"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, 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