Recife to Provo to Edmonton!

Farewell Sister Sousa! Best wishes learning English in Provo and teaching in Edmonton

Yesterday, just as Sister Sousa and I were finishing a weekly planning session and had put something important in every single hour of the week, we got a phone call.  It was our mission president, President Houseman. Sister Sousa got on a plane to Provo to the Missionary Training Center this morning!  After waiting such a long time, she will finally be able to study English and then finish her mission in Edmonton, Canada, where she was originally called.

I am now in my third trio of the mission . . . with Sister M. Ribeiro and Sister Delmiro! I trained Sister M. Ribeiro and am happy to be with her again! They are serving in the Madalena area of Recife, and have four people marked for baptism this week and one marked next week and think they all have potential to actually be baptized.  So that is crazy!  Sister Sousa and I also had a few good people who need to be followed-up with in the Casa Forte area. So, our new trio will work in both areas.  It will be an adventure.  I am excited to work hard and help all these people.  It will be hard to figure out where to go and what to do but it will work out! 

Sister M. Ribeiro and Sister Delmiro are the two sisters on the right–Sis. Faulconer is not pictured
Photo courtesy of Sister Lori Houseman

Iara* did not get baptized this Saturday but she is marked for two weeks from now.  Please pray for her!  She is great and went to church this week.  It can be scary and different to change and decide to get baptized but I believe it will work out for her! 

We have been teaching Willian for a while–He is 19 and wants to get baptized!  He is great but hasn’t been able to go to church yet.  It was another week in which he reallly wanted to go to church, we realllly wanted him to go to church . . . but his mother asked him to help with something at the last second and he couldn’t go.  I sure hope he can go next week.

Funny moments: the other week one of our investigators told us that some ladies that we taught once were talking badly about us.  We asked what they were saying and she said “they said that you guys are huge gossips!” That was hilarious, because you could accuse us of all sorts of things that are true or rooted in truth that could sound bad (“They think their church is the only true church” “really pushy´” “annoying”)  but we are definitely not guilty of being gossipers! We don´t know anything about those women to gossip about!

Here is a cool scripture — On the mission and in my life I want to be like Nephi:

2 And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him.
3 And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying:
4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God.

Helaman 10:2-6

*Names of investigators are always changed

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!

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

Flaxen Cords

At the mission office for interviews
Photo courtesy of Sister Lori Houseman

This week was pretty crazy. Sister Sousa had headaches and Sister Damaceno was also sick. We found out on Tuesday night that Sister Damaceno was going to fly home the next morning. We had no idea that would happen, so it was a shock. I will definitely miss her but hope she can get better at home! So now it is just Sister Sousa and me again.

We had trouble finding people at home, but we found a lot of new people to teach. Arthur ended up smoking this week — addictions are hard! But he didn’t smoke on Sunday or Monday — definitely a miracle. A member talked to him at church and apparently that helped a lot. Proactive members are a blessing, take note! You cannot go wrong offering to do specific things to help the missionaries.

We have passed a ton of references to other areas. Right now is an especially bad time to do contacts here because there is a huge park next to the church which has been having São João parties all month. Yesterday everything was closed for São João and there were bonfires in the street every few yards to celebrate! We have started doing contacts only far away from our house and that helps. Also making rules like — if someone is on the street exercising or has a dog, stop them, because they probably live here. We have to be detectives — what can we look for to know if someone is from our area or not? School shirts — usually a good clue. Shopping bags — hard to say. It is pretty funny.

We are teaching a couple, Raquel and Leandro*. Leandro went to church last week. We went to see him Sunday morning and convinced him to go — and he went! In the rain! He is blind, so he was really a trooper to go. This week a family member got sick at the last second and they couldn’t go. Sicknesses are on my hit list: Also, family members who visit without telling people, trips to the countryside, and sleepiness. They all cause problems. Raquel and Leandro have to get married in order to progress toward baptism, endure to the end, temple, etc. After much conversation we helped them get to the realization that they want to get married and know that that is what God wants for them. But they had a list of reasons they couldn’t get married soon, didn’t even want to plan the day, etc. Procrastination is a serious evil. Definitely one of the flaxen cords of the devil. But I was praying and praying for their hearts to be touched, and yesterday it happened! Raquel was even happier than usual. Sister Sousa thought about lots of creative solutions to get over the roadblocks and Raquel accepted all of them. Her engagement lunch is planned for the twentieth of next month and she promised to mark a day for her marriage yesterday night. I hope it happened!

Recife Temple with the whole zone–First chance since last December
Photo courtesy of Sister Lori Houseman

A story about language difference difficulties, even for native Brazilians: Sister Sousa was webchatting with her parents just now and said one of the other missionaries isn’t from her zone. A lady came over to whisper to tell me that we can’t say “zone” because in the Northeast it is a place where prostitutes go! Apparently we just shocked everyone in the LAN house.

Some scriptures I wanted to share with you: In the CTM I read the last few verses of Romans 8 about God´s love for us which really touched me:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yesterday I read a different scripture I don’t remember hearing before, Hebrews 4:14-16. Powerful!

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

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