Monday, July 17, 2017

a little shopping, partying and teaching

July 1st

This week was good. Stayed busy! 
I swear, I got more calls from missionaries this week than all the other weeks combined. I was talking on the phone all day! I started to feel like you mom! 😉 

This week I worked a lot on the "hero movie" which is a video that we make each transfer for all the leaving missionaries. It has a bunch of their photos that they sent to me and some other cool stuff as well. It requires a lot of time, but it's still pretty fun to make it! I had fun doing it.

So something pretty cool. In the mall close to our apartment and the mission office, there's a Nike outlet, and they had a sale, but only for this week. If you bought 10 items, they'd take 50% off the price! There were a bunch of missionaries here in the city that took advantage to it! I went with my 2 comps and the assistants and we bought stuff. Elder Brock, one of the assistants, was nice enough to buy all of our stuff and then let us pay him back. I bought a sweet Paris Saint Germain jersey and a Brazil national team jacket. Because of the sale and dollar vs real, it ended up being 40 bucks! They're pretty sweet. 

2 funny stories that happened this week too. The first was about a package that here that we got in the office. It had Elder Vilas Boas's name on it so he assumed that it was for him. Then he saw that it was from Recife, the city where his sister is serving her mission so he got super happy! He opened it up and it had a shirt, a mini umbrella that says "Recife" and some chocolates. He was smiling and taking pics with the shirt on and with the stuff he got. Then he looked at the bottom of the box and saw a letter. He read the first line, and it said "Dear President Scholz". The box was for president and he opened it up and was using the stuff in it! We all started dying laughing even though he got his hopes up for nothing.

Here in Brazil, there's a huge holiday called Sao João, or St John. People also call it Festa Junino or June Party, mainly within the church because St. John is a "Catholic holiday" even though they do the exact same stuff, only trade the name. What they do is get a ton of people together and do a dance called Farro, which is similar to square dancing. They also dress up as farmers and rednecks and there's a lot of food that has peanuts and corn. On Thursday, there was a pretty big party for this going on at the catholic church across the street from our apartment. Elder Vilas Boas and I were talking and then the other elders got home but had a bunch of food in their hands. When we asked where they got it, they said "from the catholics across the street! Go over there and get some too!" They said that as they were getting food everyone stared at them and got away from them as if they were wild animals! We'd already changed, so we just went over there in normal clothes. We got to the door and Elder Vilas Boas said "my friend here is american and he'd like to experience a sao joão party. Can we enter:" the lady said "oh for sure go ahead!" So we walked right into the catholic church! There was a lot of food and people were nice and offering us a bunch. I also thought that this was my chance to not be noticed because i was in normal clothes, but no, people still picked me out. As we were eating, we had something funny happen. We were talking to ourselves and a group of girls passed us and started saying stuff in english to us: "hi! hi hollywood!" I don't even know how they knew i'm american. We didn't tell anyone besides the one lady at the front gate. I asked my comp how they know, and he said that I just seem american. I said that there are still people with light eyes and hair here, and he just laughed and said yeah but you just look american, it's not super hard to tell. So i guess even people who aren't familiar with the missionaries can tell me apart! But anyway, as we were leaving they kept saying hi and after a few times i turned around and said hi back and then they all flipped, it was pretty funny! Not everyday you go to a catholic party, especially as missionary. But it was funny!

Our investigator Fatima is still doing good and still hasn't smoked! She's all set to be baptized next week on friday. Super excited to see that, it'll be awesome. It's always good to see that when your investigators get baptized they're true converts and even though they don't know everything, they know that they have to try. She's a convert for sure!

There's a recent convert that my comps baptized last transfer named Guilherme who's awesome too. He's dating a member, but she's going on a mission here soon and he's 100% supportive. His family is super catholic though. It's his parents and his younger sister. They're super nice people though and will always be welcoming to us. So, we decided to visit them just to see if we could mark a family home evening with them or something. While Elder Summers was doing a split with other missionaries, Elder Vilas Boas and I went over to Guilherme's house to talk to his family. We shared a short message from the Book of Mormon about trusting in God, and it went great. I could feel the Spirit as we taught. President Scholz talks to us a lot about teaching quickly to bring the Spirit, and then once we feel it we need to leave, so that they will feel the difference of when we we're there and after we left. So we did just that! Our message was only 7 mins and then we invited them to do a family night next week and they accepted. It was a great example to me of the power of the Spirit in teaching. As missionaries, we always need to remember that it's the Spirit that teaches and not us, and that's what happened this week. It's going to be different teaching them but if we do our part in letting the Spirit teach they'll be able to get a confirmation that our message is true. 

This week I focused a lot on thoughts during my personal study. Our personal thoughts dictate a lot of how we live, and it's through our thoughts that we are able to be happy or sad with any given situation. In the October 2016 conference (my first weekend in the field) I remember something that President Nelson said: "Latter-day saints has the ability to be happy in ANY situation." I was studying a talk about thoughts by Dean L. Larsen called 'thoughts about thoughts', and something that really stuck out to me was what we can do to always have good, constructive thoughts. Here's a part from it: 

"I’ve heard counsel given with regard to devices that might be used to protect us temporarily from the effects of bad thoughts or evil thoughts. I’ve heard the suggestion that we might sing a song, a phrase from a Latter-day Saint hymn, or recite some poetry or some verses of scripture. But this, in reality, is a defensive stance. One cannot always be on defense against evil thoughts. One must assume the offense. The best way I’ve learned to achieve this is to practice sustained, constructive thinking. That’s an exercise, brothers and sisters, that requires as much training and as much conditioning as the physical endurance required to run a long-distance race. I commend to you this morning the “exercise” of sustained constructive thinking.
As a mission president I traveled great distances over the state of Texas. (You can drive a long way in the state of Texas!) I used to spend many hours traveling alone, going from one missionary meeting or one set of interviews to another in the automobile that was provided for us. There was a lot of time to think, and many thoughts come in a situation of that kind. I discovered that it was a very helpful thing for me (and later very useful) if I used that time to practice organizing talks that I could give, forming associations of scriptural ideas and principles that would be helpful to me in expressing these relationships to others. Some of the best talks you’ll never hear, I gave to myself as I drove from one place to another in southern Texas. I recommend, that process to you. In order to sustain constructive thinking, it’s necessary for us to have something worthwhile to think about, to have in reserve, as it were, some items, some problems, some challenges, to which we can turn our minds, to think our way through to a solution. I’ve discovered in my own life that that’s the best way to obtain inspiration and whatever degree of revelation we are entitled to."

 I'm grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary, and I'm starting to realize that time is going by too fast! It's already the last week of the transfer! Something that nick told me when I was pretty new in the mission is something that his first zone leader told him: that the first 6 months in the mission feel as long as the last 18. It's true! I'm doing my best to take advantage of every day I have out here! 
I love you all.
 pic 1: Me with my last comp, elder naytson

pic 2: a family home evening we did with a recent convert. it was sweet!

pic 3: elder breno, one of the financial secretaries, accidentally spilled the toner from the printer. we were all laughing pretty hard

pic 4: me and the comps!

pic 5: first reunion of the mtc district since the first day in the mission field! way fun to see sister martin and elder cleverly at the same time
I hope you have a great week!

-Elder Odom

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