Monday, September 30, 2013

DREAM Mission

Fabulous week. As always. Joâo Pessoa is a DREAM mission. We are so so so spoiled. Especially in this area. Love it. :)

So... we had another baptism. Antônio. He was a miracle. We found him on the road, leaving his house a week ago, Saturday. I thought to myself, ``I really dont want to contact him- he looks like he is in a hurry...`` But, at the same time, we have to be obedient- and the idea is: TALK WITH EVERYONE. So I stopped him and found out he had actually already been to the church, quite a few times, in the past before he moved here to JP. So, after a lot of questions, we finally got him to agree to come to church the next day with us (last Sunday) and there at church, my district leader actually marked the baptism for the following Saturday. Yes, I know. My DL is the coolest kid in the world. Anways, he loved the meeting, we taught him in a week and baptized him and it was such a testimony to me that God really puts specific people in our path for a reason- and that we dont know who will be ready to accept the gospel. I had nearly the same experience with 2 more people this week who accepted baptism for this next sunday. We will see. Hopefully it all works out. We have such  great group of investigators. The only trick is getting them to go to church. They cant be baptized if they dont go to church. And a lot of them want to be baptized... but when sunday morning rolls around.... OOOPS. Ha! But its okay, we are doing all we can and I know that at the end of the day, Heavenly Father is in control.

Oh. Yeah. So a few ward members did throw me a surprise birthday party, which was SO sweet. Best cake balls EVER. It was good. I have a pic- but it is on Sister J´s camera, so i will try to get that soon. But, Sister J and her companion, Sister Willette also bought me a mickey mouse cake earlier that day, which was super sweet of them- so that, I DO have picture of. Dont mind how awful my hair is- you saw the cindrella pic which wasnt too long before getting that cake. Yes, that is my excuse. The other pic is with Jaqueline, my brazilian mother, at our baptism. She always gives me the raised eyebrow look. I just dont think she realized I am QUEEN of the raised eyebrow look.... hahaha love brasileiros.

Language is coming along really well- people are finally telling me I speak well, which means a lot. Brazil is just great. But, man! It is starting to get HOT. Haha oh well, totally worth it. Oh, cool news: our mission baptized 200 people this month. Amazing. The work is so great here.

Anyways, that is about it. I hope you are all doing well. Conner, good luck at the debate tournament. I love you all so much.

Wahooooooo conference this weekend! Could it be that time already? Goodness, this is better than Christmas. :)


Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Birthday to ME !!

Hello! Thanks for all of the birthday wishes! So far, it has been a good one. :) I hope Kim and Kate had a fabulous weekend too?
So... this week was great, but I spent like all of my time responding to family emails, meaning this will be the shortest email EVER. Desculpa. But, most important news: Cleonice was baptized yesterday! WAHOOOOO! It was SO great, we are so happy for her. She is one of the most amazing people I know- so willing to do whatever it takes to follow Christ. What an example. So I will send those pics... one with my companion and I with the woman of the hour, and another with Elder Morais, our distric leader, who baptized her. More baptisms to come, we have a great group of people that we are teaching right now. So be excited! :)
The other pic is of my scrubbing the floors on hands and knees this morning. Yes, Dad, I TOLD you I am Cinderella. Now I have proof. Ha this is how we spend birthdays in Brazil, I guess. Love it. Other than that, everything in Brazil is just great. We are finding some pretty incredible people and I am so blessed to be here, working in this area.
Oh! And the third pic is of Sister Johnson and I- we are crazy... most of our nights are like that- fools, the whole lot of us. Oh well. Já era. :)
Michael, have fun at homecoming. Conner, keep it up with debate! Logan, you sacked the quarterback. You make me proud, buggy. Katie, dont party too hard. ;) Skylar- LOVE you, gêmia. Oh, Ashley Dana, good luck on your mission!
Anyways, I love you guys. Sorry, this is pretty boring, but next week´s will be awesome!
Sister Seal


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sister Bassi and I

Sister Bassi and I at the bus stop the day of transfers... don't worry. We ended up calling a taxi- luggage on crazy brazilian busses..... mmmmmm. No thanks.

Happy Birthday Katie & Kim

I am going to apologize now. I have nothing. I mean really, I just emailed Wednesday.
It was a good week. C. came to church- hopefully she will be baptized Sunday, but we don't know yet, because she might want to wait and be baptized with the rest of her family. We have found some STELLAR investigators. Just loving life- loving this area. What a blessing.
My companion? Daughter #2. She is 19. She is a singer. From Colorado. With a HUGE, beautiful family. She is really nice. But, best of all, she WORKS. Man. She works HARD. She is scared of contacting on the street just as much as I am- but we set goals every day and we are actually doing really great with street- contacting. Fantastic! I was scared to have an American companion- but she speaks pretty darn well already. A lot of people here are hard to understand- so she has to get accostomed to their accents so for now I have to understand everything they say. I am so surprised- I understand way more than I realized. I know God is helping me and I am grateful every transfer for a new challenge because it forces me to improve. It's fantastic! The language is really coming. As Sister Bassi would say, YES! YES! YES! ...
Anyways. I also want to say Happy Birthday to Katie on Saturday and Kim on Sunday. Kate- I just don't think it matters that we are lightyears apart. I´m thinking we can still dress up like twins for three days strait and share a party, presents, and a cake. You game? Cool.
We have a few investigators that really struggle with addictions. We did a ``practice lesson`` in District meeting this week and I learned something super cool. A lot of the time people will say they want to change, but they don't know how.... They really don't need a miracle. All they need is faith. When we ask people what God means to them here- the answer is always the same. We say, ``Who/ what is God to you?`` They answer, ``Tudo.`` Meaning, everything. Sure! Makes sense. Concordo. But, think about this question. ``Who are YOU to GOD....`` Let me tell you something that I know: The answer is the same. YOU are everything to God. Every single one of my investigators means EVERYTHING to God. That means, He would and will do anything it takes to help us. So then maybe they will say, well, sure, He will help me. But I can't do it- I need time. What do you mean, exactly? Time? In all reality the best day to change is today because we never had any guarantee of tomorrow. In 6 days Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ created the whole world- ALL life. Undoubtedly in 6 days they can change YOUR life. Or in one day. Today. This moment. This instant.
It was a really cool meeting- I really like our district. Our DL is amazing. I think he is really going to help us out this transfer. Should be great. And I am still loving our ward, and this area. Even after 3 months. Hahaha.
So its starting to heat up here in JP. Big time. O gente. Its crazy- we are going to fry. But I am grateful we have had amazing weather up until now. Okay, so major street flooding almost every week isnt exactly amazing weather- but I love it. It keeps things interesting. The food is still great- we are always trying new things and I could almost already fill an entire recipe book. Yes, lucky family of mine... you just wait.... :)
Other than that, no real news. Next week's letter should be better. Desculpa. But, I love you all. You are great! Shout out to Papa, Grandma, Oma, Kim, and Mother. THANK you all SO much for your letters! Totally made my day today to hear from you! Tchau, tchau. Have a wonderul week.
Love, Sister Seal

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Staying in Prossind Photos

This wonderful man at center drives the Sister missionaries in the Prossind area whenever the location is just too far to walk.

McKenna with her new companion, Sister Moore beside her., to the right.

Staying In Prossind!

So.... I don't actually know where to begin this week.... So I guess we can start with Chicken Hearts. Thats RIGHT! I ATE one! Muahahaha. That totally makes me more of a man than Michael- because he wouldn't eat it at Brasa Grill. Mmmmhmmm. Quite proud. We love surrascos (AKA Brazilian BBQ) here.
Sunday brought us one of the greatest blessings so far. At church a woman and her son showed up that were not members of the ward. Naturally, being good little missionaries, we introduced ourselves and she explained that she recently moved into the area- an apartment complex behind the church and had looked out the window one day and decided she wanted to visit that church building she could see from her window. So she came on her own! Crazy. And they both liked the meetings too. Afterwards, I gave her a Book of Mormon because a lot of the talks were about scriptures. She started crying- she was so grateful! It was so cute, and I am SO grateful that she came. And we have an appointment with her tomorrow. God really works in the coolest ways!
Monday we had a really cool lesson with a Catholic woman, Nossa. She is REALLY Catholic- which can be difficult as we try to share the truth of the gospel, but the lesson was incredible. We don't bible- bash. That is not how Jesus taught, and that is not how we will teach either. But she was talking about the Grand Apostasy, and how she doesn't believe it ever happened. She believes the priesthood was never taken from the earth. So, we tried to explain that the truths in the early church were distorted, the doctrines were changed. We really needed a restoration. I explained 3 examples of distorted truths- as respectfully and carefully as possible. 1) Pope v. Prophet. 2) Baptism needs 3 specific qualifications to be ``valid`` and 3) The second commandment; we don't worship images. So I asked her if she believes in the 10 commandments and naturally, she said, ``Of course.`` Then I opened up to Exodus to explain that this is a simple example of a change in the doctrine of Christ. That unfortunatly, the Catholic church worships images...etc. She said, but that is your bible. Your bible is different than mine. Then she ran to her bedroom to get her bible. We found the verse in her bible and she began to flip pages back and forth very quickly. When she realized, that indeed, the commandment is the same even in her bible, she looked up, completely flustered and said, ``This can't be my bible-this verse changed. This isn't the same scripture.`` We just waited and she finally gave up, saying,`` You got me.`` It was crazy. It was one of my favorite lessons so far. It wasn't any bible bash at all. We weren't even arguing. It was merely a disply of simple truths- that in reality WE HAVE THE TRUTH. We know it- it was distorted, it was taken. But now it has been restored. Anyways, I still am not expecting much to come of it, because I can show her hundreds of ``proofs`` and it will never amount to anything unless she wants it to. But, that's not my job. My job is to invite. Because the truth is, I can't prove anything, because I know very little. But of the little I know, I KNOW that God knows everything. And I KNOW that God answers prayers. And if we want to know this church is true, it's most likely not going to come by any ``proof``` or verse or vision. Our testimony will come by faith; by a sincere desire to know, and then by demonstrating enough humility to plead with God for an answer. But the promise is that He DOES answer. He always answers, because He loves us. He really, truly wants to bless us, which reminds me of a scripture I read this week.

1 Cor 2:9, ``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.``
And how do we know when we love him? We serve Him. We keep His commandments. Anyways- it was just a rockin´week. And this week is only going to be better!
Sorry for making you wait so long. Tranfers. WHAT A BLESSING- I stayed in my area, Prossind. I am SO happy! But, we did have some changes. All four of us sisters that were living together are training AGAIN. So Sister Bassi and Sister Sciammarella left- they are in different areas now. I admit it... I cried. A LOT. We both did. Saying goodbye to Sister Bassi  was really, really hard. She was the greatest blessing. And it is going to be hard to work here without her. But. I know the Lord always knows what He is doing, and I am excited to learn from my new companion, Sister Moore. She seems really nice. She is an American. Yep. Like what? Im training an American? Crazy. We will see how the Portguese goes this transfer... haha. Transfers were crazy, but I am so happy to still be in Prossind and work with these amazing people- they have so much potential, and they are so ready for the gospel.
The church is true. I really don't have any doubt- whatsoever. We are so blessed. Anyways, thanks for all of your support. I love you all. Have a fantastic week. :)
Love, Sister Seal

Monday, September 2, 2013

Judge Not & Share

Olá abênçoados! Tudo bem? Semana maravilhosa aquí no Brasil!
Ok. Since a few of you may not speak Portuguese just yet... (Yet meaning everyone needs to learn it at some point in life- it's the language of angels, didnt know know?) I guess I will speak in English now.
Happy September! Yep. Great week. I don't have my planner with me so I am going to forget everything. A week ago we found J., a man who was drinking with his friends in a bar. We had crossed the street to contact a DIFFERENT man, but he got away too quickly. What a pity- he doesn't know what he is missing. Anyways, J. yells over to us (from the bar) and we turn back in his direction, preparing ourselves for a quick conversation with a couple of scorpions... (For those of you who don't know what a scorpion is- it's a man who doesn't actually want to hear your message, but just wants to talk to some pretty girls. Yes, Brazil is infested with them. Haha it's fine.) Ok. Now that we are up to speed. So long story short: As drunk as he was, he was actually pretty sober and we asked him if we could come back another day and teach him. He accepted, and I admit it- I didn't think it would amount to anything. But of course, in times like these, I love to be proven wrong. So this week we passed by his house, he invited us in to talk to his mom and wife as well. Best decision ever. They are AMAZING. J.´s dad just passed away last month... so they have a lot of questions- all of which pertaining to... drumroll please... the Plan of Salvation. Basically we taught the restoration and plan of salvation last week and the whole family loves us. More importantly, they love the message. They all prayed about our message and said they feel real peace in their home during and after our visits. They know what we are telling them is true and they LOVE reading the Book of Mormon with us. Better yet, in our lesson yesterday, all three of them agreed to be baptized on the 15th ! WOW! What a blessing. And J. has 2 daughters, one is 8- so she can be baptized too.  It is amazing. I am convinced the 3 girls will be baptized. But we have to work with J.- he can't drink anymore, obviously. So we will see- but we are praying for him.  I know he can do it with God's help. But he has to believe in himself too. 

Anyways, yes, we are so blessed with miracle families these days... they only problem? Transfers. Yes.... that would be NEXT week. Can anyone believe how fast this transfer flew. No? Good. Me either. And.... 13 sisters are arriving in our mission meaning President will have to cut a lot of training short this transfer (as was the case with my training...) Given how amazing Bassi, my companion, is... I am convinced he will ask her to train- even with only a month on the mission. Scary. Cool, too, though. So that means I will  probably train again and it also means I think I will move out of my area. It's hard- thank heavens I don't get to make the decision. I am not ready to leave, and I am still kind of hoping I don't- but I know that my investigators need me to leave so they don't ``depend on us missionaries``. That can be dangerous. Anyways. Yep, so you know the drill- next Monday= no email. I will be emailing Wednesday, the 11th.
Mom asked about when I will go to the escritorio again. This Wednesday is Zone Conference so I will get all my letters and packages that day. Hallelujah!!! Its been too long since I have heard from all you beautiful people! ;)
The language is coming along really well. If I don't understand something the first time, it usually only takes 1 repeat to get it. I feel really blessed. Right now I just really want to get the accent down- Spanish accents stick hard!
Other story. We were walking down the road and a man sitting in a restaurant calls out to us saying, ``You´re not elders... you´re sisters.`` Which translates as follows: ``I am your NEXT investigator``... Naturally at this point we are beaming and start attacking him with questions. He explains that he had a lot of friends growing up that were members- and that even served missions. He told us that he had always wanted to serve a mission, but that NONE of those friends had every invited him to go to church or to even learn about the church. Ok. Maybe part of the blame falls on him- sure. But I really believe more of the blame falls on the friends he had who never thought to share the gospel with someone they cared about. But really I don't want to spend time dwelling on how devastated I am that this man has lost more than 40 years that he could have spent in the church. That he could have served a mission... that his kids (because he has many) could have served too... Or at least could have grown up with the gospel. No. We won't dwell on this- because this wasn't the thought that struck me as he was explaining the desire he had HIS WHOLE LIFE to be invited. But instead I see it from the alternative perspective.  I was overwhelmed and heartbroken remembering every time I didn't testify or invite someone I love. I am as guilty of it as anyone else- and all it leaves me with is regret. I can make the excuse that I grew up in Utah.... but that just won't work, will it? I knew and still know a lot of people who needed the gospel. I was their chance (not their only chance- thank heavens...) and I blew it. So my challenge is as follows: It is a prophetic promise that as  we pray to know with whom we can share the gospel, names and faces will come to our minds. This is a PROMISE. So I invite each of you to put that promise to the test. Pray for guidance. Pray for a missionary opportunity. The real missionaries are the members and I promise you that you know people that perhaps the missionaries will never find if you don't make the first step. Invite. That's all we can do.  Invite and testify. You know people who need this message. Pray for the opportuntiy, and it will come. I wish it  were something I had done more often before I left- and something I am determined to do when I get back. I never again want to be ``that friend`` who ``never invited me`` as that man in that restaurant said earlier this week. 
Well, time is up.  Sorry- only two stories this week and no new photos- but I´ll definitely let ya´all know how transfers go! Have a wonderful week! I love you all. Thank you for your prayers, love, and support! Be safe, and as my wonderful Kim always says: Be good! :)
Sister Seal