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!