Monday, February 15, 2016

Baptisms, Flooding, Working Hard!

Week of Feb. 1-14, 2016
(1) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today was a good day.  We passed by the house of Marcos again to fill out the baptism papers.  AHHH, I’m so excited!  He chose the member who will baptize him and everything.  WOOT WOOT! 
            I also searched and searched for a place to buy a new camera, because I want to take pictures of the baptism, but with this being a smaller city, and all cell phones have cameras, I couldn’t find any.  Hopefully one of the new missionaries has one I can use.
            The rest of the day we visited a few members that Elder Pompeu wanted to say good-bye to.    Tomorrow might not have a journal page, because it will be a day of bus riding.  No, never mind, I’m taking my journal. Just changed my mind.   Today was day 209 of my mission.
(2) TERCA (Tuesday):  Today was all bus riding and I got like 5 different calls, “Hey Elder McKee, are you on your bus?  Do you know what you are doing?”  Ha-ha, but now I’m here in Santa Maria again.  WOOT WOOT!  And our hotel room has a TV so we plugged in our pen drive and watched Mormon messages.
            We saw the new group of missionaries, 10 elders and 6 sisters, and not a single American.  I also didn’t see any other American Trainers.  But tomorrow I’ll have more to write about.  Today was day 210 of my mission.
(3) QUARTA (Wednesday):  So, my new companion, and son, he’s from Paraha, another state in Brazil. T he other two elders in the house are Brazilian also.  His name is Elder Martins, and he speak English!  He already visited Utah to watch Conference.  He grew up in the church, and is the first missionary from his family.  Very cool guy.  He knows the lessons well and is excited to work. 
            Today we just sat in meetings and then sat on a bus until 1:00 am.  That was terrible.  But now we’re here, so it’s all good.  Today was day 211 of my mission.
(4) QUINTA (Thursday):  So, today we used a little bit of time after lunch to show the other elders a little of the area, then we went to a lesson with Stefani.  She and her husband Julio went to church 2 weeks ago on the invite from the counselor of the Bishop.  They are great.  They read every thing and ask questions.  Today we taught the gospel to her and it went very well.  Elder Martins challenged her to baptism, and she accepted!
            Then, in another house when we were knocking doors, we taught the restoration, and the 3 people accepted baptism with a date, the 27th.  It’s very different teaching with a missionary fresh out of the MTC.  I can’t imagine teaching with an American fresh out of the MTC, but Elder Martins is very good already.
            Then we had the baptismal interview of Marcos!  WOOT WOOT!  He passed!  I’m super excited about him.  Today was day 212 of my mission.
(5) SEXTA (Friday):  So my comp, my little son, is awesome.  He’s always willing to try and take the front, in the lessons and in contacts.  Ha-ha, he ahs a lot to practice, but he’s very willing and excited to learn.
            And also, today, every commitment, plan, and plan b’s fell through, so it was knocking doors and practicing contacts.  Ha-ha, watching Elder Martins makes me remember how far I’ve come.  To me, talking to people and starting a conversation is 2nd nature, now, but watching him struggle and be a little awkward, I remember how before the mission I was content to not talk to anyone.  Sometimes I just leave him to struggle through it, and other times I help him. It’s good to have the two sides.  I always try and think about what helped me, and then do that for him. 
            But tomorrow we have the baptism!!   YES!!  Ahhh, I am so excited!!  When I met Marcos, he was basically atheist.  Him being baptized now is seriously a miracle.  Man, I love being a missionary.  Today was day 213 of my mission.
(6) SABADO (Saturday):  MARCO WAS BAPTIZED!!!  WOOT WOOT!!  There is nothing better than being a missionary.  When I met him he was ATHEIST!  But he really had a drive to know the truth, and it was incredible to watch him grow closer to God and come to know him.  My comps feet are covered in blisters, and he’s limping.  I hadn’t realized how fast I walk until now that I’m staying with him in the street.
            Being a trainer, and senior comp and DL is pushing me, and I’m welcoming it.  I really want to be the best I can be.
            I asked Marco, after the baptism how he felt, and he said very good.  His wife gave one of the talks, and he said when she and another sister were speaking he was feeling something strong in his chest.  AHHH!!  I love this man!  I love this church.  I’m noticing my testimony getting much stronger, my assurance that really these things I’m teaching are true.  That the Savior I represent lives and the church I represent is His.  I LOVE talking about this gospel.  Today was day 214 of my mission.
(7) DOMINGO (Sunday):  So, today Marco was confirmed.  After, when I looked at him, his daughter, who is 9 and not baptized, pointed to a picture of Jesus being baptized, and I watched Marco pointing to things, and explaining about it.  I think he’ll be bishop one day.
            Also, Welerson went to church!  He also went to the baptism yesterday!  He suddenly has a big desire and is actually reading the Book of Mormon!  Ha-ha!  I LOVE Being A MISSIONARY!!  He’s 15 years old, and has a LOT of hair.  But, he is super cool, and I am very excited about him.  We are hoping to baptize him on the 20th! 
            A lot of less actives also decided to randomly come to church today.  That was cool.  Today was day 215 of my mission.
(8) SEGUNDA (Monday):  So today was P-Day, and a very good P-day.  My camera is still bad, so no photos for home, but its fine.  I bought a TON of bananas and apples.  Man, I love those.
            Today I learned, even more, the value of just having courage to talk to people.  Just start talking.  Today we did 2 contacts with rough and tough men in front of their house, and they happily received a gente and marked other days, too.  WOOT WOOT!
            So, Now I’ll tell you a little about the new elders here.  First, my comp, Elder Martins, Brazilian, 19 years old, raised in the church.  Really excited to be a missionary.  Has 6 days now in the field.  Sometimes yells, “What’s your name?” at people before saying anything else. : ) but’s he’s very good, and is excited and ready to learn  Always anxious to talk and bear testimony. 
            Elder Pessoa Da Silva, Brazilian, 18 years old, had 6 days now.  Is very happy and has a POWERFUL testimony.  Cooks VERY WELL, and makes very good juice.  Very friendly, and wants to work hard.
            Elder Alvarenga, Brazilian, 21 years old.  A year and a half on the mission.  Quiet and very chill, but has a powerful testimony as well, and a very good knowledge of the scriptures.  Soft spoken.  Destroyed me at arm wrestling, then let me win.
Elder Martins, Jake, Elder Alvarenga, Elder Pessoa Da Silva 

            All very good guys, all good, obedient missionaries.  I really don’t feel like I have any advantage being their District leader, because I’m learning just as much from them.  Sometimes, when Elder Martins is teaching or doing something, I just let him go, because I’m learning a lot watching him.  He doesn’t yet teach or do things with that bias that comes with experience, habits formed with time teaching.  Very interesting to watch.
            Also, today, I have to send a picture of the baptism record to the secretaries, and so I used the camera of Elder Alvarenga, and his memory card.  He had all the pictures from the last year and a half.  I connected it to the computer, took off the foto, and then unplugged it.  40 seconds!  In that time, a virus entered and deleted ALL of his pictures!  Luckily, he had all of them backed up to a pen drive, because this is the 4th time it’s happened to him.  But I got very scared for a second.  But today was very good.  Today was day 216 of my mission.
(9) TERCA (Tuesday):  Today was a very good day.  Long past are my days of not talking to people because of fear.  Every house we pass, if I feel any desire to knock, I’ll knock.
            Today we met a woman named Vera.  We asked her if she had ever talked to missionaries and she said, no, but let us in. During the lesson of the restoration, she cut us off and apologized for lying, but she had met with missionaries.   Her parents were members; about 10 years ago they died.  Her daughter and brother are also members.  The missionaries used to eat at her house.  She used to go to church every week, already read the whole Book of Mormon.  She was never baptized, but almost.  When she divorced with her husband, she was close to being baptized, but she made it sound like the members mocked her how she was now single, and she was embarrassed and ashamed and never went to church again.  She said she’s still not ready, but I could see that we brought to her house the spirit she didn’t realize she was missing.  That lesson had a very good spirit, and I could tell that she was feeling it, too.
            Ha-ha, so today the 2 new missionaries were talking about their welcome home parties in 2 year, talking about after the mission.  To put things in perspective, I said, “That’s great, but just remember, until Friday, I have more months then you have days.”  They didn’t think that too funny.  Then Elder Alvarenga said, “That’s great, Elder McKee, but just remember, when you have the same time as I do in the mission, I’ll be married.”  He has a year and half.  But it was super funny!  Today was day 217 of my mission.
(10) QUARTA (Wednesday):  Today we went to Santiago for a zone meeting.  Then came back.  By then it was 6:00 PM, so there goes our day.  Welerson wasn’t home.
            But at the district meeting, I learned that Sister Heneffer, who is from Utah, will go home this transfer.  I gave her my email and she is going to send me a picture of the mountains.  WOOT WOOT!
            Also, I think Elder Pessoa Da Silva is a big blessing in our house, because he cooks VERY well.  Today he made chicken with.. I don’t even know, but it was good.

            I love big meetings with a lot of missionaries, because by now I’m one of the older ones.  This mission was pretty small, but then started receiving a LOT of missionaries.  I was in the last little group, before the surge.  So now I’m among the oldest, with almost 8 month in the mission.  To Louco!  I think I’ll stay here until I have one year in the mission.  I hope so!  Today was day 218 of my mission.
(11) QUINTA (Thursday):  Today we had 2 lessons of GOLD.  The first, remember Stefani?  Her and her husband, Juliano, and her daughter Thifany went to church one time, 3 weeks ago.  They are the perfect investigators.  Juliano works with the garbage truck, so he’s only home in the mornings.   With Elder Martins’ training we can’t leave in the mornings, (now we can, I set up something with the zone leaders), So we’ve only had lessons with Stefani.  Today, we taught the restoration.  At the end, She told us that after our last visit she, in her room, prayed to God and asked if what we taught and the Book of Mormon are true.  She described the feelings that she had as she prayed, and said she wasn’t sure but she thinks it was the Holy Ghost.  AHHH!!! We explained the spirit more for her and helped her to realize that really it was!  AHHH!  I love being a missionary!  She accepted the baptism challenge, but we didn’t mark a date because they aren’t married. I want them to be baptized so bad!
            The second…the other day we met a man named Eduardo knocking doors. Today, we went back to his house to have the first lesson.  Man, it was a powerful spirit.  He said he’s gone to a lot of churches, but not any of them follows everything he finds in the bible, and they only ask for money.  He works as security at a bank in the mornings, and when we invited him to go to church he said he would try and switch his hours.  When we challenged him to baptism, he accepted so fast I thought he didn’t understand and I asked again.  Ha-ha, then came a HUGE CHUVAO (big rain), and we stayed in his house talking for another little bit, because we were totally unprepared.  We left the house with sun and blue skies.  We got to know him very well.  Maybe it’s all part of God’s plan.  He said he would read and pray.  He was very good.
            Then we ran home in the rain, and it was RAINING!!  Remember the Payson Temple Cultural Celebrations storm??  Remember how Craig said it was a normal Brazil storm?  He wasn’t lying.  To Louco.   But today was awesome.  We’re working hard and seeing good results, the other Elders, too.  Today was day 219 of my mission.
(12) SEXTA (Friday):  Today we WALKED!  We got a reference from the other elders that they said was really good.  So, we went to where the address should be.  Nothing was there.  But we literally walked to the end of the city.  The road ended and there was just fields.  Then we returned, didn’t even bother knocking doors because it’s SUPER far away from the church and our time is better-spent teaching people closer to the church and our house.
            So, all the elders here, after seeing and hearing about my packages I receive, have all said that they can’t wait to see the package I’ll get for Easter. Ha-ha
            I don’t think I have ever sweat more then I sweated today.  My eyes started to burn.  I was dripping sweat off my nose, chin, and ears.  And my hands, where all the sweat from my arms ran.  We sat and rested for 10 minutes, to dry off and cool down before entering the house of the less active we visited.
            Today was slower, and harder, but I’m ending it feeling good.  That’s what counts.
            We were practicing English in the street today.  Well, Elder Martins was, I couldn’t speak English so I stuck to Portuguese.  He asked me about my girlfriend.  I said, “Have you seen the best 2 years?”  “Yes”  “remember what happened with Roger’s companion and his girlfriend?”  “Yes”  “I don’t talk about girlfriends with my comps.”  He laughed and told me about his.  I don’t like talking about girlfriends or girls or stuff we did before the mission very much.  It seems like it always just turns into a contest of who can top everyone else with their exaggerated stories.  So, I usually sit quiet and listen to them talk about the ONE time they got pulled over (Just one time…how cute) by the police, or how they can touch the bottom of the pool.  But they all love to looks at my pictures.  Today was day 220 of my mission.
(13) SABADO (Saturday):  Today we didn’t have very many lessons, but a lot of good people who have potential marked other days to pass.  But we met a new family, who was a reference from a member.  The lesson was INCREDIABLE.  At the beginning of the lesson, she was justifying and talking about her church, and then at the end, she accepted the baptism challenge and said, “We’ve been searching for this for a long time.”  Her husband was equally interested, and they asked a lot of questions.  My favorite thing to do when we meet new people with potential is imagine, 5 years form now, missionaries sitting at their table for lunch, or the parents leaving the temple.
            OH!  So last night, at 11:00ish, I hear “Elder McKee!  Come Here!”  One of the elders wasn’t sleeping, and he heard what he had thought was rain, so he got up to go look.  When he went in the kitchen the floor was covered in water.  We have a water filter with a rubber line to the sink.  The rubber line is old and brittle, and when it bent it broke.  So, he held off the water as best he could while I took it all apart and fixed it.  All good.  11:30, we finished cleaning up the water and went ot bed.  10 minutes later it broke again in another spot.  So, I ran and disconnected the water.  They don’t’ have one for just our apartment, so I disconnected it for the whole building, which is fine.  Then, I found an old rusty bolt and screwed it as best I could into the hole, reconnected the water, and it only leaked a little, so we cleaned up the water and went to bed, 12:15.  The next morning we went to the store and bought some new rubber pipe, but they didn’t have any small enough, so I shoved a small piece of the old into the new, secured it with a zip tie, or a plumbers clamp on the other end, and put it all back together.  I tried to take pictures of it all.  It worked perfect.  We left for lunch, and then passed by the house at about 1:30 and it was still good.  We went out, passed close to the house again at 6:00 and decided to check again. T he kitchen had an inch of water.  Luckily I had thought to close the door and put towels or the whole house would have been flooded.  We had left the back door open so it could leave.  Unconnected the water again and put the rusty bolt back, this time putting tape on it so it can’t leak. Then little bit of the old pipe had broken again.  EVERYTHING in the kitchen was SOAKED.  I’m sure I’ll be getting a call from President about this month’s water bill.  Now we have to wait until Monday, but I already know what to do to fix it.  But now our kitchen is very clean!  Today was day 221 of my mission.

(14) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Today was great!!  First off, we had church.  That’s my favorite part of the week, every week.  Stefani went, too.  WOOT WOOT!  Then after we were walking to the house of Welerson, and we passed him at another house with all his family.  So we sat with them all, talked and little by little everyone was leaving.  Then we had a powerful lesson with Welerson about baptism and confirmation.  I asked him if he read what we had left for him, Alma 32 about comparing the Work of God to a seed.  He said he read it, loved it, and that it all made sense.  He explained everything he understood form it for us.  Then we asked him to explain baptism, and the purpose.  His definition was perfect, and we invited him to be baptized on the 27, and he accepted, saying he’ll have to talk to his mom.  He asked us to pass by tomorrow to talk to him and his mother together.  AHHH!!  I’m so excited!!  As soon as we left I called Leonardo, the ward mission leader, and we had a mini party over the phone.  Man, it was awesome.  And the spirit was so strong.  It’s very easy to see how much the spirit is working in him. 
            We’re also receiving a ton of references. The Lord is seeing our hard work, and blessing us because of it.  Today was day 222 of my mission.
I love you guys!! I’m working hard, and we are definitely seeing the benefits! 

Love, Elder McKee
 His desk
 Hair cut time.  

 Elder Martins doesn't look too sure about this???

 Investigators on the mirror?
 He took this Brazilian flag with him.  Looks like he is having each of his companions sign the edge.  Also, his district from the MTC.  What a fun idea.  

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