Monday, May 30, 2011

É Franca!!!

Well it´s been another great week here in the area....sort of. I actually was not able to work in our area for three of the days. Last wednesday we had a training with the mission president and the assistents. Friday we travelled to a city called São Joaquim da Barra. Elder Hepworth had to do baptismal interviews for the Elders there. And we didn´t back to our area until Saturday afternoon only to find out we needed to travel to another area in our city so he could do more interviews for another companionship. So we lost alot of time in our are but it was still a great week.

The training that the Assistants gave was a review of the basics in Preach My Gospel. It was a really powerful training. What I always find interesting about trainings like this is that it is never new material. It´s just going back to the basics. We sometimes just need to remember that all we need to do is already written down and explained for us. It reminds me of Elder Uchtdorf´s talk from a couple sessions ago talking about going back to the basics of the Gospel. We just need to hold on to the basics and it will all work out great.

I spent the day on Friday in splits with a new American Elder Stott (obnoxiously similar to Scott). I kept getting confused thinking people were calling me when they said Stott. But it was really fun to work with him. I am coming to realize that one of my roles on the mission is to use my language learning talents to help others. He only has two months here in Brazil and still struggles quite a bit with Portuguese. it was fun to help him and work with a young excited missionary, (I talk as if I´m old and experienced on the mission when I´m really not). But it was a really fun day with him.

Saturday was a great day as well. There is a companionship here in Franca that is just having loads of success. It goes to show the importance of the work that members do to assist the ward´s progress. The best way I can describe my ward I´m in is stagnant. It´s full of long-time members that don´t really participate in the missionary work. They just look at us full-time missionaries and ask ``where are the investigators?´´ It seems they have forgotten that the best way for missionaries to have success is when the members find the investigators and give them to the missionaries as referrals. This other ward is on fire and baptizing like crazy because the members are giving referrals left and right. The Elders there said they get called on a daily basis by members asking how they can help in the work. So what did I learn....Every member a missionary. All of you reading this letter, rededicate yourselves now to help the Lord´s Kingdom grow here on the Earth. Do all possible to help. You have nothing to lose, only blessing to receive.

We also had an extremely powerful lesson with one of our investigators Rafael. I have never felt the influence of the Spirit so strongly in a lesson. There is nothing better than kneeling next to an investigator that is earnestly pleading to know the truth and know the Lord´s will for them. Rafael explained to us that his personalityis that of indecision. He says it´s hard to make any decision and he has had trouble deciding if he should be baptised. I know he received an answer. He would have been baptised this sunday but his Uncle passed away Saturday night and he had to travel out of town. It was a marvelous experience that if nothing else kindled my own testimony again of the power the Spirit has to influence us and respond to our prayers. My body was so full of the Spirit in that lesson. It was absolutely undeniable.

Well I hope you all have a great week. Each of you, no matter how long you have been a member, no matter how strong testimony, ask again  for a spiritual witness that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. This renewal of our testimonies is priceless. And remember, every member a missionary!

Elder McLelland

Biscuits and Gravy!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anybody can cook!

Hey everyone!

Well it´s been yet another week here in Franca. We´ve had a lot of stuff going on. We had to do a bunch of splits to get baptismal interviews done. This coming week looks like it will be even more busy because of interviews and also a day of training in Ribeirão Preto with the President. Did I also tell you that on June 3 we have a mission tour. Elder Godoy, a counselor in the Brazil Area Presidency is coming to do a Mission Tour. He is going to do a big day-long training with us on June 3. I´m really excited to be trained by an Area Authority. It should be an exciting experience. 

This week I did some cooking for our lunches. The members in our area give us a lot of money to make lunches on our own instead of actually feeding us at their houses. We got tired of using the money on marmita (simple pre-made lunches at resaurants). So I made our lunches for the week. One day I made the maccarroni and cheese with bread crumbs recipe (picture attached). it turned out fantastic. I learned out how to make Stroganoff Brazilian style. And I also made some good pasta using some premade pasta sauce. It was pretty fun to try more cooking. I´ve been learning it´s not as difficult as I thought. I´ve been getting more bold since the cinnamon rolls were a sucess.   I´m ging to try even more recipes this week.

We are really in a dry spell of sucess here in our area. We are working really hard but we just can´t get people to Church. But we are having success with the less active kid Marcos that I talked about last week. He will have to spend a good amount of time preparing, but he told me that he wants to serve a mission. Even if I don´t end up baptizing in this area I can feel like I made a good impact on at least one person.

It´s actually been really cold, at least on Brazilian standards, these past few weeks. I woke up really cold today. It´s kind of strange. Last night we had to wear our pull-over sweaters while we were out working becasue it was really chilly. Chilly enough to see our breath in the air! Who´d´a´thunk?

Well other than that it´s been a pretty uneventful week. I hope all of you have a great one!

Elder McLelland

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Foi bacana?

Hey Everyone!

How磗 everyone doing? I磎 doing pretty good these days. We are still plugging along with the work here in Franca. It磗 a very tough area but like I said a few weeks ago I would rather be working really hard and having no success than working a little bit with a little bit or even a lot of success. I think the real success is our dedication to the Lord, not baptisms. Even though I would like to be baptizing more. But we have had some neat experiences this week.

We started a new program to teaching less actives. We call it our ``resgate创 or rescue program. We had a bunch of the inactives basically make up excuses for not letting us in. But we are having success with a young kid named Marcos. It seems like one of those situations that he was just waiting for someone to come by and invite him back to Church. He was baptized at 15 or so years old and stayed active for several months and fell away because of his job that required him to work on Sunday. But he no longer works there and just needed someone to come along and give him a little nudge. I feel really good about the him coming back to Church. Also it looks like he might be able to play a role in helping us with an investigator family we are teaching. This family is absolutely amazing but is very strong in another Church and has no desire to leave it or even come visit ours. But Marcos is friends with their oldest daughter and she had remembere that Marcos is a member of our Church, even though he had been inactive over two years. We hope that this friendship might be able to help us to get some of them to come to Church with us. It just goes to show how big of an impact our example as members has on people. it磗 been a neat experience.

Do you guys remember Julia? The little girl that you saw on skype with me last week? Yesterday in sacrament meeting she looked at me and Elder Hepworth and shouted ``papai!!创 It means daddy. She is at the stage that she calls any man daddy but it was really funny and about half of the congregation was laughing. it was kind of fun.

We had a funny language flub this week in a lesson. It was actually with Marcos the kid we are reactivating. He didn磘 go to HCurch two sundays ago because he was at a funeral. But he used a different term for funeral we didn磘 recognize and we thought he just went to some kind of family reunion. My companion asked ``foi bacana?`` which is kind of a slang term 爉eaning was it cool? The kid just looked right at us and said no. We realized we had made some kind of mistake. Luckily he was able to laugh with us and wasn磘 offended. then during sacrament meeting the word was said in a talk and he turned to us and told us ``now you know what that means创. It was pretty funny and embarrasing. I love learning languages.

Well I guess that about sums it up for the week. I hope you all have a great one!

Elder McLelland

Monday, May 9, 2011

Feliz Dia das Mães!

Well it´s been quite a week. Regarding the work this week, it was probably the most difficult I have experienced. Regarding mother´s day and my´s been fantastic!!  We all did teach an amazing lesson last week that was probably one of the most spiritually influencing leson I have ever taught.

So about that lesson that was amazing. We went to do a follow up lesson with an investigator we have. I have honestly never met anyone with so much sincere desire to learn about the book of mormon. We had marked 3 Nephi 11 for her to read. She read it 3 times. And he conducted the lesson. She had marked a bunch of things in the chapter to ask us about and we spent almost 2 hour deeply analyzing the chapter. I myself learned a lot. This lady is is also a very strong Catholic and both of us were very nervous to even mention the idea of her getting baptized. But we decided before hand to mark a date with her unless the Spirit directed otherwise. We both felt very strongly to go ahead and mark the date and to our surprise she accepted with hardly any hesitation. SHe told us that despite being so active and involved in her church she has said that nothing had been making sense to her but now it finally is as she is praying with real intent and reading the Book of Mormon. It was definitely one of the most spiritually inspiring lessons I have ever taught.

Technology is such a blessing. Skype made the mother´s day phone call even better. It was so much fun to see everyone. Even though I was thoroughly surprised to see Mother Superior there. It took my companion and the member family by surprise. I hope it was a good mother´s day for everyone else too.

Today for P-Day we played soccer for a few hours at our chapel that has a soccer court. It was super fun and we took one of our investigators with us. He really enjoyed it, we all did. I went to Irmã Wanda´s house to eat lunch and after I[´m done with this email we are going to watch the film Up. President has authorized us to watch Disney cartoons (Pixar included!). It´s been a super fun P-Day and birthday. She has a cake ready for me too. But according to Brazilian tradition I had eggs smashed on my head. It was a huge mess and they caught me by surprie. I just hope my tie comes out clean. It´s been a great day.

I just wanted to bear a personal testimony that even when we pass through difficult times and it seem like nothing is woring out according to plan, the Lord has a plan in it all. This week was very challenging but we didn´t give up and we both feel pleased with the week because we were out working with what we could. We had firm investigators make a 180 turn and start running away from us. Hours of knocking on doors without getting in to teach. But I feel spiritually pleased because we didn´t give up. It was a good week. I hope you all have a great one too.

Elder McLelland
I almost forgot the pictures:
Us playing soccer (I´m in the yellow jersey a goaly)
Me and Elder Nelson who got egged by Wanda. Nelson got caught in the crossfire.
Me and Hepworth with an aweome family. The man was jut released as bishop.
Elder Hepworth calling his parents to set up a time to talk. The big booth didn´t work.
Me and Hepworth had to wear sweater because it got really hot one day

Monday, May 2, 2011

Transfers!....that don´t effect me for the first time!

So today is the start of yet another new transfer. Me and Elder Hepworth stayed in the same area together. It´s pretty exciting to finally experience a transfer without any changes. But over half of our zone was taken out and we will have newbies. It looks like we are going to have 3 people being trained in the zone. One sister that already got here two weeks ago and two more new ones that will come tomorrow. It´s pretty exciting. There are a bunch of new sisters coming in and almost all of the sisters that were already here are training, even the really young sisters that have less time than me on the mission. But I´m really glad to stay because the work is finally starting to come together better here. We finally have more promising investigators to work with.

Unfortunately we had some big dissapointment yesterday. We had two baptisms scheduled for right after the Church meetings but they fell through. It was the two kids I had talked about a couple of week ago that were so excited. We´re not really sure either why they didn´t want to go through with it. They didn´t even go to Church. But oh well, the mission is full of these kind of expereinces unfortunately.

But it was also a great week. We are teaching some others that are very excited and are even more dedicated to following and keeping the commitments we are laying out for them. We are teaching a young man, 18 years old, who told us that he had praying hard before he met us to find the true Church he should follow. He had gone to some others but never felt quite right with any of them. He is very sincerely seeking to find if this is the true Church for him to follow. I´m super excited for him. We also have a woman named Daniela who is SUPER excited to have us around. She is a very devout Catholic but already has marked for us to come teach her every Wednesday night at 7:00. She told us some really neat experiences about prayer that she has had. We invited her to pray and get an answer for herself. Being Catholic our way of prayer was very different than what she was used to. She said she was nervous to say a specific and personal prayer. But she said that she already feels so much different and better, She said she hasn´t ever felt closer to God before. It was really neat to see that changes. Now we have to wait for the Book of Mormon to it´s job.

Well I better get going soon. We are going to meet the new missionaries in our zone at the bus terminal pretty soon. I hope you all have a good week. Next monday I will be talking to you all no longer as a teenager! So crazy.

Elder McLelland

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The last week of the transfer!!

This transfer has past by sooo fast! I can´t believe that next monday is already the start of a new transfer. Time goes by so fast on the mission. It has been a great transfer and hope for another great one...whatever happens. 

This last week was super busy. We had zone conference last wednesday so we had to wake up super early to get to Ribeirão Preto. But it was a fantastic conference. We learned a lot and had a great time. The focus was on our use of the Book of Mormon. It wasn´t any new material but reenforced our emphasis on the Book of Mormon in our teaching. It really strengthened my testimony. And the President has challenged us to all read the Book of Mormon completely next transfer. I´m super excited to do it. I love the Book of Mormon sooo much.

We also had to do a bunch of divisions as well. Elder Hepworth, being a district leader is involved with doing divisions to train the other companionship in our district. We also had to do divisions with our zone leaders to get baptismal interviews done. So I was on division for 3 of the days last week. It was pretty fun but I spent a lot of money on bus fares(fairs?....can´t spell English anymore). At least the buses here aren´t anything like Mike´s bus stories. No fish juice dripping on me. I spent one of the days with Elder Barnes, one of our zone leaders. He is hilarious and it was a super fun day. I also spent a day with Elder Shelley who is also a hoot. He is such a quiet and humble guy but when he speaks I´m always laughing. He is awesome.And the other day was with Elder Peterson from my group. I am still convinced that we are the best group to have entered into this mission. The rest of my group is a bunch of amazing missionaries. I hope to be as good as them some day.

I guess that about sums it up for the week. It was fantastic. A lot of ``correria´´, basically running around a lot. It always makes you feel good. And it looks like the week will be full of baptisms in the Zone. I hope you all have a good week. And Happy Easter yesterday! I hope you all were able to enjoy and use the time to reflect on the Savior. Here in Brazil being very Catholic, Thursday and Friday were also holidays that everyone had off. Unfortunately Brazil uses Easter to get drunk and for a lot of members of other faiths to do their twice yearly Church visits. No one wanted to let us in to teach but it was a good time to reflect on all that the Savior has done for us. 

I love you all!

Elder McLelland