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, October 31, 2011

Hey Everyone,

Happy Halloween for everybody, hope that it´s great and stuff. Is it starting to get nice and cool up there now? I´d imagine that it is. I´ve been really sad lately, thinking that in a few weeks I´m not going to be here in Brasil anymore, but I try to get these thoughts out of my mind.

Last night we had a really awesome Fireside that President and Sister Lima did in Arsenal about getting the members involved with missionary work; it was really awesome! They did a bunch of practices with the members about how to start talking about the gospel with friends, what to say and how to invite their friends to go to church with them. It was pretty funny. President called up a bunch of members up to the front by the pulpit and had them practice in front of everyone, it turned out really well. I thought that was an awesome idea. Afterwards, we went up and talked to President and Sister Lima and their daughters, they are an awesome family. President has such a powerful spirit. I feel so comfortable around him; I know that he is a man called of God. I am really going to miss having this special missionary Spirit; the Spirit seems a lot different on the mission than before. It´s a lot stronger I think.

I had a lot of cool spiritual experiences this last week with prayer and with helping some of the missionaries in our zone with the problems in their areas and with their personal problems as well. I
have learned a lot about how to listen to people and find scriptures and experiences to help them overcome their doubts and their problems. I know that this will help a lot in the future. I love my missionaries in my Zone, they are so good. This week, Elder Roque was emergency transferred and he went to Petrópolis to train another guy who just got here from the US. I was really sad that he left, he was one of my best friends on the mission, a really cool and funny guy. At least Elder Sanchez stayed though. Elder Sanchez in training as well, a really cool Elder, Elder Braithwaite. He is also from California and he´s a great guy as well. Really good spirit. He is adapting still, but he speaks really good Portuguese already.

This week, we went to Fonseca again to help Liliane´s family with more construction work in their yard. They are going to build another wall in back of their house, so we were their digging big old holes again, how fun. The only problem was that I forgot to put on sunscreen before I left and I realized this when we were on the bus to get there. So I asked Liliane if she had any sunscreen and she brings out this weird paste-type stuff. It looked like the putty that you put on walls to patch them up, so I was a little skeptical to put that on my face, but I did it anyway. :) I go into the bathroom to try and see what it looks like, and I look like I have clown paint on my face and the dang stuff didn´t rub in either. The biggest problem came when I tried to wash it off; it didn´t want to come off at all. So it got all over my eyebrows and I looked like I had grey eyebrows. At least now I know what I will look like when I´m an old man, and I didn´t look too bad heh heh. :) So after that, I decided it would be easier to just cover my neck and face with something. I had an idea. I asked her if she had a towel and if she could wet it down for me. She went and got it and then I put it on top of my head so that it was covering my face and my neck and everything. I looked like a shepherd now. She gave me a clothespin to keep it on so it didn´t fall off and I had some little latex gloves on that she thought would help so I wouldn´t get blisters (didn´t work by the way) and they didn´t last long at all. Sister Hochstettler was laughing her head off when she saw me and said I looked like a girl going to a tea party, because of the towel that looked like a wig and the white gloves that looked like I was going to drink tea. It was pretty funny. I didn´t get sunburnt though, so that
was good. And we got the holes all dug out, so that was even better. I like service projects. :)

So this week flew by, as well as the others. I love the mission so much, I don´t want to go home, like I always say. But oh well. I forgot to tell you also that our water in our house got mixed with the
sewer water so we had to take showers at a members house in São Gonçalo... Stinkin´ water. Well, I love you all, hope that you are all doing great. Hope that you all have a great week. Thanks for the birthday wishes!! I love you all!!!!

-Love, Elder McDonald

Monday, October 24, 2011

Braden wrote,
 "Elder Cavalcanti, Josie (Jenifer´s Mom), Jenifer´s Dad,
Jenifer herself, Tainá,  Jessica and Eduardo."
Hey Guys,

It´s pretty crazy that it is already the end of October, I can´t believe how fast this last part of my mission is going. I can´t believe that Kensie is going to be fifteen tomorrow, that´s really crazy! I can´t believe that I am going to be 21 next week! That´s even more crazy! Sounds like you all had a great week. Sounds like the visit to New Mexico was nice, goes by really fast though, huh? How is everyone doing down there? Hopefully great. Are they all going to come up to visit when I get home? Hope so.

This week was pretty tough. We didn´t have much success in our area of finding more people to bring to church, but we found some awesome families that are progressing. It is crazy, the vision of the mission has pretty much been completely changed. We are now working with less actives, bringing them back to church, and working a lot closer with the members to do this and to complete families. We were talking to the assistants and they were saying that President wants us to establish the church; he wants us to have people active in the church, whether it be less actives being brought back or through baptizing families. Everything is focused on the family now. It is really cool.

I am thinking that I will end my mission in this area. It is a really cool area, I love the members here, there are a lot that are awesome. The end of the transfer is in like two weeks and then I only have one more, yikes!! This is really weird. Never thought that I would be the old one on the mission, it feels really weird. But anyway, hopefully everything is going great with you all. I love you all and pray for you always! Have a great week! Happy Birthday Kens!!

Love, Elder McDonald

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hey Guys,                          

Sorry that it is Tuesday again too, haha. Yesterday was a huge holiday here in Brasil and EVERYTHING was closed, so we didn´t have a way to come to the LAN house. Don´t worry, P-day is still Monday, believe it or not haha. Yesterday was cool though, we helped Elder Sanchez make Fajitas at home, they turned out SO good, it was delicious. We ate a ton. It was pretty fun. It was raining really hard here yesterday all day, so we just stayed in the apartment all day. It was nice to rest though.

We had an amazing miracle happen this week. This girl that we have been teaching, Jenifer, finally got BAPTIZED!!! It was amazing! We had been teaching her with her sisters who are already members this last transfer, but she wasn´t wanting much and she wasn´t progressing so we stopped going over there. When I went there the first time, I knew that she was going to be baptized, I just didn´t know when. So this last week we went over there again to talk to Jessica and Tainá about one of their friends who went to church, and Jenifer walked into the room. I was on a division with Elder Sanchez so he was with me; it´s funny because he was with me the very first time that we went over there and I told him that she had to get baptized. He asked if she wanted to get baptized on Sunday and she looked down at the floor, embarrassed like she usually is. But instead of saying no, she just sat silent. Then Tainá was like, answer them. And she´s like, "I will, alright!" haha Oh man, we got way excited! I was so happy, it was a miracle for sure. I asked her who she wanted to baptize her and she´s like, "I´ll give you guys a hint...hamburger...happy meal." We´re like, alright, we see where this is going haha. It was really funny. She really changed since this last month that we had visited her, she was a lot more excited and interested in the lessons. She´s really awesome, her whole family is amazing! I love the mission!!

We had an amazing Stake Conference on Sunday as well. The stake president spoke, Sister Lima, President Lima, and Élder Mazzagardi spoke as well. Wow!! It was an incredible conference! They all talked about the temple in Rio!! Everything that we need to do to build the temple here. It was a really spiritual meeting and I took a bunch of notes :) It was cool to see Élder Mazzagardi again. He gave me and my companion a hug, oh man! We´re special haha. It was cool, he´s an awesome guy. Sister gave an amazing talk, as well as President Lima.

I love you all. Hope that you are all doing great! Have a great week!!

Love, Elder McDonald

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Braden writes, "President and Sister Lima at their house."
Braden writes, "Pão de Açucar and the rest of the city. View from President Lima´s House."
Braden writes, "Cristo Redentor. It was pretty cloudy that day, but I thought this was a cool picture."

Hey Guys,

How´s everything going? Are you guys tired of getting my emails a day later yet? Yeah, me too. Yesterday was really really busy though. We were at the sister´s apartment painting ALL day long, from 8 to 8, it was crazy. But it was really fun and rewarding. Their house was really  nasty, it hadn´t been painted for who knows how long. The area had been shut for a long time before they got there too, poor sisters. So now their house is beautiful again haha. They made us lunch while we were there too, that was great. It was a huge mess with all the paint all over the place, but we got everything all cleaned up; now it´s a different house. Let´s just say I now know how to paint a whole apartment in one day :)

This week was full of miracles. We saw a lot of amazing things happen through service. Saturday we had another service project here in Niterói, that was fun as well. We had to dig huge holes that were like three feet deep at least for them to build a huge wall in their yard. That was nuts. It was one of the hottest days here as well. It was like being in Oklahoma in the hottest part of the day, digging holes and sweating like crazy. Imagine how fun that sounds :) But it all turned out well. I probably lost 20 pounds haha. Good thing Elder Sanchez is a beast and works fast and well. That´s all I can say.

The Sisters baptized an awesome guy in their area, Eduardo. He plays hockey and baseball, that was a surprise. He is a really cool guy, we were talking to him while we were over there to interview him. An elect for sure, he will be a great member and will help out their ward a lot. We had a miracle in our area as well. They Lord blessed us with an amazing baptism. She is 83 years old but she seems like she is about 50 tops. She keeps up with us walking and has no health issues or anything. We taught her this week and invited her to get baptized. She didn´t really want to up until Saturday, but when we passed there on Sunday, she said that she had been studying and reading and had a dream about us and remembered that she lives close to our church up in Belém where she really lives. She got really excited about that and knew that it would be easy for her to keep going to church, so she was baptized here, it was amazing! She is a really elect lady as well, she has a ton of faith and is an awesome example. I love all of the people that I have baptized; I learn something different from all of them. They teach me a lot.

This was another week that flew by way fast. I don´t know what is happening with the time. I am really excited though, because I found out today that we are going to have a conference with Elder Bednar next month!!! It will be really awesome!! He is coming to visit our mission on the 16th of November. I´ve always wanted to meet Elder Bednar, so I´m really looking forward to that. It will be an amazing experience.

Love, Elder McDonald

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hey Guys,

This week was pretty crazy as well. General Conference was amazing, except for the fact that I missed a bunch of talks, including the first hour of the first session, so I didn´t see what happened with President Monson coming in in the middle of it. I was really worried about Elder Hales. Do you guys know what happened with him? I hardly recognized him. I really loved the talks that were given though, a lot of inspiring talks. The guy who talked about teaching by The Spirit and being a REAL missionary did a really good job. I need to be better and show more love for the people that I am teaching, like the Japanese Elder said, I don´t remember his name.  The Elders from the Seventy gave really good talks, and I really liked the talk from President Packer and President Monson about prayer. Really cool stuff. I still can´t believe this was my last conference on the mission; how sad is that. And I was so bummed out that they didn´t announce a temple here.......dang it!! When we were at the Mission Council yesterday with President, he said that we are really close to having a temple here, so maybe this next conference. I just wanted to still be on the mission when it was announced.

Wow, President´s house/apartment is amazing!! He lives in the millionaire’s neighborhood, just to give you an idea; one of the nicest parts of Rio where only the people with the big wads of money who don´t know what to do with it live. If you look to the right on his huge balcony, the Christ Statue is like the distance from our house to the Walmart next door; super close and you can see the details of the Christ statue, it´s awesome. Pão de açucar is also right in front of his house, it´s great. You´ll have to do there sometime. Yesterday was really cool, being there for the first time with all the other Zone leaders in the mission. We learned a lot about the new focus of the mission, which is to not only baptize a ton of people, but to focus on baptizing families. And how do we baptize families? Working with the members. It was a really good meeting yesterday, I learned a lot and the Spirit was really strong. I forgot to bring my camera cord with me today to send pictures, but I will send some next week, alright?

Well, our Zone is incredible, if I hadn´t told you enough already. We baptized more in the month of September than this Zone has EVER baptized before, it was really cool. The Elders and Sisters in my zone
are amazing examples for me; they work really hard and have a lot of love for the people that they teach. We have baptized more families this last transfer and the Stake President has been sending emails to President Lima telling him that the missionaries in his stake are amazing and to not move anyone, so he didn´t. :) The bishops are also a lot more happy and excited to help us out and the members of this ward are amazing! I`m thinking that I will end my mission in this area, but we will see what happens.

I hope that you are all still doing great and that everyone is healthy. Mom, be careful, don´t get sick again like that please, ok? Take it easy. I love you guys. Thanks for everything.

Love, Elder McDonald