Elder Braden McDonald has been called to serve in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission.

He will be returning on December 21, 2011 and will speak in Church on January 1, 2012.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Week 3 in Volta Redonda

Hey Family!

How is it May already? Things here are still going really great; I have some good stories that I want to tell you.

I´ll start from the most recent which was yesterday. It was our Bishop´s birthday so we went over there after church and had another Churrasco, which was heavenly! Oh man! It was really good to talk with the members there more. The Bishop and his wife are the coolest! I love going over there and visiting them. Also, Marcio and his wife Andrea and Rogério and Viviani are really awesome as well. All of my favorite members of our ward were there yesterday, so that was sweet. We had some really awesome lessons with new investigators as well last night. Elder Nelson was here in Rio this last weekend; He was talking to our President and the Church here about building a Temple in Rio :) :) So cool, I hope I am still here when they announce it. Our bishop went to the meeting with him and said that it was really awesome, I was really jealous. Last night was really good for us though, and really funny too. We met some really awesome members this last week. One of them was baptized by Elder Rezende and she was showing us pictures from her baptism when we were at her house. She was really sad when he got transferred and hasn´t been to church since, but we told her that Elder Rezende would be sad to hear that she stopped going to church, and on Sunday she was there again! It was awesome! It was really cool to see her come back to church again.

I´m trying to think of what else happened. I always forget what to type when I get here, I forget everything. Oh yeah, we were in the sister´s area on Saturday because we had to give a blessing to a guy in the hospital there; that was really cool. He was really grateful for us and it was a really awesome experience. We also stayed in their area and tried to firm up some people to go to church on Sunday, and we met some interesting people. It was really funny, because we met this one guy who we asked to say the prayer for us, and he ended up just saying the prayer in his head, so we just sat there with our eyes closed, a little confused about what was going on. Haha it was funny. Then, we went to this ice cream place later, and they gave me the tiniest spoon to try and eat this big cup of ice cream. Like one of those little sample spoons you know? I´m like, is this a joke? What is this? I get about half way done with it, and the dang handle on the little spoon snaps. So then I´m left with just the spoon, scoop part trying to eat this. And Elder Glade looks at me and starts laughing and then he asks the guy, "Can we get a REAL spoon over here." It was classic. Good times. We had a Zone Conference this week in Barra Mansa as well. That was really good. On the way back, we took the wrong bus so it took us a little while to find our way back to our area, but we made it. Good old mission.

We are still working hard, trying to get a baptism for this week. The work here is getting more organized with working with the members and stuff. We had an activity this last week that turned out pretty hilarious and I think that everyone had fun. Everyone was just laughing hysterically so that´s a good sign, right? We did a missionary race where we had everyone eat something, do exercises, sweep up the floor, tie a tie, and make a contact with someone. It was pretty great but pretty wild as you can imagine. I think that the members really enjoyed it though. Good stuff. Well, don´t know what else I need to tell you. Just keep money in my account and that should be good. I'll let you know if I need stuff. Also, when you send packages, put a couple of pictures of Jesus on it, because then people don´t steal stuff from them. Things are still going really great here and I hope they are still going good for all of you too. Have a good week and I will talk to you next week.

Love, Elder McDonald

Monday, April 19, 2010

Braden's second week in Volta Redonda

Hey Everybody how´s it going?

Hahaha that email about the Baiano accent from Sam is pretty funny. It´s just a really crazy accent that one of the states here has, equivalent to a hippy accent back home or like a surfer guy. Heyyy my brotherrrr, howww are youuuu. Did you get those pictures that he sent from the confirmation and baptism? And I can´t believe I forgot to tell you about our trip to the bus station; or maybe I did but I just don´t remember, sorry if I repeat. But we all got piled into Sam´s car, which remember is about the size of Dad´s old Geo, if not smaller, and we all had our bags as well. I had my two, Rezende had about three, Billin had another two, we had our backpacks and other small things...it was pretty nuts, but way sweet. I couldn't see them in the back seat because they were buried under all of the stuff haha. It was great. And I also forgot to tell you that when we got into our house here in Volta Redonda, Elder Glade got locked in the bathroom within the first five minutes because the door handle was all messed up so I´m looking around for like a knife or something to try and get the dang thing open by sliding the knife in the crack, and finally he got out of there. I couldn't stop laughing but I felt way bad for him. I just hear this ´´ ....oh man´´ from the kitchen, and I figured something was wrong. hahaha he´s such a funny guy. He reminds me a lot of Bill just because he has red hair and he is always doing something funny. So needless to say, we get along swell.

Oh man, the hills here are pretty nuts though. So this ladies car wasn´t starting and we asked if she needed help pushing it up this hill... :) and she´s like yeah, thanks. So we get behind it with these two other little Brasilians and start pushing and we get about halfway up and she pulls her emergency brake for who knows why, so we´re sweating like crap and I just blurt out ´´hey, is your brake on?!´´ in English, not remembering that we´re in Brasil cause we´re dying back there, and the little boy next to me looks at me like I´m crazy and then I look at my companion and just start dying laughing because I realize what happened. She finally puts her brake off and we get to the top and then she just puts it in neutral and goes on her way. It was pretty hilarious; we´re trying to push this dang car and all the sudden it just gets really hard to push all of the sudden haha. Oh Brasil.

More about hills. We went to the other Elders area in 9 de Abril, Elder Haws and Elder Kunz. Oh yeah, Elder Kunz is in my district again which is really sweet. But they have so many more hills than we do, so I can´t complain anymore. We´re trying to help this lady out by taking things down to this party that they are having in the streets, and she lives on top of this giant hill and we had to walk down to the bottom to drop off this stuff, and we ended up making that trip about five times haha. Ridiculous right? And the last time was just a waste because we get up there just to find out that there wasn´t anymore to take, so we walk back down again. :) NOSSA! haha It was pretty great looking back at it now though.

We had some really awesome experiences here as well. On Friday, we went to the area of the Sisters to do interviews for the kids that were getting baptized. This family is elect and they were so awesome. I was talking with one of the kids, Leonardo, and he is such an awesome kid. He was showing me his history book for school and we were just talking about the Book of Mormon and his school and other stuff. It was great. The Spirit was really strong with this family and we all left feeling so happy. It was awesome. They were such an awesome family and I think that the parents are trying to get baptized next. We also met an awesome guy in the area of the other Elders as well. We hadn't eaten lunch that day because we had too much to do and lunch with the member was really far away and he was freakin' out like, you guys have to eat! So he makes us all of these pastels and stuff (even though we told him not to) and talked to him and his family. They are really awesome. They are really poor and it was so cool to see how willing they were to serve us even though they didn't have much to give. Those experiences are when I see the love of Christ the most; seeing someone give all that they have just to help someone else. It is amazing. I love the people here. Money is not an issue for them; they are happy as they are. I love it.

 Yesterday at church was amazing as well; we got to teach a class for the new members because they didn't have a teacher and it was really awesome. I have grown so much here; teaching people and talking in front of people is nothing now. I´m so used to it now and I love doing it. It is so cool working with the new members here in our Ward. They are awesome. We are trying to baptize these two girls this week and the parents of a girl that is a member already. They are really awesome! This week should be good. We also had lunch yesterday with one of the coolest families that I've met on my mission so far. Sunday lunches are the best here; so far we have had the coolest families. The family that we had for lunch last week gave us a ride to lunch this week; they are so tight. But this family was so sweet. We had Churrasco yesterday!! So good! Brasilian barbeque at its finest! Oh man. Best food for sure so far! And one of the guys there got back from his mission awhile ago so we were talking to him about that. He has a brother that we were talking to also and he was trying to convince me to go for one of the teams here, Flamengo, which is already my favorite, but I told him that I would love them even more and make them my favorite team if he would buy me an official jersey of theirs and he just started laughing. It was funny, they are an awesome family. He did give me a key chain of Flamengo though. haha Oh man.

How is everything going for all of you? It sounds like things are still going great. That´s so sweet that you got your braces off Dad. And it sounds like all of the houses are going up quick. It must look really different huh? It´s getting warm there now, huh? Kind of weird to think that there are different temperatures besides hot. :) It actually did get pretty cool last week with all the rain, and that was so nice; a rare luxury for sure.

We had some awesome miracles here yesterday; some tender mercies of the Lord. We have been working all this last week to find people to bring to church and they all fell through when we tried to go and get them all over this city to get them to church. But the Lord blessed us and we had three investigators who had already made it to church when we got there so we are going to teach them this week. The Lord will always bless you when you are obedient and when you give everything that you have to him and work your hardest. It is definitely in a different way than how you would expect, but He always blesses you. I have already grown so much here and this is only the beginning of my mission. I am so excited to see how much I grow in the Gospel. Morning study for three hours is the greatest; but it always flies by so fast! I love reading the scriptures and finding more scriptures that will help our investigators. It is amazing! There is so much power in the scriptures and in bearing testimony! I absolutely love studying and teaching! The people here are amazing and I never want to leave. I have been so tremendously blessed by the Lord and hope to grow even more and become a much better missionary. I don´t want to waste any of my mission so I have been trying to work my hardest all the time and not let any minute get wasted. It gets tough sometimes, but seeing people´s lives change because of the power of the Spirit is amazing and makes everything worth it. You forget about all of your problems and only care about serving them and serving the Lord. There isn't anything like it.

I hope that everything is going great for all of you and I am praying for you always. I´m so grateful for this opportunity to be here and my heart is so full. I love this work and I love our Savior and Heavenly Father. I´m so grateful to have a Prophet today. I love you all and will talk to you next week.

Love, Elder McDonald

Monday, April 12, 2010

First transer-Braden in Volta Redonda

Oh man, this week has been the greatest week of my life I think. It´s been so awesome! So we didn't know we were getting transferred until Monday night and we had to be ready to leave by the next morning, so that was fun. Elder Billin, Elder Rezende, and I were all transferred. Elder Billin is one of the Zone leaders in Juiz de Fora as you guys know, Elder Rezende is now the District leader in Tijuca, and I am now in Volta Redonda with my new companion Elder Glade who is our District leader as well. He is from Bountiful and he is so awesome and hilarious! It´s been cool being companions with the District leaders in both areas now because I have learned a ton from them for sure; very sweet! Então, I must begin telling the stories of my many adventures this week.

So, first of all, we got on the bus at about 6 on Tuesday to go to Rio and meet our new companions and head to our new areas, and needless to say, we didn't make it to Rio that day. It was raining a little bit in Rio das Ostras when we left, but on our way to Niteroí, it was getting pretty crazy; there was a ton of flooding and we were driving through it all until we got to a place where they closed the port. I don´t know exactly what happened but I just heard that there was a ton of flooding and a lot of people were dying, especially in the Fevelas. Pretty crazy. It has been raining a lot this last week, but today it is pretty nice outside. So Tuesday, we headed back to Rio das Ostras for that day, which kind of sucked cause I hate saying goodbye twice. I was crying when I had to leave, just looking at Samuel because he was all sad and crying too. haha but it was good. It really is hard to leave people that you care so much about here because you don´t know when you will see them again. I was sad to leave Elder Rebouças there too cause he is hilarious and an awesome Brasilian. So Tuesday, President had all of the missionaries stay in their apartments because of all of the flooding, so we just hung out, played some chess, made a going away cake, American style, and just stuff like that. It was awesome!

The next day, we went to Rio, and made it this time, but we didn't leave until the afternoon cause it was still raining in the morning. It was sad leaving Rezende and Billin, but my new companion and district is awesome! So, here comes the fun part for us. Elder Glade and I are both completely new in our area, so we had to find out where we lived. But none of the Elders knew......thank goodness for the Sisters. Finally have sisters in our district, both Brasilians. Our area is HUGE. It took us an hour and a half to get to a lunch appointment last week and an hour and a half to get back. Crazy. So anyway, they gave us directions how to get to our house, so we´re hauling our suitcases down all of these roads looking for our house. We get to this ``house`` that in reality looks like an abandoned warehouse, not even joking. It was kind of scary. Looked like a haunted house, and Elder Glade is like, “I think this is it”. Elder Rezende was here right before me and said that our house looks like an abandoned warehouse, and apparently he wasn't kidding haha. We opened the door, and there are these creepy stairs and the only light is this dim light and the top of the stairs hahaha it was awesome. We got in our house on the second floor, and it is actually really nice inside. A ton bigger than my other one and there are only two of us. But don´t worry, our house is really sweet and we have members right down the hall that are really awesome. Sister Sandra, one of the neighbors, made us a cake today actually! Hallelujah, I´m excited to eat it! The members here are so, so awesome and I love everything about this place already! It´s so amazing! There is a huge steel factory here, like the biggest one in Brazil. And there are a lot of houses on the hill here that are really sweet! I bet you could look up some pictures of it on the computer. Our Bishop is the coolest guy ever as well. The members here are a lot more outgoing and helpful to us here than in Oyster Town, but I still loved it there.

There are a lot of people here that are obsessed with the fact that we are American though, and it gets tough to teach them about the Gospel because all they want to do is practice English with us. I've met some snakes here as well, snaky girls that is. A lot more than in my last area. They asked me how old I was and I told them 19 and they were like, WHAT, you look like you´re 23 or something, and yesterday I had a girl say that I looked like I was 26! haha She´s like yeah, you have a beard and you´re really tall. haha it was pretty funny, but those kind of girls are just crazy. She asked if I had a lot of girls checking me out in America and that was when I knew it was time to leave haha. Elder Glade is really an awesome Elder though, he is a really good district leader for us because he shows a ton of love for each of the missionaries in our district; it´s great. We have been trying to find more people to teach this week and it is a little challenging, being new to the area, but has been really good for us. We have met some really awesome people for sure. Our chapel is beautiful. It´s brand new and has two stories with the chapel on the top floor and you can see all of the hills and stuff out the window. Really awesome. I´m already in love with this place. And I finally got to play the piano yesterday for Sacrament :) I was pretty dang happy about that. Testimony meeting was so awesome yesterday too, The Spirit was so strong. The members here are incredible. Elder Glade and I also bore our testimonies and it was really cool; a really spiritual experience for both of us.

I have had one of the most spiritual experiences of my life this last week. We were at Jane´s house for lunch, and we asked her if she needed anything and she said that she would like a blessing of comfort because her husband passed away a while ago and she is having problems. I just was thinking of how tough it must be to keep enduring to the end after something like that has happened. I can´t even imagine. So we asked her which one of us she would like to give her a blessing, and she said I could, and I was a little nervous because I have only given a blessing in Português one other time, and that was for the anointing of the sick, but it was a good experience for me to exercise faith. Right when we placed our hands on her head, The Spirit took over and gave me the words to say, the words that she needed to hear for comfort and The Spirit was so strong. When the blessing was over, she was in tears and it was so powerful there. I am really grateful for this experience that I had, to feel the pure love of Christ for someone else and to serve someone else and help them out in their life. This is what missionary work is all about.

Love, Elder McDonald

Memories from Rio das Ostras

Braden got transferred from Rio das Ostras this last week.  Here are some of the things he was able to experience in the short time he was there.

Braden and his first companion/trainer, Elder Billins, picture taken the 2nd day Braden was out, on February 28, 2010. 

 3/7/10-Braden's first baptism experience

3/21/10-Braden's second baptism experience

Fun times for Braden and the other elders in Rio das Ostras

4/5/10-Braden's third baptism experience.  Elder Billins and he would be moved from Rio das Ostras the next day.  

4/5/10-Elder Billins, Sam Jr. and Braden

4/5/10-Braden with Elder Billins and Sam Jr.-Going to Rio das Ostras on the Rio-Niteroi bridge

4/5/10-Braden eating a sandwich=-Samuel Jr. wrote about the picture, Hehehehhe This was the right time!!!!

4/5/10-Samuel Jr. wrote-The Preperation Day lunch was in my home. Billin and I made some American hot dogs.. with Tabasco, Heinz Tomato Ketchup and bad Brazilian mustard .. it was very tasty.

4/5/10-Elder Billins and Braden

Monday, April 5, 2010

Conference Weekend in Brazil

This week was pretty crazy and busy, but it was definitely a good week as well. I don´t really know where to begin. I hope that you all had a good week and that you had an awesome Easter as well! I hope that you enjoyed Conference; I enjoyed the parts that I got to watch. On Saturday, I was on divisions with another elder trying to find people to bring to conference with us and we couldn't find anyone; we were waiting for a man to get ready and when we went back to pick him up, he wasn't even there. It was disappointing for sure.

We missed the first session, and when he finally got back, he couldn't go to the second session either, so we taught him a lesson and went to meet up with the other elders. We got into Âncora to find a lady and take her to Conference with us, but she wasn't home either. We left and went to Macaé and made it in time to watch the last part of the second session. The talks were really good; the music was amazing. Conference here was at 1-3, and then 5-7, so that we could watch it live from Salt Lake, too. Priesthood was from 9-11 at night, so we had to go the next morning and watch a re-broadcasting of it at about 8. So we had to get up early to go to Macaé again in time for that. The computer wasn't working for the American Elders to watch it in English, so we had to go in and watch it with everyone else in Português. It was good, but it was weird not hearing their actually voices.

And no, we didn't have a big Easter dinner, or lunch, or anything. We were fasting on Friday for more help this week and we didn't eat on Saturday really either, just like a sandwich in the car on the way to the second session was all. It is good though; it´s hard to find time to eat, too much to do.

Sunday, we brought three of our investigators to the first session and watched the last half of it again with them; it was such an amazing session. All of the talks and the musical numbers were awesome, the ones I saw anyway. I am glad I got to hear Elder Bednar and Elder Holland on Saturday Night in the second session cause they are two of my favorites. We got to see ALL of the second session on Sunday which was so awesome! It was an incredible session as well; I can´t believe that Conference is already over though! What the Heck? We had a baptism yesterday in between conferences as well and it was very good. It turned out really well; my companion baptized this boy named Orlando and it was an awesome experience.

 We had Zone conference as well in Niteroí on Thursday, another early morning for us. I can't remember what time we got up, at least by four I think. We took a little awesome car and headed to that. It was in a really nice chapel; so pretty! Right when we began the meeting, President asked for all of the new missionaries and all of the missionaries who were leaving to come up and bear their testimonies. I was the last of the new ones in our zone (there were three of us) It was pretty scary, but it was really good. The Spirit was very strong. Afterward, President came up to me and my companion and said: Você fala melhor que o todo mundo Elder McDonald. You speak better than everyone Elder McDonald! My face lit up and I was so happy! It felt so good to hear that from President because I have been working my butt off trying to learn and get better and have been praying and fasting a lot for the Gift of Tongues, and the Lord has blessed me tremendously. I still have a long way to go though! I remember the first day though, when I couldn't understand a word he was saying, and then at zone conference I understood everything! I understood about 95% of Zone Conference too which was a huge blessing. President is hilarious; he was telling us that if we don´t work our hardest, we are going to marry an ugly witch someday and be miserable forever. He told us that if we see a pretty Brazilian lady, just imagine her with a mustache and if her name is Maria, call her Antonio Maria, and that should help. Haha it was awesome! He is very funny but a spiritual giant as well. He really cares about each one of us and so does his wife. Zone conference was definitely a good experience for me and I learned a ton. We only get mail at zone conferences like every six weeks; it takes a long time for stuff to get here, but hopefully I will get your package by next zone conference. They sent that letter in February and it got here at the end of March, so it takes about a month to get here I think. I don´t know how it is with packages.

Anyway, time for some of the more humorous times. So the other Elders came back home at night from contacting, and they said that they saw a guy who was jogging with short shorts and no shirt who had his water bottle tucked in his buttcrack (Excuse my tongue). hahaha It was so funny, I was dying. They always have crazy funny stories. Oh, and every morning during study, without fail, there is an advertising car that drives down our street blasting Final Countdown by Europe and it is so annoying!  THE FINAL COUNTDOWN! nana nana, bada ba ba ba! It´s nuts. I´m trying to think of some other things that have been going on with us. We think we might have transfers this week which is really sad; I´m not ready for them yet. It feels like I just got here and I've only been here for a week. How is it April already? I´m excited to get that package though, I am missing candy for sure. The dessert here is so good though; they have some awesome things that I am going to learn how to make before I come home. Still got a while.

  The work here is progressing though. Some days you feel like you are about to collapse walking around the streets, but those are usually the days that you find awesome people and have really good lessons. The Lord recognizes our sacrifices and I have been so blessed while I've been here. I have recognized the tender mercies of the Lord everyday with learning more from the language and being protected. Brasil is a lot better when you actually understand what is going on :)

This Easter and this conference have meant more to me than ever because I am seeing the real importance. It occurred to me that we actually have a living Prophet on the earth today and what an amazing thing that is! I never realized what an amazing gift that is for us and how blessed we really are. I love you all! Have an awesome week.

Love, Elder McDonald