Monday, January 30, 2012

Torta na Cara

Well, it was nice to finally have a more normal week. The past month or so has been nuts with emergency transfers and getting new companions/trainees. This week was a normal week though, just me and Elder Mateus working in the area. I miss Elder Anderson and Elder Montero. It was some fun experiences with all four of us. Anderson and Montero are now in different areas. The work this week went well too. Last week I had talked about how we needed to let go of a bunch of investigators that weren´t progressing, so this week was focused on finding and we had quite a bit of success. We have some more promising prospects now.
Wednesday we had a ward activity entitled ``Torta na Cara´´, or ``Pie in the Face´´.  It was set up kind of like Family Feud. One person from each team would go up to answer a question and the quickest to respond wins. But if you respond incorrectly your oponent gets to pie you in the face. If you answer correctly you pie your opponent in the face. I unfortunately got pied in the face because I had never heard of Mount Vesuvius. My companion got to pie our Relief Soceity President in the face...I´m worried about our next lunch at her house!
Sacrament meeting was a fun expereince yesterday. So on Wednesday night when we had the ward activity the bishop saw a random drunk man stumbling around the front gate afterwards and invited him to come to our meetings on Sunday. He showed up! He was drunk and talked a lot but I think he liked it. Drunk men sure are willing to try out singing the hymns too. It was really funny to hear him slurring all the words, but he did manage to carry the tune. Better than most of the members actually. I think I´m becoming tone deaf here on the mission. Many missionaries who didn´t care much for singing come back from the mission liking to sing hymns. I, on the other hand, am losing the capability to sing the bass/tenor lines. It´s really kind of sad sometimes to hear the congregation singing so off pitch.
It´s beena great week and I hope you all have a fantastic one this week!
Elder McLelland

Monday, January 23, 2012

La Cucaracha! 1-23-12

Well, to explain the title, we have had yet another temporary campanin with us for the last couple of days. Elder Montero from Bolivia. He just got here on the mission last Friday and he stayed with us for a few days until his official companion and area are decided. I was the senior companion of three missionaries with less than a month´s time! But it´s been super fun. he leaves us tomorrow. And it looks as if Elder Anderson will also leave us tomorrow. I´m bummed to be losing them. It´s been so much fun with all of us together. Elder Montero is absolutely hilarious. It´s funny to listen to his ``Portunhol´´, a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. He has helped me remember a lot of the Spanish I had learned. He also gave me a Book of Mormon in Spanish and it´s amazing that I can understand almost everything because of Portuguese and the little bit of Spanish I learned in high school. He also taught me all the words to ``La Cucaracha´´. I´m really sad that he´s leaving tomorrow. It´s constant laughs with him around.
This weekend was fantastic. I got to shake the hands of Elder Ballard and Elder Andersen, and several Seventies: Elder Jay E. Jensen, Elder Claudio R. M. Costa and Elder Jairo Mazzagardi. We had a special training with all five of them on Saturday morning and it was marvelous. The part I liked most was Elder Andersen talking about the difference between testimony and conversion. He told us about how easy is it for Brazilians to gain a testimony of the gospel and decide to be baptized, but the biggest challenge of Brazil is helping them have a true conversion. A conversion goes beyond just believing it to be true but truly changing your heart and dedicating yourself to the Lord. And Ballard´s theme was ``you have to be really good´´. He told us that we are going to be convincing catholics that were born catholics and are catholics but don´t even know why they are catholics but plan on dying catholics that they need the restored gospel. It´s a big challenge so we ``have to be really good´´, right from the very first moment with the person. As soon as they open the door they need to feel a difference. I really enjoyed the training. Sunday was also amazing because Elder Ballard and Elder Costa did a special stake conference in the stake I am in. It was such a marvelous spiritual experience. It almost didn´t feel real that I was in the same sacrament room as Elder Ballard.
The week has been great. Our work was rather stressful. Our investigators don´t want to progress much so we need to clean up the teaching pool and start over with new investigators. But there are still several that are progressing. I love this area. I´m really going to miss Elder Anderson and Elder Montero. I hope you all have a great week!
Elder McLelland

Posterity 1-9-12

Well, Preident just likes to keep throwing curve balls at me. I already hold the record on the mission for having trained four times. And tomorrow starts the fifth. But here's the curve ball: I'm going to continue training Elder Mateus and will also train et another newbie in a threesome. What is my president up to? But it should be an exciting experience. This threesome situation is temporary, it might last only a couple of weeks. I have no idea what the future holds for me. I'm so confused!

The week was pretty tough in terms of getting lessons taught. We struggled to find people at home. We have so much help from ward members here. There are several ward missionaries that are willingly to go with us to make visits so we are constantly accompanied by members. But everything fell through for three days straight. It was really frustrating. Also the weather doesn't want to cooperate. It has been super hot up until about 4-5 o'clock and then it dumps rain. It's nice that the rain really cools every down but it's no fun to work in the rain. It seems like less people let us in while it's raining. Bummer.

I sat here for a couple of minutes trying to think of other news to share forgetting the most exciting of all! There are 2 apostles coming to the mission next weekend. Elders Andersen and Ballard are coming to Ribeiro Preto! We are going to have another mission conference on the 21st and the stake I'm in will have a special conference with Elder Ballard on the 22nd. (Andersen will preside at the other stake here in the city). I can't wait to meet them, and better yet, learn from them.

I'm currently starting the book of Mosiah in The Book of Mormon. Last week I was reading the ``little books". It's quite amazing how those writers essencially wrote nothing yet wrote so much. I noticed how each of the books talked about the preservation of the Book of Mormon. Those records were so dear to them. I find myself asking, ``do I value them as much as I should. Scripture study is the greatest part of the mission.

Well I hope you all have a great week. I love you all so much.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012....Hard to believe (1-2-12)

Once again to all, Feliz Ano Novo! It´s quite hard to believe that 2011 has already passed. It was my only complete year on the mission. Kind of wierd to think huh? I really can´t believe it. But at the same it´s not being hard to accept. New Year´s Eve is nuts here in Brasil. I´ve never seen so many drugs, alcohol and partying in my life. Right in public on the streets too! But we were safe and happy at the bishops house eating churrasco (BBQ)´. It was pretty fun. Plus it´s been raining since Saturday morning. It put a big damper on the customary fireworks. But there was still a ton of fireworks and soooo much noise. I finally got to sleep about 3 in the morning because of the noise.

The work is also going really well in the area. It really is a great area to work in. Until Friday we hadn´t found many new investigators. All of our plans to find ended up leading to less actives to teach. Which is great, I love to work with less actives but we were also desperate for investigators. But Friday was pretty miraculous. I spent all of my personal study studying and praying about the Area Book ( the record of all the people taught in the area) and selected various families for us to visit. Interestingly we didn´t find any of them at home on Friday. But, the next door neighbors of all these people were prompt and ready to hear the message. The day resulted in 7 new investigators (the normal finding of a whole week´s worth of work). It was a great testimony builder. This ward is also great at giving referrals. To all of you members: Give more referrals! It can be anyone, even if they don´t seem ready yet to accept the gospel.

I´m worried about transfers next week. It will be a normal transfer day. All logic says that neither of us will be transferred, buuuut the way things have been going, who knows? I really hope to stay. The companion and area are great. What more can you ask for?

I hope you all have a great week. I love you all so much. Have a great 2012!

Elder McLelland

Feliz Natal e Ano Novo (12-26-11)

Well it´s been quite a long week. Christmas was great, even though I didn´t know anyone in my new area. Last week´s email had the update about my new area in São José do Rio Preto. Well, it already moved again. I am now in Ribeirão Preto again, the main city of my mission. An American got his visa and was able to make it into the mission. To find a place for him to work mixed up a bunch of companionships so I am now here in Ribeirão Preto. But my companion is still Elder Mateus.
Christmas Eve is the major part of Chirstmas celebration here in Brazil. We spent the night at the bishop´s house. We had a turkey and ham dinner, which was delicious. It was the first time I had eaten ham on the mission. It was a pretty fun night. The mission president authorized us to stay out until midnight as long a member took us home by car. It was pretty fun and was also great to establish a good relationship with the bishop.
Last week we had a mission wide conference to celebrate Christmas. It was fantastic. We watched a movie, had a fantastic lunch, played games and had a really special musical presentation by some of the missionaries. We all heard an awesome announcement that I forgot to talk about in the phone call yesterday. Next month an Apostle is coming to do a mission tour and we will have a mission wide conference again. It´s not confirmed yet which Apostle is coming, but the rumor is that it will be Elder Neil L. Anderson. But to be honest, I don´t care who comes, I´m just excited.
My new area should be really good. It has been known to be the highest baptizing area in the mission. Kind of an intimidating task to come into an area with such a good reputation. It is also infamous for having a lot of ``snakes´´. It has nothing to do with the animal. It´s a code word for girls that flirth with missionaries and don´t leave them alone. It´s so annoying that this kind of stuff happens. They don´t even realize how much they are impeding the Lord´s work from progressing even further. But it won´t be any problem. I´ve never had a problem with a ``snake´´ because the way I act around girls makes it very clear that I´m not interested in any of that. To the young women who will read this: don´t be snakes!
Well, I guess that about sums it up. It was a fantastic Christmas and it was especially great to be able to use Skype to talk with the family. I hope it was a great Christmas for all of you as well. I love you all so much.
Happy New Year!
Elder McLelland