Monday, June 26, 2017

"The Lord knows you and is helping you"

First District Meeting in my new area
Hi everybody!!! 
How are you all doing! I hope fantastic!! I am doing great here! We had a normal week with a few highlights! Summer is in full swing back home and here "winter." I put winter in quotes because winter just means rain haha! It rains every day! Especially since I am close to the ocean, it rains even more. And the craziest part is that it comes out of nowhere. It took a few days for me to learn that even when we leave in the morning to perfect, blue skies without one cloud, it will still rain. I didn't take my umbrella for those days and I payed the price haha! But now I learned! I may look crazy taking an umbrella out when there isn't a cloud in the sky but I am not! But this week was also a little slow because it was a holiday on Friday and Saturday! So everyone was out of town! But we made the best of what we had! 
Tuesday we had a cool experience. Two sisters from our zone called us on Tuesday afternoon saying they had an AMAZING reference for us. I think what we call references here is called referills in the States? I can't remember. Anyway the sisters said that a member in there ward had a son who had recently moved back to Salvador and that he is a member, but has been inactive for years. He moved back into our area and it just so happens that his wife isn't a member. So it sounded promising and we headed over there Tuesday night. We found the address and found Daví and Michele!! They are really cool. We talked to them and found out that they moved here about a month ago. For now they are both out of a job and searching. So their life is tough right now. Then we started to talk to Davi and found out he was baptized a long time ago. He now is around 30 years old and he was baptized as a child. His mom and sister are members too and they are both active. He told us he was active in the church for a few years but then went to São Paulo and went inactive. He said his mom even had the dream that he would be a missionary. He remembers a good amount of stuff about the Gospel but not all. Then we started to talk to Michele. She is awesome. We discovered that they had already met with the sisters when they were living in São Paulo!! It was crazy! She remembers a bunch of stuff and even still has a Book of Mormon. She has read it a ton! We started to talk to her about her doubts and why she wasn't baptized back in São Paulo. She expressed her uncertainty about a couple things and we explained. We had a really spiritual visit. Davi expressed how their lives have been tough lately and how he believes that God is answering his prayers little by little. I got to testify that "God doesn't forget us. He helps us everyday of our lives if we are doing the right things." It was great and they are now part of our group of people we visit!! I will continue to update on them as the time goes! 
Wednesday was my first district meeting as District Leader!! It was scary because I had to give the training but in the end it all went well. I spent the entire week leading up to it praying and pondering over what I should talk about. In the end I focused on commitment invitations. I wanted to focus on helping those type of investigators who are a little flakey, or who are just missing one thing to be baptized! Anyways I think it was a good meeting! It is a little nerve-wracking for the first time, especially when my district is the Assistants to the President and their companions haha! 
So Thursday also had a cool little moment. I was having a particularly tough afternoon/night. Our lunch had fell through for the first time in this area and no one was home because of the holiday. We were spending the day searching for less active members. And it was raining haha. The luck just wasn't with us for that day. Out of nowhere our cell rang. I looked down and saw "Pres. Bangerter" on the caller ID. I thought, "why is President calling?" I answered and he just asked how I was doing. He said that he just wanted to check up on us and see that all was good. I told him that it was a tough day and he comforted me. It was seriously awesome. He said, "Elder Christofferson, you are the man for this job. You are the Elder that needs to be in the Imbuí area right now. The Lord knows you and is helping you! Don't get down! You are a fighter and will do great things there! I love you and the Lord loves you more! Keep fighting!" It was so cool. It gave me the power to finish the day and the week. I love that President Bangerter listened to the Holy Ghost to call me! God knows us folks!! 
Friday was... interesting haha! I got sick. :( It was the sickest I had been in a while but it all ended up good. We spent the day at home because I was struggling and I really don't like doing that. I tried to go out and work but it was not going well. I figured it was better to be well rested so maybe I could work the next day and that is what happened. 
Saturday I was better! Not 100% but well enough to work! We went out with Bishop and the High Priest Group Leader to visit some less-active members. One person we visited I remember more than the rest. We went and found this guy named Gustavo. He's about 21 and has been inactive for a few years. We were focusing on finding the men around mission age! We had a nice visit with him and then at the end Bishop invited him to church. The sad part was when he just straight up rejected the offer. He said he doesn't have the desire to come back to church. It was sad. I left thinking a lot about that guy because I was imagining how different his life would be if he was on a mission. He would be a strong member of the church learning how to be a better man. Like what I am learning. It just made me sad to think that this kid was so unaware of all the blessings that he was letting pass by! 
Anyways that was my week! I love you all so much! Thanks for all that you do to make this world a better place! Remember that Heavenly Father loves you and that knows you! 
Until July! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

"I was born to speak Portuguese"

My new companion Elder Alves
HI Everyone! 
So WOW! This week was crazy! Not crazy because a bunch of crazy stuff happened but crazy because it was a lot of NEW stuff! I got transferred so it was a new area, new companion, new house, new ward, etc. It wasn't the easiest thing in the world but I am all good and this transfer will be fantastic! My mission is flying by!! 
So last Monday after I wrote my emails I spent the rest of the day saying goodbye to people in Conquista. Because I had served in the branch AND the ward here I had double the people to try and say goodbye to, so it required a lot of time! I didn't get to say goodbye to everyone that I wanted to because I ran out of time but I hope they still know I love them!! 
 A few highlights here saying goodbye to Cristielen and Luis Paulo. They were sad and still trying to understand the whole missionary transfer thing. I really love that family and I know that Heavenly Father will help them in all they need and that Luis will be baptized soon! 
Another highlight was saying goodbye to Vagner! Since I left he has been staying strong in the church and now is even in the Young Mens Presidency! I saw him every week at church still and it was awesome. I also love his family and it was sad to part ways with my friend Vagner. He will stay strong and is still excited for the temple next year! Man, I love seeing people strong in the gospel. 
I can't really say enough about how amazing the people in Conquista are and were to me. I really love those people and they made an impression on my life! I was sad to say goodbye but I am forever grateful that I was able to get to know them. I truly was sent to this mission for a reason. 
Monday night I left late on a bus with my beloved trainer, Elder Santana, who also got transferred to Salvador and is my Zone Leader now!. We got to Salvador about 7 on Tuesday morning and Elder Santana headed straight to his area while I headed to the mission home alone. I had only been there ONCE in my entire life, (the day I got here haha), but by some miracle I was able to explain to the taxi driver where it was. I got there to find all the other trainers and AP's waiting. We talked, ate breakfast, and then the Assistants gave us a great training. They talked about being positive as a trainer and working hard. Their training got me excited which was the purpose of the meeting! Then President and Sister Bangerter got there with the greenies!!!! I think there were 6. 4 Elders and 2 Sisters. One of the Sisters is American and she played basketball at BYU Hawai'i! She is like 6 foot 3, haha. I had kind of like an INSANE moment standing there welcoming the new missionaries as they walked in. I remembered my first day which really doesn't feel like it was that long ago. It was crazy and it made me reflect on my mission and realize how fast time really does pass. 
After lunch, more trainings, and a quick interview with President, the Secretaries took me out to find my companion and new area. Turns out I didn't have to travel far to get to my area since its here in Salvador not too far from the mission home. Anyway, I met up with my companion Elder Alves and we went to our house. Elder Alves is from Campinas, São Paulo. He is 25 and a very small person :-). He is still getting used to the mission life having only been out 6 weeks plus the MTC, but he has a great testimony! 
Tuesday night after I unpacked we went over to the chapel so I could meet the Bishop, as he was having a meeting there. I got to meet a lot of members and they all seem fantastic!! I'm excited for the missionary work here to progress! After a full Tuesday I went home and went to bed early because I was TIRED!! 
We spent Wednesday cleaning the house, meeting with the Missionary Couple, Elder and Sister Briggs(they take care of all the apartments in the mission), and getting to know more members. By the time Thursday rolled around
 I was excited to truly get to work. I realized quickly that this area is almost without investigators. Which is sad because it is one of the largest areas in the entire mission, if not the biggest. President Bangerter told me that just my area here has more people that the ENTIRE city of Conquista where I just came from, so we've got a lot of work to do. Thursday after lunch we did meet with one of the few investigators, Luciano. He is 30 years old and an awesome dude. He has been an investigator for a good amount of time now and still isn't baptized. After talking to him I found out he hasn't been reading the Book of Mormon! Reading the Book of Mormon is sooooo important and of course reading it will help him be baptized!!! We talked about the Book of Mormon a little and I encouraged him to read it.  Then I got the feeling we should talk about the Plan of Salvation. So we gave a lesson about the Plan of Salvation and it was GREAT! The Spirit was so strong and it made me happy. I can't explain it but the feelings that come when we talk about Eternal Families is unreal. So awesome! 
Here in Brasil right now we are nearing a holiday called São João! It is like a HUGE deal but I really don't know how to explain it. It's like a big party with strange, western like dancing, where everyone eats corn and boiled peanuts, hahaha. I guess it's a big cultural thing here! Saturday night our ward had a party at the church and it was great! We had a lot of visitors and less-active people there! It was great to see and get to know the members. I don't remember a lot of the people's names though because I met SO MANY people! The party was great and it made me excited to get to know this ward better. 
Sunday we had a great day at church and Sunday night there was a general Stake Priesthood meeting. Usually in our mission, the missionaries don't go to this kind of meeting but the Stake President invited us. We got permission to go from President. I figured there had to be some kind of purpose behind us going and there was! The Stake President was last to speak and he called all the Elders to the front. There were 8 of us there and about 150 members. The Stake President said, "So this little army of 8 is trying to save people, but hey need help." He then turned to us and said, "Elders, what would happen to your work if you got reinforcements of about 150?" We all expressed how amazing and how much it would help. Then he turned to the men in the congregation and said, "Brethren, we are the reinforcments and they NEED us! We have been very weak with helping theses Missionaries and that needs to change!" Of course us missionaries were standing there, giddy about what was happening. Why? Because when we have help from the members the work goes 1,000,000 times better!! It was a great meeting and we are looking forward to the reinforcements! 
So this week was great! I am loving this place. Like, imagine Hawai'i, just a little more ghetto, and everyone speaking a different language. That's this area. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE being close to the beach. Every night when we get home, after I shower, I walk out and sit on our front porch thing and listen to the water and feel the wind. It is like pure Hawai'i. I love it. Every morning we go running on the path next to the beach so I hope that will help me get in shape haha. 
This area has a lot of hills and is HUGE. The weather has been rainy and a little cold. Well not cold haha but like for Salvador, cold. Which is like 75ish. The weather is hot and humid but not too bad as right now it is winter here and we get a constant breeze from the ocean. 
A really cool thing about this week is that a ton of people have commented on my Portuguese and say how good it is and that I don't even have an American accent. One lady thought I was from Spain, haha! It is awesome. It makes me want to speak better. I think I was born to speak Portuguese!! Seriously it is so cool! I really don't know how to express the feelings I have about speaking portuguese except that it is awesome! 
I love my mission. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that it is ONLY through him that we can be saved. I love you all! Have a great week!!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
The view from my apartment's front porch

Monday, June 12, 2017

"I am being transferred to..."

The Guerra Family has been so good to us! 
Hey everybody!!
So first just a warning that this email may not be the best ever because I have nothing prepared like I usually do! Why? Because this morning, (Monday), we got the transfer calls! I am being transferred to Imbui which is in Salvador! So this morning I was packing my bags so the rest of the day I could do my emails, and then go say bye to the wonderful members here!

Tuesday was a good day. We went to teach Luis Paulo after he didn't go to church on the Sunday before that. We showed up ready to see what his excuse was. When we got there he was a little different. We sat down to "study" as he calls it, and the first thing he said was, "Hey I am really sorry I wasn't at church Sunday. I know what I did was wrong and I have been praying to receive forgiveness. I am going to change." Then he asked us, "do you guys think I am taking all this seriously?" I responded with what I honestly was feeling which was no. Then he looked sad and said, "Well that is going to change. From here on out this will be my first priority." It was really great. Then we had a great lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is marked to be baptized on the 24th. Sadly I will not be here because I will be transferred. But I know he will be baptized and stay strong in the gospel! And a year from now, Luis Paulo, and Cristielen will be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity! Nothing makes me happier than to think about that!! 

After our lesson with Luis we had a great lesson with Cristielen. Like last week, that woman is LOVING studying the Book of Mormon. She is learning fast and I can already tell will be a strong member and leader here in Conquista. I am excited to see her future. 

Wednesday was another cool day too. We went back to teach Luis Paulo and this time we took a present. But to explain I have to back track a little. So last Saturday we taught Luis Paulo about the Word of Wisdom and that he had to stop drinking coffee. He said he would and we even took the coffee he had and poured it down the drain. But this week when we went back he said, "Hey so I need something to drink in the mornings!" We agreed and starting to think what he could drink. We decided chocolate milk, which for some reason this country has A TON of. Then he goes, "he when you guys taught Cristielen you took the coffee we had too! So you guys have to buy the chocolate milk." HAHA!! It was funny but true. So Wednesday we took like 20 little chocolate milks for the guy! It was really funny and his little 2 year old daughter was jealous. 

But Wednesday, we also taught for the first time, a man named Reginaldo. He is Luis and Cristielen's neighbor and is 20 years old. He lives alone and has a lot of difficulties in his life. He has a son that he rarely sees and his work is tough too. He said he wants to do God's will and that was a great sign. We taught him about the Restoration and he loved it. I LOVE that lesson! Every time we teach that lesson I feel the Spirit so strong. It is all so true!! I am so grateful for my privilege every day to teach about the Restoration of the true church of Jesus Christ. And Reginaldo recognized that. We challenged him to baptism for the 24th and he accepted!

This week also we have been meeting with Andreza and checking up on her reading of the Book of Mormon. She also is doing great and loving learning more every day! One of the days this week she took us to her friend's house to teach them! But when we went her friend was busy so the next day we taught her friend, Daniella. It was great! She understood perfectly and it was such a miracle to see Andreza bear her testimony to her friend about this gospel. It made me feel so proud. To see someone like Andreza grow so much in the Gospel really was a miracle to me and it made me more grateful and happy to be a missionary. 

So some other AMAZING news, after a full week of visiting Luis Paulo he FINALLY went to church Sunday!!! WOOOHOOOO!! I was so happy when he showed up that I gave the dude a bear hug, haha! Also a quick note, I just love how God works. The things that we learn at church Sunday is always EXACTLY what the investigators need to hear. Like 100% perfect! As I was sitting in church yesterday seeing this I got so happy. And am just really grateful. 

So about my new area; Imbuí is in Salvador so I will be headed to the capital and to the HEAT! I am excited and nervous as usual with all the transfers. My new companion’s name is Elder Alves but that’s all I know about him. I am a little sad to be leaving here because I LOVE it so much but I am excited for the new adventure and challenges ahead. I know Heavenly Father will help me.

I love you all so much. I know that this gospel is true and that because of our Savior Jesus Christ we can all be saved. I know that families can be eternal and that God created a plan for us. I know that missionary work is and will be the best work I will ever do in my entire life! I love this city and these people here and they have truly touched my life. I will be forever grateful for them. It makes me comforted and happy to see that the entire world has amazing people, especially in the scary world we live in today. Hope is all we need!!

Love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
P-day Selfie at the Bowling Allie
Yummy food delivery from the Guerra Family. 
Post DL Meeting. We are all standing inside a giant cup.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"We NEED to be rooted in Christ!"

P-day. Elder Souza and I waiting to get into the
Internet place where we do our emails.
Hi Everyone!! 

How are you all doing?! I hope all is well. This week was kind of normal for us! Not too many crazy events but it was still a fantastic week! Every week on a mission seems to have its ups and downs, but the key is to focus on the ups and everything is better. Also it's June, which I just can't believe. The time is flying! 
One funny thing that happened this week was last Monday night. A member had invited us to their house for family night. As we were walking in to the neighborhood we saw some police on the side of the road. I didn't think anything of it as we passed. So we got to the members house and were hanging out and then we started the Family Home Evening lesson. I was assigned to share a quick scripture. I started to read 1 Nephi 5:8 because Dad sent me that scripture in his email that week. The scripture says, "And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak." 
As I am reading I started to hear gunshots. I kind of paused and thought, "why is no one else noticing?" So I couldn't ignore it, and asked everyone, "is no one else hearing these gunshots?!" Everyone started to laugh and I thought it was because I was sharing a scripture about safety when we were hearing gunshots. Then they said, "Elder those are fireworks." Haha it was pretty funny. But I don't know if I believe them, because those were the most gunshot sounding fireworks I've ever heard! Oh Brasil, you gotta love it here! 
Tuesday afternoon we went to visit Luis Paul, Cristielen's husband. Cristielen had gone to visit family for the day with their daughter. So the only one home was Luis Paulo. That is what we wanted. Because Luis is a great guy but he REALLY likes to joke and mess around. And when his wife is there it is only worse, and sometimes gets difficult to teach and have him focus. But Tuesday was different. We got to talk to him man-to-man. We taught the Restoration and the lesson was great! I think he has heard it 3 times now but this time was the best because he really paid attention. We realized with Luis Paulo we have to be more direct and stern for him to understand. It worked. We found out his mom is sick with cancer and that he really loves her. So, of course, we taught him about eternal families and he loved it. It was great. We all felt the Holy Ghost very strong. 
Wednesday we met with J. J is 23 and was baptized almost a year ago but has been inactive for a few months. We have been meeting with him recently. He is a great dude but really is struggling with his faith. One thing that I have seen a lot here on my mission is people that go inactive because of other members. J, for example, said no one talked to him and he felt out of place. It makes me so sad to see people do that, fall away from the Church because of problems with other members! We NEED to be rooted in Christ and these little things won't take us away from the path. That is basically what we taught J on Wednesday. The lesson was great but he still is struggling. So we decided to just focus on the small, faith-building stuff first. Praying and reading the scriptures. In reality we ALL need to focus on those small things more! But J is a good guy! He will progress. 
We met with Cristielen almost everyday this week. She has changed and seems like a new person after her baptism. We started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning with her and she is LOVING it! She read like 10 chapters in one week. Normally what we do when we assign people to read something is we make up a question about something from the chapter we assign, write the question on a sticky note, and put it on the page. But Cristielen this week gave us a great idea. She said, "Wouldn't it be cool if you guys made me make questions? That is how they used to do it in school and I liked it and learned a lot!" So we decided to do it and it has been working great! It makes me really happy to see new members progress! 
Saturday we went to teach Luis Paulo again. We had already met again with him earlier in the week so Saturday we planned to teach the Commandments. We knew that he likes drinking coffee so we focused a lot on the Word of Wisdom and the blessings that come from obeying it. We also decided to focus a good amount on the Sabbath Day. He has also had a hard time committing to coming to church. We had a great lesson about all the commandments and he was totally understanding and learning. It was great. Then at the end we committed him to stop drinking coffee and he said he would! Then we committed him to go to church Sunday and he goes, "We'll see." I said, "What do you mean we'll see? We just finished telling you all the blessings and wonderful stuff that will happen if you go to church!" He said, "well I got a soccer game and..." He started saying a bunch of reasons he couldn’t come. I got a little frustrated and didn't know what to do. He was being his normal, joking self, and I was upset. But I took a deep breath and told him he needed to be there. The Spirit returned and we finished on a good note. But Sunday, he wasn't at church. I am learning that as much as we want someone to do something, everybody has their agency! 

So that was our week! I hope you all have a great week! 

Love you guys so much! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
District meeting this week. We held it at our apartment because our key to the church broke.