Monday, September 28, 2015

Spiders and Investigators

SEGUNDA (Monday):  The last week of my first transfer.  That’s what this is.  WOOT WOOT!  Man I’ve come a long way.  As these 50 pages show.  I love writing in a journal.  Whoever invented journaling was brilliant!
            So today, day 5 without sunshine, I walked out of the place where we email, and my eyes hurt because it was so sunny!  It was a good feeling.  Also, sorry if my emails seemed short.  I sacrificed 10 minutes of my Internet to buy a new bible and priapos do Evangelho.  My biblia is very big and heavy and not as good.
            Then after emails we went and toured the National Guard Museum!  So cool!  But no pictures were allowed.  I hardly understood anything, but it was way cool.  Lots of old guns and sweet pictures.  So there’s that.  Then we retuned home and we played chess.  And I read the Book of Mormon while I wasn’t playing.  Every American I’ve talked to say they felt comfortable with the language about the time they finished it completely in Portuguese.  So I’m working on that.  Language study, individual study, and at night.  I read in Portuguese.  I packed my English Book of Mormon away.  I have my little English Book of Mormon if I need it, but I’ve found that if I read with the two side by side, I rely on the English and don’t try as hard to understand the Portuguese.  So, I just use Portuguese and use my dictionary.
            Another thing I realized…I seriously have my dictionary and verb card with me more than a Book of Mormon.  Not much to write about today.  Good lessons.  No letters came today for me.  Don’t worry I’ll try not to let one page a day become a habit.  Another thing that would be great to have just for my benefit is a book with a bunch of movie quotes.  I think I’ll make one.
TERCA (Tuesday):  Buckle up, because today was awesome and I want to remember it all.
            First off, lunch was good as always.  When the members can’t make us lunch, they give us 20 reais and we go to a place that has ready made food, which they put in these plastic containers and you take home and eat.  Well, the container leaked bean juices all over my pants, so there’s that.  Didn’t even upset me though.  Ain’t no way I’m going to let bean juices on my pants ruin my day.  THEN!  We got a call from a member who leaves for her mission in 20 days.  Went something like this… “Hello?”  “Oi Elders, it’s Jessica.  I want to go with you guys to teach today.  Also I made you guys a cake.  How does 3:00 sound?”  haha.  She really is awesome.  I think she wants practice before her mission.
            So, first lesson with Albertinha.  We talked a lot about families and temples and the temple work for the dead.  It was such a good lesson, and I felt the spirit so strong.  Her husband passed away some time ago, so this lesson was really specific to her.  I think what made it so special was she was talking just as much as us.  It was a conversation rather then a lecture.  I don’t think I’ve had a more spiritual lesson yet, nor a louder lesson.  Two 6-year-old kids were in the middle of us, playing with toy tractors with no wheels on an old wood floor, screaming and throwing stuff.  But it was an incredible lesson.  When you put forth the effort you can always feel the spirit.  We talked about family history and I pulled out my family chart back to 4 great grandparents (thanks mom) and we talked about it.  Then I pulled out my paper with 6/7 temples in Brazil! (Thanks mom) and talked about it.  I love these 2 papers, because they’re laminated and I use them quite a bit.  Then we asked Albertinha if she has ever wondered why Jesus Christo, a man who no sins to be forgiven of, was baptized.  She said, “Yes, I’ve wondered about that a lot.”  We told her to get her Book of Mormon.  She went into her room and from under her pillow she pulled out a Bible, a Book of Mormon, and 3 pamphlets we’ve given her.  Man she’s awesome.  We marked 2 Nephi 31 for her to read. (A great chapter to study, BTW)
            Next lesson qui foi Oltimo!  With Evaresto and the wife of him, Vanji, and their daughter who lives in a different house in our area.  We taught the restoration again because the daughter, Tatiome, had never had a lesson and she asked about why there are so many churches today.  It was a great lesson because it wasn’t like most other lessons on the restoration where you kind of mentally go through the points of the lesson.  It was just another conversation, and all her comments or questions just led into the different topics of the restoration.
            Then we went to the house of Enio.  We had a good first lesson with him.  Remember the guy who called his son and then Elder Santos Melo talked to his son on the phone?  Enio is that guy.  We clapped at his gate, and he looked at us through the window, and came out with his Book of Mormon we gave him, and held it out to us and said, “I want nothing to do with you guys.  Here is your book back.”  Then he walked back inside and shut the door.  So I threw rocks at his dog.  Haha, no, just kidding.  I didn’t do that.  We just left.  It was hard, yes, but I didn’t let it get me down.  People have agency, even if sometimes I wish they didn’t.  
            FINALLY, we went to the house of the family of Sandra e Carlinhos.  They were baptized in 2013.  When the missionaries found them, they were already married and had 10 kids.  Now they have 11.  Do you know how rare that is here?  Married AND lots of kids, or just MARRIED!  We need a family like that.  Anyways, they were all baptized, went to the temple, where sealed, and now totally inactive.  But last Sunday they went to church again.  Not all of them, but the parents because they are good friends with Albertinha.  That was good!  We had a Noite Familiar (FHE) with their family and they cooked Churrasco again!  Remember the people that cooked 400 chicken hearts?  Same people.  The pig they cooked was alive this morning.  SO GOOD!  But not as good as the lesson!  They have an 8-year-old daughter who isn’t baptized, and we want Carlinhos to baptize her.  So we are helping him quit smoking.  Last Noite Familiar I was with Elder Hull, and we talked about repentance and the importance of having a priesthood holder in the house.  All centered on family.  Great lesson.  This time we talked about temples, and while Santos Melo was talking about the temple being the house of God, Sandra started crying.  It was a powerful lesson.  Then at the end I had a thought and I think it was the first time I could really feel the spirit working through me.  I said, and I’ll write in Portuguese, “Eu tenho um desafio para você . Hoje à noite, eu quero que todos vocês a se ajoelhar e orar a Deus sobre o que você lembra sobre sua experiência no templo. A , quero que você a refletir sobre o que você se lembra, e refletir sobre o espírito que você sentiu , eo espírito você vai se sentir quando você orar. E, o mais improtant , eu quero que você anote tudo que você lembre-se, sentir , eo que você vai fazer para ter esses sentimentos em sua vida novamente.”    I have a challenge for you.  Tonight, I want you all to kneel and pray to God about what you remember about your experience in the temple.  Then, I want you to ponder about what you remember, and ponder about the spirit you felt, and the spirit you will feel when you pray.  And, most important I want you to write down everything you remember, feel, and what you will do to have these feelings in your life again.”
Then I said, “and every time you feel temptations, or have a moment of weakness or a difficult time, I want you to pull out that piece of paper and read it.  You can spend 5 minutes on this, or 1 hour, but I know that if you do this with real intent, it will help you resist temptation and have that spirit in your life again.”  Then everyone in the family and us missionaries knelt in a circle and had prayer and Camila, 16-year-old daughter, started crying during the prayer.  I was glad I knew they were feeling the same spirit I was.  Talking with Sandra earlier, she told us that she wants change somethings, and I think she wants to start coming to church again.  Which is awesome.  Elder Santos Melo said, “I think you and Carlinhos could talk to Bishop about some stuff to get Lawda baptized.”  And Sandra said, “I think you’re right.”  THIS IS GREAT!  Especially since she’s such a good friend with Albertinha.  We’re going to start asking Sandra to go with us to the lessons with her.  Two birds with one stone!  Because Sandra will feel the responsibility for help her friend, and so she’ll be strengthened.  And she’ll hear the lessons again, and have a chance to bear testimony of the things being taught.  This is good because I’ve learned that you can only find your testimony through bearing it.  Nothing feels better then when you say you know this gospel is true and that you love Jesus Christo, and you know that when you say that its 100% true.  The other bird being killed with this stone is it will help Albertinha feel more welcome and have a friend to talk about these things with after we leave. 
            All in all today was awesome.  I also bought more bananas, oranges, mangos, chocolate mix, and condensed milk.  So lets just cap it off as a win.
QUARTA (Wednesday):  WHOO!  Another day that was great.  They all are great days.  I’ve already decided that they all will be great days for me because everyday there is new stuff to learn!
            First off, we skipped language study today to go teach a new investigator we have named Rylander.  He’s 18 and was very interested in the lesson.  When we invited him to be baptized, he said yes that he had never been baptized and it’s something he’s thought a lot about.  Super Cool!
            Then to lunch at Irmao Fort’s house.  He’s a cool guy, about a head shorter than me.  He owns a bicycle shop, so he can have biking jersey’s made so today I ordered one with my name, the shoulder has the Brazil flag and state flag.  Other shoulder has the crest of the ward that’s cool. The front has the slogan picture thing of the mission with dates of mission service.  Back has a big 97 for my year of birth.  Way cool.  Later I’ll buy a knife with my name, mission, and dates on it.  A big Ol’ meat cleaver knife. They use them for cutting up the huge chunks of churrasco meat.  Pretty cool.
            After that we had a cool lesson with Santiago.  He’s a good guy.  We talked about the scriptures and stuff.  At one point he said he doesn’t really like the Book of Mormon, but he like D&C because it talks about the commandments, and priesthood.  I instantly took the front before Santos Melo could say anything and said, “Do you know or remember which section talks about the priesthood?  Section 20.  Let’s turn there.”  So, we got out our scriptures and read together.  I had everyone take turns and we read verses 7-11 in section 20.  (Go read it).  Then I said I know the Book of Mormon is harder to read because of the older language, but it contains the fullness of the gospel.  I said that nowhere in the book does it have a list format of things of the gospel, but the principles are in the stories.  I think he prefers the D&C because it says the doctrine right out, where the Book of Mormon is more often deeper and you have to ponder.  Then I committed him to read one page a day, starting with the testimony of Joseph Smith.  I told him that I had never read the testimonies either, but if he would study one page a day I would too, and in 4 days, Saturday, we would come back and talk about it.  I hope it helps him strengthen his testimony of the Book of Mormon.  He really is great.
Lesson with Moneco.  He’s a hard one.  He recognizes that he’s feeling the spirit, and he says he knows these things are true, but every time we mention anything about baptism he gets defensive, and makes tons of excuses and refuses to listen to anything.  And he won’t even try to read or pray or quit smoking.  AHHH!  It kills me.  He’s an amazing guy with an amazing story and now he has this opportunity to learn the fullness of the gospel and he’s watching it pass.  He has on his table a book that will literally change his life and bring him and his wife true joy, and he won’t even touch it.  It’s always in the same spot that we left it the time before.  Same stupid excuses every time.  But we’ll keep trying, as always.  Don’t worry I’m staying positive.
Nino and Eliane.  Investigators that are interesting.  I won’t go into details.  Nino has 3 teeth.  Very poor.  He goes to church every week, which is good, but that’s their only progression.  We went to teach them today, and he was VERY drunk.  It was so sad. He wasn’t even the same person.  I don’t, and I never will, understand why people do that to themselves sometimes.  He was totally out of control of himself.  We stayed for a few minutes then left with a promise to return later.  Then he gave us both a huge hug and said he loves us and he loves that we always come to talk with him and Eliane.
Now I need to write about a good experience so I can go to sleep thinking about something good.  Besides the fact that today is the start of week 12 in my mission.  Almost 1/8 of the way done already.  SLOW DOWN!  Lesson today with Bruno, a 16 year old less active, and his mom, a non-member.  Super awesome.  We read the first page of the Book of Mormon, before the introduction and talked about it.  Foi Oltino.  Then we talked about families and I showed them my foto album I always have with me, and explained every picture.  Way cool lesson.
Writing like this really helps me stay happy and positive.  I know I need details to please the mama-bear back in Utah, so I always take a few minutes before and think through the day.  Everything I did, and what is worth recording.  When I think back on stuff like that, and especially when I write about it, it’s very easy to see all the good that happened even on the days I felt frustrated and lost.  And when I write about it I think of more.  Then I realize what a good day we had.  Man, bringing souls unto Christ is the life.
QUINTA (Thursday):  So, before I write about today, something really funny that happened yesterday that I forgot to write about.  In a lesson with Moneco, I think we are going to have to cut him, because he isn’t’ progressing and another reason I’ll write about at the end.  Every time in this lesson that we would say anything, he would go off on a tangent, making excuses, and talking about stuff of NO importance.  During one of these rants, I’ll admit I lost focus.  It was the 4th time he was telling us about his two TV’s and it’s a lot of work to understand people, so when it’s worthless information I zone out sometimes.  It’s a weakness of mine that I’m working on.  But I started to nod off because I was pretty tied.  My head nodded once, and Moneco clapped his hands REALLY loud and yelled “To pescondo meu filho!?”  Then him and Santos Melo started laughing really hard, because it scared the tar out of me and I jumped a mile.
            So today!  Let me tell you about today.  Today was a good day.  2 lessons today that was good that I’ll share.  Number 1:  Edi and netas, Fran is really starting to open up and make progress!  YES!  We were reading together 2 Nephi 31, and we read one verse about baptism, explained that Jesus had no sins but he was still baptized, then she asked what sin was.  So we explained sin is intentionally breaking the commandments of God.  She thought for a second then said, “and what are commandments?”  haha, so our lesson took a sharp turn and we turned to Mosiah, and went over all the 10 commandments and she had questions for each one, and she shared a lot of personal stuff I won’t write here, but she really wanted to know and understand the commandments.  That was very cool.  When we go there now, and she is back in her room, Edi just says to us, “go get her” and we go clap and dance in her door, then say, “You have 5 minutes until the lesson starts!”  The first time, after 15 minutes of waiting for her we made another trip and waited another 10 minutes.  2nd lesson we did this, we waited about 10 minutes.  Today we did it again, and 4 minutes later she walked in and she had brought her mom!  Haha  WOOT WOOT!
            2nd bem legal lesson was noite familiar with Irma Albertina, Derrizi, and less active Sandra and families.  Super good.  We taught the doctrine of Christ, 3rd lesson, which wasn’t our original plan but we rolled with it.  During the middle of Elder Santos Melo’s part, I heard one of the kids say, “Mckee, tem uma aranha na perna dele.” (Mckee, there is a spider on your leg)  and I flipped, jumped and spun and smacked my legs all at the same time.  And everyone lost it laughing.  Took a solid 5 minutes to get everyone calmed down, all the while I sat there while they would almost get control of themselves, then look at me then loose it again.  And at random times after that one of them would laugh, then everyone would loose it AGAIN.  Haha, but it was all good, and at the end we played a game and it was way fun and everyone was having a good time.
            So, today was the day we found out about transfers.  Santos Melo and I will stay in our area.  Elder Hull is returning home, Elder Pampeu got transferred and their area is being closed, and adopted into our area.  The area of Santos Melo and I is HUGE already, and now we will inherit a ton more area, full of progressing investigators and others and recent converts and less actives that we know nothing about.  The area we have now, there’s one whole half I’ve only been in 2 times.  I was afraid that we will be spread so thin that some of their investigators will be forgotten, and some of ours, too.  It’s stressful to think about, but I need to trust in the leaders of the mission and the inspiration they receive from the Lord.  I’m not nervous about the extra work it will bring; I’m excited about that.  Work is great.  I’m just nervous about being able to fill the shoes we’ve been given.  We’re already started talking about investigators that will probably have to be cut, and planning stuff out.  One good thing about it though that makes me happy…we both get our own bathroom now!  Woot Woot!  That’s exciting.  But, you pray for me please that we’ll be able to fill the needs of all the new investigators we’ll get along with the needs of the ones we already have.  I know it will all work out. 
            Also, I finished the Book of Mormon today.  That’s a great book, ya know?
SEXTA (Friday):  I can sum up what we did today in one word.  WALKED.  Around the world.  And back.  NOBODY was in casa.  2 lessons total today.  But it was still a good day.  One lesson was with Moneco, who yesterday got a prosthetic leg!  For 5 years he’s been going around on crutches and he was so excited about this new leg!  Like a little kid with a cool toy.  He showed us everything about it and explained everything to us.  It’s just a socket for his stump, then a hinge that locks when straightened and has a button he can push to bend it when he sits and then a bar down to a shoe.  He told us not to get a car for him this Sunday because he wants to practice walking to church.  Haha It was awesome.
            So today I saw a tree of those classic Hawaiian flowers, bright pink and perfect.  So I picked one and I was going to press it in a book.  But then further down the road, 2 little kids came up to us, so I knelt down and started talking to them, and the little girl asked for the flower, so I gave it to her.  But I’ll get another some other time.
            The other elders had an investigator get interviewed for baptism today!  Santos Melo, being district leader, did the interview.  That was cool!  She’ll be baptized tomorrow on Elder Hull’s last real day in the field.  So Cool!
            So, this part about today is a little more personal but I want to write it here instead of my other journal.  When we do our planning every night and I decide what I want to study the next day, I make it a question that I want answered.  Last night my question was how could I have more faith in the Lord and His plan for me?  I’ll be honest.  The idea of 9 new progressing investigators terrifies me.  We don’t even know these people and now we are in charge of teaching them.  I know everything is in the Lords hands, and it will all work out.  So personal study this morning I was feeling very over whelmed so I opened another one of the letters in mom’s box, the one from Temet, Toomawut, and axillax.  Ha-ha.  That was a good choice.  Their letters and pictures made me very happy, and I knew everything would be fine.  Hours later in the road, after much walking and no lessons I was feeling like a failure and like we were wasting time.  I was thinking ‘we can’t even manage our own area, how can we take on theirs too?”  Then these words came to my mind, “what right do you have to claim suffering?”  I was confused for a second, and then I remembered a lesson at one of our district meetings about the suffering of our Savior for us.  “What right do you have to claim suffering, “ was like the catch phrase the missionary teaching used.  I realized I was being a girl (No Offense to all girls reading this) and I needed to man up, stop thinking of home, stop worrying about what’s out of my control, and trust in the Lord.  No matter what I go through I will never be able to comprehend what Jesus Christo suffered for us.  So what right do I have to claim the pathetic inconveniences in my life as sufferings?  It’s time to forget myself, and get lost in the service of others.  Because that’s what Christo did for me.  I love my older brother.  Now that I understand the atonement better, and I study it more and more, I often feel ashamed for the suffering I personally caused Him because of my sins.  But He paid the price for me anyways.  And when I pray for help with my ‘sufferings’  He is always there.  I’ve come a long way these last 3 months, but I still have a LONG way to go.
            I’m excited for this new challenge that I’ve been given, and I’ll jump into it head first.  We talked with the other elders for a good while about everything we need to know about each investigator.  Life’s good.
SABADO (Saturday):  GOOD DAY!  Lesson with Santiago went very well.  He read the reading we left him and will continue reading.  I totally took the front in that lesson, which was cool.  The, here’s the adventure we had at lunch.  So, everyday except for SEGUNDA(Monday) we have lunch at a members house.  We always call the night before to confirm.  Well last night, the member for today didn’t answer, not this morning.  Then we called Marco, her husband and said, “Oi!  Your wife is Lucianne, right?  We have lunch scheduled for today there, is that all right?  And, he said no, they had something today.  So, we called Sandra, less active that we had a service project planned for after lunch.  We asked if we could come a little early and eat lunch with them.  They obliged.  We went, and were waiting, talking for about 45 minutes while Sandra was working a feast for us.  SO GOOD!  Then we got a call just before the food at Sandra’s was done, from Lucianne.  She asked if we were coming to lunch.  We explained that we had made other plans because her husband had said they were busy.  She said, “No, your lunch has been sitting here waiting for 45 minutes.”  So, against my wishes, we left Sandra’s with many apologies, and went to the other house.  Sandra lives at the TOP of a HUGE hill.  Other house is near ours at the bottom and out a ways.  Lots of walking.  We went and ate, and learned that Elder Santos Melo had called the wrong Marco with a wife named Lucianne.  So there’s that.
            Service project was pouring a concrete floor in a house.  They asked me if I had ever masoned (like bricks) before, and I said no, and EVERYONE was shocked.  All the houses here are made out of bricks.  I explained that where I live most houses are more wood, and I’ve done that.  They said, “Oh, like that house.”   The ‘house’ was a shack of old wood.  I just said yes.
            Lesson with Albertinha was about obedience and following the prophets.  I’m certain she will be baptized.  She read what we left her several times, and then continued reading.  Some with her daughter, Denisi.
            Today, the other elders had a baptism!  So exciting!  Haha also, I have this fear of using the bathroom anywhere except my house.  Always have.  Especially other people’s houses.  So I hold it.  But today, in a lesson with Irma Tereziinha, I needed to pee like never before in my life.  Then, I cut her off midsentence and said, “Irma, Posso usar seu banheiro por favor?”  And she and Santos Melo started laughing so hard, yelling that they knew it.  Apparently I have been dancing without realizing it.  But that’s fine.  Haha
            I’ve also been working on a picture for the past few days, with pencil, that I finished tonight. I included 2 pictures of it.  One is normal, and it’s decent.  The other is a setting on the camera called, “dramatic light” and it makes it look SO much better.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with the drawing, but I want to make copies for some investigators here.
            Also is included with the photos is one of my 2 suitcases, seriously FULL of stuff I don’t’ know if I’ll ever use, but its good to have.  Better to over pack for 2 years in Brazil, then under pack.
            I’ve used Grandma’s sewing kit so much!  Seams, ties, buttons, and other Elders have borrowed it.  Also one thing I got that I love is the coin Brother Olsen gave me, the Shield of Faith.  The last 3 months I’ve had it in my right pocket every day.  It helps remind me why I’m here sometimes.
DOMINGO (Sunday):  Last day of my first transfer.  That means a new planner!  Woot Woot!  It’s a good day.
            Church was great!  I stole a gospel principles book to study while I wait for the one I ordered online to come.  Promise I’ll return it.  And one our investigators showed up, with his friend!  New investigator!  Today was also the first time I actually talked with someone without realizing it was a different language.  It was a very simple, short conversation about the mission and how I felt about new area, but I was very encouraged. 
            At lunch today they were looking at my photo album and the mom saw the picture of Josh, asked how old he is, and then yelled for her daughter.  She showed her the picture, then said to me, “does your brother like Brazilians?”  ha-ha  Her daughter she called for is also 13.  It was so funny.  Then she saw a picture of Zac, and called for all the women in the house.  Ha-ha. It was so funny.
            Today was also discouraging because we went to the houses of 3 of our investigators and found them drunk.  And one of them has everything lined up for baptism, is just waiting for marriage papers.  And he wants to be baptized.  It made me very sad.  But what do you do except love them?
            This week was a good one.  I still have a LONG ways to go, but I’ve learned a lot.  Thanks everyone for your prayers.  I honestly can feel them helping me.  I go to bed every night exhausted with sore legs, and wake up the next morning excited, brand new, and ready to go.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be in this area for the next 12 weeks at least.  But it’s a great area, and that gives me time to baptize everyone.
Love you guys!  Over and Out,

Elder McKee

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