Monday, March 27, 2017

Transfers- "I am just changing bedrooms"

Vagner's Baptism Day- Me, Vagner, Cleber and Elder Bair
Baptism Day Selfie
Hi Everybody!!! 

I hope you are all doing great!! I am sure everyone had a fantastic week! This week for us was a PERFECT last week of the transfer, which by the way I am getting transferred, but more on that later. 

Tuesday night we had a cool lesson with Marina and Hildo. Elder Bair and I had, like normal, planned what our lesson would be with them. But, yet again we were impressed to change our plan when we got there. Somehow our discussion before we actually started teaching got onto the topic of families and the role of families in today's world. That discussion led perfectly into what we ended up teaching, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." It was very spiritual and interesting to see the Lord direct our conversation. Marina especially liked “The Proclamation” because it talks about the equality of husband and wife in marriage. The tough thing about Marina and Hildo is that they just like to learn and talk, not actually be serious about keeping commitments. For example, they said they'd come to church this week, then bailed Saturday night. I really like them and hope they will take this more seriously and realize how important it is. 

Wednesday was an awesome day! At church, these last few weeks, there has been this lady named Patricia. She was baptized years ago, married in the church but then went inactive. She has been coming back to church and she brings 2 of her 3 kids with her on Sundays. Wednesday afternoon we scheduled to meet with them. It was such an awesome lesson. Only her and the 2 kids she brings to church were there. Her oldest daughter was at college and her husband, working. Her 2 kids who we taught are Maria who is 17 and Lucas who is 10. We taught the first lesson and they loved it. Then Patricia shared an awesome testimony. She said "I know that God has a purpose in all things. After my first 2 daughters were born my husband and I decided not to have any more kids. But for years I had this feeling we needed another. I was hearing a voice telling me that. It said the new baby would be a boy and his name should be Lucas. So I got pregnant and had Lucas and he has always been special. But now I think I know why I had him. He was the one 2 weeks ago who said, 'Mom why don't we go to church?' and he had NEVER been to church before. He's the reason we are coming back." Man it was so spiritual and everyone was emotional! 

Also Wednesday night we headed over to Vagner's, (by the way, after all this time I learned that his name is spelled with a V not a W, haha oops), to go over the baptismal interview questions with him. It was seriously so cool for me to see how much Vagner has grown and progressed these last 3 months. It made me very happy. 

Thursday night there was a branch activity as well as Vagner's interview afterwards. The activity was really really fun! Elder Bair  and I got assigned the “fun activity” part of the night on the spot so we had to come up with some type of fun activity for everyone. We had no time to plan so decided to teach them how to play, "heads-up, 7-up" and they LOVED it!! Apparently it isn't a game here because no one had ever played it before. It was a ton of fun and even got competitive. Yeah... heads-up 7-up got competitive! I didn't even know that was possible but it was hilarious. Also Vagner passed the interview!! The only thing left for him to be baptized was for Saturday to show up! 

And it did! March 25, 2017 Vagner got baptized!!!!!! Man I was so happy, I cannot even explain it! He was so happy too which made me even more happy! It was just a happy day!! But for real it really was just a great baptism. To see how far Vagner has come is amazing. That feeling is the pay-off for us as missionaries. That is the feeling that makes these the BEST 2 years. Even better is that his 6 year old, Isaac, couldn't stop asking how many days until his baptism! And even BETTER than that is Vagner and Juliana plan on going to the temple in about one year to get sealed together for time and all eternity. THAT is what I am talking about!!!!!! 

One of the only bad things that happened this week was that I started to feel a little sick Thursday night and then it hit a peak yesterday after lunch! It really was not fun at all and my throat was killing me! I also had a pounding headache and my whole body was aching. I stayed in all day, which is the worst thing on a mission. I went to bed early and took a lot of medicine too! I woke up this morning feeling a little bit better and now a lot better. So that is good. 

So yes, I am getting transferred but let me explain first. So here at the house we are living in, live 4 Elders. 2 from the Morada dos Passaros branch, which I have been in, and 2 from the Morada Real ward. Both meet in the same chapel every Sunday. So this morning we got the call and I am getting transferred to.... Morada Real!!!! I am just changing bedrooms in our house haha!! Of all the options and things that could have happened with the transfer the ONLY thing that did not pass through my mind was this! It is so so so crazy! I am happy because I will still get to see all the members that I love. Also because I should be here for the cold! This is the only city in the mission that gets cold during winter and winter is coming so hopefully I get a little cold here! That would be a very nice treat for me, haha. I am also super excited because I get to see all the AMAZING members from the branch every week but also get to know the ward here!! I am super excited! My companion will be Elder Bitencourt, who I already know because we have been living in the same house these last 6 weeks haha!! It’s going to be great! I am also excited because this area has been a while without a baptism but they have a lot of good, promising investigators right now so I am excited to come in and see what I can do to help! 

The only sad thing about the transfer is that Elder Bair won't be my companion anymore. The good news though is we will still be living in the same apartment and that he is also my new District Leader here, which is way cool cause I really learn a lot from him. We became good friends and I really grew to love him as we served together. It was also sweet to be able to be with another American and hopefully I will get to serve with another one at a different time on the mission. 

Anyway, I am SOOOO excited for General Conference this weekend! Like soooo excited.  Feels like just yesterday I was in Itabuna watching Conference in my little English classroom!! I'm excited to hear all the counsel we will get! 

I love you all!! Have a great week!!! 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
Cleber and his family
Our Apartment of Missionaries, Cleber, Vagner and his son

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A goal needs a date!

PUPPY anyone?
Hey everybody!! 

How was your guys' week?!? Ours was great and ended on a FANTASTIC note with this next week looking really nice!! Also the last week of the transfer is this week and I am sad because I think I will be going to a different area. I really do not want to leave here and hope I don't get transferred. We actually had interviews with President last night because he is in town and I tried to get out of him a little to know if he already had figured out the transfers yet but he just said that the members here love us and that is all. I hope that helps my cause, but in the end it’s the Lord’s will and I’ll go where he needs me. I  just really love it here ALOT! J

Tuesday night we had a cool experience! We went to teach Marina and Hildo. They are super sweet but the problem is that they are always so busy. But we had marked with them for 6pm that night so off we went. Hildo seemed pretty tired and just kind of out of it when we got there but he powered through and sat down and listened to our lesson. We taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Elder Bair and I had discussed a little bit before the lesson that we needed to be more direct with them. They needed to know what our purpose of visiting them was and realize it wasn’t only to be their friends (we learned that from the training last week from President Bangerter). So we taught the lesson and the Spirit was strong and we moved in to teaching about the Spirit. As we taught Hildo stopped us and said. "You know I was actually just talking to my wife before you guys got here about how lately I have been soooo tired from work and everything and how I really have just been feeling down. I almost actually cancelled this appointment with you guys. But I will say that after this meeting I am feeling way better. I feel rejuvenated and a lot better." It was REALLY AWESOME!!!! He was literally giving a testimony of the Spirit and what it can do for us in our lives. Help us feel comfort and peace and give us motivation to move forward in life. Of course we told him all that and he recognized the difference he felt. 

Friday was pretty sad but did have a bright spot!! So the reason is was sad was that Elder Bair and I had a failed English class. We tried to have an English class because people have been asking but sadly it really did not work at all. We prepared well but no one showed up. Like ZERO people, ZERO. I was pretty sad. I think we could of done a better job of announcing and telling people about it but looking back we had a TON of people say they would come and then they just didn't show up. It was a bummer, but I am trying to keep a positive attitude about it and know there was something to learn from it and will plan better the next time.

Looking on the bright side of the day, a little bit before our failed English class, we visited Alexandro. Alexandro was one of the people that we found last Sunday on the split with the members. He is 17 years old and just awesome. He read the entire Joseph Smith pamphlet already and was excited for our visit. It was a great visit and he got really excited about the Book of Mormon. When I asked him if he would read it he said, " are you crazy?!? Why wouldn't I?" Haha! It was really cool and I am excited to see how he progresses into the future, especially if I stay here. 

Sunday Daví was confirmed. And there is a pretty crazy thing that went with it. When Daví was called up, Elder Bair, the Branch President, one of the counselors and I were all there to participate in his confirmation. I had Daví's baptism paper and went to put it on the bench when I heard President Elidio, the branch president say, " Okay Daví you can pick any one of these 4 here to say the prayer for the confirmation." I wasn't looking at Davi but when I heard President Elidio I got really nervous because I have never performed a confirmation in ENGLISH, let alone PORTUGUESE! Just then I heard Daví say “Elder Christofferson”. I thought “oh no” but President told me really quickly what I needed to say in Portuguese and it ended up being a really cool experience. It was on the spot in front of everyone but I just did it. It was awesome and I didn't mess up!! 

Also, Sunday we had NINE, yes 9, investigators at church!! A lot of them weren’t there with us because Daví invited a lot of his non-member family but it was awesome. And our branch had 90 people which is huge for here!!

Now for the best part of the week, WAGNER! This week we decided to give him a little more space so we headed over Saturday to teach him. We had an AMAZING lesson. It started with a miracle. Elder Bair has a PIN drive with the Bible videos and we wanted to watch one to start the lesson and we let Wagner choose which one he wanted to watch and learn about. He picked a perfect video about Why Christ came to Earth. It ended up being a small miracle because we then were able to talk about not being ashamed about the gospel of Jesus Christ and that we need to be worried more about what God thinks of us, not what others think of us. At the end I said “Well Wagner we know that your end goal is to be baptized. But a goal needs a date.” He laughed and said that even he had been thinking to mark one soon, but that he wanted to go to church first and decide after. Being bold I threw out the 25 as a day to think about and said we would return the next day to see how he felt about it. So the next day we went back and he SET THE DATE FOR THE 25TH. I feel like THIS ONE WILL HAPPEN!!!! I left his house feeling maybe the happiest of my whole mission! I am just truly seeing that everyone has their own time of conversion and happiness is there when they are ready. 

A quick thank you to Andrea for my package! You are THE BEST! It was AWESOME!! 

I am in shock to hear of Jared’s death, mom. I am seriously like devastated. He was one of the guys who always treated me well from the team. It’s just so sad. I have been emailing Braden about it today and he too is in shock. I will be sure to keep his family in my prayers.

To end, I cannot believe 8 months has passed on my mission already. I actually forgot about until Saturday but when I remembered the date and I was shocked by how fast a month passed!!!

Thank you for all the support everyone! 

Love you all! Have a GREAT week!!!!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

 All of the missionaries in our area in the van today going to Bishop Guerra's. 
He is a bishop in our area who has a nice house with lots of things to do and 
he invited all of us over and we had a bbq and stuff. 

me, Elder Araújo and Bishop Guerra

The food. A LOT of food. We ate at 1 and now it is 630 and i am still full!

me and Elder Araújo with two of the cute pug puppies at Bishop's house

All of us together at Bishops house! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Baptism days are the best days!

Davi's Baptism Day
Hi Everyone! 

I hope you all had a great week and I can't wait to hear about it. This week for us was fantastic! 
Last Monday night we headed over to teach Daví. I can't remembeer if I wrote about him or not already so I will now. Daví is 9 years old, almost 10, and the son of Andreia. Andreia is a member who has recently been coming back to church and she wanted us to come and teach Daví so he could be baptized! He is an awesome kid! He has a way strong testimony already and is just great. The cool thing too is that his dad is not a member but has listened and participated in the lessons throughout the week. Monday night we taught the Restoration and watched the video too. It was so great!

Tuesday night we went to teach Erick. He was hanging out with 2 friends out in front of his house. They were rollerblading and they let us do it too, haha! It has been so long since I did that last!! It was fun though! Then we gathered all of them together and we taught a quick lesson. I hope they can understand really how this gospel is a blessing and really means something to us. After, we all headed over to the church for Ping Pong Night together. It was great and there are always new investigators. By the way, I am getting way better at ping pong so you all better watch out when I get home!! 

Wednesday evening we went back to Daví's and taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I realized the importance and sacredness of Christ's baptism during that lesson. We watched the video about it that the Church made and it was crazy how the Spirit just poured into the room. Christ really had no reason to be baptized except to show the path for us and to "fulfill all righteousness." I had always known and preached that but that night for some reason I gained a stronger testimony about it. I love how the Spirit and Heavenly Father work like that. You never know when the Spirit is going to testify of truth but when it does, you just know it. Here is a link to the video if you would like to watch it…

Later Wednesday night we went to Marina and Hildo's house to teach them. They are the couple we met last week when we were knocking doors. They read all the stuff we left with them which is always the BEST thing to see. When your investigators do the commitments and progress, you have nothing to complain about. We had planned on teaching lesson 3 but somehow got to talking about the Book of Mormon. We had already taught that briefly last time but this time we just talked about it the whole time. It was really cool to see the Spirit guide our lesson. The highlight was at the end. Up until that point the husband, Hildo, or one of us, had prayed at the beginning or end of lessons. At the end of this lesson I asked who Hildo would like to pray and Hildo said, " I think it is Marina's turn." She was very hesitant and didn't really want to do it. I too was nervous because she had talked to us earlier about how she prays to one of the female Saints in her church. Hildo kept insisting she pray so she finally said okay and prayed. She said the most perfect prayer! She prayed to Heavenly Father and ended in the name of Jesus Christ too! It was sooooo cool to see and hear her progress. And she said she felt really good about it too.

Thursday morning we got up at 4 AM!!! Why? Because we had Zone Conference. Since our zone is split up into 3 cities, we met in the middle city which is an hour and 15 minutes-ish by bus for us. We have 6 Americans in the zone; Me, Elder Bair, Elder Pyne, Elder Johnson, Sister Bretzing, and Sister Martins. I met Sister Martins that day for the first time and she LOVES Disney, maybe even more than I do, so she was excited to talk with someone who also understands, haha. It was hilarious The conference was awesome and I learned A LOT about how I can have the Spirit with me more as I teach. I also learned that I need to be better in my planning and also accompany our investigators better as we teach them! President Bangerter was there and I learn so much from him. He is the BEST!! He talked about being bold and humble again and promised it will bring the Spirit into our lessons when we teach. The key to all of our teaching is to have the Spirit to guide us in our teaching and to witness to those we are sharing the Gospel with that it’s true. It was a great reminder to me. 

Friday night was really cool too. We had a family night at the Elders Quorum President's house with Wagner and his family. Pretty much the whole lesson was about the Holy Ghost and Baptism which obviously was aimed at Wagner, haha. He once again was feeling timid about being baptized on the 11th. The whole lesson was very spiritual and Elder Bair asked, "So Wagner, when's your baptism going to be?" He smiled and said, "It's close, real close." So it wasn't this week but this next week or the one after we WILL baptize this him. He’s scared and we just need to help him overcome his doubts. Patience is a virtue, right?! 

Saturday was fantastic! Daví was baptized! It was so cool. We got there early to make sure everything was all ready and for Elder Araújo, the District Leader, to interview Daví. It was really awesome because afterwards Elder Araújo said, "That kid is awesome. He is going to be an AMAZING missionary." I loved seeing Andreia, Daví's mom, so happy! It was cool too because after I went and sat next to her and said, "Only one more to go." meaning her husband who isn't a member. He was at the baptism and liked it a lot too! Baptism days are the best days! 

Saturday night I had another cool, "this is an awesome mission" moment. We were teaching Erick in front of his house reading scriptures again. We finished and asked him to pray. He did and it was SOOO amazing, heartfelt and sincere. Erick is a goofy, funny dude and sometimes it feels like our visits for him do nothing but that prayer proved otherwise. The rewards of being a missionary are so great!

Sunday was way cool too! I gave another talk, practically on the spot. I didn't even need to write it all out to feel comfortable. I just wrote a few points and then talked about them. It went great. Then, after church we went on divisions with some of the members. Irmão Pedro and I found 3 awesome families! Can’t wait to follow up with them this week! It was a pretty perfect end to a great week! 

I literally love it here. Like LOVE it. I love the members, the area, everything! I really don't want to leave. I hope President leaves me here for one more transfer. The members here are loving us, we are loving them and it is just amazing. It helps to have the member’s support! President Elidio, the branch president, called President Bangerter the other day saying he loves us and doesn't want us taken out! I hope it works but in the end it is all up to the Lord. 

Well that is it folks! I love you guys, I love my mission and I love this gospel! Have a great week! 

Com amor, 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Hot wings we made at home! 
Eating the hot wings! They were GOOD!
Elder Reinaldo 
Elder Johnson- one of the Zone Leaders

Elder Pyne
Sister Bretzing- She'll be heading home at the end of this transfer!
Sister Martins-She might love Disney more than I do! 
Elder Jenkins- One of the AP's (Assistant to the President)
Elder Oliveira- still a STUD!!!
Davi before his baptism!
Our District before Davi's baptism!
Davi and his family with Juscelino, a member of the ward who baptized him. 

Selfie with Davi

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Lord humbled me...

Playing Basketball on Pday makes for a good workout! 

Hey Everybody! 

How are you guys?! I hope you all had a good week. Our week was great! I'm excited for this week. Today (Monday) we played basketball with  a bunch of people from our zone. Since I am one of the few Americans in the zone, it felt good being one of the best in basketball! haha. It was a blast, but also really hot and now I am sunburned. 

So Wagner. He didn't get baptized this week but his date now is for this Saturday the 11th. We had gotten word Thursday night that Wagner was again changing his mind on the baptism thing. So Friday night me and Elder Bair headed over. It was just us and Wagner. His wife, who is a member, wasn't there. We decided to read 2 Nephi 31 with him. That chapter is great and talks a lot about baptism and salvation. We read and he said he understood but still wasn't sure he was ready. We then read him the baptsmal interview questions and found out he was still struggling with drinking coffee. But we all kneeled and prayed for a date he could be baptized. We all felt that the 11th should be the day so that is what we marked. Saturday we went back to give him a present. Here in Brasil there is this thing called "cevada." Cevada is like coffee in taste but not actual coffee, and members can drink it. It's not bad for you and is not breaking the word of wisdom. I don't know if the States have something like that but it is cool and helps. So we went to the market and bought some for him. Then to his house, taught the blessings of the Word of Wisdom again and gave him the present. He gave us his coffee in return and when we left we threw it away. Haha it was awesome! Now just got to praying he is ready for his Baptism on Saturday. Pray for Wagner this week! 

Tuesday we had an awesome experience. Ever since Elder Bair got here he has expressed his desire to knock all the doors on our street. After he said that I felt too that we needed to do it. Knocking doors on our mission is not a very recommended thing to do just out of the blue because there isn't a lot of success, but we did it since we both felt we should. On our 3rd house a woman answered. She was very nice and receptive but said that her husband was sleeping so later was better. I figured she meant another day and asked, " what day is good for you guys?" She responded, " oh no just come back in an hour!" We said okay and knocked almost all the rest on our street with no luck and returned. The woman, Marina, is around 3 and her husband, Hildo, is around 35. They are awesome. Way nice people and really willing to learn about the gospel. We taught them the Plan of Salvation and they liked it, They invited us back. So Thursday we returned and taught the Restoration. They also like it. During that lesson the Lord humbled me a little bit. Marina asked a question about something that I did not have an answer for. And as I was sitting there thinking Elder Bair stepped in and saved the day with an answer. It made me realize, 1- wow I need to study more and 2- I don't know everything so don't get prideful. It was a good reminder. But Marina and Hildo are awesome and the best part is that they live literally 1 minute away walking, from the church. 

This week we will meet with Daví. Daví is a 9 year old kid who is the son of a member. His mom, the member, was active when he was younger and then went less active. She now has returned fully and him too. They both want him to be baptized soon so we should baptize Daví this week or next wek. It'll be awesome! Daví is a cool kid and him getting baptized will help his mom stay active and hopefully help the rest of his non-member family become interested too. 

Last Monday night we went and visited Erick, Kaique's brother. He was hanging out with his buddies so we taught all 3 of them together. We taught about the Book of Mormon and they liked it a lot. One of the friends, Isaacá said as we were finishing, "can you guys come and teach my family about this?" Obviously we responded yes and said we'd come back the next night. When we did, it was sad. Isaacá wasn't there and so we were only teaching Erick and his other friend. Then he showed up. He gave me the Book of Mormon back and said, "Here is your book back, I won't need it anymore, I have my own scriptures already." I didn't realize what was happening and said, "No! Keep it! It is yours now." Elder Bair then asked, "your parents?" He nodded and said they got mad at him and he wasn't allowed anymore to meet with us. Then he left. It was really sad. The worst part is that his parents are now telling Erick all this untrue stuff about the church. We didn't know, so when we challenged him to baptism Saturday night he declined and told us about all what they had said. Ugh! We will do all we can to help resolve his concerns and feel that Erick is still progressing! 

One awesome thing this week is that Kaique got back from the youth camp! He went to a singles camp up next to Salvador with all of the members of this state, Bahia, ages 18 to 31. He LOVED it. He is dying to get one of those future missionary bracelets! He said he learned so much there and that it was incredible! It made me so happy to see. Then Sunday he got the Aaronic Priesthood! He was also happy and ready to learn a lot andI am getting very excited too! I love seeing him grow and improve. Marcos too is doing good! He got a job and it is great because before he didn't have one but the bad thing is that he has to work SO MUCH! But they are doing great! 

Anyways I love you guys! Have a great week and count your blessings!!

Elder Spencer Christofferson 

Beautiful Husky