Monday, August 31, 2015

A Good Week!

:) it’s so great down here. So ill start with this. These people know how to cook. We’ve all heard of the famous churrasco, well its famous for a reason. i have never tasted anything so good!!! ahhhh!!! the language is great. I love it. I’m starting to be able to separate the words and actually understand sometimes. its great. The secret is to just nod, smile, and say the occasional sim. If they ask a question, i say ´isso ai, qual is sua cor preferida?´ that’s right, what is your favorite color. :) haha I say that a lot. But really, the language is great. And the people are starting to warm up to me a lot and actually have patience with me and my falta de Portuguese. But it’s fine. I asked President Parrela about using dropbox, and he said that he would research it and get back to me. One thing I could really use is a picture of Andy and me when I baptized him. The people here love pictures. I made a little photo album to carry around because everyone always asks if I have pictures of my family. Always. It’s great. So I included pictures, but we had a ward activity. A show de talentos. :) haha it was the funniest thing ever. i put some videos in, tambem. (also)
Yes, I know about Malena’s fb friend. I’m the one that gave him her name. You might be getting a few more friend requests. Everyone here uses face book, and they always ask me for my name to look me up. Warning, none of them speak English. Literally none. And President Parrela has asked that our family’s don’t bother them too much about the missionaries. haha
I will send a letter with a lot more details.
One funny story is I locked myself in the bathroom... they don’t have locks that you can just turn a nob, you always need a key. Well the bathroom has this trick to it that I have now mastered, but you have to hold the key at the right angle to open the door. When it happened, everyone in my house was outside laughing and trying to explain to me how to do it in Portuguese. haha I just said “Elder Hull, are you there.” “Yes.” “Then explain in English for me.”  haha. We have two companionships in our house, and the other guys are great! They help me a lot. I’m slowly learning everything.
Every day is a spiritual experience. One cool one was Rodrigo. This guy is the happiest I’ve ever seen a person be. We’ve taught his family a bunch, but he is always at work. But we finally caught him at home, and taught him the restoration. He asked a lot of questions. Very involved. It was awesome. And I’m totally comfortable around his family so I talked a bunch too. At the end of the lesson, we sat for a little. Then he said ´I’ve had a lot of different churches send missionaries like you guys to me. I’ve always felt that their messages were the same. They all had the same stuff, but it didn’t feel right. This, I can tell that what you guys are teaching is true. ´ BOM! Baptism, with the family. on the 12. I hope at least. It was an awesome experience. 
Number two, and I’ll make this one fast because I have 3 minutes left. We asked a house for directions, and then they seemed friendly so my comp asked if we could return another day to share a message with them about Jesus. They said you could now. We stayed for an hour talking about the plan of salvation and about Jesus. This lady had a lot of questions. Then she described how she thought the true gospel should be presented and set up (before the lesson) and let me tell you, it was like she was reading preach my gospel. We talked about the plan, and she would stop and think, then nod and say ´that sounds right. ´ I wanted to say, that’s because it is. Then at the end, I described my baptism. And the best part was she totally seemed to understand every thing I was saying. I talked for a while about my baptism, then after, my comp asked her if she would be baptized into the true church of Jesus Christ by the proper authority. She thought of a moment, and then said “yes. I want to feel what he described. But you better prepare me good!! I don’t want any surprise doctrine after I’m baptized´  haha, it was awesome.
I took videos too, but I can’t send them through email. Hopefully I get approval for drop box, otherwise you’ll just have to wait until I get back to watch them all. haha.

Love you guys!! Until next week!!
Elder Mckee
Santa Maria...
 Ward Talent Show
 
 
 

 
 
 
 A Missionaries desk.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I'm in Brazil!

Oh my goodness. que isso. que. flippen. isso . First, the flight here... All I have to say about that is 3 days with five hours of sleep and one meal. Its fine. I never saw Roy. I have seen one spider so far, and it was on my arm!!!!!!! ahhhhhhh. We were in the house of a less active family and I saw it crawling on my arm, and flipped. They all laughed so hard, like everyone does anytime I do anything. It was a small one though. We eat lunch at members houses every day, and I haven’t gone a meal without rice and beans, and I love it!!!! 
ahhh its so good!!! 
So the language… hardest thing I have ever done. My trainer, Elder Santos Melo, only speaks a little English. I live with one American, who leaves in two months. I can’t believe what is going on here. So, some cool stuff, I personally have committed 3 people to baptism and they agreed. I don’t know if they will follow through, but I get so excited when I think about it. It’s amazing to see how well these people have been prepared. I’ve contacted people on the street and stuff, which is fun. 
Yesterday was no doubt the hardest day of my life. It hurts to think about. One example of suckage from yesterday was we were in a lesson, and Elder Santos Melo was talking about temples, I thought, and then he turned to me like it was my turn to talk. I hadn’t been able to follow the conversation at all. I tried to talk, and struggled so bad. But I though if I just started talking the spirit would guide. So I started talking about temples and my testimony of them, and Elder Santos Melo stopped me and said no, about eternity. WHAT? I don’t know any Portuguese about eternity! I tried though, and I was kind of looking at the Book of Mormon in my hand while I struggled to talk. Then I could hear something, so I looked up, and the kids were all laughing super hard and trying to hide it, and even worse, adults were looking at me and from their faces I could tell they had no idea what I was saying. I tried again to explain, and the kids started laughing harder and the adults got more confused, so I stopped mid sentence and turned to Santos Melo and said ´you´ and then sat in silence for the rest of the lesson. That was the first time that that had happened though. Usually people love talking to me. Everybody here is a gaucho, and so they use NO correct grammar, they use thee, thou, and thine which is weird, and they talk so fast you wouldn’t believe it was possible. And it doesn’t just sound fast because I don’t understand. Imagine brad doing one of his auctions, and then times how fast he talks by 2. It’s insane. They cut off half the words sometimes to talk faster, so it’s impossible to understand. So I usually just sit and listen as hard as I can and try and understand. When people are just talking, I’m completely lost. But when we are talking about the gospel I understand and can talk fine. It seems like when I start to talk, everyone goes quiet and pays attention because they know that if I’m going to take the effort to talk it is worth listening to. Whenever I’m feeling down I just try and teach them how to say horse or squirrel. hahah its so funny to listen to!! 
And then they try and teach me difficult words. 
 Yesterday was really the only bad day though. The rest have been hard yes, but I’ve loved them. I love these people. What people say about them giving a lot of food is true! I’ll be eating, and I wont even finish what I have yet and they’ll dish me more. I’ve been called Elder Pequeno (little), Elder Americano, and Peter Parker. Everyone says I look like Spiderman. It’s cool. 
 Everyone thinks as soon as they hear I am American that I am rich, which compared to them I guess we are. I haven’t seen a single house in our area that we couldn’t fit in our big garage twice. No heaters. No ac. Bricks and cement (I haven’t been barefoot on the floor in a week). Our house here is a really nice one compared to theirs. They all look the exact same. I cant even explain how humble and simple it is. They chisel paths in the bricks for wires and pipes then cement them in. nothing ever gets thrown away. And dogs EVERYWHERE. I mean everywhere. It’s crazy. :)
 I got your letter from June first, and your package from 12 days ago. You need to send stuff to this address. 
Caixa Postal 339 
Centro - Santa Maria - RS
97010-010
Otherwise it goes to the mission home, and I wont get it except for mission conferences, which aren’t often. 
 I’m glad to hear everything is going well at home. :) All is well here too.  I don’t know what it is, but I feel amazing. I’m going to send a more detailed letter in the mail because it obviously doesn’t take too long. It will be a good one. 
 I hope I can send pictures. My companion is using it right now, and I only have 10 minutes left. I don’t have near enough time to read and reply to everyone!! I left 13 emails unread and unanswered.  Sorry!
 Love, Elder McKee
 Jake's bed isn't by the wall.
 Jake's clean desk

 Elder Santos Melo and Jake
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

MTC Pictures

These are out of order because we got them after he was in Brazil.  
Getting ready to leave.
 UUUGGG….I'm Going to Brazil!
 Our Zone
 Jake, Elder Bush, Elder Egbert
Sister Davis, Sister Moss, Sister Doyle, Sister Walton
 CRAZY!
 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Letter From President Parrela


Dear Parents of  Elder McKee,
Sister Parrela and I have the pleasure of informing you that your missionary has arrived safely to the Brazil Santa Maria Mission. We will be with him/her during this oh so precious time that he/she has devoted to the Lord. It is with joy that we watch over and guide this special servant, chosen before birth, to fulfill his/her duty. We already love your son/daughter as if he/she was our own.
This is the place that the Lord appointed for your son/daughter to work in; it is here that the elect await his/her assistance. The Gaúchos are a warm and hospitable people, and will without a doubt make him/her feel welcome. Their beautiful prairies and traditions will be kept in his/her heart, as they are in ours.
Your son/daughter already has a designated proselyting area: Salgado Filho Ward, Santa Maria Stake. An experienced and well prepared companion will be responsible for his/her training and will help him/her in his/her adaptation so that he/she may reach his/her full potential.  Please encourage him/her in your weekly emails to become a “Preach My Gospel Missionary”.
We ask that you send all correspondents and eventual packages for your Missionary directly to the Post Office of the city where he/she is serving, and not the Mission Office. When he/she is transferred, he/she will inform you of the address of the Post Office in his/her new area. In this first area the address is:
 Caixa Postal 0339 — Centro
Santa Maria — RS
CEP 97001-010


We are extremely grateful that you could prepare such a marvelous representative of Jesus Christ.
Sincerely:

Delgia e Adalto P. Parrela                               
Aja com INTEGRIDADE
Sirva com AMOR
Trabalhe pela VERDADE

“Há segurança na obediência”  

Act with INTEGRITY
Serve with Love
Work by TRUTH

"There is safety in obedience"

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

HE MADE IT!!

 Mom found a Facebook page that President Parrela maintains and puts up pictures.  
Jake is 4th from the right and Sis. Moss who traveled with him is next to him on the right.
 Second Row, Middle
 Loading Luggage.  Jake looks good in Brazil!
 
 Talking with President.  
We are so thankful he is there.  He called us from Sao Paulo about 5:30 this morning so that was our last chance to talk to him until Christmas.  Jake said he thinks they were all speaking a forgein language and he didn't understand a lot of what was being said, but between his little bit and sign language he figured it out.  We can't wait until his first P-day in Santa Maria.

Monday, August 17, 2015

MTC Mission President

Jake, Elder Ebert, Elder Bush, President and Sister Burgess
They got to know the President and Sister pretty well while in the MTC.  
Jake said he was a great, inspiring man.
Sister Burgess sent this picture:
"Enjoy the photo!  These are wonderful elders and will be great missionaries!  
 Best wishes!  Sister Burgess"

Jake is on his way to Brazil.  He left the MTC about 6:30 this morning and will arrive in Santa Maria about 12 tomorrow.  He was able to call from the airport.  He sounds so good and happy.  I asked him what percentage he thought his language was and he said 3%.  haha.  He actually feels pretty good about his Portuguese.  We also asked him what Malena, Josh, and Andy could do to prepare for their missions.  He said "Learn to look for the hand of God in all we do and all that happens during the day.  Write it down so you can go back and remember it.  Learn to feel the spirit and recognize it."  We are so excited for him to go to Brazil.  But we sure miss him, every day.

We got these pictures from Jessica before Jake left the MTC.  
Malena made him this poster.  It was hilarious.  
We love Taco Bell so she was excited to use hot sauces.  
                                                       
Jessica got a last picture with Jake, but Missionary rules…he can't be in a picture alone with a girl so Elder Ebert and Elder Bush are with them.  We sure love Jessica.  She was mom's life saver for the last 6 weeks.  She took countless packages and letters to Jake and brought letters home.  
 And our missionary's last picture in the MTC.  Off To Brazil!
 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Brazil or Bust!

I land in Atlanta at  3 Utah time. I fly for Sao Paulo at 5 Utah time. I’ll call as soon as I can, probably around 3:15 ish. eu nao sei se eu puder chamar voces de a manha, mas eu vou tentar! (I do not know if I can call you guys in the morning, but I'll try!)  If Malena isn't there, I’ll call her depois eu falar com voces. ta bom? (after I speak with you, Okay?) 

We just said good bye to our teachers. They are amazing people!! Irma Read let us go through her mission journal. They both got me soo excited to go!! I know it will be very hard, they left no doubt about that, but I feel so ready to go and do. I cannot wait to get out there!! I really shouldn't be, but I’m even a little excited to go out there, try and talk to people, and then realize I actually don’t speak this language called Portuguese. um pouco. (just a little.) 

So I started packing yesterday! I got this tip from another teacher I’ve grown really close with. Go to the custodial closet and get the vacuum and garbage bags. I put my clothes in the garbage bag, then the hose of the vacuum, and turn it on. Thus, sucking the air out. Further thus, significantly shrinking the amount of space taken up by said clothes. My before full suitcase, weighing in at 47 pounds, is now a full suitcase weighing in at 37 pounds. :) Both of them. And I have an empty carryon bag waiting to be packed with more of my stuff. SO MUCH STUFF!!! Where did all this come from!? Mas ta bom. (But okay)

So, crazy story. Elder Bradshaw, the guy who had been here for NINE weeks because of tonsillitis, is finally gone. The intercom came on and said "can Elder McKee or Elder Bradshaw please pick up a hall phone and call the front desk?" so we did. The conversation was something like this. 
Me: "hello, this is Elder Mckee calling as requested." 
Them: "Is Elder Bradshaw still packing? The van is waiting for him to leave for the airport right now."
Me: "He never got flight plans telling him he was leaving" 
Them: "You two better get to the travel office right now." 
We run past the class room, he grabs his stuff and says a half second goodbye as we run out the door. We get to the travel office, and they say "the van is gone, were you not ready?" Bradshaw says "you guys never gave me travel plans! i didn't know i was supposed to leave today!" they say "oh yea sorry, can you be packed to leave in 20 minutes from now?" we run to the residence, and start shoving everything in his bags. Then weighing. Moving stuff. Weighing. Moving stuff. Slowly a pile of shoes, clothes, books, papers, hangers is building as he's realizing he doesn't have room. Now, disclaimer, he had been in the travel office every day for a week asking about his visa and when he can leave. As of 5 days before this, the travel office had been supposed to issue flight plans. They blew him off each time he was in there, thinking he was just another annoying missionary wanting to leave. So, none of this is his fault. We get all the stuff in his bags, about 40 minutes later, and run back to the travel office. We go in, and he says "you guys gave me 40 minutes to pack, and I have no idea if my bags are under 50 pounds. What can we do about it?" they say "it will probably cost you around 300 dollars per bag".  Bradshaw says, "no, it wont cost me anything. This isn't my fault." they say "sorry, here’s a trash bag incase you have to leave stuff behind" then we went out back, and he hoped in the car of one of the travel people and he was gone. The van was long gone, and he had 2 and half hours to get to the airport and get on his plane. Seeing as he didn't come walking back in the room that night, I think he made it. 

I’m probably going to have to give a small talk tomorrow in sacrament. They give everyone the topic before hand, and then call two people at random in the meeting. I should probably write some stuff down, but honestly I feel like I could totally just get up there and in Portuguese talk about the importance of having faith in Jesus Christ for 5 minutes without notes. Super easy. tudo bem. (all right)

Thank you so much for the sip-in treats. My district loved them, and they love you!  They all say you are so cute…well, Elder Bush didn't say that...Haha They ate them up so fast!!  Also thanks for the phone card. I think that should work in Brazil, and if not I’m sure they sell them down there. I'll find a way. 

I love you guys!! You're all amazing. I have no doubt that this MTC is where I was supposed to come. I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else. I can’t wait to be in Brazil in 3 days!! Airport in Sao Paulo means time to see just how well I can understand them and talk to them. boo ya!!! I seriously cannot wait!! Here’s how I imagine my first conversation going. 
Me: "oi, como esta?" (Hi, How are You?)
Brazilian: "owievniweavn iewnfignv uie4eruibver uenariupnd;sne honvo;av" (Although that may look like Russian, those aren't actual words, they just represent how much I would understand.)
Me: "........."
Brazilian: "lievnikni idnvwoaevnoansdlngfs"
Me: "Sim..... Este livro e para voce..... tchau!" (yea.... this book is for you.... bye!)
and I cant wait for it. :) haha 

I'm so excited to go start actual real life missionary work!! Every one says it takes the first few months of being clueless to figure out the language and get used to it, though I might be that way for the first few years. But that’s ok. :) Through the Lord I can do all things. 

Cool quote I heard today "if you try and base your happiness off the circumstances you're in, more often than not you will fail to be happy." 

Love You!!

Elder McKee

PS...So I weighed myself again, and i am 10 pounds over my original weight, meaning I gained 15.... no idea how... :) hahaha I don't look fat i promise!! :) but here's how it went. I got on the scale, and it said 160. My jaw drops, because of course I'm confused. Last week I was 145. Legit this is what I said. "Elder Bush, hold my ice cream while I take off my shoes to get a better reading." Something about what I had said caused me to stop and think… 

                                      







Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Last Week in MTC

So, this week has been a great one. Everything is so much more real now that I'm actually leaving to Brazil in 7 days. So crazy!! I feel so blessed!! 

This weeks TRC was a skype call with a native from Brazil. Except our person bailed at literally the last minute, so we just recorded a 3 minute video of what we were going to talk about. not near as cool, but it was a good practice. Getting emails from my pals I met here that are actually in the field, they say that the first week is so hard, but they all said how insane it is how fast you pick up on the language once you are submerged in it. I'm so excited!!! :) I cant even think about anything else!! I need to stay focused for this last week though, not get too excited about Brazil yet. 

I think I'm going to send a package home with stuff I dont want. Mostly my gray suit. I'm going to give away all the ties, so you wont be getting any of those back. Also, I'm sending a flute that Elder Payne forgot in the residence. When I email you an address he's going to give me, will you send it to his family for me?

This week was also harder, because it feels like in a week I'm going home, not going to Brazil for another 22 and a half months. I miss home and all the family and friends, but I know I'm where I need to be right now. :) I'm so excited to get down to Brazil!!!! 

So I learned I'm not very good at volleyball. Or maybe I'm too good ;) 4 days in a row I hit sisters in the face. Lemme explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. So Wednesday, we're playing volley ball. I go to spike it, and it nails Sister L in the face. Square in the face. I felt so bad. So Thrusday, we're playing volley ball. The ball lands on the ground, and Sister D starts talking smack to me, "Mckee where were you?" I pick up the ball and without even looking I throw it in the direction of the server. And it hits Sister D right in the face. :( and it looked like I did it on purpose because she was talking smack to me. So Friday, we're playing volley ball. I decide to not spike it any more. But after volley ball, I'm trying to juggle the ball, and I kick it too hard, it goes up and hits Sister M right in the face. So Saturday, we're playing volley ball, and the ball is coming straight down on the net. Now, normally in a situation like this I would spike it, because that's just what you do. But then I reflected upon my rap sheet, and decided to just tap it over to the left away from Sister D so she cant save it. I misjudged the distances. The ball was too far over for me to reach, and it barley touched my finger tips, continued along it's same course of trajectory, and hit Sister D right in the face, droping her to the ground. Now, this really wasn't my fault at all, but from the perspective of everyone else it looked like I had just smashed it on her mercilessly. So Monday, we're playing volley ball, and I did nothing but bumping it back into the air over the net. Just to be safe. 

Could you send me another pair of gym shorts? and another random t-shirt or two? :) That would be awesome. 

So we adopted two new Elders into our district, both of which are a week behind us in schedule, but miles ahead.  They are the most dedicated guys I've ever met. Elder Ebert, who everywhere he goes everyone gets their visa and leaves him, has had 8 companions in his 3 weeks in the MTC. He has moved residences 3 times (he's now in my room) and been part of 3 districts. haha He's a great guy. The other one is Elder Bartling, who is also 3 and a half weeks into his MTC experience. Elder Bartling randomly got a call to go to the travel office yesterday, and they handed him flight plans. He left for brazil this morning. Not the Sao Paulo MTC, his actual mission. He left for his mission 2 weeks early!!! President Dansie had said that if visa and stuff works out, Ebert and Bartling could leave next week with us. Ebert has no visa. Bartling does. We think the weeks got mixed up, and he left today with the other people that are leaving today. But it was definitely inspiration and meant to be. He is so good at the language and a very hard worker, and he is very strong in the gospel. So, Ebert got a new compainion, Me, Bush, and Bradshaw (Bradshaw is the tonsil guy, who just got cleared yesterday and should leave this week or next, after 9 weeks) Now that Ebert is in our room, I can't have two closets. I had to condense to one. 

I might be sending a list of stuff I want, and then a package home of stuff I don't.  Just be prepared.

Josh would love it if he was able to get a shot at a buck. I'd be jealous!  I'm going to get destroyed on the language, even tho I'm doing way good on it for the MTC. I've read both grammar books through so many times. Like probable 5 times or more each. It's pretty great if I might say so myself. Yesterday one of the sisters asked a question about something that me and the teacher had been talking about before class, and the teacher couldn't think of how to explain it, so she just pointed to me and had me explain it. Part of it might have been that it would be harder to explain in Portuguese to people that don't speak it. I love it here. I'm sad to be leaving to be honest. But tudo bem.

I love you guys!! You're all the best!! Thank you for your prayers!! I can feel them everyday helping me along. The MTC is the best place I have ever been, and I'm actually kinda sad to be leaving. but i'm happy to be going. I'm sad I can't give you all hugs goodbye, so just hug each other. ;) tudo bem. 

A piece of Jake's letter to the kids:
I love all you guys!!! you'll all make amazing missionaries one day!! Keep up the good work, make sure you're getting along, and remember to pray every morning and night. I can't even explain how important that is!! With school starting soon it might be easy to feel stressed, but just go at it and be yourself. My biggest regret is not putting myself out there as much as I could. Never stop being who you are. Love ya'll!!  Talk to ya next week!!