Monday, September 8, 2014

``O fim se aproxima....``

The title of my blog page is a hymn that the girls I live with sing to me every day... Basically, they want me to be sure I know that the end is coming- its over. HA! They get the famous McKenna death glare every time. But they even get the better version of it- they get the "Kim version" of the stare. You know, the one that says, "You´re being a very bad little girl..." Yes, I know that look very well. 
Yesterday was my favorite sacrament meeting on the mission, I think. We brought Manoel to church. And out of nowhere he gets up and goes to the front to bear his testimony. WHAT??? That's right. He said, "When this church was under construction, I told a man working here, someday I will visit your church.. Years went by, and then this little girl (pointing to me) stopped by on the road, inviting me to visit. I accepted, and last Sunday I came. Today I am here again. THIS is Christ's church. Since last Sunday until now, I have felt good, happy, I have felt peace. And I want to be baptized. I am GOING to be baptized, today."

He was the last to bear his testimony, and there was a remarkable spirit in the room. And, he was baptized yesterday. I wish I could show you the photo- because its worthy of being send to the Liahona. I never saw anyone happier to be baptized- it will be the first pic I put up on the blog when I get home. Don't even worry. :)

It was a good week. Its hard to end a mission- your emotions tug you in every which direction. I literally feel like a part of me is ``dying`` (as we say here on the mission when it all ends). Its bittersweet- its the closest thing to bitter-sweet that I have ever known. 

I can't even count how many "final testimonies" I have been asked to give in the last month. So here, goes, my last testimony written home:

I would be more quick to doubt discoveries in space, proven concepts on earth, details my eyes can see, or objects cuddled in my hand than I would be to doubt the reality of the existence of the living God. He is our God and our Creator, but I prefer to think of Him as my Father.... 

I am eternally grateful for a loving Savior who took my hand in the longest days, and held me through the darkest nights. It was always on my knees when I felt strongest.. and His warm embrace never let my heart go cold. 

I am in awe of God´s plan that is perfect, even when its hard to accept and recognize that every challenge I faced in these last 18 months and these last 21 years was exactly what I needed to prove that faith means believing when its hard, when it doesn't make sense, and when it hurts. 

I am amazed at God´s Grace and mercy and know that the Savior´s role on earth was not merely to save us, but to redeem us- to make us better, to lift us and to help us be strong. "Strength is not something we have, its something God helps us find."

To those who doubt if a mission is "worth your time" I testify with every fiber of my being, and from the depth of my soul that it was ALL I ever did that was "worth my time"... I don't recommend a mission for those who care to try or those who think "well maybe". I invite every one of you within the sound of my voice and with the capacity (and given age) to do so: Do it. You will never find joy greater than this and there is nothing on earth you can do that will be better for your life. 

And so I plead with a few of you... and you know who you are... DON'T give up. Don't waste time. Don't think you know what is best or right or wrong or easy or whatever. Know that your Savior loves you. And if you don't know that yet, I plead with you to do your part to figure that out- and that knowledge only comes if we pray, are faithful, and are obedient. 

To my Katie- I am so incredibly proud of you. You have no idea how much you have helped me to be strong and the motivation you were for me. You always were and forever will be my best friend. I love you. Thank you for being the missionary you are- keep strong and one day we will be like Alma and the sons of Mosiah after 14 years of missionary service. Oh, how that reunion will be sweet.

To my Skylar- I LOVE YOU more than you will ever know. Look to be an example and you will always be happy. Always be the angel that God sent you to us to be. You teach everyone how to serve and how to love, and I am forever grateful for your example and the peace and comfort you are in our lives. 

To Log-pog- My sweet teddy-bear, always do what is right and in doing what is right you will see just how strong you really are. Be the protector you are to Skylar, the helper your are to mom, the buddy you are to the boys and Dad, and the miracle you are to me. You are one of my Heroes.

To Conner- You don't even understand the potential that you have- you will never find a ``limit`` in your life so long as you are obedient and faithful. Be strong. Surround yourself with those who love and serve the Lord and you will find the capacity to be that faithful servant of the Lord, capable of changing lives and moving mountains. NEVER GIVE UP on your dream to serve a mission, because you will be one of the most incredible missionaries this world has ever known. You are one of the greatest examples I have, thank you.

To Michael... I just want to say I love you. I pray for you always- you never left my prayers, and will always have your special place in my heart. I wish you knew that... I hope you know that. I wish I could give you the conviction I have. I wish I could make you know and understand the truth that I love. I don't think you know how gifted and talented and special you are- but I see you that way. Your family sees you that way, and our Savior sees you that way. Always remember that this world has nothing to offer us... In all reality, in the end, the only thing the world offers is death, in one way or another. Look to the savior and you will find eternal life and eternal joy.  A joy that is actually real, and its all of the happiness you deserve. Questions and doubts come to all of us- but I always knew you were strong enough to overcome them all. Never give up on the destiny God created for you. You deserve all the happiness and blessings in the world- its all we ever wanted or will ever want for you. 

To my father- Thank you for being the priesthood leader in our home that we needed. For all your advice, your love, and the laughs. Thank you for worrying about us- working for us and doing everything in your power to be sure we always had what we needed. You gave all you could give, and still do so. You are one of the hardest- workers I know. Don't change. I love you and am grateful to be your little girl. 

To my mother- The woman I call my best friend. (Don't worry, Kate, I am not forgetting about you). You, along with the Savior, are the one I felt at my side in every moment on my mission. You are the one I most prayed for and the motivation I always had to be strong and to work hard- to be a fighter when I felt like a failure and to be the example when I wanted to break down. I will forever be grateful for you and the mother you have always been. I will probably never have the words I need to express that to you... but one day, probably in the next life, I will make you understand. Know that I am by your side- always. That will NEVER change. 

The greatest lesson I learned here was a lesson of love. I learned to love the people, to love my companions, to love my leaders, to love my family, and to love my Savior. I learned what it is we do when we truly love always means patience and it always means forgiveness. Love means service and sacrifice and it means we never ever ever give up. 

And for all of this that I learned, Ilearned to love my mission- I never dreamed my mission would be what it was, but I wouldn't change a moment of it, for me, even though I was never a perfect missionary, my mission was a perfect mission, the perfect gift God gave me FOR me- to change ME. 

Thank you all so much for who you are. For your love and your support these 1.5 years. I will never be able to thank you enough. And for those of you who wrote weekly.. you know who you are.. just know that I noticed, and I never took it for granted... ever letter was cherished. 

All I can say, is God be with you till we meet again, in 11 days time...
And.... I´ll see you soon.

Sister McKenna Kimberly Seal

Missão Brasil João Pessoa para toda a eternidade

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hello Beautifuls!

Hello Beautifuls! Happy September! Birthday month of 2 of my favorite people in the world... Kim and Katie! :)
It was a good week. Tuesday was fun! We had to run to another city to hit a few appointments, Yes, we literally ran (in shorts). And coming home, we had to truck though a forest and cross the scariest bridge I have ever seen in my life. My friend/ companion told me, ``don't mess around, there are snakes and crocodiles under the bridge and we will need to move quickly.`` Great. As if I wasn't scared enough!!!! The word ``rickety`` doesn't even do that nightmare justice. But, I am a survivor! Everyone is fully recovered and doing well. Hahaha!

 Miracle: Manoel! He was street contact- the best one I ever did, I think. He started talking about Christ and how much he loves Him. He is probably the most grateful man I have ever met- and when he talks, you know he is being sincere. My goodness, he made me cry on the road hahaha anyways, we went to visit him this week and the spirit was super strong. And Sunday morning, he was waiting out front all dressed up ready to walk to church with us. He is amazing. I LOVE him. 
This week, my companion made me breakfast with a member friend twice- picnic on the balcony. SO sweet. Loved it. 

Yesterday, we had a fireside at the church. We watched the Joseph Smith movie. Man, I forgot how much I love that movie. One part stuck out to me. The couple (friends of Joseph) in the film struggled throughout the whole story... when the husband wanted to give up the girl said, ``Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?`` That question startled me, and I can't seem to shake it from my mind. Every test and trial we face in life calls upon our testimony of this truth. Nothing bad can happen to us as long as we don't give up, let up, or hold back. He is the Christ and as long as we are obedient and faithful, nothing can break us. (Helamen 5:12) When things are hard, bleak, dark, and we feel broken, we can ask ourselves, ``Do I really believe that Jesus is the Christ?`` And if we can with our whole soul cry out, ``Yes`` then we have nothing to fear. Christ is not only our savior, he is also our redeemer which means yes, his sacrifice forgives our sins, but it also means there is power to eliminate our weaknesses and healing to mend our broken hearts. 
Other miracle: This week one of my good friends, a sister in my district cried as she told me how much she loved me and that i have been an angel sent to her on her mission. Then she said the sweetest thing I have ever heard. She said, ``One day, I am going to take me kids to meet you so they can know how I made it through my mission and so they can have the privilege of your example in their lives. Uhhhhhh.... I just bawled. I didn’t even know what to say. Crazy enough, I’m not buying any of it because SHE is the angel sent to ME in MY mission. Incredible how it works, isn’t it?

So.... next week will be my last email home. I can't believe I am saying this. Its all flying now, I´m going to be in the airport before any of this sets in. :/ So, of course you probably all know but any hand written letters aren’t going to make it to me in time. Thanks for all the letters received until now. I love you all and pray daily for your health and happiness. 
Hope you have a great week... God be with you til we meet again. 

Sister McKenna Seal

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Follow Up"

Bom dia família linda! 
Logan, parabéns on your talk! Sounds like you rocked it, kiddo. No surprise there, you´re an inspiration. LOVE YOU. Sky, I know you did fabulous on yours as well. 
This week was stellar! We had a mission conference. Minha nossa! Of my whole group (all missionaries going home) President chose me to bare my testimony at the conference. It was nerve-racking, but I think it went well! It was really cool. And it was legit to speak with one of my good friends, my old District Leader, Elder Morais.  It was just a great conference. 
The funniest part was in President´s talk. He read Elder Ballard´s talk about the dance where he met his wife and how being a missionary taught him to ``contact and follow up``. Well.... after reading he said, ``That's right Sister Seal, you're going to go home and wait for your `returned missionary`. Someone is going to come around who is going to `contact and follow up` with you!" I was so embarrassed- everyone laughed so hard. Ridiculous- there are 12 other people going home with me and he totally singled me out. HAHAHAHA it was hilarious. BRIGHT RED was the color of my face. 
Other cute story- we found a really special family Saturday. There is an 11-year-old boy who asks so many questions. He is darling. He asked me if i play soccer (uhhhhhhhh, no folks, not going to lie i dont! hahaha). I told him we were going to have a 1-on-1 match. I said, ``If I win you are coming to church with me (luckily he already wanted to go)``. And he said, ´´Fine, but if I win, you cant go home to your country, you have to stay here with us...`` He was so devastated when he found out I go home 3 weeks from now. Ugggggghhhhhh, I am not ready to go home. I LOVE THIS PLACE.

Just a good week:) And... I found my ``fuel`` in Isaiah this week (who´d have thought). 40:31, ``But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with winds as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall run and not faint.`` I know God can at all times renew the strength we may feel we have lost... I have felt that strength in the times I needed it most. And lucky for all of us- this promise doesnt just apply to missionaries- but to all of God´s special children. And I only know special people so without any doubt this verse is for YOU. Trust him. Pray for strength and you will receive it. Prove the truth of the promise in the book of James like the prophet Joseph and see the miracles happen in your life. 
I love you all so so so much. Don't worry- I am working. Excited as heck to see y'all 3 weeks from now (stop counting, Mom ;) ) but I am working! 
Praying for you. Love you. Have a great week. Be nice. ´´Be good,`` said Kim.

Sis M Seal

Monday, August 18, 2014

Doing well now...

This week was interesting.... stayed home sick but we are all doing well now. 

We had 2 baptisms this week: José Francisco and Joselito. The greatest miracle was seeing them Sunday morning already on their way to church alone! They walked together to be confirmed in sacrament meeting. It was the most beautiful thing ever! I couldnt believe it! No one dos that here. Just another one the tender mercies of the Lord. 

We are doing great! Don't have too much to say because, as I already said, I stayed home all week. 

This week, we have a mission tour- ahhhhhhhhhh, I have to bear my testimony for my group (because we´re all headed home). It will be good. :)

I love you all SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much! Have a great week! Until next Monday!


Sister M. Seal

Monday, August 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Skylar!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SKYLAR!!!!!!!!!! We will definitely be celebrating 5 weeks from now. :) Hope you are ready to go to Cafe Rio AGAIN, guria!

This was easily one of the best weeks of my mission. Seriously. The miracles we saw brought me to tears and then to my knees, not knowing to do anything but pray in gratitude. We had 3 baptisms this week: Lourdes, José Miguel, and Ednaldo. 

Lourdes asked to be baptized Thursday morning. So, bright and early (new vocabulary for me, folks) we show up at her door. Problem: No one is home. I was a little let down, but I thought to myself, ``I am not going to get upset or stressed out... God has a plan in all things, and most of the time, the only reason we face difficulties is so we can prove to him that we know who is really in charge.`` So, I decided to smile and say a prayer that somehow we would find her on our way back to the church. I couldn't believe it. As we turned on to the next road, less than 20 seconds later, she is the first person we see! We hug her as she says, ``I waited and waited and waited for you guys to show up... and then gave up and went out to run errands.`` I then asked what she was planning to do next,  and she said, ``well, I'm going to put this bag in my house and then you guys are going to take me to the church.`` So, we took her to church, and it was one of the coolest baptisms of my mission. We were having a zone meeting there- so the entire zone participated in this baptism. It was really sweet!

José Miguel is just an angel. Thursday night he said he 1) read the BOM chapter we marked 2) didn't drink coffee (he had given us all the coffee and cigarettes the night before) and 3) went to the store to buy gum and candy INSTEAD OF CIGARETTES to help him with his addiction.... AHHHHHHH. I couldn't believe it! He is a miracle man and he makes me laugh SO hard. 

Sunday was another special day... we had a lot of investigators in church. I really believe its because we made a few changes in our morning and Sunday routine to be obedient. And honestly, reason #1 for it all is just frankly because Heavenly Father is SO good to us. I was so humbled by all of the blessings I saw this week. I am seriously just LOVING life. 

2 scriptures I wanted to share: ``But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him`` (1 COR 2:9). If the promised blessings seem far away...if they seem to come to those around you but skip your door, remember that if you love the Lord, you will receive those blessings- every one of them, in the Lord´s timing. And ``How great shall be your joy``. And the way we show love is through service and obedience... So as we serve, and as we remain obedient (always) we qualify for those promises. Don't forget that. :)

Another favorite, ``Fear not, little ones. For you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; and none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost`` (D&C 50:41-42). Don't be afraid of the future, because surely the past is proof that God never leaves us. We will never sink so far that He cannot find us and lift us up. The promise is that we are in His hands. So if you feel a bit shaken, hold on a little tighter. And as we cling tighter to him, he clings a little tighter to us. 

Wonderful week to you all-may we all recognize the blessings that fall from the heavens, daily, hourly, and in every moment. He LOVES us. That's the greatest news of today. That's the greatest news of any day, really. So, lets smile about that :)

I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! May each of you have the wonderful week that you deserve, and good luck to those of you headed back to school! 

Sister Seal

PS Photos coming soon...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The beginning of the end...

I cant believe how fast its gone by... It was quite a shock to open my email this morning to my travel plans. I guess I thought I was never going to leave... It hadn't really sunk it yet. Honestly, I'm not sure its going to sink in until a week of waking up back home. 

Nothing new happened this transfer- everything is going to stay the same. That's a blessing. I don't have to worry about changes- I can keep focused on the work.

It was a good week this week. Cant believe its August. School starting up soon. HA!

My thoughts today are turned back to a quote I heard long before my mission, “Everything will be okay in the end. If its not okay, its not the end.” I don't know who exactly needed to hear that message today, but know that God is watching over you. He loves you. And in God´s plan, there are only happy endings. Remember that in this life, we are only living Act 2 of the play... and in Act 2, well, that's where everything goes wrong, isn't it.. ha it helps me remember that this life isn't a fairytale, its a test of patience and faith. But if we are obedient, we will see that happy ending- the kind that never ends.

I am doing really well... I know its hard to tell because I don’t write much, like I used to... I think its a sign of aging, which scares me. Hahaha I think my memory is going bad. Ha whats worse is that I cant say my journal is looking any better. 

I forgot to mention that we had interviews with President last week which went really, really well. President said, “Sister, you should be so proud of the missionary that you are. Even though you have 6 weeks left, you can safely say already that you have completed your mission here, an incredible mission here and Heavenly Father is really proud of you. You should know that your work here was not merely the salvation of your investigators (those you taught) but you have also saved missionaries here...” It was really difficult not to cry when he said that. I don't really think I agree with him... but promised blessings from leaders always make me want to try harder, give a little more, and stick it out a little longer. 

I am amazed by the simplicity of the gospel and the joy that comes through repentance and change. If for nothing else, my mission has been incredible to me because it was here that I learned to understand the sacrifice that our beloved savior made. And it was here that I learned to love him more deeply- to the point of tears each time I testify of His sacred name. In whatever lesson we´re in, if I look too long at His picture or think too deeply about what He did, something deep in my soul cries out, catching in my throat and bringing tears to my eyes. I know my Savior lives. 

All the things I doubted as a teenager have become concepts I´ve come to love and recognize as eternal truths. I LOVE the gospel. I LOVE my family. I LOVE my life and I LOVE my savior. Really, God has been good to me and I love Him and am so grateful for His patience with me because I am very weak and rebellious at times... But, I am trying. And every desire of my being is to be who He wants me to be. I recognize repentance as a very change in nature, in desire, in purpose, in future. 

Christ is everything. God gives us everything, if we but ask, and even in the times we don't...

I love you all. Thank you too, for your patience with me and my weaknesses. Thank you for the support you have given to me thus far, and know that it is my every desire to make the most of these last 6 weeks- to give it all, every last ounce of energy, drop of sweat or blood...every last tear and every last step. I´m all in until its game over and then the game begins again. Missions don't ever end... they just ``alter a bit``... We all have a mission, and what a glorious opportunity it is to find the one specifically designed for each one of us. 

I hope you have a wonderful week. I love you all. God be with you till we meet again.

With all my love, 
SIster M. Seal