If the Way be Full of Trial, Weary Not!

One of my favorite hymns in the mission has been “Se a Vida e Penosa” (“If the Way Be Full of Trial, Worry Not”). When someone dumps us or doesn’t show up, I often sing this song because it’s funny, and also true — in Portuguese it says “Don’t get tired of fighting, God listens to our voice, He will send rest.´”  It’s true!  This week we had several opportunities to sing this hymn.

 “If the Way be Full of Trial, Weary Not”

If the way be full of trial, weary not;
If it’s one of sore denial, weary not;
If it now be one of weeping,
There will come a joyous greeting,
When the harvest we are reaping, weary not.

If the way be one of sorrow, weary not;
Happier will be the morrow, weary not.
Here we suffer tribulation;
Here we must endure temptation;
But there’ll come a great salvation. Weary not.

If misfortunes overtake us, weary not;
Jesus never will forsake us, weary not.
He will leave us never, never;
From his love there’s naught can sever;
Glory to the Lamb forever, weary not.

*Chorus:*
Do not weary by the way,
Whatever be thy lot;
There awaits a brighter day,
To all, to all who weary not.

One of our amazing investigators told us on Monday that she no longer wanted to be baptized and had misinterpreted all of her past answers to prayer.  She thought that God had told her to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but in fact she had been mistaken.  Unfortunately, when she went to a ward Relief Society activity she was shocked to hear “American” rather than strictly evangelical songs. She told us this is against the Bible’s teachings (she cited the scripture in John about not being of the world).

Later we called her to follow up.  She said that she had prayed about it.  But she felt she had received the answer that she should stay where she is. It was sad. When we were on our way to visit her, she cancelled on us. However, we ended up doing a contact instead and the contact turned out to be super great.  I have high hopes for the new contact!

Another sad things was a recent convert that we’ve spent lots of time with has decided to leave and be part of another church instead.  I worry that he hasn’t had the visits from ward members that he needs. We have been trying to use the tips from the mission newsletter about helping recent converts.  We are still hoping to be able to keep working with him.

My testimony in the restoration has been strengthened this week.  I had been thinking about why people who seem like sincere, earnest seekers of truth don’t get answers or get answers that led them away from the truth.  But this week I realized that sometimes I don’t need to worry about that too much.  It is illogical to believe in the Book of Mormon and totally ignore that because you dreamed that a different church is true. 

Sister Barros has a great talk called by Elder Tad R. Callister, “What is the Blueprint of Christ’s Church?” which talks about the elements of the primitive church and how our church has those same elements.  Obviously, you can’t have a testimony just based on Bible verses (I imagine different interpretations are possible), but the restoration is incredible!  

Two scriptures I like:

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Galatians 6:9

Also,

And behold, I, the Lord, declare unto you, and my words are sure and shall not fail, that they shall obtain it.

32 But all things must come to pass in their time.

33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.

D&C 64:31-33

Sometimes the results don’t come soon but they come in His time!

Sister Faulconer (left) and Sister Barros (right) at Zone Conference

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

This Week in Recife

This week was good!  We managed to teach a lot more first lessons this week and we finally have more investigators in our teaching pool.  Caroline and Luan* are going to officially start the getting-married process here!  Unfortunately, this is not Las Vegas and you can’t get married in one day–it could take two months for the papers to get through! In other updates, Arthur is still working on dropping the last cigarette.  He is working hard, so I am sure it will work out eventually. 

Unfortunately, none of our new investigators went to church — it was another Sunday of sudden illnesses, rain, a death in the family!, sudden work opportunities, and general busyness and flakiness.  But Luan and Caroline went to church again, as well as Arthur and Viviane. Viviane is an awesome young woman who has been wanting to get baptized for the last year.  Unfortunately, her mom won’t let her.  But she is persevering  admirably and a very active member in the ward.  The only thing that is missing is the water! (and confirmation).  She is going to ask her mom again this week — please pray that her mom’s heart is softened.  

Cool story — we are teaching a Hare Krishna who stopped us in the street!  He wanted to hear about the temple, which apparently is built in a place an old Hare Krishna temple used to be.  He also wanted to know about meat, because Hare Krishnas are vegetarian, and he talked with a vegan member of the church who told him that our scriptures said something about not eating meat.  So that is pretty crazy, because I am vegetarian and was vegan before my mission because of those exact scriptures. [However, it should be noted that the majority of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not vegetarian].  And I have been to a Hare Krishna temple before and read a little bit about the religion because I think it’s interesting. Weird. We focused on the more important doctrine of the Restoration and his questions about that instead of talking about meat, but I thought that was a funny coincidence. 

He called to cancel our second lesson because something came up but said he had been on the church’s website ComeuntoChrist.org and was loving everything.  He was talking about how the church is such a great example of service, teaching children, etc., etc.  He said he would go to church this Sunday and wanted us to preach him the Bible!  . . . And then on Saturday he called to say he had  been called to go on a mission for a week as a Hare Krishna and didn’t need more visits.  So that was bad timing.  But we told him that we had found a member who had already been to the Hare Krishna temple and would visit him when he got back.

Today we went to get Sister Sousa’s fingerprints taken.  Next week (the day we find out about transfers!) she is going to do her interview at the American (embassy? consulate? don´t know).  Her Canadian visa went through a week after the interview, so if she gets lucky she might be going to Canada really soon!  Who knows if we will be in a trio this next transfer again or if I will end up getting transferred to another place when she leaves . . . or just receive a different companion. I´m not sure. 

We stopped by the beach.  Oh, how I love the sea.  And lakes, and rivers, and ponds. . .  It was picture perfect–yellow sand, blue sky, picturesque clouds.  We did not go to the beach, obviously, but I admired it from a distance!  The water was a little dirty because of the rain, but the benefit of not being allowed to walk on the beach is that it’s harder to see that it is dirty!

Love you all!

*All names are changed to protect the privacy of the investigators

Miracles

We had a lot of miracles this week! One day our plans had fallen through and we decided to see a contact.  We didn’t think he had very much potential and we suspected that finding his house would be a pain, but we decided to just try it out.   As expected his house was not super easy to find (he didn’t know his house number–a common problem in our area–and the only indicator he gave us was “yellow”) so we asked a lady, whose door was open if she knew him.  She didn’t, so we were going to leave but I remembered that we should really do more contacts and decided to talk with her. “Emily” immediately invited us into her house!  We started teaching a lesson, since we didn’t have anywhere we had to be.
She said she never left her door open as she had that day, but had been about to wander around in the city for a couple hours to try and feel better. We found out that she had just gotten home from the funeral of her nephew, who had died from playing Russian Roulette.  As you can imagine, she was very sad.  She was also sad because her son is in prison, and although he has made many unwise decisions, she thinks he is innocent because he was with her in a different city when the crime was committed. 

We taught her the Plan of Salvation, and she told us that our visit was an answer to her prayers!  We gave her a Book of Mormon and she promised to read it and pray about whether it is true. We saw her another day, and she said she had prayed and felt good but hadn’t gotten an answer.  Yesterday we found her at home again (she works a lot with fluctuating hours) and she said that she prayed and read some more (1 Nephi 10!) and had a dream where God showed her the Bible and the Book of Mormon together.  She said “The Book of Mormon and the Bible are the same thing but with different people!”  Now she takes the Bible and the Book of Mormon with her everywhere she goes!  People tell her “your bag is heavy!” and she says “These are my weapons!  I need them with me!”  Some people carry guns, she carries scriptures!

Sister missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints blowing out candles on a birthday cake.
Members in Gravata like Tamara Espindola Medeiros are taking good care of the sisters. Sister Faulconer and Sister Ribeiro both had April birthdays, so Tamara planned a birthday celebration for them during their lunch break. Happy 20th birthday sisters!

We also finally managed to see “Victor” who has been to church a few times with his girlfriend. We had a lot of trouble seeing him because he is busy and travels, but on Sunday we went again.  When we went to his girlfriend’s house her mother said she was sleeping and wouldn’t see him until nighttime (when we had to be at home).  We almost didn’t go back but I really felt like we should.  When we got there we started teaching him the Restoration and he said he had prayed and wants to be baptized! 

We are also teaching a different person in a city called Chã Grande (“Big incline” — there are lots of hills there). He is marked for baptism this week, so we are going to try and see him three times this week.  It will be an adventure because this city is half an hour away by van (the vans do not have schedules!) and then when we get there we have to walk to his house.  He gets home from school at 5:10 and the last van is at 6!  Also, we already went there three times, and twice the van passed at 6 and refused to let us get in!  Usually they just stuff people into the vans until they are totally full, but there wasn’t any space left!  Luckily we found another car that was going to Chã Grande and got home safe and sound.

Love you all!

The Right Place

This week we had splits, so I went to Guaranhuns one day with the Sister Training Leaders.  We also had stake conference in Caruaru. It’s an hour away, so this week was pretty crazy because we were following up with a lot of people about whether they could go, how it would be, etc.  There were a lot of people who we hoped would go that didn’t make it, but we had a couple of very special people who did.

We have one investigator, call him “Tiago,” who is older and likes to talk a lot about his life.  In the contact we did with him we weren’t sure if he was really interested in learning or not, but he accepted a baptismal date (in the middle of the road!) so we went back to visit him.  Lots of times we aren’t sure if he is paying attention or really interested, but then there are moments that we can see him progressing a lot. This week we were at stake conference with him and the stake president gave a talk about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon every day.  (See President Monson’s last talk about the Book of Mormonhere) I was inwardly very excited about this talk because we always tell this to our investigators but sometimes they need a second witness for the importance of the Book of Mormon to sink in. After the conference Tiago mentioned the talk and said “I am going to read this book at morning and at night every day!”  That was a very special moment.

Mission President and Missionaries pose for photograph at stake conference in Caruaru

I also wanted to share a story about a woman who went to church this week, call her “Natália.” She had been less active for years, and hadn’t been to church in quite a while.  But her son’s girlfriend, call her “Giovana,” is a member of the church. She always invites Natália and her grandchildren who live with her to church, but they pretty much never went.  One day Giovana invited Natália to church. When Natália said she couldn’t go because she had to make lunch, Giovana didn’t give up. She helped her make lunch and helped Natália until all of her housework was done. They showed up at church quite late, but they made it.  Natália felt a really strong feeling of peace and comfort, like the church was where she ought to be. After the church meetings, Natália found out that one of her children had died. Her family members were worried that this would devastate her. But Natália told us that because of the peaceful feeling she had from church, she knew that everything would be okay.

Later we taught her granddaughter the Restoration.  When we told about Joseph Smith’s first vision, Natália felt a prompting from the spirit that the feeling she had at church was like a first vision for her — an answer to prayer and a witness that the church was true.  Now she goes to church every week, and her granddaughter is progressing towards baptism!

I know all of us can have spiritual experiences like Natália´s.  Sometimes we have to be in the right place to recognize the promptings of the spirit — it was only once she went to church, after so many years of inactivity, that she received an answer!  We can also receive answers through the Book of Mormon, as President Monson promised in his talk, and through prayer. It is so special to be here on a mission seeing people receiving answers to their prayers.