Thursday, December 26, 2013

So this is Christmas ...

You wouldn't believe all the Christmas music I have learned this month... thanks to my companion... #futureMOTABmember... But its great- it makes up for the lack of caroling. It doesn't exist here. I tried to explain to my Brazilian roommates that we wanted to go ``caroling`` and they both started laughing in our faces. Haha ok. It just wasn't meant to be. Gotta let go of these american traditions, I suppose.
MERRY MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS meus entes queridos!!! It definitely is the most wonderful time of the year! 

Thanks for all the Christmas letters by the way! My Zone Leader is getting sick of me I think, haha. He said next to Elder Taylor in our mission, I get the most letters. I am not sure if he is right, but I sure do have the greatest family in the world. That I do know.Hahaha so thanks. You guys are great! Letters help SO much, you have no idea. 

Great week- we did a TON of street contacts as part of a Zone Goal from Tuesday´s meeting. And... Lais was finally baptized. Recap, for those of us who don't remember this little angel: Our zone leaders gave us a reference- a girl who had been going to church in their ward with her boyfriend who is a member there. This girl is Julianna. Anyways, we passed by her house a lot, but she was never home. She works all day every day. But, the girl who always answered the door was her little sister, Lais. So, of course, we started teaching her. In the beginning, she didn't feel ready to be baptized, but we kept teaching her and following up with her progress. Anyways, after we taught her the last lesson, she told us she had dreamed the night before that she needed to be baptized and that the church was true. So, she accepted baptism- and wanted to be baptized as soon as possible.( This was about a month ago- more or less.) Her parents were fine with her being baptized, but wanted her to wait a little longer, and for some strange reason, she refused to tell them about her dream... Then she stopped coming because of the work load at school. But 2 weeks ago she called us and said, I want to come back. We took her to church and in the meeting she said, ``I want to be baptized on Saturday, for my birthday``. We were shocked. But, nevertheless, Saturday, on her birthday, she was baptized and yesterday confirmed in sacrament meeting. SO COOL! 

Sister De Paula hit her 9 month mark on the mission Saturday and I hit mine this Friday... so we took a few funny pictures. I don't actually know why Sister Missionaries take the ``pregnant photos``... and I swore I never would... but... we did. Ha don't freak out. Yes, we are weird, but at least we recognize that right??? 

I read a message by Elder Holland that was written to missionaries and armed forces and whatever other person that is away from home on Christmas. He talked about his first Christmas away from home, that it is one he will never forget because is was the first unselfish Christmas of his life. It is in the Christmas without tinsel, and trees, and trimmings and toys that we learn what Christmas is really about, isn't it? 

I was thinking about the Nativity skit that we do every year....with Mary and Joseph, the shepards, and animals. I was thinking about each role we assign all the cousins. When I was younger, I was always Mary... my brothers shepherds... but we mixed and matched until everyone had a part to play. This year I am not Mary. I am not a shepherd, merely watching. I am not one of the wise- men either, giving gifts or traveling from a far. As missionaries, we have one of the coolest roles of them all, aside from the role of the savior and his sweet mother- we get to be the angel. I never gave much thought to the angel, and in all reality, always forgot about him when assigning roles. But this year, I am the angel- bringing good tidings and great joy to all the earth- the news of the birth of the savior of the world. But its not because I wear a name tag, or because I am far from  home. It is because I am a member of the true church of our living savior. You, too, are a member of that church. And whether you be on a mission, in the army, over land, or sea; whether or not your are ``home for Christmas`` you have a message to share. Though our locations may vary, our message is the same. You too, can be someone´s angel and declare glad tidings of great joy. So my challenge to you this holiday season and forever is to be ``an angel``. Share the gospel with someone this week and this Christmas WILL become one you will never forget. 

I love you all and am grateful for your support. May we all remember why we celebrate this special day and do our best to keep that memory in our hearts every day of the year. Be safe. Be good. Be happy! I love you.

Sister M. Seal


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Merry Almost Christmas

Woa. Crazy. I almost forgot to write this email. Yikes.... hahaha.


And in case you were wondering, no it still isnt snowing here- so I still don't believe it- but, I am willing to accept it anyway- because it means the season of miracles and we are DEFINITELY seeing miracles here. 

Ha. So... Katie´s VISA situation. NUTS. And I thought I had problems getting here. Good luck Kate. I also have a feeling that Katie´s area is a lot hotter than mine, because, sure it feels like summer here- but it really still isn't too bad. HOT. Never gonna have snow... but it really isn't as hot as everyone says it would be, or that it will be. Don't get me wrong- its frying my hair and i have a lot of new freckles- but I´d still say Arizona is more of an oven that João Pessoa. #countingmyblessings.

Ok. So we had 2 baptisms this week- Matheus and his Uncle, Severino. It was really cool working with them this week. Yes, they too are thanks to Jaqueline- it was actually a street contact we did one day when she was with us- and SHE was the one who stopped Matheus on the road. Hahaha So- there is the picture.

This week was our mission christmas conference. SO FUN. Loved it. They watched Singles Ward 2.... not sure that was the best idea because the movie is about marriage, but whatever, didn't watch it anyway. So great to catch up with all my buddies- including: Sciammarella, Bassi, some other kids from previous districts, etc. Wish we all met up as a mission more often!!!  Anyways, I sent a ton of pics of the conference- not super exciting- no huge group pictures or anything, but they are seriously some of my favorite people in the world. LOVE them.

Mom and Dad- Happy Anniversary Saturday!! 

Next week I don't think I will be writing on Monday because p-day was moved to Wednesday so we have Christmas day off- but I will be skyping, so NO complaints. Cant wait to talk to you guys! love you! 

The work is going great here- it just keeps getting better and better. No better time to be a missionary than at christmas time- to share the news of not only His birth, but also the news that He lives today, and that He will come again. As the angels declared long ago, ``He is coming``. We can be angels too... we can declare glad tidings of great joy. Share the gospel. Be someone´s angel. 

Love you guys! Merry Christmas! HAPPY HOLIDAYS to everyone!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Missing Post - Sorry from McKenna's Mom

** Sorry to all of you - McKenna's mom had an incredibly hectic week and missed posting this blog. So here it is a little late.

Yes, Happy December folks! 3 weeks from today is Christmas. YES!

Cutting to the chase.. transfers. Didnt happen. Ok, so they did, but once again, just not for me. Hahahaha I am certain that if I look in my Mission Call Packet it will read, ``You are hereby called to serve in the Brasil João Pessoa PROSSIND mission because I am NEVER leaving. No complaints. I have the best area in my mission. Im convinced. And what I have learned is that the important changes on a mission have nothing to do with maps or boundaries or packing suitcases. The important change is that God is changing who I am in the way HE designed me to change. We dont need to ask someone to change our circumstances....but like Nephi, we can have courage and faith to pray instead for faith to change our own circumstances. 

So.... I´m staying. And.... Sister Moore is staying too. We are really excited actually and we have a lot of great ideas for how to help this area this transfer- I am REALLY EXCITED. And part of that plan may or may not include caroling with the members... Do they even do that in Brazil??? I dont know. Ha this month is going to be stellar. 

So happy to hear Thanksgiving was good:) I am jealous... we definitely didnt really celebrate here- we just went out for Pizza- YUM, but definitely not seal family tradition. That night we did a little fireside with the youth too to try to get them to do a little more missionary work. Think it went well, we will see. We have AWESOME youth here though. Some of the coolest kids I know.

Ok. Miracle moment. We were really trying to have another baptism last week- working hard with people to help them prepare to be baptized... but we didnt think of Josias. So, we were shocked when, waiting outside for Jaqueline, Josias told us, ``I am ready to be baptized.`` Wait, like, what? Josias is Jaqueline´s dad- Sister Alves and I taught him a LONG time ago. He is the reason we met Jaqueline, actually. But, he never wanted to be baptized. So last week Jaqueline told him, Dad, you need to be baptized and her simple, sweet testimony broke him! He was baptized! It was one of my favorite baptisms so far! So many people were crying and the member of the bishopric thanked Jaqueline and Josias and said, ``Of all of the baptims I have watched- EVEN the baptisms on my mission, this is the one where I have felt the spirit strongest...`` and He cried the whole time. It was so cool. I am SO PROUD of Jaqueline. She is so amazing. And all the members are telling her that she needs to get a nametag- Sister Jaqueline. I agree- she is a better missionary, more of a missionary than I am and I am the one with the call. Hahaha its great. Really humbling and great and the same time.

Thrilled to hear katie got her visa. Thats really a huge blessing! And Grandma- definitely praying for you! Love you!

Anyways, so not much changed but we did get a new brazilian roomate- YES! I need the help haha. Overall, awesome week. 

I love you guys, and unfortunately my time is out. LOVE YOU SO MUCH.


Love, Sister M. Seal

The funny think about the baptism is that Josias couldnt be baptized in cold water so we had to boil water and carry it and dump it in the font. crazy!

pictures of the pan of water boiling for josias baptism.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The clay for the Master Potter

Happy Birthday yesterday, Papa! Hope it was WONDERFUL!
Gente, essa semana vai ser maravilhosa! Woa... sorry. I didn't realize I was using Portuguese. Desculpa. But really, this week is going to rock. We have already started off great. This morning I started a snow ball fight in my apartment with the ice/ slush in the freezer.  Yep, we don't have snow here- which means we gotta get creative because my need for cold, white weather is going NOWHERE. Haha I don't think my companion was too happy with me- but then she got me back real good with a shot to the head. KO! Haha i hit the ground laughing so hard- great morning. That's what you get from a Colorado kid and a Utah crazy. #lovingthe``winter``weather

Yesterday was cool. Jaqueline spoke in Sacrament Meeting on faith and missionary work- it was really cool. She is a really great example for this ward. Josias is doing great too- he was confirmed yesterday. Jaqueline invited two friends to come watch her talk and we taught them later that night and they both accpeted baptism. (It is an uncle and 14-year-old boy). The uncle (Neto) studied theology for 7 years but really loved the church. But the cool part was what Matheus, the boy, said. We were all so happy to hear Neto accepted baptism even though he has been baptized many times before and usually people argue about that. YES! He understood the Restoration. Ha. Then Matheus said he was excited to be baptized and that he is excited because he has never been baptized before. It was a really, really cool lesson. We will be working with them a lot this week and I will let you know how it goes.
Tomorrow is our mission christmas conference! YES!!!!! I should have tons of great photos to send your way next Monday. Be excited... I am STOKED. Love these crazy kids here in JP- so excited to see them all again.

So this week, after transfers- I hit a wall. I am not a perfect person and I will never be a perfect missionary, so I hope you aren't disappointed in me, but it's true. This week was really hard emotionally. I couldn't even tell you what was wrong.. because I hadn't even noticed that my behavior had changed until my companion stopped me on the side of the road during street contacts and I broke. They say that hell is a state of no progression. I never understood that. But, now, I am sure of it.

I have never in my life been apathetic. I have never in my life been unmotivated either. On the contrary, I´d actually like to believe that I am very self-motivated. I always have a goal, the next step in mind. But before this week, I have never felt so lost in my entire life. Not knowing what I want or what I am doing. Or even who I am. I used to make excuses for my head... ``I can't change....  thats just the way I am``. I never tried to change because I never saw change as a possibility. So, whether it was: I get offended easily, I am short-tempered, I am bossy... oppinionated... shy...or any mix or match in between, that was always my response. My excuse. I saw a lot of changes in myself in the beginning of my mission. I dont even know what changes they are- or if any of you would even notice them at all. But they were there. This week I said I was feeling lost. And I was. When high school essays or writing prompts asked one to describe themself- I always had an answer, but asking my self the same  questions this week, ``Who are you``? My mind drew a blank. I don't even know anymore... I have talked to a lot of missionaries who feel they have hit this wall before too- almost like a plateu. I promise you that no greater pain exists that the torment of feeling like you are not progressing when you know you should be.

But, this week, we had a killer zone training that blew my mind. The LZ´s talked about God as the potter- an analogy  we have all heard before. They talked about how when master potters are creating something on a wheel- if it beccomes even slighty distorted, the potter will crush the clay into a ball again  and start from scratch- because what they were creating wasnt really what that potter intended that clay to be. The ZLs talked about each of us in the clay in the potter´s hand. That maybe it hurts to have become something you thought you were and they to be broken down again... but thats because who you had become was never who God had intended you to be. And He will build you up again to be what He desired when He created you. I feel like that this week. I think I had an idea my entire life of who I was- virtues and vices- dreams and defeats- everything I wanted out of life based on what I thought I was capable of. But I have been broken. And quite frankly, I think I am not even all the way broken yet- I believe He is still breaking me. But at the same time, I believe He is teaching me that in all reality- I was becoming someone I thought I needed to be but I did it my way and now that I have no idea who I am, I am ready for Him to show me who I was supposed to become in the first place. I really don't know if any of this even makes sense, but it was an incredible lesson to me this week.

I know we all feel broken down sometimes- and that's hard. It's really really hard to feel like we dont know what we are doing, or even  who we are. But I believe all we have to know about ourselves is that we are children of a God who loves us. One who designed us to be someone we have never  even dreamed ourselves capable of being. So if you feel broken, Look up. Tell God you are ready to be who He intended you to be and you will know what He wants for you and He will show you how to get there. Look up. Dont look down on others, or side to side to compare. Look up and heavenward and God will take you there.
I am not trying to say that I am done changing, or that I have even started to become who God wants me to be. But, for 20 years I never thought to change because 20 years of habits is quite the task to unravel and refine. But, I guess I am trying to say that it doesnt matter how old you are or how many traits you want to develop or do away with. Your entire life here on earth was designed to change you and you have today, you have tomorrow. Change is really hard- but its possible. And... when done in the Lord´s way, its worth it.
Anyways, I love you guys so much. Have a wonderful week. You are all stellar! Be safe.

Serve. Go caroling. Smile. And... go start a snowball fight;)

Sister M. Seal