"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 24, 2010

Elder Keicher and Elder Mackay Posing as Natives
From Recently Updated

Elder Mackay at the Amazonian Cultral Center
From Recently Updated

Elders Melo, Mackay, Keicher, and Soelberg Enjoying P-day Together
From Recently Updated

Elder Mackay Looking for Natives
From Recently Updated

No Princípio Criou Deus Os Céus e A Terra...e A Amazônia

This week flew by fast. Get this...a pair of my shoes had a massive hole in the bottom, so I gave them to a member in the ward to resole. That left me with only one other pair. Then, out of nowhere, a hole emerges in the heel and then another in the forefoot. I couldn't believe it! Since it happens to be the rainy season, I'm walking around like a homeless person with a layer of cardboard between my foot and my shoe. Fortunately, I'm the only one who knows, but let's hope those other shoes get fixed soon.

Today we decided to go to the Bola da Suframa to go bowling or to play soccer on a synthetic field. As luck would have it, the bowling facility doesn't open until 3 p.m. and the guy who watches over the field decided to take an undetermined amount of time for a coffee break. Since we were already a distance from home, we decided to visit the Amazonian Cultural Center since none of the other missionaries had been there. It was pretty cool to learn more about the culture, people, and rituals.

In other news, I don't know if I have mentioned my favorite team here in Brazil, but it is called Bota Fogo. There was a big tournament with all the teams in Rio de Janeiro...and they won! I'll include a picture in next week's e-mail.

As for the missionary work, it is going well. We are working with four family members of a rapaz (boy) called Gabriel, three of which already have baptismal dates. They are really interested in the Church, enjoy our visits, and are keeping the commandments. We just have to continue teaching and answering their questions so that all goes well on the 13th of March. Along with this family, we have a few others we are teaching...several of which are progressing.

Our district is doing really well. We are by no means the highest baptizing district, but I would like to think we're the highest quality. In the past two weeks, we have baptized three people: one man and one family. Not too bad, right? March is looking to be a big month for our district (Jardim Botânico - the new Canaranas). We have made a goal of nine baptisms, three of which will be men and two of which will be families. I have absolutely no doubt that we can reach the goal we have made. All in all, we actually have a potential of eleven baptisms, so I'll be doing quite a few interviews and divisions.

This past week I received a little envelope from a friend (Aaryn...thanks a ton) with a letter, picture, and sweet tie. It goes great with my suit...check out the pics. It made my day at conference since it had been over a month since I had received anything from anyone.

That's pretty crazy that you encountered someone online who is here in Cidade de Deus with me. They were pretty excited to be corresponding with my family in the States. That's about all for this week...thanks for the love and support.

Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Elder Mackay at a LAN House in Manaus
From Drop Box


As I'm waiting for your 7MB picture to download, I'll take this time to get a nice jump on my letter. First off, with regards to the updates from friends back home, it's crazy to see how much progress people make and how much time passes (2 years obviously) while you're serving a mission. I'm proud of you guys...keep up the great work!

So, this week was pretty laid back. The only difference being that I did my first interview for the dupla of Êxodo (Elders Melo and Keicher). The investigator passed and was baptized Saturday and confirmed Sunday. It's pretty cool now being a part of the bigger picture as a district leader even though it is quite a bit more work and responsibility.

This week was Carnival, which ends today. It reminds me a lot of the New Year's Day parade since each samba school gets judged and can earn different awards. I guess the only difference between the two celebrations is that the clothing budget here in Brazil seems to get reduced each year, so people are a little more exposed to the elements. Fortunately, where we are is just about as far away from the Sambódromo as you can get, so we didn't have to worry about streakers and women and men dressing like the opposite sex.

We are having a little bit of difficulty in our area since it is so expansive, but that's just the way it's going to be until we get some more missionaries in Manaus. We still are lacking families and men to teach (who will actually keep the commandments and go to church). The other thing that doesn't help is the only people giving us references and who are excited to help with the missionary work are kids and teenagers. I'm not going to let that get in the way, though. If that's what gets put in front of us, that's who we are going to teach. Like Elder Olsen once said, "God will be more likely to trust you with men and families if He can see that you are a successful teacher to rapazes, moças, and crianças."

I still can't get over the fact that I will have missed two Olympics while on the mission. I completely forgot about the Winter Olympics in Vancouver until a member was watching the luge the other day. Go Team USA!

Today makes exactly 1 year and 8 months since I left sunny California. In 3 more days, it will be exactly 2 years since I received my mission call...pretty sweet. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed.

Sister Jayme wrote a message in the Journalzinho about Elder Larson, so the whole mission will be praying for him. Whether or not he is able to return back to Missão Manaus really isn't a big deal anymore. What really matters is that all goes well and he is able to enjoy the simple things in life without pain. That's all I have for now.

Paz e amor,
Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Elder Soelberg and Elder Mackay
From Taylor Mission Pics

The Farewell Tour with Elder Olsen
From Taylor Mission Pics

Keep it on the DL

Well...once again, I'm here in Jardim Botânico with Elder Soelberg and the members seem very happy. Somehow, Elder Trage and Elder Keicher were the ones transferred. The one thing that makes this time around different from all the others is that I am now the district leader. I'll let you know how it is next week since I have a few interviews on Friday. After we got the call on Saturday and I learned the others would be leaving, I kind of had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen at transfers. As district leader, you have to do quite a few divisions, so I won't be able to dedicate 100% of my time on just my area. I guess that explains why districts sometimes judge LDs for lack of success without thinking about all the work they do in other areas and all the meetings they attend.

Everything continues to go well in our area despite the fact it is extremely difficult to find people who are going to progress. For example, we received a reference from pass along cards and we contacted the family the very next day. To our disappointment, we encountered them about a week too late. Apparently, things weren't working out between the couple and they are separating. Since she'll be staying in the house, we'll continue to pass by and teach her, but it would have been a lot cooler teaching a complete family or helping them out with their marital problems before it reached the point of no return.

Just to give you a heads up on the area, Sunday morning a guy was hacked to death with a hoe (four streets from our house). The killer decided to steal the victim's identity and rip out his throat, mouth, and other stuff to make it harder to identify the body. Crazy!

On Sunday night, I received a call from Elder Olsen informing me that he was wanting to pass through Cidade de Deus before heading back home. I advised as many as I could and we walked around with him to the homes of those he had taught. It was a strange feeling since the last time I walked the streets with Elder Olsen was about a year ago. It was pretty cool, though, to have a little reunion with Bosco and Maria's family, since we were the first ones to seriously teach them and help with their wedding and baptism. Elder Olsen should be arriving home about lunchtime if my calculations are correct. It was really weird at the transfer meeting seeing those guys go and then realizing that after this transfer Elder Noorda, Spotts, Mills, and others that I know pretty well will also be leaving. Elder Noorda will be training this transfer just like I had suspected, so now we both have a little legacy that will be staying in the mission for another year and nine months.

Elder Soelberg and I are currently teaching a ton of people, but it seems like they are going to take a little bit longer to see results. To be honest, it would be cool to see them baptized and confirmed while I am in the area but what really matters is that I'm planting the seeds for future missionaries to reap. When you have a situation like this, you really have a lot more respect for those U.S. missionaries who generally aren't known for having a ton of immediate success. They are a patient breed knowing that come what may with their investigators, they gave 100% of their effort to help them out. Thanks for all the e-mails and support...they help get me through the week.

Elder Taylor Mackay

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

And Then There Were Five: Elders Trage, Cainã, Keicher, Mackay, and Soelberg
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay Empty-Handed After a Day of Fishing
From Taylor Mission Pics

The Baptisms of Jéssica and Anderson
From Taylor Mission Pics

Just Hanging Out with the Monkeys
From Taylor Mission Pics

Elder Mackay's Fishing Hole
From Drop Box

The Big Catch

WELLLLL...I was in the middle of my letter and the guy that messes with the Internet did something that caused all the computers to crash, so I'm starting all over again. This week went well. The majority of things we had planned took place as well as a few things that weren't. For example, Elder Yates and I were walking down the street after an interview, and out of nowhere, a police car hits the brakes next to us and a cop jumps out wielding a chromed .45 and shoves his gun in the chest of the guy right in front of us, pinning him against the wall. It was one of those sweet scenes you see in all the films. From what I can tell, some dude robbed someone and took off running. Unfortunately, the police confused the guy in front of us with the robber and ended up frightening an innocent citizen. It happens a lot here I'm sure. As far as our scheduled baptisms, they went as planned last Saturday. Jéssica Brenda Neves Ribeiro and Anderson Reis da Silva were both baptized. With regards to their relationship, Anderson and Leo (baptized last week) are brothers from different fathers and Jéssica and Victoria (as well as two other friends) happen to live on the same street.

One thing that I just don't understand here is that everyone says I remind them of Mr. Bean. I can't stand the guy, so every time someone mentions this, I have to admit I'm a little disappointed. I guess I should consider it a complement since they really like him and find him very funny.

Another interesting fact that I have discovered is that the school system is really messed up and several kids who want to study are left out of luck because there is not enough space in the schools. The day before registration started there was a huge line in front of all of the schools and people actually slept out on the streets just to reserve their spot. Even after waiting overnight, some of these people still didn't get a place in a school. It is really quite sad.

As you can see from the attached picture, I'm up in a tree...a mango tree! It was growing way too big. A member wanted us to cut off some of the huge branches, so we carefully climbed up the tree and chopped off the branches with a machete.

Today we left the house early with a member, Reginaldo, and his son, Wilson, to go fishing at CEASA. It was a fun little trip, but unfortunately, we did not have the least bit of luck. Next time I go, I'm just going to take a massive net and hurl it in the water...that way skill isn't a factor in the fishing experience.

I'm happy to say that my sweet Eccos are starting to look pretty sad. The bottoms have holes and the sides are ripping from exposure to the elements. Fortunately, I still have another pair that I use every once and a while, but my busted shoes will make a cool mission souvenir.

Oh yeah, this week we have an additional elder living with us. His name is Elder Cainã and his companion, Elder Yates, went home on Tuesday since his two years were up (he was one of the original Cuiabá elders). I got word that only four elders will be arriving in Manaus this next transfer yet a ton of missionaries are leaving for home. That means, once again, that President Jayme will have to close a few areas. I'm thinking, but not certain, I'll be pulled from this area and put in another, as well as one of the elders from the other Jardim Botânico companionship. This means this area will be combined once again. We'll be getting the phone call Saturday confirming or rejecting my hypothesis.

For some reason, the mailing system has slowed down quite a bit. I received a Christmas card from Hodges (thanks buddy) on Monday that was mailed on the 7th of December!!!! Hopefully, it's just a temporary delay.

I've got a nice burn on my nose, which is starting to peel. It reminds me of the good old beach days. After living in the heat of the Amazon, summer in Southern California will be a piece of cake.

Com amor,
Elder Taylor Mackay