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

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