Monday, January 27, 2014

Good Week

Bom Dia, 
Good week. Shocking, right? Bad weeks don´t exist here in Brazil. 
We had a really cool activity at the church Saturday night that had to do with the plan of salvation- good reminder that we need to do good things every day and focus on what matters most. 
Saturday was Pedro´s baptism- another of Paulo´s boys. I love helping families find the church- we are so blessed to be working with them. Our next project is Mauricio- the second oldest in the family. We are also working with a lot of people we found on the road these last 2 weeks. 
We are changing it up a bit. Street contacting just isn’t the best missionary method. We know what is- it’s the members. This week our focus is less-actives, again. I think it is going to help a lot. Alma 31 talks about less-active work. Cool, right? Less-active work has ALWAYS been a huge part of our job as representatives of Christ. And.... so to those of you in Utah, where almost everyone is already a member, thats my challenge to you this week. There are a lot of less-actives. There are even MORE members whose testimonies are hanging by a thread. Reach out to someone this week. I promise you that someone needs you. I think I already told this story, but I am going to summarize, again. One day all of our appointments fell through, so we picked up the less-active ward list and went to work. The first house we stopped at was Elisangela. She invites us in immediately and we begin the ``small talk``. She asks a lot of questions- why we are here, eagerly prodding to find out who exactly it was that sent us.( Ha ha ha. Little did she know- It was God Himself. ) 
Then, she began to cry... saying she had been in her house, alone, bitter and sad, praying for help when we knocked at the door. She said she had been wanting to come back to the church for a really long time and that she was so grateful we came- that she wanted the missionary lessons again. 

We didn't know her. But God does. We didn't know she felt alone- that she was struggling. But God did. I make you this promise again, that someone needs you. Reach out to those around you. More often than not, the people that need you are the people who don't even look like they are struggling at all. 
And if you don’t believe in my words, prophetic promises were always cooler, weren't they? Gordon B. Hinckley said, ``Believe in yourself. Believe in your capacity to do great and good and worthwhile things. Believe in the nature within you, the divine nature, that you are in very deed a son or a daughter of God. There is something of divinity within you, something that stands high and tall and noble. Get above the dark and filth of the earth and walk on a higher plane with your head up, believing in yourselves and your capacity to act  for good in the world and make a difference.``
I love you all. Don’t give up- ever. Stay strong, firm in the faith of a living God who has never left your side. 
Love, Sister Seal

This is a very troublesome boy. I didn't realize he was making that kissing face until after I took the pic- but he was the boy who was baptized Saturday. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

What a week!

So. Last Wednesday was so looooonnnngggg. We got all moved in to our apartment and then a sister that lives with us said that our apartment was tiny, and found out the elders apartment (with only 2 elders) is twice the size. So... We switched apartments. Good news- it is huge and very well-ventilated. YES! Bad news- oh elders.... why why why are you SO gross!!! Yes, strike 2- second time moving into an elders apartment and I have pretty much decided it’s something I never want to do again. If you can believe it- this apartment was 100 times worse than the one in Prossind when I got there. Man. I was shocked. But... no horry stories. No pictures either- it’s better that you don’t see. Haha but it’s fine now, we have done a ton of work there and it’s looking better every day- after getting a few beds and dressers and cleaning supplies and utensils, we should be good to go!

Guarabira is SO cool. There are so many people here ready for the gospel. It’s a city with a lot of neighborhoods- we divide our work by neighborhoods with our district- 6 missionaries, as I explained last time. The first picture is a picture of our district. 2 Brazilians from São Paulo. My companion from Georgia, and Sister Willette from PA and Elder Wilson from Texas. I really like our district- our DL is LEGIT. He works hard and has some really great ideas- we are going to see miracles this transfer.

Speaking of miracles- the baptism of 4 wasn’t as easy as was planned. 2 of the sons dropped out and we will be working with them this week- but the dad, and his youngest son were baptized- which still took a TON of work. I was glad to have to work for the baptism though- I don’t want anything handed to me on a silver platter here. Or anywhere anymore. I’ve learned we only appreciate the things we have to work for. I took a picture with Roberto- the 10-year-old with my nametag on. He doesn’t know it yet, but yes, he is my future missionary.... Don’t know why he wasn’t smiling, because he has the cutest smile in the world- but oh well. Maybe its cuz he thinks I’m crazy? But... he is becoming my best buddy- love that family. The last pic is of the 4 of them- the dad with 3 of his sons. They are great and I am so happy to be working with them.

So, it’s a ramo, as I mentioned earlier. There is a lot of work to be done- the chapel was pretty empty yesterday- but that is exactly why we are here. The members really want to be missionaries- what a blessing! I don’t have a picture of the area yet- but it’s all green hills- everywhere. It’s probably the most beautiful area that exists in Brazil. But, the sun is way hotter here- I’m thinking we are at a higher altitude? Não sei. Because I am getting burned- like CRAZY. Don’t worry. I learned my lesson, swallowed my pride and will be using sun screen from here on out.

I really like my companion. She is super sweet, happy, and easy to get along with. She wants to learn and is humble too. I already love her and this is probably going to be the easiest companionship of all time. She has said some of the nicest things to me that I have heard on the mission. She told me I always know what to say and that I am ``powerful``. WOA. That was the first time I have heard that one. Anyways. She did marching band at BYU- so that will be fun after the mission- just one more companion I really don’t have to say goodbye to. YES! Speaking of companions. Moore got transferred- late transfer- to a different area and is now with my good buddy Sister Sciammarella. We are both sad she wasn’t able to stay with our old area, but this is going to help her a lot- she was pretty stressed out the last few weeks. She seems happier now, with makes me happy.

Ok. I read a really cool talk by Elder Holland this morning about change and faith. He based it around the story of ``Lot´s wife.`` He counseled, ``As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.

``So a more theological way to talk about Lot´s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord´s ability to give her something better than she already had.

He went on to talk about forgiveness. He said,``...That also happens in marriages and other relationships. I can’t tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through the window ``pain`` of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it had been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open some ancient wound that the Son og God Himself died to heal. Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is that charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ.

``...bury your weapons of war and leave them buried. Forgive and do that which is harder to do: forget. And when it comes to mind again, forget it again.

``...Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant and far away. Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform our life today, tomorrow, and forever. That is a New Year´s Resolution I ask you to keep.``

The idea is that we shouldn’t be a Lot´s wife, thinking that anyone’s past is more interesting that their future. Forgive people. Forget their mistakes and forget your own. Loved this idea because I truly love knowing we can change through the atonement. And, when you believe that for yourself, believe that for someone else too.

I love you guys. Don’t you worry about me, because I am just doing GREAT! Loving every minute of this mission and Guarabira. Have a wonderful day. Be safe! Enjoy the holiday today- and remember what it means!

Sister M. Seal

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spoiler alert: Transfers actually happen.

Yep. I like to cut to the chase. I was transferred. Can you believe it? 7 months in Prossind, the land I love, but I am now in Guarabira. That's about a 2 hour bus ride west (yes, far from the beach). Its all farmland and hills and BEAUTIFUL. I will be working right in the heart of the city and I couldn't be more excited. We are ready to work com força! 

But...I guess I shouldn't get ahead of myself. Wrapping things up in Prossind: Sister Moore was sick all week. I don't have my camera but next week I will send the pics of us in the hospital- twice. CRAZY. And we still don't really know what she had. Thankfully, she is better now, but it was a week of trouble work-wise. However, we still had our miracle baptism. Why was it a miracle? This was a street contact my trainer did on our first day in my Prossind. He was one of our first investigators. He was walking home and smoking and she crossed the road to talk to him. He accepted baptism and we taught him a few times. But.... his brother-in-law freaked out. Called us a cult- threw the Book of Mormon to us and told us never to come back. So, during these 6 months, I have seen Antonio a lot. He always passed by saying, ``Hi, Irmã``. Then one day I invited him to church again, asking permission of his lovely brother, and everything went very well. We started teaching him again and he was baptized- just like that. It was so amazing to have my last baptism in Prossind be my first real investigator that I taught there. It was really surreal, and something I will never forget. It makes me so happy to see how much he wants to change his life. He quit drinking in one day and quit smoking in 2 and is now teaching himself to read. Miracle. I am so grateful. It was really an amazing exit- out of the area I love. 

The hard part was Jaqueline. She did not take the news too well... and I really miss her already. I really love that girl, and she will always hold a piece of my heart--someone I will never forget. She is the angel God sent me- the greatest blessing and miracle I have seen on my mission so far. But, I am not afraid. I know it is not goodbye forever- she will be a friend forever- for all eternity. The prayer in my heart is that she continues strong and faithful, and that God keeps her on the earth to continue His work despite all of her illness and cancer. 

I am going to keep my head up and start the work here head-on sprinting. I am so ready for this area! I am so excited for all the possibilities here and I couldn't be happier. I know God knows perfectly where each of His children need to be and at each specific moment that they need to be there. I am ready to find who God is preparing here in Guarabira. 

Fun facts about Guarabira: Its a branch, not a ward yet. (YET) There are 3 companionships- 4 sisters and 2 elders- so its just our district and we will be eating together every day and working as a really close-knit team. Stoked. I am living with 2 Americans and a Brazilian. I already was living with Willette in Prossind and the other american, Mingledorf is my companion. She is so sweet! I love her already. I am so stoked! The Brazilian is from São Paulo. My DL is also from Sao Paulo. Our stake/zone is pretty small. Just a few elders that are working in Mamanguape and Sister Woodland from my MTC district. Cool, right? Even cooler: My LZ played lacrosse for BYU. Yes. Our zone is going to be unstoppable. So thrilled. Sister Moore stayed in Prossind and will be taking care of our investigators. I am really happy about that- she is going to work miracles there and I will definitely miss her, but I know we are called to do different things right now. I am grateful for all that she taught me, along with all of the companions I have had until this point. God has blessed me so much. I don't deserve all He has given me. 

Sorry- no pics right now. My camera is still packed away in my bag. Lots to do today- going to be crazy unpacking and adjusting to a new area- but I am happy. Good news! There is a post office here... meaning... I may be a better missionary and actually send letters more frequently? I make no promise-'s better than nothing. 

OK. I have taken enough of your time. Really, thanks for everything. Keep pressing forward- you're doing great at what you do. I love you all and wish the greatest of blessings for each of you and for your loved ones. Have a wonderful week. Be safe. I will write again Monday will all the details of my area- you cant get mad yet, Kim, because I haven't met anyone yet. But... my companion says we should have 4 baptisms today. WHAT????? That's all I know. We will see how that goes down. 

Sister Seal

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014, Whoa

Happy 2014 and Happy Birthday Grandma!

New Years Eve we stayed up all night watching fireworks on the beach- it was so cool. 

NOT. I guess that was me dreaming. Oops. 

Yes, I spent my second favorite holiday sleeping- like a good little missionary. But, I am loving this new year. Why????? Because everyone is looking for change. Ha! Surprise! We have the perfect change for you. It's called the Gospel.

This week was definitely the best of this transfer. We have been changing a few things around here and its working magic- everyone is accepting baptism- CRAZY. We have been finding God´s elect. And... hopefully we will have a few baptisms this coming Sunday. Hooray!

This morning was so great. Grey skies and pouring like it did when I got here. Man do I miss the winter. Ha, yes, I know- none of you believe youre actually lucky to have snow right now, but you are....

This is the last p-day of the transfer. What. I swear, every transfer just passes faster and faster. So- i will be emailing again on the 15th to let you know what all happens. Really not expecting anything big. I have learned that President doesn't really do crazy things- just minor changes along the way. So... that proabably means I am staying in Prossind with Sister Moore. Only 16 missionaries are arriving this transfer- 3 are sisters. We are back to ``Elder overload``. Better that way. Its so cool that so many sisters are choosing to serve... but the boys need to step it up- it is their responsibility. 

So I loved all the letters- you guys are so great. Holly said something I really liked. She said, God takes us to a wall over and over so that He can help us climb over. Thats really true. I believe in the idea that when we feel that our back is  up against a wall, and we have tried all we can do- thats when we pray that He steps in and He always fits us to the task, showing us the way HE wants us to accomplish that which He asked of us. I heard it said a different way too: That when we feel like we are on an edge, God tells us to jump- and sometimes we dont, because we are afraid we will fall, but really God is only trying to teach us to fly! Thanks Holly for the inspiration- and each and every one of you too. Special shout out to the amazing people who have written time and time again. Some would call them, ``The regulars``... I would also call them ´´the faithful`` : Papa, Grandma, Great Grandpa, Kim, Oma, Jayna, and Holly. And of course, Mom and Katie too. (Dad... you could join this list, you know.... *cough cough * hahaha ). Really, you will probably never understand how much I appreciate it- your words of love, support, encouragement, and advice. I know it isn't easy to write letters all the time- who has time for it anyway? (I am the worst of them all) But you do.... You always do, and I am really, really grateful. I don't even like the words, ``Thank you``... because it just never seems to be enough.

Ok. Stellar quote for the week: ``There is not one of us but what God´s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save, and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God.`` -- George Q. Cannon. 

I love this idea, and my prayer is that each of you realize and understand your eternal value and worth- how much I love you and how much your Father in Heaven loves you. He has charged ANGELS concerning you. I find great peace in knowing that because we understand this truth, we also understand that He has charged angels concerning those we love that have gone astray. Henry B. Eyring said, ``My message to all of us, is that there is joy guaranteed for the faithful. From before the world was, a loving Father in Heaven and His beloved son loved and worked with those who they knew would wander. God will love them forever. You have the advantage of knowing that they learned the plan of salvationi from the teachings they received in the spirit world. They and you were faithful enough to be allowed to come into the world when many others were not. With the help of the Holy Ghost, all the truths will be brought to our remembrance. We cannot force that on others, but we can let them see it in our lives. We can always take courage from the assurance that we all once felt the joy of being together as a member of the beloved family of our Heavenly FAther. With God´s help, we can all feel that hope and joy again.``

Anyways, my time is up. But, I love you with all my heart. Don't give up on anyone. And don't give up on yourself- you have infinite worth. If times are difficult- look up, because it always gets better, and God will never leave your side so long as you never leave His. Have a wonderful week. Be safe. Be good. I love you.

Sister M. Seal

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!
I hope your Christmas was marvelous! I sure LOVED talking to my sweet family. Hahaha the member I was with, Romualdo, said I am a crybaby. Whatever.
Some Christmas traditions in Brazil.
1. They have a huge dinner Christmas Eve. AT MIDNIGHT. See Skylar.... its not strange to celebrate Christmas at midnight Christmas Eve. :)
2. Christmas morning isnt actually a huge deal. Thats sinful, but its fine.
3. Santa doesnt really do ``coal`` here... Or stockings. Maybe because there are no chimneys?
Overall, Christmas is just really different here- but the idea is the same worldwide- its the birth of our savior that is important.
Talking with you all was the best gift of the year. I miss you guys but am so happy to know you are all doing well. I LOVE YOU.
This was a great week. Monday my companion and I set a goal to do 100 street contacts... who is doubting us right now? Cuz we DID IT! YES! It was exhausting- but super cool!. Tuesday night we watched Joy to the World (great film- you should watch it if you havent) and then ate dinner at 8 pm at a member's house. Suuuuper yummy.
Wednesday we went to the beach- kind of. (With Jaqueline and Romualdo). We were actually on this mountain above the beach- great views. And.... I got burnt- like crazy. Valeu- it was legit. Hope you enjoyed the photos. We had a blast! It is supposedly the farthest eastern part of Brazil- where the sunrises first. But, you know me- I am not the girl to get up at 4 o clock in the morning to watch the sun 6:30 it was. De qualquer jeito, it was still cool.
Thursday I had the best lunch of my existence. I never even liked Chinese food that much- but I seriously almost died when we went to Novo Oriente with a member family. Maybe it's because we eat the same thing every day, and the change almost blew my mind. But seriously... soy sauce never tasted so good. Yep- didn't even like soy sauce before either. Ha! Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Merry, merry, merry Christmas.
Sunday we found a few really cool new investigators and I will let you know how that goes. This week looks pretty good too.. Transfer is coming to an end, so we are trying to make the most of every minute.

Well, tomorrow is the last day of the year, and I can't believe how quickly 2013 passed. My mind is focused always on change here in the mission field- but these last few weeks, now more than ever with a new year and a new start around the corner. I thought about how far I have already come here on the mission- my mission is already halfway over- but then I remembered how far I still need to go. I have a lot left to learn... but one thing I have learned is that we can't look back and say, ``look at all the incredible things I did in my life or last year or yesterday`` and then give up. It is our charge to improve every single day. It's like the talk from the last conference by Edward Dube ``Look ahead and Believe``. He said, ``Our Savior, Jesus Christ, who sees from the begining to the end, knew very well the rad He would travel to Gethsemane and Golgotha when He proclaimed, ``No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kigdom of God (Luke 9:62). In the sight of the Lord, it is not so much what we have done or where we have been but mch more where we are willing to go.`` So if 2013 was rough, this is your chance for change. If 2013 was great, FANTASTIC! Now, what are you going to do to make this next one even better? And... if you give up on resolutions that hang in our mind until the first week in february, give it another chance and remember that the only realy change comes through the atonement. Focus on the things that matter most- internal changes were always more important than external. Always remember that if we have faith- no matter how difficult the task, we can change any part of us that doesnt make us happy. *See Mosiah 5:7 and Alma 5:12-14, 26. (Ran out of time, cant type it out, sorry).
Well, this is a wonderful time of year, isnt it? I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season. I truly love you all and wish for your best interest. Praying for you. Love you! Be safe. Have a wonderful week.

Sister M. Seal