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!