"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, July 8, 2010

The Reunion with Elder Mackay's Family
From Taylor Mission Pics

Final Moments with President Jayme
From Taylor Mission Pics

A Final Farewell with the Cooper Family
From Taylor Mission Pics

One Last Stop with the Family of Theodoro and Neighbors Karol and Silvia
From Taylor Mission Pics

Ponta Negra with Jéssica, Dany, Teresa, Taise, and Daniela
From Taylor Mission Pics

Taciara's Birthday Bash with Family and Friends
From Taylor Mission Pics

Back to the Start with Nayra and Marianice
From Taylor Mission Pics

Family Home Evening with Elizabeth, Telania, Daniela, and Family
From Taylor Mission Pics

The Last Goodbyes with the Leite Family
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay and Family Visiting a Vitória Régia Garden in the Amazon
From Taylor Mission Pics

Overlooking the City of Rio de Janiero
From Taylor Mission Pics

An Amazing Experience Comes to an End

Today marks one month since I left the mission field. My amazing experience as a missionary came to an end on the 8th of June 2010, when I was reunited with my family and released into my parent's care. The opportunity of having my family pick me up in Manaus, Amazonas (Brazil) was definitely one of my many mission highlights. During the transfer meeting, I saw a red car drive past the church windows. Was it them…this early? At the conclusion of the meeting, I casually strolled out of the chapel to see the silhouette of my family through the morning sunlight. There they were…all three of them (my dad even wearing a white shirt…which is an interesting story in and of itself). After a long awaited embrace from my family, I had the privilege of introducing them to some of my former companions and fellow missionaries. They even had the opportunity to meet and speak briefly with President Jayme, Mission President and busiest man I know.

We momentarily stopped at the Tropical Hotel to unload my belongings and prepared for the many visits we would make to those I taught and who taught me during my time in Manaus. Although we were unable to travel to Boa Vista, we were able to spend time with several families from Compensa, Cidade de Deus, and Flores. Despite the differences in languages, the spirit was strongly felt and each visit was a spiritual experience for all present. With each visit, my family gained a better understanding of why I immensely love these people. As enjoyable as our visits were, it was difficult to say goodbye to these families…I'm a changed person for having met them.

After seeing some of the highlights of the city, we traveled by boat to Eco-Park Lodge, located in the heart of the unindustrialized Amazon rainforest where monkeys and toucans roam freely. It was a great opportunity for us to experience the jungle and witness the wildlife firsthand (much of which surrounded but eluded me for nearly two years). The sights, sounds, and feelings we encountered will never be forgotten. After all, how many people have the experience of holding a sloth, anaconda, and river turtle, as well as catch piranhas, feed a crocodile, and see pink dolphins and a boa constrictor in their natural environment? We also had the opportunity to visit the Meeting of the Waters, a floating community, and an Indian village (where I was chosen to participate in a traditional tribal dance).

At the conclusion of our jungle adventure, we headed down to Rio de Janeiro…a place I had always wanted to visit. The beaches and sights were amazing…everything I dreamt it would be. From the statue Christ the Redeemer to Sugarloaf Mountain, it was a great journey. In Rio, we were privileged to attend church with Mateus Rangel (Elder Rangel, who served with me in the office), his brother, and Kennedy Boby (a member of Flores who loved to help out with the missionary work). It truly goes to show the connections and friends you make on the mission are limitless. We even enjoyed watching a World Cup game on a FIFA big screen on the sands of Copacabana Beach.

My call as a missionary concluded on the 16th of June 2010, upon my return to the United States. The flight back home was bittersweet knowing I would soon be reunited with my American family and friends but at the same time realizing the likelihood of never seeing my Brazilian amigos again in this lifetime. After a short meeting with Stake President Francis in his chiropractic clinic, I was officially released. My release date marked exactly two years to the day that I had been set apart as a missionary. Shortly thereafter, I gave my homecoming talk on the Healing Powers of Forgiveness (at which time, I shared several mission experiences which impacted me greatly).

I hope through my mission experience that I was not only able to share my knowledge with those who read my weekly emails but more importantly with my Brazilian brothers and sisters I encountered on the streets. It is safe to say many people and things have changed over the course of two years, the most important being my own personal conviction of the truth. If there is a single message I would like to convey, it is that every person can be THE difference in the world. We all have the capacity to do what we want to do and be who we want to be. It starts with a thought followed by faithful actions. Well planned thoughts without actions lead nowhere as we all know. I am thankful for the two years I had in Brazil, for every person I met, and every challenge that was placed in my way. I know it was all part of a bigger plan…a plan that at times we cannot comprehend but must believe in, so we can truly live the gospel. I encourage all missionaries to make the best of their two years. To future Manaus missionaries, "Só os fortes sobrevivem and Missão Manaus é o maior!"

Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Elder Mackay and Elder Lima with Adriel and Jardson
From Taylor Mission Pics

The Band of Brothers
From Taylor Mission Pics

BRAZIL...a Country Near and Dear to Elder Mackay's Heart
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay Clowning Around at His farewell Party
From Taylor Mission Pics

Drkinha and Elder Mackay
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay with Kleber and Sebastiana and Family
From Taylor Mission Pics

Let's Get the Party Started
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay with More Friends at His Farewell Party
From Taylor Mission Pics

The Start of a New Hair Trend?
From Taylor Mission Pics

Chillin' at 100+ Degrees
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay with President Cruz and Family
From Taylor Mission Pics

The Boa Vista Zone - Zona de Poder
From Taylor Mission Pics


Well...I hope I can get all I want to say into this email. I'd like to start by answering the questions my parents sent me and then add some personal thoughts at the end. As you all know, the past 2 years I have been serving as a missionary in the BRAZIL MANAUS MISSION, which includes the states: Amazonas, Rondonia, Acre, and Roraima. When I started the mission, I was not mentally dedicated to the work but serving simply because I thought I had to. Sadly, I wasn't serving to help others but merely to say that I had served a mission and did my time. As if to smack me in the side of the head, a ton of challenges were thrown at me: mentally, physically, and spiritually. My testimony got rocked and I found myself questioning what I was doing. I left the comfort of my life back home, which in reality had no rules or limits, to be confined by many rules and talking to people I didn't even know. Just like a little kid with Legos, I thought…well, I'm here and there's no going back…I might as well build a testimony…or at least try. I continued to work to the limit with my companions (who also helped me a ton). At times, we had success and there were other times we didn't. Each was a step forward, though…one step closer to finding out who I am and what I am made of. Rather than walking with my head down in the streets lost in my purpose, I started to lift my head and think positively. Initially, I forced myself, but over time it became natural…one more big step toward reaching my goal. A Chinese proverb says, "A journey of 1000 miles starts with a first step." These were my first steps. With time and counseling from a wise President and friend, my testimony started to re-build, stronger than ever before. My purpose as a missionary was no longer just a phrase I recited every morning but a feeling inside my heart and mind that could be seen through my actions. I will never have the capacity in my mortal life to express my love and gratitude for President and Sister Jayme, my family, and my friends (Brazilian and American). Like many say, time passes faster with certain companions, but I was blessed to have great companions. With each one, I learned something different, something I could improve upon, something I wasn't doing, as well as that which I was doing just right.

Upon my return home, I will have saudades (longing) for several things. First off, I'm going to miss the people. I will also miss the language, the culture, and the food. The list goes on and on, but the friends I made on the mission sit at the very top of the list.

Years from now, what I'm going to remember are the sacrifices the faithful saints made here and their smiles upon changing their lives for the better. I will remember how many were rejected by family and friends to do what they knew was right. I will remember the love and courage of the people of the Amazon.

As for miracles I have witnessed, there are many. Several were experienced while I was in the Mission Office. At times, there were complicated circumstances with regards to money because of the huge increase in the mission territory and numbers, but somehow when it came down to the wire, it always worked out. Another miracle I witnessed was the area served by the office staff. It was known as the black hole of the mission and was dreaded by many missionaries, BUT with hope and force, we were able to turn it around. Within a few months, we were able to bring dozens of people to the gospel and plant several seeds.

With regards to accomplishments, well…I must say of all the people that learned something while I was on the mission, I was the one who learned the most, changed the most, and grew the most. My greatest accomplishment was my personal conversion. I had my share of challenges on the mission, but they were all necessary. At the time, I couldn't see that to be the case, but looking back with open eyes and better understanding, each roadblock, bad day, door slammed in my face, and drunk asking for money was part of the puzzle.

I hope those we taught really take to heart what they learned. I pray our converts stay firm in the gospel and those that have lost their way might be able to find their way back. Furthermore, I wish that each and every person that refused our visit might be able to open their hearts and one day accept the missionaries and the message that they carry. Lastly, I desire that their memories of Elder Mackay are equally as fond as I have of them and they will never grow tired of keeping in contact.

After 2 years of walking, talking, studying, etc., I know the work is true and it has no end. Like the prophet of the Restoration said, "Our greatest responsibility is to preach the gospel." I have done my part and will continue to do so. I know if it wasn't for Jesus Christ and the great Plan of Salvation, we would be a lost people without the slightest chance of making it back to the presence of God. I know we have a modern-day prophet and that the authority and power of God (the priesthood) is once again on the earth.

All this aside, in a few days I will once again be Taylor Mackay, the famous American poet, biochemist, and photographer, but please feel free to ask me about how my mission was down there in the Amazon...I'll be happy to answer. See you in a few!!!

Elder Taylor Mackay

P.S. Last night was awesome...the members threw me a going away party. It made me feel loved...I love them!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Elder Mackay Reporting for Duty at the 7th BIS Jungle Warfare Unit
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay with Former Companion, Elder Seastrand
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay at Lunch with the Family of Ana Célia
From Taylor Mission Pics

Here Kitty, Kitty! A Rare Black Spotted Leopard
From Taylor Mission Pics

Green Parrots Captured from Animal Traffickers
From Taylor Mission Pics

Hit the Deck! Elder Mackay Taking Target Practice
From Taylor Mission Pics

A Reminder of Home
From Taylor Mission Pics

A Beautiful and Rare Parrot from the Roraima Region
From Taylor Mission Pics

A Great Day for the Boa Vista Zone
From Taylor Mission Pics

Prepared for Battle

This week in the news...all went well with regards to the baptisms we had marked for Simone Gualberto, Pedro Henrique Gualberto Thomé, and Gercé de Lima Tomaz. I must say a key factor in the conversion of Simone and her son, Pedro, was the casal Francisco. They made several visits and really took good care of the family and helped integrate them into the ward. With all our combined effort and hard work, the ball is now in Simone and Pedro's court whether or not they stay active. After the baptisms, which took place at the District Headquarters, there was a cool, little presentation by the District Young Men and Young Women organizations about modesty.

This week I'm really starting to feel the effects of my 2 years serving a mission...2 years away from family and friends. When 10:30 p.m. arrives and my head hits the pillow, my mind starts to travel and think about the future, goals, ideas, and things to do differently upon my return and it becomes almost impossible to sleep. I find myself awake until 1 in the morning (haha) just thinking, and without an iPod plugged into my ears, it's darn near impossible to evade these thoughts...unless we have another day like yesterday when we walk the entire city frontwards and backwards.

The zone is doing really well with regards to the goals we made in addition to the ones made as a mission. So far this month, there have been 6 baptisms (3 of those being men and 2 being families). This week our branch has the possibility of 1 baptism (Angelo) and Elder Seastrand has the potential of 2 others. The work continues to move forward as we are still rolling with the preparation process. As 3 people took a big step in becoming members of the Church this week (Simone, Pedro, and Gercé), we were also able to mark (in 3 days) a goal date for a family that has ties to the Church (10 of July). Their names are Márcia and Francisco.

It was interesting to read the emails today because I was thinking a lot of the same things. On the mission, you are like a coach...you find people with potential, you teach them, they become part of the "team," and when you leave, it's gametime. You can do all the motivational talking there is, but it's up to the runners or players to put their technique and skill into use. It's up to them to stay physically and mentally strong. That's the reality of free agency. After I arrive back home, all I can do is stay in communication and pray that those we helped on the mission stay on the straight and narrow.

One thing that President Jayme has emphasized a lot on the mission is what he calls "Personal Victory," or in other words, personal study. Teaching as a missionary can be likened unto a Kung Fu Master going into a fight. If he hasn't prepared himself with the necessary knowledge or technique, it's GAME OVER when it comes time to battle.

Today, as a zone, we went to the 7th BIS Jungle Warfare Unit of Boa Vista. It was cool to see the lifestyle of a soldier and become familiar with many of the animals one might encounter in the greater Amazon jungle. Although the majority of animals were obtained because of animal trafficking and will never be able to return to the wild, it's good to see that someone cares about these rare creatures in Roraima, Brasil (the region in South America with more animal trafficking than any other).

Boa Vista has been a good place to die. The people here are great and like to talk with the missionaries. There are a ton of hippies that sell cool stuff you can't find anywhere else in the world. It's interesting talking to them because they aren't what some people might call brainless. They are just a different breed that has chosen a different path in life. I believe it is because of this factor that they are really interested in our work and our personal story.

I'm not going to lie. I'm way excited to finish the mission and return home to fulfill other duties. Yeah, it'll be extremely sad to say goodbye, BUT that's the way it's got to be when you serve a mission thousands of miles from home. Fortunately, with modern technology, my Brazilian friends will only be an email or instant message away.

Até logo,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Recent Rains have Flooded Boa Vista
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay with a Few Local Pigs
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay with Fellow USU Aggie, Sister Poole
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay with His Son, Elder Soleberg
From Taylor Mission Pics

Swimming Pigs

Well...the week passed by really fast. With regards to Simone and Pedro, they had to take a trip to an interior city last weekend, so the baptism plans were postponed. Fortunately, it's a go for this week along with Gercé, the 14 year old brother of a member.

This week I picked up a book from the Mission Office that summarizes the history of the Church. There was a part that reminds me a lot about the mission...mainly the pioneer trek to the western states. NO...nobody has tried to kill me or kick me out of Brazil, but the whole trip, lessons, and sacrifices along the way can be compared. I found it interesting that Brigham Young had the Saints plant crops along the trail and move on before the harvest (only leaving a few people behind in order to care for the fields), so those who followed would have one less burden. How can this be compared to the mission? Well, as you go through the mission, you leave behind a legacy and many times you are unable to be present for the "harvest" or in other words a baptism or marriage. The president always leaves one person behind in a transfer to take care of the fields until the companionship is able to work in unison and reap the blessings of a work well done. It's a never-ending cycle that is completed upon arrival in Zion (aka the end of the mission)...BUT those two years of work have immeasurable value in the eyes of fellow missionaries, those you teach, and God.

So, this week we were able to take some difficult steps with our investigators. Yesterday at 8:30 a.m., we met up with Walquiria and Alcides at the cartório (don't know the word in English) to enter the 30 day waiting process for their wedding. They were excited and even more excited were their children, now fully grown who have been waiting quite some time for this day.

The months of May and June are marked by a lot of rain. Unfortunately, since Boa Vista is relatively flat, there runs the severe risk of flooding. As you can see in the picture, life becomes dependent on transportation by little, wooden boats. It's not exactly a fun situation, but I guess since it happens on a yearly basis, they are pretty used to it. Another interesting sight I ran into this week was a few little pigs snorting around a pile of trash. I'm sure people thought it was weird that I was taking a picture of the scene, but little do they know, I've never seen anything like it!

I had the privilege, with the rest of the Boa Vista Zone, to travel to Manaus once again. We left at 2 a.m. on Thursday and returned 1 a.m. on Friday...awesome, right? We were able to watch the conference with Elder Holland, Elder Godoy, and Bishop Edgley again (this time in better quality) and we had the Tur da Missão with Elder Linhares, a Seventy. I gave my last testimony at the conference. It was an interesting experience because at every conference you see missionaries bear their testimony and you think that your turn will never come. Well...it does and it did and this whole experience is going to be just a big dream once I wake up in my own bed in another country where people speak English.

The others that we are teaching are doing well and progressing. I'm not sure how the situation is with Angelo since he had to move back to Bonfim, a city on the border of Guyana. Fortunately, he should still be making weekend trips to go to church, so it shouldn't change too much. Also Bruno, a reference from a member, looks to be one of my last mission baptisms. It is marked for the 5th of June, less than 24 hours before my final flight back to Manaus. He is 19 or 20, so I'm pretty excited for the potential of him serving a full-time mission in a year or so. He speaks a little English, so who knows, maybe he'll get his call to Anaheim, California (haha). Until next week.

Falta três,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Elder Mackay...AKA The Horse Whisperer
From Taylor Mission Pics

The Boa Vista Ward at the Mother's Day Program
From Taylor Mission Pics

Mother's Day Presentation by the Boa Vista Primary Children
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay with Some of the Cooper Family
From Taylor Mission Pics

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Horse Whisperer

Who you calling crazy? So this week, as we walked the streets, we ran into a troubled man who looked at my name tag...then looked me in the face and asked, "What is crazy?" I looked him in the eyes and thought for a second, because in the past, I admit I have been judgmental, and then I responded, "Well, I guess crazy would be someone who knows the truth or what is right and does the complete opposite." I guess that's my new concept of crazy.

So far, this week has been really good and has strengthened my testimony of the idea: "It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." Sure, there are some things in life that are downright hard, but the majority of our failures are a result of not even trying.

This week we have really stepped it up a notch with regards to being on the offensive: destroying procrastination with action, burying doubt under faith, and dismembering fear with confidence. I am extremely excited with our zone and all they are doing to meet the goals we established as a mission for 2010. Everyone is focusing on their areas and using the members to help them teach and baptize (essential steps that are generally absent in the majority of the areas).

Yesterday was one of the best days on the mission. No, we didn't teach a billion people, but we stepped up to the plate and took a swing with those we ARE teaching. Now, along with Simone and Pedro, we have marked the baptismal dates for Angelo (20) and Gercé (14) on 22 May, Ricardo (30) on 26 June, and Alcides (70) and Walquiria (60) the end of June!!! I'm excited to get the news of their progress even after I've left Brazil. I know on Sunday I said we had cut Alcides from our teaching list, but out of nowhere, Walquiria told us that Tuesday of next week they will be turning in the money and papers to the cartório. Everything is really coming together these last few weeks to make the process of finishing the mission a lot more enjoyable.

So, tonight at 2 a.m. we will be catching our plane to Manaus and then exactly 24 hours later we will be catching a plane back to Boa Vista. Sounds like fun right? Fortunately, the whole mission will be together, so it will be one last chance to bid farewell to my amigos and take a few pictures as well as learn some stuff from a General Authority.

Well...I'm dying, but I'm still kicking. Just in case you are wondering, it's not going to hit me until I wake up in my own bed back in Anaheim. Fortunately, just like a hero of war, I'll have the occasional benign flashback (haha).

Elder Taylor Mackay

This keyboard is killing me...the space bar is busted.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Wedding of João Paulo and Giselle
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay and Elder Lima with the Happy Groom, João Paulo
From Taylor Mission Pics

Do You Think it's Time for a New Pair of Shoes?
From Taylor Mission Pics

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Frequent Flyer Miles

Due to the recent travel, I don't have much time to write this letter, but I wanted to get in a few words quickly. So, the Leadership Council went well in Manaus but was followed by a series of unfortunate events that I'm not going to get into at this time. Since we arrived on Monday and stayed until Wednesday, I was able to do divisions with Elder Nascimento, Elder Carreira, and Elder Wetzker to teach some new people in my old area and also see a few old faces (I'll say more about it next week).

The council was interesting with one of the hot topics being whether or not the missionaries should be allowed to watch the Brasil games in the World Cup. It was funny to see the difference between Brazilian theory and American theory with regards to whether or not we would watch. In past situations, after a long conference and lack of sleep, I would have found myself dragging back to the mission house to take a rest, but now that the mission is coming to an end, you get that second wind that pushes you to go the extra mile.

Sadly, the wedding of João Paulo and Giselle isn't official yet since the paper to make it legal isn't ready due to a massive 20 day delay by the cartório. The important thing is that they are taking steps in the right direction, and in a few weeks, the baptism will be realized (once their union is made official by the law).

Elder Lima and I are getting along well and trying our best to make this district become a Stake with the efforts of our fellow missionaries. Next week, I will once again be traveling to Manaus with the zone to be part of the Tur da Missão, where we will have the opportunity to hear the words of Elder Linhares, the Area Seventy.

By the way, I'd like to wish you an early Happy Mother's Day. I look forward to the call on Sunday when we can discuss more about the work, our plans for your arrival, and the food and films I would like for you guys to stock up on, so I can make up for the 2 year absence (haha). Well, that was my rushed email for the week, and I fear due to similar circumstances, it might be more or less the same situation with my email next week.

Até mais,
Elder Taylor Mackay

P.S.- Jet lag is real

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A View of Boa Vista
From Taylor Mission Pics

Geovanna Greta Azevedo de Souza Getting Ready for Baptism
From Taylor Mission Pics

A View from the Bridge Over the Rio Branco
From Taylor Mission Pics

Fishing on the Rio Branco with Alcides
From Taylor Mission Pics

The End is Near...Elder Mackay's Last Toothbrush
From Taylor Mission Pics

The Brushes of Trunkeza

The whole mission I have been marking my progress by the number of toothbrushes I haul around with me (I use one for an entire transfer then toss it). FYI- yesterday, I used my last toothbrush of the mission for the first time (see foto). So, this week had quite a bit of chuva (rain), and since it's not a common occurrence here in Boa Vista, the unprepared streets became rivers.

It's official...I'll be finishing up my mission here in Boa Vista! Now that the transfers are over, our zone consists of: Sister Nascimento, Sister Costa, Sister Gabani, Sister Anacleto, Elder Soares, Elder Pires, Elder Seastrand, Elder Henshaw, Elder and Sister Francisco, Elder Lima, and Elder Mackay. The zone is really prepped for the month of May. So far, there are 14 people who already have baptismal dates, included in that number is about 5 men and 4 families.

This week, as part of a service project, we helped one of our investigators (Alcides) with his morning fishing on the Rio Branco. It was a ridiculously long walk to the bridge of the Macuxis, but with three people rather than just one, I would like to think we added to his fishing success. It was interesting because the fish we caught weighed only 2 or 3 pounds at most, but when you've got one on a hook and you are reeling it in by hand (nobody uses a fishing pole here), it feels like a good 20 pounds. Alcides was using chicken liver and intestines as bait. Not knowing any better, I bought a sausage, cut it up, and put it on the hook. Right after my line hit the water, the other line started moving around. With fat-greased hands, I felt like my battle with the fish was in vain, but after a lot of slipping and concentration, I pulled the beast out of the water and then wiped off my hands to prevent future embarrassment. I caught 1 fish, which was better than Elder Lima's 0, and we ended up with a total of 7 for the morning between the three of us.

I hate to say it, but I am losing a little faith in Alcides and Walquiria. They are good people. They go to church and say they understand everything, but I feel that they are missing the big picture. We are here to help them out with their wedding, so they can receive the blessings of keeping the commandments, but they continue putting it off. I know one day they will follow through with everything, but I feel that day still hasn't arrived. So, rather than push them to do something they won't and aren't ready to do, we will most likely stop passing by their house until they show they are prepared to step up to the plate.

One of the highlights of the week was the baptism of Geovanna Greta Azevedo de Souza. She is 19 years old and was at a phase in her life where she didn't know what to believe anymore. The first time we taught her it was a real battle to get her to open up her heart to our message, but thanks to many factors, including her friend Anne, the situation progressively got better. I was glad to see the big changes in her and in her family. Her mother, who once was more or less against her being baptized and following a religion, is now excited to talk with us and feels free to tell us her worries and doubts.

This weekend will be the long awaited wedding of Giselle and João Paulo (Tito). They will be marrying in the District Headquarters here, which is a really nice looking chapel. Giselle, who is progressing at a faster rate, will be baptized on the 7th of May, less than a week after the wedding if all goes according to plan. Tito, no doubt, is making progress and changing for the better, but it will take a little bit longer for him to follow in Giselle's footsteps.

The missionary work, and all other work in general, reminds me a lot of a quote by Frank Lloyd Wright- "I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen." Success doesn't just walk up to your door and knock. You've got to prepare yourself: get up and out in the street and start the search. It is not an immediate condition. We must visualize what we want and not accept failure, which only happens when we stop trying. Devote yourself to the cause. As some might say: eat, drink, and breathe it until it becomes a part of you - something natural that is instinct or second nature. Many times the obstacles we must overcome seem so great that we do not even dare to try, accepting immediate failure. Challenges remind me of a drill we had to do in football. The coach pulled up onto the dirt track in his F 350 and put it in neutral. He grabbed me and 6 other guys from the skill group (wide receivers and defensive backs) and told us to push his truck around the track while he steered. We all looked at each other like he was asking us to do something that was going to really do us in, but together we dug our feet in and pushed. At first the truck didn't budge, but with all our force, it started to move inches, then feet, and eventually we were sprinting behind the truck with our hands on its bumper and tailgate. That's my two cents this week.

Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

President and Sister Jayme with Elder and Sister Holland
From Taylor Mission Pics

Mackay's Secret Recipe

Dear Family and Friends,

There is no one secret. To better my Portuguese, I recently picked up an inspirational book called O Segredo, which tried to explain the secret to a successful life through obedience and understanding to one single rule: the law of attraction. No offense to the author and her poorly structured and repetitive livro, but this cure-all answer is a little naïve and childish in my opinion. Success in life cannot be measured by obedience to a law developed by man...sure, it might open up a few doors in this life but, at the same time, will shut doors with eternal consequences. The secret I have been able to understand can be found in a combination of 7 areas. The most important of these being obedience, which allows one to fulfill all other responsibilities with exactness. The areas are as follows:

Making of goals
The scriptures
Frequent prayer
Hard work
Service to others
Obedience to the commandments

This week I would like to write a little about the faith our investigators are showing. As of now, we have 5 people with dates marked for baptism: Alcides and Walquiria (a couple), Simone and Pedro (mother and son), and Geovanna. I have been extremely impressed with the faith I've seen practiced in their lives in such a quick manner. One way I have been able to better visualize the idea of faith is through a poem by Emily Dickinson:

Faith — is the Pierless Bridge
Supporting what We see
Unto the Scene that We do not —
Too slender for the eye

As the poem says, faith is like a bridge that can bring us knowledge which mankind may not consider to be scientific proof or certainty. So, essentially, we just need to take that first step on the bridge. We do not need to see the whole bridge...just take the first step. The reality of it all is that the test of our belief is our willingness to act.

With much temptation and confusion in her life, Geovanna will be postponing a trip to Venezuela, so everything can go well for her baptism. I can't say that I would have the same desire or self-control if I were put in the same situation. It's experiences like these which give you a great respect for those you teach and a better understanding of the power of God. He created the world in 6 days...by all means, it is no task for him to realize the conversion of a human being.

As you know, we had the great opportunity to hear the words of Bishop Edgley, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, and Elder Holland. I wasn't able to be there in person, but Elder Holland gave us a shout-out through the webcam (haha). Monday and yesterday, we ran around getting the whole set-up ready for today's big show. Elder Holland talked about a lot of things but mostly about the influence the mission will have on your entire life. He spoke of how a day has yet to pass that he doesn't remember or share an experience from his mission. He stated that his mission was a preparation for him to make all the decisions he had yet to make in his life. Elder Holland also warned us against the lowering of personal standards after returning back from the mission. He cautioned us of the dangers and the disappointment he would feel if we fell away from the Church after dedicating two years of our life to teaching the gospel. He said, "If I find out any one of you has become less active or inactive in future years, I will personally hunt you down in your sleep and scare you silly back onto the straight and narrow." He jokingly said, "I'll surprise you so good you'll be screaming for your mommy in the middle of the night." Can you imagine? A mom asks, "What is it?" Her frightened returned missionary replies, "It's Elder Holland...he's in my room!" It was cool listening to these men speak, and every time I heard them say the words, "Manaus Mission," a smile would grow on my face knowing I am part of that effort.

As for this week's news, we will be having the baptism of Geovanna, with the participation of the local institute program, on Saturday and the wedding of Tito (João Paulo) and Giselle the following week. We were invited to Tito's bachelor party soccer game. It was pretty legit with regards to competition, including some guys who have a good shot of working their way to the professional level here in Brasil (one being my companion, Elder Lima, who was working his way up to play for the city of Vitória team). Fortunately, my American skills came into play and I scored a sweet goooooooooooolll!!!!

That's all I have for now. All is going well with the work here and I'm super excited for our May prospects. I'm really hoping I get to stay in my current area, because with all that the zone has lined up, it will make for quite the grand finale. Have a great week!

Até logo,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Exposed Shores of the Rio Branco
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay in Front of a Local Church
From Taylor Mission Pics

A Frequent Site in the Trees of Boa Vista
From Taylor Mission Pics

Boa Vista Zone Leaders: Elder Lima and Elder Mackay
From Taylor Mission Pics

A Beautiful Day on the Rio Branco
From Taylor Mission Pics

This Poor Guy Lost at Frogger
From Taylor Mission Pics