SEGUNDA (Monday): Today was a great day, because I got to talk to all you amazing people back at home! I love you guys. We also got a random call around lunchtime. Probably the best call of my life, except my mission call, because it went something like this:
“Oi Irmao Fort, Tudo Bem?” (Hi Brother Fort, Alright?)
“Tudo Bem, Elders. I have a bunch of churrasco sitting here if you guys haven’t eaten yet”. Phone disconnects, we break down his door. Ha-ha. No, just kidding, but we basically ran there. Man, it’s good.
Then finished P-day. My pride took a punch to the face when I lost best of 3 in chess to Santos Melo. That puts the score at 1 for him about 12 for me. In my defense, I was looking through Liahonas for a new picture of Christ to draw. I liked that. But it made him happy, so it’s fine.
Then we did splits and he went with Elder Pompeu to learn their area a little before he leaves tomorrow and I went with Elder Muniz. He was cool, but he’s also leader of the zone until tomorrow, so he was in charge of cleaning the chapel for our zone conference in 2 days. (It’s HUGE! Like…HUGE mesmo!!) So, we went to clean for what we thought would be one hour at 6. It’s about 6 and we are almost there after walking for 25 minutes, and we get a call saying to come at 7 instead. So, not thinking, we return to the house area to teach a quick lesson and return. 25 minutes later, we get to our area and have 25 minutes to be to the church. Haha, so we turned around and walked back. It’s fine. Then, 2 hours cleaning the very dirty bathrooms, and chapel (they sweep the carpet…very ineffective), and mopping the hallways. Then we returned to the house at about 9:28. But it was good to have something simple to do that required elbow grease. And Elder Muniz is of Sao Paulo, and he talks very clear and more slow, and I could understand everything he said. So I liked talking with him. I’ve realized that everywhere in Brazil, except where I’m at, pretty much speaks correct, clear, understandable Portuguese. But when I’m fluent I’ll be able to talk so flippen fast! Woot Woot! Coisa Bom.
Irmao Fort today also said, at lunch, that he is very impressed with how well I understand and talk already, and he said that I must be very intelligent. Ha-ha. That made me happy because I realized the other day that people here honestly think I’m stupid because I speak weird and can’t keep up with conversations nor speak what I want to sometimes. I’m being serious. It’s true. I don’t like that they think that. I PROMISE I’M NOT DUMB!! I’m actually of average, if not slightly above average, intelligence! Anyways, that made me happy that someone actually understand my barrier I have at the moment with language. But my language is getting so much better!
These past few days I’ve just felt happy. For no reason other than I’m breathing. I’m walking the streets, and I can’t help but smile. It’s happiness like I’ve never felt before except maybe laughing gas at the dentist! I want everyone to feel like I feel, and I know it comes from the spirit, a constant reminder to me that I’m doing what I’m suppose to, a reminder of the blessings I have to know the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
TERCA (Tuesday): Exactly 3 months as a missionary. Tomorrow is 3 months away from home. 1/8. Ta Lovco Meus Amgios (That is crazy, friends).
So today, FOI UM BOM DIA! (IT WAS A GOOD DAY) First off, during lunch I only spoke English with Elder Santos Melo. He really wants to learn. Elder Pompue left today, which means the other bathroom is finally mine. No more sharing with Santos Melo. And I’ll miss Elder Pompue. He’s a good friend, and I’m about 89% certain we’ll be companions one day during the mission.
Lesson with Albertinha! We taught the word of wisdom. We said there are 5 things we shouldn’t use in our bodies, what do you think they are? The first thing she said was coffee! Ha-ha I was surprised, then smoking, then alcohol, then drugs. Then we said tea. Super easy to teach her because she already agreed with everything. She said that she used to smoke and drink coffee daily years ago, but she didn’t like the way they made her body feel, so she quit both. THEN! We filled out her information on the baptismal record papers! 10th of this month! And I think I’ll baptize her. Ha-ha. She calls me her son because the first time she saw me she thought that I looked like I could be her child. Then her daughter Denise, also on track for baptism, just needs marriage, said that she thought I could be one of her kids, too. Ha-ha, so they both call me filho. (son) They’re awesome investigators. 10th of OCTOBER! YES! And we gave her a gospel principles book, and she’s been studying it, the bible, the Book of Mormon, and the pamphlets together every day. Talked about a desire to come unto Christ.
We left her house at about 4:30. The lesson went a little long because it was going so good. We had a commitment else where at 4, an older lady, less-active. But we had made it a week before so we figured it would be fine. She called us at 4:35, and asked us where we were. We said we were on our way, and we got there and she let us in, and said wait here. Then she disappeared in the house for about 5 minutes, and then let us in, and she had a whole picnic set up for us. It was so cute. She had made doughnut things that aren’t doughnuts, but really good, had cups of milk with chocolate powder next to them, bread, butter, lunch meat, jams, little plates. Then she said, “I bought this all for you guys, so you need to eat it all. The doctor said I couldn’t eat anything but granola with milk. “ ha-ha. I had about a dozen doughnut things that aren’t doughnuts and 5 meat and cutter sandwiches, and all of the milk she had. I’d put chocolate in my cup of milk, mix it, drink half, and set it down. Then she would pick up my cup, and pour milk in to fill it, making weak chocolate milk. Ha-ha. She talked about her family, looked at pictures of mine, showed me pictures of hers, all the while never letting my cup of milk empty.
Another really good experience today. Remember Sandra and Carlinhos family with 11 kids? Less active, good friends with Albertinha, and are slowly starting to come back to church because we told them we needed their help with Albertinha. WORKED! 2 birds with one stone, baby. Anyways, we stopped by their house, and Carlinhos was the only one home. This was a blessing because we could freely talk. He has an 8-year-old daughter, 9 on the 17th, who isn’t baptized. With our help and Bishops, this past week he’s been preparing to baptize his daughter on her birthday. Problem, he’s smoked for years. But, he’s working on it now and doing great. He told us today he hasn’t smoked at all since we started the goal Saturday. Yes, it’s only 3 days, but we had a flippen mini dance party. No joke. He said that he wants to quit, not only so he can baptize her, but also to be an example to her and the rest of his family, and he wants the Melchizedek Priesthood and to return to church. He asked me if I had a tie he could buy. Ha-ha. I said I have several he can chose from for free. Then he asked us for a passage of scriptures about baptism he can read to help prepare him. 3 Nephi 11, it is so cool to see him finally recognize that they need this gospel in his life, and to see him working to provide it. Bishop said that for years missionaries have worked with that family and now we got them to come to church again, and quit smoking. But na verdade, I don’t think it was us at all. They’ve been being prepared slowly, here a little, there a litte, until they are now ready for it all and understand it all. Years of the spirit working through the missionaries and we just happen to be the ones here when they were fully prepared. I really hope Calrinhos continues to stay strong. I can’t even describe how happy it made me to see their kids in the primary program on Sunday singing. Man, I love being a missionary. Its like front row seats to watch miracles occur in people’s lives.
You know that feeling you get on Christmas Eve, like that excitement that makes your stomach and chest tight and you feel like yelling. I usually rub my hands together really fast when I feel this way. Well, na verdade, I feel this way EVERY NIGHT> don’t’ have any reason in particular. I’m always excited for the next day while at the same time exhausted from the day I just completed. You know those nights when you have a ton of energy and just lay in your bed tossing and turning, thinking about the really deep stuff about life? Yea, not a thing for me. My head hits the pillow and I am OUT! I tried praying laying down one time, and woke up the next morning and finished my prayer. (Does that count as praying all night? Call me Enos!) Yet, I also feel like I could run for miles. WHOOO!! Today is day 84 of the mission.
QUARTA (Wednesday): Here’s a good quote I want to share with you all. “Will my concern for his day not seem foolish ten years hence?” Sometimes we get too caught up in the worries of now that we forget that in the perspective of eternity, or even just our life time, our worries are sometimes, most times, small, insignificant, and of little value. What’s the point in worrying over stuff out of your control, or something that in a year, or even a week, will seem foolish and simple? If you’re in high school, think of the worries you had in middle school. College, think of high school. Adult, think of college. OLD adult, think of when you were a young adult. Ha-ha. Let’s only worry and stress over what is important, and in our control, and then do something about it. Anyways today was a good day.
^^This part above the line I wrote this morning during my personal studies. And right now I’m struggling to stay positive about how today went. But I opened this journal and read what I had written, and I think I was inspired to write that this morning, without even realizing it, for myself. I also read that I had already written and decided that today would be a good day. And now I realize it was. Here’s why. Today I leaned the real reason they say missionary work is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. It’s not all the walking. It’s not learning a new language. It’s not being with your companion 24/7. It’s not even leaving your home and friends, and family. It’s so hard because you grow to truly love these people, your investigators, and you get exited at every little improvement they make. You yell for joy when they actually read and pray. You feel true happiness for them when they say they’ve received an answer. You watch and help them make sacrifices. Then, they stop at the finish line, and say they want nothing more. 3 times today. 3 different investigators. Moneco refuses to try to understand. Paulo, an amazing investigator who has had all the lessons, wanted baptism, and was waiting for marriage papers. We stopped by his house today and he wasn’t home, but his wife told us he said he doesn’t want to be baptized anymore, and she thinks he’s going to leave her. Then Rodrigo, we stopped by his house, but he wasn’t home from work yet, so we went to the neighbor’s house to talk about something’s. Then Rodrigo came home and motioned to Rafael not to tell us he was home. Paulo and Rodrigo have stated drinking again. Moneco started smoking again. This is what’s hard about missionary work. Everything else I can deal with, annoying companions, 6:30 every morning, no contact with my family or friends. But this is hard to watch.
Let me go through today, because it was different, due to the zone conference. Lots of missionaries from 10 in the morning until 6 at night. But I got to talk to the new missionaries, 2 of which are American. One of which I met through instagram before them mission. Ha-ha. I asked her how she was feeling, and she said, “HOLY CRAP MAN!” I totally understand. One cool thing was while President Parrela was talking, at one point I went to ask Elder Santos Melo if he understood what President Parrela was saying. Then I realized he wasn’t speaking English. That made me happy. I also included a picture of me and a bunch of random Brazilians. That ‘s the texting group message I was in before the mission. They all remembered me! Ha-ha
Also, good news. We’re getting a new mini DVD player in my house that has a pendrive spot! That means I can watch the Mormon messages I have on my pendrive. Woot Woot!
Today I decided that I will not allow people to cut me off anymore. If I am talking, and they start to say something else, I will continue talking. I won’t raise my voice to be louder then theirs, nor will I stop saying what I believe to be true to hear them talk about something else. Lots of people do this, but I’m done with it. If everyone stops listening to me, I’ll continue talking because what I have to say is important. It happens often in lessons. I’ll be talking about a principle, or bearing testimony, and the person will interrupt and talk about something totally unrelated. In this situation I will not stop bearing testimony and maybe the person will get the hint that really I don’t care at all about what food they have in their fridge.
I feel really frustrated about today. Today is not a day I want to repeat. But I still feel excited right now, because tomorrow is a new day!! Today is day 85 of my mission.
QUINTA (Thursday): You know you had a good day when a little worm falls out of your hair in the shower and you aren’t even mad. But lets start form the beginning.
I woke up, and for the first time in my mission didn’t want to get out of bed. That fact made me get out of bed all the faster. I had a rough morning, still feeling down from yesterday. But I forced myself to smile, and I decided to eat one of my limited supplies of mangos. That helped. Then during my personal studies, I really honestly was trying to forget myself. I don’t’ study the scriptures for myself anymore. I study for my investigators and less actives. Is tat each study with a prayer and then think of all the people we will talk to that day, and their needs, then I read, watching for anything that could help any of them. And I lean so much more studying this way. President Parrela said that after lunch, we could take another hour to do personal study on 2 Nephi 26, 3 Nephi 11, or 3 Nephi 27. Honestly, to me that sounds like an hour lost for working with investigators. It’s not a rule that we have to, but Santos Melo wanted to. So we did. Then we went to Everton. He’s a less active AND a recent convert. He’s the reason I promised myself to never baptize someone who doesn’t have a testimony. He’s a great guy, but I don’t think he was ready for baptism. He was baptized in January. In the lesson, I told him that our testimonies are like muscles (this is an analogy that came to me on the spot). The more we use it, then stronger it becomes. If we just let it sit, it weakens. Then I asked him what things we can do to strengthen our testimonies. Here’s the conversation:
“Everton, what are some things we can do to strengthen our testimonies?”
Him:“Um, Pray.” “Me: “Yes! Pray! (testimony and examples of prayer) Irmao Everton, do you pray every day?” Him: “No.” Me: “Hmmm, ok, what else can we do?” Him: “go to church.” Me: “yes! (testimony and experience with going to church) Irmao Everton, do you go to church every week?” Him: “…no.” Me: “hmmm, ok. What else can we do?” Him: “read our scriptures.” Me: “yes! (testimony and examples form my life” Irmao Everton, do you read the scriptures every day?” Him: “….no.”
I think you can see the pattern. But it was a really good lesson, and I felt the spirit, and I think he’ll go to general conference this weekend! That’s good.
Next we went up to Cicima. We found this old lady, walking in the street. We talked to her a little, and then asked when a good time to talk with her about Jesus would be. She said, “Well, right now. My house is right there with my husband sitting out in front. But if we walk up together, he’ll send you two away. So, I’ll wait here under this tree, you guys go talk to him and after he lets you in I’ll come by and we’ll act like we never met.” So, that’s what we did. Ha-ha. And had an awesome lesson. She cried about 5 times. But I can’t remember their complex Brazilian names for the life of me.
We also had a noite familiar with Albertinha , her family, the family of Sandra e Carlinhos, Bishop and some others. Bishop gave an excellent message, and everyone made excellent food. Afterwards when everyone was talking and laughing, one of them gets in the middle of the group and was telling this story. Everyone listening intently. Me, eating my sandwich, watching the bug on the desk to make sure it doesn’t get to close to me, while trying to understand. Then, everyone starts LAUGHING! I mean laughing until you can’t breath. Bishop is crying, Albertinha is crying. So I start laughing, too. I'm sure whatever we were laughing at was really funny. Afterwards, Santos Melo told me again, and here’s the story, more of a joke: “So I was on my way to my friends house, and in the apartment they have an escalator. I was riding it up, when about half way, it stopped, and the lights went out. Right then my friend called me, asking where I was. I said I was standing on the escalator waiting or it to turn back on. She said, “Well, when it’s stopped, isn’t it like stairs?” I said yes it is. Then she said, “Well then why don’t you sit down while you wait?” I mean, yea, it’s a funny joke, but these people were crying and struggling to breath. Haha. It was awesome.
After all this, back in the house, I decided to make today really good, so I did 100 straight pushups. Feeling good, I get in the shower, and a little worm thing falls out of my hair. Don’t’ even know what it was. But I wasn’t even mad.
Today really was a genuinely good day, and I think it’s because I forced myself not to think of anyone I knew before the mission. I need to separate the Jake McKee form the Elder Mckee, and that’s when I become effective and happy. It’s hard to be happy in a lesson when I’m day dreaming about paninis or fishing with dad. Separate Jake McKee from Elder McKee. Working on that. I’m really trying hard to loose myself in the work and today I feel like I’m starting to make progress on that.
Tomorrow we venture into the unknown. New area, new investigators, new pen, most likely, tembem. This one is on its last straw.
Below is a list of al the people I’ve taught lessons to that I can remember right now: Driana, Mirian, Eversesto, Marcos, Rodrigo, Rafeal, Vanji, Romilda, Themires, Albertinha, Edi, Kevin, Talizme, Lunana, Fran, Erao, Santiago, Denise, Teretinhes, Rena, Brune, Mareco, Bruno, Frank, Paulo, Ailton, Partricio, Bri, Suele, Eliandro, Cluadio, Alex, Emmanuel, Mateus, Marcio, Everton, Ronddo, Sandra, Florinda, Andride, Terecha, Carlinhos, Learardo, Tatine, Luciano, Costro, Naeme, Cheber, Carlos, Cristko, Elton, Carmen (Sorry, I’m sure I got some of these wrong…I couldn’t make out all the letters)
I know I’m missing some, but I remember these names and their stories and where they live right now. I love this work. I’ve never been one to just talk to people, but now I’m actually interested in what they have to say. Today is day 86 in my mission.
SEXTA (Friday): Well, let me tell you about today. Today was a good day. Really good. We had 9 lessons today. That is really good. I’ll tell you about just one that was my favorites.
So, we are walking down the street, in our new area, and there’s a guy just standing in front of his house. These are my favorite types of contacts, because they can’t lie about their address or say they are in a hurry someplace. Anyways, we talked with him and he was nice. He seemed a little different because he never looked you in the eye, but I found out later that 2 years ago he got toxins in his eyes, and now can only see with one eye a little. Anyways, we introduced ourselves, and learned that his name was Vablerer (yeah, I can’t pronounce it either). He said “Yea, come on into my house. Let’s talk about Jesus.” So we entered his house, which we then learned doubled as a church where he was the pastor….haha, yep. Let’s just say this guy knew the Bible. Anyways, we taught the restoration. And this guy was the “GOLDEN” investigator. Ha-ha, before we started he said, “I have some questions for you guys. Do you believe in God?” “Yes, we do Senhor. And Jesus Christ, too.” “You believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God?” “Yes, Senhor” “Ok, you may continue…” ha-ha. Then he asked me if I have a hard time with Portuguese. I said that now I can pretty much understand what I need to, and I explained the gift of tongues and that I can only speak and understand as well as I do because of the spirit helping me always. This is when he said, “Amen. So, why are there so many churches in the world when there is only one God? Which is the true church?” ha-ha…also worth mentioning we were sitting in the middle of his chapel place. We taught the restoration. Every time we introduced a new principle he would stop us and think about it, then nod his head, say amen, and tell us we could continue. Here are the principles or topics of the restoration that we teach in the lesson. 1) God is our loving Heavenly Father, 2) Gospel blesses families, 3) God calls prophets to reveal his commandments, 4) Jesus Christ established his church, 5) the great apostasy, 6) the restoration through Joseph Smith, 7) Book of Mormon. Keep these in mind as I write out how the lesson went with this guy.
I explained God is our loving Heavenly Father, and that he gave us the gospel to bless our families. He help up his hand to stop me, thought about it, nodded and said that makes sense. Then asked, “How does he give his gospel to us?” Santos Melo then explained prophets, using the Bible as a reference. He Held up his hand, thought, nodded, then asked a few questions about our Bible, which is the same as his. After that was settled, he then asked, “Do you guys believe Jesus called apostles? And for you, what is an apostle?” I then explained how Christ established his church, with 12 apostles, which are followers of Christ, and how he gave them then priesthood, or power of God to teach and baptize. Hand, Think, Nod. Then “What happened when he was crucified? What happened to the church?” You couldn’t plan a lesson to go smoother then this. Great Apostasy explained. Hand, Think, Nod. Everything agreed with what he knew of the Bible. Then, we shared the best part of the lesson, the restoration through Joseph Smith. He didn’t stop us, he didn’t interrupt with questions. He just sat as we told him about Joseph Smith and shared the first vision with him. Then, we gave him a Book of Mormon to read with his wife and pray about to know if it is true. He paused, and then said, I feel right now that it is. HAHA!! YES!! Man, it’s good to have the spirit on your side. He’s maybe going to go to general conference tomorrow, which is awesome. He told us he thinks that our dedication to the Lord, leaving our families, studies, and lives for 2 years to serve Him is beautiful. I can’t even describe how happy I was after teaching this man.
I also can’t even describe how flippen excited I am for GENERAL CONFERENCE!! TOMORROW! Yes! Ha-ha, so cool. So pumped. 3 new apostles. If I was the man at the pulpit, here’s’ what I would do, just to give my friend a heart attack. I’d say his name like this. “We have 3 new apostles. 1st, Elder_____, 2nd, Elder_____, and 3rd, Elder Zac Baker.” Ha-ha, then pause for a second and say, “Oh! Sorry, 3rd, Elder _____. Ha-ha, ok maybe I wouldn’t do that, but I think Zac would fall over and pass out. AHHH, I’m so excited!
So, Here’s one thing I decided today I need to improve. I need to get out of the habit of saying, “shoot”. Because the Brazilians try and mimic me, and always say it wrong, and then everyone is swearing and that isn’t what I’m about.
Today was a very good day. Today is day 87 in my mission!
SABADO (Saturday): I don’t even need to say it, but I will to keep the streak going. Today, my friend was a good day. And not only because of general conference, which is much harder to understand in Portuguese. So this morning, before lunch, we went to the house of Sergio. He’s an investigator of the other elders, and he is AWESOME! He is working hard to quit smoking. The others have been working with him, and slowly he’s been quitting, not all at once. Today was the last day e smoked his last cigarette. If he can stay strong after tomorrow, he’ll be baptized on the 17th! Woot Woot! In the lesson with him, we talked about the plan of salvation. When we talked about enduring to the end, he said, “This is why I want to make sure I’m ready for baptism. I don’t’ want to start down this path, then not endure to the end and go back to smoking and drinking.” He totally understands that baptism isn’t’ all that we have to do. He’s an awesome guy. I think he’ll be baptized.
Then, general conference. I thought it was very interesting that with all the laws about gay marriage, the first session had a lot about keeping the Sabbath day holy. Interesting. Then the second session talked about love in home. I’m going to download it in English onto a pendrive on Monday and watch it later. So excited! I wrote in my notebook 4 questions I wanted answered. As I kept notes I wrote a number 1-4, corresponding with the questions I had numbered, next to every note I made as to which question it helped me with. Muito Ben Legal. My Portuguese sure has come a long, long way. Remember how I said the people here talk really fast? During general conference, it was easier for me to understand the translators who spoke fast. Ha-ha, Interesting.
Really, the only thing I would change about today is the fact I forgot to wear my fancy shoes that are freshly shined. Today is day 88 in the mission.
DOMINGO (Sunday): Here’s why today was good. I couldn’t understand General Conference, but I could understand enough to know what they were talking about, and that was enough to make me think, and most of the things I wrote weren’t even close to what the speaker said, just stuff that came to my mind while listening to Portuguese. But I’ll watch it again after tomorrow in English, so that’s good. Priesthood session too, because President Parrela doesn’t let us watch it because it gets over at 11. I have a lot of stuff I want to download tomorrow.
Today, in-between the sessions, I did an assessment with the zone leader. I’ve done a division with him and he’s way cool, from Sao Paulo. But I passed, which was good. It’s really easy. Then, after I said the end prayer he said that I have hardly any accent. He told me that of all the Americans that came with me, I speak the best and he hasn’t seen anyone that learns this fast. Ha-ha. So, that made me feel good, of course. I’m really working hard on the language. I only really use English on a normal day when I write in this book. I’m going to memorize all the seminary scriptures masteries in Portuguese. I found out at the Zone Conference that Sister Parrela has gifts for people who memorize certain numbers, and if you get all 100, you get a scripture case. They leave in 8 months, so I got to work. Zone conference was on Quarta, or Wednesday. Today, right now, I can from memory site the last 2 paragraphs of the introduction of the Livro De Mormon. 2 Nephi 2:25, 2:27, 9:28-29, and 28:7-9. It’s a lot of work, but I really want all 100 memorized. I want that scripture case.
It was a good week. This week should be even better because we have Albertinha marked for baptism! Her interview should be on Quarta. YEA. AHHH, I’m so excited and Laura will be baptized the next week, hopefully, by her dad.
Ha-ha. One funny thing is my notes from General Conference almost have as much Portuguese as English. Like often, half a sentence is English and the other half is Portuguese. Speaking with other Americans, usually we speak Portuguese, but sometimes we speak Portu-english. It just switches back and forth; usually we don’t even notice it’s so much easier to talk fast in Portuguese! I love it. Another thing the zone leader said is after one year, I’ll have Portuguese down perfect and nobody will know I’m American. I want that so bad.
I’m really working on staying positive. Not with the mission. I absolutely love it here. Not with homesickness. No offence, but I don’t’ feel homesick, nor a desire to return home at all. Not with members. They’re awesome. Not with investigators, even though they sometimes make me wish missionaries could do “enforced” agency. Not with the language. I love the language and I can see my improvement little by little. There’s really only one thing I would change about the mission, and hopefully it will change its self in 5 weeks. I’m really, really trying hard and it’s getting better. Little by little.
Really though I’m happier then I’ve ever been. I love being a missionary, and being the “rich American” because I give away cookies that are like 50 cents a pack for me, but $2.00 for them. Expensive, if you just give them away. Then, young men always go around selling stuff to earn money for their camps and I always buy what their selling. I think all the American missionaries are like that. That’s why we have the ‘Rich Rep.’
I love you guys!! Ate Mais. Today is day 89.