Monday, April 16, 2018

Just keep on teaching

April 16th

Hey! So this week was another busy one. I went with Elder Pinheiro to another city to help some other missionaries out and it was a lot of fun. It seems like we've been spending a lot of time out ouf our areas doing stuff like that, but it's been so cool to see how the Lord has blessed us. It seems like people literally come out of nowhere for us to teach! This week the assistants came to our area to work with us as well. I was with Elder Niedert from St  George. He's a super cool guy and he actually has 1 less transfer than I do so pretty much the time time on the mission. We were on out way to an investigators house, but when we got there nobody was home. So we were talking outside of the house and then out of nowhere a lady comes up to us and asks if we're pastors. We told her we're missionaries, and then she starts crying and says that she needs direction in her life and she needs Christ. We went right to her house and taught her a lesson then and there! It was a really cool lesson and she was able to understand super good. Not sure if she'll progress or not, but it still goes to show that miracles happen everyday!

Jó, Larissa, and Augusto are still looking for for their baptism. We actaully had to push it back 1 week to the 28th because Larissa had to travel to São Paulo for some reason, but she still really wants to be baptized. We have a few other families and people we're working on. The tricketst part of the area is bringing people to church becuase it's pretty far away, but we're making it work!

This week something that I've really focused on is patience and not letting things out of my control get to me. We've been having a few problems with some missionaries and it's been stressful at times. But really, sometimes there's nothing we can do! We just have to do our part and let go up the rest. What I can control is how I react and my own work. I've seen soooo many times here on the mission when people get offended, annoyed, hurt, mad, etc over things they cant control. it happens with missionaries, members, investigators, everyone! But it's really not necessary! I still remember something that President Nelson said in the General Conference of October 2016; "Latter-day saints have the ability to be happy in ANY situation!" It's true!! We really can! It just depends on us. We choose our own happiness.

But, that's my week. Have a good one!! 

Elder Odom

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Miracles in the Field

April 9th

 Well, this week was a busy one. We really stayed busy. So in our area, we've been getting blessed a ton! In a few weeks we've been able to get a pretty good teaching pool together and we have a good amount of investigators that have lots of potential, especially Jó, Larissa, and Augusto! All 3 of them went to church yesterday and they said that they loved it! The ward did a great job of welcoming them and making them feel good. When we went back later that day to talk about what they thought about church, Larissa, who's 14, said that during testimony meeting she really wanted to go up there and bear here testimony, and it was her first week at church! Jó and Larissa are super excited about their baptism that's coming up in about 2 weeks. They said that ever since they've been learning about the gospel, they feel "as light as a feather" and "like wind". Then Larissa said that next fast and tesimony meeting she will bear her testimony. She said "I'll be up there in front of everyone, you can be sure about that!" Elder Silva and I are just so grateful to be a part of their conversion. We are also teaching a family that has a mom, Marlene, and 3 kids. The mom has had a really rough life and she's even involved with drugs now. But she said that ever since she started praying to know if what we are teaching is true, she's had more energy and strength to do things, and she's even seeing a different reaction in her kids! They're being more obedient and are happier.

It's so cool to see how quickly the gospel blesses the lives of those who don't have it. The Lord is anxious to bless us, and if we do our part He will! Marlene's family is cool because it's the 2nd time I've met someone here in Brazil that has actually blonde hair. Her 3 kids all have blonde hair and her youngest daughter who's 5 or 6 yearsold has super blonde hair and blue eyes. When you aren't used to seeing people like that it really takes you by surprise! They also like to talk to me because of my light colored hair and eyes haha so that's cool.

 Another family we're teaching is Juliana's family. Well, we actually haven't met her husband yet but she's already gotten an answer to her prayers and is recognizing it more and more each day. She also has 3 kids. They didn't go to church this week and we aren't sure why, but we'll keep following up with them. So like I said the Lord is really blessing us. It's not because we're super good missionaries that know all the right things to say, but it's because the Lord puts us in the right places at the right time to meet the people that he wants us to. It's been such a cool experience this transfer back in the field seeing miracles happen everyday.

I don't have much more time to share, but I'm looking forward to another great week!
 I love you guys, until next Pday! Elder Odom


Time is Going By Too Fast

April 2nd

 This week was a good one! I always love watching general conference. But we got a Brazilian apostle!!! How cool is that??? That's actually going to help us in our teaching now, people will feel better about the idea of having living prophets now that there is one that's from their country, so were all super excited about that. I really liked all the talks during general conference as usual. One of the ones that was really cool though was from Elder Larry Y. Wilson. I don't have my notes with me right now, but I'll have to re-read it a few times for sure! And how crazy are all the changes that happened? No more visiting/home teaching, the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums are together now, etc. They're really cool changes that I feel will really help the church. I like the more personal focus in ministring to induviduals. The prophet and President Eyring also gave great talks about receiving personal revelation and listening to the Spirit.

 This week we had our Leadership Council in Ribeirão Preto, and it was super cool. Elder Pinheiro and I were asked to give a training about how to follow up with both our investigators and with the missionaries in our zones. But, we didn't have much time to prepare the training... Training new missionaries and trying to help the zone and keep track of al lthe missionaries has been a lot busier than we thought, so when we got to Ribeirão we didn't even have the whole training planned out. We did our best to seek revelation and help from the Lord in the small amount of time that we did have to prepare. So we made an outline of what we wanted to say and trusted in the Spirit. It was super cool to see how it worked out! We really felt the Spirit putting questions into our minds and things we could say during the training. In the end, it ended up being more of a council than an actual training, the other leaders really helped us out and gave great insight! We were all able to learn a lot and we were very grateful that the Lord helped us out even though we didn't have a ton of time to prepare. It was just one more confirmation to me that if we do our best, the Lord will make up for us!

 In the field, we're making some good progress with our investigators. We have 4 people that have lots of potential, Jó and her granddaughter Larissa, and a couple named Marcos and Denizete. What's cool is that during the first week here we tried really hard to become friends with the members and show them that we're here to help, and after that they gave us referrals for these investigators! Members can make our work so much more effective. Marcos and his wife Denizete said that they've never really listened to anyone who wants to talk about religion, but for some reason they just open up to us and tell us about their lives, problems, etc. They also said that they know it wasn't coincidence that we started to teach them. How cool! We've only been able to teach them twice, but we're going to follow up with them more this week.

 Our other solid investigatos, Jó and Larissa, are really cool as well. A member invited Jó to church and she went and then we started teaching her. She's super interested and she's already told a bunch of her friends and family that she really like the "mormon church" and said that she wants to invite people she knows to listen to our discussions! She has an ex-husband that's been in on 2 of our lessons now and he understands really good and askes really good questions. We're really being blessed!

 My comp Elder Silva is doing great. I really love his desire to work. Not sure if I mentioned it already, but he doesn't have a super good knowledge of the gospel but he's willing to learn, and really for me that's the most important thing. I was just commenting with Elder Pinheiro the other day that with everything we have to deal with, we really got good comps. There are some new missionaries that have lots of problems, so we're grateful we got who we did!

 Well that's my week. I'm looking forward to another busy week, it seems like we never stop! Time is going by too fast! Sorry no pics... I forgot my camera at home. I'll send them next week. Love you guys! Elder Odom

First Week Back in the Field!

March 26th

 First week back in the field!! It was a super cool week full of miracles. So, about the area. Just after a week of being here I think that it will probably be my favorite ward. The members here are are awsome! It's a reeeaally big area, and it's been a pretty long time since there's been 2 companionships so the ward is pretty happy about that. We're taking the bus almost everyday to get to where we work, but we received a lot of blessings this week and we were able to have success. We got to know some of the members as well and they are all willing to help. It should be a great transfer!

 So my new comp. He's awesome!! He's probably one of the most humble people I've ever met. His name is Elder Silva (pretty common name) and he's from the city of São Paulo. He's 21 years old and really likes to work. I'm super happy about that! He also is really ready to learn. He's always asking about how he can improve and then looks to put into practice what I say. He comes from a family of members, but right now only his mom and his sister are active, but his whole family really supports him in serving a mission. He actually was inactive for 5 years and in November of 2016 he decided to go back to church. During these 5 years, he was reeeally inactive. He got caught up hanging out with the wrong crowd and his friends were all in the gang and stuff. Even though he never directly participated in bad stuff, he was around it all the time. But he said that in the back of his head he always thought "Is God happy with what I'm doing?" When he decided to go back to church, no believed that he was there. He said that everyone thought that he was a lost cause, but man he's completely changed! From the hood to the mission haha. I'm super grateful to be able to help him out at the start of his mission.

 I'm living with 2 other Elders, Elder Pinheiro (my zone leader comp) and Elder Flores. I was really happy to be ZL comps with Elder Pinheiro. Hes super funny and a great missionary. His son's (companion that he's training) name you won't believe though.. He's from Laredo, TX, on the border of TX and Mexico. His parents are both Mexican, but he was born in the States. But his full name is Antonio OBI-WAN-ABINADI Flores. How sick is that!?! He said his dad is a die hard Star Wars fan, and he is too. He actually has a brother named Anakin and a sister named Asohka. But he's a cool guy and I'm looking forward to getting to know him better.

 This week we really focused on finding new people to teach, and we were blessed with quite a few! We've started to work in an area that the missionaries haven't been to for awhile, and it's been paying off. The people are super prepared there and we're started to get our teaching pool together! We don't have any investigators that I know super well, but I'll keep you guys updated on how it goes though. 

Super grateful for the area, my companion, the ward, and everything! I need to take advantage of every moment here for sure!
 Love you guys, until next week! Elder Odom

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Heading to São José do Rio Preto

March 17th

 Well, this is my last week in the office. Can you believe it? I was cleaning my stuff out of the office this week and counting my daily planners I realized that I have had 7 here in the office. 7 transfers in the field (including the MTC) and 7 in the office, half of my mission I've been here! I have to say though, even though my whole mission has gone by really fast this second half of my mission has definitely gone by faster than the first part! I'm so grateful for the opportunities I've had and the things I've learned during my time here.Even though at first I didn't understand exactly why I was called to work in the office, I can see now that there were things I needed to learn, people I needed to meet, and experiences I needed to have, and I wouldn't have had all these things if I didn't get called to the office. Getting to know President so well and working close to him has been a huge blessing for me, and the things I've learned from him I know I'll never forget. I'm very blessed to have such a good mission president like President Scholz!

Even though it's over and there will for sure be people and things I'll miss, I'm looking forward to these last 4 months I'll have in the field. This week has been pretty busy with finishing up everything for the transfer and with Elder McLean's training. He's ready though, he was able to pick up everything pretty fast. It was a great transfer with him, we got to be pretty good friends over the past 6 weeks. In the field, it was actually a bit slower as we had to stay after hours in the office getting things ready.

For my studies I focused and thought a lot about faith. I decided to study the Book of Enos again, and this time where I studied it I got more out of it than I ever have! Verse 8 is really interesting: "And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole." But the interesting part is the last part when the Lord says "made thee whole". In Portuguese, the translation says "wherefore, go, thy faith hath saved thee". Because of his faith, Enos was saved! He then tells Enos later on that "Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it." I think that is one of the hardest things for us a lot of times, actually believing that we'll receive. It goes back to that quote I shared by Elder Antunes; "Do you have the faith that The Lord can do miracles or will do them?" Knowing, as Enos did, along with doing our part is when the Lord will grant unto us what we ask for. I'm very grateful for the scriptures and all that we learn from them.

 Last Thursday, we got the transfer and I found out where I'd be going. I'm going to a city called São José do Rio Preto, and the area/ward I'll be serving in is Anchieta. I've been to the city before, but never have served there! I'll be "opening" the area, which means that neither me or my companion have served in the area before, so we'll be starting from scratch learning the area, we won't have too many investigators, etc.

Also, I'll be training a new missionary! His name is Elder Silva (if he doesn't decide to change his name when he gets here on Tuesday) and he's from São Paulo. I'll also be serving with Elder Pinheiro as a zone leader which should be fun. He's from Fortaleza! We'll split the area once I get there I think. I'm really looking to put into practice my faith with this assignment that President has given me, I know there are people in this next area that are ready to hear the gospel, and the Lord will lead us to them! There's my week though, last P Day on Saturday!

Thanks for all the support I get from back home, I'm really grateful for it! Love you guys! Elder Odom


Last Week in Mission Office

March 10th Hey! I hope you guys had a good week! So because I didn't have enough time to write last week, I'll talk about an experience we had 2 weeks ago. Elder McLean and I were out on the street and all of our appointments had fallen though. We came to a spot in the street where we could go left or right. I wanted to go right, and he wanted to go left. We had said a prayer a few minutes ago asking to be led to the people that need help or the people that would accept us. So then Elder McLean said "Well, let's just play rock paper scissors real quick to decide which way to go. Let's use revelation." I decided why not! I ended up winning and so we went right. Less then a minute later we were passing a little square with benches and trees, etc. and we heard someone say "hey, help me, help me..." It was pretty quiet but we both looked around to see where it was coming from. We saw a lady laying on the ground in the square and she was in a super weird position. Normally we don't pay a ton of attention to people laying/sleeping on the streets, but this time we both looked at each other and went over to see what was going on. She was just looking up without blinking. We made sure she was still breathing (she was, phew) and asked her name, but she was pretty out of it and wasn't really answering our questions. I went to call an ambulance when all of a sudden she started to have seizure and foam was coming out of her mouth! It was crazy! I called and then we gave her a blessing. Right as we got done someone driving by stopped to help us out. In the end, the ambulance got there and took her to the hospital. Another lady that was working in a building close by said that she'd been there for about an hour but didn't do anything because there are always people sleeping in the square. But my comp and I were super grateful that the Lord was able to put us in the right place at the right time in order to help her out. This week I got to go back to the last city I served in, Franca. It was good to be there again! On Wednesday morning, President called and said that Elder Cardoso (financial secretary) and I needed to go there to give a cell phone chip to the zone leaders there because the assistants forgot to bring it on splits. So, we got to spend 4 hours on a bus just to bring a tiny phone chip! Haha pretty funny but that's what president wanted us to do. We also had a service project to help a member move which was cool. Our investigator Cesar is still a work in progress. If he goes to church on sunday, he's going to get baptized the next saturday! It all depends on if his daughter goes. We fasted this week so that she would go and everything would work out, so keep them in your prayers! But that's about it for me. I'm entering my last week in the mission office!! It's been such a great blessing and experience working here over the last few months. I'm excited for what the next part of my mission brings as well! Until next week! Elder Odom

Another week come and gone!

February 24th This week was pretty sweet. We had the opportunity to have Mission Tour with Elder Antunes, an area 70. Mission Tour is when you have a general authority come to the mission to talk to all the missionaries. I was able to learn a lot from him and wanted to share a few of those things with you guys. Elder Antunes got here on Tuesday right around noon, and after talking to us in the office for a little bit we went out to lunch with him. he's a really funny guy and it's pretty cool that he wanted to come and eat with us. We then had a meeting and he used D&C 81 starting at verse 3 and really went into detail. He talked about the importance of being "faithful in council". We need to always make decisions in council; with our leaders, spouse, friends, etc. and then with this council, pray always! Like I mentioned before, this is something that I'm working on. The final step is proclaiming the gospel. And if we do these 3 things, the Lord promises us that we will do the "greatest good" to our fellow beings. Simple things, but super important. Then when we read verse 5 where it says "Wherefore, be faithful" he stopped the person reading and repeated super loud and excitedly "BE FAITHFUL!" We have to "faithful until the end"! We can't do these things only somedays but when we get tired take a break. It was a super cool example to me of how much we can actually get out of just a few verses if we really study them. When he was talking to all the missionaries, he focused on the importance of faith and miracles. He said something that I'll never forget; "Many have faith that the Lord can do miracles, even devils know that. But... do we have the faith that the Lord can do miracles or that he will do them?" I've been thinking a lot about that since then... do I really have the faith that the Lord will actually do miracles in my life? Then he said "Faith is a present the comes from righteousness. The more righteous we are, the greater our faith will be." So many people don't know what they need to do to have more faith in Christ, but the way that Elder Antunes said it pretty much sums it up. We just need to be righteous! Just follow the commandments! If we do, the faith will automatically come. I was able to be around Elder Antunes more because I'm in the office, and I'm super grateful for that. I noticed though that I really have a loooong way to go before I get to his level... if I ever do!! He just has so much faith and knowledge, it's really inspiring to see and to be around him. I'm very grateful as well for the leaders we have in the church, I have no doubt they're inspired. In the field, one of our "eternal investigators" (Marcos, 17 years old been going to church for a year but doesn't want to get baptized) went to youth conference and now he's finally excited! We're going to visit him and mark a baptismal date with him. Speaking of miracles, the Lord have given us one with him! We're still working with Cesar (his 10 yr old daughter refused to wake up to go to church and he couldn't leave her at home alone) and Leila and her daughter Letícia. It's a slow process, but we're making headway, slowly but surely! That's it for me though. I hope you have an awesome week! Love you! Elder Odom