Tuesday, January 26, 2016

200 Days!!

December 30, 2015
QUINTA (Wednesday): WOOT WOOT!  TODAY WAS SO COOL.  So we went to the house of Janete, who is a newer investigator who we found knocking doors.  Today was our third time going there and she always reads what we leave, along with the rest of the chapter and a little more.  Today, her 19 year old daughter was there, too.  She told us she’s gone to quite a few churches, but she doesn’t like any of them.  She said they didn’t have any feeling and she asked us what we believe happens after we die.  Her boyfriend recently died.  So, we taught the plan of salvation.  I haven’t yet had a lesson so dear or with people so receptive.  They both were eager to learn and it all made sense to them.  I gave the daughter a Book of Mormon, and marked 2 Nephi 31 with a plan of salvation pamphlet and she tried to hide it, but she was SUPER happy.  They maybe can’t make it to church this Sunday, but they really have a desire to see what it’s like.  They had a lot of good questions and comments.  I’m super excited about them.  The mom’s name is Janete, and the daughter is Bianca.
            Then we went knocking more doors.  But here’s the thing.  I needed to use the bathroom.  I’ve never had to pee so badly in my life.  We knocked at one house and she answered.  Everything about this woman was slow and relaxed, and I almost exploded!  I think Pompeu thought it was funny because I had told him before I was going to burst.  He asked if we could start with a prayer, and I patiently yelled at her, “But first can I please use your bathroom?”  Pompeu started laughing as she went in the house to guide me to it.  Ha-ha.
            Man, but I can’t get over that lesson with Janete and Bianca.  I don’t know if they’ll be baptized, but they are well prepared already.  Janete said she’s already asked God in prayer, but doesn’t feel like she received her answer yet.  AHHH!!  I want to baptize them!
            Ha-ha, during the lesson Bianca cut me off at one point and asked me where I was from.  I said the USA.  She was surprised and said, “And how did you get here?”  I said, “Plane”.  Haha.  Janete thought it was hilarious.  Then later, after the lesson Bianca asked if there are women missionaries, too?  We said yes.  She said, “And how do they walk?” which is the literal translation, but it means like how do they go about doing it?  But I took the literal meaning and said, “with their feet.”  And Janete started laughing again.  Ha-ha.  Man, why am I so funny!?  Bianca thought I was funny, too.  Today was a good day.  Today was day 177 of my mission.
January 1, 2016
SEXTA (Friday): Woot Woot for P-day all day.  We slept, Studied (I read about an entire Liahona), went to lunch which was awesome, cleaned our house, I made ice cream which turned out awesome, then slept a little more, then went to the house of some less actives and ate burgers and watched half of  “the other side of Heaven.”  Now we are in the apartment.  I finished eating my ice cream, and I’m writing. At lunch the member showed us the picture of his baptism, with the elders.  On the other side were the testimonies of the elders from 2002.  It’s cool to see this kind of stuff.  I noted down the address there of the elder from California when nobody was looking, and I’m going to send him a letter telling him Jorge is still firm and active after 13 years.  How cool would that be to get a letter randomly one day like that?  Eu Sou O Cara (I’m the guy) ha-ha  Today was day 178 of my mission
Jan. 2,  SABADO (Saturday):  Woot Woot Again!  Ha-ha.  Today was so good.  It was SUPER hot, but it was great.  One lady we taught and all was going well.  She understood everything.  Then we challenged her to baptism.  She said no.  We explained that it wasn’t a right away thing, only after God tells her it’s what she needs to do.  She said no again.  Pompeu said, “even if you receive an answer from God that you need to be baptized by someone who holds the authority of God, you won’t?”  She said no.  Ha-ha…what do you do with someone like that?
            We had other good lessons.  We made a plan with Eder and his ‘wife’ to help her quit smoking.  She’s going to cut a fourth off of all her cigarettes with scissors for the next week.  She was excited about that idea.  We stayed at their house for a while making plans and studying with her.  Her name is Juraci.  She started smoking at 14, now she’s 40+.  They both really want to be baptized, really bad.  But she needs to quit smoking, he drinks a little, and they need to get married.  But I love them.  Eder is so funny.  Today was very good.  Today was day 179 of my mission.
            An example of something Eder said I found very funny.  They have a Pomegranate tree and I explained that there used to be one at Grandma’s (on the rez) and we would break them open on our knees and eat them, but our pants were always stained red.  Pompeu said, “Why didn’t you guys just use a knife?”  The Eder said, “Hey, everyone has his way of opening his pomegranate.  If the little American children want to be aggressive and violent, let them be.  We’ll continue using our knives.”  Ha-ha.
(3) DOMINGO (Sunday): Today went well, very well.  We got another new investigator, the daughter of Janete.  She’s 17 and she seemed very interested.  We gave her a Book of Mormon and left her with a part to read.
            ALSO, WE HAD CHRUCH TODAY.  None of our investigators came, for some excuse or another, but they really do have a lot of potential.  Bursting with potential, so to say.
            Today I felt something very special in the lesson with Janete and Edwarda, her daughter.  We explained the Book of Mormon, and when I bore testimony I could really feel that I actually believed what I was saying.  I remembered that quote of “you gain your testimony through bearing it.”  I’ve learned on my mission that you only receive proof of any doctrine principle AFTER you exercise the faith required to apply that principle to your life and see the blessings.  When we go to bear testimony, the words will be there to speak.  We are children of God, and he’s got our back in all things.  Today was day 180 of my mission.
(4) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today was great! P-day normal, then we went to the house of Valeira, the woman who was baptized the Saturday before I came here.  She’s moving tomorrow, with her family to a city 2 hours away that is still in our area.  There’s no way we can find time to visit her, and she’s not likely to make the trip to come to church.  That was a sad lesson.
            We left her house after saying our goodbyes and started knocking doors, searching for new investigators that are prime.  After a lesson with a man who didn’t have any desire to even try and understand, we said a prayer together asking for guidance to a family that is ready for the gospel.  Then we just kept knocking doors.  We knocked at one door, and a 17-year-old kid came out, let us in, and we talked with him.  His name is Leonardo. This kid is ELECT!  Man, he is so good.  He was home alone, so it was just us, but it was such a good lesson. During the lesson I kept imagining him in a white shirt and tie with a nametag, and I tried my best to explain things clearly and invite the spirit.  He had good questions and good answers to our questions.  AHHH. I am excited to see him progress!!
            One thing I liked about this experience is we prayed for guidance to a person ready, and then we were rejected at the next few houses.  But we found Leonardo.  Sometimes all we can do is pray for help and then keep trying.  Every time we keep going despite our failings or struggles we’re showing God our desire to succeed.  He wasn’t going to, right after our prayer, put in our mind ‘fifth house on the right, go knock there.’  He’s going to let us knock the first 4 houses, then the fifth time let us succeed.  Nephi didn’t succeed the first time with getting the plates from Laban, but with persistence the Lord guided him to success and strengthened him along the way.  Man, I love being a missionary. 
            Then we came home, and I spent 30 minutes trying to make juice out of oranges and peaches.  But I couldn’t’ get the pulp out, so I just ate the mush.  But I got the whole kitchen dirty in the process.  WOOT WOOT!
Today was day 181 of my mission.
(5) TERCA (Tuesday): Today we didn’t have a single lesson. Here’s why…because our district is just us 2.   Every 14 days we go to the district meeting at Santiago, 3 hours away by bus.  We go, and don’t get home until 6 at night.  
My district!

Then we had ward council, which we thought was at 6.  After 20 minutes of waiting, we finally got a hold of a member who told us it was at 7, but to stay at the chapel, he was going to come have a meeting with us.  He didn’t come for another 40 minutes.  So, Pompeu and I bible bashed and studied.  Then, the ward council went 2 and a half hours, and I don’t know why we were there for most of it.  Usually the missionaries give their part, and leave.  Whatever.  By then it was 9:30 and we went back to the house. There’s my day for ya’ll.  Today was day 182 of my mission.
(6) QUARTA (Wednesday):  Today I studied about compassion.  The best missionary was Jesus Christ and it’s because he had perfect compassion for the people.  When he looked at someone, he really and honestly saw the full divine potential of that person and was moved by compassion to help him or her.  Compassion is what I am trying to improve.  I was raised on tough love.  ‘Don’t cry unless you’re really bleeding”  “Family wrestling doesn’t end until someone is crying.”  (You can see how those two go together.)  I wouldn’t have it any other way, the way I was raised.  I learned to keep my petty, personal problems, and complaints personal.  So when others complain about a headache, or a hurt leg, my first thought is “seja una homen a figue queito” (Be a man).  But this is what I need to improve, is my initial thoughts.  I’m judgmental and impatient with others.  This is the opposite of compassion, and I’m working to change.
            Ha-ha, remember Eder?  That guy I said was funny?  Today when we went to their house he was reading 2 Nephi 31, which I had left with him .  We asked him if he had any questions, and he said yes.  Verse 13, when it says “shout praises to the house of Israel.”  (Something like that, I’m remembering in Pork and Cheese and translating.)  He said, “I’m not going to yell anything at Israel, everyone over there is crazy and has bombs.  I’ve seen them on TV! “  Ha-ha, I thought it was so funny.
            In the house of one inactive, a 15 year old, he asked me if I could translate some messages he had gotten from people in his video games online.  I agreed, and he opened them.  1st:  Yea, I don’t want to know how to say that.  2nd: you don’t want to know.  3rd: More swear words then I knew existed.  4th:  How about we say a prayer and read the Book of Mormon?  He said, “I was in a spot where I could kill everyone, but nobody could hit me.  They weren’t very happy, I don’t think.”  Me:  “yea…I don’t think so.”
            We also met a missionary from another church today.  He was way cool and we talked for a bit.  He said he likes it because since he isn’t officially a member yet, he can help, and when he wants to leave to do what he wants, he can.  He pulled out his phone to text his girlfriend. He said he was thinking about taking a break to study and then maybe he’ll go back.  It made me glad to be a part of the true church of Christ, with a real mission to which I’m 100% dedicated.  Today was day 183 of my mission.
(7) QUINTA (Thursday):  So, today had an activity in the ward, and it went AWESOME!  Our ward mission leader is awesome.  The activity we had was so good.  Everyone sat in a circle, about 20 people.  The ward mission leader then brought out a beautifully wrapped present, and said, “This is my present, that I will give to the person who makes me most happy.”  Then he gave it to his wife he married a month ago.  Then he pulled out a paper, and read, “But the present isn’t for you.  Give it to the person with the most joy.”  Then she passed it, then he read a bit about joy, and said, “But the present isn’t for you, pass it to the person with the most faith.”  Then he read a bit on faith.  On and on.  It was awesome and everyone was happy.  Only 2 people didn’t get the present at all and it was the 2 less active members who are returning to the church.  This made me a little upset.  Some people were getting it multiple times.  But it still was good.  Then at the end, who was the person most fair, He read “But this present isn’t for you.  We need to share all we love, so open it, and give to all.”  It was a box of candy bars and everyone got some.  Then after everyone was happy and talking and my less actives were very included.  I want to tell everyone at home, every time you’re at an activity or church, and you see someone you don’t know, go and introduce yourself and get to know them.  Member or not.  It’s so easy to do yet, so often our investigators go to church and only the missionaries are talking to them or introducing them to people.  Everyone needs a friend to stay firm in anything.  That’s one thing I’ve gotten a lot better at on the mission is talking to people.  Thank goodness because it was a skill I was lacking. 
            Today we knocked a good number of doors to not enter any.  But we marked other days to pass, so it’s all-good in the hood.  Today was day 184 of my mission.
(8) SEXTA (Friday):  So, here’s a summary of what’s happened since the last time I wrote.  I destroyed the bathroom, we found a woman with a cousin on a mission who took a picture with us to send to him, and we went with a member to teach an investigator and there was Jehovah Witnesses and the member bible bashed hard with them….false doctrine.
            First, the bathroom.  The pipe came off, so water shot EVERYWHERE! But I fixed it and it’s fine.
            Second, today was a very good day of new investigators.  We found one woman, with the cousin, who lost her son at 4 months and was confused why.  We taught her the plan of salvation, and she really liked it, and we are going to return.  She was very good and I’m excited about her.  Her name is Elaine.
            Also, I learned that the gift of tongues can be taken from me faster then it was given. I was having negative thoughts about everything and we went to a lesson.  A beautiful family with 3 girls.  We found them knocking doors.  During the lesson, nothing I was saying, they were understanding.  I randomly said a few English words here and there, which didn’t help.  Amazingly, they still liked the message and accepted the invitation to be baptized, after learning more.  After the lesson I prayed for forgiveness and help to change.  My Portuguese returned, and good thing, too, because then we met the Jehovah Witnesses.
            So, the member we took to the lesson with us is names Altair.  We asked him to make a time with the investigator so we could go with him.  Well, he just told us a time, and didn’t talk with the investigator.  So, we didn’t know it was the hour of his weekly study with the JW’s.  We entered and first thought, “Oh Crap”.  Luckily, these guys were very chill and didn’t want to bible bash.  Altair is a recent convert, and very excited.  He stated spouting every doctrine he could remember, and a good amount of it was wrong.  He was talking loud and fast, not letting anyone else talk.  Finally, the JW’s got a word in, and they were very neutral.  Ha-ha, they didn’t argue with anything, even thought they could have used some of the things said to destroy us.  It was a dad and his son.  The dad did all the talking.  He noticed that what Altair was saying wasn’t all the real truth we believed, because he noticed our looks and the way we would try and talk to correct him.  So, he didn’t destroy us.  But I think the investigator got very embarrassed, because when the JW’s went to leave he apologized.  What a mess.  Next time we go we’ll explain and apologize to him.  Honestly, I wanted to sit with just the JW’s and talk with them.  Because this guy knows a lot, and when he left he told Altair that he had said a lot of things they didn’t agree on, but he kept quiet out of respect for his beliefs.  So, he’s chill and it would be cool to study with him.  But I need to study more in the bible.  I’ve already read quite a bit, but I’ll study more.  Today was day 185 of my mission.
(9) SABADO (Saturday):  So, we went to Janete’s again, remember her?  We taught her and her daughter, and it was GREAT!  We read Alma 32 with them about comparing the word to a seed.  Man, it was such a good lesson, and they both want to go to church tomorrow!!
            So mom, remember that puzzle you gave me for Christmas.  Every time we’re in the house with a dull moment I grab it and work on it.  I think I’ve mastered all the ways NOT to do it.  So, today we were in the house and I was playing with it while we were talking and Pompeu was writing addresses to visit.  I was getting frustrated with the puzzle, and right then he hit me on the arm and said, “Let’s go.”  Pompeu always hits my arm and I always tell him to stop because I hate it.  So, when he did it this time I turned and punched him back.  Then he got offended and we left for the street.  After a few minutes of walking, I said, “Sorry, my bad.”  And he started laughing and said, “I could tell you were mad at the puzzle, so I pushed you a little further.”  Then he hit me again and started running.  But the rest of the day he didn’t touch me.  WOOT WOOT!
            So, I’m really trying to be a good missionary, obedient to all the mission rules.  But I haven’t seen a single other missionary worried about it as much as I am. Maybe I need to relax, but I don’t want to.   My whole life I‘ve had a easily guilty conscience when I don’t do what I’m suppose to, even if it’s not all my fault.  I will say this…it’s a good thing I’m on the mission with a comp all the time, because I’m developing a lot of patience and people skills.
            Tomorrow we should have a lot of investigators at church.  We’re doing a division with the young men so Pompeu can go to one side of the city to get people and I can go to the other.  Tomorrow should be a good day.  Today was day 186 of my mission.
(10) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Church today!  And we had 4 investigators in sacrament!  Janete came with Eduarda and Wesley!  Man, I’m so excited about them.  The other was a man a member brought with her.  Janete and her kids LOVED it!  Wesley, who is 11 almost 12, is excited to go play soccer with the young men.  And they are actually married…the parents!  We were going to mark day 23 of this month for their baptism, but the boyfriend of Eduarda came and we didn’t want them to feel weird in front of him.  But, we marked another day to pass by and we’re going to mark baptism and a FHE with them.
            Also, we had a meeting with the ward mission leader and al the ward missionaries.  They split the city into 4 areas, for the 4 couples of missionaries, and gave them similar goals to what we have.  They are excited and they have their responsibilities.  The ward mission leader here actually understands that the missionaries are here to help them with THEIR work.  AHHH!  I’m super excited.  All is well.  This week was a good one.  Today was day 187 of my mission.
(11) SEGUNDA (Monday):  WOOT WOOT For P-day!  I don’t know what’s up with my camera.  But it’s not taking pictures.  I got Becky’s package.
            After p-day we went to the house of Miguel.  He’s a good guy, with a big family.  We still haven’t managed to get a lesson with his whole family, but we challenged him to be baptized on the 30th and he accepted!  Now, we need to work on getting the rest of the family.
            Also, we taught the restoration to Elaine.  She’s the one woman who has a cousin on a mission and took a picture with us to send him. It was a great lesson, and right at the end her husband came home from work.  She had told us that she didn’t know how her husband would react to missionaries so we were a little nervous.  But, he got out of the car and was all friendly.  We talked for a bit and when we went to leave he told us we are welcome at any time, even if he’s not home his wife always is.  Woot Woot!  We marked a day to go back to try and get him at home too, but his work is crazy right now so it’s going to be difficult.  But Eliane has MUITO potential and I’m excited to see her progress.  Today was good. Today was day 188 of my mission.
(12) TERCA (Tuesday):  Lots of walking today.  We have a list that the area presidency sends out of in actives, and we have to contact them all.  Lots have moved, but we found one, and his dad isn’t a member and he accepted the baptism challenge!  And man, it was HOT today.  So, this dad we met, his name is Erik.  He doesn’t go to any church. But we had a good lesson with him about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and when we invited him to prepare to be baptized, he accepted! 
            Today, really, was mostly just walking in the sun, hunting houses that didn’t have anyone home.  Tomorrow will be a better day of writing!  Promise.  Today was day 189 of my mission.
(13) QUARTA (Wednesday): Today I swear I heard a bird singing ‘Count Your Many Blessings”.  I think I don’t even need to write more about this great day today, but I will. 
            First off, lunch was with a less active, who literally has a photogenic memory.  I asked him how he discovered the gift and he said when he was 14 the seminary professor said the first one in the class to memorize the 25 scripture masteries would get a prize.  He said he tried one.  He read it, closed his eyes, and said it perfectly, and checked it off.  Then, surprised, went onto the next.  20 minutes later, he had them all.  Ha-ha, imagine that!  I’m jealous.
            Then we taught a young couple, Eduardo and Jessica.  We taught them the restoration and it went very good.  We found them knocking random doors.  (I always knock the blue houses).  They both accepted the baptism challenge!  But it’ll be a week before we return.
            I’ll just share our last lesson of the day with you now.  Claudia was baptized a long time ago.  Her son, too.  Remember that young man who said God doesn’t exist, and Jesus was just another Jew?  This is them.  2 Sundays ago Claudia went to church.  This last Sunday she brought her husband.  He isn’t a member.  He’s almost atheist, but has a desire to believe in God.  He’s praying and searching and reading the Book of Mormon.  He doesn’t want to be baptized until he knows for sure, but he’s really searching.  I just hope he’s patient enough to get his answer.  I’ve learned that God always answers our prayer.  Just some times he delays the answer because Your personal journey to it is worth more then the answer it’s self.  It’s like on the AP calc or stats test.  The actual answer is on point of the 5.  The other 4 are for the work and steps shown.  We need to show our work to God, which proves to Him, and I believe more importantly to ourselves that we really want the answer. 
            I’m loving all the talks I’m getting!  I studied 3 of them today!  Thanks so much to everyone who gave me one or will send one soon.  Today really was a good day.  Today was day 190 of my mission.
(14) QUINTA (Thursday):  I feel like I’m really getting the hang of teaching in a way that’s specific to the person.  That makes me very happy.  I know enough scriptures that I can choose which one to share that will help them most, and just explain the in a way that is so simple you wonder why you never thought of it.
            Today we stopped by the house where we met the Jehovah witnesses.  We taught them the restoration, and for me it was a very powerful experience. I could really feel the spirit.  At the end when we gave him the Book of Mormon, explained what it was, and marked a part for him to read, when he grabbed it he started crying and couldn’t speak.  Seriously he was trying.  I know that he was feeling the spirit testify of our words even if maybe he didn’t recognize it all the way at that moment.  Then we said a prayer and left them with that spirit and book.
            I’ve noticed that I'm a lot more patient and forgiving.  I still have a long ways to perfect, but little by little my prayers are being answered.  I’m noticing the Christ like attributes grow in myself.
            We also challenged Janete and Edurada to baptism on the 23.  They said it’s very soon.  They want to get more familiar with the church first. They are still reading and they quit coffee cold turkey after a life time of it.   A member gave Janete a Liahona of General Conference and she was very curious about how they are all Americans.  We showed her the Brazilians in the 70’s and it helped.  We invited them to pray about the 23rd, but I think it might be better on the 30th.  I’m going to pass her address to a member for him and his wife to pass by.  If Janete had a friend or two in the church she would feel much more comfortable. 
            I’m really working on memorizing scriptures.  My Patriarchal Blessing talks about the blessings that will come from my ability to cite scriptures.  So I’m working to better it.  Today was day 181 of my mission.
(15) SEXTA (Friday):  Today a woman tried to use the bible to prove to us me that God has seven churches that are His.  Here’s a type of conversation we have with a lot of people.
            Them: All churches are good and true.
            Us: Do you believe that God would make different commandments for His children or the same rules for everyone?
            Them: Well, of course the same.  It wouldn’t be fair, otherwise.
            Us:  And it makes it difficult to know the true commandments of God when all the churches are teaching things differently.
            Them:  That’s true.  They’re all different.
            Us:  But, God has given us a way to know why there are so many different churches and how we can know which one is true.
            Them:  Well, they’re all true.  Everyone has his or her own way. 
AHHHH!  What did we just talk about?  Ha-ha.  It’s amazing how principles I’ve known since I was tiny are so hard to understand.  Some people demand extra patience when you explain a principle 4 times, and they know it makes sense but won’t accept it.
            One cool thing about myself I learned today is that I sleep like a vampire.  Flat on my back, hands crossed on my chest, legs straight.  I used to sleep like in a ball, but it’s too hot for that.
            Sometimes I’ll seriously be thinking, “This sure is so great.  I’m glad I got called to such a beautiful, warm place.”  And someone will complain about how it’s too hot.  Everyone complains about the heat, but I love it.  Today was a good day.  Today was day 192 of my mission.
(16) SABADO (Saturday):  Everything fell through today, and Janete and her family will travel tomorrow so they won’t be able to go to church tomorrow.  So, they won’t be able to be baptized on the 23rd because they’ll only have one time at church. 
            Everyone cancelled; the sun was destroying, walked from one side of the city to the other.  Now, I’m going to think of something positive to write.
            A member today told me about his twin brother who lives in Salt Lake.  He showed me pictures of him, in razors, at the desert, hunting, tubing at Lake Powell.  He looked like he’d fit right in with our family.  The member, who calls me Elder Pechanga, said that when he goes to visit his brother he’ll come visit me, too. Then we taught them all the restoration and they gave feed back.  It was too late to find a real lesson with time to return to our house, and there were 3 returned missionaries there.  Super great.  One of them is a secretary of the ward, and we had to pass a list of names we had gone through to him and he had to log them in the computer.  For this we were there, not just wasting time.  But today was slower, lesson wise.  Today was day 193 of my mission.
(17) DOMINGO (Sunday):  So today at lunch we were eating with young newlyweds and they invited a widow in the ward to eat with us.  At one point, my plate was empty, and the widow said, “Elder Comor sem Vergonha” which literally means, “Elder, Eat without shame”, or “don’t’ be afraid to eat more.”  Everyone laughed, which I found normal.  What I didn’t know is that the phrase “sem vergonha” means ‘player’, like a guy who gets around with a lot of girls.  This is why they all laughed, because of the double meaning.  Later, Kat, who is the wife of the newlywed 19 year old, had an empty plate, and so I said, “Irma, Comor sem vergonha”, and she paused, looked at me, and EXPLODED laughing.  Elder Pompeu and the widow also.  Her husband, when I looked at him, didn’t look too happy, and then he shook his head and started laughing, too.  The phrase “sem vergonha” when used for a woman is VERY strong and REALLY offensive, like the equivalent of the B word.  But it’s not a swear word.  And I guess the way I said it, the only way to interpret it, was as that, not how I meant.  Then the rest of lunch was spent making fun of me and how I’ll be known across the mission as “Elder Sem Vergonha”.  So there’s that story.
            Church went well today.  Janete and the family ere traveling, so no church for them. This week went good.  Today is day 194 of my mission.
(18) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Yea, P-day!  Talked to the family, buy more peaches, bananas, oranges, and Milk.  Learned that the box we had to pay to get taken out in Santa Maria, which likely had my camera, was in the post office for too long and they sent it to Sao Paulo.  That means it was there when I was there, Elder Donoso just didn’t read the paper and see my name.  I don’t know how to get it back.  Maybe I can talk to the people at the post office.
            So, I’ve noticed something.  The uglier the car is, the louder they play their music.  It’s like they’re saying ‘I know my car is ugly, but everyone look at my sound system!’  Then I got to thinking; maybe they are calling this attention to themselves because they don’t get enough in home.  So, everyone, give attention to your family in home.  Let’s put an end to this loud music.
            I also, today, learned that Great Grandpa McKee passed away last Monday.  It made me sad to know I’ll never see him again in this life, but I received a lot of comfort that I will in the next life.  He’s happy and young again, with his family and watching over us.  I have no doubt that families are forever. It’s that knowledge that keeps me going here in the field.          
(19) TERCA (Tuesday):  I’ll tell you about the lesson we had with Janete today.  She is FULL of questions, which is AWESOME!  We watched the 20-minute version of the restoration and then talked about it.  She’s praying and waiting for an answer, one that I think she already has.  She said she needs to go to our church more to learn more.  OF COURSE!  Ha-ha, when she said that I said, “We can make that work”.  And her husband, whom I’ve met only once, is searching for a church, too.  Only he’s a trucker, and is rarely home.  I’m super excited about Janete and her family.  I want to baptize them so bad.
            This morning I watched a short film called, “Only a Stone Cutter.”  I cried. It’s about a man and his family who left England, crossed to Utah with a hand cart, then he walked 22 miles every Monday to the Salt Lake Temple to work as a stone cutter for the week.  He’d walk back Friday night.  Spend Saturday as his only day to do chores on his huge farm, then Monday leave again.  For over 20 years.  Then he got in an accident with a cow and had to amputate his leg.  He carved a peg leg and when he could walk good enough with it to get along, he went back to his old routine of Monday walk, Friday return.  At 70 something, with that peg leg, he was climbing hundreds feet of scaffolding to carve that plaque on the front of the temple “Holiness to the Lord”.  He died 4 years before the dedication of the temple.  ‘Only a Stone Cutter.”  Go watch it, then try and think about how we can lay claim to suffering in our luxurious lives.  Everyone has their own trials and struggles, but personally I don’t’ think I’ll ever have to overcome what this man did, or anything similar.
            Tomorrow we leave for Santiago at 9:00 and will get back at 1:00 in the morning.  I’m taking my journal and memory card to take pictures for you guys.  You’re welcome.  Today was day 196 of my mission.
(20) QUARTA (Wednesday):  Well, we left at almost 10:00 am for Santiago, to watch a missionary broadcast.  We got back at 1:00 am.  Also, it turns out they lied.  I didn’t have 5 packages waiting for me.  But that’s ok.  I got grandma’s Christmas package, Grandma McKee’s, and letters.  After the broadcast, which I got to watch in English because there’s  a new Elder who understands no Portuguese yet, so I watched it with him, we did splits and I went with Elder Donoso.  We had time for 2 lessons.  The first one we were about to do the prayer when someone knocked.  The man went outside, I heard him say, “Yea, we are about to do a prayer, would you like to join  us?”  In comes 2 preachers, they shook our hands then said, “Let’s pray” and both started YELLING!  Super loud, your basic false doctrine, yelling prayer stuff, for about 5 minutes.  Then they started talking to the woman that the only way to help her son, who’s a drug addict, is to bring some of his clothes to his church, so they can wash it and pray over it.  Then they left.  The moment they left, I shared Mathew 6:5-6 with them.  Ha-ha, Then we had a good spiritual lesson about prayer and helping them return to the church.
            Second lesson, we went in and talked a little, then a Jehovah Witness came in!  We were talking, and we got a call from my comp that we need to buy tickets before the bus stop closes.  So we tried to end the lesson, but the JW said, “I can see you are in a hurry, but I’ll just say a few words.”  We spent the next 30 minutes trying to leave, but he kept talking.  Finally, I cut him off and said, “Sorry, but we really need to go.  I don’t want to sleep in the road tonight.”  He said, ‘Tubo Bem, (Very good) but one more thing.”  The people of the house said, “No, they need to go.  Elder McKee please say the closing prayer, then I’ll give you a ride.”  The JW didn’t want to let us leave!  But it was all-good.  Then I bought us ice cream because it was Elder Donoso’s Birthday. 
            Today was day 197 of my mission.  I learned today why the missionary program works.  Because it’s true!  2 young men or women, sometimes in a foreign country, teaching, and it works.  We invite the spirit, help the people recognize it, then help them through the repentance process.
(21) QUINTA (Thursday):  So, we had a very good day today and I’m going to share my favorite lesson with you guys.  So, before I got here, Elder Pompeu and Elder Smith had an investigator who was dating a member.  That’s how she met the church.  It was going good, and then things ended with the relationship.  Today was the first time we passed since, my first time meeting her.  Her name is Milena.  She’s 17.  We taught her the restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon. It was an AMAZING lesson!  At the end she told us that before she had thought she was only going to church and the activities because of her boyfriend, Alex.  But, she said she was surprised when after things ended she still really wanted to go.  She’s already visited a lot of churches, talked to a lot of preachers.  She said we are the only ones she’s really stopped to pay attention to, because of the conviction and certainty with which we talk, leaves no doubt in HER that what we say is true.  We explain, and then invite her to ask another source, GOD.  She really has a huge desire. I’m super excited about her.  Ahhh…. I love being a missionary!!  Today was day 198 of my mission.
(22) SEXTA (Friday):  Today was a good day.  We had really good lessons today.  So, Wesley, the son of Janete, turns 12 tomorrow.  His dad is gone because he works as a trucker.  But he called and told Janete to grab 30 reais and buy him whatever he wanted.  He chose a plastic bow and arrow, and 2 ping-pong paddles.  He had found a ping-pong ball in the road, and sued to play with a thin piece of wood he also found.  They don’t have a table, but he likes to bounce the ball around.  So, I played with him a little and shot his little bow a little.  It was awesome to see how happy he is with his simple gifts, and I learned that, really, we decide our own happiness.  For example, I honestly love walking in the sun.  I wake up and I am excited to go walk.  That’s not something I had before.  Or maybe it’s the Lord saying, “I’m going to take away his common sense for 2 years so he stays happy.”  Ha-ha.  I’m getting fat, and it doesn’t even bother me.  A quote I wrote form the MTC is “If we base our happiness on our circumstances we’ll often find our selves disappointed.” 
            That’s something I’m working on, is being more happy.  I like to smile.  For example, Pompeu saw a praying mantis in person for the first time today, and screamed like a girl.  I died laughing.  Today was day 199 of my mission.    
(23) SABADO (Saturday):  So a young woman, 14 years old, decided to get a tattoo on her forearm, in English.  She got ‘Life, Faith, Hope, and Love’ written.  She’s a member, her whole family is.  Her brother is less active and we were there when she came home and showed everyone.  It was a sad surprise.  They asked her what the words meant, and she showed it to me.  I said, ‘Vida, Fe, Esperonsa, e….” and I paused a second.  Then I said, “I think you meant for this to be ‘amor’” ha-ha, which means love.  She paused and said, “meant it to be? What is it really?”  I told her cachorro, which means dog.  Ha-ha-ha-ha.  I said the word for love and dog are very close in English and she switched the letters.  Ha-ha-ha. EVERYONE had a shocked look on their faces.  Ha-ha. I let it go for a few seconds, and then said, “No, just kidding, it’s all correct.”  Ha-ha.  It was so funny.  It was a really ugly tattoo, to be honest.
            Today was a slower day, a poor end to the week.  This coming week we’ll receive transfers, and I think we’ll both stay.  Today was day 200 of my mission.
100 Things I Learned On My Mission:
1. Portuguese
2. a simple, honest testimony is more powerful then all eloquence
3.  Jesus really is the Christ
4. God will always answer our honest prayers.
5.  Sometimes its better to lose the argument, even if you know you’re right.
6.  The Lord will not leave you comfortless
7.  No matter how heard you try, some will reject you.
8.  Free will means wrong choices will be made.  Correct them and move on
9.  Never talk about money with anyone.
10.  Let others talk about themselves without trying to one up them.  
11.  The more you smile; the happier people will be around you.
12.  Everyone has advice to give, and it pays to listen to it all
13.  Little dogs bark the most.  So do little people
14.  If you put forth your best effort, the Lord will carry you the rest of the way.
15.  Everyone wants everything American they can get
16.  Talk to EVERYONE!  The people who reject you, You’ll never see again.  The people who accept you, you’ll change their lives.
17.  Take a small first helping at meals.  Seconds are mandatory.
18.  Insulting anyone serves for nothing.  Just proves you lack the intelligence to form acceptable reasoning.
19.  The Book of Mormon will change your life if you let it.
20.  American Candy can be traded for it’s weight in gold.
21.  Talking yourself up only makes others thing of how they are better than you.
22.  Even God’s servants aren’t perfect
23.  Other people are never an excuse to drop below what you know to be true.
24.  You can gain someone’s confidence with a smile genuine.
25.  Brazilians know American music better than I do.
26.  We are blessed beyond reason in USA
27.  The less you talk, the wiser you appear
28.  Many of our ‘needs’ aren’t really needs
29.  Everyone’s your friend on mail day
30.  Sacred things are to be treat sacred
31.  If I give the Lord a good day of work, he’ll give me a good night of sleep
32.  Those that live the gospel are immensely blessed
33.  Homemade ice cream is the BEST!
34.  When people say to guess their age or weight, SHOOT LOW
35.  People never go right to a big sin, it always starts with small, innocent steps
36.  it sure is good to be brown.
37.  Video games are a trap with no satisfaction
38.  With the right questions, people can teach themselves.
39.  Family is everything
40.  Personal things are best kept personal
41.  Everybody has the potential to enter God’s kingdom
42.  When the young men tell you a phrase to say to someone and you don’t know what it means, it’s best not to say it.
43.  When people are about to reject you, make your American accent a little stronger
44.  Relax
45.  Anyone can read scriptures or site a lecture, we’re here to teach. 
46.  Scriptures aren’t hard to understand, we just need practice
47.  There’s no greater joy than seeing others happy
48.  When you know how to sew, all the missionaries are your friends. (Thanks Grandma Munoa)
49.  I’ve been spoiled in luxury excess my whole life
50.  When you try to cut your own hair without a mirror, you’re making a mistake
52.  Time flies when you’re trying to fill it all
53.  All members like to talk about ‘their’ missionary who baptized them.
54.  if you walk staring at your feet, you won’t see the people God has put in your path.
55.  The moment you use a lesson or scripture to show your own knowledge, the spirit leaves.
56.  We are here to teach the RESTORATION!  That is our main duty
57.  it is literally offensive to turn down more food.
58.  Test to see if a dog bites with your foot, not your hand
59.  Everyone deserves to be loved by a friend
60.  Nobody really wants to hear about your accomplishments
61.  Jolly ranchers are the BEST when studying in the morning
62.   Study with a purpose and a specific question
63.  If you want to feel REAL good about yourself, shine your shoes
64.  NEVER call a woman ‘sem vergonha’
65.  Obedience pays off
66.  After a few nights you get used to sleeping sweaty
67.  Addictions are in the mind
68.  Don’t be afraid to say no
69.  Never try and play soccer with Brazilians
70.  Never even try and TALK soccer with Brazilians
71.  When Brazilians try and get you to play soccer with them, find a way out
72.  Missionary work works because it’s inspired and our messages are true.
73.  What it is to really lack a need (food, house, water, clothes)
74.  Happiness is learned
75.  If you want the time to pass fast, it won’t
76.  If you want the time to pass slowly, it won’t
77.  If you’re American, people will ask you why your country does everything it does.
78.  Everyone has a story to tell.
79.  Even the dumbest kid in Brazil speaks Portuguese.  I can learn it, too
80.  Every verse of scripture is inspiration if you allow it to be
81.  Nothing has a higher payback then strict obedience to the commandments
82.  Circumstances don’t determine happiness
83.  Always be ready for President to walk in the door
84.  Churrasco should have its own section in the food pyramid
85.  Some people just want to talk to hear themselves.  Let them be
86.  Arguing over opinions leaves nobody happy and accomplishes nothing.
87.  Family is the most important thing to me.
88.  No matter what you do, people still have their agency
89.  Sometimes the best answer is silence
90.  Give your all to the Lord, and you’ll find he pays back in double
91.  You get what you go after
92.  Never lower your standards, no matter the company
93.  Don’t be afraid to speak what should be said, bluntly
94.  Be Patient
95.  Money doesn’t fix everything, but buying a lot of glow sticks can make a lot of people happy
96.  Families are ordained and organized by God
97.  If you try and do everything at once you’ll get nothing done
98.  Cold peaches in the morning are the best
99.  Stop telling people you’re afraid of spiders.
100.  A list of 200 would be very hard to do.

Every 100 days, I’ll write a new 100 things I’ve learned.  On the last day I’ll write something for every day of my mission.

100 Things I’m Grateful for:
1.     Prayer, 2. Family 3. The gospel 4. Scriptures, 5. The atonement, 6. Revelation, 7.  Spiritual gifts, 8. Prophets 9. Priesthood 10. My mission call 11.  These last 200 days 12.  The gift of tongues 13.  Beans and rice 14.  Fruit 15. Patience 16.  DVD players 17. Ties 18. Quick shoeshine 19.  Letter in the mail 20.  Peanut butter 21.  Friends 22.  The examples in my life 23.  Education 34.  The church 25.  Our young men’s program 26.  Inspiration 27.  The pioneers 28.  That I’m American 29. Juice 30.  The sun 31. Shaded side walks 32.  SKYPE 33.  Christmas 34.  Mother’s day 35.  Journals 36.  President Parrela 37.  Trials 38. Liahona 39. Footnotes 40. Being raised in the church 41. Peaches 42. Dish washers (I’d forgotten those exist) 43. Cameras 44. Pictures 45. My patriarchal blessing 46. My dad’s mission 47. My siblings 48. My mom’s everything. 49. The plan of salvation 50. Water 51. References from people 52. Trees 53. Temples 54. Covenants 55. Stubborn companions 56. Hard areas 57. Preach my gospel 58. Mission prep class 59. My ward back home 60. Bishop 61. Timberline 62. Merit badges 63. Email 64. Birds 65. Dogs that don’t bark 66. Church movies 67. People who laugh at the way I talk 68. Scriptures masteries 69. Seminary 70. Long boards 71. The seasons 72. Washing machines 73. Ice 74. Fridges 75. Panini’s 76. Push ups 77. Personal study 78. Companion study 79. Lesson pamphlets 80. English to Portuguese dictionaries 81. My own hair-cutting machine 82. Taxis 83. Skittles 84. Churrasco 85. The ability to laugh 86. Agency 87. Agency 88.  P-days 89. The MTC 90. My nametag 91. To be a McKee 92. Gospel library 93. All the support I have 94. Shoes 95. My body 96. My testimony 97. My parents 98. The power of the spirit 99.  The Book of Mormon 100. My savior Jesus Christ.

(24) DOMINGO (Sunday):  You know what I love?  When a member randomly brings 3 friends to church. WOOT WOOT!  Ha-ha, one of them was Baptist and only wanted to bible bash with everyone, which was funny, and we let him.  The other 2 gave us their addresses and asked us to pass by!  They were very good.  We also had another meeting with the Ward Mission Leader and the ward missionaries.  It went very good and they are working hard.
            Janete and her family couldn’t go again because they went to some park in another city.  That’s annoying.  But today was good.  We had a load of investigators in sacrament meeting.  Things are going great.  Transfers will be given this week.  With certainty I’ll stay but I don’t know about Elder Pompeu.  Today was day 201 of my mission.
Love, Elder McKee
Banana with two in it.  Best day ever!