Hello Family and Friends,
This week was transfers and I received a new companion. His name is Elder Seastrand from Holladay, Utah. Ironically, he is from the same area as Elder Noorda, my previous companion. He is a pretty cool guy. His only possible flaw is that he attended BYU before his mission, but I'm willing to work with him despite that fact (haha).
A few things changed in the structure of the office this week. In the past, there was no such thing as senior missionaries in the Mission Office. We were simply office missionaries and were all essentially equal by means of hierarchy. However, when the transfers occurred yesterday, I was made a senior companion over Elder Seastrand, the new Supplements Secretary. This change is pretty cool and took me completely by surprise. I guess it's just that much more responsibility for me, but it will be great working with Elder Seastrand and will prepare me for other leadership positions I might assume in the future.
Transfers got a little crazy this week since we had 15 new missionaries arrive. Needless to say, the orientation I gave them went well and left them with absolutely zero questions at the end. On the other hand, the flights home for several of our returning American missionaries did not go as smoothly. The door to their airplane fell off and the flight was canceled for obvious reasons. Fortunately, I was able to reschedule all their flights with minimal layovers. I just got off the phone from having booked Elder Parker a hotel in Miami, Florida, and getting all his flights in shape after the church travel department decided to cancel his rescheduled itinerary with Delta for no apparent reason. He was to arrive home Tuesday (yesterday) but will instead arrive home on Thursday.
With regards to the teaching, it is going well. After a slow period, we currently have quite a few people progressing. Family #1: Carmen, Dulce, Aline, and Marcilene- all of which are really excited about the Church and have been attending regularly. Two of them are preparing for baptism on the 2nd of August. Family #2: Solande and Jonas- they are the parents of a returned missionary who just got back. He is helping us in getting them to church every week and they are doing a lot of reading and studying. This isn't one of those light-speed conversions, but I'm pretty sure it will occur with time and understanding. Family #3: Waldir and Donna Beth- they are the parents of a missionary who just left the other week, so they are really glad to have us teaching them. I'm sure it makes it that much easier for their missionary to serve knowing someone is helping out his parents (who are really great people). We are working with a few others, but these are the ones progressing. For the most part, these individuals were all born Catholic, like most Brazilians, but have become followers of no church in particular.
With the recent change in mission boundaries, there are now 192 missionaries serving in the Brazil Manaus mission. I'm thinking there will be a request for more, which can possibly lead to the dividing of modern-day Missão Brasil Manaus. Realignment of mission borders does not happen very often. Generally speaking, it is a rare occasion mainly because all the work and planning that's involved.
We took a few pictures with the families in the area this week since Elder Noorda was leaving. Unfortunately, all the pictures are on Elder Noorda's camera and I won't be seeing him again until the next conference. I'll forward them once I receive them.
Another race took place yesterday morning, which was ridiculous. A member challenged me saying that I would be eating dirt. Being the competitive person I am, I gladly accepted the challenge. The race started and they were going pretty fast, but I knew they couldn't continue at that pace for long due to their form. At about 200m, I looked back over my shoulder and said, "...só isso?" and took off lapping them 3 times before finishing the race (they eventually gave up, which was pretty disappointing). The cool thing was that Elder Noorda apparently ran a 6 minute mile for the first time in his life. The coaches who work at the track are really cool as well. They have traveled and taught in the U.S. and coached BYU, Oregon, and others. They are now training athletes for the Special Olympics in Colorado. A girl I met from Manaus, who is completely blind, will be competing in one of the events. It's a real story of courage, desire, and overcoming challenges. It will be interesting to see how she does. Being that it is only the second day of this transfer, so far, so good. It looks to be getting a lot hotter and sunnier here, which is just the way I like it.
Elder Taylor Mackay