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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Week 7 - March 22, 2017

These last two days have been, without a doubt, the longest days of my life. We arrived in Porto Alegre yesterday, where a big group of missionaries, the Mission President (President Cruz) and his wife all picked us up. We got the chance to walk around the Porto Alegre temple and take some pictures, then we ate an amazing lunch at the mission home (the ice cream here is SO GOOD). After a lot of orientation/training stuff, we stayed at a hotel last night, did more training today, got assigned our new companions, and headed to our new areas. Many tears were shed (mostly by me because I'm a baby and I'll miss my wonderful MTC district), and it's been hard, but I'm pushing through. My new companion/trainer is Sister Suárez; she is so, so sweet and patient- which is pretty much all I've been praying for for the past few weeks. She's from Ecuador and doesn't speak and English, which is hard, but I'm sure she will help me learn Portuguese super quickly. My first area is Jacui...  (pronounced jaw-QUEE).  I don't really know where that is except that it took about a two hour bus ride from Porto Alegre to get if anyone wants to Google Maps that for me and let me know where I am, that'd be great. The area is beeeeautiful; the houses are all super colorful and the streets are all cobblestone and there are a bunch of fields and horses and stuff. I know I'll love it a lot- already I can tell the people are so nice even though I have almost no idea what they're saying to me. 

You'll get a longer update from me on my real p-day (Monday), with more spiritual experiences too I'm sure. Not that I haven't had any in the past few fact I've never been able to see God's hand in the small and simple things in my life more than I have recently. But unfortunately I don't have a lot of time to write today.

Love you all!
-Sister Coleman

P.S. Since I will be speaking literally only Portuguese for the next 18 months, I'm sure my English will be slipping a lot. I've already noticed my spelling and grammar getting slightly worse when I write emails and in my journal and stuff. Just a heads up- try not to judge to harshly.
New missionaries were met at the Porto Alegre airport
by President & Sister Cruz, and the office elders.
At the Porto Alegre Temple 
Sister Coleman with President & Sister Cruz

New missionaries with their trainers & office elders

Friday, March 17, 2017

Week 6 - March 17, 2017

Sister Coleman with one of her MTC teachers, (Irma Fernanda Fuoco)
outside the Campinas Temple.  Irma Fuoco said
"It has been a great experience to have her with us.  
She is just an excellent missionary, so dedicated.  
And we will miss her here.   But we know she will bless the people in the field." 

LAST P-DAY IN THE MTC!!! Next time I write I will be somewhere in the Porto Alegre-ish region and no one will be speaking English at all and I will never understand anything that anyone is saying...BUT I will also be getting the opportunity to teach real people about this beautiful message and I know I will be having some of the best experiences of my life. So I am ready. I am so, so sad to be leaving as well because I adore the missionaries and teachers here so much. But there are people out there who need to hear about Christ and the gospel, so I will get over that sadness. Yes, I am also crazy nervous. (In case you were curious, yes, I have learned a lot of Portuguese in the past few weeks, but no, you cannot actually become fluent in another language in the course of 6 weeks.) But I know the Lord has gotten me this far, I am in His hands, and this is His work.

Last Saturday we got the opportunity to go to a really busy square in the middle of Sao Paulo and hand out Book of Mormons. It was such an incredible experience- people were so willing to listen, even if they did not want a book, and were so patient with our terrible Portuguese. Somehow, I understood most of what they were saying to me and they understood what I was saying to them- and in the course of an hour we handed out 4 books. If that is not a miracle, I do not know what is. How blessed am I to be in Brazil where the people are so welcoming, loving, and accepting.

Because the Sao Paulo temple was closed this week for maintenance or something, we got to go to the Campinas temple this morning. It is so big and beautiful and it is up on a hill so you can see Sao Paulo spread out beneath it. So cool, I loved going there.

Other than that, this week has been quite uneventful. I do want to share a scripture with you, but I actually do not have my scriptures with me at the moment so I cannot remember the reference. I know it is in Mormon somewhere, and it says Know ye not that you are in the hands of God? I have repeated that phrase to myself so many times just in the past 6 weeks. God never abandons us. We are in His constant care.

I love you all so much. Tchau!
-Sister Coleman

Friday, March 10, 2017

Week 5 - March 10, 2017

So two of the Elders from my district in Provo joined us at the Brazil MTC on Tuesday, which means our district is now too big to stay in one they split our district :( I've grown so close to the missionaries in my district that it was actually a really upsetting thing even though I can still see the ones in the other district during all the time that we aren't in class. It also made me realize that I'll probably be a bawling mess when I have to say goodbye to most of them (those that aren't going to my mission) for good in about 10 days. The split also means no more Irmã Fabiana as a teacher, which I was just not emotionally prepared for. I'm determined to come back to Brazil if only to visit her.

Last p-day my district walked around the neighborhood that the MTC is in for like 20 minutes looking for a place that served burgers...and alas we found one. Brazilian food is so good, but sometimes you just need a nice American cheeseburger.

A cool experience I had this week: Sister Pertab and I had a lesson planned for our "investigator," but after starting the lesson with some questions and follow up from the commitments from last week, we both felt the Spirit telling us we needed to take the lesson in a completely different direction. So with no notes, in our completely ad-libbed and very broken Portuguese, we taught about a 20 minute lesson and the Spirit was just so, so strong. Both of us and our investigator ended up crying because we all felt it so strongly. It made me crazy excited for when I get to go to the field and teach lessons like this to people; this work is so important and for some crazy reason the Lord has blessed me to be able to do it.

Not much else has happened this week, so I just wanted to share a cool quote that my district leader read to us about mission work, but really it's applicable to anyone who has the desire to follow Christ:

"I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The dye has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The Decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by Faith, lean on His presence, and walk with patience. I am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, and my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear."

Romans 1:16- "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation for every one that believeth..."

I love you all. Remember what's important.

-Sister Coleman

Friday, March 3, 2017

Week 4 - February 3, 2017

This has been such a good week, I'm absolutely loving the Brazil MTC. But there really isn't much to update you guys on because I mostly just spend my days in a classroom learning Portuguese (which is a riveting experience, don't get me wrong, but I don't think you guys want to hear much about that). I will say, though, that just when I was feeling pretty good about my Portuguese- at least I could communicate very basically with the Brazilian missionaries- our teachers started teaching us the subjunctive tense and and all that fun stuff, so now I'm again convinced I'll never learn Portuguese. (Just kidding, I'm sure I will, but it's gonna take forever.)

One of my teachers here, Irma Fabiana, is hands down the best human being I've ever met in my life. My goal in life now is just to be her. She's from Brazil, but she served her mission in Japan. Back when she served, they didn't have any teachers that could translate Portuguese to Japanese, so in the course of her 9 weeks in the MTC she had to learn English to then learn Japanese...and I thought just doing Portuguese was hard. She also brings food for our district from the "outside world," like Doritos and popcorn and stuff...she's awesome.

Something I forgot to talk about last week: when I left the Provo MTC to come here, everyone in my zone surprised me and the 3 other girls leaving by singing "God be with you til we meet again." It was SO SAD. Everyone was crying, even the Elders. It made me realize how lucky we all are to have people that are so hard to say goodbye too.]

On a happier note, getting to go out and walk around Sao Paulo last week was so awesome. Everyone is friendly and the fact that I know enough Portuguese to buy stuff at the store was very encouraging. Also, there's a place that sells big American cookies right across from the MTC, so that's always a plus. I bought 3.

Something else funny that happened: I was talking with some of the Brazilian missionaries and we were discussing how white I am (which isn't a surprise- this is a common topic of conversation even among other very white Amercians). Anyway, one of the Elders said that I reminded him of the First Vision...because my skin is "um pilar de luz, mais brilhante que o sol." So that's now what I'm known for, which is pretty okay with me.

One last thought I want to share: for our devotional on Tuesday we watched an older talk by Elder Holland about why missionary work was so hard. He said that being a follower of Christ will never be easy because Christ's life was never easy. And if we hope to follow in His footsteps, we have to be willing to endure a tiny portion of the pain and rejection that He did. That's what being a disciple of Christ means. Missionary work was never easy because salvation was never cheap.

Anyway, I love and miss you all.
-Sister Coleman

(which is pronounced Col-ee-mun down here)