Monday, September 26, 2016

"So Now For Marcelo...."

District Meeting

American Pancakes that Elder Santana wanted to try. He LOVED them! 

Hey Everybody!!

I hope you are all doing good! I pray for you all everyday. This was an AMAZING week for me. I realize I am so blessed. 

Tuesday we had our first "hora do cha." This is an idea my companion Elder Santana came up with. The idea is that members of the ward invite their non-member friends over just to kind of have a snack. In English the name of the activity translates to "Tea Time" but we are obviously not having tea. The purpose is to help members with missionary work and find new people to teach. When we work with the members the work is so much better! During this we just talk normally and get to know everybody. It isn’t like a sit down and listen type of lesson thing. We did this with some members and they invited a woman named Diani. She is a single mom with a 3 year old daughter, Sofia. So we started talking and having good conversation and naturally the conversation turned gospel related. We ended up answering a lot of her questions and we watched the 20 minute video about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. During the video Sofia just started to cry and was really sad. No matter what the mother tried she would not stop fussing. I did not know what to do but it was just really distracting for all of us. Then Elder Santana stopped the video and said we should say a prayer that little Sofia could be happy. So we did and she did not cry the rest of the night after that prayer. After the video we had a really emotional conversation about prayer. The Spirit was so strong. Later in the week we went back and gave her a Book of Mormon and taught her about it. 

Wednesday was great too. We had some miracles happen. We were walking in the street and I was thinking about how we need people to come to church more because the minimum before baptism here is 2 times. Then all of a sudden a lady from the other side of the street called us over. She and her family had taken the lessons from the missionaries a long time ago. They were preparing for baptism at the time AND had already been to church more than 2 times!! But then the Elders who were teaching them got transferred and there was a mix up somewhere and no other missionaries came to see them. So we said we would gladly come teach her and her family again. An awesome miracle; We did go back and found out that her and her husband are not legally married but that they will look into it. So we are still gonna teach them! 

Later that day we were looking for the house of a really promising potential investigator we had found in the streets. We could not find his house. So we stopped and said a prayer. After the prayer we started to walk and this little kid, probably only 2 or 3 yelled "Oi!" at us and just pointed down the road. And about 50 yards away was the guy we were looking for. So cool! I do not know how that little kid knew who we were looking for but it was awesome. 

So now for Marcelo. He got BAPTIZED!!! It was so so so awesome!! He was so happy! As a side note, let me just say that in the pictures we took he looks kind of scary/angry, haha. I don’t know why cause I promise he was excited and smiling all day. The baptism was at 2:30 in the afternoon and when we got to the church at 1:20 he was already there outside waiting for us. So obviously he was pretty excited. My worry of a no show was gone! I had the opportunity to be the one to baptize him and it was amazing! Being able to see him so clean and happy after he was baptized made me truly happy. I felt the Spirit the whole time. And I did not mess up the words when I performed the Baptism! My companion said baptisms are like a recharge for missionaries and boy he is right. I want to do it again! I will never forget that experience. 

It sounds like the week at home went good! I am happy to hear about Annie and the Triple Threat girls. That has always been a blessing and something we will never forget about how Annie never played Basketball on Sundays. She’s a stud. Also sounds like all the kids are doing well!! I realized the reason I love p-day and the updates so much is because when I left I was really scared that I would miss so much. But when I get the updates it kind of feels like I am not missing as much!

I love the sports updates. I didn’t bring any Broncos ties but I do have that one blue and orange one and I might happen to have worn it every Sunday in the field but who knows ;)!

The pics are from the baptism, our district meeting, and the American pancakes that Elder Santana wanted to try and make and he did and they were so good. We had them like 3 days in a row. And the purple shirt guy is Samuel the new Elders Quorum President. He is hilar!

So that was my week. This church is true. The happiness I feel, and those we teach feel, shows me everyday how awesome this work is. I love it!

I love you all!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

PS- This week please pray that we can find families to teach AND that I will be able to understand conference in Portuguese. J

Monday, September 19, 2016

I Can't Get Too Excited Yet!

Elder and Sister Dias (an Area Authority Seventy in Brazil and his wife.)

Hey Everybody! 

This week seemed to fly by for me! It is already Monday again what the heck? Today is also the 2 month mark of me out on my mission!! It is hard to believe I have already been gone for 2 months but at the same time it feels like it has been like a year. Difficult to explain!

Updates on some stuff:
Tuesday we could not find our investigator Natalia so we were sad. But then at the end of the day we had to walk to the church to get some stuff and all of a sudden she came running out of the church towards us! She had been with some friends and one of them was a member so they all decided to go check out the church! What a miracle. She came up to us and was so excited and talked about how pretty the church was and that she wanted to get married in it. HAHA! Just wait until she sees a temple! But we got to talk to her then and invite her to church. (Quick note to the members that missionaries LOVE when you can help them with the work.) I was so grateful for the member who took Natalia to the church. Later in the week we tried to go teach her but her Aunt who she lives with really does not like Mormons so we could not teach her. We are still trying though. Things slowly are progressing. 

Wednesday I had my first... interesting meal. It was traditional Bahian food (Bahia is the state that my mission is in). One of the tough things was this bread, fish casserole thing. I was a good missionary and ate all that I was given but man it was hard, haha!

Friday we had a mission tour. One of the members of a quorum of the 70 was traveling our mission so my whole zone and 2 other zones traveled to Ilheus to hear him and see President Bangerter. I saw other Americans for the first time in 3 weeks, so that was fun. And all the talks and training we got was fantastic. The Spirit is very strong when a large group of missionaries come together. 

Saturday we ran an activity with all the youth. It was so fun and they loved it. We did a bunch of games. Their favorite was water balloon volleyball. But the whole activity made me feel old! It was just yesterday I was one of the youth in the activity! But It was awesome. 

Yesterday, Sunday, I spoke in church! Preparing a talk and then giving it in a different language is a whole new experience. I started with the line, " I think it is interesting how I left my home in California and now I am serving in… California!" Everybody actually laughed! Hopefully because they liked my joke and not because I said something wrong. But I got to speak about the Priesthood. It truly is a blessing that we have the power of God on the earth today. 

For my weekly person comparison (I realized I do these a lot) the General Authority that was visiting, Elder Dias, looks like Uncle Pat!! I thought so at least. I will try and attach a picture that I took with him! Also in our ward there is a Brazilian Auntie Jenny! Looks, actions, everything! It’s awesome!

All the apartments here have speakers and these little DVD players. A lot of missionaries have flash drives with music, church movies, mormon messages etc! I would LOVE to have one. A Flash Drive with MoTab, just tons of church music and also instrumental movie music too. Star Wars, Avengers, Batman, Anything you can think of that I would like. We are allowed to listen to those on P-Days and stuff. Also!!! DISNEY MUSIC!! We are allowed to listen to that all the time and I would looooveee that. Maybe even throw in the soundtrack to the new Moana movie that comes out around Thanksgiving. But a ton of church and Disney music for sure. Part of the reason I want music so badly is because ALL DAY LONG EVERYDAY these cars drive around with speakers and these Brazilian songs campaigning for some person or another. They are loud and there are so many of them so when I hear church music it cleanses my ears. J

Ok, so the best part of the week happened last night. We went to our investigator, Marcelo's house. He had come to church for a second time yesterday and is progressing great. We extended an invitation for him to get baptized on Saturday. He said yes!!!! It is really exciting so hopefully next time I write you all I will have been able to baptize someone into the Kingdom of God! But I can't get too excited yet! I love this gospel and I love you all!
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Elder Christofferson and Elder Ribeiro (another missionary Spencer met at the conference)

Elder Christofferson and Elder Hilton (another American in the mission...remember there aren't many of them)

Elder Christofferson and Elder High
Elder High has been out since October of 2015. When his mom posts things on Instagram she hashtags them #brazilsalvadorsouthmission just like I do. Shortly after Spencer got his call I wanted to see if there were other people hashtaging their missionaries and I found Elder High's mom. We direct messaged a few times on Instagram and then started emailing. It's crazy how you can bond with someone you've never even met simply because your children are going thru similar experiences. Anyway, I told Spencer to keep an eye out for Elder High when he got to his mission and sure enough, at his first Multi Zone meetings they found each other.  It's truly a small world!  

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Work is Tough but Rewarding!

Zone Conference was this week with blurry picture. 6 Elders, 6 Sisters and only one American. Elder Christofferson is LOVING it! 

A cute lady from his ward sent me a picture from church yesterday! I LOVE modern technology! 

Hello Everyone!

So week 2 in the field is over! It was a crazy week with a lot of highs and lows but in the end it is the Lord's work so everything is great!

The weather here is starting to warm up and walking around in a shirt and tie, and slacks gets pretty hot. I come back to the apartment everyday pretty exhausted but I love the feeling!

Elder Santana and I are getting closer everyday. We share stories as we walk, all of them in Portuguese/English. But we work well together. We are starting to think the same in terms of spiritual impressions and who to talk to. It is really awesome.

So some things that happened this week: Tuesday we decided to focus on a small list we found in the apartment of inactive members. There are A LOT of inactive members here. That is one of the biggest problems here in Brazil is keeping people in the church after they get baptized. Anyways Tuesday was spent searching for people, which is crazy here because half of the time the houses are numbered randomly. Anyway, we had talked to 4 or 5 inactive members who generally were receptive and said they would try to come to church Sunday. Then we found this inactive member named Adão, or Adam in English. He was excited to see us. Our approach with inactive members is to try and get them to remember the Spirit and feelings they felt the first time they heard the Restoration of the Gospel lesson. We asked him and he said he remembered but not all of it. So we taught it to him again. The lesson was awesome. The Spirit was so strong and we told him he can come back and be a marvelous servant of God. He got emotional and said he didn't feel worthy to come back to church but we told him that The Savior wants him back. It was a great lesson and we found out that he knows quite a bit about the church! It is lessons like these every week that remind me of why I am here. We taught him another great lesson Friday night and he said he would come to church. But as the life of a missionary goes, when Sunday rolled around Adão wasn't at church. I was pretty sad because I really thought we were making progress with him and that he was going to return. But we know that this happened for a reason so we are going to go see him again this week for sure!

After Tuesday the next 3 days were tough. Brazil had it’s Independence Day this week so no one wanted to talk to us much. Friday night we were feeling pretty down. Saturday was a complete turnaround though!!  We got 5 new investigators in just that one day! God works in mysterious ways but it is the right way! 

One cool story in particular: Earlier in the week we had been walking home one night and I saw a man walking and I thought we should talk to him. Then apparently my companion got the same impression because he talked to him first! His name is Jonathan and he is about 20 years old and knows about the church from his friend who is a member from where he grew up. He said we could go teach him later in the week and he gave us his info. So Saturday night we found his house but he was not there. But his older brother Patrick was. He let us in and we taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson. It was another very Spiritual lesson. He said he has been worried about his brother, Jonathan, and that they both need something good in their lives like this gospel. He invited us back next week! 

This work is tough but rewarding and I know it's true!! 
Love you all!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Monday, September 5, 2016

A few pics just came in....

Elder Christofferson and Elder Santana

Their bedroom. I think it's pretty easy to know which bed is Elder C's. :-)

Their office maybe? 

Kitchen (now we know why there are spiders, they are propping the door open with a broom! HA!


Elder Christofferson and the Sister Missionaries he travelled with from the CTM to the 
Mission and President and Sister Bangerter.  

The city where he is serving is about the        The red dot is where he is serving and
size of Santa Clarita, where we live now      you can see where it is in relation to Salvador

Hello Everybody!

My mission just got real! I don't even know where to start, haha!

I am in the city of Itabuna, specifically California! How funny is that? When people ask where I am from I say the other California! So traveling here was crazy. We left the CTM at 3 in the morning and it was sad to say goodbye to all there. I was traveling with two other sisters. One Brazilian and one American. We got to Salvador and President and Sister Bangerter were so happy to see us and so welcoming and it was such a comfort. I love them already and I know they work hard every day to make this mission better! Salvador, the city is crazy but the weather kind of feels like Hawaii and it was nice to see the ocean again!

The first day was a lot of different things including getting my companion, Elder Santana, being assigned to my area and even going out in Salvador and getting contacts. That night we went to the big bus station and took an 8 hour bus ride all night to our area. That was tough so I was really tired the first day. But it all worked out! 

Right now I am emailing from a members house named Irmão (Brother) Santos. He is a super nice old guy in our ward.

This week has been a range of emotions. I have been super excited, felt the Spirit, been really homesick at times, been really really, really tired, but I love it!! It is sooo crazy to me that I am actually in the field already. Every time I am in the home of a member or investigator I always have a "what the heck? Am I actually here?!" moment. It is so awesome!

So my companion is Elder Santana. He is from the south of Brazil called Rio Grande de Sul. He has been out only 9 months but he is an awesome guy. As we have been talking we have been realizing we have a lot of things in common so it is nice to have someone here that I can connect with. I really like him and we work hard everyday and he is the trainer I was hoping for. I am so beyond blessed for this.

Our apartment is actually pretty big. We don’t have a dryer so everything is clothespins and string to dry. We hand wash all our dishes and utensils and cups. We have to get water from a specific clean company to drink. But the conditions are not that bad at all compared to people here. We have running water and plumbing that works pretty well. There are a lot of spiders in our apartment but I don’t worry or care about them at all which is nice!! 

From the description Elder C gave of where he lives  I think its down this street. If you turn to the left about 90 degrees you'll see the Church. 

This is where the ward he attends meets. His apartment is down the street to the right. (I think)

This city is crazy. There are dogs and cats just roaming, like A LOT of them, haha. There is trash and vultures everywhere too. But I still love it. We have a huge area and we walk ALL DAY; up big hills and streets and stuff so I am super tired every night. I have huge blisters on my feet and my thighs and calves are always sore. I am not complaining at all though!! I love it, Haha! I can't express that enough!

So far this is kind of what I expected a little but in a way it isn’t. I am losing weight like crazy, I think. One of my belts goes to the smallest hole now and I still could go tighter if it could. 

The ward here is awesome. All the people are nice and welcoming. Every day we get lunch from members but almost never dinner. Actually we have yet to have dinner with the members. But the food is good and I haven’t eaten anything too weird yet... YET!!

My Portuguese is okay but the people here talk different so it is sometimes hard to understand. During lessons I am totally fine because it is right with the investigators, one on one, but street contacting and knocking doors (actually clapping, haha) is tough. But it is only motivating me to work harder to learn the language. 

So about a few of our investigators… The first day we went to teach a recently baptized 12 year old boy named Andre. When we got there he went into his room and started crying because Elder Santana's other companion left and he liked him. I felt bad because he was so sad. But he came out eventually and we had a good lesson with him and I think he likes me now so he is not sad anymore. But right after that we were leaving his apartment complex and one of his friends, Natalia, called us over. She had some question about the church and that led into a whole discussion. So right there we sat down with her on the curb and taught her about the Restoration. It was very spiritual and I had the opportunity to bear testimony in my broken Portuguese and she understood. She even said we could keep teaching her and that she would prepare for baptism!!! That was very exciting and walking away I felt very very happy and full of gratitude for the Spirit. I think she is about 17 so she still lives with her parents and they are of another faith so hopefully they will approve of the teaching. 

On Saturday we walked around to the other side of our boundary to teach an investigator but she wasn't there which was frustrating because it was a long walk and it was hot out. We decided we needed to have more investigators up in that area so we didn’t waste a lot of time each day walking up there because it is about a 30 minute walk from our apartment. So we started knocking doors and found an older couple named Rita and Luciani. They were very receptive as we taught the Restoration and the wife Rita said that she has been wondering for a long time which church is true. I loved the Spirit in that lesson and it made me excited to keep teaching them. 

So at church on Sunday the bishop invited me, on the spot, to bear my testimony... so that was fun haha! I think they mostly understood what I was trying to say. And then after church I was assigned to give a talk in a few weeks. Classic first week!

So other things… I am sooo jealous that you guys went to the BYU game but it sounded so fun!! I am glad the Cougs won! Also, it’s fun to hear about football and Justin and just everything. I love getting the pics and updates so keep them coming!! 

I am so excited and happy to be here and things are SLOWLY starting to become normal.

I love this Gospel and I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I love learning and teaching about His Gospel every day and I love seeing the change in people's lives and in their eyes as we teach and testify of the truth. Every time I am feeling down or tired or homesick I think of our investigators and when we teach a lesson with the Spirit or get a new investigator  and it rejuvenates me and reminds me of why I am here: To spread His perfect Gospel!

I love you all!

Elder Christofferson