This week was good. We went on splits with the sisters from Janga this week. Janga is a city that is half an hour from Olinda. It is a pretty big area. We have been working on the message we will be sharing in the zone conference tomorrow. We will talk about how to be a successful missionary through obedience, working effectively every day and doing all you can do, and loving people and desiring their salvation.
Goiana is split into two branches, and each branch has some outlying cities that are part of the branch as well. The other area closed this week, and our district leader told us that the assistants told him that we could work in the other branch as well. We aren’t totally sure about what is expected of us (from Pres. Houseman, God, etc.) in terms of the other area. But we asked the other branch president and the Relief Society president if there were any investigators we ought to be teaching. They gave us a few great references! We planned to visit one of them this week already and are thinking about how to plan when to visit the others. Probably we are going to set a few days aside next week to go there. We don’t have a map, area book, or cellphone for the other branch, so we’re a bit in the dark. But we are going to keep records of the people we find and turn them over to the next missionaries when the next transfer starts.
Mateus and Raiane, a couple we were teaching, went to church this week! Their neighbor Bruno also went! They have really managed to understand the message of the Restoration and seem interested in the church. They said they are praying and reading the Book of Mormon and searching for an answer to their questions. They don’t feel they’ve gotten an answer yet, but they are still searching!
This week we were walking down the street and I felt like I should talk to the man who was walking next to us on the sidewalk. He turned out to be an ex-seminarian who studied theology in order to be a Catholic priest but then decided he didn’t agree with the Catholic religion. He said he had always wanted to go into the church building in Caruaru but hadn’t been invited so never went. At this point I was sad because I thought that meant he would just be a reference we would have to pass on to other missionaries in the Caruaru area, but about three weeks ago he moved to Goiana! We ended up teaching him a summarized version of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon on the street and he promised to read the Book of Mormon and go to church on Sunday. We called him at night to give him the address. But then on Sunday morning we called him to ask if his map application managed to find the church building and he hung up after we said we were the missionaries. And he didn’t go to church. But hopefully when we visit him this week he ends up being interested! Who knows . . .
Patrick went to church again but doesn’t feel he has gotten an answer yet. He feels answers from God need to be law-of-physics-defying to be convincing, so we are trying to help him recognize the other ways God responds.
This week was good. The miracle of the week was Patrick. We asked Patrick for directions and did a contact with him. When we went to teach him, he wasn’t there–that’s something that happens every single day, many times a day. His family was there so we did a contact with them and planned to go back a different day. But then on Friday night Patrick called us! He said he had researched the Church and liked what he found out about! He said he wanted to go to church! And he went! Miracles. He seems to have potential, as someone who might be interested in joining the Church! We are excited.
A few days earlier we had had a bit of difficulty finding people at home, when we managed to teach someone at a motorcycle taxi station. His friend, who is a moto taxi driver, also decided to listen, even though he had to turn down a ride. When we told him about the Restoration, he repeatedly said “I have never heard about this!” That is my favorite investigator response! We went on splits this week and I stayed in Igarassu. While I was there, Renato said he had prayed and gotten an answer! Hooray for investigators who keep their commitments! We are going to visit him tonight.
We also went to mission council this week. I found out that the missionaries who followed Sister Nogueira and I in Candeias are . . . Sister M. Ribeiro (who I trained!) and her new trainee! That’s pretty funny. I have been praying for those missionaries — it turns out I was praying for someone I already knew pretty well!
This week we will do splits with Janga. Next week it will probably be Olinda, where Sister M. Ribeiro was training until this transfer.
We’ve had a good week! Jeniffer* went to church yesterday!!! Last week we finally met the old goal we had of # of investigators at church all last transfer. She is keeping all the commandments and we are excited for her! An eight-year-old we were teaching (with her mother) went to church as well–Carla. Hopefully her mom will want to go to church in the future as well. She is very cute. I asked her what her favorite thing to do was and she said “pray.” “Do you feel like God answers your prayer?” “Yes, I asked him if he was real and He said he was!” We gave her a Book of Mormon yesterday and she said she would read it! A member from a different ward took her whole family and her non-member friend to our ward yesterday as well. That young woman gets 2000 awesome member points. Taking him to the ward where he lives was a great idea.
Juliana and Joao Pedro went to the marriage office! The office said they had to redo their documents before getting married (expensive) but we are hoping they’ll find a different route. After the spiritual experience we had with them last week, we were hoping they would progress more and they really have! We called them a few times this past week but weren’t able to visit them until this Sunday. We went to teach the Word of Wisdom and Joao Pedro said he hadn’t drank in a week (i.e., since the last lesson we taught them!) That means that after getting married they’ll be keeping all the commandments already! Eight years ago, when they first heard about the Church they lived very different lives. They were owners of a bar! This is a great example 1 Corinthians 3:5-8. Other missionaries planted the seed in their lives, many many other missionaries watered that seed for months and years, and God is giving the increase! What a blessing to be “ministers whom ( Juliana and Joao Pedro) believed.”
We’ve only seen Wesley once since the transfer started, so that was too bad. But the other day a less-active member stopped us in the street! She hasn’t been to church in years, but missionaries visited her and her family a year ago and she loved their visits. I actually met those sisters because a year ago they were at my Christmas zone conference. It’s funny to think that was a year ago already! Her three children (and a boyfriend who lives in a different area) accepted baptismal dates when we went to visit them. We aren’t sure if any of them will be able to go to church next Sunday, but we are excited.
The ward Christmas party happened this week and we met a few non-members there. We’re excited to visit them! We also went on splits with the sisters in Escada. I had never gone on splits with a sister in training before. It was different, but great! Also, I was slightly sick and spent an entire day not working in order to do a urine test at the hospital. It was a production! But I am grateful to have the missionary health plan–I really feel for the many people we meet who do not have that blessing.
Update on the bananas: It turns out that bananas fresh from the bananeira (banana tree) get ripe very slowly. We left one bunch on the counter. After many days they finally turned yellow and we ate them all very quickly before the next bunches that we took out of the fridge had a chance!
This week three people went to church for the first time! We have been having a lot of difficulty with getting people to church. One of them was Renata, Davi’s daughter. Unfortunately we stopped by Davi’s house to make sure he was going to church (he doesn’t live with his daughter) and he wasn’t there. Then we heard that a member had seen him in the street drunk the other day . . . So that was pretty sad. Hopefully we manage to find him at home this week.
We also went on splits with the sisters from Escada. We called them when we got there because they hadn’t shown up yet. We explained where we were so they could meet us, but they said they didn’t know which place we were describing. That seemed weird because we were right in front of their house, but we told them we would meet them at the bridge instead. We waited and they still didn’t show up, and their phone had no signal so we couldn’t talk to them. Finally they called us — and we found out they were on the bus in a different city an hour away. ??? Apparently they thought they were supposed to go to our city! I was very grateful this happened with the sisters from Escada and not with the ones from Palmares (twice the distance!)
Sister Anaya taught me how to make refried beans. We took refried beans, ruffles, and guacamole to the District meeting (now renamed district council with the new handbook!) It turns out that making refried beans is super simple and tasty. I started missing Mexican food so much! I think something like refried beans seemed very everyday normal, tasty, but not exciting in the land of ubiquitous Mexican food. Now, after a year and a few months without eating Mexican food, eating refried beans gave me huge Mexican food cravings!
This week we are going to zone conference on Wednesday. The talk topics are joy and discipleship. Here is a great talk about joy. It is Sister Anaya’s last week in the mission!!! I can’t believe how fast this transfer flew by. I don’t know where I will be next Monday — I will drop Sister Anaya off and then probably stay two days with another missionary. Maybe Sister Pereira. Not sure if I will stay in my area or a different area. It will be an adventure. We are also going to go on splits with the sisters from Tamandare this week; I will stay here in Candeias so pray for my directional abilities!