Wednesday, July 11, 2018


June 7th

Well, this is it! My last email out to everyone.

This week was tough with a lot of things not going as planned with our investigators and stuff, but at the same time it was full of small miracles. Elder Niedert and I were out in our area and all the investigators we had planned to visit weren't at home. So we stopped and decided to say a prayer to know where we should go, because we were out of ideas! Right after that, we just decided to knock on the door across the street from where we were, and we ended up finding a man named Paulo. He lives alone and his house is also super close to the church building. The first thing he said was "I've already gone to a bunch of different churches, but in every one I find something a bit different. Shouldn't there just be one right church?" How cool! Yesterday, the exact same thing happened, and so after we said another prayer we were walking down the street and I felt like we should knock on a specific house. Right after I slowed down to go, Elder Niedert stopped and said that we should knock on the same house. So we went over there and we were answered by a 20 year old guy named Marcos. He said he used to be super active in his church and has always been super into religion and had even done missionary work, but recently he had fallen "back into the world" and had desire to get back on the right path. He knows the Bible a bit and is smart so it was a super cool lesson. It's cool to see how fast the Lord answered our prayers this week with these two experiences. It doesn't always happen like that in life though, and I'd say that the majority of the time it doesn't! It's always in the Lord's time, He does things knowing perfectly when in order to bless us the most. But, when it does happen immediately I'm grateful!

So we're going to have Milton's baptism tomorrow! After not being baptized last week because of smoking, it was a miracle that he is ready. Even though we had to travel this week, we used the ward to keep him ready. We had members go to his house every single day in the morning to help him not smoke! It was so cool to see how the ward helped him, and now he's more than ready for his baptism. His conversion taught me that really anything is possible if it's God's will. After smoking almost his entire life, he was able to stop in just 3 weeks and give up all of his old habits to follow Christ's example and be baptized. I also say the importance of doing it as a team, without the ward I don't think he would be ready by now. When we have problems in our lives, we need to get help from those around us! It's much easier going through the journey of life with as many people helping us as possible.

So, to end, I'd like to thank everyone so much for all the support I've received over these last months. Every prayer, thought, all made a difference. When times were tough for me, it always brought a lot of comfort thinking about all my family and friends praying and rooting for me back home. During these 2 years I've had the opportunity of a lifetime to learn and to give everything to do the will of the Lord. Although it's impossible to write down every little thing that I've learned, one thing that I feel like sharing from what I've learned is that life is what we make of it. No matter what the situation, if we sincerely want to we can get something out of it. Something that my Dad told me over a year ago that changed my perspective is that "The Lord gives us all the opportunities we need". And it's true! God knows us perfectly and because of that everything that happens in our lives can possibly be something that we can use to grow and become more the person that He wants us to be, but it depends on us and if we really want it. I'm grateful for everything that I've experienced on the mission, especially the hard moments. I'm grateful for knowing that I can always trust in the Lord and knowing that it will turn out okay in the end. And I'm especially grateful for the opportunity He gave me to serve a mission and be His representative, they really are the best 2 years! Once again, thank you all for everything! And well, see you soon!

Elder Odom

Banana Bread, Travel and Splits

June 30th

Hey there!

So this week we had some ups and some downs. We spent a lot of time traveling again which was a lot of fun.  Our first stop was in a city called Jaboticabal. It was cool to go there because I've already sone spits there 2 other times! I was able to spend the day with and Elder named Elder Do Carmo. His story is actually really cool. He's from a state called Rodônia and is the only member in his family. He used to be super active in his old church and even played in the band there! Then a friend of his started to talk to him about the Book of Mormon and so he started to read it. He actually read the whole thing in just a month! He said that after he finished it, he knew that the church was true and against his family's wishes he decided to get baptized, and just 1 year later went on a mission. Whenever I hear about stories like his, I just get so grateful for everything that I've been blessed with. If the start of the mission was hard for me, imagine someone who's only been a member for only a year!

On Wednesday, we went with President and Sister Scholz to a city called Araraquara because interviews for the missionaries started this week. It's always super cool traveling in their car in the morning with them because Sister Scholz always makes us banana bread! Sooooo good. I was able to do a split with Elder Leão. We had some cool experiences together! One of them was with their recent convert that's 15 years old that has stopped going to church because of other members/drama in the ward. We went to her house and just talked about the importance of reading the book of mormon daily. We also asked her what has changed in her life since she has stopped reading everyday and going to church each week, and then she started to recognize the difference the gospel makes in her life. She said she'd go to church this week, so let's hope she does!

Reeally early next morning we had to wake up to get the bus to get back to Ribeirão Preto, so we woke up at 3:30 am, got a taxi at 4:15, and left in the bus at 5:00 and at 7:45we were going with Pres and Sis Scholz to Franca in their car again, and with more banana bread. We got there and then from there I got to do something that I've never done before on the mission! We decided to do splits in a city called Passos, which is actually outside the state of São Paulo in a state called Minas Gerais, so I got to work in another state which was really cool. The people there aren't too different or anything, but it's greener there and the people have a slightly different accent. I was with a missionary named Elder Alan, I was actually his district leader when he got to the mission. We had some really cool experiences that day. We were on our way to a lesson when an older lady stopped us and asked what we do. So, we took advantage of the opportunity and taught her! She was there with her husband and they talked about how their son is in a lot of trouble with drugs and now he's currently in a rehab facility. It was funny, because as we was listening I kept changing my mind about which lesson we were going to teach. First I pulled out the Restoration pamphlet, then the Gospel of Christ one, and at the end I just had a feeling to give them a book of mormon. But instead of explaining about it and where it came from I just told them that it would help them get through all their challenges, the blessings they'd get from reading it, etc. The lady who stopped us's reaction was really interesting. She got the Book of Mormon and held it to her chest as if it were something super special to her and she thanked us so much for coming. How cool! We sometimes get caught up in the little details, but in doing so we often times take focus away from the main point. Then later in the day, we went to contact a referral they received from a member. We actually stopped by the member's house and had her come with us to the lesson, which was just down the street. When we got the house, Ana Paula (the referral) answered and said that she was actually on her way to the hospital because she'd had severe stomach pains all day. Her life is super tough too. She's a mom on 3 kids and her job is really hard and she gets paid very little, and on top of that her husband is in jail. So we offered to give her a blessing on the spot and then we had a little time to teach. We had a very spiritual experience talking about the importance of daily prayer, scripture study, and weekly church attendance. We had the member bare her testimony about how the church has blessed her life. It was super cool and Ana Paula promised she'd go to church on Sunday!

So, something that Elder Niedert and I have studied about is the brazen serpent that Moses used to cure the Jews, and how lots of them didn't look to be cured just because it was too simple (in 1 Nephi 17:41). Sometimes we think "Wow, I can't believe they just didn't look! How could they not do something like that!" But when we stop to think about it, we are the same way with small and simple things that the Lord asks of us. Whether it be doing our visits, reading daily from the scriptures, or whatever it may be, these are the things that we often times don't do because maybe we don't believe it will make that big of a difference. But as we learn from the scriptures, it's these very things that can save our lives!

But, that's it for me. This next email will be my last because on my last saturday I'll be in a few trainings for returning missionaries. It's all gone by so fast! But, I love you and until next saturday!

Elder Odom

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Zone Conference and pray for Milton

Okay, another week!

This week was just a lot of zone conference stuff. Not sure if I've already mentioned it in the past, but we have 3 of them per transfer so we had them on TuesdayWednesday, and Thursday. Here we have a tradition of letting the missionaries who're heading home bear their testimonies, so I got to do that during each conference. It was a really cool experience but a little hard too, trying to summarize everything I've learned during these past months. One thing that I realized though saying  goodbye to all the missionaries is that even though I'll really miss being a missionary, one of the hardest parts of leaving will definitely be all the cool people I'll have to leave behind! It's been so cool getting to know so many great missionaries.

So we have one investigator, Milton, that's really progressing, and he needs your guy's help!! He is the dad of a returned missionary and is super super cool. He knows the church is true, but the only thing holding him back is smoking. He's gone down to only smoking 1 to 1 1/2 cigarettes per day, but he needs to stop TODAY so that he can get baptized on the 30th! So everyone please pray for him!!

Other than that, we'll be traveling a bunch this week again. I'll be going to a city called Passos, which is actually in a different state called Minas Gerais, so that should be cool!

During my personal study this week, I was reading Mormon 9 and found a verse that I've been thinking about a lot. it's Mormon 9:21. "21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth."
How cool is this promise! Anything we ask for in faith will be given to us. This is something that I know is true, I've seen it time and time again on my mission. I'm so grateful for the scriptures and the guidance we can receive from them.

Sorry for the short email, but until next week! I love you!!
Elder Odom

Be careful with q-tips and don't just sleep on any old mattress

June 16th

One more week, man it goes by fast. Well this week was another of traveling and going on splits in other cities, it was a lot of fun!

So I had a pretty interesting experience during my first division. We had mission leadership council on Tuesday, than we got in a van with the leaders that are in other cities and went to do some splits with them. So on Wednesday morning, I was getting ready and decided to clean my ear with a q-tip. But, out of nowhere, I went almost deaf in my left ear! I was super confused and tried to rinse out my ear with water, but nothing worked. Turns out that a piece of cotton came off the q-tip and got lodged in my ear, basically blocking off my hearing. So we went to a district meeting and after that I decided I wouldn't be able to work without hearing all the way. I was really surprised at how hard it was for me to understand people and hear what was going on with only one ear! I got ahold of Elder McLean who took my spot as secretary and had him send me an address to a hospital. So after the district meeting, we went over there. It was pretty lame because it was during splits and that's that last thing I wanted to do, but if I didn't it would be really hard to work effectively. So after going to the address that I got, we say that it was the wrong one somehow! We ended up having to go to another hospital and after waiting to get seen, they sent me to another specialist because they didn't have to tools necessary to get it out. So we went to the specialist, had some confusion because of my health card and my foreigner document, and finally I got in to see the doctor. He just got this special tool that blasted water in my ear and got out the cotton. But wow, I learned this week to not take anything for granted! It's really bad to not be able to hear!

But, then we went to another city called Mirassol and did a division. We chose to go there because it's been a really long time since the assistants have gone. So we got there at night and slept. The plan was to go and sleep there for 2 nights and in the morning of the second day take an early bus back to Ribeirão, but then we had another interesting experience... We got there and the missionaries there puled out 2 mattresses for us to sleep on that are probably at least 10 years old and threw on some sheets over top. Then in the morning as were were studying, we started noticing little tiny bugs crawling on us. At first the other Elders said it's normal, but then we started seeing more and more... Elder Niedert couldn't take it anymore and took off his shirt and found like 6 under his collar and a few jumping down his leg. So yeah, the old mattresses we used were infested with little bugs... So during that whole day we were kind of itchy and we just felt gross. We also decided that we couldn't sleep another night on those mattresses, se we sacrificed our sleep to do some late traveling go go back to the other city and sleep there and then travel early in the morning. 
So 2 lessons I learned this week; be careful with q-tips and don't just sleep on any old mattress. 

Next week we won't travel as much because we have zone conferences, so it'll be another good opportunity to see all the other missionaries from around the mission. Thanks for everything! Love you!

Elder Odom

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