Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mina Nofunda Shangan!

Translation: ``I´m learning Shangan´´, the native dialect that my new companion, Elder Mateus, speaks. He is from Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He speaks Portuguese, the official language of Mozambique, Shangan, his native dialect, and despite his denial he speaks English quite well too. We are now working together in the São José do Rio Preto Second Ward. Elder Mateus (Matthew) is probably the humblest missionary I have met. I love him so much. I´m really excited to work with him. He already served for 6 months in Mozambique while   he waited for his visa. I´m so excited to work with him.
I was able to meet a majority of the members at Church yesterday and at the ward Christmas dinner that they had on Friday. The dinner was kind of lame, especially in comparison to the festivities of Auberry ward. If you thought mormon standard time was horrible in the states you thought wrong. The dinner was supposed to start at 7:30 but, the opening prayer was said at 9:10. It gave us twenty minutes to eat and run to be at home before 9:30. How lame. But the members seem to be pretty cool. It also looks like I will have to put up with some of the same problems like I have had in all the other wards, less actives that don´t want to go to Church because of the bishop. But what´s new right?
Our first night in the area on Thursday was pretty cool. There is a member from another ward that owns a drug rehabilitation clinic in our area. He called us up to share a message with the pacients. It was really cool. We taught about the restoration to about 20 drug/alcohol addicts. One of employees there is a recent-convert that found out about the Church because he used to be a pacient of the Clinic. He was interned, overcame his addictions, met the missionaaries at the clinic and is now baptized and about to become the co-owner of the clinic. What a turn around, huh? I felt super good being there trying to help them out. We are going back tonight to do a family night with all of them. I don´t think the normal kids activities I do at family nights will be as exciting for hardened criminals though.
Tomorrow we are going to have a mission Christmas conference, the only conference in which the whole mission is together at once. I´m really excited. Last year was awesome. I also found a member family that has a webcam so Skype should work out just fine. I´ll call real quick on Saturday to set up a certain time to talk on Sunday.
Well, I guess that´s about it folks, I love you all! Feliz Natal!
Elder McLelland

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

``Our law is to work, with joy and singing!´´ (12-5-11)

Well this last week was the first week in 6 months having an
experienced companion. It sure is relaxing to be able to sit back and
just teach an equal half od the lessons. With my ``sons´´ I had to do
a majority of the teaching. My temporary companion, Elder Castro is
great. He is from Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. It´s a federal
district, not a state, just like Washington DC. He seems like a wonder
kid because he is a musical genius, played bass guitar and keyboard in
a famous rock band, is a school teacher, and plans to become a
airplane pilot. He is amazing. Our African ``sons´´ come next week on
the 13th. I´m not sure if I´m going to stay in the same area. We know
that one of us will and by all likelihood it will be Castro. From the
rumors I hear it sounds like I might be going to São José do Rio Preto
(Saint Joseph of the Black River). but I should find out in the next
few days.

Speaking of politics; we have been hearing a lot about the elections
there and that Romney is doing well. Is the fact that he is Mormon
playing a big role in the debates? I hope not. I feel so wierd being
out of the loop on everything.

The week was pretty good. Portuguese has a word ``mole´´ which means
soft. It is the word we use to describe all of our investigators. They
are all really lacking commitement and desire to read the Book of
Mormon or go to Church. We are basically going to clean the slate and
start over this week because no one is progressing. But I don´t feel
bad about it because we worked hard this least week and I know we put
our best into it. It´s so true that the best way to be happy on the
mission is hard work. The translation of Put Your Shoulder to the
Wheel in Portuguese is, ``Our law is to work, with joy and singing!´´

Yesterday was really special at Church because Jair and his son
received the Priesthood. Jair was ordained a Priest and then he
ordained his son, Samuel, to the office of a Deacon. Jair also gave
the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting. It was so cool. I love
watching this family progress. Jair was telling me that he hopes his
family will always be a good memory to me. He told me that he knows
missionary work isn´t easy and that everyone gets discouraged. But he
told me that I can I always remember that there is a family in
Birigui, firm in the Church, because of my efforts. For sure I will
always carry this with me.

Well I hope y´all have a great week. Amo todos vocês muito. Boa Semana!
Elder McLelland

Monday, December 12, 2011

I feel like the prophet Jonah

I really am feeling like Jonah when he was called to serve in Nineveh
but was reluctant to go. I have been transferred to São José do Rio
Preto and am a little reluctant to go. I don´t want to leave this
fantastic ward here in Birigui. I really became a part of the ward
here. But, I won´t flee like Jonah did. It was a bit sad saying
goodbye to everyone. But it was really nice to hear the gratitude that
everyone expressed. We had dinner with Jair´s family last night, they
made fish for me again! It was a really fun night and a bit emotional.
I shared my favorite scriptures from 2 Nephi and Jair shared John 3
with me. He encouraged me with the words that ``the field is white
already to harvest´´. I love that family so much, but I know there is
another one waiting for me in Rio Preto.

So, tomorrow I will start training for the fourth time. I´m really
excited especially because it will be an African. I can´t wait for
this opportunity. There have been so many problems getting Americans
here to Brazil that they are bringing in missionaries from other
countries here in South America and now Africa! It´s gonna be a great
experience. I´ve heard a lot of great stuff about Rio Preto too. It´s
the second biggest city in the mission. It has about 400,000 people
and two stakes. I will serve in the Second Ward of the North stake.

The ward in Birigui had a temple trip last week and several of my
recent converts went. It was such a great expereince hearing them tell
about the Spirit that they felt at the Temple. Jair´s two kids and
José Henrique went. José Henrique is really excited about serving a
mission next year. I can´t wait to hear where he will serve. Jair´s
kids also hada  great experience. Samuel also passed the sacrament
yesterday.It´s so cool not only seeing people be baptized but taking
the next steps to stay active for the rest of their lives. Retention
of activity is a big challenge here in Brazil. But I feel really proud
of my work in Birigui.

My companion told an interesting little story to explain how the Devil
and his angels work. He taught about the MTC for the evil spirits.
There was a training there for the new evil spirits that were arriving
and they asked 3 experience spirits that had a lot of success dragging
people out of the strait and narrow path to explain how they had so
much success. The first one said that he had brought dozens of people
into Satan´s kingdom. He would tempt people to drink a little, or
browse naughty websites. All the new spirits were quickly scratching
down notes. The second spirit explained that he had deceived hundreds
of people by tempting them to just stop reading the scriptures and not
go to church weekly. Then the third spirit came foward. He was
renowned for having won thousands of souls for Satan. He said, `` do
you want to know how I had so much success? I told the people to keep
the commandments of God.`` All the new spirits were puzzled, `´isnt
that the opposite of our mission?`` The Third spirit explained, ``
keep the commandments of God....tomorrow´´. I thought it be an
interesting little parable to teach about laziness and

Well I guess that about sums it up for now. Things are going very well
and I´m really excited for the new adventure that will start tomorrow.

Elder McLelland

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oo - da - lally- golly what a day! (11-14-11)

``Every little town, has it´s ups and downs`` i don´t know why I´m
thinking about the disney version of Robin Hood today. But Birigui
sure has it´s ups and downs. This last week fortunately was one of the
highest ups that I have had. The best news being that next saturday
the 26th will be the baptism of a complete. I have never felt so much
jow. We have baptized several partial families but never a full family
of father, mother and children. We have been praying a lot to help
this family. The father was very active in other religions and was
disallusioned(is that spelled right?) by it all. He had a lot of
doubts. He oves the lessons we teach and wants to believe it all but
has difficulty because of his religious background. But yesterday he
bluntly said, ``i just need to stop asking questions and believing.
This gospel is changing my life, that´s the biggest answer there is.´´
It was one of the most joyous moments I have had.
he shared a really interesting experience with us. He had difficulty
accpeting the Book of Mormon. He had fear to directly ask GOd for an
answer. He didn´t feel worthy of such a privelege. But as he was
praying earnestly asking to know which is the right path he randomly
opened up in the Bible hoping to see an answer. He opened up to Isaiah
30:21 ``And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is
the way, walk ye in it.´´ That´s quite a powerful manifestation. It
took away any last traces of doubts that I had. This is the way. I´m
gonna keep walking in it.
It has really been neat to stay in this area for a long time. I´m
seeing so much progress in the ward. When I got here everyone was
super discouraged and didn´t really think the ward would go anywhere.
But it sure is. The attendance rate is worthy of moving to a new
location that is way bigger (and air conditioned!). When I got here
there were only two active young men now there are at least 7-8 coming
every Sunday. Sometimes up to 11. the young women´s program is
growing. The ward has a more stable attendance rate. The men in the
ward are eager to do exchanges with us to visit investigators. Things
are just going fantastic. I can´t complain about anything. And I don´t
want you all to think that it is me doing this great work. I have
little to do with it. The ward itself is finally deciding to pick
itself up and be better. I have been thinking a lot about Lehi´s
powerful counsel to Laman and Lemuel in 2 Nephi 1:23 ``Awake, my sons
(Birigui); put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains
with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise
from the dust.´´ It´s happening finally! I hope they keep it up at the
same great pace.
I also spoke in Sacrament meeting yesterday. I based my talk on Titus
who talked about Christ who ``[purified] unto himself a peculiar
people, zealous of good works´´. I cited many examples of scriptural
personages that were zealous of good works. Joseph of Egypt who fled
from poitphar´s wife (Genesis 39:9,11-12), Job who never denied his
faith (Job 19:25-26), Peter and Andrew who imediately left their nets
to follow Christ (Mark 1:17-18), Nephi who trusted GOd would provide a
way (1 Nephi 3:7; 4:6-7), The Stripling warriors that obeyed every
word with exactness (Alma 57:21), and the Nephites who lived in
perfect unity for 200 years after Christ´ss ministry in the Americas
(4 Nephi). I love learning in the scriptures. I hope everyone can
learn to be ``zealous of good works´´ (but hope not overly peculiar).
Well I guess that´s about it for the week. I´m as happy as can be
right now. I hope you all have a great week and if you are feeling
discouraged follow Lehi´s counsel and ``arise from the dust!´´ The
promise is that we will ``dwell in prosperity long upon the face of
this land´´.
Elder McLelland

A Week of Miracles (11-21-11)

Well, the bad news: the baptism of this wonderful family that had been
marked for the 26th of this month fell through. Good news: they were
baptized last week! Jair, Patricia, Sara and Samuel were baptized and
it was probably the most joyful day of my whole mission. It is such a
rare privelege and opportunity to baptize an entire family. I´m so
happy right now.

It was a fantastic week preparing them for the baptism next week. But
on wednesday night we were on exchanges with ward members and my
companion went with a member to visit the family. They explained a
complication that arose for the 26th and said it wouldn´t work out.
When I found out I was devastated. I´ve seen it happen before when
people are ready to be baptized and something liek this comes up and
the person never ends up getting baptized. All day Thursday I was
fussing and worrying that this might happen. But I should have had
more faith because when we got there they themselves brought up the
idea of remarking the baptism to an earlier date. It all happened on
Saturday the 19th.
The baptismal service was amazing. The ward went nuts with excitement.
Everyone was making cake and snacks to have a little party afterwards.
It´s the first time in a long time that a whole family was baptized
together. I asked the Relief Society President if she could ask just
one person to make a simple cake. But as soon as everyone heard they
went bonkers. There were two cakes and a bunch of other home made
snacks. It was amazing. It was also a really spiritual service. All of
the auxiliary leaders gave a warm welcome to the new family. The kids
are already actively involved in the youth programs. The young women
were making and selling pizzas on Saturday as a fundraiser and Sara
was the one that helped the most. It´s such a great family!

I have prayed my whole mission to have this opportunity to baptize a
complete family and it finally happened. I almost can´t believe it.
It´s such an honor to have been a part of this marvelous work. I feel
like I have learned more with them and been blessed more than they are
being blessed. It´s such a great feeling I am having right now. I want
it to last forever. I got to put my shoulder to the wheel and find
more families!

A lot of other great stuff happened this week too but I feel that if I
go into details it will distract from the awesomeness of this family,
so I won´t. It was one of the greatest weeks of the mission. I love
you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder McLelland

Monday, December 5, 2011

Good News/Bad News (11-28-11)

Bad news #1: Elder Hepworth, one of my former companions, was sent
home hearly for health problems. Before the mission he had an
infection and the antibiotics killed all the bacteria in his body,
even the good bacteria which the digestive system needs. He struggled
with chronic diarrhea on the mission and to top it off the original
infection came back. He was sent home and if he wants he can maybe
finish his mission time in the States. Bummer.

Bad news #2: Elder Mariano was also sent home because of his age. He
got lucky to be able to do a short term mission for a year. But One of
the Seventies decided it was best for him to go home and establish
himself in a career and get married. So he only had 6 weeks on the
mission but ahd the honor of baptizing a complete family. I joked with
him that he served as if it was a full time mission, he baptized a
family and wore out a pair of shoes. This makes three companions of
mine that had to go home early. They are dropping like flies.

Good News #1: I stayed in Cidade Jardim again. I feel like I live here
now. But it´s so exciting to be working with this family we baptized.
My new companion is going to be Elder Castro. I haven´t met him yet.
He should be getting here later this afternoon.

Bad News #3: We will be companions for only two weeks.


Good News #2: In two weeks I am going to be training again. But this
time it will be an African!!! They are a few coming from Mozambique. I
get to have yet another son. I´m so excited to have this opportunity.
They speak Portuguese there in Mozambique but the accent and stuff is
going to be way different. I´m eager to learn about his culture. Elder
Castro is also going to train an African. I´m not sure if he will end
up staying in Cidade Jardim and I get transferred to train somewhere
else. I have a feeling that this might happen. It will be good to show
Castro around the area before it happens. But we will see in two

The family we baptized is super excited about the Church. They are
worried about opposition that will likely come from extended family.
Their relatives are all very strong in Evangelical churches and will
most likely criticize them for it. But Jair was telling us that he has
been praying lately to know what to do. He had a spiritual impression
that really helped him a lot. He just started feeling really good and
thinking, ``why am I ashamed? I´m in the right Church, why should the
things they say affect me?`` I shared Romans 1:16 ``For I am not
ashamed of the Gospel of Christ...`` I love this family so much. They
are already so Mormon. They are giving us referrals and are already
super involved in the ward activities. I love the mission. We have
some more good prospects for baptisms soon too. We are teaching some
good individuals. I am really hoping to find more families though.

I was on division with Elder Farrington on Thanksgiving Day. We were a
little trunky. Thanksgiving isn´t celebrated here. I sure missed the
Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, even the broccoli casserole. But we
taught a cool lesson to recent converts in his area. We explained the
concept of Thanksgiving to them and asked them to share what they are
thankful for. They were baptized a few months ago and it basically
turned into a testimony meeting. they are going through a bunch of
trials right now and it is amazing to see how the Gospel is helping
them so far. If this stuff had happened before joing the Church I
don´t think they would be holding together as a family. It was really
nice. Elder Farrington shared a cool thing a seminary teacher he had
did for Thanksgiving. He gave each class member a hard candy and told
them that when they kneel down to pray Thanksgiving night that they
should start sucking on candy and keep praying until the candy goes
dissolves. But they could only give thanks in the prayer. I really
liked the idea. I´m going to use it in the future.

Well It´s been a great week and I hope you all have a great one too. I
love you all so much. I´ll let you know about the Christmas call soon!

Elder McLelland