Monday, March 7, 2016

"Continue To Do Your Best"

Week of Feb.29 thru March 6th, 2016

(29) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today was a FANTASTIC P-Day.  At 6 when we left, we found a new investigator, which is a great way to start the week.  Her name is Juliana, a young single mother living with her parents.  She paid attention very closely to the restoration, and after we bore testimony she was asking where the church is and if we could return Saturday.  Man she has a lot of potential.  That lesson had a very strong spirit and I know she was able to feel it, too.
            Then we went to Welerson, too.  We watched the restoration with him, and he was feeling the spirit, too.  He described it as a warm feeling that filled his arms and legs.  He committed to start reading the Book of Mormon, at least one page, every day, then to pray and wait for the spirit.  We are working and praying to baptize him on the 12th.  When I asked him if he had something we could do to help him, he said, “Just come back on Thursday, explain more to me.” 
            Also, while we were watching the restoration, I felt something on my hand.  I looked down and it was a HUGE spider!  Like an inch and a half in diameter.  I FLIPPED!  I thought it was gone, so I sat back down, (Yes, I jumped out of the chair), and when I looked down, IT WAS STILL ON MY LEG!  I smashed the bugger as I jumped, but then we had to rewind the video to understand.  But it’s all-good.  I’m still alive.  Today was day 237 of my mission.
(1) TERCA (Tuesday):  Today was a division, Elder Alvarenga with me.  It went great, until our two commitments to have lessons with a member fell through.  Fabiano, who was an investigator progressing very well, we passed by and he left for work for 2 MONTHS!  So, we’ll just be leaving him in the area book for future missionaries.  Eduardo called and cancelled, too.  But we had good lessons, and found some good new investigators.  And the other elders had a great lesson with an investigator that they have.  They are super excited about.  He’s progressing a lot.
            We also went and knocked a few doors, and at one when the woman saw us, she FLIPPED.  She was so excited.  It was obvious she was a less active because she was calling us “Elders” and talking about missionaries.  She immediately made us sandwiches and juice, and passion fruit pudding stuff that was super good.  She left the church because she didn’t receive a recommend to the Manaus temple dedication because she doesn’t believe in the Book of Mormon.  She was active for 20 years and the missionaries lived in her backyard.  Man, she never stopped talking.  She kept apologizing for her simple, humble house, but it was the neatest, cleanest house I’ve seen here in Brazil, I think.
            Then!  At another house, it’s an old man who we stop by sometimes when we have nothing to do.  We entered and sat down. Talked with him a little, and he brought up tithing.  He talked about he blessings of giving tithing, and Elder Alvarenga said, “Yea, 10%, right.”  And the guy FLIPPED!  “Show me where it’s written 10%! Grab my bible and show me! Why are you still in my house? Go work!  I’m not going to give you anything!” Elder Alveranga said, “No Irmao, Nobody’s asking for money.”  “We’re done!  Get out of my house.”  He got up and left us, going to the other room.  No idea why he got so mad, but it’s all good.  We got up and left.  Today was day 238 of my mission.
(2) QUARTA (Wednesday):  Not going to lie, today was difficult for me.  Every plan and commitment we had fell through.  I have the zone leaders on my tail because we have few lessons with members.  Yesterday I arranged for 2 and they fell through at the last minute.  Today, I had for 4, and none went right.  And it was raining all day.  Hard!  Nobody in the street, nobody answering doors, nobody letting us in, but I still am managing to stay happy.  If what they say about working through the rain and sun brings you a prettier wife is true, then I’m all set! 
            Elder Martins and I, walking in the street with our umbrellas, which are hardly keeping our heads dry, singing hymns, “There is sunshine in my soul today, “ was my favorite to sing.
            Tomorrow we have good commitments with good investigators, and I’m praying they don’t fall through.  Today was day 239 of my mission.
(3) QUINTA (Thursday):  Today had its ups and downs, but was a very good day.  I’ll go in order, of the events worthy of note.
            We had a lesson with Stefani.  We had taught the 10 commandments to her last time.  Today we reviewed a little and talked some more.  She’s already said that she’s received an answer.  She isn’t married to Juliano, but they’ve already looked into it in the past, and this next week she’ll go to look at the options to be married.  We reviewed the Word of Wisdom and she has no problem with ANY OF THEM!  (Just killed my 10th pen).  We talked about baptism and confirmation and what they mean.  I believe that she is VERY ready to be baptized.  She has a lot of faith, was already prepared by the Lord, and knows the Book of Mormon is true.  She’ll go to church this week, and then we’ll mark a Family Home Evening with her and some members.
            Next item of note:  A new investigator named Thais that we found during the division. W e passed by her house, and she had read the pamphlet and watched the film of the restoration, and had prayed.  She said she hasn’t received an answer.  We presented the Book of Mormon to her, and marked a part for her to read and pray again.  It was a very good lesson.  She said that she’ll go to church this Sunday, and that she really wants to know if the message is true.
            Then, so the mom of Marcele had told me that Marcele gets home from Seminary at 8:00.  So logically, I thought it started at 7:00 every night Tuesday to Friday.  So at 6:30 we went to the house of Welerson (6:30 in the evening) and he was sleeping, but I really wanted him to go to seminary, so we knocked on his window and whispered his name until he woke up.  Ha-ha.  His mom loves us because we’re getting her son to stop sleeping so much and follow the church standards.  He got ready and we went to the church.  Nobody was there.  I even gave Welerson my old Bible I got in the MTC that I don’t use, because they are studying the Old Testament.  Finally I called the ward secretary, and he explained that it starts at 5:40 and goes until 6:20 Tuesday to Friday.  So we had a lesson with Welerson in the chapel.  Talked about baptism, and we were trying to figure out if he was really ready for day 12 and if he was being baptized for the right seasons.   He opened up to us, and he has a lot of doubts about if God even exists, and about the church.  I don’t know. He has a desire to believe, but doesn’t yet.  Which is fine.  But I don’t know if he’s ready or not.  And where he has 15 years, he needs to be active for 3 months before his baptism to show that he will stay firm.  I don’t want to baptize someone who doesn’t at least have the base of a testimony.  He’ll go to church Sunday, and we’ll pass again and see where he is at and decide on a plan for him.  I really want to baptize him, but I want him to be baptized because he wants to and  he believes, not because he feels pressured and doesn’t want to disappoint the missionaries.  Today was day 240 of my mission.
(4) SEXTA (Friday):  Today was the third day in a row we had Pizza for dinner and I am not proud of that fact.
            In one house today, it was a man and his wife.  They had already spoken with the missionaries before. T he man ONLY wanted to argue the bible with us, and he didn’t even know anything.  Ha-ha, he was crazy.  Then he pointed at our Book of Mormon, and said, “I read the beginning of that book. It said that you worship Joseph Smith as a God, and he was born in Columbia.”  I looked at him for a second and said, “no, that’s not true at all.”  Him, “Yes it is!  I read it!”  It was just stuff like that, that he would say.  His wife was so embarrassed.  She would ask a question and he would start to answer.  Finally, she said to him, “No! You don’t know anything!  I’m asking him!”  Everything we said, he would try and show that he already knew it and that he knows a little more.  We didn’t even argue with him at all.  Ha-ha, his wife said to him like 5 times, “How can you expect to argue with them?  They study and teach everyday, and you don’t even go to church.”  Ha-ha, oh man.
            Then! We had another lesson with an old investigator, and we went there with a member.  Biggest mistake of my mission yet, taking that member.  He’s a newer member and gets excited and talks very blunt. I thought the woman was going to punch him when he was pointing his finger at them saying, “Your church is not the true church!!”  The woman said, “but all the other churches today come from the Catholic Church, is that not true?”  The member said, “Even so, they aren’t true either.”  He just talked and talked and talked, so speaking apostasy.  “Mormon was the original prophet of the restoration, “ for example.  It was terrible.  Every time I tried to talk, he would talk louder.  When I would finally get a word in, trying to save the lesson, he would then say, “now Elder McKee is American so it’s hard to understand what he says.  What’s he’s trying to say is…..”  Finally when he was yelling some more I said, “hey!  Pardon me, but it’s my turn” Then I shared scriptures and tried to calm things down.  When he tried to talk again, I looked at him and shook my head no, and said; “now Elder Martins will talk.”  He shared his testimony.  Member again, But I cut him off saying, “Now we have a question for you, Adir (the investigator), why is baptism important for you?”  Member again tried to talk, and I said, “No, now we’ll just sit in silence for a second and let Brother Adir think about his answer.”  After a few seconds of beautiful silence, THE MEMBER STARTED AGAIN!  I cut him off again, because the investigators were NOT happy with anything, and I said, “This next topic has a lot of details.  Let’s wait until the next lesson, when it’s calmer and quieter to explain.  Member tried to continue.  Me, “Now Elder Martins will say the closing prayer.”  It’s insane how someone can be so thick in the head.  Ha-ha.  When I invited the investigator to go to church, he didn’t even hesitate, “No, not this week.”  Wasn’t even a surprise.  Today was day 241 of my mission.
(5) SABADO (Saturday):  Today was VERY hard.  Nothing went right, and we even had a member call us asking to go to lessons with us, which was a miracle and answers to prayers, but then the FOUR houses we passed had nobody. Nobody was answering.  Today was a very hard day for me.  Then I pulled out the box of letters from family and friends, opened the one Matt wrote, and cried laughing at his line, “If you get sick or have a bad day then look at the picture of me.”  Thanks, Matt.  Today was day 242 of my mission.  NOTE TO MOM:  I still have 15 letters left, one for every fast Sunday.
(6) DOMINGO (Sunday): Today was a good day.  Church went very well today.  Rodrigo, the investigators of the other elders who will be baptized this Saturday, went and is doing awesome.  He was the first to volunteer for the practices in the quorum of Elders.
            Welerson also went, but Elder Martins and I are feeling certain that he shouldn’t be baptized this Saturday.  Our biggest worry is that he’s agreeing to be baptized because he doesn’t want to disappoint us, and his mom is pushing for it a lot.  I don’t want to baptize any less actives on my mission.  I want him to be baptized because it’s something that he wants.  Right now he isn’t praying, and only reading sometimes.  Our commitments with him always flake. 
            Stefani also didn’t go today, and when we passed by her house nobody answered.  Nobody was answering the phone either.  Today was day 243 of my mission.
 A few things from his email to us:
            I got two more post cards today. The Brazilians (3 missionaries he lives with) make bets about how many ´cartinhas´ (little cards) I’ll have, but I think I got the last of them today. I have 30 now.
            I love the packages. The people here do, too. I took that blue magic thing with the red ball to the lunches that have kids, and to church too, and they LOVED IT, the adults, too. Ha-ha, the funny American doing magic for the kids, and the adults try and act like they’re in on it, but they always look twice when I make the ball appear again. :) Ha-ha. Also, today we all got our Easter packages!! The Brazilians FLIPPED!!! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha super funny. But, I’m making them wait until Easter Sunday! And the box of eggs was funny too! :) I love you, mom. I don’t think you even understand how much all the support and love helps me, and the prayers, too. I can certainly feel the prayers pushing me on everyday. 
            So, a spiritual experience I had the week that really helped me. During the sacrament, I was sitting there. Then I started to suddenly feel the spirit very strong. I don’t even know why. I wasn’t praying for anything in specific, just that the investigators that were in the meeting would feel the spirit and recognize Him. I started to wonder why I was feeling the spirit so strong, and the thought came to my mind ´The Lord is accepting your work. Continue to do your best´. I can’t even begin to explain the relief and peace that I felt at that moment. I’ve spent my whole mission until this point, and I’ll continue to do so, trying to do what the Lord would do if He were here. I’m trying my absolute best. I have confidence, and a clean conscience of that. This last week was more stressful than normal, trying to get members more involved and everything falling through. Investigators stopping  progress. I have a direct line with the leaders of the mission now, and I have a personal goal to never make excuses. I haven’t been feeling stress to be exact, because I know that everything is according to the Lords plan and I’m doing my best, but I’ve been working hard searching for that feeling that I’m doing a good work. And at this moment I felt that. The Lord has accepted, happily, my work until now, and I need to continue to give my all to Him. I love this work. I love my mission. I love my Savior and the help and support I receive every day from him. I know the spirit is real and is always with us, even when we are selves are shutting the door to Him. I’ll continue to dedicate my life to my Lord, and I only hope and pray that here in a year and a few months when I’m on a plane for the United States, I have that same feeling I had in church yesterday. That the Lord knows me, loves me, is with me, accepts my work, and most of all, and is happy with what I’ve done. 
I love you all,

Elder McKee

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