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 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.

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. 

Sister McKenna Seal