Monday, August 14, 2017

Week 28 - August 14, 2017

This week we had splits...again! I went to Bagé, a nearby city, to stay with Sister Cirqueira, another Brazilian. She is amazing, and I hope she's my actual companion one day. She also makes the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted in my life, which I will for sure be making frequently when I get home.

This week has also been one of the most rainy so far. In fact the house where I was staying in Bagé lost power while we were sleeping because of the storm, which means I had to take a shower in the dark in freezing cold times, you guys. When I returned to Dom was still raining. And has been for days. I don't mind working in the rain, but the problem is that no one seems to leave their house when it's raining (which means much less people go to church), and also no one answers their door, which makes it super hard to visit people. So a large part of our rainy days are spent walking all over the city, knocking on doors (or clapping our hands, in truth), until someone answers and lets us in. Everybody says we're crazy for working in the rain, but the work of the Lord doesn't stop, right?

Hope everyone's enjoying the warm summer weather in the US! 

Sister Coleman

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week 27 - August 7, 2017

I am continuing to adore this area and to love my companion, so things are going pretty well. This week a lot of our commitments fell through because almost none of our investigators were home...even though we tried at each house about 3 times this week. But, it's all good, because it gave us the opportunity to knock on a lot of doors and meet a lot of new people, so we have high hopes for this coming week.

This past week we also ate lunch at house of the Bishop, who lives on a farm. So we got to spend some time with horses and sheep and pigs and such, which was pretty cool. 

A little miracle that happened as well: we fasted that we could find someone to help get baptized this transfer, and this Sunday, two members came up to us and gave us references for friends of theirs that they want us to visit- friends that are passing through hard times that are really needing the gospel in their lives. We're super excited to work with these references and hope that they're an answer to our fast (because it's super rare here for members to give out references like that).

As of tomorrow, I will have been out on the mission for 6 MONTHS. That's crazy. Only a year left you guys. But I'm loving every moment and plan to make the most of this next year.

Sister Coleman

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 26 - July 31, 2017

EU AMO DOM PEDRITOOOOOO!!!!! Seriously guys, this city is awesome. I've already fallen in love with the members and all the investigators here. The town is a lot bigger than São Jeroônimo, so we do a LOT of walking. But maybe that's good, because Dom Pedrito also has the best churros I've ever tasted in my life, so I probably need to walk off a little of the weight :) 

There's a recent convert here, D., who's 12 years old. She has quickly become one of my favorite people in the world. She reminds me a lot of Gillian- probably because she's sassy. Her grandma, C., also a recent convert, asked that we call her Vovó (Grandma), because she has claimed us as her other granddaughters. I'm already dreading saying goodbye to them, and I've only been here a week.
Also, for those you don't know, there's another Sister Coleman in my mission, and she just happened to serve in Dom Pedrito a few months ago. So, of course, everyone who knows her here asks we if we're related.

The apartment here is a lot smaller than the last, but nice and cute none the less. Apparently the outlets have some problems here, though- as in, if you use the wrong outlet, it might start a fire. 
We were supposed to have a baptism this Saturday- a wonderful woman named D., but she's been having some major health problems, so we had to delay it. But we're praying hard that she can recover soon. 

As for Portuguese- guys, I'm feeling great. Yes, there's still a mountain of words I don't know and I'm sure I don't use exactly correct grammar all the time, but studying your butt off and relying on the help of the Lord pays off. One of the members told me this week that, other than my accent, I sounded like a Brazilian. (Yeah, she was probably being overly nice, but it was good to here, anyway). I definitely have a long way to go, though.

Hope everyone is doing great. Amo vocês!
Sister Coleman

Photos from São Jeroônimo before Sister Coleman was transferred. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Week 25 - July 24, 2017

Well, friends, it's finally happened: I've been transferred. This morning I left São Jerônimo and arrived in Porto Alegre: I'm still waiting here in Porto Alegre because the bus for my new area, Don Pedrito, won' t leave until later. So, I don't know much about my new area, expect that it's a 7 hour bus ride from here and that it's super cold. My companion in the MTC, Sister Pertab, just finished serving there and says it's a great area, so I'm excited!

I'm feeling super good about going to a new area. It was sad to leave São Jerônimo because I'd been there 4 and a half months and had really grown to love the people....but I'm not gonna lie, it was a hard area. I didn't baptize anyone and the brach was super small, but I learned a lot and I know I needed to start my mission there. There was a good amount of tears (mostly on my part) as I said goodbye to everyone, especially this little 4 year old boy named Lucas who started bawling when I told him I would be leaving, so that was super sad. But I'll come back one day and adopt him.

My companion this last transfer, Sister Riberio, stayed in São Jerônimo, and my new companion is Sister N. Souza. She's from São Paulo and has been on her mission for a year and 2 months. Other than that, I don't know much about her, because we just met about 10 minutes ago, but she seems super cool and I'm excited for what lies ahead.
I want to share an experience that I had on Sunday, because it was one of the biggest miracles I've seen so far on my mission. There's a recent convert in São Jerônimo named V., who's around 80 years old and has a load of health problems. It's hard for him to walk more than a few steps without sitting down after. He owns a horse and a cart, which he normally uses to get to church on Sundays, but this week there was some problem with the cart and he wasn't able to use it. Had we known, we would've tried to find a ride for him, but he didn't tell anyone. Instead, he started walking to church at 6:30 in the morning to get there on time (9 o'clock), using a stick he picked up off the ground to help him walk. For us, it takes about 20 minutes to get from his house to the church, but with his pace it took about an hour and a half. When we went to unlock the chapel in the morning and saw him waiting, I almost cried. That man has more faith and more determination to keep God's commandments than almost anyone I've ever met.

So just remember next time you don't feel like going to church, that it's a lot easier for you because you have two perfectly functioning legs and a car!
I love my mission, I love this gospel, and I love my Savior.
Amo vocês, e estou com saudades de vocês também! 
Sister Coleman

Monday, July 17, 2017

Week 24 - July 17, 2017

Our family had been in Rochester, New York this week - Madison's birthplace.   We brought up the youth from our ward to attend the Hill Cumorah Pageant. . . 

Thanks for all the updates! You're gonna have to take me back there, for sure. This week has been practically uneventful, and unfortunately I don't have time to write a weekly update because I have a lot of people I need to email this week. But I'm happy and healthy and feeling the Spirit and loving what I'm doing, so don't worry about me!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week 23 - July 10, 2017

This week we had splits again with the sister training leaders, and this time I went to Charqueadas, a town similar to São Jerônimo, about 15 minutes away. It was a super cool experience. The sisters there have a few investigators- a couple in their early 20s- who used to drink and smoke a ton; their house was always a mess of beer cans and cigarette butts. But Sister Carrillo- the sister I went on splits with- said that after only a few visits, they started to notice that the house of this couple was way cleaner and that the investigators were acting way more receptive to the lessons. Both of them stopped drinking and they're trying super hard to stop smoking. All this after only about 2 weeks of teaching them. The Holy Ghost has more power than we know. This is my favorite part of missionary work- watching the Spirit and the gospel really change people for the better. To see people becoming happier because of the gospel we've been able to bring to them. 

We also met a woman named S. while knocking on doors. About 1 minute into teaching the Restortation, I mentioned that Jesus taught that we needed to be baptized to live with God again, and Sandra goes- completely serious- "Well then I need to stop smoking and get baptized." So, we invited her to get baptized on August 5, and she accepted right away. Like, wow, the Lord is seriously preparing people to recieve this gospel, because that was 100% not us. The only downside is that none of this happened in my area, so she's not my investigator. But it's fine, I'm holding on to my faith that the Lord will help me find the right people here in São Jerônimo. ]

Other than that, this week was pretty normal. Oh, also Saturday was my 5 month mark!

 I'd like to end with a scripture that I came across while studying this week that really hit me. This is at the end of the Last Supper when Jesus is talking to the apostles:
"In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

I wish the best for all of you, and thanks for all the love and support.
Sister Coleman

Monday, July 3, 2017

Week 22 - July 2, 2017

HAPPPPYYYY INDEPENDENCE DAY AMERICANAS!!! Sadly, no one cares about the 4th of July here, because it's not the US, so no celebration will be had. But I hope you all enjoy the fireworks and barbecue and whatever else. 

Speaking of America, several people have said something to me about how all Americans are terrified of terrorism and how the US is in a state of panic over bomb threats and stuff. Did I miss something big? Did Trump destroy the country already? Just kidding. But really, Brazilians seem to think that Americans are expecting to die from a terrorist attack at any moment. But it really made me think how we judge other countries, other people, national leaders, etc. all from what we see on the news. Heck, one lady told me she was sorry I didn't have freedom of religion in my country. ?????? Just my random thoughts for the day- don't pretend you understand another culture or country when you actually don't, because it's kind of annoying, and I think Americans are probably the most guilty of this.

Fun Portuguese fact for the week: The verb for giving birth is most commonly "dar à luz," which actually means to give a light. Which I guess is kind of cool since you're giving life to another human being and bringing their "light" into the world, but also, why don't they just use a normal verb for this? 

Anyway, this week has been fairly undramatic. We're continuing to not have any baptisms, which is kind of discouraging, but I'm working hard with the faith that the Lord will help us find those who He is preparing. The attendance in sacrament meeting, which had been steadily increasing, fell back down to 19 this week, which is also kind of sad. But since it was fast and testimony meeting, Sister Ribeiro got up and thanked the 19 that were there, saying how grateful she was for the faith of the members who keep coming even when everyone else falters. It's true, the members who are active here are truly amazing. 

Hope you all have a great week! And remember how much the Lord has blessed you!
Sister Coleman

Some of the member families in São Jerônimo

Sisters Coleman and Suarez before transfers

Sister Missionaries

Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 21 - June 26, 2017

Good news: The weather this week was fantastic. No rain, perfect temperatures. Beautiful. Bad news: That probably means this next week will be horrid, because that seems to be how the weather here functions.

Not a lot out of the ordinary happened this week. J., the investigator that I was positive would be baptized, seems much less certain/excited about baptism now, and is also kind of avoiding us, which is super, super worrying. I'm praying crazy hard that he'll come around and continue with the desire to be baptized. Other than him, we only have two other investigators that really have the desire, but they both need to get married, which is a crazy long process here. All the other people we're meeting are good people...but don't really want to be baptized. Why people don't want to gain eternal salvation, I don't really know. But I'm trying to do everything in my power to improve as a missionary so that the Spirit can work through me and help people have that desire. 

A few funny things that happened this week: My companion, who is trying to learn English, wrote some sentances in English and afterwards had me help her correct them. One of them said "I need marriage me," meaning I need to get married. It's super understandable why she wrote it like that because it's phrased super differently in Portuguese, but I couldn't stop laughing. Also, fun fact for the day, Portuguese has two different words for snot, depending on if it's green (catarro) or clear (ranho). So that's what I'm learning here, what about you guys?

Love and miss you all!
Sister Coleman

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 20 - June 19, 2017

OLÁ de São Jerônimo!

This week was pretty darn fantastic. We had a branch activity (that we planned) on Thursday where we played games using the scriptures. Sounds lame saying that out loud, but it actually turned out great and the members got really into it. We also had a whopping attendance of 12 people- which also sounds really lame, but considering the average attendance for activities is 4 or 5 members, it was a miracle. 

Also, this girl that we helped reactivate a few weeks ago, D., is preparing to go on a mission at the end of the year. I know it wasn't an easy decision for her because her family isn't super strong in the church and there haven't been any other youth to go on missions from this branch in like 30 years- so she's full on relying on her personal testimony. She's such an inspiration to me, and I'm low key hoping she gets called to North Carolina so I can see her when I get home :)

This week has also been a lot lighter on the rain and a the temperatures have been rising just a little- enough that the weather was absolutely perfect all week. I'm hoping that continues...but from what people say about fall and winter here in the past, it's doubtful.

Other than that, it's been a fairly normal week. So I'll just end here with possibly my favorite scripture of all time. 
Moroni 8:16- "For perfect love casteth out all fear."

Like seriously, how perfect is that? And it applies to everything on my mission and in our lives otherwise. There's no reason I should be nervous to talk to a stranger on the street or invite someone to be baptized or tell someone that they need to repent of something, because if I really love them (and if I really love my Savior), I know that those things can only help them. I know that this gospel will give them everything they need in this life, and my own personal fears should never get in the way of that.

This also greatly applies to repentance. I've made some hecka big mistakes in my life, and confessing and repenting of them was something that took a lot of time and a lot of courage, because I was afraid to face the consequences. But: perfect love casteth out all fear. I love the people I'm teaching, so I know I need to be worthy in order to be led by the Spirit to help them. I love my life, so I want to live it the best I can, which means without sins weighing me down. I love my family, so I want to live with them forever, which means being worthy to be in an eternal family. I love this gospel, which means I'll live it. And, most importantly, I love my Savior, which means I'll show gratitude for His atoning sacrifice and try harder to be a better person so I can live with Him and my Father in Heaven one day.

Love yourself, your family, and your Savior enough to be the best person you can be!

Todo do amor,
Sister Coleman

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Week 19 - June 12, 2017

This week has been pretty good. Sister Ribeiro and I are still figuring out how to function as a companionship, but she has a lot of good ideas about strengthen the branch here and help it grow, as well as how to find new people to teach. 

Also, we have another companionship living in our house for the moment. They're working in the next city over, which already has one companionship, but the house of the sisters there is super tiny. So, until someone can find another house or apartment for them to live in, we'll have 4 sisters living in our house. Which is a little complicated when it comes to showering and getting ready in the morning because we only have one shower with warm water...but we're figuring it out.

The rain and cold are continuing here stronger than ever. Part of our area includes a city across the River Jacuí, which you have to take a boat to get to. When the rain is super strong, the boat doesn't run, so we can't visit our investigators over there. Which is super bad, because apparently it rains here basically all winter. 

Other than that, this week has been pretty normal. J (the investigator that is super close to baptism) didn't come to church yesterday because he had to work, but I'm praying super hard that he'll come next Sunday so that he can be baptized the following Saturday. 

As for my Portuguese, it's a lot easier than it was in the beginning of course, but I'm not gonna lie, it's freaking hard. Since Sister Ribeiro is a native speaker, she's been helping me a lot, but the freaking subjunctive tenses will be the death of me.

I don't really have anything else to update you guys on....hope everyone has a fantastic week!
Este evangelho é verdadeiro e Deus ama cada um se vocês. (This gospel is true and God loves each one of you.)

Sister Coleman

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Week 18 - June 6, 2017

So this week has been a little crazy. First off, it's been raining super hard, enough that some areas of the city have flooded. We actually have a family in the branch living in the chapel because their house was flooded. 

Secondly, transfers were yesterday. I'm staying here in São Jerônimo, but Sister Suárez was transferred :( Luckily, she's staying the same district, so I'll still see her almost every week, but I'll miss having her as a companion. I've learned so much from her and I'm incredibly grateful for the time I had with her as my companion. My new companion, Sister Ribeiro, seems pretty nice and I can tell she's a super good missionary. She's from Recife, Brasil and has been on her mission for 9 months.

This Sunday was a Sunday of miracles. We have one investigator, Jorge, that we'e been working with for forever. The past 4 or 5 companionships before me worked with him too, because he's the husband of a member. But for all that time, he never went to church, so we never got baptized. Finally, this Sunday, HE WENT TO CHURCH! This may seem like a tiny thing, but to me it really is a miracle. I feel so strongly that he'll be baptized soon- I can tell that he is a very special spirit with so much potencial, and I want more than anything for him to be baptized. Pray for him! And for us, that we can know what to do to help him feel prepared.

That's pretty much all for this week. I want my update with my testimony that this gospel brings indescribable happiness to our lives. Despite the constant changes and frequent let downs I've experienced here, I've rarely been happier. I am so certain that this gospel is true. 

"More happines awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among [God's] children." -First Presidency Message, PMG

Amo vocês! Tenha uma ótima semana!
Sister Coleman

Monday, May 29, 2017

Week 17 - May 29, 2017

I don't have many updates from this week, so I'm gonna take this opportunity to talk about the importance of missionary work.

Sisters Coleman & Suarez-
eating dinner in their apartment
Elder Costa, the area authority over Brasil, visited our mission this week. The talks of him and his wife were amazing and so, so inspiring. One thing that he said that really stuck out to me was that a lot of members of the church seem to think the whole world can be converted just by us (members) being good examples. Well, it's not true. We need to ACT. We need to WORK. And if we don't, it's on our heads that they don't have the joy of the gospel in their lives. Go read Jacob 1:19 and Mormon 9:6.
I'm gonna be honest, I was a terrible missionary before my mission. I was always to afraid to invite nonmember friends to church activities or share my testimony. Which is so stupid, what did I have to be afraid of? I had the greatest gift in the world- the knowledge of the gospel- and my fear over what others would think of me overpowered my love for them, my love for the gospel, and my love for the Savior. Don't make the same mistakes as me.

This gospel is everything. You guys, we can LIVE WITH OUR FAMILIES FOREVER because of it. We have find peace and support and love even in the hardest moments of our lives. All of the guilt and pain and sadness that this life will inevitably bring can be taken away. Because of our Savior. Because of this gospel. I KNOW this church is the only true church on earth. And I know a lot of you know it to. So have the courage to share that with those who don't know yet.
I challenge all of you to pray for a missionary experience this week, and trust in the Lord's promise that he will tell you what to say when the opportunity comes. This gospel is the greatest blessing we can have in our lives; love others enough to want to share that with them.

Love you all!!
-Sister Coleman

****  When we spoke on Mother's Day, Madison told us that their apartment is one of the nicest and largest in the entire mission.  She's trying hard to not feel too spoiled.  They have their own laundry room (Just washing machine, everyone air dries their clothing, which can be a challenge in the humidity.)  They also have 2 bathrooms, both with showers, 1 with hot water (another rarity).

notice propane tank


Bathroom 1
Bathroom 2

Laundry Room

"Extra" Room


Common Room

Monday, May 22, 2017

Week 16 - May 22, 2017

This week was crazy busy, but crazy productive too, which is fantastic! Sadly, we're still not very close to having any baptisms and very few people are accepting baptismal dates. BUT, I have faith that the Lord is helping us and that, if we're doing our part, He will put people in our path that are prepared to accept the glorious message of this gospel. 

One lesson we taught this week was with three sisters who are very sweet and super friendly. As we started talking with them, they told us that their brother died less than a year ago. So, we taught them the Plan of Salvation. As we told them about where their brother was waiting for them and how it was possible for them to see him again and be together as a family forever, they started crying. The Spirit was so, so strong. Sadly, they don't want to be baptized right now, but I'm praying so hard that they'll see the importance of it because they're such a beautiful family and I know how much this gospel could help them. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that I have of this gospel; that I know death isn't the end, that I can be with my family for eternity. 

Sinto saudades muito de todos de vocês!
Love, Sister Coleman

Plan of Salvation

We lived with Heavenly Father before this life as His spirit children, and we came to earth to gain a body and to learn and grow and eventually return to Him.

Long before the Creation of this earth, our Heavenly Father provided a plan that made it possible for us, His children, to become like Him. This plan is called the plan of salvation. Understanding this plan gives us greater purpose in life.
Before this mortal life we lived with God as His spirit children, without physical bodies. We chose the Father’s plan, which included the Creation of this earth and provided us the opportunity to come here to gain a body, make choices, develop faith, and accept responsibility for our actions. This allows us to progress beyond what was possible in the spirit world when we lived with God.

Sin and death are also part of mortality. The Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to provide a way to overcome sin and death. This He did through an act called the Atonement. Through Christ’s atoning sacrifice we can repent of our sins and someday live with God and with our families forever.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 15 - May 15, 2017

From Madison's Mom - 
We had the blessing of SKYPEing with Madison yesterday.  She is really doing well and working hard.  We found out more about her area.  She is in the municipality of São Jerônimo.  Todd was able to track down some satellite images of her area.  She says that her apartment is one of the nicest in the mission - she even has hot water for the shower (which is a rarity in southern in Brazil).

Feliz Dia das Mães to all the moms out there! I hope you all know the power that you have to shape lives for the better; I know I wouldn't be the person I am today or would even be on a mission without my mom. I'm so grateful for the gift of being a woman- I know there is a huge power and responsibility that comes with it. And I hope all you non-mothers realize how amazing your moms are and that you thanked her sufficiently yesterday :)
(Side note: Most people here say that I look really young, but then one girl asked me yesterday if I had kids. Like....goodness gracious no, child. Mother's Day will not be my day for a long time.)

Nothing really out of the ordinary happened this week, except that it's been much more rainy. Also, we did have a really cool experience the other day: We were walking down the street when we heard a voice from one of the houses calling, "Sisters, sisters!" We couldn't see who it was (and we thought it might be some drunk guy, which isn't too uncommon in our day-to-day experiences), so we kept walking. But then we heard someone running after us and continuing to call for us. It turned out to be a guy named L.- he's a member of the church who's been inactive for a long time, and he's just now moving to São Jerônimo from Porto Alegre to live with his dad, who's not a member. He said that right before we'd walked by, he'd been thinking about visiting church again, but didn't know where it was here in São Jerônimo. Right then, we walked by- knowing we were missionaries, he ran after us to ask for the address of the church. Then, on Sunday, he and his dad both came to church! It was such a cool experience. I know that God knows each and every one of us- what we're going through, what we're feeling, what we need. And life is so much better when we rely on Him.

Amo vocês. Obrigada por o amor a apoio. Espero que possam ter uma boa semana!
(Love you. Thank you for the love of support. Hope you can have a good week!)

-Sister Coleman

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 14 - May 8, 2017

Well, you guys, as of today, I've been on my mission for 3 MONTHS! In some ways, it feels like a lot longer; it feels like this is all I've ever done and everything before was an entirely different life eons ago. But at the same time it feels a lot shorter; as I hear of all these weddings and babies being born and big stuff happening for just seems like yesterday that I was in the midst of all it. Time is a strange thing here. But I still have 15 more months to get used to it!

Something funny that happened this week: the 6 year old son of one of our investigators this week asked me if the reason I'm so white is because I bathe really well. My companion, who is much darker than me, asked him if that meant she was really bad at bathing, and he just said, "I guess so." Aren't kids just a delight?

We had some really cool experiences this week during our lessons. As I think I've said before, we have many investigators who are super good people and enjoy listening to our lessons, but don't want to be baptized. We've been praying and working really hard to know what we need to do differently to help them have this desire; sadly, none of them have accepted baptismal dates still, but as we met with them this week, the Spirit was so, so strong. There's one mother and daughter in particular that are so sweet and we want so badly for them to be baptized, but they say they don't want that kind of commitment right now. Yesterday, we taught them the Plan of Salvation, and testified at the end that we knew they couldn't live together as a family for eternity unless they were baptized. They promised to think about it, so we'll see what comes of it, but I have rarely felt the Spirit so strongly as I did when both I and Sister Suárez were bearing our testimonies.

Guys, I KNOW this gospel is true. There is no way on Earth that I would have the strength to leave my home, family, friends, and everything I've ever known without the knowledge that I had the ability to help families be together forever. This is why I'm here. So remember the importance of the gospel and how lucky you are to have it. Live your life worthily of the knowledge you have.

Love you all!
Sister Coleman

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Week 13 - May 2, 2017

So I'm a day late today because yesterday was a holiday (I think it's the equivalent of Labor Day), and on holidays in Brazil, everything closes, including the Lan-House where we do our emails. I mean everything; we had to do all of our shopping and stuff today because not a single store in town was open yesterday. But that meant more time for taking a nap yesterday, which was super good.

Slowly but surely, I can feel my Portuguese improving. I could understand an entire prayer from the old member in our ward that I mentioned a few weeks ago; I can never understand anything he says, so that was a big deal to me. A lot of people are complimenting me on my progress, but I also think they're just being nice because they feel bad for me :) Luckily, I've gotten to the point where I can understand almost everything that people are saying. My vocabulary and grammar and such while I'm speaking are a different story, but for now, as long as people can understand what I'm telling them, I'm content.

Sister Suárez and I had a pretty funny experience this week. We were visiting a newer investigator who we knew didn't have a lot of interest in learning more, but we kept visiting because we had hope. D.'s (our investigator) husband answered the door and told us that she wasn't home. We talked with him for a little bit, and then saw D. pass by inside the house and quickly go into another room when she saw us. We said to the husband, "That was D., right?" He said no, it was her daughter. It definitely wasn't. So, Sister Suárez asks if we can leave him with a scripture and a prayer, he accepts, and she starts reading some verses from the Book of Mormon about how lying is a sin and we need to repent for it. I'm not sure that he caught on, but it was pretty darn funny. 

Spiritually, this week has been pretty hard. We had to cut (I think they call it drop in American missions, but here it's cortar, which means cut) several investigators because they're not coming to church or won't stop smoking or a variety of different reasons. We're also trying to invite more and more people to baptism, but not many people are accepting. We're praying every day to know how to better help people recognize the importance of this gospel and the necessity of baptism. I'm praying every day to know how to be a better missionary. This work really isn't easy, but it's completely worth it, and I'm so grateful for this opportunity I've been given to grow in my testimony and share it with others.

Amo vocês. Tchau!
-Sister Coleman

Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 12 - April 24, 2017

Zonas moinhos, Cachoeira e POA
(Mills, Waterfall and POA areas)

This picture was posted on the Mission Presidents FB page.

This week was super busy; we had a zone conference in Porto Alegre, and afterwards had splits with sister training leaders for about a day and a half. I stayed in an area in the outskirts of Porto Alegre with Sister Ferreira. It was super cool to see a different area and work with different people for a little bit. As much as I love Jacuí, I learned that a lot of things make my area harder than most. For one, you can visit a lot more people when your area is closer to the city because the houses are closer together. Here, it sometimes takes 45 minutes to walk between different areas in town, which makes it harder to teach more people and makes us more tired. Also, I could understand people's Portuguese much better in the city. Apparently, the people in my area are just a little harder to understand; the sister that served here with Sister Suárez before I arrived said that it would have been really hard for her to start her mission here because, even after a year in the field, she still struggled to understand some people here. So, hopefully that means my Portuguese will improve a lot faster since I'm starting out with the hard stuff. One thing that is definitely an upside about Jacuí, though: our house it so nice. I didn't realize how nice until I stayed in Sister Ferreira's apartment. So, I'm counting my blessings, guys.

Other than that, not much happened this week. The cold and the rain is starting to pick up, which isn't so fun, but it means less sweating. So again, counting my blessings. I hope everyone is doing great, especially because summer is almost there for you guys. Vacations are super nice; trust me, enjoy it while you can. I'll leave you with just a short spiritual thought. I don't have it here with me in English, but a really cool verse in the Book of Mormon is Alma 30:44, which is about how all things denote that there is a God. It talks about how the Earth and the movement of the planets and everything show that there must be a supreme Creator, which is definitely true, but I think the little things in our lives show that there's a Divine Creator too. Flowers and clouds and birds. Families and friends. How could we be so blessed to live this life if there were no God? Life is hard, for sure, but we have so much to be grateful for.

Love you all!
Sister Coleman

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week 11 - April 16, 2017

FELIZ PÁSCOA!!!! Hope everyone had a great Easter; it's an amazing opportunity to remember everything our Savior has done for us and what it possible because of Him. This week we've been teaching a lot of lessons about the Atonement because of the holiday, and I've felt the Spirit so strongly every time. It passes my understanding how Christ could love us that much to endure that suffering. Also, my testimony of the Atonement has grown significantly since I've been out here. As I've said before, this mission is for sure the hardest thing I've ever done, but I know my Savior atoned for my weaknesses and my difficulties and my moments of struggle; as I've turned to Him in these hard times, I've felt His love for me more than ever before. I KNOW He knows what we're going through, always, and I've found so much peace and joy in sharing that knowledge with others.

Not a lot happened this week, but I want to share a few more spiritual experiences I had. I've been struggling a lot, since my first day in the field, with finding joy in this work. I knew I needed to be here because the Lord wants be to be, and I wanted to help and teach people because I love them, but what with trying to learn the language and learning how to be a competent missionary and walking all day in the heat or rain or whatever....let's just say finding joy in the work was something I definitely needed. Then, this past Tuesday ended up being one of the best days on my mission so far, and I don't really know why. Nothing extraordinarily great happened; people still turned us away and a bunch of investigators didn't keep their commitments and it was hot- all the usual stuff. But for some reason I had a really positive attitude all day and Sister Suárez and I found a lot of little things to laugh about and it was just a really good day. As I was thinking about this at the end of the day, I remembered that the night before I had prayed really hard to find joy in the work.

Guys, I can't express how much I know God hears our prayers. He knows our needs and our desires. And for sure He answers our prayers- we just don't see it a lot of the time. The rest of this week it's been easier to find happy moments too, and even though the Portuguese and everything is still hard, everything seems just a little bit easier and a little bit happier.

We had a cool experience with an investigator this week: we were visiting this woman named M. that we'd only visited once before, and we planned on inviting her to be baptized. As we started the lesson, she had a bunch of questions already about baptism and what makes it different in our church, and after we explained about how the authority from God to baptize was restored and that it's how we baptize today, she immediately says, "Ok, that's what I want." Guys, I swear, I wanted to jump up and hug her. Her genuine interest in this gospel and her great faith gives me so much hope.

That's all really for this week. Hope everyone is doing great! 

Com amor,
Sister Coleman

Sister Coleman has commented that she has enjoyed Brazillian food, but really misses peanut butter and cookies.  She told us of an older American couple that stayed at their Stake President's house this weekend (the husband served in Brazil a long time ago so now they're visiting together), and the wife made chocolate chip cookies. They gave some to missionaries, and now her companion wants her to make cookies. Her companion was surprised that she knew how to make them, they don't have cookies there.  So, she's excited to make and share them.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 10 - April 10, 2017

As I'm really getting settled in and used to missionary life and missionary culture, I thought I'd give you a list of some things I've learned about this area of Brazil:

  1. Most people here have cars, but a surprising amount have horses that they just ride on or that carry carts for people to ride in. It's pretty cool, but the poop in the road isn't.
  2. Everyone has gates around their houses, so instead of knocking on doors, you just clap outside their gates. If you know the person, you also just call out their names. I'm still getting used to that one.
  3. You can't flush toilet paper. You have to throw it in the trash.
  4. I'm quite positive the population of dogs here is higher than the population of humans. And you don't really know which ones are stray and which ones actually belong to people because none of them have collars and they all just roam around the streets most of the time.
  5. One of the semi-popular religions here has a ceremony where one person spins around by the side of the road while someone else throws popcorn over them, so it's not uncommon to see little piles of popcorn while we're walking.

Jacuí chapel across the street from sisters apartment.

Just a little Jacuí 101 for you. This week's has been hard- when isn't it- but I can feel myself understanding more and more Portuguese, which is always great. As we were taking a boat across the river this week, this lady came up and started talking to us. Turns out she joined the church a long time ago and is now inactive, but she remembers her baptism very fondly and says she wants to come back. Also she says she loves reading the Book of Mormon but hasn't read in a long time. Sadly, she doesn't live in our area, but we told her about what President Monson said during conference- that now more than ever we need to read the Book of Mormon every day and have a strong testimony of it- and she said she would start reading more. It was a pretty cool experience, especially since most people here are either members, don't know about the church, or don't like the church. 

Side note: Being a missionary is really weird. I'm a 19 year old girl and I'm picking people up for church (we don't have a car, we just go by their house in the morning and clap to make sure they're awake) and making sure they've been doing their reading and keeping their commitments- people that are much, much older than us. 

Anyway, I hope all is well back home. Even though everything is still really hard, I think it's kind of supposed to be because that's how we grow and learn. And I'm still feeling the Spirit a lot, so I consider that a success. I want to leave you with one of my all time favorite scriptures that I think about on a daily basis:

"Peace be unto they soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." -D&C 121:7-8

Remember the eternal perspective. Love and miss you all.

-Sister Coleman

Note:  Just thought I'd let you know that you can send letters and packages if you want; the other missionaries here get them all the time.They go to the mission home which in a really nice part of Porto Alegre, so I don't think the stealing thing is really a problem. And we have weekly district meetings where people from the mission office bring all the letters and packages that arrived for us, so I don't have to wait 6 weeks for every transfer. I know it's expensive and stuff to send packages, so you definitely don't need to. But if by chance you do, at some point in my mission...I really miss peanut butter.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 9 - April 3, 2017

Oi família e amigos! This week has been a little better; there have been some visits and lessons where I've been able to understand almost everything a person is saying...and then others where I feel like I never learned any Portuguese at all. So you know, every day is just kind of a roller coaster of confidence. Luckily, we got to watch General Conference this weekend; it was translated so I couldn't understand a lot of it, but I felt the Spirit anyway and I know the messages were important. Also, if anyone had a favorite talk they want to send me their notes or thoughts on, it would be much appreciated. A little tender mercy during conference: I don't know why they put subtitles up for President Monson's remarks, but since they were in English, it was like my own little miracle that I got to completely understand the words of our prophet, as short and simple as they were. How fortunate we are to have a prophet and apostles who love us so much and speak to us today. I can't wait for next conference when I can actually understand everything :)

Crazy thing: this Saturday will be my 2 month mark out on my mission. It definitely doesn't feel like that long, but maybe it will soon because these weeks feel much longer than weeks in the CTM.

It's hard to remember everything that's happened this week because all the days just sort of blur together, so I'll just tell you about some of the people I've met here. Right now we have 10 investigators with baptismal dates, but a lot of them keep getting pushed back, so we're praying hard that they all work out because all of these people are so amazing. (names have been removed for privacy sake)

Two of these people are T and P- a mother and daughter- who both came to General Conference this weekend and loved it. They are both so sweet and eager to learn more about the gospel, but are still uncertain about baptism. One of the members in the ward- M is like our own little grandpa. He looks exactly like Carl from Up and whenever we pass by his house he makes us some snacks and lets us share a scripture with him. Every time we've been there, a recent convert named JL is also there. I have no idea where he actually lives because he's always at M's house. He's very funny, but very difficult to understand; I think even if he were speaking English I would struggle to understand him because he doesn't have any teeth and sometimes he talks to you without looking at you so I never really know when he's asking me questions or just kind of talking to himself, which he also does a lot. Anyway, my goal is to be able to understand what he's saying by the time my training is over (my 12 week mark), because I think if I can understand him, I could understand anybody.

Some of the other people I've met that are super cool: one of our investigators, A, has a daughter whose boyfriend's son is on a mission right now! So the family already knows a little about the church and have a lot of questions about how missions work. Another investigator, R, is not really sure about the whole getting baptized thing because he lives with his girlfriend- who was baptized a long time ago but is now inactive- but he has a lot of questions about the gospel, and it's really cool to talk with him. This week we taught him the Plan of Salvation, which he had soooo many questions about all the little details and why different people go different places after death. I loved it though- I wish all our investigators had that many questions because it assures me they're listening and invested in this knowledge.

Spiritually and emotionally, this week was still hard, but not as hard as the first I consider that a success. There have been several times this week that I felt prompted to say a certain thing or share a certain scripture, and I honestly don't know if it affected the person I was talking to very much, but I felt the Spirit so strongly. I'd like to end with one of the scriptures that I shared with an inactive member. My companion asked me to pick one on the spot to share, so I opened my Book of Mormon, and landed in the book of Helaman. The reference Helaman 5:12 came to my mind; I couldn't remember exactly what it said, just that it was one we talked about in the church a lot, so I just went with it. While I read it to them, and while I was testifying of it after, I started to cry. It was exactly the scripture I needed this week (and I hope it's what they needed to hear too).

(I only have my Portuguese scriptures here with me, so please so look it up and read it in English; I promise it's super good.)

"E agora, meus filhos, lembrai-vos, lembrai-vos de que é sobre a rocha de nosso Redentor, que é Cristo, o Filho de Deus, que deveis construir os vossos alicerces; para que, quando o diabo lançar a fúria de seus ventos, sim, seus dardos no torvelinho, sim, quando todo o seu granizo e violenta tempestade vos açoitarem, isso não tenha poder para vos arrastar ao abismo da miséria e angústia sem fim, por causa da rocha sobre o qual estais edificados, que é um alicerce seguro; e se os homens edificarem sobre esse alicerce, não cairão."  -Helamã 5:12

Amo vocês!

-Sister Coleman

***She was finally able to send some photos, YAY!!!  There is no explanation with them, but it is so great to see her happy and beautiful face!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Week 8 - March 27, 2017

So for anybody reading this that is thinking about going on a mission, know that if you get called to a foreign country and no one- including your companion- speaks English, the first day out in the're gonna want to die. But it gets better! Sister Suárez is very patient and very, very slowly I can feel myself being able to understand more Portuguese and find more and more joy in this work. It's always hot and I'm always sweating and there are constantly dogs barking in the middle of our spiritual messages (oh how I miss my quiet little Marty)...but the people are so friendly and I am truly blessed to be here. 

Here in Jacui, there is only a tiny branch of maybe 25 people that come to sacrament meeting consistently. About a fourth of those are investigators or new members, so the same 4 or 5 people always give the talks in sacrament meeting. Also, nobody plays piano and I'm pretty sure no one really even reads music, AND all the new members and investigators don't know the tunes to the hymns. Result: hymn time in sacrament meeting is not the most musically pleasing thing you'll ever hear in your life. But they sing with enthusiasm (mostly), and that's what matters. Sister Suárez and I get to help out in primary...and by help out I mean we're the only people in there because there aren't enough members to fill all callings and there are only like 4 kids in primary. But of course I don't mind, the kids are so sweet and are more than happy to help me with my Portuguese. They think it's funny that they can speak better than me.

My companion and I live in a pretty big house on the floor above another family (nonmembers). It's surprisingly roomy- especially because I've heard most missionary apartments are infamously small- and fairly nice. We even have two bathrooms...which is heavenly. It's also right across from the church building, which is also super convenient considering walking is our only mode of transportation here. The food here is super bomb; southern Brazil is famous for their really good barbeque, and now I see why. Also, thank goodness, I saw Oreos, Doritos, and Kit-Kats at the store today, which means I will survive. 

This week has possibly been one of the hardest of my life, though, but I want you all to know that I am doing okay. I know the Lord is helping me so much and I am so grateful for all of your support and prayers. I have also found so much peace and comfort in studying the scriptures. Two verses especially have carried me through this week:

Ether 12:4- "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with a surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."

Amid all the changes in the past few weeks and all the changes that will occur for the next year and a half- and the rest of my life- my faith will always be my anchor. And as hard as things may get- and I have no doubt they will always be hard...this work is anything but easy- I will always hope for improvement. Faith is always pointed toward the future.

D&C 24:8- "Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days." 

The Lord will never abandon us. And even though we may not see it in the moment, our afflictions are always for our benefit. I have found that in the hardest times of my life, I have grown the closest to my Savior. It reminds me of the poem of the man who saw his life as footprints on the beach; for his whole life he saw two sets of footprints where the Savior was walking beside him. Except for the times of most difficulty, where he saw only one set of footprints. He cried out to the Lord, asking why he was abandoned in the times when he most needed his Redeemer. And, of course, Jesus answers that the one set of footprints were his own, because during those times He was carrying the man through his trials. 

Our Savior loves us so much, and I am so blessed to know that. I am here so that I can help others see that too.

Eu amo vocês muito! 

-Sister Coleman