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!

The Work Continues

This week was good. We managed to teach first lessons to more investigators this week and our church attendance was better than last week — São João winding down definitely helped. People celebrate São João the entire month of June.  There are three different saints who have special days — Anthony, John and Peter.  All three are celebrated — and people celebrate the day before as well as the day of and sometimes the day after!  We really need to find more people to mark for baptism, but we are making plans for this week so hopefully that can happen.  Arthur went almost four days without smoking!  A miracle.  Then he had some problems and his baptism didn’t work out, but we re-marked him for this Saturday.

On Saturday he was very different — he smoked three cigarettes and was depressed.  He didn’t think he could manage to change.  We tried all sorts of things to help him but it didn’t work very well.  He was tired of not seeing his friends for a while and said he thought it would be a good idea to test himself by going to a party with lots of temptations and seeing if he broke commandments or not! He would go that evening after the ward June fest party.  We were worried about the ward party, because as missionaries we couldn’t attend. We were worried he would be all alone — we asked members to stick with him but weren’t sure if it would work. But I was hoping and praying he would go to the ward party and then choose not to go to the other party afterwards. He went to the party and enjoyed it so much that everyone in the ward commented on how he enjoyed himself. Then he didn’t go to his friends’ party! Another miracle. 


This week we had a little miracle in the middle of a not-very-productive contact. I thought the people didn’t look like people who would have a lot of potential but felt like we ought to talk to them anyway. They really  didn’t have potential but in the middle of the contact, someone else walking down the street heard the contact. They asked us if we would visit them and said they had been looking for missionaries that could stop by! I am excited to visit them and our other contacts this week!  

Paperwork!

The other thing that happened this week was interviews.  I thought that since we live in Recife we would waste a lot less time going to interviews than when I was in other areas.  Turns out that that isn’t necessarily the case!  We live much closer to the mission office, but there is so much traffic and the busses have very complicated routes sometimes, so even though we live in the same city and there were fewer people being interviewed (fewer opportunities for the interviews to run super late) we still ended up spending a looot of time not working that day— the whole day.  But we did have time to do our studies and eat lunch and visit Arthur.  I thought that it was pretty funny that it took so long even in Recife! But I don’t mind talking to the people at the mission office — they are all pretty great!  I
 also spent a little longer there because I had to sign something to get my identity card to show that I’m here legally.  It’s pretty funny — we went to the office one day the other week to do Sister Sousa’s paperwork.  They forgot I had to sign my paperwork too, so we went back the next day.  But the courier did the paperwork wrong, so I had to re-sign it during interviews!  But I was already there for interviews so it didn’t take too much more time. It’s good I’m not still in Gravatá or Palmares!  I don´t know if the missionaries there have to travel to the mission office to do this paperwork, but if so it must take a lot of time. We will probably have splits this week.  That at least should be a lot less time consuming. It will be very strange to spend less than an hour going to another area instead of the four hours it takes from Palmares or two and a half from Gravatá!

Scripture thought — 1 Peter 1 is pretty awesome.  I had heard parts of it before but read it more carefully recently:   

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

The Book of Mormon

This week was good!  It’s transfers and I will be . . .  transferred to the heart of Recife!  It sounds like both me and my companion will be new. It’s going to be very, very different.  The Casa Forte neighborhood is full of skyscrapers and it’s super close to the mission house. I’m not going to spend any time travelling to anywhere!  We will go to the temple this transfer (finally!!!) and we won’t have to stay overnight in another apartment because we can just catch the metro and be home in twenty minutes!  I am afraid I will lose all the hill-climbing muscles I’ve built up.  Talking to people on the street should be quite different as well.  I have never lived in a huge city (that I can remember anyway) and it will definitely be a change.  I am a little nervous but also very excited.

Sister M. Ribeiro amid the São João decorations

São João/Festa Junina is in full swing.  The streets are full of colored flags, lanterns, houses are wrapped in floral fabric, there are scarecrow heads everywhere, and the streets are full of food made of corn.  There are a lot of accordions and colorful dresses and loud music.

This is canjica. In São Paulo, they call canjica “munguza” and they call canjica “koral.” This is confusing because in the Northeast where I am serving, canjica is a different thing than munguza. Canjica is a thick corn paste with sugar and cinnamon and other stuff. By contrast, munguza is coconut milk and other stuff with cinnamon and pieces of corn. I like munguza a lot!
According to Sister Faulconer, Sister M. Ribeiro was a great companion and so well prepared–a trainee who didn’t need any training. We’ll miss seeing her excellent photographs here on the blog as she will be staying in Gravatá while Sister Faulconer is transferred to Casa Forte in Recife.

We had trouble finding people at home this week, so we did a lot of contacting. In our mission we count how many times we read a scripture with someone (but it only counts once per lesson) and we did that this week more than I have ever done until now. It was good to meet a lot of new people. We met a number of old investigators. There are two families who were taught seven years ago. We went into their house and there were huge pictures of the missionaries on the wall!  Huge like 1 foot by two feet, maybe a little bigger!  We never would have known if we hadn’t decided to do a contact with them after asking for directions, because they hadn’t said. That was a miracle for sure.

It seems pretty obvious that they didn’t get baptized because they weren’t interested in switching religions and never put in the effort to ask God about what was right. So I think there is the possibility that none of them will end up progressing, but I am hoping that there will be at least one person that will progress.  It is cool to think about it from the missionaries’ point of view.  Apparently this family still talks to the missionaries on Facebook. It would be so great to find out that one of my old investigators was baptized!  Also interesting to think about where I will be in five or seven years — both of the former missionary sisters are married and have children (one has twins!).  

Recently we have been focusing on the Book of Mormon in our contacts rather than the message of the Restoration. The Restoration is essential, but it is hard for people to understand on the street.  I have noticed that a lot more people reject a visit, but this is good because it means that we don’t waste our time visiting people that wouldn’t be interested. Also, some people remember what we talked about and seem really interested in getting a book!  Sometimes we show up and they ask for a Book of Mormon before we even mention it!  We talked to one person, Carlos,* at his work.  We were trying to mark a visit with him for a different day and he said “So do you have the thing for me?”  Bystanders might have been worried that a drug deal was happening, but actually he was just excited about the Book of Mormon!  The results don’t seem to have quite gotten to the marking-for-baptism-and-having-them-show-up-to-church quite yet, but I think it will. 

Michele is reading the Book of Mormon and loving it.  She still can’t go to church because she is taking care of her aged aunt, but it was very rewarding to hear that she is recognizing that the Book of Mormon is true!  She said she feels good when she reads.  Maria Eduarda couldn’t go to church this week, but told us that since we are visiting her her life has improved 60%.  She said before we visited her she wasn’t praying and nothing went her way.  She says that now she  feels better, she is better off financially–everything is a little better!  Reminds me of the last verse of Mosiah 2.  Keeping the commandments (like pray every day and go to church) really does bless us!

This week we deep cleaned our house.  You would not believe how much dust can build up on the tops of doors, etc.  I hope my new house is clean too!  

*The names of all investigators are changed in order to protect their privacy.

The Gospel is for Everyone

I’ve been in the Recife mission for an entire transfer! Other missionaries have told me that time passes quickly on a mission an uncountable number of times now.  It’s really true! 

Fun facts: I drank coconut juice for the first time this week.  It´s interesting — not bad but not my favorite ever.  It’s very popular here.  Coconuts are everywhere here — the trees, street stalls, members houses, etc.  They are green instead of brown and hairy!

coconut drink
Photo by Diego Torres Silvestre–Flickr

We keep meeting really wonderful people who are super interested in the gospel on the street but we are encountering problems in actually teaching them in their houses repeatedly and helping them get to church!  Still, we had another baptism last week.

We have had several investigators who know little about religion or about Jesus Christ. We have had several who struggle with learning difficulties and who learn slowly.  It is hard sometimes to teach them because of their learning pace (and it’s a lot harder for me to understand and be understood by less-educated people–it makes the language barriers between us higher) but they are all awesome. They don’t have some of the worldly stumbling blocks that more-educated people have with religion (myself included). They really want to do what God wants, and they have less preoccupations about time, work, money, etc. The many scriptures about the problems richer people have in following Christ are true. 

The spirit really does bring all things to people’s remembrance!  It is amazing to see some people learn and remember things about the gospel despite huge learning difficulties. The gospel is for everyone!

Hope you guys have an awesome Thanksgiving and an awesome week!

Love you!

Green coconuts–stock photo

Presidente, Proselyting, Pdays and Pig Fat

On Sunday, during devotional, the CTM president told us the speakers at the devotional were the new CTM president and his wife!  We had no idea this would happen. Apparently President Martins-Silva´s wife has been quite sick for a while, so the general authorities decided to release him.  I don’t know much about the new president, but I love him and his wife´s speaking styles. They are Brazilian, but they spoke slowly about simple subjects and repeated themselves, so I understood most of their talks!

For proselyting on Saturday we stopped people on the street, introduced ourselves, talked about their beliefs, and asked for addresses so missionaries could give them a message about Christ or families. Unsurprising fact: stopping random people is not one of my innate skills. But it was fine. We found some people who were excited to learn more about the gospel.  I’m excited to go to Recife and teach people! But I suspect I will prefer knocking on doors. Doors are great — they never use headphones, don’t have to board buses, and they stay put instead of walking mach speed down the sidewalk.

Hannah and Sister Hale at Mr Cheneys--improved
Blurry yet beloved photo courtesy of Mr. Cheney’s (treat provider to the CTM) & Missionties.com

Anyway, I am great, but if you want to pray for me, pray that I don’t get lice (and that I learn Portuguese). A sister in my hall has lice and I really don’t want any. Unsurprising fact #2: the CTM is sickness central. All eight people in my district have been sick! I had a painful sore throat/cold my second week here which lasted 1 ½ weeks. I mostly recovered . . . then this week I got the same virus + eye inflammation. People keep asking if I’m crying because I´m sniffing and my eyes are red.  Mom, I feel a little misled; sleeping eight hours every night and constant handwashing ought to prevent this! I was healthier with less sleep at BYU! 😉

This week I wanted to tell you more about P-days.  They are great! It takes an hour+ to see everything in our boundaries, so I don’t feel too confined.  It’s mostly residential streets, but they’re residential streets IN BRAZIL!! So they’re exciting. There are huge, vibrantly-colored red, pink, orange, and yellow flowers blooming everywhere: the gardens, the parks, the trees. It’s super green (“verdant” describes Brazil perfectly). There are several types of palm trees and lots of flowering trees — but instead of cherry-tree-sized buds they have green leaves and lily-sized flowers that cover the sidewalks! I love it.

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capuacu fruit [stock photo]

On P-day I tried some Açai, which is sorbet-ish with ice cream consistency. I also tried a strongly-flavored melon-y sorbet-ish thing from a capuaçu fruit (google for pics). Delicious and exciting, because both tasted so unrecognizable that eating them is like what I imagine discovering a new color would be like.

We’ve also been to a bakery several times. My companion loves their banana bread. First I got a “cinnamon sugar” roll, (turned out to be savory fennel? seed roll) then a roll I thought had nuts (actually chunks of pig fat & skin! – not what I wanted!) and then finally correctly identified a coconut-shred-filled sticky roll, which was good. Hopefully knowing more Portuguese will improve my success rate in the future!

I love Brazil, Portuguese, and the CTM! I´ll be sad to leave in two weeks.

That´s the novel for this week,

Sister Faulconer

 

Halfway through the CTM experience

Oi!

I’m halfway through the CTM experience!  I’m not sure how to feel; I’m excited to leave the [CTM] and teach people, but teaching people in Portuguese is still scary.  On Saturday we’re venturing out into the real world for real-life “street contacting” where we’ll share short messages about Christ (in Portuguese!) and get contact information.  The prospect of using 22 days of Portuguese study to stop random people on the street is fairly terrifying! But I learn more words every day, and the other missionaries who did it all survived, so I’m sure it will turn out fine.

My mom asked if I can tell I’m in Brazil inside the confines of the CTM.  I definitely can! We have a great view from our window of the city. The water taps are separate, the plugs are different, everything has signs in Portuguese, and the water fountains have buttons for “natural water” (room temp) and “cold water.”  The computer keyboards are very confusing. Typically, breakfast is fruit (papaya, melon, banana), ham & cheese paninis, baguette rolls (delicious but I miss whole wheat bread) and extremely sweet porridge made with sweetened condensed milk.Portuguese keyboard detail

[for illustration only–no photos from the CTM yet]

For lunch, we have beans, white and brown rice, various kinds of meat, grated vegetables (beets, zucchini, carrots, etc.), lettuce, and one or two other vegetables — often one I can’t recognize.  Dinner is similar. Sometimes we have something different like pasta, hot dogs, or soup. They have dessert which is usually some kind of jello or pudding. It’s usually quite sweet and not flavours I recognize.  The food is good, if not what I would choose to make myself. It’s not very flavorful, but they have good hot sauce. I think I use more hot sauce here than at home which is saying a lot! There are no labels so some foods are a surprise. Once I got something I thought was roasted carrots but turned out to be strangely-colored hot dogs!  I also had fun explaining to some Brazilians that US sweet potatoes are orange or purple, not greenish-white.

[Stock photos of the CTM cafeteria from LDS.org]

I felt the spirit a lot this week.  Some elders in my group got priesthood blessings, where an elder puts their hands on the person’s head and says whatever the holy spirit tells them to bless the person with.  I felt the spirit so strongly when they got blessings. I just felt so clearly that the blessings were from God. I’ve also memorized some great scriptures recently — Mark 9:23 about how everything is possible through faith, and Moroni 10:3-5 in the Book of Mormon, which says that if you pray about the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart and real intent, God will help you feel that it is true through the holy spirit.   They are both great!

Boa noite!

Sister Faulconer