Monday, September 29, 2014

55 weeks -starting over

*****from Tara:  sent him a bunch of pictures from my sisters wedding and reminded him the importance of getting married in the temple****.  :) 

I love every single one of you =) You're all crazy and awesome at the same time! Thank you so much for all of the pictures mom =) They were exactly what I needed! These last two weeks have been really really hard. Our entire area came crashing down on our heads. I've never seen or heard of anything like it in the mission. Every single one of our 40ish investigators dropped us or we dropped them with the exception of about 4. Our district and zone leaders don't even know what to say or have any advice to give besides, "Start over." Well DUH haha I don't really have any other option than to start over haha. It was definitely an emotional rollercoaster with many, many prayers said and almost a few tears to go along with them. I don't know if I've ever come so close to crying on my mission as I did when we were walking in the streets this week and last and just getting rejected. We are just going to go at it this week and try and get a few baptized conference weekend! I also had another small miracle in what our Elders Quorum President said to us the other night, he said, "Just remember that after all of our trials, the bigger the trial, the more we will grow." That helped me out a lot over the last few days =) Tender mercies from the Lord are great.

How is everybody doing? It was great to see pictures of everyone! Krissie and Ammon looked great and very happy! No worries mom, I'm getting married in the temple no matter what. The crazy part, it's probably only about a year or so away. Sarah wouldn't let me get married anywhere outside of the temple anyways haha. I'm excited to meet Ammon when I get home and just to see everyone. Haylee and Sierra look good too! I'm glad Sierra made it there safe and sound, she had told me she was a little worried about going on the Salt Lake Shuttle or something like that. 

I can't believe all of the sports history that is happening on my mission!!!! Zimmerman throws a no hitter, I'll never see Jeter play again, Gordon is first in points (with the other 11 haha), the Broncos are still on fire, and BYU is undefeated!!! The sacrifices we make for what's really important... ;p haha I'll just watch it all when I get home haha. But seriously, the list has begun of things I need to do! You didn't send me that picture of Jeter at his last at bat, or at least the article with the picture. Please send it if you get the chance =) 

I'm excited for the b-day package! I should get it in about January =D Perfect timing for Christmas and my birthday! I'm more excited for the Nats hat than anything haha. If you could throw in a baseball that would be awesome! They don't exist in Brazil. Footballs don't exist either, but I don't know if that would fit. The other day we had a service projext and took a break to sit in the shade and relax a little. It was underneath some coconut trees, so we decided to grab a few and drink coconut water and then eat what's inside. We ended up having quite the adventure and took upon us some of the native culture. We didn't have a ladder, and it was impossible to climb the tree in flip-flops, so we just had to throw stuff up into the tree: sticks, rocks, other coconuts, whatever we could find. We ended up throwing sticks like they were spears, and it was awesome! One Elder threw his so hard that it flew up into the tree and got stuck in a coconut! However, this wasn't showing us much success, so we tried a new tactic. I climbed on the district leader's back, and had a really big stick to try and knock down these coconuts. I told him not to worry if one fell because I would save him; as I said that, the "spear" fell out of the tree and missed us by about 6 inches, so we decided to stop haha. In the end, the neighbors had a ladder and we used it to grab the coconuts: mission accomplished. 

Other than that, I really don't hve much. Like I said, the week was really rough and it's hard to have a bunch of excited or interesting stories if you only were getting rejected. The only other thing I can think of is the first councilor in the Branch Presidency gave a talk on Sunday and he started like this, "Hello brothers and sisters, for those of you who don't know me, I'm Brother Ary. And for those of you who do know me, it's the same." I was busy controlling the many wild children we had with us, but found that intro to his talk to be really funny. I'm going to save it for the next time I have to give a talk. 

That's all I've got, hopefully it wasn't too boring, but if it was, thanks for reading anyways =) Mom, if you could send me Sister Brookes' email that would be great! I hope that everyone enjoys conference and that they go with open hearts and open minds. I'll probably be listening in portuguese again, but I'm much better prepared this time around! 

Love you all! 

Elder Sanderson

P.s. Check out the new Piano Guys version of Batman!!! It was awesome!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

54 weeks - they walked and walked and walked

*****I emailed him using Siri to talk into my iPad because I was doing seven things at once.  I have only done that a couple of times because siri always mixes up what I am trying to say.  She did better this time but she wrote some of nascsr names phonetically***. :) 

Haha it was alsmost 100% normal with Siri until the very last part about NASCAR haha. Just go back and read the names =p 

Hello everyone!

I'm glad everybody had a good week, that Sierra is loving school! The week was kind of slow for you guys, but sounds like you'll have your hands full! Make sure to send pics of Krissie's wedding and all the family! I can't believe you guys went to a Brad Paisley concert! I want to see him in concert too one day. I'm glad to hear that he is as good of a guy as he seems to be =) there are fewer and fewer of those these days. 

GO COUGARS!!!!!! I hope they have a great year! They probably will because I'm not there, but that's life =p It was the same with the Broncos going to the Super Bowl, the Nats and Dodgers being on fire, and Gordon taking a chance at the cup...that's the life of a missionary. 

Onto our week, honestly it will be a short email this week, but the week was really slow, so there isn't much to type. 

First off, I had probably one of the funniest moments here in the mission happen the other day. Maybe it was just because of the slowness of our week, but I don't think so. We were in the super market across the street from our house, and we only went there to by laundry detergent. When we got to the front of the checkout line, the young lady (who practically knows us by name because of how much we go there) looked us straight in the eye and asked, "Are you going to wash clothes?" I could barely keep myself from laughing out loud when I thought, "Nope, we're going to make lunch. Here's your sign." I made it out of the store, and began to laugh my head off. Elder Calcagnoto asked what it was, and I explained to him about Bill Engvall and what he says about such questions. I'm still not able to keep from smiling when I think about it! 

We had a pretty cool experience with the "Crianças da alegria" (the group of kids who we are always bringing to the church each week) in our activity this past week. They had a bunch of different games with balloons and popcorn and all kinds of fun stuff. We took about 25 of them with us to the activity, usually we only try to take a handful, but they were all ready to go when we arrived in their neighborhood. We decided to take them all and it was quite the adventure. One of the first things we had to do was divide up into teams. There were about 30 kids less than 12 years old, and the irmã made the mistake of letting them pick and then not balancing the teams. About 27 of them all came running to me and Elder Calcagnoto, jumping up and down with excitement and screaming our names. I couldn't help but smile and look to the other Elders who were almost alone. I looked at them and said, "My people," to which we all laughed. I think we ended up losing most of the games, but I was happy. We had to pick team names, and the kids called us the Boring Americans haha because they always here Elder Calcagnoto joke with me about that, then I had them all chanting, "USA USA USA" at the top of their lungs. It was awesome!

We had one more experience that was pretty cool too! We were in the center of the city after our group meeting on the other side of the river yesterday. We had had a good meeting with teh members there, and were taking two folding chairs back to our house because we don't have chairs and will receive our study desks this week. We were walking to our house, when we ran into one of our investigators. It was the mom of Francisco who we baptized a few weeks ago. We have really been working hard with them, and it was a surprise to find her there. The center of the city is about a 30 minute walk from her house, and it was about 7pm. Our city is pretty safe, but she didn't want to walk alone and couldn't believe her luck at running into us. She asked where we were going and we answered close to her house, and offered to walk with her. (the "close" part wasn't exactly true, our house was only about 10 minutes away from where we met her) As we walked, we had an amazing chance to teach her and reassure her that her husband will get baptized some day. He isn't baptized in any church, but always tells her they will get baptized. We have been trying to get him to that point, but it is kind of difficult. He won't go to church, but she loves the Church. She told us how much of a change she has seen in Francisco and how much it means to her. He leads the family prayers, is always ready when it is time to go to church, He listens to his parents now and she is just amazed at that. We explained that the Church really stresses the importance of family, and that the Holy Ghost is helping him to make all of these decisions. We explained that the same can come to her and her family, but baptism really is the gate for that. She seemed pretty happy about that and we are excited to keep working with them! I think the husband will need a little bit of time, but I know that he'll feel the Spirit when we're teaching and one day will be baptized. We ended up walking all the way to their house and then back to ours, about an hour with those stupid chairs haha, but it was all worth it =)

Other than that, the week was pretty much normal. We walked a lot, taught a lot, and walked some more. We have new investigators that already know some of our members, and that really makes our job easier! They already have friends in whom they confide and can talk to. It's going to be a great week!

Tell everyone that I said hi and that I love them!


Elder Sanderson

Monday, September 15, 2014

53 weeks short and sweet

Hello family, friends, and all you other people!

Just so nobody is offended, that is a movie reference that I just
remembered this very moment.

ONE YEAR DOWN!!! I made it past the year mark! What a roller coaster
of a time it was, but it feels good to oficially say that I have a
year in the mission. We didn't do very much to celebrate, but I took
some cool pics that I will try and send when we are at the church. I
know that the pictures have been slow in coming, I am searching for a
particular adaptor for my memory card that I think will work. The only
problem is that we haven't had very much time to look.

You guys are just traveling all over the country =p I have only ever
seen Mt. Vernon from the other side of the river. Glad to hear it was
cool! I definitely want to go by there when I get home! Philidelphia
too! And New York City, everybody asks me about New York, and I can
only reply that I have no idea. But I'm glad to know that they are all
cool places to be =)

And now for all of the adventures of my wonderful missionary life! We
honestly don't have very much from this week, so I'm sorry if the
email is short, but I will try my best to make it interesting.

First off, I'M STAYING IN CRUZEIRO DO SUL!!!! I was so happy about
that! My district of missionaries here is awesome! We are a Brazilian,
American, Argentinian, and Chilean. The four of us got along great
last transfer and we are all staying here for this transfer! The four
of us have decided that we are going to make a t-shirt for our
district haha. We also made zone t-shirts that are pretty sweet too! I
will send a pic with somebody's camera when I get the chance.

We finally have almost everything for our house too! We got our beds,
blender, forman grill (an essential in Brazil) and a pantry to hold
our food. The beds are the greatest thing ever, and are way better
than sleeping with just our materesses on the ground. The only problem
is that I'm on the top bunk and my fan doesn't really blow any air up
to me, but I'll do something to fix that problem.

The family that we are trying to baptize wasn't at church this week,
but we are going to try and baptize them this coming weekend. The mom
saw us passing by in front of her house the other day and said she was
sorry that they didn't go and that they would try and go this weekend!
Ususally, people don't say anything if they weren't at church. I think
this will be my last transfer in Cruzeiro do Sul, so I'm going to work
my butt off to do everything we can to help these people.

I really don't have anything else haha. Thank you for the sports info
again!!! Of course BYU won on the 11th, it was my year mark and 9/11.
I listened to a really good talk that I have downloaded about
patriotism. The Apostle who is speaking says, "I bear my sacred and
solemn wittness that the United States of America is the greatest
country on the earth." I told my companion that I would print it out
for him haha, but he didn't think that was funny.

Anyways, that's all for now!

Love and miss you all!

Elder Sanderson

Monday, September 8, 2014

One year!!!! Halfway done! Best letter ever!!!

ONE YEAR!!! Seriously, that phrase comes with the trumpets of angels sounding and also the traditional "Dun dun DUN" from the movies. I feel exactly the same way about marking one year this week. There are times when it just seems to be flying by, and there are other times when I have to stop and think, "what the heck, still one more year?" Haha, I'm happy to report that it usually is the former and not the latter that runs through my head. I feel like I have changed in a million ways, but at the same time, that I haven't changed a bit. I'm positive that I've changed greatly, but it has really come over the spread of the year and not just in one big moment. I'm sure that that is all a part of Heavenly Father's Plan in how this is supposed to work. 
The biggest changes I've seen, really come down to just two: I've found a fire and determination to get back to BYU and study and work like I've never done before, and the second, I have a much greater understanding of how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us. Words can't even describe how sure I am of their love. We were in church yesterday and it was one of the greatest days in church in a while. It was crazy because of how many kids we are bringing to church, but I found it really peaceful too. The Gospel Principles teacher didn't want to teach the Law of Chastity, so she asked me last week to give the lesson. It's not an uncommon thing for us to teach or cover for others in church, so I gladly accepted as always. I hope that the lesson was good, and that I made the subject light enough to be comfortable, but serious enough to have them understand how important it is. I bore my testimony at the end that it really doesn't matter how lost we may be, the Savior's arms are ALWAYS going to be open to us with the invitation, "Come unto me." As I testified of that, the Spirit just seemed to surge inside of me, and I gained a knowledge of how true that is. I testified that Jesus Christ lives and loves us, and that I am absolutely sure of it. We then went to our sacrament meeting, and it was one of the most spiritual that I've been in. We were really stressed because of the kids, but from the testimonies that we did here, they were all centered on the Gospel. Not about the stories of our lives, just the Gospel. We'll always have time for stories later, the testimony is what you know, not what happened to cause you to know that. We sang "I know that my Redeemer lives" for our closing hymn, and I just couldn't help but feel our Savior's love.
On top of all that, we had a baptism this week!!! Francisco has been coming to church for several weeks, but we just hadn't made it to his house yet. We finally started to teach his family and he said he would like to be baptized. His mom asked him if he wanted to because his friends were being baptized, or if this was something he wanted to do because he knew it was important. We weren't there when she asked him this, but he told her, "Mom, it's something I know is important and that I want to do." He's only 8 years old, and can feel the Spirit testifying to him no problem. I have no doubt that we can all feel the Spirit, but he was recognizing it for what it is. We baptized him on Saturday and I was able to confirm him on Sunday. His whole family came to the baptism and to the confirmation!!!! I think we will baptize them this weekend!!! 

And now onto all of the other stuff...

We had a Branch activity on Wednesday and it was just for the Primary. They had kind of been slacking with the Primary, but the activity was awesome. We brought our small army of children and they all watched Frozen. You told me in December that it was a good movie and the first that I would watch when I got home. I can now testify that that movie was hilarious! I want to watch it in English for sure, but even the Portuguese was really good too! The snowman Olaf is hilarious and the missionaries were laughing as hard as the kids. =) The part where the one guys is showing his troll family, but they are just rocks and the snowman says, "This guy is crazy" just about had me rolling on the ground because he says in Portuguese, "Esse cara é louco!" 

We also had what appeared to be a small typhoon hit us this past week. We were in our lunch appointment with the Branch President, and all of a sudden, the sky opened up and the wind started to howl. The rain lasted for 2 hours and was so strong that we couldn't even leave the house. We sat on his front porch to watch the rain and it was flying off of the roof sideways. None of us had our camera...but it was rain like I haven't seen since I was in Manaus. They said that it will be like that this whole month! 

One more thing about the baptism of Francisco. I sang a solo...We got to the church with his family and were getting everything ready. The branch president's wife walked up to me and asked if I could help with a special musical number. I said, "That depends, do I have to sing?" To which she responded, "Yes." I reluctantly agreed and only thoughts of my patriarchal blessing pushed me into it. Actually, does it count as a solo if I was still in a group, but had a part where I sang alone? I don't know how this whole music thing works haha. But nevertheless, in front of about 30 or so people, I sang the first verse of "I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain" (I think that's the name of it) in English and then sang in the group in Portuguese. It was quite the experience, and I'm good if I never do it again =)

That was about it for our week! We get transfer calls on Thrusday or Friday, so we'll see what happens. I'm really hoping to stay here, but with my record, that is quite the wish haha. We'll see what happens though! 

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the sports news!!!! I saw a guy with a Patriots shirt on today (really, really uncommon) and it made me miss football haha. I'm glad to hear that BYU kicked the crap out of Texas again! That was the last thing I watched on TV before my mission last year! Tell Bob that I said, "Rise and Shout the Cougars are out" =p

Way to go on going to the temple =) Being here has given me the determination to go more often when I get home too =) I will probably go weekly at BYU, and monthly when I'm home home. 

Love you guys and miss you!!! As of the 11th, I'll have less than a year to go! That is truly mind-blowing, but I'm excited for all of the adventures to come =)

Elder Sanderson

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

51 weeks- Rodeo Rule Breaker!!

Hey there everybody!

Yes, I'm still alive. The internet went out in our city yesterday, so we get to email today! Everything is still going good, and I'm finally 100% health again. My nose was still stuffed up until the other day, but it's all good now. Thank you for all of these pictures!!!! I am missing BYU this year, but will be there in the year to come! Can you believe it's only about a week until my year mark???? It is honestly flying by! 

The week was pretty crazy and we had some adventures for sure! To start off the email, I'll answer your questions. Yes, I'm 100% healthy, no, she wasn't baptized and we aren't really teaching her anymore, and no we didn't have baptisms =/ but are hoping for some this week! I'm glad you didn't cry and that the report on the mission went great! My own testimony has grown too during my mission. You learn some really important things, especially how much Heavenly Father loves you, how strong you really are, and how much stronger you can be when you have Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost helping you. I have learned a billion things, and it's only been a year =)

Now for some of the adventures, some of these will be quick, and the others maybe a bit longer.

First off, we were in the street going home on Monday night after a lesson, and were passing by an intersection. There were three or four girls coming to the same intersection from this intersecting street, but we were walking fast, and were going to pass in front of them. As we did so, we were about five or six steps away, and I heard, *whistle whistle* "Paz do Senhor" which is basically saying, "Hey there good looking." I honestly didn't know what to do, and my companion was waiting for me to do something, so I told him, just keep walking and don't look back. We kept walking until we were a ways off, and then started laughing our heads off. I have had some experiences like that here, because they love the Americans, but that was one of the funniest. We called our District Leader to tell him about it, and he just laughed and said good night before hanging up. Later, another Elder asked us why we didn't make a street contact, and I told him there are just some times when it's better not to haha. 

We were at lunch the other day, and had eaten until we were about to explode. The sister asked if we wanted to try a dessert she had made, but we each politely said no. However, when it got to my companion, our District Leader, Elder Diaz, said that my companion wanted to eat more. The sister gladly accepted, and filled a cup up with something called Mucusa. It is this weird, white, creamy, lumpy, substance that did not look very good at all. My companion decided to back fire by saying that we all could eat some, so the sister poured us each a glass. We almost threw him out the window for that, but had to focus on eating and not throwing up. We ate it, and it tasted like lumpy Frosted Flakes. It turns out, the lumps are pieces of corn. I honestly never want to eat it again, and we are still giving my comp a hard time about it. He said that if we were going to throw him under the bus, he'd drag all of us with him haha. 

WE WENT TO THE RODEO! There was a rodeo and exposition here this weekend! We went as a district and it was quite the adventure. Technically, we could only go on P-day, but it wasn't going to be here on P-day, so we went on Saturday. We went after working all day, arrived in our houses on time, and only spent about $1.50 to get there. As you can see, we justified ourselves, but I still repented and felt much better afterwards. Now, you may ask, Elder Sanderson, "why are you telling us about a story where you broke a rule?" And my response is this, we went to a rodeo. It was awesome! They even had country music from the States for about 2 minutes. It was Holly Jolly Christmas by Alan Jackson, and then another song by him that I've never heard. We also saved our investigator's life! He was drunk and planning on riding the bulls...we ran into him in the stands and convinced him not to do it. So there you have it, the leaders in the mission know, and we have already repented. Did I mention we saved a life? lol It was really fun, and I'll send you guys pictures when my companion sends them to me =)

That's about it for the week, we are really excited for this week, and I am still loving life!

We have transfers in two weeks (the 15th) so we'll see what happens! They say once you are in Cruzeiro, you don't leave Cruzeiro, but I think I might be heading out.

Love you all and miss you all!

Elder Sanderson  

******And he sent pictures!!!!  Thanks to his awesome companion!!!  Yahoo!!!!!*****

Love this photo!! 
Maybe the girls that whistled at them?? That is a guess :)

I sure miss that handsome face!!!