Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas packages, happiness and mustaches

We hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  The highlight of our day was to get to talk and see Elder Darke!  He is doing very well and claims not to be homesick yet.  He loved the packages and letter/emails that he's received.  He seems to be trying to comfort us from thousands of miles away - just like his usual self!
From Elder Darke:
This week was super fun!
    So as I hope you all know it was Christmas!  They do celebrate Christmas here in brazil and it is very simmilar to Christmas in the states (as far as I could tell :D).  All the stores had Christmas specials and Christmas trees!  I saw Santa Clause and there were red decorations everywhere.  But these are just the physical signs of christmas, it goes much deeper.
    The spirit of Christmas was here as well.  It penetrated into every heart and it was very noticable.  Everyone seemed happier, it was easier to talk to people and give out pamphlets and books of mormon.  As my companion and I were working I just kept thinking how we are representivites of Jesus Christ and how Christmas was the day of his birth.  So Christ was definatly in this Christmas.
    This week I also received some packages and letters!  It made me so happy to have them!  Thank you for sending them!  I have so much candy now that I am sure that I will be fat if I keep eating it though :D.
    So I have taught more then usuall this week!  Not becuase we have more lessons or anything, but becuse my companion trusts me a little bit more so he is giving me more oportunities to teach.  The thing about teaching is, I cant really understand what they are saying, so I am still heavily dependant upon my companion to help me.  But I am glad I am having a greater chance to help people learn about the gospel (even if at times they dont understand me).
    Something that made me really happy though is that in the news I have received I have heard stores where many of you are trying extra hard to teach the people around you about the gospel.  Thank you so much!  I know the thought of teaching is daunting, and at times scary.  But just think about what you are doing when you reach out and try to help someone learn.  You are helping them learn things that bring peace, comfort, and assurances that they will see their families again.  Even if they dont join the church.  Even if they dont except your message.  Just trying, just reaching out and trying to help people be happy is worth it.  
    I know I am not there, In fact I am quite far away.  But thank you for thinking of the happiness of others, and trying to help them be happy forever.  It really means a lot to me :D.
    The last thing I can say is probably to just be happy.  Life is a storm at times.  When everything seems to be beating agains you, and you think you are about to drown in all of the noise, stress, and distractions the worlds has.  Just think to yourself, Jesus Christ knows excatally what you are feeling.  Not only that he willing to help you any way he can. He can help you feel peace and comfort.  We just need to turn to him.  Turn to him and then be happy.  And times you wont want to, and happiness seems like a lost dream.  Fight for it, try your hardest to be happy every moment of every day.  Not only will it come, but your will help others be happy to.
-Elder Darke
P.s. If you want to help someone learn about the gospel, but you dont know where to start.  Then kneel down and pray for it.  Heavenly father will provide oportunities for you.  He will help you, but first, you need to ask him for help.  As you do this, he will give you all the help you need. I know this is true, for I have felt his love, and his help personally.

We will be sending Elder Darke a small package for Valentines if anyone wants to add to it, he needed a couple of things.  Our deadline will probably be Jan 15th.  Send me a message if you need to.  Thank You for all of your support for our amazing missionary!
Melanie (Mom)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Practice that piano, devotionals and Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  Here's a brief note or two from our missionary to brighten your day!  Enjoy the Holidays!

    Sorry I didnt email yesterday, My P-day for this week is today, so ya :D.  Today was a blast.  We had a zone activity so at the church we had like 30 missionaries there and we did have a great time.  We watched a movie, played volleyball, ate meat, drank soda, threw water balloons :D We just had a fun time :D
    My zone leader is getting transfered tommorow and it is really sad because he is my friend.  However he is awesome and I am sure that he will be a great blessing to the area and the people that he is going to next :D.  We got one of those bottles with the corks in them to celebrate his freindshipness and That was loud! I didnt expect it to do that, but it like shot out of that bottle like it was trying to break through the wall :P.  The soda tasted like apple juice to me, and it was really good :D.
    We watched a christmas devotional the other day, but i didnt understand it becuase of portugese.  Through all of these I really have come to understand the value of good music.  Becuase i have not been able to understand the words people speak for some time, but the music, and the spirit of good music is easy to feel.  I have come to understand just how much i took for granted the blessing of music that i have.  It took me not being able to understand anything to be able to appreciate the thing that i have always had :D.  Becuase of this i want to be able to play music to, so one day i might be able to help some other soul who might not understand what is going on appreciate the soft spirit of good music :D.
    So Christmas is comming up and I was able to finish Jesus the Christ.  What a great thing to be reading as we come to the season of Christmas.  Jesus the Christ talks about everything that our lord did while he was alive.  How he lived for us, and then died for us.  and it even talks about Christmas, the day that our savior and reedemer came to the earth.  I guess this is also something that I have taken for granted, but I am trying to fully appreciate the blessing, and the true meaning, of Christmas.  It isnt about the Christmas Gifts we receive.  It is about the birth of our lord, and the gift that he gave to us later in his life.  It is appreciation for the wonderful mercy he gives to us.  It is celebrating that our savior came to the world.  What more important day could there be? (retorical question, for there are many important days).  However for me,  this day (Christmas)  Is the day that i hold most precious to me.
  In harmony with the day that is comming, I encourage you to give greater attention to Jesus Christ this Christmas.  Talk about it in family home evening, let your family help fill your Joy over this day to overflowing.  Study the Scriptures about Christ.  But most of all, Make sure to focus on Christ, this Christmas, in any way that you decide is best.
-Elder Darke

Christmas is near and the spirit of the season is really helpful for missionary work.  The ward that I am serving in right now has sung christmas Charols at the mall and we were able to give out so many pamphlets and books of mormon that, at the moment, we are almost out of them :D.  That is a good thing though becuase that means more and more people are receiving our message that we have!  Now if they decide to act upon our message is up to them, but I really hope they do :D.
  Sunday the stake president and the missionaries (my companion, me, and the zone leaders) sang a bunch of christmas songs in connection with our stake presidents talk.  It was really amazing, the spirit was really strong, and even though we are not as good as the mormon tabernacle choir, I thought that it went well :D.
  My portugese is making headway, I can talk to people about simple concepts!  That is a huge development and it makes me really happy :D.  I still cant understand them very well becuse everyone uses weird words.  However I will figure it out soon :D.
  So the other day i was thinking, and I realized that I have been on my mission for about 6 Months.  WOW!  Where did the time go?  I feel like I just barley left.  I am excited for the next 3/4s of my mission becuase I get to be an even better missionionary.  To teach people, become a better person, and to learn about the gospel and the church.  I realized that there are things that I need to work on, BUT everything that up to this point I though I had some things that I didnt need to improve on!  Was I wrong!  I need to get better at everything!  Because I am not perfect at anything! :D.  I know that as i do this I will be able to grow into the missionary that I want to be.
  So while I have been here I have been cooking a lot more then I ever had before.  So If you have a favorite recepie, or a food that you really like, shoot me an email about how to make it!  So that was i can make fun foods :D.
  I have received letters from many of you!  Thank you so much.  Each letter I have received seems to be right what I need at that time.  Missions are awesome, but there are times when a helping hand is needed.  Thank you so much for your support and love!  I am not sure where I would be without all of you!
  I miss you all but I am having so much fun on my mission!  I am really not that homesick becuse i feel like I was just there :D.  So Yep :D.  But I miss you all, and I love you all :D.
-Elder Darke
P.s.  If nothing else, just be happy this Christmas.  Becuase you being happy makes me happy.  Even if you dont tell me your happy, Me just knowing that you are makes me so happy :D.

Remember that you could be the answer to the prayers that other missionary families are giving!  Invite, Invite, invite.  Help your local missionaries be successful also!
Love, Melanie (Mom)

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Picture, Chess and God's power

Here's the update for this week!  I like that he'll send a couple of pictures.  That way I can do a visual inspection like I'm sure all mother's do!  You know, is he eating? did he iron his shirt? is he happy? are his teeth falling out? Proof of the gifts/letter we've sent on good faith that they'd reach him!
From Elder Darke:  
So this last week was really interesting.
  My zone is trying to learn the brazilian national anthem, and it is totally different then the american nation anthem.  However it is fun :D.
  My zone leaders are brazillian and they are super cool.  Here is a picture of them, my companion, and me :D.

  So they are super awesome!  (and we are in our church building.  All the floors are tile here :D.)  
  So my portugese is progressing super slowly, however I know that the lord will help me and strengthen me in areas that i of myself am weak :D.  (like learning languages).  
  I am having a great time here though :D.  For P-Day I made a chess board :D.  (its actually just a peice of paper with a grid on it, however it is a chess board :D).  We dont have any chess peices so we just use coin money that we have left over :D.  It is super fun :D.
  Something that i should tell you though is what happened the other day.  So we had to give someone a blessing.  (i didnt do it).  However my companion told me before that i was probably going to.  So as i thought about it, i was actually less nervous then the times i did it in english.  Simply for the reason that I knew that heavenly father would help me as much as i needed.  So i wasnt worried.  I didnt end up giving the blessing, but the peace and comfort that i felt as it approached is just more proof to me of the overwelming love and power of god :D.
  So the last thing today is the simple act of trusting in our lord.  Learning portugese has been interesting becuse it was different then i thought it would be.  but that is were trusting in our lord come in.  Becuase he knows exactally what he is doing.  He has a plan that can help us better then we could think possible.  This plan is usually different from what we think is going to happen.  As we put our trust in the lord, both in that his power can do anything, and in his timing is ultimatly perfect we will be able to have patience to wait out the storms of life, while looking for the rainbows in the clouds.  Life wont be easy, it never was ment to be.  However there can be joy found, and miracles seen as we trust in our Savior, Lord, and God.
-Elder Darke
P.s. Missions are so amazing!
P.s.s. Thank you for all the letters that i received!  I loved them all :D.
P.s.s.s. and (i dont know if you can see this well, but i really like this)

Thanks to all!
Melanie (Mom)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ancestors, surnames and packages

Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Here's an update from Elder Galen Darke.
  So this week has been amazing!  It is the start of a new transfer so it has been different then normal but still amazing!
  My area got new zone leaders, and all the companionships got changed.  So it is cool to see the new people!  Becuse of the new zone leaders, they are in our area so we have been helping them out a little this past week and it is cool, but is also changing our normal scedual. :D.  it is worth it though.
  We had a babtism this week (investagator of our last zone leaders), and she never came.  So that was really saddening however there was cake there so we made ourselves feel better with cake :D.  it totally worked.
  My portugese still isnt good however i can pick out words and somtimes sort of understand what is going on.  Most of the time i still dont understand what is going  on :D  However as i think about it i realize just how much my heavenly father is helping me.  He is helping me learn portugese.  and it is not going as fast as i want it to, so he is helping me be patient through the holy ghost.  There are days when everything around me seems to be insane and running into the ground and i feel peaceful inside.  Calm, and confident that everything will turn out fine.  It is just all the more proof to me that heavenly father knows us personally and what we need.
  My thoughts have been drifting to my anscestors latley.  When I have free time, (as i try to fall asleep) my thoughts are often wondering about my anscestors.  Who where they, were did they live, and where did my name come from.  Where did it originate.  It is so interesting!  So much curiosity.  However then i remember that right now i have a resposibility to watch after the living, and after my time for that is over, i can once again turn my thoughts to the dead.  Those of you not on missions i have a simple questions for you.  How did your last names come to be?  You may know it started in europe, but how?  Was it a reward for heroic deeds, does it have special meanings?  I challenge you to find out, and if you arnt excatally sure, then the challenge goes to you to.  Make sure.  Find out for certain, and for yourself.
  The people here are so amazing.  So freindly and kind.  I love them all!

FYI letters are taking about 1 1/2 weeks to get to Elder Darke.  They say that packages take up to 3 weeks.  We sent our Christmas package out today.  Thanks to everyone that participated.  I'm sure that Elder Darke will love it! Sending love in a box isn't that easy to do, but I think we managed pretty good.
Melanie (Mom)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spiders, keystones and gratitude for Elder Darke

Apparently, I've been a slacker and didn't post Elder Darke's previous email!  AAgghh!  Sorry.  Of course I guess I can blame it on a hundred things, or I can just add it here first.  Hope that y'all enjoy it.
Elder Darke:
I am finally understanding some people!  YES!  Ok so realistically i still have no idea what they are saying, like ,99 Percent of the time.  However that 1 percent that i can now understand is a whole percent that i couldnt before! :D.  I can usually understand what we are talking about when we talk about the gospel or indrocshions :D  I am really happy though becuse even though i am improving maddeningly slowly I am still improving! :D.  Soon I will be able to understand everything people say!  I am so excited!  It is cool to look at just how much the Lord has been helping me.  I knew he would and now I have the proof that he has.  So the ammount of portugese I now know, that i have basically learned in 3 months or so.  (MTC, and brazil).  I took chinese class at school for three years, and I know more portugese then I ever know chinese :D.  To me, that is a miracle.
    So Missionary work here is amazing!  Let me tell you just a little bit about it :D.  We have some amazing people that we are teaching, and we find more all the time!  One family that we found very recently is amazing.  So there are like 5 people that we teach in this family.  There are 2 old men, they are 95 and 83.  They are so awesome!  They are old but i can feel just how much heavenly father loves them!  Then there are 3 other people in the family.  So we sat down with them and taught them the restoration (Heavenly father, is our loving father.  the gospel blesses families.  Prophets in every dispensation.  Jesus christ extablished his church.  Great appostasy.  Joseph smith. The book of mormon).  At the end we gave them 2 books of mormon to read.  As my companion taught about the truth, and i tried to help were i could (mostly just tried to understand what was happening).  I could feel the spirit.  This family had a desire to know of the truth.  That was confirmed when we went back a few days earlier.  Only the old men were home, however they told us that the family was reading the book of mormon.  
    That makes me so happy.  To some it may just seem like a book.  But it is soo much more.  The book of mormon is the keystone to our religion.  If we are talking about a painting, it is as important as the paint itself is.  As people read the book of mormon, they are reading a testiment of jesus christ.  One witness can be disputed.  However two witnesses cannot be denied.  This book (along with the bible) is proof that Jesus christ is the son of god.  That he lived a perfect life, and he died for us.  When people read the book of mormon, and they pray that it is true.  The holy spirit can help them understand that it is true.  and if the book of mormon is true, Then it was translated by a true prophet.  For a false prophet could not bring forth a true book.  If joseph smith is a true prophet, then the church he established is Jesus christ´s church on the earth again today, and modern revelation, preestood athority, and everything else that is taught by the church is true.  That is why it is not just a book, but is literally the keystone of our religion.
    I am really happy right now :D.  Becuse Heavenly father is constantly heping me, our investagators are doing well, and it is raining!  It rains here a lot.  However it doesnt snow unless you are in the souther part of the country.  A cool thing about the rain is the clouds!  They are so fluffy and frendly looking!  and a cool thing about that clouds is that they make really cool lightning!  It is kind of weird though becuse my companion has taken some pictures of lightning in different areas of the mission and they are different colors.  He has yellow lighting, but the lighting here is 
blue.  strange...  OH and he also has a picture of this spider that he saw.  It is huge!  Like scary huge!  Like it is a tranchula that is the size of a dinner plate!.  it is bigger then my hand!  so to kill it, they threw bricks at it :D.  poor spider.
    There are so many differnet kinds of fruit here :D.  Most of them are completly different from the ones in the states!  I still havnt had them all :D.  However i am working on it :D.
    The bus rides here are crazy.  So there is a bus and everyone it sitting down in the chairs.  In the walkway that has room for about 2 people from one side to the other right?  well not to brazilians.  I was on a bus the other day where there was 4 people in the hallway.  I wasnt sure how they could breathe it was so crouded :D.  But even so, i kindof like the bus :D.
-Elder Darke
P.s. Meu portugese nao bom, mais eu posso entengie perguntas sobre meu familia :D
P.s.s. meu companeto engengie portugese muito bom.
P.s.s.s. Eu gosto A├žai!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wooo!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the latest and greatest from Elder Darke!  We are so grateful for his service to our Heavenly Father!  Elder Darke continues to succeed and influence others for good in Brazil and across our great country.  Even though Brazil doesn't celebrate our tradition of Thanksgiving, I know that Elder Darke's thoughts are of gratitude and thanksgiving this time of the year.  If anyone reading this could drop a simple letter in the mail for Elder Darke, imagine the feelings of love he will have in time for Christmas!
Feed My Sheep

Thanks to everyone's support and love.  We are truly blessed!
Love to all!
Melanie (Mom)

from Elder Darke:
 This week has been fun!  So I have been really bad this week, and we only got to study two days for the whole week.  We were doing really important stuff, however we need to keep studying.  So that is a goal of mine for this week, to have more studies!  So other then that a few amazing things hapened
-We found a new investagator, and the cool thing is that the zone leaders in my area found her weeks ago and taught her a little, but they got the wrong address, so she was lost for a little while.  However then me and my companion found her!  She actually came up to us and it was awesome!
-Transfers was also this week, and me and my companion didnt change, however we are like the only ones in my district.  Both of our zone leaders changed and, the rest of the companion ships got split up and we have new people now :D.
-This week has been full of trainings and awesomeness.  We had normal district training twice this week, then the mission presidnet came to our stake conference and he also talked to the missionaries and the members.  While he was taking I was writing down my thoughts, (and i couldnt really understand him) and he asked the missionaries to stand up and say the missionary purpose.  (this was just the youth, so not too many people were there).  The other missionaries stood up, and I didnt notice, so he said my name twice before I realized what was going on.  (Woops).  :D.  Well at least I know what not to do now :D.  The trainings where on member missionaries and it was cool :D.
-I can finally understand what is going on mostly!  I still get lost a lot, and There is still a bunch of stuff i dont know.  However when we are teaching lessons, or talking about the gospel i can usually understand the general idea of what is going on if they arnt talking super fast :D!
-So I have been reading it for the past little while, but I just want to tell you, the book ´´Jesus the Christ´´ is amazing.  Every question i had, every assumption, and misunderstanding about the new testiment is being resolved.  Now i didnt have many deep questions, about the new testiment, but the small things that just made me stop and think ´´hmm, that is interesting, i wonder why...´´ are all being resolved.  It is an amazing book.  If you want to read the new testiment, or just better understanding about christ and his earthly ministry then i would seriously recomment ´´Jesus the Christ´´.
-The book of mormon is amazing as well!  I didnt realize just how much i enjoyed reading it, untill i couldnt read it anymore.  I am trying to read it in portugese, so having my favorite book in front of me, and not understanding what it is saying has really helped me understand just how amazing the book of mormon really is.
-and finnaly i wish to tell you the importance of rightous judgement!  We are always told that we need to judge rightously.  But what does that mean?  As i have been considering these things recently i have decided on one key factor that can help us.  We need to remember that We dont understand excatally what is going on!  We dont know what people are feeling, what is going on in peoples lives, what they are thinking, or what happened to them.     All these things effect a persons actions.  I encourage you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.  Am i seeing the entire puzzle here? or am i just looking at one small peice and trying to guess what the entire picture shows?  Even then some peaces of the puzzle, we wont ever be able to see, so we need to do everything we can, then we need to be as merciful as we can be.  That way, we may not feel like we are getting justice all of the time.  However when we look at our lives and realize just how much we are dependent on Christ´s mercy to save us, then showing mercy to someone else gets easier.  
-I really like Brazil, It is amazing!
-Elder Darke

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blessings, police, missions and "You Move"

Things seem to be getting a little better and a little smoother for Elder Darke.  He seems uplifted and a little more upbeat this week.  We also received a couple of new pictures of him.  Yeah! He's looking good.  Also, I figured out that his companion's name is Elder Tippetts from Idaho. Yep a couple of skinny white boys!
From Elder Darke:

This place is so amazing!
    A few quick things that have happened over the past week that were super amazing.
1.  My zone leaders had a babtism, and he got confirmed yesterday, so that was super awesome so see someone get babtised
2.  A member in my district left to go on a mission the other day.  He is super amazing.  I didnt get to talk to him much, however the little bit that i did leaves me confident that he will be fine when he leaves.
3.  One of my investagators is a police officer in the city.  He is awesome!  Usually when we talk to him we talk to him in this mini police station that they have in the area.  So we went inside a police station and talked to him.  It was super cool!  He is also super awesome.  So we are teaching him periodically.
4.  A super cool thing here is the past week there have been clouds in the sky every day.  And every day without fail, it rains.  How much, and for how long is varied but!  it is super cool!  On wednesday it rained so hard that there was so much water in the street that it was starting to come up onto the sidewalk!  I wanted to make little paper boats and make them float down the street/river.  The clouds are super cool here.  They are always puffy and friendly looking and it so so awesome.  In fact it is raining right now :D.
5.    There are a lot of different fruits here.  Yesterday I ate a fruit and I was informed that if i ate it wrong i would need to go to the hospital.  It was like a fuit with a seed inside.  Inside of the seed there was these spikes/thorns/evilness.  If I bit into the seed then the thorns would go into my tounge and i would have to go to the hospital.  So that was fun :D.
6.  i also learned today about unrightous judging.  I have been reading Jesus the Christ along with the book of mormon and preach my gospel.  it is amazing.  If you want to learn about the Life of jesus christ. i would recommend this book along with the new testiment.  It is really amazing to read.  In this book the cheif jews are constantly unrightously judging people.  This leads to extreme trouble for numerous amounts of people.  I also realized that in certain situations i have judged things unrightously.  So i must be better at this particular area of my life.  That way i will be able to follow the commandments of the lord when he tell us to judge rightously :D.      it is really amazing here and my portugese is still slowly improving.  I am so greatful for my heavenly fathers help with this.  I know he is helping me and there is no possible way i could be where i am right now without his help.  He is just poring out blessings apon us.  His missionaries.  Almost all of the blessings go  unoticed, but the ones i do notice are so innumerable that i cannot count them.  He is litterally poaring out blessings from an extra size bucket of blessings.  it is really amazing actually.
-Elder Darke
Apparently this picture is Elder Darke enacting the comedy sketch "You Move" from Julian Smith's online videos.  The kids think he is hilarious on You tube.  I guess Elder Darke found a place in Brasilia that is called "You Move".  Yep, Elder Darke's humor is fully intact!
 We Love you Galen!
Melanie (mom)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Banana Bread Metric recipe?

It's time for an update from Elder Darke!  If anyone has any wonderful recipes in METRIC, he would love to try them out!  We're trying to convert some of our family recipes and Elder Darke has been experimenting with them.  Hopefully he'll figure it out soon.  I guess you just have to get the ingredients balanced just right.
Here's from Elder Darke:
This place is awesome!
    So quick update on what is going on.
1.  I still have no idea what people are saying
2.  I tried making the bananna bread and i have failed twice.  Lets see if this new recepie helps me not fail :D.
3.  The ward is super cool and friendly, even though i dont what they are saying i can feel their spirit and they are all trying to help me learn as fast as possible.
4.  We have some awesome investagators.  We were talking to one the other day and we showed her a book of mormon.  and asked her to pray to see if it was true.  Her response was different then we expected. she said ´`oh i already know it is true.  I had a dream about it last night.``.  I was like `hey companion, what did she say?``  It was super cool when he told me though :D
5.  I am learning so much here.  One of the major things that i am learning is the value of trusting in the lord.  He has said that he will help me learn portugese, through the scriptures, and through my leaders he has promised me.  However he has also said that i must be patient.  I am not sure how many times in life where i have gotten this frustrated.  However, as with any trial as we endure well and we are able to have faith he pours out blessings apon us.  So now all i can say is that I trust in him.  I know he will (and is) helping me learn portugese.  He has promised me he would, and he is a god of truth, so he cannot lie.
    So This is officially the best mission ever!  

I think that we as a family are going to try and add something to our emails in Portuguese using Google translate.  Hopefully his curiosity will help him learn the language, along with help from our Heavenly Father.

Thanks to all!
Melanie (Mom)

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Brazil address!

Well, apparently Elder Darke is wanting some mail!  He practically begged me in several different letters to send him emails and letters!  Well, finally he did send us his new Brazil address, so we CAN do that!
Here it is from him:
    I love being able to start the week with reading about how my family is doing back at home!  Brazil is amazing!  However it makes me really happy to hear from people from home :D  So please email me!  I cant enjoy your emails if i dont get any :D  So please email me!  :D
    Ok so before i say anything, the food here is amazing!  There are so many different kinds of fruits and it is super cool!  I had a fruit salad thing yesterday and it was like (angelic choir), It was so good, and the only fruit that i recognized was a bannana, there like like 8 different fruits that i have never heard of!  It tasted soo good :D.  Besides the fruit people were correct, rice, beans, and chicken are really a common meal here :D.  So it is a little different here, Brazillians dont really eat breakfast.  that i can tell, but i am not sure about that.  After that they eat a huge lunch (it is the main meal of the day), and then they either just have a small snack for dinner, or they just dont eat dinner.  It is really interesting.  and for lunch, usually they have rice, beans, (some sort of meat, like chicken) and some sort of fruit.  It is awesome!  The food here is super good, and I enjoy it :D
    Next is the launguage.  It is not easy, let me tell you.  I still cant really understand anything, however i know that Heavenly father is with me and he will help me learn super fast!  I just need to be patient and work my hardest!  Everyone is helping me learn though.  All of the members constantly try to help me learn new phrases and words, (and the ones that speak english help me understand what they mean :D).  They are all super nice!  My companion knows english as well so he is helping me learn portugese, however from my point of view I am learning extremly slowly.  However i know that if I have faith and patience Heavenly father will help me more then i can comprehend.
    The people here are super nice and I love them all!  A lot of people have a smile on their faces, and a lot of the families that i have meet here are happy!  These are some really amazing, and humble people!
    So the other day me and my zone leader, elder Adams (we were on splits) were teaching this investagator, (or he was and i was trying to figure out what was going on :D).  So i couldnt understand what was being said, however after a few minutes something started changing.  As i was listening i could feel the holy spirit entering the room and calming my heart.  As i looked at our investagator i could see that she could feel the spirit as well.  The spirit is super strong, and I know that This work that i have been called to do is true.  This is the restored gospel again on the earth and i know that true eternal happiness can come as the principles and ordancances of this gospel are remembered and followed.  This is the only way to get back to heavenly father.  It is truly the straight and narrow path. I know it is true becuase the spirit has testified it to me, becuase i have taken the challenge of moroni and asked heavenly father if this was true.  I got an answer and becuse of that I know this work that i am doing is of vital importance to the salvation of many of heavenly fathers children.
    In Brazil everything is totally different.  The only thing that i have found that is the same is the feelings that i get from the spirit.  I am extremly gratefull for that
-Elder Darke
    P.s. i need to tell you something important, something i should have told you a long time ago...... IM BATMAN! (my companions favorite saying :D)
    P.s.s. my mission address is (or at least this is what i have been told)
Elder Darke
LOTE B1 Salas 304/307, Brasilia
71503-505 DF, CEP-DF
    P.s.s.s. It is getting really hot here really fast, and It is awesome!  I think i am close to drinking the amount of water that doctors say that I should every day :D 

So if you didn't catch that, with the failing English (hopefully his Portuguese is getting better), PLEASE send mail!  OH, and if you want to send him something for Christmas in our box get it to us by Thanksgiving!

Thanks again for your continued love and support for Elder Darke!
Melanie (Mom)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gama Leste, Brasillia

We finally heard from Elder Darke all the way from Brazil!  He's adjusting well and will hopefully get us his new address soon.  Here's the word from him:

  I am indeed alive, however i am not quite sure if i have been abducted or not, no one here seems to speak english so maybe they are all aliens O.O.
    I just wanted to let you know that i am having a fantabulous time here!
    This is the first week being here and what i have noticed is quite intereging.  Everyone here seems to be really nice and freindly!  I am in a city called gama, in the east part of the town so i am in Gama Leste.  Most of my area is suberbs (i guess you can call it) and It has been amazing.  To see people who are living in cercumstances that we might not find very appealing, but not only are they living in them, they are happy and they are finding joy as they live.  The people seem really happy here :D.
    In my area we have a large church building, it is actually one of the largest in my mission (or so i have been told).  the church is fairly large in this city, and strong.  I really enjoy it, we are also walking around everywhere so it takes a little bit to travel :D  However my feet are slowly turning into feet of steel!  Everyone speaks portugese and almost no one speaks fluent english so i am completly lost but i am getting better as the days go by.  everyone is helping me learn here it is awesome!
    My companion is a super cool person, he is been on his mission for a year solid and he is awesome.  He is fluent in portugese, and (this part is kind of funny) he is not only training me, but he is also the district leader, seinor companion, and he (and I) are opening up a new area in gama.  It is pretty crazy however we have received some major blessings that have been helping us along really amazingly.
    It is deffenatly different here, however i have gotten used to it and now I love it.  Now i just need to know what people are saying :D
    This week, the thing that i have really learned is just how constantly the lord is with us.  He is always there trying to help us, guiding us, protecting us.  He never leaves unless we drive him away by doing bad things.  His guidence and help has been essential as i have been here.  I trust in his power and his plan.  I know he could help me learn the launguage in an instant, however i know that he has a plan for me and it is better then anything i can think of for so many reasons (so many that i can not name them all).  I Have faith that he will help me and guide me through anything as long as i cling to him and depend on him.  That is something that really impressed me this week.
Elder Darke
P.s.  I love letters and if you could send a lot of them that would be great!
-Will you get me everyone signatures and pictures from the family/and freinds?  I am missing quite a few freindly faces :D.  (like i dont have one of basil :D,) and thats all i can think of :D Thanks :D
P.s.s.s. Eu Amor Gama Leste
We are sending Elder Darke a Christmas package.  We would like to include a letter from all of his family and friends.  If you have something that you would like to include, get to us before Thanksgiving.  Think of it as free/cheap postage for you and a wonderful surprise for Elder Darke.
Thanks y'all!
Melanie (Mom)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Watch out Brazil, HERE comes ELDER DARKE!!!

Just a quick post for Elder Darke.  We received an unexpected email tonight.  Elder Darke is on his way to BRAZIL!!!! Monday is the day!!  I guess the Halloween package will have to wait!  Here it is in Elder
Darke's words:
Guess What!!!!! i got my visa!!!! so guess what! I am going to be going to Brazil on Monday!  


I am so excited!!!!   This will be monday evening :D, :D
Elder Darke
I guess you could say that he a little excited!!!  WE are too!  Hopefully he remembers his Portuguese!  Pass the word around!  I will update with his new addresses A.S.A.P!!
Melanie (Mom)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Elder Darke's take from General Conference

We got an email from Elder Darke the other day that I thought I would forward part of it along.  I am impressed at how much he is growing and am loving hearing his testimony grow as well.
 Did you watch general Conference? I hope so because it was awesome!!!  My hand still hurts because during conference, i was doing some non stop writing.  I didn't want to forget anything that was said, and I also kept getting ideas for how these talks could help my investigators and how i could apply them to my life!  so it was amazing!
    I expecially liked Deiter F Ucdorf's saturday morning talk about the challenges of being a member, about why anyone would even join such a church.  It is so simple to me, the blessings that we can gain and the spirit that we feel is worth any sacrifice!  As we give our all to this church we then learn the reasons why this church is so amazing.  It is hard to talk about because it is hard to be belived without having faith in the lord, or having an experience that proves the amazingness of this church.  However as we come to learn this things (one way or another) we will be blessed with increased spirituality and strength.
    Now the question is, why would anyone want to leave?  The answer is both simple and complicated, however it all comes down to agency.  We all have the ability to choose what we want to do.  If we want to believe and gain blessings, or if we want to go off and become lost in the confusion of the world.  We should not condem those that stray from the truth of the church, but should instead continue to be friends, and continue to be a beacon of light to those lost in spiritual darkness.  Now it is my deepest desire that none of you wander away from the church, and the promised blessings that are associated with it.
    I would have great joy for everyone to stay strong in the church forever.  Unfortunately that will probably not happen.  There will be those who wonder, and who become lost.  Do not abandon them, or leave them as they are.  As we continue to be good friends and give them a way to get back to the truth, then one day they may take that chance and come back, and if they never do, then you will have developed a life long friend that will always be thankful for your kindness.
   Now you may be wondering why i am talking about this, the answer is also simple.  I am talking about this because I can see the impact that we can make in other people's lives.  So as you are out with your friends this day, make sure they understand that they can "come join with us" for "there is room for you here".
    Conference was an amazing experience of inspiration and love.  The love of the savior that is.  I could feel how much he loved me as he helped me receive personal revelation through the holy ghost.  I just want to say that I know this church is true.  I know it with all my heart.
    My area is doing amazing!  We are always on the hunt for new investigators but i am sure we will find some very soon :D.  The members are still amazing, and I love my area :D.  I miss you all, I am having a great time here though :D.  I hope you are all having amazing times there as well :D
-Elder Darke
 P.s. never get into a land war with asia, but what is less knows is never get into a contest with a siscilian when death is on the line!
P.s.s.  He is only mostly dead.
P.s.s.s. When you fight children, you must go for the face! always the face! :D

If you didn't catch that last part, watch "Princess Bride" the movie.  As always, thanks for the encouragement and support.
Melanie (Mom)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pictures, finally!

Elder Darke finally sent us some photos!  Yea!  As you can see, he's enjoying himself as usual. Yes, that's the barn red trailer he's living in.  Beautiful!

From Elder Darke:
  I just wanted you to have some of these pictures, but as always i am really bad at picture and i have not taken a whole lot :D, however here is a few of them.  I am having fun here and being on a mission is super fun (it still hasn't hit me that i am really a missionary yet :P.  However i am having a great time teaching people (im really bad at that) and doing everything else i can to help :D.  Well love you
-Elder Darke
 I think he wants us to think he's gained weight!  NOT SO!  Hopefully he remember how to clean!
Melanie (Mom)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Message from your Missionary

           Galen's email this week was as serious as I've heard him write so far.  He is being very successful, but ever so humble!  We love to hear about his challenges as well as the triumphs.  He is doing well and loves to hear from everyone, even if he is unable to respond.  He does, however, read each and every letter/email that he receives!  I think that I'll be forwarding this to some missionary minded people that I know! 

From Elder Darke:
 So I want to tell you all something really amazing.  Part of my area goes in to a military fort called Fort Benning.  We are not allowed to tract or anything in the fort, so it is up to members to invite people to come to church.  Normally you would think, oh ok so normally you don't have many new people right?  WRONG!!! ha ha!  We had ten investagators at church this last Sunday.  Ten.  That is amazing!  We are teaching Nine of them right now, and we had a Babtism this last Sunday and we have one set up for next week to.  The most amazing thing about this is It is all the members!  The only thing that the elders do is show up on sunday and teach anyway who wants to know more.  At first i though, "well im not really doing anything to find any of these new people, so im not really doing missionary work."  I was so wrong.  We as elders have been called to "Teach the gospel"  We have not been called to find people to teach, or go tracting, or anything else.  We have been called to teach.  The members at Fort Benning help us with this becuase they find, invite, and follow up with everyone that comes.  The only thing we do is teach them.  So members, i ask if you would follow the example of the members in this Fort.  Help the missionaries!  Invite people to church.  Invite people to be taught by missionaries.  We need your help.  I know that if you help the missionaries the amount of souls that will be saved will be drastically different becuase of your involvement then without.
    Now I would like to tell you about my companion!   He has been out on his mission for about a year now.  He is amazing.  He has the spirit with him all the time and he really is very effective at teaching people.  He is funny and he makes me laugh all the time.  I really appreciate everything he does to help me :D.  He is very dilligent and focused and its fun when he tires to explain something becuase he makes really funny noises.  (yes the noises are very funny, and i am indeed 18.) :D.  We are working very hard in our area and i Love where i have been put.  The people are all amazing, and nice, and almost all of them talk to us :D.  They are just really nice people.  I can't wait to go to Brazil, however i am enjoying my time immensely here :D.  Well i love you all
-Elder Darke

Let's just blame the Portuguese for the spelling! Anyway, you heard him, HELP the missionaries TEACH!

He says that you can email him, just don't be waiting on a response!  It sounds like he's really busy!
Love y'all!  Melanie (Mom)

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Barn Red Trailer

Here's an update from Elder Darke on his first P-day in Georgia:
Dear Mom
    I am having such a great time in Georgia.  My Companion (Elder Stewart) is super funny and he reminds me of Mike a lot of the time :D.  It is kind of distracting sometimes though because when we are laughing too hard to plan at the end of the day then it is bad.  However we usually have smiles on our faces all day :D.  He is really good at teaching people to, he has been on his mission for about a year so he has everything down and he knows what he is doing.  He has also been in this area for a while so he knows everyone around here.  It is interesting because he recognizes people's cars as they drive by.  It makes me laugh a little.  The other day we were teaching (so teaching is still interesting for me becuase i keep thinking of words in Portuguese so when i talk i have to make sure i am speaking English, but it is amazingly spiritual all the time) on someone's doorstep and talking with them about the restoration and they agreed to let us come back! (this has happened a few times actually)  You wouldn't think that such a small thing as agreeing to return would make me very happy or anything but it does!  It is so weird how happy I get some days.  
    A really interesting thing about our area is that it also goes onto fort benning.  So not only do we teach the people in our area but every Sunday we go to fort Benning and we teach solders there!  It is cool because all the people that we teach, come to us.  We aren't allowed to tract or hand out panflets or anything to the solders but if they are curious about the gospel, (which quite a few of them are)  they come to us to learn.  We even had a baptism yesterday!  It was so cool!  We also have one scheduled for next week so i am looking forward to that also!  Our area is huge though.  We have a mission car, and its a good thing because we need one.  We cover three different cities and fort Benning.  We are based in Casseta, Georgia.  We also cover Buna Vista, Georgia and Richland and Lumpkin Georgia.  Plus everyone seems to live really far away from each other.  So i am really grateful that we have a car!
    Casseta doesn't have a ward, and we don't even call it a branch really.  We call it a group becuase we only have like 23 people that reliably come to church.  However we as missionaries are trying to improve that number!  We have many new investagators, and other investagators that are looking very promising and there are even a lot of non actives that i have faith in!  Everyone still has their agency but i want them all to go to church!  So sense we are based in Casseta we live in a barn red trailer.  Someone literally painted our trailer barn red.  It is fun!  i always know what trailer is ours :D.  The members here are all super amazing.  In fact, they are so amazing that they just gave us Bacon!  I am so excited!  They are so nice to us :D.
    My mission president is amazing as well!  When he went on his mission he was also a Visa waiter, to brasil actually.  So he speaks Portuguese and (this is kind of funny) he is really strict and how people lead music.  The first thing we did in our (new people meet the president) meeting was learn how to properly lead music.  So we are all professional music leaders now.  He is also super funny.
    400 Northside Crossing Macon, Georgia 31210.  This is my mailing/package address mail it here and it will be passed on to me until i go to brazil then it will get intestesting :D.  I Love getting letters and packages from anyone but i can't promise I will be able to send anything back very fast.  I have very limited time (again) but now its even more limited because im helping everyone :D.  I will keep sending letters and things as fast as possible though, don't you worry.  I hope to hear from you soon :D.  
    I also know what it sort of feels like to sort of work in a sort of fast food restaurant.  Becuse our group is so small we don't have a place to really do sacrament and church, but our group is too big to do it at any of our members houses.  So Every friday for like 4 hours the elders (my companion and I) go to a resturant place and do service there.  Becuase we do this the resturant lets us use their building every sunday for church!  So it is really fun :D.  This week for Preestood meeting we met in a hallway in the resterant :D. It was fun!
    Well anyway i love talking to you, talk to me back please :D
-Elder Darke

We love those letters!  Don't you love that spelling?! That's my boy!
Thanks all!
Melanie (Mom)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Macon, Georgia??!! What??!

Well, Elder Darke is now out in the mission field.  He received his "reassignment" last week to Macon, Georgia.  He says it's wonderful that he gets a "two-in-one" mission.  He is sooooo excited!  The first email I got from him about this was:

 "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" Pretty much crazy, as Elder Darke's style usually is.  

Once he arrived we received one from him and one from his new Mission President and a picture (yeah!)

Dear mom
I arrived safely in the mission field yesterday.  The flight wasn't very bad, however getting up that early has totally thrown off my internal clock :D.  I am in Georgia though, my mission president is awesome and i have been sent to Cusseta Georgia.  It is a pretty small town but the people seem really friendly and I love them all so far :D.  It was sort of my first day today, we just got done driving here so now it will be fun :D.  I am companions with the a district leader and it is going to be super amazing.  I am living in a moble home thing that is super cool and i get my own little desk and a large mirror and everything!  I Can't wait to tell you all about it but i have limited time so i am just wanting to say hi, and tell you i am still alive :D.  For letters and things my address is 400 Northside Crossing Macon GA 31210. :D.  Anyway i will talk to you later!
-Elder Darke

His Mission President, President Cottle says that Elder Darke's first area is Cusseta, Georgia in the Columbus Stake.  We are hoping to hear more soon.

He looks good, don't you think!  Notice his new address in his letter. I think it's the mission home.  His preparation day is on Monday, so he'll look for mail then, I think. 

Elder Galen Darke
400 Northside Crossing
Macon, GA 31210

Love to everyone!
Melanie (Mom)

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Well, this week Elder Darke has been busy!  He did manage to send us a couple of emails, though.  We hope you enjoy them!
From his 8/16 emails:
You will never believe this, guess what?!!  Richard G Scott came to my MTC devotional!  It was amazing.  I had such a good time seeing an apostle of the Lord.  It was so inspiring.  I also am making progress with Portuguese.  I know the Lord is blessing my life as I live righteously, because there is no possible way I could learn what I have learned on my own.  Well anyway, this week has been pretty normal, but I am super excited for Sunday because I get to help with the sacrament! I never really realized how much I liked to help with the sacrament until I was no longer able to do so (they do the sacrament prayer in Portuguese so I can't do that yet, and we have like 60 elders that are all there to help with sacrament, so we don't get to do it much, but I am excited to help pass! I'm so excited to help the Elders and Sisters renew their baptismal covenants!  Also, I am slowly getting my district to play soccer with me.  Usually you need your companion to go with you to play soccer, and mine doesn't like to.  So, I had to convince him to come with me, and now I have a few other elders agreeing to come as well.  It is going to be super fun!  I can't wait.  What I am most excited for is I get to go to the temple today!  The Provo temple has been closed for renovation for the last few weeks, but it is open today so my district is going!  I am so excited.  Well I have to go :D  Eu Amor Voces e Eu Nao posso esperar e Ouvir de Voce.  (I Love You guys and I can not wait and I Listen to You.)
P.S. Hopefully I will be able to send entire emails in Portuguese
P.S.S. (but don't expect it for awhile)
P.S.S.S. I like doughnuts :D
P.S.S.S.S. I had three the other morning :D
P.S.S.S.S.S. I also loved the Texas shaped letter I got from the youth :D (Thank YOU!!!)

We also received a little more serious email later that day:
I just got back from the temple :D The MTC is literally down the street from the Provo Temple, so my district and I went down to the temple and did a session :D It was amazing!  It was also the first time any of us had been in that temple so we kind of got lost a little bit, but we figured out where we were going in the end and it all worked out :D.  I also saw that they had  GIANT washing machines!  It was huge!  Like you could fit a normal sized washing machine in there with enough room for a few batches of laundry.  :D  It was cool :D.  That isn't the best thing that happened, but its the only thing that I know how to do justice when I am explaining it :P.  Today I am going to do TRC, it is when volunteers (members or non members) come and we talk to them about the gospel, or about whatever else the spirit directs us to talk about:D.  It is an amazing experience.  I really enjoy it:D.  The only problem is it is still in Portuguese and I can't really have full conversations yet in Portuguese.  So I am having a hard time with that, but I am getting better:D.  Oh, and you will never guess what I did:D, The branch presidency challenged us to read the entire Book of Mormon in the time that we were here.  He gave us a reading assignment of 14 pages a day.  I finished yesterday:D, and then I read the Pearl of Great Price:D.  It was amazing!  One of the weird parts is, in the book of Ether that talked about the people of the brother of Jared.  I didn't remember anything at all about that book when I started it, but I will never forget the things it talks about. :D.  Why you may ask?  Because it taught me a lesson that I will hopefully never forget:D.  Eu Seu que Livro de Mormon Falar O verdade.                               --Elder Darke
Elder Darke should be leaving for Brazil on Sept  2nd.  We pray that his Visa gets finalized and things go smoothly.  Thank you for your prayers and love.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Four square and Doughnuts

We have received several emails from Elder Darke and a couple letters.  He is very much enjoying his experiences and seems to be settling in great.

From his 8/1 letter:
Well I survived until Sunday (it was close at times), but I am starting to get confindant in my portuguese.  It will be awhile before I can write it though.  Will you send me pictures of everyone?  It is comforting to see them as I go to bed.
The days here at the MTC are exciting and full of activities.  The time is flying by.  I will be able to email on Thursday, but until then I will try to send as many letters as possible.  It won't be many, though.  I don't have much free time.
My relationship with our Father is growing everyday.  Most days I call him "Pai Celestial" now, though.  The elders here are great.  Everyone is friendly and my district is quickly becoming some of my best friends.  New elders arrived today.  I had a blast welcoming everyone!  
Tell Missy that  our four square practices are helping!  I am now dominating the court!  We had a district meeting and I was in the choir to sing a song!  Ok, so I don't usually like choir, but my district convinced me to go.  So, I went and I enjoyed it soooo much!  The spirit was so strong! (I failed at the singing, but I enjoyed it so much!) 
I finally got over my discouragement that I have been feeling before I left.  It was hard and at times I felt as though I couldn't go on.  But, I know I can!  I can do it!  Nothing in the world will stop me!  I will work with all my soul for this purpose! 
In emails since he has left, Elder Darke has mentioned how wonderful the food is there.  He also mentioned that the doughnuts are very wonderful and that he has to consciously stop eating them, so there are enough for other Elders to eat!  

We sent Elder Darke his first package.  We filled it with Skittles, gum, pictures and all the stuff he forgot!  Hopefully he enjoyed it.  If you want to send him anything, we would suggest doing it now before he goes to Brazil (the shipping is pricey!). 

Thanks to everyone for the continued support and concern for Elder Darke.  He is growing into a wonderful man thanks in part to all of the wonderful examples that he has around him.
--Melanie (Mom)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

So, I got a little impatient! I emailed the MTC so we could get Galen's address. Spread the word, or address as it may be!
Elder Darke
 2011 north 900 ease unit 258
Provo, Utah  84602

     Well, we finally received a letter from Galen yesterday letting us know he arrived at the Provo MTC safely. His letter was to Mom & family, so I'll type it up for you here.
Dear Mom & family
I am writing you to tell you that I have arrived at the Provo MTC safely.  The first day was insane!  But at the same time, it was amazing.  As soon as I went to class my instructor spoke nothing but Portuguese.  I thought at first that he would stop and speak English after a few minutes.  He didn't.  The entire first day I didn't know what he was saying.  He kept trying to tell us stuff and I seemed to be the last person to figure out what he was saying.  I have never been more frustrated.  My new friends and roommates are rally nice, though.  My companions name is elder Manana (Man yan a) and he is super cool.  He is already fluent in Spanish so he can understand everything our instructor is saying.  It's cool because he gives me help when I am completely lost.  The MTC is completely different from what I expected.  One of the cool things is that the food rocks (not as much as yours mom, but it is still good).  I have also met with a few missionaries that are a few weeks ahead of me in the MTC, their Portuguese is amazing.  I constantly forget that they are also students here, not return missionaries.  Well it is time for me to read scriptures, so I will email you when I can (probably next Thursday).     Love you,     Elder Darke                                                                      
 P.S. I still do not know my writing address, but I know of a free program the church does called "Dear Missionary".  If you use that I can get your letters and such.  I think.  Well I am still alive and I love you all.  

 There it is! Proof he's alive.  We were starting to wonder if he was ever going to let us know. Thanks to all of the inquiries and concern for Galen.  We know that he is doing the Lord's work and we are already feeling the blessings of his choice.
--Melanie and family.