Monday, September 8, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, 
Sister McKenna Kimberly Seal


Missão Brasil João Pessoa para toda a eternidade

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hello Beautifuls!

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

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

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

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

Sister McKenna Seal

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Follow Up"

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

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

Sis M Seal

Monday, August 18, 2014

Doing well now...

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

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

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

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

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

Love, 

Sister M. Seal

Monday, August 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Skylar!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, 
Sister Seal


PS Photos coming soon...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The beginning of the end...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With all my love, 
SIster M. Seal

Monday, July 21, 2014

Finally some pictures!












Happy Birthday, Logan!

Happy Birthday, Logan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This was the best week of the transfer for sure! For starters, a car just passed by blasting the song ``Love the Way You Lie`` by Eminem and Rihanna. First time that I have heard that song on my mission. Made. My. Day. But...coming back down to earth—we had a baptism yesterday! Nilva! It was really sweet. I sent pictures to mom—hopefully they turn up on the blog. 
We are working hard. One thing we have started doing is that every day we write a list of miracles that we saw in our planner and then put the list in our journal. Man is it helping me to see how much God loves us and blesses us. A member in our branch told me the way to measure success on a mission is to count how many people you can make smile every day. I love that idea. :)
Funny story of the week- we went tracting. (which is way easier in Brazil than in the states, btw.) Anyways, I went up to a door to knock and this dumb dog comes out raging mad. I saw every one of his teeth and thought he was going to kill me. But afterwards, I almost died laughing. Everyone warned me in blogs before the mission that dogs would be an issue- I just never had a problem before this week. But, man, did that dog chase me! And quite frankly, he only made me remember that I’m kinda out of shape hahahaha!
I love you guys. Sorry, out of time, de novo, but I sent a ton of pics. be happy :)
LOVE YOU ALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sister M. Seal

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gente

Gente, I´m just going to make a public apology: I am getting lazy. You may or may not have noticed that my emails leave much to be desired. It's the truth, but at least I am aware of it and admit it? 

I don't know what to say other than I am well. We are working hard. Brazil took 4th- thats the best news I´ve got. And the world cup is over. Congrats to Germany! 

I heard something really cool the other day, "If you want your kids to talk to you when they´re older, talk to them when they´re younger". Don't shut them out--make time for them NOW, and they will make more time for you LATER. It was a really cool ad I saw... and anyways, thought I´d pass it along. The other idea was "if there is no communication, little problems quickly become big problems" and "Children spell love 'T-I-M-E'"

Yes, that makes me a hypocrite- because I am not doing a good job of giving you all time, am I? hahaha I will repent.

Ok. Shoot. Out of time. Love you. 

Sister M. Seal

Monday, June 30, 2014

Homework!

My message today: Read the talk by Elder Holland from the Oct. 2012 General Conference called, ``The First Great Commandment``- its STELLAR. (Conner, I am directing this to you especially, ok? Please read it and let me know what you think.)

I'm doing well- happy, healthy, working hard. No news. My companion is an ANGEL. I love her so much- she really understands sacrifice and service. She does EVERYTHING for me and never complains or asks for anything in return. She is a huge blessing and example. :)

Mmmmm, this week is the 4th of July. HAPPY 4TH! Send pics Paleeez! Wishing I could be there to watch the fireworks, but hey! We´ve already got plenty of them here with the world cup and crazy holidays. The world cup is da hora!!!! I hope you are all watching the Brazilian games (and US games too). Minha nossa. Sorry, folks, but I am 98% BRAZILIAN now. Hahahaha

Anyways, tomorrow is going to be legit- leadership training again. :) Last Thursday, I gave a district meeting training, because now I am the district leader of all the sisters in my zone, too. Ha. I talked about new beginnings. Read the talk, ``The Best is Yet to Come`` By Elder Holland. CHANGED MY LIFE. Seriousy. I know, I am a failure of a blog writer- I give you nothing but homework, but do it- these are the 2 talks that I ask you all to read this week- perfect Sunday activity. Or any day activity, as we should be studying the gospel everyday... you are all doing that right? Studying every day? Good.... 

Love you all. Have a great week! Smile!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy JULY!

Love, 

Sister M. Seal

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

No. No transfer calls for me.

No. No transfer calls for me, anyway. The 3 sisters I was living with were all transferred, but I am staying in Mamanguape. Whoot! But...I have a new companion. Good and bad. I really loved Sister Chap. I liked her a LOT! She became one of my best friends a lot faster than I thought possible. But... it’s also good because she wasn't testing me- she may have been too perfect. Now I am with Sister Caiani. And guess what! SHE’S BRAZILIAN! Yes! I get to work on my Portuguese again.
Highlight of my week: I SAW JAQUELINE IN JOÃO PESSOA! We had to go to the doctors because my companion was sick and Jaqueline met us for lunch. Best day ever! She seems to be doing well. We ate in a huge supermarket that looks like a real Wal-Mart. I didn't know they had supermarkets here that chic! But... man was it expensive- most expensive meal of my mission. A plate that should have been $8 was $26. (You weigh the plate on the scale... but don’t freak out- it wasn't that much food, gosh I’d have died) I put the receipt in my journal. It made me a little bit upset, but we've just got to laugh, right?
It’s raining like CRAZY here and the world cup is going well- not too many crazies.. hallelujah. This Saturday there is another game- should be interesting, I am pretty sure if we lose its over- but I don’t know- I don’t play soccer. haha
That’s really about it. Sorry I’m so boring haha but.... já era. 
I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!!! Talk to ya, Monday! ;)
PS. My camera had like 20 viruses, it shut my friends computer down- so he had to clean it all up and now it’s back, but the computers in this city don’t have virus protection, so I won’t be emailing pics as often anymore- just at members’ houses. Sorry. But, just to let you know. :) Tchau!

Viva Brasil!!!!!!         

Monday, June 16, 2014

World Cup Crazy

AHHHHHHH! I fixed my camera! Yes! Take that, Katie! I can work with technology toooooo... It may just take me a little bit longer..... :P
Sorry, that ridiculous outburst has been a long time coming. 
Happy Fathers Day! (Special shout out to Daddy, Papa, and Craig!) Also, Oma, Happy birthday this week! Whoot whoot!
Good week as always. Everything goes crazy around here the day Brazil plays in the world cup- but it keeps things fun, right? For those of you who don't know, Brazilians are craaazzzzyyyy. And, I love them :)
News: This week marks 1 year here in Brazil. I remember my first day well, and man has a lot changed. I've changed. You´ve changed too. It all seems like a dream to me. And boy does it go quickly. I remembering eating corn- thats what we eat this time of year (São João). A year ago, I wasn't a big fan, but these days its painful to think I will soon leave it all behind: The traditions I love... the people I love... 
Speaking of days passing quickly- this is the last week of this transfer. So, I will be emailing again next Wednesday in 10 days time. Of course I will not be transferred, I just got here, but it is interesting to begin my last 2 transfers when people begin to say “Your mission is over- you´re dying now”. Its horrible really, people don't stop with the jokes and the teasing haha. I guess I´ll get used to it. 
I read the Character of Christ this week, it was good to read again to remind me of the vision I had when I left the MTC. I highly recommend it to all of you who have never read it and even if you have, its always good to read again. Another good read is Clayton M. Christensen´s book, “The power of everyday Missionaries”. Get a copy of this book and it will change the member missionary that you are! Seriously, this book has changed the way I see my role as a member of the church. We have great responsibility. We also have great responsibility to KNOW, in the first place, what that great “responsibility” is.
A few quotes I read this morning, the first by David O. McKay, “Mans greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others.”
I think the first step in learning to lose ourselves in the service of others is to prioritize our lives. Thomas S. Monson said, “We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we are doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the `thick of thin things`. In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting the most important causes.”
Yes, its true, the “most important causes” require effort- its takes work, usually work that isn't easy, and often found tiresome. But as Henry B. Eyring said, beautifully, “When I find myself drawn away from my duties or by other interests and when my body begs for rest, I give myself this rallying cry: `Remember Him`.”







Monday, June 9, 2014

Faith and Miracles

Morning!

Good week here—always is, right?

We had a leadership meaning Tuesday and our zone meeting Wednesday- they both went really well. Our new focus here is less actives! Love the idea, this mission really needs it too. Glad for yet another proof that our mission president is inspired. 

This week Jose and Fia were baptized. It was really awesome. :) God is really helping us in His work here. 

I am doing well- its starting to rain a lot here, again. Love the rain. Love the work, couldn't be happier. You´d also be pleased to know that I am mastering a few cake recipes down here- cakes every week for every baptizing... and I wonder why I am a little chubbier. HA! 

Zooeira. Anyways, everything is going well here- my companion is awesome. This branch is great, too. Yesterday, in sacrament meeting, Elder Carbonie came to talk to us- he is one of Pres. Nogueira´s counselors. Every time I see him he says, "Sister Seal, I know your father." Funny, right dad?

So happy to hear that you seem to be doing well- all of you are doing such great and exciting things- keep it up. I cant wait to catch up with you all in a few months time. And no- I don't want to talk about how little time that may be. Minha nossa, how it flies!

This morning I was studying faith and miracles. 2 Nephi 27:33, "For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith." 

I think miracles are a lot like salvation in the sense that yes, "`his grace is sufficient" but it also requires work on our part. We work to qualify for eternal life and we work to qualify for miracles. We cant merely wait around for a miracle to fall into our laps. Quite frankly, miracles rarely come when we are sitting anyway...

Having faith to see miracles doesn't mean we just believe someday maybe one could or would or might or should happen. The reason faith is a pre-requisite is because faith means we ACT. Ether 12:30 says, ``For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved wherefore thou workest after men have faith.`` 

We hear about this "faith to move mountains" all the time. I've also heard it said that if you looked behind that "moving mountain", you would see a bunch of people pushing it. 

Real faith is in our works not our words. 

This was a good lesson for me to learn this morning- and definitely one I have seen in action time and time again here in Brazil.

I LOVE being a missionary. And, I love all of you. Have a great week and may God be with you till we meet again.

Love, Sister M. Seal

These pictures are from a different camera- I think mine has a virus because they wont upload. I am going to start using a different memory card. SORRY. Dad or Katie need to fix it!!!! Love you all! Smile!





Monday, June 2, 2014

Trekking to Guarabira

CONGRATULATIONS MICHAEL..... Send me a pic of your diploma because I still don’t believe it ;)
To all of you still in school- finish strong. And, happy summer!
This was a great week- they always are, but this one was especially good thanks to the mission conference and Maya´s baptism. Pics... are coming soon.
This week looks great too- tomorrow I have a leadership meeting in Joao Pessoa. (YES- get to see my buddies again and prep up to do the zone training Wednesday- its gonna be great!)
Moving on- let’s talk miracles. Friday night the sisters in Guarabira were needing help so my companion and I decided to travel to their area to help them out. tudo bem. We got the phone call at 5 and decided to leave immediately. But... we obviously didn't think it through very well because little did we know- traveling after 6 pm is stupid, really stupid. Instead of $10 per person, the price shot up to $50 for the both of us ONE way (Taxi prices..pshh.) and honestly, it probably wasn't the safest thing we have ever done, either. Well, you all know me, I am stubborn and REFUSED to pay $50. Ridiculous. Instead, we trekked over to a street corner where drivers pass for a better price. (Uh, yes, basically Brazilian hitch-hiking) but.... no one was passing by. I didn't realize how difficult it is to travel here at night. So, we said a prayer that somehow we could get to Guarabira safely to help the sisters. Just then, a woman showed up, also waiting for a taxi- she asked where we were headed to. Our luck was that she was going to a neighboring city. (good- now we have a travel buddy) then she said, ``You're sisters!`` Music. To. My. Ears. And then said, ``I am Mormon, too!``
What??????????
She offered, ``You can come with me, my nephew is coming to get me right now.`` After talking for some time, we find out that she has been inactive for a very long time... it was so sweet to hear her sing along with us the words to Nearer My God to Me and other hymns she remembers after so long. But the story gets even better- a friend of hers showed up and started asking us about the church and she so enthusiastically answered all the questions and said, ``come to church with me Sunday, I will take you!`` He accepted her invitation and i was so impressed with this woman and the member missionary she was without even realizing it. Even more impressive was finding out that the reason she was at that street corner was because she had missed her bus from Joao Pessoa. I believe gods hand was in that. Honestly, I see God’s hand in all of it. I cant even count how many prayers were probably answered that night. 
Long story short- we made it to Guarabira and yes, I promise to never do that again.

This morning, too, was one of learning. It was an interesting day at the bank. There were huge lines and one girl decided to cut everybody- joining in with a buddy right in front of me. There was an uproar- everyone began to yell at her- complaining that they´d been waiting in line for an hour and that she had no right to be so selfish.... etc. It was astonishing how quickly they became angry. My companion and I looked at each other, sadly, as they attacked her, calling her an idiot, uneducated blonde. It was appalling. I stood in silence, remembering the video I watched on Tuesday in the mission conference about the Savior. It showed a story of Pharisees and tax collectors. In the movie, the people were screaming at the tax collector, calling him a thief and every other manner of cruel language. Jesus looked at the Pharisee and spoke of prayer. He said, wo unto the hypocrites who pray to God saying, ``Thank you Lord for letting me be better than the sinners in the streets- more holy, more like thee``... on the other hand, Jesus said that Our Father in Heaven is more willing to hear the prayer of the sinner, of the ``tax collector`` who calls to heaven, ``Have mercy on me, Lord, for I know that I am a sinner``. I am not saying who is right and who is wrong in the situation I saw at the bank today. But as the crowd attacked her with hatred and harsh words telling her she was ``wrong`` or that her actions were not ``just or fair`` I thought of Christ. I thought to myself, truly Christ cares little about what is ``just `` or ``fair`` or ``equal``. Christ is much more concerned with mercy...
This is not to condone cutting in line or other uncommon and unnecessary behavior. No. But it is to say, may we be more merciful. May we be more patient with others and their weaknesses for surely god is well aware of them in each of us and knows the path we need to take to overcome them. May we remember God’s mercy towards us even and especially in the moments we least deserve it and may we leave our hypocritical tendencies alone, aside, and far, far away.
This is the message I wish to leave with you today and this week. May we remember the savior in all we do and learn to act as He would is my prayer.  Have a great week. Be safe. ``Be good``- Kim. 
Sister M. Seal

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bia's Miracle

Schools out for summer, eh? Congratulations Michael- graduation this week! YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR- I knew you would do it! Conner, when is nationals? To all of you teachers and students- just go hard and finish strong. You´ve got this!
This week was great. We had 2 baptisms: Bia and Italo. Bia is a teenager - the last in a family that was baptized a month ago. Hahaha even the rebellious come around eventually. She is just the cutest girl. Love her. See below to hear about her miracle story. Italo is a 12-year-old boy who decided immediately after visiting last Sunday that he wanted to be baptized and the best news is that his mom is hopefully going to be baptized this week too! Families!
With my new calling, I got to go on splits this week (actually I go on splits every week, but this week was AWESOME! I went out with my daughter! Aka, my ex-companion that I trained- Sister Bassi. She is so great! I LOVED working with her again; it is so funny to me that she is with my most recent companion working in my area now. I am kind of thinking Bassi and I worked a lot together before this world began, if you know what I mean. Ah.... soul sisters. Haha I feel that way about all of my companions- love every single one of them to death! The trick is teaching them to deal with ME! Haha :D
So this 40-day fast I am doing is changing my mission. I am feeling the spirit much more strongly than I have in a long time- its like a part of my greenie fire is coming back. Testifying brings tears these days and I feel every word I am saying to these people. Accompanied with that desire is a really proud love for each of my investigators. Its SO cool. Speaking of the 40-day-fast... I guess its a talk or story related by Elder Gene R. Cook called purification or sanctification. Try googling it on the internet and it should bring up this 40-day-challenge. You are invited to try it with me. And, speaking of the challenge, I wanted to share a few quotes I read this morning about sacrifice. The first 2 are by Neal A. Maxwell.
“Real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us on the altar and letting it be consumed!”
“The submission of one´s will is placing on God’s altar the only uniquely personal thing one has to place there. The many other things we ``give`` are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us.”
“sacrifice is the key. The Lord will not deal with you on any other basis. It is the key to controlling the powers of Heaven.” - Hartman Rector Jr. 
Then, 2 quotes from the talk itself, ``there is no limit to what you can do if you and the Lord believe that you can. If you look to Him for your strength and are willing to make the sacrifice, all things are possible.”
``You will find that as your spirituality increases, you will be literally impelled to overcome your ´failings.´”

Loved the message. Give it a shot. You will be amazed at the miracles Heavenly Father will work in your life.
And.... how does this week look? Well, tomorrow we have a mission tour again. YES. ONE. OF. THE. BEST. THINGS. THAT. HAPPEN. HERE. I will let you know how it goes. And...more splits. Should be good. I love going back to Guarabira to work with the sisters there. Tomorrow makes 14 months. Geeesh. Getting old, aren't I?
Ok. I promised to write about Bia´s miracle. So, Bia initially had no desire whatsoever to be baptized. So, we watched the restoration with her. I was a little worried when the audio stopped working and she was hardly paying attention while doing her sisters hair. But, we stuck with our plans and I began to read the subtitles to her- which allowed for discussion as the movie continued to play. I believe it turned out better that way, to be honest. Then at the end, we asked her if she believed it, that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. She said yes. We then asked her if she knew that this meant that this is the only true church. Again, she said yes. We asked her then what it is exactly that makes her not want to be baptized... she kept quiet for a long time. She had talked earlier about being tired of getting baptized because she´d already been twice before in different churches. (This was the reason for hitting hard on the first lesson). After a long silence I said, ``Its because you haven't prayed yet, isn't it...`` She nodded and we invited her to pray with us that minute to close up the lesson. She refused to pray for about 6 or 7 minutes. We talked to her, testifying of how much her father in heaven wants to hear her and finally, she agreed to pray using a ``missionary speak, investigator repeat pattern``. When it came time for her to thank and ask for blessings, she did so alone, but she didn't ask for an answer... So, I told her in the prayed to ask if Joseph Smith was a prophet. She kept quiet for a long time. I changed the question, telling her to ask for the strength to be baptized Sunday. Again, she wouldn't speak. After a long pause, we knew she was done- she wouldn't say anything else. So, we closed the prayer and standing up, I asked her why she wouldn't speak.... and asked her if she knew these things were true... She looked at me with eyes seriously sparkling as she said, I know its true. I asked her how she felt during the prayer and she said, ``Its funny, because I really didn't want to be baptized but when you told me to ask those questions, I felt something.`` I asked her if she knew that God wanted her to be baptized. She said yes. I asked her, ``So, are you going to be baptized...``She asked if she could give me an answer next week when her sister (recent convert) shouted out, ``Oh woman just get baptized already!`` I looked at her sister, shocked really, and said, ``you really want her to get baptized don't you...`` Her sister responded, ``Yes, and I know she will, the day i was baptized i dreamed that bia got baptized the same way i did.`` And in that moment, when her sister testified like that, Bia jumped for joy, grinning from ear to ear and said, ``I will!`` And then everyone was hugging and laughing and honestly, I walked out of there just wanting to cry. Folks, THAT is the power of prayer. This is God´s work, and He gives His children answers- it was another testimony to me of the power of prayer and a testimony that the Spirit converts God´s children- He speaks to them. He really does. That is the power of prayer, and that is the power of love (love between 2 sisters that may or may not have made me think of my own. Shout out to Katie).

Anyways, I hope the story made sense, as you know, I am always in a hurry. But I LOVE this work. I love this Gospel. I love being a missionary- this is my life- the best I have ever lived it. Its everything I never knew I needed.

Have a wonderful week- proud of you all. Love you all. Thinking of you all. Sorry, still don't have pics- I will fix that. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Loving Mamanguape

Loving Mamanguape. The only problem: the mosquitoes do too.... So my legs look like I have the chicken pox- all the time hahaha oh the joys of living in a jungle. 

We had a baptism yesterday- Izac. It was really cool. Other cool news: Maria´s (recent convert) daughter, Tieli was baptized yesterday!!! She is a girl I was teaching when I left. YES!

Bad news: I don't know what is wrong with my camera cord... I cant seem to upload pics anymore. I am trying to work something out but I think I am just going to have to buy an card adapter to just upload directly from the memory card instead of using the cord. We will see. But, that means, no pictures, again. Not my best news either because I have some pretty great pics I am dying to send home. 

This was a great week. We worked HARD! We had a leadership training Friday and I was feeling really stressed about that- but I know Heavenly Father fits us to every calling to which He calls us. We are never left in our own strength while in the Lord´s service. 

I love my companion. She is super chic! She is from Chile, and is 19. Shes an only child- her parents both served missions and we get along really well. This transfer is just going to be great, I can tell. As for my area, its basically Guarabira, but without hills. Score. I am liking my new branch too- everyone here is really nice. 

I got 2 packages this week. HUGE SHOUT OUT TO MOM AND KIM! Thank you. I also got some pretty great letters. Thank you so much. In one of Kim´s letters, she shared a scripture that I LOVED and wanted to share with you all today. Isaiah 25:8-9 : “He will swallow up death in victory and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all the faces and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; and we have waited for him and he will save us: this is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Waiting is a really interesting idea- one we as members of the church have a greater understanding of that than the rest of the world. That is a privilege. May we not forget that waiting and patience do not mean giving up on the righteous desires of your heart; it only means working with all your might, and accepting not only the Lords will, but His timing.  That is the way the Lord works miracles- through our faith, patience, prayers, and diligence.

I read a quote this morning by Neil L. Andersen, “Miracles are not always so immediate. At times, we thoughtfully wonder why the miracle we have so earnestly prayed for does not happen here and now. But as we trust in the savior, promised miracles will occur. Whether in this life or the next, all will be made right. The savior declares: ``Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.” “In the world ye shall have much tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world`` (John 16:33). I testify that as you love Him, trust Him, believe Him, and follow Him, you will feel His love and approval. As you ask, “What Christ thinks of me?” you will know that you are His disciple, you are His friend. By His grace He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself. 

“In a future day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is the Christ. On that day, our concern will not be, `Do others consider me Christian?’ At that time our eyes will be fixed on Him, and our souls will be riveted on the question, ‘What Christ thinks of me?’”

Perhaps the greatest miracle of my week was an idea that my district leader shared with us on Thursday. It is a 40-day fast. Obviously not of food and water.... but of behaviors. My invitation to each of you is that you participate, because I can already see a difference in my life and in my work. If you would like to participate, here is what you do:

You start with a regular fast (the 24 hour without food) asking during those 24 hours that Heavenly Father shows you 10 things you need to change to become more Christ-like, It could be things you do, things you don't, fears you have... etc. After your fast, you make a covenant with Heavenly father that you are going to change, according to these 10 ``commandments`` He gave you. You begin your 40-day fast by saying this prayer, making this covenant, and in return, you ask for NOTHING. Don't ask for special blessings or more success... etc. Just ask for the strength to change according to His will. This is your purification/ sanctification process. 

I absolutely loved the idea. I don't know if I explained it well enough, but I hope it made sense. It is only an invitation, and if you decide to do so, I would love to know! I promise you that you will see miracles- ones you weren't expecting or asking for but ones Heavenly Father wants to give you. Good luck. 

That's about it for today... I love you all so much, thank you for your support. Be safe, have a wonderful week! :)