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, CearĂ¡. 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 CearĂ¡, 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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

81 weeks -conference and fists of fury

Happy day-late Easter to you all as well!

How did everyone's Easter go? Sounds like it was fun for you guys =) I had a great conference! It was crazy to think that that was my last General Conference as a full-time missionary. The revelation we receive and the Spirit that we feel is amazing. They told us in the MTC that when you listen to conference with "missionary ears" that it is unlike anything else in the world. I agree completely and will miss the feeling. However, Heavenly Father loves all of His children, not just the missionaries, so I know the revelation will still come again in October. Saturday's session sent out one message to the missionaries: Get Married. Haha we couldn't believe how many people talked about it during their talks! I took a lot of notes and thought to myself, "Well, Sarah will either wait for me, or she'll get married without me" haha. I enjoyed Elder Bednar's talk and also a talk given in the Priesthood session. It was the first counselor in the Young Men's Presidency that just got released. I also liked the member of the 70 who talked about how we need to listen to the music of the Spirit so that we can have the ability to dance the principles of the Gospel. Or something like that, it was a little hard to follow in Portuguese. Elder Bednar brought up so many great points about the fear of God. He said that if we truly fear God we will obey Him, but it is not a fear as people think of it, it's love. I think of it as losing a loved one. You have fear of it happening, but because you love the person, not because of the actual act. I don't know if that makes sense, but listen to the talk and it will =)
We had a pretty good week and even baptized Joeli and Fabio on Saturday night!!!! They are the family we have been teaching since Christmas! They were my first family that I have baptized on my mission =D It was so much work, stress, and faith to get them baptized after so much time. They overcame so many difficulties to get to this point. We worked and worked and prayed and fasted. Finally, the time was right. It almost didn't happen though. I went with a member to pick them up and when I got there, Joeli said, "I'll be ready in two minutes. I just have to get the kids ready." I looked at her and asked where Fabio was, she told me that he wasn't going to get baptized anymore. I almost fell over. I asked why not and she said that they had been arguing about something and now he didn't want to. As she said that, he came to the door. I asked him what had happened and he told me that he didn't want to get baptized anymore because it wasn't the right day and that he had had a bad day and was irritated. In his head, you can't get baptized if you're not in the right mood. I told him that Heavenly Father doesn't require us to be perfect before our baptism and that that is why we need to get baptized. He didn't respond, but Joeli asked, "I can still get baptized right?" To which I assured her she could and invited Fabio to watch her baptism. He agreed and hurried to get ready. As we walked back to the car, I tried to talk to him to see what had happened. He looked at me and wouldn't really respond to my questions, but then something changed and he said, "I'm going to get baptized too." I almost did a backflip! We got to the chapel and they were baptized! It was amazing to see how happy they were, they were practically glowing and couldn't stop smiling. One of my favorite baptisms of my mission =) I can get transferred from Manacapuru now too haha, this was my mission in this city. 
We did have a fun day this week. On Friday night, we were doing missionary splits really quick to get some help from the other Elders. Elder Brown (my Zone Leader) and I, finished our lessons early and headed to the chapel to meet up with the others. While we were there, the Young Women were learning how to make chocolate easter eggs (brazilian tradition), but their leaders' kids were making a lot of noise and being wild. Elder Brown decided we should keep them entertained and went to the cultural hall to play games with them. The kids were anywhere from 5 to 10 years old and love the missionaries. The twin boys asked if we wanted to play "fight" with them, and started to take up poses as ninjas. We jumped right in, but then they actually attacked us haha. It was crazy! The kids went from being calm to fists of furry in less than two seconds. We had a lot of fun running around in circles and took some cool pictures and videos haha. That's where the pictures come from that I sent you =) I don't think we did any service this past week, but will be looking for more opportunities this week. I did throw a surprise birthday party for my companion though. I arranged it a week or so ago and he thought that everyone had forgotten it was his birthday until that point of the night. I guess that maybe counts as service? 
Specific testimony builders: CONFERENCE! And the baptism =) Both were fantastic.

That's about it for us! Hope that you are all doing great and enjoyed the email =) I love you all and will let you know next week if I got transferred or not! 


Elder Sanderson

With the ninja boys :) 
Teaching English 

He loves this path that looks like it leads right into the jungle. 

His bag is on the far right :)