March 31, 2014 — Setabul, BRAZIL

Ola Minha Familia,

Well I would love to say that all of the days of this week were like my birthday (monday) but sadly that wasn’t the case. This week was a learning point for Sister McCleve…but let’s start with my amazing birthday.
My birthday was wonderful! After email we had 2 family nights in members homes. One with the YW leader and Paloma leading/giving the lesson on prayer and faith to complete one of her personal progress goals. So cute. I am so proud of her, I love her so much. Everyone sang to me after and we had cake and took some photos.
Then we ran to the other family night (remember we walk EVERYWHERE in this mission) and even though my hair was somewhat cute to take pictures etc. it ended up getting destroyed haha. Why? SIster Torres! haha here’s what happened, so everyone turned off the lights and brought out 2 cakes! with candles singing for me- so sweet. And then after I blew out the candles sister Torres walks out with a bowl of flour saying “you have to find the candy inside, without using your hands” haha so I stuck my face in and of course I was caked in flour haha but I found the chocolate. Pretty funny. I was inhaling tons of flour/could barely breathe haha. It was hilarious, my eyelashes were white and Torres dumped some flour on my head too haha. No one cracked any eggs on my head though?? maybe thats a southern brazil tradition??
Needless to say it was a great birthday. 22 years old.
Okay moving on
Tuesday and wednesday the bodily functions returned and I found myself very sick again….random but it can really be a hit and miss here with the food seriously haha it’s really annoying sometimes. You feel completely fine and the next thing you know you’re completely sick 😦
We also had one of our investigators marked for baptism this last sunday but sadly because of some personal issues she isnt prepared to be baptized right now. …everything else she believes and accepts but  the law of chastity is something she isn’t willing to accept. 😦 Really difficult. It’s hard to drop investigators but when they aren’t willing to progress we can’t force them to.
Also another new SUPER AWESOME investigator we had a sweet  1st lesson with decided to drop us. We had marked a return appointment with him and when we went back to meet with him he instead left us a letter with scriptures in the bible that talked about false prophets, no other scriptures, etc. basically trying to burn us and the message of the restoration that we shared with him previously. Ughhh. People just do not understand sometimes. As missionaries we teach, and INVITE people to act upon what we taught. To read what we give them (book of mormon or sometimes just a pamphlet) and then pray to GOD (not us, not the prophet, not to their pastor etc.) noooo to God and ask Him if these things are true. But so often people skip that part that is ESSENTIAL and therefore don’t receive an answer. THey only talked with the missonaries one time or so and never actually received for themselves a witness that these things are true or not true. I guess that’s where Satan kicks in the most, right there in the beginning. It is true, I’ve taught hundreds of 1 time lessons with people because of things like this. We never get a chance to talk with them again. I once heard in michigan that the average number of times someone hear’s about/learns about the church is 7 times before they are baptized…..I can truthfully say I am participating in one of those 7 times haha.
The lowest point was friday. We went to go see Edelson to see how he was and what happened was a complete surprise. He told us 1. He couldn’t come down to talk with us (he lives in an apartment) because he was sick 2. He told us he would not be going back to church anymore and would like us to come over the next day (saturday) to give us his book of mormon and other church materials. We tried to get him to come down and talk to us but he was really short with us (not like him at all) and told us the next day. So we came back (we had been fasting and praying that day a TON) saturday and he began to explain that he just couldn’t continue with the church. He began to go on a tangent and it became apparent to me that he had heard from some source 1 lie that led him to look on the internet and of course to discover all of the other crud that people put there talking smack about the church. One thing lead to another and now he is full of doubts and has come to a conclusion that he needs time to reflect. It didn’t go very well, satans got a good grip on him. I asked him some questions that seemed to get him to actually think about what he was saying (ridiculous things) and to remember how he FELT. About what he was taught and his testimony of the gospel. He said more quietly that he could not deny what he had felt, and that was the spirit. But even now he is questioning everything. He asked us not to come back. We probably will at the end of the week just to invite him to an activity that we have next week. But really there’s nothing else we can do…it is heart wrenching. Like one of your own kids deciding NOT to accept the gospel or leaving the church. I can’t imagine.
hat night I dreamed and woke up realizing again that Edelson….one of my dear friends and someone I love and care about so much had decided to give up on the church. I woke up without any motivation to keep going. Seriously it was bizarre. I honestly (for the 1st time in my mission) did not want to go to church sunday. I wanted to curl up into a ball and keep crying….I didn’t want the members in my face asking what’s wrong filha!?? I just wanted an assurance that things would stop falling apart (as they seemed to be in my mind).
We went to church, my companion is a champ and was super positive and encouraging helping me out. I was quiet and trying not to think of Edelson/the other people that also weren’t at church (always a difficult thing as a missionary-hoping those you invite will come to church). Gospel principles rolled around, I said nothing…the teacher afterwards asked if I was sick, physically no….but mentally/spiritually I was.
Sacrament meeting rolled around. They asked me last minute if I could play the piano for the hymns, I was glad to help to distract my mind even though I played horribly. Brazillians don’t care though because they are not quite as musically talented as we are so that’s always a plus.
I remember praying so hard for a tender mercy…or some miracle that Edelson would show up. Well he didn’t. I became frustrated with the fact that we had fasted and prayed and that this was our current situation. In my heart I was sooo sad and asking Heavenly Father why?….why why why?All we are trying to do is Your work. According to YOUR will. We even fast too and this is what happens? What’s the point?
Not a good attitude to have I know…but I had seriously hit a HUGE low in my mission. I had never felt this disappointed in myself and Heavenly Father in a long long time. What happened next was truly a miracle small yet divine. The first talk was given by Lucas a 22 year old in the ward who just a couple months ago decided to serve a mission. He said several months ago he began having dreams that he was a missionary. But he had told his parents many times that he would NOT be serving a mission. Finally he talked about the Lord touching His heart and how he allowed the Lord to change Him and he’s been blessed more and more ever since. With that change he decided to serve a mission and the peace that immediately filled him once he made that choice. He talked about us sisters that are examples to him and what a desire he has to do what we do. To teach the true gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone. My heart was lifted, motivation returned. However I still felt sad about fasting and Edelson.
The next talk was given by an older brother in the ward about sacrifice….he talked about fasting. How we need to have joy! That we shouldn’t be thinking “ohh it’s fast sunday so I’m more tired and weak and hungry than usual etc.” but on the contrary that we should be excited to share our testimonies and feel closer to the Lord. When we fast with a purpose we are drawing down the powers of Heaven.
I realized in that moment, that this moment was difficult yes with what happened with Edelson. But that truly My companion and I were doing everything we could and that the Lord WOULD bless us. Even if it wasn’t with Edelson running in through the church doors. We need to trust HIM, even when everything seems bleak.
I felt the spirit comfort my soul. I felt Heavenly Father telling me “hey, don’t you give up yet…you keep going Kenz”.
I was humbled and instantly thanked the Lord for answering my prayers, my aching heart.
After church, we went to lunch at a members and then were heading back to another appointment. I had felt better but still a little bummed hoping it would pass. We passed a guy on the street that I noticed but we kept walking. I looked back as we waited at the stop light at this man who was looking at us (not creepily). I felt impressed to go back and talk to him I told Montalvao we needed to go talk to him. We ended up teaching him the Plan of Salvation, and he had said that he just moved here 2 weeks before and was feeling really worried/out of place being in this new city and trying to adjust. He had visited various and various churches but still felt like he didn’t know his purpose. That he felt like he was moving but not progressing and if there was even a point to this life?
I want to say he is our next baptism haha but he is not. He lives in the other sisters area so we gave his information to them so they can go teach him. But I knew with out a shadow of a doubt that we needed to go and teach him. That moment was critical for me. Where I felt like I just couldn’t go anymore, that there wasn’t a point, that I wasn’t making a difference etc. But I know I can. I know the Lord needs me, I have a testimony of this more than ever now. And even though his thoughts are not my thoughts and his ways are not my ways, I can allign my thoughts with His. I can go and follow His ways-because His ways are the right ways.
I love you all, and I love the Lord, I love the mission. It truly is a time of learning and growing. How grateful I am and will forever be that I chose to serve THROUGH and THROUGH. I didn’t tell Him I’d serve only if I had baptisms, reactiviations, and people flocking to the church every sunday. No, I told Him I’d go where He wants me to go, to say what He wants me to say, to do what He wants me to do and  to beCOME what He wants me to be.
Sister Mackenzie Ann McCleve
Sister Montalvaos turns 21

Sister Montalvaos turns 21

We made BLT's for our one year mark

We made BLT’s for our one year mark

Celebration

Celebration

Birthday party for Sister McCleve

Birthday party for Sister McCleve

My Zone

My Zone

At the beach

At the beach

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