We woke up Tuesday morning at 5:10 am and took a taxi to the bus station at 5:30 am to catch our bus going to Mucuri that left around 6:00 am. We got to the Elders house in Mucuri around 8:30 am and prepared for our day. We had to take a taxi to lunch because the bus we usually take was delayed because of traffic / commotion caused an accident involving a car colliding with a motocyle that killed one woman and a child. We ate lunch at Brother Dener´s house again (that guy with the huge property that goes all the way to the beach!), then he drove us back to the elder´s area in mucuri.
We had our division and I was with Elder Sobral again and Elder Christofferson went with Elder Souza. The city was seriously DEAD since it was a holiday (it was a holiday similar to labor day). Hardly anyone was on the roads and just about EVERYTHING was closed! Elder Sobral and I tryed passing by some of their investigators houses, but we didn´t have much luck. We were able to find Tiago and Thais, ( same couple who I taught during the last division i did in mucuri). We retaught them the restoration and I invited them to be baptized. It went well. They have a lot of work to do, and changes to make, but they accepted the invitation to prepare for baptism! Since literally everything fell through that we had planned Elder Sobral showed me some neat places in their area. We saw some cool ponds, fishing rivers, and beaches. We met back up with the other elders at a burger place and we got milkshakes before returning back to their house. That night before bed, Elder Christofferson and went outside and did some fun light photography.
Wednesday morning we woke up at 5:00 am to catch our 5:30 bus to Teixeira de Freitas. When we arrived at Teixeira, we got another bus to Eunápolis. We arrived home at 11:30 am totally wasted! So much traveling and little sleep! Luckily lunch was with Willian who always conveniently delivers our lunch to our house in a to-go box. We spent most of wednesday resting up and planning for our week.
Thursday we visited some of our investigators and had a pretty calm day. I prepared some gifts for our branch and began to organize my things to make it easier for myself to pack. At night, I got a phonecall from the District leader saying that I would do EVERYTHING for our district meeting the next day since it would be my last district meeting in my mission. I prepared a good training that night about establishing goals and using our time wisely.
Friday morning our american district leader Elder Kilidjian and his american companion Elder Gray arrived to our house at 8:30 am. We made and ate american pancakes first then we held our last "District Heart of America" district meeting in our house due to the other´s elder´s schedule. To start off the meeting we sang some patriotic american music and hymns to boost up our american pride. (long live district "Heart of America"!!!) Then I did everything in the district meeting and gave my favorite training. Finally to finish, we sang our mission hymns and took pictures of me "dead" since it was my last district meeting in my whole mission! We had lunch at sister sara´s house and it was the first time her husband was home and ate with us! I took advantage and took a picture with their whole family! They are really cool. I started to actually prepare a bit for my homecoming talk as well.
Saturday was pretty low-key. I did tons of laundry in preparation for when i would pack my bags, and we cleaned the house a bit. The rest of the day we tried getting in contact with our investigators and confirming them to go to church. At night we visited the one and only May Kelly (pronounced My kelly) at the best burger place in town. I got the special chicken, and my comp got the bacon burger. May Kelly is really cool so we tood a picture with her. hahaha!
Sunday, yes, my last sunday of my mission! It was perfect because it also happened to be fast and testimony meeting. We hoped to have more investigators at church, but only 2 showed up. One was Madeline, one of Juliana´s classmates from college, and the other was Uanderson, tatiane´s boyfriend. I wanted to bear my testimony towards the end of the meeting so I got in line and i was cutting it really close. Juliana finished bearing her testimony, and I was supposed to be next, but the councilor stood up right after Juliana and said due to the time only one more person could bear testimony after him. He went on and "bore his testimony"... actually creating a very depressing atmosphere describing how he went to the doctor and found out he has a respiratory problem and doesn´t have as much time to live. He told everyone about some of his problems then closed and motioned me to come up. I was kind of uncomfortable going up after such a solemn, sad testimony, but i bore a quick testimony about charity and missionary work. Then I thanked the branch for all they have done to support the elders. The Gospel Principles topic was "Faith in Jesus Christ". It went well and everyone participated including the 2 investigators that i mentioned earlier. For Priesthood, Brother Lenine explained about the Come Follow Me program and how it should work. Before we left church I delivered a thank you letter to all the members and families in our branch.
After church we had lunch at Flavia´s house, then biked to the Branch council meeting at 4 pm. It ended a bit after 5 then the party started! I knew the branch had planned something for me since i was leaving, but i had no idea it would be this big! They had a whole program set up! Complete with an opening hymn, a message by brother Lenine, a special thought by president Almir, testimonies by some members and my companion Elder Christofferson, a special musical number by Juliana and the young women, and ending with a closing hymn and a prayer. Elder Christofferson and I were SUPER impressed! People cryed when sharing their testimonies and thoughts of gratitude concerning my service in the branch. It was very touching. I especially appreciated my companion´s comments and testimony. I love you Elder Christofferson! I swore to myself and Elder Christofferson that i wouldn´t cry during this whole thing, and I almost didn´t. I wasn´t feeling very emotional, but towards the end when the young women sang their special musical number, i may or may not have teared up a bit. They sang a version of Ye Elders of Israel, and they substituted some words for my name during the song and in the chorus. It went like this:
Adeus, ó Elder Hilton, você vai partir;
Sagrada missão você já fez cumprir.
I recorded all of it and right towards the end, the lyrics they sang hit me and i teared up for just a second. I blame to flourescent lights and the fans blowing air in my eyes. hahaha. It was funny because everyone was expecting me to cry or something during the farewell party and i didn´t... until the end of that song. Then everyone shouted, "he cryed! he cryed!" hahaha.
Afterwards we all ate cake and food that was prepared for the farewell party. I gave lots of hugs and took lots of pictures. Although our investigator Branca wanted to come, she couldn´t so she sent her daughter Iasmim to deliver me a present. It was so nice of them! I was so impressed by the branch for having thrown me a party. It was super awesome!
We got back home from the farewell at about 8:00 pm and right when we thought our day was over, we remembered how we had forgotten about the appointment we set up with Israel and his family. We were about to call them and tell them that we probably wouldn´t be able to come over because of the lateness of the hour and all the things we still had to do (follow up on the zone, pass the transfer, etc), when they called us! Ana Cristina said everyone was home and was waiting for us to come over. Israel agreed to pick us up in his car to be more efficient. It was funny because it had to be a quick visit because we would be doing lot of phonecalls, etc. and we quickly realized we wouldn´t be getting home anytime soon. Israel stopped at a pizza place and paid for pizza before driving us to his house. We got to there house and Elder Christofferson followed up with the zone and passed the transfer while i hung out with Israel and his family. We ate pizza and took pictures together, then Israel drove us home. We got home late, and thought to ourselves, "WHAT A DAY!!!" We were totally exhausted!
Monday (today) we woke up and I spent the morning packing my bags, while Elder Christofferson cleaned the house. We got the the internet cafe at 11:30 ish and hours later, we are still here without having eaten lunch. My 12 hour ride bus leaves at 7:30 pm to Salvador.
IT IS SO WEIRD KNOWING THIS IS MY LAST EMAIL!! I don´t know how to end this. The only way i know is with my testimony.
3 Nefi 5:13 says, " Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been acalled of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
These are powerful words. We say them everyday before we leave our house to remember who we are. We are disciples of Christ! It is a special calling, one of the greatest callings ever. We carry His name on our chests everyday. As missionaries we are special testimonies of Jesus Christ. Matthew 24:14 says, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations" I know it doesn´t matter where you are, what language you speak, or what culture you´re in, you are a special witness of Christ as a missionary. He counts on us, We are the faithful, diligent workers in His vineyard. I feel it a HUGE privilege to be a missionary. Despite all the challenges and obstacles, it is worth it. I cherished every moment during my mission in Bahia. It was the best thing I´ve done in my life up until now. I learned so much about the gospel, and about life in general. I see what brings true lasting joy, instead of temporary pleasure. I really gained a testimony of waht really is important in life and what isn´t. I know this next phrase i will say is that well known cheesy phrase, but i believe it is true. Not only was serving a mission the best things i´ve done IN my life, it was the best thing i have done FOR my life. I was a huge learning stretch for me and I can now say that the foundation of my conversion are the personal experiences I have had feeling God´s love and knowing that I´m his son. I know we are all special sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. I love reading the Book of Mormon and learning so much; feeling hunger and thirst to know more and understand. I love being a missionary and hope to always be one. I´ll do all I can to keep this fire alive, driving me to do all a missionary does.
I can´t believe the time to go is here! I will never be able to express how much i have learned on my mission in just a few sentences. There is too much. I have learned so much, my eyes have been opened, and I feel like a changed person. There is one thing that i have certainty of that is God´s love for me and you. He has loved us since the beginning and he will never stop loving us. I feel his love for me through my family. I love my family and I can´t wait to be with them again here in a few days. I am excited to have my parents meet me here and see the beautiful people of Brazil! I love you all and will see you soon!
-Elder McKay Hilton