Mission Council

This morning I made mango juice —- mango season is starting!  I am excited!  This week was pretty different — we got home at 7:30 on Tuesday from new leader training and 7:15-ish on Wednesday from Mission Council.  I learned a lot! 

A couple highlights:  
President Houseman said that the pattern for making decisions in the Church is group revelation in councils.  Lots of people say “Wow, President Nelson changed . . .” but actually these things are decided in council and prepared for and discussed ahead of time.  Everything is done in order.  In councils, the members receive revelation, everyone discusses, and the leader makes the final decision. People might receive conflicting inspiration, and maybe the final decision will be different than the inspiration someone had.  But it is all part of the process.

There is a difference between following-up and demanding [acompanhar and cobrar in Portuguese] information.  Leaders follow-up to help you make progress with the goals you set for yourself. Not-so-great leaders give you quotas and then demand the results.  In Zion’s Camp, when the wagons got stuck, Joseph Smith was the first one to take off his shoes, roll up his trousers, and get in the mud to pull them.  Good leaders are the first ones to go to work with others, motivating them along the way, rather than staying on the sidelines to shout orders.  Even if you shout orders in a really charismatic, motivational way, that’s not enough!  

Sister Houseman gave a really great talk on leadership. She had an amazing stake president who felt really inadequate when he was called.  He decided to use his leadership calling as an opportunity for personal growth.  At every opportunity he thought “How would a stake president act?” Running late and want to leave the shopping cart in the parking space?  What would a ward member think if they saw that?  A stake president would take the shopping cart back to the right spot, so he did!  

Even though Sister Anaya and I had a lot less time to work than we had last week, we managed to teach first lessons with more people than last week and we have more new investigators than last week!  Little miracles.

Speaking of miracles, Davi* got baptized!!  He is doing great!  On Monday he was fasting with us in order to be able to resist temptation and get baptized.  Before lunch (when he would break his fast) he was feeling really hungry, so he left the house in order to avoid eating.  He went to a relative’s house —- and the relative was drinking (alcohol) and eating.  His relative repeatedly invited him to drink and eat, but he stayed strong!  It’s great because it seems like the ward is doing a good job of integrating him already.  One of the recent converts stopped by throughout the week to ask him how he was, read scripture verses (he can’t read), and tell him he was excited for his baptism! 

L to R; Sister Anaya, Sister Faulconer and Davi*

Sacrament meeting attendance was less-than-stellar. Read: our recent investigators did not go to church.  But I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the area and discovered that there are two couples who aren’t married but have been consistently going to church!  I knew that this happened but in my past areas the plethora of people who needed to get married were not religious church-goers– maybe they went a few times but they never stayed strong.  Here there are two women, Daniela and Juliana, who have children that are recent converts and are consistently going to church, going to activities, reading the scriptures, etc.  Unfortunately, one of them has a husband who doesn’t want to get married and also doesn’t have documents.  The other one also doesn’t have the right documents, but they just need to go to the marriage office.  It is a bit difficult because of work hours, but hopefully it all works out! 

Today we are going to start making horchata!  I mentioned to Sister Anaya that I like it and she mentioned that she knows how to make it.  This week we are also going to do a split with the sisters of Palmares.  I am going to Palmares — it will be weird!  Hopefully good too.  Sister Anaya did a split with a sister training leader who had already served in the area once.  The sister ran into an ancient investigator and found out she had separated from her husband (she hadn’t been able to get baptized before because they weren’t married. They had been deciding if they would separate or not).  She got baptized!  Not expecting that kind of miracle necessarily but a cool story, right? 

I don’t remember if I said this before, but a lot of people here think that after you die you won’t remember anything. God will tell you how your past life was. You will see your relatives but you won’t remember they were your relatives.  I respect other people’s right to choose their religion, but I am grateful to believe that families can be together forever. It’s a truth that is truly wonderful — our loving relationships continue after this life! — and also makes sense — why would you be punished for something you don’t remember?  It is also a good warning — we will remember our lives on judgement day!  A guilty conscience could be worse than fire and brimstone.  

Alma 5:15-18

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

17 Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you?

18 Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?

I would like to be the first person described, not the second!

A funny moment: I forgot to say that last Sunday I was asked to give a testimony at the last minute. I thought it went okay, but afterwards I found out that I had said I was glad to be in Carpina (a different area) instead of Candeias.  You can learn the language but you can’t stop goofing up!  Luckily there are worse errors that could be made.  But it was funny, because I was trying to tell people how happy I was to be in their ward — except I said the wrong ward.  Ooops!

*Investigators names are always changed

I can do all things through Christ–Goodbye to Casa Forte

Sister Barros and Sister Faulconer at the mission office, Courtesy Sister Lori Houseman

Good news: Willian* still wants to get baptized. He is reading the scriptures and praying every day! We managed to follow up with a couple more of our contacts than usual this week, which was good. Some of them seem to have potential. We also got a cool reference from the elders today — someone stopped them on the street and asked how to visit the church!

We really thought Willian would get baptized this week but it did not work out. We saw him several times, we finally managed to take a member there, and he said he was excited! He has been saying he wanted to be baptized for a while! We have been teaching him for more than three months. On Friday we got a baptismal jumpsuit and carried it around only to get a call from him. I immediately knew this was a bad sign but hoped he was just calling to double check his interview time. Nope. His mom is going through some difficulties and asked him not to get baptized. He was going to get baptized anyway, but decided to wait in order to help her out. So anyone who can offer prayers on behalf of Willian’s mom and Willian would be greatly appreciated.

We have an investigator, Erick, who went to church two weeks ago. He is from the religion “Spiritualism” or “Kardecismo” which is related to the teachings of Allan Kardec. Everyone thinks I ought to know who this is because he is American but I had never heard of him. Anyway, one thing to admire about spiritualism is that it is very focused on charity. Erick was very focused on getting answers through dreams. We tried a lot to help him understand that you could get an answer in a dream but it could also come in a variety of other ways. We thought we hadn’t had any success, but the other day he said he got an answer reading the Book of Mormon that it is true! Unfortunately he hasn’t gone to church these past two weeks because he likes to stay up late reading and then doesn’t feel like going to church until nighttime. He reads and studies a lot and is very excited about sharing his finds with us. We are working on having a balance between us sharing about the gospel and hearing about his opinions as well. Hopefully he goes to church this Sunday.

Newsy news:
I am going to be a sister training leader in Candeias. It is a bairro (neighborhood) in the city of Jaboatão. I will go there this Wednesday. It is 2-3 hours from here. Apparently you can see the sea in Candeias! I am very excited. I always thought it would be super cool to see the sea! That means my companion and I will be in charge of doing divisions with a couple of companionships of sisters in the Litoral zone. Also we will present something at the zone conferences. My companion will either be Sister Anaya (Mexico) or sister Vargas (Sao Paulo). Sister Vargas trained sister Barros, so that would be funny. Probably it will be Sister Anaya because she is newer in the area, but I won’t know until Wednesday! I am sure both of them are great. Next week I will go to new leader training and afterwards the mission leadership council. I am nervous but I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!

Today I said goodbye to Casa Forte at Pura Vida, the vegan shop I went to a while ago. I am going to have to figure out how to make jackfruit coxinhas at home. Tasty tasty.

Aline, the investigator I talked about the other week, has disappeared. We keep calling her and going to her house but only manage to talk to her mother! Sad, but hopefully she is just busy and it works out in the future. Also, the only person who went to church was Viviane. That was sad, but it is great that she always goes to church.

One scripture that really helped me out this week was Alma 8. Alma goes from a city where he baptizes tons of people to a city where no one is interested in the gospel. He pours out his soul praying for and caring about the people but they spit on him and cast him out of the city.

14 And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying:
15 Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you.

Alma 8:14-15

A good reminder of the importance of caring about people, praying fervently, and being obedient. Also the importance of joy — I hope I can always be joyful for the same reasons as Alma — because I have been faithful in keeping the commandments of God. Reminds me of Elder Eyring’s talk: Holiness and the Plan of Happiness. It is great! Also the Come, Follow-Me this week is wonderful and talks a lot about joy in trials as well.

*Names of investigators are always changed