Howdy Everyone. Well we worked quite a bit this week and taught a lot of lessons. It磗 such a wonderful feeling to testify multiple times in a day about Jesus Christ and the Restoration of his gospel through Joseph Smith. It磗 so wonderful to have the Spirit testify to me and investigators so frequently. I磛e already encountered a few interesting things during lessons too. For example we were teaching a really nice old lady and her family and they were so accepting of us. She told us that she used to be very active in another church until her pastor told her she couldn磘 pray to Santa Maria (an obstacle we will have to work hard to overcome). She took here little picture/shrine thingy of Santa Maria down off of the pedestal and passed it around and kissed the picture and then did the sign of the cross with her hands. Luckily they didn磘 expect us to do it but I was quite nervous watching it get passed around the room getting closer and closer to me. In another lesson the young mother we were teaching just out of the blue started breastfeeding her child without any covering whatsoever. It磗 a natural thing but completely took me off guard. Definitely some different culture things to get used to. We have a good pool of investigators to work with right now. Unfortunately we weren磘 sucessful in getting many to church. It磗 so disappointing to see people feel the Spirit, and even say they know the it磗 true but not have a desire to act on it. We are teaching a man and his wife and her father and they are wonderful and accepting. They all believe our words to be true, but the young man said ``I磎 already Catholic. You are wlecome to come share the Word of God whenever, but I磎 already catholic and don磘 want to change that创. I still have hopes for the rest of the family but it磗 so tough to see people not have desire to act on the Spirit. We are also teaching a woman who is ashamed to go to church because she doesn磘 know how to read. While in the CTM i bought a nice book that had a whol bunch of church paintings in it. I gave it to her and she absolutely loves it. She could hardly put it down while we were trying to teach her. She promises to go next week, hopefully she does. I just looked out the window and it pouring outside. It was hot and sunny 20 minutes ago when we got here. I磎 jealous that you guys keep saying it磗 been cooling down a lot there. It磗 just starting to get hot now. Not super hot, 95ish but in church clothes with humidity it磗 not my favorite. It takes FOREVER for clothes to dry. we don磘 get drying machines. On Sunday morning I had a unique experience. I was ironing my socks to get them dry. I felt a little ridiculous passing the iron back and forth, over and over on a dumb sock. But I磍l get used to it. Today for P-Day, we met up with the other two companionships here in Po鏾s and went hiking. Here in Po鏾s they have a lot of hills and on the top of one of them they have a big statue of Christ. They call it ``O Cristo创. It was absolutely beautiful up there. Sorry you will have to wait a little while to get some pictures of it. It was a pretty grueling, steep climb but well worth it. There are a bunch of pretty trees along the path. Quite tropical looking in some places actually. Then on the other side of the hill the trees are types of pines. It was awesome but now I磎 sunburned and exhausted. You guys asked a little bit about packages. I guess you got some instructions. Don磘 send any major electronics. You asked about CDs, that would be fine. i was actually going to request some Tabernacle choir. Musis can be anything by the Tabernacle choir, and hymns. EFY type stuff, if they are hymns are OK too....but I don磘 really want that kind of stuff to be honest. Just Tabernacle choir or instrumental hymns are great. Try to make packages as light as possible, for costs and if it is heavy people will want to take a look and possibly steal things or they will hold onto it at the post office and charge big fees. I can磘 really think of much I磛e been wishing for...except Root Beer but that磗 not really possible. You did mention blister stuff, that might be handy. And just send everything to the mission home, thanks. Well, everyone I磎 doing great here. I磎 picking up on Portuguese more and more everyday. I can understand a lot more except for a few of the sisters that talk super fast. The work is picking up more. And I love the city I am in. I磎 so happy to be a missionary. I love you all! Elder McLelland
Hello Everyone! Well I'm finally here in the mission field. We had to leave the CTM by 4am last tuesday to make our flight. It felt a little ridiculous flying for 40 minutes. It was pretty much like taking a plane from Fresno to Sacramento. But, they said statistically it is safer for us to fly even for that short period. We arrived at the little airport in Ribeiro Preto and President Prieto and his wife, and the assistants were there to pick us up. We drove to the Mission Office and had some training there. That reminds me, they want all mail to be sent to the mission office, never directly to us. Which is kind of unfortunate because I'll probably only be able to get my mail about once a month or so. But oh well, rules are rules. The mission office has a different address now too. Anything sent to the old address will get to me so go ahead and use that for now, I don't have it with me at the moment to tell you guys now. Anyways we had lunch at the Mission President's home, and were assigned our companions and Areas. My companion is Elder Azevedo and our area is Pos de Caldas 1! Elder Azevedo is Brazilian, he is from Teresina and speaks no english. I'm definitely going to have to learn quick. I was really confident in the MTC about my Portuguese, but now that I'm here....holy cow. I have a lot to learn. The people here are super hard to understand, they mumble a lot and have a little bit different accent. Our first day in Ribeiro Preto we have to register with the Federal Police there. But the 12th, the day we arrived, is a national holiday, Dia das Crians, or Children's Day. So everything was closed and we had to stay the night in Ribeir Preto. We had nothing to do in the afternoon so they sent us out to street contacting. I wasn't ready for that, 7 hours of walking and not having much sucess because no one was out in the streets because of the Holiday. Wednesday we got registered and took a bus to our area. We got here in Pos around 11:30 at night. My area here in Pos de Caldas is absolutely beautiful. It's so nice to be out of the big city of Sao Paulo and breathe some fresh air. My area is also the only area in the mission has a lot of wills to climb to get to peoples houses. The hills are quite brutal here, I've got some pretty gnarly blisters. Some of the hills are so steep that you decrease altitude quick enough for your ears to start plugging up. It's pretty intense, but awesome. The people here are great. The first couple of days we spent most of the time introducing me to members and asking for referrals. I'm not sure why Elder Azevedo didn't already really have many people he was working with. He has already been here for one or two transfers. But we have some good people now I have high hopes for. I went to church yesterday, which was amazing even though the plans we had for investigators to come fell through. There are three wards here in Pos, our averages about 80 people a week. The Spirit was awesome sitting in our tiny little chapel and I was trying my best to understand the talks. The members here are so nice here. I think the hardest part for me about Brazil will be our lunch appointments. Here in Brazil lunch is the primary meal so we are fed lunch by the members. You have no idea how many times I've already heard ``Come mais Elder, come mais创. It means ``eat more, Elder, eat more创. The sisters take pride in how much they get to feed the elders. So far i've been basically only eating one meal a day, but the equivalent of a normal 3 meals. It's going to take some getting used to. I'm going to take some pictures of the area today and get them sent next week hopefully. I'm not sure how doing snail mail is going to work since I only receive it once a month. But, feel free to go ahead and send as much as you want. I'm just not sure how often I'll be able to send mail to all of you. I will hold off on taking pictures of our apartment. it's in pretty bad shape right now. My goal for the day is to get it looking nice. It's actually pretty disgusting right now. It looks like it hasn't been cleaned for quite a few weeks. I sometimes get the feeling that my companion is kind of loosing steam. This is his last transfer. I hope I can get things working a little better around here even though I have no idea what is going on most of the time. I kind of feel like we waste a lot of time and our planning isn't very thorough at all. I don't know how to suggest improvements when I can hardly speak and I'm so new and don't know the process. But from what I was taught in the CTM i feel like a lot of improvements can be made to increase our success here. I'm super excited to be here. We have several investigators I think we will have some good success with. We taught an awesome lesson on the Restoration yesterday to a young couple. They seemed really interested and the wife. Camila, was already reading from the Book of Mormon before we left. We are teaching an old man named Sebasti, and he seems to be very interested as well. And yesterday while trying to find someone else's house, we met a lady named Angela. She at first had no interest at all to talk to us because she is already a firm member of another church. But she began to share here worries about one of her sons who is having a lot of troubles. She was basically begging us to come and help her son. She was even in tears while we were talking on the street. She really wants the best for her son. Well I want to all know that this truly is the work of the Lord. I feel the Spirit so often already. It's one of the most difficult things I've done but it is already bringing me great joy. I'm doing very well and I look forward to hearing more from all of you. I.U. Elder McLelland
Well here goes my last email from the CTM. I can hardly believe I have just one more week here and I'll really be in the field doing real missionary work. This past week has been great, and watching conference absolutely amazing. Last Friday we went to do street contacts again but this time it was in the middle of Sao Paulo. I haven't been around that many people in one place I don't think. It was intense, but awesome. So we had a goal as a district to ``contact" 100 people in our two hours there. We defined a contact as talking to someone and getting further than just a ``hello". Our district made it to 86, and the reason we fell short was mainly due to me and Elder Walker. We ended up talking with one man, Marcos, for about 40 minutes. We found out he already had a copy of the Book of Mormon, but he had questions for us. His main worry was that if he joined the church he would have give up his family and work to serve a mission like us. He didn't understand that that wouldn't be required of him. We explained that the best we could and we talked a lot more about other stuff in the book of mormon too. He also hadn't ever talked to missionaries so we gave him the phone number that usually accompanies the Book of Mormon they recieve. He didn't have it so we wrote it down for him and he said he would call it to find out more. He seemed pretty excited to understand to understand more about the church.
Elder Bashford, my district leader, is an amazing violin player and he had a really cool experience using his talent while we were contacting. He saw a guy playing a violin on the street to get money from people so elder Bashford went up and started talking to him about the violin. After a while the guy asked him to play so Elder Bashford play from memory Glory to God on High. He really amazed the guy and he accepted a Book of Mormon. While Elder Bashford played, his companion Elder Anderson talked to the people that were slowing down to see what was going on. They gave out some pass along cards as along witht the Book of Mormon. It was a really cool experience for all of us, even though it dumped rain on us for about 30 minutes. Luckily for Elder Walker and I the 30 minutes of rain happened to be while we under a bridge talking to Marcos. So we lucked out.
So it seems funny stories have been a common request, so I'll share a story. About 6 weeks ago I bought a tie from who we call ``the tie lady". SHe owns a little shop around the corner and sells cheap nice ties. So I bought a really nice blue tie that has black stripes on it. I was wearing it about 3-4 weeks later and Elder Bashford was also wearing a blue and black striped tie to so I said, ``hey, our ties match today." I got a blank stare from Elder Bashford. It turns out my nice ``blue" tie is actually a nice purple tie. It took me a month to find out. I love being color blind.
Conference was absolutely amazing this weekend. It was one of the most relaxing weekends because we watched conference and had free study time in between. It was really nice. We watched conference in English, which I was really glad about. Also the Seventy that spoke, Jairo Mazzagardi, is Brazilian and he was one of our devotional speakers we had a few weeks ago here at the CTM. I got to meet him when he was here. I'm totally blanking on who said, it was one of the Twelve, that talked about the 5 steps to living a consecrated life. Was that Eyring, maybe? I can never remember if I don't have my notes with me. I also really enjoyed the one from Patrick Kearon, the one who told the story about being bitten by a scorpion in Saudi Arabia. I absolutely love general conference.
Well I have just one week left here and I can hardly believe it. I am sooooo excited. We leave really early next tuesday morning for the airport. we have to leave the CTM by 4AM for a 30-40 minute plane ride to Ribeiro Preto. But I am getting so excited to go. I feel really quite confident in my speaking skills. I still don't understand a lot but definitely enough to get by. Even today while waiting for Elder Walker at the Post Office I talked to a man who is a motorcycle courier. They have a lot here in Sao Paulo and he was telling be about how dangerous it is here. One person dies every day from a motorcycle accident here in Sao Paulo.But it was really neat to talk to him a little bit about me and the church but more importantly to just have a casual conversation with a complete stranger. It definitely has been boosting my confidence. I can't wait to be teaching people and helping them find the way to true joy and happiness. We have practice lessons everyday and I promise people blessings in our fake lessons. But I still feel the spirit so strongly as I do it because I really know it's true.
Well I hope all is still going well at home. How has it been babysitting Lily? Leah and Brian, you will haev to tell me all about your nice vacation. How is all the extended family doing? I hope all is well. I look forward to hearing more soon.
Love, Elder McLelland