Due to Thanksgiving, I did not update Elder McKeon's blog last week. Here are the last two emails he sent home! Monday, November 26th: Hey!!! Guess what!!!!???? I'VE HAD 4 BAPTISMS IN THE FIRST 4 WEEKS OF MY MISSION!!!! I've been here for a month and I've already baptized 4 people into this wonderful Church! I love each and every one of these people here! You have already seen the pictures of the first 2 baptisms, but the last 2 are the daughter and granddaughter of Marcia de Lima, my first baptism! It's so cool to see these families being blessed by the Gospel. I love being a missionary!!! Anyways.... how was Thanksgiving? It was very sad for me not being there to enjoy you guys and to eat turkey... but we get to Skype this Christmas!!! Speaking of this, I need one of you guys to set up a new Skype account for me. And we also need to set up a time to do this, are Carlie and Porter going to be with the family this year? Or down in Loa? If they're there with you guys, then we'll just talk, but if they're in Loa, then ill have to Skype them later after you guys. How is everything? Have you gotten my letters to the ward and stuff? Also, I'm picking up some cool things here for you guys as presentes de Natal!! They're going to be pretty cool, you'll love them!!!
This is where Elder McKeon lives.
Mom!! You're Birthday is coming up! I'll write you a letter this week ok? Then well see how your party went next week! I'm sure dad and the kids have an awesome plan for you on your big day!! I know you deserve it!! Things here are going great! The work is progressing, I'm learning better Português daily and I love these people so very much! They are some of the kindest most loving people you will ever find. They are so caring and love to talk to you and want to know more about you and your family. I've been in countless situations of extreme poverty and the family will still try to give us something for what were doing and I always try to say no, but these people really do love the Church and the work were doing that they will NOT take no for an answer. These people are amazing and I love them with all of my heart. Me and my companion are doing alright. We teach together and we know how to bring people to the Gospel!! I know we will continue to do well here in Continental, Guarulhos! I love you guys and miss you and hope all is well in all that you are doing! You are always in my prayers (and let me tell you, as a missionary, you pray A LOT) so you know that you are always with me! I love you more than words can describe! Your elder! Elder McKeon
The beautiful Sao Paulo sunset!
Monday, November 19th: Hi Family!
My address is
Elder Howard Derek McKeon Brazil São Paulo East Mission Rua Caa-Açu, 229 Belenzinho 03171-020 São Paulo - SP Brazil
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CARLIE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did you get my letter? I sent it last week but I don't know how long it takes to get there. PARA BEMS PRA VOCÊ! I can't believe you are 21 years old! That is incredible!
This email is a shout out to my very first best friend in this life.
The first thing that I remember of us together is playing shark in my room in So Cal during bath time, and us playing at night in our room when mom and dad thought we were asleep. Whether it was speeding to get to seminary on time as I read you AP US History, or sneaking into dances, we were always there for each other. Whenever I needed help you were always there, no matter what it was that I needed. We would always watch scary movies upstairs and you would come into my room cause you were too scared to sleep alone. Looking back, I thought it was annoying and funny, but now I cherish these memories. Being here in Brasil and seeing all different kinds of people and places reminds me of how special my family is. I've seen families that are so close and unified, and then I have seen other families that can't stand each other and that it would break my heart if we were ever like that. I'm so grateful for our friendship. As I write this email I'm crying in this internet cafe thinking of all our memories together and that this is your first birthday that I haven't been able to talk to you face to face or give you a call just to say how much I love you and wish you a phenomenal day cause you of all people deserve it. I know that you might be super busy with school, work, and church but take just a couple of minutes for yourself and relax please! I love you more than words can describe and I know that this email is nowhere near as good as your blog birthday posts about the rest of the family but I did want you to know how much you mean to me! I love you Carlie McKeon Ellett!
Gabriella, a new member of the Church!
ok, now that I've stopped crying, let me tell you about my week. It was good...... just kidding it was amazing! We were supposed to have two baptisms this past week but we only had one because one that was supposed to be baptized had to postpone it. Her mom couldn't come to church because she had to do some reforms on her house. We went to her house and asked if the workers needed help but they said no. We re-scheduled the baptism for later that day and they said great. We got a call while were teaching another investigator and her six year old son tells us that they can't come because her mom left to go buy something. We were pretty bummed about that, but we had the other baptism to still prepare for and complete. I learned that we can do everything we possibly can and it still sometimes it doesn't work out because that's what the enemy wants. Shes getting baptized next week and we will help make sure she is prepared. Along with her we think two others will also be ready but we'll see. We have come into contact with two other families that seem really interested and we've given them copies of the Book of Mormon and they are progressing in such a big way! I love this work and I'm trying so hard to be strictly obedient and serve the Lord. I love these people so much! They will give anything and everything to us. I have so many stories to tell and not enough time but I'll tell you guys at Christmas. Yes dad, we get to Skype! We will go to a members home and we get all day to talk with you! Well do more communication in the future but just so you know, we get to skype! Elder McKeon
Here is Derek's latest email: Hey family! Well this past Sunday (yesterday the 11th) I had the greatest opportunity to baptize someone. I cant explain the overwhelming feeling of joy and just utter happiness in bringing someone into this wonderful Gospel. Her Name is Marcia de Lima. We stumbled into her in the Favela, and this is straight up the most ghetto/poor place that i have ever seen.... its just amazing what kind of living conditions these people have....anyway i told you the story of how we ran into her on complete accident looking for another recent convert and she said we were the answer to her prayers, because her son had prayed for an angel for his mom and i guess we were it!!! So we taught her and we have become very close to the family all of her kids love me and i love playing with them!! They remind me of Trey, JD, and all of our little cousins cause they just jump on us and we wrestle with them and just have a blast! And the cutest thing happened on Saturday, the smallest one named Lazaro, Lazarus, in English, we were playing, but then we had to leave because we had another appointment. We told him ´we have to leave but we´ll be back tomorrow to see you again!´ you know what he did? he sat on my shoes grabbed my legs in a vice grip and cried saying no no no no no no no dont leave!!! It was so cute i just wanted to pick him up and carry him home with us!
Elder McKeon with Marcia and her family
Anyway his mom, Marcia, took him away then we came back Sunday morning to come pick them up along with another investigator named Gabriela and her son Josef. We got to church and all Saturday night and throughout church i had been reciting the baptismal prayer in my mind and looking in my white handbook making sure that i had it absolutely perfect! I was so nervous i would mess up...So we baptize her after church (here in Brazil we baptize them on Sundays, becuase once theyve been to 2 church meetings they then can be baptized, so you do it as soon as you can and confirm them the next week) so we fill the font and im in all my white clothing and i step into the font and take her and i do the prayer perfectly and baptize her into this wonderful church! After i pull her out she stands there for a second just with her hands over her eyes and i thought something was wrong but she was just overcome with the Spirit and was crying! I tap her shoulder and she jumps and gives me a big old hug (which is agaisnt the rules) but i hugged her back anyways and then we ended the service after we were all dried off and a couple of members bore their testimonies and me and Edler Squires sang a song. (can you believe that i actually sang in front of people???) Anyways it was great, just an awesome experience and we have 2 MORE baptisms set up for this Sunday! Marcia´s 8 year old daughter Eloisa, and the other investigator, Gabriela! How awesome is that???? I am so excited to be here and to do this work here in Brazil and to teach these wonderful people here... i love it all and im so glad that i can share it with you!
Elder McKeon with Marcia (1st baptism!)
Other things that have happened this week..... nothing as explosive as baptims... Oh! wait!!! We played soccer with the young men on Saturday and me and Elder Squires were going to the Favela to pick up Marcias sons to come and play with us. So we come running down this Favela because we were late and we have to cross this sketchy bridge but as soon as we get to this bridge this guys says, ´why are you running?´ we tell him that we were late to pick up Marcia´s kids, (they all know why we´re there and theyre all drug dealers and they ´let´us by, thinking that theyre all hardcore but really theyre not....) and he says,´dont do that, you could confuse some people down here, they have guns and wont hesitate to shoot you... the only reason i didnt shoot you was because i saw your name-tag´, (i was wearing my plaqueta and he knew we were Mormons)..... How crazy is that??
After the baptism, Elder McKeon with Marcia and her family.
Dont worry i am totally safe mom, dad, we just didnt know, we know now... But we were protected, not only by our reputation, but the Lord.... he needs us and we need to always have His Spirit with us and we will know what we need to do. So dont worry im fine, im healthy Carlie, i eat so much food....... all i eat is rice beans and meat! I just walk over 10 miles a day up and down hills! its not my fault!! i am trying to gain weight so much!!!!
Elder McKeon trying to gain weight by making brownies
Anyways i am totally fine, healthy and so excited for this work!!! its amazing what missionaries can do!!! I love you all and always pray for you in everything that you are engaged in!!! tell the ward ill send them a letter soon!! Elder McKeon
Here is Elder McKeon's email after his first full week in the mission field! He sent us pictures as well, enjoy!
Elder McKeon's area.
My companion or trainer is Elder Cole Robert Squires from Gridley, CA. Its only about an hour and a half drive to the north for you! Cool right? He´s been on his mission for 1 year and 5 months, but he spent 7 months in Texas waiting for his visa. He is an awesome trainer and I am learning so much from him! I am in my area, which is called Continental, and its pronounced differently so ask dad how its pronounced.
Elder McKeon's district on the last day they were in the CTM.
My zone is called Guarulhos, they have these massive, massive ´neighborhoods´ called bairros. It is very different here. These bairros are like cities but they're neighborhoods, for example, Brooklyn would be a bairro.
Elder McKeon and Irmao Ramos, one of his teachers in the CTM.
We have had an awesome week this week! Last Wednesday, the 31de Outubro, we had to walk to our District meeting, which was about an hour BUS ride, but we walked and it was so hot and such a long walk. I have never walked so much in all of my life. We got a bus back after our meeting and that was nice. I have an amazing district! I don't know them that well so when I know them better I'll tell you everything I can about them.
Presidente and Sis. Degn, as well as Elder McKeon. They are the mission presidents at the CTM.
After the meeting we went to lunch and then we were able to go teach this family where the 2 kids were baptized but never confirmed. They live smack dab in the middle of the FAVELA! It was so cool going in there! It is like another world in there. No rules, no government, just everything.... I can't quite explain it but wow, it was an experience. I could reach out with one arm and touch the wall with my hand and my shoulder on the other wall. The poorest of the poor circumstances that you can imagine. I haven't gotten any pictures but I will. We taught them a lesson and then by that time we had to go home.
Irmao Fabian a really good friend at the CTM
When we got home, we had no water! Our water pump on top of our apartment had not yet pumped the water back to the top and so we didn't have any water in our apartment.
The morning Elder McKeon left for the field. He said it was the first time he had seen the moon in 2 months!
The next day, Thursday, we had to get to this another investigator's home, Rosangela, and in order to do so, we had to hike over a mountain. We were in the jungle and it was so cool! This big old dog came running out of nowhere and luckily it was chained up. Anyway, she is a great investigator too and I know shes going to get baptized! Then we had to hike back over the mountain in order to get to our lunch appointment where we had, feijoada, and I am going to have to acquire a taste for it. Anyway, I ate it all and even had seconds. Then we had this awesome dessert where there were grapes on this orange jello.
Irmao Vander, another really good friend in the CTM, with Elder McKeon
After lunch we went to check up on a recent convert but couldn't find her because we were back in the Favela! I love the Favela if you haven't noticed! We ran into this family and we start teaching them and the grandma is loving it! Her name is Marcia, we've taught her and her family. They are awesome! We went home and the water was back on so that is always a good thing!
Elder McKeon's district and Branch Presidency.
Then Friday we had lunch at a member's house. Then we went back to visit Marcia. She told us this story that her son saw her (Marcia) suffering in her life and he prayed to God to send his mom (Marcia) an angel to help her life. After he had told her that story, we walked around the corner and taught her and her family. She told her son that the Lord did send her an angel, except they were men, white, and from America. We were her angels... that knocked me way back! We were just looking for another person to teach and happened to be there at the right time. It was so amazing. We made contacts for the rest of the day and then went back home.
Elder McKeon and his companion, Elder Squires.
Saturday was a rough day. We walked and walked and walked so much that I can sort of in a very tiny, little itty-bitty way appreciate what the pioneers had to do. We walked all over our area. We have to schedule our appointments by how long it is going to take us to walk there. Anyway most of our appointments fell through so we got a lot of exercise and made a ton of contacts along the way but we went back to Marcia and shes coming to Church!
Irmao Ricardo, another really good friend at the CTM.
Sunday, we went and picked up Marcia and took her to Church. I have an awesome ward! A lot of wonderful sisters, but our Priesthood is on the low side. We have a rule in this mission, that if we have a certain goal of baptisms, a certain number must be male.
Elder McKeon and Irmao Viana, another one of his teachers at the CTM.
Anyway the bishop is great and I was blessed to stand and share my testimony in Portuguese. It is a great ward and afterward we taught Marica about the Sacrament, fasting, testimony and she´s getting baptized this next Sunday the 11th! My first baptism within a week of being here! She wants to be baptized and we are going to do it this next Sunday! I'm so excited!!!
Elder McKeon wrote the caption to this picture, "My field to harvest!"
Eu sei que eu estou aqui por um razão. Eu amo este trabalho e estas pessoas aqui no Brasil!! Eu vos amo e vou por sempre!! Your missionary, Elder McKeon