Monday, November 24, 2014

63 weeks -goal: increase personal faith

Just to get a jump on the holidays: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! It's all about Christmas here, but that's because they don't have Thanksgiving. I'm talking Christmas lights, trees, and all other decorations up starting three weeks ago. The funniest part is that they aren't saying anything about it (Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, etc), it's just that the required materials are here. I was thinking I might teach them a thing or two about exterior illumination ;p It's weird because we are having nothing but really hot days or really rainy days. It ended up raining about 7 of the last 8 days this past week or so. 
I don't have my planner with me (where I write my notes for the email on Monday), so I will just say sorry if this is short, but will do my best to remember everything.

Tuesday, we had our meeting with Elder Aidukaitis of the Seventy and it was FANTASTIC! He was great! The entire time was filled with the Spirit, with teaching, with practice of what he wanted us to do, and lots of laughter/smiles. He showed new ways to talk to people, how to help them pray, and so much more. He really focused on obedience too. We were told that there are quite a few missionaries who aren't getting up right at 6:30 every morning. He told us, "If you aren't getting out of the bed to pray at 6:30, you are losing the first chance to be obedient in your entire day. The effect of that statement has made its mark haha, we have all been getting up at 6:15 or 6:20 to try and be out of the bed at 6:30 and on our knees praying. The real challenge is trying to stay up for the next few hours of study afterwards haha. 
At one point, he opened the floor for questions and I asked him how to help wards/branches that seem to be discouraged. I had his complete attention. He asked me if I remembered the story of Ammon and what was the miracle that took place there. I told him that the miracle was that he had defended the king's flocks and then converted the king. He replied, "Yes, those were miracles too, but the greatest miracle was that he baptized an entire people. How did he do it? Let's think about this Elder, what would be easier: serving in a chapel where everyone has been converted to the Gospel, or going to teach the Gospel in Iraq, and which would you prefer? You're an American, so they don't like you, and you are a Christian which is even worse! They would most certainely do everything they could to kill you. What do you think?" I replied that it would be easier to serve in the chapel and that I would probably prefer to serve there. He then looked at me from his seat on the other side of the room, then got up and was right in front of me in less than two seconds. He said, "Elder, could you read a scripture for me?" I of course said that I would and opened to Ether 12:15 when he asked me to. It reads more or less like this, "For it was by the faith of Ammon and his brethren that such miracles were wrought among the lamanites." He looked at me and asked, "What is your name Elder?" I gave him my name, and he said, "Elder Sanderson, wouldn't it be great to one day see on the records of the church or in a book of the Church, 'For it was by the faith of Elder Sanderson and his companion that such a mighty miracle was wrought among the people of that ward/branch?' You need to have more faith Elder." 
I honestly didn't know what had happened haha. How it turned on me is a question I will never get an answer to, but it was kind of striking. I even heard a few people kind of gasp haha. However, he wasn't done with us. He ended up saying so for the entire mission with his responses to the other questions that were asked. He wasn't saying that I don't have faith, just that I need more. I'm okay with that because now it's a personal goal of mine =) The rest of his visit was as good as ever and we even had time to talk with some of our friends from around the mission since we were all together. It was great to see some of my friends in the mission that I haven't seen in about 7 or 8 months for a lot of them =)

So that was Tuesday, the rest of the week seems pretty relaxed after that. After all, it's not every day that a member of the 70 tells you that you need more faith haha. We did missionary splits with our zone leaders this week too. I got to go to their area and learned a lot! Especially how easy it is to make street contacts. We set up so many new appointments and ended up getting around 14 new investigators this week. We are going to try and keep up the streak and find the Elect who are waiting for us. 

I was sorry to hear about Grandpa Val today too =/ but like you said, I know he is in a better place and that he is happy there. I'm grateful for everything that I know about Heavenly Father's Plan for us =) I have been praying for everyone this week and that they could all be comforted when he passed. I felt comforted too and that was a huge blessing. 

Just two more quick things! First, I say one play of that Broncos game last night! We were at a member's house for an activity and as we walked in, there it was on the tv. I was amazed and it definitely made my night! Even better is that Thanksgiving is this week! No matter where you go in the world, Thanksgiving is a great chance to watch football haha. We even had a turkey bowl this week! We played football today on a sandy field near the other Elders' house. We played three on three for 3 hours with three Americans and two Brazilians. Thursday night, we are going to make a Thanksgiving dinner of roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and maybe some sort of dessert. It should be great with three Americans cooking! 

That's all I've got for today =) I love you all and am so grateful for you! I make sure to tell Heavenly Father that every time I'm praying to Him. I am thankful for my knowledge of Jesus Christ and these two years that I have to serve Him. I'm thankful that our families can be together because of the covenants we make in the temple. I'm grateful for the happiness that is in my life because of the many blessings that Heavenly Father has given me. I don't know what I would do without them. It will be great to talk to you all in a few weeks and see how everyone is doing! Love you guys and have a great Thanksgiving!

Elder Sanderson

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

62 weeks -had a feeling something was going on at home

******this is the missionary board in our Ward building I sent him pictures of this week 

He loved it******* now for his letter:

First off, that Missionary Board is awesome!!!

Okay, now on to the rest =) 

Yes, Sierra told me about Grandpa, and grandma Shirley has been emailing me too. I truly believe that we can know when something is going on in our families. I have been missing home like crazy this week. I don't know why, but it was more than in my whole mission. I have been praying for you all and just hoping that all was well. I am sad that I can't be with the family and grandpa before he goes, but know that I was called here at this exact time with all things in consideration from Heavenly Father. I feel sad that I won't see him again here in this life, but look forward to going to the temple for him and then seeing him again after my own time here =) We are going to see the member of the 70 speak to us tomorrow morning and I will ask a blessing from President Castro. 

Our week was really slow! But we had some adventures of course! Apprarently, we aren't supposed to go to the river haha. At least not without asking President Castro. I didn't know that until Friday nightwhen one of the Assistents to the President (APs) called me. He called me at about 11:30pm which is not normal since we go to bed at 10:30 every night. He is a good friend of mine in the mission and just said that President knew that we went to the river and was going to call me. I said okay and have been waiting ever since. However, he hasn't called, so he either forgot, was testing me, or will talk to me tomorrow. I've now learned that rule and am going to keep it haha. 

We had a member of our stake presidency come and speak to us yesterday and he did great! I really enjoyed his talk because it applied perfectly to my current ward! He told us that there are many forms of apostast in the world and that apostasy is anything that would be said falsely or against the Church or its members. He said that that means that we all play a part in apostasy when we are talking bad about our brothers and sisters. It doesn't matter what they are doing or not doing in their callings, it only matters what you are doing in yours. I thought it was perfect! Whose place is it to judge who is working or who isn't? The Person who called you to that position, that's Who. 

We also had a bunch of investigators in church! It was great! One of them, Antonio, has a date to be baptized next Sundayafter church! He has such a strong desire to get baptized and to do the right thing =) The adversary is really fighting against him though. His girlfriend, who is also the mother of his 1 month-old daughter, does not want to live the law of chastity. She is already baptized in the Church, but hasn't been going for many years. Antonio wants to do everything the Lord wants, including marriage in the temple, but she doesn't. She has something against the Church that we can't figure out. He ended up calling us at about 11:30 on Saturday night and telling us about a fight he had gotten into with her. He told us he had wanted to hit her, but didn't and that he then had wanted to drink, but didn't because he knew that isn't what Heavenly Father wants and he wants to do what Heavenly Father wants. We thanked him for his faith and then said a very long prayer over the phone. We asked if we could do anything for him, and he said just to stop by the next day. We agreed, and asked him to say a prayer that very night too. He told us the next day that he was much better and that he had gone to his room, got down on his knees, and prayed harder than he ever had before. It was just an amazing story =) We are going to visit him every day this week, please keep him in your prayers.

I don't have too much else from the week. I'm praying for you all and love you all! Thank you for your prayers, they are the reason I can keep doing what I'm doing =) 

Love always,

Elder Sanderson

Mom, I'll make sure to get a picture to you next week. What kind of idea did you have with "as brazil as possible" because if you want, I might be able to climb a tree or something =)
********i told him I needed a selfie of him this week for our Christmas cards******. :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 61- something special

Hey there everybody!

Sounds like Haylee's birthday was awesome! Dave and Busters is always fun =) She was really excited about my email and said it was the first thing she opened on her b-day. I said some extra prayers for her just because of her birthday =) 

We had a pretty slow, but really fast week. We did a lot of things, but we still didn't teach as much as I wanted to. We ended up just going to lots of meetings. My district is still doing great! They had 3 baptisms this weekend and because of some special circumstances, they have two more tonight! I'm just trying to get my own area going.

Last Monday, we had a pretty cool lesson. We marked an appointment with a kid who has been playing soccer at the church with the YM and finally had time to teach him. When we knocked on the door, he answered and said he would ask his parents if we could come in. They said that they were evangelical, so I said, "Great, they believe in Christ. Would they like to hear a message abut Him?" The young man kind of paused and said, "Hang on, I'll go and ask them." He came back and said, "you guys can come in." Works every time haha. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ for them and the father, who I think is a pastor, loved it! He was agreeing with everything, but then said he was going to use it in his church. Haha we literally taught the pastor a thing or two haha. He asked us about our experiences in Brazil and what we feel needs to improve her; what the people need. We said that they need families who are centered on Christ. Families are being attacked and are falling into drug use, violence, dropping out of school, etc and that can't happen. We said parents need to be closer to their children, children closer to their parents, and that the parents and the children need to grow closer to God. He loved it and said we can come back to his home anytime that we want. He said, "After leaving your own countries just to walk in the sun and teach people about Christ? You young men must have something special." We are going back tonight to teach him the Restoration. =)

We then spent most of the week walking in the sun, but that was a great way to start the week haha. We then went throughout the rest of the week just trying to build the area. It's a little hard with my companion because he has more time than me in the mission, but I'm the senior companion. So what happens, is that I'm trying to respect his time as a missionary and follow his lead (since he knows the area), but he is trying to follow me because I'm the senior companion. So what ends up happening, is we just kind of go in circles. Sometimes it is litterally in circles because he doesn't know our area that well, so we lose a lot of time getting lost. I think this week will be better, and am excited to just keep working =)

We had a really funny experience on Saturday night because there were two guys out side of our apartment complex who were drinking a lot and listening to music. It was really funny because they started listening to songs like Funky Town, Girls just wanna have fun, and Stayin' alive. It was even better when they started dancing! We were rolling on the ground because of how hard we were laughing. 

We had another experience in church on Sunday that had another old school feel to it. As we got there, a huge storm blew in. The rain was blowing sideways because of the strength of the wind! Then the power went out for our entire Sacrament Meeting. We just kept going in the dark and without a mic haha. It was pretty fun to do =) 

I also got to read a 10-page presentation given by Elder Bednar at the New Mission President training seminar! President Castro sent it all to us and it was awesome! I learned so much about how important it is to follow the Spirit in our work! He said that many times, we just get too used to how things are done, so when we need to change, we don't want to. He asked very clearly, "Are you going to do what you've always done or are you going to do what the Lord wants you to do?" Then saying, "If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always gotten." I am going to use it in my training tomorrow in District Meeting and am using tit to help my own work as a missionary! 

As to boating down the amazon, we didn't do that again =p but are going fishing next week I think! There are some really big snakes in the river, and crocs too, but we only saw them from far away...just kidding! Haha. We did see the dolphins though! I tried to take a video of them, but I think I was too slow. It was really cool to see them! 

Thanks for the pics! When you said you were sending it to "You both" I was like, "Is she sending pics to Sierra too?" Then I saw Sarah's name in the list next to mine and it made sense haha. Sucks that Gordon lost, but I'm glad the Jazz beat the Cavs! How are the Cavs looking with Lebron now? Did Cleavland like having him back? 

Love you all! I hope the 6 weeks goes by fast, but at the same time I don't! They might go by a little slow though because people already have Christmas lights, trees, and other decorations up here haha. They are really excited about it. I guess that's what happens when you don't have Thanksgiving. 

Love you guys! Talk to you next week!

Elder Sanderson

****HE SENT US A PS ******

Yes! I got to Manaus just in time!!! We have Elder Aidukaitis of the 70 coming to visit us this week!!! I just found out about it! Everybody in Manaus is going to get together for it! They said we have to study diligence and chapter 8 of Preach my Gospel (using your time wisely). I can't wait for this! =D It's like Christmas as a missionary haha

Love you guys!

Monday, November 3, 2014

60 weeks!!!! - on the Amazon in a canoe!!

Hey there everybody! 

I am LOVING this new area! My comp rocks, the members are great, my district is really cool, my zone leaders are great, and we baptized the first week in the area! It really doesn't get too much better than that as a missionary! I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for such great blessings, but also realize that we need to continue doing our part if we want to continue receiving these blessings =) We had interviews with President Castro this week too and that was fun! 

I could just write it all in one paragraph, but I will try and break it up =)

To start off: HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAYLEE!!! Tell her not to open the email I sent until her birthday =)

Alright, on to the rest of the adventures!

We started the week off with only a hand full of investigators, but have begun to construct the area. We are still going to try and get some more this week, but I am happy to be working busily. I had my first district meeting as DL. It went alright, I honestly don't know exactly what I'm doing, but know I will get better with practice. My district had a really hard transfer last transfer and is a little unanimated, so I'm going to try and liven things up! They seem to be liking it so far, so I'm happy with that! With being a DL comes the baptismal interviews that I get to do! Such a cool experience to feel the Spirit confirming to me that the person is ready and has the desire to take upon them the name of Christ! The only thing I don't like about baptismal interviews is that it takes me away from my area and usually takes a few hours to get everything together. I ended up missing our baptism because of a poorly marked interview that I had to do in another area. 

We also had our interviews with President Castro last week =) When he asked me what my biggest challenge is in my mission, it took me a second to respond. We have many challenges, but what is my biggest? I finally told him that for right now, I just need to know how to be a good District Leader. My entire district has more time than me as a missionary, and that is kind of intimidating. He responded, "How much time they have doesn't matter. Joseph Smith was 14 when he was called to leadership, Samuel the prohpet too." I considered that to be a little bit different of a case, but got the message haha. He then told me something that I found very interesting, he said, "We don't study the scriptures to gain wisdom, we study the scriptures to save our souls." I really liked that and am going to use it in my training tomorrow =)

I've also gained a stomach of steel! I don't like to eat eggs or fish. However, I've eaten more fish and eggs in the last week than I think in the last fifteen years of my life. The eggs were tough to down, but the fish in Brazil is great! Way better than American fish. I just hope the pattern doesn't keep up with us being fed these things haha. It's more of a mental block than a physical one, but is still there even after what I ate wasn't that bad. 

Today, was one of the best p-days that I've had in a long time! We went to "Encontra das aguas" (I think that's the name) where the two rivers that make the Amazon meet up! There is literally a line down the middle of the river where the water is so different. One side is brown and the other is black, it's pretty weird. We had a great time just getting there in this tiny canoe with an engine mounted on the back. I'm also a different color now than when I got up this morning haha. I didn't burn, but am now a golden brown haha. 

I also got called as the ward pianist! Did I tell you I'm learning how to play the piano? Just kidding, but I really am the ward pianist...just with the electric piano because it is in English. The members have been singing acapella for who knows how long. Our chapel is also really old, so we have wooden benches to sit on and don't have AC. However, it made me feel like I was in one of the church movies that show the time of Joseph Smith haha. Very old school, but also very spiritual =)

Love you all, thank you for the pictures! 

Just two more things:
1. We celebrated Halloween too! We couldn't find any pumpkins, but we did buy a watermellon and carved the symbol of baptsim into it! Afterwards, we put a flashlight inside to light it up. What did we learn? It is hard, but possible to carve freehand, and that watermellons have a lot more inside than a pumpkin.

2. I saw a great rendition of "Joseph Smith's first prayer" to the music of "come thou fount of every blessing" it was awesome!

Love you all! 

Elder Sanderson