Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Letter #7

Howdy, Howdy!        
Well, It's been another great week, but I have to admit that the CTM is starting to wear on me a bit. We are feeling so anxious to get out and teach real investigators. Last Saturday we taught in what they call TRC, or Teaching Resource Center, I think. It's a pretty cool way for them to evaluate how well we are progressing. We taught in a little classroom set up like a living room and taught a lesson in exactly 15 minutes. The people that came for us to teach were a group of young men from a ward in Sao Paulo somewhere. How fun would that be for a young men's activity? They brought some non-member friends with them as well.  The scenario was a family who were really excited about church and were accepting the lessons but the father had a problem with smoking. We had to reinforce the previously taught lesson about the Word of Wisdom and commit them to a specific baptismal date. The classroom has a small camera set up the in the corner so our instructors can watch us as we teach. They said that Elder Walker and I did really well. Of course we have some improvements we can make with our Portuguese, but we are doing really well. I feel like I could leave now for the mission field and be able to hit the ground running. We also get to go proselyting again this Friday. But this time they take us out into downtown Sao Paulo. It's going to be nuts but I can't wait, especially after the experience we had last time.        
Another kind of funny story I could share is about Elder Christopherson's translating in our devotionals. He is the executive secretary to the MTC presidency here and he does most of the translating at the meetings. But it's really funny to hear because he doesn't translate word for word and it makes for some funny experiences. One time a Stake President was talking about us needing to ``cut the umbilical cord" and be ready to serve. It was pretty easy to tell that he was uncomfortable with the phrase though and he kept trying to come up with euphemisms to replace it but it just didn't work. I guess it might be a ``you had to be there" kind of thing. And this past week he was translating for Sister Clark the president's wife who is from the Czech Republic and has a strong accent. The very first sentence she said, he just stared at her blankly and said, ``I'm sorry i didn't catch any of that".  Later on President Clark was speaking in English and Elder Christopherson was translating into Portuguese, halfway though Pres. Clark switched to Portuguese but Elder Christopherson didn't really realize it and just kept repeating the Portuguese phrases. he didn't notice for a while and it made for a good laugh in the room. I guess I don't have many super exciting stories, sorry.              Well it's been great to hear from you all. I love you all a ton. I'll have some more exctiting stuff next week I'm sure after Proselyting.          
 I.U. Elder McLelland (by the way I love our last name. It's one of my favorite things to hear brazilians try and figure out the pronunciation)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pictures From Brazil!

               Elder Walker (companions), Elder McLelland
                             Courtyard in the CTM

 Elder McLelland, Elder Jacques Da Silva
 Elder McLelland, Elder Do Vale
 Baptismal Prayer in Portuguese
 Shovel for the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the CTM
 Elder Bashford (District Leader),Elder McLelland
Casa Verde, Brazil

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Letter #6

Hola, Tudo Bem?             Thanks so much for the letters this week. And i磎 glad to hear the pictures got there. I was worried about that. Sorry there aren磘 a whole lot of them. Also, I now understand the confusion a few weeks ago about the address to write me at. I totally have been writing it wrong on everything, I am in District 33A not 4. 4 is my branch number. So from now on just put 33A. Sorry for the misunderstanding              Well, I can磘 believe I have already completed my first transfer. It磗 really weird to think that I have been here for six weeks already, kind of feels like 4-5 years because of how much I have changed in this time. My second set of Brazilian roommates just left this morning, I think we get some more on Thursday. This past week has by far been the best one yet. For two reasons, first a really cool oppurtunity to serve, and second, proselyting!              So to start with the service. There have been several missionaries here from Cabo Verde, a portuguese speaking area in Africa. One of them was extremely poor, he only had one set of clothes, and they were all torn. He had no luggage or anything really. Quite literally just the clothes on his back. Elder Jacques Da Silva, one of my roommates noticed how much need he was in and rallied all the elders on my floor to pitch in whatever they could to help him out. I was confused at first because I didn磘 know what was going on. Everyone was coming into my room with armfulls of clothes and toiletries. I was really confused but I found out what it was for so I did my best to pitch in. They already had a bunch of clothes together for him so I tried to pitch in some razor blades and things like that. I felt really bad that that was all I could give. Then I remebered that I have two sets of bedding so I pitched that in. Elder Jacques and the other missionaries kept shaking my hand and saying thank you so much, I really don磘 feel like I deserved it. It was such a simple thing for all of us to help this missionary out and Elder Jacques told me about the missionary who received all the stuff. He was so grateful. I was so happy to be a part of this and see how quickly everyone jumped in to help out. It was so quick I almost didn磘 have an oppurtunity to contribute. It磗 amazing the feelings that come from service.                Proselyting has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I don磘 have a ton of time so I磍l try to tell as much as I can. I have moer details written in the snail-mail that will be coming soon. So Elder Walker and I received 4 copies of the Book of Mormon to hand out in two hours around here in Casa Verde. It was absolutely amazing. We couldn磘 have been out more that 5 minutes when we were already having a wonderful conversation with Ricardo and Claudia. They seemed to be pretty interested and they accepted the Book of Mormon. We spent the next hour or so talking to people and not really having the best success. We still gave out our other three copies but the people didn磘 seem quite as excited as the first two people we talked to. One of the groups we gave a book of mormon to, was a group of three crazy old men. I still don磘 really know entirely was happened. There  was a lot of shouting, though not necessarily angry shouting, and these guys were just flat out nuts. One of them took the book of Mormon, but kept asking about how many languages it was in and if we spoke Spanish....I think. I磎 not sure, I was so confused. So we had given out our last copy and still had 30 or so minutes to go so we just walked around talking to people and invited them to attend church. We ran into Elders Bashford and Anderson and they had an extra copy they weren磘 going to have time to give out so they gave it to us. And I磎 sure glad they did because we found the most amazing man ever. I really can磘 imagine him not getting baptized, he wa so happy and receptive. He kept asking why we chose to give him the book of mormon and not all the other surrounding people. He also mentioned that he had seen the missionaries walking around a lot and they never stopped to talk to him. I磎 so glad we were in tune with the Spirit and stopped to talk to him. He was washing his car when we found him. We explained a little bit to him about the Book of Mormon and our church. He talked a little bit about how there is a lot of evil in the world and so we testified that through the Book of Mormon we can bring more peace to the world. He really liked that. We never had to really ask him if would actually reaad the the book or attend Church but he must have said at least a dozen times ``I磎 going to read this book, I磎 going to go to church and invite my wife to come with me创. I shared Mosiah 2:41 with him and he was really touched by that and he said he would read every morning and night from the Book of Mormon, He was so excited he wanted us to write down our names in the back of the Book so that he would never forget who it was that gave him this gift. He also said his goal was to go to the USA sometime and that he wanted to look us up there. I promised him blessings, but he kept saying, ``no, I know you will be blessed for bringing the Book of Mormon to me创. At the very end he shook my hand, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said ``thank you创. I磛e haven磘 been so happy, ever. I love missionary work. I can磘 wait to get into to the field and do this kind of stuff everyday. Thanks everyone for making it possible for me to be here. I lvoe you all so much.              I.U. Elder McLelland

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Letter #5

Hola Minha Familia!               How is everyone doing? Sounds like things are going pretty great at home. Once again, thank you everyone for the letters. I really enjoy getting mail from everyone. Sorry I´m not always able to send real mail every week, but I have some coming this week. Grandma Dawna sent me a letter about the shooting! I can hardly believe it. There is another elder here at the CTM from Fresno and we were talking about it. So much happens in the short time we have been gone. How are those families doing?          Well what to say about this past week? It´s kind of hard to recall, every day is running into one at this point. Things are still going fantastic with me here. I went to the São Paulo temple again today, but instead of a regular session I got to do initiatories. I think one of my favorite things about being here in Brazil is Brazilians trying to pronounce McLelland. THey had to try a lot today while doing initiatories, it made it quite fun. But it was really amazing to do these ordinances in Portuguese. I love the Spirit at the temple. After we did initiatories we got to go into the Celestial room as well. I stayed for about 30 minutes and it was one of the most amazing and peaceful experiences ever. I get so excited every week for the temple trip.             Dad requested a funny story and I do have a decent one to share about word confusion. One of the elders in my district, Elder Anderson. Our teacher Irmã (or Sister) Gaspar was teasing him and he tried to call her ´´mentirosa´´ which means liar.  But he got a little tongue tied and instead said, ``menstruoso´´ which as you might guess, means ``menstruation´´. We all had quite a good laugh at that. I guess every missionary has to have a goof-up with the language sometime. Our teachers are so great, Irmã Gaspar and Irmão Ramon have such great stories to tell us all the time. We learn a lot and have fun at the same time.              Well I´m not sure what else to say, nothing to big happened this week. But, this coming Friday we get to have our proselyting experience and give out copies of the Book of Mormon here in Casa Verde. I haven´t been more excited for anything in a long time. I am quite nervous because I have a lot more learning to do. Everyone comes back with some amazing story about someone so ready to hear the Gospel. I can´t wait to experience that. Brazilians are so accepting and will at least listen to what you have to say. I know its going to be fantastic, I´ll tell you all about next week. I can´t wait to hear more from you guys. I love you all, Elder McLelland.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Letter #4

Boa Tarde!                
Hopefully you all haven't been worrying that I didn't send any e-mail on the scheduled tuesday P-day yesterday. Yesterday was Independence Day so the Temple and all the shops in town were closed, so our P-day was changed to today. Happy Birthday Mom(tomorrow)! I hope it's a great day for you. Happy Anniversary Leah and Brian! It was the 3rd of September right? I hope you guys had a great anniversary. When do you guys go on your trip? How's everyone doing? Mom, glad to hear seminary has been going well. I really like the activities you have described, I bet the kids liked them more than you think. Dad, How is work going? Get anymore sweet gift cards? Thanks for the letters, I have been receiving them just fine. I have been kind of confused too on all that is necessary to include in the address. Just stick to what you have been doing and it will be fine. I mixed up numbers a couple of times I think on the District number, I am in district 4, box 6. I'm sending some mail today, and I'm going to try sending my memory card for the camera so you can see a little bit what it is like here. I don't have a lot on it yet though.
 I hope it gets there safe, other missionaries said it might be risky to try, but we'll give give it a whirl.                 Well, we have started speaking a lot more Portugues this week. our instructors speak solely in Portuguese now, and I actually understand pretty well. We are also teaching basic discussions in Portuguese now too. It's so tough but so awesome at the same time. We speak super slowly, but we eventually get the message delivered well, and with the spirit. Elder Bashford and I went on an ``English Fast" for a whole day to speak only Portuguese. It went surprisingly well, I made it for only ``two meals" though. I forgot while we were playing volleyball and spoke some English. But it was really cool to see that I actually could make it a whole day speaking just portuguese. Elder Bashford did amazingly well and only spoke 3 English words the whole day. We were also much quieter that day than usual haha. Last night I had one of the coolest experiences here. I was talking with one our new Brazilian roommates. By the way, the originial Brazilians that came the same week as us left already and now we have a new set of Brazilians in our room. I was talking with Elder Barreto from Rio de Janeiro and I asked how his day was. He said it was actually not very good at all, so I asked him why. He said he and his companion Elder Jacques Da Silva had been having some troubles and that thier personalities didn't match very well. I was able, to my surprise, help him out and I understood virtually everything he said to me. He mentioned a quote from a scripture and I recognized it and helped him find DC 121:7. We talked about it a little bit and then just had a very casual conversation after that for 30 minutes or so before bedtime. It was so amazing to see that I could have a real conversation with some one and be able to actually help him out and ecourage him.....all in Portuguese! It was such a cool experience, this was probably the coolest thing I have experienced yet, and it seems like such a simple thing too.             
We went to Sao Paulo temple today again and it was super amazing. I was the very last one in the session so I had a lot of time to just sit and wait in the ordinance room. While doing so, I started reciting the scriptures I have been memorizing and I recited in my  mind the First Vision in Portuguese. During this I had one of the strongest witnesses from the Holy Ghost that Joseph Smith really did see God and Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith really did restore the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and I am here to share that message with everyone I can. I know without a doubt that this gospel is true. I can never deny it. I'm getting ever more excited to leave the CTM so I can truly start teaching this glorious message. By the way, we have five more weeks here, a total of 9. We leave on October 12.           
Well, I hope all is still well at home. Or as we would say it in Portuguese ``Tudo Bem". I can't wait to hear more from you guys and how everyone is doing. I love you all so much. Thanks for all the letters!            
 I.U. Elder McLelland

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Letter #3

Hey Howdy Hey!         
 Well, all the guys in my district are starting to hate me, I get way more regular letters than all of them. Thanks so much for all the letters, I really appreciate them. Sorry I don't always have time to respond the old fashioned way. I sent some last week and again today. Mail getting here is taking about 8-10 days, so anytime some mail from me should get to you guys. So how is everyone doing? What else new is going on at home? I guess it can't be a whole lot different, it's only been three weeks. It feels like way more than three weeks for me.              
This week we are starting to teach basic lessons is Portuguese. It's kind of scary but once I actually make myself try, it's really not too bad. I think I'm picking up on it pretty well. It's really cool to start having semi-real conversations with the Brazilians. The other day I went to go iron a white shirt and there was a Brazilian in there that didn't speak any english at all but we actually communicated pretty well. He was surprised to hear that I only had about two weeks of exposure to the language. The Brazilians that came to the CTM the same week as us left early this morning to go out to the field. It feels kind of weird that they are here for so much less time than we are. It's made us all even more anxious to get out too. We don磘 have the two Brazilian roommates anymore, but we might get a new set tomorrow. I hope so, it helps so much in the learning process to have them around to talk to. They all love to help us as much as possible, and most of them are trying to learn English from us too.         Well the Sao Paulo Temple has opened back up so we got to go there this morning. It was amazing. It has a bunch of dark, rich Brazilian Mahogany trim all throughout the building. It reminds me of the beautiful dark wood in the Sacramento Temple. My Branch President (also a temple worker here) told us the story of how the Church chanced across the rare Brazilian Mahogany. Apparently it is illegal now to harvest it, but a man had a huge warehouse full of it that was just sitting there so the church bought it. It's so beautiful. I've said this about every letter, but I love going to the temples.      
 On our fifth week here we get to out of the CTM into some of the close neighborhoods and give out copies of the Book of Mormon. Also in our last week here they take us into the very center of Sao Paulo to do street contacts. I can't wait to do this. Other Missionaries have been telling us there stories about it. A companionship told us about getting grilled by an Evangelical Minister for about 30 minutes followed by a bunch of  other rejections. Then they met a lady who immediately started crying as they talked to her. Her daughter was diagnosed with cancer the week before and this lady had been praying constantly to find answers to these troubles. She accepted the Book of Mormon and requested to have missionaries come teach her family. Just one person like that makes all of the other rejections completely worth it. Even though I am not prepared enough with the language for this I can't wait for my chance to go out and have similar experiences.               
 Well I want you to all know how excited and happy I am to be here. It just keeps getting better and better. I see everyday how I am so blessed to be here. Visas aren't going through still and only 2 new Americans get to come this week. I feel so priveledged that I got to come here right off the bat. The CTM is great, I'll send home one of my SD cards of pictures next week so you can see a little bit of what it's like. Unfortunately we can't take our cameras to the temple so I won't have any from there. Oh, and byt the way, have you seen my white temple tie at home? I hope it was left there, because if not I'll need to buy a new one. Can you guys send it to me sometime. No rush at all to get it here. I can borrow one at the temple so I'll just need it in the field eventually. Or if you want I can just buy one at eh temple Distribution Center. that actually might be easier because they are only like $3 there. Weel, I love you all so much, and can磘 wait to here from you all again. Thanks for all the support!            
I.U. Elder McLelland (or if i spell it how the Brazilians pronounce it ``Macky-Lay-Lawn-Gee")