Monday, July 9, 2018

Week 75 - July 9, 2018

"E ao terminar nossa grande missão, descanso teremos na bela Sião.... Adeus, ó Babilônia, nos vamos partir, sagrada missão precisamos cumprir."

English Translation:  And at the end of our great mission, we shall have rest in beautiful Zion .... Goodbye, O Babylon, we are going to leave, sacred mission we must fulfill

(Lyrics to Elders of Israel in Portuguese, makes me cry when I sing it, super beautiful, go look up what it means if you don't speak Portuguese.)

Sisters Amazonas and Coleman

Well, folks, the end is near, two more p-days after this one. I don't know how many more of these public updates I'll be able to send, because it seems that everyone who neglected to write me for my whole mission is now trying to make up for it, so I don't have as much time to write everyone. Therefore, I think this is the second to last update I'll be sending. I would like to thank all my faithful readers (even if you are just one of my cousins whose parents forced you read it every week) for sticking with me to the end. I've not been able to express even a portion of what I've learned and felt and experienced on my mission, but I hope you've been able to feel how much I love these people, this country, this mission, this gospel, and most of all, my Savior. I've come to know Him and love Him more than ever, and little by little, I'm learning to be more like Him, which is, after all, the purpose of all this.

With Pres. & Sister Souza, new mission president.

A quick update on what's happened the past few weeks: two of the daughters from that Native American family we're teaching got baptized, Natiele and Natiane (17 and 16 years old). We're still working with the parents and other two siblings, but it looks like the family will be moving to another part of Porto Alegre in a few weeks, so I hope the missionaries there will take good care of them, because I feel so strongly that the whole family will be baptized and one day sealed, because they truly deserve the blessings of an eternal family. 

Natiane's Baptism

The baptism of Natiele was an especially touching experience for me. She told me afterward that, as she entered the water, all of her sins and mistakes were running through her mind. And in the moment the bishop (who was baptizing her) started the prayer, she started saying a prayer in her mind, really asking God to forgive her of everything and let her be clean and free. As she prayed, she started crying, and as she was lifted from the water, she says she felt better than she'd ever felt in her life. Clean, pure, light, forgiven. 

Natiele's Baptism
This was a great reminder to me that what we do in the church- get baptized, take the sacrament, go to the temple- doesn't have any meaning or magic in and of itself. It all depends on us, on our attitude and understanding and obedience and how we act to fulfill those covenants we make. The baptismal waters aren't magical, it's just water. And the sacrament is just bread and water. And the church is just a building. Unless we choose to make it something more, unless we humble ourselves and make that baptism, sacrament, church meeting, etc., something life-changing and significant. Natiele became a new person, she was born again, because she was willing to take the necessary steps to abandon her sins and mistakes. Do we go through that same thought process every time we take the sacrament or perform another ordinance? That girl really is a great example to me.

Young Women at Ward Activity
Some other things that have happened: everyone's sad because Brazil lost the World Cup, but I'm low key happy about it because it means people won't use "watching the game" as an excuse for not letting us in their houses anymore. We had a conference with our new mission president last week. They're both very spiritual and excited to be here, I like them both a lot, even though I won't get to work with them for very long. 
View from the top of a hill near the
Native American Villiage is located.

Hope you all have an excellent week :)
Sister Coleman

Week 74 - July 2, 2018

No update from Sister Coleman this week.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Week 73 - June 25, 2018

Soooo this week was crazy emotional. President and Sister Cruz are finishing their mission next week, so they had this big conference to say goodbye to all of us. And I'm pretty sure I was crying from the minute President started talking until the end, haha. They just talked about the memories and good moments they've had with us on the mission, and how much they love us, how we've become a part of their family. Then they put up this slideshow with pictures of all of us and "God be with you till we meet again" playing in the background. I don't think there was a single person in the room not crying. At the end, they just said, "This isn't a goodbye, this is a see you later. We'll all be together again someday." 

They've been the absolute best, I know God needed me to come to this mission at this time, even if it was just to serve with them. (Although obviously it was for a lot of other reasons too.) Okay, I'm gonna stop talking about this now or I'll start crying again.

So, I'll be serving with the new president, President Souza (from São Paulo) for just a few weeks. But obviously he'll be great too, because he was also called by God to serve at this time....but there's still no way I'll get as attached to him as Pres. Cruz.

Other than that, not much out of the ordinary happened this week. Lots of rain here, and Natiele (from that family of Native Americans that I mentioned a few times) decided to get baptized next week! We're still working with the rest of the family, because they're all amazing, but not totally sure that they want to get baptized. But we're so happy for Natiele and proud of her courage for being the first of her family to get baptized. (She's 17). 

I realized that I didn't say anything about my new comp in my last letter...oops. Sometimes I forget what I've written in my journal or in cards or in my weekly update, so if I write about something in one of those places, I feel like I've already written about it in others. Anyway, her name is Sister Amazonas, from Manaus, which is in the state of Amazonas (what a coincidence, huh?). She's been on her mission for 4 months. 

Well, love you all. Até logo (um pouco logo de mais)!
Sister Coleman

Monday, June 18, 2018

Week 72 - June 18, 2018

I love my Heavenly Father so much. He is so merciful and willing to help us in anything and everything. Recently we've been having difficulty in bringing a lot of people to church, especially because of the cold and rain. This week we worked our butts off trying to invite and follow up on everyone we could. Sunday morning, we woke up at 5:30, got ready super quick, and went to pick everyone up. Sadly, almost no one went with us. Most of them didn't even come to the door, just kept on sleeping. Luckily, two investigators went with us, which was great, but we'd really prayed and worked to have more. To our surprise, when we arrived at the church, we saw more investigaors waiting for us. We'd asked a member to pick up two investigators, sisters, who live super far away.  These sisters had ended up inviting a bunch of family members and friends who went with them, and 6 people came from that family! Then, out of nowhere, the YW president arrives with a young woman we'd been teaching- and who had wanted to be baptized- but stopped visiting a few weeks before because she'd said she didn't want to go to church anymore. We had no idea, but the YW president went to visit her with some of the YW from the ward to invite her to church one more time, and she went! 
In short, we ended up with a lot more investigators at church that we thought, and almost none of the people that we'd planned to bring. I think the Lord just saw our efforts, he knew we wanted to bring more and that we were willing to sacrifice everything we had to do it, and so we blessed us. It was a great experience for me. If anything, my mission has really shown me that we have to really be willing to sacrifice, pay the price, to show our faith, and afterwards, the blessings come.

In other not-so-good news, our heated shower head stopped working this week, so we're now taking showers in freezing cold water (and we're in the middle of winter here). Actually, I've started heating water up on the stove and taking a shower with a cup and a bucket, but it's much better than cold showers :) 
Well, I love my mission. I love my Savior, more than anything. I love these people. And I love you guys, too.

Sister Coleman

*** Side note from Tiffaney. I have been told about these electric shower heads by  several people who have lived in Brazil as well as some returned missionaries. Many places (at least everywhere Madison has lived) do not have hot water heaters. So either they take cold showers, or they have these electric heated shower heads. Water and electricity don’t make for a good combination. And I’ve heard of many being literally shined while showering. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Week 71 - June 11, 2018

Well, today is yet another transfer day. These transfers are going by way too fast, huh? It seems like yesterday that I wrote that I was transferred to Cristal. My mission is really flying by (so much that I'm now entering in my last transfer of the mission, but we're not gonna talk about that). I'm staying in Cristal, but Sister Coon was transferred- and it looks like she'll be going to Dom Pedrito, one of my old areas! She'll love it, and they'll love her. But I'm sad she's going, she's for sure been one of my favorite comps. I still don't know who my new companion will be, I'll find out in a few hours. I would have liked to train again, but there aren't any new sisters arriving to our mission this transfer, only elders. :(

We had a baptism this week! A teen named Nathaly (pronounced Natalie) for sure one of the Lord's elect. We've actually been teaching her for awhile and wanted to baptize her a few weeks ago, but she went to her mom's house (not our area) for awhile, and she doesn't have a phone, so we had no way to talk to her or know when she was coming back. So at the beginning of this week, we prayed and fasted that she could come back to our area so that she'd be able to be baptized before Sister Coon left. And, because God is wonderfully merciful, we just happened to come back this week and still had the desire to be baptized. Nathaly is super special, I remember that in one of our first lessons with her she said that she'd felt this warm feeling that she couldn't describe when she read the Book of Mormon, and again when she went to church. I love watching people have some of their first spiritual experiences, and even more when they recognize them.

A few other miracles from this week: A couple we're teaching decided to get married and the boyfriend, who didn't want muchto do with the church before, decided that he wants to get baptized with his girlfriend after the wedding. Also, the trucker strike has finally ended! Things are finally back to normal. But not for the long, because the World Cup starts this week, and literally everyone in Brazil loves soccer and treats the world cup games (especially when the Brazilian team is playing) as something sacred. 
I gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday, and one of the counselors in the bishopric said afterwards, "Your Portuguese is very good, I would give it 99%. But you still have an accent." Well, yeah, okay, I guess I'll kind of have to give up on the dream of speaking without an accent before the end of my mission. But I want to find out what that 1% is, haha.

I think that's it for this week. Tenha uma boa semana!
Sister Coleman

Carpooling to Church

Monday, June 4, 2018

Week 70 - June 4, 2018

This week was FULL of miracles. First, through a lot of prayer and fasting and A LOT of walking, we were able to bring a sizable number of investigators to church, despite the fact that it was FREEZING this Sunday morning (and usually, the ward attendance- of members and investigators- significantly drops in the winter here, because no one wants to get out of bed). We also had a ward activity on Thursday, a ward family night, to which we'd invited all of our investigators. Well, the majority of them said they wouldn't be able to go, but one family (that one that lives in the neighborhood where everyone is of Native American descent) said they would. The three sisters and their mom showed up, but the surprise was that they all brought their boyfriends and some friends and aunts and cousins. We ended up having 14 investigators at the activity! It was so COOL. 

We also started teaching a golden investigator this week. His name is Júlio, his girlfriend is a member, but had been inactive for a few years. He had had some serious problems with substance abuse a few years ago, but his family helped him go to a rehab center that focused a lot on God and religion. When he left rehab, the first thing he wanted to do wanted to do was search for a closer relationship with God. When he told his girlfriend that, she knew it was time for her to come back to the church and bring him with her. And now we're teaching him and they're so cute and I love them so much. I love seeing how the Lord prepares His children to receive the gospel, I think that's been my favorite part of serving a mission.

Oh, also, included in the photos I sent: We found this CRAZY wall of graffiti in our area. Just look at the picture and you'll understand why it's crazy. We think that the artist somehow ended up with a pass-along card and decided to repaint it, but we're pretty sure that he/she had no idea they were painting a scene from the BoM.

The not-so-good part of our week: the trucker strike continues. Luckily it's not affecting us personally, but Jean Bingham (Primary General Pres.) was gonna come to our zone conference, and now she's not because of the food/gas storage :( And apparently the truckers are letting a little bit of gas come into the city so that people can still get to work and such, but there's not enough for everyone, so cars are waiting in lines stretching for like 10 blocks to get to the gas station. A member told us that she stayed overnight for 12 hours in a line to get gas. 12 HOURS YOU GUYS. This really is the apocalypse.

But, it really was a great week. I still love Brazil! I love my mission! I love all of you!
Sister Coleman

Monday, May 28, 2018

Week 69 - May 28, 2018

So, the apocalypse in Brazil has begun.

Photo taken from internet.

Not really, but it feels like it. All the truckers in the country have gone on strike, which may not sound like such a big deal, but it turns out modern society is super reliant on things that are transported by trucks. Like, food and gas and stuff. So there's not more gas at the gas stations. Most people have stopped using their cars. Most of the buses have cut down their hours or have just stopped running all together. Taxi and Uber drivers stopped working. Grocery stores are also running out of bread, milk, and eggs. 
So yeah, things are kinda crazy. But we're fine, we stocked up on extra food, and we just use our legs to go almost everywhere, but it's becoming kind of difficult to get all our investigators to church since a lot of them need rides. And the bus we take to district meetings, which normally passes by every half hour, is now passing by only every hour, so the buses are getting a lot fuller. And for those of you who've never ridden a completely people-packed bus (to the point where you can hardly move your arms), I don't suggest it. But it's kinda good for contacting people, they can't walk away from you.

Oh yeah, and it randomly got crazy cold this week. Which actually makes since, because it's winter, but just last week was still super hot, and then out of nowhere I had to pull out my boots and winter coat and gloves. Sister Coon and I have fallen in the habit of singing Christmas songs, but then we remember that the cold here does not mean Christmas is close, so then we get kind of sad. 

Also, I don't know if any of you remember me talking about Alex and Márcia, a couple from Areal (my last area). We helped them get married and then baptized Márcia, but Alex was still working through some difficulties. Well, I found out that he finally got baptized! About two weeks after I was transferred from the area. I was so happy to hear it, that family is crazy special to me.

I also discovered the name of that language that the people of Native American descent speak hear: Kaigang. Apparently it's spoken by some of the tribes in southern Brazil, but mostly in Rio Grande do Sul. They taught me how to say a few words in Kaigang, but I don't remember any of them.

Well, love you all! Enjoy your available food and gas for me!

Sister Coleman