"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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On the Mend

Sister Mackay,

Just a quick note...I was on my way to bed and decided to see if I had any messages...I hadn't been at the computer since I emailed this morning.

Elder Cain called me this afternoon and said that Elder Mackay and Elder Hodges were on their way home (yay! He is out of the hospital!). I will not disturb them tonight; I want them to rest...it is so important right now.

This part of your email warmed my heart: "He is an amazing young man. I hope he is able to overcome these obstacles so the people of Manaus and his companions can get to know the Taylor we all love back in the states." That is great!!! Elder Mackay is a wonderful young man and has a special place in my heart. Not only because he is just great by nature, but also, he was the first North American missionary to come into the field after we arrived to the mission in late June/early July. The other missionaries that came to Manaus were Brasilian. I had a special 'tie' with Elder Mackay because he and I were learning Portuguese together...I entered the MTC in Provo on June 9 to have just 2 weeks of language training before the New Mission Presidents Seminar. I think Elder Mackay went into the CTM in São Paulo the Wednesday a week after that (the 18th). Elder Mackay is doing well in Portuguese...he had more training in the CTM and he also has the advantage of being around the people and being forced to speak the language than I do.

Well, that quick note ended up a bit longer. Elder Mackay is "on the mend" now! Yay! He has been in our prayers very often, and will continue to be! I will add a few prayers on your behalf, too!

Sister Jayme

Good News from Manaus!

Dear Sister Linda Mackay,

Hello! I have good news! I just talked to Elder Mackay on the phone (10:30 am, our time) and he is doing better; so much better that they are allowing him to go home today! His platelets are up; his blood pressure is good; his headache is better. He is looking forward to resting at home (you probably could agree that there is not much rest in the hospital with staff coming in, poking and prodding all the time). He is a bit weak and tired, but that is to be expected. I think he is over the worst part and is on the road to recovery.

Oh, how I can relate to how you must feel! We have 3 sons that served missions: 1 stateside, and 2 in Argentina. It is a real test of faith to send them off and hope that they will be cared for. The Lord knows who they are; their mission presidents are very much aware, and their companions are much like brothers. I see the love that Elder Hodges and Elder Cain have for Elder Mackay. It is beautiful. I can imagine that someday Elder Hodges from Idaho, Elder Cain from Utah, and Elder Mackay from California just may get together sometime...at BYU or BYU-I or General Conference.

Enjoy your day! We are celebrating Elder Mackay's release from the hospital!

Sister Donna Jayme
Brazil Manaus Mission

Reassuring a Worried Mother (1/28/09)

Sister Mackay - Thank you for your response and for your loving concern for your son. We will do our best to provide that hug, although I am sure that we will be a distant second to a mother's hugs. When our sons were serving their missions, we were often unaware of their health problems until after they were resolved (or until they returned home and told us the horror stories). With the marvels of communication technology, I hope that we are not doing a disservice through advising you of these issues. It must truly be frustrating to be so distant while someone that you love is ill. Please trust that we are doing our best to understand a reasonably complex series of health challenges that your son has experienced and, like you, we also yearn for the day when he will have overcome these issues and can let his light shine forth.

Kind regards,
President Jayme

Update on Elder Mackay (1/28/09)

Dear Brother and Sister Mackay -

As an update regarding Elder Mackay's health situation: My wife and I visited him in the Adventist Hospital yesterday evening. He had experienced some fever and chills, so we encouraged him to go to the hospital for some evaluation.

He was admitted with dengue fever and with proper care his temperature and other physiological parameters are returning to normal. Since we are located in the Amazon rain forest, we are exposed to certain diseases that are not common elsewhere, so there are many misconceptions regarding their severity. Since we arrived in Brazil in late June, we have had six missionaries with confirmed cases of dengue fever. It is a hemorrhagic virus transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. During the summer months (rainy season), these mosquitoes can breed more readily in standing water and become more of a threat. He had the windows closed in his apartment and used air conditioning at night, but now understands that this particular type of mosquito is most prevalent during the daytime and will use the insect repellent that we provide regularly to all missionaries.

He is currently still in the hospital. His fever and blood pressure are resolved and the hospital is waiting for his platelet count to reach normal levels. Typical course for dengue fever is about a week and he is about halfway through that time - only entered the hospital yesterday but experienced early symptoms Saturday/Sunday. His release depends upon platelet rebound but should be within the week. I have not seen test results personally, but a physician confirmed the test results with Elder Mackay and Elder Hodges and Elder Cain, who were with him at the time.

This illness has interrupted temporarily immediate thoughts of receiving hernia surgery. When I first met with Elder Mackay last night, his attitude was quite negative regarding the hospital, level of care, etc. We talked frankly about his condition and the apparent reality that his attitude may contribute to the pain associated with his illness, particularly in regard to the elevated blood pressure that was causing his headaches. We discussed the epinephrine-associated fight-or-flight response, the results of his anxiety on blood pressure, headaches, pain and other responses, and some suggestions for breaking the cycle through relaxation breathing and other techniques.

I will follow up with him. It is likely that, owing to his hospitalization, he will be unable to send his normal weekly message to you. When you get a chance to communicate with him, please provide your assessment of his attitude. We want to do everything possible to support his recovery: so much of that recovery depends upon his positive attitude.

Kind regards,
President Jayme

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Elder Mackay's Cool Souvenir
From manaus mission
Elder Hodges and Elder Mackay Enjoying Chocolate Milk After Donating Blood
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay Showing the View of the City of God
From Taylor Mission Pics


Hello Family and Friends,

This week was interesting to say the least with something eventful happening nearly every day. It started off last Wednesday when we took a ride to the center for our P-day activity. While we were there, I purchased a really cool jaguar and river scene carved out of wood from a native art exhibit. The main purpose of the trip was fulfilled later in the day when we went to a blood bank to donate blood in behalf of a member in our ward who is having a tumor removed. I've never seen a needle so large in my life! Following our donation, they rewarded us with chocolate milk and bread. Yum! The next day, Thursday, Elder Hodges and I were walking in the rain on a slippery moss covered trail and my feet slipped out from under me and I slammed down fairly hard on my back, knocking the wind out of me and bruising my back pretty good, but like good missionaries, we continued on and finished the day. On Saturday, I went to the doctor and found out that I have an abdominal hernia (not related to the fall) that needs to be operated on...go figure. At least I now know the source of my pain. Anyway, Sunday was a little bit of a bummer because it rained so hard that only two investigators came with us to church and many active ward members were even absent. The weather lately has been unusually hot but at the same time really rainy. Monday brought new meaning to Amazon excitement when there was a little scuffle on our street resulting in shots being fired and a guy fleeing on a motorcycle. I'm glad our house is surrounded by barbed wire, making it one of the most secure homes in the neighborhood. Fortunately, the crime isn't too bad in our area...at least we have never had any problems. Don't worry...I'm staying safe.

Teaching continues to go pretty well. Currently, our focus is on weddings since we are teaching four unmarried couples. We were able to successfully get Ivanildo and Fracinete to kick cigarettes and alcohol and now they will be getting married along with Marcos and Aldaiese. I am beginning to see a trend in that marriage isn't a priority here, but Elder Hodges and I are addressing the problem. We are also helping a man named Jonas get back on his feet. He was selling his family's food in order to buy drugs. Osmildo, the man we are reactivating, is doing really well, but unfortunately, he was among those absent from church last Sunday due to the downpour of rain. So far so good, though. Things are picking up for us and we have several baptisms scheduled for February, so it should be a really good month for us as long as all the documents are approved for the couples to be married.

As for the construction of the Manaus Temple, it is still as it was back in June. The Church is waiting for a few more Stakes to be established in Manaus before they begin construction. At this point, I doubt it will be completed, let alone dedicated, before my mission ends.

I received some great news from Elder Rocha, my previous companion in Compensa. He informed me that an elderly lady who we were teaching has decided to get baptized. She thought I looked exactly like Jesus...I'm thinking not, but that might have helped with the conversion. Who knows?

The members in this area aren't quite as good about feeding the missionaries as they were in Compensa, but we get by. On average, we get two invites a week. The fresh fruit drinks provided to us are nice, though. Some of the juices we've had are: graviola, sugar cane, mango, cashew, banana, pineapple, guava, apple, cupuaçu, and açaí. Manaus has a greater variety of fruit than anywhere else in the world. Manaus also abounds in pizzerias, but unfortunately, their pizza does not compare to home. Their specialty: making bad pizza with no sauce.

I have a few cool pictures of our donation experience that I was hoping to send this week, but the computer is not cooperating...I can't even open the files. Hopefully, I'll have better luck next week.

Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Elder Mackay at His First Baptism with Elder Hodges in Cidade de Deus - Jardim Botânico
From manaus mission

Elder Mackay and Elder Hodges Dining at McDonald's
From manaus mission

Did Somebody Say McDonald's?

Hello Family and Friends,

It was another nice week in Cidade de Deus - Jardim Botânico. We are well into the wet season in the Amazon. It rained a lot this past week leaving my pants and shoes covered in white and red mud. In order to get to our appointments, we take a lot of dirt trails and very few roads. Our area is one of the largest in the mission, so we cover quite a bit of ground each day. It is also full of hills, so I'm keeping in pretty good shape. Currently, we are teaching mainly from referrals and the people seem to be very receptive to our message.

Good things are happening through our work, much of which is occurring very quickly...changes I never expected to see. We started talking about two weeks ago with a man who had lost his way from the Church by way of drugs and alcohol. Within a little over a week, we helped him find a job and he has since ditched his bad habits. Each day we see him, it seems like he's more and more sober. He even paid tithing last Sunday without anyone prompting him to do so. We have eight investigators who have set dates for baptism over the next three weeks with a chance for more if they all come through. We are currently teaching: Kleive, Valéria, Erika, family of Jonas, Stéfani, Evanaldo, Ivanildo, Fracinete, Diego, Pedro, Nira...the list goes on.

The whole jungle trip that we were going to do last week got canceled. It was probably a good thing since some people informed us that the government places military guards throughout the jungle to keep people out and to preserve the wildlife. It may not seem like a big deal, but unfortunately, they shoot first and ask questions later. If you are lucky, you are caught and thrown in jail from one to three years. Another thing that prevented our excursion was the rain. It poured all day, much like it is right now. Today we are taking a trip to the center to go collect some native knick-knacks, which is always interesting.

Besides the people, one of the things I am enjoying about this area is the fresh juice people serve to the missionaries rather than just soda like in Compensa. I'm definitely grateful for that. Oh yeah...last Thursday we went to the hospital for a few of my appointments and afterward Elder Hodges and I stopped by the only McDonald's in the entire city of Manaus. It was delicious and for the first time I was thankful for the invention of fast food.

The English classes continue to go well. At the end of each class, I teach things that they should know before traveling to the United States. Last night's phrase was, "I'm not paying for this." That about sums it up for this week. Hopefully, I'll have some more positive news to share in my next email. Thank you all for your support. I appreciate it more than you know.

Um abraço,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Week Two in the Botanical Garden

Well, things are slowly getting a little bit better. The new area is great and the members here are really helpful...even more so than those in Compensa. Just to give everyone an idea of what this area is like, it is an exact replica of the Battlefield Vietnam computer game. It is a lot more humid here since there is a lot more greenery, but the one positive thing is that one room of our house has A/C...a rare treat. My new house is much nicer than the one in Compensa, too. It actually has a kitchen with a chandelier and one bedroom, which all four missionaries share. It also has a washing machine, but we have to manually get the water from a well in the back. Something that is pretty cool about Cidade de Deus is there are often wild parrots and macaws flocking over the neighborhood. If anyone wants to see my area on Googlemaps, look up: Rua Internacional, Cidade Nova, Manaus, Brazil.

Today, if it ever stops raining, the district is making a trip into the jungle. This isn't just a little joke trip...we are actually going into the uncharted part and taking some raw chicken with us to bait out alligators and snakes. It should make for an interesting experience.

This past week, we had three baptisms and we have two more marked for the future. I am positive that number will continue to increase as we help a few couples get married, and of course, afterward baptized. We had fourteen investigators come to church last week, which is always a good sign.

We teach English classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 8 p.m. in the church building. We cover just the basics, but like in all things, some people come to learn and others come to only socialize. I think I should be back to good health in about a week or so. Thanks for the support.

-Elder Taylor Mackay

Friday, January 2, 2009

Transfer...Last Minute Goodbyes with Marianice and Family
From Taylor Mission Pics

Saying Farewell to Eneda and Family
From Taylor Mission Pics

I've Been Transferred (12/31/08)

Elder Mackay's letter home this week was very short. He has been extremely ill since Christmas Eve, so he didn't have much to write home about. To make a long story short, he was rushed to the Emergency Room (Brazilian equivalent) on Christmas Eve with numbness in both his hands and face. Due to his high temperature as well as other symptoms, the doctors initially thought he had malaria and/or dengue fever. As you can imagine, our conversation with him on Christmas Day wasn't what we had hoped. Fortunately, all test results came back negative the following day, but he is still quite ill.

The following is a brief description of the highlight of his week:

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers...I appreciate it. By the way, I was transferred to Cidade de Deus (City of God) in the northeast corner of the North Zone. The area I am specifically in is called Jardim Botânico 2 (Botanical Garden). All four missionaries in the house are Americans. It is really, really green and has tons of jungle. We take trails in the forest to get to appointments. Besides missionary work, we teach an English class, which is great. Our house has A/C and the people here are a little more native looking. It is even more humid than my previous area and there are a lot of little onion farmers.

Elder Mackay

Update (12/26/08)

We received an email from President Jayme informing us that all of Elder Mackay's test results came back negative. He is still running a temperature, but the President assured us that he is resting comfortably.

Christmas Call (12/25/08)

We called Elder Mackay bright and early Christmas Day (7 a.m. our time—11 a.m. his time). From the get go, our conversation wasn't what we had hoped it would be. Elder Mackay informed us that he was very ill. He had been rushed from the Mission Christmas Conference to the Emergency Room (Brazilian equivalent) with numbness in both his hands and face. Due to his numbness, high temperature, and other symptoms, the doctors indicated he may have malaria and/or dengue fever. As one might imagine, we became extremely concerned for his health. He informed us that he would get the results of his tests on Friday (Dec. 26th). What a great way to spent Christmas, right? He sounded very miserable and despondent.

The good news he mentioned was that he and Elder Rocha would be spending one last transfer together. Since this is Elder Rocha's last transfer before going home, President Jayme asked him where he would like to serve and who he would like to serve with. He responded Compensa with Elder Mackay. Elder Mackay was honored to be chosen to serve with Elder Rocha one last time. They are a great duo and have worked extremely well together with much success. Besides having their usual meal at Marianice's home, they were going to reduce their schedule, so Elder Mackay could get some rest. If he was feeling better, they may keep an appointment that they had scheduled for later in the evening. After three times of the line going dead, we concluded our conversation with him. It was very difficult saying, "Goodbye." Mother's Day can't come soon enough.