Monday, July 24, 2017

"When one is faithfully reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, conversion comes..."

Me and Elder Prado
Hey Everybody!! 

How was your week!? Ours was a great last week of the transfer! Yes, I already have a whole 6 weeks here in this area, Imbuí! It went by so fast! We got our transfer calls last night actually, which was a nice surprise as we were expecting them Monday morning. So Elder Alves is getting transferred and I will be finishing the training of Elder Pereira here in Imbuí. It will be his second transfer on the mission! I saw him when he got here at the beginning of this transfer but I can't remember exactly who he is since I met all the new missionaries that day! I guess I will find out Tuesday! But this transfer with Elder Alves was a great one. I learned so much and am excited for the future here in our area! Things are looking great and change is good! 

So Wednesday we had a Zone meeting. When I heard about the meeting I was a little confused because we had a Zone Conference with President like 2 weeks ago. Apparently during the round of zone conferences that President Bangerter did in all the zones, he made some adjustments and edits to some things. Since my zone was the first one to have a zone conference we did not get to hear the things he had adjusted so we had a little zone meeting where the Assistants to the President gave a great training on the new information. Elder Prado, one of the Assistants, bore a really powerful testimony that really made me think. He talked about how we need to have the mentality that our work is a matter of life and death. It was really spiritual and made me reflect a lot on my last year as a missionary and how I can get better! 

Wednesday after the meeting I had the chance to go on a division (or a split or whatever it is called back home :-) with Elder Santana! My trainer!!! It was really cool too because it was on the day of my one year mark! It was awesome! We had an amazing day! First we went to teach Davi and Michele. They had gone to church on Sunday and we went to see how they liked it and to talk aobut baptism with Michele. Since the first day we met with them and she explained her story we had been careful about talking about baptism. Michele was baptized in the church she grew up in and when she met with the missionaries in Sao Paulo a while back she had felt bad when she learned her baptism hadn't been performed by Priesthood authority.  We have wanted to make sure we taught her about the priesthood before we talked about baptism so she would better understand why it's important to be baptized by one who hold the Priesthood. So when we got to our appointment, Elder Santana and I taught a great lesson with them both about Priesthood authority. At the end Michele kind of figured out what we were teaching. We started to ask her if she believed in the Book of Mormon. She replied that now she did. We explained that if she did believe it to be true than that meant Joseph Smith was a Prophet and that the church is true and so on. At the end of the lesson she got a little emotional and explained that she needed to do some praying and we explained that that was exactly what she needs to do. She told us that if God told her she needs to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ she will! So Michele has the real intent! It is just a matter of time now! She is one of the most sincere and true people I have met on my mission. She listens so intently when we teach and reads thoroughly everything that we leave with her. She just needs to take that step of faith!! The rest of Wednesday with Elder Santana was amazing! We went and visited a few member families and challenged them to invite a family who aren't members to a family home evening! They accepted the challenge and are excited as are we! 

Thursday we were still on the division and Elder Santana and I had some great miracles. We ended up finding this woman named Suely! She is an inactive member. Her son is 19 and active at church. We recently found out that the rest of his family too are members! But his mom Suely is a little tough. At first she wouldn't accept a visit. But Thursday she did! So we went and taught her. At their house, in the front, they have a little place where they sell snacks and drinks and stuff. When we got there Thursday afternoon she was the only one home so we taught her through the bars in front of the window where they sell food! It was funny but actually really cool! I had another one of those, "wow I am on a mission" moments. I was standing in front of a window teaching a lady sitting inside thru a barred window and we were all feeling the Spirit very strongly! I love being a missionary! One thing that I feel works for everyone when they are struggling in life,, whether it be an investigator, a member, or a less active member is the Book of Mormon. I whole heartedly believe that when one is faithfully reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, conversion comes. So that is always my solution! The Book of Mormon is the answer to everything!! 

Friday night I had the chance to go to Brotas and interview a man named José for baptism! He was so awesome! It was a very easy interview as he was so well prepared! The coolest part was actually after the interview. We were filling out the baptism form and when I was writing down information about his wife I couldn't remember if he had said she was a member or not. So I said, "your wife isn't a member right?" He replied, "well not yet! But she will be soon. I am working on it." It was awesome!! Haha! I told him that that is the PERFECT attitude. It gave me a good lesson to keep staying positive.

Saturday we had another great lesson with Suely. We sat in front of their house this time on the sidewalk. We just all read 2 Nephi 31 together. After we read these 3 verses Suely started to cry. 

"18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastnessin Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a loveof God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 

I asked her what she was feeling and she said, "that scripture is for me. I stopped after the baptism and didn't press forward." I then bore my testimony to her about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and then Elder Alves did. It was a very spiritual experience. And guess who was at church Sunday for the first time in 4 years??  Suely! 
So I also passed the one year mark this week! I was reflecting on this last year and how much I have grown! I have learned so much and changed for the better. I know with a surety that this is God's true church on the earth and that this work is the work of salvation. I love my Savior and know He is at the head of this church. 
I love you all!! Have a fantastic week! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

My real last pic with Elder Johnson, haha. He goes home this week
Me and Elder Jenkins

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"I hit the one year mark this week...."

Me and Elder Alves on our porch 

Hi everyone!! 

So how are you all doing!? I'm sure everything is great! I had a bit of a shock this week when I realized HALF of July has already passed. On Saturday I was seriously confused on how it was already the 15th and I thought I had time traveled haha!! Time is flying by! This week for us was great! It ended with a AWESOME Sunday and that is always a plus for any week! But I will get to that! 

Tuesday we had an interesting but cool experience! Last Sunday we had done some splits with our Bishop and the Priests in our ward, so we had some appointments marked for the week of people who we found Sunday who said we could leave a message with them. Tuesday we had one of these people marked to go visit! So we went and found Antonio. Neither me or Elder Alves knew anything about this guy because we weren't in the group who marked to go meet him. From the minute that Antonio answered the door we realized that he had some problems. He is probably about 50 and he lives alone. He let us in and started to talk about how his sister is a member but inactive. So after we talked to him for a while we came to a crossroads. We could tell that he had some mental problems and didn't really know what was going on. We could've left and not left a message, since he probably wouldn't understand a whole lot anyway. But I had the strongest feeling from the Spirit that we needed to stay and share a message. So we did! We talked about the Restoration and it was really cool. Antonio thought it was a great story and said that he liked the message. He said he felt peace during the lesson. I really felt the Spirit too. I thought, "He too is a son of God and if it doesn't understand us, he can feel the Spirit." And that is what happened! It was just a small, but significant experience for me for some reason! 

Wednesday was great! We had an AWESOME lesson with Davi and Michele! They are the best! Because they had been sick last week, it had been more than a week since the last time we had seen them! So we were excited to teach them again! We had decided to read 3 Nephi 11 with them. We just all opened our scriptures and sat in a circle reading the word of God. I had another one of my "holy heck I'm on a mission" moments! I don't know why but as we were all reading I just got this big smile on my face and thought, "wow, I cannot believe I am here reading the Book of Mormon in a different language, with people who don't fully know me, in a country FAR from home." It was just awesome. After the lesson we were talking about how we were feeling and Michele explained how this was just feeling right. We got really excited and then invited them to church and they said they would come! But I will get to that later! 

Friday night I had a faith-building experience but in an unexpected way. So we were up in a far-ish part of our area searching for this man named Raimundo. We had passed by there a few weeks earlier with out Ward Mission Leader because he knows Raimundo. He wasn't home at the time so we decided to come back. We remembered where the house was, but the problem was that we couldn't remember what the name of the man who lived there was! The time we had passed by we didn't even meet him cause he wasn't home. So this time we just decided to knock on the door and hope for the best. This kid answered the door and we started to do a normal contact with him when he said, "wait, I think I know why you're here!" He ran and got his dad who was Raimundo haha! So he let us in and was super nice and let us talk and get to know him. Normally when we do these visits with inactive members we start by taking down some of their info to see if they have moved or changed phone numbers or somthing like that. So we did that then started to talk about the Restoration to see if he remembered. That was when the visit changed. Raimundo started to talk about how he was now in a different church and then started to talk a whole lot of stuff negative against the church. About the Book of Mormon, about the Priesthood, about a whole bunch of stuff. He was attacking us pretty much. I really have not had much of this on my mission so I didn't really know how to handle it. I just listened and let him talk. The faith building part was with every word against the Church he said, I just felt my testimony growing. It was weird. I just kept thinking, "but I know that this is true" and "I wish he could feel this too!" It was pretty cool. I didn't Bible Bash or anything because I didn't want to. At the end me and Elder Alves both just bore our testimonies. He seemed pretty shocked to see that. It kind of took him by surprise. I love this work! 

Saturday was a fun day as we had one of the Priests go out with us for the afternoon. Junior, the priest, saw the tough part of the work haha. We had about 4 appointments marked, one being a friend of Jr's and every one fell through. So we started to do some contacts and talk with people. Jr was so awesome! He only is 16 but was not scared or nervous at all to talk to people! At least from what I could tell haha! It was cool to see how open and ready he was to talk about the Gospel already, only being 16! We all need to be willing to be like that! 

So the big, amazing week end was Sunday! I was expecting for about 5-6 people who we invited to come to church. As the meeting was about to start only 1 had shown up! I was standing in the door waiting and I heard the meeting start. With a sigh I went to sit down, a little discouraged. Especially about Davi and Michele. They are like ALWAYS true in the commitments. And they weren't there. So the meeting started and we sang the opening hymn and prayer and during the announcements I felt someone tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see Davi and Michele with their daughter Julia standing in the back smiling and waving! I literally almost screamed with joy haha! I don't know why but I just love them so much! I knew they were going to come through! So they came to church and loved it! We didn't get a lot of time to talk to them at the end but we are going to visit Tuesday. Another awesome thing was the reaction of the members, especially the leaders. The minute Sacrament meeting ended Davi and Michele had like a crowd around them of members who wanted to greet them. It was seriously amazing! They were celebrities! Haha! I was instantly grateful and happy that the Lord blessed us with awesome members who are so loving! All you back home, when an investigator goes to church, go be their friend!! The Elders or Sisters will love you forever! Our Gospel Principles teacher said that during Relief Society she sat with Michele. And during the closing hymn, Michele got emotional and started to cry! So I am so excited to go visit them Tuesdayto see how they liked church!! Great Sunday

So that is about it folks! I was reading in Ether 12 this week and came across verse 4 which I love!! It states

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for better world, yea, even place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faithmaketh an anchor to the soulof men, which would make thesure and steadfast, always abounding in good worksbeing led to glorify God."

Don't lose hope!!! God is in control and all will be well in the end! It is all true! 

Love you guys more than anything.
I hit the one year mark this week... talk about crazy! 

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Me and Elder Alves attempting a photo but my tie blew in his face. I thought it was pretty funny!

 Me and my new Bahia soccer jersey! I think it is cool! haha

 It's Michael Jackson

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"I'm Proud to be an American"

Celebrating on the 4th with the Flag socks
Hi, everybody!!! 
How are you all doing? Another week has gone by yet again! I blinked and it's p-day again and I'm sitting here writing this to you! What is happening? Haha! This week was great! I love this Gospel! Every day I study and teach about it, I love it more and more. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and changes lives! And mine is being changed too! 
So last Monday night I felt like Charlie/Elder Masino in Florida! There was a mini hurricane here! While it probably didn't even come close to a hurricane but here in Salvador, it was crazy! It was SOOO windy and rainy. Close to where we live this lady named Kika has a food stand where she sells stuff during the week. We were there when the wind came. We had to grab on to the polls of the tent thing so it wouldn't blow away!!! It was crazy! The power went out in a ton of places, power lines fell over and Salvador was not prepared for this wind! It was an adventure that is for sure! 
Tuesday was the 4th of July!! I might be in a different country but I'm still American, so I celebrated the best I could. Which just meant with the clothes I wore! J  I wore my blue pants and a red tie with my white shirt. But the best part was my socks! I'll send a picture! The funny part was that the socks actually got a ton of questions so it turned into a good way to start and talk to people! Another way I celebrated was telling literally EVERYONE I talked to about what day it was! It was a good contact and after I explained I was American and that it was the 4th, I explained that the USA became a place of freedom where the Restoration of the Gospel could happen. So I could talk about the Restoration with people! It was really cool and a lot of fun! I hope you guys all had a wonderful Independence Day wherever you were! I'm proud to be an American! 
Tuesday afternoon we had a cool experience! We were headed over to a certain part of our area when I got the prompting from the Spirit that we should take a different road that we don't usually go on. So we did and as we got to the end of the road there was this huge school on the left with a ton of people going in and out. On the opposite side of the road were a few people with carts selling food and stuff. That is a common thing here. I didn't even look over but as we were passing by I heard a voice yell "Elders!" It was one of the Deacons in our ward, Tiago. He was at a cart with another big looking dude. We walked over and started talking to them. We found out the big guy was Tiago's uncle who is a member! His name is Danilo. He is inactive and moved back to Salvador about 2 months ago! He is an awesome guy! We had a pretty cool spiritual conversation with him at their food stand. He talked about how he has felt lost in his life and doesn't really know what he is doing and needs to change something! We invited him to return to church, testifying that the change he needs is this gospel! It just goes to show that the Spirit can be felt ANYWHERE!! We marked to visit him later this week! 
Wednesday morning we had a service project! Yes, a service project! It's a rare thing in this area. I realized that even though we ask to do service for everyone, it doesn't happen too often. Anyway, we helped a family move Wednesday morning! They lived on the third floor so our legs were sore afterwards, but it felt awesome to do some service! It always reminds me of when we would help people in the ward back home move! It was a blast. 
Wednesday night we had a tough and sad experience. One of our investigators, Luciano, told us he is going to stop taking the discussions and going to church. It was sad because we were all excited and prepared to have a great lesson with him! His reasoning was that he didn't want to keep taking the lessons and going to church when he was doing bad things! He said he wasn't 100% in he said. I appreciated his honesty but we tried to change his mind. I explained and testified how that kind of situation is EXACTLY why we need to go to church and try! When someone is doing bad things and feeling down is when they NEED to go to church, not go away from it. We read scriptures with him like Luke 4:18. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised," We explained that Christ came to heal and help people exactly in his situation. The Spirit was intensely strong in the room. We did all we could but in the end, he stayed firm in his position. He said he just wants to take a "break." Everybody has free agency! It was sad but we will see how it all works out in the end. Luciano is a great person! I hope and believe he will get baptized one day. 
Thursday was a great day! We had a Zone Conference! I got to see a bunch of my friends and it was a really awesome Conference. We learned and talked about exactly what I felt I was needing. Working better with members and giving baptismal dates! One thing I really liked that President Bangerter said was that if we don't swing, we will never hit the ball! He gave that great baseball analogy with respect to giving baptismal dates to our investigators! We have got to at least try! I loved the analogy but I don't know if  some of the Brazillian missionaries fully understood it  because Baseball is not a common sport in Brasil! 
After the awesome Zone Conference, I went and did a split (I think that's what it is called in English, here we call it a division) in Brotas. Brotas is the area of the Assistants and they are in my district! I was there because Elder Jenkins and his companion Elder Espirito Santo were going to baptize a lady Saturday! So I got to do my first ever baptismal interview!! Man I was nervous and praying so hard to Heavenly Father that he would help me make the interview good and spiritual! He responded and delivered! The lady I interviewed was named Maria Creuza! She was SOO ready! The answer to my prayer came from her! All I had to do was ask the questions and she responded with really strong testimonies of what she had been taught about the Gospel!! It was her who did most of the talking and I felt the Spirit very strongly and was so grateful that I could have the privilege of doing her interview. After, Elder Jenkins and I went and taught a few lessons to some of their other investigators and it was amazing to learn from him! He even said he learned from me which surprised me but I was grateful for the great division! 
Friday we also had an amazing experience! Last week we ran into this girl who we found out she was a member after my companion bought a popsicle from where she worked! We marked with her for Tuesday night but had to remark for Friday night! Elder Alves got pretty sick Friday so I asked him if he wanted me to reschedule again. He thought for a few seconds then replied, "No we can visit them." So we did and it was amazing. Jessica is married to Marcos and they are both members! They have been inactive for a few years now but they are AWESOME! We taught the first lesson and it was great. We found out that Marcos even has the Melchizedek Priesthood! At the end of our lesson, we asked if they would go to church with us Sunday! They both responded yes of course!! I was a little shocked, haha! It was soo easy!! They are the best! They ended not being able to come though because Marcos was really sick and so was their little daughter. But are visiting them this week again and I am excited! 
Sunday afternoon we went on some divisions with the Priests in our ward! It was a blast and reminded me of the times that I went out with the missionaries back home! 
This week during my study I was reading in Ether and had a really cool thought. I was reading the part when the Brother of Jared sees the Lord. The Lord says that there was never anyone else who had such great faith than the Brother of Jared. But why? At our Zone Conference, President Bangerter talked about faith and how faith is action. Before the Brother of Jared saw the Lord he was doing what? Acting! He was making the stones and creating the idea that he then went and presented! For the miracles to come we have to act! The only time that "success" comes before "work" is in the dictionary!! 
OH! I almost forgot! Last night I received some GREAT news! Elder Souza , my last companion back in Conquista called me! Do you remember Cristielen and her husband Luis Paulo? Well,  when Elder Souza called me he said, "Guess who I baptized yesterday? And guess who I confirmed today? Luis Paulo!" He got baptized!!!!! Cristielen's husband! Man I got so happy when I heard the news I almost cried!! Seriously, I was sooooo happy! I had heard that he wasn't doing too good progressing with the lessons the first week after I was transferred so I was surprised to hear he had decided to be baptized! I told Elder Souza to tell them I am excited for their sealing in the Temple next year! I just love missionary work! I makes me so happy! 

Anyways that is all for this week! I love all you guys so much and hope you have a great week!

Elder Spencer Christofferson 

Me and Eddy! The BEST taxi driver ever. He is like famous in the mission. Whenever anyone in Salvador needs to go somewhere he takes you. He's not even a member but loves all missionaries and President and Sister Bangerter! 
Me and my mission "dad", Elder Santana! He was my Trainer and first companion in the mission and is my Zone Leader right now! 
Probably the last photo of me and Elder Johnson! He goes home at the end of this transfer! How time flies! Love this dude! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

"Heavenly Father is aware of our efforts..."

Hi Everybody!! 
So this week was awesome! Most people came back from last week's holiday and we got to meet with a lot more people! We had some awesome experiences this week! I just love being a missionary. Amazing things happen every week. I am making memories for my life and even better is that I am getting my faith strengthened! I feel loved and blessed more than any other time in my life out here in Brasil. I love this country too! I know that God really called me to be here and I am EXACTLY where I need to be right now! Oh and it's July! Happy July! 
Tuesday we had a cool little miracle. So we were looking for some less-active members. Earlier I had taken our list of members and picked a few streets that seemed to have a lot of people, and written them does. So we went searching/exploring our area. The funny part is that we didn't find ONE of those people on the list I made. But we did find another family who are members. We saw this girl and stopped to ask her about a street. But when we stopped her the first thing she said was, "Hi Elders." It caught us off guard and we asked her how she knew the Elders! Turns out she is the sister of this other young man, Davison, in our ward! Davison is active but the rest of his family isn't. So we talked to his sister, then him, then his mom and now we have a family night marked for tonight at their house! It was really cool. I felt like it was a small little miracle! I love those kind, haha! 
Wednesday night as we were leaving this neighborhood of our area, this man sitting in the plaza called us over. He was in about his early 30s and he was sitting with his wife who was chasing their toddler around. He told us his name was Roberto and that he was a member of the Church. He explained that he and his family were in a tough situation. They had little time in the city and were struggling a lot financially. He had gotten in a motorcycle accident last month and broke his leg. Because of that he had been let go of his job. We could see quickly that his family needed help. Roberto told us that they had been looking for help from churches and received none and that he hadn't known where the "Mormon" church was. But he said that when he saw us he remembered the Elders who had baptized him. We got his address and marked to go visit them. Friday afternoon we did. We found their house and I was humbled. Their house was the size of my room back home. Roberto is sleeping on the floor because there is only room on the mattress for his wife and son. The situation overall is just tough. But we had a really cool, spiritual conversation with them. Roberto expressed his desire to come back to church and, "feel that peace and family atmosphere" as he put it. I testified of the Atonement and promised Roberto he can be forgiven of his sins. It was really awesome and we set up a time for him to meet with Bishop! 
Thursday was I think my favorite day of the week. It just felt like Heavenly Father really showed me that he is aware of our efforts and work. We needed that confirmation too and it came at the perfect moment. Thursday afternoon we went to visit Daví and Michele for the second time. Since the first time we met with them we just got to know them, this time we went prepared to teach the Restoration. It was a fantastic lesson. The coolest part was towards the end when we talked about the Book of Mormon. Since Michele and Davi already had met the Sisters when they lived in São Paulo they had a Book of Mormon. Michele said how, "earlier today I was reading the Bible. I was reading in Isaiah 9 because I love Isaiah. After I finished I saw the Book of Mormon and picked it up to read. I just opened and started to rad. The part I read was almost exactly what I read in Isaiah 9! I thought it was so cool." Michele had opened to 2 Nephi chapter 19 where Nephi quotes Isaiah. It was sweet! She then went on to explain how when she first heard about the Book of Mormon she had immediately denied it. But then last Christmas her mother-in-law (who is a member in another ward here in our stake) gave her a Book of Mormon as a present with her testimony written and some scriptures marked. Michele said she was touched and read some of it and that now she loves the Book of Mormon. It was amazing! You guys may not be using a nametag but you still can be powerful missionaries!! 
Thursday night we had another cool lesson with a man named Fernando. Fernando is the man we met last Sunday when we passed by the big group of people watching soccer! We saw him again earlier in the week and talked to him and his wife. We marked to go teach him. We had a very cool lesson with. We taught the Restoration. The interesting part was that Fernando was pretty quiet during the lesson. And he usually seems to be a talkative guy. But at the end he said he'd read what we left with him and that he needed to do a lot of thinking and praying. The Spirit touched him! It was really cool and I love to see the Spirit work on people in different ways! 
Another really cool thing that happened on Thursday is that out of nowhere we got two media referral! The ones that Salt Lake sends. I've NEVER gotten any my entire mission so getting 2 in one day was awesome. And even better was the next day we got three!! A total of 5 in less than 24 hours. It was really cool and showed me that Heavenly Father is aware of our efforts and watching over us! 
Saturday we taught Davi and Michele again. This time we taught the Plan of Salvation and focused on eternal families! There is always a special type of feeling that enters the room when we teach about eternal families. They loved it and I hope one day they too can become an eternal family! It is one of the best Gospel truths that exists! If we do our best here and obey the commandments we can live with our families FOREVER!! Death is not the end. We will see our families again one day. I love having that knowledge! 
Anyways my beloved family and friends that is my week! I love you all and hope you have a fantastic and PATRIOTIC week!! 
Love you guys #USA!USA!USA!

Elder Christofferson

A young man in the ward named Junior.  He bore a really strong testimony during church on Sunday. 
Dery and I. He's another priest in the ward. Awesome and Hilarious! 
Joao. He's 10 years old and reminds me so much of my brother Logan when he was 10.