"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

Friday, December 19, 2008

400 Meters (12/17/08)

Just like in a lot of things, I'm going to put my mission in running terms. Let's say we are running the 1600m (also known as the mile more or less). Right now I would be completing lap one...beginning lap 2, which in my opinion is the lap where you start realizing your actually racing. So, I guess these next 6 months things will become more of a reality of sorts. Nonetheless, this is the first landmark of my mission, so tonight we will be having a brief 10 minute party for me to burn one of my ties (don't worry...it's already in bad shape and is a cheap one from Wal-Mart).

This was also a landmark week with weird foods. I ate piranha (that fish with the sharp teeth that eats people) and paca (a large rodent similar to the capybara). Surprisingly, both were pretty good, and all in all, I don't think I have gotten sick from any of the food since I have been here. I'm starting to think that the long list of vaccinations was worth it.

This week was another week without baptisms, but in other terms, a week of progress. We have 3 baptisms scheduled for the following Saturday, all of which are some of the strongest investigators we have ever taught (one accepted during the first lesson).

Unfortunately, this week I don't have any pictures, but I know for sure next week will bring quite a few being the Christmas Conference and all...we (our zone) will be putting on a show. Next week is the big call home for Christmas (the first of 4...the last one of which will be right before I come home, so I'll have to let you know what I'd like for dinner).

I'm not predicting the future, but I am almost positive that this will be the last week that Elder Rocha and I will be together. One of us, for sure, is going to be transferred, and even though he has been in the area longer, I'm thinking it will be me. He will likely train one last time, and I'll be sent to a new area, but then again, I could be the one staying...who knows.

I really appreciate the letters, cards and packages (thanks grandma and grandpa and the Robinson family). It really made my day yesterday to get all of them stacked into my arms. For once in my life, I was happy to be uncomfortable carrying things. Everything is still going well here in Compensa. Since I am not sure if I will be sending an email next week, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas...Feliz Natal. Thank you for your support.

Boas Festas,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Elder Mackay's Birthday Party
From manaus mission

Elbenisa and Pâmela Celebrating Their Baptism with Family and Friends
From manaus mission

Maybe Next Week...

Maybe next week...we'll have water. The past few days they decided the entire city of Manaus just doesn't need water, so they essentially cut it off. That means no showers, no washing hands, and no shaving. It's absolutely disgusting since this happens to be one of the hottest, most humid areas in the world. Nonetheless, we have plenty of the important things like drinking water, and best of all, the store next to our house just started importing chocolate soy milk...it's a modern-day miracle!

Monday was my birthday party. I haven't had one like this since I was probably 8. It was Garfield themed with the colors of blue and orange as accents. People showed up one after another until a good 25 people were packed into the little house. They even made a huge cake, which was awesome yet very interesting. I think Marianice, the lady who threw the party, bought fuses for an explosive rather than candles because they lasted about 10 seconds and burned a nice hole into the cake...sparkling all the way down.

Other than that, another neat thing that happened this week was the baptisms of Elbenisa and Pâmela, the wife and step-daughter of James. It was pretty cool seeing the whole family together on Sunday now that they are all members. They have already asked the Bishop if they can feed us, so we'll be eating lunch at their house in less than three weeks.

The weather here has been pretty unusual. Rather than the rainy season like everyone was warning about, there hasn't been a cloud in the sky lately, which is really rare given the fact that we are in the middle of the Amazon and it usually rains at 2 p.m. everyday.

An unfortunate circumstance we find ourselves in as missionaries is the fact that our area is relatively small and we have knocked every street with the exception of one, which we will have completed by the end of this week. After that, it appears referrals will be the bulk of our missionary work, which will make our work even harder. Another problem we seem to be facing here is that some of the other churches are getting a little out of hand. A local Baptist preacher instructed his congregation to always keep a pot of boiling water on the stove just in case the missionaries decide to stop by. They were told to toss it on us (the missionaries) should we arrive at their door. Fortunately, I don't think people are that ignorant to waste gas heating up a pot of water for the rare chance we might clap their door. Nonetheless, the only real response we have received from his followers is that they shut their door and close their windows if they spot us walking down their street.

All in all, it was a decent week. The pictures are from the recent baptism and my party...I'm sure you can figure out which is which. Thanks for all the support.

Um abraço,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Faith, Works, and Power"

From manaus mission

We Know Some People

It was a slow week here in the Amazon but interesting nonetheless. For starters, some of the people here are crazy. We were teaching a guy who is the son of a member...and well, to make a long story short, the first thing he told us is that he does and sells drugs (he had cola, a hallucinogen, still on his finger). At first I thought...I wish I knew that bit of information before I walked into the house...but then I realized he was pretty calm. We shared a brief message and invited him to attend church with his dad. His response was that he couldn't leave the house during the day or someone would try to kill him. To prove his point, he took off his shirt and showed us the bullet wounds and knife scars that should have killed him. He claimed God didn't like what he was doing but that God was always there to protect him (I'm going to go with more sheer luck than divine protection). Anyway, before we left, he asked us if there was anyone bothering us in the neighborhood. My companion mentioned a guy that was always yelling stuff at us (he had done so many drugs that his brain was fried). Then the guy we were teaching asked where he lived, so Elder Rocha described the whereabouts and our "investigator" nodded and agreed that he was a nuisance. He said he would "talk" to him and since that day I haven't seen the crazy guy who shouts at us. I'm thinking he did more than talk to him, but I guess my hands are clean since I never said anything about anyone bothering us (don't worry we aren't going back there any time soon).

To change the tone of the letter real quick, Marianice made some Garfield invitations (probably my least favorite cartoon cat, but the humor of her choice made it all good) and they are having a little get-together with the ward on Monday in honor of my birthday. On Saturday, we have the baptisms of Nivea (Elbenisa) and Pâmela, which completes my first "family." This is probably one of the most anticipated baptisms because the probability of a family staying faithful is much higher than that of an individual person. Yesterday was our Zone Conference, where the President spoke and the assistants did some training exercises with the missionaries to keep us on our toes. The main topic was goals. Everybody set good goals but very few hit them, so rather than have 250 baptisms last month as a mission, we had 210. Don't get me wrong that's an amazing amount of people, but 40 people is also a lot to be missing.

There appears to be a Christmas Conference this month that will totally rock (without the music)...we're talking food and care packages. Anyway, I really appreciate the packages. They really make life a lot easier and thank you to all for the birthday wishes. I feel so old turning 20 on Sunday. It's one of those ages that everyone else hits and you think...oh, that'll never happen to me...I have sooo much time. It's kind of like a mission, though. Growing up it seems like an eternity away...then before you know it, you're sending home weekly letters via email from a LAN house in the middle of the Amazon. Tchau to all and thank you for your support. Have a festive holiday season. If you are somewhere where it snows, feel free to make a snowman.

Um abraço,
Elder Taylor Mackay