Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Companion, New Area

Week of August 22-28th, 2016
(22) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today was SUPER good.  We ate lunch at Simara’s house, and they had made me a video on the computer, like a slide show of every picture they had of me.  Then we left, running to catch my bus.  I got into Santa Maria, and there were so many elders, I gave up my claim to a bed to sleep on the boxes of the Book of Mormons.  Because my bed was in the big room with 20 other Elders.  The boxes were in the other room with 2 missionaries who are my good friends.  We were sleeping early. The other Elders were yelling and playing until 4:00am.  Today was day 413 of my mission.
(23) TERCA (Tuesday):  Today Cristofer passed the interview, but I told Marcelino to do the interview because I was already so close to him.  Really that was the only thing interesting that happened today.  The rest was meetings and bus and waiting for the other elder to come.  But all is well.  I’m happy.  Today was day 414 of my mission.
(24) QUARTA (Wednesday):  This area is very different from my last.  For starters, it’s been driven into the ground. There are no investigators!  They have NOTHING!  Most of the members don’t even know the missionaries.  Elder Marcelino knows NONE of the youth.  There’s a lot of work to do.  I’ll resurrect the area.  We’re knocking doors and contacting people.  What we really need is the member’s confidence, because then the referrals come.  Today was day 415 of my mission.
(25) QUINTA (Thursday):  Today a 10-year-old member was asking me to say stuff in English. She said, “How do you say ‘My family is very cool?”  I said, “Your Familia is muito cool.”  Speaking English and Portuguese.  She started laughing and laughing and laughing.  Today, really nothing interesting happened.  Today was day 416 of my mission.
(26) SEXTA (Friday):  I’m really sorry for the quality of the journals this week.  The only reason I’m writing today is because I refuse to go a day without writing.  My companion fell asleep 3 times today.  First time, during lunch.  2nd, in the bus, 3rd, in a lesson with an investigator.  And lunch was in a member’s house!  Ha-ha. 
We had lunch then another commitment on the other side of the area.  It took us an hour to get there, and we took a bus for more then half the distance.  Then the commitment fell through.  Today was day 417 of my mission.

(27) SABATO (Saturday):  Today we went to another city for a baptism, because they don’t have enough priesthood holders in their branch.  That burned our whole day, but it was all worth it.  After I participated in a radio program they have here.  It’s every Saturday from 9-10.  And there’s a way to listen on the Internet.  Missionaries always give shout outs to their families and girlfriends at home listening, but this was the last time they’ll do that program so I won’t be able to do that.  But it was cool I got to talk quite a bit.  Today was day 418 of my mission.

(28) DOMINGO (Sunday):  I’ve heard that every time it’s raining and you work in the rain, your future wife gets more pretty.  If that is true, my wife will put Aphrodite to shame.  Church got over at 6:00.  It was a flippen down pour!  Instead of accepting a ride to center to watch a broadcast thing the church was doing, we walked 20 minutes in the mud to go to a FHE.  Then they have us a ride home. 
            I also gave a talk today on conversion.  I thought it went well.  ALSO!  My camera broke again!  The exact same thing!  I went to flip the screen to take a selfie and the screen went black.  I’ll take it to a place to see if they can open it and fix it.  Today was day 419 of my mission.

Who is your new companion?  Are there other Elders in your house?
Elder Marcelino (meu companion) Elder Marcelino is like a grown little boy. It’s very difficult NOT to love him. Ha-ha
Elder Levita (who is going home next transfer)
Elder Rapuzzi (Argentino who is very funny.

I’m happy and healthy.  Give everyone a hug.

Love, Elder McKee

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

400 days, 1 YEAR IN BRAZIL

Week of August 8-14th, 2016
(8) SEGUNDA (Monday):  Today we watched the restoration film with Junaina and Stefani.  They really liked it, and are excited to be baptized.  Today was day 399 of my mission.
(9) TERCA (Tuesday):  District meeting.  I felt like my training went well, because I learned a lot as well.  Then we did a division, because I had to do an interview for a baptism.  I really like divisions, because for a long time now I’ve only been training new missionaries with little or no experience.  Which I love, because they’re so ready to learn more, and they teach me a lot.  But it’s nice to have a day every now and then to be with someone who actually knows how to teach.
            The interview went very well. Remember the 10 year old girl who asked me if God existed?  This interview was with her older sister, who was the assistant to the priest in her church, Adventista do 7 dia.  When the priest wasn’t there, she preached.  She’s 17 year’s old.
            I just realized that today is day 400 of my mission, and with everything that’s been going on I forgot to make the list of 100 things I’ve learned.  Today was day 400 of my mission.
(10) QUARTA (Wednesday):  Today was a very good day.  There wan a activity with the young men and young women.  With churrusco and a lot of investigators, which is 2 of my favorite things.
            We need to find more new investigators, because we have very few.  Today was day 401 of my mission.
(11) QUINTA (Thursday):  The baptism for Stefani and her mom fell through.  They still want to be baptized, it’s just that there’s going to be a big festival with a bunch of famous singers and Janaina, Stefani’s mom, works in the hotel and won’t get any days off for a while.  It’s a bummer, but I’m still happy that they will be baptized.
            Today was day 402 of my mission.
(12) SEXTA (Friday):  Today we did nothing in our area because we had to go on a 2 and half hour bus ride to another area so I could interview a woman who wants to be baptized.  She’s 27 and she had stopped her career as a model and broken up with her boyfriend after 3 years together so she could be baptized.  Then we returned at 11:30 at night for home.
            While in that area, we split with the elders from there.  I went with Elder Da Silva.  We were walking, and an old fat man stopped us.  We talked with him for a little, and then entered his house to share a scripture.  He started talking about all his sicknesses and scars. He was a little crazy as well.  His body was covered in burns.  He said, “My body is very messed up.  I bet if I took off my clothes right now, it would scare you and gross you out at the same time.”  I said, “I believe you are correct, sir.”  He said, “just to see my butt would do it.  One time I bent over to pick up a cup that fell, and I fell backwards into the fireplace.  Burned all of my butt.  You guys don’t want to see my butt.”  I said, “That is also true.”  Ha-ha, he was pretty crazy.  Today was day 403 of my mission.
(13) SABADO (Saturday):  So, I don’t know why, but Simara didn’t want to participate in the lesson today. S he isn’t smoking, which is good.  Marcos got laid off at work, and is now searching for a new job.  We’re passing there less and less as we are finding more and more people who are more ready. Simara and Marcos went to do the marriage papers, and learned her photo ID is expired.  It’s one more thing they’ll have to wait for.  It’s hard not to wonder if they are really trying.  Then I wonder if we could be doing more.  I don’t know.  But I think I’ve come to really know why people say being a missionary is so hard. 
            We helped Luciano paint his front fence and gate today.  It took about 3 hours, but it was super cool to hang out with him and his family.
            After, we stopped by a members house, because I buy bread from her.  They’re way cool and they’re very helpful to the missionaries.  It’s in their house that we will talk to our family tomorrow.  We were talking, and when we went to leave she said, “No, sit back down, if you guys don’t have any commitments I already put dinner in the oven, and another 30 minutes it’ll be ready.”  Ha-ha, so we stayed to talk more and eat.
            Also!  I woke up today with my voice TOTALLY horse.  It sounds like my throat is full of sand when I talk.  Of course this happens the day before I talk to my family.  Today was day 404 of my mission.
(14) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Today was AWESOME!  My voice worsened and then they called me on the spot to give a talk, and the mic wasn’t working, so I just spoke louder. It went well, but then after my voice was FRIED.  We had a lot of investigators, but Luciano and his family didn’t go.  We aren’t sure why.
            And I got to talk to my family!!  Woot Woot!  But we got notice that this is the last time that it will happen.
            Those were my day’s highlights.  Also, Cristofer said he wants to be baptized!  And he wants me to baptize him.  Just that we had to schedule his baptism for the 27th after transfers.  So, I probably won’t be here.  We still don’t know if I will go, but there’s a good chance.  Today was day 405 of my mission.
Elder Jesus Santos and Jake at the Koepp's home.
 Jake and Elder Jesus Santos goofing around

 Jake, Cristofer, Giovanna, mom

Week of August 15-21, 2016
(15) SEGUNDA (Monday):  All the missionaries in Cruz Alta got together and we made 2 huge burgers. They came out good, but the elder was trying to save money so he bought cheaper bacon. It was moldy and hard in some spots and gushy in others.  So, we washed it good and didn’t tell the sisters.  Ha-ha, but we gave it a very strong blessing.

            Janaina told us something very cool today.  She said she was praying very hard, asking if the Book of Mormon and the church were true. S he felt impressed, she said, to open the Book of Mormon and read.  She opened to Alma 37:7-8, and she said she had this strong feeling of peace and understanding.  She said she knows that it’s true. She, and Stefani, want to be baptized, it’s just a matter of work and her days off now.
            I thought it was so cool to see the effects of when we actually do our part.  She asked, and received.  She knocked, and it was opened unto her.  She did her part, and God did His.  Man, we got super happy.  Today was day 406 of my mission.
(16) TERCA (Tuesday):  Today was one of the hardest days of my mission. We went to Simara’s house.  We talked for a bit, and then we asked how she was doing with the cigarettes.  She said she’d gone a week without smoking, then Friday, when Marcos got laid off, she went back to smoking one box per day. Then, yesterday they cut the water, which, coincidently is the Elders quorum president who works as the one who cuts the water.  They are eating very little.  She had to ask her ex-husband for money to pay the bills.  Tomorrow they’ll get the water back.  But she said she refuses to believe God loves her.  She’s lost all desire to pray or read the Book of Mormon, and she doesn’t want to go to church.  I wasn’t mad that they were in a spot so rough, but that everything I had taught her in the last 4ish months and she’s learned nothing.  I told her she’d lost her faith.  She agreed and said she hates God.  She has no hope.  She fears that her son, Thiago, will have to go live with his dad.  She said that if she looses her son she would never again enter into ANY church.  She couldn’t understand why, when she was making so much progress, God would throw this at them.  Honestly, I don’t either, but I trust in His hand.  I don’t understand why Simara, angry at God, would return to smoking and refuse everything good that she knows the church has.  So many things.
            On the other hand, Marcos is calm, reading the Book of Mormon, going to church, praying and he knows things will get better.  Just as I had never felt so mad and upset when I heard Simara talking, I had never felt so happy or content to see Marcos’ rock strong faith.
            Today was day 407 of my mission.
(17) QUARTA (Wednsday):  Today Simara called, asking forgiveness.  She said she regretted everything she said yesterday and that she knows God is doing what’s best for them.  She wants to be baptized; she wants to go to church.  I got very, very happy.  Especially because now I know I’ll be transferred.  President Louza called me today, asking if I accept the calling to be a zone leader.  I didn’t want to leave the area with her so bad. 
            We also marked the 17 of September with Junaina and Stefani for their baptism.  Now I’ll leave and the new missionary will get 4 baptisms we already have marked.  And we have another 4 that are set, its just waiting on marriage.  But, that’s part of it.  I’m not mad.  I'm just happy I won’t have to prepare a new training every week now.  Today was day 408 of my mission.
(18) QUINTA (Thursday):  ONE YEAR IN BRAZIL!!  WOOT! WOOT!  Also, I will be transferred to…..Cruz Alta 4.  I’m just going to switch wards.  I’ll live in the other house.  Now all the baptisms that happen here in this area, I’ll do the interviews, so I’m not going too far.  It will be good.  I’m excited.
            Today, there was an activity the young men were doing to earn money for summer camp.  I bought 16 pieces of Churrasco.  Elder Jesus Santos ate 4, I ate 3, and we gave the rest to the hobos who are always sitting on our front steps.  They were very grateful.
            Andrew, a young man here, asked me to cut his hair for him.  He wanted it all shaved.  So, I shaved his head.  It didn’t come out as good as he thought it would, I think.  Ha-ha.
            I’m actually pretty sad that I’ll be leaving this area.  I love the ward and we still have a lot of people to teach.  It’s always hard for me to start the work for some one else to finish.  But it’s all-good.  I’m happy.  Today was day 409 of my mission.
(19) SEXTA (Friday):  Today went very well.  I’m starting to say good-bye to everyone, even though I’m only going to the other side of the city.  Simara wrote me a note that was very sweet.  And we planned lunch on Monday in her house.  It was so humbling to see them in a state so low and they want us to come eat lunch with them.  It will be rice, with cheese, and a red sauce.  Today was day 410 of my mission.
(20) SABADO (Saturday):  Rain, and everything fell though.  Then it rained some more.  We passed by Giovanna’s house to plan the baptism of Cristofer, and review a few things with him. 
  Then we had a Family home evening with a few families, but I forgot my camera.  This last week has been going pretty slow, but that’s ok.  Today was day 411 of my mission.
(21) DOMINGO (Sunday):  Today was great!  Simara and Marcos went to church.  Luciano and all his family went as well.  Today really was a good day.  Took pictures.  When I went to bare my testimony I forgot Portuguese.  Ha-ha, not really, but I kept stumbling and everyone was laughing.  We may have found a very good job for Marcos.  We had a good lesson with Janaina and Stefani, then dinner with the family of Giovanna.  They talked about heir temple goal.  I love that family.  Today was 412 of my mission.
Love you all, Elder McKee