Current Mailing Address

Current Mailing Address

Elder Howard Derek McKeon
Brazil Sao Paulo East Mission
Rua Caa-Acu, 229
03171-020 Sao Paulo - SP

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Hey guys!

So, last week Dad asked me to write a special email for you guys on some experiences throughout my mission that have helped my testimony grow. Well, there are a lot, so I will try and keep this short.

Being in a different country, far from family, speaking a different language, with people who I never even knew existed, made me grow up.... fast. I learned how to do things quickly and effectively that would help me and help these people. I thought it was me learning these things, but in reality it was the Lord, through the Spirit, teaching me these things.

When I came on the mission, I had a long list of goals that I wanted to accomplish like: baptize every single person I teach, or become a MASTER of the Portuguese language, or memorize the scriptures. Don't let me be the one to tell you that they can't be accomplished, I just happened to change the perspective of my goals. I decided that I would like to be more humble, more patient, less stubborn, and be the best missionary that I could be.  These became my goals.  Not unreachable, but definitely not the easiest thing for me.  I knew that I was prideful, and that I was never the most patient guy, and I really could use being less stubborn. So, these goals were going to take some work, I'm not saying that I have perfected them, (a long ways actually) but I have really made some improvement. And it wasn't even me that did the work!  I'll tell you how.

People change people.  I have learned that this is a fact. Certain people act differently around one group of people and then change completely for a different group. That is a negative way people change people. But, there is a positive way too.  Its all depends on how YOU want to be.  Whenever I meet someone new to teach, I always think, "How can I help them?"  Then we begin to teach them and we all feel the Spirit and they begin to grow, and as they begin to grow spiritually and start planting that little seed of a testimony, they begin to help you. 

Once they really start to see a change in their own lives, reading the Livro de Mórmon and going to Church, they start to study it and then they share what they have learned with us because they are so excited to strengthen their testimony, and I can say 100% of the time, what they studied and told me strengthened my testimony. Seeing the light in their eyes and their lives helped me see that this work was made for EVERYONE  and that it will help everyone become better.

In my first area, Continental, we were teaching a muleque named Matheus, (maybe you remember him) but anyways, we started to teach only him. We knew there were other members of the family, but no one else wanted anything to do with us.  I was a little frustrated (I still wasn't very patient) because I wanted to bring a WHOLE family into the Church.  But my companion, Elder Padilla, told me to just chill and it would work out.  So, we start to teach him and it goes well and we invite him to come to Church and to be baptized, and he accepted!  We then go back to his home to pick him up for Church and we get there and his Dad, Luiz, wants to go too!  We thought, "Even better!"  So, we take them to Church and they had a great experience and wanted to learn more.  We then teach the son and dad and the mom, Katia, who had been pretty hesitant but starts to listen to what we teach from the kitchen. And soon after, she is sitting on the couch attentively listening to what we have to say!  Then one thing led to another and they wanted to be baptized and then their oldest son, Felipe, who wanted nothing to do with the Church, sees the change in his family and begins to hear what his family has learned.  It turned out that his family taught him more than we did! They used their testimonies and knowledge to teach him and to help him!  It was the most beautiful act of love I have ever seen.  They were truly worried and cared enough for their son or brother to help him receive this Gospel to become an Eternal family. They were all baptized! As we were teaching them the 5th lesson, they cut us off and began asking us questions, and then it turned into them teaching us! It was amazing, they helped me learn patience, because I wanted them all at once to be baptized, but the Lord knew what He was doing and put it all in place how it was supposed to happen. And even better, they invited their next door neighbors to go to Church with them and they got baptized too! People change people!

We also had a miracle this week.  We were getting ready for a training and we get a call from a member saying that he has an investigator that only speaks English and that he was bringing him by the office in 30 minutes. Bangerter and I jumped at the opportunity to teach him!  It was SO HARD to teach in English! I couldn't think of the words to say! We would start a sentence in English, but then end it in Portuguese and we would constantly have to hit each other under the table to switch back to English, it was so hard, but it was a really great lesson.

His name is Menick, and he is from Bangladesh.  He fled his country because his political party made him a target for a terrorist group. He ran into a member close to his house and they started to talk about the Church and Menick wanted to learn about Jesus Christ.  But the way he said  was like this: "I want to learn about Jesus Christ from the Missionaries of Jesus Christ".  When he said that, Elder Bangerter and I just got the biggest smiles on our faces as we could say,"We are the missionaries of Jesus Christ here on the Earth!" It was so cool, and it felt so good to teach again! He downloaded the Livro de Mórmon in Bangla, onto his ipad and now is getting ready to be baptized in December. We asked him to give the closing prayer and we asked him to offer it in his language.  I didn't understand a single word, but I knew that he was praying for the truth and to know that this Church is true.  He started to cry during the middle of it and it was a great spiritual experience for all of us, especially Menik. 

These are a few examples of the many that I have experienced throughout my mission that have helped my testimony grow. I KNOW for a fact that this is God's true Church and that we are doing a marvelous work and a wonder here and around the whole world. I want you to know that I know that this is the only true Church on the earth today and that it was restored by Joseph Smith, who was a Prophet of God, and that we still have the same keys and authorities today, through President Thomas S. Monson.  I love this Church and the work that we are doing for our brothers and sisters that I have come to call family down here in Brazil.  It is all true.  And I love it all.  In the name of Jesus Christ. Amém.


Elder McKeon

Monday, November 4, 2013

Medical Miracles

Hello everyone, Elder McKeon's sister (Carlie) here. I apologize for the lack of updating I have been doing on this blog. But, before you get too upset with me, there is a reason behind it.

(Elder Moises and Elder McKeon)

A few weeks ago, Elder McKeon was playing a little game of soccer on P-day. During the game, he planted his foot and turned awkwardly, resulting in a serious knee injury. His knee cap had gone from being on the top of his knee (where it belongs) to the side of his knee. Derek immediately put it back in place, but was still in a great deal of pain.

The next day, Derek tried to go out and walk on it, but it was extremely swollen. He then called Sister Ferrin (the mission president's wife) and explained to her what had happened. President Ferrin made a trip to see Derek and gave him a blessing. All of the missionaries also participated in a fast on his behalf. Derek scheduled an MRI and was forced to wait in his apartment until he had results.

Our family received an email explaining what had happened. In the email, Sister Ferrin told us that if the knee required surgery due to torn ligaments, Derek would have to be sent home. Needless to say, Derek was rather discouraged by the news.

Our family was also rather devastated. We knew that it was such a leap of faith for Derek to go, especially since our dad had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer just a couple of months before he left. We also fasted and prayed that the ligaments in Derek's knee would heal and he would be able to stay on his mission.

(Elder McKeon saying goodbye to Sister Aledo and Sister Carvalho from his district)

A couple of weeks after his MRI (the medical system down there is rather slow), Derek was given the pictures from the MRI. He was able to e-mail them to Dr. Hansen (our good family friend and orthopedic surgeon). Dr. Hansen told us that the ligament had been torn (when his knee cap moved to the side of his knee), but because of the way the ligament was torn, it was not going to require surgery. Instead, Derek will just have to wear a knee brace for 4-6 weeks and use crutches until the scar tissue around the torn ligament is able to help heal the injury. There was also a piece of cartilage that broke off and is just kind of floating around his knee, but it shouldn't cause him any problems. Oh, and he can't play any sports until he gets home.

(The new knee brace)

Elder McKeon was transferred to the office (which he informed us is not as rewarding as teaching), but he is grateful that he will be able to finish the last 9 months of his mission in Brazil. We feel so blessed to have family and friends that were kind enough to offer prayers on Derek's behalf.

So there you have it. The last few emails have just been exchanging medical information, which is why I haven't posted anything on here. He really does appreciate any and all emails and letters sent his way, so if you have a minute, please write him a little note. It would mean a lot to an elder stuck in the mission office:) You can also send him a message on Facebook, and I will make sure to send it to him.

Thank you all again for your love and support!


The McKeon Family