Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!



I had a fantastic Christmas yesterday and I hope you all did too!! Skyping my family was perfect and I loved being able to see their faces and hear their voices again. 

So this week was another normal week but the entire city, including us, was just waiting for Christmas. I think that is how the whole world is the week of Christmas. It helped and hurt us. It helped because we could talk to people about Christmas and then explain the real meaning and that would lead into a lesson. It hurt us because people were so busy this week, or they were out of or leaving town. One also other strange thing was that every day for lunch, the members who we were having lunch with, lived in the farthest parts of the area. Every day lunch was 30+ minutes by foot. It was like Heavenly Father was making us work to deserve Christmas haha!

Wednesday after lunch we went to go visit Patrick. We got there and he let us in and we talked with him normally. The guy is a stud. Our conversation drifted to how sad it is that there is so much evil in the world and how standards that were here even 10 years ago, are now gone. With lucrative music, TV, films, and just in general, he said the evil around us is sad. It was a perfect intro into our lesson. We talked about chastity and the importance of it and of course he already knew what it was and obeys it. He expressed his feelings on the topic and how he knows this is a commandment from God. Yet again I left his house excited but sad because he practically already lives the gospel but is still really hesitant about joining the Church. People have their agency and I guess his is the longer road, but I know he will get there. He will see the truth, the perfectness about this gospel. He will feel the love of Christ, he will know the Book of Mormon is true. He will know the Joseph Smith really was the prophet that God called to restore his gospel. Patrick will gain a testimony just like how all of us can. And once we have one we can add to and strengthen that testimony and knowledge of the Savior. So the Patrick story continues… haha.

Wednesday night we had our last choir practice before the big ward Christmas meeting Friday night. I think I sing better in Portuguese than I do in English haha! Friday night we had the performance. It was so awesome. It was such a spiritual meeting followed by a great dinner. Something about music, especially Christmas music, just brings such a Spirit into the room. It really helped make me feel, for the first time this year,  that it was Christmas. Like being here, because it is so different, I hadn't really really felt the Christmas spirit yet. That changed during the meeting we had. So all the next day, Christmas Eve, I was in the true spirit of Christmas. 

This week we also taught Elizeo. He was a contact from a few weeks ago and is progressing well. He really likes to learn about the gospel and is intrigued by the Book of Mormon. It reminds me how we can look at the Book with wonder and excitement no matter if we've read it 0 times or 100 times. It truly is a book from God and we have an obligation to read, share, and live by its teachings. 

Christmas Day was fantastic! We got up and did normal stuff. We had a HUGE and FANTASTIC lunch at a member’s house. After lunch we went and visited other members at home. Then we had church and after went to do Skype. I told my family that I have never wanted Christmas to pass so fast because I just wanted to get to the night to talk to them. But it was a perfect Christmas that I will sure remember forever. 

I love this gospel, I love our Savior Jesus Christ, and I love you all! 
Write you all next year!! ;)

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Elder Oleivera
Bishop of the ward who shares the building with my ward
Saulo, one of my best friends here in the ward
Elders Quorum President in the Ward
Erick, got home from his mission in January
Brazil needs Auntie Jenny
My Roommates and Comp
Christmas Eve day
Daughter of the family we were visiting.
Christmas Eve Lunch
Christmas presents
Christmas Morning 

Monday, December 19, 2016

55 EMAILS!!!!

The Bishop of our ward and his family. (He reminds me of Uncle TJ!)
Hi everybody!! 

Today is the 5 month mark since I left home... 5 MONTHS?!?!?! What has even happened? It has gone so fast. Well, at least it feels fast for me looking back on it. I don't know how it feels for all of  you back home, but wow!  

So this week started a little different for us than normal. Tuesday morning we got up bright and early and headed for Ilheus, the beach city about an hour a way. We had our Christmas Conference there at one of the chapels. It was our zone, Itabuna and zone Ilheus combined. The Assistants were there and of course so was President Bangerter. In the morning we received some great training from President and the Assistants. One thing I took away is how we need to have a great knowledge of the scriptures to help our teaching. It is so true and I am trying to work on that. After we had a huge, awesome lunch that the members made for us and then changed into normal clothes. We had no idea where we were going for our physical activity but there were 2 vans waiting outside the chapel for us so we piled in and were off to the mystery place. It was the beach, the mystery place was the beach!!! President Bangerter took us to the beach. Oh it was so awesome! We ran around playing like little kids out there on the sand! We stayed there for about an hour playing games, throwing the football (which felt great to do again), and just having fun. That night back at the chapel we had a secret Santa where I got an awesome Capoeira shirt. What a great day!

Wednesday it was back to work. One cool thing that we have been doing is called the “Gabriel contact”, after the angel Gabriel. We make contact with someone in their house and say more or less, "We are servants of Jesus Christ and in this Christmas season we are blessing homes and families with a prayer. Can we come in and do this with you and your family?" When I first heard about this I thought it was crazy! Who would let us in? But the people here are different and I have been proved wrong many times. These loving people let us in, pray with us, and then we leave. Almost every time they ask, "Wait, what church are you from?" and then we set up a return appointment. It has been so cool to see the kindness of people here, especially during this Christmas season. 

Thursday morning we went to Buerarema, Elder Janish's area from the last transfer that closed. He still had some good investigators there and one of them was getting baptized. The baptism was in a river since there is no chapel in the area. It was really cool. Me and Elder Oliveira came back in the afternoon to go visit Patrick. We had left a card on his door the day before with a note asking what he thinks about a baptism on Saturday. We got to his house and he was the same old, friendly, awesome dude as usual. I said, "Patrick, so what do you think about Saturday?" I was expecting an answer like, "you know what, I think it is time. I got an answer to my prayers, I will be baptized." But sadly that's not what we got. He still has ties to his Catholic church and doesn't want to abandon it, in his words. Me and Elder Oliveira, helped by the Spirit, bore our hearts and souls and testimonies to no avail. I left the house pretty down. It is frustrating. I don't understand the time of Heavenly Father sometimes. He is definitely testing our patience here. Patrick is ready, he just needs to see it too. Please pray for him to feel the Spirit and have the courage he needs to take this important step in his life. 

Saturday the other Elders had a baptism. Friday night we went to the chapel to fill up the font. We got there and Santos' and his family were having a huge party for his granddaughter. So we went to turn on the font and no water came out. Seriously hahaha the water in the rest of the building was working except for the most important part. So we had to bucket fill using the sink in the cleaning room. After 2 hours of filling we were only half way but it was time to leave. (Irmão Santos gave us a ton of extra food which was sweet so that was good.) Saturday morning we went back and finished filling the font for the baptism. I thought it was just funny because it is totally a thing that would happen to missionaries. 

Another moment happened like that this week too. Saturday night at the baptism. We were all waiting there for a few more people to show up and we realized we had no stuff to eat the cake that a member brought. Elder Ataíde, who was performing the baptism also needed another white shirt so me and Oliveira ran home real quick. We grabbed the stuff and started to head back to the church when we saw, and heard, a giant wall of rain coming towards us. It was totally out of nowhere but started to POUR! We put the stuff under our shirts and booked it towards the chapel. It was another one of those moments. Running in the pouring rain, in missionary clothes, on my birthday, with my awesome companion, laughing, almost slipping, in Itabuna Brasil... I mean come on. How awesome! It is those little moments that I love the most out here.  

Saturday was my birthday and I was well taken care of! J My companion and the others in the house were overly nice all day and the members who we had lunch with made me a cake, sang to me and everything. It was awesome! Oh and THANK YOU EVERYBODY FOR THE EMAILS.  I have 55 EMAILS. When I logged on to my email and saw it I thought it was a glitch. I love you all so much!! Thanks for all the birthday wishes! 

So last night (Sunday) our ward choir sang at the other ward's, Fatima, Christmas activity. They invited our choir and it was a good practice for our activity coming up on Friday night. We sang 5 songs and man, it reminded me how much I love Christmas music. It is so awesome and brings the spirit and is just the best!

Have a wonderful Christmas week everyone and remember our Savior, Jesus Christ. 


Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Elder Vander Werff
(Mom i think you found his Mom cause he already knew me. He's been out a little less time than I have.)

Elder Jenkins, one of the Assistants

me and Oliveira 
Elder Johnson
American from Texas who has a little over a year left and has a fantastic singing voice. He is hilarious!
Elder Marques
Brazilian He is crazy and hilarious he goes home next transfer
Elder Ohling 
American who goes home in January he is awesome

Reunited with Elder Santana, my trainer.

Elder  Ataide
Elder Janish's companion and one of my roommaes

Samuel, one of my favorite youth in our ward. He is a Priest. 
He left for a trip to Rio and won't get back for a while so I saw him on the way home and took a pic real quick. 
All the leftovers Irmao Santos sent home with us on Friday night, just in time for my birthday! 

My Birthday Cake! 

The Bishop's son! So cute!