Friday, September 30, 2016

P-day 2: Day 17

Another great letter from Nathanael! He sounds like he is doing so well. Enjoy!

Hey guys!!!!

Thanks for emailing as always. I love hearing from you guys. I miss you always but am having such a good experience here. Learning the language is going well. I've had a few really cool experiences this week because we've been going on splits with Brazillian elders and teaching lessons together. You can probably imagine how that goes, haha, but I've had a lot of fun and honestly, I can really feel my language skills growing. It's a miracle. I can understand a lot of what is said and can reply well enough most of the time. My Brazillian companion's name is Elder Pittella. He's really nice and has been helping me with pronounciation and learning new words. It is so fun to have conversations in Portuguese!! The language is really hard though and is one of my biggest challenges definitely. It's hard to have a lot to say (and, well, I always have a lot to say, as you guys know) and not be able to say it. But I'm working on it. I actually set a goal Sunday to speak only Portuguese except for P-Day and Sunday and I didn't quite make it, but I went at least 10 hours each day this week speaking only Portuguese. Pretty cool. Although I'm having a hard time spelling in English now...

I can't wait to get paper letters from you guys!! That will be awesome. I love those letters you guys put in my suitcase (did I mention I found those?) and I can see the advantage of having those, so anyway. 

We got to go to the temple again today!! (We go every P-Day, so no surprise, but hey.) I forgot to mention that last week, we had extra time so I got to be the baptizer (?) for baptisms for the dead. That was a really neat experience and the first time I've baptised, but I couldn't pronounce the Portuguese words very well so it was tricky. All in good time. Today was a great experience. I love going through the temple and I always miss you guys being there but it's still great. I was thinking about how Adam and Eve had to leave God's prescence to become like Him, and how they actually couldn't become more like Him without leaving for a while. This was really comforting to me because I want to be like you guys so much and I was worried for a while that if I left I would drift from that path or something. Well I know I'm supposed to follow my own path and be my own person anyway but I figure if I want to become more like you guys maybe I need to strike out on my own for a while. So that really helped me feel better, if that makes any sense.
We're going proselyting tomorrow! There's a square in São Paulo that gets literally millions of people worth of foot traffic every day and we're going to go hand out books of Mormon there in the morning. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes. I'm nervous because I'm afraid of people but also because I'm nervous I'll let that fear get to me. I really just want to do my job well as a missionary and tell as many people about the Gospel as I can. I'm just going to go for it. I'm putting my honor on the line guys!!! Share the Gospel or bust. I'm really excited. Everyone who has done it already loved it, so I'm just going to go for it and not be nervous. People need to hear this message. I think I would feel a little better if I was slightly fluent in Portuguese, but oh well. All in good time. 

Dad, I'm glad to hear that school is going well for you! I'm excited to hear how Prince of Darkness goes and what you have next in store. I think you are just the best and love hearing what you have to say, so thanks. And Mom I loved your email, thanks so much. Reading your emails makes me happy and sad at once!! I miss you guys but I'm happy too. I am learning to miss you without also having the desire to get on a plane and fly home. It sounds like the Lundells are good. I miss them almost as much as you guys (don't tell them I said almost!!). I've been thinking about Eric and Emma a lot. Tell them they have to email me or I will be sad. :'( ;)

My district is awesome. I think I already said that, but they are really awesome so I wanted to say it again. They are a good support system and when we focus, we work really well together. (I like them so much that I've had to work on focusing harder on the language. Don't worry, I'm working hard!!) 

I got a mosquito bite and I think I have Zika. Just kidding.

We only get 45 minutes to email so you can imagine it's a little crazy. People have all sorts of strategies for answering emails. I like to just come in, sit down, and write. If my emails seem incredibly rambly, that's why, so sorry about that.

I've been thinking about the line from that Robert Browning poem, "Man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" or something like that. I was feeling pretty discouraged a few days ago because I felt like I was falling short as a missionary, and this line popped into my head. I don't think I really understood it very well until I was in this context. I was feeling frustrated with myself because I have this image in my mind of what the ideal missionary is, and I'm trying as hard as I can to be that but it's very difficult. I think after this week that I'm realizing that we are actually supposed to have an ideal in our minds that is higher than where we are currently at, and that that's just part of the process. So I am still working hard but I'm working on being more patient with myself too. Life is good.

Keep me posted on how life is. I love and miss you guys so much, but I'm great and I love hearing about what's going on at home. Thanks for emailing me and I can't wait to hear from you next week! Sorry I can't write more, I'm out of time.

Love you guys,

Elder Sederholm

Friday, September 23, 2016

P-day 1: Day 10

Today is Nathanael's first p-day so we've been anxiously awaiting his email. When it arrived it was fantastic! I am so glad to hear from him. He sounds like he's doing well. He doesn't get very much time to write people so be understanding if he doesn't get right back to you when you write and please enjoy his letters through us.

As hard as it is to let him go so far away for so long, it's worth it. We're loaning him out for two years so he can be a blessing to others. But I'd be lying if I didn't say it's one of the hardest things I've ever done. Here is part of this week's letter:

Hey guys!!

Today is finally my first P-Day. Can I just tell you this has been one of the craziest and most wonderful and difficult weeks ever?? Man! I want to tell you guys everything but don't even know where to start. I miss you guys. I was pretty homesick for a while but I feel a lot better now, I feel like the Lord is helping me adjust to life here. The MTC is incredible. We have classes for basically the entire day so I'm kept super busy which is great. 

Sad I missed Yara's pastries haha :) thanks for sending me so many emails. I've been writing in my journal every night so I can answer any questions or whatever at some point. 

The language is crazy. I definitely underestimated how challenging it would be to learn. I have already had some amazing experiences though. The gift of tongues is real and powerful. I never really doubted that but after this week and a half I know it for sure. There have been tons of times where words have just popped into my head and I've been learning really fast. My companion is awesome. I struggled the first couple days with homesickness, etc. but we are getting along great. My district is also incredible! I would send you a picture but we actually can't send pictures from the MTC. Don't worry though, I'm taking tons and I'll send you them once I get into the field.
The picture they sent you was of both districts that arrived last Tuesday, and the MTC president and his wife. They are super nice. 

I got to go to the temple for the first time today. It was just amazing. Such a good experience. Plus luckily they had headsets so I got to listen to it in English. Even the guy at the veil spoke english so it was all good haha. I think I'll move into listening to it in Portuguese in the coming weeks but it was comforting to listen to it in English today.

Absolutely my favorite aspect of being at the MTC is the language classes and teaching practice. I don't know if they do this at the MTC in Provo but we got an "investigator" on the first Thursday that was really one of our teachers, and we've had appointments to teach him every day except Sunday, 100% in Portuguese. It's been crazy and so incredibly cool! There is nothing like teaching someone about the Gospel and having them understand it, even if it's just practice. I have had some really powerful experiences with this and don't know if I can do them all justice but I'll share my favorite.

Yesterday was our first day of teaching 2 investigators instead of 1. Elder Work and I were ready to teach him but I was praying really hard that I would be able to follow the Spirit and know what to teach him. All the investigators we have are based on real nonmembers of the church and it feels so real to teach them. It's amazing how much concern you feel for them even though you know it's just role playing. Anyway, I really wanted to get it right. We were teaching him (his name is Emerson, which I thought you'd appreciate, Dad) and I had a feeling that the lesson wasn't what he needed to hear. But the problem is, with Portuguese, I can't really ask people that many questions or be very flexible. Everything is pre-planned until my skills improve. Anyway, about halfway through the lesson, Emerson asked why he was having so many problems in his life even though he was trying to do what's right. It was nuts, I could understand everything he was saying and I was able to answer that God doesn't like it when we suffer and wants us to turn to him so he can help us bear our trials, even if he doesn't take them away. Then I felt prompted to tell him that one way to turn to God is through prayer, and asked him if he would say a prayer for us. I was then able to explain to him (in Portuguese!) how to pray and what to say. He agreed and said a prayer, and I could not believe how strong the Spirit was. It was just an amazing experience, and a miracle. It really built my confidence in speaking the language but I know that I was being led by the Spirit. I'm really learning (and my farewell talk helped teach me this too) that if I follow the Spirit, I'll have the words I need. It was such a cool experience.

Anyway, sorry for that wall of text! What else do you want to know?? The food here is pretty good, like eating old Café Rio all the time or something. I like it a lot, but it's messing with my stomach and I've felt sick a lot. 

The laundry room here is crazy. I tried to wash my whites and the machine just stopped halfway through so I had to do it again, and then the dryer took almost 3 hours to dry my clothes, and I lost a couple garments somehow. Good thing there's a distribution center at the temple (and everything there is super cheap!). 

My box number is 15. Can't wait to get any letters you might send! ;) 

They have Preach My Gospel (Pregar Meu Evangelho) in Portuguese here!! So great!! Also, there are 5 of us here going to Piracicaba, including all 4 elders in my district, so that's super rad.

My anxiety was pretty crazy the first few days I was here. I was missing you both because you help me feel better when I'm struggling like that, but the Lord has really been strengthening me. There are so many rules here and I've been adjusting to those contantly. It's hard to get used to shaving every day and stuff like that, and I don't always feel like I have time to do everything that's asked of me, so I was feeling pretty down on myself for a while, but the Lord has really helped me to see that if I do my best, that's good enough for Him and He'll give me the capacity to do more and more. I've really seen a jump in my productivity, my happiness, and my calmness and peace since I got here Tuesday. And time is just flying by. I'm having such a good experience.

I have felt my homesickness start to fade and I feel this constant love and this push, like I can do this, I don't need to be discouraged, I can overcome my weaknesses. I love and miss you guys so much but I just want you to know I'm really doing ok. I know you guys are doing well too. I think this time will fly by faster than we think it will, and I can't wait to see you. I know that the Lord is proud of me and you guys are too and that's what I need. :)

Love you guys tons,

Elder Sederholm

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Proof of Life!

Just kidding... I know he's alive and well but it sure is great to see his face. We just received an email from the mission letting us know the missionaries arrived safely. He looks so happy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Landed in Brazil!

I was pulling into the parking garage at work this morning and my phone dinged. Being the conscientious driver that I am, I didn't look at it until I was tucked safely into my parking spot. It was an email from Nathanael! He was able to write to let us know he made it safely. I was so happy! As I read, I couldn't help but notice how excited he seems. It warmed my heart and I have been smiling all day (with far less weepy tears than yesterday). Knowing that he was feeling so positive about things put my worries at ease. He sounds great! He asks that if you want to hear from him, you email him so he can have your email address. Because it's a new account, he doesn't have anyones address.

I thought I'd share the email. Note the use of the word 'rad' - I taught him well. And Carl particularly liked the story of the flip off. Enjoy!

Hey Mom!!!!!

What's up?? My flight was great! I'm so glad you emailed me. They told us we could email our family and I was so excited!! It's been a crazy day or so. Luckily I'm doing ok so far. The second flight was CRAZY long but I managed to get some sleep and am doing good. I have been sick to my stomach because I've been so nervous for like 36 hours but I'm doing good anyway. I have so many crazy stories already to tell you! First of all, most people here speak no english but they are all super friendly. I had like 10 guys come up and introduce themselves and they even offered to carry my luggage. It was cool. My companion is Elder Work (the guy we met at the airport!) so that's pretty rad. 

There were easily 30 missionaries or more on the flight from SLC to Atlanta so it was cool. Another elder (on his way to Argentina) and I were sitting next to this Catholic guy and he asked us what we believe in. (I was like wow, this is such a cliche mission experience! Haha but anyway.) I was super nervous so I said, "why don't you ask this elder? He's already trained!" Lazy I know. He went on to explain the Joseph Smith story and the first vision. It was really neat. I wouldn't have known what to say, but he just dove right in and the guy was totally going along with it. It made me feel like I can be bold and people might actually listen to me! So that was a good experience.

Then on the flight to Sao Paulo (ugh!) I met this guy who literally travels all around the world doing electrical engineering stuff. He didn't want anything to do with the church (he said he was a devout Catholic) but he recognized me as an LDS missionary and was really nice. He helped me fill out the white immigration card we had to do and gave me tips about travelling internationally. He asked me all sorts of questions. It made me laugh when he asked me if I was old enough to drink coffee, haha.

It is so crazy here!! I feel so totally out of my element and a little scared. But I am doing really well and I'm determined. 

Being here is just like watching a movie about a city in Brazil. (Huh, turns out the movies are pretty good!) The driving is crazy. We drove for like an hour from the airport to the CTM (dang Portuguese) and I thought we might die. Our driver even flipped a guy off, haha. I'm really glad my mission isn't a driving mission.

Sorry if there are a lot of typos in this email. I'm running off of like 4 hours of airplane sleep and this keyboard is in Portuguese. It took me like 2 minutes just to find the apostrophe! And there are red lines under all the words because let's face it, I'm typing in English. I miss you guys so so much. I'm still taking in the fact that I'm going to be gone for two years. But I'm also getting more and more excited! So that's good. 

Just so you know, I won't have another P day until a week from Friday. So that will be about 9 days until I can email you again. :( I'm sure a million things will have changed by then, so brace yourself. I probably won't even be able to type in English anymore, hopefully.

Sorry this is such a huge info dump. I miss you guys tons but I know I'm doing a good thing and I'm happy about it. It definitely is as hard and scary as everyone says it is though. And it's only the first day haha!! But don't worry about me, remember to chill. I'm sure I'll adjust in no time. Hopefully, because everyone here is really nice and I have no clue what they're saying haha. I'm so glad my companion is American.

So far, no giant spiders yet. We'll see though. The windows in our room open and there's no screen, so it's only a matter of time. Also, there are rad palm trees here and I'm totally into it. But it's super hot and I smell bad... oh, well. Haha.

Love you and Dad tons. Be thinking about and praying for me. I know this is going to be great! Oh, and I'll send pictures next Friday for sure.

Love you guys,

Elder Sederholm

Monday, September 12, 2016

On his way...

Today was the day. Nathanael is on his way to Sao Paulo, Brazil! He should arrive in Sao Paulo about 5:30am tomorrow morning (Utah time, 8:30ish Brazil time) and then report right to the MTC.

Of course the airport was heartwrenching, but through this whole process I have felt such an indescribable joy. As we were riding the escalator down to the Delta check-in counter, we were met with a sea of Elders and Sisters straight from the Provo MTC ready to head out to all corners of the world. As we were trying to navigate the check-in computer, one Elder walked up to us and started talking to Nathanael, offering to help him through the process. I'm so grateful for this Elder. I know Nathanael was feeling anxious, and I think this helped to ease his concerns a little. We were all glad to know that he would not be traveling alone.

After checking in, we found an unoccupied corner where we could sit and chat for a few minutes before he went through security. It didn't take long to meet another Elder who is not only going to the Brazil MTC, but is also going to the Piracicaba mission. It was fun to see them get excited about their upcoming adventure together.

Tears were shed as we hugged and then hugged again and he walked away, turning back to wave a couple of times, and then he was on his way. We are anxiously awaiting his first email.

Farewell to Friends and Family

In his farewell talk yesterday, Nathanael gave a sweet message of faith, encouraging each of us to rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ. He reminded us that missionary work is all about bringing happiness and peace to others by teaching them how to access the healing powers of the atonement. As a missionary, he is excited to take that message to the people of Brazil.

Yesterday we felt an amazing outpouring of support from our friends and family. Thank you to all who offered laughter, hugs, and words of encouragement. Our little family appreciates our bigger ward - stake - community family. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Why a blog?

As Nathanael is getting ready to leave for Brazil, I decided that I would create a blog to chronicle the journey. Over the next two years I will post updates, letters, and pictures so you can share the journey with our family.

I am excited for Nathanael and proud of him for deciding to serve a mission, but I am going to miss him so much! This will give me something to do in all my new spare time.