"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, February 25, 2009


Hello Family and Friends,

Did someone say it was Carnival in Brazil? Apparently, they didn't get the message here in Cidade de Deus. Not too much happened in my neck of the woods by way of celebrations. The only thing I noticed in my area was that one day the men dressed up as women and the women dressed up as men. It was interesting to say the least, as well as a little confusing. Other than that, the majority of the festivities took place in Manaus itself. The worst part of Carnival is that it makes teaching quite difficult. Nobody really stays home in the neighborhood. Instead, the majority of the population goes to where the action is and parties for five days (Saturday through Wednesday).

Elder Hodges and I had a very unique experience this week. We fulfilled the promise of a previous missionary to go to church with a member's mom. The church we went to was the International Pentecostal Church. It was very different...unlike anything I have ever attended. It consisted of drums, keyboards, and loud singing. The pastor eventually spoke, but it was hard to hear him since our ears were ringing. Surprisingly, they were very hospitable and greeted us kindly. They even invited us to come back next week...but the promise was fulfilled so that won't be necessary.

Every week it seems like we are starting all over again with regards to missionary work because most of the people we have been teaching just aren't dedicated enough to commit to baptism. We are currently working with a lot of new families. One of which, the father, is helping to build the new chapel for the Church. I'm pretty excited about the chapel...it looks like it is going to be really nice. We did have a few baptisms marked for this weekend, but they won't be happening now that they traveled to Maués last weekend. Although it seems that everything is falling apart, the future holds the possibility of success and, of course, hope.

-Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We Made a Missionary

Dear Family and Friends,

Esta semana was really sunny (in addition to the usual hot and humid weather in which I've grown accustomed). For the first time in almost a year, I think my nose got burned a little bit. Even with the sun, the trails in our area remain pretty muddy, which is making it difficult to get around quickly because one wrong step could cause you to slide down the hill and into a pit of water full of anacondas or jacaré (alligator).

The past week we had been making plans to explore Jardim Botânico with a guide, but of course, they decided to shut down the trails during Carnival. We were, however, allowed to walk around on the concrete and visit the little garden, which was nice. Unfortunately, it was a two mile walk there and back only to find out the trails were closed. My zone also played futebol again today from 6 a.m.-7:45 a.m., which was a lot of fun. The mission has restricted sports to just P-days, so the rest of the week our workouts are limited to the house or running.

Elder Hodges and I are having quite an interesting experience right now where a man (who is married to a member) has been taught over the course of a decade but refuses to be baptized because he is afraid he will afastar (fall away). It's a rough situation, but we have started to turn him into a missionary and he is giving us references and teaching these people as if he were a solid member. Other than that, we marked two more baptisms for the 28th, which are not super solid because we still have to get them married. In Amazonas, it seems like marriage isn't something that takes priority or holds much importance.

Our district has been renamed due to some huge changes in the way the mission functions...it is now Canaranas. As for an update on food, I tried liver this past week, which was horrible. As you chew it, it turns into a nasty, dry paste in your mouth. Yuck!

Até mais,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Raw Alligator Meat
From Taylor Mission Pics

Alligator...Bon Appétit!
From Taylor Mission Pics


Well...another week here in Cidade de Deus has passed. I apologize for this email being a bit on the short side. I attempted to send a letter earlier this morning, but there was a problem at the Internet house, so my time is limited.

As for an update on our investigators, we were very disappointed with their lack of personal drive to attend church the last few weeks, so we had no choice but to cut them and start fresh all over again. For those of you who have served missions, you know the frustration that accompanies having to drop an investigator, but unfortunately, it isn't all that uncommon. From now on, Elder Hodges and I will be focusing mainly on references and teaching family members of members, so our investigators will have an automatic line of support.

We played futebol (the equivalent of American soccer) as a district this morning on an indoor court located on the third floor of the church building. Within an hour of playing, everyone was completely soaked due to the humidity, but we kept playing anyway. It was a lot of fun. Of course, I scored the most goals and was the last to tire (T-MAC is back!!!).

I have been noticing more and more fruit on the trees lately...especially bananas. There are a few different fruits this season as well...the most popular being cupuaçu. Cupuaçu fruits are oblong, brown, and fuzzy. They are about 8 inches long, 2–4 lbs. in weight, and covered with a thick, hard outer skin. It is known for its creamy, exotic-tasting pulp, which is used to make fresh juice, ice cream, jam, and tarts.

Our lunch of alligator last P-day was delicious...much better than the alligator we had in the Brazilian restaurant back at home. It was caught by one of our investigators in the interior of the jungle. It was 4 meters in length and had to be shot several times and beaten before it eventually was killed (at least that is what we were told). I also tried pirarucu (a type of fish) and it was pretty good. It is a bit on the expensive side, so I don't imagine I will have it too often.

Our newest addition to the house is Elder Portes. He took Elder Cain's place and is companions with Elder Morris (ZL). He is from Rio Grande do Sul.

I wish I had pictures to share this week, but to be honest, the mission is really strict about us going out in public with our cameras because they don't want us to look like tourists or run the risk of being robbed at knife or gunpoint. Hopefully, I will be able to take a picture of our English class later this week, so everyone can see our students. The classes are going well and are bringing in a lot of nonmembers. It is a great missionary tool.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Elder Mackay and Elder Morris (ZL) at the Couple's Wedding and Baptism
From manaus mission

My Life Being Sick

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry for not being able to write last week, but I was sitting in a hospital bed hooked up to an IV. It seems like I've hit a rough streak with my health. Before I say too much more on the subject, you don't want to get dengue fever...it might be one of the worst feelings in the world. Besides a constant fever of 104, your head feels like it's going to explode. It is also known as breakbone fever or bone-crusher disease. Considering what I endured, it is appropriately named. For those of you who are unfamiliar with dengue fever, it is a hemorrhagic disease transmitted by a mosquito infected with the virus that only feeds during the day. What luck! I was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday and stayed there for 48 hours until my temperature and blood platelets returned to normal. Unfortunately, there isn't a cure for dengue, so I just had to ride it out. I've been keeping count, and in the past month, 23 needles have gone into my arm and at least an equal number of injections have been given to keep the fever and stomach pain under control and most importantly...keep me alive! The worst part of the whole experience was the fact that the one pain killer that could offer me any relief is banned by the mission, so I spent most of my time hunched over in a chair trying not to pass out from the pain. Anyway, I'm almost back to full health. It's still a little hard to walk, but we're back out teaching.

The one thing I did learn out of the whole dengue experience is that I am good at Connect 4. Elder Hodges brought it to the hospital to help pass the time. Even though I wasn't all there, I was destroying the game...even connecting 5 for a few wins and winning within a matter of 4 to 6 moves (haha).

My experience in the hospital wasn't all that favorable, so I have indefinitely postponed my hernia surgery. The hospitals are dirty and very unorganized, so I don't feel too confident about having the surgery in Manaus. On top of that, the staff was not very impressive for lack of a better term. Hopefully, it can wait until I get back home.

As for our investigators, it appears that some have slowed down with their progression and are still battling with cigarettes, while others who we thought would take a while to progress had some experiences occur in their lives that really turned them around. Elder Cain and Elder Morris had 6 baptisms this last week, which was awesome. We have had a lot of splits, so I had the opportunity to teach 3 of these individuals and watch them progress. It was a great experience. There was even a wedding before the baptisms...the groom had 2 broken arms, so we had to tape trash bags around his arms prior to baptizing him.

Lastly, we just had transfers and I'm staying with Elder Hodges in Cidade de Deus in Jardim Botânico 2, but Elder Cain was sent to Tefé, which is way in the interior. It continues to be hot regardless of the rainy and cloudy conditions outside, but that's life in the Amazon. For lunch, Elder Hodges and I will be having jacaré (alligator). I hope it tastes as good as it did the first time.

Sorry if I've been slow with the letters, I've been really sick lately and have been at the hospital quite a bit. And now for the secret code phrase of my letter: I love peanut butter...you know who you are. Thanks for all the support...I'm still alive.

Um abraço,
Elder Mackay