Monday, October 31, 2016

My First REAL "Interesting Story"

Happy Halloween Everybody!!!

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday but I didn't think I was going to miss it! But I do! They do not have this holiday here in Brazil. I hope you all had a great week! My week was great too. 

Tuesday we had a cool experience. We taught our investigator Patrick. We have been teaching him for a while now. He is super busy so cannot meet a lot during the week but he is serious about learning about the gospel. So our last visit we left him a Book of Mormon with a chapter to read. When we returned he had not read it yet which was sad but we read it with him there. We read 3 Nephi 11. The chapter when Christ first comes to the Americas. It is such an awesome chapter. So much power and spirit. So after we read I asked him how he felt, like how he felt about all this, everything we have taught him. Usually he doesn't say much but he admitted that he had had some doubts but that after reading the Book of Mormon there with us his doubts left and they were replaced by peace. It is so cool to watch people change and truly be touched by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So Logan is gonna be happy because I had my first real "interesting story." This happened just before we taught Patrick on Tuesday and it was insane, haha! Patrick lives at the top of a big hill so we walked all the way up there Tuesday afternoon and knocked (actually clapped haha everyone here has gates so you clap). He was not there and right as we were about to leave this really old lady comes up to us and starts talking about something, I couldn't understand.  We tried to leave because she was obviously a little off but then she was like can you come share the word of God with me? We said yes and she so happened to live right across the street from Patrick. We sat down in her house and she began to explain to us how she has so many trials and needs more patience. Then her son came in from the other room. He was a good sized dude probably in his 30's. He started talking to me about how his mom is crazy. He was saying how she tries to kill him with knifes. As he was saying this the old lady(80ish) silently stands up, walks over to him and just punches him HARD right in the face!!!! My face was probably hilarious! So the son kept going on after he recovered from the punch to the face about how crazy she is and obviously we now saw what he was talking about.  And when she was talking about patience we could see that she was right about that. She was standing there trying to beat him up. He was showing me scars on his hands of where she stabbed him with knives. She starts screaming "MENTIRA!!" which means liar. It was insane. Elder Quintana looked at me and said, we should go. We left REAL quick! After we left we saw that Patrick had gotten home and we went over and taught him that awesome lesson. We told him where we had just been and he just started to laugh. So I hope you guys like that story of the crazy old lady fighter! 

Wednesday was also a sweet day. We met up with 2 of the young men in our ward and went out to do some work! We found a 25-year old woman named Jaciada while looking for a different person. She seemed really interested and we taught her the 1st lesson. One of the young men who was with us, Leo, leaves on his mission to Belem Brasil next month. He shared his testimony during the lesson and it was really spiritual and powerful. Belem is getting a great missionary. On Friday we went back to Jaciada and she had done her "homework!" It was just reading the pamphlet we left but she actually did it! I love when our investigators do their part! We taught and left her with a Book of Mormon and no doubt she will read it. 

Wednesday we found another AWESOME person. So Elder Quintana needed a pillow for sleeping. An older lady in our ward heard and said she had an extra one at her house we just needed to stop by and get it. The Relief Society President in our ward told us that one of the neighbors of this older lady was maybe interested in the church. She had gone to some activities and enjoyed them. Wednesday night we stopped by to get the pillow and the neighbor, Edinalva, was there. She is around 50 years old and now lives alone so she is always and this members house. We talked to her for a long time and taught her the first lesson. She is really awesome. She had already read the Book of Mormon a little bit! She saw one at the member's house and picked it up and read a little! On Friday we went back and taught her again. She told us, "I know that God placed you two in my path for a reason." How amazing!! I love missionary work!!

Friday night Leo, the young man in our ward leaving on his mission in less than a month, had his mission party type thing at the church. It was really fun and awesome and reminded me a lot of when I left. Crazy that was so long ago but not really at the same time. 

I hope you all have a fantastic week! Miss and love you all! I love missionary work!! It is all true! 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Feet are getting better!

Monday, October 24, 2016

"I LOVE this work!"

Quieros, one of our Investigators   

Hi Everybody!

I hope you are all doing good and had a great week! This past week for me was good. I’m getting used to the new companion, Elder Quintana, and settling into this transfer. 

On Wednesday of last week I hit my 3-month mark which is weird because I feel like I was just writing about being gone for 2 weeks!

So this week was a lot of work. On Tuesday we started to take on the monstrous task of finding and talking to less active members on the 33 page list we got from the Bishop. While doing this it has been cool to see how we find others who want to learn about our beliefs and they become investigators. For example we were looking for this one girl on our list but she was not home. Her older sister was though and we taught her a lesson right there. Then we returned 2 other times during the week to teach her more! 

One thing I have learned this week is that I really love these less active members. And it makes me think of some of the people in my life who are less active. I feel such a great love for all of them and I just wish they could see the blessings they are missing out on. I think we can just keep loving them and know that whatever happens, happens for a reason and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them no matter what.

Anyway, when we meet these less active members, we talk to them for a while and they explain their situation of why they do not come to church anymore. For example on Wednesday night we found and were talking to this woman named Anna. She explained her situation and how now she goes to a different church. She literally said to us "I like my church, it is good, but something is 'off.' I cannot explain it." I told her that the empty feeling, the feeling that something is missing can be found and maybe she can find it if she returns . We talked with her for a long time but in the end she still said she did not want to come back. I wanted so badly to just make her be able to see what she is missing. But like it was said in General Conference, "Some people might not be ready to learn and accept the Gospel when we are ready to teach." 

Thursday morning we were just getting up and out of bed when our cell phone rang, which does NOT happen that early in the morning. It was President Bangerter (our Mission President)! He said he was in Itabuna that morning and that he wanted to meet with us. We were a little nervous but he was meeting with all of the missionaries in our zone for training and interviews. I love President Bangerter! He is such a great leader. He gives such great advice and guidance. When I met with him I expressed to him how much I do not feel like a trainee because I am the missionary who stayed in this area and am showing my companion around and introducing him to people. Pres. Bangerter said he knew that would happen and he did it on purpose because he knew I could handle it. Elder Quintana is good and because our native languages are English and Spanish (him),  I am speaking Portuguese 24/7 now so that is good too! Talking in English to President was strange. One thing I learned from President Bangerter is that I realized from him that I need to be more bold in my teaching and talking to people. Just say it how it is and not beat around the bush.

I have been reading the Book of Mormon more than I ever have in my life. Man it is an awesome book. It is like a whole different book this time reading it than other times I've read it. Really try to read it with the whole family. I know how hard it is with our family's crazy schedule but like Elder Holland said we get blessed for trying. 

I am experiencing the highs and lows of a mission for sure. One of the most heartbreaking things is when people say they will come to church but then they don't.  It is so frustrating because if they do not come then we can not do anything to help them in their lives. But also the high's. Like when we find a perfect investigator. We found an AWESOME man named Dario on Saturday and we are going back to teach him tomorrow. 

Lastly, one of the “highs” of the week, the Sisters had this investigator named Queiroz. He was not very religious  before but has been an investigator for a long time. He is an awesome man. He is around 60 years old and has never gone to any church. But he has been coming to our meetings. Last week the Sisters realized that he actually lives in our area. So he is our responsibility! Friday night he invited us and the Sisters over for dinner. We had a hilarious and fun dinner and then I said, "Queiroz what is holding you back from getting baptized?" He then explained his whole life story pretty much and all of his beliefs. I just talked with him boldly, like President had said, and we all had a really spiritual experience. He came to church again on Sunday!

I love this work!

I love you all and I love our Savior Jesus Christ!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
District Meeting 
Elder Quintana  
More with Quieros 

Dinner with Quieros and the sister missionaries

Monday, October 17, 2016

"Taking time to stop and look at our blessings is an amazing thing!"

Helen's Baptism Day

Hi Everybody!!

I hope you all had a great week! My week came with a lot of changes. Good changes though!

So Tuesday Elder Santana was trying to figure out his travel plans (since he was being transferred to a new area while I stay in Itanabu). It was tough because the only bus going to his new area that day left at 11pm and arrived at 3 in the morning. This would of been terrible for everyone. It all got figured out eventually and he left the next morning at 7. Wednesday I was with the Zone Leaders all day because my new companion, Elder Quintana, was not going to get there until 9 PM. It was really cool to learn a lot from 2 great missionaries and see another area in the mission. One cool thing is that we have a new Zone Leader and I am finally not the only American in the zone! WooHoo! Elder Dupaix is way cool and has been out for 20 months so there is lots for me to learn from him. Finally on Wednesday night we went and picked up my new companion. 

Elder Quintana is from Nicaragua. He is in his 23rd month of his mission so he goes home next month. He has now served in every zone in the mission too, which is cool. Immediately the first day I realized that he is a lot different from Elder Santana. The biggest reason is he speaks about ZERO English, haha! I have not even been with him a week and already my Portuguese feels better because I have no choice but to speak Portuguese. It is funny because he learned Portuguese on his mission too. He is fluent now and feels like he has forgotten a lot of his Spanish. We have some members in the ward here who speak Spanish and when they talked with him in Spanish he was really confused. I asked him how he will talk with his family and friends when he returns and he said he has no idea, haha! I wonder if that will happen with me and English?!

With Elder Santana gone, I do NOT feel like a trainee anymore, AT ALL. Because I was already here, I have been showing Elder Quintana everything and who everybody is. It is so weird to have some responsibility again but I love it. Elder Quintana is good. He is a lot different from Santana. He is more relaxed and joking and not even close to as serious as Santana. He sings a lot in our apartment, really loud. It’s awesome and having a new companion is not bad at all, just different. 

First thing we did when Elder Quintara arrived was we went to go see Andre. Remember he is the recent convert who is 12 and the first time he saw me he cried? So, of course, the same thing happened with Quintana!! It was crazy to see the tables turned, haha. I called him out of his room and he came and sat next to me and was sooooo sad but I talked with him and cheered him up. Then all 3 of us played some made up game with a ball he had and had a blast so now he is all good!

Friday night we went to an inactive member's house. We have visited her twice before. She was baptized as a teen but then stopped going and now has a couple of kids and is in her 30s. Her son Patrick is 11 and has been reading a "For Strength of Youth" booklet we gave him. We talked to him for a while and he seems really interested to learn more but he could not meet with us right then so we scheduled for another time. After we talked to his mom. She still remembers a lot about the church. She remembers her baptism pretty well given the fact it was a long time ago. She had a lot of questions about how missions work and why we are serving. I got to share my testimony with her about why I am here. How I am out on a mission for a lot of reasons; for all of you, for my family, to strengthen my faith, for the people of Brasil, but first and foremost for Heavenly Father. I have seen with more clarity than ever before how blessed I am and want to show him how grateful I am. I feel like I owe Him. Taking time to stop and look at our blessings is an amazing thing.

Saturday night the Sisters had a baptism!! We were more involved with this investigator because her best friends are some youth in our ward. So she had come to our ward a lot and we were helping them teach her. One of the young men in our ward got to baptize her and it was really awesome. Baptisms have a special Spirit. 

To answer some of you questions mom:

1. Blisters. My feet are doing good, I guess, haha. Not terrible not great but its just because a lot of walking. 
2. Mosquitos. So I only get attacked at night and yes I have had bites the whole time I’ve been here. I usually wear the spray only during sleep but somehow those little buggers, at least one, somehow finds the one part of my skin that isn’t under blankets and that I missed.
3. Portuguese is great! I kind of answered this already in my letter but I find the best way from me to learn it is by talking. 
4. Right now my favorite scripture is probably all of Ether 12. I just read that in my personal study and it is just a FANTASTIC chapter.

This church is true! I love you all and have a great week!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

District Meeting with the Sisters and Elder Quintara

Monday, October 10, 2016

"We will go to the shopping"

Hey Everybody!

So one transfer is over! 6 weeks already?!?! For me it feels like it flew by. So I am not getting transferred! I am staying here in Itabuna for another 6 weeks! The sad part is that Elder Santana is leaving. It seriously is very sad because I was so worried about my trainer before I got him and he was everything I had hoped for and more! My new companion will be Elder Quintana. Elder Santana said that he is from Nicaragua and that he might be finishing his mission with me! But we don't really know until I meet him tomorrow. 

This week was a little tough. It wasn't like heart-breaking tough but it was still hard. 
Tuesday we were doing a lot of finding and contacting inactive and less-active members. We were looking for a person and were really lost. So we just knocked on the closest door and a man opened who we asked for directions and he did not know. But we kept talking and he invited us in. We had a fantastic lesson on the Restoration! I just love how Heavenly Father works like that. So amazing. 

Wednesday we had a zone meeting. It was awesome and I realized I can understand so much more than I could at the first zone meeting a month ago. That was encouraging! Quick funny thing. after the zone meeting my district had to go to get new shirts for Elder Santana real fast. The store that has good, decent shirts is far from our area but near where our zone meeting was. This store is in a mall. But they do not call them malls here. They call them "Shopping." To me it was really funny because shopping is an action word in English but here they say, "A gente vai ir a Shopping." That means "we will go to the shopping." LOL!

Wednesday night was sad because we had our first failed "Hora do Cha." The people that the members invited over just did not show up. But looking back at it now it still benefitted us and the members because the next night we had to go back to their house to pick up something that we forgot the night before. It so happened that the member was really sick and he had been wanting a Priesthood blessing right when we showed up!! We got to give him a healing blessing. I don't know how to give blessings in Portuguese yet so I did it in English. After he said it was really cool because he has never received a blessing in a different language. Holding the Priesthood of God is such a privilege.

Earlier in the week we searched and found a reference from a member. We tought Flavio, the reference, the first lesson and it was really spiritual. He said he was interested more. We decided next we wanted to teach him with his member friend. We called the member the next day and found out that both of them were going to play Ping Pòng at the church that same day. (Ping Pong is huge here). We went and had a great time! It was good because we did not have a formal lesson but just talked and got to know each other. And naturally our conversation turned to gospel topics. I think he sees now that we are not robots but normal people who really love this gospel. It was great. 

Friday night we helped a lady move houses. It was me, Elder Santana, and one priest in the ward named Leo who just got his mission call to Belem, Brazil. I will say that helping people back home in our ward move totally paid off as I was able to help better because of my past experiences. 

After we moved the lady into her new house we had to drive back in the big truck that they had used. The truck was huge and a stick shift. The guy driving it was old and did not have very good vision. We were driving on a Brazilian freeway in the jungle with no streetlights. The truck's lights only shone for about 4 feet ahead of the car. It was raining and there was a lightning storm all around us. The only light came from the lighting.  Oh man that was terrifying but awesome at the same time and somehow we made it. And trust me when I tell you I was praying so hard the whole way home.

Now for your emails:
WOW! What a week it sounds and looks like you guys had in Michigan! It looked soooo awesome! And so cool that you guys got to go to the game and that BYU won!! The Grand hotel seemed really cool! And of course the Johnsons are always awesome! I am sooooo happy that West Ranch Football won. Holy Cow! They beat Canyon?  But at the same time I’m sad that we did not get that coach!! Just think what we could've been like!  Logan seemed quite happy with his new phone! Awesome, haha! It is crazy that he is so old. I am sooo soo sad to hear about Brady. Like sooo sad! What a bummer. But cool that he got to start and that he go the win against UCLA. I will keep him, Charlie in Florida, and Blake in the Phillipines in my prayers a little extra this week!

I love you all. This gospel is true. The Book of Mormon has power. Real, true power to keep bad things away. Read it!! Have a great week everyone! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Monday, October 3, 2016

Christmas in October!

Watching General Conference in the "English" room all alone! :-)

Hi everyone!

So this week a whole bunch of stuff happened!

Tuesday the heavens opened.. with rain! Actually this whole week has pretty much been rain which I like because summer is coming and I am scared for it. But Tuesday I decided to NOT use what I learned in scouting because I was not prepared. I did not have my umbrella. I payed the price because by Tuesday night I was feeling sick. But Tuesday night one of our investigators, Diani, invited us and her member friends over for dinner. We were super excited and she has a ton of questions about The Book of Mormon we gave her. So that was really great. I hope she continues to progress. 

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling awful. My whole chest, throat, nose, and head were painful. I was taking every medication I could because I practically have a whole Walgreens here with me that I packed haha! We had a district meeting in the morning and after we came back to the apartment to put some stuff away and I was dying. So I finally asked Elder Santana for a Priesthood blessing. Now it did not make me 100% better immediately but it helped me make it through the day. I was better by the next day. I am so grateful for the restored Priesthood on the Earth today. What a blessing we have to be able to recieve the effects of the wonderful power. I am grateful for it more everyday. 

Friday we had splits with the Zone leader and his companion here in our area. During splits me and Elder Ribeiro, the Zone Leader, went to Patrick's house. We taught him the Plan of Salvation. It was an AWESOME lesson. He had great questions and thoughts and is starting to really ponder and think about our messages. He reads all the stuff we give him and is praying too. It was really cool. Also Friday night felt like Christmas Eve because Conference was Saturday!! 

I hope you all enjoyed General Conference as much as I did. We are so unbelievably blessed to have a living Prophet and his 12 Apostles to lead and give us guidance. Hearing their words and counsel is amazing. The stake here was really nice too because they set up a classroom with Conference in English just for me!! Haha it was awesome! I was worried all week that I would not be able to understand Conference fully. But that wiped away my worries. While they were setting up the TV for me to watch Conference in English I had to listen in Portuguese to Elder Uchtdorf and I must say that I understood a good amount of it but the English is still way better. 

I LOVED Uncle Todd's talk. I felt the Spirit so strong all alone in my little classroom of English. I had brought my camera so I videoed his talk and Elder Holland's during priesthood so I can listen and watch them again!

One of my favorite things from Conference was Elder Bednar's talk. The question he asked, " Do you believe what you know?" really made me reflect on my knowledge and beliefs. I hope that we can all think about this question and by doing so strengthen our faith.

In total I took 15 pages, front and back, of notes. So if you count each side than that is 30 haha. I seriously loved Conference more than ever before. After the first 2 Saturday sessions I was telling Elder Santana and the Sisters how for the first time in my life when I want conference to take long, it goes SO FAST! It was so true too. This was no doubt the fastest conference of my life haha. I can't get over how awesome it was. 

The one sad thing about Conference was that a lot of the people who we invited to Conference AND then confirmed with them the night before, did not show up. We were pretty disappointed because some who we thought for sure would come did not. But that means we've got to work harder to get them to church! 

This gospel is true and this church is led by Jesus Christ. It brings so much happiness. I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Now I will explain the pics!
One of them is me all alone in my English classroom haha
One is what I am calling "My 3rd foot" haha the blister is insane
The last two … So this morning after we were done cleaning and everything and about to leave to come do this I was about to walk through the door into the room where we keep our shoes and I saw the BIGGEST moth or whatever that demon was on the door. LOOK AT THAT THING!!! Anyways so me and Santana were freaking out so we made a spear and then I stabbed it and it flew away and we ran screaming and then it flew out the window haha.

PS from MARILEE- for those who don't know what conference is, twice a year our church has what we call General Conference. It is a 2 day conference where our church leaders speak to us about things like Faith, Jesus Christ, forgiveness, etc. It's wonderful guidance that helps bring happiness to our lives as we strive to live after the Gospel teachings. 


Ready for battle against the Giant Moth

GIANT Moth above the door!