Thursday, May 25, 2017

It was cold!

May 22nd

This past week we really focused on finding again. We were able to have success, but sadly it was another hard one for my companion Elder Naytson with his health. Now it's his spine that he says is hurting him. It's crazy how many problems he has, his back, knee, legs, feet, so many things hurt. We had one last doctor visit on Tuesday and they said that his legs are hurting because of his muscles, and the only thing he can do is rest which is hard if you're a missionary. I talked to President about it and he said that he just needs to take as much medicine as he needs to deal with the pain and keep working because if he rested enough to actually make a difference, maybe 2 or 3 weeks, it would be too much time away from the work. He still has 8 months until he goes home, so I don't know what he's gong to do honestly. I personally think that the cause of all of his problems is his weight. He is around 5'5" but is 213 lbs. Your body just cant carry that around all day, and because during his first year on the mission he walked even more, he's feeling the consequences now. But we were still able to find a family and a couple other people to teach, so it was good!
Something funny that happened was we were knocking doors and a guy let us in. We started to talk to him and he started to tell us how he loves Jesus and is catholic and stuff. He said "My sister sent me a video this week and I want to show it to you guys, here watch this" and pulled it up on his phone. My comp and I quickly recognized that it was one of the Bible Videos that our church makes that I've already seen a bunch of times. The only difference is that the end part where it has the church logo was cut out. He was a nice guy but was one of those that try to teach us about Christ and the gospel. I was funny how he used our video to try to do that!
On Friday I had an experience that I've never had before here on the mission. I was cold! It had been raining all day long and at night it only got worse. We were out in the streets looking for an address and the wind was blowing super hard and we were soaking wet. It was the first time I've actually been cold in 9 months! We ended up going to a members house to get out of the rain and she gave us some warm food which was nice. When I got to Brazil, I was in the hottest city in the mission during the hottest months of the year. Now, I'm in the coldest city during the coldest months. Pretty cool! I'm super grateful that I don't have to worry about the heat for at least a little bit longer.
On Saturday we had a pretty cool activity with the ward. Lately the ward has really been focusing on helping the members do their visits, so we came up with the idea to do a training for them to show how to do a good visit. We explained how to prepare, what to do during the visit, and what to do afterward. Then we did a quick demonstration. After we showed a video of President Eyring and Elder Holland talking about the Atonment and how we can't ever give up in our callings and in life because the Savior never did. It brought the Spirit really strong and helped motivate the members that were there. The video is awesome! You can find it here   It's worth watching for sure!
Sunday was pretty cool too. President and Sister Scholz came to our ward to give a fireside, and they even participated in ward council too! He talked about the tools that the members have to help in missionary work. His purpose was  to try and motivate the members a bit into doing more! He did a good job and the members really seemed to like it too. It's always fun getting to see President and Sister Scholz.
That's it though! This week is the last of the transfer, and I'll figure out what happens on Saturday! This transfer went by super fast again, especially because it's only a transfer of 5 weeks. The phrase "The days are long but the weeks fly by" that every missionary says is totally true. Time is going by quicker and quicker! But have a good week and until next week!

-Elder Odom

Zone conference, Skype and Ty's mission call

May 15th

Hey everyone back home! 
So my week was pretty good. I'll start with the beginning of the week.
On Tuesday we had Zone Conference which is always fun. President gave a training on the talk given by Gary B. Sabin "Be All In" and it was great. It really made me think, am I 'all in' with my work here on the mission: Am I doing everything I can with the time I have here? The same thing will apply to every part of my life, including after the mission. 2 things that he said that I really like are "When we're all in, we will want to do all the small things, not just do them because we're suppose to." and "We cant expect blessings if we aren't being as obedient as we can. When we aren't all in, we lose some of our greatest blessings." I always look forward to Zone Conferences, I learn a lot! Something else fun that happened is I got to se Lehi! He's the member in my last area that always is helping the missionaries, he's almost a missionary himself. Because of him, that area has baptized a ton of people and has a group of 20 or 30 people each sunday! The stake president is saying that by the end of the year, it should be a branch. Lehi's the man! It was a blast to see him again.
This week was pretty funny for lunch. Normally we eat lunch with members, but this week we only ate with a member one time and for all the rest of the days we had nothing. One of the members gave us some money for food which was good. So, we went to the store and bought food to make for the whole week. The other elders in my house can cook, which is good because I cant cook at all! We actually ate pretty well, I was impressed with the other elders. Pasta, a bunch of different types of meat, rice, etc. your typical brazilian meal but it was still good. On Friday we did splits with the district leader. My companion went with him to his area and his comp came here with me. His name is elder Sanchez, another elder from mexico. We didn't have a a ton of people to teach, so we went crazy with finding new investigators and were able to find 8 people that accepted another visit which is really good! It's been awhile since I've found that many people in one day willing to listen to us, so we were happy with our work. 
On Saturday we had a big ward activity for Mothers Day. The stake president's wife found out that Elder Boldrin and I play guitar, and so he asked us to participate and play some songs with some sisters from the ward. It was really cool! We got the church decorated with hearts and stuff and were able to play 2 songs for the ward. It was fun! At night, we went to a less active members house to share a message and invite her to church. We were walking there when the other companionship in the ward called us. There was a member in the ward who was getting on their case about visiting a referral she gave that day of another inactive member. She said that the referral needed help spiritually and mentally. When we got to the first less active members house it was already 815, so we decided that we wouldn't have enough time to visit the referral that night. But as we left the less active's house, we both felt like we should visit the referral. The problem was we didn't have the map, the address to the house, or time to visit! But we knew we needed to at least stop by. So we called another member to get the address and somehow made our way to the right house. We were let in by a girl who's about 10 years old. We went and met her mom, who was the referral that needed help. Her name is Taila, and I'm not going to get in to all the problems that she has, but I'll say that she probably has had the hardest life of anyone that I've personally met. I couldn't believe all the trials that she's had to go through! I was in shock as I was listening to her tell us about her hardships. I'm still not 100% sure how I'm going to help her, but we are for sure going to do our best.
Sunday was the highlight of the week! Mothers Day and getting to Skype the family! It was super fun to be able to see everyone again. The craziest part was when Ty read his call to me. When he was opening it, it was like I was opening my own call all over again, I was super nervous! But, for those of you who don't know yet, he's going to the Brazil Fortaleza mission!!!!! I couldn't believe it, Ty's going to Brazil too! I was so happy and I'm super proud of him. So cool that my brother and I will serve in the same country. Also shoutout to my cousin Kaylee, congrats on getting your call to Philadelphia, that's so cool!!! I'm super grateful for my family and all the the support I have from them. A big thank you to all my friends back home and serving around the world too, you guys are awesome!
That's all from me this week, I hope all you guys back home have a great week!
-Elder Odom

Companion health issues and a little guitar

May 8th

Another week down! So, what happened this week.

The first thing is about my companion, Elder Naytson. His health just isn't good. He has lots of problems in his legs and he feels a lot of pain, and from what he says it's almost constant, but especially when he's walking around a lot. As missionaries, it's kind of hard to avoid doing that! We went to the doctor to see whats wrong and they did and x-ray on his leg but still don't know why he's feeling pain. So, we need to go back on the 11th to have him do some more tests. On the mission, it really seems to take forever when you go to the doctor, so that trip wasted almost an entire day. This week he also got a pretty bad flu and was out of commission almost 2 days. His fever was high and it was tough for him. He was pretty mad about it because of all the time that we missed because of his health problems, but there's really no other choice but to let him rest because he was dying. So it's been a bit tough to work normally this week because of that, but regardless we were able to get some good lessons.

One of our lessons that was super cool was with 2 investigators, a girl named Eduarda and her mom named Fabiana. Eduarda is 17 and her mom is about 40. We found Eduarda the first week of the transfer but weren't able to find her at home until this past Saturday. We taught the Restoration and it went really good! When we found Eduarda the first week, she was sitting on a bench by herself and he felt like we should talk to her. When we did, we introduced ourselves and started to talk about our message, and she started to cry. She said she is having some problems in her life and she's been praying for help, and that's when we talked to her. Then during the lesson, both her and her mom cried. They said that the first time we found her it was in the exact moment when she needed help, and when we visited on Saturday it was the same thing, just the right moment when she was needing help. During the lesson I really felt the Spirit confirming to them that this is the path that Heavenly Father has for them, and I know that they felt the same way too. This is one of the coolest parts of the mission, to be led by the Spirit even when you don't know that you are! When we made that first contact with her, we didn't know that she was needing our help, we just felt like we should talk to her, so we did. I know that when we're making the right choices and asking for opportunities to help others, Heavenly Father will turn us into instruments in His hands, even when we don't know it. We can have a much bigger impact on the lives of others than we know!

Another thing about my companion. Sometimes he's a bit impulsive and likes to do crazy things. On Wednesday he did just that. The week before while we were at a members house eating lunch, they brought out a guitar and Elder Boldrin, another Elder, and I started to play a bit. Elder Naytson watched us and thought it was super super cool and after that he was 100% determined that he was going to learn how to play guitar. He knows that I taught guitar before the mission, so he said that I was going to teach him. The very next day he went and spent 250 reais on a used guitar so i could teach him how to play. So there's a good and a bad side to this... the good part is that I get to play more often and help my companion learn to play too, and the bad side is it's a huge temptation to play! I have to really force myself to not to play it all the time when I should be studying or something. So I made goals for myself, I'll teach Elder Naytson, but I'll only play on P Day! But it is super sweet to have a guitar again! I miss playing a ton!

There's my week though. Next sunday we get to Skype! I cant believe it! Something that my trainer Elder O'Neill said was that in between Christmas and Mother's Day time flies. It's true! It doesn't seem like that long ago that we were Skyping!  Have a great week!

Elder Odom

Monday, May 1, 2017

Another good week

May 1st
It was another good week!
My companion, elder Naytson is great. I learned a very valuable lesson that i'll never forget. Never judge someone based on what you hear from others. He's grown a lot as a person and missionary, and now He's doing just fine. Its a lesson I'll never ever forget! Hes really outgoing and wild so he's fun to be around. (some of the other elders said he would be a hard companion)
We were able to find a few new people to teach this week that are looking pretty good! Its two 15 year old boys and a 20 year old girl. We found them while contacting people on the street. They seem really interested and I'm looking forward to working with them.
My companion has some heath problems that are pretty bad, mainly because of the walking that we do. His feet are crazy, the bottoms of them are literally like rocks. I gave him one of my pairs of shoes to use because they are much more comfortable than his. I've been pretty worried all week because of his problems. i let president know in my email, so hopefully we'll get him some sort of help soon.
So good news with my Portuguese! its getting better! Both Elder Boldrin (elder in my house that I'm really good friends with) and my comp say that my accent is getting much better. I've been working really really hard with it and its starting to pay off! I have a huge testimony of whatever we ask for, in faith, we can receive. I'm so grateful for all the help i get every single day from Him.
Super cool that the Jazz moved on! I'm proud of my Jazz, already looking forward to watching them when i get home.
So as far as my guess goes for Ty's call.... stateside, I'm gonna guess somewhere in california. internationally, i think he's going to the UK. Super super anxious to hear where he goes!
I'm looking forward to the rest of this transfer. I'm already really liking elder Naytson and i think I'm going to really enjoy it. That's it for me though, sorry for the kinda short email! Have a good week!!
Love Elder Odom

transfers and saying goodbye to Elder Torres

April 24th

The last week of transfer 6 is over. It was a pretty good one!
So about transfers, there's some kinda sad news... I didn't get moved, but Elder Torres did. We are pretty sad about it! It was a super fun transfer and I cant believe it went as fast as it did. We were hoping that he'd stay one more but it didn't happen. But its just part of mission life. The comp I'm getting is named Elder Naytson and he's from Recife, so Brazilian.
This week we focused a lot on growing our teaching base again. We found a good amount of people so we should pretty good shape to start off this next transfer.
I did a split with Elder Guzman, my zone leader on Friday. I went to his area and worked with him. I always like doing splits with the zone leaders, its a good opportunity to learn. Elder Guzman and I are good friends so it was a fun day. He's also going to stay this next transfer along with my other zone leader Elder Seaman from Baltimore. The two elders I'm living with, Elder Boldrin and Elder Santana are also staying. They're super fun to be around so I was happy about that too.
btw, the weather is awesome here!  It's starting to be winter, and winter is actually the most wonderful time of the year.  These past 2 weeks its always been around 73 outside. It's so sweet!!!

But that's actually about it for this week. We're still working hard to find the elect people! But I'll talk to you guys next week.
Elder Odom

Elder Torres made awesome burritos

Rat killing adventures

April 17th

Well it's arrived yet again, can you believe it's my last email for this transfer? It was a quick 6 weeks!
This week was more of the same. We actually found people to teach, but the problem we're having is finding them at home to teach them again! But when we did splits this week, I found some people that seem pretty interested but I marked for next week, so lets hope it goes well with them.
Something cool that we did this week was the ward activity. We have 4 missionaries in the ward and so us 4 planned an activity to try to animate the ward and get them to help us out with referrals and stuff. We divided the ward into 2 teams Each person that brings a non member to the activity gets 3 points and each person they bring to sacrament gets 5. During the activity we had various activities for them to do that could win points too. It was kind of a bummer because we planned a bunch of scripture questions and games, but not very many people showed up. We're planning on doing it over the next 3 weekends too so we still have time to get the members involved!
So something super funny that happened on Friday! My comp and I were planning the ward activity with the other elders in our ward that live with us when one of them sat up a bit and pointed across the room and yelled "rat!" We all turned around and there it was, a huge rat crawling along the wall. It was about 7 or 8 inches long head to tail. We hurried and made a strategy of how we were going to get it out of the apartment and kill it without having it bleed, because it smells super bad. One of the elders snuck around quietly and shut all the doors while the rest of us got ready in our spots. I was waiting on the other side of the front door with a heavy wooden shoe while the others had pieces of wood and other things. They were able to scare it outside and when it passed me I swung at it but missed! My 3rd attempt was good and i got one of its back legs so it was going slower. Then we started hitting it back and forth as it ran around crazy. I was dying laughing the whole time, the whole situation was so funny! Eventually Elder Santana, one of the elders that lives with us, was able to get a solid hit on his head and it died. Then we put an old shirt over it and put elder Torres in charge of picking it up and putting it in a sac. It was so funny watching him because he was so grossed out he literally couldnt do it! He kept saying "Its body is so squishy and soft!!" But after a few minutes he was able to do it. I have a video of that part, Ill try to send it to you guys!
This week I was thinking about my friends and how cool it is that I have so many serving serving all around the world, literally!
I'm 1/3 of the way done with my mission now. Its weird because I still feel kind of new out here! It really does go by quick!
Other than that not much else exciting happened this week. Im looking forward to transfers to see what will happen. I love you all and thanks so much for all that you do! I can really feel the support from you guys and the rest of our family and friends. Until next week!
Love Spence