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

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Staying in Imbui

Last District Conference of the Transfer

Hi everybody! 
How are you all doing?! I hope everyone had a great week! This last week of the transfer here was great for us and now we are going to get some changes. So actually I am not being transferred! I am staying a third transfer here in Imbuí! Elder Pereira is being transferred! He was one and done here but is actually just being transferred to a different area in this zone so I will see him at zone meetings and stuff! I will be getting Elder Tavares (I think that is how it is spelt haha). I have never met him but he took my place in Conquista when I left there! I am excited for the change but sad Elder Pereira is leaving! We had a great transfer together that FLEW by! It was a memorable one! 

So our week was great! I will try to give a good run down! 

Tuesday morning we got a cool surprise call from Viviane! Last week she had told us that she wouldn't be able to meet with us at all this week because she was going to a work seminar thing. She got the date wrong and it didn't start til Wednesday! So Tuesday she asked us if we could visit with her, and of course we said we could! That afternoon we went over. It was a great visit! Both her and Anna Beatriz are starting to read the Book of Mormon from the beginning! Of course they both had already read like 7 chapters in less than 5 days! They had some questions and we were able to answer them which I felt was great! I love talking about the Book of Mormon with people! There is always such a strong feeling of love when we talk about the Book of Mormon! It makes me so happy and I hope the people we are talking to about it, feel that happiness too!

Wednesday was another sweet day! We had a great last District meeting! It was sad because our district has gotten pretty close and we all have a ton of fun together! I talked about bearing testimony for the training. It was great but the coolest part came later. I'll get there. Wednesday night we went to visit this man named Francisco. He is a member who was inactive for years but just started to come back to church! Our Ward mission leader told us that he had a granddaughter who lives with him who isn't a member! So we went to visit them and had a GREAT lesson. Brother Francisco's granddaughter is named Thailane. She is 13 and just the best! She had actually been to church once and we didn't even see her! But we had a great lesson. We talked about the Restoration. It was cool for me to see Elder Pereira teach with so much confidence and Spirit and it made me think how much he has grown this transfer! The best part of the lesson was at the end! We asked Thailane how she was feeling about everything we had been talking about. She said, "I have the same feeling I had the time I went to your church, it's a good feeling. It just feels right!" We testified that that was the Holy Ghost. Then we challenged her to baptism for the 16th of September and she accepted! Woo! We are excited and she was at church Sunday too! 

Thursday was a really cool day. I had a very cool experience Thursday night. We went on a split with our Elders' Quorum President and one of his counselors! I went with the counselor, who's name is Jose Alesho. We were going to visit some less-actives. Just to give a little backround on Alesho, he has had a tough life! But he has a AMAZING spirit with him. He learned how to read and write when he was already an adult, and the way he talks to people is a little different. But when he has the Spirit that doesn't matter. The cool experience happened when we were actually on the street walking to our next appointment! We were about to go up this street when Alesho saw another man standing next to a car. The man saw him and said "Alesho! He man!" Then they started to talk and I was confused. I found out they were friends from work years ago. Then Alesho did the coolest thing. He said, "So I have talked to you about my church before but never in detail. I want to bear my testimony to you that this church is the fountain of my joy..." He then proceeded to give one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard on that street to that friend! The reason I said I would come back to the subject of the training I gave Wednesday is because what Alesho did was exactly what I talked about at our district meeting. He had no idea that is what I talked about but he bore a simple, pure testimony that touched our hearts! It was truly amazing! We all felt the Spirit very strong in that moment! Testimonies are powerful tools! 

Friday night we had another lesson with Thailane! We went and explained better for her about the Book of Mormon and invited her to read it! She accepted and was really happy to get her own Book of Mormon! She thought it was so cool that it was for her! Like her own book! It was really cool to see her happy. She even said the closing prayer and asked God to help her read and find the truth in what we are teaching. It was a really spiritual experience too! 
Saturday we went to visit with Suely! We issued her with the challenge to start to read the Book of Mormon from the beginning to the end! She is nervous but excited to start! It is crazy to me how much that that woman has changed spiritually and just all-around. It is easy to see. She just has a better feeling and is always happy now. And all that happened just because she has been reading the Book of Mormon. It is amazing. 

Sunday was great! It was raining like crazy and kind of cold! Well for here that is, haha! We had a smaller number of people at church because of the rain. It was funny because I was kind of saying bye to people becuase we thought I would get transferred! Then Sunday night we got the transfer and it wasn't me! Craziness! 

Well that was our week! I loved this transfer and am excited for this next one too! Can't wait to serve the Lord even harder! 

Love you all! Have a great week! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Last Zone conference before transfers- the numbers are how many months the missionary has been out.

Saying goodbye to Elder Santana

Saying goodbye to Sister Rodrigues

District Meeting Picture shenanigans

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Every week on a mission is a unique one!

District Selfie

Hi everyone! 
How are you all doing? I'm sure all is well! I hope everybody had a great week! Our week here in the Imbuí ward was a little slow compared to some of our other weeks, but we still saw miracles and had great experiences! Every week on a mission is a unique one! 

This week is the last of week of the transfer! Crazy right?! For me this transfer went faster than any other one on my entire mission I think!! It is crazy! I seriously can't believe it! I think I am going to get transferred which is sad because I really like this area! Like a lot! It is great here! The members, the area itself, our house, etc.  My guess is I will be going to the interior again! Who knows though? Transfers are always exciting times! J

Tuesday afternoon we went and visited Suely! She is doing great. We had a special experience with her. It has been a while since we had taught her since she went out of town last week. So we started talking with her about how she was doing spiritually. She got a little emotional and said she wasn't doing too well. What followed was me and Elder Pereira totally in-sync and we both started to read scriptures about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was really guiding the lesson. The Spirit was really strong and I just felt such a love for Suely. On the outside, she is a closed, tough person to talk to. But when she opens up, you can tell she really has a desire to follow Jesus Christ. We focused a lot of that lesson on faith and repentance because that is what she was needing most. And focusing on her needs, helped her feel and learn by the Spirit better. And that leads to my next topic…

Wednesday morning we had a district meeting and the training I gave was about focusing on the needs of our investigators and adapting our lessons on-the-fly when needed! It was a great meeting! I felt it went well! We did a lot of great "praticas," which in english means practices! I think it helped a lot! I love my district! After this week, all of our district will have had a baptism during this transfer and we are still going strong! That is what happens when you work hard!

Wednesday night was also great! The Sunday before we had a lady in the ward named Renilza, come up to us out of nowhere. And she said,"Elders, I want to do a family night this week at my house. I am inviting some non-member friends. That means you guys need to be there!" Of course we gladly were!! It is not everyday that members come up to us to invite us to a "noite familiar" as it is called. It was a great evening! Irmã Renilza invited like 5 non-members! Plus some of her daughters are inactive, so they also participated. Of course we were the ones with the message. We watched a church video from Elder Godoy of the 70. It was on the talk he gave in Portuguese at General Conference a few years ago! It was great and we had an awesome time! We got the numbers and addresses of the non-members and we are planning to go visit some of them this week! 

Friday we had another adventure! We went back to Brotas, the Assistants area, because I had to do a baptismal interview for Elder Castlemain and Elder Souza! We did a mini-split and Elder Castlemain and I headed to the girl's house where the interview was. So the girl actually wasn't home when we got there! We waited and waited, and she never showed up. (It wsa all good in the end because later that in the day she got interviewed by Elder Prado, the other Assistant because we had left. And she was baptized on Saturday and confirmed Sunday.) After we left, we met back up with the other elders and Elder Pereira and I headed back to our area. That was when the adventure started because we got lost going home. Salvador has a recently-constructed metro train! We decided to take it. We have previously used it and it was great! This time we had planned to get off at the station that has the name of a part of our area. We figured since the station had a name of a part of our area, we could take that train to there, and figure out where we were when we got there! There was a ton of traffic on the freeway as it was Friday night, so the metro seemed like the right decision. But when we got off at our stop, we didn't recognized ANYTHING! After asking a ton of people and waiting for another bus for an hour, nothing had shown up. Things were not looking good. I decided to say a silent prayer. The second I finished my prayer and looked up, a bus going to our area showed up!! It was really a miracle. 

Saturday morning we headed over to our new recent-converts, Viviane and Anna Beatriz. Usually during the week we can only meet with them Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. But this week we could only meet with them Saturday because the other days their visiting and home teachers were doing visits!! That made me so happy! That is how a ward always needs to be!  We had an awesome lesson with them about family history and the temple, and talked to them about making a goal to go to the temple! They accepted and are excited already! I really feel that they will stay very strong in the church. Their house is already looking like a LDS home. They have scriptures, pamphlets, and church magazines everywhere. One of the brothers from our ward went to the temple in Recife last week and brought back a image of the temple at our request! We are looking for a place to get it framed and then we will give it to them! I really feel the Spirit with them and I know that because of their joining of the Church, lots of others will too! 
Saturday we also had another great lesson with Suely! We read Ether 12 with her and during the lesson I had one of those, "what the heck, I'm on a mission" moments. I love being a missionary!

One quick thought! At the family night on Wednesday there was a part from the video that I really liked. Elder Godoy posed a question "Are we living in a way that ALL the blessings of our Heavenly Father are being given to us?" I loved that! It made me do a lot of thinking! Everyday we can get better! We can become closer to Jesus Christ! We just have to act!

I love you all more than you know! Have a great week! 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
P-day basketball. (sorry for the blur)
Rainbow and view from our apartment

Monday, August 21, 2017

"Oh, how happy I was!"

Baptism Day

Hey everybody! 

How are you all doing?! I hope you all had a great week! Here in Salvador life is wonderful! We had an AMAZING week and I will get to the main highlight towards the end of the email. Let me just say as I begin that I love serving the Lord and helping people come closer to Jesus Christ! There is no better work! 

So Wednesday we had a very full day! We got home that night absolutely dead tired but that is the best feeling as a missionary because we had worked hard!! First we had a Zone Conference with the two zones here in Salvador combined. The problem was that I found out it was 2 zones a little bit late. I’ll explain: The meeting was scheduled to start at 8 AM but there was a leader meeting at 7 AM with President Bangerter so my companion and I got up early to get to the stake center. We arrived on time but the chapel was locked and no one was around. I tried calling a ton of people and no one answered. Finally some of the Sisters who serve in the area where we currently were answered. I asked "Sister, is the Zone Conference cancelled?" She replied no, and I said, "Umm then why is no one here?!" She realized what had happened and said "Elder are you guys at the Itapuã Stake Center? The meeting is at the other Stake Center!" Ugh! So no one had told us and we had to get on another bus to the other chapel! On that bus we hit Los Angeles like traffic! And I mean BAD!!! We ended up getting there late but in the end it was all worth it because we had a GREAT meeting! My favorite training was from Sister Bangerter! Her Portuguese has improved so much since I arrived here in the field! She always likes to give trainings that mix Portuguese with English. She focused her training on a scripture in 2 Nephi chapter 9. First she shared the last part of verse 39 in Portuguese and talked about it. Then wrote the same phrase but the English version. The phrase is, "and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal." She took the first letter of the last five words and it spells SMILE!! I loved that! When we are spiritually-minded we will smile and be happy!! It was a great meeting! 

After the meeting ended we had to book it over to Viviane and Anna Beatriz's to have a very important lesson! It was going to be their last one before their baptism interview on Friday! We taught about the Sabbath day and tithing! Both things we had previously touched on but had not really explained it completely so we wanted to help them with that. The best part was when we were teaching them about tithing! I was explaining what tithing is and that we pay 10% and then Viviane goes, "only 10 percent?" It was so awesome! I thought it was a great, positive outlook on the topic! They were excited and a little nervous for Saturday but all was looking good after Wednesday!

The same day we also went to contact another media referal! It was a lady who's name was Suzana! We called her the day before and she said she wanted a Book of Mormon so we scheduled an appointment to deliver her one!  We showed up around 6 that night and after knocking on the wrong door at her neighbor's she came out and said she was Suzana! So we went in and met her and her family! She lives with her husband and their 3 little kids. The oldest is 6 and the other two are under 3. We had a fantastic lesson about the Restoration and explained the Book of Mormon. The way she found out about the church is cool too! She got put into a group text with a bunch of moms. She said that a majority of them live in São Paulo and they are members! They had little by little explained about the church in the group text and when she asked a question they would answer! In the end the other moms told her about the church website where she can ask for a Book of Mormon! So she did and we showed up! This work of salvation only works when members of the Church are active it! I promise it! You don't have to talk about the church every breathing moment like a full time missionary, but being an example to others is the main part! All of the success I have seen here on my mission comes because of members helping with the work! I also thought another cool thing was that Suzana goes by "Sue" and it made me think about Aunt Sue this week with her surgery! Heavenly Father placed this other Sue in my path to remind me of Aunt Sue at home. She and all the Robles’ are in my prayers!

On Thursday night a really cool thing happened. Close to our house is this huge grocery store. It’s kind of like Ralphs or Vons but a little bigger. These types of stores are RARE here so it is great to one close by. Thursday night before we went home we went by to buy some food and I FOUND CREAM CHEESE!!!!!!!!!! I know that is probably a really funny and silly thing to get so excited about but I freaked, lol! I of course bought it and have been eating it just with bread every day, haha! These are the little type of things that don't usually exist here that when I find them are amazing. Like I realized that sour cream also doesn't exist here! And the worst is ranch. Ranch, I think, I will never find. Barbeque sauce is really common here in Salvador so that is good. Sorry for the food update, it was just so exciting! LOL! 

Friday we went and met with Matues and Lo. They are interesting people. We love them but we are starting to feel like they are only wanting to have us as friends and not as missionaries who talk about Christ. They like our visits but aren't keeping the commitments that we have given them. So sadly we might have to “drop” them. It’s always hard when this happens but we are here to help them come closer to Christ, not just to have a good time and visit as friends. 

Friday we had the interviews of Viviane and Anna Beatriz! Our Zone Leaders Elder Rodrigues and Elder Santana came to do them! Anna went first and the interview was quick and without a hitch. Viviane was second. As Elder Santana was interviewing her the rest of us were just out in the hall talking... and talking... and talking, because the interview was taking forever! I started to get worried and Elder Pereira even more because this was the first time one of his investigators were being interviewed for Baptism since he is new! Finally they walked out and everything was good! We headed out and the second we left I said, "Elder Santana what the heck happened?" He replied, "Dude, I didn't even barely talk. She already has such a strong testimony and she just kept talking about how much she loves the gospel! That is why it took so long haha!" So it was all okay but a little scary there for a minute!

So now for the highlight of the week and the biggest reason that this week was so good…Viviane and Anna Beatriz  were baptized on Saturday! OH HOW HAPPY I WAS! The meeting went perfectly! Elder Pereira baptized Viviane and I got to baptize Anna! It was so spiritual! I felt the Spirit so strong when I got to baptize Anna Beatriz! After the actual ordinance, our ward's Relief Society sang a special musical number. The Spirit was SOO strong in the room helping everyone feel the peace, comfort and witness that Anna and Viviane had done the Lord’s will. I looked over at Viviane and Anna, and saw Viviane reach over and grab her daughter’s hand as both had tears in their eyes. That was a special moment. This Gospel is about families. Eternal families. And their next goal will be to go to the temple. Saturday was a day that missionaries live for! 

Sunday was great too! Both Viviane and Anna came to church and were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as they received the Gift of the Holy Ghost! It was so special and such a privilege to participate! Our next focus is now going to be Rafael, Anna's boyfriend! He has now come to church twice and was at the baptism and is LOVING church! 

So that was a very quick recap of our amazing week! I love this privilege of representing the Lord Jesus Christ!  I love you all so much! Thanks for being awesome! Have a fantastic week! 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
Elder Pereira, me, Vivane, Anna Beatriz and Raphael before Viviane and Anna's baptism.  
Baptism Day
The Relief Society Sisters in the Ward came to support Viviane and Anna at their Baptism. 
Baptism Selfie

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"This work is a work of love!"

View from our Apartment of the Sunrise
Hi everybody!! 
How are you all doing?! I hope it was a great week for you all! Our week was great and if everything goes well, this week will be even better! We are praying all does go well! Faith is the key! 

Our week started out a little slow. Monday night we had a few appointments marked that all fell through. Tuesday also just seemed like everything was against us! It was crazy. It was like we were invisible! There was a moment Tuesday night when we literally were ignored by 7 people straight! Even just saying "Boa noite," which means good evening and is a common thing to say to people on the street, we were being ignored. People just didn't respond or look in our direction. But that just happens sometimes I guess. 

Wednesday things started to get a little better! To start off we had an amazing District Meeting. It was so great! I think I had the best training I've given so far! We talked about finding new people and thinking in new, different ways to find, than what our mission is accustomed to! It was so awesome. Everyone was participating and I was only able to give the first half of the training I had prepared because there wasn't enough time to finish due to all of the participation! And I was worried when I was preparing that it would be too short! HA! 

Recently our mission changed a little in respect to the weekly goals we have. For example one of the new goals is 21 New Investigators a week. So I challenged my district to hit that goal! I am happy to say that our entire district crushed it!!! So things are going great here. 

Wednesday afternoon we went to teach Mateus, the less-active guy we have been meeting with. When we got there Elder Pereira and I had an "in-tune" moment. Mateus lives with his girlfriend but EVERY time we have gone over there she is in the other room. We had never even seen her. So the "in-tune" moment was when we both simultaneously said, "Invite your girlfriend to come join the lesson!" It was so funny. One of the ways to get new investigators that we had talked about at the district meeting was to round up everyone in the house we are at for the lesson! So we did! It was great. We met Lo, Mateus' girlfriend and she is awesome. She loved the lesson and we just read the story of Enos with them. They thought it was so cool how Enos prayed for the Lamanites. Mateus seemed to be physically affected. He got quiet, which is rare, then said, "I had never thought that someone would pray for an enemy. This guy really was a man of God huh?" It was really cool! They just need to come to Church!! 

Thursday they invited us back to have dinner with them and Mateus invited one of his friends to get to know us! His name was Icaro and he is awesome too. It is just the best when people introduce us to their friends! You guys back home, just invite a friend to dinner on the same night as the missionaries! They will LOVE it! 

Friday was great too! We taught Viviane and Anna Beatriz again! Man they are just the best. We got there and found out the best news. Viviane switched with someone at work!!!!!!! So on the 20th she can go to Church and be confirmed! It was, well IS, a miracle! We prayed and fasted, and the miracle we needed happened! Thanks to all of you guys for the prayers! It helped so much! Viviane told us that the guy who switched with her will work 36 HOURS STRAIGHT, so she can go to Church Sunday. She said she explained to him the whole situation and he was more than happy to help. I need to find this man and thank him, haha! I love when Heavenly Father responds to our prayers with people. During our visit we answered some questions they had about baptism and stuff and it was great. Anna Beatriz had a few questions she was concerned about but we responded to her doubts and we are praying a lot for her! We taught about the Law of Chastity and it went perfect. It was an amazing, spiritual lesson! We gave them a present, the church magazine, The Liahona and they loved it. 

Friday night we went to visit Mateus and Lo for a lesson. Mateus was pretty sick so we just taught Lo. She is very shy and timid but liked the lesson about the Restoration. We challenged her to be baptized and she accepted! We hope she continues to progress. 

Saturday morning we also went to Viviane's again. Anna Beatriz went out of town for the weekend because here in Brasil Sunday was Father's Day. So she went to her dad's in a different city. So Saturday morning we went to just visit with Viviane! I seriously can't express how amazing Viviane is! That lady has gone through a lot of hard times but she just oozes joy. I love our lessons with her. During the lessons she will be listening and then out of nowhere raise her hand a little bit and get all excited and laugh and say she has an experience! So we let her talk and then she tells some incredible story or makes a perfect comment about what we were talking about. I am so excited to see how she grows in this Gospel. I can see her being VERY strong and a leader in the Church someday. Saturday was great! 

Sunday was a great day as well and we ended the week with a wonderful Sabbath day. 

So this week is a big one! Viviane and Anna Beatriz will be baptized on Saturday! We are excited for them and are praying like crazy! 

I love being a missionary. Like, I REALLY love it. I have realized during my time that this work is a work of love. It might sound cliché but it is true. Love runs it all. Love that we have for our companions, investigators, the members, and most important for God. His love for us is impossible to comprehend. Love is what this world needs more. The way we will get it, is through Jesus Christ. I love you all! Have a great week! 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

District Meeting this week

Monday, August 7, 2017

"Christ promises to fill our souls with joy!"

Me with the futebol player statue that you can see from our house.
Hi everybody!!!!
I hope you are all doing great! I'm sure another week of summer was a blast. Here in Salvador it seems like our "winter" might be hittin' the road already as this week it was a little hotter! We had a great beginning of August and the future is looking bright here in Imbuí!! Elder Pereira and I are getting along great but I am definitly feeling old out here! Training is so different! I love it but it's definitely challenging.  

Last Monday after we sent our emails we went bowling with a ton of missionaries in our zone! It was a blast and I got to see old friends and make new ones! Someone made the comment when we were there how it is so weird that we all got to know one another on our missions! A lot of times it seems like we have known each other forever! It's so true! An example of that is my trainer and now Zone Leader Elder Santana, I met him less than a year ago but it feels like we have been friends for years! I'll send pictures! It was a fun day!

Tuesday was a great work day. Pure work and sweat. We found some new people to teach, which we needed. A few families, one of which we will be visiting tonight! So hopefully it goes well! Tuesday afternoon we had a visit with Suely. She is the less-active lady who's son is preparing for a mission. The son is the only one active and we are working on re-activating the family, starting with Suely. It would help out the son a lot if his mom was more supportive of him serving a mission. Last week Suely had disappeared a bit and we couldn't find her home. But Tuesday we found her. We taught and read with her 1 Nephi 8 about Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life. I forgot how much I LOVE that chapter!! It is seriously such a good example and analogy for our day! If you haven't read it recently go read it! Suely really felt the Spirit and she liked the part where Lehi desires the fruit of the tree for the rest of his loved ones. She started to explain how her family needed this "fruit" again. Then we made a list of all her friends and extended family who live in the area and who we can visit. It was great. Friday we had another great lesson with her, just reading the Book of Mormon. Sunday she was at church and as we sat down in Gospel Principles she says, "Elder Christofferson, I didn't drink coffee Friday, yesterday, and today." I was speechless! This was the lady who said that there were conditions of us visiting with her. One of them being we weren't allowed to talk about coffee and the stuff she wasn't supposed to do. We hadn't said ONE WORD to her about her drinking coffee, we only reading the Book of Mormon with her and invited her to read and pray about it. The Book of Mormon is the best tool ever! It helps us in all situations! I know it is the word of God. When we read it, we come closer to our Heavenly Father and seek to do his will. 

Wednesday was amazing! We went and visited our awesome investigators Viviane and Anna Beatriz. They loved Church on Sunday and thought it was very edifying. They liked how everyone gets to participate if you want to. Not just one or two men in the front talking the whole time. We taught more in-depth for them about the Book of Mormon. Towards the end of the lesson I started to bear my testimony and felt the Spirit intensely. I was prompted by the Spirit to invite Viviane and Anna Beatriz to be baptized and they both said yes! Then Viviane said, "We need this in our lives. It just seems like there is a void that nothing will fill. Material things don't do it and everything we have looked at so far doesn't fill that space. I don't know how to explain it other than that it feels like there is something missing in our lives but this seems right;" WOW!!!! We promised and testified that this Gospel, this true church of Jesus Christ WILL fill that void. That is what Christ promises, to fill our souls with joy. We set a goal with them for the 19th of August!!! 

Friday we went and visited a less-active named Mateus. He is an interesting guy with a lot of questions, like A LOT. Friday when we were teaching him one of his friends showed up. He was insisting his friend come in and talk to us too, haha! He did and we taught them both together and now we are visiting with Daniel, the friend! All we are doing with Mateus is reading the Book of Mormon! It is the perfect solution like I said! And just doing that he is changing. He is talking about his friends and family who don't have the Gospel and wanting us to visit them without us even asking! It is amazing!!! 

Saturday we visited with Viviane and Anna Beatriz again! Our Gospel Principles teacher, Eliete, came with us! It was a great lesson and we taught about the Plan of Salvation! They thought it was so "pretty" :-)! They loved the fact that we can have eternal families meaning that even beyond this life we can be with our families forever. Our families don't end with "til death do you part" or "for as long as you both shall live" but they can last for ETERNITY! At the end of the lesson I asked how they were feeling. Viviane said, "I was really close to my Grandmother, her name was Anna Beatriz with two N's and that is why I gave my daughter that name too." (Normally Anna is spelled with just one N in Portuguese). "When my grandmother died I didn't know what to do. I have always felt her with me throughout my life but not known if that was just in my head or real, if there really was life after death? But now that I know I can live with her again, I am happier than ever." I mean come on! What a perfect testimony she shared! Anna, who is only 19 said, "I have never lost anyone like really close to me. But now that I know this, when I do, it won't be as painful." It was way awesome. Then Anna asked if she can bring other people to church with them! We said of course and then her boyfriend, Rafael, showed up! He was getting there right as we left and he was interested too. 

We fasted yesterday and are praying alot that Viviane can get the 20th off of work so she can come to church the day after her baptism to be able to get confirmed during sacrament meeting! Because if not she would have to wait a lot of weeks to be confirmed!!! Please pray for her to be able to get the 20th off of work. 

Anyway, Sunday Anna was there! Viviane had to work but Anna came and brought Rafael!!! It was awesome! Anna was explaining things to him during the meeting! It made me so happy to see investigators HELPING OTHER investigators haha! Good times! 

So everyone that was our week!! I love this gospel! I love the Book of Mormon! I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Selfie of me Elder Santana, Sister Rodrigues and Sister Huamaní

Everyone bowling! 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"My week was amazing!"

Our district!! Elder Castlemain is one of the new APs and Elder Souza is back in my district!! Love that dude!
Hey Everybody!!!

So this week was a week of change! It was the first week of a new transfer and I have a new companion whose name is Elder Pereira. He only has two months on his mission so I am finishing his training! He's 19 and from Fortaleza, Seará, here in Brasil. It is a little farther north of here in Bahia! The church there is growing quickly and there will be a temple there too! It is under construction right now which is so cool! Elder Pereira is a great missionary and I am excited about this transfer! 

I have to say that I am loving this area recently! The layout of it, the ward, just the people in general, the weather, everything! It has been rainy and a little cold here lately too! Cold for here  is in the 70s with an ocean breeze we feel that makes it seem colder with the humidity so it's good!

Last Monday night Elder Alves left for his new area! I hope he likes it there. I learned a LOT last transfer with him and I am grateful God put him in my path! 

After Elder Alves left I went to spend the night at the house of the AP’s (missionaries who serve as assistants to the Mission President) since my companion wouldn’t be arriving until the next day. We had a blast that night. It was me, Elders Jenkins, Prado, High, and Pyne, who finished his misssion last week! We went to get pizza and then just sat talking and went home that night and played a board game with everyone! I slept in the hammock because there were only 4 beds! I slept well too and now I can check that off my bucket list! It was just a blast to be with American/English speaking people. It made me feel like I was back with the boys of my quorum back home. I loved it! 

Tuesday morning we had the training for the trainers at the mission home and the new greenies arrived! Once again I felt so weird seeing them arrive because for me that moment doesn't feel so long ago. We had great training throughout the day and the main thing I took away was just the principle of hard work. Everything I seemed to be hearing was centered on that. Just do it! Work and you will see the blessings! It was great! 

Wednesday was a FANTASTIC day!! It was the first full day with Elder Pereira and man it was great. I can't even talk about everything that happened because it was so much but I'll hit the highlights. Wednesday night we had a family home evening at the house of our ward mission leader, Marival. Last week we had challenged him and his wife to invite people to FHE and they came thru! Three of the people he invited showed up. A lady named Ana Maria,  and a brother and sister, Jessica and Ander, the first is 19 and the latter 12. Irmão Marival gave a quick message on the Plan of Salvation and it was so spiritual. We bore our testimonies after about eternal families. It is always so cool to me to see how people react to that doctrine! They all thought it was amazing and we got their info to visit them this week! 

Wednesday night after the family home evening we were walking home. As we were walking we saw this truck with a bunch of stuff in it, a lady, and about six or seven kids. They were taking the stuff out of the truck and walking down a steep path to a house. The lady was moving in! The week before in out Gospel Principles class at church, we had been talking about service and our teacher challenged everyone to do more service this week. I was so excited when I saw the situation I ran up to the lady and asked if we could help! She seemed a little scared at first but accepted. We helped this lady for about 20 minutes put the few belongings she had into a SMALL house; fridge, stove, beds, a table. I don't know how she had planned on finishing! She was actually pregnant too so it was harder! The only help she had was the 10-13-year-old boys. The coolest part was at the end when we were almost leaving. We hadn't even mentioned one thing about the Church at all and she says, "Thank you guys so much! This week I'm busy but next week you guys can come back!" It was a miracle! We had not said anything about the church and she already wants a visit! This week we are going back for sure! 

Thursday night we went to teach Davi and Michele. They are doing good! We watched the video about the Restoration and it was great! I wanted them to remember about Joseph Smith and feel that Spirit again. Afterward, we talked about Michele getting an answer and heavenly help for her doubts and worries. It was really spiritual and now we wait. Obviously, we keep visiting and following up and in time she'll get her answer! I feel like I've gained a lot of patience on my mission and learned that it is all in the Lord’s timing, not mine.

Friday morning we had our first district meeting of the transfer! It was great! I'm really excited for this transfer and really like my district. I had the privilege to give the training and I talked about using the scriptures more in our lives and lessons. I thought it went great!  In our lives, in general, the scriptures can be more prominent! Jacob 2:8 says, "...the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul." What an amazing promise! We can all use the scriptures more! The word of God can heal our souls! 

Okay, so I'll try not to get too excited about this next topic. Last Sunday I got a call from Salt Lake City. It was two Temple Square sister missionaries! They gave us a referral. So Thursday I called the referral who's name is Viviane! She was so nice and we scheduled for Saturday morning. Saturday came and we headed for the address. She lives in a neighborhood a little far away and a little nobler. It is just a bunch of huge apartment buildings and doing work there is tough. But we found it and she let us in! Viviane is in her late 40s and she has a daughter named Anna Beatriz who is 19. We got there and they were so so nice! We went in and immediately I could tell this was going to be a great lesson. The Spirit was there just in our ice breaking conversation! We found out why they were a referral! So they have only lived here in Salvador about a year and a half and in the city they were living in before they have a friend who is a member. Recently he had traveled to Salt Lake to see the Church Headquarters. After he did the tour the Sisters there asked if he had anyone who he was feeling would be interested in the message. He said Viviane and her daughter! And in the end, they ended up in our hands. So we taught the Restoration and it was AMAZING! We were all feeling the Spirit and when I asked how they were feeling they both said they felt a different feeling than they had ever felt before! We testified it was the Holy Ghost speaking to them and telling them what they were learning is true! Then we committed them to pray to know for themselves if it was all true and then explained how an answer could come from the Spirit. Viviane then shared a very special experience she had a few years ago. She told us that few people know the story! I won't tell it here because it was special to her but it was really cool and God comforted her. We finished the lesson and we were getting up to go and then they stopped us because they made us a cake!!!!! They made a cake for people they didn't even know!! Like who does that haha!!?? So we all ate it together and got to know them better! 

This Sunday might have been the best of my entire mission! Viviane and Anna came to church and we had a lot of inactive members come who we have been visiting! And there was a 70 there too!! It shocked me cause usually we know when a General Authority is going to be at church. Elder Pinto, the 70, gave one of the most spiritual talks I have ever heard in a Sacrament meeting. There was seriously not a dry eye in the room. And what did he talk about? The importantce of members working with missionaries! It was incredible. In Gospel Principles we talked about the Word of Wisdom and found out that Viviane and Anna ALREADY LIVE IT!!!! It was a miracle. They are golden. We are so excited!!! 

Anyways, that was a lot but my week was amazing. I love how Heavenly Father blesses us when we are obedient and diligent!! He knows us personally!! I know it!! I love you all and pray you all have a great week!! 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Helena and I. She is the little girl of one of the members here. She's so cute!  
Elder Pereira and I
My nametag and my comps, mine is old looking if you can tell 
A park in our area. It's so pretty.