Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rain! Rain! Rain!

SEGUNDA (Monday):  P-Day! J  Always a good time.  Even better when you get THREE letters from your family!  So, some things I forgot to put in the email…the first is a thought I had during a lesson that makes me laugh EVERY time I think about it.  Haha…So, yesterday we’re in a lesson with Moneco right?  He’s the man with no left leg.  And very limited use of his left arm.  I  was thinking about how prepared he is and that we are really only guides for him to the truth he already knows, which is true for most investigators.  Anyways, I was thinking about how amazing he is with his difficulties and such.  I seriously thought to myself, “He lost almost all use of his left half, but he’s alright now”.  Haha, now read that again, but instead of  ‘alright’ put ‘all right’.  Hahahha.  I know, I’m terrible, but it made me laugh so hard.  He really is an awesome investigator.
            So, we stopped by the house of Paulo and Suede.  Suede is a less active, Paulo is an investigator.  They have 2 daughters, one with 4 year, I think, and the other with 4 days.  Really cool.  Anyways, Paulo wants to be baptized, but he can’t because he and Suele aren’t married.  (This, sadly, isn’t a rare thing).  When we were talking to them today, they said that they have something set up to get the paperwork and everything they need to be married!  And baptized!!  AHHH I flipped.  SO awesome.
            So, I took a picture of what I bought today for this week’s food.  3 mangos, 5 oranges, bananas, chocolate (for frosting on cake), condensed milk (for frosting also), chocolate cake mix, eggs, milk. J  Glad to know I’m eating healthy?  I also eat a lot of honey and a lot of rice.  I bought rice Tambem.  I also bought a small box of sound (speaker) for my thumb drive and it’s awesome.  I blast church Portuguese opera while in the shower.
            So, today I was feeling slightly annoyed and frustrated with some people….yea….so I decided to do something about it.  When we went to the bank I told the other 3 elders that my family had given me $50.00 to buy pizzas for dinner one night.  $50.00 is like 160 reais mas or menos, which is a lot of money.  I pulled it out, and we stopped by a bakery too, and this week sometime I’m buying pizza, (on the family, so thanks guys!)  haha.  Anyways, that really helped things go smoother today, and I also made Elder Santos Melo eggs for dinner.  If you want to love somebody, serve them.  Truth!
            Haha.  Another funny story.  Helping Elder Santos Melo with English.  Elder Hull asked, “what is your favorite color?”  Santos Melo thinks for a little, then says, “I am black.”  Haha.  Elder Hull and I started laughing so hard.  Then he realized his mistake and fixed it, but it was so funny. 
            Also, in your letter, mom you asked if I use my blanket you gave me that says “Be a good boy.”  YES!!  Every night.  1) Because I love it and 2) because I hate the other crappy blankets.  And everyone is jealous.  I have the best bed because of that blanket!  Great Idea, mom! 
TERCA (Tuesday):  Today was awesome!  We had a district meeting, which went great.  Then, while we were walking home we saw a guy crawling across the street.  VERY drunk.  So, we spent an hour, the 4 of us, helping him get home.  We’d walk him a few steps, then stop to let him pull up his pants, and repeat.  It was actually really sad just how out of control of his own body this guy was.  We talked to him, and asked him, “are you happy right now?”  He said no.  Then we tried to help him, but really what do you do?  We got him to his house.  It looked like the clubhouse from little rascals, but about the size of our laundry room.  He had a pile of blankets at one side.
            Today we also did splits again.  I was with Elder Hull in my area.  We only have 4 lessons today, because the drunken guy set us back an hour-ish and lunch.  BUT, every lesson was AWESOME!
            First lesson, with Everton, a recent convert and less active.  With his sisters.  It was good to be With Elder Hull because he asked questions and got to know then, so I got to learn a lot about them.  Then we talked about the Book of Mormon, and enduring to the end.  The spirit was so strong!  We committed them to go to church this Sunday, and I’ll pass by with Santos Melo tomorrow to recommit them and make sure they read.
            Second lesson, with Albertinha and the daughter of hers, Denisi.  AWESOME AS WELL!  Albertinha is 57 and when we started talking she went inside and grabbed the two pamphlets we had already given her.  She had read them, and looked up all the bible scriptures in the back.  We taught the restoration and it was amazing.  Then we gave her a Book of Mormon, and she got so excited because now she could look up the other scriptures as well in the back.  She is the golden investigator.  She asks questions that are so cool.  Today I felt more comfortable with the language then I ever have. 
            Lesson 3, with Edi, the 75-year-old lady.  We focused it more on her 14 year old granddaughter who has some problems.  We talked about the holy ghosts, why we need it, how we can get it, and what it feels like.  Super good.  She pretended to hate it all, but I hope she learned some good stuff, and remembers a few things.
            Lesson 4, with a less active family.  We talked about repentance, and how ANY change for the better is a form of repentance, and a part of enduring to the end.  The Spirit was awesome.
            Everything was awesome today.  Then at the end of the day Elder Hull and I talked about a bunch of stuff, like a heart to heart, in Portuguese/English.  I thought it would be nice to speak English, take a break from Portuguese in the night, but I just spoke Portuguese more then English.  It was easier to struggle through Portuguese then English.  This made me happy.
QUARTA (Wednesday):  Another great day!  Also, today marks exactly 10 weeks in the mission!  2 and ½ months.  Man that is crazy.  So one thing I tried to work on today was asking people we are teaching the right questions.  With the right questions the person can sometimes teach themselves.  I’ll keep working on that.  So, the lesson today was with Irmao Moneco.  He told us that he loves our church.  Then he asked, “Do I have to be baptized to go to your church on Sundays?”  We told him that no, it is not a requirement.  Then he said this, “Then here’s the deal.  I will keep going to your church every Sunday, so long as I have a ride, (he only has one leg) and if you guys keep coming I will love to talk to you guys, but I will not be baptized into this church. I’ve already been baptized twice, and I don’t see how a third time will benefit me”  AHHH!  We have failed.  We have literally taught him 3 times about baptism by the proper authority, yet he still doesn’t understand.  He has troubles reading because of his accident, so he doesn’t even try to read the Book of Mormon, even though I promised him that if he would try and read it he would understand.  He’s a stubborn man.  We will continue to stop by, but with a renewed effort to go when his wife is there, too.  She works ALL day, every day, so it’s hard to catch her.  The lesson we did have with her, she seemed to understand and wanted to know more.  And if we can get her to read and pray with Moneco, then yes please.
            In a lesson with an old man who never remembers what we taught him the time before, but he lives alone, and sits in his chair on the side walk all day, every day.  So we stop by sometimes and talk with him and teach him.  BUT, in this lesson a fly lands on my leg.  I swipe my hand down all nonchalantly and catch it between my thumb and pointer finger.  Call me karate kid.  Anyways, this old man looks at me, and without a word or smile, gives me a thumbs up.  Then I released the fly and it flew away.  Nobody else notices and it’s the old man and my secret. But I’m sure he’s forgotten, so it’s my secret.  Which isn’t so secret anymore.
            Looked out my window and what did I see?  A dog, starting at the blank wall.  Then I got to thinking…What do dogs think about?  Funny thought.
            A bunch of the young men in the ward came up to us in the street with treats and asked if we wanted to buy some.  Of course, because  Brazilian candy is superb, especially homemade.  So, I bought 3 for myself and one for Elder Santos Melo because I owed him money.  Then all the boys gave me a hug and ran off to sell more.  They were like 15-17 year old boys.  I asked Santos Melo what they had been talking about, and he said they were trying to earn money to go to young men’s camp.  And they had been so happy with my 4 reais.  Tomorrow if they do it again, I’m buying 20 reais worth of stuff.  Because these are awesome kids and I think they ought to have a camp.
            A kid bowed to us today and said, “Ola pastor” “Hello shepherd/priest) thought that was funny.
QUINTA (Thursday):  RAIN!  So much rain.  I didn’t know the sky could hold that much water to be honest.  It was like swimming rather then walking.  If I had a baptism for every puddle I stepped in, I would need a new mission because there would be no non-members here.  I loved it except for the fact that it meant every house was closed, and nobody wanted us in with our wetness and muddiness.  No pictures.  Sorry, didn’t have my camera.
            Really cool lesson today, with Edi, and more specifically her 14 year old granddaughter Fran.  She is the one we did the family night for 2 days ago.  Elder Hull made her a present thing (Because we promised her one if she would participate in family night).   It was a poster thing with cool messages, candy, and a picture of Christ.  Really simple, but super effective.  Haha we gave it to her and I think she felt awkward but that’s fine, it made her happy.  Then we taught the restoration to Fran, and it was Edi’s 3rd time hearing it.  Fran was really closed off at first, like normal, but this was the first lesson she didn’t just leave a few minutes in.  As it went on, we slowly involved her more and more.  Then we asked her, “Fran, do you believe that because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can be saved from our sins?”  She thought for about a minute and said, “no, I don’t.”  Then I said, “Do you have a desire to believe that we can?  And that these things we’ve talked about are true?”  She said yes.  Then I shared the scripture Alma 32:27 with her and bore testimony, then gave her her own Book of Mormon, with Moroni 10:3-5 marked, and she said that she would read and pray about it!  That is HUGE for her!!  WOO!  Then after the prayer, her phone had been broken for a few days, and the memo to fix it was in English, so we fixed her phone, and she was even happier.  I really hope she continues to progress, because I think that could really help Edi be baptized.  Tambiem.  Awesome.
            Haha.  During lunch today in a member’s house with the other Elders, at the end, Elder Hull, who is also American, and returns home on the 29th, accidently burped really loud.  Haha and immediately he said, “Oh, I’m sorry!  Where I’m from that’s a sign of respect” then he whispered to me, “if you ever do anything like that, just act like it’s American culture” ha-ha so funny.  I can literally get away with any socially weird or awkward thing.  I’m the weird foreigner and people expect me to be odd, so I roll with it.
            Another pretty cool thing.  In a lesson with a contact at the door, and I presented the Book of Mormon to him.  I get about half way through explaining it as another testament of Jesus Christ and he jumps up and pulls out his phone and calls someone.  So I stop and wait.  The convo was something like this, “Hey, have you ever heard of the Book of Mormon?  I have 2 of them here right now.  They said it goes with the bible to testify of Christ. “  Then I lost tract of it, but Santos Melo asked if he could talk to the guy on the other side of the phone.  While he was I gave the guy the Book of Mormon and asked about the phone.  It was his son and they both like to study the bible and then call each other and talk about what they had studied.  Kinda cool.  The son had heard of the Book of Mormon before.  At this time, Elder Santos Melo says “I have a challenge for you my friend.  The next time you see these two guys walking down the street in white shirts and ties, walk up to them and tell them you want to learn more about their church and that you want a Book of Mormon.”  Haha.  The guy was very well prepared for the message we shared with him, and I really hope he read and wants to know more.
            We also had a lesson today with Claudio, who is not keeping commitments, not progressing, and we have to cut him as an investigator.  That was hard.  I told him that we are literally representatives of Jesus Christ and that we have the authority to use the power of God to teach, and baptize, in the name of Christ.  I said that we love him, but we have many other people who are trying really hard to keep these commitments and learn more and come unto Christ, and this is why we have to pass by Claudio’s house less.  It was hard, but he really isn’t wanting to progress. 
            When I said these words “somos literalueate respresentatas de nosso Salvador Jesus Christo, e temos a autoridade para usar o pade de deus para ensinar e batizar pessoas que querem estas coisas”  I realized just how much responsibility I hold.  And how much power I have to change peoples lives.  When I teach by the spirit and when I honestly declare that I know these things to be true, who can argue with me?  Also I made a huge chocolate cake today.
SEXTA (Friday):  Today was a good day.  I have quite the streak of good days going.  It rained all day, but it was like a light mist that you can’t even feel until your hair is dripping.  We also had another divisao, so I was in lead again.  Lots of people not letting us in because Elder Hayes is also American.  But we had some good lessons, and we taught 2 old people who literally asked if they could be baptized on the 26th.  Haha.  Foi engrossado.  And a very good lesson.  But they still have stuff to do, so I committed them to the 10th of October. 
            The most spiritual experience for me was in a lesson with Albertinha when we talked about the atonement and I explained why I love our Savior Jesus Christ.  Because of Him I can return to my Father in Heaven where before hand I had no chance to.  It’s hard to understand exactly how amazing this atonement is, but I’m trying to learn about it and understand more every day.  He paid the debt I will never be able to pay myself.  I can’t even explain how much this means to me, but I felt the spirit so strong when I was explaining it to Albertinha.
            So, right now for dinner, I am eating Kraft mac and cheese  (courtesy of Elder Hayes, who received 4 boxes for his birthday), Fresh Mangos (seriously my favorite thing here), and nigrinhos (literally “little blacks”)  Nigrinhos are a type of thick chocolate candy I learned how to make form a member one day, and I’ve made them twice.  It takes like 6 minutes!  And if you cook it too long it turns into chocolate caramel instead!  I can’t mess up!   I love them.  The Kraft mac and cheese is amazing as well.
            Elder Hayes just said to me “You’re almost done!  Only 4 more sessions of general conference!”  haha.      Language update.  It’s good.  J  I was in-charge of the phone today, and I was able to talk to other Elders and investigators on it without problems.  I was able to talk to the Bishop about our investigator, and I had almost no trouble with talking to people before the lessons and starting the lessons.  I still don’t understand everything, and my speaking is FAR from perfect, but I’m improving every day and I have no worries about it. I know that God won’t base someone’s salvation on the fact that I can’t answer a question.  So, I get called Elder Rapaz a lot.  Rapaz means like young man, like lad.  I think it’s because I’m small and young.  Makes sense.
SABADO (Saturday):  I’ve gone through 2 pens completely.  Used all the ink.  Do you have any idea how satisfying that is?  Anyways, today…More rain.  Which means more people not letting the wet muddy missionaries in.  But it was still a good day.  I love the rain.  I also shined my shoes just barely, so tomorrow will be a good day too.
            So at lunch today, after we had eaten, Elder Santos Melo and the sister member were talking for about 30 minutes about something, but I couldn’t follow.  Our lunch was in the area of the other Elders.  I asked Santos Melo about it after.  I guess before either of us were in this area, the other Elders would go to her house, an active member, every day and be there for 2-3 hours.  And this house isn’t in their area.  This goes against quite a few things a missionary shouldn’t do.  When Elder Santos Melo came, he slowed way down the visits, because 1) it’s breaking rules, and  2) it’s a waste of the Lord’s time.  Then after the Elder left the area the member gets no bvisits anymore.  Well, the Elder that used to visit her was in the area on splits, and he talked to her and told her that Elder Santos Melo doesn’t like her and that is why the visits stopped.  She got super mad and FLIPPED on Santos Melo.  So today, he explained everything and how it’s not because he doesn’t like her, it’s because it’s a rule of the mission.  But yea, it was interesting.
            I used the rest of the $50.00 I took out today to buy another pizza.
            Also!  In the house of Mirian and Rafael who are members and best friends with the investigator family we have, Mirian was going through her music on the computer.  She has TONS and its just as much American as Brazilian.  Plus some classic Gaucho style music, which I like.  So I handed her my pen drive and asked her to put every song she has on it.  Haha.  She said, “you have to be home by 9.  I don’t have time to copy it all tonight.  I’ll bring it to you at church tomorrow.”  It was 7:00.  Haha.  So much music.  But I have to wait until after the mission to listen to it.
            With Moneco today we watched the Restoration video, the longer version.  Then after we talked about it.  He said he believes that this is the true church. That was a very special and spiritual moment.  We talked a little, then Elder Santos Melo asked “Irmao Moneco, do you believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Letter Day Saints is the only true church on the earth?”  And the silence, silence.  Like a solid 40 seconds.  And Moneco said, hardly loud enough to hear, “yes, I do.”’ Then I thought Elder Santos Melo was going to stat talking about baptism again with Moneco, which now isn’t a good time for him.  Instead, Santos Melo said after a pause, “Moneco, we want to help you quit smoking.”  He’s already tried 3 times.  Haha, then Santos Melo said, “The only time that really matters is the last time you quit.”  So we made a small plan and we told him that every time he feels the urge to smoke to read the Book of Mormon, any place, it doesn’t matter where, until the desire to smoke leaves.  It was cool.  And I really hope he can do it!
            So I’ve decided to make a map of our investigators on the next page, so ya’ll can kinda keep them straight when I talk about them.
            --Moneco:  Real name is Everton.  Baptized twice.  Had a motorcycle accident and is missing his left leg.  Has very limited use of his left arm, and head problems.  45 years old.
            --Edi and Grand-daughters Duda and  Fran:  Edi has  75 years, and Duda has 10 I think.  Fran has 14.  Edi is the golden investigator, but doesn’t want to upset her 94 year old mother so she is waiting to be baptized.  We need to talk about hat with her.  Fran is just starting to open up to us and actualy sits throught lessons.
            --Albertinha and daughter Denizi:  has about 55 years, Denizi has 30.  She reads and studies and prays about the pamphlets, and looks up the scriptures in the back.  Another golden investigator.  We found her by asking directions to the house of Mateus (an investigator we had to cut today).  She loves the Bible and now the Book of Mormon.
            --Evaresto and wife Vanji:  old enough that I can’t hardly understand them.  They can’t read so their daughter reads to them, and then they pray together.  They said they received an answer and want to be baptized. 
            --Daiana and Rodrigo and their daughters Taliane and Thamirdes:  In their 40’s, Taliane is 16, Thamirdes turns 14 on the 24th.  Danian and Rodrigo need to be married.  Rodrigo works a lot, so it’s hard to catch him at home.  Very cool family.  We are working more with Taliane and Thamirdes, who read and pray.  Their family really likes the lessons on baptisms for their ancestors.  Good friends with Mirian and Rafael, members with 8 anos un Igreja.
            --Paulo e Suele:  Needs to be married!  But they have 2 daughters; one that is 4 and the other is almost 2 weeks.
            This isn’t them all of course, but they are the ones that are progressing the most and the ones I tend to talk about the most.  Hopefully that helps you keep them clear. 
            My breakfast every morning is either an orange, a mango, or a bunch of bananas.  Then lunch is however much food I can hold at a member’s house, always beans and rice and a type of meat.  SO GOOD!  Then dinner is usually another orange, or more bananas.  Today was pizza, yes.    Every morning I do an ab workout and a flippen ton of pushups.  It’s the life.  I’m healthy.  I’m happy.
            Also, Please send me Peanut butter. 
DOMINGO (Sunday):  I haven’t seen the sun or a blue sky in 4 days.  Nor have I been completely dry.  But I’m loving the rain just not loving that the correlation between the amount of rain and number of lessons we have is almost exactly -1.  (I miss math, too)
            But today was a good day.  Before sacrament, Bishop signaled to me to come up on the stand and asked me to share an experience and testimony of the mission.  Before I could say anything, they started sacrament, and I was already in the program.  Haha.  He said to talk for about 5 minutes.  I was sitting on the stand next to Bishop, everyone in the congregation smiling and giving me thumbs up.  I stated thinking and planning what I was going to say, then the words, “take no thought before hand as to what you’ll say.”  So I just prayed for help and then continued praying until the counselor announced “We will first hear from Elder Macky.”  (Only American missionaries say my name right).  Then I got up and I wasn’t even nervous.  I said I couldn’t decide on one experience to share, but one of the most common experiences is teaching people who have no idea they have a loving Heavenly Father who loves them and has provided a way back to Him.  Then about how these moments are why I love being a missionary.  And then about how everyone can be a missionary.  You don’t need a black name tag. I never once felt nervous or like I didn’t know what to say.  THE GIFT OF TONGUES BABY!  Everyone seemed to be paying attention really well, which made me more confident while speaking and afterwards I figured they were all listening so hard because they understand my Portuguese as well as I understand theirs.   But that is fine.  It went well.
            Another thing pretty cool is Moneco, during sacrament, starting reading the Book of Mormon, and read the first pages, like the intro and the testimonies.  This is cool because he never reads!  We are maybe going to have to kind a cut him.  Stop by less often, which makes me sad.
            Haha, so lunch today was with 3 older ladies.  It was really good, as lunch always is, but that’s not why I am bringing it up.  There are 3 old black ladies, and look like your stereotypical down south voodoo magic old black ladies, and their house did a little bit too.  Elder Santos Melo was in the bathroom, and they were all drinking cha de maca (apple tea, totally legal).  Then one of them started talking into her cup, and the other two started snickering.  Then she said one more line, and all three of them spit their drinks everywhere laughing.  Like your stereotypical old black voodoo lady laughs.  Haha…so funny.
             After lunch, on our way to a lesson (which fell though), we saw a car that had slid off the road into the mud and was very stuck.  So we went to help.  We put bricks under the tires, and after 15 minutes of pushing and sliding the car came out, but with spinning tires and mud everywhere, all over me.  Mas faz parte.  Then the 2 guys turned down our contact we tried to make.  Slightly messed up.
            I also had cake 4 times today.  It’s the holiday of the south, which I know nothing about except that everyone made churrasco, and I got none.  At a house later in the evening with a huge family, like extended family and stuff, they just kept throwing food at me.  Then she asked, “Do you guys want cake?”  We replied, “No thanks.”  “Ok, I’ll just get you small pieces.”   Yep.  Welcome to Brazil.  And by small pieces, she went half the cake for the both of us.  But it was SO good, so I ate it not to be rude.
            This week was a hard week for lessons because of the rain.  Nobody wants to open their doors when it is raining.  But I’m staying positive.  We had 5 investigators at sacrament today!  THAT IS AWESOME!
            So, I made a mistake today I think.  At the house of a member to wish him happy birthday.  The kids were playing on the computer.  Then, one of them went onto google and without thinking I said, “Hey!  Do you guys want to see my house?”  So, we looked it up.  They just kind of looked at it.  Then the oldest kid, about 14 years old, said “That’s really your house?”  I realized that I was in their house which is the size of my room.  I’m never looking up my house for people here again.  It’s hard to explain how spoiled I felt at that moment.  So I quickly changed it to looking at the temples.
            I’ve almost finished my first transfer!  My odds of a new companion and a new area are about 2% I think.  Which is fine.  I love this area and I’m just starting to get to know the people.  They might close the area of the other Elders, so we would get their area along with ours, which is HUGE!  And also means I get my own bathroom.   haha.  But nothing is know for sure!  More details to come, stay tuned.
Over and Out.
I’m glad everyone is doing good.  I love you all!
Elder McKee

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