Tuesday, December 23, 2014

67 weeks -when the dog bites, my real name is HD


Did you send that email in a different way this week? It came out all
weird on this computer for some reason. I had to scroll to the side to
see it all and had to zoom way out to see the pictures. Whatever, on
to the email!

Sounds crazy that everyone is leaving already! You guys leave in 8
weeks and I Ieave in 8 months =p I don't have a ton of time today, but I
think I have lots to email, so I might not respond very much to your
email. I do think that Joe's idea was a good one though that would
save a lot of time! And of course the dog knows about the move, you
just have to train her to help carry the stuff out to the car.

Here's a secret insider about my first Christmas back: I'll probably
swing it to end up with you guys for Christmas! Sarah told me a long
time ago that she wants us to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas
together after the mission, one with her family and the other with
mine. However, her family lives much closer and we only have a few
days for Thanksgiving, so we'll probably go there and then go to our
house for Christmas =) I'll pull some strings.

This week was crazy! We had a baptism of a 19 year-old guy who we are
going to try and have go on a mission! He was a miracle baptism
because the other set of Elders taught him everything and then found
out that he didn't live in their area (they had been teaching him at
the chapel) the day of his baptism! So, he became our baptism. 

I also got to read a Book of Mormon that was published in São Paulo in
1981! It was so old, but still had a note from the family who sent it
to this guy. They had even marked Moroni 10:3-5 for  him =) I took a
bunch of pictures because I think that was the oldest Book of Mormon
I've ever seen.

Saturday, we were going to a service project in the morning, but a dog
bit me when we were in the street. Because it's Brazil, I had to go to
the hospital and make sure I was good to go. I got there, and had my
first experience of someone not believing my first name in a long
time. The doctor was writing out a prescription for me and asked what
my first name is. I said, "HD," and he looked at me and said, "What's
your first name?" I said again, "My name is HD." He looked a little
annoyed and asked, "Is it Elder? Because HD isn't a name here." I had
to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "Well if you go to my country,
João isn't a name either, but people don't seem to have a problem with
it here," and instead said, "Well, that's what my first name is." He
decided not to argue anymore and wrote it down on the paper. It was a
joyful experience. So, we went to pick up the meds today and I also
had to get a shot. The good news, Manacapuru hasn't had a case of
rabies in 25 years; so I should be good to go =) I just have to get
another shot on Christmas Eve and that's it.

Okay, so with Christmas:

I will try and skype on the 25th! We are still trying to find
somewhere that will be open (an internet cafe or someone's business)
because nobody that we know has internet in their houses. So, we'll
try everything we can to skype that day. If not, it will bethe 26th,
but if the internet sucks we have a final option: We'll go to Manaus
with our ward (who is having a temple trip) on the 27th and will have
excellent internet in Manaus =) I will keep you guys posted on it all!
My comp has to skype his family on the 24th because his mom has work,
so we will know a lot more then and I will shoot you an email with all
of the details =) I'm going to fast tomorrow just to make sure
everything goes good!

Other than that, not too much else this week =) I am excited to talk
to all of you and to open my Christmas presents haha!

Love you all! And I'll talk to you in a few days!

Elder Sanderson

Monday, December 15, 2014

66 weeks- Mission Christmas Conference

*****had to forward this to myself (we are implementing a new email and when you delete on your phone it's goes it your that trash and no one else can see it) anywho we are learning but Joe read this and deleted it before I could post so I had to forward it from his phone trash to my other acct....that was a long story just to explain why the blog post looks "skinny". lol  Merry Christmas everyone.  Now into elder Sanderson's letter******

Sounds like a fairly uneventful trip to the Big City! It has been raining like crazy here too! It is really getting into the rainy season, so when it rains, it POURS. It rained for about 15 hours the other day without stopping. We quickly found out that our ceiling has holes in it, and were running around trying to get all the water out. My companion's bed got wet, so he had to sleep in my hammock for a few days, and we just had a bit of a challenge getting all of the water out. The good news, it only happened one more time after that! We are in the process of finding a better house where the four missionaries in the city can stay together. 

The week was crazy! We did so much work in our new area and also travelled to Manaus for the Christmas conference. We found a lot of new investigators and have the members of our ward continuously helping us to find more people to teach! It is great to see how open people are to hearing a message about Jesus Christ during the Christmas season =) They are just letting us in and inviting us back. We also had a baptism this week =) The little girl has parents who were baptized a few months ago, but they still hadn't baptized her because they have kind of stopped coming to church. So we stopped by and asked when she wanted to get baptized and she said, "Saturday," so we planned the whole thing out and had a great baptism =) We are planning to have another one this week too with lots more to follow!

My most spiritual moment and my funniest moment from this week have to be the Mission Christmas Conference =) It was amazing! We got to go to Manaus and spend time with about 180 of the 222 missionaries that we have in the Brazil Manaus Mission. Friends that I haven't seen for 6 or 7 months were there, we took pictures, ate BBQ, listened to testimonies, and had a talent show =) The talent show was definitely the funniest part because everyone had about 3 days to practice because of the transfers. It was all thrown together and in the end, there was singing, dancing, skits, and the MC doing stand up comedy. We also got to watch a video full of pictures and videos from the mission in 2014. I was happy to see I was in a few of them, even if my camera has been having it's problems =) 

We also had Stake Conference this week! It was broadcast to all of Brazil from Salt Lake City and had two members of the 70 speak, the 2nd Councilor in the General YW Presidency, and Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles all speak to us! The talks were all spoken in Portuguese except for Elder Cook because the others were either Brazilian or have served missions in Brazil. It was great and we learned a lot. The one thing that seemed to be talked about the most was obedience and holding to the Iron Rod every single day. We can't let go for even a second because we could then get lost. They also said that the Iron Rod that we have in our lives is found in the scriptures. They won't lead us astray and we have to study them every day if we want to stay on the path. It was great to hear the messages and promises that we have because of the scriptures.

Also, I encourage everyone to read "Come let us Adore Him" by Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Sevent in the December 2013 Liahona. It was a great message, and I have pondered it a lot this week. I used it in many of our lessons as well. I won't say what it's about because I want everyone to find out for themselves =) 

Other than that, the week was very relaxed. We just worked and worked and worked! We realized today that we call home next week! That is crazy!!!! We are hoping and praying that everything will work out so we can call home without problems. The internet in our city isn't very good, so maybe say a prayer and fast that it will work out on Christmas. I'm going to fast several times this week and next =) 

Love you guys and miss you all! Thank you for ALL of the pictures! I think the Christmas card looked great!

Love you all!

Elder Sanderson

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

65 weeks- transferred to Manacapuru

Hey there everybody!

So, just to start out, I got transferred again...haha it's just not meant for me to stay anywhere for very long. It came as a huge surprise since I only had six weeks in Castanheira (my ward in Manaus). Even more of a surprise, was that they transferred Elder Lippe (my companion) as well! That doesn't happen very much, but it's what happened. I'm now in a city called Manacapuru which is just on the other side of the river from Manaus. It's about a 2-hour bus ride from our mission office. I'm serving with another American and am excited to work in this city! It is a really clean city and doesn't have any hills!!! We have a brand new chapel that is only 6 months old and is beautiful! It's even two-stories which is something I haven't seen that very much in my life. Elder Battraw is a cool guy and is going to do Army ROTC at BYU when he gets home. He only has one more transfer than I do, so we are going to go home almost the same time and then to BYU at the same time. We are getting along great so far and I'm excited for the transfer!

Okay, on to your questions =)

I am doing great! I'm hungry and thirsty, but we are going to eat lunch after we finish here. We also need to go buy food because we are opening this area. It closed a week ago because of problems that came up, so we are both new to the city. Because neither of us was here, we don't have food and don't have mineral water (the water we drink) but will be buying it today! 

My week was great! It was full of fun and we got to go to the temple!!!! The temple is the best part about this mission. I love it and it is so beautiful because of how new it is. It sits in an area that doesn't have very much going on, so it is peaceful. I think that was the first thing I noticed when I walked in: silence. We get so caught up in the noise and chaos of the world that we forget what silence is like. I had a few minutes to just sit and enjoy the feelings of love and comfort and happiness that come from going to the temple. I had been feeling really stressed beforehand, but those feelings vanished. I hope that I can come back to this temple after the mission, because that was one of the most spiritual experiences that I've had on my mission, and I will always remember it. 
Yesterday, we had our transfer. It was great to go to the mission office and wait for the transfer because I got to go and see so many of my old companions! I think I saw all of my past companions who are still serving in the mission. It was great to see Elder Calcagnoto and Elder Camargos (my companions from Cruzeiro do Sul) and we just sat around and talked for close to three hours. You asked me when I laughed this week, and that was when I laughed =) We told old stories, talked about old investigators, and just joked around. The best part of being at the mission office though, was when I got to see Elder Furtado. He was my first companion in Brazil. I haven't seen him since March, and didn't have his email to keep talking to him. I have always wanted to thank him for all of the help he gave me and all of the patience he had with me. He was just as happy to see me, and we only had about 10 minutes to talk before we had to go. He was returning from the area where I'm serving now and gave me some good advice for the area. I'm thankful that Heavenly Father gave me the opportunity to thank him for all that he did for me. I have been wanting to ever since I left Manaus back in March, but never had the chance. I was sad to hear that Elder Furtado has to go home early now because he is having health problems with his knee and is going home with honor. I was hoping I'd serve around him one more time, but we got each others' email and will be talking for many years to come. He was the greatest missionary we had in this mission. 

When did I feel the most peace? Definitely in the temple =) I took some great pictures there too! We were there right as the sun was going down, so it was dark enough to be lit up by the temple lights, but light enough to leave the sky bright. I felt the most peace as I was walking up the main staircase. I might have already told you about it, but it's my favorite part of the Manaus temple. There is a floor-to-ceiling painting of Jesus Christ with His arms stretched out to whoever is coming up the stairs. As you go up the stairs, you can feel the Love of the Savior and the testifying power of the Holy Ghost. As you are continuing up the staircase, you feel as if you are rising up to the welcoming arms of the Savior. I hope it's many years before I actually have to do that, but I'm very excited for it too =)

That story about Haylee and the Medal of Honor receipient was awesome! I think that is so cool that he coined her! Tell her to keep that forever! She'll have to show it to me when I call home in a few weeks =) Christmas is already close. We have our mission Christmas Conference on Friday in Manaus! It'sgoing to be around 100 of the missionaries from our mission all together at the same time! I will get to see all of my old friends and am really looking forward to it! Speaking of which, I got your package =D It got to me yesterday when I was at the mission office =) I opened it up, but haven't touched the wrapped presents yet =) The Mickey suckers and candy made me miss home =p Thank you for them and for the socks and goldfish too! I look forward to eating it all! 

We should have a good week this week! We are leaving for the conference on Thursday, have the conference on Friday, have our stake conference in Manaus on Saturday and Sunday, and will be coming back on Sunday night. We should be able to go to the temple on Saturday too! I'm really hoping we do! It won't be a week with very much work in our area, but we will take advantage of the next two days to get as much done as possible! 

I think that's about it for this week =) I did meet a guy from Brasilia, who was baptized in Uruguai, and who learned English in England when he was living there for two years. He was pretty cool =) We also heard of one of our investigators telling off a preacher who was speaking bad about us. He said the pastor was saying that it was bad to talk to us, that we were bad people, blah blah blah and that it was really bad for us to be passing by his house. Antonio, our investigator, said to the preacher, "They are my friends and are teaching me about Jesus Christ. They are always passing by my house because I want them to and because they want to help me find God. When I was going to your church, I don't remember you ever coming to visit me when I was going to your church to see how I was doing or to help me, so why are you coming by now?" It was AWESOME! I don't give any credit to the missionaries, but to Antonio and to the Holy Ghost who has been testifying to him in every one of our lessons. I know that what we are doing is right. I am grateful for such experiences that serve as reminders to me of how true this work is and how much Heavenly Father loves us =)

I love you all and will talk to you soon! Have a great week and know that I am praying for you all!

Elder Sanderson

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

64 weeks: Christmas countdown or not :)

How in the world is it already the first? It didn't hit me until about 9:30 this morning haha. I had been up since 6:30 and everything, but it still caught me off guard when I realized that it is December! Please stop the countdown for Christmas =p I told my companion that I won't call you if you keep counting down. I'll probably still call you, but that's just because I like you guys =) 

The Thanksgiving dinner was great! We had a party haha. It was roasted chicken, with bread and butter, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, cream soda (it's a Brazilian soda they only have in our state), and Betty Crocker brownies! Afterwards, we played Uno with some of the craziest rules that I've ever seen haha. It was stressful to get it all together, but definitely worth it! 

Sounds like you guys have a ton of activities to go to! I think, "Of course I'm on my mission when they do all of this," but then realize, "Oh yeah, I'd be at school anyways." haha being a grown up is boring =p We did go see Santa go by on a truck the other day. Here in Brazil, they have cars that are just a giant speaker system, so they use them to broadcast advertisements in the neighborhoods; it's really annoying, but you learn to ignore it. Some of them are these huge trucks with room to stand on top, so all I saw was Santa go cruising by on a truck singing "Feliz Natal" to the tune of Feliz Navidad, but it was 100% portuguese instead of Spanish and English haha, kind of threw me off. 

Grandma Shirley also told me that it is cold at her house and asked how we are here. It. Is. Hot. we haven't had as much rain as we thought we would, so it's just been hot. I forgot to tell her one of the funniest things that I have yet to see here. We were walking home from lunch and passing in front of a guy's house. The guy was sitting outside of his house in the shade with a hose running next to his chair. As we glanced over, he put the hose right down the front of his pants and just kept it there. We almost died laughing. It was one of those moments where you just look at the wrong time, but man it was funny. I looked at my companion and he said, "Well, you know it's hot when that happens!" Hahaha

We also had a baptism this week" Rosa is 13 and her grandparents are members of the Church, she has been living with them for a month or so and decided to get baptized! She got baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday =) It was great to have the whole ward participate in her baptism. There was cake and soda and a musical number and lots of people! 

I took the pictures today that you asked for! I hope they turned out good and are what you wanted =) I wanted them to be more in the jungle, but we just didn't have time to get there. However, the part that is behind me in the pictures (the trees on the horizon) are literally where the Amazon begins, it's pretty cool =) 

Not too much else down here. The only thing I would want in a package is a new shirt or two. I like the Edwards brand (don't remember if it's Mr. Mac ir Missionary Mall) if you do decide to send me one =) 

Love you and miss you all! I'll get those pictures sent to you today!

Elder Sanderson