Monday, August 21, 2017

"Oh, how happy I was!"

Baptism Day

Hey everybody! 

How are you all doing?! I hope you all had a great week! Here in Salvador life is wonderful! We had an AMAZING week and I will get to the main highlight towards the end of the email. Let me just say as I begin that I love serving the Lord and helping people come closer to Jesus Christ! There is no better work! 

So Wednesday we had a very full day! We got home that night absolutely dead tired but that is the best feeling as a missionary because we had worked hard!! First we had a Zone Conference with the two zones here in Salvador combined. The problem was that I found out it was 2 zones a little bit late. I’ll explain: The meeting was scheduled to start at 8 AM but there was a leader meeting at 7 AM with President Bangerter so my companion and I got up early to get to the stake center. We arrived on time but the chapel was locked and no one was around. I tried calling a ton of people and no one answered. Finally some of the Sisters who serve in the area where we currently were answered. I asked "Sister, is the Zone Conference cancelled?" She replied no, and I said, "Umm then why is no one here?!" She realized what had happened and said "Elder are you guys at the Itapuã Stake Center? The meeting is at the other Stake Center!" Ugh! So no one had told us and we had to get on another bus to the other chapel! On that bus we hit Los Angeles like traffic! And I mean BAD!!! We ended up getting there late but in the end it was all worth it because we had a GREAT meeting! My favorite training was from Sister Bangerter! Her Portuguese has improved so much since I arrived here in the field! She always likes to give trainings that mix Portuguese with English. She focused her training on a scripture in 2 Nephi chapter 9. First she shared the last part of verse 39 in Portuguese and talked about it. Then wrote the same phrase but the English version. The phrase is, "and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal." She took the first letter of the last five words and it spells SMILE!! I loved that! When we are spiritually-minded we will smile and be happy!! It was a great meeting! 

After the meeting ended we had to book it over to Viviane and Anna Beatriz's to have a very important lesson! It was going to be their last one before their baptism interview on Friday! We taught about the Sabbath day and tithing! Both things we had previously touched on but had not really explained it completely so we wanted to help them with that. The best part was when we were teaching them about tithing! I was explaining what tithing is and that we pay 10% and then Viviane goes, "only 10 percent?" It was so awesome! I thought it was a great, positive outlook on the topic! They were excited and a little nervous for Saturday but all was looking good after Wednesday!

The same day we also went to contact another media referal! It was a lady who's name was Suzana! We called her the day before and she said she wanted a Book of Mormon so we scheduled an appointment to deliver her one!  We showed up around 6 that night and after knocking on the wrong door at her neighbor's she came out and said she was Suzana! So we went in and met her and her family! She lives with her husband and their 3 little kids. The oldest is 6 and the other two are under 3. We had a fantastic lesson about the Restoration and explained the Book of Mormon. The way she found out about the church is cool too! She got put into a group text with a bunch of moms. She said that a majority of them live in São Paulo and they are members! They had little by little explained about the church in the group text and when she asked a question they would answer! In the end the other moms told her about the church website where she can ask for a Book of Mormon! So she did and we showed up! This work of salvation only works when members of the Church are active it! I promise it! You don't have to talk about the church every breathing moment like a full time missionary, but being an example to others is the main part! All of the success I have seen here on my mission comes because of members helping with the work! I also thought another cool thing was that Suzana goes by "Sue" and it made me think about Aunt Sue this week with her surgery! Heavenly Father placed this other Sue in my path to remind me of Aunt Sue at home. She and all the Robles’ are in my prayers!

On Thursday night a really cool thing happened. Close to our house is this huge grocery store. It’s kind of like Ralphs or Vons but a little bigger. These types of stores are RARE here so it is great to one close by. Thursday night before we went home we went by to buy some food and I FOUND CREAM CHEESE!!!!!!!!!! I know that is probably a really funny and silly thing to get so excited about but I freaked, lol! I of course bought it and have been eating it just with bread every day, haha! These are the little type of things that don't usually exist here that when I find them are amazing. Like I realized that sour cream also doesn't exist here! And the worst is ranch. Ranch, I think, I will never find. Barbeque sauce is really common here in Salvador so that is good. Sorry for the food update, it was just so exciting! LOL! 

Friday we went and met with Matues and Lo. They are interesting people. We love them but we are starting to feel like they are only wanting to have us as friends and not as missionaries who talk about Christ. They like our visits but aren't keeping the commitments that we have given them. So sadly we might have to “drop” them. It’s always hard when this happens but we are here to help them come closer to Christ, not just to have a good time and visit as friends. 

Friday we had the interviews of Viviane and Anna Beatriz! Our Zone Leaders Elder Rodrigues and Elder Santana came to do them! Anna went first and the interview was quick and without a hitch. Viviane was second. As Elder Santana was interviewing her the rest of us were just out in the hall talking... and talking... and talking, because the interview was taking forever! I started to get worried and Elder Pereira even more because this was the first time one of his investigators were being interviewed for Baptism since he is new! Finally they walked out and everything was good! We headed out and the second we left I said, "Elder Santana what the heck happened?" He replied, "Dude, I didn't even barely talk. She already has such a strong testimony and she just kept talking about how much she loves the gospel! That is why it took so long haha!" So it was all okay but a little scary there for a minute!

So now for the highlight of the week and the biggest reason that this week was so good…Viviane and Anna Beatriz  were baptized on Saturday! OH HOW HAPPY I WAS! The meeting went perfectly! Elder Pereira baptized Viviane and I got to baptize Anna! It was so spiritual! I felt the Spirit so strong when I got to baptize Anna Beatriz! After the actual ordinance, our ward's Relief Society sang a special musical number. The Spirit was SOO strong in the room helping everyone feel the peace, comfort and witness that Anna and Viviane had done the Lord’s will. I looked over at Viviane and Anna, and saw Viviane reach over and grab her daughter’s hand as both had tears in their eyes. That was a special moment. This Gospel is about families. Eternal families. And their next goal will be to go to the temple. Saturday was a day that missionaries live for! 

Sunday was great too! Both Viviane and Anna came to church and were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as they received the Gift of the Holy Ghost! It was so special and such a privilege to participate! Our next focus is now going to be Rafael, Anna's boyfriend! He has now come to church twice and was at the baptism and is LOVING church! 

So that was a very quick recap of our amazing week! I love this privilege of representing the Lord Jesus Christ!  I love you all so much! Thanks for being awesome! Have a fantastic week! 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson
Elder Pereira, me, Vivane, Anna Beatriz and Raphael before Viviane and Anna's baptism.  
Baptism Day
The Relief Society Sisters in the Ward came to support Viviane and Anna at their Baptism. 
Baptism Selfie






Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"This work is a work of love!"

View from our Apartment of the Sunrise
Hi everybody!! 
How are you all doing?! I hope it was a great week for you all! Our week was great and if everything goes well, this week will be even better! We are praying all does go well! Faith is the key! 

Our week started out a little slow. Monday night we had a few appointments marked that all fell through. Tuesday also just seemed like everything was against us! It was crazy. It was like we were invisible! There was a moment Tuesday night when we literally were ignored by 7 people straight! Even just saying "Boa noite," which means good evening and is a common thing to say to people on the street, we were being ignored. People just didn't respond or look in our direction. But that just happens sometimes I guess. 

Wednesday things started to get a little better! To start off we had an amazing District Meeting. It was so great! I think I had the best training I've given so far! We talked about finding new people and thinking in new, different ways to find, than what our mission is accustomed to! It was so awesome. Everyone was participating and I was only able to give the first half of the training I had prepared because there wasn't enough time to finish due to all of the participation! And I was worried when I was preparing that it would be too short! HA! 

Recently our mission changed a little in respect to the weekly goals we have. For example one of the new goals is 21 New Investigators a week. So I challenged my district to hit that goal! I am happy to say that our entire district crushed it!!! So things are going great here. 

Wednesday afternoon we went to teach Mateus, the less-active guy we have been meeting with. When we got there Elder Pereira and I had an "in-tune" moment. Mateus lives with his girlfriend but EVERY time we have gone over there she is in the other room. We had never even seen her. So the "in-tune" moment was when we both simultaneously said, "Invite your girlfriend to come join the lesson!" It was so funny. One of the ways to get new investigators that we had talked about at the district meeting was to round up everyone in the house we are at for the lesson! So we did! It was great. We met Lo, Mateus' girlfriend and she is awesome. She loved the lesson and we just read the story of Enos with them. They thought it was so cool how Enos prayed for the Lamanites. Mateus seemed to be physically affected. He got quiet, which is rare, then said, "I had never thought that someone would pray for an enemy. This guy really was a man of God huh?" It was really cool! They just need to come to Church!! 

Thursday they invited us back to have dinner with them and Mateus invited one of his friends to get to know us! His name was Icaro and he is awesome too. It is just the best when people introduce us to their friends! You guys back home, just invite a friend to dinner on the same night as the missionaries! They will LOVE it! 

Friday was great too! We taught Viviane and Anna Beatriz again! Man they are just the best. We got there and found out the best news. Viviane switched with someone at work!!!!!!! So on the 20th she can go to Church and be confirmed! It was, well IS, a miracle! We prayed and fasted, and the miracle we needed happened! Thanks to all of you guys for the prayers! It helped so much! Viviane told us that the guy who switched with her will work 36 HOURS STRAIGHT, so she can go to Church Sunday. She said she explained to him the whole situation and he was more than happy to help. I need to find this man and thank him, haha! I love when Heavenly Father responds to our prayers with people. During our visit we answered some questions they had about baptism and stuff and it was great. Anna Beatriz had a few questions she was concerned about but we responded to her doubts and we are praying a lot for her! We taught about the Law of Chastity and it went perfect. It was an amazing, spiritual lesson! We gave them a present, the church magazine, The Liahona and they loved it. 

Friday night we went to visit Mateus and Lo for a lesson. Mateus was pretty sick so we just taught Lo. She is very shy and timid but liked the lesson about the Restoration. We challenged her to be baptized and she accepted! We hope she continues to progress. 

Saturday morning we also went to Viviane's again. Anna Beatriz went out of town for the weekend because here in Brasil Sunday was Father's Day. So she went to her dad's in a different city. So Saturday morning we went to just visit with Viviane! I seriously can't express how amazing Viviane is! That lady has gone through a lot of hard times but she just oozes joy. I love our lessons with her. During the lessons she will be listening and then out of nowhere raise her hand a little bit and get all excited and laugh and say she has an experience! So we let her talk and then she tells some incredible story or makes a perfect comment about what we were talking about. I am so excited to see how she grows in this Gospel. I can see her being VERY strong and a leader in the Church someday. Saturday was great! 

Sunday was a great day as well and we ended the week with a wonderful Sabbath day. 

So this week is a big one! Viviane and Anna Beatriz will be baptized on Saturday! We are excited for them and are praying like crazy! 

I love being a missionary. Like, I REALLY love it. I have realized during my time that this work is a work of love. It might sound cliché but it is true. Love runs it all. Love that we have for our companions, investigators, the members, and most important for God. His love for us is impossible to comprehend. Love is what this world needs more. The way we will get it, is through Jesus Christ. I love you all! Have a great week! 
-- 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson


District Meeting this week



Monday, August 7, 2017

"Christ promises to fill our souls with joy!"

Me with the futebol player statue that you can see from our house.
Hi everybody!!!!
I hope you are all doing great! I'm sure another week of summer was a blast. Here in Salvador it seems like our "winter" might be hittin' the road already as this week it was a little hotter! We had a great beginning of August and the future is looking bright here in Imbuí!! Elder Pereira and I are getting along great but I am definitly feeling old out here! Training is so different! I love it but it's definitely challenging.  

Last Monday after we sent our emails we went bowling with a ton of missionaries in our zone! It was a blast and I got to see old friends and make new ones! Someone made the comment when we were there how it is so weird that we all got to know one another on our missions! A lot of times it seems like we have known each other forever! It's so true! An example of that is my trainer and now Zone Leader Elder Santana, I met him less than a year ago but it feels like we have been friends for years! I'll send pictures! It was a fun day!

Tuesday was a great work day. Pure work and sweat. We found some new people to teach, which we needed. A few families, one of which we will be visiting tonight! So hopefully it goes well! Tuesday afternoon we had a visit with Suely. She is the less-active lady who's son is preparing for a mission. The son is the only one active and we are working on re-activating the family, starting with Suely. It would help out the son a lot if his mom was more supportive of him serving a mission. Last week Suely had disappeared a bit and we couldn't find her home. But Tuesday we found her. We taught and read with her 1 Nephi 8 about Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life. I forgot how much I LOVE that chapter!! It is seriously such a good example and analogy for our day! If you haven't read it recently go read it! Suely really felt the Spirit and she liked the part where Lehi desires the fruit of the tree for the rest of his loved ones. She started to explain how her family needed this "fruit" again. Then we made a list of all her friends and extended family who live in the area and who we can visit. It was great. Friday we had another great lesson with her, just reading the Book of Mormon. Sunday she was at church and as we sat down in Gospel Principles she says, "Elder Christofferson, I didn't drink coffee Friday, yesterday, and today." I was speechless! This was the lady who said that there were conditions of us visiting with her. One of them being we weren't allowed to talk about coffee and the stuff she wasn't supposed to do. We hadn't said ONE WORD to her about her drinking coffee, we only reading the Book of Mormon with her and invited her to read and pray about it. The Book of Mormon is the best tool ever! It helps us in all situations! I know it is the word of God. When we read it, we come closer to our Heavenly Father and seek to do his will. 

Wednesday was amazing! We went and visited our awesome investigators Viviane and Anna Beatriz. They loved Church on Sunday and thought it was very edifying. They liked how everyone gets to participate if you want to. Not just one or two men in the front talking the whole time. We taught more in-depth for them about the Book of Mormon. Towards the end of the lesson I started to bear my testimony and felt the Spirit intensely. I was prompted by the Spirit to invite Viviane and Anna Beatriz to be baptized and they both said yes! Then Viviane said, "We need this in our lives. It just seems like there is a void that nothing will fill. Material things don't do it and everything we have looked at so far doesn't fill that space. I don't know how to explain it other than that it feels like there is something missing in our lives but this seems right;" WOW!!!! We promised and testified that this Gospel, this true church of Jesus Christ WILL fill that void. That is what Christ promises, to fill our souls with joy. We set a goal with them for the 19th of August!!! 

Friday we went and visited a less-active named Mateus. He is an interesting guy with a lot of questions, like A LOT. Friday when we were teaching him one of his friends showed up. He was insisting his friend come in and talk to us too, haha! He did and we taught them both together and now we are visiting with Daniel, the friend! All we are doing with Mateus is reading the Book of Mormon! It is the perfect solution like I said! And just doing that he is changing. He is talking about his friends and family who don't have the Gospel and wanting us to visit them without us even asking! It is amazing!!! 

Saturday we visited with Viviane and Anna Beatriz again! Our Gospel Principles teacher, Eliete, came with us! It was a great lesson and we taught about the Plan of Salvation! They thought it was so "pretty" :-)! They loved the fact that we can have eternal families meaning that even beyond this life we can be with our families forever. Our families don't end with "til death do you part" or "for as long as you both shall live" but they can last for ETERNITY! At the end of the lesson I asked how they were feeling. Viviane said, "I was really close to my Grandmother, her name was Anna Beatriz with two N's and that is why I gave my daughter that name too." (Normally Anna is spelled with just one N in Portuguese). "When my grandmother died I didn't know what to do. I have always felt her with me throughout my life but not known if that was just in my head or real, if there really was life after death? But now that I know I can live with her again, I am happier than ever." I mean come on! What a perfect testimony she shared! Anna, who is only 19 said, "I have never lost anyone like really close to me. But now that I know this, when I do, it won't be as painful." It was way awesome. Then Anna asked if she can bring other people to church with them! We said of course and then her boyfriend, Rafael, showed up! He was getting there right as we left and he was interested too. 

We fasted yesterday and are praying alot that Viviane can get the 20th off of work so she can come to church the day after her baptism to be able to get confirmed during sacrament meeting! Because if not she would have to wait a lot of weeks to be confirmed!!! Please pray for her to be able to get the 20th off of work. 

Anyway, Sunday Anna was there! Viviane had to work but Anna came and brought Rafael!!! It was awesome! Anna was explaining things to him during the meeting! It made me so happy to see investigators HELPING OTHER investigators haha! Good times! 

So everyone that was our week!! I love this gospel! I love the Book of Mormon! I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Selfie of me Elder Santana, Sister Rodrigues and Sister Huamaní

Everyone bowling! 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"My week was amazing!"

Our district!! Elder Castlemain is one of the new APs and Elder Souza is back in my district!! Love that dude!
Hey Everybody!!!

So this week was a week of change! It was the first week of a new transfer and I have a new companion whose name is Elder Pereira. He only has two months on his mission so I am finishing his training! He's 19 and from Fortaleza, Seará, here in Brasil. It is a little farther north of here in Bahia! The church there is growing quickly and there will be a temple there too! It is under construction right now which is so cool! Elder Pereira is a great missionary and I am excited about this transfer! 

I have to say that I am loving this area recently! The layout of it, the ward, just the people in general, the weather, everything! It has been rainy and a little cold here lately too! Cold for here  is in the 70s with an ocean breeze we feel that makes it seem colder with the humidity so it's good!

Last Monday night Elder Alves left for his new area! I hope he likes it there. I learned a LOT last transfer with him and I am grateful God put him in my path! 

After Elder Alves left I went to spend the night at the house of the AP’s (missionaries who serve as assistants to the Mission President) since my companion wouldn’t be arriving until the next day. We had a blast that night. It was me, Elders Jenkins, Prado, High, and Pyne, who finished his misssion last week! We went to get pizza and then just sat talking and went home that night and played a board game with everyone! I slept in the hammock because there were only 4 beds! I slept well too and now I can check that off my bucket list! It was just a blast to be with American/English speaking people. It made me feel like I was back with the boys of my quorum back home. I loved it! 

Tuesday morning we had the training for the trainers at the mission home and the new greenies arrived! Once again I felt so weird seeing them arrive because for me that moment doesn't feel so long ago. We had great training throughout the day and the main thing I took away was just the principle of hard work. Everything I seemed to be hearing was centered on that. Just do it! Work and you will see the blessings! It was great! 

Wednesday was a FANTASTIC day!! It was the first full day with Elder Pereira and man it was great. I can't even talk about everything that happened because it was so much but I'll hit the highlights. Wednesday night we had a family home evening at the house of our ward mission leader, Marival. Last week we had challenged him and his wife to invite people to FHE and they came thru! Three of the people he invited showed up. A lady named Ana Maria,  and a brother and sister, Jessica and Ander, the first is 19 and the latter 12. Irmão Marival gave a quick message on the Plan of Salvation and it was so spiritual. We bore our testimonies after about eternal families. It is always so cool to me to see how people react to that doctrine! They all thought it was amazing and we got their info to visit them this week! 

Wednesday night after the family home evening we were walking home. As we were walking we saw this truck with a bunch of stuff in it, a lady, and about six or seven kids. They were taking the stuff out of the truck and walking down a steep path to a house. The lady was moving in! The week before in out Gospel Principles class at church, we had been talking about service and our teacher challenged everyone to do more service this week. I was so excited when I saw the situation I ran up to the lady and asked if we could help! She seemed a little scared at first but accepted. We helped this lady for about 20 minutes put the few belongings she had into a SMALL house; fridge, stove, beds, a table. I don't know how she had planned on finishing! She was actually pregnant too so it was harder! The only help she had was the 10-13-year-old boys. The coolest part was at the end when we were almost leaving. We hadn't even mentioned one thing about the Church at all and she says, "Thank you guys so much! This week I'm busy but next week you guys can come back!" It was a miracle! We had not said anything about the church and she already wants a visit! This week we are going back for sure! 

Thursday night we went to teach Davi and Michele. They are doing good! We watched the video about the Restoration and it was great! I wanted them to remember about Joseph Smith and feel that Spirit again. Afterward, we talked about Michele getting an answer and heavenly help for her doubts and worries. It was really spiritual and now we wait. Obviously, we keep visiting and following up and in time she'll get her answer! I feel like I've gained a lot of patience on my mission and learned that it is all in the Lord’s timing, not mine.

Friday morning we had our first district meeting of the transfer! It was great! I'm really excited for this transfer and really like my district. I had the privilege to give the training and I talked about using the scriptures more in our lives and lessons. I thought it went great!  In our lives, in general, the scriptures can be more prominent! Jacob 2:8 says, "...the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul." What an amazing promise! We can all use the scriptures more! The word of God can heal our souls! 

Okay, so I'll try not to get too excited about this next topic. Last Sunday I got a call from Salt Lake City. It was two Temple Square sister missionaries! They gave us a referral. So Thursday I called the referral who's name is Viviane! She was so nice and we scheduled for Saturday morning. Saturday came and we headed for the address. She lives in a neighborhood a little far away and a little nobler. It is just a bunch of huge apartment buildings and doing work there is tough. But we found it and she let us in! Viviane is in her late 40s and she has a daughter named Anna Beatriz who is 19. We got there and they were so so nice! We went in and immediately I could tell this was going to be a great lesson. The Spirit was there just in our ice breaking conversation! We found out why they were a referral! So they have only lived here in Salvador about a year and a half and in the city they were living in before they have a friend who is a member. Recently he had traveled to Salt Lake to see the Church Headquarters. After he did the tour the Sisters there asked if he had anyone who he was feeling would be interested in the message. He said Viviane and her daughter! And in the end, they ended up in our hands. So we taught the Restoration and it was AMAZING! We were all feeling the Spirit and when I asked how they were feeling they both said they felt a different feeling than they had ever felt before! We testified it was the Holy Ghost speaking to them and telling them what they were learning is true! Then we committed them to pray to know for themselves if it was all true and then explained how an answer could come from the Spirit. Viviane then shared a very special experience she had a few years ago. She told us that few people know the story! I won't tell it here because it was special to her but it was really cool and God comforted her. We finished the lesson and we were getting up to go and then they stopped us because they made us a cake!!!!! They made a cake for people they didn't even know!! Like who does that haha!!?? So we all ate it together and got to know them better! 

This Sunday might have been the best of my entire mission! Viviane and Anna came to church and we had a lot of inactive members come who we have been visiting! And there was a 70 there too!! It shocked me cause usually we know when a General Authority is going to be at church. Elder Pinto, the 70, gave one of the most spiritual talks I have ever heard in a Sacrament meeting. There was seriously not a dry eye in the room. And what did he talk about? The importantce of members working with missionaries! It was incredible. In Gospel Principles we talked about the Word of Wisdom and found out that Viviane and Anna ALREADY LIVE IT!!!! It was a miracle. They are golden. We are so excited!!! 

Anyways, that was a lot but my week was amazing. I love how Heavenly Father blesses us when we are obedient and diligent!! He knows us personally!! I know it!! I love you all and pray you all have a great week!! 
-- 
Elder Spencer P. Christofferson

Helena and I. She is the little girl of one of the members here. She's so cute!  
Elder Pereira and I
My nametag and my comps, mine is old looking if you can tell 
A park in our area. It's so pretty.