Monday, June 27, 2016

A Sad/Happy Week

Week of June 20-26, 2016
(20) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today was amazing. First off, I gave Thiago his scriptures and he LOVED them.  They were beautiful.  I was actually a little jealous.  We ate lunch with Simara and Marcos, played a card game with them.  It was great. 
Also, I got a ton of other stuff in the boxes from home.  I noticed I’m now receiving ‘reduced fat’ peanut butter.  Thanks mom, I can take a hint!  (Mom:  I didn’t mean too.  Total mis-buy!)
            After P-day we went to a few contacts we made the other day, and nothing was going right.  So, we went to the house of Vilmar.  He isn’t a member, but his wife, to the which he is not married, is a member that goes every week.  He’s a very cool guy, who has known the church for a very long time.  He’s staring to go with her sometimes to sacrament meeting, which gives us a lot of hope.  Today was day 349 of mission.
(21) TERCA (Tuesday):  Today was a division, I was with the zone leader in his area, and the other zone leader went to my area to do the interview for Mateus and Nathaniel.
            This morning I got a call from a lady in the ward saying that Nathaniel’s mom, who was in the hospital very sick, had died.  I called Nathaniel to give a little comfort and see what we could do, and I didn’t say anything about the baptism, but then he said, “And we marked the interview at 6, right?”  I said, “Yes, but if you need to remark it don’t worry about it.  We’re here to help you.”  He said, “I’m going to busy my mom at 4:30.  At 6 I’ll be home waiting for you guys.”  He lost the only family he has, and still wants to be firm in the church.    The interview ended up falling through because he was with his family, and he remarked it for tomorrow, because he wants to be baptized on Thursday.  Be yea, it’s difficult.  Today was day 350 of my mission.
(22) QUARTA (Wednesday):  The interview went well with Nathaniel.  When we went there he said now he just needs to stay firm in the church.  It’s inspiring to see his faith and how he isn’t letting this trial shake him.
            We me ta lot of new people today.  One was named Carmen, who’s 68 and looks like she’s 45, and her husband is 49 and looks like he’s 70.  But she was very happy to receive us and wants to go to church with us.  Her husband is a punk who just drinks and lives off her money, and she said the only reason she’s still with him is because she doesn’t have the money to hire a moving van.  

            We went to the chapel today to start filling the font, and we discovered the bishop had forgotten to empty it on Sunday.  So, we’ll save a LOT of time tomorrow, and we are now able to plan a normal day and not a full day in the church.  WOOT WOOT!  I’m so excited for the baptism tomorrow.  It’s going to be super spiritual I think for Nathaniel. We’re trying to plan it all so that it all goes very smooth.

            Igor went with us in the night to do visits with us.  So, of course everything fell through.  But he took us to his cousin’s house, who he hasn’t seen in 3 years, and it was a very good lesson.
            Today after we got home, I put on my pajamas to take a picture with the pizza we bought and I stopped for a second looking at myself thinking about how much I’ve changed in the last year, and how much I still have in front of me.  I’m a bit chubbier, and I have glasses, but I also thought about all the progress I’ve made spiritually.  My testimony that I now share daily is one I never imagined I’d have.  I almost surprised myself today when I told Carmen “I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ” with such confidence that I realized I really DO know it’s true.  I don’t know when it changed from “I think” to “I believe” to “I know”.  But I know that I have no doubt about it now.  It took me a year in the mission to realize I have a testimony but I really do.  It isn’t always easy to stand by your testimony of the Book of Mormon when the Jehovah Witnesses are trying to show you every proof that it’s false or to tell someone who’s drank coffee for 80 years they need to stop because it’s against the Word of Wisdom.  But somewhere along the way my fear of doing this kind of thing has melted away, because I know that every thing I teach and stand for is true.  I know that no one can be saved in ignorance, and these people need to know the truth.

            I know the mission isn’t easy and many times a day I’m tempted to think about home, or school, or life before/after the mission, or scuba diving, or driving a car, or hanging out with girls, or sleeping in, or Netflix.  One of the main things I’ve learned on the mission is how to control my thoughts.  One time I had a comp ask me why I ALWAYS whistle hymns.  I said “It’s what I do when my thoughts start to leave the mission field” I know that after the mission I’ll look back and miss the times I’m in right now, so I’m taking advantage of my time as a called representative of Jesus Christ.  I haven’t mastered the skill yet, but I am learning to keep my focus and my thoughts where I want them.  After the mission I’ll have time to do all those things I mentioned (Especially hang out with girls!)  But for now I’m a missionary in Brazil. 
            I didn’t’ really mean for that to turn into a rant about my life…But it’s all good.  I’m doing good.  I’m happy, healthy, and we have 2 baptisms tomorrow.  Life’s great.  Today was day 351 of my mission.
(23) QUINTA (Thursday):  Today Nathaniel and Mateus were baptized!  We went to the church at 10:30 to turn on the water heater, because the water comes out COLD!  At about 2ish we returned to find the cold water still ice cold.  The church didn’t have any gas.  Bishop is out of town, so we couldn’t get a hold of him to call for more.  We went running from one side to the other trying to figure it out.  Finally I was able to call fro someone in Santa Maria who was able to authorize it and we got the heater going, but by then it was 4:00 and didn’t have time for it to heat up.  So, in the kitchen we were boiling water and throwing it in the font, for 2 and half hours, and the water was luke warm for the baptism.
            Everything went well, and a LOT of people came that aren’t members.  We had food after and cake.  Samuel was very nervous to baptize his brother Mateus, and he had to do it 2 times.  One the second, he held him under for about 7 seconds to make sure he went all the way under.  Ha-ha,  It was pretty good.  Then, all the young men and friends that had come changed into shorts and played soccer.
            Today was a very good day.  Any day that has 2 baptisms is a good day.  They’re great young men who I’m hoping and praying go on missions.
            We talked with all of Nathaniel’s family that went and we’re going to mark a family home evening with everyone.  But we’ll wait a little for things to calm down.  Today was day 352 of my mission.

 Nathaniel, Igor, Samuel, Mateus
Igor baptized Nathaniel, and Samuel baptized Mateus
 Elder Jesus Santos, Mateus, Nathaniel, Jake

(24) SEXTA (Friday):  Today had a set of miracles.  First off, the only thing that was in the way of Simara and Marcos getting married was that she needed a new birth certificate, which she has to get from her city of birth.  This city is very far away and she has no contact with the people there.  We’ve been praying a lot for help with this.  Yesterday at lunch with a less active member, she told us about her active brother who lives in this city, and who will come visit in a few weeks.  Today I got his number and we went running to the house of Simara.  We had a very spiritual message, reading a story from the Book of Mormon.  At the end she was very excited.  She told us that she had been loosing hope, and was worried that she would remain for years as a visitor in the church, never really being a part of the family.  She got super excited.  We made goals with her, and starting tomorrow she will smoke only one cigarette per day for the next 4 days.  Then she will never smoke again.  She said that she wants me to be here for her baptism.  I would LOVE to be here, but I have a feeling that I will be transferred in a few weeks.
            The other miracle, which may seem simple, but there was a powerful spirit, was at our little FHE with an inactive woman and her daughter.  We shared the message, then Elder Jesus Santos said to turn on a video I have on my thumb drive of vocal point singing “Nearer my God to Thee.” So, we did, and it’s beautiful.  Both the woman and her daughter started crying.  This woman, who’s 50ish, is the daughter of the stakes 1st councilor, who’s also in our ward.  (She is also the sister of the man who will get us Simara’s birth certificate).  She said her mom used to always sing this song for them, then for the grandchildren.  She loved this hymn.  4ish years ago she died, and the whole family sang the hymn “Nearer my God to Thee” at the funeral.  She said that was the last time she heard that hymn until now.  I’m hoping she felt the same spirit that I was feeling.  Then we ate and ate and ate.  Way too much food in my stomach right now.
            The other miracle is that I got soap.  Ha-ha, just kidding.  That’s not a miracle, I already had some, but Elder Jesus Santos gave me new soap as a present.  I don’t know if I stink or something, but I accepted the gift.  Today was day 353 of my mission.
(25) SABADO (Saturday):  Today was a big holiday, and the church had a party. T here were a ton of non-members that went. Simara went and took a cake.  And she only smoked one cigarette today.  WOOT WOOT!  The activity was a lot of fun, with a lot of good food and new contacts.  They did an activity where they were in couples dancing, but they had to hold an orange in between their foreheads.  It was so funny, but I had to just sit and watch because I’m with a missionary nametag, which doesn’t let me dance.  Especially with girls.  Especially with an orange on our foreheads. 
But I thought it was awesome.  Then Look at how I was thinking….”Everyone should do it with a dollar in-between their foreheads and whoever stays the longest gets all the dollars. 
            So, this holiday is also the cause of a huge party they do every year at this bar in front of our house.  Very loud music, and it’s terrible, these people do NOT know how to sing.  And I don’t think it will end any time soon.  Today was day 354 of my mission.
(26) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Nathaniel and Matheus were today confirmed!  WOOT WOOT!!  But I’m also feeling down because Nathaniel said that he might be moving to another city to live with his aunt, and this city doesn’t have a church.  I’m praying that he can stay here where he can stay in the church with all his friends.  But I know the Lord knows what’s best, and what’s meant to happen, will.
            Also, remember that miracle about getting the number of the guy for Simara?  Well, it got even better today. T he wife of the bishop and another woman in the ward work with that kind of thing, and on Wednesday they’ll be able to just call the place directly, and get it faxed the same day.  Simara and Marcos are meant to be baptized.  I just hope I’m here to see it.  In my mission so far I’ve had my share of baptisms.  But it isn’t every time that I actually feel like I played a vital role in changing their lives.  Where I was present and active in their conversion.  Simara and Marcos are two I feel like I was blessed to be the instrument used to shape them and push them in the right direction. 
            I’m super happy with this week.  A lot of success, and people are starting to present more referrals to us.  That’s a good sign that the confidence they have in us is growing.  Today was day 355 of my mission.
Times up!! I love you guys!!! Until next week! 
Elder McKee

Jake and Elder Jesus Santos room.  Jake said a past missionary broke the window and he fixed it by putting plastic over it.  
 Elder Jesus Santos got a package from mom/dad.  And tried on his 4th of July socks.  
The sign says... " Mrs. McKee Thank you for everythings.  You are the best!! :)
 Enjoying their ice cream cones

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