Thursday, November 16, 2017

"I am so grateful I am a Missionary"

Walking to an appointment
Hey Everyone!!! 
How are you all doing?! I hope that all is well! We had a wonderful week here in Salvador and the work is moving along great! Summer is coming up fast here and everyday it is getting hotter! I am getting used to it a little bit, even though I sweat a lot! HA!  But what's new right?! Anyway, we had a fun week, with lots of cool experiences so I will try to explain how awesome it all was! 

Tuesday night we had a great lesson with Marlene and Evely! We went and since Evely has already been taught all the main discussions we have been focusing on answering her questions. It has been great. Tuesday we read 3 Nephi 18 and talked about the sacrament and prayer! It was awesome. I got to share my thoughts on the sacrament and how important it is! The best part about the lesson was that the entire time we were focused on how the sacrament is important for followers of Christ, AFTER baptism. Evely was super into the lesson and excited and we are hoping that she can stay strong on her baptismal date! We will really see this week but I will talk more about her later! 

So Wednesday was AMAZING! It was my first time ever at the mission leadership council and man oh man it was so cool! I got to see so many old friends! My trainer, Elder Santana, was there and it was the last time I will see him because he goes home this transfer! I love that guy! I also got to see Elder Bair!!! Man I missed him! He is also going home this transfer so I was so happy to see him one more time before he heads back to the States! At the leadership council we talked about so many things. The main part I will talk about at the end of this email. But some of the other cool things were when President Bangerter read some entries from his mission journals. Another cool moment was when President explained the difference between authority and power. He gave some really cool examples. It was really spiritual because he gave an example of a disobedient missionary. He doesn't do anything because he wants to, only because he is forced too. President then asked a few random missionaries about someone that they love dearly who isn't a member of the church. He asked a few people and the last person he asked was Elder Estevam. He said he was thinking of his mom. President then continued with the example. He said, "So now imagine that missionary who isn't obedient and who doesn't have the desire to be there. He is on the street with his companion and they make contact with Elder Estevam's mom. Does that disobedient elder have the authority to invite her to come closer to Christ by getting to know the Church? Yes. But does he have the power to invite the Holy Spirit to that conversation so that she will be touched in her heart? No he has 0 power." It was really spiritual and personal during the training and reminded us how we all have authority to servants of the Lord. But the power we need only comes through our obedience and desire! It was awesome! Overall, Wednesday was just an awesome day and I felt the love of God so strongly. 

Friday was another great day! We had a Zone Meeting because we had to give a training and pass on information from the council that needed to be given before the start of this week! I will explain why. In our meetings on Wednesday President Bangerter had the idea that our mission needed to do something special. So we decided on what is called, "a semana de dedicação" in portuguese. In english it means " the week of dedication". So what is going to happen is that this week, starting today (Monday) we will wake up at 6 AM every day. We will leave to work at 8 AM everyday in place of leaving at 10, and come back at our normal time 9 PM. Our P-day today, ends at 3 so we can go out and work normally! We are all so excited and it is going to be awesome! We are all going to be ridiculously tired at the end of the week but we are excited to see the miracles. One thing that we decided as a zone is that we are going to look for a miracle each day. So everyday this week every companionship will write down a miracle at the end of each day. At the end of the week we will all email our miracles and put them together in a big email! We are all so excited. It is going to be tough, but it is going to be worth it. Our zone is really excited and we are too! Pray for us this week! 

On Friday after the zone meeting, we had a split in our area with the Assistants! It was so great! I got to go out with Elder Gil. He is from Mexico and just amazing! I learned so much from him and we had a blast together! We taught so many lessons and found a ton of great new people to start to teach. I had another one of those, "what the heck, I'm on a mission moments" when I was with him. We had just left a lesson and it was about 5 o'clock. It was just the perfect temperature as the sun started to go down. We were walking in the street laughing about something and I had the thought, "This is crazy! A Mexican and an American walking down a street in a poor Brasilian city, speaking Portuguese, a language that neither of us knew 2 years ago, and now we are laughing and having fun sharing the gospel together." It was so cool. It was one of those picture perfect moments haha! That scene will be forever printed in my mind! 

On our split of Friday we went and taught our investigator named Rosalia! I have written about her before! She is the lady we found our first week. She has been difficult to find lately but Friday we found her! She is crazy and a little bipolar but awesome. For example, we were teaching about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and she said, "I will be baptized, I know it. But only when God wants me too. But I want it to happen as fast as possible, but only when God puts that feeling into my heart." It was funny but we focused a lot on the principle of faith. We talked about how she can have faith to receive that feeling from God. But if she doesn't do anything to show her faith to God, nothing is going to happen. It was a great lesson and we will see how she progresses from here! 

Friday night was my favorite night of the week! As our last appointment of the day, we planned for all 4 of us to go to teach Marlene and Evely. We met up there and had an awesome time. Elder Gil and the other Assistant Elder Brito got to know them and we all had fun laughing. For the lesson we played a little game. Elder Estevam has these cards with things written on them. The name of the game is "Priority and Sacrifice." Elder Estevam puts 4 of the cards on table and the people playing have to choose which things are a priority and which they will sacrifice. It is a game that we play with members usually because as the game goes on it gets spiritual. At the beginning there are things like "all the money in the world", "a dream house" etc. But at the end there are things like, "family", "friends", "the scriptures" etc. The point of the game is to show that our testimonies need to be the thing that we cherish most, as in the last group of cards there is one with "my testimony" written on it. It was cool to see an investigator play because the thing you discover is what they have a stronger testimony in. For example, the first time I played it was really hard for me to have something more prioritized than family, because I have a strong testimony about family. Make sense? What people choose is what they have a stronger testimony about, but they don't realize that until the end when we explain the game. At the end, Marlene started to talk about why she valued the Gift of the Holy Ghost so much. She started to cry and the Spirit was SOOOO strong in the room. We were all sitting around a table and almost all had tears in their eyes. We started to focus on Evely and help her recognize that she HAS felt the Spirit many times before, and especially in that house, at that exact moment. There was a part when we all just started sharing spiritual experiences and at the end Elder Brito said, "Do you feel it?" He paused and looked around. "That happiness, that calm feeling? The Holy Spirit is here, and he is testifying that all this is true." It was a special experience. We all left on cloud 9 and we pray that Evely felt it enough that she will be baptized this week! 

Saturday we had a great lesson with a new family that we found that live almost next door to us! We will go back tonight so I hope they are waiting! If they start to progress more I will write more next week about them! 
Sunday was also a great day! We had a great lunch with one of the most faithful families I have met here. They live REALLY far away but are so strong in the Gospel. They are at Church every week and Sunday after lunch when we left, they all left with us to go visit another family in our ward that is having a hard time! It was so greatI I love strong members! They make us missionaries happy. 

So I think that is all! I got to go get to work! We are excited for this week and I can't wait to share all the miracles with you guys next week! 

Just to finish I wanted to share a quick experience. Wednesday we had that Leadership council. Well for the closing hymn we sang Called to Serve. President Bangerter likes us to stand up on the second verse. As we stood up I started to feel the Spirit very strongly. On my mission I have learned that when I feel the Spirit strongly I start to get REALLY happy! Like almost giggly happy haha! It is funny. As I started to get this huge smile on my face I felt this huge warmth spread over me. It was so strong I got goosebumps. I got teary eyed and had the thought, "There is nothing better than being a missionary." I am so grateful for being a missionary. I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ. He lives. That is something that I do not doubt one bit. This is his work! I love you all! 

Have a great week!  

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Last Picture with Elder Santana
Last picture with Elder Bair
Mission Leadership Conference
Zone Meeting
Helping in Primary
The sights of Salvador

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"It's all true!"

Our Zone with President and Sister Bangerter
Hey everybody! 
How are you all doing?! I hope everyone is doing great and had a fun week and Halloween! Here in this part of Brasil, Halloween isn't a thing at all, so for us it was just another normal day but I was thinking about it all day! November is here which seems quite strange! And Christmas is almost here! I can't believe how fast time is passing by! We had a great week, saw lots of miracles and had many spiritual experiences! 

I’ll start with Tuesday when we had a cool moment at our lunch that day! Remember that here in Brasil, we have lunch with the members, not dinner! Because lunch is the big meal of the day and dinner is smaller! It is the opposite of back home. Anyways we went to have lunch at a lady's house in our ward named Leide! She is really awesome! She has two boys, one who is 15 and the other who is 8. Her husband is named Anizio and he is not a member of the church! He is a really cool guy and really likes the missionaries so it was great to talk to him. We decided before we arrived that we would try to talk about the Church with him and find out where he is at with it. As we spoke we realized that he really doesn't know a lot at all about what our beliefs are. But he is a good man who believes in God. Anyway, he seemed pretty hesitant to get into the topic of religion but as we spoke to him we invited him to just take the discussions without any commitment, just for him to learn a little bit more about what his family believes! He accepted the invitation so we will keep stopping by to teach him!

Tuesday night we had a fun family night with the sisters and a family they are teaching! The investigator of the family is Jefferson and he is awesome! His wife is Ingrid who has been a member since her teens but fell away from the church later! They have recently come back to church and Jefferson is progressing to be baptized! The only thing is that they need to get married! That is also in the process of happening! But anyway they invited me and my companion to their family home evening! It was awesome! Jefferson, the non-member, conducted the meeting and gave the lesson! An INVESTIGATOR! It was so cool! He talked about the Word of Wisdom and we had a great discussion about it! The best part of the night was when we got there because the sisters had told us that Ingrid had invited her friend who lived in our area and that he was interested in the church! So when we got there Elder Estevam started talking to him while I was talking with Jefferson! I was a little hesitant about Lucas (the friend who wanted to know more about the church) because I had the strangest impression that I had seen him before. Long story short, my poor companion was tricked because Lucas is a member from a different ward! It was so funny and I totally figured it out! I had seen him before! It was a fun night and Jefferson and Ingrid and their 2 kids are getting closer to being an eternal family! 

Thursday afternoon it was pouring rain which was a nice change from the heat lately! We went to visit Marlene and Evely! We got there and found out Evely wasn't there because Thursday was a holiday and she had gone out with her friends! But we stayed and taught Marlene. We had planned on talking about prophets with her but we wanted to see what SHE wanted to talk about! And sure enough she chose prophets! It was a great lesson and we were able to answer some of her questions and she said it helped a lot! 

Friday we had a Zone Conference! It was great but I was really nervous because it was my first one as a Zone Leader! That doesn't really change much except that we had to give one of the trainings! I was pretty anxious the night before and we did a lot of planning! In the end it all went really well! We talked about how we should teach the lesson about commandments focusing on the principle of the commandment, then the promise or blessing received after obeying that commandment. President Bangerter had told us that he wanted our training to be about that but that we could take it any direction that we wanted. We decided to do lots of practicing with the other missionaries and it went perfectly! It is so funny to see the new missionaries doing practices because they seem so uncomfortable. But all the missionaries with a lot of time LOVE practices! It was a great training and I hope that the other missionaries felt the Spirit like I did!

Saturday night was the best of the week! We went to visit Marlene and Evely! When we got there a girl named Brenda was also there! Brenda is a neighbor of theirs who is also a member, but inactive. We always visit her family because her mom and little brother are almost 100% active and whenever we visit she doesn't listen to our messages! But Saturday at Evely's she stayed and participated! We talked about faith. Our lesson ended up being a discussion about the Creation! It was a great lesson but at the end I wanted to end with a spiritual note so I opened my Book of Mormon and we read a few verses from Ether 12. And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witnessuntil after the trial of your faith.
For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world.But because of the faith of men he has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen.Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.

In portuguese, the part about being "partakers of the heavenly gift" is written as "dom celestial" which means celestial gift! I liked that a lot. When we read these verses the Spirit became very strong and we all felt it. We ended with the invitation to go to church the next day. For Marlene to continue strong in coming back to church, for Brenda to start the process of coming back, and for Evely to be baptized. It was great! And the best part, all 3 were at church Sunday! Brenda hasn't been to church in months! We were so excited!

One quick fun thing that happened Sunday was that we got to church at 8:45 and were talking to members and waiting for Sacrament meeting to start when all of a sudden we look to the door and President Bangerter walks in! We were so surprised as he hadn't said anything to us about being there! The best part about him being there is that we we had investigators there so it was awesome! He only stayed for sacrament meeting but then had to leave. I love President Bangerter so much. I am SOOO blessed to have such an amazing mission president to help us and guide us to be the BEST missionaries we can possibly be!! 

This Wednesday we have the mission leadership council here in Salvador. I have always heard so much about how awesome these councils/meetings are but have never actually been to one so I am so excited to finally go and spend Wednesday in the mission home! I think I will get to see Elder Santana again and since he goes home this month it will be the last time! Also Elder Bair!!! I miss that dude but I think I will get to see him Wednesday along with a lot of other old mission friends! I can't believe how old I am feeling out here haha! 

Well that is all from me! I love you guys so much and hope everyone has a great week! It's all true!! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

President Bangerter and I 
 Elder Gray with Elder Estevam and I. He's a new one! 

Cixubgas - one if my favorite foods here

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"Miracles are happening!"

Elder Estevam overlooking the coastline from the Lighthouse on Pday
Hey everyone!!!  
How are you all doing? We had a great week here in São Cristovão and the future is looking bright! I love being a missionary and every week I feel the love of God as He helps us in this wonderful work! Miracles are happening!! 

So starting last Monday, we got to go on a little bit of an adventure! Monday afternoon we headed over to a place called "Farol de Itapuã" which just means Itapuã Lighthouse! It is a tourist spot and we went over with a whole bunch of other missionaries! It was really cool and my companion got us VIP access to the lighthouse just by talking to the people who worked there! It was so awesome and a blast! I will send pictures! The one funny part was that Elder Estevam and I didn't know that we would be going there so we wore our normal missionary clothes. We didn't have time to go back home after emailing and change so we went to the beach in church clothes haha! We got a lot of funny looks but we all had a great time! 

Tuesday night we went to visit Marlene, and her daughters Evely and Nataly. They are a family that the elders before me had been visiting but when I got here they weren't progressing very well so we were maybe going to drop them. But after we had a great lesson last week they started to progress so we kept visiting! Last week we found out that Marlene is actually a member! But has been inactive for years and now wants to come back to church! So Tuesday night we went to visit them and to teach about the commandments! We taught like an overview of all the commandments and it was great! But like usual here, there were 2 parts during the lesson when they got quiet or shocked. One was when we explained about the Word of Wisdom. When we said that we don't drink coffee the two girls were shocked! They said, "WHAT?! Coffee? No coffee?" I responded yes, then the coolest thing happened. Evely said, "Well that is okay I don't drink coffee!!!" We were so happy! That is what I see as the Lord preparing people for us! The other part during the lesson that was quiet was when we talked about Chastity! Nataly is 19 and has a boyfriend that she always stays with on the weekends. So we thought that that could be an issue. When I was talking about the Law of Chastity everyone got quie, but the Spirit in the room intensified. It was so cool for me to testify of that commandment and show them that the Lord's standard is the real way to have happiness! Overall it was a great lesson! 
Wednesday afternoon we came across another interesting situation! There is this sister in our ward named Nida. She was baptized about 5 years ago with her and her 2 kids. Her husband was not. So for the past 5 years the missionaries in this area have been trying to teach her husband, Josevaldo. He had been out of town but Wednesday we were passing by and I got the feeling we should go see if anyone was home. We knocked and found Josevaldo home already! Woo! So we went in to teach him. But then it got sad because he was very uninterested. He didn't seem to be paying much attention and at the end of the lesson he straight up told us that he really isn't interested. It made me really sad and he said that for 5 years the elders have been trying to baptize him and he has felt nothing. So it was but we are praying that he can soften his heart one day! The Lord loves everyone and always give us chances! 

Thursday night was another special lesson with Marlene and her daughter Evely. Her other daughter Nataly wasn't there because I think that after the lesson about commandments, she saw that we are serious about them getting baptized and got scared to make commitments! It is sad but we are still doing our best! But Thursdaynight we went to their house and taught about Temples and Eternal Families! We explained about the temple and about family history. I am so grateful that I know family history and love doing it because it makes teaching about it so much more fun and rewarding! The lesson got very spiritual when Marlene talked about how she has the desire to go to the temple one day and do temple work for her parents and grandparents. It always touches my heart when I see people who love their relatives so much. My testimony is always strengthened so much when I teach about eternal families and the temple because I KNOW that God wants us to be happy with our families for eternity! That is His plan! 

Friday we had an interesting experience with this guy named Felipe! He is 19 and we did a contact with him my first week here. The contact was hilarious because my companion is crazy and hilarious and they both ended up singing together during the contact. Anyway, we hadn't had time to visit him but then during the week we ran into him on the street again!! So we decided it was time for us to go teach him! We did and it was great! We found him Friday night and he was a little sad because he was having some problems at home with his mom but we sat out front of his house and talked to him about God and what he believes. He knows that he needs to get back on the right path and we told him that we can help him with that! It was amazing and I LOVE when people know that they need God. In today's world, more and more people think that they can do things on their own.  But the reality is that all that we have comes from God, and we can only do things with his help!! 

Saturday we went to visit Marlene and Evely again and we took the sisters from our ward with us! Sister Alves is a lot like Evely and we wanted them to meet and for Evely to see the sisters since she has said she would want to serve a mission! We had a wonderful lesson reading Lehi's Dream in 1 Nephi 8. At the end of the lesson we starting talking seriously with Evely. We asked her where she thinks she is on the path leading to the Tree of Life. She said that she was a little far from the path. I said, "I believe you are here," and pointed to the start of the path on the drawing we did while reading. Then Elder Estevam started to ask her how she felt about baptism. She said she didn't know but had been praying for an answer. We helped her realize, piece by piece, that she has already gotten her answer. We asked her if she thought that the Spirit had given her an answer already. She said yes. Then Elder Estevam challenged her to be baptized! There was a pause and they she said, "why are you asking when you already know the answer!" It was really funny and she accepted a baptismal date as a goal! It was great and we are so happy how well Evely is progressing. She has such a sweet heart and a love for God! We are praying and hoping that she can continue to progress! 

Oh, another crazy story! Saturday afternoon we were walking on this small little street. At one point we stopped walking because there were these two dudes, probably teenage years, out in front of their house with two HUGE dogs. One of the guys had a HUGE black dog on a leash. The other dog was a German Shepard and was just as big but he wasn't on a leash and was running around because they had opened the garage without putting the leash on first. Anyway, when we saw it we stopped about 20 yards away, waiting for them to get the dog on the leash and leave. We waited for a while as the other dude couldn't get the dog on the leash so the short guy with the black dog on the leash said we could pass by. Hesitantly we started walking keeping an eye on both dogs. As I walked by I looked down at the huge dog that was on the leash. Just at that moment he snarled and jumped up at me. Instincts kicked in and I jumped away really fast and man, was lucky that I did because he was going for the kill! The dog actually ripped my shirt sleeve! If he had gotten my arm it would have been bad. The whole thing was just weird and then the teenagers started to laugh and we figured out they did that on purpose. And oh man, Elder Estevam got mad haha! I got him out of there before he could start getting mad at them a lot but it was just weird. If that dog had gotten my arm, I would have had to go to the hospital. The kid who was holding the dog on the leash seemed to let him go a just enough so he could jump at me. It really could have been bad! But, thankfully I was protected and walked away fine so that was good! We told one of our investigators about it later and she got really mad and wanted us to take her to the house so she could yell at them. It was crazy that is for sure and now I gotta find someone to sew my shirt! 

Sunday was great because it was Stake Conference and I got to see all my favorite people from my old area, Imbuí! It was amazing as we got to see and hear President and Sister Bangerter speak, and Elder Joaquin E. Costa of the Seventy and his wife both speak! It was so great! Marlene and Evely came with us too! They got to meet and talk to President and Sister Bangerter and got to talk to Elder Costa! It was so amazing! We were so happy and everything was perfect! 

Well those were all the highlights of the week! I love you all so much and hope that everyone has a great week! God is real, this is His church, and miracles happen everyday! 
Love you guys! 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

1- Stake Conference with Evely and Marlene
2- A cool family in the ward we had lunch with on Sunday
3- Last pday when we went to the Lighthouse
4- Elder Estevam and I outside the Lighthouse
Holding the Lighthouse :-)

The whole Zone of Missionaries

Sight seeing pics for mom!
Evely and Marleen at Stake Conference 
Awesome family who fed us on Sunday! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"Heartwarming Experience"

 Pic with parts of Salvador behind me
Hey everyone!!! 
How are you all doing?!?! I hope everyone is doing great! Wow what a week this has been here! So much change so it took some getting used to but all in all this week was fantastic! So I am here in my new area, São Cristovão! It is a great area but it has been a difficult area for a while so I am looking forward to the challenge that it will present! My companion is Elder Estevam and he is seriously the best person ever! He is from São Paulo and is in the last 12 weeks of his mission but is still on fire! He is so excited about the work and I have learned SO much from him in just one week with him! I am seriously so grateful and happy that I have this opportunity to be with such a great missionary and learn so much from him! I got here to the area on Tuesday afternoon since all I had to do was grab a taxi for half an hour and I was here! Earlier during my mission, I thought that I would never serve here in the capital, in Salvador, and that if I did I wouldn't like it. I was just so used to the interior of the mission. But now I have been here in Salvador almost 5 months and I love this place. Even if it is starting to get kind of hot, I still love it haha! We will see how I feel in December when summer is in full swing but for now I LOVE THIS CITY! 
This entire week we were doing a lot of contacts and we met a lot of really good potential investigators and one that we found is called Nil. We talked to him on Wednesday at his mechanic shop and he said we could come back Thursday. So we did. We had an awesome first lesson with him about Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel. The coolest part was when he started to tell us about how he has had a rough past and recently had gotten married and started going to a church. He told us about how him and his wife went through a lot of hard times and then said that our message made him feel hope. It was really great! Later in the week we went back to talk with him and we met his wife and brother-in-law. We had another good lesson but we found out that they actually live in the sisters area, but the mechanic shop where he works is in our area. So we gave the sisters the info and hopefully Nil and his wife can become solid investigators.
Thursday we had a really heartwarming experience. At least I thought so. On Wednesday we had been on the street doing contacts and this old man stopped us and told us to visit him the next day. He said his wife was blind and needed help and stuff. He was a little drunk when he was talking to us though so we were a little hesitant. But we decided we should at least try to find the place where he lived. So Thursday we went searching and found his house! He wasn't home, but his wife who he had told us about was! We went in and sat down with this really old blind lady. Her name is Luiza. She was so sweet and even though she has a lot of physical disabilities, she is still very very smart. She understood everything that we talked about and it was so sweet. We know that she isn't going to be baptized as she lives really far away and can't walk, but just to see the joy on her face as we shared a scripture and said a prayer with her was priceless. We left feeling very grateful for the opportunity to have a nice, special moment with someone who was needing it. It was a cool experience! 
Wednesday we were leaving a particular part of our area to go to another part. We passed in front of a different street and heard behind us someone say, "Oi Elderes!" We turned around and two women were there. We asked the older one how she knew the missionaries and she told us that her 3 daughters are baptized! We were shocked and had a funny conversation with her and marked a visit with her and her daughters. She told us she isn't a member but that she always used to have the missionaries over and they called her "Mom" and that she loves missionaries. So we were pretty excited. Fast-forward to Friday night and we were trying to find the place where she lives! We were getting frustrated and got lost a couple times but finally found it! She was sitting out front with her daughter because she actually owns a pizzaria. We sat down them and started to learn the story. It hasn't been that long since her 3 daughters were baptized, 2 years max. Her daughters are all less-active now which is sad. But Rosalia, the mom, told us that she didn't get baptized at the time because she was living with her "husband" and they weren't married officially. So they couldn't be baptized. I said, "so theoretically, now since you and him split up, you could be baptized right?" She replied with a yes and we got excited. But then Rosalia started to send us some mixed messages about what she wanted to do. She first said that she could be baptized. But then said that she didn't want to and had a lot of doubts. Then she explained the story of how we met her on Wednesday. She had been at home and all of the sudden got a really strong feeling that she needed to go visit her friendt that lived a little far. She followed the feeling, called a different friend to go with her, and off they went. But then Rosalia said that after only about 10 minutes visiting with the person, she felt very strongly to get up and leave, she wanted to go right now! Again she followed the prompting and left the friend's house. Right after she left her friend's house, guess who she saw? That's right, US! Elder Estevam and I were pretty excited and shocked! So we left a message and left, but with the feeling that she will be baptized! It was the coolest experience. I hope that it makes sense! 
Now I have to tell you about another family! Wednesday night Elder Estevam took me to meet this family of 3. The mom, Marlene, and her two daughters, Nataly who's 19 and Evelyn who's 17. Elder Estevam warned me and said that they were kind of loud and crazy and that this was going to be kind of a test visit to see if they really wanted to still meet with the missionaries. We got there and sure enough it was hilarious and crazy. But after getting to know them, we started to teach the Plan of Salvation. And WOW what a spiritual  lesson!! We could tell they were feeling it too, because the two girls got quiet and serious for a minute. It was really cool and we left really excited. Elder Estevam said that something about them was different that night and that he was glad he followed the thought to still visit them. Friday night we went back to teach Nataly the first lesson because she wasn't there the time the other Elders taught it to her mom and sister. We had another really great lesson that was very spiritual and natural. When we got there they had made a little dinner for us so we sat down to eat and during dinner we taught the lesson. It was really, really cool because it was different. Saturday night we went back to teach all of them again. We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and again it was a really spiritual lesson. At the end I asked them if they were ready to do those things that Jesus asked of them. Marlene (the mom) replied that they were, not 100%, but that the time was close. Then we learned some great news. Just for some backround, Marlene had always been like the best investigator, She prayed perfectly like a member, and responded all our questions on the spot. So Saturday night we found out that Marlene is a MEMBER!!! That's right she has been baptized. She was very brief about it and said that she would tell us more on Tuesday when we go back, but we found out that she is one of the first members here in Salvador. Like in the church's first years here, she was part of it! She has been inactive for years, but said that she feels like it's time to come back. Afterwards everything made much more sense as to how she knew everything already haha! But we will learn more about the whole story on Tuesday. Her daughters knew and are still our investigators and are progressing to be baptized! We are excited! 
Phew! So that was all the highlights! I hope I didn't forget anything! But I had the best week and am so happy here! I love you all and I love this work! And most importantly I love my Savior Jesus Christ!!
Have a great week everyone! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Elder Estevam and I

1- A little of my area in the background with Elder Estevam and a really cool Young man in the ward who like to go out with missionaries
Elder E and I out with one of the Young men in our ward.

The Book of Mormon Cover Ana Beatriz made and gave to Spencer for me. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"So many special people here...!"

Us and Viviane and Anna Beatriz at our "goodbye party"!
Hi everybody! 
How is everyone doing? I hope all is going well and that you all had a great week! Our week here was great! It was the last one of the transfer and it was sad to see this transfer fly by so fast but all is well! Last night we got the transfer calls, and as expected I am being transferred! BUT, I am just being transferred to a different area in our same zone! I am not going far away at all and I am staying in the same stake! That means I will see everyone at Stake Conference in a couple weeks! The area I will be going to is called São Cristovão, but it is part of the Mussurunga ward! We have two sisters in our ward too! My new companion will be Elder Estevam!!!!! I am so excited as he was one of my Zone Leaders this last transfer so I got to know him a bit! It also means I will be serving with him as a Zone Leader. I am really nervous for the new challenges and adventures this transfer will bring in a new area and with new responsibilities, but I am excited too! I know that through a lot of prayer, fasting, and hard work the Lord will shape me into the missionary that I need to be to help my zone! Lots of changes! 

Our week was great and we had some awesome experiences! Wednesday night we went to visit a man named Edson! He is the brother of a member in our ward here in Imbuí. Edson showed up at church the week before with his sister, who is a member, and he had a great time! She just invited him out of nowhere, apparently, and after years of rejected invites, he finally accepted! So at church, of course, we marked to go visit him! Wednesday night was the time! Edson is about 45 and is married to a woman named Claudia! When we got there they let us in and we got to know them a little bit! Claudia seemed a little skeptical of us and just stood a little distance off in the kitchen listening at the beginning! We started to teach the first lesson about the Restoration, and it was so cool to see how Claudia started paying more attention. We found out that she goes to a different church every week and has heard a lot of bad things about our church so I think that is why she was a little skeptical at the beginning. I had the privilege of teaching the part of the lesson about the First Vision. I felt the Spirit so strongly as I recited the First Vision for the million-eth time and I absolutely love that I feel the Spirit so strongly every time! It has been a bunch of little spiritual experiences that I can remember and those have made my testimony stronger every time! It was so interesting to see Claudia get interested as the lesson went on! By the time I was reciting the First Vision both her and Edson we focused and wanted to know what happened next! The Spirit was so so strong and they both loved the message and committed to reading the Book of Mormon and praying about all of it! It was great and they look promising for the next Elders to come in and continue teaching them!

Thursday morning we had interviews with President Bangerter! It was great to see and learn from him and Sister Bangerter, who was also there! When my companion was being interviewed I went and talked with Sister Bangerter! We talked about General Conference and our favorite parts. It was great and I love to see how everyone got different personal revelations out of conference! Sister Bangerter also gave me some great advice on how to study the Book of Mormon! In my interview with President Bangerter we talked a lot about helping people thru the last step before baptism. I thought it was interesting that we talked a lot about the fundamentals and that having our investigators do the simple stuff is what will get them to baptism. We talked a lot about prayer and how they need to be praying correctly and specifically for things. It was a really great help and afterwards I was thinking about it and thought how it applies to us too, those of us who have already accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ and been baptized. Just like the simple, fundamental things help our investigators get baptized, it is those same things that help grow our testimonies too so we can stay strong in the Church. Daily prayer and scripture study are the most common answers to our questions because they are the BEST answers! We all need to do that; new member or whole-life member! 

On Friday morning we had Elder and Sister Briggs come over to our house. They are the couple missionaries that are in charge of the houses in the mission! They are so awesome and I love them. They have already been here in the mission for almost a year. I remember the first time I met them because Sister Briggs was funny. Anyway, it was great to have them and they complimented us on our clean house! (mom that story was for you! ;-)

Saturday night we had a really cool lesson with Thailane! Usually teaching her is a little difficult because of the setting! She lives with a lot of family in her house and it is usually very noisy and busy there so these last few weeks we have had trouble feeling the spirit strongly in the lessons with her. We had been praying that we could have a lesson that was a bit more peaceful and easier to feel the spirit and the Lord answered our prayers! Saturday we went over and she was there, with her mom Michelle, who is an inactive member, and grandpa Fransisco who is a member and has returned to church recently. Just them! So we had an awesome lesson with them where the spirit was felt really strongly! We all read 1 Nephi chapter 8. We gave Thailane a piece of paper and told her to draw Lehi's dream as we went through the chapter! So we all read together and she drew. At the end we had a very spiritual conversation. We asked all 3 of them where they thought they were on the drawing. Fransisco put himself on the pathway getting to the tree of life! We agreed with that one as he has been coming back to church and is doing awesome! Then Michelle who is an inactive member put herself off the path but said she was coming back slowly! Then Thailane. She put herself on the path to the Tree of Life but a little further back and in the mist of darkness. After everyone drew themselves on the paper I asked, "Do you all want to feel the love of God? Do you want to taste the fruit?" They all responded yes and then I asked, "So then what do you need to do to get there?" Thailane said, "be baptized." It was so cool and sooo spiritual! We then testified of the things we had talked about and I was feeling the Spirit SO strong! Like a lot! I was speaking 100% from the Spirit. We ended the lesson with a prayer that Thailane gave and it was awesome! I hope that that lesson was the turning point for her! 

Suely and Reginaldo are doing great too! We had a tough time meeting up with them this week but they are really doing great! Excited about the progress that is happening and it makes me very happy to see how they have changed! They were at church on Sunday and they seemed so happy there together and it made me so happy and grateful for the opportunity that I had to be able to get to know those wonderful people and help them come closer to Christ. And I will still be able to accompany them a little because I will be staying close! 

Sunday was a little sad because I was going around saying goodbye to everyone here in the area. Even though we didn't get the real transfer news until Sunday night, I knew I was leaving as President Bangerter had told me in our interview on Thursday.

Anyway, as we went around so I could say goodbye to the members and investigators I think the hardest was saying bye to Anna Beatriz and Viviane! They threw a little “going away” party and we talked and played a few games with them and Anna Beatriz’s boyfriend.  When we left Anna goes, "wait stop don't leave yet!" She ran into her room and grabbed her Book of Mormon and came out with it. The week after they were baptized Anna made these really awesome book covers for her Book of Mormon and  one for Viviane's too! Everyone in the ward was so impressed and it was just awesome! So she came out of her room with her Book of Mormon cover and all. Then she takes off the cover she made and hands it to me. I was confused and said, "Umm what is this for?" Anna goes, "It is for your Mom! I want you to give it to her as a remembrance of us and as a thank you for sending you here!" Man it was so cool! Mom I forgot to take a picture of it but you now have a Portuguese Book of Mormon cover. You'll have to wait get it when I get home, haha. After we left I was sad but I know that I will see Viviane and Anna Beatriz again for sure, especially since I stayed in the Stake. 

I am so grateful for my time here in Imbuí! I remember how nervous I was to come to Salvador and serve here, but now I can't believe how fast my time in this area passed! I was here for almost 5 months! That is crazy! I grew to love this ward and the people that I met. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for putting me in the pathway of so many special people here in Imbuí! I will never forget my time in this wonderful place! 

So that was our week! Like I said earlier, a LOT is going to change this week but I am excited and know that if we trust in God, all will work out! 

I love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
The moon looked so cool this week! 
Helene. She is the cutest little thing and I may miss her more than anyone in this area! :-)