Monday, October 12, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

SEGUNDA (Monday):  man I love P-day.  Today was great!  2 packages in the mail!!  THANK YOU!!  I also today bought Christmas presents for you guys and mailed them.  It was a really fast thing, so I didn’t have time to write letters.  I’ll send those later.  It’s about the same price to send you guy’s stuff as it is for you to send me stuff.  So that’s cool.  Also, thanks for the making postcards.  Good idea.  You guys sure are good at good ideas.             
            So, after p-day, we were going to leave the house and at the gate Elder Santos Melo picked a white rose off a tree, smelled it, and said in English, “For You.”  I jumped through the gate and he started laughing.  No idea where that came from,  but his English was good.
            With Albertinha, we are preparing her for the baptism this Saturday!  Her interview is on Quarta feira.  YEA!!!  Man, I am so excited.  And in the lesson, her two daughters, who are older with kids, were there, like always.  They’re an awesome family, but the daughters aren’t married, so they can’t be baptized yet.  But Santos Melo just said to Albertinha, almost in a teasing way, “But you’re just the first baptism in the family. The rest will follow.”  And then both the daughters started nodding!  They really have a desire to be baptized.  Man, it’s awesome.  Albertinha went to General Conference, and she said that Elder Nelson made her cry.  I really wish I could watch all the talks in English, but my house doesn’t have a DVD player with a pen-drive slot.  But we should be getting one next p-day.  I have all the talks on my pen-drive, just so I’m ready.
            Also, Carlinhos, the inactive who is returning to church and quitting smoking so he can baptize his daughter went to General Conference with his family, and fasted for strength.  YES!
            Then, to cap off this awesome day, we went to the house of Elindro for churrasco!  Elindro is an investigator of much time, because he’s living with one girl (they are flippen adorable together) and he is waiting for separation papers because he is married legally to a different women, then he will get marriage papers for this woman and be baptized.  His girlfriend now is already a member.  But he is always at church, activities, helping.  He’s just waiting on the Brazilian government.  Today at dinner we talked about temples a little and Santos Melo explained how the keys of the priesthood work.  Elindro said, “Not much time and I’ll understand how the temple recommend process works, and I’ll have those keys.”  Ha-ha. He is awesome.  He asked a question one time, and Santos Melo said, “The book of Abraham answers that.”  And Elindro said, “OK”.  Next time we passed by, he had read the book of Abraham.  We really treat him like a recent convert, passing about once a week with a message and answering questions he has.  Today is day 90 in my mission.
TERCA (Tuesday):  13 Samanas na missao. (13 of the same in mission) 13/104.  That’s 12.5%.  Today was really good. Also I need new batteries for my head lamp.  We had a zone meeting today, and they asked me to share with everyone a cool experience from the mission.  So I shared about how about a month ago we were walking, looking for the house of a contact we had made in the street.  We couldn’t find the house, but we saw a woman sitting just in front of her house, so we asked her, “Oi! Do you know where Mateus’s house is?”  She said, “Oh yea!  About 5 houses that way.”  “Thank you very much, nina.  We’re missionaries.  We have this message.  Can we pass by some other time and share it with you?”  (That was very abbreviated; we had a little more explanation).  “Oh yes, come again.”  So we did.  Had a good lesson, then after went to the house of Mateus.  After the first lesson, Mateus wanted nothing more to do with us.  But the woman that just happened to be outside at that time, as were struggling to find a house that is very easy to find, was Albertinha, who has her baptismal interview tomorrow.  Her two daughters, who I have certainty will be baptized, one day soon, they just need marriage.  The ‘husband’ of one of them has quit coffee, and him and Denise (his ‘wife’) talked about decided they will start going to church with Albertinha every week.  They have 2 kids, one of which told me that he’s wanted a church to go to (he is 6 year old).  Today in the lesson with Albertinha, we taught her the last thing she needed to learn, which was  “Obra Missionaria”, how members are missionaries too.  I explained that her baptism will set a huge example for her family, and she will be a key part in the missionary work to bring the rest of her family closer to Christ.  And I have no doubts that they will.  Also, in the lesson we talked a little about how we will one day leave, and how important it is to be firm in testimony and the church.  We both promised to write letters and to return to visit her.  She started crying.  Then, Santos Melo said, “One thing very interesting, we hold the authority to baptize, as you know, and so, if it is ok with you, Elder McKee will be the one to baptize you”.  Then she started crying again, with a huge smile, and said, “Yes, of course.”  Ha-ha.  From the first visit she said she thought I could be her son, and that now she actually see’s me as her son.  I actually started to tear up!
            Another thing that has happened because of Albertinha is Sandra and Carlinhos returning to active members.  My 2nd or 3rd day in the mission, we did a Noite Familiar at the house of Sandra 3 Carlinhos.  I just found out today that that was the 3rd time Santos Melo had visited them, and that for years before us they have been visited as less actives, then inactive, by the missionaries.  Carlinhos smoked a lot.  Now, he has quit, they’re returned to church, and he will baptize his daughter next Saturday.  I’ve mentioned before that they are friends with Albertinha.  So, they helped get Albertinha to church, which also brought them to church.  YES!!  Tonight, we had a Noite Familiar at the house of Sandra 3 Carlinhos, with Albertinha, her daughter Denise, and Maricio, husband of Denise.  We talked about conference, because some of them had gone, then totally ditched our original plan of teaching about prayer and watched expressions of Love, a Mormon message.  Then talked about the importance of women, and then about families being sealed for eternity in the temple.  It was VERY spiritual.  Albertinha’s husband died some years ago, so I think that part is very special for her.  Everyone was crying.  Then after, we had the best chocolate cake of my life.  No idea what they did to it.
So, summed up, here’s the story:
1)   One day, we got lost
2)   We asked a random lady for directions
3)   We taught said random lady, set up a date to return
4)   Taught all the lessons, slowly including her family
5)   Needed help getting her to church, involved her friends, who are inactive
6)   Family of Albertinha slowly started going to church too
7)   Inactive friends now active again and progressing
8)   Albertinha will be baptized on Saturday
9)   Her family will follow soon there after
All I can say is I’m grateful for Mateus, because even though right now he isn’t prepared for these things, he indirectly led us to those who are.  I think I already mentioned, but Bishop said for years they’ve been trying to get Carlinhos and Sandra back, because they are a huge family.  11 kids, but no progression at all.  Then in a month, almost 2, we got him to quit smoking, and on track to baptize his daughter, and they are coming to church again.  I gave Carlinhos one of my short sleeve white shirts so he’d have something nice to wear.  But I take no credit for their progression other then being the tool yielded by the Lord, and I find immense joy in this privilege.  Today is day 91 of my mission.
QUARTA (Wednesday):  Rain Rain, go away!  Come again another day.  But today was good anyway.  Great, actually.  We did another divisor so that the zone leader could come here and do the baptism interview for Albertinha.  Which went great!  And after, we practiced how the baptism would go.  AHH, I’m so excited!!
            Lesson with Irma Edi, and she grabbed her two bibles from her room to show us how much she studies them. They were huge.  She put one on my lap, one on the lap of Elder Garcia, and then I made the mistake of opening the cover.  Bugs went crawling in every direction from the spine of the book.
            Another cool thing I learned today, that will help me for the rest of my mission is that my bag is NOT waterproof.  And I also learned that when you wring water out of a Book of Mormon, the gold edging on the pages goes everywhere.  Yep, like glitter.  I took some pictures of the storm, but you won’t understand it until you watch the videos I took.  That still won’t do it justice.  All the storms at Powell, I have never seen rain like this.  Except at the Payson Temple Cultural Celebration. W e stopped trying to avoid puddles that were mid shin deep because no point.  2 things didn’t get wet, my photos and the baptismal record of Albertinha.  Both of which were in plastic coverings, thank goodness.
            Lesson with Nino, and he was very drunk and suddenly had a huge desire to learn English.  But I didn’t speak any with him, because it wouldn’t have helped the situation.  It’s so sad.  He also kissed my hand 3 times.  Never want to repeat that.
            The language is really starting to click.  I’m still far from perfect, and from being fluent, but I can understand so much better now.  And I speak very good, compared to where I was.  The gift of tongues is so legit.
            Also, next week, Terezinha and Luis Carlos are going to Centro to do the marriage papers!  Then, it’s about a month of waiting and they’ll be legally married, and then baptized!  WOOT WOOT!  Man, I’m flippen thrilled!!
            I don’t really have much to talk about today.  It was just a good day and I’m content with today's work.  Today is day 92-da missao.
QUINTA (Thursday):  Well, less rain today, but my feet were still wet.  You know the rain is bad when President sends out a message saying to use caution, but when the storm gets bad to return to your house to take shelter or the house of an investigator/member.  And everyone I’ve asked has said rain like this is normal in the summer.  Good think I love rain.  Which made today a good day for me.
            So, one thing that I’ve developed here is, and I don’t know why, but I find GREAT satisfaction in eating every single piece of rice that is put on my plate, which is hard to do when the people here dish me more food every time my plate runs low.  But don’t worry, I don’t give up when they give me more.  Man can the people here make good food.
            Noite Famliar la na casa de Albertinha.  We watched ‘The Other Side of Heaven’. It was good.  Laura, 9 year old girl who has her baptism on the 17th, her birthday, said after the movie that she doesn’t want us to leave one day.  Sandra and Carlinhos, like I’ve said, have had missionaries at their house for years.  Carlinhos, when I promised I’d return, said, “they all say that, but none have yet returned.”  Ha-ha, but the difference between the others and me is I will return.  One year after my mission I want to go back to all my converts and friends.  Maybe 2 years, I don’t know.  I’m not too worried about it right now.  Albertinhas is very excited about her baptism.  When we told her that the heater for the water broke so she would be baptized in cold water, she said, “No, that’s not even a problem!”  7:00 on Saturday, that’s 4:00 for you guys.  AHHH!!!  So excited!  And I’m excited for next Saturday when Carlinhos will baptize his daughter, Laura.  She is super excited, too.
            So, I’m really good at making friends with kids.  One of which, Aurtor, who has 5 years, asked me today why I talk funny.  I had been feeling fairly confident with my accent, but that was a slap to the face.  Ha-ha.  I said it was because I’m American and I don’t speak Portuguese yet.  He was very surprised at that.  Aurtor is the grandson of Albertinha.
            So today, on our way to the house of Alberitnha we stopped by the store to buy treats for the movie (I bought enough to feed like 15 people with 7 US dollars worth of money) and we saw Luise, the 10 year old daughter of Sandra and Carlos, by herself.  Think of giving Andy some money and saying, run to fast gas and get me a Pepsi.  (I miss Pepsi).  That’s about the equivalent.  I don’t’ know what it is, but all the kids here act so much older, and are treated so much older then they are.  I think it’s the early exposure to the world.  No idea.  Or maybe I was just sheltered in Salem, Utah.  I think that’s it.  Today is day 93 na missao.
SEXTA (Friday):  Whoo!  Today was a great day!  You know why?  Because it’s baptism day EVE!  WOOT WOOT!  Party all day.  Not really.  Also, didn’t stop raining for a second today, but I managed to keep my feet dry all day.  That’s a tender mercy if I’ve ever seen one.
            We stopped by Albertinha’s to try out her baptism clothes and give a final thought on enduring to the end.  She told us that every time she studies or learns she knows this is the truth more and more.  She said, and she started crying right here, that Maricio, the ‘husband’ of her daughter Denise, sat down and had a talk with Denise, and after this Sunday he’s going to get work off on Sundays so they can go to church, and that he wants to quit drinking coffee for good, and that he wants to start papers so they can be married.  Albertinha is SO happy about this.  It’s like Maricio saying, “I want to stay, and I’m going to make these changes so I can stay with you.”  AHHH!!  I’m so happy!
            Also Luis Carlos and Terreinha will go to get their marriage stuff this week that’s coming!  And Vanessa and Paulo are working towards it and are close.  Ha-ha, so I’m good friends with Aurtor and Jose now, the 5 and 6 year old cousins, grandsons of Albertinha.  I showed them how to use my camera.  I’ll include some of the pictures they took.  Ha-ha, you’ll see us looking at albums of Albertinha’s familia in the background.
            I also today took a picture of what I eat for breakfast again, and then my dinner, and my IRONING MY BAPTISM PANTS!!  In the pictures of the kids, the white one is Aurtor and the brown one is Jose.
            One down thing about today was, on our way to the house of Sergio to see how he is doing with quitting smoking, we ran into him in the street and he hurried and flicked his cigarette down a storm drain.  It’s our fault really.  His goal with the other elders was to quit completely on the 4th and we, in the time since then, haven’t passed by once.  Our focus was more on preparing Albertinha and he lives on the other side of our area, but our focus will definitely shift to him more, because he needs our help and I feel like I’ve failed him thus far.  No, I haven’t’ failed.  I just haven’t yet succeeded.
            Ha-ha, I asked little Jose when his birthday was, and he said in February, and then started dancing saying I was invited to his party.  It was funny and sad at the same time.
            The next transfer is in 3 and half weeks.  I don’t want to leave this area, to be honest.  I do want the other area to reopen, which the weekly news letter said many areas will reopen, because I feel like we have our efforts so spread out, it’s hard to really show everyone the focus they need.  This next week, we have Laura’s baptism on Saturday, and so we will be at her house a lot.  And our house is really quiet with just 2 people.  I don’t want to leave this area, but yet I kind of do.  I want a fresh start.  I guess I’ll be happy with either.  Wherever the Lord needs me that’s where I’ll be happily serving.  Today is day 94 in the mission.
SABADO (Saturday):  Today was my best day yet.  The pictures will be enough to show why.  Man, I don’t even know what to write really.  My first baptism,  First of many, I hope.  I made videos right before and right after, but they’re too big to email, so I’ll upload them to the site with the other videos I’ve been making while here.  And for Christmas You’ll get the site, username, and password.  WHOO, Am I brilliant or what!!?!
            So, I baptized Albertinha, and she came up crying.  The spirit was so strong for me.  Then she exited the font, and they shut the big doors, so I was alone in the font.  I bowed my head and said a prayer.  AHHHH!!! Ha-ha.  I am so truly happy right now I don’t even know what to write!  I want every Saturday to be called Baptism day.  Next Saturday we have Laura.
            Also good today, we made a new goal to quit smoking with Sergio.  Let me rephrase that.  We aren’t smoking with Sergio.  We made a new goal to help Sergio quite smoking. He’s a good guy.  I’m excited for his baptism one day soon.
            Today was an amazing day, and I’m happier now then I can ever remember being.  If I go the rest of my mission with nothing, I will remember this day, and consider my mission a success.  I included more in the videos.  I feel like I’ve just gotten a taste of this happiness, and I want more.  I want to talk to EVERYONE, because only God knows where the other people like Albertinha are, and if I make an effort to talk to everyone, I’ll be guided to them. 
            I also learned today, Monday is a huge holiday and EVERYTHING shuts down.  No mail, and maybe no emails, but we will try.  I’ll find a way. I will be very mad if I don’t get to share these pictures with my family, but then I’ll get over it, because I’m on the Lord’s errand.  Today is day 95 in the mission.
DOMINGO (Sunday):  Today was a great day.  We visited Albertinha, and her daughter Denise said that her and Maricio want to be married so they can get baptized.  YES!!  A whole family!  Jose, her 6-year-old son, said he wants me to baptize him when he turns 8.  Then he told me all about his first time in primary today and asked if he could give the first prayer of the lesson.  There’s a picture of the two of us I included.  As we were leaving, he yelled, “I adore Elder Mickey!” (Everyone calls me Mickey, like Mickey Mouse, some even add the mouse to the end of my name) ha-ha.  It was awesome.  But I explained to him that his dad would be able to baptize him by then.  There’s another kid I don’t yet have a picture of with 2 years name Miguel.  He’s so cute, and he’s just starting to stop being shy when we come.  He’ll tell me about whatever’s on his mind now.  It’s nice to talk to someone about on my same speaking level.
            Albertinha was confirmed and received the Holy Ghost today, and I was able to be part of the circle of 3.  So amazing.  She’s great.  Definitely someone I’ll visit after the mission.
            We also stopped by a clothing drive thing they had to help sort clothes.  A bunch of people form the ward went as well.  One of the young men came up to me and said, “Elder Macky (I also get called Macky a lot), I have found your tie.”  I’ll include a picture of the Mickey Mouse tie he gave me.  Ha-ha. Everyone was laughing.
            We also stopped by the house of Sandra and Carlinhos to go over the baptism interview questions with Laura.  One funny thing was I asked Camila, 16 year old daughter of Sandra e Carlinhos, if she remembered the name of the missionary who baptized her.  She thought for a minute, then said, “No, I don’t remember any of my baptism.  Pai!  What’s the name of the Elder who baptized me?”  He thought, then said, “I don’t even remember your baptism…Sandra!”  Sandra also couldn’t remember.  Then all the sudden everyone’s yelling at once.  Camila, “I WASN’T BAPTIZED!?”  Carlinhos, “That’s why we have pictures of everyone’s baptism but hers.”  Sandra, “No, I swear she was baptized, give me a second.”  Everyone else is laughing.  Everyone settles down, and I say to Santos Melo, “We have a new investigator.”  And then turn to Camila, “We have a message about the restoration of the gospel we would like to share with you.”  Everyone started laughing again.  Ha-ha.  We are going to ask Bispo about it tomorrow.  But yea, that was pretty funny.
            This week was a good week. It passed a little bit shower then any of the others, and I’ll be honest I struggled a bit to stay positive, but it sure ended great and made everything worth it.  I’m still learning how to be a missionary, and plan to continue learning until the day I’m released.
            I love you all, and I feel your prayers everyday.  They push me up the huge hill I have to walk everyday to my investigators.  Thank you for those prayers.  You guys are amazing.  Today is day 96 of the mission.

Love, Elder McKee

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