Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rely 100% on the Guidance of the Spirit

Weekly Selfie, after Zone Conference with some of the missionaries
Hello everyone!! 
How are you all doing!? Another week has flown by and the last week of April is upon us! Craziness, right?! 
One quick funny thing before I get into the main part of the email. My companion Elder Bitencourt has been studying English recently. He asks me a TON of questions and as I responded to them this week I realized how weird the English language is, haha!! Teaching it made me realize that! I thought it was pretty funny, but then again all languages are strange! 
Tuesday night we had a lesson with Andreza that was rather strange. We went to teach her about baptism and the Holy Ghost but Andreza just seemed off! Not her normal, talkative, happy, self. The Spirit wasn't the best and we left pretty discouraged despite our best efforts. She just seemed like she didn't want to learn more by her attitude. And her mom was getting in her ear a lot about how she has to be serious about this. Her mom isn't opposed to us at all which is cool, and she is just telling Andreza that she thinks she isn't taking this seriously. We think she is taking this seriously, just had an off day. 

I cannot even begin to describe how AMAZING the Zone Conference with Elder Costa was. Elder Costa is the President of the Brasil Area. He has been a General Authority (leader) in our church for 23 years. Everyone had been saying and telling us how he was going to burn everybody and be super tough and harsh and we were all scared! We were all SO wrong. He was NOT harsh at all!! He is the BEST!!! SOOOOO AWESOME!!!!!! 
One cool thing was that Elder Bitencourt and I were the door ushers when President and Sister Bangerter, and Elder and Sister Costa arrived. It was really cool. Elder Costa talked to us first. He got there and shook our hands and asked where we were from and everything. I told him I was from Cali and he started to speak in English with me haha. He saw my name and said, "Elder Christofferson! I know that name." Haha it was funny! 
Elder Costa gave an incredible training to us. He told some FANTASTIC experiences and stories and the Spirit was so strong! Elder Costa was seriously my favorite part of the week! He was so funny and helpful and uplifting. He made everyone excited! A couple of things I remember; he talked a lot about how our success comes from planning effectively, and he showed us how. Another was to not mix the social stuff with the spritiual! That was a big one. His whole deal was just to listen and rely 100% on the guidance of the Spirit. Man I wish you all could of been there! It was unbelievable!!! 
So Wednesday night, on a spiritual high after the conference with Elder Costa, we headed to Andreza's. We got there and right off the bat she apologized to us about the day before. That brought the Spirit into our meeting which was awesome. She had read the chapter of the Book of Mormon that we left with her, like she usually does. Elder Bitencourt and I were talking and teaching but it wasn't us. Everything we said came from the guidance of the Spirit. We were all feeling it so strongly. It was so cool. We used all of the things we had learned earlier that day and it was just so great. Andreza is progressing great and will be baptized soon! We are planning for this Saturday, the 29th! Pray for her please!! 
Thursday night we went to teach Ronaldo and Simone. The lesson was about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The lesson wasn’t going very smoothly because their little two year old, Alice, was really fussy and we were all distracted and couldn't focus. Towards the end of our lesson I got the prompting, "talk about Eternal Families,". I immediately followed the prompting and the mood changed entirely! They got all quiet and interested and listened to what we were teach. As soon as we finished talking about Eternal Families I got the impression, "Leave now." In my head I was like, "uhh what?! It just got good!" But I decided to listen. Plus we had already been there a while so we left, promising to return Saturday and talk about the eternal families thing! 
True to our promise we went back Saturday. We taught the Plan of Salvation. I realized that I think the Plan of Salvation is my favorite lesson to teach now! Which is crazy because at the beginning of my mission it was my least favorite because it was so difficult to teach. Now it is my favorite! The lesson was really cool and they had never heard any of that stuff about life before Earth and life after death. They are such a great family! 
A funny little story… So almost every chapel here has a piano that is electric and can play automatically. In our ward the pianist is one of the two priests. So the first week I had in the ward we sang without the piano for the Sacrament hymn because the guy who plays was blessing the sacrament! After I asked Bishop, "umm why does no one play the piano for the sacrament?! It is really easy you just push a button at the start of every verse?" He was like, "oh I don't know, nobody knows how." Haha! So I yolf him “I'll do it”. So these last two weeks just before the sacrament hymn, I go up and just touch the play button at the beginning of every verse. The funny thing is that I think a majority of the members think it is actually me playing!! This week a lady even mentioned something about it! It is pretty funny. 

Last night, Sunday, the ward was having a family night at a member's house. It was really fun! I just love to feel the love of the ward and members here. It helps me feel like I'm back home in the SR ward!! It really is special. 

Anyways, I think that's all for this week! I feel your guys' love and prayers! Thank you! I love my mission! I love you guys! Have a great week! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson 

Almost all of the missionaries after the training with Elder Costa
A pic of us at the family night with some of the youth!
Elder Bitencourt and me on Sunday night
Elder Bair giving a thumbs up! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Time flies when you're having FUN!!!

HAPPY EASTER! This is a GIANT Easter Egg from the Bishop and his wife.
These are a HUGE thing here. They are huge and all chocolate
Hi Everyone, 
How was your guys' week!? I hope it was fantastic!! Ours was good and fun, which isn't a surprise because when you are serving the Lord with the right attitude, everything should be fun!! It's already halfway thru April and I can't believe it. Like I was saying, time flies when you are faving FUN!

Last Monday night we went and visited Andreza and Estefany. They are those 2 girls who are neighbors of a member and are our investigators. We went and taught about "O Livro de Mormon," the Book of Mormon. Sunday we decided to ask another young woman in our ward, Julia, if she wanted to come visit them with us. Before I could even finish asking her Julia excitedly said "YESS I can go!" She was baptized with her mom and her grandma about a year and a half ago. So last Monday we swung by her house and then headed off to teach the girls. It was really cool to see Julia so excited to teach with us, and how she connected way better than us with the girls, haha! She already wants to serve a mission and did great in the lesson! Andreza and Estefany loved Julia and the lesson too. They committed to reading the Book of Mormon which was awesome! 

Tuesday night was cool too. We went to teach Simone and Ronaldo. They are a married couple with an almost 2 year old daughter. Simone is the sister of our Ward Mission Leader. He introduced us to them last week and Tuesday we went back to teach the first lesson. While we were there I had the thought, like I have so many times before out here, "Wow, I can't believe they let us in." They had briefly met us one time before but totally were accepting of us. The lesson was so Spirit-filled and they loved it. I don't know why the Ward Mission Leader has waited to give this reference to the missionaries but everything happens in God's time and I'm good with this timing! :-)

Wednesday night was WAY cool. Up until that point we had been teaching Andreza at Irmã Nilza's house, a member. Wednesday night we decided to go to Andreza's house to meet her family. We planned to teach the Plan of Salvation for them. We got there and met her mom and step-dad and little brother. When we asked them to stay there for the lesson they all politely declined, saying they had other things to do. So they all left the living room haha. I was kind of sad because I wanted them to hear our message about eternal families. But they left so we started the lesson with Andreza. During the entire time it was really cool to see how the family started to come back. One by one throughout the lesson they came back to the room and started to listen and participate. By the end we all were back together again and they understood and thought the Plan of Salvation and Eternal Families was so cool! That night we also learned that Andreza's mom used to babysit and take care of our Bishop's youngest daughter!! So she like totally knows that family. I thought it was very awesome. 

Thursday night we went back and this time invited our Bishop and his wife to join us since they know the lady. They came and it was great. We taught the Restoration because of the parents who had never heard it. It was so cool to see Andreza following along in her head as she remembered it all. The best part was towards the end when Bishop Guerra testified that the teachings of our church are true! He said , " This church has ALL the truth”! It was the best. He just said it how it is. 

Thursday night we also went and taught Simone and Ronaldo. This time we took some of their neighbors with us, who happen to be members, Elizangela and Marcos! We took them to just get to know the investigators. It was so awesome. We got there and for the first 20 minutes they all just talked and got to know each other and me and Elder Bitencourt just sat watching in awe. It's the BEST when the members help the Missionaries with the work!! 

So a funny thing happened to us this week was the water situation. So I think I have told you guys before but here in Conquista you get 3 days with water, then 3 without. The 3 days with water is like normal, unlimited, in the bathrooms, the kitchen, washing machine, etc. But the 3 days without are different. We have a water tank on the roof that fills up and that is the water we use on the 3 days without. But that water only goes to the bathrooms. So the rest of the house is without water. Sometimes on the last day without water, the tank water runs out too. So we have to take showers by bucket because we have a water tank thing out back that we fill up manually. So this week on the second morning without water, boom, water stopped. HAHA it was the WORST! So we had to bucket bath for like 3 days. It is terrible. I boil the water first so it is warm but it still is not the most fun thing to do. Just little things that I realize how blessed we are at home that we have. 

This week something that was strange for me was that I couldn't sleep for a few days! We were out walking in the sun, working all day and my body felt tired but I just couldn't sleep!! I was so hot, then couldn't get comfortable, then needed to use the bathroom. It was really strange. That has never happened to me in my life before so I was kind of annoyed. After a few nights I was fine, but I like my sleep and hope it doesn't happen again!

Anyways folks that is all I think! This week should be great! I love you guys more than you all know! The church is true and I love my mission! Have a GREAT week!!! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

GIANT wrapped chocolate Easter Eggs are a BIG thing here. 
The RS president from the Branch gave it to me. 
They still love me over there, it seems haha! :-)

Monday, April 10, 2017

"Love can be shown by any person no matter the country, race, or language"

Zone Conference and the Americans in our Zone 
Hi Everyone!! 

How is everybody doing? I hope you all had a great week and are doing well! This week was awesome for us and it is looking good here for the future. I can't believe how fast time is going! It just reminds me every day to make the most of the time I got here! 

So last p-day we went bowling! It was so fun. Bowling here is the same as it is in the states. It was funny because a ton of the elders and sisters here had never bowled or only had a few times in their lives so I was the best one, haha! I am really not that good at all but compared to them I was! It was a blast! It made me think about the universal feelings and things of this Earth. Laughing doesn't have a language, fun isn't confined to one place, love can be shown by any person no matter the country, race, or language. It truly was amazing. I am here in a different country, speaking a different language, with people I barely know and I still had a blast. BTW I am re-reading this and that sentence up above might need to be made into a famous quote by Elder Spencer Christofferson. LOL! But it was a ton of fun! And I am sending lots of pictures of it.

Tuesday was a great day! Elder Bitencourt and I were faced with a situation. We had no lessons marked for that afternoon so we decided to try a different way to find new investigators that we hadn’t tried before. We have this thing here in our mission called "suas opiniões," which translates to "your opinions." It is a type of survey thing we do that has religious questions and when we do contacts we can use it with people. I actually do not have much experience with it, but Tuesday we decided to try it. Elder Bitencourt and I grabbed a bunch of the surveys and headed for a street. We said a prayer for guidance and then started. We wanted to focus on what Elder Rasband said in Conference about listening to the Spirit the first time and not questioning it. We started to knock doors with our "survey." It was so cool because we saw some miracles happen from our efforts. We marked 4 lessons for later in the week. It was awesome because the “prize” we gave to people who participated in the survey was a pass-along card. The pass-along card had a number on the back that they could call and get a free DVD about Christ. The other prize was the opportunity to have us come and teach a lesson about the questions from the survey. It was awesome.

After knocking on one street for a while I got the prompting that we needed to go to the next street down so we did! We got to that street and as we were knocking on a door this guy came walking up. He lived in the house we were knocking. His name was Douglas and he is about 25 years old. He is way cool! He already knows the missionaries because when he was living in São Paulo his mom and sister were receiving the discussions. He never really listened intently but he invited us in and we taught him the 1st lesson! It was really cool and he liked it a lot. And we found him all because we followed a prompting! I LOVE it!

Wednesday we had a Zone Meeting. It was sooooo awesome! One of the best I have had on the mission. Our Zone leaders are really good right now. Elder Johnson and a new zone leader Elder Brito. I know them both well and they are so good! It was fun to see the whole zone get super excited about this transfer just because of our great zone leaders. One thing they focused on was "giving our all." We all promised to do that and blessings are already coming because of it! 

Thursday night we went back to teach Douglas. It was another good lesson but he seems to be a little unsure. He didn't want to make any big commitments and seemed to be scared about something. It was still a great lesson and we for sure won't give up on him anytime soon. Who knows, maybe someone else in his house needs to hear our message. Or he has a great reference for us. Only Heavenly Father knows. 

So this week we taught two girls, Andreza and Estefany. One of the members here is neighbors with them and she had brought them to church the week before General Conference. They are 13 and 15 and are both awesome and hilarious. Friday night we went to Irmã Nilza's house (the member) and had an awesome first lesson with them. They had a thousand questions and were very talkative. It was cool to see, like usual, what happens when we talk about the First Vision. I started to talk and they kind of realized that the part I was teaching was important. The Spirit was so strong in the room and we all felt it. Then Elder Bitencourt challenged them to baptism and they accepted. If all goes well they will get baptized this week or next!! 

Sunday was a great day too! We had 5 investigators at church! It was awesome and my first sacrament meeting in this new ward even though I have been 2 weeks here. At first I was really sad about not being with the branch. I love those members SO MUCH it is crazy and I got a little sad. But as soon as our meetings started I felt really happy and saw that these members too, are amazing. They care so much about the missionaries and it truly makes it feel like we are not to far from home. I hope you can all show that love for the missionaries in your ward because it helps us more than you know. 

So that is about it! We should have some baptisms this week. The two girls and Mercia too! She is the daughter of the lady who passed away in the car accident last transfer. We have still been visiting her a lot and will again tonight! Pray for them please!! 

Next week we have a big meeting. President Costa, the Brasil area President, is coming to our mission. He is going to visit Zone by Zone to talk to everyone. Everyone is getting prepared for him as he is super strict and speaks his mind whether you like it or not. It is going to be interesting and I am actually kind of excited. LOL!

To answer a few of your questions: 

What was your favorite General Conference Talk? 

What is your favorite scripture RIGHT NOW?  
It always seems to be changing but right now it is Alma 37: 36-37-
36 Yea, and acry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy bdoings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy cthoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
37 aCounsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for bgood; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the cmorning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

It’s SO COOL to hear about Tagg’s mission call to Portugal. I seriously am so excited!!!!! He will speak Portuguese way different than me but we should still be able to talk to each other. I’m so excited for him! 

I love the Lord, I love you guys and I love my mission! 
Have a great week!
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

My Score (I'm Cristotteison)
Getting ready to BOWL!!!

Brasilian Bowling (Same thing as American Bowling :-)
Our Awesome Zone
Elder Bitencourt and I at Zone Conference. Our "Happy" faces
Our "serious" faces

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"It was a privilege to hear the Prophet and Apostles speak"

Between Saturday General Conference Sessions when we went to get food at the store
Hey Everybody!!! 

How are you all doing? I hope you all had a fantastic week! This week was a week of change here for me! But a great week none the less, and it was capped off by a FANTASTIC General Conference. I LOVE Conference, it was SOOO great! It seriously is like a whole different thing out here on the mission! I love it and I hope you all did too! 

It’s is April! How crazy is that? I can't believe it! Time is flying faster than ever before. Also this week it was COLD here!!! Like actually cold and rainy. I was so happy. Probably overly happy just for some cold weather, haha. I got to use my sweaters even! I slept in the Christmas pajamas Nana sent for the first time too. J And the guys made fun of me but I didn't care. I wore them with pride and I was warm and cozy so they are the ones who lost out! LOL! 

So being in this new area is great! I already like the members a lot. The area is kind of like Itabuna. We have to walk to get there and it is a little of a poorer area. Not poverty type poor but compared to Morada dos Passaros, my previous area, which is a wealthy area, it is poor. But I am liking it. Also Elder Bitencourt is great! We have already made some good memories and had a fun time. Like the other night we were in the grocery store and this rap song with a big bass came on and we started dancing like goofballs. It was pretty funny. 

So I will start all the way back at last Monday night. I had known already about the transfer and everything and since I was already here I just switched bedrooms. But Elder Bitencourt told me that we had a lesson marked that night. The lesson was with the family of the lady who died in a car accident about a month ago. In her family, one of her daughters is a member but the other daughter, her son, and her husband are not members. The other Elders had already had a lesson with them earlier in the week and said it was WAY spiritual and that they wanted to learn more. Monday night we went to help them do that. They had an Aunt in town and another friend staying with them too. We taught the Restoration to them. Man it was awesome!! We wanted to put a focus on the Priesthood and really explain that it was restored. So we did that. One of the coolest parts during the lesson was when the friend, Ludimila, had a ton of questions. She wasn't really into what were teaching. She was pretty skeptical. After a good amount of questions for us, she started to ask another when Mercia, the non-member daughter stopped her and said, "Just listen. This is what they are saying! That this church was restored and only IT is the true church here on the Earth! God has one true church and this is it!" We sat in shock as she had been pretty quiet the whole time AND because she is a not a member but was already bearing a testimony about the Church! It was really cool. She is planned to be baptized the 15th! The other cool part of the night was when they asked us for blessings. Mercia, Ludimila, the Aunt, and the dad all asked us for Priesthood blessings of comfort. ALL of them had lost someone close to them in the last year and we had the opportunity to help them through the Priesthood. It was so cool. They gained their testimonies about the Priesthood, minutes after we had taught them about it. I love having the privilege of holding the Priesthood! 

All of Tuesday I was with Elder Santana, my trainer! He had to stay with us because he was waiting for his new companion to get to our city. We were working in Morada dos Passaros still. That night I went to my last Ping Pong on Tuesday nights. :( But I was on FIRE. I beat everyone except for Cleber who never loses. It was so fun. There were some new investigators there and Kaique and Marcos too. I love those guys and I am so glad that I was able to share the Gospel with them. I am going to miss Tuesday night Ping Pong but at least I am still here in the area and I will be able to see everyone on Sundays. So that is good at least! 

Wednesday at lunch we had another cool experience! Our lunch that day was at Irma Edna's. She is an older lady who has recently moved into the area. She is still getting used to everything around here. Her husband is not a member but supports her in the church. We had a great lunch with them and got to know them better. For our message we talked about faith and doing new things based on our faith. It was a great message aimed at the husband. Before we left, Irma Edna, who has been sick, asked for a Priesthood blessing and also asked if we could dedicate their house. We said yes and got to give her a blessing. After hers, her husband asked for a blessing too. It was really cool. Again the awesome part is he isn't even a member! He felt the Spirit and the power of the Priesthood and was prompted to ask for one. Then I got to dedicate the house. It was very cool. Again I love holding the Holy Priesthood!!!! 

One weird thing this week was at one of our lunches. The lady made this "salad" which really is different here. We got there when she was finishing it and we helped. It consisted of mango, apples, oranges, limes, potatoes, onions, beets, a ton of other fruits and vegetables, and a ton of mayo. It is normal here I guess, but it wasn’t my favorite… but I ate it. I don't understand how onion and mango can go together. Haha!

So this weekend was General Conference!! And yet again it felt like Christmas to me! The overwhelming theme that seemed to touch me was about the Holy Ghost and to put our trust in God in these hard times. It was such a privilege to hear the Prophet and Apostles speak. And yes, I got to watch it in English again! This time it was in the same room with everyone and they had this cord we could put headphones into and listen in English. I did take off the headphones for a lot of it and listen in Portuguese and I understood it! Woohoo! Tell Uncle Todd that this time I listened to his talk in Portuguese and his Portuguese is awesome! I told some of the members there that I thought it was really him speaking and they didn't believe me!! They thought it was a Brasilian doing the translation. But from what I heard it sounded like Uncle Todd so I hope it was. 

I love my mission, I love you guys, and I love the Savior! 
Have a great week everyone!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

2- Between Saturday General Conference Sessions when we went to get food at the store
3-Elder Santana, Sister Rodrigues and me (almost our full district from when I first arrived in the mission)
Elder Bitencourt
Elder Santana, Sister Rodrigues and me (almost our full district from when I first arrived in the mission)
I thought Logan would like this. It's a type of car here in Brasil.