Monday, August 28, 2017

August 26th

The first week of the transfer went pretty good. On Monday we sent off the group of missionaries going home. It was a big group and it had a lot of really cool missionaries, including my trainer Elder O'Neill! It was kinda sad to see them all leave. It's crazy that my first comp in the field is already home though, something that we talked about when I was being trained was when Elder O'Neill goes home, I'll have more than a year! Well now he's already home! Weird how time goes by so quick.
Something that's cool though is a majority of the Americans are going to BYU after the mission, so I'll get to see a bunch of them again.

On Tuesday the new missionaries got here. It's always fun to get them because it reminds me of when I got to the field and had no idea what was going on! One of the new Elders that got here was Elder Nice, so you guys can tell his parents that he's doing good! It's always cool to see someone from the same area that I am. 

With the transfers that happened, there was a lot of changes like I said there would be. One of the things that happened is that Elder Cleverly, from my district in the MTC, got called to be a district leader and to train an american in the same transfer! He was pretty shocked and nervous, but I know that he'll be fine. 

Something fun that we did was on Thursday morning we played bball with President and his son Coleman. Coleman has been here the last 2 weeks just to visit his parents but he went home yesterday. Anyway, it was super fun to play with them. I always get impressed with how good President is! He doesn't miss when he shoots! It would be awesome to see him when he was playing at BYU. He told us the other day that when he was on his mission here in Brazil he was invited to play on the team of Para, a state in Brazil. He asked his mission president if he could but sadly he wasn't allowed to! 

So we had a cool experience with Claudio and Elisangela. Lately we actually haven't been making much progress with them because they're not super excited. Elisangela sent us a text after they didn't go to church that said "We need a lot of prayer, we are just feeling really down, I don't know what to say." That's always one message that you don't want to get! So we went to they're house after church and talked to them. We helped them realize why they are feeling like that and what they can so to get excited again. We reinforced the importance of  reading the Book of Mormon and praying daily and going to church every Sunday. We promised them that if they do their part and do these things then they will get excited again! We went back later in the week to teach the Word of Wisdom. They both have problems with coffee and Claudio also drinks and smokes. One thing that I've noticed here on the mission is if someone tries to stop doing everything all at once, it doesn't work. But if they focus on coffee first and can stop drinking it, then the other things become easier to tackle. Before the mission I'd never heard of it, but here there's this drink called Cervada that is really similar to coffee but it's natural and doesn't have caffeine or  anything. Apparently they sell it at the temple too. So as we were teaching, I had the idea to talk about Cervada with them. I brought it up and they hadn't heard about it! We explained what it is and offered to go and buy some for them. They really liked the idea of it and started to get excited about it. After we finished the lesson we went to the store and bought it then brought it back to them. They said "We're going to go make it right now to try it!" The next day we got another text from Elisangela that said "Thank you both for the friendship and the care you are showing to us. We are can feel that you really want to help us! I hope that the Cervada can help them replace coffee! 

It's really cool how the Spirit helps you whenever you need it. I believe that the Spirit helps us much more than we realize. A thought here, impression there, He's always talking. It's true that there is no way that we could do this work without the Spirit! I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to be here serving my mission, to help others and learn more everyday. I have a lot to improve, but I'm trying! That's it for me this week though, I love you and have a great week!

Love Elder Odom
August 19th

 This week was pretty busy for me, the last week of the transfer always is.
In the office, I spent a lot of time wrapping things up for the heroes (missionaries going home) and the new missionaries getting here next Tuesday. This transfer there will be a lot of changes. Like I’ve mentioned, out of the group of missionaries going home there are a lot of leaders; 11! We’re losing a lot of experienced missionaries, but at the same time this will give a bunch of others to learn and grow with new leadership callings. It should be cool to see what happens!
So something that happened this week that got me a little nervous… One of my responsibilities is to take care of all the foreigners on the mission (passports, documents, etc.) and in order to leave the country without a fine, you need to have your passport and an orange card that we get from the police. But, to not talk about the whole process to get this card, I’ll just say there are things that you need to do to get it, and those things weren’t done with one of the missionaries that are going home on Monday! So when I got to the police station to pick it up and found out that his card was in São Paulo, it was pretty stressful. I talked to a few people in São Paulo and with President Scholz and we’ll probably just end up sending him without it even though the church will have to pay a fine. I didn’t know about this process because whoever was executive secretary when this elder got on the mission didn’t do some of the necessary steps and there wasn’t any way for me to know. But now I’ve learned from it and know what to look for, so hopefully it won’t happen again! Learning from experience is something that I’ve been doing a lot recently!
My comp Elder Vilas Boas also had his bday yesterday, and his mom got ahold of one of our recent converts, Fátima, to make a cake for him and have it ready in our apartment when we got home. I’ve been talking with the other elders that live with us and we had Fátima drop it off with them and they brought it up to the apartment to get it ready. I was with him, Elder O’Neill, and Elder Seaman. So when we got home we walked in and there was the cake ready and 6 liters of Coke!! It’s funny because we aren’t drinking it anymore, but Fátima doesn’t know! We also bought 2 pizzas, goof times!
So last Thursday on the 17th I hit the 1 year mark! So crazy! Can you believe it’s already been so long? With one year down I’ve been thinking a bunch about how the first half of my mission has gone and what I’ve learned. Sometimes when I think about myself before the mission, it doesn’t even seem like I’ve changed much. But then when I pay attention to small stuff and remember things that I did while at home I can see the differences. I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned until now is how to appreciate the small blessings we receive every day and how to depend on the Lord in all parts of my life, not only with church related things. All the study we do as missionaries and seeing the gospel in action in the lives of those who didn’t know it before has really opened my eyes to how much Heavenly Father and Christ love each of us personally. They’re waiting to bless us in all we do, but we need to ask for their help and seek it out! My testimony of this has grown so much, that when we are obedient and sincerely look for the Lord’s help we’ll get it. Sometimes we don’t get the help we expected or in the way we hoped, but in the end the Lord’s way will always help us in the best way possible. Yesterday I got to do a split with my first companion and trainer, Elder O’Neill. It’s hard to believe, but he’s heading home on Monday! It made me realize how fast time has gone! It just seems like a few months ago that I was with him in Araçatuba, my first area, dying of heat and not understanding anything in Portuguese. We also realized that now I have the same amount of time on the mission that he had when he was training me. Even though it really didn’t seem like it at the beginning, time goes by super fast out here, and it’s only going faster! I’m really grateful that I have one more year to serve as a missionary. I’ve made mistakes, had success, made lots of memories, done some things I should’ve done differently, but I’m learning and I’m ready to take on this last year! The mission is great!
Love, Elder Odom

Birthday Boy

August 12th

Well, today I'm 20 years old! Wow it's weird, 20 is old! It sure doesn't feel like I'm that old. But this will most likely be my first and last birthday on the mission because of how close it is to when I left.

So, my week. To be honest, it wasn't a super good week. We did have some cool stuff happen, but for some reason I've just been feeling out of it! Hard for me to focus, etc. I guess some weeks are just like that though when you just don't feel super good. I've been trying to get back to 100% though, and I'm sure this next week will be another good one.

So with what's going on with the family we're teaching. We went back there twice this week. The only thing is lately we've only been finding the parents and their daughter at home, and the other family members are always doing something else it seems like. But we went to follow up with their reading and also to teach the Plan of Salvation, and when we got there we were super impressed! Elizangela, the mom, had read 1 Nephi 2 and when we asked what she learned or liked, she gave us a detailed summery of what happens in the chapter and she also pulled out a little notebook that she used to take notes on while she was reading. Very few times on the mission I've had an investigator read and understand so much like that! I was actually with another missionary, Elder Da Cunha, one of the financial secretaries that day. So we taught the plan to them and they understood that part as well. This family has a lot of potential, especially Elizangela! Elder Da Cunha said as we were walking home "If she keeps reading like that, she'll get an answer really fast about the gospel!" It's true! Heavenly Father will see her effort and that she's doing her part, so He'll do his. 

That leads me to what I've been thinking a lot about this week actually. We're always asking Heavenly Father for blessings and things that we need, and we know that He'll give us anything we ask for righteously, but first we need to do my part. I've been asking myself a lot this week... am I doing everything I can to deserve the blessings and answers from God that I need and want: Lots of times, I realize that I can do better. I know that when we do our part, Heavenly Father will always do His. He knows our effort and where our hearts are, and even if it sometimes seems like we're doing everything we can and nothing is happening in return, the blessings will come! It's all in the Lord's time. 

Alright, so we're entering the last week of the transfer... again! It went by super quick. The last week is a busy one. There's a lot to do to get ready for all the changes that will happen at the transfer. This transfer though a lot will happen! We have a group of 17 missionaries going home, which is a ton!! And what's interesting is pretty much all of them are leaders in the mission (district leader, zone leader, etc) so a lot of new missionaries will get called. President is a bit worried about it because there are just so many spots to fill. So we'll see how it goes!

Today so far during P day we got up and went and played volleyball. The ball we used was super super light, but it was still fun. I really like volleball here because it's something that pretty much everyone likes to play. For lunch we went to the mall and ate at a really cool restaurant that was way good. We decided we need to eat somewhere good on my bday!

Alrighty so yeah, that's how my week was! I hope everything's going good at home! For Ben and Kathryn who're starting school here in a week or so, enjoy the last week of summer! I can't believe you're already starting, it seems like you just finished school a few weeks ago! But, until next week. I love you guys!

Love Elder Odom

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Trying new foods and more office stuff

August 5th

This week I mainly focused on preparing a few things for the missionaries going home at the end of the transfer, like the movie we show for them, their personal plans that tell them what they’ll do during the last week, organizing who’s going to be with who, where they’ll sleep, how they’ll get to Ribeirao, that type of stuff. I relearned the lesson of why it’s important to write stuff down and keep looking at the list this week as well. With doing the stuff that I mentioned, I kept forgetting to do some of the little stuff that president would ask me to do. It’s always a bad feeling when he asks me about something that I haven’t done yet just because I’ve forgotten about it! But I’m getting more and more into the swing of things, and by the end of this transfer I think I’ll have it down all the way.

So this past Sunday I had a pretty cool opportunity to go to another city on a split. It’s a city called Jaboticabal and I was there with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Sant from Texas. He was in my first zone when I got here on the mission so it was super fun to spend a day with him! Normally we don’t do splits on Sunday, but because we’re in the mission office it’s the only day we can! We can’t be outside of the office for an entire day so president just told us to do it Sunday. I went there Saturday night and got back Sunday night pretty late. But it’s always fun to get to go to other areas and cities to meet the members and investigators that are being taught.

Another cool thing was that on Sunday Claudio, the guy that I found knocking doors, and his wife and daughter came to church! They liked it a lot, but they said it’s just super different than what they’re used to. We had a really cool lesson with them about the Book of Mormon too. They are really fun to teach because they have lots of questions and they understand the lessons well. They were able to understand what the BoM is and how they can use it to get answers. Our main issue with them is finding a day when they’re all at home at the same time. We’d like to visit them 2 or 3 times per week to teach, but until now we’ve only been able to catch them all at home once per week and one other day we just teach whoever’s at home.

So funny story that happened. Yesterday, Friday night, Elder Vilas Boas was going crazy because he found a coupon for some restaurant that serves food from Bahia, where he’s from. So he called the place and had them deliver it to our apartment and he ordered all of us a type of sandwich thing. It was some sort of bread roll thing that had a sauce and pieces of meat and other things that I don’t know what they are. To top it off it was covered in mini shrimp, and not the type of shrimp you normally think of. They’re tiny and cooked exactly the way that they’re caught, with their eyes and everything still apart of them. So I ate it, and it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever had but I can’t say it was terrible. I think one of the hardest/funniest parts of eating it was looking at all the mini shrimp stare at me and then just eating it!

So yeah, that’s about what happened for me. Nothing too new! It’s weird to think that there are only 2 kids at home now. What’s happening right now is something that we talked about but it never seemed like it would actually come, but now it’s here! The only thing I can say is that it’ll go by way fast, it really will. When you first get on the mish you don’t believe that but now I’m seeing how quick it’s going by! It’s super cool that Ty saw Chalise. How cool! It’s super cool to see those pics of him because it just reminds me of when I did that not too long ago. Talk to you later!
-Elder Odom