Monday, May 23, 2016

"You left me for dead!"

Week of May 16-May 22, 2016
(16) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today I bought tapioca, which is a food from the North.  It’s not as good as the homemade I ate one time, but it’s still delicious.  We cleaned the house, I watched a movie, Elder Bezerra was washing clothes, and I didn’t notice, so I got shocked when I was cleaning the bathroom.
            We had a family home evening with the family of Irene.  We talked about covenants, and why they are important.  It was very good and spiritual.
            One thing I’ve been trying to work on is being happy in the moment.  A while back I realized that people are always saying, “I can’t wait until…”  We always expect to be happy in the next phase of life.  I thought about all these stages.  As a child, we can’t wait to start school.  Then we can’t wait for summer break.  Then remember how Andy always wanted to cut the grass, until it became his job?  Then we can’t wait for Jr. High, then high school.  We can’t wait to drive, and then we become mom’s errand boy.  Can’t wait to graduate.  Can’t wait for the mission.  Can’t wait to get home.  Can’t wait to start college, and then you can’t wait to finish.  Can’t wait to start the new job, and then you can’t wait to retire.  Maybe we just need to learn to stop and wait a little.  I think everyone is in at least one of these phases, or some other “can’t wait” phase.  Why do we always have to wait until the next step in life to be happy?  Learn to wait and be happy now.  You look back on the ‘can’t wait’ stages you’ve already passed and wish you had taken advantage more of them.  At leave I’ve noticed this in myself.  I look at my mission alone.  I couldn’t wait to leave, then to leave the MTC.  Then to meet my trainer, then to end my training, then to be fluent in Portuguese, then to get a new comp, then to be transferred, then go senior, then to be a trainer, and on and on.  So, now I’m working on being happy now, and not thinking I’ll only be happy or satisfied in the next ‘can’t wait’ phase.  I’m done ‘can’t wait’ing.   Today was day 314 of my mission.
(17) TERCA (Tuesday):  Marcos, the husband of Simara, called us today and said he was upset he missed the last dinner, so they wanted to do another today.  When we got there, Simara said, “Thank you for your prayers for us.  We managed to get enough money to pay the electric bill, so tomorrow we’ll have lights.  There’s a little left over, so we bought hot dogs.”  They are the sweetest people!  Simara, in her prayers, promised to the Lord that she will start immediately, even though she isn’t’ yet baptized, to pay her tithing.  We taught the plan of salvation to Marcos, and it was a very spiritual and good lesson.  Then, Simara told us about some dreams and feelings she’s been having, then said, “But I know these things are the devil trying to take me from the path.  I don’t care what happens, I’ll be baptized because I know that is what God wants me to do.”  Really I just want to baptize them already.  She calls me Jacob, not Elder Mckee, because I think she gets embarrassed that she can’t manage to say McKee correctly.  Today was day 315 of my mission.
(18) QUARTA (Wednesday):  So, this morning we went to the house of Vera Lucia, an older lady we are teaching.  Her daughter, Cinthia, was visiting and as we entered I could see that she was about to leave the room.  I wanted her to stay, so I started talking to her and she sat back down. I asked her how many children she has, and she said one 13-year-old daughter, and she had discovered today that she would be having another child.  Vera Lucia was about to leave to go somewhere so she asked if we could just share a small message.  We said the prayer, and I went to share a scripture, and Cinthia started asking questions, “Who wrote the Bible? How can we know it’s true?  What happens when we die?  Why are we here?”  We answered them all using the Book of Mormon.  We were there for about 20 minutes just answering questions.  Then, Vera Lucia really needed to go, so we gave Cinthia a Book of Mormon with the pamphlet of the Plan of Salvation.  We told her to read it and next Wednesday (That was the only day we could and they could) we would come back.  When she got the Book of Mormon, we had explained that it was scripture inspired by God just like the Bible.  We said ‘whenever you’re feeling upset or sad, just open it and start to read.”  She opened the book right to Alma talking about the preparations for war.  Ha-ha.  But that lesson was great, and she showed so much interest.
            Then we helped, after lunch, a young family move to another house.  They had a lot of very heavy stuff.  The big wardrobe wouldn’t fit in the new house.  To get in, you have to climb stairs, and then it’s a hard right turn into the door.  The wardrobe wouldn’t fit through the door, barely.  I said, “Look, its super close, lets just pull the pins on the door, remove the door, and it will fit.”  The man said, “No, this is easier.”   He then grabbed a big knife, and went to town on the wardrobe, cutting the side to make it smaller.  Then, it still didn’t fit.  I gave the idea again to take off the door.  Nope, we descended the stairs again, and he broke off half the wardrobe and put it in the trash.  Even with half, it was a pain to get into the house.  Today went good.  Today was day 316 of my mission.
(19) QUINTA (Thursday): Yesterday while we were walking in the road, a youth from the church said his dad wanted to pass us a family to teach.  He asked us to pass by the next day.  So, we went today in the morning.  The man, Carlos, showed us the house, and introduced us to the people, then had to leave.  We sat and talked with them for a while and taught the restoration.  Fabricio, Rachael, and their neighbor Raquiele.  Fabricio said that he’s been searching for a church and on Sunday Carlos went walking past, returning from church, and he told him he would visit his church one day.  Carlos said, “Alright, let me call the missionaries, they can teach you a little more.”  As we were talking, he asked the name of the church again, we told him, then said, “But we’re more commonly known as the Mormons” and then he said, “You guys are the Mormons!?  10 years ago I was baptized in the Mormon church when I was 16."  Ha-ha, he’s already a member!  The lesson was a great one, and at the end we challenged his wife to baptism, and she said, “For a long time now, I’ve been asking God to show me the way.  If I pray and feel that yours is the way for me, then yes, I’ll be baptized.”  AHHH and it was SUCH A GOOD LESSON!
            And Simara, remember how she was so excited that they were going to be able to pay the electric bill?  Well, they went to center, paid it, and came back and had a notice.  Their electric box is on their house.  It’s now the law that it has to be in the road on a post.  That post costs $2000 reais.  Simara and Marcos were devastated.  They struggled to pay the 200 reais for electricity, 2000 is almost impossible.  But we, after, talked to Bishop, and we’ll see if they church can help.  Simara and Marcos, when we got the their house, were sitting in the front reading over little pamphlets.  Simara’s faith is amazing to me.  And yesterday they got all the stuff ready for their marriage.  It’ll take a little longer then expected, but all is well.  Today was day 317 of my mission.
(20) SEXTA (Friday):  I think this whole thing of not having electricity for Simara and Marcos is more of a blessing then anything else.  They’re reading together, praying together.  They aren’t letting their faith fall.  And today Bishop told us to pass by their house to tell them the church will help them pay for the post and everything.  Simara hugged us.  She was so happy and so that was a good point from today. It was great news and an answer to their prayers, and Simara, who was lighting a candle next to me for light, accidently knocked over the candle onto my lap, and I yelled and jumped, spilling all my rice and chicken all over my lap and the couch. Marcos said “dear, he brings us this great news and you try to set him on fire!?” then I said “don’t even worry about it. I’m a ninja and I put it out with my rice.”  Ha-ha, so now the joke is that. ALSO!! Simara will kill me if I don’t bring the recipe to her of the chicken in the sprite, can you send it to me. She said if I don't get it she will find you on Facebook and get it herself and tell you that I have the memory of a fish.  ha-ha.  Also, the recipe to an apple pie, and your cookies? Thanks.
            A not so good point is that a dog almost ate me.  We were walking in the street, and a big dog and his other dog friend started barking.  I look at them and they’re behind a closed gate, so we just keep walking.  Then, Elder Bezerra yells and pushes me backwards and takes off running.  I look and the gate wasn’t closed, and the dogs were running at us.  If you just stand still they usually leave you along, but Bezerra had already started running, so now they’re in attack mode.  I don’t think I’ve ever run so fast in my life.  And the 2 dogs chasing me, we get to the top of the hill, and Bezerra says, “Holy crap.  That was crazy!  Did you see them?!”  I said, “Of course I saw them, it’s hard to miss.  I also saw how you pushed me back and left me for dead!” 
            But I became super happy that the church could help them.  It’s now cold winter, it’ll get colder, and they’ve gone a long while without a hot shower, nor a machine to wash clothes, nor lights in the house.  Today was day 318 of my mission.
Elder Bezerra and Jake and the post!

(21) SABADO (Saturday):  Today we challenged Eduardo to be baptized on the 18th of June, because with what he still needs to learn and the days he has work off this is the only day that would work out.  And he accepted!  He’s the husband of Camila, who was born in the church and always active.  He’s gone to church a whole lot, just never was baptized.  They have a little daughter who is adorable.  Eduardo is really quiet, doesn’t really talk very much, but he’s super cool, and I think that he really wants to be baptized. 
            The rest of the day went great also, that was just a highlight.  Things are going great here in this area.  We have a lot of people progressing, which probably means I’ll be transferred.  Usually it works like that.  But I don’t think I will be.  For sure we’ll know by Friday.
            Also, please send more of that Hershey’s chocolate spread you sent me, or anything else like it.  Nutella also.  It’s SUPER good with Tapioca, and I’m running out now.  Also, just in case I forget to ask will you send a raincoat like I have for Elder Bezerra, please?  Also maybe 2-3 cool ties to me.  There are a few young men in the ward I want to give them to.  Today was day 319 of my mission.
(22) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Today was stake conference, and it was awesome!  A man from the 70's came and talked.  President was here, too.  He told me about how he was with Uncle Roy a little bit ago.
            Simara went, along with 5 other investigators.  It was a very good day.  Simara is reading the gospel principals book, and has read 200 pages in the last 2 days.  She loves it and keeps talking of all the new stuff she is learning.
            We also went to the house of Fabricio and his wife Rachael today.  They were very excited to go to church with us next Sunday, and said they would give us a ride.  Rachael read the Book of Mormon, which is encouraging.  We marked another part for her to read, and taught the plan of Salvation.  This week went very well.  We made a lot of progress.  Today was day 320 of my mission.
Yes, I’ve been great!! This week went incredibly well!! We don’t have lights in our room because a wire snapped or something, so we go by candle which is awesome.

I think that they will cut the time any minute now, so I love you!! I’m praying for you! Thanks for all the help with everything! I’m going to buy a bigger coat today.  I love everyone! And I’m praying for all of you! 

Love, Elder McKee
More ninja fly catching skills!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Frogs of Rubber

Week of May 9-15, 2016
(9) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today was a good p-day.  I printed a bunch of pictures.  We cleaned the house.  I bought a Spanish to Portuguese dictionary. Yep, it’s all good in the hood.
            We visited 2 less active families today.  They were good spiritual lessons.  We marked other days to visit. And they gave us referrals to teach.  Woot Woot.  Then I cut my hair, and yea, there’s my day.
            Today and yesterday I felt a huge sense of love and appreciation for my family, and also all my friends that are supporting me and helping me through emails, letters, and prayers.  I’m very spoiled with blessings for all I have and the amazing people in my life.  Even if I could, I don’t think I would change a singe thing.  I’m grateful for all the Lord has given me, and this chance to be on the mission and come in contact with so many people, even if they don’t always accept us.  I love my family; my mom, my dad, sister, and 2 brothers.  I’m very grateful for parents, who taught me how to work hard and play hard as well, and the great priesthood examples I have to follow.  I’m just super happy to be where I am doing what I’m doing.  Today was day 307 of my mission.
(10) TERCA (Tuesday):  So, I forgot to write this yesterday, but you know the package you sent last week with all the candy you sent to Elder Bezerra and you also sent that frog of rubber?  He thought it was candy too, and tried biting the leg for a few seconds before he saw the picture of it as a balloon.  Ha-ha.  I laughed so hard.  He loved the Laffy taffy’s.  He’s never seen so much candy at once.  Thanks mom!
            Today was a good day.  Simora will go on Thursday to do the stuff for the marriage.  And she’s already planning her baptism.  She wants Thiago, her son, to baptize her, and then Igor will do the confirmation with Elder Bezerra and I in the circle with him.  Marcos really wants it too, especially because Simora says she wants everyone of her family in the church.  We just have to schedule around his work.
            Today was also the district meeting.  We have to travel for an hour to the area of the sisters, the other elders too, but from the other direction.  They get up at 5:00 am to go and get there at about 7:00.  The meeting starts at 10:00.  We get there at 9:00.  So today, I knew they were with hunger, so I bought a bunch of stuff and came with a picnic.  It was all-good.  Today was day 308 of my mission.
(11)QUARTA (Wednesday):  Today was very slow.  A lot fell through, which happens.  I got a package today from Lauren Pinson, an awesome calendar with the birthdays of everyone in the family.
                        So, at the house of Irene…Imagine the sweet old lady saying this, “Oh my sons.  I’m trying so hard to not drink coffee.  I made a thick soup of erva (The stuff they use for chimarrao) to try and stop the urge to drink coffee.”  Then she clenched her teeth and her fists and said, “But I will not fall!  SACRIFICE!”  Ha-ha, it was awesome.  She also said that when she was shopping, she was buying tea, but when she saw the black tea (which is the kind we can’t drink) she said she looked at it, then hid it behind the others so others wouldn’t buy it.  Ha-ha-ha.  Man, I love this old lady.  Today was a little cold and when she saw us enter, she said she was going to buy us coats and sweaters because we didn’t have any.  After we convinced her that was unnecessary, that we weren’t cold, she went and made us a hot soup to eat.  Ha-ha, she’s like a grandmother to us.  And she loves the handkerchief from Grandma.  She keeps it in her Book of Mormon.  She never learned how to really read very well, and she said that sometimes she’d just open her book and look at the beautiful handkerchief.  Today was day 309 of my mission.
(12) QUINTA (Thursday):  Today was good.  We had a very good lesson with Samuel and Mateus and their mom was there, too.  She gave us soup also.  It was very good.  We did an awesome activity with the nails, where you have to balance 12 on top on one.  I remembered it from scout camp.  So, today I bought 2 pounds of nails.  We did the message in 3 different houses, and every time they loved it and wanted to keep the nails.  Now, all the young men in the ward will want nails.  And the message is a very good one.  Today was day 310 of my mission.
(13) SEXTA (Friday): So, we did a family home evening with a few families today, which went great!  2 of them are in/less active, and the other is the ward mission leaders’ family.  It was small and simple, but it was very good.
            The rest of the day was pretty normal to be honest.  This morning was very cold.  And I didn’t want to leave the bed.  So, I left, but I took my warm blankets with me, and ran in place to warm up.  Nothing really new today.  Today was day 311 of my mission.
(14) SABADO (Saturday): We’re having very few lessons this week, but the ones we are having are awesome.  At Pedro’s house, we shared a message, and then helped him clean his house because it was FILTHY!   He’s 14 and trying to return to the church.  His brother Igor is doing his mission papers.  He smokes and drinks.  He’s a good kid, just on the wrong path. We have a very good relationship with him, especially after today.  He said we’re the best elders that have passed by.  His dad spends days to weeks away from home working.  His mom works from morning until late at night.  It’s very difficult for him and Igor, but they’re both amazing.  Pedro is super funny.   Simara, who lives in front of his house is like his 2nd mother, and now she’s pushing him to go to church.  She said she’d wait in the road in front of his house to walk with him to church, even if she has to wait all day.  And she would!  We’re planning a big BBQ with everyone for a p-day.  It will be good.  Pedro today grabbed a little pepper, the kind that are SUPER hot.  He said, “Hey McKee, eat this, and I said, “Ok, but then you have to go to church this Sunday.”  We shook on it, I grabbed the pepper, and Pedro said, “Just wait, I’ll get a glass of water ready for you.”  I think put it in my mouth and swallowed it whole as fast as I could.  It still left my tongue burning, and I needed the water.  He said I cheated because I didn’t chew it, but he will still go to church.           
            Today was good.  A new investigator with LOADS of potential.  Today was day 312 of my mission.
(15) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Today was cold and raining, and few people went to church.  But today was still awesome.  One of the lessons of today was with a man named Eduardo, and his wife Camila.  Camila was born into the church, baptized with 8 years.  Eduardo is her husband who is not baptized.  They grew up together, dated for 15 years, have been married for 3 years, and have the cutest little girl I’ve ever seen, who is a few months old.  They go to church EVERY WEEK, without fail.  I don’t know why the past elders haven’t already baptized him.  So, we went to Camila a few weeks ago and said, “Irma Camila, we want to baptize your husband so you guys can have an eternal family.”  It’s just that he only gets work off once a week, but we are teaching him, and today was a lesson INCREDIBLE.  He accepted to be baptized and Camila was so happy.  She looked like she was ready to cry.
            Then, after it was almost dark, and Simara calls us and asks us to pass by.  She didn’t go to church today because of the rain, but she is reading a lot of the Book of Mormon.  When we got there, the house was lit with candles, because their electricity was cut because they couldn’t pay it.  I felt the urge to cry when I saw that she and Marcos had bought and were preparing a dinner for us, in candlelight.  Marcos then had to leave to work, also he didn’t even get to eat with us.  He works a LOT, with very few days off, for about $250.00 a month.  It was hard for me to accept the dinner I knew they had sacrificed to prepare, but I also knew how much it meant to them.  They’ll go on Tuesday to do the papers for the marriage. 
            This week was slow, but very good with the progress of everything.  Today was day 313 of my mission.
Thanks for all your support and love.
Love you, Elder McKee
"I'm holding a fly because I'm a Ninja and caught it!"
Elder Bezerra and Jake
It must be getting cold, he has 2 sweatshirts on and his blanket.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Baptisms and Mother's Day

Week of April 25-May 1, 2016
(25) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today I think was the best p-day I’ve had yet.  Emails were awesome!  And we finished everything, post office, emails, and buying things by 1:00.  So, then we had 5 hours.  We weren’t very hungry, so I made a simple lunch of rice and calebreza, and we made a movie theater because Elder Bezerra had never seen ‘Meet the Mormons’.  I also tried making maple syrup, and it came out like water…I’ll just have to try again.  There really wasn’t anything special about today, I was just feeling super, super happy.
            It was raining a lot when we left to start teaching.  All our plans fell through.  Elder Bezerra said, “Let’s go to this house I went to one time.”  We went.  There’s a few less actives, and one of them is very, very sick, in a hospital bed in their house.  We talked with them and they seemed so grateful that we had come.  Before the lesson, they already marked another visit, and gave us the address of their sister, who is inactive also, to visit her.  We shared a simple message, and the next time we go we’ll share the restoration with them.  I see a lot of potential.  Tomorrow is the zone meeting with everyone.  That’ll be fun.  Today was day 293 of my mission.
(26) TERCA (Tuesday): Today was unique.  The sisters in Panambi had an interview for a baptism this Saturday marked.  I grabbed a bus to go on the house ride there to do the interview then walked another 40 minutes to the house where they were waiting with the 9 year old girl.  The moment I walked in and saw the look on everyone’s face, I knew some thing wasn’t right.  So, I went in happy and positive, and everyone seemed to lighten up.  But the girl wasn’t there.  She was in her room, hiding under her bed.  Long story short, the interview didn’t happen, because of her grandpa, who is 84 and having an affair with a woman of 40, who is member.  He told her, in front of all of us, that if she gets baptized he’ll leave and never come back, he paid her, he said he’d hit her.  He’d go and yell these things at her, then come back and talk to us like it was all-normal.  So, trying to get her to leave the room, I turned on ‘Meet the Mormons’, and skipped to all the coolest parks.  Everyone liked it, but the girl didn’t want to leave. 
            Today was pretty cold, but it was made worse with the rain.  Today was 10, tomorrow will be 4, also with rain and wind.  My wife is going to be GORGEOUS after all this rain I’m thinking.  WOOT WOOT!
            We had a great lesson with Simara today, who is very excited for her baptism.  I’ll be in June, because her son will turn 16 on May 30th and she wants him to baptize her.  She loves reading the Book of Mormon, and today her husband was home!  He’s a way cool guy too, just that he works ALL THE TIME.  But he really likes us and we gave him a Book of Mormon, too.
            Today was good, just difficult with the part of the interview.
            And our showerhead was broken, not heating the water and shooting it in every direction.  So, I took it apart and then fixed it, so now it works fine, just trips the breaker sometimes and turns cold.  Of course I only fixed it AFTER I took my shower.  Today was day 294 of my mission.
(27) QUARTA  (Wednesday):  Today was a fantastic day.  Everyone is dying from the cold, but it doesn’t seem that bad to me.  Everyone thinks it’s crazy when I tell them I saw -16 degrees one time.
            My favorite lesson from today was with Mateus.  He’s 14 and has gone to church every week from the last 3 months.  He wasn’t baptized with his brother Samuel because his mom said he was going on impulse.  But now he wants to really be baptized.  In the lesson he said a very heartfelt prayer in which he asked God to bless his mom so she would let him be baptized on the 14 of Maio.  He’s going to talk to her again about it, and on Friday we’ll pass and have a sweet Family Home Evening, and talk to his parents with him.  We’re praying a lot that everything goes well. 
            This morning I was hungry and cold, so I tried to make sweet rice.  The only thing is I don’t know how.  So, I put a bunch of sugar and condensed milk, and it came out pretty good.  Just that the rice was still raw, but I ate it all anyway.  It was like sand with sugar, crunchy and sweet.  I already got the recipe now, tomorrow I’ll try again.  Today was day 295 of my mission.
(28) QUINTA (Thursday):  We went to a house today that a woman we visited a few days ago asked us to go to.  At the house the woman’s name was Marle.  She’s a member already, but inactive.  She has a big desire to return to the church, and to bring her family with her.  She said she wants to go to church this Sunday.
            Later, we went to the house of the woman that sent us to Marle.  It’s her sister, who isn’t baptized.  She cares for her dad, who is very sick.  He’s in a hospital bed in the kitchen.  Jaque, who is also inactive, lives there too.  And she has a HUGE desire to return.  When we got there she was leaving for a date thing, but she stayed with us because she wanted to hear our message and ask a few questions.
            At a different house, there was a small group of young men playing cards.  The group was mostly less actives and recent converts.  We stopped by with them for a little and then I showed them a magic trick.  Ha-ha-ha, when I threw the deck down and only their card stayed they all FLIPPED!  Jumped out of their chairs and ran around yelling.  Ha-ha.
            Here’s my favorite quote from today.  “No man, I’m humble.  Ask anyone; they’ll tell you I’m humble.  That’s why everyone likes me.  It’s true, Man!  I’m like literally the floor.”  I died laughing when he said, “I’m the floor.”  Today was day 296 of my mission.
(29) SEXTA (Friday): Mother’s Day at 1:00 Utah time, 4:00 here, I’ll call around that time.  Just to make sure you all know we marked it in the house of a less active named Rui, who is awesome.  Man, he is great.  He’s very smart, and works with electronics.  He said he could probably fix my broken camera.
            Then we went to the house of Mateus and Samuel to do a Family Home Evening.  As we were coming, their parents were leaving to go to the store but they said they’d be right back.  We’d never had a lesson with the whole family at once, so we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  One hour later they came home, and we didn’t have time to do the sweet Family Home Evening we had planned, so we left a message.  Our main purpose there was to talk with the parents of Mateus about his baptism, because he needs their permission.  We talked with them, and they said it was his choice.  If he planned on staying on the path, then he has all their support.  Then, Mateus said he wants to wait a little longer.  I think he got nervous.  But it all went very well, and it was worth waiting.  Now it’s all on him.  He gave the last prayer and it was a very good prayer.  He was actually speaking with God.  Today was day 297 of my mission.
(30) SABADO (Saturday):  Woot Woot!  TODAY WAS GREAT!!  We filled out the baptism record for Irene, but she’ll be baptized alone.  Her husband said he’ll wait more to be baptized.  Their son is the Elders Quorum President and is very strange.  Sometimes he says things that make no sense, and he convinced his dad not to be baptized.  And he doesn’t want to baptize his mother.  Yeah, I don’t understand either.  Ha-ha, but at lunch today he kept talking about some type of American tree I didn’t’ understand anything so he said, “Get in my car.  I’ll take you to the road of these trees.  It’s here close.”  So, we went.  IT WAS 20 MINUTES AWAY!!  And it was a road of maple trees.  Ha-ha, I started laughing.  This guy makes no sense.
            We passed by the house of Simara after.  She’s still awesome, but is going through a very hard time right now.  She said, “Now I know this is all true, because if it wasn’t Satan wouldn’t work so hard against me trying to follow it.”  I wont go into details because it is very personal for her, but we’re praying a lot for her.  If all goes well tomorrow, we should have a lot of people at church with us.  Let’s pray that it goes well.  Today was day 298 of my mission.
(1) DOMINGO (Sunday): So, I’ll just tell about one thing that happened today that really touched me.  As we were going to the last meeting in church, the sacrament, I saw a young man with a baseball cap and sweater standing by the door.  I’d never met him, so I started talking to him.  He said he was baptized 6 years ago.  He’s 18 and serving for the army in Cruz Alta.  So, we entered and sat together, because he didn’t know anyone else.  Today was testimony meeting.  I was really liking the meting, so I almost forgot about Victor, the young man at my side, until the end when he said, “You know, This is the first time I’ve come to church in a year and a half.”  When I looked at him, I saw that he was crying.  A lot.  Then after the prayer, I sat a little longer with him, talking.  When he was 17 he fought with his mother and ran away to his dads house.  After a year, he returned to talk to his mom and live with her.  Then he was drafted to the army.  He’s been in Cruz Alta for 3 months, and today decided for some reason to seek out the church.  I think he was feeling very alone and lost.  I could tell the meeting really touched him.  A member came and started talking to him too, and invited him to have lunch with us on Wednesday.  He’s getting a new phone, so I gave him our number and he will call.  His whole family is active in the church.
            It was good for me to see this.  I realized, happily, how I am becoming accustomed to the spirit.  What was good spiritual sacrament meeting, for Victor, was an incredible spiritual experience.  He’d spent so long away from these feelings and then returned with the open mind and a broken heart and felt the Lord accepting him again.  I love seeing moments like these, seeing the Lord working in the lives of these people.
            This week went good, but it lacked baptism.  This Saturday we’ll have the baptism of Irene, who is excited and can’t wait.  She’s 86 years old.  And, soon after I’m certain that Noroha, her husband, will be baptized as well.  Today was day 299 of my mission.

Week of May 2-May 8, 2016

100 Things I’ve learned on the Mission
       1)   Patience 2) humility 3) Charity 4) love 5) How to have faith 6) How to open a conversation with someone 7) You get what you go after 8) you get what you go after 9) Laugh at yourself 10) scriptures help in all circumstances 11) prayer helps in all circumstances 12) hard work pays off 13) few things are better then letters from home 14) I’m really not that brown 15) DON’T DRINK OLD MILK 16) the priesthood power is real 17) It’s easier to like people when you serve them 18) Do all things with a willing heart 19) If your sad, smile 20) My problems really aren’t that bad 21) Agency means wrong choices will be made 22) Nobody wants to hear about how good you have things 23) If you want someone to open up to you, talk about them 24) Find the little things you’re doing wrong, and stop 25) Exact obedience brings miracles 26) time passes fast only when you want it to slow down 27) All things the Lord give us are to strengthen 28) sometimes you have to be torn down before you can be strengthened 29) The Lord blesses the prepared 30) When things get going good, you’re transferred 31) Sometimes callings are to help yourself more then others 32) you’ll only grow when you push yourself 33) enduring gives you the right to laugh at the trial 34) Never judge that which you don’t understand 35) saying I’m happy when in the act of any sin is a lie 36) wickedness never was happiness 37) Many things only depend on your desire 38) don’t study profound doctrine until you’ve mastered the basic 39) do your part and leave the rest to the Lord 40) when your comp says the slower knob is electrified, don’t touch it.  Just trust him 41) It’s good to be an American 42) Don’t forget to pray 43) Don’t worry about that which isn’t in your control 44) Leave home and life after the mission in the Lord’s hands 45) Strive to end every day with a clean conscience 46) Never try and argue with President, even when you’re right, you’re wrong 47) you know it’s bad when Brazilians laugh at your English 48) P-day is sagrado (forgot the word in English) SACRED!  49) Just give up on trying to play soccer 50) even if you don’t get the joke, just laugh with everyone else 51) You’ll enter a lot more new houses if you can make people laugh 52) In Brazil, cats have 7 lives, not 9.  53) Never honestly guess someone’s weight or age 54) Smile at people you pass 55) It’s a good feeling when someone asks you if you are from Sao Paulo 56) Take care of things that aren’t yours 57) Utah is a protected bubble 58) What you think about when you don’t have to think is who you really are 59) If someone doesn’t accept you, don’t force it or try to prove them wrong 60) obedience brings blessings 61) Never iron your shirt while you’re wearing it…yeah 62) Accept the Lords timing 63) Seek to thank God for the little things 64) Certify that your comp knows how to cut hair before you let him cut yours 65) We are here to harvest, not plant seeds.  Plant seeds along the way, but don’t forget the focus 66) if your zipper breaks, don’t try and fix it with needle and thread while you’re wearing the pants….yeah 67) It’s ok to be a little awkward as a missionary.  We’re awkward people 68) don’t interrupt the spirit when he’s working 69) Faith becomes real when you leave the times of ease 70) it’s ok to miss home very now and then 71) Don’t seek to talk of home with members or investigators 72) Remember your focus and don’t eat too much food 73) always compliment before you criticize 74) don’t throw stuff at angry dogs 75) you learn to love the things you do often, so do good things 76) sometimes you just need to stop, take a deep breath, and yell as loud as you can 77) make sure there aren’t people around when you yell as loud as you can 78) If you don’t sing very well, you can make up for it with amplitude 79) It’s ok to be a little chubby 80) Be the one people can count on to get the hard stuff done 81) Wash your clothes often 82) it isn’t always our job to teach people new things but sometimes strengthen their testimony in what they already know 83) I also learned Portuguese, let’s not forget that 84) Satan has a lot of practice at pushing peoples weak points.  But we have a body and he doesn’t so don’t pay attention to him 85) the scriptures were written especially for us 86) Give yourself a little pep talk every now and then 87) take a Leatherman on your mission 88) learn to make people laugh 89) Learn to recognize the little blessings 90) listen to music 91) Focus email time on family 92) sometimes our biggest limitations are the ones we create 93) let the Lord work changes in your life 94) God, and Christ, know us and love us 95) Give your all to the Lord, and he’ll pay you back in double 96) my savior lives 97) The Book of Mormon is true scripture 98) The atonement is real 99) I love my family more than anything 100) Miracles come through faithful obedience
(2) SEGENDA (Monday):  Today was a great p-day.  For lunch, a member invited us to have Churrasco at his house.  I ate until I almost popped.  

Then, we found an new family who is the family of the bishop of another ward.  They’ve already visited the church many times.  We invited them at the end of the message to be baptized and they accepted.  Then she said she had actually been thinking about joining the church because she knows it’s true.  Then we went to the house of Irene, who will be baptized Saturday.  Bishop and his family were already there for a family home evening.  Irene said she has a huge urge to drink coffee, but then she said, “But I’m stronger.  I’ll overcome this, I won’t let myself fall.”  She’s an adorable 86-year-old black lady.  But yea, that was my day, very good and very productive.  Today was day 300 of my mission.  WOOT WOOT!!
(3) TERCA (Tuesday):  HAPPY BIRTHDAY MALENA!!  It’s crazy to think that I now have a 16-year-old sister.  Hope your day was GREAT! 
            Today was the interview of Irene.  She is excited and adorable.  Ha-ha, it’s going to be a great Saturday.  And I think that the next Saturday her husband will be baptized. 
            We had a good lesson with Simara also. She’s excited to be baptized, and her husband Marcos wants to be baptized as well.  Today was a very good day.  Today was day 301 of my mission.
(4) QUARTA (Wednesday):  Woot Woot!  Today was GREAT!  We visited a ton of people today.  I am very proud of our work today.  So we bought a pizza to celebrate.  It was the smallest medium pizza I’ve ever seen, but it’s all good. 
            Elder Bezerra went to take a shower and forgot to turn off the switch that electrifies the knob.  He yelled to me, asking me to turn it off for him, I did, yelled back, waited a second, and turned it back on.  Here’s what he said, “Thank Y-ahhhhhh” Ha-ha, I started laughing so hard.  I don’t even know why I’m so funny. 
            We visited various less actives today.  One of which is Marle, who actually went to church Sunday.  We visited her, and she was asking us to help her sons.  She said she doesn’t sleep at night because they are out with their friends and she knows what they are doing.  She feels guilty that she stopped going to church, because then her son’s stopped going and now they are involved with beer and drugs and parties.  It’s super sad to see this, and it makes me grateful to have my mom and dad who always kept me on the path.  Today was day 302 of my mission.
(5) QUINTA (Thursday):  Here’s my favorite quote today.  Simara said, “Marcos, we will get married or you will move out because I won’t let you interfere with my baptism.”  Then everyone was like OHHHH!, and Marcos said, “Elders, I’ll pass you  my moms address because I’ll be living there.”  Ha-ha, it was AWESOME!  She totally put him on the wall.  But she didn’t know you have to be married before the baptism.  So we will get on that for them.
            Then Pedro, who is an inactive 14 years old, his older brother Igor, is starting his mission papers and everyone is super excited.  Pedro was alone in his house, and he asked us to come talk with him.  He’s nervous about his brother going because it’s only them two in the house.  He wants to return to go to church.  He just needs to stop drinking and smoking and doing drugs.  I think it’s all becoming very real for him now that his brother is actually leaving.  But he really wants to get to church this Sunday.  He’s an awesome young man, and he is hilarious, he just lost the way.
            Then we went to the house of Rui, who will let us use his computer to talk on Sunday.  WOOT WOOT!!  THEN, for the last house, we went to Silvia and Lara.  The 19-year-old secretary to bishop lives there, Silvia is his mom, Lara is his sister.  He’s the only active member.  Hold cow it was a great lesson.  They said at the end, “Even if this is the only time you come here, we’ll never forget you.”  There was a great spirit and they said it seemed like God had sent us at that moment for them.  It’s good to be God’s servant.
            Well, I’m happy and doing well.  It’s getting colder, which is more then welcome.  I’m almost finishing this journal, the Second Book of Jacob.  Today was day 303 of my mission.
(6) SEXTA (Friday):  Today was a very, very good day of work.   I woke up great, and the day just got better from there.  I got up, made my little hot chocolate, gave seeds to my birds.  I have about 12 that I’ve now trained to come every morning.  I throw my seeds out on the balcony, close the door, sit in my chair, drink my hot chocolate in my 2 sweatshirts and blanket, and watch them eat.  It’s nice.  And my flock keeps growing!  I’ll need to buy more seeds soon.
            I’m super, super excited for the baptism tomorrow.  It’s going to be so good.  I just hope the water heater is working, because if not I’ll have to get creative and somehow heat the water so we don’t kill the poor old lady. 
            I am very proud of today.  We helped people to feel the spirit, and that’s what really counts.  Today was day 304 of my mission.
(7) SABADO (Saturday): BAPTISM!  Irene was baptized!  At one point I was walking with her holding my arm and she said, “I just want to take you two home because you’re both so cute and you don’t have families.”  (Mom says:  HE HAS A FAMILY THAT MISSES HIM LIKE CRAZY!!)

Ha-ha, It was great.  And the water heater wasn’t working very well, so we stayed there for 4 hours before leaving the water heater on and I was boiling water in the kitchen to dump in the font, which helped.  I made myself the promise that after the mission, going to baptism will be a priority.  If I can, I’ll be at every baptism.  Most of the people there were the youth that were already there, and bishop came at the last minute.  But all went very, very well.  And she was baptized! It was her son that baptized her, and it was the first time he’d ever done a baptism and he was pretty nervous.  He had to do it 3 times, poor old lady.  But all turned out well.
 Elder Bezerra, Marcos, Irene, Irenes son, ?, Jake

All who came to Irene's baptism

            And TOMORROW IS MOTHER’S DAY!  Woot Woot! Today was day 305 of my mission.
(8) DOMINGO (Sunday):  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!  I LOVE YOU MOM!!!  (Mom says:  We got to talk to him for an hour.  It was so good to hear his voice.  He speaks Portuguese very well, and fast.  He speaks English badly. ha!) 
Jake and Elder Bezerra
 Grandma Munoa, Grandma McKee, Grandpa McKee


Man, today was fantastic.  Few lessons, but I got to talk to the family.  It was great.  And Irene was confirmed!  I think my English was better because I always speak English with Elder Hawk, so I have more practice.  Today is also exactly 10 months in the mission.  That’s insane.
            One think that was weird for me was to call mom or grandma “you”.  In Portuguese, you is ‘Voce”.  But when you say ‘you’ to someone, to show more respect you say “a senhora’.  It felt very weird and rude for me to just say you.  That’s interesting.  “A senhora means literally ‘the lady’ or ‘the madam’.  For men you say ‘o senhor’ which is ‘the sir’ or ‘the gentleman’. 
            Well, I’m happy, healthy, and this week was very good.  It’s always good to end the week with a baptism.  Today was day 306 of my mission.

I love you!!! Manda um abra├žo por tudo mundo!!  (send a hug for everyone)

Elder McKee
Chapel and Elder Bezerra
 Our District