2 Nephi 22: 2,3

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation. Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30, 2010 Learning to do laundry the Brasilian way (This will be the title of my published mission journal).

Hey my wonderful friends and family!
Well week 2 in Grajaú down! I´m getting to know this neighborhood a lot better and while I´m still getting into the rhythm of things, I´m learning and loving the work.
So doing laundry down here is quite interesting. Very few people have washing machines and we are not some of those people. We have this aggrivator thing that basically does half the job of a washing machine and spins the clothes with detergent. Too bad ours is broken so we just have to fill it, mix in the detergent, add clothes and let them sit in the water for a couple of hours. Then we have to rinse out our clothes in the sink and scrub the trouble spots. Then it´s hang dry baby! haha it takes a while but I figured it out quickly and got through all my laundry my first week! Impressive, right?
As for our investigators, we have been working really hard to filter through our people to figure out who is actually in it for the long haul. We stopped teaching a few people and we found nine new people that seem really interested! Right now we have somewhere around 20 investigators but none of them are progressing. Drinking is a huge problem down here. One of our investigators called us and quit because he couldn´t give up alcohol. He goes by Beiro (pronounced Beer-O, irony?). We also started working with a less active who is pretty much drunk all the time and he is really frustrating because he can´t understand anything. It actually makes me really sad.
One of my favorite people we´re working with is a recent convert named Cida. She is always so happy and the Gospel really changed her life. And it doesn´t hurt that she works at a bakery so we always get goodies when we see her. haha! But really she is awesome and she would be one of my favorites even if she didn´t give us sugary baked goodness.
The language... I am getting pretty frustrated with Português. I know that I´m learning and I need to be patient but I wish I could just do it because I hate feeling useless. I have noticed though that I´m starting to understand a lot more and I have been able to teach in our lessons so that´s progress.
This week E. Tibbs lost our cell phone so we had quite the little adventure getting to the mission office to pick up a new one.
The weather down here is so crazy! A heat wave is upon us and it had been summer weather for the past week. I think someone told me that it got up to the 90s Fahrenheit. It´s starting to go normal now though. It´s starting to get foggy at night and in the morning which I´m told is normal and it is really cool looking.
This week was our bishop´s last week. The ward really loved him and E. Tibbs said he was great to work with. We´ll have to see how quickly the new bishop gets into the swing of things.
Well that is pretty much all there is to report this week. Things are moving along and time is really flying! I love you all! Keep praying for me. The Church is true!
Elder MacLane W. Taggart

"Efforts and Courage are not enough without Purpose and Direction" - JFK

Monday, August 23, 2010

First week out in the field, August 23, 2010

Hey World!
Well I have officially finished my first week in the field and it is quite a change. I´m quickly learning that what they taught me in the CTM is not Português. Elder Tibbs says that I´m better at the language than most missionaries straight out of the CTM so right on! (But I still couldn´t do it on my own). My area is really interesting and I´m discovering new things about the real world all the time, which is both hilarious and a little scary. haha
Anyway, ours days are pretty busy. We leave the house at 11 everyday and go to our lunch appointment. We then knock doors or look for referrals for a couple hours then we have appointments all night. I´m pretty exhausted when I get home but I love it. Our investigators all make fun of me cause I don´t really say much but I laugh along because I think it´s pretty funny.
I´m so lucky because we got a baptism my first week in the field! His name is Rondinelli and he is so cool. A really quite guy who moved to São Paulo on his own to learn English and get a good job. He was so excited and he told me that I had actually helped him a lot because I bore my testimony for him when he was having doubts earlier in the week. The baptism happened to be scheduled during the biggest stake activity of the year so it was really loud but the spirit was definitely there.
Sunday was a trip. We weren´t expecting any of our investigators to come but we got 5 there! That is really good for our area. I didn´t understand anything that was going on the whole time but I met a ton of the ward and they were all really nice. We´re getting a new bishop next week so things are pretty wild at the ward. We report our numbers Sunday nights and we hadn´t met some of our goals because it took me a couple days to get into the rhythm so we worked like crazy last night. I make about 40 contacts in an hour!
Anyway I´m just getting used to the huge responsibility that is on my shoulders as a missionary. I´m nervous but way excited and I know I´m learning everyday. I found out I have even more on my shoulders because this is E. Tibbs´ last transfer so I´m only going to be with my trainer for 5 more weeks. That means I have to get to know our investigators and the area really well before he leaves while I´m learning the language so that I can help my next companion. Talk about pressure but I´m going to interpret that as the Lord knows what I can do.
Love you all!
Elder MacLane Taggart

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Elder Tibbs, Trainer

MacLane at the Sao Paulo Temple

August 18, 2010 Hey World!

Hey World!
Como vai? Well I have left the CTM and I am now in an internet cafe instead of a computer lab emailing home. It is so weird, it almost doesn´t feel real, to actually be out here. It´s a little scary of course but I can handle it.
Before I get ahead of myself, the last week at the CTM was pretty awesome. Tuesday night I directed the CTM choir for the fireside. I did a really beautiful arrangement of 'I Know That My Redeemer Lives' and it turned out really well. I was kind of limited because music education is not very good down here so the Brasilieros can´t really hold a note, so I ended up doing the entire song in melody. But I pulled some tricks that spiced it up! haha
In Casa Verde (where the CTM is) they just finished a huge new chapel and they asked the CTM to get a choir together for the open house. They asked me to direct a few songs because my stint as the director went so well earlier. It really was a wonderful opportunity and I´m glad I did it.
Last Thursday, Elder Hunt challenged Elder Pockrus to beat his record of 10 cups of chocolate milk during snack time and keep it down the rest of the night (after climbing the six flights of stairs up to our rooms) and he actually did it! Well, he did the drinking park and ran up the stairs and felt really good. Then he just lost it and the bathroom was a total mess! haha it was so funny!
During our final classes we got to do an activity with our district. Each person sat in front of the rest of the class and the others said something they learned from them or liked. It was so good to be able to share our appreciation for each other. The comments people made about me were really touching. They said (in a nutshell) that I showed everyone to always have a positive attitude and love everyone. They also touched on my patience and how I learned quickly. It made me feel really good but it´s always awkward to have people have to compliment you.
It was really hard to say goodbye to my CTM district. I love them all so much and we were all really good friends. We had a final district prayer the morning before we all left and I almost cried. And then we left, just like that.
We went to Pres. Jackson´s house for an intro meeting to the mission and a delicious lunch. It was awesome! They seem really nice and I feel really comfortable around them. They live in an amazing condo complex that has more free space than I´ve seen anywhere in São Paulo. After lunch we went to the transfer meeting after than and I met my new companion! His name is Elder Tibbs and he is from St. George, he actually lived way close to Grandpa and Grandma C. Pres. Jackson told me he is one of the best Americans at speaking Português. He seems pretty cool. This is his last transfer so in missionary terms I´m killing my dad. I also got my first area assignment. I´m in Grajaú (Gra-ja-oo).
It took us over 2 hours to get from the transfer meeting to our area! We took a bus and a train. Grajaú is right on the border of the city and is pretty poor. I thought it was a favella the first time I saw it but it´s not. The area is basically a big mountain covered in buildings and the surrounding hills. Our apartment is on top the mountain of course so I had to lug all my stuff up the hill. I was so sweaty! We do have a good view though.
I got a little time to settle in but we went out and worked at night. My area is one of the tougher areas in the mission. In the last three months there have only been three baptisms (which is pretty low for Brasil) put that´s the norm here. Elder Tibbs said the ward is kinda weak too. Looks like I got my hands full to start! Both of our scheduled appointments fell through so we just did follow ups with some investigators. Man, I was pretty confident about my Português when I left the CTM but now I don´t know. I couldn´t really understand much and the investigators didn´t really understand what I said. Luckily my comp has it down and he is helping me a lot! He´ll help me get the language down quickly. Needless to say I was really tired when we finally got to go to bed.
This morning we had district meeting. All the elders in my district are really nice so they helped me out during the meeting. We had a lunch appointment but it fell through so we went to lunch with some other elders. Now I have a mini P-day for two hours so I can email and settle in more.
I´m so good, nervous, but good. Things are going to be interesting, that´s for sure, so I´m going to look at this like an adventure! Remember to send things to the mission home now. I love you all so much!
Your Missionary,
Elder MacLane Taggart

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010 One More Week!

Hey everyone out there in "we support Elder T" world! / After this week I have one more week in the CTM! How amazing is that? I'm so excited! / This week was pretty normal, such is life in the CTM. But I guess there are some cool things of note. We got a flood of Americans this week because the Church pulled some strings with the Brasilian Govt to get hundred plus missionaries stuck in the states because of Visas down here. The place is a lot more crowded now. It's weird to have so many new kids cause I feel so much older than all of them! / Friday we went PROSELYTING! This time we went to the middle of downtown São Paulo. It was amazing! São Paulo is so interesting because it has those classic early 1900s buildings and ugly 70s buildings and amazing new buildings. It's like a time warp! But anyway we had an amazing experience. Some cool experience to tell you: one time we were talking to this girl and she was not interested, but in the middle of our conversation another woman came up and was really excited to see us and when we shook her hand she kissed ours! She handed me a tie and told me it was a present for me so I handed her a Book of Mormon and told her it was a present for her. We got her address and everything and then she got out some coconut oil or something and started messaging our hands! It was so weird! Another experience: after we had given out all of our books we were walking around and we stopped at a street vender and one of the girls working there told us one of her family members was just baptized. We asked her if she was a member and she got all timid and bashful. We left and later we got an extra book. I remembered the girl and we ran back to the street she was on and luckily she was still there so we gave it to her. She was so interested and I really think she is going to investigate more. When we were really done we went into an old Catholic Church to look around and it was pretty. I love old cathedrals! Outside the church was more interesting though cause one: there was a high dude that the cops were trying to help stand up and he couldn't, two: a naked homeless man yelling at all the people walking by, and three: a man performing voodoo. Haha! Gotta love big cities! / On Tuesday I directed the MTC choir and it went so well! I did 'I Know That My Redeemer Lives' and it sounded beautiful. The woman in charge of all the music here told me she thought I was 'marvelous' and all the Brasilieros were complimenting me, I liked it. Another music event, there is a brand new Chapel in Casa Verde and the CTM is in charge of all the music. They asked me to conduct my song again for the open house. I'm also singing in a quartet for the open house. It's nice to be busy this last week because it's making the time go by quickly. / Today was our last P-day in the CTM. We went to the temple and Pres. Arnsten (our branch president) took pictures of all of us and he is going to be sending via email this week so you can all see the temple. It is an amazing temple, the inside is all solid mahogany and gold leaf and the baptismal font is covered in glass mosaic. We also went to a Rodizio for lunch with Irma Gaspar and I forgot about my diet for two hours. It was so delicious! So much meat! Oh and I ate a chicken heart, not too bad. As it is my last week y'all should start sending stuff to the mission home so I will be able to get it. The next time you hear from me I will be in the field and as green as and unripened tomato. / Thanks for all the love and support, I can truly feel it! I love you all and hope to keep hearing from you! / Yours truly, Elder MacLane W Taggart

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 3, 2010

Well hi there everybody! Another week has come and gone, can you believe it? I´ve been out for about a month and a half now and I´ll be out in the field in 2 weeks! I´m so excited! First off, thanks to those who have been sending me letters and such, I really appreciate them. Especially the wonderful package full of Hawaiian goodness from my folks! Love you guys! If anyone is itchin´ to send me some love in the form of writing don´t hesitate. / Alright so as for the happenings of the past week... If you´ve noticed I haven´t talked about my weight loss for a while. I kinda hit a wall a few weeks ago and stopped losing but I´m happy to report that I have once again resumed my thinification and am 4 lbs away from reaching my MTC weightless goal of 20 lbs. This is all thanks in part to my running during gym, I can now run 2 miles without stopping. / We have weekly progress assessments called 'milestones' once a week but last week our class was so crazy that E. Abernethy and I didn't do ours until last Wednesday, and we have been speaking Português in class for about 3 weeks now btw. Well when we did ours our teacher almost started crying because she said it reminded her of when she gained her testimony and there was some way intense spiritual power going on. It was way nice to get received like that. And she said that our Português was better than her trainer's in her mission! / Being cooped up in this big buildings for so many days can get pretty boring, so what is a group of 12 guys going to do? Shave our legs of course! haha! E. Pockrus has (had) some intense body hair so we all agreed that if everyone in the district shaved their legs he would shave his entire upper body. And well... he did it! It was so funny. I do have to admit that I am not liking the shinny legs though. It will grow back though... right? / We also had TRC this week. TRC is a fake teaching experience with real Brazilians who are from the local ward and there is a whole set up with couches and stuff. So I was kinda freakin out before because this was the real-fake deal! But we ended up doing really well. Better than even I thought apparently, because the next day they asked E. Abernethy and I to do a practice followup visit in front of ALL the teachers in their Friday meeting. Now I was really freaked out for that and it was pretty frustrating because our practice situation was that the guy didn't want to take the lessons anymore and he was very stubborn. In the end we did fine so my reputation is building. / The construction on the MTC is quickly finishing up and it is so awesome! The cafeteria opened up yesterday and it is so nice! They even gave us cake to celebrate the occasion! And the path to the new gym is almost open too so that will be good, considering they told us it would be open three weeks ago. / I'm getting ready to direct the MTC choir Sunday. I'm going to do 'I Know That My Redeemer Lives' and I've got a really cool idea for the arrangement. The Brazilians are not very musically inclined so I have to do it simple but I'm going to be pulling some a Capella stuff and solos too. I hope it turns out okay. I'll let you all know how it goes next week. / Sorry that there isn't much to write about this week. Things are just dandy and I'm happy so be glad I'm not writing 10 pages about how I hate it here. I'm being blessed by the buckets and I recognize the Lord's hand everyday. I am growing so much! One of my teachers always tells me how much he admires that I am happy all the time. I love you all so much and am grateful for your prayers and thoughts, keep em coming! / Your's truly, Elder MacLane W. Taggart

"Efforts and Courage are not enough without Purpose and Direction" - JFK