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

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