Friday, October 14, 2011

October 8, 2011

Holy cow, it feels like I still just barely got here. Its way different here in Playa del Carmen. In Merida it was already done the whole city. Very rarely would you find something new or if it was new it was because they had destroyed what was there before and now it’s a remodel. Here there are a lot of roads that aren’t paved and there are a lot of people constructing. Also something different here is that they rent out rooms. But it’s just one room. So if anyone is just staying here for a month they just find a house and can rent a room. But it’s a lot more expensive to rent here. But anyway it’s a lot different. It’s not as hot anymore either. But I still sweat as much
There are some pretty cool people in this area. The first people that I got to meet are a family. Well it’s the majority of a family. The dad doesn’t want to stop drinking so we are teaching a mom, and her two kids. It is really fun to teach them. The kids sometimes get a little bit distracted but the mom is super focused. They are getting baptized this week so that’s pretty cool. Their names are Guadalupe, Bracey and Alberto. Bracey is 11 and Alberto is 9 or so. Alberto is quite a hand full. They are all ready; it’s just some reviewing for this week.
Apart from them is a guy named Felipe. He is pretty cool… already read the whole Book of Mormon! That helps a lot. I guess that he is going to leave pretty soon though, but I hope to help him out. He is leaving the end of the month but it’s looking like its going to be pretty good. He was about to get baptized when the elders before me found out that he was not married. Well, you can’t get baptized if you’re not married. He is reading the Book of Mormon again and he is marking. Apart from that we found a bible for him. It’s pretty cool to see him get excited because he is going to learn more with this attitude.
The last really cool people we are teaching are a couple. The husband used to be able to “consume a lot of liquids” if you know what I mean. He was really down in the dumps kind of guy, but the elders were teaching his wife and I guess she was praying a lot that he would stop drinking. She ran away to Cozumel (an island over here). They got things figured out but he said that one morning he woke up and realized all the bad things that drinking did and how badly it was affecting him. From that point on he hasn’t drank. The only weird thing is he wanted to know if there was a way to make a pact with God to get a car. We taught about praying that the Lord would bless us according to our needs, and we’ll see if he needs a car.
In the district it’s going good. I have two sets of elders, and one set of hermanas. All of the junior companions are in their first or second change in the field. One of the elders is going through his first change as senior companion, opening an area, and training a brand newbie all at the same time. I can feel a little bit of his pressure. Now as I’ve seen almost all my companions prepare district meetings, now I get to have this opportunity to learn. I remember how much I started learning about the gospel in the MTC when I first started teaching it. Now that I get to start teaching about the missionary work, I’ll be able to learn about it even more.
In a family home evening that we had this week, I started thinking (I know mom that’s a bad sign). The family home evening, the theme was about time. There were three things that it started out with that I never thought about. One was that we can never buy or save time, because no matter what we do, it is always running. Another is that we can never go back in time. Once something is done it is done. With many things, after we have done something we can try to fix it. Many things that happen in this world we can fix it. We can change it, but time is one of those unique things that can’t be changed. And thirdly was that we never really know how much time we have. We never know when out of the blue we will be changed or when blessings or trials would pass us. We never know what’s ahead. I came to understand that agency is more the choices that we make on how we use our time. All of the things that we do take up time, and as a missionary, I’ve had to learn how to use my time more efficiently. Something that someone said in Sacrament meeting was, “Many times we aren’t passing trials, we are just receiving the consequence of our past decisions.” Our decisions now will affect our time in the future. Studying and graduating high school make take some time, but afterwards it will make our time much more enjoyable. Training will takes time gives us many enjoyable opportunities later on in life. So many decisions give us a better grip on our time and how we choose to spend it. The decision that will affect the most time is how we will apply the atonement in our lives and how we will live the gospel. It is the most important decision because it will not only affect this life, but it will affect the time after this life.
Con Amor
Elder Mackay

Friday, October 7, 2011

August 29 - October 4, 2011

October 4, 2011
Wow, another change has come and gone. It went by super fast but this change there is definitely going to be some changes. This week I got a post card from Aunt Julie and Uncle Cliff (finally I can say Uncle Cliff). They said they went to Playa de Carmen (literally its Carmen’s Beach) saying how they were waiting for me but I just didn’t show up. Well they should have waited a little longer. Sunday night, when we got the call I was changed to Playa de Carmen and that is not the only thing that is going to change; I’m district leader. And I’m my new companion’s second companion in the field so in the mission language that makes me his step-dad. My companion’s name is Elder Griffiths and he is from Herriman Utah (like a half an hour from Salt Lake City). He is just barely starting the mission. I feel like there is a big weight again, but lifting weights is suppose to make you stronger, right? Also last night I got to give the district meeting. It felt cool and at the end I had to do interviews. You’ll probably laugh at me but I feel like a big missionary now!
As far as ending things up in Pensiones, the really cool investigator that was there was still Ana. She is super willing to accept whatever we said. I liked teaching her because I knew her need and I knew what she needed to hear. Apart from that it wasn’t anything super crazy. I had a hard time saying bye to people. If I ever get to come back to Mexico, I’ll never have a problem finding a place to stay because of so many people offering. I'm going to miss a lot of things.
Monday morning I got to the bus station and it really weirded me out. I don’t know how but my suitcases weigh a ton. Anyway, I was on a bus ride for about five hours… alone. I felt super weird and I started worrying about what I would do if I couldn’t find anyone at the station and I didn’t know anyone and I just felt really awkward. I gave big hug to the first missionary I could find in the bus station. Here in Playa it’s a little different than Merida. In Merida, it’s always hot and humid. Here it’s been raining and because it’s close to the sea there’s always a breeze and its cooler. The buildings are also really different. In Merida, it was a lot of the same type of houses more or less in the area. Here, it’s way different. There could be a bunch of houses that are more or less the same then a grocery store, then some apartments. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s way different.
Conference was good. I did get to see part of it. I got to see half of the session of priesthood in Spanish (because there was something wrong with the transition) and the Sunday sessions in English. At the last minute we went into the high council room in the stake center and they found a TV and I heard the opening prayer in English. It’s funny because in priesthood, I wrote my notes in Spanish because that is what I was hearing but in the second session I wrote in English because that is what I was hearing. It was me, my companion, and another elder from the states that listened in English so a little group. I have a feeling that I am going to be using the talk on the Book of Mormon that one seventy gave. But the best one was on preparation (maybe I like it the best because I can apply it to my life right now).
Preparation is an eternal principal. We were taught and prepared in the pre existence. It was planned out from the beginning and we were taught the gospel. When our Heavenly Father finally said that it was time to go down to the earth, it was because we were fully prepared to face the trials and worries of this life. No matter what we face in this life, we can face it because we have been prepared. We know that this is true because our loving Heavenly Father wouldn’t send us on a mission or let us have a trial in our lives if we couldn’t conquer it. Going from junior companion to district leader in one jump is going to be quite a change, but I have hope because the Lord would not have called me to be this if I could not do it. It also gives me hope for the future because many of the things that scare me a little (for example FATHERHOOD) are achievable. They are achievable because the Lord will never give me anything that I cannot do. “I will go and do the things that the lord has commanded me. For I know that he does not give commandments unto the children of men save he shall prepare the way to complete the commandment.” I can do it. I will see that the experiences that I have been given will be of benefit for later on in my life. Many times the Lord prepares us even when we don’t even realize that we are changing. It’s so fulfilling to know that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ who has a work to do. I love this work and I can’t wait to do what I have been asked.
Con Amor,
Elder Mackay

Sept 27, 2011
Well… this change has gone by really fast. I don’t know how it is that it works like this. Some times we have so many plans that fall through and how slow time seems to go. But apart from that, it’s been going good. I’m writing on Tuesday because I didn’t have time yesterday. I got invited to play basket ball with my mission president. Then after we went home and changed, we got to go to his house have a barbeque with him! I felt really lucky. We really didn’t have time to do anything else so today is pretty hectic.
Well… this coming week is going to be pretty hectic. We have been offered to move into a new house by some members. It’s almost exactly in the middle of our area. Plus when your house owner is a member, you get some nice benefits like food and washers and I think maybe even hot water so that will be fun. If you are squeamish, you should probably skip to the next paragraph. I have had some problems with my big toenails and I’ve been trying to take care of it for a long time, but it’s not getting any better. I stubbed it really hard a long time ago and so… I have to get it fixed. We tried going with a member that is a pedicure lady but she said I had to go up another level. So then I called and talked to the President’s wife and she said that I have to go to a doctor. They are trying to figure out where I’m going to go. There was one that they use to go to but President’s wife doesn’t want me to go there. They said they aren’t quite sure what they are going to do it could be that they take out my whole toe nail and it grows back little by little. It’s frustrating that I’ve tried hard to take care of it but it didn’t work out. But don’t worry mom, it doesn’t hurt. So between these two things it’s going to be interesting how we get things done.
As far as investigators go at the top of the list is Ana still. She went to the Relief Society broadcast with her mom and I guess she liked it. Due to some scheduling problems, we weren’t able to see her very much this week, but she is still progressing, and she went to church. We’ll see what she thinks about conference. It’s cool to see how she has changed. She wants to learn more. We had a little short visit because we didn’t want to over load her with information but she asked if there wasn’t any more to the lesson because she wants to know more. We only have to teach the law of chastity and there shouldn’t be any big hurdles left. They even show up on time for everything which is really cool to see because punctuality isn’t very high on the priority list.
The two boys, David and Raul and their mom are still in it, but they didn’t go to church this week again. We have to get to the bottom of it. One of the times that we taught, was on divisions. We try to only teach important stuff when their mom is there but she doesn’t go very much. The day we had divisions the mom wasn’t there and so my companion just said to teach whatever. I pulled out Alma 56 about the stripling warriors and how they did not doubt. I talked about how I saw them as the little brothers that I never had (I beat them in arm wrestling, even when they used two hands). I'm not going to get to see them baptized, but they some day will be good members. It felt cool to invite them to join us as the Army of God. Saying things like that never get old.
We still meet with Mario and he is progressing but slowly. He read the Book of Mormon on his own time and he said that he felt something different. It felt good like an outside energy was affecting him. We explained that it is the spirit that testifies of things like that. We had this lesson in the church and it was pretty powerful. With him I learned that I have to listen to know what he is really, really saying to me. He says a lot of stuff so its fun to decide what information is important and what isn’t.
My spiritual thought was already pre prepared. This week I had the opportunity talk in church and I was supposed to talk about the Liahona but we still haven’t gotten ours. So I talked on love and I confirmed and understood a lot of ideas that I had about how to love. I understood that love isn’t words. Love is to worry about, care about, spend time with, or do something extra ordinary for someone ordinary. Love much like faith without works is dead. A pre written card isn’t as cool as a personalized card, because the personalized card took time and action from someone else. We cannot say that we love anyone unless we act on that love. The biggest act of love ever performed on the earth is and forever will be the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There is no other person who could have done it because there was no other person who loves us so much. Love is so important it is actually in the greatest commandment given to men. “Thou shalt love thy God…” but it isn’t exactly easy to give a birthday present to our Heavenly Father so how do we show our love for Him and Christ? It says in all over in the scriptures but best phrased for me in Doctrine and Covenants. “If ye love me thou shall serve me and keep my commandments.”
Con Amor
Elder Mackay

September 12, 2011
Well, it’s been a good week so far. Nothing super crazy. Well, yes and no. Well… you’ll figure it out.
This week we have some newbies and some oldies. Newbies are a family. There is a member family here that for a little bit of time went inactive and later they came back. Now, they are bringing their cousins to church. Kind of one of those gifts that just comes about. There are two sons and a mom. The oldest son is about the same age as his cousin so they are both in young men’s group. It’s only been about two weeks that they have been going to church. The mom has already seen a change in her son though, and that makes things easier for later on. We committed them for a baptismal date for the eight of September. They are going good. It just seems like the mom just eats up what we are saying.
Another cool couple that we have found is kind of a cool story. Earlier on Sunday, we were waiting for a bus and this lady came out of no where and started talking to us. She said that she like to talk to everyone and liked to talk. We took down her address, (because she had to leave) then set up for a morning. Kind of a small side note, these two past weeks we have had more rain than I would say in like five years back home. It’s been crazy. Where the water collects it usually goes over the sidewalk. I sent a picture one time of in front of our house, where it had overflowed there. That’s nothing. It’s been like that all over. So what does this have to do with the couple? Well the agenda that had their address got soaked so we had a little bit of fun trying to get their address. We pieced it together and we went and visited them this Saturday. It was interesting. They do like to talk (it’s just an empty nest couple). The husband is super interested in finding out about the Book of Mormon. He said that it was his hope that this was the difference that he had been looking for. He has several bibles, but each is different. He is from Catholic background, but because of personal reasons he left. Now he is super excited to see us. We’ll see what happens.
Another newbie is a lady called Alma (yeah, like the Book of Mormon; only in Mexico, Alma is a girl’s name). Her husband is a missionary that when he came home, through the time he stopped going to church for one reason or another. He met her and then they got married and everything. We asked him why he wanted to come back. He said one day that he just figured out that “his soul was hungry”. They are super hospitable and even gave us cake one time. This is the first time the wife has seen her husband like this, but she says she is willing to learn and to support her husband. We have mainly talked about the Atonement and the important it has in The Big Plan. They sell stone things for fireplaces and stuff (they even have gone to Florida and New York). In their house you can definitely feel the spirit so that’s good.
As far as oldies it is Anna. She still keeps hanging in there and she finally went to church! It’s been about the same. We had a good lesson on The Spirit. I think that she is starting to feel a little bit of pressure. She is funny though. Her mom (Maria de Carmen that just got baptized) is still going strong. It is way cool to see her take part in so much. But Anna is still trucking along. We have to just figure out what is stopping her from getting her answer. She says that sometimes she lets reason go in afterwards. That she feels good then later she says it was because her daughter wasn’t causing problems or because it wasn’t raining. She is still meeting with us though. One of the things that she has learned is how much debt she is in. We still got work to do.
As far as crazy out of the ordinary stuff this week it’s been the food and the rain. I talked about the rain earlier, it’s impossible to describe. All the water could be well used up there sometimes I imagine. The food this week was super good. One day, the second councilor in the stake presidency bought us hot dogs at night on our way home. Earlier in the week, we ate and his house and we had hamburgers and root beer! The crazy thing about that is there is no root beer here but they found some. I guess they are starting to bring it back but it was so weird. To replace it they have a flavor called “negra” which is translated as black and kind of tastes like banana. It’s weird to thing about but it’s good. Then on Saturday we went to a member’s house a little late and they first came out with a plate of rice and vegetables. She said she was going to bring out “a little bit of meat”. I was thinking like a small pork chop or something. She brought out like three pounds of ribs! It was a ton of meat. She then told us that it was all for use because they had already eaten. I felt my stomach filling already. It was so much meat! Maybe I’ll put on the weight that I have lost. Probably not though.
As far a spiritual thought, well I’ve got a bunch of ideas in my head and I don’t know what to choose from. Lately we have found a few people that have problems. Like there is one member here who has been inactive almost since his baptism. He has gone back to drinking a ton and has a “friend”, even though he is married. Also there is a couple here that has problems trying to get along that we have been trying to help. Even more being here for five months I know the struggles on almost everyone. It’s super hard to see someone and not see their past. It feels like a weight sometimes that we get to carry around. I image though that it’s not even close to the weight that the Savior had to go through. This is what gives me a bit of hope is that even though all these people are going through trials, the sun will come up tomorrow. There is a solution because there is a Savior who has suffered an infinite atonement. Because he did so much, he now knows exactly how we feel, and how he can help us. One of the phrases that someone copied out of text from the bible but it works is, “And it came to pass”. It really does. Tomorrow will come. And all though some trials pass like kidney stones, they do pass.
Con Amor,
Elder Mackay J

September 5, 2011
Well, I tried warming up to the idea that I was going to go over the hump. It still was a big surprise when my zone leader called me on Thursday. I was trying to figure out why he was calling for me. But later he said happy one year and I about jumped. We talked for a second (he has the same amount of time as I do). One of the questions that we talked about is “are we half-way to where we wanted to finish at the end?” I think that at the end of the mission, we all have an idea of who we want to be. Am I half way to where I want to be? I think not
This week there are only two people that are really cool to talk about. The first one is Ana that has been progressing. She is really happy to talk with us and her mom finally came home. The big thing this week is she understood more the importance that Jesus Christ has in our lives. We asked if our lessons were helping increase her faith and she said a little. We talked about the importance of the atonement, and then on Friday we watched “To This End Was I Born.” It’s about the Atonement and shows more or less what we imagine happened. She said that she has heard about movies like this and didn’t like to watch them, but after watching them, one feels like that they are in debt. On Saturday we went to the temple and then after we went to the church next door. We were planning on explaining the plan of salvation real quick and then let her ask all the questions she asked. I knew that wasn’t going to work after a while because we spent between fifteen and twenty minutes on the pre earth life. It ended up being over and hour long. It was super powerful. She still hasn’t been able to go to church because of her office job but this week she will.
The other cool person is a guy named Esteban. He is quite a miracle. Last week he was looking for a church to go to and he went into ours. Tuesday we had a meeting with him and one of the first things that came out of his mouth was that he sometimes felt a hunger to learn about God. He has had a rough life and will need a special interview with president, but we can do it (problems with question number four if anyone understands that). One cool thing though. He got up last week and bore his testimony! Last week being fast and testimony week was pretty crazy. I saw him get up and all the sudden and I wondered what he was going to talk about. He talked about a story that he told us about in our first lesson. He was working in the forest chopping down wood and he got shot it the chest. It was a through and through and he fell straight to the ground. He had found the bible in prison but hadn’t followed it. He was laying there without any way to get up and said that he actually felt like he was dying. He starting praying and had a big change of heart. He felt strength come into his chest and he was able to get up, walk for a few miles, then ride in a car for three hours to go to a hospital. His testimony was on that he knows that God listens to us and that he gives us a second chance. The only problem is that there is an issue on who is going to teach him. Some other elders are going to want him, but he is never going to go to their church because our church is closer. And we already sent them the reference and they didn’t check it. We’re going to wait for a second or two and if nothing happens he’s ours.
The spiritual thought came from a talk and some experiences that I have shared with people during the week. The talk was from President Monson. One day a couple moved into a new house and the wife saw the neighbor hanging laundry out to dry. The wife said, “That laundry isn’t white she doesn’t know how we wash clothes.” This continued on for a few weeks when the wife looked out one day and the wife said, “Look John, she finally learned how to wash clothes!” Her husband replied, “You might be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed the windows.” There is a couple who loves missionaries that have been married for a month that are having couple issues. I remembered one day that we were heading into Drummond and I was with Allison. I was ragging on someone about how someone (I don’t even remember) did this wrong and that and this and that. She got me real good when she said, “Yeah, but I bet she makes a good chocolate cake.” I didn’t understand but it comes back to what I learned this week. If we choose to see people through dirty windows, or look for the bad in people (for it really our choice) then we will abundantly find what we are looking for. But if we search for the “chocolate cake makers” and the “good dish washers” and those kinds of things, we will be looking through the washed windows. Not to mention, we will be happier, and be all the more aware of our own errors. As said in times of old, “One cannot cast out a mote from his brothers eye, when he has a beam in his own.” I realized that we see people how we want, and we ought to see them at their full potential; full heirs to the kingdom of their Heavenly Father.
Con Amor,
Elder Mackay
Aug. 29, 2011
Well, it’s been an interesting week. Not a whole lot happened this week but at the same time well… it’s been a weird week. I remember that there was an elder back home that when he realized that he had been in the mission for a year that it hit him like a wall and that it came a lot sooner than he thought. I remember looking at him and thinking how old he was and how close he was to finishing his mission and things like that. I figured it out yesterday that I’m him! Well pretty much.
This week we haven’t had much as far as new people. The newest person is my companion! His name is Elder Nguyen. His dad is from Vietnam and his mom is from Peru. He was born in the states though. Everyone says he is a real good mix of everything. He’s a cool guy though. He has a lot of time in the mission. This will probably be his last area since he only has this change and two more left. He was president’s executive secretary so he said that he use to get chewed out a lot and he learned from that. He was a zone leader in Cancun before coming here. The way our president likes to have trainers is experienced. So a lot of the trainers have only a few months left like he will. This change I will show him the area, then in the next two changes he will train. He’s from New Jersey and… likes basketball. I don’t know much else. He’s got a nice iron so that’s a plus.
As far as investigators go the best one is Ana. You can see that there is something different about her. She is a lot happier, and she is really starting to read the Book of Mormon. She has already read through chapter 12 of first Nephi. She also says that it’s not like any other book that you would find; that there is something different. She is really cool. I hope that she keeps going. We had a lesson planned for her on the Atonement and we also want to go to the temple with her. It’s really fun to be a missionary when there are people like her to teach. Her mom (Maria de Carmen that got baptized a few weeks ago) is still on vacation, but she still keeps her daughter in line by asking if she has read the Book of Mormon. It’s cool to be with them.
Miguel Campos is still there. It was a little hard to find him this week because his family went to Utah because there is a wedding for his granddaughter. But seeing how he is sick, and doesn’t travel well, and can’t go in the temple, he stayed.
It was kind of interesting in church this week. We worked hard on Saturday trying to get people to church and nobody went really. It was frustrating but at the same time it’s their agency. We worked hard though. (Oh yeah, we also got soaked three or four times this week while we were sticking to it. So dad, I hope you’re right about how tracting in the rain makes my wife hotter.) Anyways we stuck to it and on Sunday two miracles showed up. One is a guy about twenty years old that had taken missionary lessons before and the other one is a guy that just went looking for a church. It’s interesting how things worked out for him. He didn’t know anything about church and he thought that they would be all the same. He went to a church that is a little way up the road and then realized that there was nobody there, then came to ours (the church up the road is the Jehovah Witnesses). We are going to have lessons with them tomorrow at night with a member.
Well I don’t have as much time as I thought so that’s why it’s a little short. But this week the spiritual thought is on pride. One of my favorite talks ever on pride was President Utchdorf`s talk in general priesthood a few conferences ago. He said that pride is a sin of self elevation. It’s the desire that one is seen loftier than others. When we talk about our success in front of others, it’s easy to see the pride that can come from it. After thinking about it a lot, pride comes down to anything that we use to make ourselves seem better or that we have done something grand; that we did it on our own. This doesn’t work very well in the world and especially in the missionary world. We as missionaries do very little. We should bring the spirit by testifying and teaching. We are to give information and leave commitments and verify if they do them. We do not change these people. The “other side of the veil” does most of the work. It is the Spirit that changes the people. It is the spirit that is a constant reminder that they need to fulfill their commitments. It is he that helps them to know “in their heart, what they already knew in their mind”. If ever we make a show how ever big or small that we think we did something and that we are granted ownership over something we should take a step back of who really is in charge and who really lets what happen. Especially we cannot be prideful about our Salvation because we are literally powerless to save ourselves. Only a person who accepts the help of Him and His atonement will be able to have forgiveness in this life and in the life to come.
Con Amor
Elder Mackay