SEGUNDA (Monday): Needless to say today was great! 3 letters, 2 packages, and 20 emails. Man, I was feeling good today. I also bought a backpack, for when we do divisions, and sent a bunch of letters out, and another package. Today was a good day. Elder Santos Melo LOVED his package. And he loves the shirt. He wears the shirt almost every day. He loved the tie. He wants to go to BYU after he finishes school here in Brazil. Thanks for doing that, Mom! Also, in the computer place we always run into other missionaries, which is fun. Six sisters were there, two of which were American, one of which is Sister Moss, my friend from the MTC. When they saw my two packages everyone flipped. Ha-ha, so I open the one grandma gave me and shared the kit kats with everyone, and I even shared the peanut butter with the other two Americans. Can you tell I change for the better? I shared my kit kats. Thanks so much for these! Man, I almost cried when I saw skittles. ahhhhhh so good. :) I also had mac and cheese for dinner last night. :) I’m proud to be an American!!
I never really have much to write on P-days, because I feel like I talk to you guys today and you know already. I took a picture of all the food I bought today, for $20.00. It’s hard not to spend a lot of money because for me all the prices are divided in 4 to be the equivalent dollar value, so everything seems really cheap. But as you can see in the picture, I’ll be eating like a KING! BooYaa! Orange juice that I make, eggs, and rice, and a mango for breakfast, EVERYDAY!! That’s what I’m talking about! And when I run out of mangos, bananas. And when I run out of eggs, usually Friday or Saturday, that’s when I hit up the Oreos.
So, I want you all, all you readers, to know that I spend about 20 minutes a night writing this journal. And I want to say thank you to you all, because ya keep me writing every day. Sometimes I think, “No, I’m tired, I’ll write tomorrow.” But then I think, “No! You’ll forget all the cool stuff that happened today! THEY NEED TO KNOW! Do it for the fans!” So, I get my headlamp on and stay up until about 11 writing. It’s crazy how 11 is late for me now.
This week I’m taking the front in everything. Planning, teaching, contacts, the whole 9 yards. Which is good because I have quite a few ways of doing things I want to change. With this new area and the bigger investigator pool, we forget to pass by a lot of people. I don’t find that acceptable in the least. So, I made a list of tall our investigators that we NEED to pass by this week. And recent converts, and less actives. Then I highlighted the ones we NEED to pass by more than once. Every night when we plan, I’ll use this list so these people have priority. I’m also going to make a HUGE effort to make new contacts in the street. I know the numbers aren’t important, but our number of new investigators these past 2 weeks I find unacceptable, and I think that shows a huge lack of effort on our part. In comparison to other companionships we’re doing good. But I know I can do better, and so I will. Being a good missionary isn’t good enough for me. Today is day 104 in the mission.
TERCA (Tuesday): Today was great, and here’s one cool think about today. If you collected all the sweat that left my body today, you could probably fill a bathtub. Man, it was so HOT! And humid, Honestly, I don’t mind it. But I DO mind the sweat burning my eyes all day long.
Also, today was a division. So I was in a different area with Elder Santos of Sao Paulo. It was a really good day. I really like watching other missionaries and learning from them. We had some good lessons. One was a sort of thing where we were in a members house and 2 kids, one 16, the other 14, stopped by and accepted to sit in on a lesson of the restoration. It started good, but then we finished the opening prayer. They didn’t care about or want anything. But we kept teaching, anyways. And every time I talked they would duck their heads and try and muffle their laughing. I didn’t even care. I kept talking. We taught the lesson, then they left and we left, and there was no feeling of ‘I helped that person feel the spirit’ or ‘That person realized some things they had never thought of before’. Over all, that lesson seemed like it was just me practicing my Portuguese.
In contrast, our last lesson was with one older woman. We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. I talked a little bit about faith, right at the beginning. It went good, that part. But I felt like something was missing. While Elder Santos was talking, I tried to figure out what it was. Then I realized that I had gone about explaining faith as if I was just going through the motions. I changed the way I looked at the woman, as a daughter or God who is only now learning of the gospel, and not as just another lesson. When I talked about baptism, it was totally different. Scriptures were coming to mind, the words were flowing so much smoother. I actually felt the spirit this time, and I’m pretty sure she did, too. That was an awesome lesson.
So I’m pretty sure it’s the Americans like me that are the reason soccer was banned from the mission. These 3 guys here in this house are dribbling the ball and juggling the ball without even thinking. I asked one of them about his soccer team, he responded, and then the other guy who was down the hall insulted his team, joking around. The guy I was talking to popped the ball up into the air and kicked it super hard. It went flying down the hall, through the door and hit the other guy in the head. H-ha then they started having a juggling war. They’re insane good. Then the ball popped my way. I had just been walking past, but I figured I’d seize the opportunity. I tried to juggle it. I got one kick, feeling good, went to kick it again and it went bouncing across the desk knocking all the cups and books over. They all started laughing as I said, “Sorry! American!” But it’s fine. Today is day 105 in my mission.
QUARTA (Wednesday): Today was good, though I have a few regrets. Number one being eating 3 snickers. Remember that scene in ‘The Best Two Years” when the 3 Elders are biking to the train station? And Elder Rodgers randomly sneaks off to the side to buy food? That was me when I saw the store selling snickers. Oh man!
Number 2. We were walking down the street and we saw a woman carrying 2 big bags, and she was crying really badly while she was walking. We walked up to her and Elder Santos Melo started talking. He treated it like your average contact, “Hi, we’re representatives of Jesus Christ. We have a message about where we go after we die”. It wasn’t exactly that, but that’s the gist. Of course, the lady didn’t want to talk, and she started to leave. Then, I asked if she needed help, and if we could help her. But she was already shut off to us, and didn’t even respond. My regret is that I didn’t jump on this opportunity to serve and help this woman, and I didn’t bear any testimony about Jesus Christ and how we can be happy through Him. I didn’t do these things, even though I felt like I should. I don’t know why. And also I didn’t like how it was just another contact for Santos Melo. Maybe I’m wrong. I only have 3 months in the mission, but not every person needs to be a contact where we get an address. Sometimes we just need to be Christlike and help the people, leave a small testimony, and secretly write down their house number for later.
Number 3, walking home at the end of the day, on our street there’s an ambulance. The door is open and I see a man that is passed out with a big brace around his neck. There are a lot of people, and some are crying. My regret is again I didn’t ask if I could help in some way. I didn’t try and leave a word or two of comfort. I don’t know what I would have done or said, but I know that if I would have tried the spirit would have guided me. But I just kept walking. I have somethings to work on still.
One lesson today that went awesome was with Angela and her ‘husband’. New investigators! About 4 years ago, they received the missionaries, all the lessons, and were about to get married to be baptized, and she abandoned ship. No idea why. But the other elders met her in the street, and then sent us her address. The lesson went very good. I really like it when the people actually interact when we ask questions, and not just say “Nao Sei”. And the whole time her 7 ear old son Ryan (pronounced Hi-A), drew me a picture, and one for Elder Santos Melo. It was a spray paint can, spraying the work “Deus” (God), I think, And his name, Ryan. Ha-ha I’ll include a picture, of his picture.
Remember how yesterday I wrote about how I was soaking wet in my own sweat? Something interesting about today is I didn’t sweat at all. But I was still soaking wet. How can this be you ask? Well, rain rain rain. I’ve never seen so much rain. But my umbrella is still good! Today is day 106 of my mission.
QUINTA (Thursday): Well, I just finished taking a shower to the Star Spangled Banner, and eating peanut butter with bananas. So, I ‘ll let you figure out if today was a good day.
At lunch, the members were taking about how lucky they are to have a temple so close, only 5 hours by bus. Santos Melo agreed, saying he traveled 13 hours by bus the 2 times he went before the mission. And how from where we’re at it’s only R$60 to travel to there. And they asked me where I’m from again. I said, “Utah” and he held up his hand and said, “Say no more.” Ha-ha, we really are blessed in Utah. I honestly don’t know why I haven’t been going weekly since I could drive.
So, that family that I talked about yesterday, the one that was almost there and flaked 4 years ago. We stopped by their house again tonight, and they had another family over, who lives in our area also. And the dad of this other family is a member, inactive for 10 years. But he remembers almost everything. It was cool. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and he was commenting and stuff. After, he asked us if he could have a pamphlet, and then asked us for another Book of Mormon. He said to his wife, “There ‘s a cool photo in here of the last prophet who wrote in this book.” He showed it to her then asked us where the part about when Jesus came to the Americas was again. We marked it for them, committed them to read it, and pray about it. Bem Legal Mismo. Then we invited them to the baptism we have this Saturday, and they all said they’d go! This man, then explained about his baptism 15 years ago, when he had 15 years. Ha-ha, it was cool. His wife then asked, “so, you guys believe in Jesus Christ, right?” Um, yes. Everything we have been talking about has been about Christ. His name is on our nametags. This church is named after Him. Her church taught that Mormons don’t believe in Christ. Our church is called The Church of Jesus Christ. How can we not believe in Christ when this is literally the church of Him we are teaching? Ha-ha. It’s fine. But they all accepted another visit and we marked days.
One thing I didn’t like about today. I realized I left my pen drive at the place where we use computers. My big 64 GB one, which had Mormon messages in English and Portuguese, conference in English and Portuguese, The Best Two Years, Charly, The Other Side of Heaven, Ephraim’s Rescue, 17 Miracles, music, Bible Videos. And, what I’m most upset about, all the videos I’ve made on my camera I’m working on uploading to that site for you guys for Christmas. I don’t’ have them on my card anymore. I’m hoping and praying it’ll still be there when we go back. But, if someone snatched it, I hope they watch all the videos and then call the missionaries. Today is day 107 of my mission.
SEXTA (Friday): Let me tell you about today, because today was good. First off, I took a video of me and Elder Santos Melo signing Battle Hymn of the Republic in our companion study. In English. Ha-ha, funny.
I’ll share 3 experiences from today. #1 was with a man we made a contact with, yesterday. We passed by his house for the first time. Today we sat and talked for a little, then had the first prayer. Then this man opened his life to us, talking about his sons, his addiction to smoking that is ruining his life, and his wife he’s separated with. As he’s talking we put away our restoration pamphlets we had been planning on sharing and pulled out our scriptures. We talked with him and tried to comfort him with scriptures. We told him about how we can help him quit smoking, and how this gospel could help him in his life. It was an amazing, spiritual experience. Then he gave the closing prayer, and then gave us both big hugs. He’s 55 years old, and we’re retuning tomorrow to his house.
#2…we stopped by the house of Renan. He’s active but the rest of his family is inactive. His sister is the one that came to church for the first time in 6 years. (And she said she is going to go again!) But we’re in his house talking to him and his grandma. Elder Santos Melo asks her grandma when she was baptized, and she said, “Oh, I’m not a member.” Haha, so we talk a little. She said she likes our church, and she really likes us, but she never wanted to leave her church. I don’t think missionaries never talked with her. We kept talking. Then she says, “You know, I’ve always thought that Jesus Christ came here as well, because this is the best place on earth.” She was referring to America. I pulled out a Book of Mormon and showed her the part where it talks about Jesus Christ coming to the Americans. Ha-ha. It was awesome and very spiritual. She accepted more visits, so we’ll be passing by there.
#3 was at the house of Sandra e Carlinhos. We watched the talk of M. Russell Ballard in the October General Conference of 2015. ‘Figue no Barco’ (God is at the Helm). After, Sandra said to us, “Thank you for helping our family enter the raft again.” That was a good way to end the day. Then they all started talking about where they are at in their reading of the Book of Mormon. Carlinhos was talking about how cool it was that when Nephi was with Laban and the spirit was says, “kill him, kill him, kill him!” Ha-ha. I also gave an English Book of Mormon to Camila and she was very excited.
So, just now, Santos Melo was in the bathroom and he goes to unlock the door and breaks the key off in the lock. Ha-ha, so he’s trapped. I pass him my leatherman through the window, but he couldn’t do anything. So, I kicked the door down. Yes, I’m a man like that. I included pictures. Ha-ha yep, today was a good day. Today is day 108 in my mission.
SABADO (Saturday): BAPTISM! Today was great. But first, a lesson with the Sergio we had a lesson with yesterday. It was awesome. He accepted help with quitting smoking, and had a big desire to be baptized.
THEN! After we had been at the church for 2 hours filling the fond and watching Ephraim’s rescue, we were on our way to another lesson. There’s this guy in the street, and he is HUGE. Like I mean HUGE! Elder Santos Melo asks him, “Hey, we haven’t seen your wife at church in awhile.” “What is it to you?” “We’re just worried about her, that’s all.” “Well, who’s her husband, you or me? Why are you worrying about my wife?”
This went on for a bit, and he’s drilling us. I’m uncomfortable, so I look at the car he’s leaning on. He turns to me, “Why you looking at my car? There’s nothing in there for you.” Me: “Sorry sir, Have a good day.” “Have a good day? The day’s already gone!” He was scaring the tar out of me. Then Elder Santos Melo put his hand out to shake and the guy just glared at it. Then grabbed it and pulled him into a hug and they both started laughing. Turns out, he’s an inactive, and he does this with all the new missionaries that come into the area. We then entered his house, and talked with him and his wife. They’re years without going to church. We invited them tomorrow, he thought, and then said, “Yes, I think I’ll go. Yes, I will.” He seemed very sincere. It’s amazing how many people are inactive only because they lack an invitation.
Another funny thing that happened, after the baptism, we went to stop by the house of Ronen to talk to his family. His dad never talks to us, just leaves. He smokes and drinks. But tonight he walked up to me and shook my hand and introduced himself, very strange. Then from behind him, his wife made the hand signal for drinking and it made sense. We only stayed for a little because it was almost 9, but this guy kept talking about anything and everything. He asked me how to say numbers in English, and then corrected me. His family kept saying that I was the one who spoke English, and he said, “I do too. I just speak a little different.” But it was good. We talked about missions and stuff.
Now, the Baptism. YESSS!! SO GOOD! The Bishop got up before and said, “This isn’t’ in the program, but I feel like this is what we need to do. Sandra and Carlinhos, will you please share your testimonies with us?” And I started crying while Carlinhos was telling about his return to the church. Sandra gave a great testimony too, talked a little about us Elders. Then, the Baptism. Their whole family didn’t come, but Albertinha did. She’s in the pictures. It was so cool to see Carlinhos and Laure in white, and watch Carlinhos baptize Laura. He’s really come a long way. The whole family has. Camila is really strong. She reads everyday, prays, and likes church. She googled my home and found my blog. Same with facebook and instagram. Ha-ha, They’re a great family. I’ll visit them after the mission for sure. Today is day 109 of my mission.
DOMINGO (Sunday): I love church! I also love when members bring friends, and tell us that we have a new investigator. Haha. It’s the best. Today was a good day. I also love when our investigators participate in the classes. Woot Woot!
So, at the house of Serleni and Angela, the new family that was almost baptized 4 years ago. We went to their house and taught them a lesson. All was great. Then, because we had a meeting with Bishop in 10 minutes, we started to say our good byes. But then Serleni said, “Stay a little longer for Rayan’s birthday. Heave some cake.” Then Rayan, who’s turning 8 today, started cheering, with the 2 friends that had come to the party. It was raining pretty hard. Rayan had a roll of blue ribbon, the kind you put on presents, and he strung it form the door knob to the picture frame to the other door knob, like a streamer. Then his mom brought out a BIG store bought cake, a luxury in our area, and put a single candle in the top. Then little paper plates, and plastic forks. Rayan was so excited. Understand, their house is about the size of mom and dad’s room. So, we stayed another 30 minutes, trying to liven up the party of the 7 of us., eating cake. I promised him a present on Terca, so I’ll buy him a candy bar or something. You know that moment when, on Christmas, or our birthday, we open a present and pretend to like it and give the giver of the gift a hug, saying we love it? But, we’re actually a little disappointed we didn’t get something we actually wanted? I left that house thinking about those moments in my life and feeling gross and spoiled. This 8 year old kid was dancing and cheering and taking pictures with his 2 friends and 2 Elders he doesn’t’ even know, because of a cake and some ribbon.
Things are going great. My language is always improving. So is my teaching. Which is more important. So is my testimony, which is more important. I’m loving the mission life. The moments are slow, but looking back it’s always surprising how fast it goes. 4 months already. I remember 4 days like it was today. This week was a very good week for me. I learned a lot. 2 more weeks and the transfer is already over! 4/24 months. 1/6. Man! Today is day 110 of my mission.
I love you guys!! I’m glad everything is going so well!!
Love, Elder McKee
Elder Santos Melo
Jake and Elder Santos Melo...Hiking up a big hill.