Tuesday, November 29, 2016

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

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