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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Week 4 in Galeão

Hey Guys,

How´s everything going? ...sounds like Thanksgiving went well and that you also had a good time at the Temple Conference again. I still remember that from last year, with Elder Rasband. That was really cool and the music was amazing. That´s cool, Dad, that you got to sing in the choir. Sounds like it snowed a ton and that you guys are freezing to death while I´m down here burning to death haha. No, it´s still not as hot as it´s going to get here in December and January. We´ll see what happens. That´s cool that Travis gave his farewell. He´s already leaving? I can´t believe November is already over! Fastest month I´ve ever had, honestly. That will be fun to have another Christmas party.

This week was really interesting and had a lot of surprises. That´s good that President emailed you; all of this stuff going on with the Police cleaning out the Favelas with these bandits and stuff. Don´t worry though, I haven´t seen anything crazy going on and we are completely safe. We stayed inside most of the day Friday and Saturday after lunch, studying, because of it, but yesterday after church we went and worked again and everything was normal. So that was good, nothing to worry about. I guess there is a ton of stuff going on in the news about everything that is going on. But, in spite of all of that, we baptized yesterday!! It was a lady that we have been trying to baptize since I got here. She has a lot of problems with her legs and hasn´t been able to leave her house, not even in a car, to go to church. But yesterday, we passed by there really early, and invited her to church and she was feeling a lot better, so we baptized her after church. It was really amazing. She is Cassia´s mom, and Cassia was really happy to see her get baptized finally. The bishop and members love me here because I play the piano, it´s great haha. These people here are the coolest, honestly. We had the best lunch yesterday as well, oh man. These families that we eat lunch with know their way around the kitchen, heh heh. On Saturday we had lunch with Deivid, who is a huge Utah Jazz fan and was telling me all about what was going on in the NBA haha it was funny. It was funny talking to him, his wife said that he was so happy to have found an American elder to talk with about basketball.

This week, I´ve been studying the Conference talks from November 2008. There are some incredible talks in there!! My favorites are by President Uchtdorf about hope and Elder Bednar about Prayer. I remember that we were at Susan´s house during this conference and it was the day that Johnathan got home from his mission. It seems like yesterday, but I can't believe that I´m on my mission now, and almost at the half way mark as well. How ridiculous! It was great to have more study time this week and study these talks and these scriptures that come along with them. I will never study the same way that I studied before the mission when I get home. I never used to look forward to it the way that I do now on the mission. It is an incredible opportunity to learn so much more about the Gospel, be taught by the Spirit, and see things in a deeper perspective. I hope that I will always continue with this study habit when I get home. One of the things that Elder Glade was telling me that President told him was that the most important thing that we do on the mission is gaining our own personal salvation; I´ve been thinking about that a lot and how much I´ve been learning and growing, being obedient to every rule that I can, exercising more faith, and putting my confidence in the Lord. I hope that I am growing and changing for the better. President has given us some amazing teachings at Zone conferences and interviews. One thing he has taught us is that if we want to increase our faith, we have to do things that require faith. He taught that we will never learn anything new inside of our comfort zone. We have to step into the darkness and we will be given more light and direction. Faith is not only a feeling, but it is a Decision. I know that is true. A scripture that I read on Friday and loved is in Jeremiah 17:7. I´ll try to translate it. ``Blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.`` I really love this scripture and know that we need to make the Lord our foundation for everything. Only through His Atonement can we have any sense of security in this life. I know that this Church is true. It´s been awhile since I´ve shared my testimony with you guys. I know that Christ loves us, that He is the reason I am out here, trying to learn more about Him and strengthen my relationship with him. Like I said in a letter I sent to a friend, it´s funny that I had to go so far away to get closer to my family and to my Savior. I´m still learning to trust in Him more and give Him everything that I have. I have felt His love so much in my mission so far and am so grateful for the experiences and the help He has given me. I know I can't learn anything in my comfort zone, and for this, I am out here in another country, with another language and people I´ve never seen in my life, teaching the things that I know and trusting in the Lord for everything. I know that President Bezerra is called of God. You guys don´t know how much love I have for my President and all of the support and love that he has shown and given me. I love him. I love my Savior. I love my Heavenly Father. I want more than anything, to live with them and with all of you forever! I know that we are sealed by the power of the Priesthood and that we will be together forever. I love you all and hope that you all have an amazing week. It will be good to talk with you all again on Christmas! Be safe and take care. Until next week!

Love, Elder McDonald

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Week 3 in Galeão

Hey Everyone,

Well, this week was pretty great as well. My companions a pretty hilarious guy. We have some good times together for sure. I´m really liking living with four Elders again, it´s pretty fun. I love the members here so much as well and have already gotten to know most of them pretty well when we eat lunch with them. Djalma and Aline are the coolest people in the world! Djalma is a recent convert and is the funniest and nicest guy I have ever met. He has a big long pony tail and it´s way sweet. Matias´s family is the greatest as well; his mom treats us like her children, it´s great. She always has a snack for us whenever we go over to her house haha I am being taken care of very well here, don´t you worry. I was talking to Sam at Zone Conference and he said that when his mission ends in December and if I´m still here in the next transfer, he is going to come back here and visit these people again and work with me. That will be way sweet! I´d also love to come back here after the mission with him and visit all of these people that we met.

This week, we marked two baptismal dates with Wellington and Monica, they are both really awesome and really receptive. Monica seems really, really anxious to come to church, but she has to work almost every day of the week, but she said that this week she has Sunday off and that she will come to church with us.

I´m trying to think of more things that have happened this week. I can´t believe that November is already over almost and that this year is also almost over. It´s so weird. I still feel like I just got here on the mission. I´m really anxious to get the new Liahona for this month with the Conference talks. Have you guys gotten it yet? Haha yesterday was funny. I was playing piano for Sacrament, and the pages kept flipping because of the ceiling fans that were blowing and there weren´t any other hymn books to help keep the page open, so as I´m there struggling to keep the book open and play at the same time, one of the members daughters comes and saves me and puts a hymn book up to keep the other one open haha. It was funny. Then after Sacrament, they came up and talked to me and were like, We saw you struggling there keeping the book open I told her to run over there and save you haha it was pretty hilarious. This Ward really is amazing and I´m loving serving here! I´m so blessed to be serving in these amazing areas with these amazing people!! I love the mission so much and am so grateful to the Lord for the tremendous blessings that I have. I love you all so much and am so grateful for you all! Tell Grandma and Grandpa hi for me and enjoy the rest of the week at Disneyland and Happy Thanksgiving!!! Eat lots for me, seeing how they don´t celebrate it here. Love you! Until next week.

-Elder McDonald

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week 1 in Galeão

Hey Everyone,

How´s everything going there? It was good to get your letters, they were great! Well, I finally got transferred; it´s pretty different because it´s been awhile since I´ve had a change haha. You´re not going to believe this, but I switched places with Sam pretty much. I took over in his area with his companion in Galeão, it´s an island here in Rio and it´s so sweet!! I love it already! Sam went with Elder Young to Angra dos Reis which is a huge tourist city with tons and tons of awesome beaches. It was pretty hilarious that we switched companions, but I really wanted to be companions with Sam; that would have been really sweet. Anyway, the members here are amazing!! I love them already! I know about 5 or 6 families already and they are absolutely amazing! One of them has family in Utah and Florida and her and her husband have already been up and visited a bunch of times, it was pretty sweet to talk to them about Utah and everything. My new companion is Elder Batista and he is pretty hilarious. We live with the other Elders in Ilha do Governador which is their area and we are trying to get an apartment to move into our part of the area to be closer to our area of concentration. Our area of concentration is awesome; there are so many awesome people there and lots and lots of people to visit in general.

Yesterday, we had Stake Conference in Caixias, so I haven´t even had a regular church meeting to get to know all of the members yet. But it was really, really good. President and Sister Bezerra were both there and they both gave awesome talks about missionary work and how the members need to help us more, it was great :) It was funny this week, we were heading back home at night and we were crossing a brigde that goes over the main street, and all of the sudden we hear a big bang that came from underneath us and I look down and someone had dropped and huge beer keg from the top of the brigde and it landed in the middle of the street below and just exploded! It was nuts! Luckily it didn´t hit any cars or anything and they didn´t have any accidents either, thank goodness. Pretty crazy. This week was also the hottest week of my life!! It got about 110 degrees or more outside and we were dying. Neither of us have ever seen a day so hot in our lives, and he´s Brasilian and has a year and 8 months on the mission, pretty crazy. Then, the next day, it was the exact opposite. I saw more rain than I have ever seen in my life. We were on a hill waiting for the rain to stop, and the street filled up with water and there was literally a river running down the middle of the street where we were, it was pretty nuts. It´s been really cool here though. You step out of our house and start walking down the street and have an incredible view of Rio and of the ocean and beach and everything. From the bridge that I was talking about earlier, at night you can see the Christ statue and everything lit up in Rio and it is so amazing!! I am loving this place so much already. Although, I still miss all of the people in my last area for sure. I also saw Elder Billin at the bus station on Tuesday and took pictures with him and Sam, it was great. I will have to try and send it to you.

That´s pretty crazy about the card that got left out of the package haha what a bummer. But thanks, that all sounds great. I´ll probably get it at the conference for Christmas I think. I hope. But I love you guys so much and am praying for you everyday! I love this work and am doing great here in Galeão!! Until next week alright?

Love, Elder McDonald