Segunda (Monday): BEST P-Day YET! So we left the other elders to go back to the house. We get a call from Elder Donoso, “Hey tche, so, there’s 8 packages here, 5 of which are for you.” Ha-ha, and I also got 3 letters. The other 3 packages were the three for them. They got SO excited when Elder Donoso entered the house; he was carrying them all yelling, “HO, HO, HO”! We started ripping them open, except for the 24 of Dezembro one! (MOM: I sent one for Christmas Eve, and wrote on the back of it not to open until then.) Elder Donoso recognized the shape of the Toblerone, and flipped and started ripping off the paper just as Elder Jawwad read, “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL CHRISTMAS DAY!” Donoso froze and slowly started putting the paper back. Ha-ha. But we all opened the Toblerones and we are saving the rest. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Also Elder Felipe got that letter from Malena. I made a video talking about it, but I think he was really touched by that. He walked in the room while Donoso, Jawwad, and I were setting up the tree and said, “My sister also has 15 years, and she also loves purple. Then he left again. He doesn’t have much family support and it was good for him to get a letter, showing that someone was thinking about him. They all FLIPPED over the pixi stixs and pop rocks, (Right now as I’m writing Elder Felipe is eating pop rocks and giggling and looking in the mirror) and the skittles…. we set a majority of them to the side to give to the families we will visit on Natal. We are going to go in our Santa hats and beards. We all are also wearing our Santa Hats at all moments in the house. Elder Donoso used 2 beards as hair and a beard, and I sat on his lap just so I could send you a picture mom. You’re welcome. The tree is awesome. The message of MERRY CHRISTMAS is taped up on the wall. All in All, Thank you!
Also, how do you like my new journal? Ha-ha, it’s a little bigger then my last one. So we’ll be reading with Snoopy for the next while. It also has stickers! So, the really good moments will get a sticker.
Today was a great day. A few things I forgot to email about. For Christmas, I want one gift. I want EVERYONE! Family, friends, associates, and Josh, too, to find their favorite talk. Some church talk. Could be some devotional, general conference, or whatever. Find it, if you can find it in Portuguese but if not it’s all good, print it, and on the last page write your testimony. Then send them to my mom and she’ll send them to me. Or just send them directly to me. This way I have lots of study material, and the testimonies of family, friends, associates, and Josh. Haha. Seria O’timo! Today was day 153 of my mission!
TERCA (Tuesday): So here’s how today started. Studies as normal, personal studies, then before we stared on comp study we left to ask a sister in the ward if we had lunch today or had to buy. Just as we left the house, we get a call. President. Now, it’s been made very clear to everyone many times that you CANNOT leave your house before your hour of personal, and hour of companion study. But with our district meeting today, making us already need to leave early, and our phone out of credit (The reason President was calling), we were going to run to her house, about a block away, grab the money for lunch, then return and do our studies. The conversation with Elder Felipe and President went like this: Felipe, “Oi Presidente…Sim…No, we are not in the house…because…. yes, President.” Then he hung up, and started walking back for home. We got in the room, and President called again, had Felipe put him on speaker, and stared DRILLING us on about 5 things, one being my hair and shoes. ONE zone meeting where it wasn’t up to par. Seriously all the other days they are perfect, but I think he needed something to point to me. He kept saying he had expected more of us, that we are not taking our responsibilities as representative of Christ seriously. That we are treating the mission like it is a joke. I can bear most anything that people say, but when people honestly think I did something I didn’t do, I can’t stand it. He talked and talked about obedience, diligence, and obedience again. I am trying constantly to be a good missionary. I follow every rule I know, (except this time of leaving the house), I talk to President about everything, and I’m honestly trying my best to magnify my calling. Of course, I have a lot to improve and of course I mess up, but I honestly am trying my best. The call lasted about 40 minutes. After, Elder Felipe said, "I’m sorry companion, my fault.”
THEN, we went to the district meeting and the rest of the day was pure gold.
We found 2 new investigators today, met with a bunch of less actives, and recent converts, and had a good number of lessons with investigators. It was a really good way to start off the week. We were able to really help people feel the spirit today, and there wasn’t a moment of “what do we do now?”
Then when we got home, Elder Jawwad told us about his day. Donoso had stayed in the house, and Jawwad had left with members. He had an AWESOME day also and told me al about it. Then I got the idea, while listening to him talk, about how much he thought it helped the young member. I talked to Donoso about it and when he heard it he said, “Elder McKee, this is the mind set of a missionary.” My idea: One day a week, we plan it with the young men of 17-19 years of age and we split into 4 companionships. 2 in each area. We get twice as much work done, and we are using the members, especially the young men. We are going to talk to bishop about it tomorrow. I think it would be awesome, and it would be a huge hit with the young men.
Also, Elder Donoso said his stitches in his mouth were bothering him. He was suppose to get them taken out yesterday, but the place was closed. I included pictures of me using my headlamp, small scissors, and some tweezers to take them out for him. Ha-ha, and we will NOT be telling President about that. I can just see the email being sent out: “Missionaries are NOT to perform DO-IT-YOURSELF surgeries in the mission houses.” I only took out 2, the other two were still pretty tight and I didn’t want to cut anything that shouldn’t’ be cut. Today was a great day. Today was day 154 of my mission. 22 Weeks.
QUARTA (Wednesday): Today was a great day even if we split areas with Elder Jawwad because Elder Donoso was feeling bad again. We had a good lesson with Israel, and I got to meet a new investigator from the other area. She was awesome and I think that she will progress a lot.
Then we all bought cheeseburgers. It rained a LOT today. So nobody let us in, even the people we had planned with. That’s hard. But I’m ending today happy, and excited for tomorrow. I might learn where I’ll be next transferred tomorrow! Really not much to write about today. Today was day 155 of my mission.
QUINTA (Thursday): I’m BEING TRANSFERRED! I’m going to Sao Luiz Gonzaga, a little tiny area and my companion will be ELDER POMPEU! If you don’t remember him, go back to the very first journal page I sent home. He has the same time as me, more or less. He did his 12 days in the MTC, then came to the field the same day I entered the MTC. His first area was the one I am in now. We were in the same house, and very good friends. I AM SO EXCITED! But I’m also sad, I really wanted to pass Christmas here in Salgado Filho, but I’m ready and happy for a new area. I’ll probably spend the next 6 months there, which means when I leave there I’ll have ONE YEAR! Awww. Man, that’s crazy. I’m packing all my stuff already. Just to give you an idea of how much we over packed. I have 3 suitcases. 2, the bigger two, are full of stuff I haven’t even touched yet. Ha-ha, I have about 10 shirts and only 2 are outside of the cases. But now I have a lot of stuff to give companions because everyone wants a souvenir of their time with me. HAHA.
Elder Felipe will stay here, and he’s going to be a trainer! Ha-ha, that will be awesome. Elder Jawwad will also stay here, but Elder Donoso will be leaving. It’s crazy I’m already finishing my 3rd transfer in Brazil.
Today, in the house of an investigator, a person that was there visiting asked us what we thought ‘bad’ was. Like what defines ‘good’ and ‘bad’. If you think about it, it’s a really deep question. We told him about the commandments, but he cut us off and said, “not sin, just good and bad.” We thought for a minutes, then I said, “I don’t’ know any doctrine or scripture about this, but I think that bad is more then just breaking rules. ‘Bad’ is when a person feels that something is wrong, but does it anyways. It’s something personal, because a lot of times people doing something ‘bad’ in the moment they think they are in the right. I think God will judge us, and especially those who never heard the gospel, but the times they went against what they thought to be right.” That’s the abbreviated version of what I said, but he paused for a second and then thanked me for my answer. But I kept thinking about that during the day. Really who establishes what is right and wrong? Don’t the standards seem to change with each culture, and even with each person? It’s very interesting. Then he asked if we believe everything in the future is already written and we’re following a predetermined path. We thought for a moment, and I said, “I believe God is writing in the book of life everything we do, as the scriptures say. I also believe he knows everything before it happens, as the scriptures also say. So, I believe it makes sense that it’s all already written. But I do not believe that limits us nor diminishes the significance of choice. I believe the book is already written because God knows the choices we’ll make. Thus, I believe that the life we will live is not because of the book that’s written, but the book is written because of the life we will live. BOOM. WOOT WOOT. Call me Elder Yoda because these are some wise words.
Also, I introduced Elder Felipe to Orbit gum today, and gave him 3 packs. We’re walking in the street later, and he’s trying to blow a bubble. I said, “It’s hard with this type of gum. You’d have to have 6 or 7 pieces. He said how many do you think I have? He had never seen gum like this in his life, and he had 7 in his mouth. He ate a pack and a half today. Getting a new piece before getting into bed. Ha-ha. Yep, today was a good day. Today was day 156 on my mission.
SEXTA (Friday): I do not want to ever remember a thing from today. Except the lesson I learned. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse that my conscience is so sensitive, and I’m terrible at going against the rules. Everyone says every missionary has a lazy stage, where they don’t follow the rules. Mine started today, and ended today. It wasn’t anything bad, just wasting the Lord’s time and I honestly felt lower then low. But I think it was a good experience for me, because I have absolutely no desire to ever go against the mission rules again. Really, it wasn’t 100% me, but the fact that I didn’t speak up and say, “no, lets go to work and save this for p-day,” bothered me all day. (The fact that it’s fine to do on p-day should put you at ease a little). 3 hours of our day gone on nothing productive. I’ve never felt so guilty as I did. Maybe I’m just soft, but I have a huge desire to be the best missionary I can be, and today I threw that away. Also, today we met and taught a “prophet” who tried to teach me by quoting Elvis. Today was day 157 of my mission.
SABADO (Saturday): Today was a good day. Saying good-bye to people is hard, but I think telling them this is my last Sunday here will help them come to church. But, today was HOT! Yesterday and today I was sweating tears, out of my eyes. Everyone we talked to called us crazy for being out in the sun. And Sao Luiz, everyone says is even hotter. Ha-ha, I’m going to be BLACK! WOOT WOOT. Hot and humid.
Today Daniel, an 11 year old recent convert of the other elders that I’m good friends with because it was Elder Santos Melo and I that started teaching them, today he said the prayer, and it was awesome. I’ll share some parts with you: Dear God, thank you for this wonderful day. It was hot, but I still liked it. Thank you for these elders that are my friends, (Elder Donoso and I). They’re cool and I hope the new guys will be good too because if not I won’t be their friend. Please bless that they can baptize grandma (She was sitting right there) and my brother, even though he doesn’t believe in you and has problems, you know.”
It was very serious prayer, and he was really talking with God. It made me very happy. We also had a good lesson with Terrainha and Luis Carlos was actually home, too. They are both going to come to church tomorrow. Today was day 158 of my mission.
DOMINGO (Sunday): So, I got my suitcases all packed, full and heavy, and then I saw my blanket and sheets still on my bed. But I still got them in. Lesson for next time, blankets first, and don’t put all your books in the same suitcase. It has to be 80-90 pounds!
Today was very good. Said goodbye to everyone. Albertina cried. Also, at lunch, Andressa, the lady that was talking with mom, for the past 4 and half months, every time I went there she’d try and find me on Facebook. Finally today her husband said, “give him the phone, let him search for himself.” I found myself in seconds. Ha-ha, then she went exploring and found mom, and Malena. She doesn’t speak any English, she was having me translate. (MOM: She friended me on facebook and was sending me pictures while Jake was at her house. I thought her English was very good. At the end of our conversation, I figured out it was Jake the whole time. Ha-ha I so appreciate that she fed him and sent pictures of him. What a great Missionary Brazilian Mom!)
We taught Israel today then after, we asked if his granddaughter was home (She lives next door.) He ran and grabbed her, and then we taught her. She was awesome and has a lot of potential. She’s black, and has one eye that’s dark brown, normal for black people, and the other is bright electric blue. So cool!
I passed out all the candy I had left after church. I opened my bag and one kid yelled, “He has candy!” And about 20 hands were instantly extended waiting for a pixi stick, ha-ha, and just as many were adults as kids. I passed everything out, and gave out a bunch of Christ drawings.
All in all, it was a very good day. This week was harder and this transfer in all was difficult. I’m leaving this area, and honestly I feel like I could have done more. I don’t thin I gave my all, and I don’t’ like that feeling. But in this ward I did many things I am very proud of. For example, Albertina and the family of her, who are all close to baptism. If I go the rest of my mission without a good day, at the end I will think of them and walk onto the plane proud. But I still have a lot to do. I’m excited to go work with Elder Pompeu. I really hope my new house will have air conditioning. And that he has something in line to talk with our families for Christmas. Today was day 159 of my mission.
Oh! One very cool thing about today, So this morning it was raining and VERY windy. The wind made it impossible to use an umbrella. But it was incredible to stand outside the church, and watch these members, very few of which own cars, battling against the wind to walk to church. Some of them live very far away, too. It was an actual sacrifice for them to come to church today. An old man, who has trouble walking and his blind wife, they walk to church every day, him guiding her by the hand, everywhere. And today was no different. When they got to the door, I said good morning, and the blind lady happily said, “Morning and night are the same for me Elder, but yes, it is a good morning.” Ha-ha. These people are so strong in their faith and testimonies. Just think about that next time you don’t’ want to go to 9:00 church because it’s early and you’re tired.
Thank you for all the support!! I love you guys!
Elder Felipe and Jake
Elder Felipe, Jake and The Prado family.
Elder Donoso, Elder Jawwad, Elder Felipe, Jake
Elder Jawwad, Elder Donoso, Jake, Elder Felipe