"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."-Isaiah 40:31

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Elder Mackay at One of His Most Recent Baptisms
From manaus mission


Hello to all and a Happy Thanksgiving! All is well here in Manaus. The rainy season has officially begun and it seems like all it does is rain. It is a season true to its name. Just in case you are wondering, they do not have "Turkey Day" here for obvious reasons...it's not the United States of America.

This was a good week. Nothing too different happened except for some serious street flooding, which is amazing to watch happen. Yesterday, we were walking around our area and it started pouring all of a sudden, so we took shelter under a tree. Within minutes, there was a river flowing in the street about half a foot deep the full width across.

This was a cool week for the Church here because it was Stake Conference. However, it is not exactly the same as it is back home. It was a broadcast that went out to only three areas: Manaus, Fortaleza, and Brasilia. Elder Christopherson and President Eyring spoke along with Sister Julie Beck. It was interesting. They all spoke very broken Portuguese except for President Eyring who chose to speak English, which I didn't mind at all.

As far as teaching goes, we continue to teach new people every week, but there is a core group that we stick with. In actuality, these people are the only ones progressing. Maricia and Patrick (who are niece and uncle) were baptized last Friday. I know it sounds weird, but it's true...they are only four years apart in age.

Something pretty interesting occurred this week. We heard that the Baptist preacher (who is having his congregation raise money to buy him a car) completely smashed our missionary work here. We have converted approximately five people from his church and it appears that he isn't very happy about it. He said essentially that our entire religion is a big lie and to keep the missionaries away. He warned his congregation to not even talk to us. So, now as we walk down certain streets, everyone runs inside and shuts their door. By the way people flee when they see us, I feel like a bandit walking through a town in a western movie.

On a lighter note, we have two more baptisms marked for the 6th and quite a few investigators still progressing. Rather than being known as the local missionaries, the locals call us out by name and wave hello because we've been in the area so long. It's pretty cool to see majority of the community support our work. Sorry, no wild animal encounters this week, but I hope you enjoy the picture from the last baptisms we had. Elder Cavalcante, the new missionary, is the second from the right. Take care and have a great week.

Elder Taylor Mackay

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's a Jungle Out There!
From manaus mission

Elder Mackay and Elder Rocha with Kennedy and Jennifer at Their Baptism
From manaus mission

I Spy (11/19/08)

Alright...I'm going to get the important things out of the way first. Our district was walking around in a local forest just checking things out (I guess the mentality is if there is a rain forest with a little trail, why not check it out) and out of nowhere it starts pouring buckets of rain. Fortunately, the tree coverage was thick enough that we didn't get hit by the rain, but then I heard it...chirping sounds but not those of a bird. It was some MONKEYS and not the caged kind either but wild monkeys...it was awesome! On another occasion, as we were walking along a road, we encountered flying ants the size of my finger. Little kids were running around catching them with 2L bottles. The people here break off the back half, fry it, and eat it...interesting I guess you could say.

The teaching continues to go well. We continue to clap doors and teach new lessons, but the bulk of our work and teaching comes from references we receive from members and other investigators. So last Saturday, Kennedy and Jennifer (American names but obviously not American) were baptized. They are the children of James, but of course, he couldn't make it to the baptism. On that note, after announcing the occasion in every class at church, a whole lot of nobody showed up to the event! It was pretty sad. The other two baptisms that were supposed to happen last week got rescheduled, one of which is taking place this Friday with the baptism of Patrick, Luana's brother. We are still working on the whole concept of marriage with Daniella, but it just doesn't seem like it's going to work out, so she is taking the other route and considering living on her own for a few months to prepare for her baptism.

Last P-day we went to the Creatures of the Amazon River Reserve, which turned out to be interesting. We got stuck on a bus that went to almost every bairro in Manaus, so it took us over two hours to travel a distance of 20 miles. To make matters worse, the driver blew past the entrance, so we had to hike back only to find it was closed until 2 p.m. for lunch (something which we hadn't yet had). When it finally opened, there was a native lady standing outside the entrance selling animal teeth to gain money for entrance to the reserve. She came up to me and asked for R$2, which I willingly gave her, and then she handed me some bracelet thing including a tooth with some weird writing on it. I just said, "Obrigado," and kept moving. To make a short story short, there were manatees and caiman inside but not a whole lot of anything else.

Everyone here continues to be really nice. They are constantly buying us stuff to eat even if we say we aren't hungry, which is generally the truth. The people remain very respectful and receptive of our message and nobody really tries to mess with us or give us a hard time, which from what I've heard isn't the case in other countries. The Portuguese is going really well. I understand about 99% and speak it pretty well (sufficient enough to get the job done). The weather is starting to switch over to the rainy season, which really makes a mess of things. Nonetheless, all is well here and time is going by faster than I ever thought it would. The attached pictures are of me in the jungle and of the recent baptism of Kennedy and Jennifer. Thanks for all the support.

Com abraço,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Compensa 2 District: Elder Rocha, Elder Spotts, Elder Mackay, and Elder Williams
From manaus mission

Let's Wash Some Clothes

Well, how's everybody doing? This week was full of interesting experiences. I bet right now you're wondering...where is Elder Mackay? It was transfers so he's got to be somewhere new, with a new companion, and speaking a new language of clicks and clacks. Let my words put you at ease...I am still living in the same house, with the same companion, and speaking the same language. So, yesterday the members let us in on a little secret. They were fasting so Elder Rocha and I wouldn't be transferred. At this rate, I might be here for a while. Elder Spotts left the district and we got a Brazilian who is brand new with only three weeks on the mission. The best part of it all was the fact that of all the places Elder Spotts could have been transferred in the mission, he got moved right across the street into Compensa 1. It's kind of a joke if you ask me, but he'll be in the same church building every Sunday, which is cool. I attached the last picture of our district with Elder Spotts (the redhead).

Looks like my birthday will be spent here in Compensa 2. It should be interesting. The members want to throw a massive party for me with a Batman theme, which is pretty cool. Supposedly, they're inviting 60 people (hopefully a joke) with tons of food and guarana, all of which I probably won't eat too much of now that I'm trying to stick to a healthier diet. I got above 160 pounds and realized it isn't fun being normal weight, so I'm trying to get back down into the mid 150's. What's my trick you might ask? Well, I got a killer workout of sit ups, weight lifting, push ups, hopping, and wall sits. I even went out and bought cereal to eat in the mornings, which is a delicacy here.

Anyway, a couple of things occurred this week that made it especially great. For starters, our washing machine broke. That always makes the day when you have to hire a guy, who lives in a hut full of random wires, to come over and fix things. Another interesting occurrence was that we had a cockroach the size of a bar of soap (see picture) fly in the house, so I burned it with aerosol and tossed it in the trash and set it outside. The next day we discovered our trash can was gone. Thinking it was lost forever, we forgot about it. Then out of nowhere, it appeared up on the balcony of the people living across the street. Desiring that justice be served, I went on a top secret mission the next morning and stole it back. The next story is one that Grandma and Grandpa Mackay will appreciate. We had cleaning inspections by the zone leaders this week, which ended up being a hilarious experience. Everything was perfect, with the exception of a few dishes in the sink, so they got tossed in the cabinet. When the zone leader discovered what we had done, he couldn't stop laughing. Needless to say, everything is spotless now.

So, for the good news...I don't know if you remember James, we baptized him a couple weeks ago, but three of his children are getting baptized on Saturday along with another one of Daniella's daughters. The teaching continues to go well and we already have a baptism lined up for the following week. All in all, it was a good and productive transfer and it looks as if the next one will be just as good if not better.

Our Family Home Evening went smoothly this week. I gave a lesson on fé e esperança (faith and hope), which was pretty good and ended with cake and cookies. Probably the most exciting news of all, that will hopefully affect me in the future, is the President of the mission decided to open up new areas and add more missionaries to the interior zones of the Amazon. Awesome! Not so awesome is the weather. It has been ridiculous...extremely hot in the mornings and then at about 3 p.m. the storm of the century rolls in taking out whatever is in its path.

Recently, there were some changes made in our mission regarding missionaries sending emails. The Mission President has asked that all missionaries only send emails to their family on their P-day (my parents will then forward the main email to everyone). All my correspondence to other family members and friends are to be done through handwritten letters. This change only affects missionaries. Family and friends can continue to send emails my way through tmac@myldsmail.net. I'll do my best to send back written letters when I get a chance. I really do appreciate the love and support of everyone back home. Take care.

Um abraço,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Elder Mackay and a Few of His Fans
From manaus mission

Elders Mackay and Rocha at the Baptism of Luana, Marielley, and Elizandra
From manaus mission

As the Clouds Roll In

It was somewhat of a slow week by way of events and in this case words. For starters, we had a few baptisms which went well except for one slight factor. We originally had four baptisms scheduled, but one of them was swayed away by what appeared to be friends and family. I guess all we can do is hope that our influence will make it easier for her to accept in the future. Anyway, this is the last week of the transfer. It is very well possible that next week I will be writing from another LAN house. In my opinion, though, I think not because of the way things work with the new President. He prefers we stay in an area for longer periods of time. If I do stay here, it sounds like I'll be well fed during the holiday season. Everyone loves to give the missionaries food. There are already several individuals who are baking cakes for my birthday, which is exciting even though it's still a month away.

It sounds like the elections were pretty crazy back in the States. The people here would ask me if I knew who was going to win, like I would really know, but I guess they figure as an American we seem to have an answer for everything. I also found it quite interesting that they had a huge party to celebrate the presidential elections with cardboard cut-outs of both Obama and McCain. They are concerned politically a lot more about the United States than it seems the U.S. is about the rest of the world. I guess I am guilty of that as well. I've been here close to five months and still couldn't tell you who the President is here.

The weather has been ridiculous lately. Every day it is crazy hot and sunny until it comes time for our P-day, the one day when the sun might be appreciated but instead it rains all day...I don't get it. It's not too big of a deal, though, since we really can't do anything too different on P-day with the rules and such.

The teaching is going good. People are progressing and it appears that James' family is really interested in learning more, which would be awesome for the family as a whole if they made the same commitment as he did. In my area, the life of a member of the Church compared to those who are not is extremely different. Unfortunately, a lot of it has to do with the lack of laws and lack of obedience to them. You never really appreciate laws until you live someplace where they are basically non-existent, and if they do exist, they aren't enforced like they should be.

This past week I saw something you normally don't see everyday...a guy laid down his motorcycle on the pavement around a turn. Crazy! Something else you don't normally see is me making corn cakes like I did earlier today, which was pretty monumental.

Congratulations to USU Men's and Women's Cross Country teams. It's good to hear that both teams won championships...last time that happened was back in 2006! It seems like ages ago.

Kyle, it sounds like football season is going well. You'll have to let me know which college you end up choosing. If you end up picking Utah State, I've got a decent size list of things to do there. In closing, I'm pretty sure next week will bring much more for me to report. As for the pictures, one is of me with some of the local children and the other is our recent baptism. I hope all is well. Tchau.

Um abraço,
Elder Mackay