Tuesday, March 31, 2015

80 weeks! No personal gain.

Hello everyone,

I don't know if I start all of my letters that way, but that just seems to be what pops into my head. To start off answering the questions: I'm doing great! I'm bummed that we didn't have the baptism of that family, but we managed to mark with them for this weekend. It will be a Conference baptism! My first baptism in Brazil was after the Sunday afternoonsession of the April 2014 Conference =) I look forward to getting to do that again this year. The most interesting thing that I saw this week was an alligator skin! We were on missionary splits and I was in the area of the other Elders with my zone leader. We went to lunch and the members had an alligator skin from the last time the river filled up during the rainy season. I asked them where they killed it, and they said, "it was right there behind the house." Haha, gotta love serving in the Amazon. We didn't eat anything different, just rice, beans, and chicken. Like always. 
Nothing too crazy happened, but I did see a guy going down the street with a Bass Pro hat and shirt! Then we saw a Harley yesterday! I also managed to trade for a new suit with a missionary here. I traded him my suit, a jar of peanut butter, and two ties in exchange for his suit. We were both pretty happy about the deal (because my suit is too big for me and his is too small for him), but he ended up wanting to trade back less than 3 hours later. I'm pretty sure everybody told him that I tried to rip him off and were giving him a hard time about it, so he changed his mind. The only problem is that I think he believed them and thought I was trying to sucker him out of his suit. We both set the terms and I had even offered to pay him for it as well. He hasn't spoken to me very much since the trade-back, but it's his own fault if he chose to believe in what other people were saying. I'm just happy to say that in my life, even if he traded back, I traded a suit for another suit, peanut butter, and two ties haha. 
Tell Haylee that she did a great job on that paper! Please send me a copy of it along with the picture. I want to put it on my wall next to my bed. She was exactly right on all of it. Life is just like a bookshelf. My mission will be a pretty big book haha. Also, tell her that she'll be writing all of my papers at BYU! Speaking of which, I sign up for classes TOMORROW!!!! I can't wait! I have it all lined up and will be busy, but not overdoing it. I'll be out of class by one on MWF and not until 3 on TTh, but with an easy morning those days. 
Other than that, I just wanted to share a funny experience with you all. We were at a Family Home Evening with some investigators and members last Monday, and had a very spiritual lesson. We talked about Faith, Repentence, and Baptism, but ended up teaching all of the missionary lessons in 45 minutes because of the various questions. At the end, it turned to missionary work. Everyone admitted to having hid from the missionaries at least once before their baptisms and how they had believed the rumors that people spread about us. They all had a good laugh about that, but all said it was the truth. Even our investigators who were there admitted to hiding from us haha. They said, "We thought they were going to visit us just to eat our food. We were home when they got there, but acted like we weren't. However, we learned that the missionaries are persistent because after they walked away, there was a card in the door that said, 'we'll be back again another day'." After they said that, the lady's sister, who was meeting us for the first time, said that she had already noticed the missionaries are diligent. She said, "it's true. I've never seen a pastor from another church leave his house to visit someone unless he knew he would be received. But with these guys, they walk in the rain or sun and don't ever seem to stop. I always wondered why that is." I took that wonderful statement and happily explained to her that we do what we do because we know it's true. If this gospel and this church weren't true, I sure wouldn't be on the other side of the world to preach the word with no personal gain to myself. I told her that we willingly sacrifice everything that we have because it's true and we know that everyone needs to know that. She was very interested in that, and we marked a day to go visit her during the week. We'll invite her to her sister's baptism on Sunday, and I know she'll get baptized shortly after. We even found out later that her husband is baptized in the Church =) It was perfect!

I hope that you all have a great week! Make sure to watch Conference! This is one of two times a year that the Prophet will speak to the entire world at the same time. What could be more important than that: Whether you are a member of the Church or not, I know that you will feel the love of Heavenly Father. Watch Conference with a question in your heart, and I know you will receive an answer. 

I love you all and miss you,

Elder Sanderson

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

79 weeks -thanks to the fans

Hey everyone =)

Happy Monday to you all! I hope that Monday's stay as happy as they are as a missionary when I get back home haha. I doubt it, but I'll always be able to remember looking forward to Mondays. It's been pretty good so far. We went and played  basketball this morning, then played cards, made an early lunch of grilled chicken and rice, and now we're here emailing the fans. You're all considered fans. Why? Because after a year and a half of me writing, "walked in the sun, taught some people, then walked in the rain," you're all still here reading this letter. So, you must obviously be my fans =D

Sounds like a good talk about the youth. It's the truth though, they need the testimony, faith, and support of their leaders. We were told by Elder Cook that we need to build the Church in our wards and branches where we serve. He said that the youth should want to serve missions, the members want to be better, and people be baptized because of the example they see in the missionaries. I've seen that a lot lately. People here in areas where the Church has only been established for 10 or even 20 years are still learning and trying to get a foundation firmly planted. They don't have anyone who has grown up in the Church and many are first generation members. It's really cool to see the Lord working through them and very humbling to see the blessings that I've been given in my life.

I've heard about steak and shake out here in the mission haha. From what I've heard, it's supposed to be pretty good. There are a coulple of Elders from Indiana that like to go there. Speaking of things and places in the USA. I taught a guy to say "Roll Tide" down here! Now, every time he sees me, he says it hahaha. He's one of the coolest guys I've met down here in Brazil. His name is José and he is a recent convert to the Church of about 1 year, but was investigating the Church for over 5 before he got baptized! 

It also rained A LOT this week. It poured down rain for 5 or 6 of the last 7 days. We got drenched on Friday going to lunch. The family we were supposed to eat with lives about 20-30 minutes away from our house. We were on our way there and could see rain on the horizon and coming fast. So, we started to walk as fast as we could, but to no avail. The rain got to us with so much wind that it was blowing sideways; right into our faces. We took cover under an awning, but it was already noon and we knew that the family had to work and go to school around one-ish. We decided to just run as fast as we could haha. It ended with us getting to their house, looking like we had jumped into the river, and having them tell us that lunch wasn't going to work out that day and had been cancelled the day before. Only problem, nobody told us. So, we ran home as fast as we could, changed clothes, ate a very quick lunch, and went to our appointment at 1:15. It was an adventure, but I hope it doesn't happen again haha. 

All in all, the week was pretty good, but I'm hoping to get more work done this week. We are teaching a lot and doing a lot, but I'm still not satisfied with the work. We can do better, so that's going to be the goal this week. We have a family that we are preparing for baptism and hoping that they will get baptized this weekend! Say some prayers for them =) They have family in the Church and we've been working with them since the week of Christmas. I really want to baptize them before I leave this area! 

Other than that, the week was pretty normal. Lots of rain, lots of sun, and lots of teaching =) Hope that you guys have a great week! 

Love and miss you all!

Elder Sanderson

Here is a picture of ALL of the missionaries serving in the Brazil Manaus Mission.  If you look at the sister missionary in the very front center of the picture wearing a green shirt go up from there to the second row from the top and there is Elder Sanderson. :) 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

78 weeks! Even the Brazilians sing our national anthem

There's an ORANGE LEAF!!! WE got that for free all the time in Bountiful haha. It was really good, tell Warrensburg they got something right besides Walmart and Lowes haha.

Anyways, Hey everybody! 

That town is small...it's maybe even smaller than Pimenta Bueno. That was the city I served in right at the beginning of my time in Brazil. Speaking of my time in Brazil, last week I marked one year in the Brazil Manaus Mission =) I also marked one year and SIX! Can anybody believe that? With it came a rush of fears, excitement, and anxiety about ending the mission. I'm really not ready for it to end, but also can't wait for the adventures to come afterwards. 
I think I've pretty much got my classes picked out for BYU too:
Monday: Econ, Math, Doctrine and Covenants, Portuguese , Political science
Tuesday: ROTC workouts, Math
Wednesday: See Monday
Thursday: ROTC, Math, ROTC, ROTC
Friday: Econ, Portuguese 

That's what I'm looking at for right now =) I might move it around a little bit, maybe get a soccer class too, but for now, that's my plan. It's going to be pretty busy, but that's what I want =) I slacked just a little bit before the mission, so it's time to pick up the slack. I am really excited to be going back to school! You gain a fire on your mission to just learn everything you can about anything and everything. I look forward to it =)

Our week was pretty good here. We had a great conference with President and Sister Castro =) Every time we get to hear from them, we are just amazed at how much they know and how much they love the gospel. President stressed the importance of studying and making sure that every time we teach someone, we are learning as well. He said, "if you didn't learn something, you didn't teach right." We also got to sing "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam" in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. It was an interesting experience haha. 

We had a baptism this week! After so many weeks without one, and constant letdowns, we managed to have a baptism this week. Her name is Lara and she is 14. She's pretty much been a member for sometime, but hadn't wanted to get baptized until now. She goes to Seminary, plays soccer with the members, participated in New Beginnings, etc and it was just a matter of getting her in the water =) She has an amazing testimony of the gospel and wants us to baptize her brothers now! All of the youth came to the baptism and even brought cakes. All in all, it made a great end to the weekend! We'll see if the Lord will bless us again this weekend =)

Other than that, we had a pretty normal week. I say that every week, I know, but that's how it goes once you feel like you've kind of seen it all haha. I did see a Brazilian sing the National Anthem on Sunday! We were at the Bishop's house for lunch, and they had an English hymn book with them. Another member of the Church who was with us picked it up and was looking through it. He loves to sing and sings very well. I showed him the national anthem and he just went at it as best he could haha. He tried to get all the words right and did a pretty good job. Bottom line: Our country is so good that even the brazilians sing our national anthem =)

Love you all, hope you have a great week!

Elder Sanderson 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 77- Aunt Bethany and PICTURES!!

Hey everyone =)

So, one more week without a baptism... after feeling so sure that they would happen. We were pretty disappointed, but on are determined to keep at it this week and are feeling pretty good about it =) 

If it was 62 here, we would probably die. Haha it was maybe 70 the other day and we were considering long sleeves. We are just trying to keep out of the rain storms that have hit. The rain hasn't been too bad, but when it rains, it POURS. There are floods down in Acre and other places here in the north, but it's all good where we are. It rains for about an hour or two and then it just stops and is perfect outside. 
I'm glad you guys are getting used to the ward and to everything else back there. I keep thinking about how it will be haha, I'll just get there say hi and then head out for BYU haha. Do you think you'll get a calling? How is the bishop there? I hope that he's good, a good bishop can make a huge difference. 
We don't do daylight savings down here, we just talk about how weird the Americans are. We did celebrate National Women's Day yesterday. They even had a special devotional last night. It was nice and I even sang in the choir haha. The bishop walked up to me and said, "Elder, can you help Clemente?" I agreed and went to see Clemente who is the choir director. Asking him what he needed, he looked at me and said, "Yes, you can sing in the choir. Here's the music." It was a song about coming unto Christ. 
Tell Aunt Kim and everybody that I said hi and glad they made it there safe. Are you guys going to do anything fun? Is there anything fun to do? Just one more question, how many people would you say live in the town? I'm just curious and want to compare it to Brazil. Also, one more question, did you tell the church we moved? They need to update all of the information on my visa. If you haven't, please let them know ASAP =) 

Really, we didn't do much this week. We walked in the sun, the rain, and even during a windy day the other day. We taught a lot and tried to help the people get into the waters of baptism, but it just didn't happen. My companion was really stressed out about that, and he about had a breakdown. I had to explain that it will all be okay and that we aren't horrible missionaries if we didn't baptize. Even if we had told the entire ward that we would. We ended up going home and taking a break after that one. We had both been fasting, were tired, and just running like crazy. Thankfully, he's doing good now and we've had a nice p-day. We went to the church and played basketball, bought a grilled chicken for lunch, and then just played Uno with the other elders. It was good to just relax. As I get further into the mission, I can feel a need to relax on p-day haha. 

That's honestly about it. For those of you who have reached this point in the email without falling asleep, I thank you for your dilidence =)
I love you all and miss you! I'll try to do something cool this week and put it in the email next week!

Elder Sanderson

****he then sent a follow up email and this is where Aunt Bethany comes in :) ***
I met the Aunt Bethany of Brazil!!!

We were walking down the street to an appointment and this lady who is like 80 just reaches out and grabs my arm really tightly. I honestly think she's lucky I didn't knock her over or something from being so surprised by it. I ended up not doing that, and she asked for our help. To give some background on her, this lady is at that point where she is still mobile but doesn't have the greatest memory. She asked us to walk her down to a store and then ended up needing to go back home because the guy she went to visit wasn't there. So, we walk her back to her house, and as she is walking with us, she keeps saying, "Don't let me fall down," and I just couldn't help think, "don't throw me down Clark" and was tempted to reply, "I'll try not to Aunt Bethany" hahaha! There ya go, that's my funny story from the week!

****and One more email containing pictures!!!  Yahoo!!!*****

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

76 weeks- oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt?

Hey there everybody,

Mom, you are the best! I know that people tell you that all the time, but
I'm saying it at least one more time =) I can't thank you enough for the
help witht he BYU housing! It's going to be awesome down there! I wasn't
worrying about it too much this week, but it was on my mind once or twice.
It'll be nice to get back into the swing of things and to be going home.
However, I have much more work to do!
Unfortunately, the great and wonderful gift of agency (and I mean that
honestly, not sarcastically) decided to take its effect in full this week.
Every single one of those nine baptisms fell through. It was horrible and
so hard to see. My companion and I couldn't believe it. We were in absolute
shock at how it all turned out. It's not that the people didn't want to get
baptized (well, one wants to wait longer), but they just didn't get
priorities straight. There were some who left town, some who weren't home
when we went to get them, some who didn't show up to church, some who got
sick, etc. It was CRAZY!

We described it like a UFC fight haha. We were in the first round (Monday
through Wednesday) on top of things and feeling good about the week. We
through some punches and even got some great advice from our trainers
(Elder Cook, Elder Aidukaitis, and President Castro). Round two was an
exchange of blows. We took a couple of jabs, but were hanging in there.
Finally, in round three (Saturday and Sunday), we just got a roundhouse
kick to the face and it was over. It was like a one-punch knockout. We
tried to block it, but it just didn't work out haha. The worst part, our
members just kind of looked at us with expressions of, "that looks like it
hurt Elder, but cheer up because you did everything you could." Now, I'm
grateful to say we did everything we could (fasting 3 times, visiting them
almost daily, praying, visiting with members, etc), but in the end, they
still didn't get baptized, and that hurts a lot.

However, Heavenly Father loves us and comforts us when we need it. I was
just praying in Sacrament meeting and trying to find something to be
grateful for. I told Heavenly Father about how sad I felt and wanted to
know if we really had done everything, or if that was just my pride telling
me that. I received my response during the Sacrament. I looked at my
missionary planner and saw the picture I've put on the front of it; it's a
picture of the Savior reaching out to Pedro when he was walking on the
water and started to sink. It says underneath it in Portuguese, "And Peter,
beginning to sink, cried out, 'Master, save me!' and Jesus stretched out
his hand immediately saying, 'Oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt?'" I
felt very similar to Peter in that moment. I could feel how much Heavenly
Father loves me and could feel Him with His arms around me. I received the
confirmation that we had done all, but will just have to continue doing so
to help these people =) It was great motivation to continue into the week
with a smile on my face and love in my heart!

I'm glad to hear that Haylee is loving school and has so many great
friends! I was praying for her again this week =) tell her I said I'm glad
she's liking school so much!

I forgot to mention last week that we watched a python catch a rat behind
our house! We heard a commotion out in the hallway of our apartment complex
and a lot of people talking and running around. I went to the window and
could see a boa constrictor on the ground with a rat! It was AWESOME! We
took a ton of pictures haha. All in the life of the Brazil Manaus Mission!

We also saw a miracle this week with one of our investigators. Fabio has
been investigating the Church since Christmas with his family. He and his
wife are family of some members, but haven't really been progressing too
quickly and have come several times to being dropped. Joeli (his wife) has
been really liking to learn from us, but Fabio has only appeared somewhat
interested. He is a great guy, but used to be a pastor in another church
which is usually very hard on missionaries. However, we decided to go and
ask Joeli to get baptized on Wednesday and were hoping that Fabio would
agree as well. Turns out, he was the only one home, but still invited us
in. We went in and small-talked before teaching about very aspects of the
Church (temples, chapels, the Book of Mormon, etc.) We asked him how his
reading of the Book of Mormon is going, but he said he hadn't read it for a
while. Elder Battraw asked him if he thought the Book of Mormon is true, he
said yes. Elder then asked him if he thinks that Joseph Smith was a prophet
of God, he said yes. We were feeling pretty excited at this point, but
needed to be sure he meant what he said. Elder Battraw then said, "so you
believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only
true church on the earth?" Fabio looked at him and said, "yes." We then
decided to really put him to the test and invited him to be baptized in two
weeks. Fabio accepted! He said, "ever since you have come to visit our
family, our problems have gotten smaller. I don't know how you did it, but
you showed up exactly when we needed it. Our problems haven't disappeared,
but they are smaller. Jesus really does walk by your side. I've seen it in
what you teach us and have seen it in my family's life. I'll talk to Joeli,
but yes, I want to get baptized." THAT is why I serve a mission =) the Holy
Ghost was so powerful that I felt like I would explode from the inside out.
We are going to visit them this week and prepare them to be baptized as a
family either this week or next week =) Pray a lot for them, especially

The conference with Elder Cook was fantastic as well. We got to be with him
for two hours and it was great! He is very nice and a great people person.
We got to shake his hand, Elder Aidukaitis' hand, and our area 70's (Elder
Rais) hand. The actual conference was great. I would love to tell you
everything, but will just give a few brief notes. He really taught us the
importance of helping ALL people (members, non-members, recent converts,
less-actives, etc) to come unto Christ. It is our calling as missionaries
to strengthen the Church and to help build it up in the wards and branches
where we serve. He also told us to always follow our mission president and
to study Preach My Gospel daily and to focus on the points where the Spirit
is the strongest, and not so much on the actual material that is to be
taught. I will have to show you my notes when I get home =) It was

That is about it for this week!  A storm is rolling in, so I'm going to get
going in case we lose power!

Love you all! Have a B-E-A-utiful week =)

Elder Sanderson