn’t really improved.   I know Alma 7:12 tells the truth — Christ knows what we suffer because he has felt all of the things we go through.  He suffered all that in order to know how to succor us!

Sister Sousa eating the chocolate molten cake I made, topped with peanut butter

Love you all!

*Names are changed to protect privacy

Everyone is from Vasco!

On the bus to the consulate, already wet

Today we left our house at 8:30, went straight to the bus station to go the American consulate, and didn’t get back until 3:40!  We spent a very long time in front of the American consulate waiting for Sister Sousa’s interview.  She got approved!  The hours in the rain were worth it. She is going to pick up her passport in ten days.  Nothing happened with transfers–we’re going to stay here together.  Consequently I am extremely curious about what will happen when she goes to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah [before beginning the English-speaking portion of her mission in Edmonton, Canada].  But we don’t know what day that will be either.  Lots of unknowns!  

Arthur had a recaído [relapse] this week. Anyway, it was sad, because he smoked 10 cigarettes, and that made it hard for him the rest of the week.  But he is still working hard, so here’s hoping everything works out. We also had trouble with contacts – we had a running joke this week that all the elect people in contacts turn out to be from Vasco.  We had so many references for Vasco.  We still haven’t passed them all on.  We talk to people who are sitting on porches in the middle of a little neighborhood — and it turns out the person is visiting from a different city!  Another reference.  The running joke got a lot funnier on Sunday. We had a miracle: the server at the luncheonette where we ate lunch one day called us to confirm the Sacrament Meeting time. We had invited him to church and read a scripture with him — but he had to leave so it was really fast. He said he would go, but I have never once seen a street contact show up at church. I always hope they will show up, but it has never happened. But he showed up!  All by himself!  He said it was different but he liked it and wanted to learn more. But when we introduced him to the bishop, we found out that he was actually from Vasco! That was pretty funny. And a little sad. I have faith that one day the elders from Vasco will find us someone awesome!

Caroline and Luan are going to start the marriage process tomorrow!  I am super excited. We have been having lots of trouble getting into their house to teach them, because they keep cancelling on us.  But this is progress!  Hopefully we manage to teach them this week.  We met a number of good people in contacts last week that I am excited to teach this week.

This week it has been raining quite a lot.  People had been telling us that it was the least rainy, hottest winter they’ve had here in a while.  After this week, I´m not sure if that’s still true!

Sister Faulconer joins yet another triumvirate, gets very, very, wet, and gets to know Casa Forte

Sister Faulconer, Sister Damaceno, Sister Sousa

I’m now in Casa Forte [near the temple in Recife]!  It is really different here.  I can see apartment buildings from all the parts of my area.  We have parts of our area that are normal Brazilian houses but also a lot of areas that are apartment buildings.  It was a serious pain to get here — two large suitcases and bumpy sidewalks, a metro and a bus.  I am not a good example of a cool, collected traveler, but I did manage to get here eventually!  I am in a trio again!  I have a companion, Sister Sousa, who is waiting for a visa to go to the Canada Edmonton mission!  That’s where my uncle lives. Hi Uncle Deryl! My other companion is Sister Damaceno, who arrived here in the same group with my trainee from the last transfer, Sister M. Ribeiro.  Both of my companions are from São Paulo, Sister Damaceno is from the city and Sister Sousa is from a small town in the interior. 

The day before the transfer Sister Ribeiro and I visited an investigator for the second time.  His sister was in the same room, listening to really loud music.  We started to read the scriptures and began to ask her questions as well and invite her to read.  Eventually she turned off the music and became engaged in the conversation.  Near the end of the lesson, she told us that her family had once been very active in their religion.  But they began to have questions that no one answered, and decided that that religion had practices that were not in line with the scriptures and the Savior’s teachings.  She said they needed a church to go to together and to have more religion at home.  She said she believed we had been sent in that moment by God to help them better follow Christ and show them the way to a church they could go to together!  That was a very special experience — I hope to receive a letter from Sister M. Ribeiro saying that they really have begun working to better follow Christ. 

Crazy thing that happened this week — our second day here it rained, and rained, and rained and rained some more.  The streets turned into lakes.  I literally could have swum part of the way to our lunch appointment — we were knee high in water!  We had to go slowly because the sidewalks and streets have big holes sometimes, and you can’t see through the water.  It rained all day.  Definitely an adventure and a cool experience, but it does make proselyting a little more difficult.  The rain is so loud it is harder to hear people and no one wants to go outside!  Also alllll the things get wet – clothes, our bags, everything.    

Wet!

We are talking to  a lot of new people because there weren’t many investigators being taught here. We need to find more people with potential. I talked to one couple the other day in a chic-y (fancy) part of town that said they were agnostic and not interested in talking about religion.  It was a weird experience — I wasn’t sure if I was in Brazil or the United States for a second!  We talk to a lot of people on the street and someone that claims to be agnostic is very rare — I think this is the third time in my mission that I’ve talked to an agnostic.  The other two were open to religion. 

We have one investigator, Arthur*, who is awesome.  He reads the Book of Mormon every day, hasn’t drunk alcohol in a month, goes to church, and is changing his life.  The only difficulty is smoking–but he didn’t smoke a single cigarette yesterday.  If he continues that streak he can be baptized this Saturday!  Please pray for him.

Also, our ward here is awesome–large, and with members who want to be actively involved in missionary work.  

Here is a cool quote from one of the twelve apostles, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“If we give our heart to God, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to be magnificent, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Why? Because our Heavenly Father wants it to be! He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life is the very object of His merciful plan for His children! It is a plan predicated on the truth “that all things work together for good to them that love God.”10 So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.

“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard?” Isaiah cried.

“… They that wait upon [Him] shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. …

“[God] giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. …

“For … the Lord … God will hold [their] right hand, saying unto [them], Fear not; I will help thee.”11

Love you guys!

*To respect their privacy, the names of all investigators are changed.

Triumvirate Travels Apart: Transfers are Trying

Sister Faulconer and Sister Broadbent: Excited about jackfruit

The day before transfers, Tuesday, it rained a lot.  I felt the tiniest bit cold, which was a strange sensation.  Sister Broadbent wanted hot chocolate, but that’s not very easy to find.  Instead, we ate munguza (sweet coconut milk with pieces of corn and cinnamon on top) which people sell on the street corners.  It was a cool moment — we were walking through tons of rain eating munguza.  It seemed very Brazilian!  Little did we know that our adventures were just beginning!

We leave at 10:30 am and return at 9 pm every day — we never return home during the day.  But Sister Centeio bought a suitcase during our dinner time so we went home to leave the suitcase there. Sister Centeio walked up the stairs and said “Uh-oh, there’s water in the house Sister!” Then she walked into the room where we keep our suitcases and clothes and said “There is a lot of water!!”  One day before transfers all the suitcases got wet!  There was about a quarter inch of water in that room!  It was a little miracle that we went home during dinner instead of waiting five more hours–it made a difference for the suitcases.  One book was ruined and some papers and letters got wet as well, as well as all of my clothes, but luckily the easily ruinable things were mostly in other rooms.  We had to spend some time taking all the stuff out of the room, throwing away wet boxes, and setting up the fans to try and dry out the suitcases, and using a “roda” to push all the water out the balcony.  A roda is a huge squeegee that you can use to push out water or cover with a rag and use as a mop.

Luckily the suitcases were mostly dry by the next day.  I rode in a car with some other people to the metro, then took the metro to a bus station, and then rode to a different road where I got off and walked to the mission office.  I was late because my area is far away, and the buses and cars only leave so early.  But it didn’t turn out to be a problem because some missionaries who lived super close were quite late–there was a protest with a fire and someone stole the copper cables from the metro!  It didn’t end up affecting my travel but a lot of missionaries had to get taxis and figure out other ways to get to the right places.  Pretty crazy for the day of transfers! 

My new companion is Sister M. Ribeiro.  She is awesome.  She is from
São Paulo, is 19 years old, and likes to take pictures. She speaks English because she spent a few months in the U.S. with her sister, so we are switching off practicing English and Portuguese pronunciation at home.  Maybe I’ll get home with a Paulista accent! 

First pic of new companionship: Sister M. Ribeiro [Hi-BEAR-o] and Sister Faulconer

Almost all of our people with dates marked for baptism had problems this week and the three baptisms we thought might happen fell through!  We have a couple people who have decided to break the law of chastity even though they know it is wrong, some people who moved to other cities, some people who got new jobs and can’t go to church on Sundays, and some people who just don’t want to get baptized right now. But we are all set to have David’s baptism this coming Sunday between sessions of General Conference and it should be great! He said that after going to church for five years, he finally decided to get baptized because of a member’s testimony last Sunday. Your talks and testimonies can be powerful, folks!

I like a scripture in Alma 4:19: “And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.”

It was sad to lose people we were so excited about, but I felt the spirit in several of those lessons. Sometimes you teach with the spirit and authority but people choose not to change their lives for the better.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

2 Nephi 2:27

It’s sad, because sometimes you see people choosing to follow the devil and be miserable. We have one investigator who always said he wanted to be happy. He told us how happy he was when he prayed about the Book of Mormon, when he went to church, when he stopped drinking coffee. But he decided not to follow the commandments and he won’t have the chance to feel the divine happiness people can experience on the gospel path.

I’m excited for this week working with Sister Ribeiro.  The good thing about when things fall through is that you have a clean slate to find lots of new people. 

I am also super excited for General Conference! We have told some of our investigators that the prophet has promised that if we write down our questions before conference, and then prayerfully attend, we can receive answers to our questions and guidance for our doubts. I know this promise is true–I definitely felt that last conference. Sometimes we don’t get the answer we want–maybe the answer is “wait” or “that doesn’t matter right now”–but we will get the answers we need, and our testimonies can be strengthened. Don’t miss out this week!

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.