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, June 27, 2011

27 June 2011

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for the letters, they were great! I had a lot today! I got an email from Ashton, from Elder Glade, and from my other companion, Elder Young who just got engaged. It was cool to hear from all of them; it is so weird to see my old companions growing up and moving on with their lives already; feels like they were just here with me yesterday. I don´t have a ton of time to write to you guys today because I just wrote a letter to President and Sister for their last week here and an email that they are going to keep forever, so that took me about a half hour. It was really hard to know what to say to them. What do you say to these incredible people who have done so much for me? It´s tough, that´s all I know. President and Sister are coming here today to visit us and President is going to give us blessings today as well. It will be one of the last things that they will do before they leave, so I feel very privileged. It still hasn´t sunken in that they are leaving yet, but I´m sure it will soon, right?

Wow, it sounds like Tanner´s homecoming talk went really well. It really motivated me to work harder and do better; I´m sure that he was an amazing missionary and did a lot of miracles on the mission. I don´t feel like I have grown or done enough here on the mission, so I need to get going!! Elder Glade and Elder Young were telling me about how much they miss the mission and how much I need to enjoy the time that I have here and not waste a single minute of it. I need to be better at that.

So today we have transfers. I don´t know what is going to happen to me, we just have to see. Yesterday I gave a talk in Sacrament and played the piano, it went well. I totally destroyed two of the songs, especially the last one when I messed up the introduction really bad, that was embarrassing. Then by the end, I was making so many mistakes that I just started smiling and one of the young men noticed in the audience and came up to me laughing afterwards. One thing I´ve learned on the mission. Just laugh more. I know I make a lot of stupid mistakes. I used to get too stressed out and I still beat myself up too much about things, but I need to relax and enjoy things as they happen. I remember when I turned district leader, I started getting a few gray hairs haha but now I´m fine/normal again.

I really want to enjoy the rest of the time that I have, I know that I don´t have much so I need to do a lot of improving, really fast. I´m grateful for all of you and I´m so happy that you are all doing great! Tell Tanner and Spencer hi for me the next time that you see them, ok?  Hope that you are enjoying your summer and that you are planning on doing some fun things. I love the mission! I´m grateful for this last day I have to spend with President and Sister Bezerra. I love everything here!! I need to enjoy it more! Love you all!

Love, Elder McDonald

Sunday, June 26, 2011

20 June 2011

Hey Family,

How is everything going? Thanks for the emails, sounds like you are all having a good start for the summer, that´s good. Sounds like those plays were really awesome! That is cool that you guys also went to the St. George Temple, that must have been amazing. Well, I´m not going to lie, I didn´t actually know that it was Father´s Day until right now; Father´s Day here isn´t until August, so sorry about that Dad and Grandpa! I hope that it was an amazing day for you both and thank you both for everything that you have done for me. I´m sorry I haven´t always shown the gratitude for you both that you each deserve, but as time goes on, I realize all of the sacrifices that you have made for me and that they really were big sacrifices. That goes for you, Mom, and Grandma as well. The mission really helps you see how many blessings you have and how much you take for granted. I know I have seen a lot of things here that make me wish I would have been more grateful in the past for everything that I had.

I have been pretty sad this last week, I´ll be honest. President and Sister Bezerra only have this last week and then they are leaving. I think of how much I have learned and grown with them both and how much that I love them and am grateful for the both of them; how blessed that I am to have had the amazing opportunity to work with these amazing people and participate in these amazing miracles that are happening in this amazing mission. Last night, we went to a fireside in the Zone leader´s ward that they invited us to, and we looked at the huge difference that has happened since President got here, going from the second to last mission in baptizing, up to where we are now, being the first. They were talking a lot about how the attitude of the people was before, how everyone thought that this mission, this city, was too wicked to have miracles and to have a strong church membership. After all, when people think of Rio, the first thing they think about is beaches, pretty girls, lots of partying, and iniquity. That was the mindset of the people when President Bezerra first got here. He talked to us about the battle he had with the people, the members and everyone about changing this sad story. I got to thinking about when people would joke around with me before the mission when they found out where I was going. It was funny when Elder Merrell said the same thing, that when he was at home everyone said ``oh man, Rio, everyone is always drunk and you´re going to get shot.`` That was pretty funny. It has been amazing to see how much this mission has grown and to be a part of this miracle in this amazing mission. The Lord is preparing this city, as Elder Scott said, to be a huge help for the church. He talked about the potential that this city has and how Satan is well aware of it, that is why he is doing everything to keep it from growing. They talked about all of this in the fireside yesterday, it went really well. There is so much that I still need to learn on the mission. I get sad when I think about the short time that I have left, so I try not to think about it :) I love everything about this experience.

President and Sister Bezerra are coming to visit us this week and I´m really excited. President is going to give us all blessings, that is going to be amazing!

I don´t really know what else to say to you all; I know that this Gospel is true. I love my Savior. I want to be able to say by the end of my mission that I know my Savior. I am still trying to work until that point, learning about Him, His works, and His life. I love you all, I hope that you all know that. This time I have had on the mission has been the best time that I have had in my life. Have an amazing week and I will talk to you all next week!

-Love, Elder McDonald

Here´s the new mission address:

Rua Dois de Dezembro 78, Salas 703/704

Flamengo - Rio de Janeiro - RJ



13 June 2011

Hey Everyone,

While you are all loving the heat of the summer up there, the nights here are pretty chilly. I´m loving it! My favorite kind of weather; just needs to snow now. This week was pretty crazy, but I´m really happy. I love this place and I love the Elders here, they are incredible. My district is perfect, everyone gets along great and we laugh a ton. I got a huge email from JJ today, it´s really funny. He has changed after the mission. I didn´t get to finish it all because it is so long, but I printed it off to read it after. Tell him thanks and tell him congratulations for knowing how to write a good letter.

This week we were trying to find a new place to start working; we found some really cool people that said they would come to church. We passed by there yesterday and nobody was there or they didn´t want to go anymore. These people. They drive me crazy with their stupid excuses and lies. But, you still have to love them, right? What gets me the most is that they always say, ``I´m not going to be able to go today, sorry.`` ``But you promised yesterday, and we came all the way over here just to go with you to church.`` ``I know. But I told someone I would go with them somewhere today, right now actually.`` ``But you told us you would go to church first, before they talked to you, remember? So...you should tell these people that you already have something marked.`` ``Yeah....but I´ll go next Sunday, don´t worry.`` (NO you won´t) ``.....alright.....`` ``You´re not annoyed with me, are you?`` ``..........(are you really asking me that? No, I´m way happy that you aren´t going.) Yeah....I´m pretty annoyed...and sad....but oh well....see you later.``

That´s usually how these types of conversations go with these people that don´t want anything. You get used to it after awhile though, and then you can usually tell who is actually going to go on Sunday; you can see a pattern. We had a cool couple that went to church  yesterday that we are going to work with to baptize this Sunday. The guy´s name is João Batista and he is a really awesome guy, really laid back and funny. He will be an awesome member. We had a really cool activity on Saturday as well that we planned out. We got a really amazing ward mission leader finally and he is incredible. We had a scavenger hunt and it turned out really funny, and then we also made American pancakes with maple syrup; they loved them. All of the members who went loved it and had an awesome time. We gained a lot more confidence from the members. I will be sad to leave these people as well. I´ve made a lot of friends here in this ward. I cannot believe how fast time is going though, it is insane. 

I don´t really know what else happened this week that was funny or that was really exciting. I´m trying to think. The members came up to me yesterday and were asking when we were going to have the next activity, so that was a good sign. Sounds like that will be fun at the play this week. You lucky ducks, getting off for summer break, that must be nice. Tell Kens that I´ll look for some cool bracelets, they for sure have them. And I will try to find a cool Brasil ornament to bring home with me. I bought a cool mission bag and some scripture cases that I will bring home with the mission logo on it. It has the Christ statue and Pão de Açucar on it, it looks really awesome. I´m starting to think about stuff that I want to buy to bring home with me for souvenirs. I can´t really think of anything really cool besides cool shirts and jerseys haha. I need some ideas here.

Well, tell everyone hi for me there, ok? Did you guys send that email to Ashton last week. Dad, I think that I got here in this area on the 25th of January. Wow, I was looking at the calender right now and I can´t believe that much time has already gone by since I got here in Juiz de Fora. Yeah, I´m still in Manchester. I´ve been here for six months but it seems like maybe two.

Well, I hope that you all have a great week. Thank you all for the prayers and for the help. I love you all. See ya later!

-Love Elder McDonald

7 June 2011

The first one is President and me and the other two are at the baptism of Milena. Her sister, Letícia is in the black, and she was also baptized. Their mom,Valquíria, was a less active member and is now active and going every week. The little boy is João Vitor and will be baptized when he turns 8 this year.

Hey Guys,
I don´t know if you are wondering why you didn´t get a letter from me yesterday, but in case you were, I have been in Rio since Sunday night, going to renew my visa at the airport. Fun stuff. We left right before Sacrament Meeting on Sunday so I had the other Elders in my district come and stay with the two girls who were getting confirmed. We took off and made it to the Bus Station just in time to get our bus to Rio. It is about a 3 hour drive to get there, so it was a nice relaxing ride. It´s been awhile since I´ve traveled, so I really loved that. We got there and the house was packed with missionaries: the secretaries, the assistants and a bunch of others. I saw Elder Walters, Elder Moore, Elder Clegg, and Elder Gentry who were all going to do the same thing. We had to wake up at 5:30 yesterday morning, P-day, to go to the airport, and the mattresses in their apartment are really bad, so that was fun. Then we finally made it back here last night at about 10:30 or so. We found a Walmart in Rio so we went and made a visit and I ate the first glazed donut in a year and five months, that was great. It was pretty fun hanging out there in Barra da Tijuca. It´s one of the nicest places in the City of Rio so that was cool.

Our zone had 10 confirmations on Sunday, that was really good! This week was more interesting than the others though. We need to find a new area to work because we´ve basically dried out Milho Branco with all of the elect people that were there, prepared to be baptized. We are going to find a new place to work today.

I had a really cool experience at Wanderleia´s house this week, one of our recent converts. We were over there sharing a message with her, and all of the sudden she broke out in tears because her son went to prison because he was involved with drugs. She has been going through a really tough time with her family, with her kids. She is the only one that is a member in her family and actually trying to make their lives better. She has a lot of faith, I have learned a ton from her. I was just sitting there, saying a silent prayer in my head about what I could tell her to make her feel better. She needed to hear something that would bring her comfort. I had an impression to share a scripture with her in Matthew that really helped her out. It was a really spiritual experience for me as well as for her.

We have been gaining a lot more confidence with the members and they have really opened up a ton with us, it has been great! I am trying to work a lot more with them and it has been going really well. The families that we have baptized and been visiting are so amazing! I love going over there to visit. They are the most amazing people and their lives have completely changed with the Gospel. Everyone is so much more happy!

Our President only has three more weeks here with us about; I´m getting really sad. They are going to change the address of the mission office and President Lima is going to be living in a different house as well. I will get the the new mission address as soon as I find out what it is. I think his house and the office are going to be close to Copacabana, the really awesome beach here, close to Botafogo, which is right under the huge Christ statue, so that will be a lot cooler.

Other than that, I don´t know what else has happened this last week. Time just keeps flying by. I can´t believe I only have 4 more transfers on the mission; that is ridiculous. I´m getting worried haha.

Well, I love you guys! Hope that everyone is doing great! Sounds like summer is starting up, that will be cool. Tell everyone hi for me! Talk to you all next week!

Love, Elder McDonald

30 May 2011

Hey Family,

This was an amazing week for us! We saw so many miracles in our zone, it was awesome. We had two baptisms yesterday, Leticia and Eduarda, they are awesome and their families are amazing! We have been working on the same street here in one of the places called Milho Branco, which means white corn, and we have been having a lot of success there. A lot of humble people.

Yesterday we had Stake Conference and they had a bus that was going around picking people up and we were able to get 28 people on the bus and fill it up pretty well, it was pretty crazy. There were a lot of kids and their parents were trying to settle them down, it seemed like a field trip in school, everyone going wild and looking out the windows the whole time on the way to the center. The Zone did really great this week, it´s been awhile since we´ve had that much success in one week; we have really great missionaries that got transferred here. The Lord really put some awesome people in our path. We had one man that the Elders made a contact with and he accepted to go to the first session of stake conference with them and he loved it. Then they invited him to get baptized the next day, and he accepted. He had stopped smoking and drinking a few weeks before, what a coincidence, right? :) The Lord prepared him to be baptized! That was so cool.

The other man that was baptized here had been frequenting church for a long time as well and was in a different area. The Bishop of that ward called me and told me that they had a man there that wanted to be baptized. I called the Zone leaders and they interviewed him and he was baptized as well. He was a member of just about every other church that exists and he finally found the right one. He had some really cool dreams about him getting baptized in a church, and then in the dream he ended up outside of the church and looked at the plaque and it was the name of our church, how crazy is that? We also had a inactive member who found us on the bus one day that the Lord put into our path and she has been inactive for about 20 years and we visited her and her husband on Saturday and they are the coolest people ever. She is an artist and they have been all over the world. We are going to help them get back to church.

It is starting to get pretty stinking cold here; in the morning it stinks getting out of bed because it is freezing. I don´t have good clothes for this weather either, so that stinks.

Did you guys hear anything from Dylan yet? Did he write anything back to you, Mom, when you sent that to him? Do you guys know if Tanner gets back this week? He should be getting back here pretty soon.

I am really excited for this transfer. It already started out really great! I am excited to see what will happen. I am getting really sad that President only has four more weeks here with us. We will see him soon though, I think. He said he is going to give everyone a blessing, so hopefully that comes up soon. I can´t believe that I have a year and 5 months as of today and that Cory and Megan have been married for two years as of yesterday, that is so weird.

I do remember a Jake, that is funny? Does he have black hair, do you know? If it is the same one, he graduated the same year that I did. That´s pretty funny. Well, tell Jason and Susan hi and bye for me and tell Grandma and Grandpa hi for me as well. Hope that you are all doing great! Time just keeps flying out here, I can´t really believe it. Tell Ron Joyce and Kadi hi for me the next time that you see them and also tell Jacob hi for me and congratulations for their weddings. July is coming up quick! It´s already June! That is crazy that Kens is already going to be done with 8th grade this week! What is this?

Well, I love you all! Hope that you are all doing great! Have an amazing week and a nice day off today! Hope that you liked the new movie, tell me how it is.

Love, Elder McDonald

23 May 2011

How are all of you doing?

We had Zone Conference on Friday and it was amazing! I got both of my packages, Mom. The other one got here super quick, that was nice! Conference was really, really spiritual and really sad as well. We saw an awesome movie that they made for the mission and they had a huge slideshow with the baptism pictures in it and it was really cool. Sister Bezerra gave an awesome talk about her favorite topic that she always talks about, faith. It was really great haha. Then President got up and talked a lot about the Atonement and taught a lot of deep doctrine, it was so cool. Then he gave us a lot of huge tips for the mission and for the rest of our lives, since this was the last conference that he will have here on the mission. He got really choked up at the end and I got really choked up as well. He was telling us how he wants to receive wedding invites and pictures of our families, because we are all his sons. He got really choked up about that. It was a really spiritual conference. I love President Bezerra so much and I got really sad at the end of it, not wanting him to leave here in a few weeks.

Conference was in Petropolis and it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It is in the middle of the Jungle, with waterfalls and huge trees everywhere, it´s the coolest place ever. I am definitely going to visit there after the mission. It´s a really awesome place.

We had another baptism yesterday, her name is Milena and she has an awesome family! We are going to baptize her sister this Sunday as well! They are such cool people. We also have two more baptisms marked for this Sunday after the Stake Conference here. But...today is the day of transfers so we will see what happens to me. I have a feeling that I will stay here, so I won´t be too surprised if that is the case. I kind of want to leave just to visit more places here, but I´ll be happy with what the Lord wants.

I will try to send you guys a picture of the baptism, but this computer is kind of weird and it shut down the last time I put my card reader in, so I don´t want to try it again until the end. Maybe I´ll wait til another day or use my companion´s computer. That is cool that it is raining, but pretty crazy that things are going crazy. It has gotten so cold here; There isn´t even snow on the ground, and I´m sleeping with my sweater on and blankets. This tropical weather has definitely messed me up, that´s not good haha.

Yesterday when we were going to pick up our investigators, there was a fight that broke out in the street, it was pretty crazy. Luckily we were far away from it haha, then three seconds later they were fine again, I don´t know what happened. We went to Cláudia´s house, Ronan´s aunt that takes care of him, to take here to church, and she wasn´t feeling good, she had a huge head ache or something. We really wanted her to go and see Ronan´s confirmations and bring her daughters that will be baptized this week, so I offered a blessing and she accepted. We went in there and the blessing was really spiritual. Afterward, she really opened up to us and told us about her life and all of the problems that she had been through and how she wanted to change and didn´t want her kids to go through the same things that she did. She started to cry and I did as well when I was bearing my testimony to her about Christ and His Atonement and how He knew how she was feeling. I asked her how she was feeling after we were talking for a while, and she said that she was feeling better and that she was going to get ready for church to come with us. It was really cool what happened. I don´t know what I said to her that made her feel better, but I know it wasn´t me, it was The Spirit. My testimony has been really strengthened this transfer about faith and prayer, I have had amazing experiences that have really helped me grow spiritually. Lots of times, I don´t know what to do or where to go. The best thing to do is say a prayer and ask My Father in Heaven. Then go out and do something. President and Sister always talk to us about our faith, walking out in the darkness, and receiving light as we go. If we want more faith, we have to do things that require faith. Yesterday was a huge test of faith for me, going to pick up all of our investigators to go to church. All of them were really unexcited; it just happens. Satan doesn´t want these people to go to church because he knows what will happen, so he does everything he can to stop it. I have seen how powerful Satan is on the mission and how much opposition there is in all things, but my testimony has been strengthened as I have seen how the Lord is always greater than anything that happens. In the end, the Lord has all power and can perform miracles for those that have faith.

I know that this Gospel is true, because it is the only Gospel that Satan is trying to prevent everyone from knowing about. He lets all of these people here go to their churches because he knows that they aren´t true and that these people won´t have salvation through them. I know that the Lord lives and that there is opposition in all things so that we can prove our faith and show that we choose to follow the Lord. Our President said that we need to be more grateful for our difficulties and challenges; they are experiences for us to grow and become better and prove our love for the Lord and His plan. I love this Gospel, I love my Savior. I love all of you. Have an amazing week!

-Love, Elder McDonald

16 May 2011

Hey Everyone,

How is it going? This week was really awesome! We had a really cool baptism yesterday and we had interviews with the President on Wednesday, it was really cool. We had some really awesome people at church yesterday as well so we should baptize pretty well this week. The boy that we baptized yesterday is Ronan, and he´s the coolest kid ever. He´s way funny and he loves the church. His family came to church with us to watch his baptism, it was really great. The ward seems a lot more excited now and they are really helping us out a lot.

The interview with President this last week was my favorite interview that I have had so far on the mission, it was really spiritual. We were both sad that he was leaving, he´s sad and so am I. He told me that I was a really great missionary and thanked me for being a missionary that he could really trust with everything. He sent me a really cool little email today too. I´m really going to miss President Bezerra. I´m so happy that I had the privilege to work with him, under his direction and see how inspired he is. I told him to stop by our house after the mission and gave him our address and my email to keep in contact. You can tell that he is starting to get sad about the fact that he is almost leaving. I think this will be the last Zone conference that I will have with him. He said that before he leaves he is going to give every missionary a blessing individually, so I am really looking forward to that. It will be really awesome! Time is so crazy.

This week will be really fast-paced. We have to firm up our baptisms for this Sunday and visit all of these people, then we will have Zone Conference on Friday in Petrópolis which is going to be awesome; such a pretty place. Then, on top of all of that, this is the last week of the transfer. This was the fastest transfer that I have had on the mission so far, it was ridiculous! I don´t know what happened.

Sounds like you guys are staying busy as normal, that´s always good. Same here haha. Some days I wake up really stressed out from the start, I´m sure you know how that is. My Zone leaders always tell me about that, and that it is good for me haha. They say it will train me for the future, I guess they are right. It´s crazy. I have learned so much on the mission, I am loving these awesome experiences that I am having. I was just thinking about how awesome it is that the Lord has sent me here to Brasil to be with these people, with these Elders, with President Bezerra, and has helped me experience all of the things that I will need for the rest of my life, all the little things that happen everyday and all of the quick decision making. I´m really grateful for the mission and all of the things that have happened throughout. I love all of you guys. I hope that my relationship with the Lord continues to improve and that I can really have used every minute of the mission to get all that I can out of it. I am studying so hard everyday, trying to learn as much as I can. I love the scriptures and I know they are true. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, how can´t it be? I hope that you all have a great week and I will talk to you all soon.

Love, Elder McDonald

9 May 2011

Hey Everyone,

I wanted to wish you a Happy Mother´s Day again, Grandma and Mom! Hope that everything went awesome. I´m with you guys on this, I don´t have much to say after yesterday. It was really good to see all of you again and see the house and everything. It really feels like it hasn´t been that long since I have been there, it was cool to see again. I liked seeing Grandma and Grandpa and Kitty, he looks different to me now. Bishop is really hilarious, he´s a great guy and has an amazing family, I love them. You saw his son Renan and his daughter Suellen and Gregory was asleep and his wife Sandra wasn´t there, so that kind of stunk. They are hilarious. We ate lunch with them afterward and it was really good. All that meat that you guys saw and he made one more as well, he knows how to cook. :) Church was good yesterday as well. Wanderleia and Penha were confirmed and we passed out those cards to all of the moms and they really liked them, it went well. Then after church, we went back to the bishop´s house and Elder Gallacher called his family. He has a huge family, oh man. People everywhere, all gathered around the little camera in the computer room haha. I was talking to Gregory while he was talking and we were both just laughing at what he and his family would say. I talked to them a little bit, but felt like an idiot because I didn´t know what to say. It was cool though, he really liked it as well. It was cool to use the Skype thing though.

This week was pretty busy as well, this transfer has been flying by so fast, it is nuts. It is the second to last week already of this transfer. Elder Billin and Elder Johnson are going home here in two weeks, that´s pretty crazy. The mission is starting to change a little bit with all of these new missionaries coming in that I don´t know.

Thanks for getting JJ´s address for me, I will write him today. I wonder if he has found a job yet. Do you guys talk to them a lot still? I really don´t know what else to talk to you guys about today. Nothing really big happened this week or since I just talked to you guys yesterday.

I haven´t borne my testimony to you guys for awhile, so I will do that. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for us, revealed through His scriptures. I know that we have a living prophet, President Monson. I know that Joseph Smith restored this, the true church of Christ. I know that Christ came to the earth, taught His Gospel and invites everyone to follow Him. I have learned on the mission that nobody can be forced to accept this Gospel, just as they weren´t forced when Christ was here. He didn´t demand to be followed, but simply invited everyone with love. I am grateful for our agency and for the opportunity I have to study and ponder better here on the mission during study. I learn a lot and I´m trying to get as much out of study everyday as I possibly can. I love the Scriptures and the Doctrine of the Gospel. I know it is true. I know that the Spirit is real and that we have the Gift of the Holy Ghost to always guide us. That is so amazing to me. I have been trying to use this gift and recognize it a lot more on the mission. I love you all, I hope that you are all doing great. Talk to you next week.

Love, Elder McDonald

2 May 2011

Bom Dia!

How are all of you doing? Thanks for the emails, they were great! This week was one of the greatest weeks of my life and of the mission for sure! We had 2 baptisms yesterday and we had 5 people at church yesterday as well, it was amazing! We baptized Wanderleia and Penha, they are the coolest! I´ve been so impressed with all of the people that I have baptized and the awesome lessons of faith that I have learned from all of them. Last night, I was reading the names of all of the people I have baptized so far and I could remember exactly how it was with each of them, it is a really cool experience to be here on the mission and see all of these miracles happening. Yesterday we were running around everywhere like crazy people trying to make sure that our baptisms got to church and the people that were going with us to church as well. We climbed up this enormous hill/mountain and got to the top just to find out that the family that said they were going to go with us didn´t want anything to do with us anymore. I was pretty sad and annoyed, and let them know that haha, I said that I climbed up that huge hill just for them and now they weren´t going to come to church. That was pretty messed up. But oh well, free agency right? We were blessed for that with our 2 baptisms and the other people that we had at church with us. It was really cool. Then at church, the craziness didn´t end. Elder Gentry called me and said that he got robbed and that someone stole his camera, so I had to deal with that as well. He ended up getting it back though, thank goodness. Then I had to fill up the baptism font really fast, then I found out that I needed to play the piano for Sacrament, then I went back out to talk to Elder Gentry and help him out, came back into Testimony Meeting, went up there, bore my testimony, played piano again, then it was ended. I ran over to confirm all of our lunches with the members for this week, ran over and got the gowns for the baptisms, set up the room with hymn books, and the list just keeps going on. I dídn´t finally get to rest until we got the baptisms on the bus to go to their houses. It was a really awesome day though! The hard work all payed off :)

I´m pretty excited as well for this weekend! I can´t believe that this the last time I get to talk to you guys before I get home, that is too weird! I´m getting nervous and sad. I´m not ready to come home yet. I made a year and four months on Saturday, so weird. Time is flying! So I will try to call you guys to have you call me back and I will have to use the Skype of one of the members or make an account on the spot, because I don´t have the number of where we are going to call. But it will all go well, I`m excited. It will be cool to see you guys. Sounds like you guys had a pretty busy week as well this week. I can´t believe that it is May either, that is so weird to me. How is everyone doing there? That sounds like you guys had some amazing experiences at the temple this week.

I don´t know what else to tell you guys, I want to talk to you more on Sunday about everything that has been going on. So I was planning on calling you guys somewhere between 10-11 in the morning on Monday, about 7 or 8 there. Is that cool? Tell Megan and Cory and Grandpa and Grandma to all be up and ready, I want to see some lovely morning faces :) It will be cool to see you guys again. So I will try and find a member that has a webcam and has good internet to talk to you guys and then I will call you to get the account number and everything to talk to you guys.

Well, I love you all, I hope that you are all doing great! Have a great week and I´ll talk to you all on Sunday then, ok? Bye-bye.

Love, Elder McDonald

25 April 2011

Hey Everyone,

I forgot yesterday was Easter actually, until today. I remembered a little bit during the day, but not too much. Yesterday was just a ton of running around, trying to help the other Elders find their people to bring to church, climbing up the biggest, longest hill I have ever seen in my life, only to get to the top and nobody wanted to go to church! How sweet is that? I didn´t even sit down from like 8 until lunch, that was crazy. Nonstop walking and hiking and sweating like crazy; Sunday is such a great day on the mission :) Then we went to lunch, left quick, went to find our investigators, nobody wanted to go again and they just gave a bunch of excuses, so we walked all the way to another ladies house, Penha, who lives about a half hour away from where we were, and we got there and her family said that she had already gone to church. So I got really excited and we got a bus to go back to the church, only to find out that she wasn´t there. It was sad. I called the Zone Leaders and told them about the situation and they told me to pray with my companion. So we went into a room in the church, knelt down, said a prayer. And immediately after the prayer, we got a phone call from the Zone Leaders. They were at the church in the center of the city visiting the other Elders, and they asked me if we had prayed yet. I told them that we had just finished the prayer exactly when they called us back. Then Elder Romo was like,``Wow, the Lord answered your prayer really fast, because your investigator is at this church here in the center with us! She showed up here and was asking everyone `Where´s Elder McDonald?`and everyone was running around looking for you and I told them that you were at the other church. So I`ll just take care of her here, don´t worry.`` Oh man, I was so happy! It was such a cool experience for me, it really strengthened my testimony about prayer!

Our Zone leaders are the coolest! Elder Romo is a huge example for me, as well as Elder Merrell. Elder Romo is from Los Angeles and Elder Merrell is from Salt Lake. They are really awesome Zone Leaders. Elder Romo always calls me Mac Daddy Donald, it´s really funny. On Thursday, I did a division with Elder Gentry in his area to try and help him find more people and a good area to work. His area has so many hills, it´s insane! We did really well though, that day. We found a guy for him that can be baptized because he already went to church a while ago. He´s a really awesome guy! They are going to baptize him this week! We found a lot of awesome families for them as well. On Tuesday, I had my first District Meeting where I had to give the training; it was really cool, I liked it. I was pretty nervous, but it went well. I felt the Spirit helping me out a lot, it was a cool experience.  On Saturday I had my first baptismal interview with a lady named Helena. She is really cool. I was really nervous and I was praying a lot before hand. The Zone Leaders did a practice with me while I was on the bus to go over to Paraíba do Sul where the lady lives, another city in Rio.  But the interview went really well, it was really cool! The interviews are the best part of the mission. The Spirit is always so strong during them. I have always wanted to interview people, so I am glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that.

We have an amazing investigator that is going to get baptized this week, her name is Wanderleia. She is an awesome lady who has had a lot of difficulties in her life. Her family loves us and whenever we go over there, little by little everyone ends up sitting there, listening to us teach. It´s really cool how the Spirit works and invites everyone. She was telling us about how her son fell out of a really tall tree and how he went to the hospital and all of the doctors said that he would never walk again. She said that she had faith and told everyone that he would walk again. She told us how she would stay up every night, crying just looking at her son in his bed, not able to move. But after 5 months, he was already getting better, doing physical therapy and today he is walking as if nothing ever happened. She also has a daughter, who got in an accident with fire and it burned her whole body, everything from her torso up to her head. She was in the hospital for a very long time as well, and everything was covered accept for a little hole where she could breathe. She said that she had faith again that everything was going to be alright, and now her daughter is as good as ever. She has a lot of scars, but that´s it. She has been tremendously blessed. These investigators are amazing! I learn so much from them and see that I am nothing! They have so much more faith than me and I hope that one day I can have as much faith as them!

So Mother´s day is coming up, and we have church at 3-6 in the evening, so it will be a little difficult to call you after church, especially if we have a baptism after. So I´m thinking it might be better to call you guys during the morning, like at 10 or 11 here (7 or 8 there). But I will have to see for sure. I want to call you guys from Geraldo´s house, he is awesome. We might be able to use Skype as well.

Well, I love you guys and hope that you have an amazing week! Hope that you had an amazing Easter with lots of candy and stuff :) Take care and I will talk to you all next week!

Love, Elder McDonald

18 April 2011

Hey Guys,

This week was really crazy, but really good! I was called to be District Leader now, so that was pretty crazy. It´s been going really good though, and I´m liking it a lot. Elder Fernandes and Almeida said that President said I was going to be transferred with them, but I ended up staying here. I was happy. Right now I am with Elder Gallacher; he´s from Arizona too, from Gilbert. He´s a really cool guy. He got stuck in Tennessee for a few months and finally made it out here 3 months ago. It´s happening to a lot of Elders now, lots of them are getting reassigned, poor guys. I got lucky!! I know the elder that Travis met in Baton Rouge who speaks português. He is Brazilian. He came in the MTC with me the same day and I met him at the temple a week before I went in. That´s really cool!

Anyway, I´ve been trying to get used to the new things I have to do now as District leader. I get to make a lot of phone calls and keep all the elders excited and resolve all the problems, that´s always nice. I get to do baptism interviews as well which I hear is really awesome, so I am really excited and nervous about that; it will be a great experience I´m sure. We have a new Zone leader here, Elder Romo and he is with Elder Merrell who was here before, they are the coolest! We have an awesome Zone yet again. There is a new elder here, Elder Gentry, and he reminds me a lot of Cory; he is funny. He likes to sleep in a little, so I get the liberty of ripping him out of bed every morning. I´m sure he loves that. He´s a good guy. Elder Siqueira is his companion now. He only stayed with me one transfer, but we are still in the same house so it is cool. I liked living in two better, less hectic, but four is cool as well.

Now that our church doesn´t start until 3 in the afternoon, Bishop picked us up at 8 and we went and visited our investigators with him. It was really awesome! We found some amazing people this last week, we brought them to church with us yesterday, and loved it and were asking about baptism :) Ó Glória!! The Zone leaders came and helped us out as well and sat with all of our investigators that we brought yesterday; we had really good meetings. My companion and I had to give talks yesterday as well. He had a nice four day notice and had his talk prepared and Bishop asked me to talk right before church started, so I was still running around getting everything organized with our investigators, getting everyone there and everything, and I opened up the Liahona during Sacrament meeting and found a talk right before I was supposed to go and speak; it was the talk by Elder Bednar about the Holy Ghost in this last conference in October. It was good because Suzete got confirmed right before that as well. The talk went really well surprisingly. One of the members, Rudolfo, who is about my age was like, Hey Mac, good job. Thanks, I planned it as I was going up to the pulpit haha. It was pretty funny. It´s funny how on the mission a talk is just another thing you do. Before the mission, you sit there stressed out all week long wondering what you are going to talk about.

We found a really awesome family on Monday, Rómulo, Ramon, Ruan, and their mom. Their mom is already a member and they all went back to church yesterday and loved it. We are going to baptize Rómulo and Ramon this week; Ruan couldn´t go because they had to have someone stay at their house, but he will go this week! They are an amazing family! The Lord is blessing us so much here already! There is an older lady in our ward, Irmã Graça, and she is the coolest! She loves the Gospel and loves sharing it with everyone! She came up to me yesterday and was like, I´m going to need 50 Books of Mormon! I was like, oh man! Alright! Let´s go! She said that she invited her whole class where she is studying to meet with the missionaries and she told us to come over tonight to write down all of the references that she has. We also have another guy in our ward, Francisco, and he said that he is going to bring a guy to church this week that he said most likely will accept to be baptized!! It was a really cool week! The people that I´m meeting here are so amazing! I´m trying to show more love for the people here and trying to be a better servant of the Lord everyday out here. I have a long way to go, but am still trying to improve. I´m grateful for these elders and for their awesome examples for me. They are such great guys with so much faith. I´m so grateful for Suzete and her example of faith as well, to get baptized two days after she met us! That was so cool! She is an amazing lady! I will never forget these people and their examples! She has so many problems with her son who is using drugs and drinking and smoking, but every time we go over there, she is always happy to see us and always smiling! I love the Mission!!! I want to stay here forever!!! I love you all!! Have an amazing week!

Love, Elder McDonald

Friday, June 24, 2011

13 April 2011

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for the emails, they were great. Mom, that email was pretty funny; sounds like you had a lot of fun on Friday, huh? That´s awesome. I got to watch all of the sessions except the first session on Sunday because we were out trying to get all of our investigators to church and we were all in Elder Fernandes area first rounding up everyone and then they went to my area to get our baptism, but she wasn´t home so they went to her aunt´s house where she was sleeping and her aunt refused to wake her up, so that was pretty lame. Apparently she went to a party or something on Saturday, so that was pretty frustrating for us, but what can you do right? Who all spoke in the Sunday morning session? I really loved the Saturday Afternoon session, I thought that session was one of the better ones, if I´m allowed to say that haha. Elder Packer, Elder Nelson, Elder Oaks all gave really awesome talks! Really powerful messages, I really liked that session. Priesthood session was good as well! I saw JJ and Jeremy and about died, that was way funny! I was telling everyone that those were my really good friends and they thought that was cool that I knew someone in the choir there, it was funny. I didn´t like watching the sessions in Português though; you see their mouths moving, but the words are all different and you don´t get to hear their tone of voice or their emotions, it´s kind of annoying, but oh well. General Conference goes by so much faster on the mission though, I can´t even believe it! I can´t believe I only have one more left on the mission too, really crazy!

Nothing really interesting happened this week though, just a lot of running around, trying to get people to come to conference and get baptized. We had to go to the Stake Center that is in the center of the city so we went there for the first session, left, went to try and get some investigators, came straight back, and then left again that night. We watched the Priesthood session Sunday morning, because it was too late that night to watch it. General Conference is always the craziest weekend on the mission though, because you have four chances to bring people to church and come watch it, so you are constantly running around the whole day, instead of just once on Sunday. I miss the good old days when I could just relax and watch it on TV at home, I took that for granted for sure.

I´m trying to think of what else happened this week. Nothing really happened honestly. We cleaned our house like crazy today, you guys would be proud. I´ve never seen a missionary’s house as clean as ours. It´s almost as nice as our house. We are going to eat lunch over at Marinna´s house to day, she is the girl that we were going to baptize yesterday but now we will have to wait. She is cool. She´s sixteen and lives with her grandparents and her uncle. They invited us to come and eat lunch over there today, so that should be really good. We have had a lot of people who can be baptized this transfer, but a few of them have fallen through. It goes to show that Satan really is doing everything to try and stop this work from progressing, but it is comforting to know that the Lord has much more power than him. I´m grateful for the prophets in our day and for the Gospel, it´s really awesome. I´m grateful for the Lord and that He sacrificed everything for me. I know He lives and that His Atonement is real and brings peace and comfort when we use it. I´m grateful for my President and Sister Bezerra, they are hilarious. I called them this week again and President was trying out his English with me, it was funny. I called and Sister answered and said that he would call me back because he was driving, but then he´s like no, just give me the phone and started talking to me. ``ELDER MAC.....DONALDGEES!!`` haha he´s hilarious. I am really going to miss them when they leave. They only have 2 more transfers left. It´s going to be really sad when they go home. I`ll only have a few months with the new President. It will be interesting to see what happens with the mission, but for the most part, I hope that it stays the same and that we can keep continuing with this great miracle that is happening here in our mission.

Well, I love you all and hope that you are all doing great. Tell everyone hi for me! Talk to you again next week.

Love, Elder McDonald

11 April 2011

Hey Guys!!

This week was the best week that I have had in a long time, oh man. We finally had a baptism that didn´t fall through and almost everything went perfect. Reading all of your letters, I think a lot about the challenges that I am having out here and how they are pretty similar to all of yours. Always tired, always stressed out, and always working until the last second of everyday. We found this amazing lady, Suzete, on Friday, she came with us to the fireside with President Bezerra on Saturday, and she was baptized on Sunday after the meetings! It was incredible!

We found this nice little favela in my area where all of the more humble people live and we were able to open a nice teaching group there, it was way sweet! We had five people at church yesterday as well, besides our baptism. It was a really, really great day! The best day of this transfer. By the way, today we will have transfers again. So thank goodness we ended the transfer with another baptism, that was really awesome!

We found Suzete on Friday and started teaching her. It was really interesting because I didn´t think that she was understanding anything that we were teaching and she kept talking and talking and talking and talking. We couldn´t get a word in for the longest time and I was about to give up thinking that she didn´t want anything. We ended up just inviting her to go to church with us and she said that she would go to the fireside with us on Saturday, but didn´t know about Sunday. So we said the closing prayer and were about to leave her house. We were in the doorway talking a little more just before leaving, and I had this thought come into my mind, ``Invite her to be baptized.`` She kept talking and we were still listening to her. ``Invite her to be baptized.`` Talking, talking, talking talking, talking. ``Hey Suzete, will you be baptized on Sunday?`` ....``YES!!`` Oh Gloria, Hallelujah!! So to sum it all up, listen to the Spirit and follow  promptings. She was waiting for us when we went to pick her up Saturday, then we didn´t end up getting home til about 1 in the morning; the fireside went late, she was interviewed afterward, and we had to wait for the bus which took forever, took her home, and went home after that. We were really tired yesterday. We went over to her house to find her totally ready, a really nice dress (already looked like a member) and ready to go! We brought her son, her girlfriend, and her grandkids with us. It was a really awesome Sunday, oh man!

We get to the church to find out that since we were in the other chapel of the other ward, we didn´t have the keys to open the baptismal font. Uh oh. That can´t be good. So we call the bishop of the ward and he gets there an hour later; luckily the water filled up super fast! So behind the scenes we´re dying trying to make everything perfect, and in the end, it turned our really great! She bore her testimony basically at the baptismal service, thanking the Lord for putting us in her path. Man, it was such a great experience. Days like these make me never want to leave the mission and make me want to help so many more people feel the same way that she did yesterday. Baptism is amazing!!!

I was talking a lot with President´s son, Kyle. He was there on Saturday and I was talking to him a lot about his mission. He served in Portugal and got back two months ago. He speaks English fluently. I talked to Sister a lot too on Saturday. ``ELDER MCDONALD`` haha. She´s hilarious, really awesome. It was so good to see President and them there. This week was really sweet! Man, I don´t have time to write very much today, so I will try to write more next week. I think I might be transferred today though. We will see what happens! I will send a picure of the baptism. Love you all! Have an amazing week!

Love, Elder McDonald

28 March 2011

Hey Beloved Ones!

How was the week for all of you? Thanks for the emails, they were great! I was worried that you didn´t get the email, Mom, but that´s good that it made it to Dad´s email. Hope you liked the pictures I sent, they were pretty good I thought. Sounds like you guys have had a ton of company lately, that´s always fun, right? Another busy week for you guys as well. Full of fun stuff. I can´t believe that General Conference is already this weekend; it came here so fast! I only have one more after this one, how crazy is that? It´s ridiculous how fast time is passing. I´m really excited to watch General Conference though, it´s so sweet on the mission.

Our church here is going to be restored and they are going to start doing construction here in two weeks because it is really old and really needs to be remodeled. It will be nice. But while it is being redone, we will have to go to another church that is like 20 minutes away from this one, so that will be more of a challenge to get investigators over there; we will see what happens. It will be like a normal Utah church now, with three wards in the same building. Something that nobody here is used to :)

This week was pretty good, nothing too exciting happened unfortunately. We are trying to work more with the members here and find an area of concentration to work, in a poorer area. We had three investigators at church yesterday so we are going to try and baptize them this weekend, between sessions of General Conference. It will be good.

Dylan said that he was done with his papers and was going to send them in this week or the next. Hopefully so. I sent him a letter last week so he should be getting it this week sometime I hope. Sounds like a bunch of people are getting married from what he told me, it´s really crazy.

Our zone here is hilarious! They are the coolest missionaries ever. We all stayed over in Jardim América last night to do a training thing this morning, it was fun. We are going to play Frisbee again after this, that will be really cool. It´s starting to heat up again though; it was really nice with all of the rain, I was loving that. Is it still snowing there, or not?

Well, I need to write Megan still and I will have you send Sam a little note for me as well, It has been a long time since I have spoken to him, he is funny. Love you all! I will take more pictures and send you some better stuff next week! See you all later!

Love, Elder McDonald

21 March 2011

What a miracle I have received today!!

I got an email from Dylan, from JJ and from Sam. Megan wrote me too, and as always, my loyal parents!

I was really happy to hear from Dylan and JJ, it was great to get an email from them! It´s about time too. This computer today is so slow and is driving me crazy! I´m trying to send you some pictures of our last P-day when we were playing Frisbee, but it is taking forever to upload, so I hope that by the time I finish with this letter, some of them will have uploaded by then. Thank you all for your letters, they were really great!

This week was pretty crazy.There were a lot of funny things that happened throughout. I have done some pretty funny things to my companion on accident and it has been funny, at his expense :) I forgot to tell you guys about the first day that he got here in the area. I always had been ironing Elder Clegg´s shirts in the morning, so I was going to just keep up with the tradition. Turns out that the fabric on the shirts is thinner and I didn´t turn down the temperature on the iron. So I pick up the iron, put it down in the middle of the shirt to start ironing it, and immediately, it melts a huge hole in his shirt! I about died right there. So trying not to make a big scene I just say. ``.......Elder......you´re going to kill me.`` He responds from the kitchen, ``Why?`` I didn´t say anything, I just walked into the kitchen with the shirt and looked at him through the big hole in the shirt. And he´s like,`` What did you do to your shirt?`` ``........uh......this isn´t my shirt.`` ``It´s MINE?`` ``....yeah......I`m sorry.`` haha oh shoot, it was pretty funny. Luckily he is a really cool comp and didn´t murder me. Then another day the next week, we were coming home on the city bus and I forgot that he ran out of money and I was going to pay for his bus ticket, and I just passed and went and sat down and was messing with something so I didn´t see him there in the front, waiting for a miracle and struggling to find loose change in his backpack until the last minute. I was already exhausted from that day, so that was my excuse :) and at the last minute I saw him up there and it all registered and I shot up and ran over to help him, but he had already passed. Again, ``Elder, I´m sorry! I forgot that you didn´t have money. You were going to have to dance for the guy or do something to make him let you in.`` It was really funny, we just laughed. I´m sure he´s getting sick of these things happening to him always haha. Then this week was really funny. I had to go to the bathroom way bad, and the only place that had a bathroom that was close was a bar....great. So we go in there and ask, can we use the bathroom? The little wise guy says, ``Both of you together?`` My companion screams out, ``NO WAY MAN! Are you crazy?`` Haha I was just dying laughing, it was pretty funny. Oh the joys of the mission.

President called me on Friday and was like, ``Hey MacDonalgees! Can I have a number 1? How are you Big Mac?`` Haha he´s hilarious! I can´t believe that he is already getting ready to end here in a few months. He is going to speak at a fireside here in Juiz de fora so It will be us and Elder Fernandes and his comp and the Zone leaders there with all of the stake there as well. That will be really cool!

We went over to a less-active members house last night and he was acting pretty crazy yesterday, it was weird but really funny. He decides that he wants to play his flute for us and comes out and says, here´s one from Dire Straits. Here´s another from Bon Jovi. And the last one was the music from Titanic. Oh man, I was trying not to laugh because he was taking it all seriously, but I was dying, it was too much. Good times.

Janaína got confirmed yesterday; that was really cool. Her family is awesome! I will have to get a picture of them and send it to you guys; her little sisters are hilarious and they love us. They always get excited when we go over and visit them. We have been trying to find a new place to work because a lot of our investigators that we´ve had have all been ``mole`` and don´t really want anything more to do with us. They just make up lame excuses why they don´t want to go to church. But, what can you do right?

That Elder that came to our house to eat sounds really funny. He sounds like one of the assistants that was here with us this last week, Elder Shoemaker. Full of energy and really, really persistent. He was going to stay at our house, but then he forgot that he had the keys to the other Elder´s house on the other side of the city where he had been staying the night before, and we had to go all the way over there to give them their keys and ended up getting home at about 10:30. How great it is. This week for sure was full of lots of adventures. They also had a training meeting in Petropolis, so we were all running around helping everyone get to that. The week went by fast though. Gotta love the mission.

Tell Dylan, JJ, and Sam that I say hi and that I will write them, ok? Tell them thanks for the emails, they were really great! Keep them up! Help the missionaries out up there, give them lots of references, they love them, trust me :) We´re trying to get lots more here as well and plan more fun activities to get everyone excited, it will be good! I love you all! Sorry that I didn’t respond to all of the questions, but the time today is passing really fast and I had a lot to do and to read! It was really great though! Thanks again for the emails and I´ll talk to you all next week!

Love, Elder MacDonalgees

14 March 2011

Hey Guys,

Thanks for the letters, they were great. I love hearing about how these missionaries just come home and bomb their homecoming talks; makes it easier for me to not feel so much pressure to give a good one. I´m glad you guys liked that story about the dog, I was dying laughing as well when he told me. I do know Elder Johnson, Mom, he´s in the same group as Elder Billin and will be going home pretty soon. That´s way funny that he´s their nephew; he does look a lot like them. When did you find out about that? That´s pretty funny. Dad, that´s crazy that Jacob is getting married this summer. He looks a lot different already, that´s pretty funny. Those pictures of Dylan were really funny, I liked that Frodo one haha.

Well, yesterday we had another baptism, it was really cool! I´ll try to send you guys a picture. Her name is Janaína and she´s a really cool girl and her family is awesome! It was an awesome baptism. It´s still been raining here for about 2 weeks. I´m loving it. I´m not sweating like crazy every second. It´s been nice. Last night we went back to Geraldo´s house and he came and picked us up and brought us there and took us home because they live in the middle of nowhere in their huge house, it´s so sweet there. It´s their little getaway. It was way funny there. We were talking about names and they started talking about the crazy American names the Brazilians give their kids because they think it´s really cool. Most of them don´t know the meaning so they just see a word in English and give their kids that name. My favorites were Monkey Souza, Airlines Gomes da Silva, Email dos Santos, and Michael Jackson da Silva. Oh man, I was dying laughing there, it was too funny. They made us dinner as well. It was way sweet!! I love going over there, they are the coolest family I have met on the mission. I don´t know how many different times I have said that already, but they are such amazing people. They are inactive though, and I don´t know why they won´t go back to church. It´s pretty sad, but we´re trying to help them. We gave a good message about the tree of life and how we need to stay on the path of eternal life and not let the world have an influence on us.

I heard about the tsunami in Japan, that´s so crazy! There is a ton of crazy stuff happening in the world and all of the signs from the scriptures are coming to pass. It is really crazy. I can´t believe how many disasters have happened in the world since I got on the mission, it´s unreal.

This week was pretty good for us. We worked a lot with the members and had some really good lessons with some awesome people. The members here are fantastic and we´ve gained a lot of their confidence back, after all of the other missionaries passed through here and lost a little of it. I think (hope) the members are happier and more excited now. We are planning a bunch of activities with them to bring their friends that aren´t members and I´m sure that will work out really well. I love this area so much and love my mission. It´s the best thing I´ve ever done in my life for sure. So many funny days and experiences and also the most spiritual moments that I have ever had. I love these people here. They are incredible!

I´m just with Elder Siqueira now, we´re not in a three-some or anything. Elder Clegg went to Andaraí in Rio and Fernandes is just our district leader. Our district and Zone are so sweet. Really good guys. Elder Siqueira is hilarious and a hard worker. I´m happy because with the two of us, our house is always sparkling clean and we both try to work hard. It´s been a really good transfer so far.

Well, I hope that you are all doing great as well. Thanks for the pictures Dad, they were great! Hope you find out what happened with all of my friends, they all disappeared. I love you all so much and hope you aren´t missing me too much. The mission is going by too fast. Talk to you all next week!

Love, Elder McDonald

9 March 2011

Hey Guys,

Thanks for all of the emails, they were great! Sounds like you guys are staying really busy, which is great right? I am too, don´t worry. This last week was pretty good, but a little disappointing. We had three baptisms marked, and they all fell through Sunday morning, so that was a knife in the heart. But we went back over there on Monday and now we have 2 for this Sunday, the other guy we had ended up not wanting anything, just leading us on. Just like the dating world here, right? Lots of connections here. Stupid people. We told him, ``well you could have just told us you didn´t want to get baptized from the start. It´s a lot better than making us come over here Saturday morning to pick you up and find out that you ran away from us.`` So I think he learned his lesson. haha.

I was so happy to hear that you gave the missionaries more references and names than they could handle, that made me happy to hear that you guys are helping the missionaries out up there as well, as the members here in the Ward have been helping us out a ton as well. I will definitely help out the missionaries a lot more when I get home from the mission. I´m hoping that you will have a normal week as well, Mom. It´s a lot more fun though with all these crazy things happening, goes by a lot faster. Our two baptisms for this week are so cool. Two girls, one that is 13 and the other that is 8. They are really cool and always love when we come over there, their whole family gets excited to see us and when we leave they keep yelling, ``tchau!`` when we area walking down the street from their house until we lose sight of them, it´s hilarious. We go back and visit Rosângela, Amanda, Lucas and their family and they are a lot happier. It´s so great, they completely changed. It is really cool to see.

Last night, we had a really awesome lesson at Israel´s house with his mom and his sister Daiellen. I guess they added Megan and MaKensie on Facebook, that was pretty funny. They were telling me that they were talking to them and what they said back. Israel has a friend that he brought over, Esther, and we taught her last night. She seems really interested and I think that we can baptize her, but she won´t be able to go to church this week because she´ll be traveling. Bummer. They are a really good family, Israel has been helping us so much, he has been dying to find us someone to teach and he finally found this girl. It was awesome.

Holy cow, this week was pretty crazy though. The streets were so dead during the day. We had to leave at 9 in the morning to work and had to be home at 6. It was nuts. We´d leave our house and everyone was still asleep and we woke a bunch of people up clapping outside of their houses, a lot of people didn´t like that, as you can imagine. It was really slow and it´s been kind of tough to find new people because the streets are completely empty during the day. Besides the fact that it is Carnaval, it has been raining nonstop since last Monday. So that just adds to the fact that nobody is in the streets like normal.

This week already has started out a lot better. It´s weird having P-day on Wednesday, but it´s cool to switch things up a little haha. We´re here with Elder Fernandes and Elder Huntington, it´s been hilarious. Elder Fernandes was telling me about this funny crazy kid they left with to help him teach, Max, and they got to a house and they had a dog and Elder Fernandes told him, ``hang on Max, don´t go in there, they have a dog and he´ll bite you man.`` But he´s like, ``No, no, it´ll be fine.`` He sees the dog and he´s like, come here puppy. Wam!! He latches on to his hand and stops biting the heck out of him and Max is screaming like crazy! By this time I´m laughing my head off because of the voice that Fernandes was using to imitate him, it was so funny.

Elder Siqueira is a really cool guy, he´s 26 years old haha it´s pretty funny. He´s really chill and relaxed so it´s been really great. Elder Clegg went to Andaraí in Rio. Good luck to him, it´s so hot there haha. Hopefully he doesn´t get too fried there, he´s really white. And when I say white, I mean the whitest person I´ve ever seen in my life. Just like milk.

So do you guys have any news about Tanner or Ashton or McKay. Do you know if Dylan has left yet or what he is up to? Tell Kensie to talk to him and have him write me again, it´s been forever. That´s crazy that Tanner is finishing up his mission here in a few months.

Dad, I was talking about General Conference, because it´s coming up here in a few weeks. I can´t believe it is almost April already! And don´t worry, I didn´t forget about your Birthday on Friday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! Hope it´s a great day for you! That´s cool that you found out more about my new President. Sounds like he´s a great guy as well! I´ll only have him for about 3 transfers, so it won´t be too long, but it will be good.

Well, hope that you all have a great week! Love you all! Try to send me some more pictures, alright?

-Love, Elder McDonald