Monday, December 19, 2016

A Good Week For Sure

This week was a good one for sure!

So going into this week I was pretty nervous about my new comp, finding my way around the area, speaking Portuguese especially, etc. But, I'm here to say that i'm alive and well, and everything is going good! The craziest thing happened starting Monday when I got my new companion. Out of nowhere, i could understand Portuguese, Obviously not everything, but much better than I could 2 or 3 days before. Its the craziest thing, the second i got my new companion, its like a switch flipped and I started understanding him and other people way better! Also, my ability to speak improved. I started speaking a bit more smoothly and I think my accent is improving too. Its crazy, I almost cant believe it still. People talk and I just understand what they're saying without much thought! Not to say that I'm fluent or anything because I'm still not super good at Portuguese and have sooo much left to learn but I made a ton of improvement in a few days and its fun to see. But I'm here to say that the gift of tongues is real. Thinking about it, its pretty crazy that I can have full conversations with my companion in a language I started to learn 4 months ago. I'm beyond grateful for the help I've received and continue to receive from Heavenly Father. I re-learned once again that patience is key. I've been trying my very hardest since day one to be patient in waiting for the blessings that have been promised to me, especially with regards to the language. Sometimes not getting frustrated is hard, but I try my best to stay calm and hopeful through everything I experience. I keep thinking about Alma 26:27, we have to be patient first, and then after we show our patience the Lord will give us success. Super cool promise! So because the language is going better for me, this week was automatically better.

So about my companion. His name is Elder Mascena, and hes from the city of João Pessoa in the northeast of Brazil. Hes been out a little bit over a year on the mission and is awesome. Hes a great missionary, and is great at teaching as well. He actually grew up in the church and his dad is a bishop right now. hes 24 years old. The reason he served so late is because he served 4 years in the brazilian marines, which is funny because he is only about 5'5" and pretty skinny, so he definitely doesn't seem like the military type! He also speaks a decent amount of English. But i'm glad I got him, hes a really nice guy and we get along great.

Our troubles this week have been with finding and teaching people, but its nothing super new. We had about 7 or 8 solid investigators that Elder ONeill and I found for me this transfer before he left, but this week 6 of them told us they aren't interested anymore or that they don't have time for the gospel right now and we should come back toward the end of January once the holidays are over. So we've been trying to make contacts and find new investigators but haven't been too successful yet. But like I talked about we just need to be patient! 
So as far as normal missionary work goes, I don't have that much to talk about right now because the work a bit slow! But we do have at least a few investigators, but we aren't sure if they'll progress or not so we will see.

So yeah, that's pretty much it though. I don't have any cool investigators right now or anything, we pretty much make contacts and try to get our appointments to work out. But its all good, we will find people to teach sooner or later. So have a good week!  Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
Love, Spence

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Finished training!

okay! so a bit different week for me!

My last week being trained is over. Its time to finally start being a real missionary! For the last week, elder oneill  and i just worked really hard at trying to get my a teaching pool for my next companion and me, because we basically knew that i'd be getting a new one and staying. We were planning on saying our goodbyes to the ward on sunday, but then something unexpected happened... we were told that i'd be heading to another city on splits, because one missionarys comp went home and he didn't have anyone. i would leave saturday morning. well, shoot! So we visited one of our favorite recent converts on friday and then we have a ward barbeque where he said bye to lots of the members. it was actually kinda sad for me to watch honestly because he's been here since the 4th of july! Im also a bit sad that i wont get to serve with him anymore, but i think getting new comps will help me grow.

So the divisions. i went to Elder Cleverlys first area a city called Adradina, (where he hated it), and i now know first hand why! To start, we went to buy our bus tickets on friday, but when we got to the front of the line i realized i forgot my ID!! we walked all the way back, and then all the way to the station again. Then once we got there to adradina, my temporary comp realized he forgot the keys to the house in Araçatuba.... So then we had to find a locksmith, pay him 50 reals, and the whole process just took forever. Welcome to missionary life! My comp for splits was elder fernández from argentina. he's a super cool guy and it was fun to be with him. I actually played a tiny bit of guitar and sang for like 2 mins at a members house and it was funny because he was super impressed and kept tasking everyone we met if they had a guitar so i could play. Very, very sadly we didnt find another one. oh well, maybe next time. this area is brand new with the church, so they only have a group. We had 4 people show up to church, and we held the meeting in a classroom in an english school. Much  different than having hundreds of members in a single sacrament meeting like back home in utah. But it really made me apprieciate the members that did come. It would be tough to come each week where the biggest the group is is 10 people! 
Another thing that elder fernandez did was make people guess where I'm from. I got english, german (of course, tons of people here think if you're white you're german), russian, french, and only a few people guessed american. My comp would ask "you ever talked with an american before?" it was funny!

So transfers... eveything is super different around here. Until now we had 3 other americans in the city that i was super close to, but all of them are out of here! like i thought, i also got a brazilian comp, but still havent met him. 

So that's about it for me this week. I can't believe im done being trained already! the MTC seems like it was jsut a month ago. time is super weird out here on the mission. Have a good week! 

Love, Spence

Ward party, language coming, and Burger King

This week for lessons was pretty slow. we were able to teach a bunch of doorstep lessons but as far as actual sit down preach my gospel lessons, i think we only taught 2. On Tuesday, we had 8 possible people to teach and not one was at home. Lame! So needless to say we did lots of contacting like we always do, but not very many people are eager to hear our message. I've been in the field for 10 weeks and have only taught lesson 3 twice, and one of those was to another missionary's investigator during my first night in the field! Even though its hard sometimes because its so slow, I don't get super frustrated with it, because there's nothing on the mission that can be worse than not knowing the language and the frustration that comes from that!

On Friday, we got up nice and early at 3:30 in the morning to get in a van and drive 2 and a half hours to another city for mission tour. We had Elder Costa come and talk to us. He's the area president here in Brazil. He's awesome, and he even speaks a little English. He talked for a bit to all the missionaries, and after I told him where I'm from I was surprised to know that he actually has a house in draper! His talks were good, for the parts of them that i could understand. While i was there I also got to see sister martin from my MTC district for the first time since the first day in the field, so that was fun to see how she's doing too! 

Our ward had a party this week, and we were invited. It was a blast! they rented out a little area with a huge pavilion, a soccer field, and bit fire pit for cooking, etc and it was a lot of fun. The best part of the party was that 4 members brought guitars, so I got to play for a long time with them! I love playing guitar, its so fun! The sad thing is that all my callouses on my fingers are completely gone, so by the end of playing my fingers were hurting and all the skin was ripping off of them! I'm also super rusty, and I cant remember very many of the songs that I used to be able to play. its crazy and even kind of funny how much you forget out here on a mission! I know i'm going to be able to pick it right back up once i get home though.

I'm was doing better with the language this week! I am able to say more and more, and I was also doing better with understanding people, which is my main problem! Not to say I was doing awesome, but it was still better than ever before and tha'ts exciting. Its also kind of cool because the other missionaries say that I can speak super well for how long I've been out, and that my accent is pretty good as well. Members and investigators will tell me that I can speak really well, even though I cant. Elder ONeill said its because even though I cant say a ton  and I don't understand good, what I can say I say really well so people hear me and assume that based on how I sound I should be able to speak good! Another lady that we ate lunch with told Elder ONeill "its interesting that he doesn't have a very strong accent" after I said I have a little over 2 months in the mission field. So that's cool! But, I still have a ways to go with the whole accent thing. I can still tell that its not where I want it to be by any means, so dad I'm going to keep working on it! So this next week is the last week of the transfer, and what will most likely happen is Elder ONeill gets transferred, and I stay here with a new Brazilian companion. I'm a bit anxious about it, because i wont understand him for about a week and a half is what i'm guessing and also i don't know my way around still. I'm trying to learn the area, but i just haven't been very good at it! Elder Oneill somehow knows how to get to all the members houses and I have no clue. I cant explain how to get anywhere, so I don't know what i'm going to do. But, i guess its just one of those things where you just have to show a little faith!

Another random thing that was kind of fun is we went to Burger King with the Zone Leaders for lunch one day. Burger King is super expensive! Here, 1 real is worth 3.30 dollars right now, and if you want a burger, fries and a drink its like 25 reals. But its sad, and i might have already mentioned this, but Elder Oneill and I did the math and 1 real is worth more to a brazilian than 1 dollar is to an american. So pretty much people here pay what would be 30 bucks for us for a burger king meal, and lots of people go and eat there. So sad! But anyway, burger king was good, but afterwards it made me feel sick, because i'm used to eating rice and beans and meat everyday. But it was still good!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Another good week and thanksgiving dinner

Hey all! Another good week down in the mish.

So with the investigator Vanderlei, he's not doing super good anymore because he has some issues that are preventing him from progressing, so at this point Elder O'Neill and I don't now what top do with him, so we'll see where it goes!

My other investigator is Bernadate, the 65ish year old lady. shes doing alright, she believes that Joseph was a prophet and the BoM is the word of God, but she still hasn't come to church 2 weeks in a row when she said she was positive she would, and her problem right now is that she doesn't think she needs to be baptized again. Its super interesting to see how differently people accept the gospel, something that might be hard for one person to accept might be easy for another person. That's why they have such a big emphasis on teaching people, not lessons! Were going to keep working on her, and hopefully she will get an answer that she needs to be baptized again and we can get her baptized!

We also taught Joe the american guy again. The lessons with him are going good! We think that he actually has a testimony of God, but he just is a bit confused about everything. Its interesting, because when we taught him this week he said that he didnt read or pray because he didn't have enough time. but then he admitted that hes actually just a bit scared to read because hes worried about the answer that he will get. He's happy with his life right now and he knows if he receives and answer he will have to follow it, and becoming a member will be a big change. I just said that i totally understand where hes coming from, and that this is a concern that other people have too. But, I said that even though it will be a big change, that I promise that if he chooses to make this change he will be happier. I know that because of all the happiness I've received in my own life from this gospel, and I want him to experience the same joy that I've found. I have hope that he will join eventually. If not soon, maybe down the road sometime. He's a super cool guy and is fun to talk to.

Saturday we had Thanksgiving dinner! The sister Bianca in our ward that grew up in the states invited elder oneill and me and 2 other companionship's to have Thanksgiving at her house. We had turkey, corn, stuffing, and I even had her make sweet potatoes with marshmellows and brown sugar! Here in brazil you cant find all the same stuff. Like their sweet potatoes are normal brown colored, and they don't taste as strong. But, it was still a super good meal! How cool i got to have a Thanksgiving dinner in Brazil! 

There's my week. Out here 'Ive for sure learned what it means to be patient, and its after we're patient that we receive blessings. The mission has been tough and i know it always will be, but its also super rewarding! i love it out here! Have a great week everyone!

 -Elder Odom

It felt like a vacation!

Hi friends and family! This week was pretty decent. I’ll start with Monday, the best day of the mission! Two less active brothers, named Chin (pronounced sheen) and Diego took my comp and I to the river. Chin is more active than his brother, but they are both super super fun guys to be around and made it a blast.
The first place we went to was a giant bridge going across the river. The river is super big! There I saw something I have never seen or thought about before. Underneath the bridge, there were houses hanging under the bridge. I don’t know how to explain it, but these people built their houses attached to the underside of the bridge, and they had like 4 rooms. It was crazy but cool! Then we went to a field that led up to the river. It was super pretty! Everything in the Brazilian countryside is beautiful actually, it’s always super green year round. So, at this field area there were some coconut palm trees and E. Oneill and I both got one and cut it open with a machete. Then we played fruit ninja with the leftover shells. While I was cutting mine open though, Elder Oneill was standing in an ant hill and they started to bite him! The ants were similar to fire ants, but they were black. He said it hurt but it was funny when he just started jumping around and throwing his shoes off!
After that we went to a little dock area where people were fishing. The people there go fishing every single day. We talked to them for a bit and then went to a different spot.
The next spot we went to was a forest area. Along one of the roads, there were lines and lines of trees planted by people. There were so many! All the trees had cuts in the trunk, big chunks taken out in a way so the sap could drain into little cups they had attached to the tree. The sap was actually rubber! It was white and super stretchy. These people made a rubber farm! 
The final spot we visited was inside of this private neighborhood. Although it was private, the houses weren’t any nicer than an average house here, except for the fact that lots of them had pools. Anyway, we went to an area that led right up to the river where there were people having a barbecue and hanging out. Down the beach, there was a little fishing dock, so we went to check it out. There were Brazilian seagulls that look kind of similar to the ones we have in the states, but just have some differences like longer legs and stuff. Anyway, these were a bit of a problem, because they put their nests in the long grass where we couldn’t see them, and if we got to close by accident they fly up and swoop down and try to peck you! So, we needed to carry a stick with us for this. Diego got swooped at a few times and it was really funny! 
After that it was time to head back home. But it was such a fun day, it honestly felt like a vacation, even though we didn’t get to go swimming or anything! Just being in the countryside and seeing nature and driving out around the river was awesome!

This week, for normal missionary work, we had a few cool experiences. The first is about a lady we met named Bernadete. She’s about 60 years old, and we found her knocking doors. She is way nice, and is smart and likes to talk. The first time we found her, she invited us in and so we talked and got to know her then shared a quick thought. Once we went back for the 2nd time though, it was awesome. We had given her the Restoration pamphlet to read before we taught the lesson, and she read all of it! The whole pamphlet! We were so impressed. Elder Oneill said that’s the first time on his mission where someone had actually read the pamphlet. So we just went though it with her again explaining everything with more detail and clearing things up that she didn’t understand. We explained about prophets and showed her a picture of President Monson and the rest of the 12, and at first she was pretty skeptical. But as we continued to explain the Restoration with her, she became more and more open to the idea of a living prophet and this church being true. By the end of the lesson she said "You know, maybe I could believe this! Maybe I’ll be a latter day saint!" It was way fun to teach her! Although, even though she promised shed be at church on Sunday and even try to bring her son, she wasn’t. But we called her and got another time to meet with her.

The next guy we taught is Joe, an American! I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned him before, but we first met him at the beginning of the month. our first meeting was just getting to know him, and then when we taught him this week we gave him the first discussion. He’s from the Bay Area, and he’s here to get experience living outside the country to maybe get a better job somewhere else. He’s kinda a nerdy guy, but he’s cool and fun to talk to. Plus he speaks English which is always nice. One thing about Joe is he said he’s an atheist. Funny the only American I meet is an atheist! He grew up Christian and going to Christian schools, but all the praying and stuff never clicked on a personal level with him, so he said he decided that he’d rather be atheist and make wrong choices than be Christian and do the same thing, because he doesn’t like people who claim to be religious but don’t act like it, which I can respect. But after we talked to him about his experience with religion, we felt that he still believed that God exists but he just never got a personal testimony of it. Elder Oneill told me that i could pretty much teach the whole lesson, because he doesn’t know how to teach in English anymore! So I did. Luckily, I still had my English pamphlets from the MTC and Elder Oneill had an English Book of Mormon with him, so we gave those to him. Teaching in English was awesome! I never knew how fun it was to actually be able to say what you want when you teach, and be able to answer people’s questions and explain things! Being able to express myself and say what I wanted was the best! We invited him to read the BoM and pray to know that it’s true, so I’m hoping that he will get his answer. We think that he might not even want an answer, because when asked what he would do if we knew for sure that there was a prophet who speaks with God, he said he’d follow because if he didn’t he wouldn’t be saved. We’re hoping that he actually wants to change instead of praying and hoping he won’t get an answer, because if he doesn’t want one then he won’t get one. But, it was great to be able to teach in English!

The next cool investigator we found this week is named Vanderlay. But, he actually found us! he was walking down the sidewalk from us on friday, and he turned around and saw us, then came up and started to talk to us. He said that he wants to find a new church to go to, because at all the other churches he doesn’t feel good and he thinks that the Mormon church is probably the right one. Okay sweet! So we taught him on saturday, and he loved everything. he said he doesn’t think there’s a prophet alive today, but when we told him that we have one and showed him the picture of the prophet, he couldn’t believe it! it was like it was too good to be true for him! he kept saying stuff like "wow! so this man is the prophet and he talks to God? That’s amazing!" He believed everything right off the bat, and we marked a day for him to get baptized! So cool! Then on Sunday, we took him to church and the same thing, he thought it was awesome. we gave him a tour of the church before sacrament started, and he said "I feel so good here, it’s like I’m in paradise!" During sacrament, we had the primary program, and he loved that too! he said "this is great! children are so pure, who is better to teach the gospel than them!" Now I know what the promise that God will put prepared people into our path means. Nobody can be more prepared than him! He kept asking us if we can come over and teach him everyday because he liked it all so much. What a blessing to come into contact with him! I’m super excited for him to be baptized!

That’s everything for me this week. I hope everyone has a good week, thanks for all your support!


 -Elder Odom

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pics!

Continuing the work

Hey everyone, another week down!

Lately its been super tough to find people to teach, but Tuesday was a pretty good day, because we got a referral from a member. She gave us a present to give to one of her friends for her birthday, and she told us the present included a Book of Mormon and that she thinks her friend would be interested. Referrals aren't super common, so when we get them we are always grateful! So we went over to her house, and gave her the present. Her name is Tahuany, and is 27 years old. We talked and got to know her, and then talked to her about the Restoration. She understood it all, and seemed genuinely interested! It was super cool because she was asking questions throughout the lesson, and right at the end she said "I have one more question... where do we go after we die?" How cool!! We explained that we have another message that can explain where we are from, why we are here, and where we go after this life. It was a super cool lesson, because its been extremely hard for us to find people to teach, people we find street contacting always are impossible to find again at home after the first lesson or aren't interested anymore, so it was a blessing to get her as a referral.
Another super cool investigator we have is Guilherme. He's 23 years old. Here's his story. He has passed in front of our church a few different times, and said he always saw happy people. So, he decided to find out a little about the mormons. He googled us and ended up on Mormon.org. He followed steps to make contact with representitives, and ended up talking with 2 brazilian sister missionaries in Temple Square! They taught him a little of the first lesson over the phone, and afterward got ahold of our secretary in our misson and passed his information to him, who then gave it to us. So we called him and set up a time to meet. Although, we can only meet with him at the church building becuase his parents hate other religions other than theirs. We taught him the first lesson, and he took it pretty well. He doesn't seem as interested as Tahuany, but we still have high hopes for him. But how cool to get an investigator like him? He looked for the church on his own, that's super rare! We're super excited to work with him!

The last cool story I have for this week happened on Saturday. We had lunch with a member like normal, but after lunch was done the dad grabbed the guitar in the corner of the room and started to play a few chords. Their 15 year old daughter plays as well. I wasn't going to say anything, but Elder ONeill was very quick to inform them that I taught guitar before the mission. Then they invited me to play, and so I did. It was such a blast for me to get the chance to play again for a little bit, I really miss playing all the time!

This week we had something big happen in the mission. Elder Renlund came to our mission and I think he had 3 talks planned to give to us! But.... because we were over an hour outside of Ribeirao Preto, we didn't get to see anything. All the missionaries were so mad. We had an apostle in the mission boundaries and we didn't even get to see him!! So lame!! But, not much we can do about it!

So that's all for me. Hope everyone back home is doing good, until next week!

 -Elder Odom

Nobody's home!

So, to be honest, this week was very uneventful, besides Thursday and a few other things. So I'll talk about Thursday.

It was a super good day. During our morning planning session, we decided to use a new tracting method that we learned in a book I found laying around the house called Member Missionary Work and finding the elect of God. It is such a good book! I've learned so much from it! It basically told us to pray and tell Heavenly Father that we're going tracting at a specific time, in a specific area, and that we need to know which streets to knock. After the prayer, we both looked at a map and wrote down around 5 to 10 streets that we have even slight hunches about. Then we compare our lists. We ended up with 2 that were the same, and then we did it for another area and came out with 3 that we got the same. So after planning we went to lunch. We ate a ton because we had been fasting since last lunch to find people to teach! Then we went to visit the people that we had planned on. Like usual, 1 out of the 3 people weren't home, and the 1 that was there we only talked to for a few mins because he was busy. We planned for this, so we used one of our streets that we had written down during planning. We ended up finding one person who we set a date to come back and talk to (we visited her later in the week and she told us she was about to leave her house so she couldn't talk. At least we tried!), and then we went to the other area that we had planned on tracting in at 5 pm. It was really cool because with just 2 streets we found 3 more people that we marked dates with to come back, and they all seemed really cool! 
Anyway, after doing that for about an hour and a half, we went to visit a referral from some other missionaries. We got there and she wasn't available! Then we went to another referral and she wasn't home. After these two people didn't work out, we decided to go visit a inactive member named Rogerio. The ward gave us a list of people to go and find, to see if they actually live at the address that they have on file. Rogerio was off of this list. So we go to his house, ring the interphone (because everyone has a big gate and wall around their house) and then he comes outside and invites us in. First of all, his house was super nice! He had a piano, decorations, nice couches, etc. It looked like it could maybe be an older home in the US from what I saw, maybe like Roger Christensens down in fairview. Anyway, this guy is probably in his 50s and he is really German, light skin and blue eyes. He had pictures of his grandparents and they both looked very German. His grandpa was wearing a military uniform, so my guess is that he moved to Brazil once they lost the war. But that's besides the point. We started talking to him about his hobbies, when he joined the church, etc. Then I shared a thought on the importance of prayer using Helaman 3Ç35. Then once we asked if he needed anything else, he asked if we could give a blessing, because his throat has been hurting him for over a week now and it was hard for him to talk. We said yes, and so I needed to consecrate the oil for the blessing... It was so bad! I said everything wrong, and I know that I didn't say everything I needed to. I've only done that one other time, and I read it off of a paper. The Lord knows what I'm trying to do though so I think he will let it slide this time! 
After we got done, he told us something so cool, maybe the coolest thing I've heard since I've been out here. All though that day and that night, he had been needing to hear the word of God. He just felt like he needed something like that, anything at all! So he finally decided to call one of his friends who is a member of some sort of Protestant church, and literally right before he was about to pick up the phone, he heard his interphone ring. He looked outside and it was us! He told us how this was a big testimony to him, and he really felt like the Lord was looking out for him. It made me really happy that I'm following all the rules and trying my hardest, so when the Lord wants to use me to help someone else, 'Ill be in a place where I can! What's cool is everything that happened lined up perfectly for us to be there right when we needed to. Some of our referrals weren't home, a member saw us on the side of the road and gave us a ride to the church saving us time, etc. Super cool experience!

Okay now for other stuff. I've learned out here is to really appreciate the small things. The other week we were walking around and on the side of the road there was a boulder, probably a little over waist high. I saw it and realized that its the first boulder I've seen since I started my mission! Everything is just completely flat out here! I said to myself, ´Wow, that's a nice boulder!` and then I pointed it out to my companion, who agreed! He said its been months, maybe even over a year since hes seen one that big and it is a nice boulder! Who would've imagined I'd be grateful to see a boulder! 

Oh! one more thing I forgot to talk about. On Saturday we walked a lot like I said because our 6 appointments didn't work out when the people said that they'd be there. It was super hot that day, and so we were dying of thirst. We passed a stand selling sugar cane juice, so we had to try it. They made it fresh right in front of us. The guy had a machine that he'd put a stick of sugar cane into it and squeeze all the juice out of it. He'd run it through, then fold it in half and then run it through again, for 4 times. then he mixed a little bit of lime juice in one and pineapple juice in the other. It was so good! I don't think you can get it back home in Utah though!!

So language update. Not a ton of improvement, I'll have a moment here and there where I'll understand stuff, and my ability to speak is still coming, but no huge breakthroughs yet. I've been thinking a lot about what uncle Mark said when we talked in between the Provo MTC and the Brazil MTC. You can't get frustrated or worry about the language for the first 3 months in the field. I only have 1 month and about 2 weeks, so I still have some time before I hit that milestone. I just need to have faith that I'll be good by that point if I continue to work hard at it!

Have a great week!

Love, Spence 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

First Transfer

 Hey everybody, I made it through my first transfer in the field! Crazy Im already here! So a little about this past week.

First off, the rain just keeps coming, it rained almost everyday this week and whenever it does it pours, which is awesome, because I love the rain, it always makes my day feel so much better! Also, because it rained so much, it was much cooler this week which I am very grateful for.

This week we had a super interesting guy that we taught this week. His name is Voumir, and seems to be about 30ish years old. I made contact with him last week with the ward mission leader. So we went to his house to visit him, and taught him the Restoration. We found out he talked with missionaries years ago, so he kind of knew our message a bit but couldnt remember a ton. But wha'ts so cool about him is that he is the first person I have met here that actually wants to find the truth. He has been to multiple churches throughout his life and he's noticed that they teach different stuff even if its the same church. He said that when he has a question, he looks to the Bible, and by doing this he has found something wrong with every church he has been to so far, like the catholic, baptist, and all others. When we heard this we started getting so excited! But he said that he doesnt want to look into our church because he's moving to another state next month and needs to focus on finishing up school and his job here. The cool thing is he said that when he moves he will go find out church, and now he's going to start using the Book of Mormon and Bible together to find answers! How cool! My companion and I were joking that he's a modern day Brazilian Joseph Smith. I hope he can find the missionaries wherever he moves to!


A few days this week we did some door knocking on the outskirts of the city where there aren't a lot of paved roads, and so I got to see a little bit of the Brazilian countryside! From what I've seen here and what my companion has told me, cities in Brazil have set boundaries, and so once you go passed the last road, its just fields and forests, unlike the US that slowly get less and less populated. This week was the first time I got to see all that, and it was really cool!

On Saturday we had an activity with all the missionaries in the city and all the youth in the stake. we went to an area in the center of the city with lots of shops and stores and handed out pass along cards. We did that for 2 hours, and my companion and I combined talked to over 100 people! All the youth and missionaries combined got over 400. It was an easy fun way to get lots of people contacted!

Okay, now for the last big thing this week. We figured out if we were being transfered or not on Saturday, and my companion and i thought that we were going to get split up. Normally they don't do that to companionships during training, but my mission president hardly ever keeps a missionary in the same area for more than 3 transfers, and this last transfer was Elder ONeills 3rd. So what we thought was he was going to get transfered and I was going to get a Brazilian trainer, but we both ended up staying together! I would've been good if I got a Brazilian, but I'm glad I get to have Elder ONeill finish out my training. We get along super good and its super nice to be able to ask him how to say something in English if I dont know how in Portuguese.

I've been studying a lot about charity this past week. What I've learned is that if we had to choose just one Christlike attribute to have, it would be this one. I've never realized how important it is! Moroni 7:45-48 is awesome. It teaches us all qualifications to have the pure love of Christ, and so this week I've been doing my best to do all those things! That's something that's great about a mission, it's a great place to really try and apply the things we learn from the scriptures.

Thats about it for me! Everyone keep up the good work back home, have a good one!

 
-Elder Odom

Monday, October 24, 2016

Another week

Okay, another week! So I'll go through some of the big stuff that happened.

On tuesday, we did splits with the ward mission leader and one of the secretaries in the ward. Elder ONeill and the secretary went to our appointments, while the ward mission leader, Andre, and I went knocking doors. He gave us some ideas for contacting and a small lesson we could teach in ten mins, and we did super good! we got 6 lessons in 2 and a half hours! It was a good learning experience, and since tuesday Elder ONeill and I have been using that lesson plan to get lots of lessons. Its a really good way to determine who is going to be willing and ready to hear our message and who isnt.

I know I keep saying this, but this week was hot. On wednesday my comp and i thought we might pass away from dehydration and heat stroke. One of the things about Aracatuba is there never are any clouds, so were always in direct sunlight. you can see us going from side to side in the road wherever there is shade! Anyway, we were walking and we passed by something beautiful: A little stand that sold cold coconut water. nothing in the world coulve been as good as that coconut water was. my companion is one of the people who doesnt like it, so he chugged a little more than half of his and gave the rest to me because he couldn't drink the rest. Definitely a highlight for me!

So a little update on Portuguese. This week was good! During a lesson with a new investigator, I was actually able to understand everything that he was saying, and I was able to have a normal conversation with him, it was so fun! I am slowly able to understand and speak more. But one thing that's interesting is that somedays are better than others. For example, Saturday was worse with the language. For some reason I couldn't really understand anybody that well! I guess that's just a part for learning, somedays i can understand better and others I cant. I just need to keep reminding myself that someday Ill get it, and Ill be able to speak with everyone! 

So with Mourilo (that's how to spell his name I figured out), he has a testimony and likes to read and pray, but he has family that was baptized and I don't know if they're active anymore. Because of this, I'm pretty sure hes being told by more than one person that the church isn't worth the time. Because of this, its been pretty much impossible to get him to church. He always has other things that he needs to do. We even got a member to pick him up! But he still hasn't come yet and I don't know if he will. Alex is pretty much dropped, we've tried to visit him 10 or so times and he never comes to the door. Super sad, they both could totally use the gospel but I guess they just aren't ready right now. Were going to keep trying for Mourilo, but I'm not sure whats going to happen with him. But, this week we did have a really fun good lesson! I cant remember if I've talked about Juliana or not, but shes an investigator that's been taking missionary discussions for almost 6 months, and wont be baptized. Shes the hardest and most stressful investigator Elder ONeill has had on his mission. About 2 months ago she has going to be baptized, and then a day before she decided not to go through with it. She keeps saying that she hasnt recieved an answer, but we know she has. Shes been told about all her answers but she still ignores them. So, this week we taught her about prayer. She thinks God doesn't answer prayers. Out here on the mission I've discovered that I actually enjoy planning lessons, and during planning Ill go on a roll and rant for minutes at a time talking to my companion about what we could teach. Its funny because when we plan ideas just come to my mind and I know what to say. But here's the problem... I cant speak Portuguese good, so I cant give the lesson the way I want to! So i just wrote down everything I was thinking and we formed a lesson plan then I figured out ahead of time how to say the things that I needed to. The best part of this lesson is that, Im sure through the Spirit, knew exactly how she was going to respond to every single question we asked, and which direction the lesson would go. So, we were able to plan exactly what we needed to say. So during the first part of the lesson we read Helaman 3:35. What happens when we pray: Then we read 3 Nephi 18:19-20. To receive answers to our prayers we need to have a righteous reason, and believe that we will receive an answer. Elder ONeill talked about this, and eventually he said "So what you're telling me is that you don't have enough faith" then she said "Êxactly" with the smirk on her face. She thought "ah ha! I got them! Ill never get an answer because I don't have enough faith!" But then she looked at me and I had an even bigger smirk, because we knew this would happen. So I asked her if she remembered the last scripture we just read. She didn't so she read it again. He face was priceless.  She says shes scared of praying and being baptized because she only sees unhappy religious people, and if she starts to do these things then something bad will happen to her kids, or something like that. She is living a pretty bad lifestyle, and even though she knows its true she wishes it wasn't, because it means she has to change and she doesn't want to. So that's our guess at why shes not praying or coming to church. Shes stressful, but all we can do is keep trying our best and if that's not enough then maybe it isn't her time to join. Through this lesson I was taught about the importance of having the Spirit when we plan. We knew what she was going to say, and which scriptures to use, because of the Spirit! Its so cool to know that we have an actual member of the Godhead with us wherever we go to help us out with anything we need.

But that's pretty much it for me, nothing super exciting! Have a good one!!

 -Elder Odom


Monday, October 17, 2016

Rain, Teaching English and Hard Work

Hey family and friends! Another week down in Brazil. So, this week was pretty good! I had a few cool things happen this week.

First is about my investigator Mourilho, We taught him again, adn he is just eating it up. everything we teach he loves. we asked him how he felt when he read the Book of Mormon and prayed. He said he felt peaceful and happy, so i explained that thats the Holy Ghost speaking to him that the gospel is true! Toward the end of the lesson, i asked him to be baptized, and he said yes to the 5th of November! Its awesome. Then when we talked about the Book of Mormon and asked him what he thinks, he siad that its true, straight up. Its way cool to have an investigator like him, its almost too good to be true! As of now I think hes our only investigator who is making progress, but on saturday when we had a member call him to make sure he was still good to go for church, he said that he couldnt go, which was a bummer. I was really looking forward to having him there! But anyway, Elder ONeill and i have plans to help out our other ones.

2 days this week it rained super hard! The first day we were in a memebers house, and i heard the loudest thunder of my life! it was crazy how loud, it hurt my ears! on friday the rain poured down for 2 hours, making the streets all turn into full on rivers! After it was done raining, the sun came out and it was a beautiful day. Funny how much it changed in so little time! 

This week we had the cool opprotunity to go teach english at a school near our house! a member in our ward is a teacher there, and so we told her we would help her out. So we just went there and answered questions, explained how to pronounce certain words, etc. then at the end I gave an overveiw of why were here. Like why would we spend 2 years without seeing our families, and being able to listen to music or watch movies, go to a new country and learn a language, etc. Its because we know that our message is true! Then i talked a little bit about what we believe in, invited them all to church and handed out cards with a number they could call to get a BoM and learn more. We ended up getting at least 5 people that were interested which is super awesome! We have plans to go to 2 other english schools this upcoming week, it was a great fun way to share the gospel!

This week I was actully able to see some progress with Portuguese which is super exciting! I am continuing to learn to speak better, and understanding has been better the past few days than it has ever before. With some people I am actually able to get the idea of what theyre saying, but only at times, not all the time. Church was still hard becuase I didnt really understand anything there, but I have gotten to the point where I know that I cant do it on my own and I am working hard to learn, and that is all that God asks of me, so I need to is wait with patience and hope. Hope is what I have been thinking about a lot this week. There are a few awesome scriptures I found that have to do with hope, Romans 8:24-25 and Hebrews 6:10-20, Moroni 7:40-48 is also super good. I know that I will recieve all the blessings and promises that God hasa given me. One of these is the Gift of Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues, and that with these I will be able to fulfill my purpose as a missionary!

So, thats about it for all the exciting stuff this week, not a ton of lessons, etc but Elder Oneill and I are working on new ways to find and new lesson plans that we could use to get more people interested. Well, thats it from me, have a great week everyone!

 -Elder Odom

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Adjusting to Mission Life!

Hey everybody!  So, second P day in the field!

Lets start with the language. So far, it is still pretty tough! I am a little bit different than most missionaries, I can speak Portuguese better than I can understand it. But, thats not to say Im good at speaking yet! I can bear my testimony, pray, talk about myself, teach lots of gospel topics, etc. But once someone asks me a question, I just turn and look at my companion for help. Its frustrating at times, but its not too bad. I know this is something that all missionaries learning a language go through, its not suppose to be easy to learn! Im improving more and more every week, and i know its only a matter of time before I get the hang of it!

My companion is Elder ONeill from North Carolina, and he is awesome. we get along so well with everything. He is a hard worker and is doing a great job training me. Im actually his first American companion and he has been out over a year! But im glad i got put with him, hes great. also, his little brother left on his mission the same day as me, and he is serving in the Salt Lake City South mission (Spanish speaking), my home mission! So for everyone back home, look for an Elder ONeill!

So, a couple of things about the mission field so far. My first area is the Santana area in Aracatuba, in the state of Sao Paulo. First, it is always so hot here. I am constantly sweating, and we have to walk a lot out here! I have the east side of the city, and so we have some rural areas. But, at least it is pretty dry here unlike other part of Brazil, so I am grateful for that. My typical meal schedule out here is for breakfast, I have crackers and milk, then around noon I go to a members house and have lunch, which is always good. Brazilian food is awesome! Then for dinner I have top ramen type stuff, just the Brazilian brand of it. The area I am in is apparently one of the hardest areas to be in the whole mission as far as teaching lessons, getting baptisms, stuff like that. So we do a lot of street contacting and clapping doors.

So this week we got 2 awesome investigators from doing this! Both are around my age, they are Alex and Mourilho. Alexs mom passed away 3 months ago, and Mourilho has big physical problems, because he was shot 7 times! Because of that, his right leg is shorter than his left so he can barely walk. When we met him he said that he is just starting from scratch. Both of their first lessons went good, my companion and I decided to start teaching them the Plan of Salvation to start. The Spirit was definitely there during the lessons, and we could see that they had an interest afterward. Although both of them have had these super bad things happen to them, Im so excited to continue to teach them and see the difference the gospel can make in their lives.

That's about it for me. Just adjusting to missionary life in general and still trying to get into the swing of things, but I like it out here! Have a great week everyone!!

 -Elder Odom 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Pics from the mission president when Spence arrived

Week 1 in the rear view mirror

Hey Everyone! So my first week in the mission field is down, and I already have some interesting experiences... So, my first day after I got my new companion and got everything like that figured out, I went on splits with one of the Elders that works in the mission offices (Elder Summers). Right off the bat I go to teach a real lesson. I got onto the most crowded bus I’ve ever been on, and flew through the streets with sharp turns, hard stops, everything! Once we got there, I was told that they wanted me to teach about faith in lesson 3 of PMG. Okay, I’ve been practicing in the CTM, I think I can do it. so I start speaking during the lesson and the words just aren’t flowing. I talked myself into a corner where I didn’t know how to say something so I just had to crap shoot my way out of whatever I was trying to say! Throughout the lesson, elder Summers kept throwing questions at me to explain and teach. Not going to lie, a bit scary! But, the more I talked, the more I remembered what I learned to teach about over the past 6 weeks. So by the end, it was alright! On the way back my comp and elder summers said that I did good, and that I was already doing better than they were on their first day! So then we just went back to the assistant’s apartment and got ready for bed.

Day 2:   I went to the police station to get my visa validated and after, went contacting for the first time, we went to a square area. It was one of those interesting experiences I was talking about! The first lady we talked to we actually got a referral, so that was good! The next guy called us over and started rambling on and on about who knows what, because I can’t understand anything right now. Anyway, 40 mins later 2 of his hobo friends come up to him and start beating him up with a roll of a bunch of newspapers. So, on to the next person. We started talking, and he immediately started ripping on us and saying the Book of Mormon isn’t true, only the bible. Apparently he read in a book written by some guy that Mormon was a false prophet, although he wouldn’t say which book or who wrote it. Then we got rejected by a hardcore catholic. After that elder O’Neill got a feeling we should leave, so we went back to the offices. Now time for more splits, this time I went with the assistants, both Brazilian. one of them could speak a good amount of English (apparently he had been asking president Scholz to train me for weeks, and me specifically: don’t know why!). we went to 4 lessons in 2 and a half hours, all of which were weird. But I did have a cool experience in one of them. So, for the first lesson they wanted me to share my testimony of the Book of Mormon, so I agreed. When I started sharing, even though my vocab is limited, I could feel the spirit. Once I was about done, the investigators (a 15-year-old girl) phone rang and the spirit left. It was a good lesson on how important the Spirit is during a lesson. So while she was on the phone, both assistants leaned over to me and told me that I needed to ask her to be baptized. My first reaction was what!! It’s my 2nd day here how can I do that: they told me I could. So, I asked if she receives an answer about the BoM and our message, will she be baptized: she said that she would! It was a really cool experience! Then we went to the favelas and taught other people. One lady they’re teaching has a hole in her throat from smoking and has to talk super hoarse. Also she thinks she’s a prophetess and that the 2 assistants went on dates last week, she’s positive. Super funny! (By the way, the only reason I know what they said was because the elder who can speak a little bit of English told me after the lesson). So, then we went to a few more houses and then headed back to the apartment. Soon after, my companion, Elder O’Neill, and I were on a bus heading to Aracatuba, my first zone. The exact area I’m in is Santana. We arrived at our house here at 4:30 and then slept for 2 hours, then got to work. I really like the area here, especially the east part of it, because there aren’t a lot of buildings and it’s a lot more countryside. Just seeing the countryside actually helps me relax. Only a few funny; crazy things have happened since I’ve arrived. One was the first lesson I taught in my area was to a guy named Florencio. We started teaching him the 1st lesson, the Restoration, and when we got to prophets he went off about how only the bible has prophets. He also said he went to a big temple one day and saw Jesus. When E. O’Neill asked him to pray he stood up and put a hand on each of our heads and said this super weird prayer. So yeah, welcome to the mission field Elder Odom! 

So other stuff about my first week. It is sooo hot here! So hot! I need to get one of those rags that uncle mark was talking about to wipe away the sweat. Also, out in the countryside, or more rural area, there are lots of stray animals... and not just dogs and cats. there are dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, cows, horses, and more. yes, stray, wild horses, I’ve seen a few. Rural Brazil is a different place, but I really like my area! I can’t imagine knowing where everything is like my companion does. I’m not great with directions, especially with areas I’m not familiar with, and my area is pretty big!

Alright, so the language and other things. I have to say, the first week was tough. The language is super challenging. I have a headache because I can’t understand anything, like pretty much at all. it’s very rare if I understand what someone is trying to say. It’s hot, I walk a ton, I’m hungry most of the time (unlike the CTM), but all that is a piece of cake.  I can deal with all the physical aspects of a mission pretty easily. The language though!! I want to be able to talk to the members that feed us lunch, I want to actively participate in lessons and answer questions, but I can’t understand anything. I can speak better than I can understand. Tell me to talk about baptism, faith, the book of Mormon, myself, my family, where I live, you got it. The second they talk back though, nothing. I can’t understand anything! It’s hard not to get frustrated at times, but I’m actually doing a good job at staying positive! Just like the first week or 2 at the MTC, I’m an adjustment stage right now. The busier I am the better. I just need to believe that the language will come in time, and I’ll be able to understand people in time. 

So, my companion. Elder O’Neill and I get along great! He’s been out a little over a year, and a great guy. We found out we have quite a few little similarities and connections. for example, his little brother left on his mission the same day as me, going to the Salt Lake City South mission.  He’s going to BYU after his mission. It’s great to have an English speaking trainer. I’ve been able to have him explain things to me that there’s no was a Brazilian could. Super great blessing. 

Okay, so now for everyday mission stuff. So for food, I normally eat crackers and milk for breakfast, and then go to a member’s house for a good lunch, then for dinner at 9:30 eat a pack of top ramen type food, basically the same thing. My companion said that’s going to be very normal for the next 2 years, so good thing I don’t care a lot about food! So real mission life is good. I’m super glad I got to watch conference my first weekend here, I needed to see it! there was so much good stuff. I loved how they focused so much on the basics of the gospel. A few of my favorite parts:
 “Saints can be happy under any circumstance. we can be happy any time. our happiness has little to do with circumstance”-Russell M. Nelson
“we must not assume that because something is unexplainable to us, it is unexplainable”-M. Russell Ballard
“As we depend fully on Him, He’ll enlarge our ability to serve”-David A. Bednar
 “As you faithfully live the gospel of Christ and abide by its teachings, your testimony will be protected”-Ronald A. Rasband
“Trials won’t allow us to grow unless we become deliberately involved in the process of growth. Even the darkest nights turn into morning for the faithful”-Evan A. Schnutz
“Nobody diligently reads the Book of Mormon every day and loses their testimony”-K. Brett Nattress

I’m sure you guys already knew a bunch of those, but it was all so good! I was able to get so much out of it. I wish I would’ve paid more attention to conference at home!
So, 1 week in the field in the rear-view mirror. I know that I’m not alone out here. I have the Lord with me wherever I go, and is there anybody better to have at my side: I know he’ll be right alongside all my family at home to. I know this church is true, I’ve had to really find out for sure since I’ve been here, and I know that it is. Keep continuing to grow closer to Christ every single day, I love you guys!!

Love, Spence



Spence and his companion, Elder ONeill
Elder Scowcroft, Spencer's comp in both the Provo and Brazil MTC

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

At the Mission Home!

I'm at the mission home! I dont have much time to email, so I'll try to make this fast. So I got on a plane and flew 1 hour to Ribeirão Preto, kind of funny they made us fly! So everything here is... a lot. It's probably just the whole real life mission thing hitting me for real. I learned yesterday that I am not good at portuguese. We had in field training and it was 8 hours long all in full speed portuguese and i got about 10% of what was said! Little bit of a wake up call. I have a lot of work to do.
I met my mission president and had lunch at his apartment. It was chicken fajitas, and the best meal I've had this whole time! I loved the american mexican food that sister Schulz cooked. I love my mission president and his wife too. They are the best! So nice and i can tell they totally care about me. This is definitely the best president for me! I cant wait to get to know him better over the next two years. We got to relax in his apartment, which is actually pretty nice, for about 3 hours which was great.

This morning, i woke up at 2:30 am to catch my 6:30 flight. I'm so tired right now. When we got here we got our new companions. When we saw all of the trainers lined up there was an american and i definitely wanted him! It came down to elder Cleverly and sister Maartin from my mtc district. So... I got the american comp! His name is elder O´neill, and he's been out a year. President Schulz and his wife both said how great he is. He seems like he's going to be a great trainer, I'm super glad i got him. 

So my first area is going to be a bit interesting. Tomorrow night, I'm taking a 7 hour bus ride through the night to the Aracatuba area. I'm in the same district as elder Cleverly, which is awesome! I'll see him at zone conferences. Tonight, I'm going on splits with the APs to the favelas, so that should be a good adventure. Once i get going, i think I'm going to really love it here. I'm about out of time. Talk to you next monday!

love, Spence

Last week in the MTC

So here i am in the last week of the CTM! time here is the weirdest thing ever. i have no idea how im already done with a transfer but it feels like I've been here for sooo long at the same time! Im going to miss all the friends I've made here, but I'm ready to start my real mission!

So something funny that elder meyer from my district showed me was watermelon with sugar..... It's so good, I'm addicted to it now! Every time they have watermelon for lunch or dinner we both get soooo much and chow down! As of right now, I'm still not sick of rice, beans, and meat for every meal but that might change after a few more months of it!

Last saturday was my busiest day on my mission so far! We had proselyting, splits 5 mins after, then TRC which is a 30 min lesson with a member, then 2 lessons with our investigators. I got a little taste of what the field will be like! So proselying was great. We went to downtown são paulo where all the buildings were huge!! My companion elder scowcroft said it reminded him a lot of his home back in new york city. We handed out 6 books of mormon, and one of them we had a cool experience. We saw a guy walking across the street and so we decided to talk to him. We went up and siad hi, and come to find out he was taking the missionary discussions and then he moved to São Paulo, now he didn't know where to go to church! It was so cool that we got to run into him, what a blessing! Heavenly Father looks after those who want to hear the truth.

Today i got to go to the temple for most likely the last time in 2 years, becuase i dont have a temple in my mission. I'm sad about that but i ended on a good note. We got the 2nd session today which means we have to wait 2 hours to start. So, they were nice enough to invite us to do baptisms and confermations! Half of the elders with us did baptisms, half did conformations, which i did. The font area is beautiful! So glad i got to go every week here in the CTM.

So this is it, here i go into the field! Thank you all so much for your support so far in my misson. Have a great week everyone!

-Elder Odom

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Apostles Pump Me Up!

Hey everybody! First full week in the brazil CTM! This place is a lot of fun. The past week has been good. Our last 2 devotionals we got to hear from two different apostles! Super cool, even though it was from the Provo MTC, it's still so cool to hear from them. Every time I do they get me so pumped up for the field!

So this is my 2nd to last P day until I hit the real missionary experience in Ribierão Preto. I´m a bit nervous, but at the same time I'm looking forward to it. It is going to be nice to get a change of scenery and get going! P days here are really cool. We get to go outside the CTM and go to the different shops in the area. There's a cookie place right across the street called Mr. Cheney´s cookies (shout out to the Cheney family!). They're so good! They also have a store and a barbershop and a bakery, and lots of other places so that's something I really have been looking forward to.

My district is the best. I have only been here for a little over a week, but l get along with them all so good! There's 3 other elders in a trio, then a companionship of sisters. Elder Torgerson's (an elder in my district) dad and my dad served in the same mission! How cool! And another Elder named Elder Meyer and I met before we came here. We ran into each other on our senior trips in California at a church in Newport!

The language is coming better every week. When I talk to my teachers and other Americans in Portuguese, I can do pretty good. But, the second I listen to two Brazilians talking to each other I barely understand anything! I have a ways to go, but I know I will get it eventually! 

Thanks for all the support back home, you are the best! have a good week!

Elder Odom

Monday, September 12, 2016

Wow, so a lot has happened since last time I sent out an email! So, not sure if my mom already said something, but I got my visa and now I am in the Brazil CTM (MTC)! Funny story how i figured out. So my district and i went down to the travel office in the Provo MTC because my companion got his visa and nobody was going with him. We were wondering if he was going to travel by himself, and when we got down there they told me that my visa came and that i was going to be leaving with him! For the last week in the Provo MTC i was in a trio with an elder that came a week after me, Elder Evans. He´s from Mesa, AZ and is such a cool guy! He also got his visa, so it was us three that came to São Paulo together. 

We left on monday morning, and our zone was there at the bus to send us off. I´m going to miss those guys, so blessed to get such a good zone in Provo! On the way to the airport, we drove by Jordan High, and it was kind of a bittersweet moment to know that i wouldnt see my home town for another 2 years. Even though it was a bit sad I'm so excited to finally be here in Brazil!

On the way there, I went from SLC airport to Atlanta, then straight so São Paulo. From the time I left the MTC in provo to when i got the the CTM in Brazil, it was almost 20 hours straight of traveling! The flight from Atlanta to Brazil was about 10 hours through the night, and I´m the worst at sleeping on planes. I only slept for 3 or 4 hours, and when we got to the CTM they didn´t let us sleep... needless to say I´m still tired from the plane! Something that was super fun while traveling was I got to talk to my family in the airports. Because I had a bunch of layovers, I got to spend 4 and a half hours talking to them, it was awesome!

So here I am in brazil. A few things that I've noticed so far are: 1. the drivers are crazy. traffic laws don't really apply here. I have no idea how the buses don't crash every time they take a turn. The motorcyclists are so risky too! They are always going double the speed of normal cars, and what they do is just give a little honk as they come and the cars know to move over for them. 2. The food here is way better than the Provo MTC food. Not that the food in Provo was gross or anything, it just wasn't nearly as good as it is here! For every meal we mostly have rice and beans with some kind of meat. The meat is sooo good though. Every other meal they´ll throw in some pasta or something, and then they have pizza or other things sometimes too. 3. The favelas. Favelas are those buildings/houses that are stacked on top of each other. There are sooo many of them here in São Paulo. You could get on top of a tall building and look in any direction and just see buildings as far as you can see. It´s pretty weird to see coming from Utah, but at the same time I like it! It´s also super dirty here, which I bet you could guess.

So the CTM here actually has a lot of American missionaries. there are about 300 missionaries here and just a little under half are from the US. There are actually a lot of Brazilians learning Spanish here, and a lot of Hispanics learning Portuguese. We also have missionaries from other places, like South Africa and the UK. Cool to see people from all over! This Tuesday we had an awesome opprotunity to have Elder Anderson come and speak to us, so lucky! he spoke half in Portuguese and half in English. He talked a lot about relying on the spirit and being patient with yourself. So glad i got here in time to see him.

Well thats about it for now, I´m sure I´ll have more cool things to talk about next week as i get adjusted. Have an awesome week!!

-Elder Odom