Week of June 6-12, 2016
(6): SEGUNDA (Monday): I believe that a Leatherman should be standard issue for all missionaries. So, it’s cold. Our water comes from a tank, which is full of very cold water. Our showerhead is electric and heats the water. I went to take a shower at the end of P-day, and the part inside that heats the water is so old that it burned up the terminal. So, I pulled the showerhead apart, pulled out this part that heats the water, grabbed my Leatherman, and started messing around with the wires. Long story short, I fixed it enough to get us through one more night of a warm shower.
We had a lesson with Vilmar today. We went and talked for a bit, then he asked, “Alright, Elder, what message do you have for me today?” So, we started teaching the restoration. We got the end, and Vilmar said, “You still haven’t answered my questions. What is your message? This pamphlet on the restoration, and all the others, I’ve listened to a dozen times. I already know all of this. I want you to grab this bible, open to a scripture, and share something new that will touch my heart.” That is a lot of pressure! But I said a little prayer, grabbed the bible, and sat thinking for about 20 seconds. Nothing was coming to mind, then I remembered one scripture. John 17:13. I had a good feeling, so I opened to it. I read it for him, and then told him that this scripture explains the WHY. Why we do what we do. Why the church is important. Why we need to follow the commandments. It’s all to come to know God, and his son Jesus Christ. I felt like the spirit was actually speaking through me. Vilmar then grabbed a pen, marked the verse, then the page, then set it aside to read again later. I know that he will be baptized, but I just don’t know when. Today was day 335 of my mission.
(7) TERCA (Tuesday): We had a lot of good lessons today. One of the best was with a young girl of 15 years named Emily. She is the niece of Simara, and was in her house whe we passed by. I’d already met her before. Her dad, Simara’s brother, is a preacher for another church. Emily had a lot of questions about prophets, so we answered them all, using the scriptures. She loved it, and accepted baptism just that there is no way her dad would. Now, Emily is going to sleep over at Simara’s house Saturday to go to church on Sunday without her dad knowing.
Then, we went to the house of Samuel and Mateus. I really want to see Mateus baptized, so we shared a spiritual message with him. At the end, the spirit was there strong, and we invited him to be baptized. He happily accepted. Then we invited him to be baptized on the 18. He thought for a little then said he would think about it and get back to us with an answer. We then talked about the importance of prayer, and he said he would pray about it.
Then we went to a house of a family we found. There were 4 people and their 20-year-old daughter and her 19-year-old boyfriend who also lives there. It was a very good lesson; though the old man is crazy. At the end, we went one by one, inviting them all to pray for an answer then be baptized. When I get to the old man, I invited him to be baptized. He looked at me, blinked, and then said, “I’ll tell you what, today I was looking through the channels on the TV and I found a movie about a dog." Then he stopped talking! His whole family started laughing, and his son-in-law said, “What’s that got to do with anything? We are talking about baptism!” The old man said, “No, but it shows I’m emotional because I cried the whole movie. It’s about a dog that looses its owner and can’t find him. That’s an emotional thing.” My comp then says, “Oh! I think I’ve seen that movie.” I said, “You don’t even know which dog movie it is.” He said, “No, but he described it. The dog waiting for it’s owner.” Now I’m getting frustrated because the spirit is leaving, comp isn’t helping, and I want to baptize! So, I said, “Every dog movie is that. The dog gets lost, spends the movie looking for his owner, and in the end finds him.” The old man said, “You’ve seen it, too?” I said, “They’re all the same movie!” Then his son-in-law says, “No, it’s true, they really are.” I wish I could say this conversation was a joke. Today was day 336 of my mission.
(8) QUARTA (Wednesday): Today after lunch we get on a bus for 2 and a half hours to go to Palmeiras for an interview, then we had to stay there until 8:45 when the bus left again to return. But look, usually, the bus stops at a bus stop in front of the church. Every time I’ve used it, it has. But, I guess this bus doesn’t because he just went flying passed. So, now it’s 9:00 and we don’t have a ride home. I wasn’t going to, at any cost, call to tell the zone leaders, because if President knew that I missed ANOTHER bus, he would probably cook me and eat me. So, we’ll just sleep in the elders house and grab the bus at 6:00am, the next day. We’ll get home, do our studies, all is normal. Nothing is wrong. Today was day 337 of my mission.
(9) QUINTA (Thursday): The highlight for today was the lesson with Eduardo. We filled out his baptism record and planned the baptism for next Saturday. W00T WOOT! And the ward planned a dessert contest for after with the whole ward, so there will be a TON of people.
Another sweet thing today was the lesson with a man named Gerson. We met him last Saturday, and he showed a lot of interest and wanted to go to church with us. When we passed on Sunday, nobody answered. We passed again today. It turns out he has this thing where every now and then he has something like a seizure, and looses control then his mind gets like reset and during the next week or so he gains everything back.. This happened Saturday night, so he didn’t get up to go with us. But he showed us his computer and after we had left he had read a bunch of the Book of Mormon. Then looked stuff up on it online. Luckily he only found Mormon.org. He had saved a bunch of stuff to his computer and had read a lot of the articles. He really liked it, and we talked a lot about the Book of Mormon. He said there’s nothing that will stop him from going to church with us this Sunday. Today was day 338 of my mission.
(10) SEXTA (Friday): Today a member, less active that we are visiting, gave us 3 HUGE sacs FULL of oranges. SOOO many oranges. And they are so good. I’m going to make a bunch of juice.
We also met a woman today who is a prophet. She said my companion is full of the Holy Ghost, and she said our future is full of big blessings, that we will help people. Ha-ha, I sure hope she is right.
We learned today that Mateus had NOT stopped drinking coffee like we thought. He’s progressing a lot, and on the way home I bought Cevada for him. I’ll take it to him another day. He is so close! Then we bought a pizza. Today was day 339 of my mission.
(11) SABADO (Saturday): Best lesson of the day went like this. We went to Nathaniel’s house with Igor. Igor is preparing to go on his mission. Nathaniel is an investigator with 16 years. We enter, sit down, and Igor says, “Nathaniel, it’s like this. Are you going to be baptized or not?” Nathaniel says, “I will”. Igor says, “Then Let’s just mark a day, sign the paper, and I’ll baptize you.” Nathaniel says, “Next week?” Then I jump in and suggest in 2 weeks, so that he can go to church a few more times. As we are talking, Nathaniels cousin comes in, followed by 2 young men that always go to seminary, but aren’t members. We’ve never taught them, so this was the first time. 2 more of Nathaniels friends come in. So now we have us, Igor, and 6 more people. We talked about repentance, and you better believe I challenged them all to baptism. We marked the baptism of Nathaniel for the 25, and then Leonardo, one of the young men who go to seminary said he wanted to be baptized as well. So we marked a day to go to his house, and marked the 25 for him also.
Later a member told us about a party the church will be having on the 25, so we thought it would be cool to do the baptism on the 23, during seminary where they have all their friends and then do a dinner after. It’s going to be good. Today was day 340 of my mission.
(12) DOMINGO (Sunday): So today, I had a talk in church on temples. It went good, but at one point I was talking about how Malena put on the jumpsuit backwards. In Portuguese, the word for jumpsuit is macacao. The word for pasta is macarrao. I always switch the two. Everyone thought it hilarious when I said my sister put on her pasta backwards. I quickly corrected that error. But the rest of the talk went very, very well.
We had a few lessons today, but the highlight was the devotional with Elder Grau of the 70. His brother is the President of the Sao Paulo MTC. Nossa Senhora that talk was incredible.
This week went very, very good. We are going to pray a lot, and if God is with us we’ll have 4 baptisms in the next 2 weeks. We’re working very hard for this. Today was day 341 of my mission.
Week of June 13-19, 2016
(13) SEGUNDA (Monday): We grabbed a few of the young men today and went to the church to play basketball. They like to play, and are the first Brazilians I’ve met that don’t like to play soccer. I DESTROYED THEM! Remember how before the mission I didn’t really play basketball that much because I wasn’t good? Yea, well, that hasn’t changed. We played 21, I destroyed. We played 2x2, I destroyed. They kept saying, “Yea, but he’s American. He’s imported.” Ha-ha, at the end they asked if they even compare with the people I sued to play with. I told them that’s hard to say, because I didn’t’ play. I didn’t play because I’m really not that good. Ha-ha, so there’s that. We also played chess, which I also cleaned up in. I actually did play chess before the mission.
So, my whole mission, until now, I’ve eaten this thing called Cookie pie. It’s SUPER good. They take like crackers that are sweet, and put a layer of them, then pudding, then cracker, then pudding, etc. I love it. Yesterday, in a recent converts house, she was dishing it up for us, and I asked her how she makes it. They wet the crackers before putting them in, this I knew. But she says, “Oh you just wet the crackers in coffee.” WHAT!? She has a year as a member, and MANY times I ate this pie in her house. AND IT HAS COFFEE!! I said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t eat this. I didn’t know it had coffee.” She says, No, but you can’t even taste it, it’s just to wet the cookie.” I didn’t eat it. Today, eating in a restaurant in the which I’ve eaten a lot of this pie also, I grabbed some and take a bite, and remember the coffee. I know that it’s not everyone who makes it like that, but now I’m afraid to eat any! But it’s so good, but I won’t eat anymore.
Eduardo passed his baptism interview. He is going to be baptized on Saturday! It’s going to be great! He’s going to be a great help to the ward and he will stay firm afterwards.
I also bought a new watch today, which was cool. When we walked in with our nice clothes they pulled out all the nicest watches. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars, which I don’t want to spend on a watch that will probably be stolen.
Today was day 342 of my mission.
(14) TERCA (Tuesday): Today I got a call at 7:00 AM, that I will leave my district meeting and go directly to Santa Maria to do something with my visa. I call the zone leaders and tell them they will have to pick up my comp to stay in Cruz Alta. I’m almost to Santa Maria, and I get another call that on one will be here to pick me up at the bus station, but I will need to grab another bus to go to center, then wait there. I sat there for a long while and finally comes Elder Manaham and Elder Baker, 2 Americans who are companions, which is rare. Now us 3 are in a trio for the rest of the day, which is also rare. I THEN learned I wouldn’t be doing my visa stuff until TOMORROW, which means I will be sleeping here. I didn’t bring anything. It’s all-good. We bought a HUGE pizza. I slept in the house of the assistants, where these 2 American’s also live with them. One of the assistants is Elder Wantland, who is also American. Elder Dios, the only Brazilian of us 5 didn’t want pizza, so we ate it all. YEP. Today was day 343 of my mission.
(15) QUARTA (Wednesday): All went well with my visa, and I grabbed a bus and came back to Cruz Alta. We visited Nathaniel to prepare him for his baptism next Thursday. He has no problem with the word of wisdom and he is super ready to be baptized, it’s just with his mom in the hospital, his aunt needs to sign the baptism papers, and she doesn’t want to. But after our lesson, Igor went to his aunt with Nat and explained it all. We still don’t know what came of it, but I’ll call him tomorrow to ask.
When we marked the 23rd with Mateus, he had been nervous and unsure. He said to mark it, but not tell anyone yet, incase he changes his mind. This was last week. The moment we left his house I called bishop, and we started telling everyone. With my trip to Santa Maria we didn’t get to his house, but tonight I called him. He is SUPER excited and ready. We’re going to pass there tomorrow to talk out all the details.
Also we went to Gerson, who went to church on Sunday. We taught him the Plan of Salvation, and he understood very well. He’s reading the Book of Mormon and searching around on the church’s website. Really progressing.
Simara and Marcos are doing great with quitting smoking. They are dying to be baptized, but they need to be married first. To do that, they need birth documents that they received in the last 60 days, which they can only get in their place of birth. Marcos was born in Cruz Alta, so it’s easy. But Simara was born WAY on the other side of the state, and she’s only got contact with one person there who for 3 weeks now hasn’t replied to anything. Simara says that she really wants to be baptized to finally be accepted by the members. When there’s an activity I think she wants the members to invite them and not the missionaries. We’ll start working more with the members on this to help people feel more accepted. They’re watching all the church movies I passed them from my pendrive, and they love them. Simara is inviting her friends who are passing through hard times and is really showing that she is a true convert. She’s now smoking only 3 cigarettes per day, and on Friday it will be cut down to 2. Little by little, she’s progressing.
Today Simara and Marcos told us that until they are baptized they won’t take the sacrament. T hey said they don’t feel good taking it because they are living in sin, not being married and smoking and its purpose is to renew a covenant that they have not yet made. They said it’s something sacred to be taken after preparation and with thought. So, they will wait until after their baptisms to take it again. I thought it incredible how well they understand the purpose of the sacrament, and how much more it will mean to them after baptism. Today was day 344 of my mission.
(16) QUINTA (Thursday): So, last night at 11:00, Simara called. She finally told her brother who is super strong in another church, that she will be baptized. She said he asked for a Book of Mormon, and that he will read it and then he wants to debate with her. He knows the Bible very well and he believes all sorts of lies about our church; that the Book of Mormon is to take the place of the Bible, that Joseph Smith is our Jesus Christ. She asked us to pass by to help her prepare. So, today we passed by real fast, and told her to just bare testimony. He knows the scriptures better then her and us. She just needs to bear testimony. We left her a Book of Mormon to give him.
Also, the aunt of Nathaniel will let him be baptized. Igor went over and spoke with her. He’ll be baptized on the 23rd, together with Mateus. Leonardo, we are still trying our best, and we will pass by again tomorrow to see if he can meet with us. Today was day 345 of my mission.
(17) SEXTA (Friday): The week is going very slow, but today went well. W e did the baptism record with Nathaniel, and his aunt signed it. Nathaniel asked how many people he can invite to the baptism, and I replied “All of them.” We also did a dinner with Mateus and his family. He had a complete attitude change. He’s now ready and excited for the baptism. We grabbed him and Samuel, his brother who will baptize him, and practiced a few times.
We also have the baptism of Eduardo tomorrow! Woot Woot. I am so excited! He’s going to be a great man in the church. Today I was calling people to plan all the talks and prayers. It will be a super good day. A slow day for numbers, but we will have a baptism so it’s all-good.
Today Leonard fell through again, so he won’t be baptized on the 23rd with Mateus and Nathaniel, unfortunately. But he will be. God put these young men in my path, and I’ll see them all baptized.
We also need to hunt down some jumpsuits for the baptisms. They always seem to disappear, but only in the hour that we need them. Today was day 346 of my mission.
(18) SABADO (Saturday): BAPTISM! Eduardo was baptized, and it was SUPER good. There’s a man in the ward, who is a member for about 30 years. He’s a pioneer in Cruz Alta. He has 3 daughters. One, the oldest, married a non member who had no interest for years until one day about 5 years ago he decided to be baptized. He’s now 1st counselor to bishop. This is a son-in-law of this older man. Today, Eduardo, who is the other son-in-law of this man, was baptized by the other. We took an awesome picture of the 3 of them. Eduardo’s known the church for years and years. I don’t know if it’s because of the birth of Melissa, his first daughter, but now he decided to be baptized. He’s already an active member, he just lacked the baptism. But it was a great baptism service.
Eduardo and his Brother in law, who baptized him.
Ward dessert party after the baptism.
So, on Thursday we were knocking doors, because all our plans fell through. We met a girl who looked like she was about 17-18 named Estair. She was home alone, so we didn’t go in, but we marked to pass by at 7:00 yesterday. Yesterday we got caught up at the house of Mateus, and her house is WAY on the other side, so we didn’t end up being able to pass. Which happens. We went there today, and she wasn’t home, but her dad, Carlos came out. He said, “Oh, Estair said you guys would come yesterday. She was here waiting for you guys with us.” WHAT!! Almost a year in my mission, and this is the first time a door contact who marked another day actually waiting for us to come and it’s on the day we weren’t able to go! Carlos marked for Wednesday, which is when everyone will be home. He was way cool about it all, but said Estair and been way interested and wanting to talk to us. And she speaks English. Hopefully we can bring the whole family to church.
I just had to have Elder Jesus Santos stand on my back, and I think all of the cracking scared him. It sounded like a firecracker, and all the pain I’d been having for the past weeks went away. I still crack my neck every day. After the mission, I’m going to do the following things:
1) Go to the temple
2) Go to the chiropractor
3) Get a massage
4) Sleep a few days.
After those 4 things, I don’t really have a plan yet.
Today was day 347 of my mission.
(19) DOMINGO (Sunday): Eduardo was confirmed a member of the church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost today, and also the Aaronic Priesthood. Woot Woot! That’s what I’m talking about.Today a whole ton of people went to church. Almost double the amount as last week. All in all, this week went super well. It’s always good to end a week with a baptism. It was a slow week for finding new people, but we found some good people to go back to. I’m super excited about the progress this area is making and our investigators, too. Today was day 348 of my mission.
I love you. Send hugs to everyone. Love, Elder McKee