Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Great Days and Staying Positive

SEGUNDA (Monday):  Yep, today was good.  Emails, packages with candy, the postcards are awesome!  And the flash cards are great.  I’m going to just work on Old Testament, also!  So, something interesting… You know that deep feeling of satisfaction you get, like you’re proud of yourself, after you do something really good.  Yea…. I didn’t have that feeling after I jumped off the roof of the church.  4 other Elders from our district came and we played volleyball.  They hit it onto the roof; I saw an opportunity and took it.  As I started climbing the barred windows, one of the elders started singing the Spiderman theme song.  Anyways, when I jumped I think I bruised my heel.  But it’ll be fine.  Totally worth it.
            I forgot to weigh myself today, which might be a blessing.  Ha-ha, let’s just say they feed us GOOD!  Also, the cyber place had my pen drive!  WOOT WOOT!!  That’s what I’m talking about.  I also bought lunch for Elder Santos Melo and me.  It’s this buffet place with REALLY good food.  I paid because I was feeling nice, and it was like $10.00 for us both to have a soda, and as much amazing food as our bellies could hold.
            I also had the other elders teach me how to juggle a ball with my feet.  I’m going to be practicing a lot.  At one point, playing volleyball I was trying to pop the ball up into my hands with my feet.  After 4 tries one of them said, “Stop.  You’re American.  Use your hands.”  Ha-ha.  It was funny.  Well, I don’t have much more for ya’ll.  Love you!  Today was day 111 of my mission.
TERCA (Tuesday):  Woot Woot!  Good day!  Those post cards of Christ you sent me, I LOVE THEM!  They are awesome.  One lesson today with a family of members that’s kind of struggling and 2 other people, I gave a lesson/message about the gospel, and used 3Nephi 27:13-15.  It was very spiritual and went very well, and at the end, I gave 3 groups each one of the post cards.  I said, “Put this somewhere so that when you look at it you’ll remember the spirit we’re feeling right now, and think about the gospel of Christ.”  They all started at it, then Mirian said, “That’s your name in the corner, did you draw this?”  I said yes and she started crying.  She had a son that died a while back, and she told me that he drew the same picture for her one time to use in her class with the young women.  It was very spiritual.  Then we closed with a prayer and Mirian went to put the picture in her house.  When I went in a little bit later to put something away, it was in a picture frame on the shelf with pictures of her son.  Thank you mom and dad!  Mirian asked me for a bigger one.  I don’t know if it’s possible to blow it up without it getting blurry, but if you can, and then send it to me, that would be awesome. 
            So, we’re kind of getting in trouble with the door.  Ha-ha.  President called Santos Melo today.  We aren’t really in trouble, but they said that we should have called zone leaders.  I think they would have said the same thing, but it’s all-good.
            We also had a really good lesson with Sandra e Carlinhos, about temples and baptisms for the dead, and family history.  Then we set a goal with them to go, with a name of a family member, in January.  Then, I gave them a picture also.  They loved it.  Carlinhos started debating which child’s picture he would remove so he could put it in a frame.  Ha-ha. 
            You will never believe what song randomly got stuck in my head today.  The duck with the lemonade stand song.  Talk about a thought placed in your head by the adversary.  (Josh and mom randomly sang this week too.  We like to think that is a tender mercy to remember that we are still connected to Jake while he is so far away).  Also, the scripture mastery cards are AWESOME!  I like that they are so big.  They fit perfectly in the side pocket of my bag, so I choose one to take with me each day and work on it in the street. 
            Also, the kids flipped at Sandra’s house when I gave them my last pack of skittles and M&M’s.  The chocolate here is different, less sweet, I think.
            I’m 89% certain Elder Santos Melo vai embora (go away) next transfer, and 73% certain they will open the other area as well.  96% certainty I will ficar .  Casa boa.  (stay in nice house).  One more thing, if anyone has an idea to make a country of people with families get married, please share.  If I had a baptism for every couple that needs marriage, half of them would be baptized.  Ha-ha.  Today is day 112 of my mission.  16 weeks!  16/104=4/26
QUARTA (Wednesday):  WOOT WOOT!  Another great day.  People are loving the post cards.  I’m only giving them to people I feel a connection with, and with a message.  I want people to remember my name by the spirit they felt with me.
            Lesson with our new Sergio went very well.  Nothing feels better than, in the lesson, you’re speaking with no thought before hand, and the message is just flowing and they understand what you’re saying.  I leaned today that the gift of tongues is just as much helping people understand you as it is helping you speak.  Man am I glad I’m on the Lord’s side.  I don’t’ think Sergio will be ready for the 7th like we marked, but we’ll keep praying and working with him.
            Also, hoje e noite (tonight), there was a baptism at the church on Appel (a very well known street).  It’s about 30 minutes walking, and where we have all of our meetings.  The rapaz (boy) being baptized asked Elder Santos Melo to baptize him at the interview.  It was that kind of situation where they asked him who he wanted to baptize him, and he didn’t want to offend either of the Elders who taught him so he chose Santos Melo.  It’s fine.  So, we went to that, and it was cool.  I don’t have any pictures with the kid.  I have no idea who he is, but he seemed cool, and very well prepared.
            Today, I made the promise to myself that during my mission I will never complain.  Rather then complaining, I’ll actually do something to fix the problem.  Complaining does nothing but attract other complainers, and tick off those who are happy.  Its crazy Octobra is almost gone already!  The time passes so fast!  It seems like the more you try to hold onto every moment, the faster time passes.  Today is day 113 of my mission.
QUINTA (Thursday):  So, let’s talk about this good day I had today.  I’ll just tell you about one lesson that I had today, with Sergio.  It was really good.  We pulled up the shorter restoration video on the computer and watched it.  Then talked about it and about lesson 3, evangelho de Cristo.  Then we talked about his smoking.  The original goal was one a day for this week, and none net week.  Today in the lesson, Sergio said he was done.  He doesn’t want to smoke anymore.  Then he told us about when he was in the hospital for 2 months and didn’t miss smoking.  How after 10 minutes, if he resists the urge to smoke it passes.  I said, “That’s great!  Stop now!  So, can I have your cigarettes?”  Ha-ha.  He looked at me like I was crazy.  Then I explained to remove the temptation.  But his son smokes, too, so no go.  But he asked us to stop by his house everyday to check up on him.  He’s a great guy.  His nephew leaves for a mission on day 11 of November, and we’re trying to get him to baptize Sergio, on the 7th.
            Then, we stopped by the house of Terezinha, a less active that is old and very sick, hence the inactiveness in the church.  But she loves the missionaries.  I’ve only been to her house three times. But she is like a grandma to us.  We walked into her house, and she right away handed us both little towels and said, “Go clean your faces.  You’re filthy.”  Ha-ha.  (By the way, I was HOT today.  Whether from rain or sweat, I haven’t been properly dry in weeks).    Then she told us about the trip to Natal she has planned.  I told her I have a friend in Natal serving a mission and she got very excited.  She texted her son who lives there to ask about the missionaries in his ward, and he didn’t know their names.  She told me to figure out her ward and if it’s the same she wants to deliver a letter for me.  She told me about 6 times she wouldn’t open it. Ha-ha.  Today is day 114 of my mission.
SEXTA (Friday): How are you guys doing on the Old Testament Scripture Masterys?  I already have 6 down!  I memorized 2 today.  Casa Ben.  Haje for um ban dio mesmo (not translating right, but something about good day) and I took a picture of my dinner.  The burgers here put America to shame.  Just saying.
  So, we met a new investigator today, and she doesn’t stop talking.  No matter what we do.  So, that’s cool.
            Ha-ha.  Also, so we have a list of all the young men in the ward, about ¾ of  which are less/inactive.  We went through it and found one name of a kid who hadn’t been baptized, the list said, but he always goes to church and everyone thought he was already a member.  So, we went to the house of Mirian, a member who we are tight with and also the aunt of this rapaz.  We asked her if she knew that her nephew wasn’t a member, and she flipped!  She said, “YES he is!  He was baptized and confirmed twice!  I don’t’ want to hear anymore!”  Ha-ha.  I guess when he was 8 he was baptized by Rafa, husband of Mirian.  Then, for whatever reason, he got put in the system as another person.  So his name was in the system twice, one saying he wasn’t baptized.  The missionaries found it, and 3 years later taught him everything again and baptized him.  Mirian got very mad because it made it seem like the baptism her husband did was invalid.  Then the same thing happened with the system, and now where we come.  By the end, we looked closer at the list and it had his name 3 times.  At the end we were all laughing and all was well.  If you want a sweet story to read, read Daniel 5.  AHHH  Cool.  I never appreciated the scriptures like I should have been.  Today is day 115 of my mission.
SABADO (Saturday):  TODAY WAS AWESOME!  This morning in my studies I spend a lot of time on studying diligence in Preach My Gospel.  I had been losing my drive a little, and so today I worked to get it back.  And I feel so good right now.  I’m proud of today.  One thing that helped a LOT was every time we were walking in the street and I started to think about family, friends, plans after the mission, I tried to immediately recite all the scripture masteries I know.  Worked like a charm, and suddenly the big hills seemed smaller and we seemed to get places faster.  Foi muito bom. (It was good).
            First lesson today with Sergio.  He drank a little coffee this morning, but he’s still going strong with not smoking.  We taught the 10 commandments, with chastity.  Went very well, and I felt the spirit.  I love it when the people participate.
            2nd lesson, a new investigator we met yesterday, the one that doesn’t stop talking.  She lives with her 2 grandchildren, 11 and 12, who were home today.  Irma Rita, a member who is AWESOME, was there as well.  She’s the one who referred us to Tereza, this lady.  We spent about the first 15 minutes, before the prayer, and I showed them a magic trick, the kids flipped, and so did Santos Melo.  We joked around with them, and very quick they suddenly weren’t shy of us, and we were friends.  Then, We had the prayer and taught the restoration.  I think it was one of the best lessons I’ve been a part of yet.  These kids paid such close attention, especially during the first vision, and we used a lot of examples, and really did a good job, I feel, of teaching to their needs.  It was awesome.  Rita bore testimony.  They want to go to church. The kids want to be baptized.  Woot Woot!  More on them to come.
            Then, Angelo and Serenir, the people who were baptized 4 years ago.  Went awesome.  And in the middle of the lesson, their 8 year old son said, “Look at the Americans head.  It’s like he has a ball on the back of his head, under his hair.”  And everyone looked at me and then exploded into laughter.  4 months with out ANY head jokes, and this 8-year-old kid broke my streak.  Ha-ha, but it was so funny.  The rest of the lesson, one of them would look at me and muffle a laugh, then everyone is trying not to smile, then laughter again.  I felt right at home, everyone making fun of my head.  Ha-ha.
            The other Sergio now, the one we were trying to help a while back to stop smoking.  We walked in his house for the first time in about 2 weeks.  He hadn’t been home any of the times we passed.  The tile in his house was COVERED in cigarette butts and ashes.  He’s started drinking again as well.  But we’ll continue to work with him.
            We had other lessons also. This morning Santos Melo asked me to pray in English, and I couldn’t.  Half way through I just flipped back to Portuguese.  He doesn’t know this, but I was speaking English totally wrong.  Grammar, words, I even could hear a little accent.  Christmas, talking with you guys will be interesting.  Ha-ha.  I need to practice my English.  There’s been a few times when I’ll be thinking about something, stop, and realize I was thinking in Portuguese.  WOOT  WOOT!!  It’s still totally incorrect Portuguese, but it’s a start.  Today was day 116 of my mission.
DOMINGO (Sunday):  Good day, Great week.  Church today, which always makes for a good day.  Albertinha received a calling today.  Secretary of something I didn’t understand, but she was so excited when we passed by.  And Denise e Mauricio are going to go this week to do the marriage papers.  I’m super excited about them because they’re a young family, with kids that will now grow up in the church.  Woot Woot!
            We also passed by Sandra and Carlinhos, and it went very well.  They’re very firm now, and Sandra thinks Joao is secretly reading the Book of Mormon. Joao is 14 years old, and the type of kid that feels the need to rebel in everything.  For the first month I was here I didn’t even know he existed because he always hid. Now he comes into the room and participates while acting like he doesn’t’ care.  He’s coming to church, too.  Sandra was very happy about the chance that he is reading the Book of Mormon.
            So also, I think I’m fat or getting there at least. I’ll weight myself this p-day and let you know.
            So, during the lesson with Albertina, Mauricio, and Denise, we were talking about prophets.  I explained how prophets receive inspiration, and how they then share it with us, and why we need to obey the prophets.  When I finished, they sat in silence for a second, and Albertina said, “Remember when we could hardly understand him?” Denise, “Yes, and now he speaks almost perfect.”  Ha-ha.  That was awesome.  Sometimes I’m surprised at how far I’ve come.  Or more accurately, how far I’ve been brought by the spirit.  “I glory not of myself, “ Alma.  We had 7 investigators in sacrament.  Good day.  Today is day 117 of my mission.
SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today I ate more food then my body can hold, and my belly is NOT happy with me.  But today was a good day.  We went with the others in our district to the cemetery with Plan of Salvation Pamphlets and Family Proclamation to the World.  Today was a big holiday where everyone goes to pay their respect to the dead.  It was very uncomfortable at first talking to people while they’re mourning, but we were really able to help some people.
            So, land here is very expensive, so a family will buy one plot in the cemetery, then stack the tombs.  So there are like 3-4 coffins stacked, some are just brick, other tile with glassed off rooms with pictures and flowers.  There was one area; down and away from the big ‘rich people’ graves, where it was seriously a border of bricks in the ground, or sometimes just a slight ditch to help you know where the graves were.  These people can’t afford a spot, so they just bury their loved ones here.  We went down to this area because there was an old man by himself.  We asked him if he needed any help. He said no.  We talked a little, and he said, “My wife and son were buried there”, he pointed to 2 big holes in the ground. There was a whole row of these holes ready for new coffins.  The old man had tears in his eyes as he explained he had come to put flowers on the grave of his wife and son and found their graves dug up waiting for new bodies.  I learned later from Elder Santos Melo that this isn’t rare.  They bury the bodies in thin wood boxes. In a few years, the boxes have rotted away, and they dig another hole for the next one.  He said they hit bones and all as they dig the hole.  Then, to the old man, Santos Melo said that we as missionaries are here to help people, and we have a message we’d like to share.  Asked if we could note down his phone number.  He said, “I forgot my phone in house.”  Santos Melo, “Oh, Ok then, well here is a card” gave him a pass along card.  Then I pulled out a plan of Salvation pamphlet, and said, “this is the message we’d like to share with you another day in your house.  This explains the plan that God created for us, so we can live forever with our families.”  Bore small testimony about eternal families.  No joke, his only response was, “I think I actually have a paper with my number on it.”  Ha-ha, then he gave us his number.  It turns out he doesn’t live in our area, but the other elders will stop by his house.
            It was really cool today to talk to these people about eternal families as they are thinking about their families.  Never thought I’d be bearing testimony and feeling the spirit in a very catholic cemetery.
            This week went very well.  I’m learning so much still, which is awesome, and this coming week is the last of the transfer Quinta or Sexta (Thursday or Friday) we’ll receive a call telling us where we will go.  I think I’ll stay here.  Actually, I’m 97% certain I will, until Feb.  Which is cool.  I love that I know everyone here.  I’m still loving the mission, and trying to make every moment count.  Over and Out.  Today is day 118 of my mission.
Love you guys! 

Elder McKee
We asked him about his showers.  We heard they can get shocked if they touch the shower head.  This is what he saidThey don't have hot or cold water here, just a big tank. So the showers have this thing that's got live wires just exposed, but it heats the water as it comes out. So, unlimited hot water, but yes, it shocks you if you touch it. I haven't yet touched it, but I will before I leave the mission. :)

Albertinha and her grandson trying to blow a water wing up on Jake's arm.
 He said he made a new planner and was pretty excited about it.

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