Monday, July 25, 2016

Staying Busy!

Week of July 18-24, 2016
(18) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today was P-day normal, then a FHE with some members, less actives, and Simara and Marcos.  We made mini pizzas, which were great, then apple pies, which were also good.  There was a good message, and Simara met some women from the ward, which was super good.
            Also!  Simara’s birth certificate came!  They’ll go tomorrow to get it and grab Marcos’ also, then they’ll get married and everyone is happy.
            I also bought new shoes today because mine were SPENT!  Then I printed a photo of the temple that I will give to Simara and Marcos.  Today was day 377 of my mission.
(19) TERCA (Tuesday):  SIMARA GOT HER BIRTH CERTIFICATE!  WOOT WOOT!!  On Friday they’ll be able to get Marcos’ then it’s just do the marriage stuff, wait some 20ish days, and then they’ll be baptized.
            Except for she smoked 3 cigarettes yesterday.  We had to redo the goals, but she has a lot of desire to stop smoking.  It’s just that she seems to lack the self-confidence to stop.  It’s frustrating and hard for me to understand, but we’re helping her.  Yesterday I printed a very pretty picture of the temple for them that I forgot to take, but I think it will help.
            We found an old lady, who showed no interest, but told us to pass by her daughter’s house.  We went.  She couldn’t meet with us at the moment so we marked another day.  We asked for a referral, and she sent us to another neighbor, who also marked another day, and gave us another neighbor as a referral.  This neighbor didn’t want anything but when we asked for yet another referral, she sent us to another house. With whom we marked another visit.  Ha-ha, it was super funny and awesome.
            We also taught Irson, Luciano and their 11 year old daughter Tiane, the restoration. They had A LOT of questions, about everything.  A few times, Elder Jesus Santos just stopped talking and looked at me.  And I don’t know how, because I’m really not that smart, but I was able to answer their harder, more unique questions.  For example…. “Why did God only give us the records of the Jews (in the bible) and the Americas  (in the Book of Mormon) when there were many other civilizations?”   or, “Christ gave the example in everything, including baptism.  Why doesn’t the bible speak of him being married, if everyone says it’s so important?”  I could feel the spirit using me as a mouthpiece as we worked to explain the answers with out exposing more confusing profound doctrine.  Today was good day and I’m happy with today’s lessons.
(20) QUARTA (Wednesday):  Today I got a big old butter splash on the front of my big nice coat frying eggs for breakfast.  Our kitchen and laundry room don’t have water, so I had to fill a bucket with water in the bathroom and I’ll just leave it soaking until we figure out why we don’t have water.
            THEN!  I found a Jehovah Witness bible in our house, and I went studying it a little and found where it proves that Jehovah is Jesus Christ!  In their own bible!  They believe that Jehovah is God, which isn’t true.
            The rest of today also went well.  But it was SUPER cold, and remember I didn’t have my big coat.  But I was still all right.  I’m used to a lot colder.  Today was day 379 of my mission.
(21) QUINTA (Thursday):  Today I went full ninja mode, breaking into the neighbor’s apartment through the window. Complete mission impossible.  So, what happened is as follows.  In our apartment complex there are 6 apartments, 2 on each floor.  The people who live in the apartment moved, so the apartment next to ours, on the same floor is empty.  When they left, they turned off the water to their kitchen and washing room to take the sink and washing machine.  Only that this also turned off our water in our kitchen and washing room.  We stayed for a day and a half waiting to see if it would be turned back on.  Nothing!  So, we saw that they had left the window open, the window that goes to the stairs of the building.  So, I jumped up, grabbed it, opened it a bit more, and went in. Then I had to buy some plugs and go back to tape the holes in the wall.  But yea, that adventure was exciting.
            I think it’s so cool when, in the lesson, the person is talking to you about their life or their family, and then the exact scripture you know will help that person comes to mind and when you share it you can tell that it was what they needed.  That’s when I feel like I’m really teaching by the spirit.
            Here’s one of my favorite lines in a contact today.  The woman said, “no my child, I’m not interested.  You’d be loosing your time on me.  You need to search for those who want the work of God in their lives.”  And another, “ Stay with Jesus and I’ll stay with him too.”  Then he shut the door.  It makes me wonder how many of these people are searching for the truth, but because of rumors and lies, don’t let us Mormons in.  Today was day 380 of my mission.
(22) SEXTA (Friday):  Today we taught a young man named Alison.  He has 15 years, and is SUPER Good.  He’s only goes to seminary until now, but he wants to go with us to church on Sunday.  We taught him about the restoration, and he really liked the message and he’s already read until 1 Nephi 5.
            Eduardo, the man we baptized a few weeks ago hasn’t stopped drinking coffee.  Which made me super sad, but we’re praying a lot for him.
            My arms and legs are sore today because yesterday an old member asked if we could help pick her tangerines.  I spent an hour and a little in the tree, going all over the place to pick them all.  But it was good, because we got a bunch of delicious tangerines.  Today was day 381 of my mission.
(23) SABADO (Saturday):  This morning I grabbed a jar, filled it with dirt, then planted some carrot seeds I bought in it.  I’ll water it every day and take it with me when I’m transferred.  I also planted a little farm of carrots outside, in rows and everything.  When they grow, I’ll send pictures.
            I also gave the photo of the temple to Simara and Marcos, and they loved it.  After, we had a lesson with Geovana.  I don’t remember if I’ve already written about her, but she has 14 years, her dad is an inactive returning.  She wants super bad to be baptized.  She wants to go to the temple with the rest of the youth on the 18 of August, so she said she wants us to teach her everything so she can be baptized on the 13th.  We also have Gabriel, a young man we are teaching who we want to baptize on the 6th if we can, but we still have to talk with him.  Today was day 382 of my mission.
(24) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Today was Great!  We had a ton of investigators in church, a few of which were new friends that the young men had brought. Simara didn’t go because her daughter was coming to visit.  But from what Thiago is telling us I think she’s lying about her progress with the cigarettes.  I get super sad and scared that I won’t be able to see her baptism, or that she won’t even be baptized, because of these stupid cigarettes.  If I could rid the world of any 2 things it would be cigarettes and alcohol. These are the biggest traps Satan uses to lure people from the Celestial Kingdom and I’m tired of them.  I see people drinking or smoking and I feel deep sadness and also anger.
            This week we had a lot of success, and a whole lot of progress.  Geovana took her cousin with her to church for the second time, whose name is Stefany.  Geovana is marked for baptism on the 13th of August and we want to baptize Stefany on that same day, too.  But we’ll have to mark with her, too, because until now she’s only received one lesson.  AHHH, but I’m so excited about them! 
            We also have Gabriel who’s close, it’s just mark a date with him and baptize.  Simara and Marcos who will marry, and hopefully she can stop smoking.  Alison, whose a new investigator that went to church today with us and is super good.  There are a few others, too, but these are our focus for now.  Today was day 383 of my mission.

Pieces of his Email to Mom and Dad:

Look at what just came out in our weekly newsletter!! 


Yes, I’m too far away to feel the effects of the Olympics. The torch passed through Cruz Alta here, but we couldn’t go see it. But yea it´ll be interesting. People always talk about the state of the government and stuff in brazil, and especially in Rio, and let me tell you I’m happy to be an American.

All is well. I’m happy. :) Love you guys!!  Elder McKee

Cooking apple pies and mini pizzas over at Pamela's families house.

 Jake is on the last row, 2nd in from the right.
 3rd in from the right

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New Shoes

Week of July 11-17, 2016
(11) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today, nothing happened.  Everything fell thought, and it rained.  Today was day 370 of my mission.
(12) TERCA (Tuesday):  Today I rode an old bus to Santa Maria for a meeting, and I’ll be staying with a bunch of elders until tomorrow for the meeting.  Today was day 371 of my mission.
(13) QUARTA (Wednesday):  Today we had district leader training, and it was super good.  I learned a whole lot and I will take a lot back to apply in my district.
And guess what!  After, I saw Sister Moss!  I hadn’t seen her in almost a year, almost since the MTC!  She was there because she’ll train.  We sat and talked for a long while.  That was so cool.  We’re good friends.

            And guess what!!  It’s been almost a week now that Simara hasn’t smoked!!  WOOT WOOT!!  We called her to check up on her and she said that and I gave a huge yell in the middle of the street cheering.  We have dinner marked with them tomorrow, and she said she just needs us to bring her a bag of candy.  I said ok.  So, tomorrow, I’m going to buy as much candy as my little body can carry and we’ll go.  Ha-ha.
            Today was super good and I’m super happy.  But here’s something else.  In the house last night there was almost 20 missionaries.  And we were lacking ONE bed.  I didn’t know and I gave my bed to another.  After, I was searching for a bed.  No more to be had.  So, there were 2 beds, occupied, side-by-side. S o I crawled in the middle, laying on the gap, and slept like a child, until the elder at my side, asleep, rolled over and laid his arm across my chest.  That woke me up in a flash.  Then he started sleep talking about a bus. 
            Also, we bought about 120 reais of cheeseburgers.  That was a party.  Today was day 372 of my mission.
(14) QUINTA (Thursday):  Today freaken hailed!!  And then rained and rained and there was lightening in every part.  And we’re trying to contact addresses…Yea, I don’t think even the members would want to accept us.  So, we went home and I made cookies again, and then when the rain calmed down a little, it didn’t stop, but it calmed down, we left again.
            The best part of today was when we were going home we passed by Wal-Mart to talk to Luciano, the manager there who I made the pie for.  He got so happy to see us, and introduced us to a bunch of his workers.  Showed us the entire store.  Marked another churrasco and said I need to make him another pie because he LOVED it, but he wants to try m recipe with banana.  There’s a young man who works there, who’s an inactive member in another ward.  I told Luciano that he was a member and he called the young man over.  He said, “John, I didn’t know you were a Mormon.”  John said, “Yes, but I don’t really go anymore.  No time.”  Luciano said, “Then we’ll have to have a talk about your hours, because I’m not a member of the church, but I know it’s doctrine a little and I know it’s a good church.  While you work for me, you’ll go to church.  Understand?”  THAT”S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!  But he was telling everyone  “These young men are my friends!”  He and his sons are going to go to church with us on Sunday also.  We have a few investigators and members looking for work, and he said to have them make a curricho and bring it to him, saying that the missionaries recommended them, and he’ll find a way.  Ha-ha.. This is flippen awesome.  Today was day 373 of my mission.
(15) SEXTA (Friday):  So, when Simara said she needed candy, we stopped by the store today going to her house and I bought 9 big bags of hard candies.  When we got there, she said, “MCKEE!  I meant just a little bag!”  And I said, “Nope, you’re never going to smoke again!!”  We then read parts of the Family Proclamation and talked about their marriage.  She also really liked my cookies 
            We met a really good couple today as well, who had a lot of  questions.  At the end, when we invited them to be baptized, she said, “So, if I understand right, you’re saying that our baptisms weren’t valid and we need to be baptized again?”  So, we went on explaining and helping them understand, and in the end they accepted baptism and got excited to go to church on Sunday with us. 
            I also forgot my glasses today, and I don’t know how I did because I can hardly look out side with out them with out getting a headache.  Everyone was asking where they were and why my eyes were red.  But today was a very good day.  Today was day 374 of my mission.
(16) SABADO (Saturday):  We taught a family very good today. W hen we got there, they were all waiting for us.  We had marked with them for today on Sunday.  The dad, Tiago, is a member returning, and the rest of his family is following.  That’s what I’m talking about!  The one who showed the most interest was his 14-year-old daughter, Geovana, who accepted to e baptized on the 6th.  It was a very excellent family. Just that they go to the other ward, which is farther away but they have friends and family that are part of that ward.
            At night it got SUPER cold, and tomorrow will be even colder!  It’ll be a real test of faith for the members and investigators to get up and go to church.  And you better believe we’ll be leaving an hour earlier to ‘fetch’ them!!
(17) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Today was FREEZING!!  I really don’t like the cold, especially when I have to go walk a 5K to pick up people who don’t even answer their door, leaving us in the cold.
            But Luciano went!  He came, bringing Fabio, his brother.  Fabio is already a member, but inactive.  They both liked it a lot.

            The rest of the day went great.  This week in all went super good, just that it’s starting to get cold.  Last night I took pictures of my shoes to show.  They’re super good shoes to have lasted this long, but its time for some new ones.  Yesterday a member started laughing because she could see my toe, and they wanted to ask the ward for donations to buy me a new pair, which is the last thing I want is them sacrificing to buy me shoes.  But all is well..  Today was day 376 of my mission.  I love you all, Elder McKee


New President and Sister Louza, with the zone.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Apple Pies and a New President

Week of July 4th-10, 2016
(4) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Normal P-day, except today I made cookies!  The same recipe as mom.  They came out fat, and a totally different taste, but they were good.  Elder Jesus Santos loved them.

            So, listen to this story.  We went to the house of Nayara, who is a 16 year old girl we met.  We worked today to go met with her and her family.  She had cousins and her grandpa over, so of course we talked to them all.  The grandpa was already a member!  Just inactive for years.  Her uncle, Luciano, was a super cool guy who had already studied a little of the Book of Mormon.  They had a lot of questions for us.  Principally about the Book of Mormon.  We answered them all, and it was a great lesson.  We explained a lot about the church and how it works.  They asked about tithing and offerings.  But here’s the craziest part?  After these 3 separate families planned a family night, for Sunday, and told us to come for Churrasco.  I had mentioned that I had made apple pies before the mission, when they asked me about apple pies.  I meant I had made 2 or 3!  But this Luciano said, “Come at 6, and you’ll make us an apple pie!”  Ha-ha, until them it’s all good.  Then he said, “I’ve worked as a baker for 25 years.  I always made desserts, but I want to try an American Apple Pie.”  Now the pressure is on!  I came home and made the crust.  Tomorrow morning I’ll make the filling to practice.  Ha-ha.  But it’s cool.  They liked our message and asked a lot of questions and wanted more.  It should be good Sunday.  If it comes out good, maybe I’ll try and schedule a FHE with the ward and investigators and make apple pie and cookies.  That would be awesome.
            I’m super happy with today.  I'm hoping those people will understand our purpose and not just think we are 2 cool young men to hang out with.  Today was day 363 of my mission.
(5) TERCA (Tuesday):  Today we had dinner with Simara, which was good.  They went to see the things on the marriage and now it’s just waiting 4 days to see if the birth certificate will be sent or not.  I also asked Simara if she’s going to go to church this week.  I said, “I know you’re not a member, but Simara, You’re turning less active.”  She thought that was funny.
            I also tried a practice apple pie.  The filling was good, but the crust came out crumbly.  That won’t do.  So, I’ll have to try again.  Elder Jesus Santos likes all my practicing.  Today was day 364 of my mission.

(6) QUARTA (Wednesday):  Sadly, our churrasco family night fell though.  But, we got churrasco at lunch.  So, all is well.  I don’t really have anything to report.  Today was day 365 of my mission.
(7) QUINTA (Thursday):  Today we were in the church all day for the conference.  President and Sister Louza are amazing!  They are so cool and so excited to work with us. 

            Also, Marcos went to institute!  He has the age to go for one more year, and he went and liked it a lot. 
            I took a lot of notes in the conference, all in the other notebook.  The transfers came today, and we both will stay for one more transfer at least together.  So, I think I’ll be able to see Simara and Marcos baptized!  Today was day 366 of my mission.

(8) SEXTA (Friday):  ONE YEAR IN THE MISSION!!  That is CRAZY!!  One whole year of being a missionary, and a year to go.  In the last year I learned Portuguese, read the Book of Mormon in English and Portuguese numerous times, read Jesus the Christ in English and now half way in Portuguese, walked I don’t even know how many miles, destroyed one pair of shoes, torn and sewn all of my pants, made a lot of new friends, written 2 books in journal entries, used 13 pens, seen miracles, had 2 Presidents now, turned down many marriage proposals.  I came to know my Savior and His gospel.  I’m still starting to understand His atonement and the sacrifice that he made for us.  It’s amazing to me, looking back now, how far I’ve come.  Every time I start to think I understand I find a new scripture that starts a new line of questions.  I know that He lives and that He loves and knows me.  I know that one day I’ll be presented before my Heavenly Father, I imagine with Christ at my side with his arm around my shoulder.  My biggest fear is that now in this life I’ll do something to not be worthy to pass into His kingdom together with my family.  I came to know real sadness when someone you know has divine potential does as Esau and sells their birthright for a bowl of pottage, choosing not to be baptized because they don’t want to leave the alcohol, or the parties.  I get so frustrated sometimes because these people who say they have faith understand NOTHING of their Savior.  Especially if they come to the knowledge of His gospel and afterwards RETURN to their old lives.  Just as Lots’ wife, they’re looking back without understand what the Lord is putting in front of them.  God promises eternal life, eternal happiness, and exaltation and we sometimes trade that for the world’s pathetic promise of popularity, money, or pleasure.  I think that trade is worse than the trade Esau made in Genesis 25:29-36 because at least Esau was dying of hunger.  They have beer cans on the table cigarette butts on the ground, and the sign, “Jesus is my shepherd” on the wall.  The weak that want an easy solution. T hey don’t’ understand the atonement. I’ve met too many of these kid of people in the last year.  But, I’ve also brought some of them to see the error of their ways and come unto Christ.  That was when I came to know real happiness.
            A lot happened this last year, with a lot more I’m sure this next year to come.  My first year wasn’t perfect, but I gave my best and I know that God accepted my work.
            Today I had a baptism interview in Palmeiros, Which is 2 hours away.  We left at 2:20, and got back at 11:00 at night.  There aren’t too many busses.  One of the interviews was with a 10-year-old girl named Elana.  I will never forget that interview.  It was super cool because at the end I asked if she had any questions.  She said, No, and then I waited a little, and she said, “Actually, yes.  A lot of people say that God doesn’t exist.  That nobody has ever seen him.  Does God exist?”  It was such a simple, yet sincere question.  She was actually confused and wanted to know.  So, I was then able to explain that, yes, He exists, and that He knows her and loves her.  That she is His daughter.  Elana got a huge smile on her face.  Then we talked about prayer.  I told her about how I was far from my family.  I talked a little about them to her.  Then I asked her, “How do you think they would feel if one week I decided not to write to them?”  She said, “Very sad.”  Then I explained that it’s the same with God.  He’s our father and wants us to talk to him, and becomes sad when we decide not to pray.  Then I asked her to say the prayer.  Here’s what she said, “Dad, my Heavenly Father, I’m here with one more prayer.  I know I don’t always pray, but from now on I will.  Amen.” 
            It really was so good to interview her and her mom.  That was the only thing I did today but I sat thinking about her simple question, and how trusting she was in my answer. 
            After I bought a pizza to commemorate one year in the mission, then we ran to catch our bus home.  Today was day 367 of my mission.
(Family celebrated, too!)

(9) SABADO (Saturday):  I just made ANOTHER apple pie, and by the taste of the dough, filling, and the smell, I FINALLY got it right.  It’s still cooking, now, but wow, it is good.
            Today went very well.  We went to Maiara’s house, who’s 14.  She’s very good and accepted to be baptized on the 30th, but where she’s younger it might have to wait a little more.  We’ll see.  Her parents had to leave in the middle of the lesson, but her uncle was in the house too, so we finished the lesson with Maiara.  At the end, Elder Jesus Santos went to use the bathroom and I explained again how she should pray for an answer.  I showed her Galatas 5:22 and when I opened to the scripture she came over and got REAL close to read the scripture.  I already took a step back, still explaining, then Elder Jesus Santos came back and she said, “Can I ask you guys something?”  We said sure, and then she said, “Did you have girlfriends before the mission?”  Ha-ha, she was looking directly at me, and then she seemed to notice and turned to Jesus.  He answered, then me.  I said, “Yes!”  She asked if she was waiting for me, and I said, “I don’t really know.  Missionaries don’t date nor flirt in the mission.”  And I said it in a way to cut the topic, and I was already shaking her hand and walking out the door.  After, Jesus Santos said, “I got scared that she was going to ask you out!” 
            The rest of today was full of good lessons as well.  And Marcos called me, asking if I had a tie I could lend him tomorrow for church!  WOOT WOOT!!  This is the man who said that he would never go in a shirt and tie.  They’ll go Monday to see everything with the marriage.  It’ll be good.  Today was day 368 of my mission.
(10) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Simara and Marcos went to church together!  A lot of good things happened today.  I’ll just tell you about the churrasco and apple pies.  I think an angel descended from heaven and touched my 2 pies with his finger, because they came out SO good.  WOOT WOOT!  We created a huge friendship with everyone, especially Luciano who is the manager of Wal-Mart here.  It was a very good FHE! So, he's the Walmart manager, and Walmart took all the managers to the USA for a training, then showed them a bunch of the sites. He went to a baseball game, some big league. and HE CAUGHT A BALL!!! But where he doesn't understand a word of English, he didnt know why everyone was cheering, and he GAVE THE BALL BACK!! hahahahaha He said that is his biggest regret in life. So will you send me a few baseballs, because they are impossible to find in Brazil. But yea, he´s a way cool guy and he´s going to go to church next Sunday with us, with his son named Filipe who´s nine and I used his help to make the pie so we´re good friends. 
 Felipe and Jake

            We also found another family.  We went to teach someone with whom we had done a street contact.  When we got there, there was a TON of people, all family.  One of them was a young man named Joao Pedro, who has been going to seminary for a long while.  He immediately invited us in.  So we sat talking with the whole family.  A few were Christian, some didn’t believe in anything, others in black magic.  That was an interesting lesson, because I’d make a question, and receive a wide variety of answers. 
            This week went very well, and we found a lot of new investigators with a lot of interest.  Today was day 369 of my mission.
Love you all, Elder McKee

Extra pictures from Pamela from Facebook:
Elder Jesus Santos and Jake playing with playdoe