Wednesday, August 12, 2015

99 weeks- Mission Accomplished

Our missionary boy is home!!!! He was supposed to be home at 9:40am on Tuesday August 11th but they ended up getting delayed in Brazil.  They left Brazil about 1:30 AM on Tuesday and flew into Miami. HD knew before he left Brazil he would miss his connecting flight so he had called us Monday night and told us to be on standby for a pickup time. That was the worst!  He ended up getting into Baltimore at 4:35pm.  It wasn't easy to wait those extra 7 hours!  Here are some pics from our day.
Welcome home elder Sanderson! We missed you! 
Sierra holding all the signs and wearing her Brazil sunglasses. :) 
Haylee can see him coming 
Happy tears.
Emotional mom
There he is! The security lady was clapping. :) 
Best hug ever!! 

The fab five! 

Still the same goofy boy. 
Love this pic of him and Sierra. 

With his missionary plaque at the church 
With the stake president of our stake in Maryland President Darren Sakai, after he was officially released as a missionary. 
The poor guy was up for over forty hours at this point but we still stayed up for a while telling stories and seeing what he had brought back for everyone. 
Showing us what a white shirt looks like compared to his mission shirts. The lighting isn't good but you can still tell a significant difference. 

Thank you all for your support, prayers and love. They have gotten us all through this mission adventure.  We are so glad to have our elder home and look forward to the rest of the adventures in his life.  
I will do one more post where HD will write his testimony in Portuguese and translate it into English.  Thank you for reading and following along this awesome journey! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

98 weeks- the best two years

O fim se aproxima,

Hey everyone! It feels strange just to be writing this last email, but
I will try to keep it as normal as possible. Lucky for you all, A LOT
happened this week, so I'm going to write more than "this week we
walked in the sun and talked to people." While we did do that, there
was a lot more!

I'll start with my week and then reply to yours =)

English class on Monday:
We were in my English class on Monday, and it was going as good as
always. There is usually about 20 to 25 people there, and everyone
participates, laughs, and learns together. This week, the class wanted
to learn about food. I asked if they had any specific types of food in
mind, but they just wanted a general idea. I broke up the vocabulary
into the basic food groups and away we went. I managed to teach a lot
about the culture of the United States too, and then waited for
questions. While they were asking me about different foods, someone
asked, "Professor, what is that weird red tube that people eat in the
movies?" I thought to myself, "what on earth is she talking about,"
and then thought about it for a few minutes. I asked several questions
to see if I could find out more (how big is it, is it a candy, etc),
but nobody could explain it. Finally, I realized what it was:
Licorice! I had forgotten all about licorice! I couldn't help but
laugh at that and it was fun to teach about.

We also got stopped by a lot of drunks this week. I always take time
to talk to them and to read a scripture with them or to pray with
them. It makes them a lot more friendly towards us and it also gives
us a chance to get to know them. We taught at least 10 this week, and
marked baptismal dates with 5 of them haha. Unfortunately, none of
them went to church, but we will visit them this week and see if we
can get them to go this week. Almost all of them know they have to
change, and many have the desire to do so, but it is really hard for
them to do. Just one more reminder about how important it is for us to
live the Word of Wisdom. One of them made me laugh though, he asked us
to say a prayer with him, so of course we did. When we finished, he
decided that he wanted to say a prayer too. He started by saying,
"God, dude, thank you for. . ." and away he went. I didn't laugh out
loud until we had walked really far away, but it was the first time I
ever heard someone call Heavenly Father by the title of "Dude."

Random note from the week: I ate an avocado flavored popsicle, it was
awesome! Our bishop makes ice cream and he always gives us popsicles
for free!

I also had one of the most gratifying experiences of my mission this
week. On Friday, we went to lunch with a family where almost the
entire extended family are members of the Church. We got there and
there was a recent convert whom I've gotten to know since being here
in Mauazinho. She was baptized with her husband in February, and they
are the greatest people in the world. You've never met someone with a
bigger heart. As we were at lunch, she decided to share an expereince
with us.

She told us that although she was baptized in February, she had never
really been converted to the Chruch. She didn't want to go to church
anymore and told her husband that she wouldn't be going anymore.
Unfortunately, he said, "well, if you don't do, I won't go." They are
a wonderful couple, but that was the decision they had made. This was
three Sundays ago.

That very Sunday, my companion and I were in the chapel doing our
planning session. We hadn't had time to do so during the week, and
needed to get organized before the next week started. By the time we
finished, it was almost time to go home for the night, but with enough
time to make one more visit before going home. I felt like we should
go visit this family, but wanted to see if Elder Prado had a better
idea. When I asked him what he wanted to do, he said, "let's go visit
that family." I said that I was feeling the same thing, and away we
went. We got to the house, and they invited us in as always. Whatever
their feelings are about the Church, they LOVE the missionaries. We
sat and talked for a little while before deciding to head home. Before
we left, this woman asked us for a blessing. She is pregnant and is
having a rough pregnancy. We gave her a blessing and then headed home.
A few days later, her husband got sick too and asked us for a
blessing. We were happy to help.

As she told this story, I didn't even realize that it was us she was
talking about until half way through the story. She then said, "I felt
the power behind the blessing they gave me. I was healed! I know this
Church is true. I had just told my husband not five minutes
beforehand, 'If the boys stop by, I'm going to ask them for a
blessing,' and you know what, there they were, sent from God. I went
to church the next week and couldn't help but want to read, comment,
pray, and tell everyone about what had happened! I will never forget
that. Even my husband was healed. He was shaking so badly in his bed
that I actually thought he would die. I had decided to call his family
to let them know, and all of a sudden, the missionaries showed up.
This church is true."

Easily one of the most humbling experiences of my mission, and it
happened right at the end. I can only thank my Heavenly Father for
every single time He put me in exactly the right place at exactly the
right time. I love being an instrument in His Hands. It has been the
greatest time of my life. I can never forget what I have been through,
I wouldn't change a single thing that happened. These truly have been
the best two years. I know that this is the Savior's Church. He lives.
He loves us. He will never leave us. I know that God calls prophets
today and that they continually guide us. I know that the Book of
Mormon is true. It brings me closer to my Savior and is the greatest
evidence we have of the veracity of this wonderful message. I will
never regret my mission. It was an experience that words cannot
possibly describe. I served with all of my heart, and now I have
eternities to be grateful for it. I thank you all for all of your
prayers and all of your support. I couldn't have done it without you.

Alma 26:37

Elder HD Colton Sanderson
Missão Brasil Manaus
September 11, 2013 - August 11, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

97 weeks- getting the job done (second to last email)

Hey there everyone!

Has anybody lost track of the number of days? If you have, it's down to 14 now. Hahaha. I still don't think it's hit me that I'm going home, but I don't think it will until I actually am in the airport or on the plane. However, I did have my "entrevista de saída" this week. Translation: Exit Interview. It's the last interview we have with President Castro before going home. This interview is different than all the other ones because we don't talk about how the work is in our area, about our companion, or anything like that. It is just talking about home. The only references that President made with respect to my mission were telling me that it was ending, and asking me to share the two most spiritual experiences that I've had on my mission. Other than that, it was home. What I want to do with my life and if I understand how important it is to get married, haha. I also renewed my temple recommend and he authorized us to go to the temple before I go home =) I'm really excited about that!
We also had a baptism this week! We baptized Francisca, she is the ex-wife of Louis (whom I baptized about a month or so ago). She is 76 years old, and her baptism was wonderful! I was afraid that we wouldn't get a baptism in this transfer (it's been rough), but we managed it! Now I just want a baptism on the 8th or 9th! 

Sorry, sent the email on accident! This mouse is quick and went to the send button when I wanted to change the color back.

Anyways, let me respond to your email:

It was a pretty good week, but what I already read is pretty much all tht happened. Other than that, we just walked around. The weather was actually cold here this week. It's been cloudy for two or three days and the temperature seems to have dropped. We are grateful for that, but also have to deal with taking FREEZING COLD showers. Without the sun to heat the water up during the day, we suffer through ice cold showers. Not a fun experience. What's funny though, is that you still have to use the AC at night. However, we also had a day that was extra hot. It probably reached 100 degrees or so, and I was in my exit interview, so I stayed in the AC the whole day haha. My companion had to suffer through it though because we were on splits. 
Tell Sierra that if she wants, she can be homeless with me too. It's not that bad of a life, you don't really have to clean up too much and just keep everything in a suitcase. Haha it's a good life, but at least she's saving money! I'm glad Haylee is still Haylee, I'll be glad to be home and see them both =)
Other than that, life goes on in the Brazil Manaus Mission. We are baptizing a ton and are loving it! That's what we were called to do, and I'm happy to say we're getting the job done.

Love you all! Hope that you have a great week!

Elder Sanderson

Monday, July 20, 2015

96 weeks- where has the time gone?

Hey there everyone =)

Yes, we are just weeks away, and I have no idea how to describe how it feels. I honestly don't think it's hit me yet that I'm going home. I know that I am, and I know it's soon, but the emotional aspect hasn't hit me yet. I'm scared for that moment haha. It will be a tearful goodbye to Brazil. I didn't cry a single tear leaving home, but I'm sure there will be many shed as I go back home. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited, but scared out of my skin too. Every time I talk to someone, it's, "you go home so soon Elder!" or "are you excited to go home Elder?" The reminder is daily. I don't feel like it will be hard to adjust to being home, but there is a chance. Yes, we came on our mission to come home from our mission, but that doesn't mean that we want to, it's just one more thing we have to do. Like I said though, I really am excited too, even though it will be sad =)

Our week was pretty good. We didn't baptize, but did find a baptism for this week! I think I told you guys about Louis (the 79 year-old man who is partly deaf that I baptized), well we're going to baptize his ex-wife. She has to be about the same age as him and has been a Catholic her entire life. We started teaching her and talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end). She asked, "but I was baptized when I was a baby, does that still count, or is there another baptism?" We explained that her baptism as a baby was great because it already gave her a reason to follow God's path and to believe in Him, but that baptism should also be something we choose. It shouldn't be forced upon us or given to us without our understanding or knowledge of it. It will be much better in the final judgement to say, "Yes, Heavenly Father, I was baptized because I wanted to be and because I chose to follow Thine plan." The Spirit was really strong and she obviously felt it. She then said, "okay, then I want to be baptized, if there is a "right baptism" I want to be baptized." It was awesome! She has been Catholic her entire life, but the Holy Ghost testified to her that our message is true and that she needs to be baptized in the same way that Jesus Christ was baptized. 

We also went to the temple this week. It was great! I'm going to try and go one more time before I go home =) While we were there, we had a little bit of time before our session, and so we just sat there and enjoyed the peacefulness of the temple. President Souza, the first counselor in the temple presidency, came over and began talking to me. He asked me to share a scripute with him as if he were an investigator meeting us for the first time. I shared Mosiah 2:41. He thought about it for a second and then said, "Elder, I can't imagine how many times I've read that scripture, but it hasn't ever stood out to me in such a way. Isn't that amazing? Isn't it marvelous that our ability to learn and understand scriptrues is like that? Sometimes, we just have to hear it from someone else for it to all come together." He then shared with me that every year he tries to set a goal of reading the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. He said that this year he read them all in 40 days! We talked for a few more moments and then he said he needed to go. It was a really neat experience to talk to him and he said the same about me. 

I also taught an English class for the community. It was awesome! There were about 15 or so students and they seemed to really like it. I was trying to get their ideas and opinions on what they wanted to learn, but everyone was too shy to say anything. So, I thought to myself, "what would they like to learn," and the idea came to me: how to pray. Brazilians are almost all Cristians, and they all like to pray. I asked them if they would like to learn how to pray, and almost all of them said out loud, "Yes!" Haha, I love them and their faith =) So, that's what we learned. It was fun to teach and they seemed to really like it. If I didn't love the United States so much, I would come back to Brazil and be an English teacher, it's really fun to do and pays pretty well here. Don't worry mom, that won't happen =) I will be teaching another class today for another 15 or 20 students! 

Other than that, the week was just normal. We are trying to find even more people to teach and I know the Lord will provide a way! I'm just going to keep on working hard! Last interviews with President are in two weeks, and then we're headed out the door. Can't believe the last day of my mission (the last working day) is three weeks from YESTERDAY. I have no idea where the time went, but have enjoyed every minute of it!

I love you all and can't thank you enough for your prayers and support!

Elder Sanderson  

95 weeks -teaching English and tears

Hey mom and fam =)

How is everyone? I hope that you are all great! Mom and Haylee, I hope you guys survived camp! Just remember, I've been camping for the last 17 months. Surely you guys can do it for a week! 

Mom, you are the best (you can put that in there if you want haha). 
****funny part here ******

Now back to what you can put on the blog-
FOOD: I already have been searching and pondering about what I want to eat when I get home! Snack-wise, I'm just going to have to go to a store and see what wonders are there. As for dinners, I have some requests:
Mom- Lasagna, taco chili, and meat balls and gravy (they can be all in the same night or on different nights if you want =) )
Grandma Huhmann (assuming we'll be on the farm for a visit)- Roast beef and everything good that comes with it!
Joe- Whatever he wants to cook on the grill!
Other than that, feel free to make anything that isn't rice, beans, or spaghetti. We eat way too much of that in the mission. Every day, to be exact. 

Our week was pretty good, but we still haven't baptized anyone. I don't know what the deal is, but all of a sudden, the people have turned against us haha. It seems like no one wants to hear our message. No worries though, we'll get there. We also went to a meeting with what I believe was a member of the Brazilian House of Representatives. He found out that I was offering to teach English and invited us to meet with him. We went to his office and he bought us breakfast and then helped me get everything set up. He and his staff were really surprised that we would be willing to teach for free. I told him that I'm happy to help and that that is what Heavenly Father would want us to do. He arranged an area for us to teach in, got some tables and chairs, and began announcing the class on the radio. We're really excited for the first class tonight and will be using it as a means to not only help the community, but also to find new people to teach! I'll be teaching on Mondays and Saturdays until I go home =) 
We also went to a mission leadership conference. It was really last-minute, but also really fun! We received training on how to be Zone Leaders and District Leaders and then got to eat pizza. President bought at least 65 pizzas for us all and it was great! I also got to say good bye to some of my friends in the mission. It was bittersweet because it's the last time I'll see many of them until we all get to the Celestial Kingdom. It was great to see Elder Calcagnoto (my companion from Cruzeiro do Sul) and we just sat and told stories for a few hours. Even if I don't see him in person again, we'll keep in contact with Skype and Facebook! 
That conference was when I sang the most this week. While we were there, Sister Castro had us sing a song that two Sisters wrote for the mission. It puts the mission into a missionary's perspective and is really good. At the end of the song, there is a part where someone asks, "But do you love Manaus?" and we all respond, "Of course we do," but it would be less formally translated as, "that's a clown question bro." As we sang that last part, I was reminded of just how much I love this mission. It brought tears to my eyes to sing that line. They were tears of happiness and saddness, of excitement, stress, miracles, faith, love, trial, hardship, difficulties, frustrations, and so much more. The best part of it all, I've still got one more month to go! One more month to Go Big and Go Home. 

Love you all, thank you for your prayers! Vamos em frente!

Elder Sanderson  

****These pics crack me up. He was re-enacting a scene from pirates: he made his comp hold the umbrella. 

That little girl ROWED them to her house for lunch. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

94 weeks! -yellow shirt

Hey there everyone,

One more week down, and yes, I do know how many are left, but what's the point in saying it here? Haha, but this week went by waaaaayyy too fast. It actually was uncomfortably fast. My son is loving the mission and we've already has some experiences I'm sure he won't forget haha. It's even weirder for him because all of the Elders in our zone are old-timers in the mission, but nobody seems to be giving him a hard time for it. The members are pretty funny when they ask him if this is his first area, and he always has to respond that it is (obviously). I asked them how they knew that and they all say, "Elder, it's your shirts. Yours is yellow and his is white." I try not to take offense =p A yellow shirt just shows them that I'm experienced and wise. 

Let me respond to your four points of interest really quick:
1. I already knew that it was Sierra's birthday today, I've had that planned for several weeks now, thank you. 
2. I was just telling my companion that I wanted to know how the cup was going! I'm glad to hear we won, and not at all surprised. How did Brazil do? I'm going to brag about this all week.
3. I miss shark's always the same shows, but it's the tradition of watching that counts!
4. Congrats on the dream job! Now you just have to get me one! I'm going to try and teach at the MTC in December, but for now I think I'll just do something else on campus. It's hard to get into the MTC when you're not there in person, but I'm confident about December. 
5. SPORTS!!!! I can't wait to watch Sportcenter again, it will be the greatest thing in the world. I want to play sports too! Just in case you guys wanted to know. How did Gordon do in the race? I hope he did good.

Sounds like the 4th was a nice, small town American event. I liked that sign too. Were the fireworks good? I had a fairly American 4th. I wanted to baptize, but it didn't work out, so I did some other cool stuff. I wore a tie that has about 15 bald eagles on it, watched Beyoncé sing the national anthem at Obama's inauguration (the members we ate lunch with showed it to me), we ate brownies (also at the members' house), and I showed them the fireworks from the Mall last year. I also heard a country song that someone was listening to on the bus! It was "need you now" by Little Big Town? I don't remember the band, but I remembered the lyrics. It's a trunky song, but I was happy with country music =) Finally, I ended the day drinking root beer (which an American family gave me last week) and eating sunflower seeds that I'd been waiting to eat since Christmas. Don't worry, they aren't expired. It was a pretty good day! My companion tried the root beer and said it tastes like toothpaste haha. 

We also had interviews with President Castro. It was my second-to-last interview with him before I go home. His first question, "Elder Sanderson, are you excited to be training?" Second question, "Elder Sanderson, how do you feel now that your mission is ending?" It was a very strange question. I told him that I feel a little bit of everything: sad, happy, excited, nervous, scared, confident, etc. but that I'm not going to stop working until I go home. He told me that that is how it should be and that he knows I'll do a good job. I told him about the Dear John too, but he didn't really comment on it, which was funny. He just said he was sorry to hear that and then moved on. But that's how President is, if it's not getting in the way of your work, it doesn't really matter. 

We also visited a less active family whose 19 year-old son passed away this week. He drowned in a river that passes through our area. The bishop asked us to stop by, and so we did. I have never had to deal with a situation like that. When my friend Carmody passed away, it was almost the same, but not quite. That was with people I knew, this was with complete strangers. I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to guide me. That's exactly what happened. We went to the family and asked if we could talk to them. They received us really well and invited us in to their house. We talked about what had happened, about their son, and then asked to share a message with them. We started with a prayer and then I just tried to follow the Spirit. We taught about the Atonement and shared Alma chapter 7 with them. I like that chapter a lot because it shows that Jesus Christ suffered for ALL of our problems, not just our sins. He suffered for our trials, difficulties, sadness, pains, etc. We then shared the scripture in Matthew chapter 8 (I think it's 8), which talks about Jesus Christ's invitation to come unto him and he will make our burdens light. To finish, we talked about the blessings of the temple and the plan of salvation. The Holy Ghost was there to comfort that family, and we were blessed to offer words of comfort as well. Many tears were shed, and the family thanked us for our visit and for the love we have for them. It was an experience that I don't want to forget. 

That's about it for our week! We had a blast, but are excited to work even harder. The members are giving us lots of references and we are excited to go and see them all! Tonight we're going to contact two new families and will have a family home evening with another. It'll be a great way to start off the week!

Love you all and hope that everything is going great!

Elder Sanderson

93 weeks - last transfer- Go big and go home

This week was a long, but also very quick week. We were running around like crazy in meetings and trainings, and so only got to work a little bit in our area. It was kinda of lame, but that's how it goes. A lot of the meetings were trainings on going home and exit interviews with President, which take all day. My companion, Elder Salas, is going home at 4am, so the interviews were all for him, but mine will be here in FIVE WEEKS. It hit me this last week that I have entered into my last transfer as a missionary. The second I realized that I go home in six weeks, I felt really scared and lost. I can't imagine what it's going to be like going home. Actually, I can imagine, but I didn't think it would ever get here. It was always just a thing you put behind you with the attitute of, "I don't have to worry about that right now." But now, it's here. I'm just going to dig in and work even harder! 
Since Elder Salas was going home, I knew I was going to get a new companion. They called me last night and told me that I will be TRAINING again! =D I can't wait to train again! I'll be training a brazilian named Elder Prado. I can't wait! All missionaries dream of training for their last transfer and I got the chance! I haven't met him yet, because he won't get here until tomorrow, but I'm excited. For now, I'll be staying with two of the other Elders who are really good friends of mine. I'm excited for it =) 
I had a neat experience this week while watching, "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" with a family. As Joseph and the others were in the jail and the mob came storming in, the 10 year-old son asked us, "who will win? The good or the bad?" It had never really been a thought of mine, but as I was sitting there, I was happy to say that I already know. It's never been a doubt in my mind, we know who will win. What seemed to be a real battle to a young man, is really not a question at all as to who will win, we already know. I then thought, "to the mob, it must have seemed like they won, but they didn't." Look at the Church today, look at all it has. It's not even a question as to who won or is still winning. WE are. I love it! I won't ever forget the question that young man asked us, and my answer will never change. I hope it can be the same for all of you as well =) 
Other than that, we had a pretty boring week. I'm grateful for the chance that I had to serve with Elder Salas and grateful for all of the things I learned from him. I also look forward to working as hard as I can with Elder Prado for the next 6 weeks. I already have a motto that has probably been used by many, many misisonaries: GO BIG and GO HOME! It's going to be a wonderful transfer.

Have a great week everyone! Love you all and can't wait to see you in a few weeks,

Elder Sanderson

Ecclesiastes 7:8

P.s. An american family gave me root beer today! I plan on drinking it on the 4th of July while eating sunflower seeds   

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

92 weeks -baptism with rain water

It's only seven more weeks? Haha just kidding, I can't believe it either! I'm excited! I'm excited to be home and excited to be able to finish my mission strong. That's exactly what we're doing here =) 
We had a great baptism yesterday! It was raining so hard that the power went out. As such, the font couldn't be filled and we were in a bit of a pickle. We decided to put 6 buckets out in the rain and hope for the best. Afterwards, we used these buckets to fill the font up to about my knees. We got in the water and had to get on our knees for me to be baptized. It was a baptism I will never forget. He left the water with tears in his eyes and just seemed to light up with the Holy Ghost. I can now say that I've baptized someone with rain water =)

Tell Joe I said happy father's day and happy aniversary to you both. I don't even remember when American holidays are anymore...oh well haha. I'm grateful he's been around for so long too. Tell Haylee that I would love to go to the farm with her. I am loving the mission and loving how hard we're working, but man does it make you tired. I'm not as tired as I was with Elder Ribeiro (my "son") because Elder Salas has way more time in the mission than he did, so I don't have to micromanage. Elder Salas actually goes home in 7 days (not weeks), so I'll be getting a new companion next week! Lots of areas in the mission are going to shut because we don't have enough missionaries. We'll see if I get to stay in an area that stays open. 
Other than that, the week was really uneventful. We're going to try and get a lot of work done this week, but we are going to have lots of meetings to attend as well.It should go by fast, but hopefully not too fast =p

Love you all!
Elder Sanderson

Monday, June 15, 2015

91 weeks: teaching impolite English

Hey there everyone!

Alright, this email is going to be fast because the power has been out all afternoon and we just got to our emails. We have to run and catch the bus after this, so I'll just give a summary!
Glad that the farm was in good shape and that you guys got to see so much cool stuff there with the Church history. I hope that I get to see it too =) I was glad to hear that my seat is still my seat at the table and expect it as such when I get home. Speaking of which...TWO MONTHS!!!!
I learned this week that you should think before you teach when you are teaching someone your native language. I was at lunch and there was a little girl who is 7 asking me about a million things to say in English: what's that, and that, and that, etc. Her mom got tired of it really quickly and asked me, "Elder Sanderson, how do you say be quiet?" I didn't pause to translate in a polite way and replied, "shut up." She then looked at her daughter and said, "Hey, shut up." Haha I couldn't help but laugh and realized that "be quiet" probably would have been better. She continued telling her daughter that for the rest of our time there haha.
It's funny that you might have found my potential haha, I think the Sisters in my district tried to find me one too. We were at a wedding the other night and it was a wedding between two wards (my ward and the other ward). We were invited and decided to go so that we could eat some good food. When we were there, the Sisters came up to me with a girl I had met once before. Her name, ironically enough, is Sarah. The Sisters wuickly told me that she is 20 and wants to marry an American. Yes, this was in front of Sarah. But before you judge, Sarah is deaf and so she speaks Portuguese Sign Language. It was quite the neat experience to learn a bunch of words and I still remember most of them. Sarah is really cool and she seemed to like us. I don't plan on talking to her very much, I'm a missionary, so that's not what I do, but maybe I'll get her to friend request me on Facebook. 

One more quick note and then I gotta run. We were on the news today! They shut down a big bus terminal in our area and it has made quite a scene. They are just renovating it, but it is going to take a long time to finish. As a result, the news crews are there to hear peoples' complaints. We were standing at the bus stop today and they did an interview right in front of us, we'll be famous for sure. I was tempted to wave or something, but decided not to. It's probably for the best =)
One more thing! We baptized again this week! Two baptisms, actually! It was great =) They were both really excited and liked it a lot! We should have one more this week if everything goes according to plan!

Love you all,

Elder Sanderson! 

90 weeks: getting through and a chicken story

Hey Everyone! 

What a crazy week it was. I can honestly say that it was the most stressful week of my mission. However, with all trials come blessings. I was greatly blessed by EVERYTHING that happened last week! Let me give you an idea of what happened: 
Monday, I got Dear Johned, yeah it sucked, but that's how it goes. I was given some amazing support by my buddies here in the mission and also by Heavenly Father. I won't lie, it was a constant struggle to just keep working and try to find the drive to continue. I got sick because of the stress, but knew I couldn't stop. We just kept at it and I tried my best to deal with the emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. I got on my knees Monday night and I just prayed and prayed and prayed. It was the first time I've talked to Heavenly Father in English in a very long time. I simply talked to Him and trusted in Him. I know He has a plan. I woke up the next day with a smile on my face and worked out even more than I usually do. We also had a service project that helped a lot. It was nothing but manual labor and it felt great to be able to concentrate my energy and my mind on something. 
As the week progressed, I could only feel the love of my Heavenly Father and once again was given and amazing blessing. I found out the next day that Elder Ribeiro would be Emergency Transferred to Acre. I loved Elder Ribeiro, so him leaving wasn't the blessing, but the blessing was my new companion. I gained Elder Salas (from Boilivia) as my companion. He goes home in three weeks. It was a blessing because I had to work really hard to show him the area and try and focus on the work. That is what got me through the week. 
With all of that being said, yes, we did baptize everyone within a quarter mile ******I sent him a funny Napolean Dynamite meme because I am an awesome mom lol 😀*********.    and will continue to do so! We baptized Louis who is 79 years-old! He is half-deaf and I had to use my UFC moves to get him under the water haha. I explained the whole process, but I don't think he quite got it, so I just decided to wing it. He went under finally and came out of the water saying, "Now I'm happy, now I'm happy!" It was one of the more spiritual baptisms of my mission =) We also have baptisms lined up for this week and next week! Just need one for the end of the transfer and we'll be baptizing weekly the rest of the transfer =) 
I also might have received revelation for my work when I get home =) I dreamed the other night that I was an instructor at the MTC in Provo! It was awesome because that means I was teaching Portuguese. I'm going to look into it when I get the chance =) Teaching Portuguese would be awesome for work! 
I also had something happen to me that has never happened in my mission. I had a chicken come flying through a window and land on my head before jumping off. Did you guys see that coming? Neither did I. Haha it was hilarious! We were at lunch sharing the spiritual thought and all of a sudden I hear a cluck, a flapping of wings, and then a chicken jumping off my head! I had my back to the window, so it took me even more off guard haha. We couldn't take anything seriously after that, and I don't think I'll ever forget it. 
Haha, what a week it was =) I am extremely blessed by my family and friends. I can't thank you all enough for the email and promise that I feel great, look great, and am great! Nothing can stop that =) No matter what happens, it all works out in the end. That's exactly what I see, and am already seeing, is happening. 

Love you all! Have a great week! I hope that the Lord blesses you as much as He blesses me =)

Elder Sanderson

89 weeks. Faith.

*****HD had a very rough week this week and I am not going to post his letter.  I knew he would be ok and he knew he would be ok but it was a very hard time for him and it was hard for me not to be able to be there for him.  I still wanted to document this week of his mission.  We emailed a few times back and forth that day towards the end I told him one of my favorite quotes which is "the future is as bright as your faith" which was said by Presdident Thomas S Monson.  His reply made my mom heart happy he said:

"Then I have a very, very bright future ahead of me indeed =)"

I was so thankful to read that. :) love that missionary boy of ours. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

88 weeks! "What is it old man?!?"

Hey there friends, lovers, and other strangers,

I'm pretty sure that's that Jack said in that episode of Will and Grace, but I have no idea why it's in my head haha.

Our week in the jungle was pretty good. Not too much out of the ordinary, but still good. We didn't have to go anywhere by boat, just lots of places by bus. I'm now the district leader of 4 areas (including my own), and also the only district leader in my zone. That means that when someone needs a baptismal interview, they will call me to do it. This week, the other three areas needed interviews in the same afternoon...It was crazy. However, to make it easier on me, the zone leaders decided to just do splits with us so that our area could keep working as well. It was a fun split. I went with Elder Mount (who got to Brazil with me) and we had a blast. He goes home in 5 weeks and I go home after that, so it was weird to be so old. We ate pizza and dipped the crust in a nacho cheese dip that a member gave me! They don't have nachos here, so it was a first in Brazil! 
Sunday, I taught several lessons, but not in church =p this is one of my first areas in Brazil that has enough people with enough experience to allow me to just "relax" on Sunday (even  though a  missionary's life is never relaxed). The lessons that we taught our investigators were great! We read the Book of Mormon with three sisters who are getting ready for their baptisms. We decided to just start at the beginning with 1 Nephi 1 and 2. They really liked it and were able to tell us exactly what had happened in the chapters. We're excited to teach them this week =)
I'm glad Haylee is having fun on the farm =) tell her that drawing is awesome! I expect a hand-painted piece of art when I get home haha. 
We don't have too much time because of an activity that took too long to end, so I'll try and sum up the week and answer your questions =)
We saw the first quarter of the Rockets vs Golden State game in game 1 of the Western conference finals the other night. It was when we stopped at a restaurant to eat dinner. It was weird to see basketball on tv, but it made me excited to be home haha. 
I also found out that Bugs Bunny doesn't say, "what's up doc?" in portuguese, he says, "what is it old man?" haha I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that on the side of an 18-wheeler. 
Go nats! I'm glad to hear they are doing so good! 
Just a heads up, I might actually be getting home on the 11th really early in the morning, not on the 12th! I still haven't gotten the phone call, but it should be no later than next week. It sounds like they changed the travel plan for the Americans. We now go straight to Miami and then to our cities! I will let you know the day I find out =) I would get home at like 6 to 8ish in the morning on the 11th.Again, I'll let you know as soon as I know =) 
The hardest that I laughed this week was when I read a scripture reference wrong. I was reading a letter Sarah sent me, and after she signed her name, she wrote Jarom 1:4. As I went to look it up in the Book of Mormon, I looked up Jarom 1:8 by accident. Go read it you'll know why I laughed. I will never forget the shock haha. 
That was about it for us! We had a good week and are excited for one more! I hope the Lord blesses you all this week and that you find a reason to laugh, love, serve, and be grateful =)

Elder Sanderson

Monday, May 18, 2015

87 weeks- Blessing from a shopkeeper

Hi guys =)

It was an okay week, I wouldn't say amazing, but still good. We had a very adventure-filled weekend, and I'll be talking about that in a sec. 
First off, that sucks the Caps lost..., I'm glad Harper is still on fire! That Frontier Justice store looks perfect. I definitely agree with Joe's statement.
So, first off, I won free shoes this week! We were walking down the street and I saw a man who fixes shoes. I stopped to talk to him to see if he could trade out the souls of my shoes with new ones. He told me he could and asked us to stop by the next day. When we got there the next day, he asked what my shoe size was. I told him that my size is a 39 or 40 (brazilian system). He looked at me and said, "watch my stuff, I'll be right back." He leaves the store, goes to his house, and comes back with a pair of shoes. He looks at me and says, "Here, try these on." The shoes fit, he then looked at me and said, "They're yours. God bless you." It was awesome! He just gave them to me, no questions asked. I couldn't thank him enough and it was a huge blessing for me. We ran into him again yesterday, and he said he'll go to my English class on Saturday. I'm pretty sure we'll get the chance to teach him and help him enter into the waters of baptism =)
For the week (monday through thursday) that was about it. However, the adventures had only just begun. We went to a conference with a member of the Seventy on Friday morning. It was great! He taught us so well and really showed us that we are in this cause on the same level of importance. That might sound weird, but he just showed us how we are all equally yoked in the work of the Lord. It was great =) All that he taught was confirmed by the Holy Ghost and I felt as though I had already been prepared to receive it all. It was wonderful. I really liked one of the things he said to us about the difference between knowledge and works. He asked us what was necessary to have the Holy Ghost in our lives. We all gave responses such as testimony, fasting, obedience, prayer, study, etc. The list was quite lengthy and as he looked over the items listed he said, "Good, you know what they are. But are you living them?" It was a very thought provoking question. He continued, "we will never be saved for our knowledge. Knowledge will not gain salvation. This life isn't a game of theory. We have to have WORKs with our knowledge." I thought a lot about that. How many of us already know what is right, and how many of us aren't living what we know? The rest of the conference was just as good, but I just wanted to share that part.
I met a guy from Ireland this week. We were walking down the street after lunch on Friday, and I saw a guy walking down the street towards us, I looked at him and just knew he wasn't Brazilian. He looked at me with the same recognition. I called him over to us and started talking to him. I asked where he was from and he said Ireland, that he used to be an Elder, and is just passing through Brazil. I asked if he had ever been to the US, but he hadn't. We didn't talk long, but it was really weird to talk to someone in English and Portuguese, but with two different English accents haha. 
I also got searched by the police on Friday night. We were on the bus leaving a baptismal interview, when the bus just stopped in the middle of the road. It was already almost 9:30and we couldn't really see anything. Suddenly, the bus was filled with cops and they asked (nicely) that all men get off the bus. We got off and had to get up against the bus with our legs spread apart and hands on the bus. One of the cops saw us and exclaimed, "what? Mormons here?" haha. They patted everyone down, but when they got to us, the guy patted my left side and then my right side, and said, "you can go." It pays to be a missionary =) They didn't even search our bags. However, they did catch a guy who had drugs, so it's good that they did the search. 
Saturday, Elder Ribeiro and I reached a milestone. He reached 86 days in his mission and I reached 86 days until the end of mine haha. We laughed pretty hard at that. I can still remember it happening with my own trainer almost 2 years ago. Speaking of Elder Ribeiro, he and I are going to stay together for one more transfer =) I didn't get transferred, and neither did he. We're excited to keep working together and to baptize more people! 

That's about it for the week. It was slow, but adventure filled at the end! Hope that this week is the same for all of you (or just the adventure part, not so much the slow part).

Love you and miss you!

Elder Sanderson 

One new pic he sent on Mothers Day of him holding a baby sloth! 

86 weeks Mothers Day

Gotta find his Mother's Day's not on my phone for some reason. It was a super short letter since we had talked for so long the day before. :) it was a great call!!!  He looked so good and sounded so good! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

85 weeks -#junglemission and free juice!

Jeez, with how long that email was, how are we going to find anything to talk about on Sunday? Haha

Hello everybody (said as Aunt Bethany from Christmas Vacation),

Life is pretty good here in Mauazinho! I'll tell you more about it after I respond to your email. That was the trunkiest first paragraph of an email I've ever seen haha. I am excited for Sunday because I will be able to say, "See ya 3 months from tomorrow!!!!" It is going by so fast. You all should still be able to go to church on Sunday. We have church from 8:30-11:30 our time and then will have to go to lunch, plus we might have a baptism. However, we will be trying for about 4pm our time. My comp has a sister who is serving a mission in São Paulo and they will be doing a group chat. Sounds like his sister will be on at that time, so he'll call her and then I'll call afterwards. No matter what, I'll make sure you guys know what's going on =) If you want, we can try Google Hangout instead of Skype. If you do that, group chats are free and I can talk to you all and Sierra at the same time. I think we could try that, but it doesn't matter to me. You might have to have a Gmail account, but I've already got mine, thanks to the mission email. Just let me know beforehand and I'll set it up =)

Go CAPS!!!! I'm excited to be able to watch sports again! Especially my teams! I can't wait to cheer for the caps, nats, and all of my other teams. I still remember when the Wizards sucked haha, glad to hear they are doing better. Are the Jazz still doing badly? I would assume so, but I hope not.

I'm glad my package got there! I will have to send a thank you to my buddy that sent it. He arrived in Brazil with me, so we've known each other for a while, but he had to go home last transfer because he got sick. He would have gone home in about 8 weeks, but not any more. I'll see him at BYU though! 

And now onto our week: absolutely nothing for the first 5 days, and then a busy final two haha. We had taught about 5 lessons until Saturday...It was horrible, but turned around on Saturday and Sunday! Monday through Thursday, we just kept trying to teach or find someone to teach, but it wasn't in the cards. All of our appointments fell through, and the people we managed to find wanted nothing to do with us. But Saturday and Sunday were great! We decided to split with the young men and ended up teaching about 14 or 15 lessons in about two days. It was a nice blessing from Heavenly Father, He showed us that our work during the week was not an unnoticed sacrifice. We found a bunch of families and they are excited to hear our message! 

I also forgot to mention that I held a sloth last week!!! It was awesome! #Junglemission haha. We were just walking down the street and a guy had found it outside of his house. We thought he was holding a dead cat or something, but when we got closer, it was a baby sloth. We took pictures, but they are on the phone of a member who lives on that street. I'll try and get them before Sunday! 

We also had a funny experience buying juice this week. Early Thursday morning, we had a zone training with the other missionaries. Elder Ribeiro and I live about 40 minutes away by bus and didn't get to eat breakfast. As the first part of the training ended, they gave us time to use the bathroom, get water, etc. Elder Ribeiro and I went looking for food. We bought food and then went to a juice stand where a guy we know sells freshly squeezed orange juice. The juice is good, but a little expensive too. I didn't feel like spending that much, so I didn't ask for any. The man looked at me and asked if I wanted juice, I said no, but thanked him for the offer. He insisted and insisted, but I told him I would another week. He looked at me and said, "you don't have to pay, I'll give it to you for free." As of that moment, he was speaking my language. I took the offer and thanked him for his kindness. He looked at Elder Ribeiro and said, "Your's is R$6.00." We left and Elder Ribeiro looks at me and asks, "How come you got yours for free and I have to pay?!" Haha I told him it's because I'm an American and he's not. 

That was about it for week, nothing too special, just those few things. I can't wait to talk to you all in a few days! Like I said, plan for about 3 or 4 my time for us to get on. If it's later than that, don't worry. We're going to have to go to another area to make the call, so it might take a little while to get there, but we'll be on as fast as we can! 

Love you all!

Elder Sanderson

Monday, April 27, 2015

84 weeks! Lost and found

Hey guys,

Sounds like a pretty nice and relaxing week! If you happen to find a car for sale (or a motorcycle) for cheap at the thrift shop, let me know! Haha. Other than that, I don't think I'll need anything from there. You need to tell Haylee's teacher that Haylee is from PG and is not somebody to be messed with! Tell grandpa Terry that I've already lost two family members during the mission, so he better not make it three! We've still got a baseball game to go to when I get home. =)
The week was a very long and very busy week. It was busy for us, but in ways that I'm not used to haha. Tuesday was about 100 something degrees and a holiday. As such, no one was home and no one was outside. We even tried knocking doors, but it just wasn't the day to work. We got nice and tan though haha. I have a white stripe on my wrist where my watch goes. 
We spent Friday and Saturday on the run too! I have two companionships of Sisters in my district and they were both needing me to do the baptismal interviews. We went to one area on Friday (about 40 minutes by bus) and the interview went great, but then we got lost going home because we caught the wrong bus. After about 40 minutes, I realized that I had no idea where we are, I had never seen any of those buildings. I looked at my comp and asked, "do you know where we are?" He looked at me and said, "no, why?" I had kind of been relying on him to get us home, but he hasn't quite developed that skill. We got really lucky because the lady who takes the bus fees was a member of the Church. She could tell we were lost and asked where we were going. We explained the situation, and she gave us directions home. We ended up having to wait about another 20 minutes and then another 20 while the bus driver took his break. We just hung out with the other drivers haha. Finally, we got back to our area and met up with the zone leaders (2 hours after we told them to be there) for our own interview. Saturday's interview was a lot smoother and we didn't get lost haha.
We had a great experience in the interview with the zone leaders. The young man who got baptized is 12 and has been going to church for some time. He really likes the Church and everything it teaches. Last Sunday, he told us that he wanted to get baptized. We were happy to hear that and went to talk to him mom afterwards. She wasn't quite as excited as we were. She said that she wasn't going to authorize his baptism. We committed her to pray about it and said we would stop by a few days later to see how it went. When we stopped by, she still hadn't prayed. We recommitted her, and marked to go by on Friday. What she didn't know: we would be acting in faith and bringing the zone leaders to do the interview. I knew the Spirit would touch her heart, and so we prayed a lot and called the zone leaders. The four of us went to the interview and while the zone leader talked with Breno (the young man), the rest of us tried to help his mom. She expressed her doubts and questions to us, and we gave her the answers and bore testimony. In the end, I think her biggest concern was that we would abandon Breno after his baptism. We promised that missionaries are like the gum on the bottom of your shoe, we just don't go away that easily. In the end, she said that we could baptize him! She even made a cake and invited us to his birthday party next week! I think she really enjoyed his baptism and we are going to help her to enter the waters of baptism as well =) 
I felt incredibly humbled today. I was listening to the Tabernacle Choir on YouTube and they have a video about the "Candy Bomber" from WWII. Just a small act of kindness brought to pass a lot more than anyone had imagined. I felt the love that Heavenly Father has for us and for all of those who do service for others. It was a humbling experience because missionaries feel that love quite often and there are some people in the world that don't.
How many times I bore my testimony is hard to say. As misisonaries, we bear testimony in just about everything we do.
I'm sleeping really well! I figured out the equation: lots of hills + my time on the mission = sleeping like a rock. I feel good too. I'm tired, but that's the case with all of the missionaries who have about the same time as me. However, I'm still as excited as ever and learning more and more each day!

Love you all and miss you! Can't wait to talk to you in a few weeks!

Elder Sanderson

Monday, April 20, 2015

83 weeks -gone fish in'

Hey there everyone!

First off: WE WENT FISHING! Life complete in Brazil =D It was the realization of a mission-long dream haha. We have a member family that litterally live on top of the river. Their house is built over the river and you can fish off of the back deck. They were nice enough to let us come over and fish. I think we'll be going back quite a bit over the next weeks. We caught 8 fish between the two of us, I caught 5 and my companion 3. I have to add the "score" because it was a competition.
Now for the rest of the week:
I am really liking this area and we already have a baptism marked for this Saturday. We have great members who love to work with the members and help us out. Our Bishop is great and called us over to his house yesterday so that we could plan a ward activity with him to find new investigators. We are excited about that and will be meeting lots of new people because of it. 
My companion is great and full of energy! He and I are getting along great and it is a cool experience to train somebody. Sometimes. I forget that he doesn't know that much and that I have to explain it to him, but he is learning fast. He's a Brazilian from Fortaleza, Ceará. The two of us laugh every day, but are going to keep working hard. We have a goal of thirty new investigators this week! My area might just be the death of me though. I might as well have been asked to serve in the Rocky Mountains. We have so many hills (all steep and close together, of course), that your legs are trembling at the end of the day. I'm excited about that though because it will put me in good shape to go home! 
I'm officially reaching the point in the mission where everyone looks at me and asks, "Elder, how much time do you have in your mission?" To which I reply, "One year and seven months," which is followed by, "Wow! You're going home soon!" Haha it's a bittersweet statement. I joked with my companion today at lunch that he won't go home this year, or even next year, but in the year after. Haha he didn't think it was funny, but it's all part of the mission experience. 
Other than that, we are working hard and loving life. I will make sure to get those talks on my USB so that I can listen to them. I want to study Conference more, but it seems like I just don't have time. One of the things about parenting: you lose all of your own time haha. I have learned that now that I have a "son" in the mission. It's still a lot of fun though!

Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Sanderson

Monday, April 13, 2015

82 weeks -I love you my friend

Hey everyone,

So, I'm in a new area!!! I'm really excited about it and am already liking my companion a lot. His name is Elder Ribeiro and he has been in the mission for exactly 7 weeks. In your mission, you spend your first 12 weeks being trained, so I get to finish his training! I've never trained before, but have been wanting to for a while now. He is from Ceará, Brazil and is excited to work. We are getting along great and this is going to be a great transfer! My new area is in Manaus and is called "Mauazinho" (mow-wez-een-yo) and is baptizing a lot lately! I heard a lot of good things about the members here and about the work when I was in the mission office for the transfer. I think I'll probably finish my mission here (that's weird to say).
Sounds like a good week to me =) I'm glad that Joe defended the Church too. Tell him he probably scored some bonus points with Heavenly Father for that one. We had a great testimony meeting! Almost everyone talked about the missionary work and how important it really is. I am ever humbled by the brazilian people. They love the missionaries so much and put us just underneath Jesus Christ in importance. One person said, "I don't have very much in my house, but when I know the missionaries are coming over to eat, I don't just give them whatever I have, I try and imagine what I would do if Jesus Christ came. I would clean up, make sure everything was just right, and make them something special." I have been called a liar, a devil, and so much more in this mission, but none of that matters when you hear someone who has truly found the Savior call you an angel with all the emotion that they can. I love them all. That's what I prayed for the most this week: that Heavenly Father would bless the people of Manacapuru and to thank Him for the opportunity he gave me to serve among them. We also had a baptism this week! It was the 27 year-old nephew of a member in the ward. He told us a few weeks ago that he was ready to find Heavenly Father again and wanted to get baptized. The baptism went great, and he has a great family to support him in the Church!
We went to Joelle and Fabio's house (the family who got baptized last week) to end the night, and I will never forget that visit. We just started to teach them, but then Joelle stopped us and said, "we invited you over to thank you, so we're going to thank you," and then told us about how much we've changed their lives. They said they knew that it was God who was doing it, but that we were the instruments in His hands. I bore my testimony to them that I know this Church is true. There is no other church on earth that has as much truth as we do. I bore my testimony of the temple and told them to do everything they can to get married in the temple. Fabio asked me if I had a hymnbook because he wanted to sing "Families can be together forever" with us. We didn't, but I have it memorized in portuguese, so I wrote the words down and we sang it with them. While I was writing, Joelle said she wanted to sing me a hymn from her church and when she started to sing, she cried so hard that she couldn't even get past the first few words. Fabio started to sing in her place, and they both finished together. The song basically said, "I love you my friend, and even if we don't see each other again, I'll see you in Heaven." It was one of the greatest experiences of my mission, and I will remember it for the rest of my life. I'll never forget them, and thank Heavenly Father for that. Even if nothing else were to happen for the rest of my mission, I would be happy because of the chance I had to help them find the Savior.
While that was one of the most spiritual days of my mission, I also had one of the funnest days of my mission! On Thursday night, Elder Brown (one of the greatest missionaries I know) and I went to Manaus so that he could go to the mission training and interviews with President Castro that happen the week before you go home from your mission. We got there and I left for another area to pass the day with an Elder in Manaus. We returned to the mission office the next day (Friday) so that Elder Brown and I could go home to Manacapuru. Elder Brown got back, and came in with Elder Hammer (who got to Brazil with me) and the three of us just sat down waiting for Elder Brown's interview to happen. Elder Hammer and Elder Brown are two of the funniest missionaries I know in the mission. We made so many jokes and were able to talk about movies, music, and anything else from the United States. We went to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffett and each ate at least 10 pieces. They had dessert pizzas, and one of them was a strawberry, white chocolate pizza. It was AMAZING! I don't know if I've eaten anything better than that in all of my time here in Brazil. We finished, and went back to the office, but President told us we could stay in Manaus with the Assistants to the President (APs) until morning. We decided to do that because it let us get some sleep instead of being up until 1 in the morning...and they are more friends of ours. We went back to their house and just laughed and laughed for another couple of hours. It was the hardest I think I've laughed in my mission haha. It was hard to say goodbye to Elders Hammer and Brown, but I'll meet up with them again at BYU!

Mom, could you please get into contact with the GI Bill people and see if I need to do anything to get the college money set up again? Maybe call BYU's office and see if they can help. That would be a good thing to do I think, just to make sure it will all go smoothly when I get home. 

Other than that, the week was pretty normal! We just hung out and worked hard =) I hope that you guys have a great week and see as many blessings as I saw this week.

Love you all! 

Elder Sanderson