Monday, October 19, 2015

Staying Positive!

SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today was fantastic.  It was a huge holiday, and we were very lucky to find a way to use computers.  It was in the store of a member, who is also the ward mission leader.  He’s cool.  After our hour I asked him how much I owe him for the house. He said 10 Reais.  I knew he was joking, but I went to pay him anyways.  Then he said, “I’m just kidding McKee.  You think that 10 reais will change my life?”  Then he pulled out his wallet and showed me about the 700 reais he had on him right then.  This man is very wealthy by Brazilian standards.  I was looking at the newspaper while waiting on a member.  The national average monthly income is about 780 reais.  It was, with the current conversion, $212. Dollars.
            But yea got to talk to my family and friends, which was much needed.  I was, the past couple of days, feeling very down.  But talking to my mom, and the other emails I got, pulled me out of it!  I’m happy.  No worries.  Then we came back to the house, and I wrote and wrote and I now have letters for my family to send next p-day for Christmas.
            I’ve really started praying for the gift of tongues harder again.  I need all the help I can get, and who better to ask then my Pai Celestial? (Heavenly Father)
            So!  Something cool I forgot to write about.  We met a woman na rua (in the street) the other day, who turned out to be an inactive member, with a son serving a mission in Japan!  He spoke English before his mission, and he wrote home 2 letters in English she doesn’t understand.  Then she said, “But you guys don’t have an American missionary here right now that can translate right?”  Ha-ha, then I said, “Sou Americano” and she got all surprised.  So in 2 days we’ll go to her house.  I think I’ll translate one line, then say, if you want more listen to our message and line upon line, here a little and there a little, she’ll hear all the messages and be active again!  Ha-ha.  Today is day 97.
TERCA (Tuesday):  Today was a division!  I was with Elder Nascimento, which means birth.  He came on the same day that I did, and it was a great day today.  I think we’ll be comps one day because we made a good team.  He’s from Rio de Janero.  So I included a picture, but we went to one house, to be greeted with a legit tea party.  Let me tell you about the story of this investigator of Nascimento.  So 10 years ago, she got pregnant, and her husband didn’t think that it was his.   Fighting followed, then papers for a legal divorce.  Then the baby was born, and it looked exactly like him.  So they got back together, but never legally remarried.  Years latter, they’ve forgotten that they are divorced and tell the missionaries they have papers of marriage and are baptized.  That was about a year ago.  Then, about a month ago, with the missionaries now, they are doing some stuff to go be sealed in the temple, and they need a number off their marriage license.  But they can’t find it anywhere.  Then they remember the whole story.  Ha-ha, so this tea party was a celebration of her marriage.  Good cake.  

One thing about the tea here, 1) it’s legal with the word of wisdom, and 2) they’ll give you sugar with it.  USE AS MUCH SUGAR AS THAT TEA WILL HOLD!  Then pretend that it tastes good.  Ha-ha.  I’m actually getting used to it.  Another investigator I met over in his area was named something I can’t remember.  But he could TALK!  Man, this guy, mid-sentence, he said, “Let me show you Pedro!”  Then he grabbed his guitar, and introduced it as Pedro, then started showing us songs he had written.  Ha-ha, it had been about 10 minutes with out either of us missionaries saying much more then a sentence.  After one song, which he sang about Pedro, Tiago, e Jose, (Peter, James, and John), I cut him off before he could start the next song and asked if it was the apostles of Christ he was singing about.  Then tied it into the restoration pamphlet they had left him that he read.  Then it turned into an awesome lesson and we were just talking with him.  After, Nascimento said he’s never had a lesson like that with this guy.  All the older missionaries just cut him off when he’s talking and bring the conversation back to the next point of the lesson.  He said this lesson was way better, because we let him talk, and let the lesson jump around.  It’s awesome when you know the message you want to share, and you just let the spirit guide, and direct a conversation to teach the principles.  Not lecturing topic by topic.  Very ben.
            Today, also, we were walking up a HUGE hill, and all the sudden 4 kids on longboards went flying past.  I’ll admit I stopped for a moment and watched them, wishing I was on a longboard.  I didn’t feel homesick.  I have yet to feel homesick or trunky, but I did feel falta de longboarding mismo.  Mas tudo bein estou bem estou feliz.  Today is day 98 of my mission. (I did feel a lack of longboarding all the same.  But all is fine, I am happy.)
QUARTA (Wednesday):  So today, this fantastic day.  This fantastic day of cancellation.  I’ll call it that.  Why do people make commitments with us the same hours that they work, I’ll never know?  5 times today, and our plan b’s, all fell through.  And with rain clouds overhead threatening to puke buckets of water at any given moment.  The streets were lacking of people indeed.
            One lesson we had that wasn’t a lesson, with Moneco.  The man that’s “all-right”.  We knocked, he answered, let us in, then told us about how annoying it is that we come once a week and he always has to turn off the T.V.  he said, “You guys always come Tersa or Quarts, but when you just show up and I have to turn off my T.V. it’s very annoying.  Tersa or Quarta are the days that you can come. (Tuesday or Wednesday).  I only have one hour a day to watch T.V. and you guys always interrupt it.  I didn’t want to be the one to point out that TODAY is Quarta, or that he only leaves his T.V. during the day to open the gate for us.  Elder Santos Melo said, “To Bom, Moneco.  We’ll put your name in our book, and in a month or two the missionaries that replace us can come visit you.  Sorry about that” Then Moneco said, “That’s another thing. You guys are trying to get me to be baptized, but you never bring the missionaries of your church with you!”  We sat there for a second, then Melo said, “Moneco, we ARE representatives of Jesus Christ, and his church.”  Moneco, “Yes, I know, but where are the missionaries?”  WHAT THE CRAP!  Does he think members just leave Utah to go to Brazil to bring missionaries to peoples houses?  I AM A MISSIONARY!  But yea, Moneco isn’t in our investigator list any more.  And not just because of this lesson.  He’s had many other lessons like this one, and he isn’t progressing at all, and he doesn’t want anything.  It’s sad, and it’s the hardest thing for me about being a missionary is the vast majority of people who reject this gospel.
            Let me tell you, I am learning the patience of Gandi.   But today I thought of something that helped my attitude a lot.  While I was finishing washing all the dishes, the table, floor, sink, and stove at lunch ........ I had the thought, “Every time you serve, I’ll better your Portuguese.”  Exactly the words in my head.  I don’t know if it was the spirit talking to me, or me wishing the spirit would say that to me, but I’ll roll with it.  And I did roll with it, and it was much easier to be positive!  I still have never wanted November 9th to come so bad in my life, but I think I’ve found a way to make these next 25 days easier to bear.
            Speaking of Portuguese, I’m still improving.  I can understand almost, ALMOST, close to everything.  And usually I can say what I want to say understandably.  It’s incredible.  Sometimes I forget that.  I only have 2 months here in Brazil, 3 months total learning Portuguese.  Today is day 99 of my mission.
QUINTA (Thursday):  Overall, today was a good day.  Let me tell you about it.  I’ll start with about 3am this morning.  I woke up to the sound of wind and doors slamming.  I was then running through the house shutting all the windows then going back to sleep.  Woke up at 6:30 to POURING rain, which passed and clouds disappeared as the sun came out.  That part happens everyday.  Not the wind though.  We also woke up to no power, and so did the rest of Santa Maria, except those with generators.  I took one picture today, but there were many places where giant trees had fallen on houses.  I saw about 7 telephone poles that had been torn apart, wires everywhere, and the big wooden beam being help up only by the few wires that didn’t snap.  So many trees blown over.  One tree was HUGE, and 4 feel in diameter, and it had snapped in half, and fallen against another tree, which stopped it from smashing a huge house.  But yea, powers out, and will be for the next few days at least.  We returned home when it got dark, at about 8:30 because our area is sketchy with streetlights.  It’s like the poor ghetto part.

            Also, All our commitments, plans, and plan B’s fell through.  But I stayed positive.  That was good.  We still had some good lessons with Albertinha and her soon to be son in law Maricio.  He wants to be baptized.  That is good.  Also preparing Laura for her baptismal interview tomorrow.  Side note, the baptism might be moved to next week according to if we have electricity.  And we walked way into the city so Santos Melo could do an interview for a baptism, which also went good.  We weren’t able to pass by Sergio today, for a lesson and to check up on our goal with him to help him quit smoking.  We’ll pass by tomorrow though.   He should be, if everything goes according to plan, baptized on the 24th.  But he needs to quit smoking! 
            With all this rain, a lot of houses are flooding and streets.   Not in my area, but other parts of the state, people are being evacuated to huge warehouses and stuff because where they live the line of water is chest deep in the street.  Lots of trees and telephone poles falling.  The wind last night was INSANE!
            Oh!  Here’s a million dollar idea I had today.  A ping-pong table that floats on the water.  Only a few inches tall, it just sits in the pool, or the lake.  Whatever water, and you play Ping-Pong!!  Ha-ha, man I’m a genius.  Let’s get on that idea.
            Another funny story, walking up the big hill today and we see the 5 year old son of Sandra and Carlinhos out in front of the house.  He’s a really funny kid.  He had some stuff on the front of his shirt, and when I asked him what it was, he said, “Banana do cru.”  Ha-ha-ha.  Banana from the sky.  He said it just fell on his shirt.  A few things I’m certain of…1) It isn’t banana.  Today is day 100 of my mission!  WOOT WOOT!!!  100/730
            In honor of my 100 days, I’ll write 100 things I’ve learned on my mission this far.
            1) Portuguese
            2) How blessed we are in America
            3) The best teachers are just mouthpieces for the spirit
            4) Food quality decreases when you are making it yourself.
            5) Peaches, lots of cream, chocolate powder, and chocolate milk make a terrible dinner.
            6) Eggs and rice is FANTASTIC at any time.
            7) Make your plans, but be open to spontaneous spiritual promptings.
            8)  Footnotes in the scriptures help a lot in studying.
            9) Nobody can argue with a testimony of what you know to be true.
            10) We have no right to claim suffering.
            11) Being strengthened in all things doesn’t mean ease in all things.  The effort is what strengthens.
            12) If you speak against something you know is wrong, suddenly everyone agrees with you.
            13) It pays to be obedient. 
            14) It’s ok to cry
            15) It’s ok to be sad
            16) It’s not ok to let your feeling hinder your work
            17) If you know it’s going to be a hard day, wear a tie that reminds you a happy times.
            18) When people ask how much money you have, it’s best to loose the ability to understand Portuguese, but don’t speak English.
            19) Keep your personal problems personal.
            20) If you catch a fly in your hand, make sure someone is looking when you let it go.
            21) if your American, you can get away with almost whatever you want and everyone laughs.
            22) It’s best to abandon all thought of reputation preservation and just talk.
            23) The Book of Mormon testifies of everything the Bible Teaches.
            24) You can always tie someone beliefs to the gospel in one-way or another.
            25) You can only lift others if your on higher ground then they are.
            26) The spirit testifies ANYTIME truth is being taught, even in other churches.
            27) Brazilians will ALWAYS offer you more food.
            28) The worst Brazilian is better then me at soccer.
            29) If you don’t understand what someone is saying, don’t nod in agreement.
            30) Thinking of home only makes home seem further away.
            31) Be careful what things you say are inexpensive; these people have a very different perception of money.
            32) There is always comfort in prayer.
            33) Sometimes, most times, a small and simple testimony is more effective then an elaborate and complex testimony.
            34) Wimps ask for less trials, or easier trials.  Men ask for more strength.
            35) If Satan didn’t understand the importance of this gospel he wouldn’t fight so hard against it.
            36) People have agency, which means sometimes they’ll chose wrong.
            37) Being an average missionary only means 50% of all missionaries are better then you.
            38) Your attitude is dependent on what you want your attitude to be.
            39) When people ask you if you like Brazilian women, it’s best to remain silent.
            40) If you’re teaching lessons, you’re teaching wrong.
            41) If you look at how far you have to go, you’ll always be discouraged.  Only look at how far the Lord has already brought you.
            42) The right question at the right time can work miracles.
            43) If you don’t think something is right, say so.
            44) Everyone claims to speak English, until they learn that you’re American.  Then they claim their friends speak English.
            45) When you feel sorry for yourself, you are haltering the work.
            46) The gospel is beautiful because it is simple.
            47) The reality of the atonement
            48) The meaning/significance of the plan of salvation.
            49) All things of the gospel are related, and made possible through the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
            50) The only way to teach is with patience.
            51) God gave us the ability to laugh for a reason
            52) I’m not called because of my knowledge of the scriptures, thankfully.  I am called because of the faith I have and the testimony I can share.
            53) Everything of the gospel can stem off the fact that God is our loving Heavenly Father.
            54) If you wait until you have a strong testimony to share it, it’s just like waiting until you have strong muscles to work out.
            55) If your comp snores, fall asleep before he does
            56) The seed of faith will not grow in the soil of doubt.
            57) Really, truly and honestly, what reason do we have to be sad?  We have the gospel, a loving Heavenly Father, and eternal families.
            58) There are stupid people everywhere you go.  Learn to deal with it.
            59) Complaining blocks your ability to see the positive.
            60) whoever you’ll marry after the mission will be there when you get back.  Relax.
            61) If you force yourself to appear happy, you’ll become happy.
            62) Putting off todays work until tomorrow just makes tomorrows work twice as hard.
            63) If you’re talking to someone who is drunk, be direct and blunt in everything you say.
            64) Drunk people are easier to understand when they speak.
            65) In all things you do strive for perfection.
            66) When you compare yourself to other, you’ll always be disappointed.
            67) Things always work out
            68) I really don’t care how I look or smell.
            69) If you’re too far out in the road, cars will tell you by driving past as close as they can laying on the horn.
            70) Take time to actually talk to God.
            71) My testimony is realized when I go to use it.
            72) EVERYBODY has advice to give, and it pays to listen to it all.
            73) Be the last one to leave the service project of the refreshment table.
            74) Give credit where credit is due, unless it’s to yourself.
            75) I love my family more than anything.
            76) You really don’t need a cell phone to survive
            77) Talk to everyone
            78) Everyone wants you to visit after the mission
            79) I will always treat everyone with respect until they give me reason not to.
            80) Satan is a LIAR, and a LOSER! (Thanks Bros. Simmons)
            81) Never discredit peoples past spiritual experiences
            82) When you write everyday you go through a lot of pens.
            83) Make your purpose known in the first lesson
            84) God blesses the prepared.
            85) In His strength, I really can do all things
            86) Never baptize someone with out a testimony.  If you do, you’re baptizing an inactive member.
            87) Establish your purpose in the first lesson
            88) If you make your fear of spiders know, at you all spiders will be thrown.
            89) If you feel frustrated, do some pushups
            90) We don’t have rain in Utah.  We have light showers
            91) Never walk though tall grass.  That’s where the dogs hide their…. presents.
            92) All things praised in public are first practiced in private
            93) You’ll only be offended if you choose to be
            94) You begin to really teach when you love the people and want them to progress.
            95) If you randomly see president, you better hope your shoes are shined.
            96) Scriptures are easier to read in Portuguese then in English
            97) I do have a testimony that I know Christ lives
            98) Work is only hard if you choose not to enjoy it
            99) If you love God, you’ll keep the commandments
            100) God hears and answers our prayers

SEXTA (Friday):  Today was good.  And here’s something interesting I learned today. Every trimester the mission sends a list of names to the bishopric to give to the missionaries, A list of inactive members for the missionaries to focus on.  We’ve been trying to get this list for about 3 weeks now, but Bispo was having problems.  President Parrela called us himself today, and told us that it is due to a lack of effort on our part, and that we are to drop all commitments today to get the list from Bishop, then visit every name on the list.  TODAY!  The list could have anywhere from 0-80 names.  Our problems today with this, Bishop wasn’t home in the morning, and there is no power ANYWHERE!  There are so many poles and telephone wires down, (some of the light came back on about an hour ago, including our house).  We went to Bishops house after lunch, and then got in his car to drive to Centro to go to the only place that has power, which is all of Centro.  He logged on, went to the list, and no names.  But man, it was stressful.  Our Bishop is great though.  It really was our fault.
            Also, had the baptism interview for Laura today.  She can’t be baptized tomorrow, but will be next Saturday.  She forgot she can’t drink coffee. AHHHH…..It’s fine.
            So, we stopped by the house of a less active for her birthday.  She’s 23 and another daughter of Sandra and Carlinhos, Monique.  Before everyone came, she asked us to give her baby a blessing because he’s having problems.  So, in the middle of the blessing, everyone decides to arrive, loudly.  Then, start yelling at each other to be quiet because of the blessing.  Ha-ha, nice.  Then, the whole family was there and a bunch of her friends, and they had a food table set up.  A bunch of different types of meat and stuff, which you put in a pile on your plate, then at the end of the table they take your plate, put all the meat in a tortilla thing, hand the plate to the next person in line and hand you the tortilla.  You press all the edges closed around the meats, then go to the stove where they deep fry it.  Man it was so good!!!  I’m trying to eat better because I don’t want to get fat.  Today is day 101 in my mission.
SABADO (Saturday):  Well, today was good, and not because I got the first hug I’ve had in 102 days, more on that in a second.  First off, at lunch, I gave a message about going to church.  The whole family is inactive members, except Renan, who’s 15 and less active.  But they are awesome.  Anyways, I was focusing my message on Andrensa, sister of Renan who has a family.  She taught me how to make negrinhos.  I said, “Andrensa, do you know how long I’ve already done here? 2 months.  And do you know how many times I’ve seen you at church? 0!”  She said, “Elder McKee, the last time I went to a sacrament meeting was when Renan was confirmed 7 years ago.”  I think said, “Well, lucky for you!  We happen to have another one TOMORROW!  And we are going to pass by your house tomorrow before church to bring you with us!”  Ha-ha, I don’t know fi she’ll go, but I think she will.
            Later, at the house of Albertinha, she has a daughter named Luana, who has a ‘husband’ named Lucas.  We asked Lucas today if he’s always lived here.  He said, “Yes, my house is just up the street.”  Then we said, “Oh!  So you’ve known Luana your whole life?”  “Yes, of course, we’re cousins.”  WHAT!?!?  HAHAHAHAHA and everyone nodded like that was normal.  Then they started talking about other family members that had married cousins.  NO THANK YOU!
            Also, Denise, the other daughter of Albertinha, will be married to Maricio as soon as they have the money to do so.  That is awesome.
            We taught them today about family history and temple work.  Launa loves it when I talk, and always says my accent is cute.  When I’m not with Elder Santos Melo, like during a division, she’s doesn’t join the lesson.  Ha-ha.  But after this lesson, she shook Elder Santos Melo’s hand saying goodbye, then shook mine.  I said something, and she laughed at my accent and gave me a big ole hug!  I didn’t know what to do, so I kind of sat there like a wooden pole.  Ha-ha yep.  Then Luana said that I could seriously be her brother.  Her, Denise, and Albertinha have all told me this, on separate occasions.  And we do look alike.
            We also went to the house of Sandra e Carlinhos and suddenly they had tons of churrasco.  That was a VERY welcome surprise.
            So, we have this one investigator.  He’s a pastor.  The guy we taught in his church a bit ago.  Man, this guy is smart.  It’s been quite some time since we went, but when we went today, he remembered Utah, America, Salvador where Santos Melo lived, and everything we had told him in the last lesson about 2 weeks ago.  This guy knows the Bible like he wrote it.  And he’s basically blind.  But we’d read scriptures from the Bible and he’d recite it with us.  Multiple times.  Everything we teach he asks for evidence in the Bible.  Then he asked us what the gift of tongues was, or the power to speak with the tongues of angles.  My comp said, “My companion has this gift, that’s how he speaks Portuguese so good.”  Then I explained how 3 months ago I didn’t speak a work of Portuguese, and we explained other gifts we can receive from God as well.  He was very impressed, and said he likes talking with other people who know the scriptures and have a different perspective, and that we are always welcome in his house.  Then said he’d go to church tomorrow!  WOOT WOOT!  I hope he does.  Today is day 102 in my mission.
DOMINGO (Sunday):  Ahhh I love Sunday!  I wish we had 2 of them a week instead of just one.  So, Andrensa came to sacrament for the first time in 7 years!  And said she’d come again next week, if I make her more negrihos.  Ha-ha.. Ahh caisa boa (good thing).  Also Everton randomly came.  He was baptized in January.  Last time he came to church was in May.  We were passing once or twice a week, but he wasn’t progressing at all and said he didn’t want the church at all, so we cut him.  That was about 3 weeks ago.  Today, he came walking into sacrament!  Ha-ha. I talked to him a little and we are going to start passing by again.  Denise and Monicio also came and liked it.  They will be baptized, one day.  Marriage first.
            So, we passed by the house of Terezinha, who will go to get married legally THIS WEEK.  (She’s been saying that for about 2 weeks now, but something always comes up.  I think it’s legit this time.) Then her son, Yuri showed me his homemade slingshot.  This thing was legit.  Then I schooled everyone in shooting bottles.  That was exciting.
            Sergio, when we passed, was smoking, a LOT, and had a beer in his hand.  He’s really slipping, and I don’t know what to do to help him..yet.
            Ha-ha, so at the hosue of Eliane, a recent convert, she has a dog that chews EVERYTHING!  We’re talking, and I’m trying to keep the dog off my shoes, then off my bag, then my pants, then my hands, tie, shoes.  For 15 mintues.  The dog is biting my hands nad chewing on my pants and hsoes.  Eliane leaves the room for a second, so it’s just me, Santos Melo, and this dog of Satan.  It tries to bite my pans again, and I smack the back of its’ head with my hand REALLY hard.  This is a little dog.  Santos Melo says, “Don’t do that!”  And I say, “Watch, I won’t need to again.”  The dog didn’t touch me again, but Santos Melo spent the next 20 minutes fighting off the dog.  Ha-ha, that’s what I call victory to Elder Mckee!
            Last night was the Brazil day light savings, so I lost an hour of sleep.  Yep.
            I have letters for all of you for Christmas that I will mail tomorrow.  Next week I’ll mail more letters.  This week was harder to stay positive, but it’s looking much better.  Tomorrow I’ll get my little bible!  WOOT WOOT!  And I’ll get to talk to you guys!  I can’t even explain how much of a stree relief that is to email for one hour.  And with the way I write in my journal and send, it makes it so much better.
            I love you guys!  Keep looking for opportunities to serve!  God strengthens us in all things when we show we are willing to submit to his will, and we can do that best, in my opinion, through humble service.  Jesus Christ never let a chance to serve pass him by, and neither should we.  Look at what Ammon did with King Lamoni, then his father, Kind of all the land. It started with, “Nao, Mas Serei teu servo” (No, But I will be your servant).  Alma 17:25, I only have my Portuguese B of M here).  And through that service, he converted people of stronger faith then found anywhere else, See Alma 24.  This gospel is true and amazing.  I know my savior lives.  I know He loves me.  I know I am a member and representative of His true church, and I take great pride in that.  Today is day 103 of my mission.
I Love you all,
Elder Mckee

We sent Jake’s companion, Elder Santos Melo, a package to say thank you for showing Jake how to be a great missionary, and for being his first companion.  It was a simple package of socks, a tie, BYU shirt, treats, pens, a journal, and an English Book of Mormon with his name on it, since he wants to learn English.  This is the email we got from him today:

Dear Famyle McKee, Thank you for present.
Élder Mckee is the best missionary in the mission Santa Maria, and i love being your companion, and is pleasure being your companion, Thank very mach for box. 
Morôni 8:3

Elder Santos Melo   

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