Monday, June 26, 2017

The water is Nasty!

June 24, 2017

            All right, so the divisions have started.  Elder Pereira Santos has been traveling this week and I haven’t seen him at all.  And I’ve just been hanging out here in Santa Maria, with a bunch of other companionships.  And a few that President has told me to follow up on.  And we walked a lot this week, but we’re doing well.  Next week I’m going to be the one traveling, but I’m still going to walk a ton, because that’s what the mission does.  We only worked in our area one day this week, which is normal.  Next week it will be better because he’ll have people here working with him while I’m traveling.  But he went traveling to places that are really far away so we couldn’t bring one of the other missionaries here to work with me, so I’ve just been hanging out in the other areas, in a trio.  But it’s all going well.  We’re doing great. 
            I don’t know if I told you guys about this but when I was coming to Brazil and I was in the Atlanta Georgia airport I bought this bottle of water, then I forgot to drink it while I was on the plane and it was in my bag.  It’s the only thing, well it’s not the only thing American that I have, but it’s a good American thing that I have is this water.  So, I’ve been saving it and during these last two years every time we got to a special event like a baptism, or my birthday, or when I hit one year, or six month, or a year and six month, I’d open it and I’d drink a little bit.  This water is nasty!  It’s bolded, but it’s good because it reminds me of home, so that’s my water.  And this is my other stuffs.  (Video goes to his desk.) Today’s going to be a good day!

            So, I’m coming home from a division and I just got off the bus and I’m all by myself and I have to walk about 4 blocks.  I never thought I would be so nervous by myself.  I think that everyone is going to mug me.  And also I realized that I got off 2 stops early.  I’ve only got on this bus a few times.  So, I’m in the middle of Santa Maria walking all by myself to the chapel to get to the church.  But it’s all good.  I know the Lord will protect me because it was an accident.  I don’t know how I’m going to live when I get home.  I’m going to have to have a constant companion with me because I never thought that I would be nervous to walk around by myself.  So, our division was good.  I was with another 2 American’s.  It was pretty funny.  We were making fun of a lot of the English stuff or Portuguese stuff that they say.  But, I’m happy.  I’m a little bummed that I got off 2 stops early and now I have to walk a lot.   So, today I was with the 2 Americans.  One of the American’s has about 4 months; the other has about 10 months.  And I have 23 months and a few weeks.  So, one of the people we visited asked how much time we have in the mission and I told her I have 23 months and she said, “WOW!  23 months and you didn’t even learn Portuguese.”  And I was like WHAT!  And she said, “It seems like you just got here from the United States.”  And I thought, “That Sucks.”  But she’s 13 years old so I don’t think that her opinion matters very much right now.   All right, I made it. 
            My divisions are all done this week.  I am going to the chapel to teach Pricilla about the temple, because next month she is going to go to the temple to do baptisms.  WOOO!  We are going to the English classes to teach some to Pricilla.  I’m with another missionary.  My comp is in Sáo Borja, which is really, really far away.  And then I’m going to sleep on the floor at the secretary’s house.   And then tomorrow at about 12 or 1:00, my companion is going to come.  There were a bunch of kids right there, and they were all looking at me and making fun of me because I’m talking in English all by myself.  So, I’m going to sleep in the secretary’s house then tomorrow is our p-day.  I’m going to email in the morning, but I’m just going to get on for a few minutes, just to respond to the emails, then I’ll get on again in the afternoon and use the rest of my time.  So that will be fantastic. 
            One thing that I wanted to talk to you guys about is that I’ve only got about another 3 weeks on my mission.  That is really weird to say.  So, I’ve only got another 3 weeks and when I sit there on my email and I’m talking to you guys, it’s like we’re texting.  I’m sending one; you guys are sending one back.  Afterwards it’s like really, really hard for me to get back, my mind back in the work and I spend a lot of the week trying to stop thinking about home.  I’m really trying my hardest and I’m working hard and everything.  There is nothing wrong.  But I think what I want to do is try and get better.  So what I want to do is I’m going to get on in the morning and I’m going to respond to you guys, and I’m going to get off. And then in the afternoon I’ll just respond to you guys again and I’m going to get off.  I don’t think I’ll even use my full hour of computer time because I really want to dedicate myself for the next 3 weeks.  So, I’m going to do it tomorrow, I’m going to answer you guys.  I’m not going to sit there talking.  I’ll write it out and everything so you guys can read it as well and understand. But I do love you guys, I just sit there thinking a lot about home for an hour and then I try and get back to work and it doesn’t really work that well.  All the other times that we were doing it, it wasn’t any problem, but it’s actually starting to feel real, it’s not feeling, it is.  I can’t believe I’m going home in 3 weeks.  I don’t know, it’s getting really close.  And it’s going to feel a lot more real, a lot realer. And so this is the one thing I’m going to try and do to try and help.  But…if it doesn’t really make any different next week then we’ll just email normal.  But we’ll see
I love you guys. 

Elder McKee
Family Home Evening
Elder Ostergaard, Jonathan, Elder Davis, Elder Prata, Elder Antonio, Elder Soares, Sister Gibson, Sister Soares, President, Jake.
 View from bedroom

Sister Louza
Is he asleep?
Elder Ostergaard
Elder Barbosa

Saturday, June 24, 2017

24 DAYS!!

Dear Family and Leaders:

With great joy we communicate the return home of your Missionary at the end for his/her honorable mission. During the time of his /her service, he/she had served with dedication and love and brought many souls unto Christ.  Please be aware that he/she had fulfilled his mission and is now returning to continue a life of righteousness building over the foundation of Christ.

In the Attachment, you will find a summary of the travel itinerary, including the flight plans so you may take the necessary means to meet him/her and proceed to his release. A Release Certificate was send with the Missionary; it should be given to him/her when released. 

Once again, we would like to express our gratitude for the opportunity of serving with your Missionary during this precious time that he/she dedicated to the service of the Lord.  Without a doubt, he played a fundamental role as an instrument in the Lord’s hands to bring the joy of His Gospel to the Gaucho people. We also thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made to support him/her in the Missionary Field.
We wish him/her a happy and safe return as well as a life filled with joy and blessing from his Mission.

Andréa e Marcelo Louza

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Final Weeks

June 17, 2017
            Today is Sunday.  We had a great day.  We went to church.  After church my companion was almost dying because he has allergies really, really bad, and sneezing a lot.  But regardless of that and his huge headache that he has and he looks like he is drugged out and dying,  we went to a family that we were teaching.  The dads name is Paulo.  He’s super, super good to us.  This is the second time we went.  And it was super cool because while we were there he got a call from his brother, who lives in a different state.  And I thought it was really interesting to hear what he was talking about.  He told his brother, “No, I’m here with the Mormons.  They are teaching me about their doctrine.”  We couldn’t hear what his brother was saying, but I think he asked about what it was.  And then he said, “ They told me a few days ago that they have a prophet, a living prophet, that talks to God, and passes to us what God wants us to do.  So, I thought well hey, I’ve never heard about that and I wanted to know if it’s true.  So, I’m going to talk with them a little more and see if I can get some details about the doubts that I have.”  But what I thought was really cool, was that we were able to see he says when we’re not there because he was just talking to his brother all normal and was like, “no they told me there is a living prophet and I want to know if that is true or not. “   So, we told him how we can pray about it and receive an answer and we talked to him a little more about the prophet and the restoration.  But it was super cool to see what part of the message we had taught stuck with him because he understood about what we said, that there was a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and how he talks with God and how if we follow him we can return back to God.  So, that was a really cool experience.  I learned a lot about what sticks with the people after we leave their house, after the lesson. 
            I wanted to tell you about my day yesterday.  Yesterday we went and did a big meeting in the street.  We went to the center, where they have all the stores and everything, and yesterday was a big holiday, so there was a lot of youth there.  And we walked around with these big old signs talking about our English classes and our free piano classes we are doing.  So, I was walking around with the sign and I would start yelling stuff in Portuguese, then I would start yelling in English, and everyone would look at me.  Then I would ask them all if they could understand me.  And nobody could understand, then I would tell them “You guys need our classes.”  And we were giving out a bunch of little papers and it was super, super cool.  And there were a bunch of young women there who were dressed very inappropriate, and I started yelling in English how I thought I was in the middle of Babylon, and how I thought it was really weird how 12 year old girls had belly button piercings and they just walk around showing it to everyone.  And there is another sister who is from the United States, Sister Gibson, and she started laughing and telling me to stop, and it was fun.    
            I was with Elder Swartz, because we were in an exchange, a division.  We switched companions for a day.  It was pretty cool.  And we met this new kid.  His name was Willio.  We had a really good lesson.  Then we heard from Brother Flabio, from the ward.  He said he met a young boy who wanted to learn about the gospel, so we went and taught him.  He’s 12 years old and lives about a block from the church.  Today I'm going to go to Santa Marta, and Elder Pereria Santos is going to stay here.  It’s going to be good.  We’re happy, we’re healthy.  We ate a bunch of pizza last night.  Actually we bought it last night and it came here late, so we put it all in the fridge.  And we ate all of it today and drank all of the coke today.   Yesterday was a really good day.  I’m happy.  It was really cool, I was walking around and there was a bunch, a big bunch of kids, the youth of Santa Maria…(in the video he gets distracted by others in the room, then starts the talking to the video again)… And Elder Swartz showed me a really good place to buy churros.  They were good.  And I bought a spider from a hippie for $6.00.  That was my day. 
            I’m going to make a quick video journal of this week.  Yesterday we were in a division.  I was in Santa Marta.  We visited a family that was one of the poorest families in my mission.  They live in like a box.  It’s the size of my room.  And, it’s looks more like a hut you would make with your friends.  They didn’t have anywhere to go, or anything to do.  It was super sad because she grabbed some money and gave it to her daughter to go get some milk for them to drink, to have their dinner.  And they didn’t even have enough money to buy a milk.  It’s like 3 reais.  When she came back the mom was like mad because they didn’t have enough money to buy milk.  But she said, “ok, go buy all the bread you can with these 2 reais and the little bit that we have.”  As she was leaving I pulled out my wallet and gave her another 4 reais, that I had in my pocket and said to grab some milk too.  It was pretty cool to see they how grateful they were because I gave them just 4 reais.  And we sat talking to them and they have a lot of problems and a lot of difficulties.  They don’t really have any sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.  And her little son, who is 4 years old, started crying because he wanted some candy.  He wanted a chocolate or something like that.  And he went to their secret stash and pulled out all the money that they had in the house, which was 4 reais.  And his mom started yelling at him that he couldn’t grab it.  It was the money that they were saving to pay for his sister’s school materials.  Like the notebook and pencils, and things she needed because they had finally managed to find a school that would accept her.  And that 4 reais is what she needed, but it’s not even close to the money that she needed to actually buy school materials.  So, as we were leaving I gave her the other 20 reais that I had in my pocket, and I told her it was for the school material.  I don’t know… it really opened my eyes a lot.  I’ve never really seen people who were actually poor and all the difficulties that they are passing, but they are still trying and they have a huge desire to learn about the gospel.  The neighbors all talk bad about us to them, and say that all their problems are because they are accepting the Mormons.  And that they are just wasting their time with us.  But they keep accepting us and then some members of the church went there 2 days ago and gave them a bunch of clothes that they are needing.  And they are just like investigators.  The mom went to church one time and then there is a young woman that is 19 who has a kid and adopted her cousin whose about 9 or 10.  It was a really good experience for me. 
            I don’t have much more to say.  My week was really good.  Next week I’m in divisions and it’s going to pass by really quickly.  The next week I’m traveling and doing divisions.  Then the next week I’m traveling all week again, then the next week is a transfer, then the next week I don’t know what I’m going to do because then that is when my mom starts planning my life.   
            I’m here in the supermarket, like a big grocery store.  Here are all the fruits.  That is one thing that Brazil has that we don’t have is a bazillion fruits, and the store is full of brown people.  They have a lot of fruits here.  They like to eat a lot of pumpkin and a lot of corn, which we have.  What just happened was in the center, where all the stores are, there were a bunch of hippies, and they were selling rocks and stuff and they make necklaces.  It’s super, super cool and super pretty.  And I bartered with them for a little bit and bought a necklace for Malena for 15 reais that was super pretty.  Then what happened was we met a family of members that I met in my first area.  And the young girl turns 11 tomorrow.  And she said, “Hey!  How are you doing Elder McKee?”  and we talked to them for a little bit, and she said, “hey, tomorrow is my birthday.”  And I wasn’t even thinking and I said, “Oh, here is a present for you.”  And I gave her the necklace that I bought for Malena.  And now I don’t have any more money with me.  There is a big guy right here looking at me weird because I’m speaking in English.  So, sorry Malena but I gave your necklace to a little girl without really meaning to.  Well I meant to, but I didn’t really mean to mean to.  But, that’s our day.  It’s pretty good.  I’m happy.  I’m shopping with my companion.  There’s a blond girl.  (Gives her a BIG GOOFY smile.)  
            I’m super happy, I’m super determined.  I have about a month left on my mission.  I love you guys.
Elder McKee

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

6 Weeks More!

June 3, 2017
Hello family, it's weird to thin that next month I'm coming home.  This week was all week long in the office.  All week.  Very little teaching because of the transfer.  it's super weird to think that this is my last transfer!  It's going to fly by.  I love working with Sister and President Louza.  It's such a blessing!  This next week will be for the most part in the office.  Then we start to teach next week.  It'll be good. I'm super excited.  My new companion in ELDER PEREIRA SANTOS.  He's a super fun, and a super, super good missionary, a lot better then me, which is good because he won't let me die in my last weeks on the mission.  I'll finish strong!  
Love you guys, Elder McKee

June 10, 2017
 So, I’m going to make a quick video about how this week went.  On Monday, we did everything, all of the normal stuff, which is following up on the numbers, and getting the commentary and stuff.  Then we went to Presidents house because there was a group that is going home.  Which is supposed to be my group, but it’s all good.  I’m happy.  I’m happy to be here for another 6 weeks.  But we went there and helped them set everything up, and we ate with them and then came back here and slept. 
Elder Pereira Santos, Sister Sales, Elder Costa, Elder McKee

  On Tuesday we got up early and went to the chapel at the church, and we had a mission council with all of the leaders and we gave an amazing training.  It’s true.  It was an awesome training.  This month we are going to baptize a lot.  The mission is going to baptize a lot.  Yesterday, Elder Pereira Santos and I, called everybody in the whole mission to see how they are doing, and to motivate them to work hard and baptize people.  It’s about 140 people.  That was Tuesday, then Tuesday afternoon we went running to the airport to get the new people and also at the airport was Elder Baker, who came with me, and Elder Vasquez, who also came with me, but they are going home.  And the new people came and they were super excited.  We found out on Monday that the plane was going to get there on Tuesday earlier then we thought.  So, President wanted to do all of the training and give them their new companions on Tuesday so we had to get more hotel rooms and book more lunches, plan all of the trainings, and move everything to that day, and I was running the entire day, and that night I just died on my bed.  But it was super good.  It was cool.  We forgot a bunch of stuff and we lost a big poster that was Presidents.  But we’re going to find it because I’ve already said about 20 prayers, looking for help to find his poster. 
Wednesday we went back to the chapel, and we had to run to the bus station to trade out all of the tickets that had been bought before hand, then we ran back to the chapel to do a study with everyone, and all of the new people there who were just lost and trying to figure out what they were trying to do.  We helped them, then sent them off to their areas.  We did a few other things then went to our area and started to work.  On Wednesday it was raining a lot and I didn’t have an umbrella and I got really, really wet.  But it was all-good because we have a dryer at home, so I just threw my coat in there and it was all good.  But it was cool because even though it was raining we started knocking some doors to find some new people and we found a family which is really, really good.  It’s a mom with 4 kids. 
            Thursday we worked for the whole day.  That day was actually pretty slow because it wasn’t raining anymore, but it was cold.  Really, Really cold, and windy and so nobody would open their doors, but we met with a few in-actives and we found some new people as well, some people we’ve never met before. 
            Then on Friday we had an amazing day.  We spent the entire day on our plans.  Every hour of the day had a plan a, a plan b, and a plan c.  And everything fell through, everything.  And nothing was going right, but it was all good because we are happy guys.  And at the end of the day, about 8:00, we knocked on a door and they let us in.  It was a mom, a dad, and 4 kids, and they loved the message of the restoration.  And they all said they were going to pray about it, and if they get an answer they are going to be baptized.  And we got super excited because they showed a lot of interest and a lot of potential to progress.  And then we came home. 
            Oh yeah, another thing… one of the new missionaries got here and when he got off the plane his suitcase was destroyed.  And the airline said they would send it back to Porte Allegra and they would fix it and get it back to him or buy him a new one.  But in the meantime they gave him plastic bags.  So, I felt bad for him and told him that I have a big old suitcase that is about the same size that you can use.  So, we came running home with President while the new people were going to the hotel, so we got in Presidents car and came here to the house.  I tore everything out of my suitcase that I had and we put it in the car and went back to the hotel.  Which I don’t know if you remember a few transfers ago, another new missionary broke his suitcase so I gave my little suitcase to him.  So I have one left and a bunch of stuff, and my room is a mess.  I was doing so well at being organized, but then I had to throw everything out of my suitcase, and everything is everywhere.  So I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to donate to the mission already, and stuff that I don’t need anymore.  I am going to try and fit everything in my suitcase but if I can’t I’ll just buy a little bag or something.  I have a backpack, which I really, really like. 
            I am happy.  I am healthy.  I am amazing as well.  I am super, super __________, because I bought this new laundry detergent and I smell super good.  Ahhhh.  And I have 1500 songs on my iPod that we listen too.  It was all of the EFY music, all the church hymns in English and Portuguese, a ton of classical music that we listen to.  It’s got a lot of stuff and its all church approved.  My companion, Elder Pereira Santos, is from Sao Paulo.  He is 20 years old.  He’s a really good guy.  He’s crazy.  He likes to dance.  He dances very well.  He sings. 
            When we went to the post office to mail the box I got 3 letters.  I got mom’s other birthday picture and Grandma Silcox’ birthday card.  I got a letter from Malena that was in a flamingo, flamingo…flamingo?  I don’t remember if that’s English or Portuguese.  And I got a letter from Joci as well, which was super cool. 
            One more thing, in our grass there are a lot of clovers, and I have found 2-leaf clover and 1 five-leaf clover.  I didn’t even know those existed.  It was cool.  That was my week.  You guys are awesome.  I love you, Ciao.
Elder McKee
Elder Santos, Sister Ancay, Sister Christensen, President and Sister Louza
 Subway with Sister & President Louza and Elder Santos