3/12/14

Hey Mom and Dad,

Thanks so much for the package, it was AWESOME getting hot Cheetos and candy. I read Jesus the Christ every night before bed and I just snack on those a bit ๐Ÿ˜€ Tell Natalie thanks for her drawing! It was great! ๐Ÿ™‚ No new news on my visa yet, still waiting to be processed. Yeah, I got 13 days left here, it’s going fast! I won’t be too surprised if I get reassigned, but a few elders and sisters here have got their Brazil visas before they left so we’ll see! Our branch also got dissolved Sunday, because we are the last wave of American-Brazil missionaries. The church is growing fast enough there and visas are getting too tough, so they combined my zone with another. We moved from the 5th floor of our building to the basement two days ago, me and the other 3 in my district sleep there. Elder Rodriguez photo sniped some funny pictures of me I attached them ๐Ÿ˜€

I learned a lot about what it means to get success in life this week. We listened to a talk by David A. Bednar called Becoming a Missionary. In Alma 26:22, it reads “Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing–Unto such it is GIVEN to know the mysteries of God, yea, unto such it shall be GIVEN to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be GIVEN unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been GIVEN unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance…

ย Later in Alma 26:27, Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.ย 

ย Notice how many times we see the success is GIVEN, not EARNED. I think we can all attest to the fact that sometimes we work as hard as we can and something still doesnโ€™t work out. 2 Nephi 2:2 tells us that our afflictions shall be consecrated for our gain. I learned that I should always give thanks to God when I achieve success in anything, because it is a gift from God. I have been really blessed here to be able to learn Portuguese fast….Probably the quickest I’ve ever learned anything in my life….I feel like God has blessed me with a heightened ability to learn in order to be at the level of effectiveness needed to hit the ground running when I get to Brazil. I actually got to mail a real letter to a fourteen year old girl named Carleigh who has not been baptized yet. Our teacher Sister Dangerfield has been role playing her, and she wanted us to write a letter to this girl. It was pretty humbling that she trusts us that much.ย 

ย I also have had a strengthened testimony of the Book of Mormon again this week. Everything in our church comes from the Book of Mormon, everything. Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni in particular all express that they write many things for a wise purpose of the Lord not made known unto them. I don’t know about you, but don’t you just feel like the scriptures were written just for you? The cool thing is they are ๐Ÿ™‚ When we apply the Scriptures to our lives and not just read them, they become that much more powerful ๐Ÿ™‚

ย I bear my testimony that I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I am so grateful he has reached out in love again to bring us the Restored Gospel of his son Jesus Christ. It truly is a blessing that we have the knowledge of why we are here on this Earth, and who we are. We literally have been given the answer to one of the biggest questions of the soul. I hope that I do get to go to the United States first. Many people talk about their mission not being a baptizing mission and then it isn’t. While that is great, that is not how success is measured as a missionary. We learned many missionaries do not work very hard and get lot’s of Baptisms. We also learned some work as hard as they can and get no Baptisms. David A. Bednar says that all we know is success is a gift from God, and it will be given on his time, not ours. For myself, I know that the Book of Mormon promises us that the words within are sufficient to teach ANY man or woman. I forget the verse but that is promised to us. There is no reason it cannot teach and testify to people here in the United States than Brazil. The people of Brazil have been very prepared to receive the Gospel, but I know the people here are too. God does not lie, he is a truthful God ๐Ÿ™‚ If the Book of Mormon says it can teach any man, than I believe it ๐Ÿ™‚ I am excited to share the Gospel with anybody, I am itching to get out into the field!ย 

ย I have a few scriptures that helped me with things I have been wanting to understand more.

ย I wanted to know more about how I could have the Holy Ghost more….

3 Nephi 12:6

ย I am glad that I can be here to become a missionary, not just go on a mission. When we become missionaries, we are changing who we are. We do not return to become the people we were before the mission. I know that we have Thomas S. Monson, who has been called as a prophet of God. I know that the Gospel work is hastening, and that this is the time to obtain the word and then bring it to others. I know that if we have questions or problems in our lives, the Lord first counsels us to study it out in our minds, then ask in prayer if it is right. I know that God hears our prayers, and he answers them. I know that if we have feelings of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,goodness, and faith that those are fruits of the spirit. I know that if we seek to develop Christlike attributes we will understand our Savior more. The world often tells us that because we are just one person, we are too small to make an effect. The Book of Mormon tells us that our works here can change lives….For better or worse. The secret combinations created by Gadianton brought the Nephites to wickedness and destruction. The desire of Alma to leave behind his sins and serve God, through the power of God, brought thousands unto Christ. I know that when we are righteous we can also help change lives for the better. I know God lives and I know Jesus Christ lives. The Nephites seldom went to battle save they had the strength of God behind them. I want to try to live as righteous as I can to also have the strength of God to support and lift me.ย 

ย In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

ย Love, Elder Sanders

3/4/14

Dear Mom and Dad,

Today marks my halfway point through the MTC. I literally feel like I am in the army of Helaman. The lord is hastening his work, and I have been called out to the front lines ๐Ÿ™‚ During my personal study this week, I focused a lot on Faith and the Spirit. I often find myself frustrated because when the Spirit is not burning like a fire within me, I feel like I am doing something wrong. I have tried to humble myself and have found great comfort in Galatians 5, where we learn the fruits of the Spirit come in joy, peace and comfort. I have DEFINITELY felt those a lot here at the MTC, so I have to be patient with myself and recognize that those are gifts of the Spirit as well :).

We do role-play teaching here and TRC, where real members come in to be taught for one reason or another. I pray a lot for my investigators. It is so real. The teachers often emulate real people they know, and take the ideas we use in our lessons to help them. I have stopped worrying about Portuguese. My first couple weeks here, I tried to study nothing but the language, and realized as a missionary and as a member of this church, the most powerful language we can speak is that of the Spirit. I know enough Portuguese now to be able to have a full hour long discussion about the Gospel and understand and comprehend, and answer. Sundays and Tuesdays are my favorite. Taking the Sacrament each week I feel that renewing of my Baptismal Covenant and love feeling clean and exercising faith to become better next week. Faith is a product of desire and action, and faith without works is dead. I am constantly trying to build a desire and act on things I want a strengthened testimony of. It is amazing the many ways that God answers our prayers. Through my teachers, family and friends, I have received direct answers to some of my prayers.

I love personal study and reading the Book of Mormon. The most powerful resource we have is the Book of Mormon. In 2nd Nephi we are promised that the words of God and teachings of the Prophets within are enough to teach ANY man. I wish back home I would have shared the Book of Mormon with all my friends. I used to be pretty wishy-washy about my Faith, because I was scared to offend what others believe. I know without a shadow of a doubt that we are here on this Earth to prepare to meet God again, and I have a sacred responsibility to share that with all of the people that I know. I would be heartbroken if I got to the spirit world and I saw people I knew, and they would ask me why I didn’t share with them the truth.

We should not be scared to share the message of the restored Gospel with everybody. God has reached out again in love and restored the gospel of his son Jesus Christ in these modern days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. As members and missionaries, we are accountable for all those we could have shared the gospel with. Keep in mind that EVERYBODY on the Earth accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s plan once already. All we have to do is remind them of that. We are promised in the Book of Mormon that after this life all people will know with a perfect exactness the sins they committed, and that God and Jesus Christ exist. We are not a hundred percent sure how eternal progression works, but long story short they will want to have repented and come unto Christ in this life VERY BAD.

In class, our teacher, Brother Belchoir, had us write letters to our family as if we were going to die in five minutes. I put my soul into that letter, and then he ripped all of our letters up after we gave them to him. We are all shocked, because literally those are the things we would want our Family to know. That is how Mormon and all the prophets of the Book of Mormon must feel when we do not take advantage of the Scriptures. Many wars were fought against the people of God in the Book of Mormon, and many people died in memory of their God, their Religion, and their Families. Moroni put that on the title of Liberty because in our lives those are the things that count. We should strive to fight for those same things.

I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that is the most correct book on the face on the entire Earth. I promise anybody reading this e-mail who does not yet know of the truthfulness of the Book for themselves to read the Book of Mormon, and follow the promise in Moroni 10:3-7. If your read it and do not pray, you cannot come unto spiritual knowledge for yourself. We are told that only through prayer and diligently searching the words of God can we come unto a knowledge of the truth for ourselves. This life is a time to prepare to meet God again, and we cannot afford to waste time sitting between two masters. If God is God, then we should serve him with all of our heart, might, mind and strength so that we and our families and friends can stand blameless before God at the last day, and Jesus Christ in his mercy can plead with the Father on our behalf, and the demands of Justice and Mercy can be satisfied. We can return to the presence of God and live again with those we love. We are not here on this Earth to but live and die. There is no greater happiness we can have than doing the things which would please the father. If we do not know of a surety that these things are true yet, now is the time to do so. The work of the Gospel is hastening on Earth. Once we truly strive to not rely solely on our testimony and become converted unto Christ, the Book of Mormon promises us that we will NEVER fall away. We have a sacred responsibility to share this message with all of our brothers and sisters, and prepare as many as we can for the second coming. I have wasted too much time in my life focusing on Earthly things, and now I can been so blessed to get a glimpse at the real work we are here to do. Even as the prophets in the Book of Mormon dedicated their ENTIRE lives to spreading the Gospel, I know we can have the same happiness it brought them when we do the same.

God lives, and hears and answers our prayers. We should not be afraid to invite all those we know to read the Book of Mormon and pray for a knowledge of it’s truthfulness. It is the keystone of our religion. We teach nothing save it be from the Scriptures and the doctrine within. I know for myself that If I strive to abide by it’s precepts I can come closer unto God, and that same promise is shared with all of us. Our testimonies will be key in helping others come unto Christ. You CANNOT convert someone past your own conversion. Once we seek to become converted unto Christ, then can we begin to share that with others. I love this restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the spiritual growth I have had while I have had the opportunity to join the army of Helaman, and march forth with my brothers and sisters to share the message of the restored Gospel. I am grateful for the promise of Eternal Families, and that someday I can start my own Eternal Family and spend forever with my wife and Children. I am grateful that I have made the necessary changes in my life to repent and come unto Christ, because all of us need to repent and come unto Christ. The gift of the Atonement is infinite, and we can receive a remission of our sins if we but lift the burden of sin and come unto Christ.

Thank you to all of you who have been a righteous example in my life, and I cannot wait to get to Brazil and meet my brothers and sisters I promised to share the Gospel with in the pre-mortal life. If I sound like a different person than Jonah, that’s because I am. We joke around here that those are our Gentile names now, I really feel like Elder Sanders is somebody different. If we want to feel the Spirit more abundantly in our lives we should thirst and hunger after righteousness (3rd Nephi) and then we will be filled with the Spirit of God.

This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love, Elder Sanders

2/25/14

Hey Mom and Dad,

I am doing so good! It feels great to know that I am doing the things that God and Jesus Christ want me to do. I’m loving it here at the MTC even though it’s tough! The language is coming great, and yes the gift of tongues is so real. I have learned more here in two weeks than my three years of Spanish. Me and the other elders in my district talk in Portuguese only all the time ๐Ÿ˜€ And all of our 10 plus hours a day in the class, a lot of it is in Portuguese and I can understand. My companion is so awesome. I’m really learning what it means that when you love your companion that Spirit can be there that much more powerfully ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, I got your package form Kohls/Valentines thank you so much! It was awesome! Also the dear elder emails have been a huge uplifting part of my day. Thanks mom and dad for being such a huge support, it’s been great!

Me and Elder Jones are teaching two investigators right now. Our teachers, Sister Dangerfield and Brother Belchoir role-play them, but it is so real. Every night I pray to know how I can help them. Scripture study is split up into time for things they could benefit from hearing, and companionship study is focused on them. I am understanding how much this mission is for others more than me. Even watching the District or having a really good discussion with our investigators I am beginning to find it brings me so much happiness when somebody comes unto Christ! ๐Ÿ™‚ P-Day is a good break for a few hours from class and studying, we just do laundry and go to the store and what not. No new news on my Visa yet, but I am the furthest along out of the other three elders in my district, so we’ll see soon I hope! One of the elders in our district had to go home last week, so we’re getting a new Elder in our district tomorrow, it’ll be crazy! I always thought that teaching with the spirit was a figure of speech, but it is so true that the language we talk to investigators with is the spirit, not so much Portuguese.

We watched the Joseph Smith restoration video this last Sunday after Devotional. Oh by the way me and the elders joined the choir and we got to sing Praise to the Man for THE Elder Holland ๐Ÿ˜€ It was crazy seeing a general authority in person! His son gave a really good talk two Sundays ago! Anyway, I have really strengthened my testimony of Joesph Smith. All of the logistical reasons he could not have invented the Book of Mormon aside, I know that he was called as a Prophet of God to restore the gospel in these latter days. He and the others did not sacrifice even unto their lives to defend something that was not true.

I’ve been reading Alma a lot for my personal scripture study. Alma is probably my missionary example right now ๐Ÿ™‚ Alma 14 in particular I really like ๐Ÿ™‚ He and Amulek were such consecrated missionaries and even they had to be long suffering in difficulties of ALL kinds on their mission especially unto the people of Amonihah. It’s crazy how they were so meek and humble, and at the same time the Scriptures says to the wicked they were Lions, and when the people could no longer deny they were sent of God the wicked fled from them as a goat and her young fleeth from two lions. I am beginning to see true strength comes from meekness and humility, something I am trying to work on really hard!

I can’t wait to get out into the field! The MTC is great but I am eager to begin, not sit in a classroom for ten hours a day ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, got to go but love you guys, Elder Sanders

2/18/14

February 18, 2014

Hey mom and dad, it’s Elder Sanders!

I know without a doubt that the MTC is where I should be right now in my life. I don’t know if I can relate to you guys just how important missionary work is. This week here at the MTC has been the longest and most spiritually exhausting of my life.

I love being here so much even though it is hard. The spirit of God, like a fire is burning is the only way I can describe it. I watched a talk only for missionaries called the character of Christ by David Bednar. You won’t be able to find it online, but that talk changed my life. I want to be a disciple of Christ so bad, because now I recognize I am not alone. I know that wherever I go, I am not alone. I pray soooo much here, trying to constantly have the spriit. I am scared when I do not have the spirit with me, because I am learning that we can teach by no way except it be of the spirit, and I can testify of the truth of that statement. We are teaching a ‘roleplay’ investigator, but it is absolutely real. If me and elder Jones, my companion, cannot bring the spirit into our lesson, we cannot teach.

I pray a lot to have patience with my companion, but I also pray and give thanks that God put me with a companion who I can learn from and one that teaches me to be more teachable and humble. The MTC is the best place I have ever been to, and this is where God needs me right now. I am beginning to stop trying to trust myself, because the first few days I didn’t think I could do it and wanted to come home. Now, I know that I can trust in the Lord and I will be able to have strength, I absolutely testify of that.

I can feel the spirit now and constantly have it, and that is the greatest gift to me, and I am constantly trying to pray for thanks that God is allowing me to have the spirit in my life. This mission is not about me, which is the best part. I am so glad to finally lose myself and join the good work ๐Ÿ™‚

I love being a missionary so much! I wish I could talk face to face with you guys, and Dad I know why you loved your mission so much. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in these days, and I’m really humbled that God wants me to help share it. Compared to any other time in my life I have never felt so humbled and also excited to be a missionary! I know that it is NOT my own strength that I can do this, because I cannot haha. It is too hard to do by myself. I know that if I rely on the strength of the Lord that all things really are possible, and argh haha I have no words for how at peace and happy I feel right now.

Love, Elder Sanders