My new home & new sisters: Gravatá

On the left, Sister Centeio from Cape Verde, in the middle, Sister Faulconer from Provo, Utah, on the right, Sister Broadbent from Ogden, Utah. In the background, the very rainy streets of
Gravatá, Pernambuco, Brazil. [courtesy Amy Dawson Broadbent]

Now I have two companions!  I did not know I would be in a trio — it was a big surprise!  Apparently there are a few trios of sisters right now.  I don’t know why — President doesn’t want to open more areas right now?  Lack of houses to rent to missionaries? Revelation?  But it’s cool to be  in a trio.  I especially appreciate how much faster doing the Area Book is.  The Area Book is a large binder with forms that you update for every visit with investigators.  It also has forms where you write the information for every new person who wants a visit and forms we give to the Ward Mission Leader about the help our investigators/recent converts/other members need from the ward.  I do not enjoy doing these forms and having three people means it’s that much faster.  It is also cool just to have two people to talk to and do stuff with.  It’s different teaching lessons together – I was so used to having one companion!

Sister Centeio and Sister Broadbent [courtesy Amy Dawson Broadbent]


I really miss Sister Arce and want very much to know what is happening in Palmares (we were teaching a couple of people who were really progressing that I hope might get baptized and continue as strong members of the church).  But Gravatá is great!  It is a little cooler at night and I can tell that I am sleeping significantly better here . . . when I am not being eaten by mosquitoes.  There are a lot of mosquitoes in our house and I am their favorite snack.  My first night here I woke up unbearably itchy, covered in bug bites and my companions were untouched!  I don’t know why it’s so much worse here than in Palmares.  But luckily the anti-itch cream saved the day (thank you, Mom).  I am going to have to go to bed wearing repellent.  

My new district


It’s a ward rather than a branch here so there are a lot more members.  There are a lot of great people in our ward.  

I gave a talk this Sunday.  It was very mais-ou-menos because I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare it and I didn’t write out all the words but it could have been a lot worse;  I’m sure it was better than the testimony I gave my first month in Palmares! 

Gravatá is a tourist city, so it’s a bit bigger than Palmares and has more stuff.  I am anxiously awaiting the six-reais [Brazilian currency] acai I plan to eat later today.  I told Sister Arce I was hoping to get blessed one day with an area with cheaper acai and I got my wish!  It is a lot less hilly here and it has been raining like crazy. 

Drenched! Dad always says that when crazy things happen it means you have good stories to tell. It’s an adventure! [Photo, courtesy Amy Dawson Broadbent]

We were drenched yesterday;  I loved it, although it is a bit inconvenient sometimes because our stuff gets all wet, we were wearing skirts, and the streets here turn into small lakes.  There were a couple of times we had to walk through some very sketchy water and I was telling my companions about how Dad always says that when crazy things happen it means you have good stories to tell.  It’s an adventure!  So we had an adventure to remember yesterday walking through the sheets of rain and lakes of sketchy water.  

The streets of Gravatá. But it is only the beginning of the rainy season!

Miracle from this week — I was on the bus from Caruaru to Gravatá during the transfer.  At one point, I was praying for my new area and companion (did not know I would have two!) — that we could be led to the people who were ready for the Gospel, etc.  I found out later that at the same time I was praying that we could be led to the people ready for the Gospel, Sister Centeio and Sister Broadbent were walking down the street.  Suddenly, a man, call him “Danilson,” yelled out to them and asked if they were selling copies of the Book of Mormon.  They explained that we are happy to give free books away (click here for your own free copy).  He had read online about the Book of Mormon and really wanted a copy!  We will visit him today; let’s pray that he will recognize the spirit and that his heart will be open to follow its promptings.  

The Book of Mormon is really special — Helaman 15:7-8 is a scripture that touched me recently about the importance of scripture study. Alma 17:2-3 has the story of people who changed their lives through their scripture study!

As you might imagine, I am super excited about the announcement this week [about a rule change allowing missionaries to contact their families on their weekly preparation days].  We called our District Leader that morning because we had marked someone for baptism and he said “Have you guys talked to any members recently?  You should, you will like it!”  We convinced him to tell us about it, but the cellular started having troubles with sound.  We could tell something exciting happened but couldn’t hear to figure out what!  Finally he started half-yelling in English — Sister Broadbent and I were stopped in the middle of the street huddled around a tiny cellphone and I was trying to translate for Sister Centeio — it was difficult because we were all so excited!  It was really hard to wait until today to talk to you guys.  We kept imagining what it was like at home — I bet Facebook in Utah was exploding.  

Yes, an avocado!

I had thought about how cool it would be if the rules changed, but I didn’t expect it to actually happen!  I should get to do a video call with you guys soon!  I was all mentally prepared to wait until Mother’s Day.  [Update: Sister Faulconer attempted a video call Monday afternoon, but the LAN house (internet cafe) didn’t have a working camera or speakers, so it was simply texting with enthusiastic waving at the camera on the part of her family at home in Utah. We hope for the miracle of sound and video in the weeks to come!].

Pancakes for Valentines day — I made these with self-rising flour and something that might be baking powder or baking soda and chocolate drink mix and some other stuff!  Topped with fresh coconut from a member. 

Goodbye to Palmares

I’m being transferred! I’m very sad to leave Sister Arce and Palmares but a new area will be an adventure. I will be in Gravatá, which is still in the interior. Apparently it is a big touristy city — I will have to wait until after our email time to ask Sister Arce more questions. Hopefully the transfer will go smoothly — last transfer my transfer instructions had the wrong times written and the bus was slow and I ended up waiting in the bus station for several hours — it is a little crazy because you travel without a cellphone, but luckily people are willing to lend cellphones if you need to call someone.

Recently we have started hearing frevo in the streets. People are practicing for Carnaval. I do not know much about frevo but it seems to be characterized by a very strong rhythm on drums that is catchy (and quite loud — we can hear it from far away). People dress up in bear costumes and say rhymes asking for money.

Today we went to a museum housed in an old train station. It is about a famous writer and actor Hermilo Borbo Filho and the history of Palmares. Very small but cool. I learned that in Brazil, slaves lived together on the dark, crowded first floor (senzala) of the houses and the plantation owners would live on the second floor. Apparently lots of slaves escaped and would start their own communities called Quilombos. They would stop sometimes in Palmares but the big gathering place was Alagoas.

This week we had some really special experiences with the Book of Mormon. People who read the Book of Mormon receive answers to their prayers and feel the spirit a lot faster than people who don’t. We have one investigator “Mariana” who is 18-ish years old, who I met asking directions. On our second visit with her, we found out that she visited our church once a long time ago. She said she felt a special feeling there and didn’t want to leave. She told God that one day she would go back — maybe a long time in the future (the church is not close to her house) but she would go back. This week we went back and found out that she took the Book of Mormon to school with her to read. She doesn’t like reading but she loves the Book of Mormon! She said she felt like some of the verses were written just for her. One of her friends asked her about it, read part, and started crying because she said she knew it was true!

The same day we visited “Nedna” who we almost dropped because she still hadn’t prayed about whether Joseph Smith was a prophet, if the Book of Mormon is true, hadn’t read the part we left marked for her, etc. But last week she read the part we marked for her (but didn’t pray), so we didn’t drop her. But she still didn’t seem very interested, and then her granddaughter was born and we didn’t see her for two weeks, so we were planning how we could make one last attempt at explaining the importance of praying and reading the scriptures. We showed up, and everything seemed normal, but then we asked her if she had prayed. She said, “Well, I have to tell you that I got an answer!” I was surprised. Apparently she remembered to pray and read the Book of Mormon despite all the chaos with her granddaughter’s birth (a miracle — we had invited her over several visits to read and pray, and she didn’t), and then she lost her cellphone in the middle of they city and asked God to help her get it back if the Book of Mormon was true. Someone found her cell phone when her ex-husband was calling her, answered, and arranged to bring the cell phone to him. This is apparently very rare here and she said she knew it was an answer from God. Note — I do not recommend just praying to God asking for a sign to know if the Book of Mormon is true. You have to read the Book of Mormon, pray, etc., if you want an answer — you receive a testimony after the trial of your faith (Ether 12:6) and the scriptures are very clear about the perils of requiring signs from God. Also, God responds to people in different ways.

Both of those experiences happened right after we ended a fast to help our investigators receive answers — it was special. It is so important to put in effort to receive answers from God — diligently read the Book of Mormon, pray wholeheartedly and go to church! We have stopped visiting several different people because they said they didn’t feel vontade (will, the urge, inclined) to read the scriptures/pray/go to church. They all said that if God sent them a feeling of vontade one day they would go to church etc, but they weren’t feeling it then. The devil doesn’t want you to pray, read, or go to church (the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray 2 Nephi 32:8), so if you wait for a feeling of vontade to do these things you will probably wait your whole life. We also have an investigator who is wonderful but keeps getting sucked into YouTube videos about the wonderful things the Church does instead of reading the Book of Mormon or praying. The documentaries are great, and now he has a lot of respect for church programs, but the scriptures are inspired books written by the power of God to guide us — YouTube videos are not.

Love you all!

New Companion: Sister Arce

Sister Arce and Sister Faulconer with the hills of Palmares in the background.

Oi!

This week has been great.  I love my new companion–Sister Arce from Argentina. She is kind and we are getting along really well.  She has the most beautiful accent.  We worked really hard this week and we are visiting a lot of people who haven’t been visited recently enough.  The other day we walked up 240 steps and a huge number of hills!  Sister Arce has disillusioned me—apparently not all the other areas in our mission have this many hills ;).  Fun fact about her: she is “viciada” [addicted] to “Cremosinho” a creamsicle sort of yogurt frozen thing that comes in plastic bags.  You bite off the corner and eat it.  It’s very good. 

Lots of miracles happened this week. I am extremely grateful that we did not get very lost and that I did not terribly mess anything up while showing Sister Arce the area [At home, Sister Faulconer has a reputation for having no sense of direction and getting lost very easily]. We went the wrong direction once or twice but not for very long.  We haven’t been lost and we got to several hard-to-remember places without a hitch!  My memory of places is mais-ou-menos [sometimes better sometimes worse] but nothing that bad has happened and it hasn’t been a big problem.  Definitely a blessing to remember some of the confusing routes to different places.

Also, one of our investigators I thought wasn’t interested said she was going to challenge herself to only smoking tobacco once today.  In the not far distant past she was smoking 28 cigars!  She really wants to change.

Sister Faulconer with new friends from the Palmares branch

I hope you all have an awesome week!  Love from Brazil!

Merry Christmas Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

My skype call [with my family] was wonderful.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that you enjoy New Years.  This transfer, starting Wednesday I will stay in Palmares but I will get a new companion!  I don´t know who it will be yet because they don’t tell us in order to reduce problems with gossip.  I am super excited to get to know a new missionary and work in Palmares together!  I am also super nervous about showing the area to a new missionary.  I have been trying really hard to learn all the directions but it’s a struggle.  I do not have much time today but will send more pictures next week!
Love you all!

Sis. Faulconer’s family waiting for 2018’s most anticipated call

Knight Bus to the São Paulo Temple

Oi familiares e amigos!

I have so much to say this week and less time than usual!  I wasn’t sick for long and I’m totally fine now, so that was a blessing.  This is also the last time I’ll be emailing from the CTM! I’ll be leaving super early Tuesday morning (likely between 2 and 5:45!), driving to the airport, and flying a couple hours to Recife.  I will probably be able to send a very short message when I arrive, but I’ll have to wait until Recife P-day (I don’t know when it is) to read emails and send a real weekly one.

Enlightened Hannah at Mr Cheneys
Sister Faulconer

Things I’m excited for:

1. Teaching the gospel

2. Serving the Lord and the Recife-ans

3. Seeing Recife

4. Speaking Portuguese

5. The possibility of occasionally using a kitchen (instead of cafeteria food)

6. Never playing another game of volleyball

Most days we have 50 minutes for physical activity. I’ve played so much volleyball at the CTM, but it’s still languishing at #2 on the Sports I Dislike Most list after kickball. The CTM has an adequate gym with lovely exercise bikes but unfortunately it is never open.

Reasons I don’t want to leave the CTM yet:

1. I will miss my companion (she’s going to Natal)

2. Portuguese

3. Also Portuguese

4. Portuguese (and teaching real live people)

Hannah and Sister Hale at Mr Cheneys--October 3
Sister Faulconer and Sister Hale

It’s difficult to see my progress in Portuguese sometimes, because I constantly hear myself making mistakes.  But I know progress is happening. On August 28th, I knew about 20 Portuguese words and Portuguese was utterly indecipherable.  Today (thanks be to God) I know a few thousand words, I can sorta have conversations, kinda teach missionary lessons, and Portuguese is sometimes mostly understandable and sometimes only partly indecipherable.  That may change with the Recife-ish accent, but God willing, I know I will understand it eventually. Right now having conversations in Portuguese is thrilling — it’s so exciting to be able to communicate in a different language! Sometimes I understand the words people say but don’t interpret the tenses correctly or get confused by words with multiple meanings.

This week our pretend investigator asked if me and my companion would baptize and I said yes!  I thought he asked if we had been baptized. Hopefully now that I’ve made that mistake here I won’t make it in real life in Recife!

In other news, one of our two instructors was abruptly reassigned, (they needed his language skills for the Help Desk) so we got a new instructor for our last week.  We were all sad because our old instructor was great. We spend about 3 hours a day with each instructor, so we get to know them a little bit. Our new instructor seems nice.

Aboard the Knight Bus
Sister Faulconer imagines a possible ride on the Knight Bus in Leavesden, England four years ago.

See the Knight Bus in action on YouTube

For you Harry Potter fans out there, I strongly recommend Brazilian traffic for a taste of The Knight Bus experience. Last week we drove to the São Paulo Temple in a van, and it was so similar to the Knight Bus that I expected the cross + rosary hanging from the van’s mirror to become a shrunken head at any moment. We zoomed around, stopping centimeters behind bumpers, driving on the wrong side of the road to pass, accelerating through tiny gaps, rapidly switching lanes and swerving around semis in bumper-to-bumper traffic — it was an experience. Dad, your right foot will get a lot of exercise on the invisible brake here. Mom, I hope you visit Brazil; you will love it. But find a good TV show to watch so you never look out a car window!

Hannah at the São Paulo temple
Sister Faulconer (second from left) with her mission district at the São Paulo temple.

*Easily nauseated people, skip the following paragraph*

One of the elders in our van threw up during the van ride! He was slightly sick to begin with, but the swerves definitely exacerbated his problems. Another nauseating moment happened yesterday. One day after the MTC President said “leave childhood things outside” about twenty times in different meetings, two elders had a jello-eating contest, complete with cheering crowd. The winner ate 22. The loser ate 20 and threw up (purple) right outside the cafeteria door!