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


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