"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, June 25, 2009

Elder Rangel's Savage Attack on Elder Mackay
From Taylor Mission Pics

Kennedy Boby and Elder Mackay Say, "One year Down!"
From Taylor Mission Pics

Quadrilha at Festa Junina
From Taylor Mission Pics

Pow Wow at the Mission Office
From Taylor Mission Pics

What...No Candles?
From Taylor Mission Pics

Congratulations, Elder Mackay!
From Taylor Mission Pics


This week wasn't exactly packed full of Jason Bourne combat action or boat tours, but it was quite a nice week. My one year anniversary was great and so was the cake. The staff get-together in honor of my first year in the field was good. We had 100% turn-out (all four of us) and we used twelve matches in place of candles on the cake...one for every completed month thus far. The traditional burning of a shirt has yet to happen, but let me assure you, I'm not going to let a chance like that just pass me by. A lot of the members also had little get-togethers for me, which was really nice. There is still one more party to look forward to that has been postponed until later this week. It will be a great teaching experience along with some delicious chocolate cake. I was having a discussion the other day with Elder Noorda and he said, "I'm not in the best shape that I've ever been in..." In which I immediately responded, "When was the last time you ate cake on a daily basis or had someone at home get mad at you for not eating until you had to smash food down your throat because you're so full?" We are definitely being well taken care of in Manaus and there has yet to be a shortage of food.

Last Friday, I attended Festa Junina, which is celebrated nearly the entire month of June and is a big deal here. They have lots of food and cultural dancing (particularly quadrilha, which is similar to square dancing). It was interesting to watch, but to be honest, I'm not 100% certain the purpose of the holiday. From the looks of my Brazilian business planner, every day seems to be a holiday. It is no wonder everything is a bit behind with respect to technology, education, and transportation. Brazilians love any excuse for a celebration.

One of the big highlights of the week was the race that went down on Saturday between Elder Noorda, Kennedy Boby (the skinny Brazilian), and myself. We woke up at 6:20 a.m., tired as usual, and headed over to the Olympic track to begin the race. Boby took off fast, so I stayed on his hip the first lap to keep him within reach at all times. At the turn, with 200m to go on the 2nd lap, I felt a now or never turn-surge desire, so I kicked outside and got in front right before the bulk of the turn and catapulted myself out. I kept running at a decent pace, nothing like I've done in the past but enough to stay in the lead. Before I knew it, I'm on the 4th lap, and with 200m to go, I lapped Boby and rolled through the finish line victorious and the winner of ice cream! I started my timer and didn't look at my watch after the first 300m but was expecting to see 7:30 or more, for obvious reasons, at the conclusion of the race. Just as I crossed the finish line, I looked down to see my watch advance to 5:45! It was completely unexpected. Later in the day, Boby came by with Indian clothing and we took a few pictures, which got a good laugh out of a lot of people.

As for those we are teaching, we seem to have encountered a setback with a lady named Ana Glaucia because her man is now living with her again. I'm not going to lie, I was a little disappointed when we learned of this unfortunate change in events, but that's life. You win some and you lose some. The next battle for us in this situation will be that of marriage, which isn't exactly high on the Brazilian check-list of things to do in life. Other than that, a couple prospects fell through, but help is on the way. A missionary recently returned home after serving in Campinas and now we can have him and Boby assist us in doing divisions. This is a huge help because it gives us four people to walk the streets of Flores rather than just two. The fact that they are Brazilian is another advantage.

We (the Secretaries of the President) were in charge of the lunch for the Interior Conference, which was held in Alvorada. I got to see a few friends, which was really cool, including Elder Guerrette, the previous Financial Secretary. Being the last to eat, since we were the hosts of the luncheon more or less, Elder Noorda and myself found the only two unoccupied seats and joined President and Sister Jayme at their table. It was pretty funny talking with them. I guess the other missionaries who don't really know them might have some fear of them or something, but being that I talk with President Jayme daily, I really enjoy his company. He always has something witty to say and I get a kick out of it. The conference was a success and afterward we walked back down the stairs to finish our work for the day.

As for other news, we are planning an activity for the ward, but it is still in the developing stages. The lunch appointment in Rio Preto da Eva got rescheduled for this coming Saturday, but I can't wait. It is going to be awesome! I would like to thank everyone for their continued support. Your emails and letters make my day and are greatly appreciated.

Elder Taylor Mackay

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Elder Mackay and Elder Noorda on the Docks of the Rio Negro
From Taylor Mission Pics

Dinner Anyone?
From Taylor Mission Pics

Gabriela and Her Family at Her Baptism
From Taylor Mission Pics

Anyone for a Boat Ride?
From Taylor Mission Pics

The Amazonian Version of the Hungry Caterpillar
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Noorda and Elder Mackay Biding Farewell to a Fellow Missionary
From Taylor Mission Pics

Go Jesus!!!
From Taylor Mission Pics

Life on the Rio Negro
From Taylor Mission Pics

Boats on the Rio Negro
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay, Marcos, and Gustavo Say, "CHEESE!"
From Taylor Mission Pics

From Taylor Mission Pics

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Dear Family and Friends,

Although I am not a 50 year old man, it appears I have hit that "over the hill" mark with regards to my mission and time in Brazil. Each day will now be the last of its kind...a pretty cool feeling. As I type, one year ago I was on a plane to Dallas with a hairless chest and wearing a really nice suit. Things have changed...that suit just got dry-cleaned, but no matter how many chemicals are poured on it, the Amazon stank and aged look will never disappear. Many of my nice, silk ties have since molded and I find myself wearing the ugly ties I never thought I would actually use in order to spare myself from wearing a green, self-contained environment around my neck. I'll return my thoughts to reminiscing later in my letter, but for now, I want to share some experiences I had last week.

If there was one magical experience that was missing after a year in the field, I am convinced it happened last week. It was quite an exciting week with some life-changing experiences. I'll give a brief rundown of the events starting with last P-day. Elder Noorda and I were walking down Travessa dos Franceses to go to the house of Taciara, Kelen, and Sara to share a message and eat since our teaching day just got shot. As we were walking, I remembered a referral we received that required us to cross the street and backtrack a little bit. Not being in a rush, we decided to check it out. After entering the complex, we discovered that no one was home, so we returned once again to our original spot a little disappointed. As we were approaching Taciara's home, I saw a man drive up on a moto. There was a weird scuffle followed by a gunshot and then the man on the moto took off past us. The victim was left stumbling trying to get away. It happened so fast, but we kept our cool. I later found out the guy ended up dying. Thinking back on it, if we hadn't gone back to check out the referral, one of us could have been caught in the crossfire. It was another close call that unfortunately cost one man his life.

On another day, we had to send a package from the port to Tefé. This particular package needed to get there fast, so we had to send it on the supersonic boat that arrives there in 8 hours. Fortunately, for experience purposes, we had to go onto the boat to talk with the captain and pay for shipping. We took advantage of the situation and took a few pictures with Marcos (our taxi driver) and his son Gustavo.

We had a baptism last Saturday, which went really well and ended with Habibs (Arab fast food) and guaraná. With the help of family and friends, Ala Flores continues to grow. Fábio also left this week for his mission in Interlagos, SP, so everyone was a bit more enthusiastic about missionary service. We are currently planning an activity that will hopefully harness that enthusiasm and inspire members to become excited to work as missionaries. We are making a mutirão type activity where members will be called to serve in different "countries" (actually parts of our area) essentially getting references and whatnot to help us expand our teaching pool. Fortunately, we recently encountered a ghetto in our relatively rich area that is promising. The people there are a lot more receptive to the message. It's also a really cool area where all the homes are on stilts.

As for the normal Sunday experience, it was pretty good until the evening when we received a phone call from a family that was having a rough time and asked for us to help them out. A returned missionary, Elder Noorda, and I went to check things out. Out of nowhere, the lady snaps and goes crazy coming at my face with a steak knife. Being the ninja that I am, I grabbed the knife in the blink of an eye as it was coming toward me and shoved it to the side to avoid any serious damage. As if to go for another jab, she pulled back on the knife slicing open my right thumb. The house went silent when everyone realized the crime she had just committed. Rather than yell at her, I just looked at her like...what the heck? As the blood started to surface, her eyes got big and she rushed to get a first-aid kit to clean and treat my wound. Boby just looked at her with a stunned expression on his face and Elder Noorda did a good job of being clueless and somehow missed the entire thing even though he was seated right next to me the whole time. Overall, it could have been a lot worse. Fortunately, I was in tune with the Spirit and was given lightening quick reflexes.

On another occasion, Elder Noorda and I started our big search for a few referrals that we had received. Although we have yet to find the one on R. Marachal Rodon, we had an amazing experience (similar to Trent's story a few weeks ago). As we walked down a street crowded with homes, I had the feeling we needed to knock a door of a large green apartment. We knocked one door of an old man and invited him to church, but I knew he wasn't the person who was meant to be found at that specific moment. There was only one other door on the bottom floor. I clapped and right as my hands hit together, a lady opened the door. Instantly, I knew this was it. We greeted her and I asked how she was and if she was a member of a specific church. She said she was but that they were inactive. I said, "Oh, really...which one?" She responded, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." I asked if we could enter and she allowed us in. She told us of some of the difficulties she had as a single parent and how she felt God had sent us at exactly the right moment. Just as I felt we needed to talk to the family in this apartment, she was hoping we might find her and help bring her family back to church. The children are great. They remembered many of the teachings of the Church and Isabel, the mother, actually has a daughter who will be 8 on the 22 of this month. It was a wonderful experience and we will be going back in just a few days. I am thankful for the power of the Holy Ghost and God's guiding hand that led us to this family in need of the gospel's blessings.

We have another interesting opportunity coming our way. Our ward is unique in the sense that it includes people who don't live in our area. We have been invited to lunch by one of these members, which is certain to be an adventure. I actually just got it approved by President Jayme. We are going to Rio Preto da Eva (in the middle of the forest) to almoçar with a family that is doing an extreme home makeover to their home to make things perfect for our visit. If you are interested in the whereabouts, go to the following site and type in Rio Preto da Eva: (http://maps.google.com.br/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=pt-BR&geocode=&q=manaus&sll=-13.068777,-50.449219&sspn=102.642242,156.796875&ie=UTF8&ll=-2.974584,-59.887848&spn=0.954512,1.224976&t=h&z=10).

In other news, Boby and I are going to race next Saturday (1 mile) and the loser buys ice cream. After a year of not running, it'll be a miracle if I break 6 minutes. Then again, I don't plan on losing. I can't wait...it's going to be great!

Although it was a crazy week, at least I can say I am in great health and the mosquitoes have finally realized that dengue isn't going to kill me, so they have begun to leave me alone.

Back to reminiscing...although summer is approaching and there is no hope of me spending time at the beach for at least 12 more months, I must say I am excited for the summer sol that should bake a tan back into me right up to my bicep. Summer also means no massive storms and no surprise rain that comes out of nowhere. Most importantly, summer means more people out and about and great opportunities to teach.

I'd like to thank all of you who have supported me in my decision to serve a mission and this journey that has brought about many great experiences. I have felt your prayers and love each and every day. They have given me the strength to take that next step even when my body might be telling me I can't. Thank you for all the letters, packages, emails, and photos. They always put a smile on my face. Feel free to make me feel jealous of summer trips and whatnot by sending photos...it's the least you could do (haha). Abraço and beijo to all.

Com amor,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Just to ease your worries, the whole incident with my friend Taciara was not as hostile as it sounds. It was a complete accident. Not realizing she was joking around, I reached out and ended up cutting my thumb on the edge of her knife. She apologized after the fact and had no intention of actually harming me. I got your attention...didn't I?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Elder Mackay's Thunder Stick Put into Action
From Taylor Mission Pics

Trying Elder Noorda's Glasses on for Size
From Taylor Mission Pics

Lord of the Flies (6/10/09)

This was a very interesting week. A lot of things went well and some things not so well, but it was a good week overall. I'm still alive and Missão Brasil Manaus is not in a dire financial crisis...yet (haha). Other than a few wrong moves on the part of São Paulo and Tefé, it seems by now I have managed to redo or patch up this shady, Brazilian money laundering I do as Financial Secretary. The following is a recap of this week's events:

The first legitimate day as Financial Secretary of Missão Manaus was a great but busy day full of adventure. The day started off well doing divisions with Elder Rangel, the new Executive Secretary. We then went to develop photos of the new missionaries who arrived in the field this transfer, hopped on by the correios (post office), and then made our way over to the polícia federal to drop off some visa information. Next, we lunched on fejoada at the house of Lucas/Rose. Their niece, Giselle, a returned missionary from Rio de Janeiro prepared it. It was served with peach créme and was really good to be honest. It was a lot better than the last fejoada that I ate when I was sick with dengue fever.

Following lunch, we made a nice, little viagem through all of Manaus squished in the back of a tiny, two-seater pick-up truck to deliver some washing machines to the ghetto areas that either didn't have machines or machines had broken down. They were very happy when we arrived with machines since we were able to meet their needs so quickly. Although it was an uncomfortable ride for 1.5 of the 2.5 hours, it was a great experience that took us through Zona Norte, Oeste, Central, and Leste...how's that sound? When we got back, we talked to President Jayme about a taxi contract we are trying to settle and then we headed out to teach Artemeze and Nadila, who live in Beco Oriental right on the side of the church (the home will be one of many to be demolished due to the World Cup giving a few games to Manaus in 2014). All went well and she will be coming to church.

To say today was busy would be quite the understatement. After our daily studying and planning, I made a few payments for water and Internet on-line. We then got a ride with Marcos to the nearest Itaú Bank where we stood in a long line for me to make a R$300 deposit for the first time in Missão Manaus history since 2008. Upon returning, I took care of a few house payments and finally was able to pay the furniture store the R$7000 that the new couple missionaries spent to furnish their house. That was a BIG mess. Later, a few of the house owners stopped by to pick up their money, which we had owed them. One of which went well (Santa Etelvina) but the other (Terra Nova) was not so good. The owner came in drunk and wanted all R$500, but due to the fact that I need some information out of him to fix the electronic payments, I only gave him R$250 (call me a jerk, but money is a good incentive in Manaus to get people to pick up the slack).

An interesting set of events happened today. We started our day teaching Anna at the church. After the lesson was over, we walked out the front door and I said, "It looks like it's going to rain," which was followed by, "You guys should grab an umbrella." Then out of nowhere, as we turned around to head back to Staff to get our rain gear, buckets of water started falling from the sky. I mean hurricane status rain that slapped your face in the blink of an eye. It was pretty funny. After the rain subsided, we headed over to Bairro União to talk with Silvia and Adriana. I was really surprised to hear the progress Adriana is making. She will be moving out of the house to live with Juliana and Silvia, so she can be baptized in a few months. It has become a real goal of hers.

We became hungry and grabbed a picolé de graviola and eventually made our way to a little restaurant down the street for lunch (we received R$20 for lunch). The lady who works there really likes us, so she allowed us to grab as much food as we wanted although I only took the normal amount out of respect. She also gave us taperibá juice on the house, which I graciously accepted.

As far as teaching goes, the day wasn't amazing, especially after we got stopped for 30 minutes after knocking the door of a Jehovah's Witness. He ended up teaching us from the Bible, but he was at least cool about it. The highlight of our day was that we found a ghetto part of our area that requires us to cross a bridge to reach it, but the area has some real potential and I'm very excited about its prospects.

Since we had quite a few appointments fall through or had people move, we headed to the church where we talked with Taciara about genealogy. We stayed a bit longer than we should have and arrived a little late to Family Home Evening at the Leite house. It went smoothly and they gave us popcorn and açaí to snack on. It was great!

Oh yeah, so last night there was a revolt at the local juvenile retention center and there was a cool war going on between the youth and the military police all night long. It added an exciting final touch to the week here in Alvorada.

We have a baptism Saturday, which will be a great experience for Gabriela. Her cousin Lucas, who will be serving a mission in Santa Maria in December, will be baptizing her.

I want to express my gratitude to everyone for the pictures and package I received this week. It really brightened my day and brought a huge smile to my face. Thanks for all you do and for your love and support.

Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Elder Mackay and Fellow Missionaries with Members from Parintins and Manaus After Institute
From Taylor Mission Pics

All Smiles...Gabriella from Parintins
From Taylor Mission Pics

It's Official...the Paper Says it All
From Taylor Mission Pics

Karol's Baptism Day with Elders Guerrette, Noorda, and Mackay
From Taylor Mission Pics

Pizza with Members from Alvorado
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay with Elder Rangel (the New Executive Secretary)
From Taylor Mission Pics

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Sorry I got a little behind on the whole email home this week. As you are already aware, transfers took place this week. I just got done signing a paper with President Jayme that makes me being Financial Secretary legit and gives the Church authority to excommunicate President Jayme and me without a disciplinary trial if one of us decides to misuse the money. We are the only 2 people in the mission who have that awesome privilege. As for a Staff update, it is now Elders Gonçalves, Noorda, Rangel, and myself who are the secretaries to the president. I must say, I think this crew will do a good job working together. Elder Guerrette was transferred and is now serving in Manacapuru.

As for more optimistic news, Elder Hodges, Elder Morris, and many other good friends completed their 2 years and caught a plane home at 12 a.m. Monday night. It was sad to see them go, but for the first time, the whole concept hit me in the head...it really does happen. Let me tell you, I have never heard somebody say, "I'm dying," with such a huge grin on their face as I saw from Elder Hodges. After they departed, I got everyone's health cards and credit cards and shredded them to pieces to make the whole thing official. Of course, I had to stay up well into the night to complete the task. Just last night, I was up again until about midnight working out the kinks with the new missionaries who arrived. They all seem pretty cool and I'd like to think my presentation for them went well. The Português just flowed from my mouth like a native... leaving a great impression on them and allowing me to communicate everything I needed to make their lives easier, and in return, my life a lot less hectic in the future from unnecessary phone calls.

Last week went pretty well. I got to see some good friends and we also had a baptism, which is always nice. She was one of those investigators who had been worked on for almost a year. Her name is Anna Karolina Malheiros Nascimento and she is the niece of 2 members who live in Bairro União. It was cool because the whole family was there and very supportive. The only thing that's keeping her active parents from baptism is MARRIAGE...one of the harder things to get done on the mission even though it only costs them roughly $40 USD.

In even bigger news, MANAUS WON THE BID FOR THE WORLD CUP OF 2014! That is a huge deal here. The city got pretty pumped about it and there were quite a few bands playing, people drinking, and kites flying last Sunday. They are going to spend millions or even billions to prepare the city for just a few of the games during the Cup. Being that the stadium is a stone's throw away, a good portion of our area is going to get an extreme makeover. They plan to clear out a ton of houses, which is certain to give the people peace of mind knowing the land their home once stood on is going to be turned into a colossal parking lot.

On a lighter note, we made a lunch calendar for the ward and one of the names got slightly altered to the tune of Taciafada...the last part sounding like "tramp" in Portuguese, which went over real well with Taciara. Fortunately, everyone got a good laugh and I ran my butt downstairs at the speed of light to print a corrected version and hand them out before the damage was done. We were successful and the threat was speedily evaded. Later that night, those same people gave us some food that just so happened not to be poisoned (haha).

We are actually teaching and working with quite a few people who are progressing nicely: Gabrielle, Ana Glaucia, Ana, Laeila, Carol's grandma and sister, Francisco, Thamiris, and Ingrid. Hopefully all goes well with them and they can continue progressing in the right direction. Elder Olsen, my previous companion, is working with Kleyton, the brother of Kleive who we baptized. As for baptisms, there aren't any planned for this week but a few marked for the weeks to come.

As for the questions this week, I work with Julio Monteiro in São Paulo who, more or less, verifies everything I do as Financial Secretary, but as for someone to help out if the computer magically blows up, the answer is no (haha). In regards to whether I can receive pictures through emails, the answer is yes. I would love to see pictures of those I left behind in the States. And Mom, I still haven't received the package, but I'm sure it'll be arriving any day now. That's about it...thanks for all the love and support.

Elder Mackay