Tuesday, June 25, 2013

And the Work has Begun

Well hello! How is everyone doing? Brazil is amazing. But culture shock is a very real thing. Haha Ok. The computer I was using last week was ridiculous - and I couldn’t upload pictures, so I am sending them (lots of them) this week.

Yes, my luggage is finally here, thank Heavens! My apartment is…. Something else. Yep, the mess you'll see in the photos is from the Elders before us- that’s how it was when we moved in. Haha no hot water- at all. And the mosquitoes here aren’t too great either. BUT! The food is AMAZING! Basically it is beans, rice, pasta, chicken, and juice- always. It's great, I love it. The first house we ate at actually fed us fish! Amazing. No complaints here J Except… they don’t have regular milk! Or Honey Nut Cheerios. Or peanut butter. At the apartment all I eat is peanut butter on crackers, so it is a blessing that we get to eat at members´ homes as often as we do. If we didn’t, I'm sure I'd starve  - haha. Other problem: Yes, I brought two containers of peanut butter... but I am quite sure it won't even get me through the transfer - hahaha - but not really a joke.

So… we have a pet… yes. Totally breaking rules here but we're not quite sure what to do about it. It’s a black cat that followed us home and we can't really assure that it stays out of our house because we don’t have a back door that works properly. In one of the pictures you can see that its barred off, but the glass on the door behind the bars is broken! Haha - we are getting it fixed, but not soon enough! The cat is pretty annoying. I really liked it at first… until it threw up on our floor, scattered our trash can everywhere, and peed on the kitchen table, my camera, and my missionary certificate. Yep. It's time for that cat to go.

Our P-day is Monday, but we couldn’t email yesterday because all the stores were closed. Yesterday was a holiday- São João. I don’t actually know anything about the holiday other than the fact that it is apparently a bigger deal than Christmas in the North (where I'm at).  
Last week my companion and I were witnesses at a wedding. Legal, right? Yep! But it gets better; the couple got married because the woman is one of our investigators who is getting baptized on Saturday! WE ARE SO EXCITED!!! Speaking of baptisms…  we have a few investigators with a baptismal date. Because we white- washed the area, we sorta had to ´start fresh´… so we found A TON (18) investigators last week. Wow! Now the dilemma is getting them all to come to church, huh? But we do have more baptisms coming up, and of course I'll keep ya´ll updated.

The people here are amazing! All they want is to follow Jesus Christ. I haven’t even met anyone yet who doesn’t believe in God. It's great. I love this area. I also love the members- they treat us like gold. We couldn’t be luckier! The people are so sweet. All the time people come up to you and hug you, without cause or explanation- randomly. It's awesome. We feel so welcome here. Oh yeah, the name of the area is Prossind. And speaking of the area, yes I'm staying in the João Pessoa mission when it splits. Wahoo! I just love serving here. People actually want to talk about religion, which is so different from the U.S.

Haha - funny story. A lot of people here think I'm Brazilian. Yes, I know. It makes no sense. But I guess they just think I'm from the South. Anyways, the other day we were walking down the street and we hear a man say (about me) ´ aqula mulher é muito branco ´ hahaha which means, ´that girl is SO white!´ haha oh well…

Well, wahoo we can use Facebook now. WHATS UP!? I am actually stoked about that - there were quite a few people I wanted to check up on (people I had been working on before my mission)… so this is great news. Other than that, I have no idea what happened in the missionary broadcast because I watched it in Portuguese.

The language is coming.. slowly but surely. Its hard, but I'm trying. I feel bad for my companion. She has to do most of the talking - almost all of it. But I say what I can when I can.

Michael- I hope you are doing well. I am sorry to hear about the surgery bud, but I will definitely be praying for you [Blog Editor's Note: Michael had to have his appendix taken out this morning]. I love you.

Well, all is well here, as I hope is the case for all of you in Utah (or wherever you are). Have a wonderful week! Love you!

Sister Seal

First Photos from Brazil

View from Airplane over San Paulo along the route.

Photos from the Sister missionaries new apartment, just vacated by the Elders.

This Photo is dedicated to the Christensen Family - pretty sure Elder Dallin Christensen had a photo of this Frog/Toad/monster in a letter home from the Philippines.

The wedding where the sister missionaries served as witnesses.

Missionaries' pet?

Last Pics from Portland

The thing McKenna misses the least from home are the dog and cats. Loving brother Conner, collected some of our Golden Retriever's summer shedded coat and sent it off in a Ziploc bag for McKenna. 

McKenna's 9 year old "twin" Skylar loves horses so she stopped to take a few photos. Unfortunately she also got shocked by the electric fence in the attempt to collect the photos for Skylar.

Monday, June 24, 2013

First Photo in Brazil

No additional news yet - but a mom of  another sister missionary in the mission sent along this photo of McKenna on her arrival at the mission office in Brazil.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lost on the airlines!

Oí família!

I LOVE Brazil! Really. So I was in the airport for the past 2 days
now. Sister Sciammarella and I decided that everything that could
possibly go wrong (short of tragedy) DID!!! Hahaha every one of our
flights was delayed. So we took a flight from Dallas to São Paulo and
we couldn´t land due to weather conditions so we were circling the
area for awhile when the pilot informs us we have run out of fuel.
Greeaaat. We flew up to Rio to get fuel- stayed for an hour or two and
then landed in São Paulo. At this point we have already missed our
flight from São Paulo to Recife. Anyways, when we finally arrive in
Recife we find out that the travel office didn´t tell our mission
president that we´d had a few setbacks- and they were worried sick. 7
hours after we were scheduled to arrive we meet up with our driver and
find out our whole mission had been calling around to find out if we
were even still alive. I felt terrible- but at the same time, it was
quite entertaining. The orignial plan was to arrive in Recife Tuesday
morning but we arrived late Tuesday night and of course, to add to it
all sem nossa malas. Ótimo. Yep, all of our luggage is missing. It´s
been real fun. ;)

So when I arrived in Oregon, it took like 2 weeks before we saw real
rain. Here, immediately stepping off the plane we are drenched because
its pouring! Ha-ha! I love it.

Its very warm here- but thankfully, its not the unbearable heat I
thought it´d be. I guess that comes later. I don´t even know how to
describe my apartment - so I´m just going to send pictures. My trainer
and I are white-washing this area (its called Possind) and Elders
lived in the apartment before us. Just know, all that junk was there
when we walked in the door. And yes, there IS a hammock hanging
outside- it's filthy so I make no promises to sleep in it.

Speaking of my trainer. She´s a native from Rio. She is so sweet and I am so excited because I think it will help me learn this language so quickly. She doesn´t
speak a lick of English. Its awesome! Her name is Sister Alves. I love
her already.

Então, my mission president and his wife are so nice. When we got to
the mission home last night we were starving and guess what they fed
us... drumroll please: YEP! Rice and beans! Haha gostoso.

OH, better news! We have a baptism coming up on the 30th. I haven´t
met her yet, but we are stopping by later today. In reality, I haven´t
met any of the ward members yet, so I don´t have much to say about the
area. Aside from planning, this is the first thing we have done here
so don´t worry, this letter is pretty boring, but next week´s will be

Happy late Father´s Day. My thought today has everything to do with
fathers. First of all, to all those of you who haven´t watched the
mormon message video Earthly Father, Heavenly Father, repent and go do
so now. I was thinking about that video and how amazing it is to have
an all-powerful being who wants nothing more than to be our Father. He
loves us, He wants us to succeed, to be happy, to be safe. Father´s
Day is tough on a mission, because I really miss my own Father, and
couldn´t do anything for him Sunday. But I then realized that there
was so much I could do for my Father in Heaven. I am convinced that
the best way to say happy fathers day is to serve one another. That
really is all our Father in Heaven wants us to do. I´m not a parent
yet- but I know how much relief it gives parents when their kids take
care of one another; when they are kind, loving, and supporting. When
they don´t fight, belittle, or criticise. I believe that is true of
our Heavenly Father too. And though it is no longer Father´s Day,
perhaps we can still remember this idea. To be a little kinder, a
little faster to say nice things and serve those arround us. This is
how we show Heavenly Father appreciation for all of the things He has
given us. Anyways, that´s my thought. Shoutout to my Dad- your the
best Dad in the world and I love you so much!

Anyways, thank you all so much for your continued support and prayers!
I hope you all have a wonderful week! Eu amo vocês!

Sister Seal

Fun story about the horse pictures I'm sending. I shocked myself on the
electric fence trying to get these pics for Skylar. So you better
appreciate them baby girl! :)

*** Some difficulty with the uploading the photos. McKenna said she will send them on p-day. Not sure yet when that will be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


*** Blog editor's note. McKenna will be on a flight on Monday to Brazil, so please use the Brazil mailing address located on the right side of the blog to send her any mail. We understand that there is a 2-3 week mailing time, so it will take some getting use to for the wait for responses. Thanks for all the support that all of you offer McKenna. She is excited to move forward on her mission to Brazil.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Katie's Going to Brazil too !!

Hello! Wow it has been a week! First and MOST importantly, CONGRATULATIONS KATIE!!!!! I am so excited for you!!!! I wish I could say, "You will love Brazil," hahaha but who knows, I'm not even there yet. So! I hope you have learned from my situation, and that your VISA paperwork is already in! Haha - get that police record now - and all of the other things you already know you need - don't wait for the info packet to get started. But wow. I am so happy! This much I CAN tell you, you will love Portuguese! :) I couldn't be happier- I do believe I "called it". Haha! And yes, I  watched the video mom sent me at least 10 times.
Still no word on my VISA, in case you were wondering. I am just prepared to leave when I receive that cal l- but I have a lot to do here before I'm ready to give up Oregon. We still have a lot of potentials, but getting ahold of people is more difficult than ever. It should be better now that graduation is over and school is out... but now we have to work around summer vacations. All part of the work! And we sure are thrilled to be doing it.
Well, we had good lessons this week - but a lot of dropped appointments too. We did a lot of service, which was great! There is a baptism scheduled for Saturday, and hopefully that doesn't fall through. It is an 8-year-old girl we have been teaching (but she doesn't count as an investigator or convert baptism because her mother is a less-active member) and we LOVE her! She is so smart and we are so happy for her! I will send pics if it happens- but she has been sick this week and we are just praying that she recovers quickly.
One really amazing experience was going to visit a less-active. We ended up teaching her friend's son (one of our potentials).  We gave him a Book of Mormon after discussing it with him. He didn't really seem interested. I could tell that he didn't want another history book - he is a teenager and what was it to him? The only thing we can do is invite and then testify. So I did. All night long, his little sister had been begging for his attention (with her book, her shoes, anything) and she did her best to be a distraction - which was fine, we love that girl. But! This is the cool part! After that appointment my companion told me that while I was testifying about the Book of Mormon, the little sister was talking/ being a distraction/ trying to get his attention and he looked at her, shook her head and said shhhh. Like he was actually listening. I really don't believe it had anything at all to do with what I was saying, but that he somehow knew that what I was saying was for him, and that it was important. I was amazed that he could tell the difference between "talking" and "testifying" but I know it is because our testimonies bring the Holy Ghost to touch the hearts of those we teach and tell them what we are saying is true. I don't know if he even knew anything at all about the Holy Ghost, but this I do know: that he felt it, and that was a miracle - and definitely my week's highlight. Hope it made sense? Sometimes my stories are a "have to be there" experience. ha ;)
Ok. Awesome scripture! 2 Nephi 2:23-24. It answers the question of why God allows bad things to happen to us. People ask that question a lot. But rest assured, there IS an answer. If everyone was always happy, kind, and good... if there was no sickness, misery, or pain, would we learn to trust God? Would we really understand faith? NO! Don't forget that a world without sorrow is a world without agency... and that was Satan's plan. So I guess I don't understand why people say, "I don't believe in God- if there was a God, He wouldn't let all of these bad things happen in the world..." If that is how we feel, then we don't understand God's plan, and we don't understand agency. Excuse me for being bold - I just hadn't thought about it before and I thought it was cool to finally understand the concept - though I'm sure you all already "got it". :)
To add to that scripture, I found a quote in Joseph B. Wirthlin's talk "Come what May, and Love it" (great talk). He said, "The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned 100-fold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude." I really like this quote. I know life is difficult - far more so for many of you than I even understand. But I also know that our joy in the life to come will far exceed our heartache here on earth, which is only temporary. Jesus Christ promises peace - and that peace is real, nearly tangible. It's incredible. If you don't feel you have experienced that peace in your life, I invite you to seek it. The promise to those that seek is that they will find, and I know this to be true. Peace is powerful, and it is real, but it only comes through the Savior. Look to Him - He never left you.
Well, I love you all! I hope this letter finds you in great health and happiness! Have a wonderful week and thank you for your support!
Sister Seal

Katie's Going to Brazil too !! Photos!

Lucky clover plant McKenna's mom sent for her 1st apartment in the mission field.  McKenna is proud to report that they grew! And, she has not killed them yet!

Missionary plaque by Ann and Joanne - great job ladies!

Sister missionaries made this for one of their favorite families who had gone out of town to "far away" Idaho.

Cucumber masks - the fake version - exact ingredients unknown.

No info. was sent with this photo, but we doubt this is the mission car!

This one is for Grandma - McKenna thought of you when she met this lady with her beautiful quilts.

This one was for Michael - McKenna wants to know what you were doing at Arctic Circle in Portland. 

No idea - but it's McKenna.

Even missionaries like being super heroes.

Monday, June 3, 2013

What a Week!

Oi family,
Yep! Better start incorporating Portuguese in my weekly letters again because my VISA shows "ready for pick up". Questions? Talk to Mom. She knows everything. But... I still don't have my VISA here, in hand or anything  - so I'm in Oregon still until I get a letter or call from President Morby, here. I'll keep you all updated. Pretty exciting, but I think I'll be here for a few weeks more and that's perfect because I really feel like the work is just getting started here! We have so many great potential investigators, and our "favorite" ** is finally considering a baptismal date. Wahooo! Its about time.
*Note: "favorite investigator" is a term we throw around out here- it changes daily. Hahaha.
Ok! So it has been an incredible week - granted, every week on a mission is incredible. I LOVE it! So, bad news first, to get it out of the way: We had to drop one of our investigators - the one we took to the temple. His Alzheimer's is getting really bad and he can't remember anything we teach him. It's so sad because I know he would be baptized by now if he could remember things he has been learning. He is a sweet man, and we will miss him, but I think there is not much we can do for him. I have no doubt that he will whole-heartedly accept the gospel in the Spirit World. Really hard decision. :/
Ok, now for good news because that was a little bit too depressing. We were doing guided tracting Wednesday and went to go see a former investigator. When we pulled up, she was outside playing with her son. We said hello and she said, "You're the missionaries, aren't you..." We said yes and immediately she told us to come inside. She told us her story - she has really hit rock-bottom in her life and has a really hard time with the Word of Wisdom. Things have been tough for her and she said, "I'm so glad you girls came over, because I was just about to call you.... I know God sent you because I really need you right now." Um... wow. I love being a missionary. But it gets better. Then she says, "well, I have been reading in the Book of Mormon". K, wait, pause, hold up, WHAT???? Yep, folks, she has been studying Alma even before we show up! Basically, long story short: she already knows the church is true, she knows the Book of Mormon is true and she wants her son to grow up with the church (because she wished she'd grown up with it). When we prayed with her before we left she said, "I can feel God here with us when you just prayed. I know you are messengers of God."  We are meeting again with her tomorrow, and we are so excited! She is amazing. Oh, and she already is begging to be baptized. She said, "I want to be washed clean and I want the Holy Ghost with me as a constant companion." Wow. Yeah, basically my mind is blown. Obviously she has a long road ahead of her, but we are so happy for her and are trying to help her get to the point where she can be baptized. That was the highlight of my week, and to be honest, my mission thus far.
Friday we had a lesson with another investigator (as mentioned above) and his wife. We watched the John Tanner movie. It really hit home with them because the wife was healed by a priesthood blessing, and we are trying to help the husband find the faith to be baptized. Ulitmately, he doesn't want to be pushed, as I have mentioned before, but this is the first time he has actually said he will pick a date for baptism. It was an amazing lesson! We are so happy for him, and I'll let you know how that goes, as well. Otimo!
Saturday we helped a new family move into the ward. That was really great. I was glad to get some heavy lifting in. Hahaha. I need more exercise out here - but I'm working on it. It was also so neat to see the ward welcome the new family with open arms -- I love the ward here- they are amazing.
Mom, I really loved the scripture you shared with me last week- Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." We really are all lost without Jesus. I always knew that but it's a concept I'm really learning to understand and recognize here on a mission.
Ok. Fun thing from this week: Go check out Elcio Romano's video on Mormon.org. He is from Brazil. And it's all in Portuguese. Ok, no, you probably won't understand it, BUT! You can see some pretty cool beaches in Brazil! :)
One cool scripture I wanted to share: 1 Nephi 2:20. I don't have time to type it out. But, subsitute the word land for future/ spouse/ investigator/ blessing/etc whatever best applies to you! Really our happiness and futures depend on keeping the commandments!
Also, look up The Fourth Missionary by Lawrence E. Corbridge. It is amazing! It applies to all of us - not just the missionaries. The idea is that it is NEVER to late to change. And ultimately, the easiest way to live is to fully submit your will to God. I promise that THAT is the truth! You will be happy when you surrender your will to His.
Okay. I'm out of time. I love you all so so much! Have a wonderful week! Thanks for all of your support!
Sister Seal
P.S. Ashley Dana- congratulations on your call :) And Katie, my beloved hermanita, congratulations to you too! You'll be hearing from me soon.
Tchau! :)