Monday, June 11, 2018

All in the LordsTiming

June 9th

This past week was another good one. We started by sending the returning missionaries off on Monday. It was a really good group of missionaries that went home, a lot of them were great leaders on the mission! One of them that went home was Elder Vilas Boas, who I stayed with for so long as secretary. It was really sad to see him go, but I'm grateful that I got to be companions with him for so long and for everything that we learned together. At least we'll have social media to keep in touch! But then on Tuesday we got to get the new missionaries from the airport, give a few training's to them and to the missionaries that will train them, and had lunch at Presidents house with the new missionaries. That's probably the best part of that day honestly because when we eat at President and Sister Scholz's house it's always american food! I mean don't get me wrong, I like rice and beans but sometimes it's nice to get a break every once in awhile. From there we took the van to the other side of the mission with the new missionaries and their comps. We went to a city called Birigui to do splits with the zone leaders there. I stayed with a new zone leader named Elder Schezoski from Curitiba. From there we went to Araçatuba and did splits there. Elder Niedert and I went to different areas than we normally do, and I got to do a split with Elder Wilkey, who is from Ty's grade and went to Jordan High too! We had a fun day and were able to find a lot of cool people for him to teach.

While I was there though, I had a really cool experience. We were planning and i was looking through the area book and was asking about ex-investigators. Then I found a name that Ithough looked familiar. Elder Wilkey told me a little about the family and then I realized that I knew them! So at the very beginning of my mission I gave english classes every week, and there was a girl and her mom that always went. But, they'd had some really bad experiences in aonther religion so they didn't want anything to do with the church, they just wanted to learn english. I remember thinking "Are we wasting our time teaching?" because only they would go and nobody else. But I just kept teaching during my 18 weeks there and after I was transferred I never heard more about them. Well it turns out that about 9 months ago the girl, Milena, decided to go to church. She immediately noticed that it made a positive difference and after 2 months decided to get baptized! Now her mom and older brother are going to church every week even though they haven't been baptized yet, but someday they will be. Another cool thing is that Milena was barely starting to study english when I was there and spoke very very little, but she always studied really hard. But now, she speaks fluently and she's super firm in the church! It was a super cool experience for me and taught me that no effort is useless. President always says that we are "planting seeds" everyday here on the mission and someday, someone will reap them! It's all in the timing of the Lord.

That's it for this week though. Have a great week!! 

Elder Odom

Heading into last transfer!

June 2nd

One more week down! This week was a bit more relaxed because it was the last week of the transfer, so we didn't do any traveling or anything. This week our main focus was getting everything ready for the transfer coming up on monday. We went to President Scholz's house on Tuesday night to talk to him about who he'd picked to become leaders, where the missionaries are going to serve, etc. What's cool is that Sister Scholz had made cookies and ice cream for us! She's the best! 

In our area, it was a bit tougher with a few things that happened. We've been really focused on a 14 year old kids named Johnny, and he was progressing really well. He even said that when he prayed he felt something in his heart, like a feeling he can't describe . He said that when he got his answer he thought "wow! God really is responding to me!" He was excited for his baptism tomorrow, until this week. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom and he didn't really understand the whole coffee part. And we found out yesterday that his dad and a few other people are telling him that it's "too early" and that if he gets baptized he won't be able to do a bunch of stuff, like date. So, for now it looks like we'll have to keep working with him. We were also teaching Edson and Gustavo that I think I already mentioned, but after we had to travel for a week and we weren't able to follow up with them during that time, they totally lost the desire to be baptized. We don't know what happened! But, we'll give them a little time and then we'll see where they are in a little bit. Right now we're trying to re-build up our teaching pool again. We have a few investigators that we're teaching, but nobody super solid as of now. But, it'll all work out! We just need to be patient and keep doing our part! 

This next transfer should be a really busy one. It's going to be 6 weeks and this time we're planning on doing a lot of splits with other missionaries around the mission, so we'll probably be traveling around a lot! We don't have everything figured out yet, but it should be a great last transfer!

Well, that's about all that happened this week. Until next Saturday!

Elder Odom

Racing to catch the bus and more travel

May 26th

This week we basically just spent the whole week traveling. We left on monday night and got back at around 2:00 in the afternoon on friday! So we had a few adventures this week, the first one was in a city called Araraquara. We got there monday night, worked all day Tuesday, and left Tuesday night. We had to catch our bus at 8:45 pm, and we were going to meet up with the other Elders at the missionaries' house. We got there at 8:10, a little behind schedule but still good to go. We had already called a member and he was going to give us a ride to the bus station, but on the way we had to pass by this pizzaria that is famous among the missionaries for having some of the best pizza on the mission! As we were walking to the members house, I asked the missionaries that stay in the area how long it takes to get to the bus station, and they said about 20 mins in a car. So we went to this members house but when we got there, we told him we were ready to go but he just kind of paused and said "uhh, dude, I don't have a car". Turns out his wife had taken his car without him noticing! He called her and she said she was getting back. When she finally pulled up we all hopped into the car and took off flying at 8:35 pm. We then asked the member how long it would take to get to the bus station. He said "15 mins, but I can get there in 9". I've never gone so fast in a car on the mission! He was literally almost flying! I don't know how, but we got there! We even passed by the pizzaria and got 2 pizzas that we had ordered. We went in, bought our tickets and got there just as the bus pulled in. But, after we got to the next city (São José do Rio Preto) it was already pretty late, and neither of us knew how to get to the missionaries apartment. We had called them before and only knew which city bus to take. So we got on the bus and talked to the bus driver. What's funny is when we were getting close to where the apartment is, the bus driver and some random other guy started to talk about where the missionaries live. "I think they live on this street." "No, I'm pretty sure it's the next one." And it turns out they were right! They knew exactly which apartment building was the right one. Pretty funny that the bus driver and some random guy knew where the missionaries live!

But, the time we spent working with the zone leaders was awesome. I got to work in my last area with Elder Vilas Boas! He's actually heading home on the 3rd, so it was our last opportunity we had to work together. I'm super grateful that I could get to know so many cool people like him on the mission! 

But, sorry for the short email. I'm a bit short on time today! Until next week!

Elder Odom

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Trainings and Travel

May 19th

Hey! Another good week!

We had Zone Conferences this week, and so we got to give trainings and travel around which was a lot of fun. In our training, Elder Niedert and I focused on the importance of working with members. It turned out really good and we're looking forward to see the results in the mission!

This week in our area, we had it a bit tougher because a lot of the people that we had been teaching lost interest and said that they didn't want to learn more. There were a lot more people than normal and it was pretty sad to see that they can't see the importance of the gospel. Like I've said before, I think this is one of the hardest parts of being a missionary, but it gives me an idea of how our Heavenly Father feels when we don't keep the commandments. This is something I'm really grateful for that I've learned on the mission. It seems like now I have a clearer view of what's important. But, the Lord was still able to bless us with a really cool couple to teach, and they said they're excited to go to church this sunday!

We also did splits with the zone leaders in a zone in Ribeirão Preto. I was with Elder Molinari who is one of my good friends here on the mission. He's heading home on the 4th of next month, so it was our last chance to work together! We focused on finding new investigators that would progress. We had a cool experience with this. We sat down after lunch for him to pass me all the appointments they had marked, and then right as we were about to end someone in the house close to us went in and out of their house. We said a prayer during the prayer I felt like we should talk to the person, and then as I got up I said "let's go talk to that girl who just went into that house" the Elder Molinari said "I just had that same feeling during the prayer!" So we went and taught her and her boyfriend, and they were super interested! They really understood the message, especially about the importance to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet or not. It's so cool to see how the Lord guides us in all we do!

But, that's about it for this week. This next week we'll be traveling almost all week again, including to my last area! It should be full of great experiences. I love you, until next week!

Elder Odom

Visiting Araçatuba and Bus issues

May 12th

Hey there!

Wow, it was a great week! This past week we basically just spent traveling around to other cities to do splits with the zone leaders. On Wednesday I got to go back to Araçatuba and work in my very first area again! It's been a year and 4 months since I've been there. I ran into the bishop at the church building and at the end of the day I got to see my very first baptism, Eunice! She was super excited to see me. It was funny, because at first she didn't recognize me because it was dark outside. But once we got inside she turned and saw me then gave a little scream! But it really was such a fun time to catch up with her and see that she's still going strong at can be in the church.

The next day we headed to another city called Birigui, and I got to go out with Elder Cleverly from my group, one of my best friends on the mission. It's kinda funny because even though we've been on the mission this whole time together, we've never gotten to work or teach together! So it was a blast to spend a day with him. We taught a family of 5 that he's teaching and I was super impressed with them. In the family there is a mom, her sister, and 3 little girls. The mom has gone through a lot of hard times in her life but now is super excited for her baptism. She's already totally converted and hasn't even been baptized yet! We taught about temples and they already got super excited to go to the Campinas temple to do baptisms for the dead for their ancestors. 
After the day was over, Elder Niedert and I were planning on taking an overnight bus to Ribeirão Preto because we needed to be here early friday morning to plan for zone conferences. So we headed out but once we got to the bus station at 11:15 at night, we realized that the ticket booth had already closed... Dang! But we knew we'd still be able to pay the bus driver in cash, but the problem was that we only had money on our cards! So we went to a restaurant to see if they would let us pass R$100 on our cards and give us cash back, but they said they couldn't. As we were looking of anther place to take out money, a member puled up out of nowhere and asked "Elders, what are you guys doing? Need help?" We explained our situation and he told us to jump into the car. We zoomed to a bank to take our money, but the door was locked. We went to another one and even though the door was open, all the atms were broken! So we went back to the bus station and found out from a homeless guy that the bus had just left 2 mins before... So, we went back to the other missionaries apartment and and then ended up taking the bus the next morning. It was a funny experience!

It's been a really good 3 weeks so far here in the office again. My comp Elder Niedert is a great missionary and I'm learning lots everyday. I'm so grateful to be here and for everything that happens out here in the mission field! Until next week!

Elder Odom

Thursday, May 10, 2018

What!? Back in the office!

May 5th


Wow, sorry for not writing for the last 2 weeks! it's been super busy for me! But a lot has happened... 

So to start, I was called back to the mission office! This time as an assistant though. But by the end of my mission I'll have passed 1 year in the office. A lot of time! I couldn't believe it when I found out, I never would've guessed I'd go back! But, I'm looking forward to the new opportunities that I'll have to learn in this new position. So a few of the cool things that happened this last week...

When I was still in my last area with Elder Silva, we were walking on the street at night and we say a family coming up the street. I leaned over to Elder Silva and said "go make a contact with them!" and so he did! The family turned out to be super interested and we were abe to go back and teach 6 people that same week, and 3 of them went to church that same sunday. The mom of the family has already talked to the misionaries 20 years ago but her ex husband didn't let her go to church, and she basically bore her testimony during the relief society meeting that she knows that the Lord sent us to find her after all these years. How cool?! It was a little hard to follow up with them during the next week though, we only got to talk to them once. But, this week I got a call from Elder Silva saying that the mom in the family got an answer to her prayers that he church is true, and if her boyfriend doesn't want to get married she'll leave him! Man, I can't believe how many blessings just keep coming!

We also baptized Larissa and Jó last week! They were so happy, they even cried when they bore their testimonies. Missionary work is awesome!

My new comp is awesome, his name is Elder Niedert and he's from St. George. I only have 5 more weeks of mission time as him. He's a great missionary and is super funny, so it's going to be a blast working with him during these last 2 transfers! What's cool is that we have an investigator that we're also going to baptize this week. Her name is Patrícia. I'll send pics next week!

But I'll let you know about more cool stuff that happens this next week. Love you and until next week!

Elder Odom

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