** Editor's Note
McKenna's VISA finally got approved! If all goes well that should mean she will be teaching the people of Brazil next month! Definitely an answer to many prayers.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
OK Family. I have repented, and a letter home is on its way. Be proud!
This week was great. Tuesday night we had dinner at a member's house (as usual). They had friends over - a family from Holland. We were able to share a message with them about eternal families. It was really great! The parents got teary-eyed. We also got a Book of Mormon for them in their language and let the member family give it to them later that night. We don't know what became of it, but I'll keep you updated.
Wednesday night we taught one of our investigators about the Word of Wisdom. We didn't even have to ask, but mid-lesson he interrupts saying, "I'm going to quit drinking coffee". My companions and I were shocked but elated! We were really excited and then asked him how we could help him keep that commitment. I told him a priesthood blessing would be a great comfort and support in this decision and we had his home teacher over later that evening to give him a blessing. It has been a struggle for him. He has Alzheimers and can't remember commitments he makes or even why he makes them. We are struggling to help him, but we pray. That's all we can do.
Friday night was great! We taught an investigating couple - we LOVE them! We watched the Joseph Smith movie and "Only a Stonecutter". I think it really helped him understand the restoration. We are working to get a baptismal date for him. He is so ready, he just doesn't know it yet.
Saturday we got to go to a wedding! It was really cool. It was a family of recent converts. The parents were divorced, but got remarried. We are so happy for them! The coolest part is that the wife didn't make a big deal out of any of it. She said, "Today doesn't even really matter. The big day will be a year from now when we can be sealed as a family." SO cool! I am so happy for her and her family, that they have that perspective and know that families can be together forever. I am so proud of them for already doing all they can to prepare for the wonderful day that they can be sealed in the temple.
Speaking of the temple, on Sunday, we took a different couple (the couple we taught Wednesday) to the Visitor's Center. It was beautiful! We watched a movie about families and it really touched them. They were both in tears. They love how centered the church is on families. I know the church is centered on families because God's plan is centered on families. That is what it is all about. We are trying to help them realize that the blessings of eternal families come through the temple and that it is really important to prepare to go to the temple by first being baptized so that they can have those blessings in their families.
Also on Sunday we went to a youth fireside at Bishop's house. The recently returned missionary I wrote about earlier talked about his mission in Brasilia, Brazil. It was so cool because throughout his presentation, he would turn to me and say, "but this is how it will be in YOUR mission, Sis. Seal". He gave me a lot of advice/ fun facts. It was sweet! And at the end he bore his testimony in Portuguese and I understood all of it! Thank Heavens I haven't forgotten as much as it feels like I have. But I have a lot of work to do to make up for these past weeks of no Portuguese. Haha its okay though, there is SO much work to be done here in Silverton, OR.
Ok, I finished reading the Doctrine and Covenants on Saturday, and I found a really cool scripture. D&C 138:53-56. Specifically verse 56, which I will quote. "Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men." This is my new favorite missionary scripture because I really believe every missionary who has ever served or will served was foreordained to do so. I also believe we already learned how to be missionaries, and we are now only re-learning how to serve our missions now that we are on earth. I also know that every member of the church IS and missionary. I am not the full-time misionary here in Silverton... the MEMBERS who live here are the full-time missionaries here in Silverton. I won't be here in 18 months - but they still will be. And likewise for each of you. YOU are the full-time missionaries in your area. Remember that, because it is your job to help the missionaries find people to teach because you know who is ready to hear the message - they are your friends, they are your family members.
Well, I love you so much! Thanks for your support, prayers, letters, packages, and love. I hope you have a wonderful week. May God bless you with every blessing you stand in need of.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
*Editor's Note - This blog post was received on Tuesday 5/21
Oi! It has been a week! Wow. Yesterday, (p-day) we went to downtown Portland to go to the employee Adidas store. Basically, to get in to the employee store, you have to have an "in"... but if you do, it is AWESOME! Everything is 50% off! LOVE IT! After that, we went to Voodoo Dounuts- weirdest place I've ever been in my life- located smack dab in the center of the weirdest city I've ever been in my life. Yes, right across the street from the donut shop there is a wall mural (if you can call it that) that reads, "KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD". No, I don't know why they are so proud of it, but, they are. 1) I saw a lady with bright purple hair. Not the slightly purple tint you see when ladies dye their hair brown or red. NO. Straight- up purple. Kimmy, you would approve. Hahaha! 2) A masked man riding through the streets on his bike- popping wheelies and blasting his music. He may or may not have had a knife slipping out of his back pocket. I won't say. 3) Be-dazzled cinder block. The entire wall to the left of the donut shop is covered in glitter- it's painted on, I tried chipping it off- you can't. 3) The donut shop itself- they offer in store piercings and tatoos. Also, you can buy a bucket (about the size of a big bucket of paint) full of old donuts for $8. Haha yep, the elders who came with us thought they'd made quite the deal. Ew. Haha 4) a homeless women had a typical camping-sized backpack and sitting right on top was her cat. It was chained to the top- taking a nap. 5) an old lady approached us and asked us all to buy her a cup of coffee- then she asked, "wait, are you missionaries". We smiled and said yes and she quickly walked away. Hilarious. 6) Drumroll, please, this is the best one yet. A Barbie encrusted car (see attached photo). Yes, I don't know, but my guess is there are 30 or so barbie dolls painted to a mini van near my area. They are taped to each bumper, hitchin' a ride on top in between racks, and hanging from the rearview mirror inside the car. It is unbelievable. I took a picture, because you'll never see anything like it!
Well, that was my crazy Portland experience. Last week we painted with a local artist, here in Silverton. He was so nice, and that was really fun! I painted a beach in Natal. Shocker, I know. I wish I had a good idea of how to send it home, but for now, I'll just send you a picture of my painting!
Last Sunday we had a missionary homecoming talk. His name is Jeff, and he served in Brazil. I have talked to him a few times- he is really nice, and he says I'm going to love Brazil. Well, I sure plan on it. I've decided to name my VISA Waldo, because it's nowhere to be found. Haha but that's okay- I don't really think about it anymore. Oregon really feels like it was always supposed to be part of my mission. I have learned so much here. I love the area, I love the people, and I love my companions.
My thought for you today is a talk by Brad Wilcox. It is the most amazing talk about the Atonement! Please, read it. It will appear lengthy, but it is worth your time!
HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT by Brad Wilcox
It is an honor to be invited to speak to you today. Several years ago I received an invitation to speak at Women’s Conference. When I told my wife, she asked, “What have they asked you to speak on?”I was so excited that I got my words mixed up and said, “They want me to speak about changing strengths into weaknesses.”
She thought for a minute and said, “Well, they’ve got the right man for the job!”
She’s correct about that. I could give a whale of a talk on that subject, but I think today I had better go back to the original topic and speak about changing weaknesses into strengths and about how the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient (see Ether 12:27, D&C 17:8, 2 Corinthians 12:9)—sufficient to cover us, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us as long as that transformation process takes.
Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Cover UsA BYU student once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I help you?”
She said, “I just don’t get grace.”
I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?”
She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”
She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing.
She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”
She then went on to tell me all the things that she shouldn’t be doing because she’s a Mormon, but she was doing them anyway.
Finally I said,“Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”
Seeing that she was still confused, I took a piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line. How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?”
She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot.
I said, “Wrong.”
She said, “I knew it was higher. I should have just drawn it, because I knew it.”
I said, “No. The truth is, there is no line. Jesus filled the whole space. He paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”
She said, “Right! Like I don’t have to do anything?”
“Oh no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.”
Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice—not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment, He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfection (see Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48) and help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements (see 3 Nephi 28:35).
“So what’s the difference?” the girl asked. “Whether our efforts are required by justice or by Jesus, they are still required.”
“True,” I said, “but they are required for a different purpose. Fulfilling Christ’s requirements is like paying a mortgage instead of rent or like making deposits in a savings account instead of paying off debt. You still have to hand it over every month, but it is for a totally different reason.”
Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Transform Us
Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. How many know what I am talking about? Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.
If the child sees Mom’s requirement of practice as being too overbearing (“Gosh, Mom, why do I need to practice? None of the other kids have to practice! I’m just going to be a professional baseball player anyway!”), perhaps it is because he doesn’t yet see with mom’s eyes. He doesn’t see how much better his life could be if he would choose to live on a higher plane.
In the same way, because Jesus has paid justice, He can now turn to us and say, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19), “Keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If we see His requirements as being way too much to ask (“Gosh! None of the other Christians have to pay tithing! None of the other Christians have to go on missions, serve in callings, and do temple work!”), maybe it is because we do not yet see through Christ’s eyes. We have not yet comprehended what He is trying to make of us.
Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The great Mediator asks for our repentance not because we must ‘repay’ him in exchange for his paying our debt to justice, but because repentance initiates a developmental process that, with the Savior’s help, leads us along the path to a saintly character” (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 149; emphasis in original).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, referring to President Spencer W. Kimball’s explanation, “The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change” (The Lord’s Way [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1991], 223; emphasis in original). Let’s put that in terms of our analogy: The child must practice the piano, but this practice has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change.
I have born-again Christian friends who say to me, “You Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven.”
I say, “No, we are not earning heaven. We are learning heaven. We are preparing for it (see D&C 78:7). We are practicing for it.”
They ask me, “Have you been saved by grace?”
I answer, “Yes. Absolutely, totally, completely, thankfully—yes!”
Then I ask them a question that perhaps they have not fully considered: “Have you been changed by grace?” They are so excited about being saved that maybe they are not thinking enough about what comes next. They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place. Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from but also what He has saved us for. As my friend Brett Sanders puts it, “A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.” As my friend Omar Canals puts it, “While many Christians view Christ’s suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, Latter-day Saints also recognize it as a huge investment He made in us.” As Moroni puts it, grace isn’t just about being saved. It is also about becoming like the Savior (see Moroni 7:48).
The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can live after we die but that we can live more abundantly (see John 10:10). The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can be cleansed and consoled but that we can be transformed (see Romans 8). Scriptures make it clear that no unclean thing can dwell with God (see Alma 40:26), but, brothers and sisters, no unchanged thing will even want to.
I know a young man who just got out of prison—again. Each time two roads diverge in a yellow wood, he takes the wrong one—every time. When he was a teenager dealing with every bad habit a teenage boy can have, I said to his father,“We need to get him to EFY.” I have worked with that program since 1985. I know the good it can do.
His dad said, “I can’t afford that.”
I said, “I can’t afford it either, but you put some in, and I’ll put some in, and then we’ll go to my mom, because she is a real softy.”
We finally got the kid to EFY, but how long do you think he lasted? Not even a day. By the end of the first day he called his mother and said, “Get me out of here!” Heaven will not be heaven for those who have not chosen to be heavenly.
In the past I had a picture in my mind of what the final judgment would be like, and it went something like this: Jesus standing there with a clipboard and Brad standing on the other side of the room nervously looking at Jesus.
Jesus checks His clipboard and says, “Oh, shoot, Brad. You missed it by two points.”
Brad begs Jesus, “Please, check the essay question one more time! There have to be two points you can squeeze out of that essay.” That’s how I always saw it.
But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “Let me stay.” No, he will probably be saying, “Get me out of here!” Knowing Christ’s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement—not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that youwant to stay.”
The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us—part of who we are. Put simply, if Jesus didn’t require practice, then we would never become pianists.
Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Help Us
“But Brother Wilcox, don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.” Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?
Too many are giving up on the Church because they are tired of constantly feeling like they are falling short. They have tried in the past, but they always feel like they are just not good enough. They don’t understand grace.
There are young women who know they are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them, and they love Him. Then they graduate from high school, and the values they memorized are put to the test. They slip up. They let things go too far, and suddenly they think it is all over. These young women don’t understand grace.
There are young men who grow up their whole lives singing, “I hope they call me on a mission,” and then they do actually grow a foot or two and flake out completely. They get their Eagles, graduate from high school, and go away to college. Then suddenly these young men find out how easy it is to not be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, or reverent. They mess up. They say, “I’ll never do it again,” and then they do it. They say, “I’ll never do it again,” and then they do it. They say, “This is stupid. I will never do it again.” And then they do it. The guilt is almost unbearable. They don’t dare talk to a bishop. Instead, they hide. They say, “I can’t do this Mormon thing. I’ve tried, and the expectations are just way too high.” So they quit. These young men don’t understand grace.
I know returned missionaries who come home and slip back into bad habits they thought were over. They break promises made before God, angels, and witnesses, and they are convinced there is no hope for them now. They say, “Well, I’ve blown it. There is no use in even trying any more.”Seriously? These young people have spent entire missions teaching people about Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and now they think there is no hope for them? These returned missionaries don’t understand grace.
I know young married couples who find out after the sealing ceremony is over that marriage requires adjustments. The pressures of life mount, and stress starts taking its toll financially, spiritually, and even sexually. Mistakes are made. Walls go up. And pretty soon these husbands and wives are talking with divorce lawyers rather than talking with each other. These couples don’t understand grace.
In all of these cases there should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13).
One young man wrote me the following e-mail: “I know God has all power, and I know He will help me if I’m worthy, but I’m just never worthy enough to ask for His help. I want Christ’s grace, but I always find myself stuck in the same self-defeating and impossible position: no work, no grace.”
I wrote him back and testified with all my heart that Christ is not waiting at the finish line once we have done “all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). He is with us every step of the way.
Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The Savior’s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to ‘after’ all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during and after the time when we expend our own efforts” (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 155). So grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch (see Hebrews 12:2).
In twelve days we celebrate Pioneer Day. The first company of Saints entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Their journey was difficult and challenging; still, they sang:
Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
[“Come, Come, Ye Saints,” Hymns, 2002, no. 30]
“Grace shall be as your day”—what an interesting phrase. We have all sung it hundreds of times, but have we stopped to consider what it means? “Grace shall be as your day”: grace shall be like a day. As dark as night may become, we can always count on the sun coming up. As dark as our trials, sins, and mistakes may appear, we can always have confidence in the grace of Jesus Christ. Do we earn a sunrise? No. Do we have to be worthy of a chance to begin again? No. We just have to accept these blessings and take advantage of them. As sure as each brand-new day, grace—the enabling power of Jesus Christ—is constant. Faithful pioneers knew they were not alone. The task ahead of them was never as great as the power behind them.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said the following:
Now may I speak . . . to those buffeted by false insecurity, who, though laboring devotedly in the Kingdom, have recurring feelings of falling forever short. . . . This feeling of inadequacy is . . normal. There is no way the Church can honestly describe where we must yet go and what we must yet do without creating a sense of immense distance. . . . . This is a gospel of grand expectations, but God’s grace is sufficient for each of us.[CR, October 1976, 14, 16; “Notwithstanding My Weakness,” Ensign,November 1976, 12, 14
With Elder Maxwell, I testify that God’s grace is sufficient. Jesus’ grace is sufficient. It is enough. It is all we need. Oh, young people, don’t quit. Keep trying. Don’t look for escapes and excuses. Look for the Lord and His perfect strength. Don’t search for someone to blame. Search for someone to help you. Seek Christ, and, as you do, I promise you will feel the enabling power we call His amazing grace. I leave this testimony and all of my love—for I do love you. As God is my witness, I love the youth of this church. I believe in you. I’m pulling for you. And I’m not the only one. Parents are pulling for you, leaders are pulling for you, and prophets are pulling for you. And Jesus is pulling with you. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Ok. If you read all that, you are a trooper- and I'm SO proud of you! I just couldn't pick out a singular quote to share with you because it was all PHENOMENAL. Seriously, I tried to condense it- I couldn't. That man is a genius!
Well, my investigators are doing great. There is a wedding this Saturday for a family here in the ward who are recent converts. We are so happy for them. One cute little girl we are teaching has her baptismal interview with Bishop this week! That is SO exciting too! We are working hard with our investigators- but they take time. I trust God and His timing, and know they will choose to be baptized when they are ready. We also have a lot of wonderful potentials! We are following up with them this week, and I'll let you know how it all goes!
Ahhh Katie! Your papers go in Friday! I am so excited for you! There really is nothing greater than being a missionary.
Well, I love you all so much, I better wrap this up because it is SUPER long. Thank you for your letters, prayers, and support! You are amazing, don't forget it. Have a great week, and I love you all!
Monday, May 13, 2013
First of all, and most importantly: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! I LOVE YOU! Also, Happy Mother's Day to all of you wonderful women! I hope it was a great one! Special Mother's Day Shout out to Grandma, Oma, Danyel, Mom, and my beautiful aunts!
Well, Sunday was the first day it rained. Can you believe it? Yep, me either. Quite frankly, I'm not even sure I'm even in Oregon at all. I think I'm just in Northern California. Who knows. Ha.
I love it here. It was nothing like I thought it would be - but is everything I need it to be. Our ward is amazing, and I LOVE the members. They do so much for us. We have three progressing investigators and quite a few potentials and other investigators that we are working on. We spend a lot of our time with less-actives and part member families.
Right now, we have amazing investigators. They are amazing! I love them so much. One investigator could be a member tomorrow if he wanted to, but he wants to read more of the Book of Mormon first, so that will take time. Another is extremely religious, and he is taking some time too. I'm glad they are both taking this seriously. They each have family members, who know very little about the doctrines - they were each baptized before they were ready, which is only making it more difficult for them now. But all of our investigators are so sweet, and I love them so much. We also have an investigator who is a widow, and part native-american. She is very funny! Her granddaughter recently joined the church, thus she is getting interested. I'm pretty sure she considers herself part of the RLDS faith. Hmmmm. But, good news is that she is going to come to church next Sunday. (She would have come yesterday, but it was Mother's Day and her kids took her out for the day) We had another investigator who dropped us this week- that was sad, but we hope she will change her mind someday. And our last investigator is really sick so we have a hard time working with his schedule between all of the doctor's appointments. I haven't even met him yet.
We meet with the a fun family every Monday night- they are recent converts, and I believe I mentioned them in my last email. I LOVE this family. Their girls are adorable. All other lessons/ meetings are with less actives, or families that need a friend.
My companionship is wonderful- we work really well together and we all love each other- at least, I hope they love me because I sure love them! ha! Though we are obviously far from perfect, I feel we do very well at showing our investigators how much we love them. We really do love them! It is such an amazing thing to watch people want to change their lives because of Jesus Christ. If I'm being honest, up until Saturday night, I cried in every lesson we gave. Yep. I'll never admit that again - but it's the truth! I love teaching, because it reminds me why I'm here. When we taught the Plan of Salvation- twice this last week, I was overwhelmed by the idea that we are so blessed to know God's plan! It is a perfect plan. I love watching my investigators while we teach them because they want to be with their families forever, and that is exactly what God is offering them! I know that the gospel is true - for a lot of reasons, really, but especially because NOTHING else makes sense. Think about it! Also, our investigators always bring up how wicked the world is, and how devastating it is to see so much tragedy today. The only thing I knew to do was bear testimony that because our world is so wicked, it would not make sense to be left without revelation from Heavenly Father. We need a prophet, now, today, more than ever before! And I know that Thomas S. Monson is that prophet! God speaks to us today. We are so blessed.
Well, right now I am reading the Doctrine and Covenants. I love reading it as a missionary, because I never realized how focused it was on missionary work! Otimo!
Speaking of Portuguese... it is really hard to study a different language on my own - especially without my Rosetta Stone. Nevertheless, I'm doing my best. Last night we ate at a member's house. The father served in Salvador, Brazil and he told me a lot about Brazil. It was really cool. Also, there is a young man in my ward who recently returned home from Brasilia. He had some pretty cool culture books that he let me see when I was at his house the other day- that was cool too. I love talking to people here who have some connection with Brazil - it makes me so excited to go there someday. But, don't worry folks, I love Oregon too! I feel so lucky to have an opportunity to serve it both missions.
Yesterday, being Mother's day, was hard to find people who wanted us to come over. So, we got creative. We heart- attacked our investigators and some women in our ward for Mother's Day. It was really fun, and I will send home pics soon (whenever Sis. Omer sends them to me) The only problem was that somehow everyone still knew it was us! How?? Hahaha
Well, I hope you have a wondeful week, as always! I love you all.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Wow. What a ride. I'm tired. Really tired. Ha but that's good I guess because it means they are working me hard, right?
In our transfer meeting we sang hymn 270- I'll go where you want me to go. This was a powerful witness to me that I'm here for a reason, but more importantly, and I need to submit to God's will- I'm doing His work, and I need to be willing to serve not only HOW He wants me to, but WHERE He wants me to. This is becoming one of my favorite hymns.
Well! I want to mention a talk I liked in Mission Conference by Sister Hacking. She talked about being kind to people, and trying harder to forget their weaknesses and see their strengths. Here are some points she made:
"Don't take offense- its crippling"
"When we say something bad about others, it demeans us."
"Don't say negative things about other people, because if you do, you are judging them unrighteously."
Remember that Heavenly Father, our ultimate judge would never say anything negative about any of us. And if we all had a perfect understanding and love for one another, we wouldn't say those things either. Ha! One thing I thought of was that I really don't have time to judge others, because I have a lot of work to do with myself! All of my flaws should be keeping me busy- and I have enough that I really don't have time to waste noticing everyone else's. Also, be patient with others if you want them to be patient with you. As Hacking said, "Pray for those you are tempted to belittle or tease."
Ok. P-day is Monday now (it was just Tuesday this week because of transfers yesterday) FYI. Now, for my investigators: I haven't met any of them yet. But, we are teaching two of them tonight. But, I did have my first lesson yesterday with a family that was recently baptized. It was really cool- they are all so sweet. We talked about eternal families and how to help them prepare to be sealed in a little less than a year. I loved it! And yes, I admit it, I really like teaching in English. But don't worry- I love teaching in Portuguese too.
My companions are Sister Omer and Sister Smith. This is Sister Omer's last transfer, and Sister Smith has been in the field for 6 weeks (so she and I will go home around the same time). Sister Omer is from Kaysville and Sister Smith is from California (around Anaheim). They are awesome! We get along really well. They are great missionaries and take obedience seriously. Obedience is the first thing I look for in my companions here in the mission field, so I feel really lucky.
So one lesson we had yesterday: My companions told me we were checking up on Brenda, one of the ladies in our ward. They told me she was struggling so we were going to leave a message with her. So we show up, and she is wearing some pretty sketchy clothing for a member - spaghetti straps- you get the picture. My companion is talking to her. She asks how she is doing, and Brenda really is just acting apathetic- we can't get to her at all. Then my companion, randomly asks, "Why are you dressed like this today, Brenda?" It was so blunt- I almost gasped. And Brenda says, "Well, I just don't see why it is important anymore..." she talks about how she hasn't been in the temple in awhile and she can't remember why it was ever important, really. She says, "Its not that important, is it?" And my companion raises her voice, and says, "Actually, its very important." Brenda just shrugs her shoulers and starts talking to me because she has decided to ignore my companion- because she doesn't like what she is saying anymore. Then, Brenda's daughter starts crying! She says, "Mom, I don't like it when you act like this." At this time I am MORTIFIED. I don't know what to say. What is going on?! It was a train wreck. I was looking for inspiration and did not feel a prompting for what to say. And then, come to find out: I. Got. Pranked. Yep, folks, and who was I to say sister missionaries didn't pull pranks. I was wrong. Ha. Wish I were a better story teller- but moral of the story: Being a "greenie" is not fun. hahaha...
I also met two of the ward members, and they are amazing. We have a really great ward here! I can't wait to meet the rest of them so I can tell you about them next week.
Other than that, surprise, it is so warm here. I thought I was in Portland. Oregon. Apparently not, because from how it looks outside today- I don't know if its ever going to rain. As much as I'm looking forward to the rain, I really do appreciate this great weather! It is so beautiful here.
Okay so there are like 4 missionaries here that I've seen that went to Lone Peak. Hilarious. And... I saw Jorie Eldredge! That was AWESOME!
Well, I just finished the Book of Mormon yesterday- our Branch President in the MTC wanted us to finish it in the MTC and I did. It was amazing. I love the Book of Mormon, and I know it is true! I am so excited to be here, sharing that book with those I meet.
I said in my farewell talk that I wanted to share my testimony with the whole world. I meant it. I want to share it in Brazil, but I am also thrilled to be here in Oregon right now, sharing my source of peace, hope, and joy. I love this gospel. I know it is founded on true principles that are in place to make us happy- forever. Isn't that amazing? It truly is amazing to have an All-powerful being who cares for us so much, and whose every action is for our benefit and joy. I love my Father in Heaven, and I am so happy to be here on a mission, trying to help my brothers and sisters come closer to Him, and to our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ.
My scripture this week is D&C 3:8. "Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary and he would have been with you in every time of trouble." Think about that for a minute, please. Faith is everything. It is a blessing in itself, but it is also something that motivates you to act- thus receiving MORE blessings. I know that Jesus never moves from us- we, rather, turn from Him. He is always at our side, with outstretched hands, and He is waiting for us to take His hand that He may lead us and guide us home. His promise in this verse is that He will, as we remain faithful, support us in 'ALL THE FIERY DARTS OF THE ADVERSARY', standing with us in 'EVERY TIME OF TROUBLE'. He's always there. May we always be there also. Turn to Him- and if you are struggling, may I plead with you that you stop trying to do this all on your own. He loves you. God loves you. You are so important to Him. Never forget that.
Thanks for your prayers and letters- they always mean so much. Have a wonderful week! Speaking of which, the new address to write to me is:
Sister McKenna Seal
Portland Oregon Mission
1400 NW Compton Drive suite #250
Beaverton, OR 97006
If you are sending a package (wow!) but it needs to be mailed priority mail because that service allows the mission office to forward the package to me for free. Otherwise the package will sit in the mission office until I am back there again.
Well, I love you all so much.
Sister McKenna Seal
Portland Oregon Mission
1400 NW Compton Drive suite #250
Beaverton, OR 97006
If you are sending a package (wow!) but it needs to be mailed priority mail because that service allows the mission office to forward the package to me for free. Otherwise the package will sit in the mission office until I am back there again.
Well, I love you all so much.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Friday, May 3, 2013
Family and Friends!
Yes, people. It is May. Can you believe it? Nope? Good. Neither can I. Well, wow it has been quite a week! For those of you who haven't heard: we got our reassignments! (Don't worry, our VISAS are still on their way... hopefully) **Drumroll please...**
Manchester, New Hampshire: Elder Robison, Elder Palmer, and Sister Anderson
Rochester, New York: Sister Jeanfreu and Sister Morgan
Pittsburgh Pensylvania: Elder Mantle and Elder Brady
San Francisco, California: Sister Smith
PORTLAND, OREGON: Sister Sciammarella and Sister Seal.
WAHOOO!! Yep, Portland, OR. It is perfect! I am so excited- we all are! Plus.... rumor has it (Sister Jeanfreu used to live in Portland) that there may or may not be a very real chance I could be assigned Spanish speaking. Who is to say this couldn't just be the best thing that every happened to me? Ok. But really, we are all SO happy. I love the point this whole process illustrates: that God can get it right twice, because He gets it right every time. Oh, and Sister Mitchell, the other sister in our district, got her VISA.
Travel Plans: We all leave Monday, except Sister Smith (who leaves Wednesday). I am so excited to be going with Sister Sciammarella- she is one of my favorite girls in my district. She is from Draper, and we have plans to room together when we get back to Provo, so this is perfect. We are so excited to be in the field! I promise to send lots of pictures... and speaking of pictures... yes I'm sorry. I didn't take any this week either. This should make you happy though, because it means I'm working hard, right?? Haha but next week I promise to have a few, at least.
Yesterday we had "in-field orientation" and our teachers really stressed two ideas: 1) No mission is impossible- do not listen to those who say, "Well, that will be a cool mission, but I'm sorry you won't baptize many people." Your mission will be what you make of it. If you lower your expectations, you will be less successful. However, if you raise your expectations, you will be more successful. Do not let others determine the amount of success you will have. 2) People in every area of your mission are prepared for YOU. This was a really cool thought, given our recent re-assignments. I love the idea that God is preparing people for me in Brazil. But He is also preparing people for me in Oregon. SO COOL! Mission work is SO cool, just in case you didn't know already ;)
Devotionals last week: One was about Agency, and its role in conversion. The other was about Family History (Papa- you would have loved it!) What I loved most about the latter was realizing- yet again- how much I love my family. Every day I appreciate the Plan of Salvation even more. I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation, and the knowledge that we have that we will be with our families forever. This brings more peace and joy than anything else I've ever known in this world. If I came home today, I'd like to believe I'd be a changed person. I'd like to think I wouldn't take my family for granted- the way I once did... because they are the ONLY thing that matter to me now. I don't miss my phone, I don't miss my car (but Dad- please don't sell it ;) ) I don't miss my laptop or my bed; my clothes or my room. And I sure as anything don't miss my pets. :P And aside from the pets, I really thought I'd miss it all. And I do... to some small degree, but it is NOTHING like I thought I would. And it is NOTHING compared to the ache I feel for the people- not things- I left behind. So here is my challenge for each of you this week: Find a new way to show your family you love them- because the sadest thing is we don't ever realize just how much we love them until they are gone.
To my family: I love you. I love you so much. I miss you everyday. But I also realize and appreciate, more than any of you will ever know, the support you have been to me while I've been gone. Your letters, packages, thoughts and testimonies help me every day to want to be a better missionary- in part because I want so badly to make you proud. You are so special to me, and I pray for each of you ever day. I am so happy because I know I can be with you forever... but some people don't understand that yet. And that is one of many reasons that I am going to Oregon... that I'm going to Brazil, to share the joy I have in already knowing that there is an Eternal plan for my family and for their families too; to be together again someday through the Atonement of the Savior.
I'm sorry this letter is short- we have a lot to do to pack and prepare to leave next week. Thanks for all of the letters this week- it is always so great to hear from you. I love you all so much! Thanks for your support. I hope you have a wonderful week, and that this letter finds all of you in good health and happiness.