Logan's Letters

This webpage will be dedicated to Logan's email messages. We will post them as they become available, so check back for the latest updates.

June 18, 2008

Hey everyone,
Thanks for the emails from everyone, it seems kind of weird to be writing my last email of the mission. The lessons I have learned throughout the past two years have been incredible, unique, and my future will be ultimately changed through what I have witnessed, felt, and developed here. Brazil is in my heart, with everyone that I have met here. I try not to think about coming home, I start getting a little teary-eyed; I know, not very masculine. But the past two years have been the best ever!
So last week I had my last interview with President Brinton, it was really awesome. He talked about studying, he liked my plans on being an orthodontist, if that is what I want to do. He didn´t tell me I have to marry right away, but he told me to be prepared for the time of the Lord, to stay strong within the gospel forever. And finally to always keep contact with the Brintons. He then gave me a wonderful blessing, about the fulfillment of those goals according to my faith. Then I recieved a HUGE piece of cake that Sister Brinton made for us.
On Sunday we had stake conference by satellite where Elder Henry B. Eyring spoke to us as well as Elder Richard G. Scott, Elder Steur of the 70, and Sister Mary N. Cook from the Young Woman Organization. It was very good, they talked a lot about family, and about prayer. I enjoyed the talk by Elder Richard G. Scott, about how we are children of God.
Sad news. Our ward doesn´t have a normal church building, we have been meeting in a 3 story building, which is infested by rats. Every morning we have to clean up the rat droppings every sunday morning, but the members are really worried about the children touching something that wasn´t cleaned and getting sick. So our ward now will have to share a church building with another ward that actually is kind of far away, so it will be hard on our investigators.
Marcia didn´t go to church on Sunday, and had some lame excuse, so she is cut. But this week we have already found many new investigators so we will just keep working to the end.
Just to finish this epoch email, I love you all so much! I am so happy to have such an awesome family and to know that we can be an eternal family. I know more than ever that Christ lives and we are realizing an incredible work. I don´t want this dream to end but it must. Until next week!
Love, the Bird

June 11, 2008

Hey everyone,
Thanks for everyone´s emails today, it is good to know that you all love me a lot. To answer Mom´s question, I won´t be writing on the 25th, so today is the 2nd to last time writing to you. It is wonderful to know that most of the projects are nearly all done, if you won´t to save some project for me to do that is fine too, I don´t complain as much as I use to. The time really does pass by so quickly, I still don´t feel like I am coming home in 2 weeks, but that is good because I am going to work until the end. I am excited to play with all my nephews and niece again, they are probably so big now. Tell Max that I am excited to see him again too.
Tomorrow I will have my last interview with President Brinton, and actually it will be the last interview for President Brinton as well, how cool. I am super excited about this interview, he will talk to me about my future plans, studying, marriage, renewal of my temple recomend, and he will give me a priesthood blessing! Also, this Sunday we will have stake conference, and this stake conference will be a transmission from Salt Lake City. I think that it will be President Thomas S. Monson speaking to us, and he will only be speaking to the stakes here in the south east of Brazil, so I am excited for this. By the way, do you know what subject I have been given to speak about at my homecoming, I would really like to start preparing now for this talk. Because it has to be an incredible talk being a returned missionary, haha.
This week we had an interesting experience. Elisabete who we had been preparing for baptism kind went all crazy. Only Wednesday night I taught her about fasting, and we agreed to do a fast together on Thursday. On Thursday we didn´t find her home, and on Friday she was home, but sent her daughter to tell us that she didn´t want to talk with us. We called her phone on Saturday and someone told us that she went to her mom´s house. So we were really confused about what happened, until yesterday. While we were walking to our lunch appointment we ran into her on the street, and of course we asked her why she disappeared and didn´t want to talk with us the other day. She told us that she just didn´t want to talk with us the other day, and that she doesn´t want us to return because we are a ´sect´. This is a funny word here, because everyone seems to call our church (and a few other churches like Jehovah Witness) sects, even though they have no idea what a sect is, just assuming that it is something bad. We asked her if she knew what a sect was and she said she wasn´t very sure but that she had come to the conclusion that we are a sect. She explained how we not only worship Jesus Christ but also President Thomas S. Monson. Her family has been toying with her mind, and she accepted what they told her, and she doesn´t want to believe us. It is a little frusterating when the truth is right in front of them, but they are blinded by their own belief, remembering that Elisabete had been reading the Book of Mormon and praying for a couple of weeks but still didn´t know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet. Our ward mission leader said that he will return there to talk with her with his family this week, so we will see what happens.
My last chance of baptizing someone before returning home is a woman named Marcia, I may have mentioned her name last week. She didn´t go to church on Sunday because of some work she was doing that she lost track of time. But she told us that Sunday she will be at church, and her baptism is marked for 22nd of June. She knows that this is the true church, and has accepted all the commitments, but she needs to go to church at least 2 more times. So from now on I will be working very hard so that Elder Leanderson can start baptizing a lot next transfer.
I would just like to tell you how much I love you all, this mission has truly changed my life. One thing I have been thinking a lot about lately is how I have been blessed with such incredible parents. I see all sorts of families here, and I realize how I never doubted that Mom and Dad would always be there to help me, be a wonderful example, keep the commandments of the Lord, and that they truly desire the best for me. Unfortunately I see many kids who don´t have those same blessings, so thanks. -The Bird

June 4, 2008

Hey everyone,
Well, it is good to be able to write to you once again, and thanks for the emails. That is really weird that Max is already at home, really weird. I guess the good thing is that I don´t feel like I am going home so soon, I hope I keep feeling that way until my last day. Good news, I went to the mission office on Monday, got mail, and recieved the credit card. But I wasn´t able to call, so can you activate the debit card for me? My old card has my name on it, but the new one has Dad´s name, so I was wondering as to whether it should have my name or if it is correct.
So on Sunday we able to watch the dedication of the Curitiba, Brasil temple, by satellite at the stake center here. It was really awesome, and very spiritual as well. The best part was that most of the members had never seen the dedication of a temple before. I enjoyed watching President Monson has he interacted with the people there, and to see his personality a little better. Elder Russell M. Nelson was also there, and his translator was having a tough time keeping up with him. So that makes a total of 5 temples in Brasil, with one more that is undergoing construction right now. I just hope it doesn´t take too long before they start building the Rio de Janeiro temple.
My ward is right next to my old ward, Saracuruna, so at the dedication I got to see all my friends from there. It was so awesome, I saw Veronica and her sister who was baptized the transfer after I left, Robson who was our ward mission leader, and so many others. Saracuruna has actually been baptizing a lot, and most of the baptisms are Veronica´s friends, so it is good to see how the fruits of one person can affect so many others.
Our investigator Elisabete is a little confused, she is reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, but she isn´t recognizing the answers that it is true. She is questioning if God really loves her, it is so difficult to have investigators keep the commitments but don´t recognize the spirit. We asked her to read Ether 12, and afterwards pray, with a strong desire to know the truth so that she can follow the promptings. Today we will follow-up with her to find out how it went. We are also visiting an investigator we had stopped visiting for a little bit, she is showing a stronger desire now to follow, and accepted a baptismal date for June 15th. So things are going good, working hard, and loving every bit of it. The chanllenges are what make this work so much fun, relying on the spirit, and seeing changes happen.
I thought it was funny how mom said she will be selfish with me when I get home, haha. I love you all so much!
Love, Elder Spence

May 28, 2008

Hey everyone,
The time is passing by so quickly, but I am trying to enjoy the time the still have to do this work. Vila Sao Luis would have to be one of the toughest areas so far, but the work is going really well, and we are seeing some good fruits coming forth. One of the best things so far is that right from the beginning I gained the trust of the bishop here, so I am positive that will help in the upcoming weeks. But the funny thing is that nobody knows I am going home so soon, and I won´t tell anybody until I am gone, just to help me concentrate on the work that is to be done.
I am really excited for this Sunday, since we will have the dedication of the Curitiba temple, the members are all very excited, most of them have never seen a temple dedication so it is all new for them. Yesterday we went searching for a white hankerchief, and it was tough to find, but finally we found some so we are all set. This sunday we will have the dedication 9:00 am, and only have sacrament meeting 2:00pm to partake of the sacrament, and for all investigators and other members that weren´t able to go to the dedication to go to church as well.
This week we were able to get Elisabete and her daughter Rafaela to church, and they enjoyed it a lot. However Rafaela, being 8 years old, is very mature, and was wanting to be in the young womens. She said that there were only little kids in the primary with her. We also had a family home evening with them and their neighbor who is also a member. They had a really great time, and seem more excited every time we go to visit them. We have a baptismal date marked for them on the 8th of June, so we are working with them to meet the goal.
We have had another week of teaching many people, but nearly all of them aren´t willing to keep the commitments such as going to church or accepting baptism, so our search continues in finding those who are ready and prepared now for the gospel.
It is very strange to think that Max has already gotten home, that his two years has already gone by, and that my time to arriving as well.
I think that I have grown to love this place the most in these last couple of months, I am just going to savor the moment while I am still here. I love you all, I am glad that you got the pictures, and até mais.
Love, Elder Spence

May 20, 2008

Hey everyone,
So, these past couple of days have been pretty good, but we sure have been doing a lot of walking around. Vila São Luis is a little different from my other areas, first thing is that this ward doesn´t even have a chapel, the church is in a 3 story building, being that the 2nd and 3rd floors is our church. It is an old building, kind of ugly, and is infested with rats, every sunday they have to do a quick sweeping to get all of the rat droppings. But the good thing about this building is that they have an elevator. This area has quite a few hills, something that I haven´t been very use to for quite a while.
Nearly all the investigators in this area were cut when I got here, since they are people who like the church, but don´t want to be baptized, eternal investigators. So we have been doing a ton of contacts in the streets and chasing down addressess, and old referrals that past missionaries didn´t contact. Actually here in Vila São Luis had 2 companionships, but when I got here they took out one of the companionships. But guess where they put the other companionship? In Saracuruna! We were having so much success there that President Brinton thought it would be good putting more missionaries in that ward.
On Sunday we went to Saracuruna to do a baptismal interview, it was good to be in my old area again. The woman who was preparing to be baptized is actually the wife of Paulo Cesar, that I baptized while I was there. They had actually seperated when I was there, she wanted to return to him, but he firmly said that he wouldn´t return to her unless they were married and she was baptized. So she started going to church, gained a testimony, and she was baptized on Sunday.
The members here seem pretty good, there is a couple of them that are excited to help in this work. I haven´t told anybody here that I am going home soon, I just tell them I have been on the mission for about a year and a half. It should be a good surprise when I go home and they don´t even know it. But it is good so that I can keep focused on the work and not having members reminding me that the end is so near.
That is way cool that Mom found her old bishop at the temple, he must feel really good to know that someone he had served has continued strong and is being so blessed by the gospel. Keep up the bike riding Mom, it is like a mission, at first it is really hard, but after a while you really enjoy it.
I am enjoying serving with Elder Leanderson, he is actually really funny, but also a diligent and obedient missionary. We have to give a training tomorrow in a zone conference, so we are a little nervous, but it will turn out really well. It will be about following up with our investigators. That is why I am writing today instead of tomorrow, because our p-day was moved to tuesday to fit in our zone conference.
But I love you all, thanks for your support, and before too long I will be there. Love, Elder Spence

May 14, 2008

Hey everyone,
So sad story, I was transfered today. I was hoping to stay in Curicica for my last transfer with Elder Pulsipher, but the Lord has other things for me to do. Before our transfer meeting today, President Brinton said sorry about having to transfer me in my last transfer, but he couldn´t keep Elder Pulsipher and I together in the last transfer because we will be going home the same time and so he would have to ´white-wash´the area if we stayed together. It is alright, it is part of the mission. I am now in Vila Sao Luis, which is right next to my dear area Saracuruna. I am zone leader with Elder Leanderson, a great missionary, from Natal. Natal is up in the northeast of Brazil, where it gets really hot. Elder Leanderson will be going home in September, so he has a little bit more time as well. But I am also district leader at the same time, so I will have to take care of a zone, as well as one of the districts personally, the more the better.
Sorry about the phone call, the reception was not very good at all using the cell-phone. But it was good to hear your voices, sorry I was always asking you to repeat what was said. I hope that everybody had a great mother´s day, and that Dad and Bob had a good birthday.
So, Sunday was a really awesome day as far as baptisms go. We baptized Davi, and his parents were also there to watch. They really enjoyed church, especially his mom. The only problem is that Davi´s parents are not married, so that small problem has to be taken care of. I also had the opportunity to baptize Andrea even though she was part of Camorim ward. Curucica and Camorim share a church building, and use to be the same ward until they were split. We had contacted Andrea on the street some time ago, she didn´t want to give us her address, so we invited her to come to church. We were not expecting her to come, but she did the first sunday. She still didn´t want to give us her address, but then came the following Sunday. We were then able to mark a day to visit her that week. We made the first visit to her, marked her baptism, but realized that she lived on the border of Camorims ward, and so she belongs to that ward. But she chose me to baptize her, since we were the first ones to teach her.
I am sure that Mom will be happy to know that I have just finished developing another roll of film, so I will be sending it this week.
I am really going to miss Curicica, I stayed there for such a short time, but I am grateful to be here in my new area, with a new companion, still doing this same great work.
I love you all, you are my greatest blessing.
Love, Elder Spence

May 7, 2008

Hey everyone,
I hope Mom and sisters have an awesome mother´s day, but luckily I will be able to say that personally in a couple days. For the information about the phone call, I am almost certain that we are 3 hours different. I will be expecting your call at 7:30pm here, which would mean 4:30pm for you. The phone number that you will call to is...
(021)8655-0497. I am assuming that Dad still remembers what else he has to do to call to Brazil, because I don´t know, sorry. I am excited, I will be practicing my english so that I am prepared for the call.
This week was another wonderful week in Curicica for me. I think that I am in the best part of my mission, we are working hard, having success, and I am loving this experience more than ever before. On Sunday I had the opportunity to confirm Ward a member and to give him the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then after church a member, Vander (Elder´s quorum president), baptized Edna. From the first day we met Edna until now she has just been a miracle. She has so much faith, and believes in everthing that we teach her. She told us about her experience during the baptism, she told us that it was as if there was nobody there, just her in the water, going under and coming back out. Her ´daughter-in-law´, Adriana(in quotations because her son and her aren´t really married), was the only one from Edna´s family to go and watch. But Adriana enjoyed church a lot, and she had some really good questions, we will see what happens with her since she goes to the baptist church.
Davi,19, who has been going to church for a month now, told us that he wants to be baptized. We weren´t pushing him to be baptized before because he is a little mentally slow. He talks with people normally, but he can´t read very well, so we were waiting for his parents to come to church as well. But Davi´s parents were supportive of his decision, they have told us that they would go to church with Davi but until now they haven´t. So maybe with Davi´s baptism this Sunday, they will finally go there. Davi´s mom, Leila is really good friends with the Relief Society President here, so she already has friends at church. On Sunday, Davi watched Edna´s baptism and he told us how he had almost cried during the baptism from the spirit he felt. It was that same night he told us that the next baptism would be his, and it will.
This week President Brinton called us and congratulated us for the success and hard working that Elder Pulsipher and I are doing. But he also told us that as the zone leaders we have to not only be a great example to the zone, but we need to work with everyone, and help them also have success and work their best. It was good to realize how I need to be more worried about the people I am serving, I think that lately we had been a little selfish just focusing on our own work and area. But now our vision has increased and we are realizing the responsiblity that we have. There are so many things that I am learning on the mission, and that I will continue to learn. I am so grateful that I still have a little over a month and a half to serve as a full-time missionary. The time is going by fast, but there is still so much to be done.
I love you all so much, I am excited for Sunday, and até mais!
-The Bird

April 30, 2008

Hey everyone,
Thanks everyone for your emails, it was fun to hear how everybody is and what is going on. I was glad to hear that Alicia and Bob bought a new car, that Autumn and Brynn finished their triathalon, and that Mom and Dad got to plant some more trees, haha.
So, good news that I will be coming home one day earlier.
But this week was really an awesome week. For one, we had the baptism of Ward, he was really happy, and was very thankful that we had taught him the true gospel. He had brought to friends with him, and both of them enjoyed church a lot. We are trying to mark a day when we can teach them as well.
Oh, other good news! Yesterday we went to the mission office to give a training to the missionaries that work in Barra da Tijuca, and I got my letters. Among them was a letter from Veronica who I baptized in Saracuruna last transfer. She had written to tell me that her sister Mariza was also baptized on Sunday! So the fruits are already coming forth. Her sister Mariza was very active in the Assembly of God church, which is very numerous here. But just before I got transfered we had started teaching her, and she started attending the english classes with Veronica. But to make the story complete I hope to hear that Veronica´s parents will be baptized as well, which I don´t think is a far off possibility, since they are an awesome family.
With the letters was a letter from mom, and I especially enjoyed reading about the april fool joke that Carlton did about China being opened. I couldn´t stop laughing, cruel, but very funny.
On Monday I got to do splits with another ´greenie´Elder Fanjul, he is from Logan, UT. It was a great splits, even though he is a very young missionary he teaches with a very strong spirit. I was very touched by what he told me before we finished our splits, that he wanted to be more like Christ through my example, I don´t think that I could have recieved a nicer complement. But on Monday night we had an incredible family home evening at the house of a couple who would be baptized, but the man is trying to take care of a previous divorce, and then they can be married, and baptized. They have two kids who are already members. Another family of members came over, their neighbor who aren´t members, we brought Edna, who will be baptized on Sunday, and two recent converts. I gave a message about eternal families, I told a story about who we need to value and appreciate the families we have, and then I gave everyone a copy of the ´proclamation to the Wold, the family´. Afterwards we played a game where we had to say things in portuguese, so I was having to translate for Elder Fanjul since he doesn´t understand very well.
So, Edna will be baptized on Sunday, she is the greatest woman ever. She is 68 years old, but she still runs in races, like half marathons. She is so funny as well, she wants to be very obedient and when we taught her about the Word of Wisdom, she said, "Oh I didn´t know that I can´t drink coffee, but I won´t drink anymore, alright?" After that she hasn´t even touched coffee, she actually threw all of her coffee out. She is so happy going to church, reading the book of mormon, she has almost finished 1 nephi, and she still calls us her angels.
Anyway, I love you all, I am happy to have such an incredible family, and my greatest happiness is the fact that I know that I will be with you for all eternity. Abraço Love, Elder Spence

April 23, 2008

Hey everyone,
Well, I had written a really long letter, but then my computer had some problems and I lost everything that I wrote. But this week was a really great week, but it seems like every week is a really great week. We have had some good success and I am excited. Thanks for eveyone´s email, I am glad that you finally got my photos, and I hope that Autumn and Brynn do well in the triathalon.
So, about the work. Ward is still progressing very well to be baptized this Sunday. He is really excited about his baptism, and he has a very strong testimony of the truth. We visited him yesterday with the bishop, and it was a great visit, he respects the bishop a lot. So everything is going very well with him, another blessing.
On Thursday Elder Pulsipher and I made a contact on the street with a guy who lived close by, so he let us enter his house. There was his brother and mother, Edna, there as well. He and his brother didn´t pay much attention, but his mom loved the visit. When we returned the next day she had already read the first 8 chapters of 1 Nephi. We had planned to pick her up on Sunday in a car with a member to go to church, but when we got there, she wasn´t there. We found her already at the church, she had gone by herself. Edna is about 65, and immediately made good friends with the other older woman of the ward. She loved church, and started telling the members at church that she will be baptized on May 4th, the day we had previously marked with her. She always tells us that she is much happier since the day that we met her, she even described how she recieved an answer from the holy ghost, and how she felt. Elect!
I am happy to be here, I am happy to work with Elder Pulsipher who is a great missionary, humble, kind, and a hard worker. Today I was able to do splits with Elder Tuckett who is also from my group in the CTM, which was a lot of fun.
Curicica has quite a few poor areas, with houses really close together. Many times they have 3 houses, one on top of the other, it is kind of funny. There are so many people here that aren´t from Rio de Janeiro, but are here to find work. The northeast of Brasil is a place a little poorer, so many brazilians leave there to find better work here, so we get to know many people from different parts of the country.
I love you all, and I am happy.
Love, Elder Spence

April 16, 2008

Hey everyone,
Well, I am happy to be writing to my beautiful family again. This week has been a pretty good week, we worked hard, and for most of the week we weren´t finding any new investigators, but then during the weekend the Lord blessed us by helping us find many new investigators. Dad, thanks for taking care of all the college stuff, I have hardly thought about it, so it is good to know that you are looking into everything for me. That is also great news that the Jazz made it into the playoffs again, really good news!haha
Mom, thanks for your concerns about the dengue fever, I guess I should be more concerned than I am. I will buy mosquito repelent today, especially since all the members keep asking us if we are using it. We usually just tell them that the Lord will protect us, but let´s face it, faith without works is dead. Actually on Monday I was doing splits with another elder in his area, and we contacted a reference of a man named Cosme who recently had his daughter die from dengue. We taught him about how we can live with his daughter again, and that he could have an eternal family through obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a very spiritual experience, he excepted our return visit in a couple of days.
As a mission we have made a goal to achieve two baptisms for the month of april per companionship. We weren´t sure if we would be able to achieve this goal since our investigators that we had fell through, and our new investigators were marked for baptism in May. On Saturday we fasted so that we might achieve our goal, and the Lord provides. Sunday an old investigator came to church as he has been for a couple of weeks, but we had already cut him since he told us that he isn´t ready to be baptized. On Sunday he asked us a couple of questions about the church that he had doubts about, and then told us that he was ready to prepare for baptism! His name is Ward, he is about 50, a really direct guy, and funny ( even though he doesn´t know it), and is really smart ( he has been studying for many years to be a doctor, but doesn´t have money to go to college, so he studies at home until he has sufficient money). We talked with him and we marked his baptism for the 27th of April. The bishop likes him and is excited for his baptism as well.
This ward has one of the best bishoprics that I have seen here on the mission. The bishopric helps with the missionary work, it is so nice to have these men asking about investigators, and how they can help, and making visits with us.
Elder Pulsipher and I continue to go to the gym about every other morning, we always feel really good afterwards, invigorated, and awake. I hope that I will be able to keep going to the gym until I come home, you know, get a little buffer.
This area seems to be the toughest area to find married people that I have passed. Elder Pulsipher and I have a goal to find a complete family, dad, mom, kids and married, it is tough but we won´t give up.
I love you all, thanks for all of your support, and for your prayers.
Beijos! Love, Elder Spence

April 8, 2008

Hey everyone,
Well, thanks for the letters that I recieved, it is always good to hear what is going on with all of you. General Conference was so wonderful, but it is kind of sad that it is already over, not to get trunky or anything but the next General Conference I will be at home! There were so many talks that I really enjoyed, I think that it was interesting that so many of them talked about the prophetic calling of Thomas S. Monson, and the many testimonies that he is truly called of God. I thought it was really funny how the last session of General Conference President Thomas S. Monson was making everybody laugh talking about his wife. And then in the priesthood session when he told the story about wiggling his ears in a sacrament meeting.
Some of the best talks I thought was by Joseph B. Wirthlin where he said that compassion can solve many of today´s problems, Cheryl C. Lant where she talked about the traditions we are passing, A. Craig Zwick about standing for the right, even if we stand alone, and David A. Bednar about praying with faith, and where he said "missionaries are full-time teachers, and members are full-time finders", as a missionary that was exactly what I wanted to hear. It is so much better and we usually have better investigators when the members are giving referrals to us. But all the talks were really good, I am excited to read them in the ensign.
Even better, we had a baptism in the midst of General Conference, of Ana Christina, who in fact was a member referral as well. On Sunday in between sessions we had her baptism as well as baptisms from other wards in our zone, so all the more merry!
On Sunday there was a woman and two of her kids watching General Conference in english with us, who actually knows Dad, because her son Noah had you for a teacher for like 6 weeks, I think this year. I don´t remember their last name but the name of the woman I think was Christina. Anyways, it was funny because her daughter spotted Evan Whittaker singing in the choir and told everyone that he was her science teacher, so I asked them if they knew you, and that was when she told me that her son had you for a teacher for a little while.
I am enjoying working with Elder Pulsipher a lot, we are having so much fun working together. The area is really good, and the members so far seem to be really good. Our ward has 4 missionaries so our area isn´t too big, there are a lot of tree covered hills in this area but they are too steep to build houses, so our are is relatively flat, sweet. We control ourselves most of the time about not talking going home, since we go home together, and I believe we will be having a lot of success in the next couple of weeks. This week we are going to start working out at a gym as well, so I can challenge Casey to an arm wrestle and not lose so badly.
Mom, I got the information about my debit card, I will make sure to take out enough money before May 1st.
I love you all, I am glad to have such a wonderful family, and I am so happy to be in the service of our Lord, eveyday I am growing a strong love for this work and for the people here. Amo vocês!
Love, Elder Spence

April 2, 2008

Hey everyone,
Thanks for the emails from all of you, that is too bad that you got hit by another snow storm, if only that sent was sent to Rio! To answer some of Mom´s questions, the pants were a little big but there are always members willing to sew up missionary clothes, I know Elder Wilding pretty well because he was in my district in the CTM. It takes about 3 weeks to recieve a letter from you, and the package that I had all ready to send, turned out to be R$80.00 to send, and it wasn´t even very heavy. I decided to just send the pictures in a normal letter, and I will just bring the presents home in my luggage. You already waited 3 months, what is another 3 months. Sorry.
So the biggest news of the week, I was transfered from my beloved Saracuruna today, I figured I would be transfered but I was hoping that it wouldn´t happen. So now my new area is called Curicica(you say it like coo-di-see-ka), and my new companion is Elder Pulsipher who was in my district in the CTM, I am super excited to be working with him now as zone leader. I already know that this transfer is going to be great, and that I will learn a lot. Elder Pulsipher is from San Diego, and his dad is a dentist. I am in a house with 4 missionaries again, which will be a lot of fun.
It was sad to say goodbye to Saracuruna, I have so many friends there, but I will probably be saying the same thing in a couple of months when I have to leave my new area. But, on Sunday Rosane and her kids were confirmed a member and recieved the gift of the Holy Ghost. I got to confirm David, which wasn´t nearly as scary as my first time. Monday was Elder Campos´s birthday where he turned 21 years old too. That night we had a family home evening at Veronica´s house, with a bunch of members, and Veronicas parents and sister really enjoyed it. They are more open with us everyday, Veronica thinks that before too long they will be ready for baptism. She also has a referral for us, too bad I won´t be there anymore, but it is good to see that she is excited about doing missionary work.
One of the saddest things is that on Saturday we had our first english class, and we filled the church, there were about 60 people there! It was a lot of fun, many people were excited to participate, but now I was transfered and I won´t get to continue teaching them. At least another american took my place there, so he can continue giving the english class.
But now for a new adventure in a new area, and I am excited to see what is going to happen. I love you all, and I am so happy to have so much support from my family. Love, the Bird.

p.s. Brynn wanted to know what ´the bird´is in portuguese, it is ´o pássaro ( say it like o pass-ido)

Sorry, I forgot to mention that next week our p-day will be changed to be on Tuesday because of zone conference. So don´t forget to write sooner. Love you! The Bird

March 26, 2008

Hey everyone,
This easter had to be one of the best ones of my life! Not because I recieved a lot of chocolate, or candy (which I did recieve), but because of the best thing in the life of a missionary, baptisms! Rosane and her 3 sons were baptized on Sunday, everyone was super excited in the ward, and Elder Campos and I didn´t get into the water with any of them. We had the members do it all, and it was a great experience to make Easter even better. It really was spiritual, and she has been recieiving a lot of support through the members, another success.
I also had interview with President Brinton, which was also very good. First of all, I liked how clean our house was which is a very big plus, and for the hard work we are doing in Saracuruna. My interview with him is always really quick, he usually just asks how I am, my family, and if he can help me in any way. Another bonus is that he brought 4 packages with him. From Bynn, Alicia, Kelly Spencer, and Carolyn Hartley. Thanks for everything, candy, ranch, the ring (that I won´t lose, I promise), and the letters. One thing that President Brinton mentioned, is that he has noticed same great changes in me in the past few months, that I have more energy and desire to do this work. I love President Brinton, he is an awesome president, Sister Brinton is really great too, always really happy.
Our ward mission leader, Robson, has organized an english class for me to do on Saturdays, oh no. But it should be alright, he did sign-ups on Saturday, and 41 non-members signed up and seem to be really excited. The only problem is that next week is transfers, so it might mean that I will be here for the first time and then I am gone. So Robson is praying that if I get transfered, another american will take my place that can give English class.
Veronica, Raquel, Paulo César are all doing really well, and are starting to get callings here in the ward. It is great to see how they are involving themselves to be part of our family, and that the members are really receptive. This really has to be the best ward that I have gone to on the mission, but it isn´t too hard to be the best when I have only passed through 3 areas. Marcia is in a difficult situation, she hasn´t gone to church in a couple of weeks, she wants to go, but always has some excuse. It makes me sad mostly because of her kids who need to grow up with the gospel. She has a difficulty trusting in the Lord, so our goal is to help her build her faith, and to recognize God´s love for her.
It has been raining quite a bit the last couple of days, and since this area has a lot of dirt, everything turns into mud. I am having to wash my pants more than usual, good experiences. Now I am serious, I am sending a package to you tomorrow or Friday, with your christmas presents as well as the pictures that are finally developed. Sorry, I have been a real slacker with this.
It has been crazy here, there is the disease called Dengue which they always have a lot in the Rio during summer, but these past couple of weeks it seems like everybody it getting it. This year has been one of the worst ever. We have had a lot of members sick, so we have been giving quite a bit of blessing of health. It is passed by mosquitos, and the people get a fever, their body aches, sometimes it can be so serious that people end of dying. But Mom, don´t worry, I will be alright.
I love you all, and am very grateful for the best blessing I have, my family. I think it is kind of funny that Mom is getting super trunky. You are always in my heart. Love, Elder Spence(the bird).

March 20, 2008

Hey everyone,
First of all, I want to thank everyone for the emails, all wishing my a happy birthday. We didn´t do anything special, mostly because I didn´t tell anyone that it was my birthday, but afterwards the members found out and I recieved some cake the day after. I recieved two packages, so I guess the one I didn´t recieve was Brynn´s, but tomorrow I will have interviews with President Brinton, so maybe I will be recieving packages and letters tomorrow.
I can´t believe you already recieved my flightplans, the time just flies too quickly. Like Dad said, other members who have served missions tell me that the last 3 months are some of the best. I am happy to hear that Doug is trying to get in shape, and I am excited to play with my nephews and niece.
But back to work, this week was a great week. It is rainy one day and then really hot the next, but change is good. It´s like a box of chocolates you never know what you´re going to get. Our front door is made of glass, and a missionary before me broke the glass. Well during the night the neighbor´s cat came into our house and did his business on our couch. We woke up to a foul smell, and it took a while until we found out what was smelling so bad, and then took part of the morning to clean it all up. Joys of the mission.
Veronica was confirmed a member on Sunday, and is now a member of the church of Christ. Then on Monday we had a family home evening with her, her parents, and another family that are members. We taught the Plan of Salvation so that her parents could learn about it. Her dad is already a deacon in his church, but he talked with Veronica afterwards that the really enjoyed the discussion, and that they could feel the spirit very strong. The best thing is that her father already knows many members of the church, and they are helping to follow-up with them.
Last night we also visited Rosane with the bishop and his wife, we had another great lesson, about tithing and fasting. She has so much faith and is keeping all of the commitments that we mark with her. The best news was when we got there and she said that she didn´t drink any coffee. Everything is going very well for her baptism on Sunday with her 3 boys Davi 12, João Pedro 11, and Afonso 9. The members are really excited for her, and always talk about how her kids are so well behaved. I am happy because this family has 3 future missionaries.
It is kind of weird the Easter is almost here already, but I hope you all have a great Easter because I will. I love you all so much, and I love this work. Love, Elder Spence

March 12, 2008

Hey everyone,
    Thanks for the emails from everybody, yeah I am feeling pretty old now, 21 years, I never thought that I would make it this far.  I forgot to mention last week but I already recieved the packages that you sent me, and thanks for everything!  All the candy has been eaten, I liked the pants, and pictures, and everything.  Lately I have been getting home, and feeling much more tired than usual, it must be my age.
    So, this past Sunday we had the baptism of Veronica, and it went perfectly.  Everyone was excited, and many people stayed to watch.  Her parents also came, and enjoyed it a lot, even though her parents go to another church, her father is a deacon even.  But we earned their confidence when we did a service project, with several members these past two saturdays.  Her father had a different view about the church, but after helping to prepare and paint a house of theirs, we got to know them and they were much more happy about the baptism of Veronica.
    Autumn asked why everyone likes Veronica more than Raquel.  Veronica is the type of person who is open and talkative, but intelligent as well.  The first times that Raquel went to church, she wasn´t using appropriate clothing, and the members began to judge her right from the beginning.  She of course changed her clothing style, but many people don´t see the changes she has made in her life, but at least she has a very supportive aunt, and some good members who give her encouragement.
     The other woman that we are teaching, Rosane who has 5 kids, was at church again, and loved it more than the first time.  The members are very supportive with her as well, we are always making visits with couples of the ward to Rosane.  She is planned to be baptized on Easter, so it will be an even more special day.  She started an idea of having a family in the ward ´adopt´our investigators, someone to always follow-up with them several times during the week, so that the investigator has a friend, and feels important.  So this week we have an awesome couple that have adopted Rosane  and her kids to help them progress, so it should be good.
    We have a rule that we have to be in home before 9:30, well yesterday we were visiting Rosane with some members and we werent able to get home until 9:45.  At exactly 9:30, it began to rain really hard and all of the roads filled up with water to our knees, and we were completely wet before 5 seconds.  Elder Campos and I were thinking that it was the Lord´s way of punishing us for not being at home before 9:30.  Never will I be late to getting home again.
    But I love you all a lot!                LOVE, Elder Spence

March 5, 2008

Hey everyone,
    This will probably be a pretty quick email, since I don´t have very much time left to write.  It is fun to hear that you are eating a little brazilian culture.  I will tell you that I won´t want to eat beans and rice for a long time after the mission.  Usually we still eat meat with the beans and rice, I am not in a really poor area, and sometimes there is meat in the beans, depends with the member.  I also have to put toilet paper in the garbage instead of in the toilet, I found that one out in the airport the day I arrived.  I makes taking the garbage out not so fun, but you get used to it.  Tell Doug thanks for the nba statistics, it is good to know that the Jazz aren´t doing too poorly.
    Today we ended up going to the Sugar Loaf, it was fun, and I finally finished the film that was in my camera, so in a couple of weeks you will have many photos in your hands.
    Sunday was the baptism of Raquel, it all went really well.  But her baptism was a little overshadowed by the baptism of Veronica which will happen next week.  Everybody loves Veronica and have practically forgotten about Raquel.  At least they really like our investigator, but the members need to learn to like them all equally, or more equally.  But everything is going great for Veronica, and she is especially excited.  She even took out a piercing she had in her nose without anybody talking with her.
    We took a family to church on Sunday, and they loved it.  Roseane, is single and has 5 kids at home.  All the members liked her, and her kids are so obedient and well behaved.  We even went there with a member last night, and we had a great and spiritual lesson about the word of wisdom and prayer.
   I am a little disappointed to find out the Doug will not be under 200 pounds before I get home, but it will be my new goal to get him in shaped when I am home.  It will also help me get into shape.  I can walk to china, but I can´t run 10 feet anymore, kind of ironic.
    Sorry for the short letter, but I love you all incredibly, and I love this work.                                                 Love, Elder Spence

February 26, 2008

Hey everyone,
    It was fun to hear that you all listened to Washburn´s homecoming talk, , it was good to talk with him before he ended up going home.  I sure hope I don´t have such a hard time trying to speak english for my homecoming talk.  This past week has been pretty good; however, it has been raining quite a bit, and then heats up, which ends up killing us with humidity.
    Raquel wasn´t baptized this past Sunday because she ended up smoking a couple of cigarettes.  It was sad because she was going on almost 3 weeks without smoking, but she has quit again and is showing more determination to be baptized.  This week we were also able to teach her boyfriend and we challenged him to find the truth and to be baptized.  He accepted, he is really smart, and sincere.  They will be great support for each other to follow the gospel and to keep the commandments.
    On Sunday Veronica was at church, and all of the members were very supportive of her.  She was invited to 2 family home evenings this week with members, so it is great to see the members are already starting to integrate with her.  She is reading the Book of Mormon where Jesus Christ appeared in the Americas, and she is enjoying it a lot.
    Elder Campos and I are getting along great, he teaches very well, the only problem is that I have to push him to be more obedient to the mission rules.  I have also had to deal with problems within my district, a companionship that needs to be a little motivated to work harder.  But other than this the mission is going great, no complaints.
    Cool news, on Sunday I ate cow feet.  Not a food I would recomend for anybody.  It seemed like I was just eating lumps of fat, but I had to try it just to tell people that I ate it.  Sorry I forgot to tell you that I would be writing to you on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.   Tomorrow we are going to have a zone conference, so our p-day was pushed one day ahead.
    Our focus for this week is to find complete families, so we are trying to work better with the members, and our ward mission leader to find families.  We are trying to discover some better ways to get references from members to help have better investigators, and converts that will have more support to stay strong and active in church.
    But I love you all, and miss you a lot.
                                                        Love, Elder Spence

February 20, 2008

Hey everyone,
    Well, I had written a sweet letter, and the internet fell, and I ended up losing it.  Anyways, today was transfers, and Elder Pedro is now on his way home.  My new companion is named Elder Campos, which in english means Elder Fields.  He is from the south of Brasil in a state called Rio Grande do Sul, and he has been on the mission for 9 months now.  Several missionaries have told me that he is a difficult missionary.  But I can´t judge him before I know him, so far he seems like a great missionary.  Today at the transfer meeting I had the biggest surprise ever, Wallace, who I baptized in my first area was there.  It was so awesome to see him there, and to find out how he is doing.  He looks happy, and he told me that he will be going to the temple next month.  Elder Washburn also finished his mission today and should be arriving home tomorrow.  Sorry I forgot to ask him when his homecoming talk is.
    On Sunday we had the baptism of Paulo César, and the elder quorum president, Edgar was the one that baptized him.  When we arrived at church, Paulo was already there with a white shirt, tie, and looked just like an old time member.  Edgar had to baptize him twice since the first time Paulo´s feet came out of the water, but other than that it was perfect.
    This sunday Raquel should be baptized, she was really sad that we had to put her baptismal date back a week.  We have been talking a lot with her about the standard on clothing and she is doing much better with it.  Wearing clothing that meet the standard is really hard here because nobody here uses very much clothing.  Just another thing that reminds me that Utah is zion.  We are also teaching Veronica who is planned to be baptized on March 9th.  She will be a great addition to the ward because of her atitude and desire to serve.
    Sorry about last week, I forgot to wish a happy birthday to Kylie and Braxton.  I hope that they had a great time.  Also, I know that I am always saying that I will send more photos soon, and as of yet I haven´t.  But I am seriously almost done with the film in my camera right now.  I will also be sending my package to you, hopefully this week.
    I love you all, and I am so grateful for this time I have to be here teaching the truth.                     Love, Elder Spence

February 13, 2008

Hey everyone,
    It was really great getting everybody´s emails this week, you are all complaining about the snow, what I wouldn´t give to freeze out here (as I wipe the sweat from my forehead).  But the work is going well, and I am loving this area, as well as my companion Elder Pedro.  I thought that it was really cool how Aunt Lynda was asking more questions about the church, and that you were thinking about sending a book to here.  One book which I think would be excellent for her would be one of the few books I can read on the mission, ´Our Search for Happiness´by Elder M. Russell Ballard, he explains perfectly about our beliefs for everyone to understand.
    This sunday we baptized Leticia, Marcia´s daughter, she was so excited that it was one of my favorite baptisms.  Marcia hasn´t been able to find work for quite a while, but I think that she is going to get a job at a nearby school, which will be very good for her family.
    This Sunday we will have the baptism of Paulo César, he is really excited as well.  He was the old investigator seperated from the woman that he was living with, and is now preparing to be baptized, which he has been wanting to do for a really long time.  The members are really good to work with him and to help him understand.  Raquel who we were teaching will be baptized the following week, she was marked for this week, but she ended up drinking coffee the other day, so we will give her another week to fully prepare herself to keep the commandments.  She was sad to have to move the baptismal date, but she understands that it will be better for her.
   That is way cool that Autumn is training to do a triathalon, I will have to start preparing myself to start trainging with you in a couple of months.
    This week I had the problem of trying to help a companionship in my district who were fighting with one another.  They didn´t want to work together anymore, and the spirit wasn´t with them.  I was able to do splits with them, and I talked with the senior companion about their companionship.  It was really good, when they returned they fixed their problems and now they are happy and working well together.  I am so happy that I have never had a problem with any of my companions.
     I hope you all make it out of the snow alright, I love you all, and pray for you always.
                                                     Love, Elder Spence

February 4, 2008

Hey everyone,
    First of all, sorry that I forgot to mention that our p-day was moved to Monday, because of Carnaval.  But luckily I recieved Autumn´s email, so I didn´t go without.  Here in Saracuruna isn´t too bad, I remember that my first area we had to be much more careful.  But the worst days will be today and tomorrow.  It also helps that it has been raining almost everyday, so most people end up just staying inside the house.
    This first week with Elder Pedro has actually been really good, he is always willing to help, he works hard, and it isn´t very hard to be his companion like I thought it would be.  Elder Pedro is from Campinas, São Paulo(near one of the temples I went to while I was in the CTM).  He doesn´t have any other brothers or sisters, and only has his mom.  He is actually a little scared to be finishing his mission, like I am sure that I will be too.
    On Saturday we were able to watch the funeral of President Hinckley, which they transmited to all the stake centers.  It was a very spiritual experience, and all of the talks were incredible.  I especially enjoyed the part where they talked about how he always waved his cane at the people, and his doctor was trying to tell him how he needed to use his cane to walk, not wave to people.  I will be man enough to admit that I cried at the last hymn that the choir sang, while they were showing several video clips of President Hinckley.
    Our church was practically empty yesterday, with the combination of people travelling because of Carnaval, and laziness to leave the house while it was raining.  But fast and testimony meeting turned out to be really great, with the faithful members who were there.
    We also taught some really great lessons, we did quite a bit of knocking doors, and we had a lot of success.  Yesterday we taught this man named Jeronimo who understood about the apostasy really well, and he already believed about how the Bible is in part incomplete by itself.  He will read the Book of Mormon, pray, and probably be at church on Sunday.  We also recieved a referral from someone we taught about a woman who had tried to committ suicide, by jumping from a bridge that crossed a busy freeway.  She ended up losing an arm, and is in a wheel chair now.  We left a message with her and her very supportive family about the atonement of Jesus Christ, was well as our purpose here on earth.  At the end of the message she was in tears, and was a very spiritual moment.  We marked to return after the festivities of Carnaval are over, where we will teach them about the restoration of the gospel.
   The mission is incredible, and everyday I am learning a little bit more about who I am, and what I can become.  Even though the mission is really short, I can already see how it will change my life forever.  I love you all so much, my family is my greatest wealth.
                                                    Love, Elder Spence
p.s. If you want to send me something great for my birthday, just send a lot of american chocolate and candy.
p.p.s. I am almost finishing up my film in my camera, and I will be sending your christmas presents before too long. haha.

January 30, 2008

Hey everyone,
    Yeah the saddest news ever about the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley, we found out about it Monday night when an old investigator called us to tell us.  I was expecting the prophet to live forever, or at least to 100 years.  Most of the members here still don´t know that he passed away, and they probably won´t know until Sunday at church.
    So on Sunday Marcia and her son Emanoel were confirmed members of the church, and recieved the Holy Ghost.  Marcia was happy to partake of the sacrament as a member.  Nilton however didn´t show up to church, and his cell phone was turned off when we tried to call him.  It turns out that his cell phone died, and he didn´t wake up until 11:00am on Sunday.  But this Sunday he will be there to be confirmed as well.
    Now for the crazy news of today.  This morning we recieved a phone call from President Brinton letting us know that we were going to have an emergency transfer, I stayed while Elder Chagas was replaced by Elder Pedro.  Elder Pedro only has 3 more weeks left of his mission, but apparently he is going through a little bit of a rebellious stage.  So my job is to love him, and to help him be obedient and work hard until the end of his mission, so this should be an interesting 3 weeks.  The weird thing is that he was my zone leader last transfer, and now he is my junior companion.  But we will put this in the Lord´s hands and we will see how it ends up.
    Good news, I recieved another package from Mom, the one that has slacks and the calendar, the last package was the one with brownie mix and a white shirt.  Thanks for the packages, I was really needing some new pants since this morning I was sewing up a pair of pants that is pretty worn.
    The girl that I talked about, Raquel, that was having problems stopping smoking, well, she quit!  It was good to read Alicia´s email about needing a reason to stop smoking, her reason was that she was afraid of losing her friends.  So now her baptism is marked for February 17th, but we will have to continue to work with her so that she doesn´t end up falling again.  We will also be baptizing one of Marcia´s daughters, Letiscia, on the 10th of February, she is super excited as well.
    We are back into the time of Carnaval, so our schedule will change a little, where we will be in our home every night before 7:00pm.  Carnaval is the week of wickedness here in Brazil, it is really dangerous, physicially and espiritually.  I don´t know if you remember me talking about it last year, but it is kind of like `marde grah`, but way worse.  It will start on Friday, and ends on Tuesday, and all the young men and women go to some campout, so at church there will only be the adults and little kids.
    I guess I am going to go.  I love you all!
                                                  Love, Elder Spence

January 22, 2008

Hey everyone,
    Well, this week was super crazy, but it was a really awesome week.  The best thing about it would have to be the 3 baptisms that we had on Sunday.  All the investigators that will be baptized have to have a baptismal interview, so we marked for Nilton, Marcia and her son Emanoel for 4:30 on Saturday to have their interview.  Nilton showed up way early, 3:30, but Marcia didn´t show up, and her phone was turned off.  We went to her house, only to find out that her oldest son had broken his arm, and she had taken him to the hospital around noon and hadn´t returned.  Later that night we visited her, and she was all worried that she couldn´t be baptized, but we were able to mark another interview for Sunday morning.  Sunday morning she showed up right on time with Emanoel, and everything went perfect after that.
    We visited Nilton and Marcia and her kids on Monday, and they said how they feel so much better, and that they know that did the right thing.  We just told them that they will feel even better on Sunday when they are going to recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    We are still trying to help Raquel, the niece of a member, quit smoking.  She really wants to quit and she wants to be baptized, but she is hasn´t given up the cigarettes.  The other day we took her cigarettes away, and we cut them up in tiny pieces, but all her friends offer her more cigarettes.  If you have any good ideas that might help, I would like to hear them.  I have already helped many people stop smoking, but she is a little tougher than the others, I think it is a little tougher becuase she doesn´t think she will be able to quit.
    Yesterday we had the opportunity to teach a really great family for the first time, who accepted everything, even a baptismal date.  Better yet, they are even legally married, which is really hard to find here.  We still need to return there to follow-up with them, but I will let you know how it goes.
    Thanks for the heads up about being a sinner my second week being home, haha.  I will be sure to prepare myself for this, but at least by the third week I am normal again.  Good news, I recieved mom´s present as well as a present from the Backlunds, and of course many letters.
    It has been raining for quite a few days now, I even got a little sick, but I got better really fast.  I had a really bad runny nose, and for three days I was talking like I had a frog in my throat.  Yesterday we ended up walking through a lot of muddy streets, so today I have been washing my pants.
   I love you all so much, and I will talk to you next week.
                                                       Love Elder Spence

January 15, 2008

Hey everyone,
    Well it was good to hear from everyone, and to hear the vacation trips went well.  It been pretty hot again here, I am never satisfied, for a couple of days it rains, and I am tired of the rain.  Then it gets hot, and I get tired of the heat, I think it is time for a little snow in the Rio.
    This week was really good, we still have Marcia and her son Emanuel who are progressing very well toward baptism this week, as well as our other investigator Nilton.  Nilton has actually been going through some difficulties lately, but he is always positive and trusts in the Lord.  Nilton´s neighbor cut his bike tires on Friday and so he wasn´t able to go to  church on Sunday, he has paid his light bill finally, but his energy hasn´t returned yet.  The members are good to help with investigators when they are at church, but there are only a couple of members who are worried and trying to help during the week.  I wish that we had more members who would look for ways to help instead of being asked to.
    We found this really cool kid named Adailton, he is 15, and actually likes to read.  He has been reading the Book of Mormon, and says that he feels good when he prays.  He should be going to church with us on Sunday if everything goes right.  His mom likes that we are teaching Adailton, she says that we can visit him anytime, so that is great that we have support of his Mom.  This week we want to take the Young mens president there to visit with Adailton as well.
    The couple that aren´t married, Jorge and Simone, are doing well.  Jorge has now gone to church for two Sundays in a row, and is really enjoying it.  We tried to get Simone to go too, and she said that she would, but then she had some excuse that she wasn´t able to go.  Jorge is a real handi-man, and he has offered to help a couple of members with fixing the wiring in the house, so it is great to see that he is involving himself, and that he wants to serve also.
    We got to go, we are going to the stake center, where we will play soccer, and the stake president to doing a bbq for the missionaries.  I love you all, and I am so grateful for the best family.
                                         Love Elder Spence

January 9, 2008

Hey everyone,
  Wow, this week was interesting but it turned out to be really good.  First of all, today was transfers, and I was thinking that either Elder Chagas or I would be transfered.  But it turned out that we will be together for at least another 6 weeks.  I was really hoping to stay here in Saracuruna for a little longer, so I am excited for this next transfer.  To answer Moms question, I didn´t recieve any more packages, but I did recieve a bunch of letters, 3 from mom, one from the Miles, and one from a sister that was in my district in the CTM, can you believe she is already home!  Mom also asked about cold sores, I actually had one about 4 weeks ago.  I think it was more because of the sun, because I really don´t get stressed out that much.
    I am sorry that it is taking me forever to send you some more photos, but I have been taking a lot of photos lately, so I should be sending them out to you before too long.  Now for some sad news, I already lost the ctr ring.  My excuse is that I am not used to wearing a ring.  I think I lost it at our church, when I wash my hands I always take off the ring, and I think I forgot to put it back on.  Nobody in the ward knows what happened to it, and maybe I lost it in another place.  I am sorry, I really liked the ring too.
    Now for happier news, we had quite a few investigators at church on Sunday.  You may remember Marcia, we were working a lot with her and her kids, but then she wasn´t going to church, and we had stopped visiting her.  Well, the coolest couple in our ward Edgar and Bete were visiting another member who live near Marcia, and when they were heading back home they met Marcia in front of her house.  They began talking and Marcia was talking about some problems they were going through.  Edgar and Bete talked with us about how Marcia was hoping we would pass by again.  So when we visited with them we told Marcia really clearly that she has to be doing what the Lord wants her to do, and that we are here to help her if she is willing to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  She totally changed, she was at church on Sunday right at 9:00 and she loved relief society.  She is reading the Book of Mormon a lot, and we have not only seen but also felt a big difference with their family.  She was talking with us how at church they were talking about goals in relief society, and how she started thinking what goals she wanted for 2008.  I started writing down her goals so she could always see them, and her first goal was to be baptized on the 20th!  I am really excited for them, even her 10 year old son, Emanuel, has already memorized 6 articles of faith.
    Nilton also went to church on Sunday, he had disappeared for a while because he was working a lot, but he quit his job because they weren´t paying him, and we have been trying to help him find a job.  I think we found one, at a supermarket, but he has to go there for a type of interview next week.  He too is preparing for baptism on the 20th, and he is showing a stronger desire to follow the Lord.
    This week we are going to focus on finding new investigators more than anything else.  We have been trying to work a lot with the investigators that we have, that we haven´t been giving the importance the finding new investigators as we should have.  So we have a lot of work for this week.
    Just a heads up, next week I will be writing to you on Tuesday because next Wednesday is when we will be having our zone conference.
    I hope that Doug, Autumn, Brynn, Casey, and kids have an awesome time in Mexico on the beach.  And that everyone else is enjoying the snow.   I love you all!
                                         Love, Elder Spence

January 2, 2008

Hey everyone,
    I think that the weirdest thing is that for all of 2007 I have been in Brazil, but now it is all winding down.  New Years was alright, the streets were packed and everybody was running here, and there, and parties everywhere, needless to say, it wasn´t to easy for missionary work.  We were at home by 9:00, and we got to bed at 10:30 like usual.  At exactly 12:00 Elder Chagas and I woke up to a lot of fireworks, we decided to watch them for a little bit.  This year that weren´t as many cool fireworks, mostly just fireworks that made a lot of sound.  There were a bunch of members that went to Copacabana to watch the show they have there every year and the fireworks, and Andre is going to take a bunch of pictures for us and put it on a CD.  So maybe i will be sending a CD of New year in Rio to you.
    This week has been a little tougher for our investigators, We haven´t been able to find Suely or Veronica at home at all.  Actually Veronica went to another state for Christmas and she didn´t return until Friday.  Friday night we ran into her on the street and confirmed our visit for Saturday, but when Saturday came around she wasnt home.  We have tried to get a hold of her since, but without luck.
    Suely knows what we are teaching is true, but her boyfriend isn´t too fond of us mormons.  She wants to follow the gospel but she doesn´t want to offend her boyfriend.  So we are going to tell her straight up that she has to make a decision, happiness or sadness.
    This past week we have found quite a few good investigators, but the problem is that it is really tough to follow-up with them during the week.  They tell us that only Saturday or Sunday they are at home because of work.  It also doesn´t help that our cellphone doesnt have anymore credit to make phone calls, and we won´t get more until the 4th of every month, which luckily is almost here.
    I think I already mentioned Thiago and Miriam, Thiago needs to get divorced and then he can marry Miriam.  But he is awesome, he is reading the Book of Mormon a lot, and we marked to pick him up on Sunday to go to church.  He loves what we are teaching, he even took out his earring without us even asking him to.  The only problem is that divorces and marriages take forever here.  The only way to speed them up is if you have a lot of money, which few people have here.
  Before I forget, I wrote a letter to Joe and Marian Adams, but I threw away the envelope with their address, Mom can you send their address to me on your next email, thanks.
    The sun is still very hot here, but we are surviving.  My time is running out, but I love you all a lot and you are my biggest blessing.
Tchau from Rio.                     loove Elder Spence

December 19, 2007

Hey everyone,
    This week has been another fast week, we have a ton of media references that called to recieve a DVD of Joy to the World, and it has been really tough trying to deliver them to people because they aren´t at home when we mark with them.  But we got a week to deliver them before Christmas, so we will work hard at this.
    So on Tuesday there will be a special phone call.  If you want the details, I got them.  You will be calling to Brother Durãos house and his number is (021)2678-7061 and all the other missionaries say that we are 5 hours apart.  I marked to have the call at 4:00 here, so that would be 11:00am. for you.  Dad, I hope you remember the whole deal to call to Brasil because what I told you the last phone call didn´t work out.
    So this Nilton that I told you last week was going well, and was planned to be baptized this Sunday, but he didn´t go to church this past Sunday because of work.  He had lost his other job, and then started working at a new place.  It has been nearly impossible to visit with him now, so I am not too sure about his baptism.  Unfortunately it is starting to be common to have baptisms all marked and planned to go, and then they fall through, so I hope this doesn´t happen to him.
    But the good news is that we found an awesome new investigator.  We were walking on her street, and she stopped us.  She asked us to teach her, so we taught about the ´restoration´and marked a baptismal date for th 6th of January.  She went to church and Sunday and liked it a lot, and the women at church were great to make her feel comfortable.  Her name is Veronica, 24 years old, and we will be visiting her tonight with the Elder quorum president.  She had listened to the missionaries more than two years ago, but I guess she wasn´t prepared at that moment.   She lived in another state for two years and recently returned and has a different view on life now and is very interested in the gospel.
    We are also teaching a couple Thiago and Miriam that are really smart.  Thiago has read a lot, he is almost done with 1 Nephi in only a couple of days.  We also taught about the Plan of Salvation which they really enjoyed.  The only problem is that Thiago is getting divorced right now from a previous marriage and then can marry Miriam.  Thiago had believed in God, but after many problems in his life he was turning away.  But now he is coming back, he is praying again, and he told us how he is seeing a difference in his life.
    The concert that we had on Saturday was really great, a woman played the piano so well.  She played some classical music to start out and then finished with some Christmas hymns.  The concert lasted about an hour, and everyone enjoyed it.  I don´t remember the name of the woman that played, but she has been playing since she was 5 years old.  Marcia went with two of her daughters, but she didn´t show up on Sunday for church.  In our church they don´t have a piano, a member who plays the piano brings a keyboard to church every Sunday to play, and no I haven´t been using my piano skills, it has been so long since I have played that I fear I no longer have them.
    Good news, I recieved two more packages.  Another one of Mom´s lost sheep packages and a package from Alicia, I will just say that Elder Chagas and I loved everything that was inside of them.  Thanks.  Most of the candy has already been eaten, but I am saving the wrapped packages until Christmas.
    Have an awesome Christmas and I am excited for our phone call.
                                         Love Elder Spence

December 13, 2007

Dear Spence Family, 
 

      Christmas is our favorite time of year. It is a wonderful opportunity to think of the many gifts that we enjoy in our lives.  We are grateful for the gift of the baby born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, and for the greater gift of his sacrifice upon the cross for the redemption of our sins, and the equally great gift of overcoming death through His resurrection.  We are grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission with your son.  What a priceless gift you have given to us!  When we arrived in this mission we knew that we would develop an affection for the missionaries who served with us, but we did not understand how much we would grow to love them.

      We are grateful for the values that you instilled in him before he arrived here--a desire to search the scriptures, a desire to love other people, a desire to work hard, a desire to have new experiences, and a desire to know his Father in Heaven.  We are grateful for the habits that you instilled in him as he was growing up—the discipline to get up at 6:30 a.m., the ability to live within a budget, and the skills to keep his apartment clean. (Some of these things we are still perfecting.)  Most of all, we are grateful for the love you have for him and the support you show him through the letters you write and the prayers you offer in his behalf.   Of course, you will have an opportunity to talk with your son on Christmas day.  Believe us, he is looking forward to this opportunity.   The missionary handbook gives this direction to your son, “Take care that these calls do not pull your thoughts away from your service or create a financial problem for your family.  Keep them short (preferably no longer than 30 or 40 minutes).”  Let your son share the excitement of his missionary experiences with you and try to avoid conversations that will make him homesick. 

      He is performing a great work here among the people in Rio de Janeiro and is well loved by the members of the church and the people he is teaching.   We recently talked with the missionaries about the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob, chapter 5.  In the 72nd verse, we read “And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their might; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.”  We often think of this verse when we think of these fine young men and women performing their work.    They are His servants and they are laboring with their might and the Lord is laboring with them.  They are truly among the “noble and great ones,” chosen before they were born to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the humble and pure in heart.

      Along with them, we testify that God, our Heavenly Father lives, that He sent His Son to live and die for all men.  We know that Jesus Christ lives again as a resurrected being and that in the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith actually saw God, the Father, and Jesus Christ.  Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  Through him, the Lord restored the fullness of His gospel.  Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon through the power of God and this book is tangible proof that he was a prophet.  We have faith in the promise given by Moroni that if any person will read the Book of Mormon, having faith in Christ  and pray with a sincere heart, that the Lord will answer that prayer with an assurance that the book is true.

      Merry Christmas!  We wish you peace, and love and joy at this time of year.  

      Sincerely, 
 

      President Brinton    Sister Brinton

December 12, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Thanks for all of the emails this week, it is too bad that the blue car is done for, she held a special place in my heart.  Anyways, I have to say that I am really jealous of all this snow that you guys are getting, it must be so much better than putting on sunscreen for Christmas.  I forgot to use sunscreen yesterday and my nose came home red, so I won´t be forgetting to use sunscreen ever again.
    Mom is asking her detail questions again, what I am seeing, smelling, etc.  The streets here are very clean so you probably don´t want to know what I am smelling most of the time.  There are a lot of places that sell chicken, so it smells like the chicken coop a lot.  There is always a lot of trash on the streets.  There are a lot of horses here too, so it smells like a horse stall sometimes.  There are a few good smells too, like pineapples that they are always selling in December.
    Marcia didn´t go to church this week, we had called her, we passed by her house, but apparently she was sound asleep and didn´t wake up.  So I think it is about time to cut her from our list of investigators if she doesn´t start showing a stronger desire to follow the gospel.  She is reading the Book of Mormon a lot, praying, but she is failing to do some of the other things.
    But Nilton was at church on Sunday, he enjoyed it a lot, and the members were helping a lot again.  Nilton is planned to be baptized on the 23rd, just before Christmas, and I believe that everything should go as planned.  We read the Book of Mormon with him a lot, because he hasn´t studied very much in his life, and so he is embarassed to read aloud.  But he is doing great, he is doing well with not drinking coffee, so we are excited for him.
    Lucia was confirmed a member and recieved the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday, and is progressing really well.  She was really easy to teach and to prepare for baptism because she has so much support from her family and friends.  I am pretty sure that she will remain strong in the church and be a great blessing for others as well.
    This Saturday in our church there is going to be a concert of the singer and piano player, so we have been inviting all of our investigators to watch it as well, many of them seem excited to watch it, which will fun for this Christmas.  Simone is really excited to take her sons to watch it as well, and we are still working with Jorge and Simone to help them make the decision to be married.  We took a couple from our ward to visit with them, Edgar and Bete, and everyone loved the visit, so we hope that Jorge and Simone can start integrating with the members more, and desire to follow their examples in following the gospel.
    I already talked with Irmão Durão about the phone call for Christmas, and it is all set for you to call his house.  This week I will talk with him about the time, and next week I will pass all of the information.
    Well, I love you all, and am so grateful and happy to be a missionary, and prayers for everyone.
                                                 Love, Elder Spence

December 6, 2007

Hey everyone,
    That must be really great having a bunch of snow right now, what I wouldn´t do for a little snow fall here in Rio.  Last night I had the hardest time trying to sleep because it was so incredibly hot!  But I shouldn´t complain, because like Elder Holland said, ``Nothing is so bad, that complaining can´t make it worse`` .
    Sorry that I told you that maybe p-day would be tuesday, it was changed at the last minute to be thursday.  Yesterday was our christmas zone conference, it wasn´t super special, but it was fun and we learned a lot.  We talked about your planning sessions that we do every day and every week, how we can learn and use personal revelation better and to be plan for our investigators needs.  We also did a white elephant gift, I ended up winning a little figuring of Santa Clause.  It wasn´t much of a present, but it was better than what I won last year, a really old, big dictionary.  I didn´t get mom´s other presents or any presents from anybody else, so I won´t recieve them until a couple of days after Christmas.  That´s alright becuase I don´t think you will be getting my package until after Christmas as well, sorry, procrastination.
    So, this past Sunday we had the baptism of Lucia, but not of Marcia.  The baptism of Lucia was great, everybody was very supportive and excited, and it just went perfect.  The story about Marcia was that everything was confirmed Friday night to have her interview on Saturday morning.  Only that she didn´t show up Saturday morning, and when we called her kids didn´t know where she had gone.  Later in the day we finally got a hold of her, she had been at the hospital with a friend who had a baby, but we marked another interview with her in the evening.  Once again she didn´t show up, and it wasn´t until Sunday night that we finally got a hold of her.  I guess when she was going to the interview, her friend was giving her a ride, and they had an accident.  She hurt her head and her mouth was really swollen.  She is doing alright now, she has gone to the doctor for some medication.  So now we are planning her baptism for next weekend.
    We got some fun stuff coming up for Christmas, next week Elder Chagas and I are planning a great activity night for the ward, and next weekend there will be a christmas concert in our ward.  We are also recieving a ton of Media References because of our members, people who called to recieve a DVD of Christmas, Joy to the World.  So we are staying really busy.
    Mom, you don´t need to worry anymore, yesterday I got some new shoes, they should last me until the end of my mission, let´s hope.  I love you all, and I love my Savior, because of him we can be together forever, sweet.   I hope you have fun getting ready for Christmas.
                                    Love, Elder Spence

November 28, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well, today was transfers, and luckly nothing changed with us, I will stay with Elder Chagas for another 6 weeks, and I will be staying in Saracuruna for Christmas!  Today we went to the transfer meeting to see, and it turns out that I recieved two of Mom´s packages that had part of the address missing.  So maybe the other stuff will make it to the mission office as well.
    This past Sunday Yuri and Juliana were confirmed members and recieved the Holy Ghost, and then next week Yuri will recieve the priesthood.  The members are doing so well to befriend them and the help strengthen them.  They have already been visited by home teachers, recieved callings, and are getting involved with activities with the other single adults.  So they are going well.
    If things continue to go right, we should have 5 more baptisms on Sunday.  We are teaching a members mom, Lucia, that had heard the missionaries several times but wasn´t ready.  She has stopped drinking coffee, and is progressing well.  The others is the family of Marcia and her children.  On Sunday we called them at 7:30 to wake them up, and Maicom, the oldest son, answered the phone, said that he would wake everyone up and that they would be ready at 8:30 for us to pick them up for church.  When we showed up at 8:30, everybody was still sleeping!  Maicom hadn´t woken anybody up. They had already promised to us that they would go to church, so when one of the girls said that they wouldn´t go, we didn´t give up.  We didn´t leave that house until everybody was ready and we all went to church together.  Everybody was glad that they went.  The three youngest kids are excited about a primary activity this Saturyday, and then the baptism on Sunday.
    We have been trying trying to really help a recent-convert here, Tania, who has been getting weak in the church.  She has started smoking again, and when we asked her if she is keeping the ´word of wisdom´, she says that she is, while her house smells like cigarette smoke!  But we can´t give up on her, just keeping on loving her and being there to help her keep God´s commitments.
    Just so you know, I think that next week our p-day will be on Tuesday again because of zone conference, so you may want to write a little earlier next week.  But the mission is still as great as ever.  I think that I am starting to get a better vision about missionary work everyday.  This truly is the Lord´s church and his work, and there is nothing better.  I love you all, and I am so grateful for all of you.
                                        Love Elder Spence

November 21, 2007

Hey everyone,
    I can´t believe that Thanksgiving is already here, but it doesn´t really seem like it since nobody celebrates it here in Brazil.  The rain has started to stop and it has started to get really hot, and humid.  Yesterday we had an incredible lunch with one of our members here, Sônia Brasil.  She just returned from a trip to the USA, and guess what she brought home with her.  Hidden Valley ranch, I put it on everything I was eating, and it was really good.
    This Sunday it seemed like almost all of our investigators didn´t come to church, except for one.  Yuri and Juliana who got food poisoning the day before, didn´t show up until the very end of Sacrament meeting, so they won´t be confirmed members or recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost until the following Sunday.  Márcia who is the mom with 5 kids, has been having problems with her ex-husband and problems financially, and just didn´t go to church.  So yesterday we brought the president of the young mens with us to our visit to talk with her sons, and tomorrow we will have one of the counselors of the primary with her husband to visit them with us and so they can talk with her other kids, and have the members to support the family during this time.  Márcia was talking about how all her friends and family have practically abandoned her during her problems, but I promised her that the members of the church won´t abandon them.
    On monday we taught this really awesome guy, Junior, who is 20 years old.  We were actually looking for somebody else, when we found the address that he told us, Junior came to the door and said that this other guy didn´t exist.  But Junior let us enter and to teach him about Joseph Smith and about the Book of Mormon.  He said that we were sent from God, and that it wasn´t a mistake we ended up at his house.  I hope that he really prays to know the truth and reads the Book of mormon like he said that he would.
    I am very grateful to be a missionary and for the many blessing that I receive.  I can see now more than ever that miracles really do happen every day.   I love you all, and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.]
                                                   Love, Elder Spence

November 14, 2007

Hey everyone,
    So the best thing about this week would have to be the two baptisms that we had on Sunday.  I baptized Yuri and a member baptized Juliana.  It was great to see how this ward really works well to do things right, like the baptism, everything was perfect.  We also recieved a couple of referrals from members last week, we taught them, and the investigators were also at church on Sunday, they enjoyed church, and stayed to watch the baptism as well.
    One of the investigators is the girlfriend of a member, her name is Bianca, and she really is interested to know about the church.  When we taught her the first time, we would tell her that we know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  Then she asked how we knew it was true, so it was perfect to then discuss about recieving an answer through prayer and about the Book of Mormon being evidence of the truthfulness that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  We met with her again yesterday and she had several good questions to ask us, which helps us realize that she really wants to know the truth.
    The other investigator is the mother of a member, her name is Lúcia.  She had gone to church a long time ago, but had never heard the discussions.  She also enjoyed church a lot, and has a great example of her daughter who is a strong member in our ward.
    Márcia wasn´t able to go to church on Sunday, so we have moved her baptism back one more week, but two of her sons went to most of church.  We are talking with the president of the Relief Society to visit Márcia with us one day, so that she can have more support with the women of the ward then just the men who always make visits with us.
    My last pair of shoes are holding up pretty well with all of this rain, but I have talked with Sister Brinton, who has a deal to get cheap shoes that last really well, so I should recieve those soon.  Luckily with all of this rain I haven´t had any experiences of taking a bath with a bucket, but I will keep my fingers crossed.  Everyone here is getting ready for Christmas already, for me it is way too early, thanksgiving hasn´t gotten here and everybody is starting to get their tiny christmas trees out.  But things are going great here the work is picking up and success is starting to roll in, I just hope it continues.
    I love you all, and a big hug to all.
                                                       Love, Elder Spence

November 7, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well this week has turned out to be pretty wet, and really muddy.  I come everyday with my shoes and pants painted brown from the mud here.  On Sunday we visited this family that had asked for a dvd , Joy to the World, they weren´t very interested in our message.  When we entered their house it began to rain lightly.  When we left their house 20 minutes later, it was raining so hard, and the streets were all flooded.  They got flooded because everyone throws garbage on the street, and it ends up clogging the drainage system. So we had to walk through water that went to our knees.  It was pretty cool, but I forgot to take a picture of it.
    Sunday was stake conference here, so it was tough getting many investigators to the stake center.  We did take Yuri and Juliana with us, and they enjoyed it.  President Brinton was there and spoke to the stake, and afterwards he came to talk with us missionaries and talked a little bit with Yuri and Juliana, about how being baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ is the best decision they will ever make.  Their baptism is marked for Sunday, and both are excited.  We went over the baptismal questions with them and they are prepared.  They are both rockers, and had a lot of friends that aren´t the best, but they said they are ready to leave those friends behind.
    We are also preparing Márcia for baptism next sunday, and she is excited about baptism too.  We have been finishing up teaching the commandments with her and she is willing to obey them all.  She has been reading the Book of Mormon a lot and is gaining a strong testimony.  The members are helping a lot in our visits as well, to encourage her and to be a friend.
    I can´t believe that Christmas is already coming, I need to start preparing my package for all of you too.  In one of your packages, can you send me another journal, my journal is almost done with.  If want any other ideas of what you can send, a cd of Enya would be cool.  just and idea.
    I hope you all have an awesome week, I love you all, vocês são os melhores!                             Love, Elder Spence

October 31, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Wow, it seems like almost everyone emailed me this week, thanks.  First of all Happy Halloween today, unfortunately this holiday isn´t really celebrated here.  Some places have Halloween parties that I have seen from banners as we pass by, but not very many.  It is so crazy that October is already ending, time doesn´t stop.
    This past week has gone pretty well, we had 8 investigators at church on Sunday which was great!  The members helped a lot to have the investigators feel welcomed and to be part of the ward.  Everyone that was there enjoyed it a lot as well.  We picked up this woman, Valéria with her nephew who is 12.  Her brother and his wife, who actually aren´t legally married yet, went on their own.  Yuri and Juliana that we have been teaching for a while showed up a little late, but made it.  Our ward mission leader went with me to pick up Márcia and two of her daughters to bring them to church as well.  Having the investigators at church helped the members to become more excited about missionary work, because they get to interact more with investigators.  The members actually have more confidence in us as well, so we are hoping for a lot more help.
    It seems like the last two weeks we are finding many people who are interested but none of them are married.  This makes it hard, President Brinton said that we shouldn´t use our time with people who aren´t married because they can´t progress toward baptism now.  We can give them the opportunity to hear the truth, and investigate the church, the members can help them, but the missionaries are to work with those that are ready now. It seems like nobody here sees the importance of marriage.
    Yuri and Juliana are wanting to be baptized as soon as possible, but this Sunday we have stake conference, so it probably won´t be until the following week.  They have not smoked in almost 2 weeks now, so we are really happy for them, and we call them every night to encourage them to stay strong.  This Sunday will be hard to get many investigators to go to Stake Conference since it will be in Duque de Caxias, about a half an hour from here if you get the bus.  But I guess we will see how it goes.
    I don´t know if you heard, but the Soccer World Cup of 2014 will be here in Brazil, it was announced yesterday.  Everyone here in Brazil is really excited since for many of the people here, soccer is life.
    I hope that everything goes well for Aaron, I am praying for him.  I love you all and I hope you all have fun trick-or-treating.
                       tchau,               Love, Elder Spence

October 23, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Sorry that I am writing on Tuesday and not on Wednesday, our p-day was changed this week because tomorrow we will have zone conference.  Sorry it is my fault I forgot to mention that bit of news last week.
    Aaron doesn´t want to serve a mission anymore?!!!!  You have no idea how sad this news has made me, I don´t even know what to say.  I was so excited when Aaron was preparing to serve, I told everyone that he was about to enter the MTC.  I think that everyone feels a little nervous when they are about to leave for two years to serve a mission, but I can definatley say that the mission is the best thing that has happened to me, I am growing, learning, to be a better person than I had ever dreamed about.  I hope that Aaron changes his mind again, because the mission is the best thing for him.
    This week was a pretty good week, it rained a couple of days, but the days it didn´t rain we were dying it was so hot.  This week we ended up teaching quite a few lessons with members.   Márcia didn´t go to church on Sunday, she was helping her cousing make 6 cakes for some birthday party, but two of her sons, Fernando  12, and Emanuel 10 went to church, and both of them enjoyed it.  We also had another investigator Tiago(James) who went to church, and he said that he is going to continue to attend our church.  The only problem with Tiago is that he isn´t married with this woman Suely, even though they are living together.  Suely enjoys our visits also, and she has started reading the Book of Mormon.  So we are hoping and praying for them we can help them gain a testimony and get them married.
    One of the biggest problems here is that so many people aren´t married, and many of them don´t want to be married.  So then we have to cut many of these people because they won´t progress toward our goal of baptism within the true church.
   Last week I recieved the best letter ever, it was from Wallace that I baptized in my first area.  He is doing awesome, and is strong in the church.  He said that he isn´t playing in his band anymore because of medical problems that he had.  But he said that all if going well, and that he misses Elder Washburn and I.  That letter made me so happy.
    Sorry today is a short letter.  But I love you all, and I am so happy to be here, but the time is going by so fast.  I am expecting a letter from Aaron this week as well.  tchau.
                                            -Elder Spence

October 17, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Thanks everyone for the emails, especially the surprise email from Doug.  Things are going really well, but it is still incredibly hot.  Every night that we get back home I am all wet and sweaty, but I guess it just comes with the mission.  About the shoes, I think I will buy these shoes that all the missionaries here are using, they are made for construction workers so they last a long time.  With Doug´s question, I am not getting fatter, in fact everyone tells me that I am looking skinnier.  But I will help Doug lose his extra poundage when I get home.
    Last week was a little weird, I got a call from President Brinton telling me that he was doing an emergency transfer, and my companion Elder Ramos would be transfered while I would stay.  My new companion is Elder Chagas from some state I can´t every pronounce up near the Amazon forest.  I guess he has had some problems, he has to call president every day to follow-up with him, but he is a really good missionary.  We are working well together, and working hard.  Actually today was the day of transfers and so I stayed with Elder Chagas, but I got to see everyone again at the transfer meeting.  I also got Mom´s package, and my brasilian companions really liked the oil viles, so thanks for sending them.
    We are still teaching Márcia with her 6 children, and it is going really well.  She even went to church on Sunday and enjoyed it.  Her children didn´t go because they had to go to their grandmothers house on Sunday.  But I think that they will be going to our wards activity night tonight, so they can meet more members and make friends.  Márcia has a lot of questions, a few of them are really weird, but she wants to learn so it is really good.  Her son Michael is reading quite a bit of the Book of Mormon, and he was a couple of friends who are interested as well, so tomorrow we will be teaching his friends.
    Friday night we found this woman Valéria and her brother and wife, they seemed really interested.  When we returned Saturday she had read a couple of pages and agreed to have us pass 8:30 to take them to church.  Sunday morning we had a meeting with our bishop and other ward leaders so we didn´t get to her house until 8:40.  She had already left and went to another church because we didn´t show up at 8:30!  I know it was our fault the way got there late, but I thought she was a little irrational to leave and visit another church.  We met with them Monday, we told her we were sorry and marked again for Sunday 8:30 to pick them up, they agreed, so now we have to make sure to get there at the right time.  They are a really good family so I am hoping that they will continue to search for an answer.
    Brynn was asking about christmas presents already, but it you want to know.... I didn´t get your package you sent me for my birthday, and nobody told me what you sent, que isso!  But the only thing I really need is maybe one or two new white shirts.  I like the ones from wal-mart, the thin material, size 15-15and a half, short sleeved.
    I love you all and I am so happy to have such a cool family.  I like how Mom is sending letters with pictures too.  Don´t be nervous about your mission Aaron, it will be incredible.  tchau.
                                        -the bird

October 10, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well, it was good to hear how everyone is doing, and to get your emails.  This week has been awesome, and has gone by so quickly.  Like everyone has already said general conference was incredible, and I love every bit of it, but I think that it seemed to go by just too quickly.  The talks were really good, and I definitely learned a lot.  There were many talks that were my favorite, but the one talk I liked the most was Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, as he talked about charity.  Then when he was having trouble, and started to shake a lot, Elder Russell M. Nelson stood by his side and held him, so that he could finish his talk.  It almost made me cry, almost.  I also really enjoyed the talk from Elder Dallin H. Oaks about there are always good things and better things to do, and how we need to prioritize what we do.  That really applies a lot within the mission, we can do all sorts of things, but our time is really limited, so we need to do the best and essencial things first.  This time they didn´t record the Priesthood session in english, so I had to watch it in portuguese.  But luckily my portuguese has dramatically improved since my first General Conference on the mission, and I had no problems understanding what was being said.  I was feeling bad for all the new american missionaries that were watching, but not too bad since I already passed through that.
    The new investigators that we found last week have already been cut from our list, but on Monday we found a really cool family, a mother with 6 children.  She seems really interested in the church, and told us how she has already visited many churches, but didn´t feel good in those other churches.  She also told us that she would read the Book of Mormon that very night.  So I am hoping that this family felt the spirit and seeks an answer.
    Right now our area is going through a bit of a drought.  Many people are running out of water and are having to fill buckets of water and carry them to their house to wash clothes and take showers.  The member who is our landlord said that our sisterna is running out of water, so we may have to be taking showers out of a bucket before too long as well.  So everyone is praying for rain, but it is getting way hot here, I would like a little rain as well.  My walmart shoes have finally gotten a hole in the left shoe, they have actually been lasting for quite a while.  But here there are many dirt roads, so by the end of the day my left foot is almost black because of all the dust that gets in my shoe.  Maybe I will send you a picture.
    Well, that is about it for me.  I love you all, and I hope that you are all enjoying school.  I hope Aaron is excited, the day is speedily coming up, no more sleeping in, and hard work everyday, but you´ll love it.  Happy birthday to Aaron and Anniversary to Mom and Dad.
                                                    Love, the brazilian bird.

October 3, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well, luckily for me the dry spell is coming to an end, and we have been finding quite a few new investigators.  Yesterday we ended up teaching 5 first lessons, but only one person accepted a baptismal date.  That one woman I had talked about last week, Juliana, she ended up not reading or praying because her husband didn´t want her to, he is catholic and his whole family is catholic, and they didn´t want to change.  Sometimes I can´t understand why people won´t just accept the truth when it is right in front of their faces, but at least we give them a chance.
    We are starting to give out pass-along cards about Christmas to investigators.  They call to recieve a DVD about the birth of Christ with songs from the Mo-Tab.  I was thinking it was a little early to get people excited about Christmas, but maybe it will bring us more investigators.
    I couldn´t believe that it is already October, and that this weekend is General Conference, I am so excited.  I have noticed that the best general conferences have been the ones on the mission, I think mostly because I am paying better attention, taking notes, and I learn a whole lot more.
    Sorry this letter is kind of short, I promis the next one will be much longer, but I hope you have fun with the two kids that you are taking care of now, you can never be too prepared for your mission Aaron, and the mission rocks!  I love you all, and I hope you all enjoy the general conference weekend.                  Love, Elder Spence

September 19, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well, this past week was one of the toughest on the mission so far, everything seemed to fall through and we ended up walking a lot.  But I guess these weeks just make the other weeks really good.  But Elder Ramos have been staying positive, working hard, and last night it finally payed off.  Last night we had a member who was making visits with us, and we were searching for someone named Juliana.  Some people on her street said that a Juliana lived in this one house.  We went there, but it wasn´t the same Juliana that we had talked with the other day, but she let us in teach her, with her mom and sister.   It was a good lesson, they accepted everything including a baptismal date, but I am not too sure about them.  But then afterwards we left and started looking for the other Juliana, we found out that she lives behind another house, and they have a small path to get back there.  But is was a great lesson, Juliana said how she was confused about which church is true, so it was perfect when we started talking about Joseph smith how he had the same doubt.  She and her husband agreed to read, pray, go to church.  Before we left Juliana told us how she had dreamed about us the night before.  That we had come to her house, with a dark friend( the member with us that night is black), and that we had taught her the truth.  Cool story huh?, so I hope that they really read, pray, and prepare themselves to know the truthfulness.
    The last couple of days it was been pretty cool, and raining.  Monday we didn´t have our umbrella, and we ended up walking in mud streets for most of the day, but it was fun.  This cool weather is so much better than the heat that we were experiencing, I just hope that it continues for a little longer.
    Tomorrow I have to go into downtown Rio, to renew my visa so I can stay here for another year.  It will be great, I will get to see all the missionaries that were in the CTM with me.  My companion is going to have to stay in the mission office with the other missionaries companions until we finish.  Things are going well with Elder Ramos, it just takes a little patience.  The good things about him is that he wants to learn more, and he likes to serve.
    Well, I love you all, and I am so happy to have such an awesome family.  Aaron, good luck with your preparation, you are going to be an awesome missionary.  Tchau, tenha uma boa semana.
                                                 Elder Spence

September 19, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well, thanks for the emails this week and it was good to hear that everyone is having fun.  It is getting hotter here everyday, I am not looking forward to summer, but what can I do?  Things are going alright, but this week was a tough week.  We taught 15 lessons of the first lesson, the Restoration, but only two people accepted a baptismal date.  We also had members work with us the past two nights but nobody was at home.  We just have to keep working hard and things will start to turn around.
    There is this kid named Gustavo , he is 10 years old and lives really close to the church, his aunt is a member, but his parents aren't.  He has been going to church on his own, and really enjoys it, and he wants to be baptized.  So Sunday we met with his parents and talked about Gustavo and to get their permission to teach him prepare him for baptism.  His parents are really awesome, they said that since Gustavo was enjoying church, and the church is only teaching good things to their son, that their son could be baptized if he wanted to.  His Mom is going to any church, but mentioned how she would like to find a church so that she has a path follow, so maybe we can help this family recognize the truth, and Gustavo is already being an awesome example to them.
    The boyfriend and girlfriend we taught, Juliana and Yuri are going to church and enjoying it.  Yuri still hasn't prayed, but Juliana sayed that she prayed about the Prophet Joseph Smith and recieved and calm feeling that it is true.  The both have a problem with smoking, we already taught the word of wisdom, and they both agreed to quit smoking to follow the word of wisdom, so we are praying for them, and we hope they really have a deep desire to quit.
    I love you all, and I am so happy to have the best family ever.  Alicia asked what to send in a package, we could use some maple syrup for the pancake mix mom sent, and peanut butter.  But whatever you want to send will be happily accepted.  But lots of love.\
                                                   Love, Elder Spence

September 12, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well this has been one interesting week, working in a new area.  When I got here, there wasn´t any investigators from the previous missionaries, so we searched for some old referrals, knocked on many doors, and made as many contacts as possible.  Needless we returned hot and sweaty every single day, but for the most part it was really good.  We taught quite a few people, and every lesson was the same, the first lesson.  But we did recieve a media reference, when the people call the church center to recieve a material from the church, and we contacted the reference within the hour.  It was this girl, Juliana, she was really interested in the church, and on Sunday she was at church with her boyfriend.  So then on Monday we also taught her boyfriend, Yuri, and we marked a baptism for both of them.
    Other than them, most of the people that we taught didn´t go to church, or didn´t seem to interested in our message, sadly.  Elder Ramos is pretty cool, but a little weird too.  It takes a lot of patience to be with him, but it is going really well.  We wants to work hard, and teach better, and be a better missionary, he just needs someone to push him a little, so that is where I come in.  The area is really good, the only problem is that there isn´t a post office in our area, so sending letters will be a little more difficult.  The members here are really great and many seem very willing to help.  One of the best things about this area is that there isn´t any hills, what a blessing.
    The mission rocks, I want to thank Dad for always sharing your own mission experiences with me, I wish that I had asked you more about your mission before I left.  Aaron, the mission is the best thing that will happen to you, it is the time you really grow, and you come to find out where your strengths are, and how you can improve.
   I love you all and I hope the best for you.  Good luck at school, for everyone, since almost everyone works at some school.
                               Muito amor,    Elder Spence

September 5, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well I guess the biggest news this week is that I was transfered.  I was so sure that I would stay in Barra Mansa for at least one more transfer, and I was hoping that I would stay a little longer, but I will go where the Lord needs me.  The sad thing is that we have two baptisms on Saturday that I will miss, baptisms of Marcos and Frederico.  My new area is called Saracaruna which is back in the Rio.  Barra Mansa was way in the interior, almost in São Paulo.  It seems like a good area, but I am going to miss our big house, with a real washing machine.  My new companion is Elder Ramos, he is from Rio Grande do Sul, the state at the very bottom of Brazil.  He seems like a great missionary, he has about a year on the mission, and I am sure that we will have an awesome time doing the Lord´s work.
    We don´t have much time, mostly because I had to travel to my new area, unpack and get ready.  But I just want to tell you that I love you all, and I am so grateful for you.  Plus I got Mom´s package, thanks for everything you put in it.

August 29, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well I hope that Aaron isn´t too bummed about not going to California, but I guess the good thing is that you have been living in Utah long enough, that you are accustomed to the cold weather.  But you will love Chicago.  But I guess that means that I really didn´t win the contest where Aaron will serve.
    This week was awesome, we had the baptism of Grasiele and everything went perfect.  She was really excited and really happy, and many members came to watch as well.  In this new chapel, the water in the baptismal font is warm, which makes it a lot better to do baptisms.
Our other investigators Marcos and Frederico also went to the baptism so they could see what it would be like.  Both of them are progressing really well, and should be baptized on Setember 8th or 9th.  I asked them last night what they thought about baptism, and they both said that they feel really good, and that it is the right decision.  We already taught them about the ´Word of Wisdom´,and they both agreed to follow. As of yesterday, Marcos was still drinking coffee, so last night I asked him for all the coffee he had in the house.  He was a little reluctant, but he gave it to us, and in turn we gave him Cevada, which is a great alternative for coffee, but is really good for the body.  With the coffee, we ended up dumping it all in the sewer.
    Josi and Emerson are doing awesome, especially Josi.  She is reading a lot of material from the church and is much happier.  Her mom is still trying to quite smoking, because she really wants to be baptized as well.  Josi´s neighbor wants to hear the discussions as well, but the only problem is that she isn´t married.
    Well, happy birthday to Doug, and I think I forgot to wish a happy birthday to Brynn.  Sorry, but as you all know I am terrible with birhtdays.  Next week we have another 20 missionaries that are going home, but we will have 20 new missionaries as well.  So I highly doubt that Elder Carlos and I will stay companions, I really like him, he is really funny, and a good missionary.
    Well I love you all and I hope for the best.
                                Love Elder Spence.
ps.  I got more pictures that I will be sending this week.

August 22, 2007

Hey everyone,
     Oh man, so Aaron got his mission call to California, I don´t mean to brag, but I knew it.  I bet Aaron must be pretty happy to be going to California, I guess the weather suits him a little better, eh.  Good thing he has Mom to help get everything ready.  About your questions with the clothing, these white shirts from Wal-Mart are awesome, they haven´t frayed at all.  My personal opinion is that the button-down collars don´t make much of a difference, but I really don´t know since I don´t have any button-down collars.  About the rain coats, I really don´t need one, the umrellas do the job.  But that is so awesome that Aaron will be leaving the preach the gospel in a couple of months.  It will be greatest thing in you life.
    This week has been a race, we have just been running all over the place.  On Saturday we had the baptism of Emerson, which was really good, his wife, Josiane, is so happy that almost her entire family is baptized.  Then Emerson recieved the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday.  I know that their family will stay strong in the church, mostly because of Josiane who really has a strong testimony.  Josiane´s mom, Marilene wants to be baptized really bad, but she has a problem with smoking.  She has almost quit, but we found out that smoked one cigarette yesterday.  She has planned to be baptized this Saturday, but we have moved her baptism back a week so that she can be more fully prepared.
    We have recieved a really great blessing this week, another elect.  We went to visit Marcos that is really interested in the church, and he had a friend there.  We taught them and invited his friend, Frederico, to come to church on Sunday.  When we got to church Sunday, Frederico was already there, and a member was showing him around the new church.  We really enjoyed church, and we marked to teach him together with Marcos.  When we taught them we taught the `restauration´to Frederico and invited him to be baptized when he recieves an answer, and he accepted.  We returned yesterday to teach Frederico with Marcos and Frederico said that he already recieved an answer that it is true.   He is really smart and sincere, and he will be a great help for Marcos to prepare for baptism too.  Marcos has also prayed and said that he felt really good.
    This Saturday we have the baptism of Grasiele who is really excited, and is getting a lot of support from the members.  She has no doubts that this is the true church and she wants to do everything possible to follow.
   We also taught this really awesome family on Monday which agreed to read the Book of Mormon, pray, go to church, and a baptismal date.  So I hope they really do these things and recieve their answer.  The good thing is that they live really close to the church, so it will be easy to get them to church.
   The weather has been heating up since it is getting closer to summer here in the south.  But the last two days it has gotten a little cooler with some wind.
    I have to go but I love you all, and congratulations to Aaron.
                          Love Elder Spence.
p.s. Could you send some of the oil viles to give blessings.  All my companions really like the one I have and I thought that I would give them one.

August 15, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Thanks for all the emails this week, it sounds like everyone´s trips were really fun.  I am really excited about Aaron´s mission call, I guess I will have to wait until next week to find out where he will be going.  It was really sad to find out the President James E. Faust died last week.  All the brazilians love him because he served his mission here in Brazil.
    This week went by really fast again, it doesn´t seem like we do very much before we are writing home again.   We were a little disappointed with the number of investigators that didn´t go to church on Sunday, but we still had a few that went.  A lot of people had the excuse that it was Father´s Day, since Sunday was Father´s day here in Brazil.  So happy Father´s Day from Brazil Dad.  Sunday night we got some good news, the husband of Josi, a woman who was baptized about 3-4 weeks ago, said that he wants to be baptized this weekend.  So this Saturday we will be having his baptism, when I first met him, he was always really cool with us but never seem interested.  In the past couple of weeks since his wife and son were baptized, we have been seeing a big change in him.  Now he is ready to make the next big step, to get wet.
    Grasiele wasn´t at church on Sunday, but it turned out that the hospital called and needed her to work, since she is a nurse.  We met with her on Monday night and she was really sorry that she missed church, but is still really excited about the church.  We have to move her baptismal date back a week, so that she can visit the church at least 3 times before baptism.  I asked her what she thought about baptism, and if it was what she really wanted to do.  Without hesitation she said yes.  This returned missionary who just got back a couple of weeks ago is thinking about dating her, but I am a little worried about that.  She doesn´t have a really strong testimony since she hasn´t known the gospel for very long, and if something goes wrong between them she would easily fall away.  But we are involving many other members when we teach her, so that she has a lot of support from the members.
    Yesterday we had zone conference again, where we got to hear from President and Sister Brinton, and the zone leaders.  It was all really good, but the coolest thing was that Schleiffarth and his parents are in Brazil right now, and they went to the zone conference too.  So I got to say hi to them, his parents are so cool.  They will also be coming to Barra Mansa on Friday until Sunday, so I will get to see more of them.  His parents were telling me how Schleiffarth has really been missing the mission.  They only had good things to say about Mom and Dad from your visit with them.
    I have really seen how much I am growing, especially in the last couple of weeks.  The mission really is the best thing that anybody could ever do, I am so happy that Aaron is about to begin his own mission.  You will then really know that all of this is true, as you watch so many people change from the gospel.  I love you all, and I hope that school goes great for all of you.
                                             Love, Elder Bird Spence

August 8, 2007

Hey everyone,
    This week would have the be the busiest week ever.  We had many people to visit, and two baptisms to take care of this weekend.  Flávio was baptized on Saturday, he is the boyfriend of one of the members.  Throughout the days I have actually been seeing that he has more interest in the church that I had previously thought.  He has a strong support group, so I am pretty sure that we will stay strong.  The first time I had taught him he was really timid and I wasn´t too sure if he was even interested in the church, but the days before his baptism he was really open with me and we got to talk a lot.
 Then on Sunday we had the baptism of Eduardo, he is the neighbor of a member, that lives really far away.  While Eduardo was investigating the church he was looking up a lot of things about the church on the internet, which almost all of it wasn´t true.  We had to help him forget what he was reading and to rely on the spirit. He started to walk by faith and decided to be baptized.  He is only 16, but he is really mature and cool.  He already told us how he wants to serve a mission too.  He has an older brother that seems a little interested but is really busy, but we are going to try and focus with him a little bit more.  The baptisms were really great, there were many people there to watch, and they were the first people to try out the warm water in the new church.
    The girl that I had mentioned last week, Grasiele, is really liking the church.  She is reading a lot, already recieved her answer, and is progressing really well toward baptism.  Every time we teach about the commandments she says she will obey without asking questions why, becuase she already knows what we are teaching is true.  Like the Word of Wisdom, she used to drink coffee, but after we taught her she told us that she wouldn´t ever drink coffee again.
    We are teaching a family that we were teaching a couple of weeks ago, but we had stopped teaching them because they weren´t coming to church and keeping other commitments.  They came to church on Sunday, and really enjoyed it.   We returned to their house yesterday and we could see how they really want to change their lives, and to have a better, happier family.
    I hope that you enjoy your trip, and have a good summer while it lasts.  I love you all, and I am so grateful for this time I have to serve a mission.                                        Love, Elder Spence

August 1, 2007

Hey everyone,
  This week has been the fast week ever, we had the open-house for the new church this past week, and it went pretty well.  We didn´t recieve a ton of visitors as some of the other chapels near our area, but we did get 30-40 references that are actually interested to learn more about our church, so these past couple of days Elder Carlos and I have been trying to contact them.  The only problem is that the people didn´t leave a phone number so we cant call them to mark a day, we have to past by their house and hope that they are there.  The dedication was really good, but we were expecting a ton of visitors, but we only had a few.  Most of the people there were our own members and members from other wards in the stake.  We were a little disappointed about that, but we can´t let that get our spririts down.
    On monday, we visited one of the references that we had recieved from the new church.  She is really excited, her name is Grasiele.  She had always wanted to visit our church, but was too embarassed to ever enter.  So when she saw our new church she thought she would enter, when she got there she was happy to see a member who invited her to enter.  She also went to the dedication and loved it.  We went to her house with a member and taught her about the ´restoration´, she accepted to read, pray, and a baptismal date for the 18 of august when she receives an answer.  She normally works as a nurse Sunday mornings, but she is going to try to work more hours on Saturdays so she can go to church.  So we are excited about this.
    The new church has really helped to excite the members as well, and now they have a stronger desire to help with the mission work.  A lot of them would always come up to us and tell us about someone that they had lead through the new church, and how they were excited to hear more, and the members were so happy after experiences like that.  But that is the feeling I always feel when we have an investigator that is progressing.
    Yesterday we had a mission counsil, where all the zone and district leaders met together to talk about our mission.  We brought up ideas how we can do this work better, how we can better energize our missionaries, and to set goals that we can find more people and baptize them.  It was a really good counsil where I got to see another aspect of missionary work and what we can do to increase our work.
    I did get a package from Mom yesterday and about 10 letters, thanks everyone.  The package was awesome mom, me and my companion have already eaten all the gummy bears and beef jerky.
   So Aaron´s papers have had problems.  I hope that they are in now, I want to find our where he will go.  I hope that he gets called to Brazil, specifically Rio de Janeiro, but to be honest I would have to guess that he will be called to California.
   I have to run, but I just want to tell you all that I love you.
                                                    Love Elder Spence
p.s.  Brynn in the photos I got your kid doesn´t look like a turtle, hope that makes you feel better.

July 25, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well transfers came and went, and luckily I ended up staying here in Barra Mansa, however Elder Rangel got transfered.  Elder Adams is going home today, which is good because he woke us all up at 4:30 to tell us he is going home, and then to tell me how he will be reading the 7th Harry Potter book while I am still on the mission.  My new companion is actually Elder Carlos who was Elder Adams companion.  So now we both get to stay here for the dedication of the new chapel, and hopefully to see a lot of success.  I was also made district leader, so that should be interesting.
    For the past two days we have been at the new chapel helping people to get to know the church.  We have been at the church nearly the entire day, so we don´t have much time to get out and to teach people.  But it has been raining both Monday and yesterday, so I don´t think as many people passed by as usual.  There have been a couple of people who have entered and are really interested, which really helps the members to keep excited.  We have actually had a lot of help with the members, but most of the them are too scared to take leadership and get things done when the bishopric isn´t there, so us missionaries have had to do a lot of work to keep things organized.
    We are teaching this guy named Flavio, who should be baptized next Sunday.  He was hoping to be baptized this Sunday after the dedication of the church, but I think that it will be too crowded to do it, so we moved it back to the next week.  He is dating a really firm member in the ward, I think that he wants to be baptized mostly because of Shirley, the member, than because of a testimony, so I was a little worried about that.  But he has been showing his faith by keeping the commandments, like stopping drinking coffee and alcohol, he is reading the Book of Mormon, so slowly he is gaining his testimony.
    Josi, who I was teaching with Elder Schleiffarth was baptized a week and a half ago, and then recieved the Holy Ghost last Sunday, as well as her son.  She lived in the other area of the ward so Elder Adams and Carlos got to baptize them, but it was really great.  She is really excited, and these past two days she has been helping a lot at the open-house of the chapel.  It was amazing to see how many people she was bringing in from the people passing by on the street.  It is awesome to see how the gospel of Jesus Christ really changes lives.  Right now we are working with her husband Emerson, and I think that he will be baptized before too long as well.
    Well I will have a really busy week, but I know that it will be really great.  I hope that next week I get to find out where Aaron is going to serve, I hope it is Brazil.   I love you all, and I love this work.
                                             Love, Elder Spence
p.s.  Happy birthdays to Mom and Autumn this week!

July 18, 2007

Hey everyone,
    It was good to get the emails this week, and to hear that everyone is doing great.  That is great to hear the Aaron got his papers sent off now, and just has the wait.  I hope you have fun on your trips.  Sorry I didn´t mention it sooner, but happy birthday Alicia, it was good to hear that Bob treated you good.
    That last two days the rain has come back, which actually has been feeling really good.  The only problem with the rain is that we don´t another other place to hang our clothes up to dry except for outside where it is raining.
    The toughest part about these past weeks is how we are finding a lot of new investigators, but then they don´t go to church, we can´t find them at home anymore, and so we end up dropping them.  However, we have this old investigator that always comes to english class, and to church every once in a while.  He has a friend that is a less active member, but both of them were at church on Sunday.  Ronaldo, the old investigator, told us how he has been thinking about being baptized.  We were pretty excited about that, and so we met with Ronaldo yesterday and marked his baptismal date for the 28th.  He accepted, and this week he will continue to pray about Joseph Smith the gain a real testimony.
    Next week will be really crazy, because we are going to have an ´open house´ at the new church for the whole week.  Starting on Monday until Saturday from 3:00-9:00 the public will have the chance to enter the church and to understand a little bit more about our religion.  Then on Sunday the 29th we will be having the dedication of the church.  Everyday we have people stop us on the street and ask when the church will dedicated and that they will like to visit the new church.  We are hoping for a lot of references from this.
    The only problem is that transfers are on the 25th, so maybe I will be transfered or some of the other missionaries here.  It will be really tough because we will go from 4 missionaries to only 2, only days before the dedication of the chapel.  Elder Adams will be leaving for sure because he is finishing his mission next week, it is actually a little annoying because he really wants to go home.  All he talks about is video games and movies, I really feel bad for his companion because he is starting to feel really ´trunky´ too.
    Mom asked about playing tennis on p-day, I just rent tennis racquets at the club, and play with the other missionaries, which sadly offers no competition.  But it still feels good to get out and swing the racquet around.
     Well, I love you all.                         Love, Elder Spence

July 11, 2007

Hey everyone,
    First of all thanks for the emails this week, and I finally figured out how to look at the pictures brynn sends.  Gavin is cute, I must say he looks better now than he did with the pictures Alicia sent when he was born.  To answer Mom´s question, I get letters about three times every transfer(6 weeks).  I get mail during zone conferences, interviews with the President, and transfer meetings.
    Did you hear, the Chirst Statue is now one of the 7 wonders of the world, and I was there just last week.  The brazilians are really excited about it as well.  While I was there we met this guy who is a returned missionary from Roy, Utah.  I don´t remember his whole name, but he was Elder Hutchins, and I guess he was companions with Jeff Smith in Petroplis.  So that was really cool.
    As of yet we don´t have any really good investigators, we are teaching the first discussion a lot, but the people we are teaching don´t seem too interested at the moment.  We are hoping that these two kids we met Sunday night will keep studying.  They are these two 16 year old kids who are actually interested in religion.  They told us how they have visited many churches, but have been looking for the right church.  So I hope they go to church this Sunday, and that their parents don´t have problems with them learning about the Mormons.  They don´t seem like they are 16, more like 20, they understood everything we taught them.  Maybe they could be future missionaries.
    The guy with his two sons didn´t go to church on Sunday, I guess someone in his family got really sick on Saturday and Sunday so they have been helping out with that.  But they still seem interested, we marked to visit with them tomorrow, so I am hoping that will all go well.
    I am really excited to hear how Aaron is getting ready for a mission.  Your my hero.  That is great you got your patriarchal blessing, make sure to read it often, it really is a guide to how you can and should conduct your life.  I have really seen how my partarchal blessing has really helped me in my mission to keep being a better missionary.
    Sorry I don´t have a lot to talk about this week, not much has really gone on.  I think we are going to go play tennis today, so I will make sure to get photos, I keep forgetting to do that.
    I love you all a lot, and thankyou for all your prayers and support.  I hope you have an awesome trip too.
                                      Love, Elder Spence
July 4, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Sorry that I won´t have very much time to write to you all today, it has been a long day, and we just got back, so I don´t have much time to write.  We ended up going to downtown Rio and went to see the Christ Statue with our zone.  It was actually really good weather, which was really sweet.  We also ate at Parmê Pizza, the all you can eat pizza, so I am feeling a little chubby at the moment.
    Yesterday we had zone conference, which was a really good meeting, all of the trainings that we had were really good.  One of the nice things was that I finally got the package that Alicia had sent off, the missionaries in my house really liked the candy.  We found out that there will be many changes going on in our mission within the next couple of weeks.  22 missionaries will be going home and only 9 new missionaries will be coming back.  Our mission is going to be getting really small, many of the areas will be shutting down, so Barra Mansa will only be having one companionship.  Most likely I will stay here in Barra Mansa and will stay with Elder Rangel or Elder Carlos which lives with us.
    This week was a week of a lot of work, but Elder Rangel and I found a couple of new investigators that seem really good.  One night Elder Rangel had the feeling that we should climb these stairs to knock on some door.  We climbed the stairs, clapped our hands to call someone, and before we could even talk this guy lead us into his house to hear our message.  He and his two sons listened to our message, accepted a baptismal date.  We passed by the next day and read in the Book of Mormon with them a little.  They confirmed that they will be at church on Sunday.  The mans name is Antonio, and his sons are Bruno 18, and Douglas 14.  Bruno is really cool, really interested in religion and had already started reading that night.  We are hoping that they will continue to progress.
    We also met with this guy who had learned about the church 12 years ago, but lost contact after the missionaries were transfered.  We was really great, and we were able to teach his wife as well.  It is tough to mark a day with him because he isn´t at home very much, but he wants to keep learning more.
    Thanks Mom for always sending everyone´s emails to me to hear how they are all doing and the experiances they are having.  I love you all, and I hope you all have an awesome 4th of July.
                                                              Love, Elder Spence
June 27, 2007

Hey everyone,
  Oh wow, it is so crazy to think that one year from today I was saying buy to you at the airport, this has been the craziest and fastest year ever.  It is good to hear that the rodeo was good, as well as the trip to D.C.  Töday was a pretty good and relaxing p-day, we ended up going to the zoo with my zone.  It wasn´t a very big zoo, and not too many animals.  But the had the main attractions like the lion, tiger, and bear.  We actually were there at the right time to watch them all get fed.  Afterwards we all went on some paddleboats in the little lake they have at the zoo.
    This week still went by really quickly, we just have so many things marked that we are running from one appointment to another and just seems like we don´t have any time.  But the good news is that our companions will be returning tonight, so I will be working with Elder Rangel again, in just our area.  The bad news is that we were teaching most of our investigators in the other area.  It was good to work with Elder Adams, it teaches a little different which was good to see, he is more straight forward and open about the commandments and such things.  It was tough to work with him, just because he always talked about how excited he was to go home and play `warcraft´ again.
    Sadly, while we were meeting with Johnson and Paula, they said that they didn´t want to learn any more.  I think it is more just Paula who doesn´t want to, she just has so many doubts, but the problem is that she doesn´t really pray to know if what we teach is true.  She tried a thing where she prays to recieve an answer, and then opens the Bible to some page and puts her finger on some verse and that is how she recieves her answer.  She told us how she doesn´t really believe Joseph Smith saw God, and showed us two scriptures where it says that men cannot see God.  We showed her some verses that contradict that, but she wouldn´t listen to us.  However, it is her choice and we can´t make her believe anything.
    The woman that we were teaching Josi, should be baptized next week.  Her husband Emerson really enjoys our visits but he still has alcohol to give up before he is ready for baptism.  They are a really great family, but the live in the other area, so I won´t get to continue teaching them.
    The last couple of days we found some new investigators in our area, so we are hoping that they turn out to be really interested.  Lately we have been teaching a lot of first lessons, but none of them have had enough faith to accept a baptismal date on our first visit.
      I love you all.  Bird is the word.
                                          Love, Elder Spence

June 20, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Thanks for all of the emails that I got this week, and to hear that everyone is doing really well.  First of all, Happy Father´s Day Dad, sorry it is a little late.  I hope you have fun in DC, and it was good to hear that Elder Schleiffarth´s talk went well.
    This week went by really quickly, we have so many places to go and so little time.  We have quite a few investigators that it is hard to find time to find new investigators.  In the past two days we have taught 4 lessons of the ´restoration´, but they won´t be investigators because they aren´t willing to change their lives.  But at least we can say that we have planted some seeds.
    On Sunday we had 10 investigators at church, that was really making us feel good.  We didn´t even have all of our investigators there either, but the ward was pleased with it.  It was also ward conference, so the Stake Presidency was also there.  The Stake President, President Paulo was impressed, and he even changed his talk that he had planned, to give a special talk for the investigators at church.  president Paulo is a new Stake President, but he is really awesome, all the members talk about how he is really helping the stake a lot.
    Monday night we met with Luide with one of the members, and we talked about the atonement of Jesus Christ, since he didn´t really understand the importance of it, and about repentance.  We talked a little about this because Luide was concerned about being unworthy from past sins.  He and his family have made really good friends with a family in our ward, and he was talking with them, and he asked whether he could call President Paulo about some of his doubts.  The members gave him President Paulo´s number and so he called.  After the call he told the members that it went really well.  However we haven´t been able to talk with him yet, we are going to visit with him tomorrow, so I am excited to find out what Luide asked him and what answers he recieved.
    We also met with Emerson and Josi, Josi is the one really interested in the church and hopefully will be baptized next week.  She was telling us about how a pastor had come over and was talking about our church with her.  We has telling lies of our church, trying to have her start doubting the things that we were teaching her.  We helped to clearify the doubts she has getting from the pastor and really likes the church.  But she told us how she always feels really good when we are at their house, and she has seen how her family is starting to change for the better.  It was really tough to meet with her because she was always working, but she quit her job because it was a bad environment and she has had a lot more time to study the Book of Mormon and for our visits.  She has already read 1st and 2nd Nephi, so she is really progressing well.
    Elder Adams is a pretty good missionary, and we are getting a lot done.  He is finishing up his mission this transfer and is starting to get a little lazy, so I have to keep pushing him.  But I get him to keep working, and endure to the end, he respects me and does what he needs to do.
    Johnson and Paula are still doing well.  Johnson still loves the church and thinks it is the best thing he has found.  Paula still has her doubts, but she really enjoyed church on Sunday, and I think that President Paulo´s talk with help her alot.  We will be meeting with them tonight, so we will see.
    That is awesome the Ricky got his mission call, and that he is going to Argentina.  I will have to write him and tell him congratulations.  I also want to thank you all for all your love, support, and prayers.  I love you all and I am so happy to have such a wonderful family.
                                            Love, Elder Spence
June 13, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well Elder Schleiffarth has left today and a new missionary has come to take his place.  I wanted to go to the transfer meeting, but there wasn´t enough room in the van for me to go.  I wanted to talk with Elder Washburn to find out how my old area is going, but I guess that will have to wait.  The new missionary is Elder Adams, I knew him from my first transfer in the field, he was in my district.  He is from Hollywood California, he says he isn´t rich, but he really is.  When he was in my district he was a little lazy, but I have heard that he has really changed and is a pretty good worker now.  He is actually going back home in 6 weeks, so this is his last transfer.
    I will be helping Elder Adams learn his area until Elder Carlos and my companion Elder Rangel return from helping out the area, which I have been told may be another two weeks.
    They last couple of days has made me think of home a lot since all the people we met with were all sad, and talked about Elder Schleiffarth going home.  But all the other missionaries says that that always happens when your companion is going home.  Our investigators are doing pretty well, and they are progressing really well.  Last night we met with Sérgio and Sandra, with a really awesome member, valdoir.  Sérgio is awesome, he has a problem with smoking.  Yesterday he told us that he had made a goal that Monday was his last day smoking, and that yesterday he hadn´t smoke one cigarette.  He told us that he knows the Book of Mormon is true, and wants to follow this path.  He and Sandra went to church and Sunday and really enjoyed it.
    Johnson and Paula are still doing pretty well.  They are both reading and praying.  Johnson told us that he believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and this is his church.  However Paula is still in doubt, but the coolest thing is that Johnson bore his testimony of what he knows to Paula.
    Finally I will talk about Luide and Amanda, this really cool family.  They are really awesome, they are always reading, praying, going to church.  We had family home evening with them and another family that are members, and it was really spritiual.  Luide talked about how he feels wonderful while we are in his house teaching, when he reads the Book of Mormon and prays.  We told him how this was the spirit testifying to him, however he is afraid of joining the church, and then later follwing away.  I think that he will be baptized before too long, becuase he is keeping all the commitments that we have made.
    It was great to hear from Mom and Dad, and that everyone is doing well.  I love you all, and I am so grateful to be a missionary.
                                              Love, Elder Spence
p.s. You´ll like Elder Schleiffarth´s talk, he has already practiced with me a couple of times.

June 6, 2007

  Hey everyone,
    I had just finished writing a email for you, and was about to click the ´send´button, when my time ran out on the computer and I lost the whole thing.  So now I am writing again.
    This has been a pretty crazy week, there is a new chapel near our area that was dedicated last week, and they recieved many references of people who wanted to learn more.  So President Brinton took Elder Rangel and Elder Carlos from our area and put them there to help out the other missionaries contact all of them.  So now Elder Schleiffarth and I are companions here in Barra Mansa to work in both of our areas.  It has been pretty crazy trying to meet with all of our appointments and the investigators.  But Elder Schleiffarth is a really awesome companion, we are getting a lot done, and I am learning a lot.  However, he will be going home a week from today.  He will be giving his homecoming talk next Sunday, he doesn´t know where the chapel or what time but here is his parents number so that Mom can call and get all the details:  (435)654-2605  He said that he is excited to talk with you, I think I am going to give the negatives of my pictures to him and then you can get them from him, that should help you guys get them faster.
    So this past week we have been spending half of our time in our area and the other half in his area.  They have this really awesome investigator named Luidi (sounds like Luigi), he has studied a lot about the church, and has listened to all the lessons, and really enjoys the church and members.  However the problem is that he doesn´t know if God exists, and doesn´t know how to recognize the spirit. He really wants to know, he is reading and even did a fast with us.  He is married and has two kids, his family is really awesome, so I hope that we can help them out.
    This past week we also met with Johnson and Paula, but they aren´t doing so well.  We visited them with a member, and Paula asked him all the doubts she has, when Elder Rangel and I had thought that we had already cleared everything up.  They say that they are reading and praying, but we don´t think that they are really reading.  So we are going to help them read the Book of Mormon to gain a testimony about this gospel, and then she won´t have all of these doubts.
    On sunday we had Stake Conference, it was really good.  Elder Arnold from the Seventy, President Brinton and Sister Brinton all spoke to us.  They spoke about the Restoration, sharing the gospel, staying out of debt, and about the atonement.
    I love you all so much and I thankyou for all of your support.  Congratulations to Aaron for graduating, and continue to prepare for a mission.  Até mais , tchau
                                        Love, Elder Spence
May 30, 2007

Hey everyone,
  Thanks for all of the emails that I got today.  The computers that  we are using didn´t let me see the picture that Brynn sent of Gavin.  To answer Moms questions, I haven´t heard anything about money problems with the debit card.  About worms, I heard that before I got into the field the missionaries had to take anti-worm medications every 6 months, but now we don´t.  I have heard of a couple of people who got worms, but they just took the medication and now are fine.
    The weather here has actually been really cold.  It has been raining alot, and I am using my sweater almost everyday, it is nice to have the cold except when we get out of bed in the morning.  The people here think that it is freezing, which is pretty funny, they are so used to the heat that they think the good weather is too cold.
    This week we have been working with the same families, and they are getting closer to baptism.  Johnson and Paula are still studying the Book of Mormon and we are still working with Paula to recieve a testimony.  She is studying a lot, she says that she is praying,  but I think she is expecting for some great sign to show her the truth, so I think we need to work with her to understand the whisperings of the spirit.  Once we complete that, the whole family will be baptized.
    Ronaldo and Rosimere, he is the guy who lost his job, have been passing through some difficulties with feeding their kids, and the gas in the house went out.  They did go to church on Sunday and really enjoyed it alot.  We passed by the house last night, and it seems like Ronaldo may have found a job finally which is good.  We also talked with them about doing everything possible to be legally married.  The problem is that Rosimere is from the south of Brazil, her mom lost her birth-certificate, and Rosimere would have to go to her state to get a new certificate made, but it would cost a couple thousand reais to make the trip.  We have a lawyer that lives in our ward, so we will talk with her to find out if there is another way to get things done.  But they really like our discussions and are enjoying the church.
    The last two days we have taught a couple lessons with hard-core evanglists.  They listened to us until we began talking about the apostasy, and Joseph Smith.  They tried to prove us wrong by the Bible, so we showed them some scriptures in the bible that they could think about, we bore our testimonies and left.  It is a little frusterating to see how confused people are.  They take some verses from the Bible that are so clear and simple and interpret them so strangely.  But the work is going well, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be here teaching the gospel.
    I love you all and I am so grateful that I have such an awesome family.  Thanks for the love and support.
                                            Love, Elder Spence
p.s. I should be sending more photos before too long.
May 23, 2007

Hey everyone,
  It is really good to be writing to all of you again.  The weather sure has changed lately, and now it is all rainy and dark.  It is great to hear about Aaron, his graduation from seminary, scholarships, and that he is preparing to maybe leave for his mission right when he hits the 19, that is awesome, parabéns(congrats).  Thanks Dad for the Jazz updates, it is good to hear that the Jazz are doing awesome once again.
    Yesterday was a little crazy, we had a zone conference in a city 3 hours away.  We woke up and left by 5:00, we ended up getting there late because some missionaries forgot to bring an indentification card, which everyone must carry around.  We had a really good conference, Sister Brinton stressed the importance that we Americans teach the Brazilians english.  The Brintons were in São Paulo with Elder Russel M. Nelson for a conference, where he told how he was very disappointed in his grandchildren when they thought it was really cool to return from the missions having difficulties speaking english.  Because it meant that they didn´t teach their companions english.  Luckily Elder Rangel has a real strong desire to learn english, so that is great.  President Brinton talked about how we missionaries need to act always as messengers of Gods´work, and not as Priests before the mission.  This is good because there are many missionaries here that think the mission is to just have a lot of fun, and many times don´t act like missionaries.
    There was also Elder and Sister Linford, who are the missionary doctors, they came to talk with us about how we can stay healthy, especially with stress.  Afterwards we met with some missionaries who have some health problems, and I got to help translate for some brazilians that don´t speak english well.  By the time we got home it was 9:20, which meant we had no time to work which was a little frusterating because we had some people marked to visit.  We had to call them up and tell them we would pass another day.
    For the good news, we met with Johnson and Paula this week and marked a baptismal date for June 2nd.  They are really awesome, Johnson is still really excited about the church, Paula also likes it, and is starting to feel better because we are answering her doubts.  On Sunday they didn´t make it to church becase their son was sick, as well as many other people.  It is because the weather changed really quickly and everything starting getting the cold.  But later that day we visited them with an awesome member Roberto.  He had already served a mission and helped to clear some of Paula´s doubts too.
    We have been teaching quite a few first lessons, but most of these people weren´t interested and didn´t keep the commitements of reading and praying.  We keep on working and I know we will find many people who are ready to accept the Gospel of Christ.
    Today our zone had planned on going to the Christ Statue, but after the 2 hour van ride when we got to downtown Rio, is was raining, so we didn´t go up.  We did eat at Parmé, that all you-can-eat pizza restaurant, which made us feel a little better since we didn´t go to the statue.  But after eating brownie and m&m pizzas I am starting to feel a little fat.
    Before I go I want to tell you all that I love you, and I am so grateful for all of your prayers and support.  I am surprised that your school year is already ending, which helps me realize how fast the time goes, and how I really have to give it my all here in the mission.  I want you all to know that I know this is Christ´s church, we we are so blessed to have it in our lives.  Lots of love,  tchau.
                                                Love,  Elder Spence.

May 16, 2007

Hey everyone,
    It feels a little funny to be writing a letter to you when I just spoke with you on Sunday.  I hope everyone had a great Mother´s Day, and sorry I forgot to wish a Happy Birthday for Dad and Bob.  I guess it was just a giant party at home.  It was great to talk with everyone, to know that you are doing well, and just to hear your voice.
    Last week we had interviews with President Brinton where he told us to work in smaller more concentrated areas near the church and members, especially since our area is so large.  He also told us that when we find area with many people of other churches that won´t listen to us, we need to work harder in those areas.  Because Satan wants to discourage us from going in the areas, because he knows that there are elects there that need to be found.  In our area we have this area like this, and so we decided to start working in the area harder.  We actually found a really awesome family that we taught last night.
    We met this family by talking with the wife in the street.  I almost didn´t make contact with them because the wife is so short she looked like a child at first, her 10 year old son is the same height as her.  She agreed to hear our message, and so yesterday we visited them.  They were part of the Assembly of God church, but the husband, Ronaldo, left the church 3 weeks ago.  He is passing a difficult time, he lost his job, but they listened to our message, agreed to read, pray, visit the church, and be baptized after recieving an answer.  We will be visiting tomorrow to see how they are, and we will follow-up with them every day.  President Brinton also stressed that we need to follow-up with investigators every day, or Satan will begin to harvest our investigators, especially when our investigators are surrounded by neighbors of other faiths that don´t like our church.
    I am hoping that the new church is going to open up soon, all the people we talk with in the streets tell us how pretty the chapel is, and that they would like to visit it one day, this helps us to get more addresses.  All the members are really excited to get into the new chapel.  One night we tried to visit the chapel with Johnson and Paula, our investigators, there is always a watchman in the chapel, but he wouldn´t let us enter without the bishop.  It was pretty lame, mostly because we walked 10-15 minutes with them to get to the chapel, but Johnson and Paula were fine about it.  There family is only waiting for Paula to decide to join the church, she is the head of the family.  But Johnson wants to be baptized, and their son Pedro Juan, 5 years old, says that he is already a Mormon.
    Things are going great for me, a couple funny experiences, like some random guy grabbed my hand while we were contacting some other guy in the street, and kissed it.  Then he just left without saying anything.  I love you all, and I hope that you all have an awesome week, because I will.
                                              Love, Elder Spence
May 9, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Wow, the weeks has gone by so quickly.  Thanks for the emails, and to hear that everyone is well.  Now for the important news so that Mom isn´t worried, the phone call information.  We will be calling for this members house, she is really cool, her name is Oldir and loves the missionaries.  Her number is: 00-31-1 (024) 3322-4290   The first numbers are to call Brazil, the numbers in the brackets is the area code, and then her actual number.  My call time is at 3:00pm here, so that means it would be 11:00am for you, right now we are 4 hours apart instead of 3 hours like last time, because of daylight savings.  Make sure you make a bunch of questions before, because it is likely that I will forget what I want to say when I get on the phone.
    Now about this week.  First off, Helena was baptized on Saturday and recieved the Holy Ghost on Sunday.  She was really excited, but almost didn´t make it on Saturday.  She has a daughter with mental problems, and needed one of her sons to stay home and take care of her.  The two sons that live with her both were working, so she had to call her other son who lives close by to help her.  She was a little late, but she made it.    Elder Rangel baptized her, and then on Sunday I had the opportunity to confirm her a member of the church and to give her the gift of the Holy Ghost.  I was a little nervous giving a blessing to her in front of the whole ward, but it went really well.  That is probably the best thing that happened this week.
    On Sunday we also had five investigators at church, but yesterday a couple of them called us to say that they didn´t want to leave their church and that they didn´t want to hear any more.  It was a little sad because they were really cool, but it is their choice to accept or not.  Another family was there, and are really cool too.  Paula has a lot of questions, because she has been to many other churchs, but she really wants to understand everything.  Tonight we are going to show them the new chapel so they can see what it is like, and feel the spirit.  Her husband really seems interested, but Paula is the boss of the home, and to get him baptized we also need to help Paula to gain a testimony, so she is our focus right now.
    We also have found a couple of new investigators but I am not to sure about them, so I will wait for the next the visit before I talk much about them.  Everything is good, and I love being a missionary.  I am excited for the phone call on Sunday, and I love you all.
                                            Elder spence

May 2, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Well is sounds like everyone is doing great, I´m doing great too.  I guess Brynn and Casey are doing pretty well learning how to be parents, and Aaron´s going to prom?  He sure is surprising me, I guess he has gotten over his fear of girls, haha.  This week has been good, Elder Rangel and I are working hard, and are learning how to get more help from the members.
    I found out some sad news, President Brinton´s son died the other week.  The doctors don´t know the cause of the death, but he left behind a wife and 3 young children.  Sister Brinton returned to Utah to see the funeral and help the family, and then she will return on May 8th.  Although they are going through a tough time, President Brinton is still working hard, and encouraging us to give all of our heart, might, mind, and strength to the work of the Lord.
    This week we met with Helena a couple of times, and she is doing great, she has quit smoking and is determined to be baptized.  She also realizes that she is being an example to the rest of her family, and so this motive is also helping her to stay firm.  We have visited her with a couple of different members, and have also helped to strenghen her testimony.  If everything goes as planned she should be baptized this Saturday, and then receive the Holy Ghost on Sunday.
    Last night we also meet with a couple Johnson and Paula, and we brought another member with us, Valduir who is awesome.  Johnson already went to church and he really enjoyed it, but Paula hasn´t gone yet, she likes our visits and has many questions.  It was really good to bring Valduir with us, he has already been a missionary, he is about the same age as them, so he taught really clearly and direct.  We are trying to help them pray about the Book of Mormon, and recieve an answer from the Holy Ghost.  We are going to visit the new chapel with them this week, and help them to feel the spirit.
    About the phone call in a week and a half, I don´t have all the information, but I will have before next p-day.  We know which members house we will call from, so I just need to get the telephone number, area code, and figure out the time zones.  So next week I will have all the details.
    Today for p-day we are going to go play tennis again, so I will get pictures this time, and then we will write letters.  The other day I got a pile of letters that had been adding up, now that I am in the interior I don´t get letters as regularly as I use to.  But it was really good to hear how all of my friends are doing in their missions.
      I love you all, and for all the support.  I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve a mission, I just can´t believe how quickly the time is going by.  Word from the Bird.
                                                  -Elder Spence

April 25, 2007

Hey everyone,
      Oh man, I was almost done writing this long letter when the woman who is in charge of the lanhouse accidentally shut my computer down, so this letter will be a little shorter then I had wanted.
    This Sunday was pretty good, we had 4 investigators at church, and the members were prettty good with them, by helping them feel welcomed and encouraging them as well.  Helena has been making quite a few friends at church which is pretty good.  She is a bit frusterating right now, because she is so close to quiting smoking, but hasn´t quite given it up.  She used to smoke 2 packs a day, now only 3 cigarettes.  But everyday we return she has smoked three more, and the next day too.  We keep telling her to throw the cigarettes away, and don´t buy anymore.  She always say, Se Deus quiser, vou parar, ( If God wants, I will quit).  It always annoys me when she says this because of course God wants her to quit.  But she is really great, she really wants to stop and obey the commandments.
    Her husband is doing better, he was released from the hospital and is back at home.  We stopped by their house the other day, and Helena was very relieved that we had arrived, because there were 3 other missionaries there to see her husband.  When we entered the house, one of them was giving Helena´s husband a blessing.  The guy put his hands on Helena´s husbands head and was saying some loud prayer, while the other two were yelling praises.  The spirit was not there with them, it was sad to see these men call upon the name of God without authority.
    Sorry I couldn´t right more, I have to go, but I am doing great.  I love you all, and I hope Brynn is still doing great.  I guess computer gaming has been quite reduced for Casey.
    Love You all,                     Elder Spence

April 19, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Sorry that I am writing a day latter, yesterday I had written a long letter and then the internet died.  But I can´t believe Brynn already had her baby boy, that is so awesome, I´m an uncle again!  I want to see pictures of Gavin Jay Losee before too long ( I am a little dissappointed that they didn´t choose the name Bird Jr.).  Brynn is such a geek, it figures that she would get a refund on the movie before going to the hospital.  Tell her and Casey ´congratulations´for me, and that I love them.
    This week was pretty good, the chapel that they are building in our area is almost complete, and they had an open-house to look inside on Sunday.  They should dedicate it in May, so we are hoping that many people show up, and we find many new investigators because of it.  We taught quite a few new people this past week, but none of them seemed really excited or sure about our message.
    Helena is still really excited about the church and her baptism that is marked for the 28th of April.  We are still trying to help her overcome smoking and drinking coffee, but she really wants to quit and her son as well.  She is under a little bit of stress right now because Saturday night she had to take her husband to the hospital because he was having some medical problems.  I guess it is really serious, and the doctor said that it would take a miracle for him to live much longer.  Even though she has this going on, she is still excited about the church, and knows that it is the right path.  Her son Bruno who has problems with the Law of Chastity really wants to be married to his girlfriend, and wants to visit our church as well.  Funny story, Bruno had been visiting several other churches when we began meeting with him, he had told some other church that the Mormon missionaries were meeting with him.  One night while we were at their house teaching, another missionary from another church that Bruno had been to, stopped by.  Bruno went out and talked with him, and told him that he didn´t need the other missionary because we were already teaching him.  Bruno´s 6 year old son, Vinisius, said that he wants to be a missionary when he grows up, who cool is that?
    Last night we met with this woman, Paula, who we had already taught with her husband Johnson.  After we had taught them, she had gotten on the internet and had looked up about our church.  She mostly found sites that told many lies about our church, so when we should up she had a bunch of questions for us.  They were questions like polygamy, that we don´t believe in the Bible, and that we believe in plural gods.  Luckily she decided to ask us if they were true or false, and not to believe them.  She had read a bit from the Book of Mormon, but had not prayed directly about it.  She said that she will pray, and join our church if she recieves an answer.  She also confirmed that her and her husband will be at church on Sunday to get to know our church.
    President Brinton went to a big conference in São Paulo this week, to listen to Elder Nelson, Elder Didier, and other general authorities.  Brazil use to be split in two areas, but now it will be joined into one, and the new area president will be Elder Didier.  I thought it was interesting to see the changes that are happening here.
    I love you all, and thankyou for all the mail that I get from you.  I am praying for you, especially Brynn, e sou grato que eu estou aqui.
                                              Love, Elder Spence
p.s. Alicia was asking about a package, everyone in the house love the starbursts.

April 11, 2007

Hey everyone,
  The weeks just seem to be going by faster and faster.  Easter was pretty good, it really helped because there were many more people at home that we could then teach.  That is cool that President Brinton sent you an email, I didn´t know he had done that.  Interviews with him were really good, and Sister Brinton was really pleased at how clean our house was.
    This past week we met a lot of new investigators, but unfortunately none of them showed up to church on Sunday.  We did have one investigator show up, her name is Elena, she is the mom of Bruno, that I think I have already talked about.  She really enjoyed church, and the members were really good with her.  We also met with her and her son Bruno last night and taught about the plan of salvation.  Afterwards we set a baptismal date with Elena on April 28, which she accepted.  She already believes everything we teach, and is always so glad when we visit them.  Her only problem is that she smokes, she already knows that members of the church don´t smoke, but tomorrow we are going to talk to her more about the Word of Wisdom, and help her to start quiting.  Bruno enjoys our visits too, but it will be a little bit longer for him because he has problems with the Law of Chastity, but he wants to be married with his girlfriend, so we will see.
    We also met with this guy named Mauricio, about 40 years old, and while we were teaching of the restoration, we decided to play the movie of Joseph Smith.  Afterwards he told us that he felt exactly like Joseph, about not knowing which church is the true church.  He agreed to read and pray, and be baptized after recieving an answer.  Now we just need to follow-up with him, and get him to church.
    Barra Mansa has a lot more people who are so stuck in their other churchs that they can´t see the truth.  It was pretty funny on Monday I was doing splits with Elder KZycezk, the new elder who lives in our house, and we began to talk with some guy in the street.  He believes that everyone should stay in the church that they were born in, and he told my companion that he didn´t know anything because he was catholic, then evanglist, and now mormon.  It is pretty sad to see how so many people are just so lost and confused.  I am so grateful that I was born to goodly parents in this church, so thanks.
    Today I finally bought new shoes, so I hope that last me a little bit longer than my last shoes.  Today our whole zone will be playing basketball for p-day, and maybe I will get to play some tennis as well.
    I love you all and I am praying for you.
                                                Love, Elder Spence

April 4, 2007

Hey everyone,
    It was great to get everyones emails today, and to hear that everyone is good.  Congratulations to Aaron for finally beating Doug in an arm wrestle.
    This week seemed to pass by so quickly, I think that it was partly because of General Conference.  General Conference was awesome, all the talks were awesome, and I learned a lot of things.  We had conference at the Stake Center which is in Volta Redonda, about an hour away.  All the Americans got to watch all the sessions in english, even the Priesthood session, I remeber the last time I had to watch it in portuguese.  Like Dad, I really liked Elder Hollands talk about how we speak.  It reminded me when Elder Russell M. Nelson came to the CTM and he told us how we should all speak like the prophet speaks.  You would never hear him use slang or relaxed speech, but with respect.  I also really liked Elder Eyring about ´someday´, and how ´someday´robs us of many opportunities.  We also have a sister couple in our zone, so they made all the missionaries lunch after the Priesthood session, how cool is that.  We ended up watching conference at 1-3 and 5-7 both days, and the priesthood session was taped so we watched Sunday morning at 10.
      My area of Barra Mansa is a lot calmer than Sulacap which was much nearer to the city.  We also have many more hills we are hiking, but the area is much prettier as well.  When we went to Pretroplis, all there is are hills.  It is very green there, and along the road you can see into awesome green valleys.  Barra Mansa has more poor areas than Sulacap had, but for the most part it is a pretty good city.
    Right now we don´t have many awesome investigators that are really close to baptism, but we are making some progress.  This week we met with this guy named Bruno, who had already heard the first lesson and agreed to read and pray.  But he wasn´t ever at home once I got here, until this week.  He has been visiting some other church, and have been confusing him quite a bit.  When we talked with him, he payed good attention and would like to visit our church, but his Mom was way awesome.  She really wants to visit our church, and she says how our church and the missionary work is so pure.  We are going to talk with a member who lives near by to visit them with us tomorrow to help them build a friendship.
    Near this entire morining we have been cleaning our house, because tomorrow we are going to have an interview with President Brinton, and Sister Brinton will be inspecting our house.  That is the probably with having a bigger house, it is so much more work to clean.  But now it looks really good and will pass Sister Brinton inspection.
    I recieved 3 packages the other week for my birthday, Mom´s, Autumns, and Alicias.  I also finished more photos, so I will be sending those off this week.
    I love you all, and I am so grateful for everything you do.
                                            Love, Elder Spence

March 28, 2007

Hey everyone,
    It is good to be writing you again, and also to receive your emails.  This week was pretty good, it is a little different trying to learn the area and the people here.  The conference with Elder Zwick was really awesome, we got to hear from his wife as well, and President and Sister Brinton.  We had to wake up at 3:45 so that we could get ready for when this mini-bus picked us up to go to Petrópolis, which is more than 2 hours away.  It was a really good to hear their words and advice, to help us in the work of the Lord.  Elder Zwick was a mission president in Santiago, Chile before being in the First Quorum of the Seventy.  His said that they have been away from their family for about 14 years, and I thought 2 years was bad.  I am sure that they can visit their family from time to time, but still 14 years.
    My new area of Barra Mansa is pretty good, I am learning the area pretty quickly, and the members seem to be really great.  Once again we live right next to family that are members, and they are always giving us food, so we are never hungry.  In this ward we have 2 companionships, the area is pretty big.  Our area is split in half that goes right through the middle of Barra Mansa, our house is in the area of the other missionaries.  Like I said last week my companion is Elder Rangel from Recife.  He is really awesome, he has about 2 months in the mission, but he teaches so well and we really get along great.  The other missionaries are Elder Schleifarth, he is from Georgia, but his family moved to Midvale, Utah not too long ago, and he goes home in 3 months.  His companion is Elder Kyzezchk(keesheski), from the south of Brazil.  He is brand spank´n new, this week was his first week in the field.  But he is cool as well and really wants to learn.
    When I got here we didn´t have many investigators, but we did bring a woman and her daughter to church Sunday.  She really enjoyed it, and this week we finally got her at home with her husband and we taught them the first lesson.  They seemed really interested, but there is a problem, they aren´t married yet.  We have found this quite a bit in this area, but I think they want to be married, so we are hoping and praying it doesn´t take too long.  The womans name is Andreza and her husband is named Adriano, they already have one child together and she is pregnant with another.
    This area is really different from Sulacap, a plus is that it is a bit cooler and has more wind.  It is much further from the city so it isn´t so crowded.  It has a lot more hills that we are climbing, hopefully I return a fast runner than I used to be, watch out Autumn.  Another good change is that our ward is the only ward in our chapel, so we have church in the morning.  It is also pretty close, so the people are more willing to go to church.  Our chapel is pretty old, but they are building a new one for our ward.  We passed by it a couple of days ago, it is pretty.  I think that it should be done in May, so I hope I am still here for the dedication.  When we went to visit the chapel, some guy who was working on the chapel came up to us and asked how our church and build all the building and about our church.  We got his address and gave it to the other missionaries because he lives in their area.  How cool is that, because of the church we are getting contacts.   I like the new area, it is a really good change so far.
    I am really excited about General Conference this Sunday, I have been looking forward to it for a while.  The only problem is that we have to watch it at the Stake Center which is about an hour away, which makes it a little difficult to take investigators to watch it.  I will be watcing it a little bit later since the time zones.  I am not sure exactly what time though.
    Next week I will tell you more of the area and investigators, I have to go.  But I love you all, and I am praying for you.
                                          Love Elder Spence
p.s.  MOm wanted to know if we have anything like Tucanos, they have some restuarants in the center, but they are pretty expensive.
March 20, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Sorry that I am writing this a day earlier than you had expected, I should have told you last week but I forgot.  Hopefully I will have twice as many emails next week.  The reason I am writing earlier is that we are having Elder Zwick, of the seventy, coming to our mission tomorrow and Thursday, so our transfer day, and p-day were moved up to tuesday.
    The big news is that I am finally transfered out of Sulacap and I am now in Barra Mansa, near Volta Redonda.  I was expecting to get transfered, although I actually wanted to stay in Sulacap one more transfer with Elder Washburn.  But everyone says that my new area is really awesome.  My new companion is Elder Rangel, brazilian, 24 years old, and from Recife.  Recife is more near the northeast of Brazil.  He seems really awesome, and is a hard worker.  I have been made senior, but I think that it doesn´t make much of a difference since my new companion knows the area and the people, whereas I don´t.  We actually have 4 missionaries in my new ward, so I also live with two other missionaries.  They are really cool too, one american, from Atlanta Georgia, and the other a brand new brazilian, just got here today.
    I don´t know anything about my new area, so I can´t tell you anything right now, but I will tell you about my last week.  On Sunday we had two more baptisms!  We baptized Jorge Luiz and his son Alexander.  I got a letter coming the describes more about Jorge Luiz´s story, but it was really awesome.  Jorge Luiz wanted me to baptize him, and his son wanted Elder Washburn to baptize him, so we were all dressed in white.  We had many members who stayed and watched the baptism, as well as his wife.  His wife really enjoys the church, but is a spiritualist, and believes in reincarnation, so we have a little work with her.  Funny thing, while we were baptizing Alexander and Jorge Luiz, his son Thiago, 5 years old, really wanted to be baptized as well.  He began crying and saying that it was his turn to be baptized after I had baptized Jorge Luiz.
    Maria de Lourdes, the woman who lost her husband, still is reading like crazy, she is almost done with 2nd Nephi.  She has made pretty good friends with a couple of members who we introduced for her, and they invited her to an activity in the church this week.  She loved the activity, and the members who she met.  We have already taught her all the lessons, and commandments.  She has given up coffee in her determination to live the Word of Wisdom, so now she justs needs to come to church two times before she is baptized.
    Last night we visited this less-active member who was out-of-town, and she made this awesome cake, and other food for my birthday.  I also found out that I would be transfered while we were at her house, so it was a type of going away party too.
    It was great to get the email from Aaron, and to see that you are getting ready for a mission as well.  I guarantee that it is the best thing you can do.  I am loving the mission, and I am growing in so many ways every day.  I am always amazed at how much I am being blessed and I am so happy for the privilege I have to be declaring this good news to the people here in Brazil.
    I love you all, and keep you in my prayers.  Tchau e eu amo vocês muito.  Forte abraço.                       Elder Spence

March 14, 2007

Hey everyone,
  Thanks for everyone´s emails that I got this week, and it was a pretty good birthday.  I didn´t get any packages from home, but I got two presents from the people here.  A member Lino, gave me a new tie after we ate lunch at his house, I like to think of him as my grandpa in the mission.  Then we met with Wallace and his mom made this tuna pie for us, which was really good, and he gave me this miniture guitar made out of wires, since he plays the guitar.  The members who live above us also sang me a happy birthday, as well as President and Sister Brinton over the cell-phone.
    The biggest news for this week is that we baptized Wallace on Sunday.  He had an interview on Saturday, which went great, he also met with the bishop, since we just got a new bishop last sunday.  Wallace couldn´t choose who we wanted to baptize him, so he flipped a coin.  Elder Washburn won, but he actually let me do the honor, sweet pal, huh?  It went great, we had no problems, and we had many people there to watch.  This next Sunday he will be recieving the Holy Ghost during Sacrament Meeting, and the Aaronic Priesthood.  He is really happy, and can feel that he has now gained a big family now that he is becoming a member.
    The other investigator that we have that is close to baptism is Jorge Luiz, as well as his 8 year old son.  We have taught him all the lessons, and commandments, and has agreed to keep all of them.  On Monday we went to his house with a member and taught him about the ´Word of Wisdom´, he said that he drank coffee, but that he would quit.  We returned tuesday to see how he was doing, and when we had entered his house he saw two empty beer cans on a shelf.  We were a bit worried that he hadn´t totally understood the ´Word of wisdom´, but when we asked him about the cans, he said that his kids had grabbed them from the street to make something with them.  That made us feel better.  On sunday he was at church with his kids again, but this time with his wife as well.  She really liked the church a lot, and even stayed to sing in the choir.  We marked Jorge Luiz´s baptism for Sunday, but if his wife wants to be baptized, we may move Jorge Luiz´s  baptism back a week so he can be baptized with his wife.
    We are still meeting with that older woman, Maria de Lourdes, who lost her husband about a month ago.  She is still reading like crazy, and this past week we taught her the ´Word of Wisdom´, Law of Chastisty, Keeping the Sabbath Day holy.  When we asked her if she would keep the commandments she said that because these commandments would benefit her life, of course she will keep them.
    Today for P-day we finally went to the Christ Statue, and it was awesome.  We had 3 other companionships with us, and we had a great time.  It was a little cloudy, so it wasn´t a perfect day to visit the Christ statue, but was great none the less.  I took a lot of pictures, so I should be sending some more pictures home before too long.  We ended up waking up at 5:15 to got the the center of Rio before too late, but it was worth it.
    On Sunday we had an awesome member in our ward who gave a really good talk.  She has three sons, and all of them are serving missions right now.  Her husband and her are really awesome and are always giving us ´pringles´or ´nutella´.  But during her talk she read some letters from her sons.  One of them wrote something that is exactly what I would like to say.  ´I am a missionary, and I am happy´.  I am so happy for my mission, and the privilege I have to teach this gospel, especially in another language.  I am recieving so many blessings, and seeing many miracles.  This really is the best two years of my life.
    Eu te amo muito.                   Elder Spence
March 7, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Thanks for everyone´s emails for this week, it was good to hear everone is well.  Another dog?  I bet Aaron is really happy with the name he picked out, Taco.  As for a new car, I would suggest you get a really sweet, fast car, like a ferrari!
    Alright so about this week.  This week was awesome, we have been meeting with our investigators and they came to church and loved it.  The members in our ward were awesome, they welcomed all of them and really helped them feel comfortable.
  As for Wallace, he is right on line for his baptism on Sunday, but he won´t recieve the Holy Ghost until the following Sunday because he will recieve the Holy Ghost during Sacrament Meeting.  He is really excited, made some friends at church, and we have marked his interview with the District Leader for Saturday.  Wallace is actually Rock´n Roller, he plays the bass guitar in a professional band.  He said right now they are getting ready to come out with a CD, he isn´t really famous right now but I think that they will be before long.  He also fixes instruments as a more secure job.
    Jorge Luiz was also at church with his two sons, and his sons really enjoyed church as well.  His oldest son, Alexandre, has 8 years old and said that he wants to be baptized with his Dad on March 18.  We also talked with his wife, taught her the first lesson of the Restauration, and she is reading the Book of Mormon right now.  She didn´t make it to church because she was studying for a college class.
    We met with Maria Lourdes yesterday, and we brought Irmãs(Sisters) Diana and Angela again.  She loves our visits and has been reading alot, right now she is starting 2 Nephi.  We taught her the Plan of Salvation, and she was a little emotional when we said that she would live with her husband again after death.  I think her husband died of old age because he was about 80 years old, I really didn´t ask her how he had died.  She didn´t come to church with Irmã Diana because she still has many family visiting on Sundays from the death of her husband, but she really wants to go.
    Hildegard was at church again, and has made pretty good friends with one of the members, and enjoys the church.  He still hadn´t prayed about baptism, but we will be meeting with him again tomorrow to see how he is.  I know that he has had a little bit of stress because of school and can´t find much time to read the Book of Mormon, but he still is reading.
    We met with this Jeohovah´s Witness who wanted to ´hear our message´, she really wanted to bible bash with us.  We refused to bash with her because we wouldn´t have the spirit with us, but it was funny none the less to have her ask questions, and all we told her was to read the Book of Mormon and to pray and she would know the truth.
    Our ward also got a new Bishop, our old bishop was always in São Paulo because of work.  Our new bishop is really awesome, he has already been bishop two other times in other wards.  He bore his testimony on Sunday and the first thing he talked about was ´Missionary work´, sweet!
    The mission is awesome, besides the heat, and I can´t believe how many things I am learning.  Sorry I didn´t answer your questions mom, I am righting a letter for you guys  with some more photos, so I will answer your questions in the letter.
    I love you all.  tchau
                                  -Elder Spence

February 28, 2007

Hey everyone,
    Wow Mom, a car accident, it is good to hear that you were alright, now just a mess with insurance, and getting the car fixed up.
    I think that this past week has been one of the most successful weeks that I have had in the mission.  We have a couple really good investigators, and are still finding more investigators daily.
    First off I want to talk about Wallace.  I think last week I mentioned how we met him, and how we was really excited when we shared the message of the restoration.  We have met with him two more times, and he is loving it.  He told us that he prayed after reading, he prays before reading, and he knows that it is true.  The other day he said how he just opened the Book of Mormon, and he read 1Nephi 17, where Nephi builds a ship, and mentions how the women had to go through many tribulations in the desert as well, but the Lord gave them strength.  Wallace said that it was the perfect place for him to read, and that the Lord directed him to open the book there.  He also read Mosiah 13, when Abinadi taught the priests of Noah, and he loved that part as well.  We have taught him the Plan of Salvation, the Word of Wisdom, and Law of Chastity.  His only problem is that he drinks a little coffee, but he said that it will be easy to give up, and he will obey the commandments.  He is looking forward to church this sunday, and his marked baptism for the 11th of March.
    We have been visiting Hildegard with a member and he is doing well.  I think I already said that he wants to study more before he is baptized.  The other day we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and about the importance of baptism and recieving the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  I directly asked if he knew the Book of Mormon is true, and if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and he said ´yes´.  I told him to pray to know if he should be baptized, and we will talk with him again on Friday.
    We have also taught a guy named Jorge Luiz, and when we returned he had already read the parts we had marked and then some.  We asked him if he had prayed and he said that when he prayed he felt relieved, and that he should continue to read the Book of Mormon.  We wants to visit the church on Sunday, so we are going to have a member who lives near him pick him up on Sunday.
    We also met with Maria Lourdes, who is the woman that lost her husband about 3 weeks ago.  We also brought two members with us who are about her age, Diana and Angela.  She loved to talk with them, and she will go to church on Sunday with Diana.  She also read the parts we marked, then started at the beginning and she is reading in 1 Nephi 14.  She said that she knows the Book of Mormon is true as well.
    So those are some of our success we have been having this week.  Elder Washburn is awesome, and we are getting a lot down together.  We are keeping each other excited and working hard.
    I love you all, e eu oro que vocês sentem o amor de deus.
                                          -Elder Spence
February 21, 2007

Hey everyone,
  Today passed by really quickly but was pretty annoying as well, because it was Carnaval.  Many of the people left town for the holiday, and most of the people who stayed were all drunk.  Nothing too crazy happened in our area since we returned to our at 6pm.  Normally everyone stays inside until night when they begin to have their parties where people dress up in costumes and beat other people with hard plastic balls.
    Now that Carnaval is over hopefully we will be able to meet with most of our investigators who are returning from their trips.  During Carnaval we did teach a couple of lessons.  One was to this guy who is named Edilson, who is a messiancan.  It is this crazy religion from Japan, which believes in the messiah, but also that our dead ancestors are still affecting our lives.  That we sometimes get sickness because of them and other odd stuff, this guy gave me a newspaper from his religion that briefly explained their religion.  However he agreed to read the Book of Mormon and to pray, the book of mormon is a powerful tool and change his life, so we´ll see what happens.
    We also taught the first discussion to a woman named Darci, and she really enjoyed talking with us.  She always leaves on the weekends to visit her daughter, but said that maybe she will come back early to visit our church.  She agreed to read and pray, and accepted baptism when she receives an answer to her prayers.  Her husband doesn´t have any problem with her listening to us, but he doesn´t want to listen to our message.
    On Sunday we met this guy named Marcos, he has known our church for about 2 years, and has heard all the lessons 2 times.  But he was talking about how he knows the Books of Mormon, and our church is true, and that he was ready to make some changes in his life.  Mircale, huh?  He is really awesome and already knows several of the members, so I think he is already in the water.
    So those are some people from this week, for most of the other time we were walking streets and making contacts.  Luckily Elder Washburn and I are always positive and he is always keeping me laughing.
    Thanks for all of our letters and support.  I love you all and pray for you.                                           -Elder Spence

February 14, 2007

Hey everyone,
  I hope that everyone is having an awesome Valentine´s Day, brazil doesn´t have this holiday, so there is nothing special going on here.  Thankyou for all the letters and emails that I am always receiving, I should be writing more letters and I will try to do that.
    This week has been quite different having a new companion.  It feels like a really long division because I have been so accustomed to Elder William.  Elder Washburn is awesome and likes to work as well, and to sing.  This week was a bit tougher since I was leading our companionship since he doesn´t know the people or the area very well.  President Brinton has been telling us to cut our lessons shorter, to teach the principles that are most important and if the are elect they will accept our message.  This is to allow us more time to find more new investigators that also will accept our message.  Some missionaries aren´t too happy about entering a house, teaching the first lesson, and leaving in 10-15 minutes.  But it is helping us to teaching more simply, and it is pretty good.
    We taught three familys this week, that are really great and that really accepted our message.
    The first is Marcos and Joana, they have 3 children and actually live really close to our house.   We had been passing their house for a couple days and finally got in to teach them.  They have twins that are really funny and like to play with us.  But we could see that family was important to them, so it was perfect for our message, that God has revealed his church and authority to bless us so we can live as families forever.  They listened to our message, agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  The only problem is that they are always working except for Sundays, this Sunday they will be out of town because they don´t want to stay here during Carnaval, so we won´t see them again until the next Sunday.
    They other family we taught is Etina and Flavio.  We received there address because Etina´s aunt is a member and gave us her name.  We had already taught Etina the first lesson, but we returned on Monday and we taught Flavio and Etina again.  They listend and agreed to read and pray as well.  Flavio listened but I don´t think he was really interested, but Etina seems very interested and had many good questions.  She was a part of some other churches but the members of the other churches weren´t very kind to her so she had left.  This helped to open her up to listen to our message.
    The last family we talked with we met because we were knocking doors yesterday.  Fabiana was leaving but she told us we could return later in the day.  When we returned we met Leonardo, Fabiana´s husband, and their 8 month baby.  They listened to our message, and the words just seemed to flow from my mouth, it was sweet.  They agreed to read and pray and we marked for a day we can return.
    Those were some of our successes, we also had some crazy people we were teaching, who are so confused because of their own religions.  On thursday we taught two people who let us in, but just wanted to bash with us, so we left since bashing wouldn´t bring the spirit, and as missionaries we always need the presence of the Holy Ghost.  We also talked with a spiritualist who agreed to read the Book of Mormon and pray, but he says that he drinks because he believes it cleans his body.  But maybe he will recognize the spirit after reading and praying, and change his ways.
    Working with Elder Washburn is great, we really teach well together and I am learning many things from him.  Sometimes I feel bad because he has been in the mission 4 months longer but everyone says I speak better.  However he has a great attitude with a desire to do the Lord´s work.  It is funny because everyone knows I am American just by looking at me, but everyone thinks that Elder Washburn in brazilian by the way he looks.
    Happy birthdays to Kylie and Braxton, one year older already.  I will make a birthday list and send it to you next week, haha.  I love you all, and will tell you all about the ´Carnaval fun` next week.  Tchau!
                                                      Elder Spence

February 8, 2007

Hey everyone,
  Sorry I didn´t get an email out yesterday, there was something wrong with the email.   All the missionaries had problems, so President Brinton is allowing us to get on the internet today.
  So Elder William is no longer my companion, he got transfered to Tres Rios, which is more interior and much cooler.  My new companion is Ryan Washburn from Lindon, Utah, sweet huh?  I new him in High School, but I never thought we would be companions.  He has been on the mission 4 months longer than I have, and he is pretty excited that we are companions.  He also has a twin brother who is serving in Brazil as well.
    On Sunday we were heading to our lunch appointment, when the member called to say that lunch wouldn´t be ready for another 40 minutes, so we began knocking on doors.  This older woman let us teach her and her friend, and she said that she was needing a spiritual thought because her husband had died 3 day prior.  We emphazied that she could live with her husband again, if she lives according to the principles of the gospel restored by Joseph Smith.  She seemed much calmer by the time we left, and marked another day that we could return.
    I also got my first glimpse of Carnaval.  There was a large street party not far from our house with a lot of music and people.  Many of the men were dressed up as women.  A couple wanted to give Elder William and I a hug, but we kept on walking.  Elder William says it is worse during Carnaval which is Fev. 17-20.  It will be pretty difficult to work during this time, but we will see how it goes.
    We are probably going to get a new bishop in my ward since the bishop we have is always gone to São Paulo for work.  The bishop was cool, but didn´t push for missionary work very much.  But our ward has been pushing the missionary work for the members, and we have a new ward mission leader and stake mission leader who are really working well with us.  Our ward mission leader has already gotten us a few references, and we will be doing splits with him tomorrow.
    I got the package from Mom with the calendar and insoles, and Elder William was very appreciative of the peanut butter Alicia sent for him.   I love you all! Until next week.
                                        Elder Spence

January 31, 2006 

Hey everyone,
  This past week has really been a humid one, but it is better outside than in somebodys house, because the heat is worse inside.  Things are going well well here, but we still don´t have many investigators.  We have been dropping some investigators who aren´t progressing.  They like when we stop by their house and teach them, but they don´t read the Book of Mormon and keep making excuses for not coming to church.  President Brinton says we need to drop them so that we aren´t wasting our time with them, and can find the elect who will complete the commitments.
    We met with Leila this week and marked a baptism for the 11th of February.  She is the woman who is married to a member, and we had marked her baptism a couple of time before.  She seems better about her baptism this time, so I hope she is finally baptized.  She is always at church and likes it, and she says she wants to be sealed in the temple with her husband and son.  We found out that she was afraid to be baptized because she is afraid of receiving a calling, and doesn´t feel like she would be prepared for a calling.  We helped her to understand that a calling is really a blessing for her as well as the people she will help in her calling, and that ´who the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.´
      This transfer is almost over already, wow the time flies.  Next week I will find out whether I will be staying here or finally going to a new area.  I was wrong a couple of weeks ago, 24 missionaries will be leaving next transfer, but 11 new missionaries are arriving next week.  We are recieving more and more brazilian missionaries, which is good.  President Arnold(area president of our area) says that eventually all the missionaries in Brazil will be brazilian, so less and less Americans will be called here.
    Mom wanted to know what I do on P-days.  Last week we went into the center of Rio to a place called Uruguayana, where they have many stores that we can buy stuff pretty cheap.  I bought a shirt of one of the soccer teams here in Rio.  We also went to a restaurant called Parmê, this place rocks.  It is an all you can eat pizza place, with different pizza like, brownie, chocholate, banana, but they have normal pizzas also.  This P-day we stayed in our zone, and many other missionaries from our zone went to the institute building next to our church, where we all played fuseball, pool, ping-pong, and we watched Star Wars.  We had a member who wanted to take us to see the Christ statue, but he broke his arm the other day, and can´t drive his car.
    Our search continues for more investigators every day, but I am so very grateful for everyones support and letters.  I love you all, and pray for you.                                 elder Spence
January 24, 2006

Hey everyone,
  Wow, the weather here has been pretty unpredictable.  It was sunny for a couple of days, then raining for a couple of days and was flooding all of the streets, and today it is sunny again with a alot of clouds.  This week went by quickly, and finally found an investigator.  This kid named Janarí, he is 21 years old.  He is really cool, and has a lot of questions about religion.  We are actually teaching his grandma, and she seems interested as well, but isn´t sure about attending church.  Her grandson, he has actually gone to church a couple times with some members about 5 years ago.  He would like to come to church, but is always working on Sunday, but maybe we can find a way to get him to church.
    The tough thing about our church is that it is from 3:30-6:30, since we have 2 other wards in the same building.  Unfortunately many people work on sunday afternoons.
    To answer some of Mom´s questions:   We have a rule in our mission where missionaries are not allowed to enter a home unless there is another man present. But this doesn´t apply when we have lunch in members homes, because then we wouldn´t have many lunches with members.      When I was doing splits with Elder Pulsipher, my feet where pretty sore because their area is huge and we walked a lot that day.  Elder Pulsipher is from San Diego, and was with me in the CTM.  He is pretty quiet when you first meet him, but he talks a lot with me because I have known him for a little bit of time now.     It is good to hear you are sending some socks, almost all of my socks have holes where my big toes are.
    I have done a couple of service projects in our area, most of it was hauling a lot of dirt, luckily I had plenty of practice doing this when I lived at home.   This next week we will probably be helping a woman in our ward to put a bunch of small rocks in bags to be sent off.
    We just got a new Ward Mission Leader, his name is Pedro and just moved into our ward.  He seems awesome and really wants to work.  So hopefully this will help our work in our area, since our last WML didn´t do much.   This week we have been working a lot with Gabriel, a member in our ward.  He leaves for his mission tomorrow, and will be going to Sâo Paulo Interlalos, the same mission where Elder William lives.  He is a hard worker, but not the smartest kid (street smart that is).  I think he will have an interesting mission, but he will do well, especially since Elder William and I were training him. haha.
    It is good to hear that everyone got their letters.  I hope that things are going well with Bynn and Casey´s dogs.    I love you all!
                                                          Elder Spence
January 17, 2006

Hey everyone,
  Wow, I can´t believe it is p-day already.  I think that the time goes by so much quicker when we follow basically the same schedule every day.  The weather has been really good for us, everyday has been raining or just sprinkling.  The typical summer here is a lot of sun and very hot, and on the day where there is no sun it is raining.
    This week I went and did splits with the area right next to ours, called Bento Ribeiro.   I went to their area and was working with Elder Pulsipher, who was in my district in the CTM.  It was pretty good, we met with a few people, but none of which are ready for baptism.  The area of Bento Ribeiro has many more hills than our area, so my feet were a bit sore by day´s end.  While I was there we worked with the stakes mission leader, and I learned how to make better questions to ask to help our investigators understand better.
    Elder William and I have been getting the boys in our ward to go around with us to help teach them what the mission work is like, and also to help us out.  Because we can´t enter a house if there are only women inside.  Last night we had the help of ´Junior´,  and I thought the day would never end.  We was driving Elder William crazy, and was complaining to go back home a couple hours early.  Luckily the other guys in our ward are pretty good, and we have been getting pretty good help out of them.
    Sadly we don´t have any new investigators from this past week, and some of our old investigators aren´t progressing.  But we have gotten a couple of contacts that we are going to check on this week, so hopefully  something good happens from that.  We have a mission goal, for every missionary to give out at least 10 pass-along cards every day, last week we only had 3 companionships that didn´t do 10 contacts.  Hopefully this week we will find out if everyone did 10 for this week.  President Brinton is always encouraging everyone to make many contacts, and we will find the elect who are prepared to make covenants with the Lord.
    I love you all, and as always very thankful for your cards and letters.  I hope school and work is going well for everyone.  Tchau for now.                                       Elder Spence

January 10, 2006

  Hey everyone,
  Thanks for all of the letters that I recieved from everybody, and to hear that everyone is doing good.  Well, almost everyone, I am sorry to hear about Aaron´s car, hope things go well with that.
    Things are going pretty well here, by good I mean it has been raining most of the days.  Unfortunately I forgot my umbrella here at the Lan house last wednesday, so I was walking in the rain for a little bit before I got my umbrella back.  Today was the first day that we got some good sun, since the day before New Year´s, it has been raining or just cloudy.
    For much of this week, we have still been doing a bit of knocking on doors.  We taught this family the first lesson last week, and then followed up with them this week.  They hadn´t read all the parts that we marked in the Book of Mormon, but we will see about them next time we visit.  We also talked with this woman on monday, who we had contacted on the street last week.  She liked everything we talked about when we taught her the first lesson, but she is very involved in the ´Universal Church´, and so it may be difficult to help her see our church as the only true church.  But with the Holy Ghost, we can see miracles happen,so we´ll see about her as well.
    With Mom´s comment about Lynda´s friend saying there is much poverty outside of tourist areas is very true.  It is pretty sad to see how many of these people live.  We live like kings compared to many places here.  In my area it isn´t too bad, we don´t have many favelas(slums), but many of the other areas have a lot.  Most of the houses are really small, the streets are always dirty, with a lot of garbage.  But I suppose things could always get worse.
    I thought Brynn would be happy to hear that they are playing the music to ´Friends´on the radio here in the Lan House where I am using the internet.
    I forgot to tell you that I spoke in Sacrament the week before Christmas.  It went pretty well, I spoke about the atonement, and the importance for us to remember what Christ did for us, especially during the time when we remember the birth of Christ.  I spoke for almost fifteen minutes, but I wasn´t speaking very fast since I am still working on the language, haha.  But many members said that I did a really good job, so my first talk in portuguese was a success.
    I think Mom would be happy to know that I finally ate some fish while on the mission.  It was actually pretty good, it had this spicy sauce on it.  I also got the experience to eat some cow tongue.  That was actually really good, but I wish the members had told me what it was after eating it.  It was hard to eat it when I was thinking this use to be in the mouth of a cow.
    With the help of a member we found a family that went inactive, and met with them on Sunday, they are really awesome family.  The father felt a little ashamed because he began smoking again, and hadn´t been to church in 5 years, but I think that will come back.
    I love you all so much, and pray for you.
                                                    Love, ElderSpence
January 3, 2006 

Hey everyone,
  It was good to hear from everybody, that your holiday break went really well and that you had a good rest.  It is also good that you finally got my package, but I am still waiting on Mom´s package.
  New Years went pretty well here, considering.  It was so crazy here.  It was so loud, everyone was having parties in the streets, drunk guys, people flying kites, a lot of music.  Luckily we live on a hill and don´t have as much noise as some of the other areas.  President Brinton wanted everyone home by 8:00pm, and to go to bed at the normal time of 10:30.  While we were sleeping, at exactly midnight, it sounded like there was a war going on outside of our window.  It was so loud that it was hard to get back to sleep, so we got up and watched some fireworks from our window.  Where we live, we can see over the whole area, and they had hundreds of fireworks going on, which was really cool to watch.
    Since our p-day was changed to monday, we got new years to relax mostly.  When we went out to work at 6:00, the streets were empty.  It was really strange when normally the streets are packed with people.
    Luckily the weather has been perfect lately, a light rain.  It was been raining for the past 3 days, which works well for walking a lot.  I broke my umbrella the other day trying to walk through a door that was too small for my umbrella.  It is still functionable, but I will probably buy a new one this week, luckily they are really cheap here.
    I am pretty happy the for this new year, I was  thinking about it the other day, and got me energized to get to work preaching the gospel.  President Brinton is really pushing everyone to open our mouths everywhere, increase our faith, follow the spirit, and to the find the elect.  He is really awesome, and I can feel his love for us and his desire to do everything for the Lord.
    I love you all, and I am so grateful for all of you.  I hope you start this year off great, and make your goals for this year.  Tchau
                                        Elder Spence

December 27, 2006

Hey everyone,
  Feels a little funny writing a letter today when I talked with you just two days ago.  It was really good to talk with everyone, and no I didn´t get homesick afterwards.  But my problem was that I had many things I wanted to say, and when I was on the phone I couldn´t think of anything.  It was good to hear your voices as well, and to know that everything is going really well.  I still think Brynn should pick Bird Jr. for her kids name.
    Today was transfers, and I am not going anywhere.  I am still in Sulacap with Elder William, which is alright with me.  Next transfers we will have 24 people heading home, and so everyone says that next transfer I will probably be made senior.  We are gearing up for New Years here, Elder William says that it is pretty crazy during New Years.  They have tons of fireworks, and tons of parties.  Because of this, President Brinton changed our p-day next week to be on Monday, the day of New Years.  But I will still be emailing on Wednesday like normal.
    All of the days are incredibly hot, and humid, but I am starting to get used to it.  I am getting a pretty sweet tan.  When Elder William called his mom, she had seen a picture of me that Elder William sent home, and she thought I was much older than I was, and if I was brazilian.  How sweet is that?
    We are still knocking on many doors, and looking for references.  We are finally getting some of the members to come working with us.  One is a boy name Gabriel who is leaving for his mission in São Paulo in one month.  He is pretty cool, short, fat, strong, and pretty funny.  He helped us yesterday, and was getting pretty excited for his mission, that he carried our bags for us most of the day.
    I got a letter from Aaron today, it is good to finally hear that you finally went on a date, and that it went pretty well.  Good job on the ACT, I already knew that you are way smarter than I am.  Tell Marj and Leon thanks for the letter while you are visiting them, it was good to hear from them as well.  I didn´t get moms package still, maybe next week.  I love you all, and hope you have a great New Years.
                                                    Elder Spence.
P.s. Aaron kiss a girl at New Years for me, ok.  haha

December 20, 2006

  Hey everyone,
  I had written this letter already, but the internet died and I lost the letter.  So I can´t make this letter very long.   But I want to thank everyone for the packages and letters.  I have had the packages for the 12 days  of Christmas and thankyou Alicia.  I received Autumns 2 packages today, just waiting for the other one that Mom sent.
    While you are enjoying 8 inches of snow we are dying of heat here.  we sleep with fans blowing on us all night, the temperature has been about 103-105 degrees every day, plus humidity.  But other than that things are going great.  Did splits the other day with an Elder Ison from Manti.  so I got to be the senior companion, because Elder Ison only has 3 weeks more than i do in the mission, but everyone says I speak better than he.  We are still knocking on a lot of doors and getting addresses in the street to find more investigators.
    For Christmas I will be calling from a members house, his name is Jeronimo.  President Brinton gave us the area code here already, and we are allowed to call you a couple of days before Christmas just to tell you when I will call.  We will be talking with the member, where we will call tomorrow, so maybe I will call tomorrow.  President Brinton said that we will have 30-40 minutes to talk with you.  I also got the information from dad about the numbers to call.
    I wish you all a merry Christmas and think and pray for you all.  I love you all, and will talk to you soon.             Elder Bird

December 13, 2006

Hey everyone,
  Thanks for all of the letters,and finally to find out what Brynn is going to have, a boy.  I kinow that Brynn is pulling for the name Chase, but I really think that she should go with Bird Jr.  I think that Casey will like that name a lot.
  Thanks for all of the emails that I got this week, and to hear that everything is going really well for the holidays.  It was a little sad to hear about Aaron´s car, but at least it wasn´t his fault.  And to be honest, I am a little jealous of the snow that I am missing out on, but the weather was been pretty good here, cloudy with a little wind.
    Right now in the mission we have been going through quite a dry spell, with investigators.  We are giving out a lot of pass along cards, getting peoples addresses on the street, and knocking doors, but so far we haven´t come up with new investigators yet.  We had this woman, Leila, marked for a baptism this Sunday, but she works a lot, and doesn´t have a day to have an interview, and won´t be at church next week.  She says that she really wants to be baptized, but is just reallly baptized.  THen the next sundays, 24 and 31, we will be joined another ward for church because they are the days just before Christmas and NewYears.
    On Monday I got to do splits with Elder Pulsipher who came into the field the sametime as me.  So I was really the senior companion for a day.  It went by pretty well, and my portuguese is doing really well, so that I can speak with the investigators without too many problems.  It was good to do splits with someone who has the same amount of time as me, because I could see how we have learned to do things a little different, like making contacts on the street and teaching the lessons.
    Since it is the Christmas season we get the opportunity to sing Christmas hymns in the houses of our investigators which is fun, and to teach about the importance of Chrismas with the birth of our savior.  On Sunday they broadcasted the Christmas message of the First Presidency, and the singing of the Tabernacle Choir, which was really good.  I could also notice how much more I can understand in Portuguese, when I compare myself trying to understand General conference priesthood session in portuguese.
    I hope that you all continue to have a great holiday, and enjoy our two weeks off, I love you all and pray for you.
                                    Love Elder Spence
  p.s. about calling for Christmas, I will call from the home of a member, but I am trying to figure everything still.  It will be a little difficult because we are 5 hours ahead of you, since we had day light savings a month or so ago.  So I will let you know more details next week.

December 6, 2006

  Hey everyone,
  Thanks for the emails from mom and dad, this week passed by so quickly that I can´t believe it is p-day already.  I will make sure to take a picture of my shoes, they are still really comfortable but I can´t wear them when it is raining.  I can find cheap shoes here, other elders have bought some for 50-60 reais.
    Mom asked about one of our investigators, Hildegard.  He will be going home one of these days for Christmas in Penibucu.  I don´t think I spelled that right, but it is a state north of Rio de Janeiro, somewhere.  We have a temple in Recife, which is the capitol of his state.  He won´t return until February, and so I may not see him again. But the good news is that he knows the church is true, and wants to be baptized when he returns.  I took a picture with him, with Irmão Lino, who has been visiting Hildegard with us as a member.
    Unfortunately we haven´t found any new investigators in the past week.  We have been asking a lot of help from our members, and have been knocking on doors, but so far haven´t had much more success.  But the investigators we have brought to church are always warmly welcomed by the members.  At first the investigators always stay close to us, but after they talk with the members they feel more comfortable.  Like Hildegard, he found a guy about his age that he has been talking with, and is going to attend institute with him.
    Our Thanksgiving wasn´t too eventful, the Elder didn´t make a pie, but he made sloppy joes for us, and we ended up watching The Testaments, and I got a copy from the elder who has the DVD.  All the stores here are packed full of Christmas decorations as well.  Today Elder William and | will be buying a small Christmas tree for about 10 reais, and we already have a couple of stocking hanging on our wall that was left there from last Christmas.
    I have had the opportunity to do a couple of service projects.  We helped clean the front yard of one of the members in our ward.  We helped an investigator with loading bags of concrete to the top of his house where he is making a couple more rooms up there.  Another time we loaded bags with rocks and dirt for a family in our ward.  We are teaching his son and wife right now, but they are having a difficult time praying and coming to church.
  We have lunch in a members house everyday, and they are always upset if you don´t eat a lot of food.  So this is why I am packing up the pounds.  Usually we eat enough that we don´t eat dinner when we return home at 9-9:30.  The members love the missionaries a lot, and are usuallly willing to help the missionaries visit investigators, but we are trying to have them give more references of friends and neighbors that we could teach.
  The language is going great.  For the most part I can understand everything that other people say, sometimes when I don´t know the words they are saying I can´t understand.  I am also speaking much more smoothly and fluently.  All the brazilian missionaries say the I have a pretty good accent, much better than most of the other american missionaries, thank goodness.
  I got an email from my companion from the CTM who went home on medical leave.  He says that he is doing well, went to visit with the doctor, and says if everything goes well, we will be returning to the mission before too long.  He says up in Idaho where we lives, they got 2 ft. of snow and and it is still snowing.  It doesn´t really feel much like Christmas for me, because we have no snow here, just sun.
  I am sending your package off this week, so hopefully you get it before Christmas.  I love you all,and pray for you.
                                    Love, Elder Spence

November 29, 2006

Hey everyone,
  Thanks for all of the letters that I received today, and was good to hear that your Thanksgiving was really good.  I can´t believe that it is almost December already, and Christmas just around the corner.  I have zone conference on Monday and will find out more about how I will get to talk with you on Christmas.
    This week was pretty good, but I did splits four times in the past two weeks, and so didn´t get to spend much time in my area.  I shouldn´t be doing splits much more for the rest of the transfer.
    It is cool that you are having snow already, that is something that I will be missing in Rio.  While it is getting colder there, it is just getting hotter here.  It isn´t raining as much, which means more sun.  It is good that it isn´t raining because I already have a pretty good sized hole in one of my shoes from Miss. Mall.  I will wear them done a little bit more before I send you a picture of them to get new shoes.
    At the moment we don´t have any new investigators, and are still working with most of our current investigators to attend church or pray.  Hildegard who is close to be being baptized will be going home in a couple of days for christmas, and he doesn´t know exactly when he will return.  He lives with his cousin, while he attends school here.  So we can´t set a baptism date until he comes back.
    Hope you all have fun during the holidays, and I should be sending out a package for you next week.  I love you all,,   tchau.
                                                      Elder Spence.

November 22, 2006

Hey everyone,
  Thanks for everyone´s emails this week.  Sorry, last week I wrote I will be in Sulacap for 6 months, I meant 6 more weeks.  It was good to hear that everyone is doing well, Kylie is getting bigger, Damon is still crazy, Brynn is fat, Dad is busy, Aaron is studying, Mom is Mom.
    This week went by pretty well, I did splits with the area of Bento Ribeiro.  They are in our district just north of us, and I was working with Elder J. Santos.  He is a really cool guy from Manaus, in the north of Brazil, in the Amizon.   The area of Bento Ribeiro is huge, so we ended up walkling a lot during splits.  The two elders in the area of Madureira have been having problems with each other all of last transfer and this week.  So President Brinton finally did an emergency transfer, so Elder Pedro left and we go a new missionary in our district today.  I don´t know him very well yet, but he is really nice and seems pretty cool.
  Mom wanted to know more about my companion so here it is.  Elder William is from the state of São Paulo, and he actually lives about 15 minutes away from the São Paulo temple where we went while in the CTM.  His Dad is a member of the church, his mom is catholic, and his younger brother isn´t a member either.  He said that his mom is really funny and that he will let me talk with her during Christmas.  You are right, Brazilians don´t come from the same financial background that we do.  So Elder William doesn´t get many things from home.  He doesn´t write them on email because his family doesn´t have a computer, but they write him letters every once in a while.
    I haven´t used my digital camera very much because it seems that everytime I try to use it, the batteries are dead.  I have gone through quite a few batteries, so I have given up using it for now.  Plus the computers in this lan house are accessible to send pictures.  All the missionaries receive ensigns, but we get them like a month later than everyone else.  So we should be receiving the conference talks sometime soon.  We have actually given out quite a few of the ensigns for new members to our investigators.
    It seems like here in Rio de Janeiro they have a holiday every other week.  They have a lot of holidays that Elder William doesn´t even know about.  So randomly all the stores are closed, and nobody is working or going to school.  So they don´t celebrate thanksgiving, but they have a ton of other holidays that I don´t know when they are.  For our thanksgiving we have one elder who is going to make us an apple pie today and we are going to watch The Testaments, which an elder got from a member who helped make subtitles in portuguese for the movie.
    Our baptism didn´t go through this past week, Leyla seems to be so busy that it is really difficult to set an interview.  We are meeting with her tonight to set up an interview for friday, and her baptism for sunday.  Her husband is really helping to push her as well, so hopefully this week .  We also have Hildegard that we are working with still.  His excuse for not getting baptized is that he is still studying, even though he prayed and knows it is true.  So we are not too sure about him this week.
  Last night I cut my first head of hair.  Elder William finally let me cut his hair.  He was pretty scared at first, but it turned out alright.  It was good enough that he said I can cut his hair next time as well.
    Thanks for all your love, letters, and prayers.  I love you all.
                                              Elder Spence.

November 15, 2006

Hey everyone,
  Wow, this week passed by really quickly.  I didn´t get transfered, and neither did my companion, so I will stay here in Sulacap for at least another 6 months.  Sad thing, I found out today at the transfers meeting that my companion from the CTM, Elder Sorensen, will be going home on medical leave.  I think that he has been having depression problems, but he should be coming back in the little bit of time.
  Thankyou for the emails from Mom and Dad, I received the letter mom sent in the mail today, but it turns out that the package I recieved last p-day was the journal, so I never got the package you sent before that.
    They don´t really recognize Halloween or Thanksgiving here, but the schools teaching english will celebrate these holidays.  We have a couple of missionaries in our zone who are trying to get everybody together the p-day before thanksgiving to have a meal.  But other than that we won´t be doing anthing special.  And for christmas, I don´t know anything about calling home.  I will look into it this week and let you know what will be happening.
    Nearly everday this week has been raining a lot.  Yesterday we had huge puddles while we were walking, and my feet were wet the entire day.  But all of the elders say that it will be getting incredibly hot within a couple of weeks that I will be praying for the rain to come back.  It is pretty funny to hear all of the Brazilians talk about how cold it is, when I feel perfect when it is cold.
    Unfortunately our two baptisms didn´t happen this sunday,  Leyla, her husband is already a member, went out of town and wasn´t around to have a baptismal interview before sunday.  So we marked her baptism for this sunday, and will make sure she makes it to her interview.  Hildegard, the guy we found by accident, wanted a little more time to continue praying about his baptism and to prepare.  So we marked his baptism for the 24th of November.  We have been visiting with him often in the home of a member to help him be prepared.
  Other than those disappointments, not many other exciting things happend this week.  We had two missionaries from another area in our district sleep over at  our house, then go with us to the transfer meeting today.  So we are going to have to clean our house before Sister Brinton inspects it this Friday.  Our zone will have a meeting with President Brinton this friday, and every interview Sister Brinton inspects half of the missionary homes.
    I will try to get more pictures of the people we are teaching.  I love you all, and pray for you.         Love,  Elder Spence.

 

Hey everyone,
  First of all I want to thankyou for the emails that I recieved today, and a couple of missionaries in my district visited the mission office today, and said that my package finally arrived.  It is good to hear that everything was good this Halloween, and things are going well for you.
  This past week was a little difficult because many of our appointments weren´t at home, so we didn´t get to teach very often.  We went back to visit Napolean a couple of times, but he was gone working.  Yeah, to mom´s question, I thought about Napolean Dynamite when I heard his name.  Actually Elder William has seen the movie and he thought that it was hilarious that his name was Napolean, he then tried to dance like Napolean Dynamite which was even funnier.
    We got a baptism this week of Janete, who was married a week and a half ago.  The baptism was good, and many people were there to see her baptized.  A member baptized her, and then Elder William got to confirm her with the Holy Ghost during Sacrament meeting.  He messed up a couple of times, so he ended up doing it three times before it was correct.  He blames me for making him nervous before we confirmed her.
    Hildegard is probably going to be one of the people being baptized this Sunday, but seems a little nervous.  We asked him to pray to know that baptism is the correct thing for him, and then we are meeting with him again tomorrow.  I am pretty sure that we will recognize his answer and be baptized.  The other is Leyla, who´s husband is already a member, and she has been taught the lessons a couple of times.  She has a strong testimony of Joseph Smith already, and is ready to be baptized.
    Last p-day Sis. Brinton told us not to go work at 6 o´clock because Elder William was really sick.  The next day he wasn´t feeling great but he was well enough to work.  Then he has been fine since.  I haven´t been sick at all, which I am very grateful for.
    This past week Brazil celebrated their memorial day, and so many people were going to the cemetaries.  There is a really large cemetary near our area, so the roads were packed with people trying to get there.
    Next week is transfers again, so I will find out whether or not I am transfered or my companion.  I kind of hope that I get transfered into the interior because it is much cooler there, especially with summer coming up.  But if I stay, then I will be alright with that because my area is pretty good.
    Today for P-day we went and visited  a botanical garden just past Barra Tijuca where our mission president lives.  The garden was huge, and I know that Mom would love having been there.  It had so many different plants from Brazil and around the world.  The garden use to be the Kings garden when Portugal was in control of Brazil.  I took a lot of pictures so hopefully it won´t be too long before I can develop them.
    I had better go, but thanks for your love and prayers.  I love you all.
                                              Elder Spence
p.s. A member here was wondering if I could get this arthritis hot(pain relief cream), because they don´t sell it here in Brazil.  She has arthritis in her knee.  She said if I can´t get it, then it is alright.  Tchau.

November 1, 2006

Hey everyone,
  Wow, this week passed by really quickly, I can´t believe that I am writting to all of you again.  Thanks for the emails today, and I recieved quite a few letters yesterday.  We had a zone conference and we received our letters then.  One from Dad, Grandma, the primary kids, and Kay and Sharon Healey.  Still no package, but hopefully it comes before too long.  It was good to hear that your Halloween was really good, and that the babes got to go trick-n-treating.  For Halloween Sis. Brinton gave all of the missionaries  a cupcake which was really good.  I also developed my pictures yesterday, and they turned out really good.  So I will be sending them to you this week.  Sorry I haven´t been taking many pictures, I will start doing better with that.
    It is great to hear that Aaron gave his first talk in church and that it went well.  That he passed his driving test, and now will be able to drive his car around.  Parabens (congratulations) for you.  However, I am still waiting to hear about Aaron going on a date, it had better be before too long.
    This week was really good, and passed by before I even knew it.   For the most part the weather has been really well, we did have a couple of really hot days.  On Saturday we attended the wedding of one of our investigators Janete.  Her husband is already a member, and she was baptized 6 months ago, but had not received the Holy Ghost yet.  So President BRinton said that we should teach her all the lessons again, and then she needed to be baptized again, then receive the Holy Ghost.  So her baptism is going to be this Sunday.
  We ended up knocking on quite a few doors this week, and found a man named Napolean we seemed interested in what we were teaching him.  He is catholic, but said that he would read the book of mormon, and pray, and if he receives an answer about the truthfulness of the book, he will be baptized.
    The guy named Hildegard is still doing a lot of reading and studying of the book of mormon, and has made good friends with on of the members.  He didn´t come to church on Sunday because he had a lot of studying to do for college, i think I said already that he plans on becoming a lawyer.  He says he will be there next sunday, and still have his baptismal date for the 12 of November.
    Then for family home evening, we went to the house of a member named Luis Fernando, and taught a friend of his the first discussion, as well as his wife.  As it turns out his friend actually lives in another area then our area, so the other missionaries will get to teach him.  But the wife of Luis said that she will be baptized on the 12 of november as well.  So we are going to have a couple of baptisming coming up which is really exciting.
  I better start heading home, P-day is about over for me, and my companion isn´t feeling well.  He has had a sore throat for the past couple days, and then this morning he has thrown up a couple of times, and was spitting up blood.  He has talked with Sister Brinton, and she is checking up on him, but has been doing better later in the day.
    I love all of you so much, and thanks for all of your prayers.
                                              Elder Spence.

October 25, 2006

Hey everyone,
  Thanks everyone for the emails that you sent, and I got two letters from mom today in the mail.  It is good to hear that everyone is doing well and what everyone has been doing.  Sounds like everyone is looking forward to Halloween, with trick or treating, concerts, hope that it is fun.  It hasn´t been too bad here, for the most part the weather has been cloudy with a slight breeze, so it has been pretty nice to be walking around.  Today was finally hot outside, and Elder D. Lima and I ended up going to Pão de Açucar ( Sugar Loaf).  Well, not exactly sugar loaf because it costs 35 reais to go up there, but we went to the hill right next to it called the Urca.  My companion and Elder D. Lima´s companion didn´t want to go, so we did splits and I spent the day with him.  I got some good pictures of the sugar loaf, the view of the christ statue and city from the Urca.  It was really beatiful, and fun, we are going to try to go to the Christ statue hopefully one of these p-days, and some of the museums in the center of Rio.
  The mission work is alright, except for we had several investigators who promised to go to church, but never showed up.  We did find this one guy named Hildegard, and he is awesome.  Everything we gave him he has read, and enjoys to read.  We said that he would be baptized on the 12 of november when we receives an answer that that things we taught him are true.  He came to church on Sunday and enjoyed it, and really likes me and Elder William.  He is living in Rio with his cousin while he is studying law, and he is pretty smart.
    I hit a milestone this week, I can pretty much understand everyone when they are speaking portuguese.  It just happened on Sunday, and throughout church I could understand that was being said, but I have to focus really hard.  So if I am tired and not focusing really hard to what they are saying, I won´t understand.  It makes me feel a bit relieved to finally feel like I can communicate a little better.  I guess it shows me about how the spirit really can bless you with the gift of tongues.
    It was great to read about Aaron blessing the sacrament for the first time.  I remember my first time I was so nervous about messing up, but I am sure that Aaron had no trouble at all.  Congratulations you are awesome.
    I made cheesecake the other day, they didn´t have sour cream so I used plain yogurt, and had to make the crust, but it turned out great, probably better than at home.
    I love you all, and love hearing from you.  Forte abraço (big hug).
                                          Love Elder Spence.

October 18, 2006

Hey everyone,
    Concratulations to Aaron, it sounds like your baptism was awesome, there was a lot of people there, and everythings went great.  I know that this choice to be baptized and recieve the Holy Ghost is going to bless you for your whole life.  The Lord is very happy, and you will find that he will bless you in many more ways.  Remeber how blessed you are to be there in Utah, with a lot of support.  The boy that I baptized, Alex, is doing well, but doesn´t have many friends in the church, besides his girlfriend, that are members.  We visited him this week, and he is still wearing his earring, so we are convincing him to take it out forever.  Happy birthday to Casey, sorry you are getting so old I can´t remember how old you are.  I hope that it was great, sorry I couldn´t be there to celebrate.
    This week went by really quickly, but we mostly did a lot of walking around.  Luckily the sun hasn´t been out too much, but that means that it is really humid.  Yesterday it ended up raining and we had forgotten our umbrellas, today is still raining.  We were going to visit the sugarloaf today and the Christ statue, but the weather, and our ride fell through, but we are trying to go next week.  The language is still not quite there, it is a little frusterating because I still have a difficult time understanding everybody, but I know that it will come as long as I keep working hard.
    This week I ended up doing splits with our Zone Leader, Elder Grill, he has been here for just over a year, and is from Arizona.  It was really good, because I learned a lot of things that I can do better to find more investigators.
    I received a letter from Carlton, but it was sent from the CTM, and so I was hoping you can get his mission address for me so that I can write him back.  Also, whenever you send another package, I am getting low on paper in my journal and can use a new one soon.
    Thank you for all of you emails, and prayers.  I love you all, and prayer for you all.
                                              Love,  Elder Spence
October 11, 2006

Hey all,
  Thankyou for all of the emails that I have recieved today, and for the letters from Mom, Dad, Aaron, and package from Alicia.  I have letters going to Alicia, and one I am finishing up for mom with plenty of detail.  First of all I want to tell how awesome Aaron is, and I know that this Saturday will be an awesome it will be.  Lucky for Casey, he will have the honoring of dunking you under the water.  I had the opportunity to perform my first baptism on Sunday which was an awesome experience.  I think I told you a little bit about Alex last time, he didn´t have his family come to watch, but he did have his girlfriend and her parents who are the ones who introduced him to the church.  He was ready to be baptized and really excited.  We vistited him the day after and you could see that he is already changing to a stronger person.  Aaron is more fortunate though to be in Utah, to have seminary, and to have been going to church for quite a while, and most people around there are members as well.
    It was good to hear that Mom had a good time in Colorado, and I do remember seeing those same things.  it is good to hear that brynn and autumn are enjoying their teaching, and that everybody is going to have fun in Midway together.  Braxton is already speaking some words, I just hope he doesn´t learn to speak English before I can learn Portuguese, that would be embarassing.
    Our area of Sulacap surrounds the air base for the military, and all day yesterday we saw airplanes flying over us and dropping off guys in parachutes.  That was pretty cool to see.  Today I am doing splits with Elder D. Lima, this guy is awesome.  He is from São Paulo, but speaks great English.  He has been on his mission for a year and 5 months, and hopes to go to BYU after the mission.  He has seen the Cristo and Sugar loaf many times, so one of these P-days he is going to take us there, and other sites in main part of Rio, like the zoo, and some museums.
    One of these guys that we have been teaching named Bruno, was going to be baptized on Sunday, but he didn´t show up to church on Sunday because he was at a party, and we think he was drinking alcohol there, so we are going to have to work with him a little more before he is ready to be baptized.  He is also having a little problem with depression, so I hope we can help him out.  We also found a couple of new investigators that seem pretty promising.  They have ready all the parts of the Book of Mormon that we assigned to them, but still needs to pray to know whether those things we said were true, whether Joseph smith was a prophet, and whether the book is also true.
    We haven´t seen the sun too much here, but the humidity has been horrible.  It is always hot, whether you are in the shade, or inside because the air is so thick, but it could be worse.  While it is getting colder where you are it is starting to get hotter here.  I am a little sad that I won´t be able to see snow for 2 years, but the sun is cool too.
    I love you all, and thank you for all of you prayers.   A virtual hug for all of you.
                                          Love,
                                          Elder Spence
October 4, 2006

Hey all,
  Great news, I haven´t been transfered from Sulacap yet.  So I will be able to stay here for another 5 weeks.  We went to the church where all of the other missionaries met to be transfered, and got to see some of the missionaries that were in the CTM with me.  A couple of them were being transfered, but none of them will be coming near me.  While I was there I also recieved Alicia´s package, a letter from Mom, and a letter from Max.  On the bus ride back to our area I only had time to read Max´s letter, because our area is very close to the church.  Some of the other missionaries had to travel for 4 hours to get here.  Max wrote a little bit of spanish to see if I could understand, and surprisingly I could understand most of what he wrote.
    Well I hope that Mom and Dad have a fun time in Denver, too bad you won´t be able to spend some more time with Lynda.  I hope that Aaron can get his license as soon as he can, so he can finally start driving on his own.  Also I hope that Aaron has a great birthday, and Mom and Dad have a good anniversary.    Conference was pretty good, we watched it in our Stake conference, and they had a seperate room where the American elders could watch it in english.  Except for Priesthood session, because we didn´t watch the priesthood session live.  Here in Rio it is actually only 3 hours ahead of Utah, not 6.  So we watched conference at 1-3 and 5-7.  Then we watched the Priesthood Session at 8 in the morning.  That is awesome that you had the opportunity to watch conference at the conference center.  I was amazed how fast it went by, must be because I was taking notes.  Funny thing, I saw I girl singing in the choir that was in my missionary prep. class in the singles ward, when the missionaries from the MTC were singing.
    That is great to hear the Jess finally go pregnant, and will have their baby about the same time as Brynn and Casey.
Autumn, make sure you send me a picture of Braxton in his halloween suit as a frog, I should be able to recieve pictures.
    I have been getting pretty dark, but people still know I am american, but it is because of the way I do my hair.  All of the investigators love it, and wonder how long it takes me to do my hair.  We are assigned to only one ward, Called Sulacap ward. But consists of 3 different suburbs of rio, Sulacap, part of Bento Ribeiro, and Valquiere.  It is actually a pretty small area when it is compared to the other areas in the mission.
    One reason I was happy to stay in this area is because we have a baptism this Sunday.  His name is Alex, he is 16, and is an awesome kid.  His parents aren´t members but his girlfriend and her family is.  So this is going to be my first baptism.  Funny thing, when we got here to use the internet, we found Alex here using the internet as well.  Some kid who I am sitting next to is actually playing WarCraft, Dota, and it is taking all of my energy to not watch him as he plays.
    The weather here is really random, monday it was raining all day, and then yesterday and today have actually been really hot.  I am hoping that I might get transfered out of the city and into the interior next transfer, because it is going to be summer here soon, and it is much cooler in the interior.  But if I stay that will be fine as well. My companion is really excited because on oct.14 it is his birthday, he will be turning 21.  So we are going to buy ice cream, which is actually pretty expensive, and make cookies.
    I am amazed at how quickly the time is going by, my companion can´t believe he has already been out a year.  I have been on a couple of splits, which were really good.  One time with Elder Nadolny, brazilian and Zone leader, and the other time with Elder Willis, from American Fork.  It was fun to be with him when we could talk about our area.  The language is still doing better, I am understanding more and can start talking a lot faster without really having to translate from english into portuguese.
    I love you all and thank you for your emails, letters, and packages.
                                            Elder Spence.

September 27, 2006

Hey everybody,
  That is awesome news that Aaron is getting  baptized on October 14th, baptism is such an important thing for everybody.  I never really realized how crucial it really is until I got here, and began to teach about it.  As of now I don´t have a baptism, but we do have a couple of people who are preparing themselves for baptism and have a baptismal date.  We have been blessed with one kid who is 16 years old, he was taught the lessons by other missionaries at the house of a friend of his.  We met him on Sunday, and then we stopped by his house yesterday.  He is really excited about this church, and knows that it is true.  We have his baptism scheduled for October 8th.  His parents are of another faith, but they approve of Alex being baptized in our church because we believe in Jesus Christ.  Our other investigator Bruno was going to be baptized on Sunday, but we found that he has done things in the past against the Law of Chastity, so we have postponed his baptism back a week to allow for mor preparation time, but he really wants to be baptized and change his life.
    One friday, we had a zone conference and got to have Pres. and Sis. Brinton speak with us, and I got to see Elder VanAusdal and Wilding from the CTM.  From what they have described about their areas, my area sounds like the cleanest, safest, and easiest area, but they love their areas.  I also got my letters than, 2 from mom, 1 from dad, and a card from the Healeys.  All the questions in that letter, and other questions in moms email are being answered in a letter I am sending home today.  Next Wednesday is transfer day, and I won´t know if I will be transfered until tuesday evening.  So maybe next week I will be leaving Sulacap and will be in a new area.  I hope not because we have a couple of baptisms coming up, but I will just have to wait and see.  Since I am new to the area, I will most likely be transfered.
    Sulacap is a suburb of Rio, like West jordan to Salt Lake.  I will send you the copy of the map of this mission with the letter that I am sending off.  This area is pretty nice compared to most of the other areas, and has some wealthier people here.  There are dogs everywhere, and most are not cute at all.  Most of them are strays, some have owners, but wander in front of the house.
    You were asking about Elder William.  He is fron São Paulo and looks like a lamanite.  His name is actually William Rodriguez de Souza.  But he is not called Elder De souza because there are about twenty other Elders who also have the last name of de Souza.  He doesn´t know any english, but I have been trying to teach him.  I will quiz him about what different object are called.  He is really easy to get along with, and likes to joke around, but I usually don´t understand any of his jokes yet.
    That is pretty cool that CSI was in Rio, and you could see the christ statue.  Every couple of months the missionaries take a trip out the the statue, so if I don´t get transfered far away from the main part of Rio, I might get to go and visit the statue within the next couple of weeks.  The missionaries say that having is rain this much isn´t very common.  Usually it rains once every twenty days.  So usually it is pretty clear and hot here.  It is pretty funny to walk around the city and all the people we visit say they are really cold when I feel really good when it rains.   We usually walk wherever we go, but we talk the bus quite often as well, or a Combi.  A combi is a van that goes that same routes as the buses, and usually cost a little less.  There are so many combis, and the buses come very regularly so it is easy to catch the bus.
    Last night I got to give my first blessing of health, and I had to do it in portuguese.  This guy named Lindomar, who actually served a mission here in brazil and is now a little inactive, has been having a sore throat and head aches for three days and asked us to give him a blessing.  I needed some help from Elder William in knowing what to say, but it was an awesome experience for me.
    For mom, I have described a lot more about what I am doing and what it is like here in the letter I wrote, sorry I didn´t answer the questions here.  I love you all and hope that everything is going great.  Congratulations to Aaron, I know that you are doing the right thing.  My prayers go out to all of you, and I will write you in a week again.
    tchau.                                 Love Elder Spence

 September 20, 2006

I can´t believe that it is P-day already.  This week went by really quickly, seems like yesterday I was reading emails.  The end of last week was so incredibly hot, like 110 degrees, but then the last couple of days has been rainy or cloudy which was a great change.  But when it is hot, all of the houses offer us cold water so we are fine.  It is funny to hear about Elder Holdsworth having really bad feet problems, he didn´t mention it when I saw him 2 weeks ago.  No, my feet are doing just fine, I don´t have any blisters or anything and my inserts are doing alright.  It was funny to hear that Alicia broke her toe, I hope that it isn´t too much of a problem.  To answer your question about computer time, I have enough time to read all the letters and respond.
    I can´t believe that General conference is so close already.  Yeah we will go to chapel to watch general conference, I won´t be in the comfort of my home.  I am pretty excited about listening to conference, I have been looking forward to it.  However, I don´t know if I will get to watch the Priesthood session, Elder William said that he didn´t get to in the conference in April.  But I suppose I will just have to wait and find out.  We got another person to commit to baptism, we actually marked the baptism date for October 1, so I suppose we shall be baptisming him after we end up watching conference.  It seems like all the eat here is carbohydrates, but don´t worry mom, I am still getting in my fruits and vegetables.  It is pretty weird that most of the time for dessert, we end up eating fruit.  Luckily the fruit is really good here.
    P-day today was pretty fun, we ended up going to our chapel where we played ping-pong, soccer, and watched Lord of the Rings 1 with about 10 other Elders.  On P-days our mission can watch movies which is awesome.   They first have to be approved my Sister Brinton, but there are quite a few movies that we can watch.  One elder already has Pirates of the Carribbean 2, and some Elders have watched Superman.  So it looks like I won´t miss out on too many movies after all.  Then we went to this awesome place for lunch, where you can pile your plate with as much food as you can, and it costs 6 reais(a little less than 3 dollars).  I am doing better with the language, I still don´t understand a lot, but I am usually able to say what I want to say.
      I love you all, and will be back here in a week.
                                  Elder Spence
p.s.   I didn´t get any recipes when I left, do you think you can send my the recipe for   the ´speedy brownies`,  toll house choclate chip cookies, and my 8 minute cheese cake.  thanks.

September 13, 2006

Hey everybody,
  Oh man I can´t believe Brynn is pregnant.  I can´t believe you couldn´t wait another two years for me to come back home.  I think that a little boy named Chase after me wouldn´t be rockin, but I am actually pulling for another girl, help to even things out in our family.  Congratulations, I was expecting you to wait a little longer, but more fun for the dogs.  Sorry you haven´t gotten a letter Autumn.  I actually sent you one, but it came back to me about 2 days before I left the CTM saying that I had your address wrong or something, don´t worry I will write you another one and send it out before too long.  I want to thank everybody for the mass of emails I got this week.  It was pretty awesome to get online to find out that I had 9 new emails.  It is good to hear that Damons birthday went really well, it is too bad that I am missing all of this.  The little kid is another year older, by the time I get home he is going to be a monster.  Hopefully he realizes soon that he can´t live in his diapers forever....without getting made fun of.  I got your package this week, thanks for everything the shirt is awesome and the candy is great.  I couldn´t ask for anything better.  For the next package, send more starbursts, and I could use some shoe polish.  The shoe shine thing we had bought does alright, but it doesn´t really help with the scuffs that I have gotten on my shoes.
    This week has gone by alright, my mission is starting to go by a little faster which I am happy for.  We have been getting a little success, we got three investigators to show up to church on sunday, and two of them have set a baptismal date for October, I just hope they stick to it.  The language is still as difficult as ever, and if possible it seems like I understand less than I was a couple of days ago.  But I am sure that I will start to do better with it before too long.  It is crazy how hot it has been lately.  The last couple of days it has been 35-39 graus ( which is about 92-98 degress feranheit).  Then add on the humidity, it is so difficult to stay dry and we haven´t even gotten to summer yet.  Tonight I think I will pray for snow, but I don´t think that it will come true.  I haven´t really encountered too weird of food, usually rice and black beans, chicken, spaghetti noodles, and the occasional pig heart.  I think that I am enjoying the food a little too much, I think that I have gained a couple of pounds while being here, I don´t know how since all we do is walk and it feels like I would have sweated everything right off.
    Thanks for the US Open update.  I saw the Federer had beat Roddick once again in the finals, it is actually starting to get pretty funny that Roddick can´t seem to beat him.  It is also great news the Sharapova finally won again, that is always good to know.  Especially since she beat man-woman too.
      It was so awesome to have Elder Uchtdorf come to speak with us.  He is an incredible man, and very interesting to listen to, as well as his wife.  They didn´t get to stay long, but we were able to shake his hand afterwards.  Some even got some pictures, but of course I forgot to take my camera with me.  He told us how much their family loves missionaries, and without missionaries his wife wouldn´t have found the church.  It was also good to see all my friends from the CTM.  They are doing alright, it is good to hear that they aren´t doing too well with the language yet as well.  Pres. Brinton had told my companion that one of the missionaries that come to Rio with me was wanting to go home.  I don´t know which one, but I hope things start going better for them.
    I better go, but thanks again for all of your letters, and I am thinking about you and I love you all.
                                          Elder Spence

September 6, 2006

Well I successfully made it through my first week on the mission, but I sure feel so stupid when I can´t understand anything anybody says to me.  I can understand my companion alright, but that is because he speaks slow for me.  We live in a house that is underneath the house of a member in our ward.  Our area is Sulacap, that is within the city, I think it is a suburb of the city of Rio.  It sure was a long week, but good at the same time.  Our house is really old, and dirty but it is liveable and I am doing fine.  It is just me and my Elder in the house, but we did splits with the Elders who are in the area next to ours.  One is American and the other Brazilian.  I did splits with the Brazilian.  That was a good experience, and when we did splits, we would we went proselyting door to door.  All of the houses here have gates in front, so we ring doorbell, and if they don´t have that then we clap really loud.  we was pretty tough because it was raining and cold, but we had some success.  There were two families that let us come in and teach them, so I taught part of the first lesson in the few portuguese words I know.  They seemed really interested and we set a date for when we could come back to teach them more.  But I won´t get to go back to teach them since we were in the other Elders area.  The first couple of days were actually pretty hot, but the last couple of days have been rainy and cold.  Our p-day is on wednesdays, and today we traveled into downtown rio and played ultimate frisbee with 3 other companionships that are in our district, which was a lot of fun.  I am amazed who hard we really work, every night when I go to bed and am asleep within a minute.  I haven´t recieved your package yet, but I might get it when all the missionaries meet together to hear Elder Uchtdorf speak to us.  I am really excited about that, it is going to be on Saturday.  I washed my clothes today, in an odd washing machine.  It doesn´t have a spin cycle, so I had to rinse the soap out of my clothes after they were cleaned, ring them out, and then hang them up to dry.  I just hope it doesn´t rain before we get home and I take my clothes bakc inside.  It was really good to hear from you guys.  It is good to hear the school has started, and is going well.  Tell damon happy birthday, and congratulations for finally pooping in a normal toilet.  I better go, we have to go back out to do missionary work in just over an hour.  I love you all, and I am thinking about you.
                                        Love, Elder Spence
p.s.  Alicia you can send any candy you want in a package since you were wondering.

August 30, 2006

It is so crazy, I am in Rio now, and it is sooo crazy.  I feel pretty dumb because I don´t seem to know anything.  Yesterday is when we got here, and we had to first go to the police station to change our address from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro.  We had two elders who are the secretaries for the mission helping us out.  Then we went to the Presidents home where we got to have lunch which was really good.  We got extra instructions there about our mission such as keeping our houses clean, and about how money works.  As it turns out, all of the companionships get a cell phone, so that is pretty cool.  Afterwards we went to Bob´s, which is a fast food restaruant right on the beach, where we had burgers and fries.  Then half of us went to sleep at the secretaries house, while the other half slept at the assistants house.  There was a total of 14 of us, 9 americans and 5 brazilians.  While we were driving to the police station we could see Sugar Loaf, and normally would have been able to see the Christ statue, but it was too rainy and foggy to see it.  Luckily on some P-day we will get to go up there.  The city is pretty amazing, there are so many interesting buildings and such.  We even saw a church that is floating on the ocean, somehow.  This city is huge, and there are so many people.  I got to sleep at the secretaries house which actually is on an island.  There are about seven islands on this river that flows into the ocean, and so we got to take these small boats across to get to their house.  This morning we met at a stake center somewhere in the city, and then we found out who our new companion would be, and where our first transfer is.  My companion is an Elder William, who is brazilian and doesn´t know any english.  It makes it a little hard, but I will manage.  My area is actually the same area that the stake center is, so we didn´t have to travel too far.  Some of the missionaries in my district have to travel 3 or 4 hours.  There are some missionaries who I think live with us that are american and so they said they will help me out when they can.  After our meeting we traveled to our house, which is nothing pretty to look at.  It is mostly just a cinder block building.  I went there for about half an hour to unpack some of my luggage, and then we headed back out so that we could come and email.  This is such a huge change from the easy CTM, but I am sure that it will be some of my best experiences.  It was good hear from you in the emails.  It sounds like that bird cage is going great.  I found out that here in the field, I need to use myldsmail.com , so no more google.  If you can´t remember what my address was it is   loganspence@myldsmail.net       I love you all and I am sure that I will have plenty more to tell you next week, and I will talk to you later.                              Love, Elder Spence.

August 23, 2006

Hey everyone,      Thanks for the emails from Mom, Brynn, and ... Doug?  I didn´t think he would right until I was about to come home.  Everything is going great,  this will be my last email from the CTM, in one week from right now, I will be going to my new area.  A little scary, but I am ready to finally get into the field.  It great to hear that I already have a couple of letters and a package full of candy going to Rio, I hope it all makes it alright.  We got a letter from our mission president this past week about what we are going to do our first night away from the CTM.  It is going to be great to feel super stupid with not knowing the language.   But it will be a great experience, and I am sure I will learn a lot, especially humility.  It is too bad that you are going to school already, the summer seemed to cruise by, at least for me.  It is good to hear that Aaron is having fun driving his car, too bad it still has some things to have fixed.  Sounds like you have a few weddings to go to, I am happy that I don´t have any to go to.  I can´t believe you waited to finally get a new dishwasher until just after I leave.  I am sure it is great to finally get rid of that old one, you won´t have to get the dishes as clean before putting them into the dishwasher.  This whole time I thought that I was taking pictures, when it actually turned out that I didn´t have any film in my camera.  The camera was still flashing, and winding up as if I had taken a picture, so it took me this long to figure it out.  So for the past couple of days I have been trying to remember what pictures I had taken before and try to duplicate them.  I did manage to fill up a roll of film, and it is being developed right now.  I should get to you within ten days hopefully.  You have no idea how dumb I felt at having realized I never had any film in my camera, all the people in my district thought it was pretty funny though.      It is good to hear that Doug is getting some physical exercise again.  But I am not sure you will be ripped by the time I get back, it may take more than 2 years to work off that belly.  hehehehe.  I knew that you would give into WOW too, I knew that you were too weak to resist it while I was gone.  Oh well, glad to hear that you are enjoying it.  It is pretty funny to hear that Charity has replaced me at Smith Drug as delivery girl, I hope she is enjoying it.  Tell everyone hi for me at Smith Drug.  It is great to hear that Brynn has finally found a new job instead of Convergys.  It is wonderful that Brynn finally got a teaching job like you have wanted.  Those luckily little kids to get to have Brynn teach them.  Sadly, Aaron will no longer have Brynn to look in on at him while he is working at Convergys.      Well, we went proselyting for the final time on Friday, and we actually had a lot of success.  The people were much kinder, and would stop and let us talk to them.  We didn´t have any cool buildings like the Cathedral we saw last time, but it was fun.  One of the Elders had a bird poop on him, we all thought that it was pretty funny.  The meeting with Elder Russell M. Nelson was incredible, the spirit was so strong, and the messages were great.  He wasn´t able to stay very long, and so he didn´t get to shake our hands, but he said that he wished he could have.  He has a daughter and her husband here that are mission presidents, and their son is here at the CTM with us, actually, he lives our same floor.  I wrote down about what he talked about in the letter that I am sending you today with the negatives of my pictures.  Today we went to the São Paulo temple for our final time.  That was the last time I will get to be in a temple for 2 more years.  It was a special session for me, and could feel the spirit very strong.  Today our teacher is going to Pizza Hut to grab us some pizza for a little party that we are having todays since today is our last p-day.  I love all of you and am thinking about you all.                             Love, Elder Spence.

August 16, 2006

Hey everyone.  First of all I want to wish Brynn a happy birthday today, I am assuming you are turning 23 today.  Sorry if I guessed wrong.  And I know that Doug´s birthday is sometime around now so happy birthday to you as well.  Sorry that I don´t have any presents for you.  I did get Brynn and Caseys letter with all of the pictures.  Thanks, it was fun to see what you have been up to, and see that the dogs miss me.      I will be leaving on August 29, and will be flying to Rio de Janeiro.  It is only two weeks away, my time here at the CTM is nearly over, and I am ready to finally get into the field.  I did get Mom and Dads postcard and bookmark.  That bookmark is really cool, and was fun to hear about your trip.   And I got a postcard coming your way, but it won´t get there for another ten or so days.        It is great to hear that Aaron got himself a car,  I am sure that he loves it, unfortunately he won´t be 18 until October.  I am just happy I am not on the streets at the same time Aaron is learning how to drive.  no, I am sure he drives well.       It was fun to hear about your fun out in Flaming Gorge, without me.  We better have an awesome trip planned for when I get back home.  I am sorry that Doug lost his glasses, but who would forget they are wearing glasses?   I hope you told Sandee and Rudy hi for me, I hope she still doesn´t feel bad for missing my farewell.        I wanted to ask Dad if he could send me the line of authority of the Priesthood, I was thinking that it might be fun to have that with me.  You wanted those addresses, and this time I did not forget.    

Elder Logan Chase Spence  
Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission    
POB 30150   
Salt Lake City, UT     84130-0150   
USA     

The address where you can send me packages (full of skittles and starbursts) is   

Elder Logan Chase Spence    
Rio de Janeiro Mission   
Av. das Américas, 1155, Salas 502/503   
Barra da Tijuca    
22631-000-Rio de Janeiro RJ   
Brazil

I also have some great news, we are going to have Elder Russel M. Nelson speaking to us on Saturday.  Unfortunatly, our district got shafted and we are going to be seated in the back of the auditorium.  Oh well, at least we still get to hear him speak to us.  I am so excited for him to come, he was actually the General Authority who dedicated the CTM, so he is probably pretty excited to come here as well.  I didn´t get to go to the temple today, but next week we will.  It will probably be the last time I get to go to a temple in two years, so it will be a special session. This friday is the last time we will get to go and proselyte within the city of São Paulo.  I think that we were suppose to go and proselyte at the subway, but the subway has been on strike and has been closed the last couple of days, so we shall find out later.  My  film is almost full of pictures, so hopefully next wednesday I will be sending the negatives through the mail.          Love you all, and I am thinking about you.                 Love,                        Elder Spence.

August 9, 2006

Hey everybody,     I hope everyone is doing well?  It is nice to hear about Damon and Kylie, they will be so old by the time I get home again.  It is good to have Dad getting his cast off before he starts teaching again.  I hope that Aaron´s driving is going alright, no crashed vehicles i hope.  Then his senior year, just don´t take too hard of classes, make it fun.  Luckily you still get to go to Casey´s on the weekends.  It is good to hear that your garden club thing was good, lucky for me I didn´t have to be working in the yard to get ready for that.  I miss the fresh vegetables that you get there, we get pretty fresh fruit, but the mango today was very ripe.      I am sorry, i forgot to get my pouch address, but I wrote a note down and will not forget to give it to you next week.  I can print out emails, but it costs money every time.  Not a lot, but it would add up quickly if I was to print out all of the emails.  I will print out most though, so don´t worry.  Today we got to go the São Paulo temple for the first time, and it was awesome.  The front of the Campinas Temple was prettier, but the inside of the São Paulo temple was great.  When you first walk in there is a stain-glass wall, about the visit of Christ to the Americas.  The decoration of the inside was really cool, with a lot of wood work.  Luckily it was a much shorter bus ride than going to Campinas, so we didn´t have to spend as much time in a bus.      Interesting news, the PCC(terrorist/mafia group) blew up a bank that is about two blocks away from the CTM.  They did it at night, we woke up to the sirens of the police going to the bank.  They are angry about how some of their members are being treated in the prisons there.  Just thought I would add that in to keep Mom on her feet.  Today Elder Sorensen and I walked past the bank to see what it looked like.  The front of the bank is all black from the explosion, and you can see that the whole inside is blown up and destroyed.      Luckily we only have 3 more weeks at the CTM, and I can finally get into the field.  An elder in our district has a brother who just finished is mission here in Brazil, so his brother got to come to the MTC, and has been telling us about the mission.  It makes me want to get into the field even more.  Our district is now one of the oldest groups here, and so we think we are all cool.  Then we will get to Rio de Janeiro and find out that we don´t know any Portuguese.  A funny thing, my companion got a ´Dear John´ last week, the funny thing is that he is actually relieved that she broke it up with him.  I love you all and think about you.        Love,   Elder Spence.

August 2, 2006

Hey everybody, I hope that everything is going great at home, everything is still good here.  Today we didn´t get to go to the temple, but instead we got to write some letters and play some basketball.  Thanks for sending me my pin number, it was the number i thought it was, but wasn´t too sure.  When we go to the temple we get there by bus, the ctm schedules buses all the time, for temple, picking up missionaries from airport, taking them to airport, taking missionaries to the city to proselyte, and so forth.  Which reminds me, I get to go proselyting again this friday, but this time we get to go to the ´china town´of São Paulo.  We are told that many of these people may not know how to speak portuguese, so it may be a little more difficult.  The place that I am emailing from is right across the street from the MTC, called Mr. Cheney´s Cookies.  Obviously they sell cookies, and have a room in the back with many computers.  The owner is mormon, and she served a mission a couple of years ago, and used to be an instructor at the CTM.  There are two other places to email, but are further away.  The price to email to 5 reals an hour.  2.22 Reals equals 1 dollar, but most exchanges are 2 Reals for 1 Dollar.  Lately the weather has actually been pretty cold, and has rained a couple of times.  The cold came when they finally got the AC fixed.  It will probably heat up again before too long.  It was great to hear about Max, and to read his email.  It is too bad that his visa was all messed up, but kind of funny as well.  It is good to hear that he has a great attitude, and loving the area that he is at right now.  It sounds as though some of his living conditions would be really tough, but I suppose I will just wait to find out what mine will be like.  I will try to remember to email you the addresses of my area next week, because I don´t got them with me right now.  Last wednesday, a kid from provo showed up named Scott McDonald who I use to play tennis with.  It was cool to see him, and talk with him a bit.  Cody Bilbro came two weeks ago, and apparently were stuck in New York for a while because of a mess up with their flight.  Don´t worry, Alicia, Autumn, and Brynn, I got a letter coming for all of you.  Hopefully it should get there in ten days.  That is how long it has been taking your letters to get to me.  The language is still going well, still hard to understand, but like Max said, you don´t really know the language until you understand in the field.  Aaron, take care of Mom and Dad for me, and stop nagging on my driving abilities.  Love you all, and I am always thinking about you.                      Love, Elder Spence

July 26, 2006

Thanks for all of the emails that you gave to me this week.  I have been recieving your letters, and I got one from Mom today, but I haven´t opened it yet.  I went to the Campinas temple again today, probably for the last time.  We go to the temple 2 more times, and we will probably be going to the São Paulo temple for those.  I sent a letter to Mom and Dad today, so hopefully you might get it in 2 weeks or so.  I also sent one to grandma as well.  It has been very hot while we have been here, and we have been having the fan blowing in our classroom all of the time.  Our AC insn´t working on our side of the CTM.  I want to make sure to wish happy birthday to Mom and to Autumn.  Sorry I am not sending anything to you, but it would just be way too expensive.  I also hope the car is still running for Alicia.  For my plaque I think that the scripture I would like to go on is Moroni 7:33.  That scripture is one of my favorites.  The time is just going by so quickly, and can´t believe in just one more month I will be in Rio de Janeiro getting to teach families.  ON Friday we finally went to proselyting.  We just handed out ´pass along cards´ which had a phone number where the people could call to recieve a free book of mormon.  It was so busy, and there were so many people.  I was surprised that so many people were kind enough to stop so that we could talk with them.  The only problem was when they would start talking back to us, and we had no idea of what they were saying to us.  It was fun, and a great experience.  It was good to hear that you 24th of July was a great time.  However, it is pretty scary to hear that Aaron is starting to drive now.  But I am sure that he won´t wreck the car, most of the time.  I think that it is so funny to hear about everything Mom and Dad are doing now that I am gone.  Sleeping on the tramp, and going on Harley-Davidson tours.  This is a side of them I didn´t know about.  Most of the same thing going on in the CTM, learning and studying.  I am amazed at how much I understand of other people speaking portuguese now.  We are now trying to teach the discussions in portuguese, which is a little stressful, but it is all good.  I love you all, and always thinking about you.  p.s. I think I forgot my pin number for my debit card, so I hope you have it and could tell me it.        I have a pretty good idea what it is, but not totally sure.                      Love,                        Elder Spence.

July 19, 2006

Hey everybody!    I sure hope that everybody is doing very well in that one place I use to live.  The time i have spent here just seems to be going by faster and faster.  Lately we have been trying to memorize our lessons in portuguese, aaaaagh!   We were suppose to have a short lesson memorized, and the end of next week we need to have a medium lesson memorized.  As I said before, on Friday we will be bused into São Paulo, where we will spend the afternoon giving out pass along cards to the people.  So today, we have some of the pass along cards to give them to people we meet on the street of the CTM as a bit of practice.  We are all a little scared and excited at the same time.  The food here is getting much better, and Mom  you would be glad to hear that I eat salad everyday, a lot of fruit, and drink a lot of water.  Today we didn´t get to go to the temple because we had to go to the police department so they could get our fingerprints, since we will be staying in Brazil for a long time.  It is good hear that you are having a great time on your trip, I am sure that being in Nauvoo will be an incredible experience, some of the missionaries here have told me how awesome it is to be there.  Whenever we tell people that we are going to Rio de Janeiro, we always have people who tell what an....interesting place it is.  I won´t tell you any of their stories so as not to scare mom, but I can´t wait until I get there.  I hope Aaron is enjoying being back in Utah, especially when it isn´t winter yet.  It has been very warm, and humid here.  We are told that it will be even hotter in Rio.  During the night we have the fan running the entire night.  My companion and I were sharing our room with two brazilians, but they left yesterday.  It was a bit sad because these roomates were really cool, and patient with us.  They only stayed for 3 weeks because they already know the language.  They left at five in the morning, but when we woke up, we found a package of cookies from them that they had given to us.  Tomorrow my companion and I should be getting some new roomates, most likely Brazilian.  I am excited for that, this time we will be able to talk to them a little bit.  I think that the best thing about the CTM is our gym time.  I am always looking forward to when we can go and play some basketball.  The only problem is that by the time we get to our night class at 6:15, our class is so tired that it is so difficult to pay attention.  Our teachers are really great though.  One of them served in Rio de Janeiro Norte(north), and said that it will be awesome.  Our teacher missed our class one day because the PCC (mafia/ terrorist group in Brazil), had blown up a bus, and so they closed the buses down for a day.  (I threw that in to scare mom).  One downfall of the CTM is that we don´t know what is going on in the world.  We just found out yesterday that Indonesia had another tsuenami.  Just more proof that the second coming is just around the corner.  Sorry that I don´t have more pictures, the CTM president said that we can only take pictures on p-days, and can´t take them out of the CTM.  so I didn´t get many pictures this week, and technically can´t email them to you until i get into the field, because that would make me take my camera out of the CTM.    I think that it is so crazy that Max will be in Argentina in only a week or two.  He will finally get to go teach families and begin proselyting.  I had better go now, I send you all of my love,and I will talk with you next week, and will start writing some letters.  p.s. for mom, i will probably be using this account since I can email everyone at once.  Love you all.  Eu tenho amor muito para vocês.  I hope I said that correctly.           Elder Spence

July 12, 2006

It is so good to hear from everybody.  I did get into the gmail account and read all of the emails in there.  I guess we could email from other accounts, but they discourage it.  It has been going so well for me, and although I have been here for two weeks, it only seems like a couple of days.  It is great to hear the Aaron is back; however, I don´t get to see him.  I hope he gets to play WOW again.  My companion is doing so much better than before.  His problem was that he was having a really difficult time learning the language, and was feeling really homesick.  He has talked with President Cardon(MTC pres.), and talked to him parents on the phone about coming home, but is now decided to stay.  It is incredible to see how much more determined he is to do well, and his attitude has changed.  Mom was wondering what ´tchau´ means, it is goodbye.  We have learned how to pray, bear our testimony in portuguese.  We have also worked a lot on teaching a 10-15 minute lesson of the Restoration.  This week we are going to learn how to teach a quick short lesson, 2-3 minutes, of the restoration in portuguese.  I went to the Campinas temple again today, and it was awesome.  I wasn´t suppose to take my camera, but I did and got some pictures, but I am not sure if I can send them from this computer, I´ll find out later.  The district that I am in, everyone going to Rio de Janeiro with me, are really fun and we have grown quite close.  Today I am going to go around until my companion and I can find more skittles, we ran out of the bag that mom gave me when I left, and probably walk around the neighborhood again.  A week from this Friday, we will get to go proselyting in the city for our first time, so I am getting pretty excited about all of that.  The food is getting better, probably because I am getting use to it.  I want to wish Alicia a happy birthday, lucky you 28 years old.  I hope Mom and Dad have a great time in Nauvoo, and I will talk to all of you again next week.           
Elder Spence.

July 5, 2006

How is everybody doing? Well I have been here a week, and so far things haven't been too bad. I think that I am picking up the language pretty well, although the first couple of days were so difficult because of the pressure of all the work. Now that I have settled in a little bit, things are much better. We have what is called Missionary Directed Study Time in the mornings where we have about 4 hours to study over gospel or language things. Then from 1:45 to 5:15 we have a brazilian
instructor who has served a mission, to teach us. Then at 6:15, after dinner, we have more classes until 9:15. It is a pretty full day, but it is incredible how fast we learn, and how fun it is getting. The food isn't too bad, but sometimes we have some really odd stuff to eat. All the grapes have seeds in them, the meat sometimes a bit funny, but it is eatable. Yesterday for the 4th of July, and for lunch, the MTC had ice cream and we sang the National Anthem before going to bed. The group of men that are in my district are awesome, and we are growing really close. My companion is Elder Sorenson who is about 6 feet 8 inches tall, and is from the very north of Idaho. He is having a bit of a difficult time, and may not stay for too much longer. He has been talking with the MTC president, and may go home in a couple of days, but I will tell you more later. This morning we went to the temple in Campinas, which is about an hour an a half away. There is also one in Sao Paulo that we will go to on a different P-day. It was really cool. Then when we got home, and we have been walking around town by the MTC, looking at shops here and there. I don't know if this email account will allow for me to email pictures from my camera, I forgot to bring it with me to the LANhouse, but I will try it next week and see. If not, then I will go to a camera shop where they can take the pictures for me.

I don't know if you sent any emails to the gmail account Bobby made for me, but I forgot the password, and left the paper with the info. on it at the MTC, so I am sorry I haven't read anything yet. The MTC rules are that we must use this missionary email account if we want to email. I love you all, and I will write back to you in a week. Tchao!

June 29, 2006

Logan sent his first letter from the MTC that was scanned in and emailed to his parents. This service was provided by missionties.com, which you can use to send Logan care packages (ie cookies etc) while in the MTC and in the mission field. You do not need an account to send packages. His first letter was scanned in and sent as a pdf document. You can view that document here. It is typed out below:

To: Spence Family

Hey everybody, I just want to tell you that I am doing great! We made it to the CTM by 1:00pm. Our flight from Atlanta to Sao Paulo was delayed a couple of hours. In total, we had about 30 new missionaries. I am picking up some words here and there, and had a great time so far just taking a tour of the neighborhood around the CTM. I will have a letter coming to you in a little while telling you how to send letters and packages. I love you all, but don't miss you too much, I don't think it has hit me that I am in Brazil yet. Love ya! Elder Logan Spence

June 28, 2006

Dear Parents,  Your son or daughter arrived here safely at the Brazil MTC around noon.  Their plane was late due to a layover in Atlanta, but they were here just in time for lunch.  The food here is great.  There are always two kinds of meat or chicken, rice and beans, a hot vegetable, lots of vegetables for a salad, fresh fruits, Brazilian juices, milk, pop, a dessert and usually a popsicle.  They ate, moved in, attended some orientation meetings, and went for a walk around the neighborhood with a teacher.  Tomorrow they will learn to pray in Portuguese.  Their classes start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 9:30 p.m. with other activities in between.  We are so happy to have them here ready to be missionaries and serve the people of Brazil.  Plan to pick them up at the end of their mission.  It will well be worth the time and expense.  You can then relate to them the rest of their lives about their mission.  Thank you for sharing them with the people of Brazil.  May you be blessed in their absence.  Love, Phyllis Cardon, wife of the MTC President