Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"So many special people here...!"

Us and Viviane and Anna Beatriz at our "goodbye party"!
Hi everybody! 
How is everyone doing? I hope all is going well and that you all had a great week! Our week here was great! It was the last one of the transfer and it was sad to see this transfer fly by so fast but all is well! Last night we got the transfer calls, and as expected I am being transferred! BUT, I am just being transferred to a different area in our same zone! I am not going far away at all and I am staying in the same stake! That means I will see everyone at Stake Conference in a couple weeks! The area I will be going to is called São Cristovão, but it is part of the Mussurunga ward! We have two sisters in our ward too! My new companion will be Elder Estevam!!!!! I am so excited as he was one of my Zone Leaders this last transfer so I got to know him a bit! It also means I will be serving with him as a Zone Leader. I am really nervous for the new challenges and adventures this transfer will bring in a new area and with new responsibilities, but I am excited too! I know that through a lot of prayer, fasting, and hard work the Lord will shape me into the missionary that I need to be to help my zone! Lots of changes! 

Our week was great and we had some awesome experiences! Wednesday night we went to visit a man named Edson! He is the brother of a member in our ward here in Imbuí. Edson showed up at church the week before with his sister, who is a member, and he had a great time! She just invited him out of nowhere, apparently, and after years of rejected invites, he finally accepted! So at church, of course, we marked to go visit him! Wednesday night was the time! Edson is about 45 and is married to a woman named Claudia! When we got there they let us in and we got to know them a little bit! Claudia seemed a little skeptical of us and just stood a little distance off in the kitchen listening at the beginning! We started to teach the first lesson about the Restoration, and it was so cool to see how Claudia started paying more attention. We found out that she goes to a different church every week and has heard a lot of bad things about our church so I think that is why she was a little skeptical at the beginning. I had the privilege of teaching the part of the lesson about the First Vision. I felt the Spirit so strongly as I recited the First Vision for the million-eth time and I absolutely love that I feel the Spirit so strongly every time! It has been a bunch of little spiritual experiences that I can remember and those have made my testimony stronger every time! It was so interesting to see Claudia get interested as the lesson went on! By the time I was reciting the First Vision both her and Edson we focused and wanted to know what happened next! The Spirit was so so strong and they both loved the message and committed to reading the Book of Mormon and praying about all of it! It was great and they look promising for the next Elders to come in and continue teaching them!

Thursday morning we had interviews with President Bangerter! It was great to see and learn from him and Sister Bangerter, who was also there! When my companion was being interviewed I went and talked with Sister Bangerter! We talked about General Conference and our favorite parts. It was great and I love to see how everyone got different personal revelations out of conference! Sister Bangerter also gave me some great advice on how to study the Book of Mormon! In my interview with President Bangerter we talked a lot about helping people thru the last step before baptism. I thought it was interesting that we talked a lot about the fundamentals and that having our investigators do the simple stuff is what will get them to baptism. We talked a lot about prayer and how they need to be praying correctly and specifically for things. It was a really great help and afterwards I was thinking about it and thought how it applies to us too, those of us who have already accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ and been baptized. Just like the simple, fundamental things help our investigators get baptized, it is those same things that help grow our testimonies too so we can stay strong in the Church. Daily prayer and scripture study are the most common answers to our questions because they are the BEST answers! We all need to do that; new member or whole-life member! 

On Friday morning we had Elder and Sister Briggs come over to our house. They are the couple missionaries that are in charge of the houses in the mission! They are so awesome and I love them. They have already been here in the mission for almost a year. I remember the first time I met them because Sister Briggs was funny. Anyway, it was great to have them and they complimented us on our clean house! (mom that story was for you! ;-)

Saturday night we had a really cool lesson with Thailane! Usually teaching her is a little difficult because of the setting! She lives with a lot of family in her house and it is usually very noisy and busy there so these last few weeks we have had trouble feeling the spirit strongly in the lessons with her. We had been praying that we could have a lesson that was a bit more peaceful and easier to feel the spirit and the Lord answered our prayers! Saturday we went over and she was there, with her mom Michelle, who is an inactive member, and grandpa Fransisco who is a member and has returned to church recently. Just them! So we had an awesome lesson with them where the spirit was felt really strongly! We all read 1 Nephi chapter 8. We gave Thailane a piece of paper and told her to draw Lehi's dream as we went through the chapter! So we all read together and she drew. At the end we had a very spiritual conversation. We asked all 3 of them where they thought they were on the drawing. Fransisco put himself on the pathway getting to the tree of life! We agreed with that one as he has been coming back to church and is doing awesome! Then Michelle who is an inactive member put herself off the path but said she was coming back slowly! Then Thailane. She put herself on the path to the Tree of Life but a little further back and in the mist of darkness. After everyone drew themselves on the paper I asked, "Do you all want to feel the love of God? Do you want to taste the fruit?" They all responded yes and then I asked, "So then what do you need to do to get there?" Thailane said, "be baptized." It was so cool and sooo spiritual! We then testified of the things we had talked about and I was feeling the Spirit SO strong! Like a lot! I was speaking 100% from the Spirit. We ended the lesson with a prayer that Thailane gave and it was awesome! I hope that that lesson was the turning point for her! 

Suely and Reginaldo are doing great too! We had a tough time meeting up with them this week but they are really doing great! Excited about the progress that is happening and it makes me very happy to see how they have changed! They were at church on Sunday and they seemed so happy there together and it made me so happy and grateful for the opportunity that I had to be able to get to know those wonderful people and help them come closer to Christ. And I will still be able to accompany them a little because I will be staying close! 

Sunday was a little sad because I was going around saying goodbye to everyone here in the area. Even though we didn't get the real transfer news until Sunday night, I knew I was leaving as President Bangerter had told me in our interview on Thursday.

Anyway, as we went around so I could say goodbye to the members and investigators I think the hardest was saying bye to Anna Beatriz and Viviane! They threw a little “going away” party and we talked and played a few games with them and Anna Beatriz’s boyfriend.  When we left Anna goes, "wait stop don't leave yet!" She ran into her room and grabbed her Book of Mormon and came out with it. The week after they were baptized Anna made these really awesome book covers for her Book of Mormon and  one for Viviane's too! Everyone in the ward was so impressed and it was just awesome! So she came out of her room with her Book of Mormon cover and all. Then she takes off the cover she made and hands it to me. I was confused and said, "Umm what is this for?" Anna goes, "It is for your Mom! I want you to give it to her as a remembrance of us and as a thank you for sending you here!" Man it was so cool! Mom I forgot to take a picture of it but you now have a Portuguese Book of Mormon cover. You'll have to wait get it when I get home, haha. After we left I was sad but I know that I will see Viviane and Anna Beatriz again for sure, especially since I stayed in the Stake. 

I am so grateful for my time here in Imbuí! I remember how nervous I was to come to Salvador and serve here, but now I can't believe how fast my time in this area passed! I was here for almost 5 months! That is crazy! I grew to love this ward and the people that I met. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for putting me in the pathway of so many special people here in Imbuí! I will never forget my time in this wonderful place! 

So that was our week! Like I said earlier, a LOT is going to change this week but I am excited and know that if we trust in God, all will work out! 

I love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
The moon looked so cool this week! 
Helene. She is the cutest little thing and I may miss her more than anyone in this area! :-) 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

"I know all these things to be true."

Suely and Reginaldo and their combined family at church on Sunday
Hello everyone!! 

How are you all doing? I hope all is well with you guys! Everything here is going great! These weeks are flying by and we are working hard and having fun! I love being a missionary! There isn't anything better. It just makes you so happy! 

So this week was good! It started with a great Tuesday! Tuesday night we went to visit Reginaldo and Suely! When we got there Reginaldo was a little confused. Last week we did splits/exchanges. If I haven’t explained this before this is when my companion and I have more than one appointment at the same time so we split and each take another ward member to our appointment with us and last week this happened so I didn’t visit them, my companion did. Anyway, last week my companion, Elder Tavares and our ward mission leader, visited Suely and Reginaldo and talked to them about marriage. Reginaldo asked me when I got there why I didn't come to the lesson about marriage. He seemed a little mad about it and I was worried and promised him that whether it was me there, or the member, we would have talked about marriage and that him and Suely need to get married. He seemed better after he and I talked and we then had a great lesson with them! We read Moroni 7 with them and wow, I forgot how AMAZING that chapter of the Book of Mormon is! We all were feeling the Spirit so strong and it was awesome! We then had a great discussion about the Book of Mormon and the things that we learned watching General Conference. It was great and Reginaldo is progressing well! And Suely… WOW!! It is amazing to see how much she has changed. She is going 100% back into the Church. It is just awesome! It really humbled me to see because I realized how little we do and how much God prepares people and places the Spirit in their lives so they are ready when we come. All we do is present the eternal truths of the Gospel and the rest is the Spirit. It is really cool and I was thinking a lot about that the rest of the week. 

Wednesday we had an interesting visit with Regina, the lady who has been going to church for about 2 years and still isn't baptized. According to her, she could be baptized at any time, so we challenged her to be baptized on the 7th. So earlier when we had talked about that she had accepted the challenge and said she wanted to pray about. Wednesday we got there and she was asking a lot of questions about the actual baptism. We talked a lot about it and got her pretty excited! She was ready and excited! Then I had the prompting to make sure she understands and is living all the commandments so we started to review them a little bit and we found a problem. We started talking about the Word of Wisdom and found out that she drinks coffee everyday! We explained about the blessings she would get by obeying this commandment! She kept saying that it will be easy for her to give it up and had a good attitude about it! Then we asked her to commit to stop drinking coffee. She said, "Wait! Like today?" We said yes and she realized that to be baptized you actually have to be living the commandments. I was hoping she would be completely on board and use her baptism as motivation to help her give up coffee so she could get baptized sooner. Sadly she ended up not taking the news so well and became angry and sad. So for now her baptism is postponed. We still have faith and know she will one day be baptized. The good news is that even after being disappointed that she couldn’t be baptized and continue to drink coffee, she still came came to church on Sunday and everything! We are hopeful! 

Friday we had an awesome night! We had scheduled a family night with Thailane! The Young Women's President was there with her daughter and it was awesome! Our main purpose was to help Thailane get more involved with the members by getting to know them better so she can feel more comfortable after she is baptized! She was so close to becoming a member at the beginning of this transfer but got a little scared off for some reason. We were really praying that this would help her feel better and get her to church again as it has been a while since she came! Our ward's YW president is the best! I have so much respect for her and she has such a nice spirit when she talks! She gave a message about faith using some Bible stories and it was awesome! She then shared her conversion story with Thailane, which was PERFECT!! She talked about how she had been the same age as Thailane when she joined the church. She explained that the thought she had when the missionaries challenged her to baptism was, "what is there to lose?" I liked that! With the Gospel we won't lose anything so we can give it our all and in the end instead of losing, we gain eternal life! It was fantastic and Thailane was at church on Sunday! We are going to visit her and her family tonight! 

Saturday we had another great lesson with Reginaldo and Suely! We read Mosiah 13 together and talked about the 10 commandments! We figured that we, with Reginaldo, since we have lots of time while we wait for their wedding day in December, can take things slower. We decided it will be best to finish teaching him the commandments, then just focus on the Book of Mormon and with time he will start to change without us asking him a ton. The same strategy we had with Suely! That seems to be the most effective way to teach and help some people I think. Teach them at a pace they understand, let them internalize when they learn and slowly, over time,  the spirit changes their hearts. We are really excited with the progress that they are both having and the ward is like really excited for the idea of having a wedding haha! It is funny and everyone is willing to pitch in! I love to see how with some people, timing is different than with others! It’s all in the Lord’s timing.

We also had a great visit with Viviane this week! She is doing great and LOVED Conference! Anna is doing great too! Viviane is already in 2 Nephi on her personal study of the Book of Mormon! We went to answer some questions that Viviane had about things she heard during conference! The best part of our visits with them now is that every time Viviane tells us of some missionary experience she had that week! It is so cool! So this week she was really worried about one of her patients and wanted to help her patient not be so sad all the time! So she has been helping this lady with her problems by using Gospel Principles! It is so amazing and it just makes me so happy to see them sharing the gospel now! I love those feelings! 

Sunday was a great day and I bore my testimony since I might be leaving this area soon, as the transfer is next week! I talked about how much I love the Lord, that I know the Book of Mormon is true and how as a missionary I get to bare my testimony everyday and from doing that my testimony has grown stronger. I talked about how I know we have church leaders who are called of God and the messages they shared with us at General Conference are the exact things that our Heavenly Father wants us to hear at this exact moment! I know all these things to be true! 

I love this work! I love my Savior! I love you all! 

Have a great week!
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

District Meeting this week 

Our Bishop and his wife. He's the BEST!!! I love them! 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"I love being a missionary!"

 Me and Elder Estevam
Hi Everyone! 
I hope you are all doing well! This week was great for us only to be capped off by General Conference, which was AMAZING! We got to watch all the sessions and I absolutely LOVED it all! I will talk a little more about it later but wanted to start off by expressing how amazing it was for us! 
Tuesday was a great day! We did a lot of contacts and we found some awesome people! I think it is so interesting that so many people will stop to talk to us! It makes me so grateful to our Heavenly Father that He created so many amazing people! It is fun doing contacts and getting to know new people.
Tuesday night we had Ward Council and it was fantastic too! It is just the best to see how happy a ward is when they focus on missionary work! At the meeting we went through all of our major investigators with the ward leaders and planned how we can help them be integrated! It was so great to see the leaders so ready and willing to help us with the work! I love the people in this ward here in Imbuí! They are the best! 
Wednesday we had a really cool experience at a lesson! So the Sunday before this lady named Andrea had come to church! We had never seen her before but she is the mom of a 12 year old girl who got baptized about 6 months ago! They are neighbors with some members and that is how the girl got to know the church! Anyway, on Sunday I went up to Andrea and got to know her a bit and marked to go visit her at her house during the week! So Wednesday afternoon we did and it was just the best! She is a single mom with 5 kids and when we got there her 14 year old son was there too. We got to know them a little better and learned about Andrea's story! She has had a really difficult life. But we learned that about 5 years ago she was really sick and that during that time her neighbors (the members of the ward) were in the process of joining the Church. Because of that she got to know the Elders who were teaching them a bit. These Elders would go over to her house multiple times a week to help her and clean her house and play with her kids since she couldn't as she was really sick! She is still so grateful for those Elders and even teared up a bit as she was telling us the story. It was really sweet. It made me reflect on my mission to see if I have been able to have an impact on someone like that? I really hope so! We ended up having a great first lesson with Andrea and she loved it! She really liked Church on Sunday too and is excited to learn more and go to church again! We were blessed to find her and we are looking forward to her future! 
Thursday I think I had one of the coolest moments of my whole mission so far. The Elders in Brotas, which is part of my district, needed me to do a baptismal interview so Thursday late afternoon we headed over to their area. The lady I was going to interview is named Percilia and is 87 years old. Yes you read that right 87!!! The elders had told me a ton about her and that she was amazing but I still wasn't ready for our meeting with her. Percilia is one of the sweetest people I have ever met! She was waiting for us at the front gate when we got there and when she saw us started saying, " Oh gloria!" and things like "thank you Lord."  She is I think not even 4 and a half feet tall but has a HUGE spirit! I got to do the interview and felt such joy the entire time! It was crazy! I left with my cheeks aching because I had been smiling so much! I felt the Spirit so strongly as she bore her testimony to me about the Church and it was just indescribable! Percilia was baptized on Saturday and is excited to go to the temple next year haha! It made my testimony grow once again that the Lord really prepares and preserves people to hear His gospel! 
Friday night we had a lot of important visits all at the same time so we did a split with some of the men in our ward. I went with our Elders Quorum President, Helio and Elder Tavares went with our Ward mission leader! First to report on what Elder Tavares and his companion experienced… So they went to visit Reginaldo and Suely and apparently it was amazing! They taught about eternal families and marriage and in the end set a wedding date! It is a little far away but it is still a goal! The date is actually my birthday, December 17th! So that was exciting news and we are really excited for them and hope that they can stay true in that goal! The only downside would be that I wouldn't be here for it but that is okay! 
Helio and I went to visit Regina! The lady who is an eternal investigator! So we went to see how she was doing and if she had been reading and praying to know if she needed to be baptized! She said she had been and that she had been feeling a good feeling during all of it but was still unsure. We decided to watch the Restoration video with her. Man it was so spiritual. I have watched that video more than 10 times I think but Friday night I felt the Spirit stronger than any other time. It was so so so strong. After the video ended we all sat there in silence for about 1 minute because no one wanted to talk and disturb the peace. We then had a great discussion with Regina about the Restoration and how she felt. It ended with her accepting our baptismal challenge for either this Saturday or the next, depending on her work schedule! It was so great! Now we just have to hope that she sticks with this desire and doesn't back out! 
So the rest of the week was Conference! Both Saturday and Sunday we got to watch conference! There was even an English classroom just for me! And I wasn't alone! My LZs (Zone Leaders) who are wanting to learn to speak English better, both stayed and watched with me! And at the last session on Sunday we had two young women from the LZs ward join us too since they speak english! I’ll definitely be listening to it again and this time in Portuguese but the first time thru I like to hear it in English. Anyway, I really loved conference! I had a lot of questions answered and felt the Spirit so strong throughout the sessions. I especially was touched by President Nelson's talk on Saturday. The Book of Mormon is the key to everything! He testified of that and so do I! We need to read it everyday! 
Anyways that was my week! I love you guys so much and I love being a missionary! There is nothing better! Have a great week! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Me and Elder Barbosa 
Our zone at conference in between sessions!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"I sure do love this gospel"

NEW SHOES for the boy who walks everywhere! 

Hey Everyone!

How are you all?! I hope all is well with you guys! Things here were great this week! Just a normal, spirt-filled week as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ! I love being a missionary! It is truly the Lord's work! This week was a good one and the work here is progressing nicely! I hope that I can write well so that you all can feel the Spirit and joy of the experiences we had this week!

Tuesday we went to visit Reginaldo and Suely. I seriously can't say enough how amazing and in shock I still am about the transformation of Reginaldo. Out of nowhere he just started listening to us and now is transforming in to a disciple of Jesus Christ. Tuesday we taught in more detail about the Book of Mormon to him and Suely. It was great as I was able to bear testimony of the Book of Mormon. Suely also bore her testimony about the Book of Mormon. It was so special for me to see her expressing her love for the book that is helping her change her life. She shared how much she feels love coming from the pages of the Book of Mormon. That was something that stuck with me a little bit as I thought about it. All the authors of the Book of Mormon from Nephi to Moroni had such a love for the Savior and they really put their love and testimonies into the words. That is why we can feel such a power from the record. It bears testimony of Christ. It was a great lesson and we are excited with the progression of Reginaldo and Suely! Now we just need to help Suely's kids get back. All 3 of them are baptized and the oldest is 20 and youngest 10. We talked a lot about the example that Suely and Reginaldo could give and in time, the kids will start to have that desire to come back to church too! We are praying! 

Wednesday we had a really nice experience too! An older lady in our ward told us about a friend that she had and told us where this friend lived. The lady in our ward told us that her friend had lost her husband and one of her kids in the last 2 years or so in unrelated incidents and that she could need some help. So Wednesday we went by this referill and met Janet! (Shoutout to Nana). Janet is a wonderful woman! She invited us on the first contact and we proceeded to teach her the lesson of the Restoration! About halfway through the lesson one of her friends showed up and she invited her in to listen to the message too! Both Janet and her friend are Catholic and had a lot of questions about some of the things we were teaching but all in all it was a nice visit! We felt a nice Spirit as we taught her about the Restoration and I thought it was interesting to note that when I started to cite the First Vision she got really quiet and started to truly think for the first time about all that we were saying. It was a special moment and this week we are going to pass by again and talk about the Plan of Salvation to see if she really is interested in our Church! 

Wednesday night we had another fun experience! Our ward mission leader, Marival, set up a family night at his house and it was so awesome! There were about 30 people there in total. 8 of them were investigators and had a couple of less-actives there too! It was a great activity! One of the Irmãs in our ward gave a great message about the Holy Ghost and helping people. She told us during the lesson to think of one person that we love a lot and want the best for, and that when we thought of that person, to go and look in the small shoe box she had and not say anything to anyone. Just look and go back to your seat. So I did and when I looked in the box I saw myself! There was a mirror. She then explained about how we need to make sure that we have the Spirit and make sure we are spiritually okay first before we try to help others! I thought it was a great lesson! We also had a funny little game afterwards where everyone got to have fun and laugh and still feel the Spirit! 

Thursday we got to teach Reginaldo and Suely about the Plan of Salvation and it was a special lesson. I always feel so good and happy when we teach the Plan of Salvation. It makes sense that it is also referred to as the Plan of Happiness. Reginaldo enjoyed the lesson and thought it was different than anything he had ever heard before and said that it "answered a lot of my questions." So that was awesome! 

Thursday night we also got to teach Thailane! She is doing great too but this week we didn't get to see her much because she was busy with school and her birthday this weekend! But we did get to see her Thursday and talk a little bit about the Restoration again and see how she is feeling about baptism. She said she is still a little hesitant but praying a lot about it so we will see. She is a great young woman and really wants to follow God! She just needs to put one foot in front of the other and trust God! Her faith is being tested but we are confident she will pass the test! 

Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Brotas and do the interview of a little guy named Gabriel! He is 10 years old and so awesome! The interview was so easy because he knows it all! He has a testimony and wants to be baptized so bad! The problem is that his mom won't let him get baptized! After the interview me and Elder Gil and Elder Lima talked to her for 20 minutes trying to help her understand that Gabriel is ready! She is a tough one. But she said she would think about it this week. So he was planning on being baptized this last Saturday but wasn't. It was sad, especially after we left. He saw us leaving his house and ran up and said, "Did she sign it?!?!" We shook our heads and he got this sad look on his face and said, "ahh man!" It was tough but we have faith that the Lord will work on her and she will let Gabriel get baptized! 

Saturday we had another great experience! So there is this lady in our ward named Regina. Regina got to know the Church through a man in our ward named Jose Alesho. I have already written about him in preivious emails! But Regina has been going to church for TWO YEARS!!! And is NOT BAPTIZED!! It is crazy. She is what we call "membro seco" or "dry member" haha! But in all my time here I have wanted to and tried to visit her and she doesn't let us. These past few weeks she wasn't at church. She finally came back last week and it seemed like she realized she was missing the church not going for a few weeks. So Saturday we passed by her house and she was home. We went in and had a nice visit! We got to know her a little better and then to be direct I just straight up asked her why she hasn't been baptized yet. She gave an excuse and didn't really know what her answer was haha. Then we challenged her to baptism! She has already heard the discussions 3 times or more and is practically a member! So she could be baptized anyday! She accepted the invitation to read and pray to God to see if now was her time to be baptized. I have a feeling He will tell her it is! ;) We will go by this week again to see! 

Sunday was a great day and we did some visits with our High Priests group leader! It was awesome! 

So that was our week! I sure do love this gospel. Jesus is the Christ and the head of this church. I am so excited to be able to listen to our Latter Day Prophets and Apostles this week at General Conference! I hope you all have a great week! I love you all! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
District Meeting

Monday, September 18, 2017

"I just love this work so much, it's crazy!"

Two Zone Zone Conference with only 5 missionaries (one not pictured) who are from the US! 

Hi Everybody, 
How are you all? I hope everyone had a fantastic week that was filled with adventures and happiness! Our week here in Salvador Brasil was another great one! We saw many miracles and felt the Spirit daily. You can ask for nothing more as a missionary. I just love this work so much, it's crazy! 

So last Monday night we went to visit Thailane! We taught her about the commandments and it was a great lesson! The coolest part was at the end when we asked her if she would commit to living the commandments we had taught her about. We got such a frank answer from her, I just loved it. She said, "Yes, of course! It's all easy stuff." I was a little shocked but then thought, "Wow what a great answer! haha." If we all could have that attitude I think everyone would be better off! Keeping the commandments IS easy! We just have to think like that and then it will be! Thailane is awesome. More on her later. 

Wednesday morning we had a fantastic Zone Conference with the two zones from Salvador again! It was a great conference and I always love them! A few people don't like them because we are seated doing a lot of listening and taking notes but I actually really love it! I feel like I learn so much and get so strengthened as a missionary! One of the things that I liked the most from the conference was what the Assistants talked about. The first thing they did when they got up was write this on the board: "V.I.P.T.O.D." Just to let you know that acronym doesn't mean anything in Portuguese so everyone was confused. The AP’s then said maybe it will make more sense in English and wrote this: "L.I.V.E." I had not idea what it stood for. They explained in English it means "LIttle Victories Everyday" and it Portuguese "VIctorias Pequenas Todos ODias." We went on to talk about how we can all have our little victories everyday and that after a whole day of little victories we will have won the battle! It was really cool and we talked about little victories with things as simple as getting up and making your bed. It was a really great conference and I got lots of pictures afterwards as well. 

Wednesday night we went to visit Thailane again and this was supposed to be a big lesson because we needed to really see if she was ready to be baptized Saturday! We went and found out she was still really nervous about baptism. After a long talk with her we figured out that she was worried she would go inactive after her baptism. What followed was a immensely spiritual conversation about repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was perfect as we got to testify of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ and she understood. But she still wanted to postpone the baptism and we decided that was for the best! So we are hoping this week goes well with her! 

Thursday we visited with Suely and had a great visit! She is still progressing like crazy and is a whole new person from when I met her! Thursday I asked her if I could talk about a specific topic. She asked, "What do you want to talk about?" I replied with another question. "What were the two things you said we couldn't talk about if we visited you?" "Coffee and getting married." "Exactly" I said, "and coffee already fixed itself without us saying a word so I think I have permission now to talk about marriage" Haha!! It was a great visit! She knows she needs to get married and she really wants to go to the temple, but that she has to get married to the man she is living with first. Suely said a lot depends on Reginaldo, the guy, and he doesn't really want anything to do with the church or getting married. It was a great lesson to be able to start the conversation with her and we are praying a ton for them! 

Friday night we had a great experience with Thailane and her family! She lives with Fransisco, her grandpa, who is a member and is coming back to church too! We read a chapter from the Book of Mormon with them then we taught them how to do family prayer! It was so cool! President Bangerter had talked about that at the zone conference so we got to put it into practice and the Spirit was so strong as we all kneeled in that living room with Fransisco, Thailane, and the rest of the family while Fransisco prayed! It was so cool! Families are essential to God's plan! Remembering that is key! 

Saturday was a GREAT day! In the morning we got to go visit Viviane and Anna Beatriz! They were way busy the whole week so it was the first time we saw them all week! They are doing great like usual! Viviane is almost done with 1 Nephi. We watched the Joseph Smith movie with them and it was great! They were both a little shocked how tough it was for the pioneers of the Church. But we all felt the Spirit so strong! 

Saturday afternoon a miracle happened! We went ot visit Suely again. When we showed up Reginaldo, Suely's boyfriend who she has lived with for about 5 years, was there. We see him all the time and try to teach him but he always makes an excuse and leaves. But as we started to teach Suely he didn't leave!! Suely had a sweet smile on her face the whole time so I think she talked to him and asked him to stay! So we changed our lesson to be about the Restoration of the Gospel and it was great! Reginaldo committed to praying and reading and going to Church! And Sunday HE CAME TO CHURCH!!!! He has totally opened up to us out of nowhere! It was so amazing! Miracles are real! He loved church too! I hope he continues to progress!

Sunday afternoon was great as half of our ward showed up for a great activity! We all split into groups and went around a specific neighborhood in our area and looked for less active members! Our ward has about 1000 members on the records and our count on Sundays is usually around 130 so we’ve got A LOT of work to do! It was great to see the members get the missionary spirit more in their lives!

So I think that is my week! I love you guys! I love this gospel and it brings more happiness into lives than any other earthly thing! I KNOW that! We can and should live the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a joy that is contagious! I love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
My New Zone Leader- Elder Estevam, one of our new Zone Leaders and one of my new best friends out here. 
Elder Brito, one of the new AP's

Sister German and I, She was in my first zone and in the same zone as me when I was in Conquista and now she is in our zone again. She goes home the next transfer. 

Elder Pereira and I together again-- at least for the moment! 

Monday, September 11, 2017

"Focus on the positive"

Elder Tavares
Hey everybody!!! 

How are you all doing? I hope all is going well! This week was a great one here in Salvador full of change. Well, not the most extreme change for me because I stayed in the same area, but it still was a change because I got a new companion! His name is Elder Tavares! We hit the ground running here and all is going well! We are both excited for the opportunities that this transfer will bring! Elder Tavares has around the same time on his mission as I do, so it is great being with a missionary who really knows what he is doing! He is from Pará, which is a state in the north of Brasil that is next to the Amazon. He is a chill, funny guy and a powerful teacher so we are having a great time and are excited to work here together! This week was a great one so I will try to explain all our adventures and miracles! 

Tuesday morning we left early because my new companion was getting into town. He was actually the Elder that took my place when I left Conquista! So he got to know all those amazing people too. After we met up at the mission office and I grabbed my package (thanks mama:)), we headed to our area! Elder Pereira just got transferred to a different area in our zone so he didn't have far to go. He stayed with us, had lunch at one of the Irma's houses and then headed off to his area with his new companion who came to get him! It was sad to say goodbye to Elder Pereira as we became good buds. I learned a lot from him and we had some great moments together! That kid is going to do great things!
Tuesday night we headed over to the chapel to be a part of ward council and to introduce Elder Tavares to all of the ward leaders! He loves them and they already love him too! I love the ward here so much. One thing that I love about serving a mission is just to see how many amazing people this world has. As much sadness and evil this world can have, genuine people save it. 

We also had an interesting experience with our house this week that started on Tuesday. I learned how to live without power. Like electricity haha. From Tuesday morning to Friday night we were without power. The secretary just hadn't paid our energy bill for 3 months and the company came and shut it down. When he finally paid it after I called and got angry it was the holiday here so we had to wait a day for the guy to come back and give us energy. It isn't the worst thing ever because we aren't home during the day, but getting home to darkness and taking cold showers was not very fun haha. We just got lucky it wasn't summer and not very hot right now. Because to sleep without a fan in the heat would be impossible! But it was for sure a very interesting experience

Anyway, Wednesday we had a great day too. We went to visit Suely and see how she was doing. She hadn't shown up at church the Sunday before and I was a little worried! But we found out that she had gotten really sick Saturday night which was such a bummer and the reason she wasn't able to come to church. Anyway, since we had left the challenge with her to start reading the Book of Mormon on her own, I wanted to see how she was doing. She has been reading and is doing great! I know I talk about this like every week but I LOVE to see how the Book of Mormon can change someone. I will get to that more later but it is just the best thing ever. 

Wednesday night we also went to visit Thailane! She was doing great! We took one of the sisters who is in the Young Women's Presidency to visit her with us and we had an amazing visit! We went in planning to teach about the Plan of Salvation but ended up teaching a different lesson! We talked a lot about the Gospel of Jeus Christ. I love how that happens. How even though we plan to teach one thing, the Spirit guides us to start teaching about a different thing, really focusing on the needs of the investigator! The coolest part is how we don't have to say to our companion, "hey let's switch and teach this lesson." It just happens! It is so cool! Like the scriptures say, if we didn't have the Spirit with us, our teaching would be useless! It would just be a bunch of information that the person wouldn't feel anything special about. But during our lesson we talked a lot about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Thailane still said that she was all committed to the 16th for her baptism so that was a good sign! She is a great girl who really wants to do what is right! She is what we call here "os eleitos!" 

Thursday here in the great country of Brasil was Independence day! I don't think that is what they really call it but that is what it is haha! We had the awesome opportunity to help a lady in our ward build an extension to her house. Yes, we practically are building a house haha. Of course us missionaries are just invited to do the heavy lifting, and the other men in the ward who know how to build this kind of stuff organize everything. But when I say we did the heavy lifting, we really did! We had to shovel dirt and rocks into a wheel barrow and run them up this very steep hill. We did that about 50 times, me and Elder Tavares switching off. Then we went and helped her neighbor real quick take barrels of sand, rocks, and cement up to his house. He lived on the 3rd floor. And we each had to do that 7 times with every material. It was insane haha but a lot of fun. Needless to say, we got home that afternoon pretty tired. And the couple days afterwards we were VERY sore! But I loved it! It felt good to do some heavy lifting. We are going back tomorrow to help finish.

Friday we had an awesome visit with Viviane and Anna Beatriz! They are doing great and Viviane is reading the Book of Mormon a ton! She is already in chapter 19 of 1 Nephi as of Friday! It is crazy! She says she reads at work in between surgeries since she is a doctor. She also said how a ton of people have been asking her about it and she gets to be a missionary too! It is so cool. We had a fun, spiritual lesson as we read a chapter where Anna had stopped. It was cool because Viviane said after, "I read this part a few days ago, but just reading it again, I learned something totally different from what I thought when I read it a few days ago!" It was so cool and both me and Elder Tavares got to bear our testimonies about how the Book of Mormon is true! I loved it! We also talked about General Conference with them that is coming up and they are really excited! We challenged them to do pray about some questions going into to Conference and promised they will get answered! I am excited to do that too. I did it last GC and it was really cool to see how ALL my questions were answered! 

Friday night we had an AMAZING lesson with Thailane. This time we did teach the Plan of Salvation and it was so so so spiritual! We focused a lot on our purpose here on Earth and she loved it. The most spiritual part is always when we talk about Jesus Christ's sacrifice and suffering for us. It like you could physically feel the Spirit in that room. We all definitely learned and grew. At the end Thailane opened up a little and said she felt like she won't be ready for her baptism on the 16th and a whole bunch of her worries. We assured here that she is doing the right thing but to really pray about her baptism. So we are actually going there tonight to see if all will be good. We are hoping this Saturday she can get baptized but if not this week, the week after for sure! I love this work! 

So Saturday night we stopped by Suely's real quick. That thing I talked about with the Book of Mormon having power to change lives is so true. Suely stopped drinking coffee out of nowhere! She did this a couple weeks ago and went 3 days without coffee then went back to drinking and we didn't say anything. As of Saturday she was 6 days without coffee and it was so amazing. Then Sunday at church she asked me to find the Bishop for her. I asked why and she said, "well I have to pay the tithings!" Hahaha! It was a miracle! We have literally said not a WORD about tithing but she felt she needed to pay it. I loved it. 

So that was our week! I love you all so much! This world can be a little negative sometimes so focus on the positive and the world will change! Have a great week!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
Monkey's we saw outside our apartment window. 

Our New Zone