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, March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011 Let There Be Light!

Hey Everyone!
Well another freakin fast week flew by. Man, it´s hard to keep my head on straight.
The week started with district meeting. Elder Amauri da Silva asked me to give the training so I compared investigators to portraits each one is unique and in order to help them you have to get to know them and paint the picture. It was basically about how to ask edifying questions to provide for their needs. I created fake investigators with key information that the elders had to discover through the asking the right kind of questions. It went really well.
After district meeting I did an exchange with Elder L. Smith in Chácara Santana. It went really well and we had some incredible experiences. We meet a man named Joáo who was watching us in the street. When we made the contact he invited us into his home and he was way open. He also talked a lot about the Masons because practically everyone is a mason here. He said I radiate a light that he had never seen before so that made me feel good. At night we were waiting for a the bus and a woman with a beer can walked up to us and said, "Hey elders!" We got talking and found out she was taught by the missionaries in another city but could never be baptized because of her boyfriend. We marked an appointment and she said she wanted to join the church. Elder Smith told her to stop drinking and she could so she threw her full can of beer into the street. It was awesome!
Wednesday we had interviews with Pres. Jackson. He talked about not whitewashing our difficulties after they pass. Things are hard sometimes and we can´t pretend like they weren´t after they´re over because then we don´t learn anything. I´m getting to know Pres. Jackson so much better now and I appreciate him even more than I did. I´ll be really sad when he heads back to Utah in July.
We also meet a really rude man. We received a referral from a girl in our ward who is dating a non member so we headed over there and his dad answered. He freaked out and said he would not let his son talk to us and that our church is a cult that enslaves people. We said, "Unfortunately, we believe differently than you." and he said, "Unfortunately for you!" I wanted to punch him in the face for the rest of the day.
Friday I did an exchange with Elder Hickenlooper in Raneiri. I freakin love Elder Hickenlooper! It was so fun. They are having some difficulties with one of their investigators Sergio who is determined to be baptized. His wife, however, kicked him out of their house when he told her we would be baptized last week. So it was marked for Saturday morning and we were all there ready, waiting and he never showed up. Later he called them and remarked for Sunday morning and again he didn´t show up.
Saturday morning we had a service project cleaning out the overgrown garden of a family in the ward, and I thought gardening was hard in the states! We basically had to dig out the whole garden with hoes and hands. I got way sunburned. The family gave us a mountain of ice cream after so I almost got sick from all the creamy goodness.
Nelçi and Gabriella´s baptisms were marked for Saturday night. It was so crazy in the chapel. Their was a youth dance and a relief society party going on at the same time and you know what happened? The power went out! We all just sat there for an hour waiting for the power company to come. They fixed it but then the power went out again after ten minutes. The bishop was yelling at us, "Elders! Use your authority to bring the lights back." In the end we had to remark everything for Sunday morning before church. Everything went well in the end and Nelçi and Gabriella are the newest members of Ala Aracatí!
Sunday night we had dinner with Gildevan and Karla. They are a great couple that we are teaching that need to get married. They made us dinner and we watched 'Together Forever'. After dinner we marked a day to sign up for the wedding and Gildevan asked Karla to officially marry him... in English! It was awesome!
Anyway, that´s my week. I hope you all enjoyed it! Love you all!
Elder Taggart

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011 It's Time for Tea

Dear Everyone,

Hello again from the city of São Paulo! This week flew by and was really interesting. São Paulo is going through a cold wave right now. It´s staying around 60 degrees everyday which is really odd for this time of year because it is still summer down here. It´s been raining a lot also and I haven´t had to use sunscreen because there hasn´t been blue sky in over a week. The chilly weather is prompting everyone to make us tea and I gotta say that I have really developed a liking for the herbal pick me up. They add a ton of sugar so it´s always sweet and there are a million different flavors. Today I had rose tea! It was bright pink and so good!

Anyway we started the week off with district meeting on Tuesday and after the meeting we did an exchange with the Elders of area Horizonte Azul (Blue Horizon). Elder Amauri da Silva is one of the district leaders that I follow up with as part of my zone leader responsibilities. I went to their area while Elder D. Silva stayed in Aracatí with Elder Mota. It was a great exchange. We didn´t have lunch so Elder Amauri made lunch but in the middle of cooking our propane ran out so we had to carry the empty tank to the nearest trade station and carry the full tank back to their house before we could finish cooking. We visited their baptisimal candidates and the visits were kind of crazy. We taught a woman about the word of wisdom and she said that if God himself appeared and told her to stop drinking coffee she wouldn´t! Sometimes you just want to yell at people (and some elders do), but that´s not the way I like to work.

We undid the exchange but went right into another with the Elders of Riviera Paulista. Elder D. Silva went with Elder Nunes to their area and I stayed with Elder Lima. It´s Elder Lima´s second transfer but he is already an awesome missionary. I almost got lost a few times in Aracatí but we managed to make a few good visits.

President Jackson had last minute zone trainings so we headed to Ferreira (mission headquarters) to undo the exchange and have the meeting. We had no idea what it was going to be but it basically turned into a movie day. We watched 'The District 2' again and then discussed what we learned from the film. It was great.

Friday and Saturday was our time to really buckle down and work in the area. We have an incredible woman marked for baptism this week. Her name is Neuçi and her daughter is Gabriella. She is elect, elect, elect! The first time we visited her she asked us to pray with her to get a job and the next day she was called to be a cleaning woman. The downside was that it was way difficult to find her at home because of her new job. We finally got a chance to visiter her Saturday night to teach her the word of wisdom and she was already living it! She doesn´t work on Sundays so she´ll be able to go to church every week. We miraculously made a contact with her sister Alice in the street and Neuçi had already invited her to church!

Sunday was pretty good. We had 9 people in the chapel! It was so close to our goal of 10! But what can you do? People have their agency to do what is right and go to church or to stay in bed and get some extra sleep. Honestly, both options sound great. haha! But seriously, GO TO CHURCH! In the afternoon we visited Neuçi, Gabriella, and Alice and they made us a cake and, of course, tea. This week we´re going to have to visit Neuçi really early in the morning before she goes to work to finish up all the lessons before baptism. At night, Pres. Jackson gave a fireside at one of the wards in our zone so we got most of the missionaries together to sing 'Faith In Every Footstep' for the closing hymn. Sis. Jackson played the piano and Pres. Jackson´s sister who´s visiting the mission played the violin. It turned out really good.

Today is P-day and this morning we got together with some of the Elders in our zone and played Uno for a few hours. They have a ton of crazy brasilian rules which make things a lot more interesting. For example, the person that loses has to drink a liter of water and you have to keep playing until someone throws up. Luckily we didn´t have time to go that long and I was pretty close to breaking. And now I´m here in the Lan House writing to all of you.

I hope this week brings lots of blessings and opportunities to learn and grow for you all. I know that God answers prayers and that no effort is vain. Please keep the prayers coming (and also a few letters).

Elder MacLane Taggart

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011 Gotta Get in the Zone

Hey World!

Well, it has begun. I´m a zone leader and it is so busy but really good.

Last Tuesday was the transfer meeting so my new area... Aracatí! It´s way cool! It´s an island in the middle of a resevoir. My new companion is Elder D. Silva. He is incredible! He only has one transfer more than I do but I feel like a kid next to him. He knows how to teach, how to lead, how to everything. I´m definitely going to learn a ton from him. But we´re pretty much just two newbies pretending to be zone leaders here in zona guarapiranga.

My first day in the area we were walking down the street and pretty much everyone on the street knew us and stopped to talk to us. It was cool.

We have some pretty good investigators. Our baptismal goals are Nelçi, Gabriella, and Maxuel. Nelçi is a really new investigator but she already accepted to be baptized this month and is way open. Her daughter is Gabriella and they are really struggling right now because Nelçi lost her job. But the first time we taught her we prayed that she would find a job and the next day she received a call to work as a house cleaner so that´s a miracle. Maxuel is the son of a member family. He is a little rebellious so we´re going to do a fast with his family so that he will feel the desire to be baptized.

We have meetings all the time. I had to go to the mission office for a district leader training to learn about baptismal interviews and such. It was good. Later in the week we had a meeting with the bishops in the new chapel that just finished. They are doing an open house so we had to go see what the plan was for the missionaries. That night we didn´t get home til almost 11pm! This week we have a few more meetings planned and a division with the assistants.

My first Sunday in the ward was ward conference. The ward is brand new (only has about 6 months) so it was the first conference. It´s an interesting ward but it seems like the members are a little more excited about missionary work.

Today we organized a zone activity because we are wanting to strengthen zone unity. We played soccer and volleyball then had a Churrasco, it was great! I´m way excited to work here and getting more into the leadership mode. It´s going to be an interesting transfer I think.

I love you all!

Elder MacLane Taggart

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7, 2011 Welcome to the Big Leagues

Dear World,

I´d like to start this week with a notice/apology/a little funny thing that maybe you didn´t notice. Uncle Tom informed me that I accidentally misspelled ´funky´last week by forgetting the n. That was a close one but pretty funny. haha

Anyway, what a difference a week can make! I am actually glad that it´s been difficult though because I´ve really been learning a lot more about myself and things I need to change. Thanks for all the support emails, I guess my emails aren´t as transparent as I would hope. Pretty much everything changed this week and my situation is completely upside-down than it was this time last week.

It all started right here in this very lan-house. Pres. Jackson sent me an email that said, "It´ll be nice to see you this week." Only there was no reason for him to say that because we didn´t have any sort of conference or training that I was part of. So I called my district leader Elder Vidmar and asked and he said that the only thing on the mission calender was leadership training and that Pres. Jackson might have been talking about that. But I´m not (wasn´t) a leader so I figured it was just a mistake.

The next day Elder Vidmar called back and asked if I had called our zone leaders about my email and I said no. He said, "Well it looks like you´re going to leadership training this week." A few calls later, it was all worked out and it was certain that I was invited to the training so the next day we headed off to Ferreira.

I spent the next two days in leadership training with all the district leaders, zone leaders, the assistants, and Pres. Jackson talking about the mission´s difficulties and teaching principles. It was awesome! Sure I only knew a few people but it was still good. I was the youngest missionary there so it was pretty intimidating. The second day I was voted by our zone to represent in the practices so we practiced introducing ourselves and how to start teaching someone. I accidentally turned it into a baptismal invite and committed our 'investigators' to baptism in front of everyone. It was really funny.

The rest of the week was nerves and confusion. Transfers are this week and no one was sure what was going to happen. Elder Vidmar is going home soon so he was sure he was going to be released so it was most likely that I would not be transferred and become the new district leader because that´s usually where you start in mission leadership. But we just had to work til the transfers were announced yesterday.

We are really focusing on marriage for our older investigators because that is the only thing that is holding back a big part of our teaching group. We taught them all about the law of chastity and the purpose of the family, inviting them to pray about marking a marriage date. Hopefully that actually do it because the Lord isn´t going to tell them to keep sinning.

Sunday was fast and testimony meeting but all of the youth were gone because of Carnaval (Brasilian Mardi Gras). The church sends everyone camping during Carnaval so it was just the older people. Testimony meeting was all about how the camping trip is awesome and Mônica, Valdo´s daughter, decided not to go the last minute. I felt really bad.

Anyway the night rolled around and the secretaries called. To our surprise I was transferred! So then it was pretty much anything can happen. About 11:30 at night the assistants called and told me my designation... ZONE LEADER!!! Oh my freak! I´m so excited but way nervous. I only have 9 months on the mission and I still have a ton to learn but I know the Lord will qualify me. If I rely on him everything will work out the way it should. This is a chance for me to prove to myself what I´m capable of and to renew my excitement in the work. Pray for me! Please!

Oh and by the way my birthday is this week. Don´t forget, the 9th. I have an account at Zions Bank. Hahaha! Just kidding! Can you tell how nervously excited I am?

Anyway I love you all.

Elder MacLane Taggart