Sunday, September 29, 2013

Going into the Mission Field: 9/24/13

Note: You can email Elder McRae at:

September 25th, 2013
First day in California

Hey family,
I'm here! Such an awesome day I have so much to tell you about today and I love it here :) I'm going tracking now and it truly is the coach from Forever Strong! You should watch his i'm a mormon video under Larry Gelwix! Love you all, i'll email you on my p-day and my address.
Elder McRae

September 24th, 2013
Leaving the MTC

Dear Family,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR JACOB, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!! LOVE YOU BUDD! Hope you are having an awesome birthday and its crazy to think you're already 14 and a Teacher! So awesome.. only 2 more years till you can join Jo-Jo in dating ;) Congrats on your football game both of you two and David in soccer, keep it up you McRae studs.
Hey Joseph how's Carter? How's Encore?? I miss Encore so much.. so much fun and awesome! Matt did you finally get my letter? I promise you I sent that like a week ago, hope you got it :p Dear Elder won't work anymore for me so just email me and I'll get my address asap. Dad thanks for your email, means a lot. Mom thanks for the package, my district loved your cinnamon rolls and all the candy you sent me. You are loved here.. especially by me :) haha don't worry about my head it's feeling a lot better. Some things I need is a watch and an alarm clock.. both of them don't work so don't get them at Remingtons. They are no good.
I have no more Elder's in my district here and it's just me and two Sisters. Feels really awkward not having a companion and it feels like everyone is judging me bc I'm alone haha but tomorrow California here I come!! Ge-ah-kah, Forever strong  ;p  haha that's cool, Allie said she has an Elder in her ward there too and today I received a letter from my mission president and he sounds very hardcore, kind of like a football coach prep talk he sent to me, but I'm super stoked to finally be in the field.  I'm excited for Matt and do take out his endowments, love that kid. All us Elder's wore our blue BYU ties on game day.. so sad. Come on BYU, pull it together! haha ahh Carter my man. If you see him again tell him I love him and he needs to write me a letter on how he is doing. I'll call you around 5:00 hopefully.   An Elder who I'm leaving with actually has a working cell phone is family sent him just for his airport departure so I might just call you from that just to let you know. Excited to talk to y'all and love y'all. 
So this week we had in-filed training which is this forever long 9 hour meeting/prep for the field.. not too bad but long. Saw Amanda here and she gave me a package from Daniel with some ties, a photobook and tiger bars. Such a homie, love him. Literally the nicest person who's walked this planet, always sending me stuff and being his creative old self! haha So jealous about them meeting Elder Holland.. literally my favorite Apostle who's ministered this earth. Also got another awesome package from Allie with a bag of candy labled "The gift of tongues", toothpaste and other toiletries with candy and a talk. She is so awesome. Taught our last time as a companionship and taught our best lesson ever. We have really molded as one mouth piece of the Lord and I love my companion. So awesome to see how far we've come. We have been asked to give 3 blessings to sisters and an Elder and its the coolest experience to see a boy like me use the power of God and help and bless other’s lives. I love serving others and have grown in gaining a testimony in Priesthood power/authority.  We blessed an Elder for his sickness to feel better before he left, literally the next morning all the symptoms were gone. Coincidence?.. I know not. It is God blessing him through me. 
That night we had a little fun before everyone left. We did mattress dominos which is so much fun and I wrestled the wrestler on 4 mats put together who's wrestled since 7th grade and went to state in Utah.. I'm proud to say I torched him. Literally went from stacking him, to corkscrewing him, to finally pancaking him causing him to get a bloody nose. Felt bad, but he was a good sport and it was fun to take out everything on him.. out of love ;) haha cool Elder. We then sang "God Be with You till We Meet Again" before Elder Grondel left and then he was gone. Yesterday, it was a pretty laid back chilled day with 4 of us Elders left and 3 Sisters. We had about $5 left each on our MTC card so we stalked up with food to party that night and bought a bunch of stuff.  For class we helped the bran new district coming in with Portuguese and felt like such a bro and realized how far I had come since I've been here. The Lord is amazing and I truly believe in the Gift of Tongues! We Elders all snuggled that night and downed  2 bags of chips with salsa and queso dip and pringles and a bunch of candy.. I ate so much as we were in bed with our bunks pushed together talking about stuff I bolted out of the room and unleashed my super exciting chips and dips we downed. It was disgusting.. but I felt a thousand times better after haha
My time here at the MTC has been the most difficult time I've ever gone through, but one of the most fun and rewarding times. This is just like a mini glimpse of how my mission will be and love the relationships I've built with my companion, my district, my branch president, other missionaries, and especially Heavenly Father, my Savior Jesus Christ and the Spirit. I'm soo soo excited to go out and serve tomorrow and love all of you. Michael, thanks for the stories you shared with me about you being a missionary. It makes me excited to share the gospel with literally EVERYONE for now on. Tomorrow I have a goal in giving 2 people pass along cards and talking to everyone I can before I get to my mission field. This gospel is true and brings me more happiness in my life than anything. I love in Mosiah were the sons of Mosiah talk about the very thought of someone not living and having the gospel shakes their very soul and have nothing but a desire to share. I challenge everyone in our ward to step up in missionary work and reach out to everyone. It can be scary, but think of how much you love them and how much their Heavenly Father loves them and how we don't want them to let go of that rod and bring them to Joy, having Eternal Life with their families and loving Heavenly Father. Think about those you promised before this life that you would them bring back to the fold and bring them back to their loving Heavenly Father. My testimony has been strengthened so much and I can't wait for it to continue to strengthen.
I love you all and testify that Jesus Christ is my Savior and He is your Savior and through the fullness of His gospel we can find more happiness and joy for the eternities to come and this life here on earth. I've grown to love the Book of Mormon so much here and know with all of my heart that it is the true word of God. California here I come!
Elder McRae's Re-assignment
Last Meal "Supper" at MTC

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Elder McRae's Fifth Week at the MTC 9/17/13

Elder McRae's Fifth Week at the MTC 9/17/13

September 17th, 2013
Last full week at the MTC

   So this week has been great.  Never fail to learn new things and grow as a missionary and child of God. This week I had a bad day. Conjugations drive me crazy cuz I didn't know what they were at the first of learning the language since I took Chinese in high school and it has been hard for me to learn. On top of that I have been having really bad headaches so a Sister in my district instead of having me walk all the way to the residence, she had a bunch of pain killers and it wasn't Ibuprofen or advil but had some weird name.  I read the back of it and it seemed like it was okay but it wasn't.. For like 5-6 hours straight I was like dying and could hardly breathe and on top of that it was super hot and I was stressed out from the language. That night as I gathered my thoughts I sat in my chair and thought to myself, "Why am I out here?.. Am I out here for me or for the Lord?" I read through my scriptures and remembered an analogy I was once told about how we see this light through a thick fog and as we step we can only see a little bit and the rest is so blurry. But we walk with faith because we know if we follow God He will never lead us astray and that even though we can't see what's on the other side of the fog we continue to walk through and push forward just a little bit more then we think we can and God will bless us tremendously. I guess you can say this is kind of like the Iron Rod and how we need to hold on to the word of God for guidance and comfort throughout lives journey. 
The language isn't the most important thing.  It's the Spirit, and people feeling the Spirit in their life.  If you think about it even though I can't conjugate or speak the language super well and people might not understand me all the time that doesn't matter, the Spirit is what matters. Jesus Christ talked in parables and didn't have people follow Him bc they always understood Him or did weird abnormal things like dunking yourself in water with the power of God being cleaned from all our sins? No it's because of the Spirit He carried and love He showed for others.  A scripture I read in my personal scripture study is 2 Nephi 1:15 that I absolutely love and it says, "But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love." This is how I feel like so much throughout my life. For when I felt lost or going through trials, never does my Savior fail to give me a hug and lift me up on His shoulders and carry me back to the fold. A challenge my Seminary teacher gave me, Brother McNeil, has helped me so much for when we are going through a hard time to ask Heavenly Father or a hug and I can promise you that He never fails to do so with the peace you feel in your heart and soul. 
We watched a couple of movies this week. One as a district for fun bc we can use and watched the Phone Call... if you haven't seen it I don't recommend it. So funny bc it's so cheesy but probably the worst show ever haha anyways we also watched about the Ministry of Thomas S. Monson and about how loving he is and such an amazing prophet. Something that was brought up was in Jacob 5 were the servant keeps on asking for more time over and over again and then eventually asks the Lord for more servants. That is Thomas S. Monson at this time calling more servants to work and I am a part of that.  A scripture that I have always loved that I shared with the Elders is 2 Timothy 4:7-8, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at the day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." It also challenged them that after their mission, after college, after he finishes his family and sends all their kids off on their own and after everything in life if they can read this scripture and answer with boldness "yes." Or life is like a course. We all are going to go down many different paths and run into different road blocks. Our goal is to return to our Heavenly Father in the celestial kingdom and not only us, but bring as many as His beloved sons and daughters with us to Him. Sometimes it is a fight out here against the natural man, but with much faith all things are possible. A quote I heard from David A. Bednar this week that I love is that, "we need to drink out of the bitter cup, but not become bitter." Christ drank the bitter cup for us, and when the natural man would turn inwards He only turned outwards. My relationships have grown so much here at the MTC with my companion, my district, the Spirit and my Savior and Heavenly Father through selflessness and love.
Cool opportunity I had to do in my free time was look at my geneology tree and I looked up Alexander McRae who I am named after and read his stories. They are so cool and so inspiring to me for someone to have so much faith to follow the Prophet Joseph Smith through all the adversity they went through. That he converted for the LDS believe of baptism by immersion, completely stopped his chain smoking addiction and went through so much-- with his wife Eunice helping so much. She is an aggressive one with weapons I'll tell you. And the cool stories about the prophet Joseph Smith and them in Liberty Jail. Geneology is so cool and you can learn so much from your ancestors, just like we learn so much from the prophets of Old in the Bible and Book of Mormon. 
I'm so excited to hear about Michael and Lindsay and there new baby girl coming Gracie :)) I bet mom cried.. ;) haha no but so awesome and can’t wait to see pictures of their beautiful girl and become an uncle!  Yesterday the Elders and I went the whole day without a word of English.  At first I was super nervous but it actually went so well and was such an awesome experience and so crazy I could talk a whole day in a language I never even knew 5 weeks ago, prove, GOD IS REAL!
Anyways I hope everything is going well and pray for you all and miss you all! Here's a little testimony in Portuguese (warning probably all spelled wrong but all well):

Matthew's Tesimony in Portuguese
Eu sei que Jesus Cristo meu Salavador, eu sei que este o verdaderio igreja com todo de meu coracao e eu amo meu Pai Celestia muito, e atraves Joseph Smith o evangehlo era restercauo e O Livro de Mormon. Eu sei que O Livro de Mormon verdaderio palarva de Deus e eu em meu missao porque eu saber etes igreja verdaderio e mutio grato por meu familia e o exampol eles por meo, especifica Jesus Cristo e atraves Ele nossa familias podi viver juntos eterna. Em nome de Jesus Cristo. Amen. (I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, I know that this is the true church with all of my heart and I love my Heavenly Father a lot and through Joseph Smith the gospel was restored and the Book of Mormon, true words of God and I am on my mission because I know this church is true and I am very grateful for my family and the example they are for me, especially Jesus Christ and through Him our families can live together forever.  In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.) Everything is pretty much wrong and hard to translate into English but would love to say more in Portuguese but ran out of time. Love you all. Amo voces!
-Elder McRae

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Elder McRae's Forth Week at the MTC 9/10/13

September 10, 2013
Forth Week at MTC

Hey Fam,
Thanks for all the letters and updates. Love hearing about everyone.   Dang that car is getting old, hope it can last you guys longer. Sorry Joseph is hurt, but glad Logan is starting to practice again. Thanks mom I love that and I'm starting to love the B.O.M. more than I ever thought I would. So they changed the rule that I couldn't even start or send hand written letters till my P-Day so it's even more difficult to send letters to people. So this letter won't be that long and I don't have Michael, Daniels or anyone's individual email's so if you could forward them and send me people's emails that would be great. Also if you could somehow get Aunt Marion the letters every week. Thank you.
So here at the MTC there has been a lot of growth for me and my district. I feel like I finally got over that hump and feel comfortable and confident to have a conversation in all Portuguese with someone.   So the beginning of this week I was heading out of my building when I opened the door for Josh Cook (my cousin) !  It was so cool to see him and I love that guy. Literally the nicest, most fun guy I ever met and everyone loves him.  I want to be like him. It was sweet.  He has a picture of us.  I also saw Addisen later that Tuesday night and it was so cool seeing him. This week a missionary came in and he was 7'3 and probably not even 140 pounds... craziest thing of my life haha never felt so short in all my life haha. So exciting to hear about the BYU game!! Go Cougs! The Elders and I were wearing our blue ties for BYU spirit and my companion was very sad to hear Texas lost. haha traitor.. The weather was crazy that day like I've never seen with a couple of trees falling over, little torandoes of rain and it was like pitch dark with thunder and lightning.  It postponed the BYU game for a while, it reminded me of the storm in Other Side of Heaven but less dangerous. It was sick. Anyways, I love being here but can't wait to leave also. Next Friday or Thursday we get our re-assignments.  I’m pretty pumped to go out in the field. When I go to the airport I'll be able to call all of you guys which will be most likely Monday or Tuesday in two weeks so that's what's going to happen soon.  Guess where I'm going to be re-assigned ;) A lot of missionaries who have been re-assigned have been sent to Portland, OR so that'd be cool to see all of them there cuz I'll most likely know them. My relationship with my companion has gotten so much stronger and we work so well together.  It has taught me to love even those whom it usually would be hard for me to love and has made our bond even stronger.  

Elder McRae with Elders in District
Pointing to Goyana Brazil in MTC Map
So a quote I’d like to share that Michael shared with me which I absolutely love is by Spencer W. Kimball and it says, "If you could only see the vision I have. I wish I had your bodies to do this work. I would run from house to house telling everyone of the gospel, and after I lost the strength to run I would begin to walk, and after I collapsed from walking, I would begin to crawl, and after my knees were so bloody that I could not use them I would use my arms to drag myself, and once my muscles in my body have gone I would begin to yell. Oh, only if you could see the vision as I have." I love this quote and shared it with the Elders of my district because every night since we got here we've had a spiritual thought before we go to bed and it literally gets us all pumped to share the gospel. We need to literally lose ourselves in the work and give it our all. Never give up. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It brings you more happiness than any other thing on this earth. Share, Share, Share. Share this beautiful gospel that has changed my life and my eternity forever.  My new professor, Irmao Smith told us that, "Leadership: when you fly others run, when you run others walk, when you walk others crawl, when you crawl nothing is accomplished." I want to be the missionary who flies and touch as many lives as I can because this is truly the gospel of Jesus Christ and I'm walking the same footsteps as Jesus and his disciples did nearly 2,000 years ago. 
Last Sunday we had an amazing devotional and movie afterwards as always.  Something I'd like to share out of the devotional was about two things -- One concerning our missionary tag.  I thought of this analogy durnbing the talk so bare with me.. When we serve a mission it is as if we are putting on a temporary tattoo where we have to constantly apply pressure to and keep close to our skin(heart) to give the most clearest and purest image as me can. So that when after we are done with our mission and it’s time to take off our tag we can  take off that tag (tatoo) and have the name of our Savior engraven into our chest and because of how hard we worked(pushed) and how much we wanted to grow closer to our Heavenly Father that it will bleed onto our heart and change us forever. The perfect way of strengthening this is through prayer. Without prayer it is impossible to grow a stronger relationship with God. How often do we go through life and take direct communication with our Heavenly Father for granted? We can't convert others and we can't be converted ourselves unless we do as Moroni directs and pray with all of our heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ if these things are true.  I know that prayer has become a closer special part of me on my mission as I constantly have to ask my Heavenly Father for help and rely on His strength, not mine. I have a testimony of prayer and that when we pray the veil is so thin.  After the devotional we watched the Testaments. I love this movie and never thought I would get something new from it. I love when it flashes to the Savior and His ministry and all the marvelous miracles and love He demonstrated on this earth. Something that really pierced the very bottom of my heart was when you see Jesus Christ, our Savior, be persecuted, suffer and bleed for every sin and pain we will ever go through, be betrayed and in the middle of betrayal heal the very guard arresting him, be spit on, ridiculed, whipped, crowned with a crown of thorns, mocked, carry his very death to the cross to be nailed to and be murdered. The most perfect and innocent person to ever walk this earth go through all of that in a matter of a few days, and then as He is about to give up the ghost He pleas to the Father, "Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do." Why? Why would someone do this for you and I? To suffer so much, when He had NEVER done anything wrong.  My relationship with my Savior grows every day, more than I thought it could. And so does mine with my Father in Heaven. In the movie there is the scene where the son has been tied up in the cave because of the choices he had made and in the middle of the storm with mighty towers crumbling, the earth swallowing life, fire aflame everywhere with the death of the Savior and others in the air the father runs to his son to rescue him with the risk of his life. Even though the son had sinned, the father ran and found him and carried him through the devastating tempest and storm and walked with him shoulder to shoulder all the way to safety. Like this, our Heavenly Father comes to our rescue in the darkest moments of our life even when we have sinned and carries us through our mighty storms in life step by step all the way home to the Celestial Kingdom. If we call onto Him with mighty prayer and repent there is nothing God can't save us from. I know I have felt this before in my life where I have felt forsaken and lost in the dark, but this is not the case and my Heavenly Father ran to my side and lifted me up on his shoulders. I love my Heavenly Father and all He and the Son, Jesus Christ, my elder brother, do for me.
I can't wait to go serve the Lord and find his lost sheep in the dark and bring them to the light. Thanks for everyone's prayers and letters of encouragement. Sorry to hear about the game against Sheldon, keep your guys heads up and do your best. It's not about where you finish, it's about how you finish. That can be applied to everything in life.  Joseph, awesome to hear how you're having fun and killing it on the field. Sorry that you got hurt and I hope school is going well.  Loved that letter you sent me and love you so much. Way to go on a date ladies man ;) Date those girls for me while I can't and show them how amazing those McRae boys are haha ;) Jacob, thanks so much for your letter. You are sounding like the football stud and it was so awesome to hear from you. I love you man and love when you said "winning is great" bc it is great. And we win in life when we follow Jesus Christ's example and love others. You are an awesome kid and can't wait to see how much of an awesome young man you're growing up to be.  Matt Balch, sorry I don't have your email but thanks so much for the letter. I miss you too bro and you're the flippin man :( Hope everything is going well and you are putting a little time each week to prepare yourself for a mission, I wish I prepared more. My companion is an interesting guy but has a really big heart and we are starting to get along a lot better. Once you learn to put others needs before yours you become golden. Food is either really good or disgusting not really an in between but you get fed well.  My work out is tearing it up outside with sand volleyball with my district, so much fun! (Especially when the cute sisters from other districts play.. shhh ;) ) haha you love it here and don't worry I've actually only gained like 5 pounds haha the language is coming great, what's new in Oregon? Logan, keep your head up man, I know how frustrating it must be to miss part of your first Senior games but don't worry you're going to get better and tear it up on the field. I love you man and pray for you. Mom and Dad, thanks so much for your letters and all you do for me. I love you all! 
Love, Elder McRae

Elder McRae's Third Week at the MTC 9/3/13

September 3, 2013

Third Week at MTC

Dear Family,
I love you guys.  For the last 4 days Dear Elder hasn't worked and I won't get all the Dear Elders till 4 pm later today so I won't be able to respond to them.  I'm sorry :( Portuguese is coming along a lot better, I can feel the gift of tongues working through my life a ton and even though I'm not the top in my class everyone else took Spanish in high school so for them it's easier.  But really 3 weeks and I've never spoken a foreign language in my life let alone heard much Portuguese, I can understand it and talk really more than I could ever dream of and it’s amazing how much the LORD helps his diligent servants.  I can teach the discussions, say my prayers and bear my testimony in broken Portuguese but can feel the Spirit and especially when I told Joseph's First Vision in memorized Portuguese and was such an awesome experience to our "progressing investigator”.  Here at the MTC we spend so much time in the classroom studying and sitting it can get all of us pretty "antzy" and everyday feels like it brings up a new challenge  every day whether big or small and its really helping me grow as a person from the inside out.
Nothing too exciting or new has happened this week. We've had a couple of days of pouring down rain that has reminded me of Oregon and was super fun to play in the sand pits for volleyball.  I see Sister Loo everywhere now and she is having a blast and it’s fun to see a familiar face. I also ran into Andrew Smith, for those who knew him, he was out running while I was at the Temple this morning. Thanks Grandma for the letter I really liked the quote at the end.  It didn't make me feel so lonely when I haven't gotten anything from Dear Elder.  And thanks Jack for sending the letter also, I hope you received my letter back by now. Love you man.
So besides improving on the language and losing my teacher Irmao McGill, (Imrao means teacher btw) Last Tuesday was exciting with Elder Neil L. Anderson coming to our Tuesday night devotional and gave an awesome talk and this fast Sunday I learned a lot.  At the end of Fast Sunday we watched a talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland called, "Missions are forever" and here are some things I got out of the talk that I wrote in my journal:  First that we are just like apostles and disciples of old and modern times and should be as Peter, Andrew, James and John of the New Testament and drop everything in your life and follow Jesus.  For those apostles fishing was there life, how to provide for their family and what they were raised to do all there life.  And to "straight way leave and follow him" with no idea who this man was besides saying he was Jesus the Christ is absolutely amazing and inspiring.  For Jesus says, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." We need to emulate that example and especially me on my mission, to leave everything in my life and give it to my Savior Jesus Christ.  I know I'm not perfect and never will be perfect, and I have to continue to remind myself to be humble, patient and loving to everyone.  My mission isn't only for two years, its forever. I should never stop trying to feed the Savior's sheep and bringing them back to the fold as a follower of the Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  I need to teach the investigators and we need to teach ourselves that living the gospel isn't just a check list I go down the list to check off, baptism, priesthood, mission, marriage, etc... it is something we have to strive to improve on every day in our life and will be extremely hard at times… but our Savior is walking and carrying us every step of the way.  "You sacrifice what you love, to love what you sacrifice" I love that because I feel like this applies a ton with the sacrifice I'm making on a mission and what we do throughout life.
A sweet analogy my teacher told us before he left last night to school was directed to our visa but I think anyone could apply it to their life.  That if we think about it, Heavenly Father took eons to create the path and to prepare the Star of David to orbit directly next to the earth to show of Christ's birth before the world even was.  It wasn't just some magical coincidence that the Star showed up on the Savior's birth but had been carefully prepared and designed to fulfill the prophecy of the Birth of Christ.  Like this Heavenly Father sees us on a spectrum of eternity not just yesterday and today or tomorrow. He has put various challenges, obstacles and people in our life to help us grow and we have the free agency to choose whether we use these experiences for the better or worst. On my mission I might be in the states for two months, I may be transferred from place to place in a week or two I might feel like the mission is so hard I don't know what to do.  God will place me in various places where I am needed most and He is preparing people on my mission and life who are ready to accept the gospel or are ready just to plant a seed in their life.  The most important thing that should come from my mission is strengthening the relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and to become fully converted.  And no matter what I or anyone is going through in life they will always be watching over us and having angels and chariots of fire running to our rescue because they love us dearly!  The MTC is a challenge and will continue to be a challenge. But I know I'm suppose to be here and am already growing that relationship with my Heavenly Father and Savior constantly being blessed through my hard work and faith.  
So about the visas... On average from each district I've seen leave only one gets their visa and everyone gets re-assigned. And as of now if anyone on my district gets their visa they will wait for the 3 weeks and report directly to their mission. But I'm not too worried about where I go, I still have a lot to learn and to grow and will go where ever the LORD needs me.  
I haven't seen Addison yet because he is at the West Campus but hopefully I'll see him at the devotional tonight if he chooses to do choir like I always do to sing for the devotional.  I miss you guys so much and wish I had the Dear Elders so I can respond back to you guys but it'll have to wait till next Tuesday or I'll just send a letter.  Tell David that I love him and if his big brother Daniel wears glasses then it automatically makes it the coolest thing ever haha. I heard about the BYU game… that stinks, better luck next time Cougars haha so apparently the BYU schools all have a 1/3 as many students as usual in their school and 70% of the students are girls… Hopefully it stays like that for when I get there ;) haha just kidding! Love you guys and miss you all! You're in my prayers.
Love, Elder McRae
P.S. Suggested things to send me: photo album of family, friends, individual pictures, etc little book size one to show the Brazilians bc apparently they LOVE seeing pictures of the family. Umm if you could send more ties.. hahahahah I know I already have a ton but it's like the happiest part of my day to choose a tie so send as many as you can even if they're ugly bc missionaries will trade and I can give some to investigators etc.  They especially like the ones that say  "CTR" on them bc you can’t find those in brazil.  Umm if you could buy me two more of those Jesus picture journals.. I'm flying through journals and it will be a lot easier to send things home now than later when in Brazil.  A nice Oregon duck Nike dri-fit or something like that bc my other one is really cheap and thick and hot to wear. Maybe online they have like a white one with a green or yellow "O" on it or something like that? And so the rule about the khakies are they are allowed in every mission. It isn't a mission president rule, the sandal part is, but they do need to be able to hold a crease so if you ever see a good deal on those that would be awesome.  I think I have a 32 waist and 30 long, rough estimate. Thanks, LOVVEEE YOUUU ALLLL :))))

District with Teacher McGill
Matthew wearing someones glasses to
show David it's ok to wear glasses

Elder McRae's Second Week at the MTC 8/26/13

August 26, 2013
Second Week at MTC

Dear Family,

Every day here at the MTC brings new blessings and challenges I have to face.  Before I tell you guys about everything I want to thank all of your letters, Mom, Dad, Michael, Lindsay, Daniel, Grandma and Allie and all the words of encouragement you have strengthened me with.  I truly feel everyone's love and prayers and support out here in the mission field.  I promise I'll try to write all of you back eventually just so busy and don't have much time.

So about my week we got our service project Wednesday which luckily was only replacing the garbage and the toilet paper and not scrubbing the toilets/showers.  I don't miss those days at all. haha The rest of the week went alright, still struggling with the language but keep on pushing through and striving to teach with the Spirit.  Saturday I had a breakdown and emotionally broke down.  But with the hardest falls always come the greatest of rises and testimony builders.  That reminds me of the quote from Batman, "Why do we fall?  So we can learn to get back up." I began to live to heart on my mission an EFY counselor told me once, "Stop telling God how big your storms are, and start telling your storms how big your God is."  I need to forget myself and remember why I am out here, to serve the Lord and others. Through my trials I came across this scripture in Ether 12:27 and has brought men much comfort and strength and it says, "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me… and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."  God gives me strengths and He gives me weaknesses. He gives us weaknesses to humble ourselves to gain humility and to grow stronger. He loves us so much that He gives us trials and then gives us His Son to suffer through all pains and sorrows and sins we go through and will lift those burdens off us by taking the weight in our heart to Him by faith and diligence and shining His Atoning light through us.  The more weaknesses we notice and humble ourselves like Jesus Christ, the closer we grow to God. That night I prayed if Heavenly Father was truly happy of what I was doing and how hard I was working and my prayer was answered the following day.  Sunday's are always the best!  I started off the day getting a package full of candy (like seriously 30Ibs of candy), with scripture labels on them, a talk and poem and super sweet letter from Allie.  All the Elders were so jealous. haha but I shared and have like 90% of it still bc I'm already getting fat haha funny thing though is the Elder's in my district care more about working out then I do on their mission and work out for like an hour every night haha  I'd much rather write in my journal and read the scriptures.  But don't worry I only actually gained a couple of pounds and go pretty intense in volleyball for my workout out in the sand, I've made it a tradition to play sand volley every gym time in our district and we are pretty good.. hahha.  My companion is just this little guy and literally never stops eating.. literally.  Never seen someone eat so much in my life.  Must be that big appetite cuz everything is big in Texas haha

Well I finally found Elder Good that was exciting to see him so happy and excited to be there at the MTC!  A talk we watched later that night was called the Characters of Christ by David A. Bednar and is absolutely amazing!! "There would be no atoning sacrifice, without the Character of Christ."  When the natural man turns inward to feed our internal needs, no matter what, Christ faced He ALWAYS turned outward with compassion and love to others. We need to be more like Christ and no matter how rough or good our life is going we need to drop everything and serve our Savior. He gave everything to us. We need to drop everything that is holding us back in being like Him and leave it behind us and move towards His grace. Michael sent me a letter which described this very same concept in Matthew 19:16-30 and absolutely love it. I want to give my heart to Jesus Christ and let Him renew it and fill it with joy and light.  A way we can strive to grow to be like Christ is in the Temple.  We always need to be worthy to attend the Temple.  If I give everything I own my time, my thoughts, my words, my actions, my love to the Lord willing to change with humility there's nothing I need more and He will bless me with the Spirit to touch other’s lives as well as mine.                                                          

Congratulations Mason on your mission call to Samoa. I know that's where God needs you not Idaho ;)  I felt the Spirit just reading my mom's letter about your excitement and joy in opening your mission call.  Love you man. You'll be an amazing missionary and do great things for the Lord. Dang football is falling apart. Adapt is a cult. haha Good luck with the season boys. So sad I'm missing Logan's senior year and Joseph. Pepe and Zack's Senior year. You guys are going to all tear it up and better put a hurting on Sheldon. Logan have an amazing Senior year and leave everything out on the field ya stud. Good luck and keep me updated if you can, I wanna know every detail and how your Senior year goes. Stay a strong example and stand up for what's right.  Lots of young men look up to you.  Matt Balch my brother how are you?  I miss you man and hope life is going well.  I'd recommend reading a chapter or section of PMG every once in a while and talk to Michael and Lindsay to help you out on your mission. Michael and Lindsay helped me so much and would love helping you over skype like they helped me! I love all of you guys and wish I had time to write to every single person I love!  Anyways, sounds like my little bros are staying busy and having a good last bit of summer. Joseph stay that sweet spirit you are and be courageous and lift up others. You have a talent to be friendly to everyone and such a stud athlete! Work super hard in school and always remember to pray and read your scriptures. I promise it will bless you. Jacob, you're a stud football player and miss you. I know I was hard on you at times but I truly love you and you're such a fun brother to be around, excited to see how big you get when I get back and if you're actually taller than me ;) haha David, keep up the love for soccer and be excited to be in school!  You’re so loved in our family and will be crazy to see how big you get in two years. I miss you all like crazy and love you all. Mom & Dad thanks for all the letters and the updates means so much to me and I miss and love you two. 
                                     -Elder McRae
P.S. My head is feeling a lot better and one elder talked about getting transparent glasses to block the sun without being sunglasses and if you could see how expensive that would be that would be cool but I don't need them super bad. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Elder McRae's First Week at the MTC: 8/20/13

August 20, 2013
First Week at MTC

This first week at the MTC has been one of the most challenging, but testimony strengthening weeks of my life.  First couple days were so overwhelming and stressful with immediately starting to learn Portuguese and having pretty bad headaches.  But through my challenges, I have grown more than ever. 
The food here is a hit and miss and if you choose the wrong thing to eat you'll be sorry.. haha.  Mommy I miss your heavenly cooking :/  So the companion I am assigned with is Elder Steiner and he is from Katy,Texas, and is such an  awesome guy,  At first I was like, "Oh great, I'm stuck with some nerd..." ,but he is the funniest guy and laughs about everything and we really bonded.  Couldn't have asked for a better companion with such a strong testimony.  I'm the senior companion. 
Our district is also so cool with the two Elders in my residence named Elder Carter and Elder Grondel, from Tennessee and Washington. and they both are going to the Goiania mission!!  Finally, I'm not alone!:) haha  They are literally all the coolest most fun Elders with all such strong testimonies and I never want to leave these guys. We all are bros. The other two Elders are Elder Morgan and Elder Thomas also from Washington and Tennessee and Elder Morgan looks exactly like Jacob from "Twilight".. Finally someone has stolen my title  ;P   We have two sisters, Sister: Wood, Arailjo, Skidmore and Culp  They are such sweet Sisters with powerful testimonies.  Its so weird to only shake girls hands and calling the Elders, Elders instead of guys or bros.. I see (Lexi) Sister Garrett and Lincoln from our stake everywhere and its pretty cool to see familiar faces. Lexi leaves today to Ukraine, I’m so excited for her. Everyone in the MTC comments on my sweet ties every day and I feel so legit. I brought like 25 ties and it’s like the best part of my morning-- picking out what tie I wear. Elder Steiner only brought 4 so I offered to share some -- poor guy.  Amanda, Daniel's girlfriend, gave me the sickest tie from Africa that is like green and yellow knit. 

Yesterday I met an Elder McCrea, pretty cool. Anyways, so happy to open a letter from my family and others, my P-Day isn't till Tuesday's so it was a long wait. My address to write letters is:
Elder Matthew Alexander McRae
2013 N 900 E Unit 301
Provo UT 84602
I have only an hour to write email's on P-Days so letters are usually better! The 3rd day we were already teaching an "investigator" only in Portuguese and is so hard, but is crazy how much I’ve learned considering I didn't learn anything from two years of Chinese in High School.. We have gym time almost every day and I kill at volleyball (not to be prideful) but so much fun.  The Elder's in my room every once in a while talk to me about that I sound like some crazy train crash while I sleep cuz of my bad allergies but we just laugh and joke about it.
Sunday was my favorite day on the mission, full of rest and the Spirit was on fire and contagious just couldn't get enough of it! We had our sacrament meeting and the meetings were all in Portuguese and were so cool bc even though I didn't understand the hymns, the Spirit was so strong.  I can testify that music is truly a testament to our Savior. My companion and I were called as Sacrament instructors (basically Teachers of the Sacrament service).  We had a Priesthood meeting which was awesome and my favorite thing I learned was a quote from Bruce R. McConkie and paraphrased it said, "Sacrifice to show our love for Christ use to be burning the most desired animal of the flock. Nowadays to show our love and devotion to show our love for Heavenly Father and our Savior is we have to forsake that lustful and sinful animal of the natural animal of the natural man inside of us and tap into the Atonement and forgiveness of our sins."  This comment made me think of D&C 103:26, "Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again."  This is what I want to do on my mission is put all of my needs and desires on the table and burn them and let the Lord take my hearts and let me lose myself in the work to find a life in Christ. 
Today was a very sad but joyful news as an Elder in our District talked to me about how he has to go home tomorrow because of things he didn't repent of, but wants to serve so badly.  I told him that his Heavenly Father loves him no matter what and is so happy he has the courage and desire to become clean and tap into The Atonement.  He is an amazing guy and I read all of Psalms 27 to him and the Spirit was so strong and I know that the Spirit guided me to read that to comfort him and he will return back to the mission field as an even better missionary.  Young men and women who want to serve missions or not, use the Savior's Atonement, it is there for you.  He died for you cuz He loves you.  Come to the Lord with a broken heart and contrite Spirit and have the desire to give your life to Christ and become clean again.  
We had an amazing devotional that Sunday night after Choir and our speaker was Via Sikahema, the first Tongan football player to get a scholarship to BYU and to play in the NFL and was on the winning team of the national championship in 1984 for BYU! He served a mission in Rapid City, North Dakota, and told us that nothing was more important or even compares to him serving a mission.  Something that touched me that he said was that we promised those people we teach (Brazil) that we would gather them back to their Shepherd the Savior on Earth and bring them back to the gospel in the Pre-Existence.. Nothing has motivated me to work harder than that promise I made to those children of God. The Spirit is so strong here and I feel it changing me from the inside out.  
Obedience, I've been rock solid in besides going to bed in time bc I always want to be writing in my journal and pouring my heart into studying.  I know that obedience has blessed me tremendously!  Yesterday morning we challenged the other district to volleyball and we as a district totally rolled them up.  We are definitely the sweetest district ;) haha 
But anyways to wrap things up, the language has been really hard and gets discouraging at times, but the Lord always puts someone or has someone say something that brings the Spirit back in my life and gives me confidence and strength and I’m so grateful for the Spirit in my life.
P-Day today is amazing, as my companion and I are fasting to learn the language better; and the Temple was amazing, I LOVED THE NEW VIDEO!!
Sorry I accidently sent the letter before I was finished.. Today we do our laundry and its crazy.. so many people want to wash :O  haha.  I'm super excited for the devotional tonight with a General Authority.  Thanks everyone for the amazing letters and prayers.  Emails will be really hard to write everyone but I'll try to send letters and my DearElder account works best!   I love you Mom, Dad, MIchael, Daniel, Lindsay, Joseph, Jacob and David and miss everyone so soo much!  So excited for you Matt-- the MTC is awesome and takes a lot of hard work!:) The letters have helped me so much, thanks again! Tudo Bem!:)
     Amor (Love), Elder McRae 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Matthew's Farewell and entering the MTC

Matthew entered into the Provo Missionary Training Center on August 17, 2013. He will be serving a two year mission in Goiania (Goyanya) Brazil speaking Portuguese.

He was very grateful for everyone who supported him as he left. The following are pictures in saying goodbye to family and friends

August 14, 2013
Matthew entering the MTC:

  We took a stop by the Brazilian Grill Tucanos on the way to drop Matthew off from the MTC in
  We have a farewell crew of
Grandma, Sam Verdine, Amanda, and I to wish him off as he entered
into the MTC

Matthews MTC Address:

Sept 23, BRA GOI
2013 North 900 East
Box #301
Provo, UT 84602

You can write free
while he's in the MTC
by using this website
or you can send him
letters to the full
address above.