Monday, November 28, 2016

"We Had A Great Feast"

Elder Christofferson loves his new companion Elder Oliviera

Hi everybody!!
I hope you all had a great week! Man transfer weeks are always crazy but fun. Of course this week had it's ups and downs but a great week overall. 

My new companion is Elder Oliveira. He is from the state of São Paulo. He has been out a year and 2 months. He is AMAZING. I already have so much respect for the guy. He has only been a member for about 3 years. His family practically disowned him for joining and going on a mission. They don't even write to him. It's so sad but what faith and courage he has to accept that and still go on a mission. I seriously am so so so happy with having Elder Oliveira as my companion. We already work really well together and I can just already tell that this is going to be a great transfer. 

A lot of this week was cleaning, figuring out the living situation, and me showing the other 3 Elders the area since they are new. But towards the end of the week things got back to normal. 

One crazy thing that happened during the moving process. Because the other area in our zone where Elder Janish was closed, they needed to bring all the stuff from the apartment there to our apartment here. We needed more beds and stuff for them. A whole bunch of stuff that is not important happened but finally Friday morning we got all the stuff to our house and started to unload it. We got everything up except for the "guarda ropa" or dresser/closet thing. It was too big and would not fit up the stairs. We needed tools to deconstruct it. I started to ask all the neighbors for tools and none had them. Then one guy who I asked looked out at it sitting on the street and said "wait I have an idea." He came out with a bunch of rope. So yeah, we basically roped up a huge dresser and pulled it up from the outside over our balcony. It was so crazy and hilarious and just so Brasil. It almost fell which would of been so bad but it didn't and it is now in our house. A majority of the photos are of that because I stayed down to push it up from the bottom at first and then take pics. The best part was when Elder Janish asked the guy, "You know how to do this?" and all the guy said was "I'm Brasilian." That was all the answer we needed! hahaha 

Thursday we went to Patrick's. His mom answered and said he was working. Dang. Usually we just say thanks and leave because she seems pretty closed off but this time I said, " Well can we come in and talk with you?" Of all the time I have been teaching Patrick I never actually met his mom formally. She works a lot too so I haven't seen her that many times. She is about 45 or 50 and is really nice. She seemed kind of shocked that we wanted to talk to her. She explained that it was so rare she was home at that time because usually she is working that hour. Right when she said that I just knew it was a miracle, and that we were there for a reason at that time. We taught her the Restoration and it was so spiritual. It blows my mind how powerful that message is. The Spirit that resides during the 1st lesson is special. Especially when recounting the First Vision when Joseph saw Heavenly Father and Christ. I know I'm thinking ahead but imagine how cool it would be if we baptized Patrick and then a few weeks later HE baptized his mom! That is best case scenario of course but one can hope.

So this week I had one of the worst days of my mission yet but I also had one of my best days. First, the bad day: I was having some bad stomach issues and then that afternoon had a fever of 101. It was terrible. I got a blessing and cried because I was in pain and wanted home. I hadn't had a moment like that yet. But now it's out of the way, thankfully! 

Friday night we had a District/Zone meeting again and during the meeting, Elder Dupaix, our zone leader, had us all get up and talk about why we were on a mission. I, of course was still sick, weak, and sensitive so I cried during mine. I said, "I'm out here because I love my Savior and how on hard days like today I need to remember that to make it." Then I talked about how we say “in our family we serve missions” and how I wanted to be an example of that. It was so cool. 

After the meeting we decided to have a one day late Thanksgiving dinner because we now have 5 Americans in the zone The American sisters made Apple Pies and Mashed Potatoes. Then a few people bought ice cream and bread and sliced turkey. We had a great feast! 

Saturday we went and visited a contact we had made earlier in the week, Amanda. She is about 25. She has a 2 year old daughter and a husband. We got there and started to talk and get to know her. We found out that she and her husband were not legally married and my heart dropped. Ugh! But then another miracle happened. We asked her if she went to a church. She said yes the Methodist church on the corner. We asked if she had been baptized there and said no because there you have to be married legally. She then went on to tell us how she and her husband had actually submitted all the stuff to get married legally and were expecting it back in the next 2-3 weeks! Wow! They are definitely prepared to hear the gospel right now. We taught her a spiritual first lesson and are going back next week.

Sunday at church after the first hour the 2nd counselor to the Bishop asked me "can you speak... today!?" Of course I said I could. Our ward here is flipped so sacrament meeting is last so I only had an hour of prep for a 10 minute talk. It was crazy but all I had were some bullet points and some scriptures but I did it! The spirit was definitely helping with the Portuguese. I spoke about members and missionaries working together. I have seen here that simply, we the missionaries, just straight up need the members for this work. I explained that the best I could in my talk. After the meeting one lady gave us 2 references!

Another thing that happened at church was the Bishop's wife invited us to choir practice. So we went last night. We are practicing for Christmas Sunday and it is so fun and cool to be in a Brasilian Choir and singing in Portuguese. I love Christmas music. 

Anyways, I know this church is true! I love it and I love you all!! Have a great week!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Elder Janish watching the neighbor who had the "idea" tie the rope around the dresser/closet.

All the neighbors pitched in to help. 

Spencer is the photographer at the bottom. Glad they didn't drop it on him. 

Almost there! 
Just over the edge and they got it!

The Thanksgiving Feast

A turkey sandwhich mashed potatoes, apple pie and ice cream. A Mission Style Thanksgiving Feast! 

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Called To Serve"

Zone Conference

Hi Everybody! 

So this week I hit 4 months!! For me now it feels like I've been gone a while! 4 months in and I'm not a trainee anymore, the language is flowing, this is a mission now. I mean, it always was but... I don't know how to explain it. 

This transfer is over and the next one is starting this week will bring A LOT of changes. First, Elder Quintana did it! Served for 2 years and now he is all done. He is a great missionary and will do a lot of good in the world. My new companion that I will be receiving is Elder Oliveira from Sao Paulo. He has been out about one year and a few months from what I hear. He will probably get here on Wednesday. I'm excited for this transfer and I just want to work, work, work!!!

Some of the big changes that are happening is that our ward is getting another companionship of Elders! One area in our zone is closing so those Elders are moving here. I'm glad because our area is huge and it needs another set of Elders. Actually, our ward had apparently always had more than one set of elders before I was here so this will be good. We will now have 2 more people living in our apartment so that will be interesting, haha. This week will be an adjustment week for sure, and tough, given the fact that since I am the only one who knows this area I will have to show the other 3 everything at first. One of the elders moving here is Elder Janish, an American! He will actually be training a greenie, which by the way, I am not anymore! J

So one absolutely FANTASTIC thing about this week was the weather. It was a little rainy but mostly overcast and cold! Like actually kind of cold. I don't understand haha. We are supposed to be getting closer to summer but hey, I am not complaining one bit. I love it more than I can say.

We saw two motorcyles crash this week! They hit hard too. No one was majorly hurt but I thought it was funny because about 5 minutes after they both just left! If that happened in the USA they would call the police, switch insurance, go to the hospital, etc. Here nope! Haha oh Brasil! Gotta love it. 

This week for us was great! We did a lot of work and God rewarded us with a good amount of investigators at church on Sunday which is always a great thing. A few of them were friends who members brought and we LOOVVVEEEE that. So you members bring friends to church and the missionaries will love you forever. 

We taught Patrick again this week. That guy rocks! The sad thing is that he works so much at the hospital so his time is limited. He had work on Sunday so he could not come to church. But he is loving the Book of Mormon. Recently we read Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life and he thought it was awesome. We then attempted, very poorly I might add, to draw it for him. After we explained it a bit and after he laughed at our drawing skills, I had an idea. I took the paper and started to draw. I drew a stick figure of Patrick at the very beginning of the iron rod. Along the way, moving closer to the tree, I wrote "go to church," "baptism," "receive the Holy Ghost," etc. I showed him and said "look here, this is you. You are on the path. The key is that your hand is on the rod. Now all you need to do is take a few steps forward and before you know it you'll be there." It was awesome and I think it helped him see what he needs to do next which is baptism! 

Wednesday we had lunch at a member's house. The lady's name is Edna. She is an older, short, chubbier lady who is really nice and awesome. You always just feel the desire to give her a hug. (But obviously we can't cause we are missionaries haha.) Wednesday for some reason she reminded me of Grandma. I don't know why but she did. It got me thinking about how I miss Grandma but how much I love knowing that I will see her again. Like, I just know, without any doubt, that we can see her again. My testimony out here feels so strong and I love feeling it grow. What a great blessing it is to have the knowledge we do about Heavenly Father’s Plan of Salvation.

Yesterday I had one of the coolest experiences of my mission yet. It was Stake Conference so all of the missionaries from our zone and the neighboring zone, Ilheus, were there. In total I think there were about 30 missionaries, plus President and Sister Bangerter. It was awesome to get to see and talk to everyone. But anyways, the last speaker of the conference was Elder Carboni, a member of the quorum of the seventy. During his talk all of a sudden he said, "Now all you full-time missionaries of the Salvador South Brasil mission, I want you to come up here." We all kind of looked around like what the heck is going on but we went up and stood in the front facing everybody. He then said, "Now Elders and Sisters I want you to sing ‘Called to Serve’," and then to the congregation "and all of you, feel the power and Spirit that will enter this room." We started to sing and IMMEDIATLEY the Spirit was so strong. The coolest part was right as we were about to start the second verse the entire congregation stood up and sang with us. There have not been many times in my life where I have felt the Spirit that strong. There was not a dry eye in the room. 

Anyways I love you all! This church is true! Have a great week!!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Now to explain photos:
The ones of the water is our house was Wednesday morning when it rained all night and we forgot to close one window so it flooded. Haha! Oops! All the water in that bucket is what I squeegeed out of the towels.
There is pics of our District conference with our whole zone again because we had another one this week. I think here they will happen more often since our zone is so small.
There is a pic of my foot which is way better.
There is a pic of me with a Sister from the other zone. Her name is Sister Manuel and she was born in Angola but grew up in Portugal. She is awesome but goes home this week with Elder Quintana's group!

Anyways, I love you guys!!! Have a great Thanksgiving and appreciate the food! HAHAHA!!!

Water from leaving a window open overnight while it rained! OOPS!!

After the clean up!

The foot is healing! 
Sister Manuel who is heading home to Portugal this week. 
Elder Janish, one of the new roommates! 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Last Week of this Transfer

Hi Everybody!!!

I hope that your week was great!! This week was normal for us! Lots of ups and a few downs but what's new? 

Tuesday is always a big work day because we have nothing marked for that day. It always feels like the biggest work day and this week was no exception. We did a lot of verifications again. It is great because we normally get two things done, we find out about an inactive member and at the same time, we talk with a neighbor or person on the street to ask about the inactive member. Doing this gets us new investigators. One disappointing thing that I am starting to see is that we have a lot of people that let us teach the 1st lesson and seem really promising. We have great, spiritual lessons with them but then later in the week, when we try to go back or teach them again, they flake. It is sad because I know that they felt the Spirit in our first lesson, but for some reason or another they don't want to hear anymore. 

Wednesday we had a "District" meeting but it was pretty much a Zone meeting. The Assistants were in our zone to give training so we had a district meeting with the entire zone, haha. During our training from the assistants they made us leave the chapel and go out onto the street and make contacts for 10 minutes. It made me realize how used to all this missionary stuff I am. I had no fear, whatsoever. Talking to people has become my life. So far being on a mission is the only time during life that talking to strangers feels normal and is actually encouraged! Man I love this missionary life!

Thursday we taught the family that we found last week. Rafael, Emanuela, and their 11 year old daughter. We taught them about the Book of Mormon. I love teaching about it. The Book of Mormon is the key that opens the door to salvation. Having a testimony about it leads to everything else. That is why it is so important. Our lesson went really well. Rafael is awesome. He understands and really wants to know if this is all true. His wife is a little tougher. She is really shy and timid. She wouldn't pray at the end of the lesson because she was too embarrassed but we are not giving up on her. I know she has felt the Spirit during our lessons. I know she just needs to let the fullness of it in to her heart.

Lastly, Patrick. I have written about Patrick many times over the past weeks. He is the brother of a guy named Jonathon who Elder Santana, my last companion, and I met when we were walking down the street one of my first weeks here. When we went to Jonathon’s house, he wasn’t home but Patrick was and we started teaching him. He is 27 years old and is awesome. He has a vision for his life and is dedicated to his work and school. He has been an investigator for a few months now and I have seen how he has changed in these last couple of months. I think the reason I love him so much is because he is “MY” investigator.  He is such a great guy and I know how the Gospel will bless his life.  I can just see him married in the temple, serving in the church and being a great member in the future! I remember the first few times we talked with him he was really shy and quiet. But these days he is different. He jokes around with us, fulfills all the commitments, and is a happier person in every part of his life. His only need was to come to church. That was the one thing he had not done until yesterday! And guess what? HE CAME TO CHURCH!! I was SOOOO happy. Patrick has been my investigator for a while now and I love the guy so much and want him to get baptized. Hopefully these next few weeks he will continue to progress.

So this is the beginning of the last week of this transfer! It is so crazy because Elder Quintana is finishing his mission and will be going home. He’s a great companion and even though he is getting excited to go home, which is expected, he is still working really hard. 

One experience I had this week while talking to a non member really got me thinking about all the people in the world who believe in the Savior in one way or another.  It made me realize, in a way I never have thought about before, just how influential Jesus Christ was in his short time here on earth. What is truly amazing is how influential He STILL is in the world. SO many millions of people believe in Christ. I love His gospel, I love the scriptures. I love you all! But most importantly I love our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Have a fantastic week everybody!!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Monday, November 7, 2016

"I felt really grateful"

Hello everybody!

I hope you all had a great first week of November! It is crazy that it is already November! Sadly they do not have Thanksgiving here so I think I’ll miss that a bit this month. While the weather back home is cooling down the weather here is heating up which is really strange for me. For 17 years of my life the end of the year has meant cold weather. Here is the opposite so my body will be all messed up. LOL! 

The election is tomorrow at home!  Boy am I glad I am not there for all that stuff going on. People here always ask me who I would vote for and I stay out of it but it is interesting to see how another country sees us.

Last p-day in my email from President he said "continue to get to know your area really well because you will have another companion there." I was already 99.9% sure that I would stay here for next transfer but he confirmed it. I'm kind of happy I will be in a place where I know the members and the area for my Birthday and Christmas. People say Christmas isn't as hard if you have a good member family in your area to spend it with. 

Speaking of that, this week I felt really grateful. Before my mission I was nervous about connecting with the members once I got here. I know that for me and the other young men in my quorum at home, missionaries like Elder Evans and Philips and so many others have been so awesome to have in our ward and they became good friends and examples to us. I wanted to do that here because it meant a lot to me as a member. This week I feel like I am really starting to connect with some of the members now. It is awesome. We talk, joke, and have fun as we serve together. And, in turn, they are more willing to help us with the work. So get to know the missionaries at home and give them references! 

This week for us was a lot of work. We did A LOT of verifications. That is when we go find inactive members and talk to them. President Bangerter told us recently that verifications will be a "mino de ouro," gold mine, for us. And that through these we will find new investigators to teach. He is so right. We found a lot of new people to teach this week just by following President's simple training. For example, Thursday was a day of a lot of verifications. We were looking for a woman and went to the address that we had on record for her. We knocked on the door and a man answered. He told us that the lady we were looking for has not lived at that house in over 10 years and he doesn't know where she lives now. We started talking to him and asked if we could come in and talk with him. He said yes and we went in. We saw a woman sitting on the couch. She said hi and then just pointed to a photo by the TV. It was a photo of her in front of the church with 2 missionaries about 8 years ago. She explained she had had the lessons and everything but just felt like back then wasn't the right time for her to get baptized. The fact that she still had that picture out in the house was very promising. As she was talking I saw she had a ring on her left hand ring finger. I looked over at the man, Rafael, and saw that he had one too. I asked if they were legally married and they said yes. I almost jumped out of my seat, I was so happy. One of the biggest problems here is that people are just living together not legally married. They are both in their early 30s and the wife, Emanuela, has an 11 year old daughter from before. We taught them about the Restoration and it was amazing. They understood perfectly and everything. At the end of the lesson I told Emanuela to pray and ask God if us missionaries showing up again was her "calling" as she said it, to be baptized. We asked Rafael to pray at the end. We all knelt and he said such a heartfelt prayer that already sounded like he has been a member his whole life. It was so cool. I left that lesson walking on air. I was so happy. Now we gotta hope that they progress well!

We taught Patrick again this week too. I don't know why but I have such a love for that guy and I want him to get baptized soo badly. During our lesson we talked about baptism. He listened pretty quietly the whole time and then at the end said he needs to get to know the church at meetings first but that he would prepare for baptism. He promised he would come to church Sunday and I even made him shake on it. But he got called into go to work on Sunday, which was really unexpected. He works at the hospital and they needed him. Ugh! Frustrating because I know that when he sees the church and the meetings and the people he will love it! 

Wednesday we had a zone meeting and I spoke English with the other 2 American Elders, Elder Dupaix and Elder Janish and it was really weird speaking English again! 

Saturday the Sisters invited us to go with them to one of their investigators houses. She is a really old lady who lives alone. She is super cute and funny. She felt so bad that she didn't have any food for us. It was cool when the Sisters taught the Plan of Salvation to her because they told her that she can see her husband again even though he already died. She asked "I can kiss him again?" It was funny. And she cried when we were going to leave. She is so sweet.

I know that this church is true. I want so badly for everyone to have it. I love it! I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Full view of the River
The River that goes through Itabuna. 
Zone Conference