Monday, September 14, 2015

Another week in Brazil!

SEGUNDA (Monday):  P-DAY BABY!  That means I got to talk to all the lovely people back home!  Always a good time even if it’s hard to get back into Portuguese after.  Speaking of my Portuguese, here is an update.  Elder Santos Melo just said that in all of our lessons today, I spoke perfectly.  He said my verb conjugations and grammar and vocab was perfect and he can’t remember a thing to fix J , that made me happy.  It’s so easy to get frustrated with myself, but I haven’t even been here a month yet.
            So remember how people have said Brazilians are very warm, loving, close people?  This is true.  And maybe I’m just a cold, blunt American, but sometimes they are TOO close.  Haha, but here’s why I bring this up.   After our last lesson today we were walking back to the house, and I legit felt so sick all the sudden.  SUPER sick.  So I found the nearest storm drain, but nothing happened.  Elder Santos Melo asked if I was ok, and when I explained that I felt way sick, he didn’t come within 10 of me.  Haha, usually we walk and our elbows bump we’re so close.  But once I said I might throw up, he wouldn’t have touched me with a pole.  Not sure why I felt sick.  Maybe it was the “complete” burger I ordered today.
            Not really much to tell about today.  P-day.  I’m undefeated in chess amongst the household, (I’ve only played Santos Melo), but Moroni, a 16 year old kid here, destroyed me.  I need to replay him though because I was off my game when we played. 
TERCA (Thursday):  So today I started doing bicep curls with my bag every other step.  I’d switch arms to keep it even.  And I tried to do it all day.  Let me say, my arms are dead.  I don’t know why I did that to myself.  So, our prime investigator, the 75 year old lady, today told us that she prayed and she knows what we teach is true.  And she wants to be baptized but when she talked to her mom about it (who is 98) her mom said that she doesn’t approve.  And Edi (the 75 year old) doesn’t want to upset her strongly catholic mother, so she said she would wait.  She didn’t say what she was waiting for, but I took the implied meaning that she would wait  for her mother to die.  Haha.  But we talked to her, and she has been talking to her mom about it and we are still trying for the 19th.   I think it really upset Santos Melo, because secretly I think she is his favorite investigator J I mean,, I was upset too of course, but I think the situation could have been handled better then how he handled it.  Nothing wrong or bad, just….IDK.  Anyways, I bore testimony to her after that I know God loves us and understands our difficulties, and he knows our trials.  Also, I know that baptism is the only way to return back to him.
            Today, with a guy from the ward, we went to the house of a less active, because he needed to sign up for the help program thing that the church does.  When they asked him what he needed he said rice and gas for the stove.  In payment for this, he is receiving the missionary discussions and going to church.  It’s so humbling to see people asking for rice because they can’t afford it.
            Something cool that I learned is that lime tree leaves smell like fruit loops.  The cereal.  That’s cool.  They don’t taste like fruit loops, though.  Which was a let down. I was hoping I could fill a bowl with them, and some milk and feel right at home.  NOT SO.  Also!  Churrosco today, again.  Literally they cooked about 400 chicken hearts and a ton of this sausage that was SO good.  And there was enough for me to eat to my hearts content (Pun intended).  When I can understand these people, I am definitely learning how to make this.
QUARTA (Wednesday):  So….I was senior companion for today, making all the decisions and leading the way.  This is because we did another split, but this time I stayed in our area.  Seriously so hard, because I don’t know anyone’s names.  I know their faces, but it’s hard to attach a name to the face when I can’t even say the names!  So, that was hard.  Elder Barreto, who has one year and 9 month in the mission, was with me.  And he is of NATAL.  J  Sound Familiar?  Anyways, he is way cool, and he knows a little English.  Get this.  He learned English before the mission by watching ‘Friends’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’.  Haha.  Anyways, it was hard yes, but I kind of liked being the one to initiate the lessons and I could understand the language today better than ever before.  I can talk well enough to get by, but understanding the other person is where I’m lacking.  But it’s getting better daily.:)
            We didn’t have many lessons today, but it was still a good day.  Funny story:  So, on our way to the companion exchange, Elder Santos Melo hands me the cell phone and says I’m in charge of it for the split because I’m in the area.  Portuguese is hard to understand.  It’s even harder when you’re listening through a crappy Nokia.  Anyways, I was a little scared of this phone, but I put it in my pocket.  I was so scared I was going to have to talk to people on it.  I seriously started a prayer that nobody would need to call today.  I’m half way through my prayer and the phone rings.  I started laughing so hard.  It was like a message to me that I was being dumb.  So, I decided to stop being nervous about the day and just go for it, because the Lord always provides a way.  It was a slow day, yes, but I learned a lot from Elder Barreto, which was good.  My goal for the mission is to improve in the language, and improve something about what kind of a missionary I am every day.  By the end of my mission, I’ll be better at the language than the natives and I’ll be an amazing missionary.
            Today is my 3 week mark no campo (in the field), which is insane.  I almost wish that it would go slower, but I would learn faster.  I have so much to learn besides Portuguese.  The other missionaries know the scriptures so well.  I’m not comparing myself to them, just using them as motivation to better myself.  Sometimes I think to myself, this would be so much easier if I was in an English-speaking mission, but I don’t think that’s actually true.  Every mission has its difficulties and once I’m fluent in Portuguese I’ll see these arise.  If that makes sense…. It doesn’t really matter if it does J this is my journal that I’m sharing with you.
QUINTA (fifth):  AHHH!  Awesome lesson today with Daiara. J  She’s an investigator we’ve had for sometime.  Her daughter has a baptism date (a maybe baptism).  Anyways, we went to her house and talked with her and her two daughters.  The best lessons aren’t lessons, they’re discussions.  We started talking about families and we taught about baptisms for the dead and temples.  Daiana said, with tears, that she really wants the baptism for her grandparents done, because she really misses them.  I pulled out a “Minha Familia” pamphlet of my bag.  This morning I saw the only 2 ‘minha familia’ pamphlets that we have and I thought I might as well grab one.  You never know, and I don’t want the other Elders to take it.  And we needed it right then, I have no doubt it was a prompting to grab it.  Bem Legal (Cool).    Anyways, she asked more about how it works and we explained.  Then she told us about how she had received an answer that the church is true!  SO COOL!  It was in a dream.  Then she asked if in the temple we could talk with our ancestors.  I explained that, no, it isn’t like that.  But you can definitely feel closer to them when you are doing their work.  She isn’t married to her husband, so they can’t be baptized.  But they have 2 daughters that can be and they are awesome.  They got excited about it all and started showing us pictures of family and stuff.  Super cool.  The two daughters can get baptized, then we explained how they could do the baptisms for their grandmothers.  Awesome, awesome family.  When you guys come down to pick me up (which other missionaries have done!) you guys will meet them for sure.
            So, Elder Hull cut my hair for me 2 days ago.  I’m 98% sure that I was born with more hair then I have right now.  And tomorrow I’m going to have him cut off more, because he forgot the sides, So helmet head.  Like this:
Ok….not like that.  My drawing skills are about as good as my Portuguese.
 Anyways, I killed another spider on my own.  Smashed that sucker with a towel (not my towel, of course).  So, I guess you could say things are going pretty well.
 OH!  So today another investigator we have told us we are angels.  A member that went with us asked if she (it’s the 75 year old, Edi) believes in angels.  She said ‘yes, these two are here talking to me, right?”  She explained why she thought we were angels.  From what I understood she was praying to God one day and she was asking for help because she needed guidance in her life.  She said she had the thought afterwards that she would have 2 angels teach her what she needed.  Then, a few minutes later Elder Santos Melo and I clapped at her gate.  She is awesome.  She always reads.  She asks awesome questions.  I really like her and not just because she calls Elder Santos Melo and I angels.
SEXTA (sixth):  Well, today was fantastic and here is why.  I finally learned how to love others who bug me.  Serve them!  We always hear “serve your enemy’s and they will become friends” but I never actually tried it.  (Elder Santos Melo was never my enemy, just to clarify!)  Here’s what I did.  Today was weekly planning, where we go through every investigator and discuss their needs and such.  At the end, we do companion inventory, where we discuss each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  When he asked me what he could improve, instead of listing of the stuff I wish he would change, I just said that I don’t have anything major he needs to change.  Which is true.  He’s a great missionary.  He just was raised different then me.  Then, after we were done, I thought of something else.  So I told him, “We have 3-4 times a week where we do language study for me.  From now on, on Saturday’s language study, I want to focus more on you learning English. “  Because he really wants to learn English.  He loved that idea.  Then, while he was laying on his bed cause we had a little bit of time; I washed every dish in the kitchen.  Throughout the day, when we were talking while walking, I would ask him to repeat sentences he said, but in English. Then I would correct him and explain the grammar.  Today, the little things he does, didn’t bother me at all.  J
            So, walking through the rua hoje (street today), we see Moneco, the man with one leg, out in his grass in a lawn chair with a machete, mowing his lawn.  Hahaha.  And he wouldn’t let us help!  It was kind of funny though.  He was just going to town on this front long grass with a machete. 
            I’ll tell you what; the gift of tongues is so real.  I can always understand and participate in conversations during lessons, and I’m getting to where I can understand all the other stuff.  Speaking of understand the language, drunk people are the easiest to understand.  Today we were walking and this guy flagged us down.  I knew instantly that he was drunk.  Bad.  His breath made me eyes water, and he had no sense of personal space, I’ll tell you that.  But I understood everything he said.  And none of it made sense.  “What is your name?”  “Santa Maria”  “Where do you live?”  “Mormon street.”  Haha, entertaining.
So, Thamires read the part of the Book of Mormon we left her to read!  And her and her sister want to be baptized!  AHHH!  Bien Legal!  (So Cool)!  I’m so excited for them. J 
            So, I cut my own hair today to fix my helmet hair.  Now I look normal again and I don’t have big humps on the side of my head that make it look like I could fly.  (Maybe that’s just my head shape.)
            So, quick Portuguese lesson for yall.  ‘nos=we’, ‘nos temos = we have’ but more common here to say, ‘a gente = the people’ for ‘we’ and it’s conjugated differently.  But once you adjust it’s a lot more easy.  ‘a gente tem = the people have’ or ‘we have’.  The translation is a little funny.  Also, ‘nosso = our’  and ‘nosso casa = our house’  or you can say ‘a casa de gente = the house of the people, or our house’  haha, it’s funny.
            So, yesterday we stopped by a youth activity at the church, where they played futbol and Ping-Pong.  (They do this like every other day).  But this time the Bishop played with them, without mercy.  Let me tell ya, these guys are GOOD.  And then Bishop can totally keep up with them.  At one point the Bishop had the ball, and the kid playing goalie was talking smack, so the Bishop just flippen sent the ball flying.  Remember Scott Stearlng?  That was this kid, but the Bishop bounced it off the back of the kid’s head into the goal.  Haha, so funny.  And they are Ping-Pong masters.
            Another thing I’m learning, that I had always known, but never appreciated, is how blessed I was living in the States.  For most of my investigators, what I pay each month for my mission could pay their rent for two houses for a year.  Not a lie, and it’s actually an UNDER exaggeration.  They’re happy, loving, giving people.  We are just so blessed in happy Utah valley.  I have never loved people like I love these people.  Kids of members come running to greet me, and hang on my arms as I curl them. (I’ve moved up from my bag to small children).    Daiana learned I love the chocolate cake she makes.  The last 3 times I’ve gone to her house she’s had some waiting for me.  Thaminedes, the daughter of Daiana who is going to be baptized soon, has her 13th birthday on the 24, and I promised the family a chocolate cake. J  haha…that should be interesting.
            So, sound systems here.  I have seen some sound systems that would blow Zac away.  Haha and ‘speaker in Portuguese is  “caixa de som” or “box of sound”.  One car, about the sixe of Zac’s old white one, and the ENTIRE trunk was ONE huge sub.  That thing could knock your teeth out. 
SABADO (Saturday):  Well, today was a good day, as are all of my days these days.  I wore my favorite tie to compensate for the fact that I didn’t have any clean socks to wear, so I felt pretty good about myself.  Especially when I killed another spider, with my bare hands!  It was about this big .  (As big as that dot)   It dropped down by my face during a lesson, and I thought to myself, “Elder Mckee, It’s time to become a man” and I clapped that 8 legged spawn of Satan right there.  Isso Ai Amigos (that’s it friends).  Later in the day, we were in Edi’s house and I heard this clicking sound behind me.  I turned and there perched on the wall was a spider about this big  (He drew a dot about the size of the end of your pinkie)…and that’s just the body.  If you can hear a spider, it’s too close and too big.  Luckily, this was before the lesson, and it was just Santos Melo and I in the room, because I flipped.  Want to know my first thought?  “My first time killing a spider for real and it has an angry mother out for my blood.”  Something like that.  Santos Melo laughed, leaned over, and pushed it behind the couch.  If you can touch, and PUSH a spider, it’s too big, and too close.  And pushing it isn’t going to do anything but tick it off!  I already killed it’s kin and now we’re just going to push it where it can sneak up on me!?!  I was on the edge of my seat for that entire lesson.
            So, I thought I was getting good at this whole Brazilian Culture thing.  Nope.  Still American.  I have gotten good at greeting people and kids and stuff, or so I thought.  But the member with us at one lesson said that I need to show more excitement and love when I greet people.  Then Santos Melo agreed.  I ask how, and they said to just act really excited.  In walks Edi, and I go to jump up like they said, and Santos Melo puts a hand on my shoulder.  Him and the member are laughing.  Apparently they just meant with kids.
            I can finally start to take the lead in lessons AND feel comfortable at the same time.  This is great news!  One thing I’ve started doing that really helps is I look at what we want to teach that day while I’m doing personal study, and I pick the lesson I know the least.  Then I read it a few times in PME and the scriptures.  Then, in my black book, I teach the lesson in 5 sentences, write those sentences.  This helps me SO MUCH!  The 5 sentences keep it simple and the info necessary, and it helps me know what I need to cover.  Awesome. 
            So, an idea I had that I think is awesome.  After my first transfer, I’m allowed to start an English class at the church.  I finish my first transfer on the 29.  I want to maybe start a class a few weeks after that if I feel good enough at Portuguese.  And if I don’t feel that way, I probably will anyway.  So, will you send me 2-3 different books for learning English?  I want something to go off for teaching.  I could use the scriptures and ensign to help teach and invite investigators! J
            Two people in the ward today got their mission calls.  Both to places in Brazil, speaking Portuguese.  When Jessica said she was speaking Portuguese I said, “Prepare yourself, Portuguese is hard!”  (She already speaks Portuguese).    So, one lesson today was with a man and his wife.  He is less active and he has such a strong testimony!  I just don’t think he understands how important it is to endure to the end!  Ahhh!  It’s frustrating.  We need to explain HOW we endure to the end.  His wife isn’t a member, but we are going to start teaching them.  And she makes very good bread. 
            Hahah…Elder Pompeu just came running in the room in all black thermals, with a black tie and scarf around his head like a ninja, screaming like a ninja and trying all the karate moves he could think of.  Then fell on my bed laughing. 
            Tomorrow is SUNDAY!  DOMINGO!  DIA DO SENHOR!  Investigators committed to coming.  I hope they all come, but I don’t think we will have them all.  Just a few.  Which is still good.  OH!  So..
            ^^This is why you don’t put off writing when you get tired.  I can’t remember for the life of me what I wanted to write last night.

DOMINGO (SUNDAY):  HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!  Today was such a good day, even though our Churrasco dinner fell through.  We had our churrasco lunch, and let me tell you these people’s backyard cooking puts Tucanos to shame.  Seriously!  This meat was soo good!  And they had so much!  All 3 churrascos I’ve had (This one was the best yet) the people have commented on how much I eat.  The only complaint I have is I think I ate a bunch of pork that wasn’t cooked all the way.  I remembered after that, that can be slightly problematic, so pray for me! J  Also, they taught me how to make nigrinhos (literally ‘little blacks’).  These things are so good and so easy to make.
            We had 3 investigators at church!  That was good, but our family of investigators wasn’t home all day, so that was a bummer.  Church is so great.  I’ve gotten used to being the weird foreigner and everyone kind of expects me to be odd.  So, I roll with it.  I can get away with stuff nobody else can, like calling the men ‘sister’ and saying names wrong.  I ask them their name, they give me a 10 word name, I pick one syllable that I hear that sounds like a good nick name and roll with it.  That’s cool.
      So I kind of have a mental list of stuff I wish I would have done/packed for the mission.  Here it is…
1.     Practiced anointing in Portuguese.  I’ve had to do it 5 times.
2.     Colored pencils
3.     English Hymn book
4.     Books for teaching English
5.     More pictures, of my baptism, temples, my house family, friends
6.     Practiced teaching the lessons
7.     Memorized important scripture references
8.     My other suit to give away
9.     More English Books of Mormon
10. Every type of English money (except a 50 and 100, maybe)

It’s crazy I’m already another week down. I only have 94 weeks left!  I don’t feel like I have enough time.  So I learned today that President Parrella does something kind of cool.  One hour of Skype on Christmas, One hour on mother’s day, and 30 minutes on fathers day!!  Except he only has 9-10 months left as a mission president, and next father’s day we will have a new president. Hopefully he lets us do it, too.
Today’s lesson with Moneco, one legged guy, Muito Bom, (very good), Elder Santos Melo invited him to be baptized on the 19th.  Moneco got all-nervous, and explained he has already been baptized twice.  Santos Melo right off the bat said they aren’t valid because of the lack of the proper authority. I think that approach was a little harsh, and Moneco seemed slightly taken back.  I told him then, that I believed that God, had prepared him to receive the fullness of the truth right now, and that his other two baptisms were important steps in this preparation because they were moments when he showed his faith and desire to follow the example of Jesus Christ.  I told him that God had decided that now he was ready to receive the fullness of the Gospel, and to be baptized by the proper authority.
One thing I’ve realized/learned and talked about with Elder Hull is the concept of TODAY.  The field is white and ready to harvest.  The people we talk to have been prepared for this message, and we are called to teach them and bring them unto Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end NOW!  Not in 3 months.  Not in 2 years.  NOW.  I’m not called to plant seeds for others to harvest, although I will do so along the way. These people are children of an almighty, loving Heavenly Father who has provided them with a way back to Him, and THEY HAVE NO IDEA!  I find this unacceptable.  If everybody would please take a number and wait for your lesson, that would be great.
Well, another week down.  It’s hard.  Yes.  But I’ve decided to treat each new day like the miracle it is.  Go into every situation with the predetermined bias that I will love every moment of it.  When you love to work, it stops being work.

Love, Elder McKee

Chicken Hearts

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