Monday, November 28, 2016

P-day 10: Day 76 - "I know I'm where I'm supposed to be."

As always, it's so good to hear from Nathanael. It's bringing back so many memories of my mission to read his letters. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. Carl and I joke that we just woke up from a nightmare that we got called back on a mission. The only thing I can say is that the things that are hardest always seem to be the most worth it. I will never regret the time I spent in Argentina. Keep it up Nathanael! You'll be glad you did.

Nathanael is disappointed this week because one of their strong investigators, Marcello, decided he wasn't willing to commit to living the word of wisdom. He had been coming to church and had a baptismal date set. I remember how disappointing it was when that would happen. But Marcello is better off than he was before because of the things he has learned about the gospel and Jesus Christ. Maybe there will be a day when he decides he wants to be more involved. We'll pray for that.

Here is Nathanael's letter. He worries that as he shares how hard his mission is for him that it will dissuade others from wanting to go. But I think that it makes the experience real and that when others are going through the same challenges they will be able to relate and feel that others understand what they are going through too. It's good to share these things. I'm proud of Nathanael and the growth I can see in him. He's brave for undertaking this challenge. 

Enjoy!



What's up?? 

This has been quite a week for me. The work has been good, but hard. We had trouble finding new investigators this week to teach, and we didn't have anyone at church on Sunday which was really disappointing for us. But we've been working hard as always and I know that things will be good this week. We've been praying a lot, haha. Elder Oliveira and I have been getting along well, which is good. Sometimes he gets a little impatient but I think it's just a mix of his personality and stress that he's feeling about the work. I'm trying to be patient with him. Overall things are good there though.

This week stress-wise has been so, so hard. Don't let me alarm you guys :) but I always want to be honest about stuff like that. Sometimes I worry that people will read these letters and think that a mission is so hard that it's not worth it, but make sure to tell them I don't feel that way, haha. I know I'm growing and I've been asking the Lord to help me understand what I can learn from my difficulties, and He is helping me. On Tuesday I woke up with the strong impression that a challenge was coming. That was true. This is embarassing but I literally broke down and sobbed in the bathroom 4 different times this week. I'm not even sure I can explain why completely, or why this week has been so hard. I asked Elder Oliveira to give me a blessing on Wednesday and that was very comforting to me, but I've still been struggling. In the blessing he told me a lot of stuff and I'll include some of it: that the Lord will lift all my burdens off my shoulders, that I will have the strength to continue working hard and that I will have an excellent mission, that I will have the opportunity to bring many people unto Christ's atonement, that my teaching and language will improve, that I'll find joy in the midst of my difficulties, and that Jesus Christ has gone before me in everything and that his angels are constantly surrounding me. That was hugely comforting to me. But still, I don't know what it's been about this week, but I've had such a hard time. But the mission is good, the people we teach are good -- it feels so good when a lesson goes well and the people make and keep their comittments -- and so on.

This is the last week of the transfer, and Elder Oliveira thinks he's leaving and I'm staying, so I've been trying to prepare myself to be the one who has friendships with the investigators and so on. I've been talking a lot more and trying to stretch myself in that way, and that's been good. I feel like I'm seeing my improvement.

Remember how we were teaching Marcello? Out of nowhere this week, he said he didn't want us to teach him anymore, and he didn't go to church. That's been really hard for me. I walked out of that lesson so disappointed -- it was night and raining, and I felt like Charlie Brown (do doo dooo, doo doo). That really was the worst. But we have faith that eventually we will find someone who will accept the gospel. There hasn't been a baptism here in almost 9 months but we have faith that it's possible.

I know I'm where I'm supposed to be. I don't know how I'm going to have or find the capacity to do this sometimes, but I know I'm where I'm supposed to be and, like we're always telling our investigators, the Lord will always provide a way for us to accomplish His commandments. The gospel has always been so real for me, but now it's more real than ever, I think. He has asked me to sacrifice a lot (I'm not saying I'm sacrificing everything, but the sacrifice is real!) and I'm having to really trust Him out here. 

Love you guys.
Elder Sederholm

Monday, November 21, 2016

P-day 9: Day 69 - "So far this has been my best and happiest week."

Nathanael sounds great this week! There was no talk of anxiety at all. What a difference! Our plan of attack was for him to pray for his investigators and the work, and for us to pray for him. We wanted his focus to shift a little more toward the work, hoping the anxiety would fade into the background a little. I'm so proud of him for working through this rough time and focusing on the work. It sounds like it's making a difference. When we were messaging he was back to his normal, funny banter. It was nice. I'm sure there will still be hard weeks, but learning how to manage them is important and I feel like he is doing that. Thank you to those of you who have reached out to him and for everyone's prayers. The blessings have been evident. We will continue to pray for him as he prays for those he serves. We welcome any who want to join in. The more the better!

Here are a couple of pics he sent. He's been sending a few every week and we finally got some from his first area.

Here is his apartment in Centro:








Here are a couple of Nathanael (with a new haircut!), one with his new companion:



 Nathanael and his companion have been doing origami (which is awesome by the way). Here's Nathanael's fist attempt:


Here is Nathanael's letter. Enjoy!

Hey y'all!!

Hey guys. It's been a good week for me. Miss and love you guys. I've really been working on putting into practice the advice you have been giving me. This week has been great for that. Every day has significant challenges like always but I have really been working on seeing the positive. Every day I've been praying that the Lord will help me see things with gratitude and not with worry or pessimism, that He'll help me see myself and the people around me like He sees us, and I've been trying to express extra gratitude and ask a little less. The difference has been astounding. I'm starting to really, really love certain things about my mission a lot. The work is incredible. Almost every day, I reach a point where I don't want to ever talk to a Brazillian again or knock a single door, and then we'll find someone who's amazing, or we'll have a spiritual experience, or at the very least we'll get home and eat dinner -- it's always something. It's hard to love the people and the work sometimes but there are some things that are incredible. We had three people at church this week (the most for us so far!!), and we are working with them for baptism. Our baptism fell through this week with Marcello because he has some things he still needs to work on but he wants to be baptized still. 

So that's really good. So far this has been my best and happiest week. That's been true of every week so far, but this week has really been blessed. I think I'm figuring out some strategies to be happy and have a happy experience. I had two days of divisions today and that provided me with some unique and crazy opportunities (for me so far, haha). On Thursday I went with Elder Gomes and Arias (who live with us) to their area. It was fun to see how they teach and knock doors, and I felt my Portuguese really improving. People are starting to understand me more and more!! Yay! This is good. On Friday, my companion (who is the District leader here) went to another area to do a baptismal interview and he switched with one of the missionaries there, Elder Pina. This was scary for me because we stayed in our area, which meant I had to know where to go, how to communicate with our investigators, plan out a route, and so on. I was really freaked out honestly but it was a huge blessing for me. We found where we were supposed to be, we made our appointments and taught, found new investigators, and everything went well. Elder Pina is dying next week so his opinion means a lot, and he said that he thought I did a really good job. That built my confidence and was good.

We were knocking doors on Saturday and found this mom and her middle aged daughter and taught them. We taught really simply using scriptures from the New Testament about the atonement and how the Lord loves us so he restored His church and so on. It was different from our usual first lessons (and we actually need to go back and re-teach it because we didn't cover everything) but it was really good. There was a really sweet spirit in the room and I think it was a really good example of following the Spirit (on the part of my companion -- I just kinda followed his lead, obviously, but still). Plus they gave us cake afterward. So I liked that lesson a lot. And that was after one of my hardest and most tired days.

Guys I'm worn out but doing good. My confidence is growing a little bit that I can do this misison and do a good job. I'm so painfully aware of all my weaknesses and failures here but I have the strongest feeling from time to time that the Lord is so proud of me. His spirit is with me, He's blessing me, and He loves me. So I'm not perfect, but if I'm good enough to receive the Lord's approval, I think that's good enough for now. I'll keep working at it. I miss you guys. Just want you to know that after we chatted last week I wrote down a summary of what you said and it really saved me this week. I actively applied every step, and I saw my days improve dramatically. So thanks for that!

Anyway I think that's everything. I'm doing my best to let the work become predominant. I love reading your guys' letters. They help me feel so much better and are always full of great ideas and things I can do. Honestly it just helps me to feel your support, and to know I can do it. It's easy to feel like I'm a failure out here, even though I know I'm not. Your perspective and smartness really helps.

Pet Tabby for me! Love you guys.

Elder Sederholm

Monday, November 14, 2016

P-day 8: Day 62 - "This week has been incredibly tough for me but I've had lots of tender mercies, too."

Thank you for writing to Nathanael. He is feeling your support. He is still struggling with some anxiety but he's working his way through it. I know your letters and prayers are helping him to feel strength and are responsible for some of the "tender mercies" he is feeling. It's a blessing that we are allowed to "chat" every week for a few minutes. Going from chatting every night before bed to not chatting at all is rough. I think that the mission president allowing that communication is key to us being able to help him work through some of these issues. Nathanael is strong, but has insecurities just like the rest of us. I keep reminding him that all the struggles he's having are normal struggles and he is progressing just as he should be. This is a growing time for him and growing times are the hardest. He's doing really well.

I think it's funny to note the misspellings in his letter. I remember that happening to me as I became more immersed in the language and started spelling words they way they are pronounced. It made me giggle.

Each week Nathanael sends us a few pictures but he hasn't caught up to his new area yet. We're still in the MTC but I'd thought I'd include a few. 







Here is his letter. If you have any advice for him, feel free to reach out to him. I know he would appreciate any advice. Enjoy!

First I just want to say thanks so much for the emails. They really lifted my spirits. This week has been incredibly tough for me but I've had lots of tender mercies, too. And the work has been progressing! So that's great. I want to talk about it but first some fun stuff about the culture that I've been noticing: First of all, what do they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Brazil? Answer: a Quarterão. Dad, there are tons of Volkswagon Buses here -- they're about as common as CRVs in America -- and every time I see one I think of you. Also, remember that song "Saudade" by Love and Rockets? The word saudade is Portuguese for longing or nostalgia. There's no direct translation but that's roughly the meaning. I thought you would appreciate that. The weather here is nuts. It's been raining like crazy here. The first real rainstorm was last Saturday. I forgot to write about it, but dang -- the streets were literally flooded, and we went tracting!! My shoes were soaked until Tuesday or Wednesday. We are definitely in the jungle, even if we're not, you know what I mean?

Anyway, the people here are great. We have a teaching group of about 15 that we are working with right now, and all of them are interested in what we are teaching. It's great. The most exciting thing about this week was that we marked a baptismal date with Marcello! He will be baptized on Sunday. He is so excited and happy and we are too, haha. I have been struggling with stress but when I think about him I feel joy. It's really amazing to be a part of this work sometimes.

Luckily for all of us, I found some ramen and oatmeal at the store last Monday and I've been eating three meals a day ever since. Thank goodness. I have felt physically a lot better. I forgot to buy sugar unfortunately, but I'll get there.

I'm starting to get used to going to church and not hearing English or seeing anyone I know. The members for the most part are really friendly and I'm getting to know them a little bit. It's fun to eat lunch with them and then see them at church. The lunches here are amazing by the way. 

I'm glad to hear you guys are doing good. Sounds like you have a lot going on as always but you are handling it. Glad the Primary program went well! Mom, I hope your wrist is feeling better. It looks sore. I loved seeing all the pictures you guys sent.

I already have a few funny embarrassing moments. I'll tell you the best one for now and save the rest for later. ;) It was actually at the MTC and I just forgot to tell it. We had divisions with the Brazillians, and my companion told me about a missionary companionship that was in his ward. It was a trainer and a greenie, and the trainer told the greenie to introduce himself to investigators by saying, "Hola, eu sou frango!" which literally means, "Hi, I am chicken!" meaning the food. I thought this was hilarious and went up to a bunch of people and said this. 

I'm glad you guys are getting in the Christmas spirit. I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music. Stores are starting to put up tinsel and trees and snowflakes and stuff which is awesome but kinda weird because it's so hot, haha, but it's cool. By the way, when it comes to an Xbox One or a Playstation 4, I would go for the Xbox. ;) The Playstation will have Uncharted but the Xbox will have everything else. Have fun!!!

I heard that Trump won. I honestly can't believe it, but it's done now, haha. Craziness! I'm not really happy about it but like you said there's not really much we can do and it will be all good.

Guys, my anxiety is really, really, really bad right now. I'm talking bad like it was when it's been the very worst. I don't know what to do. Like I said, everything else is going well but man this anxiety is just unbearable. It's more than stress, you know? My thoughts and feelings have been my worst enemy lately. Do you have any suggestions? I feel stuck. I know before I came here I said I would never give up, and I felt very confident in myself, but I honestly never thought my anxiety could be this bad here. Do you guys have any advice?

Anyway, I don't want to worry you guys but that's how it's been. I love you guys, and just want to say thanks so so much for all the words of incouragement. They are invaluable to me.

Love,
Elder Sederholm

Monday, November 7, 2016

P-day 7: Day 55 - "I came to the field thinking I would be this steller, brave, animated missionary like Ammon or something, and instead I'm just me."

Nathanael's time to email us is around 6 am on Mondays with the new time change (he's 5 hours ahead of us now). That's early on a Monday morning, but it gets us up and running (okay maybe not running...). We are NOT early morning people. 

He's had another rough week but ironically sounds great. I keep telling him that everything he is feeling is normal and exactly how it is supposed to be, even though it's hard. Probably not what he wants to hear, but I think he is handling it well. And I'm super glad that he's understanding that being himself is the most powerful thing he can be. I think that his description of himself, instead of being like Ammon, actually does sound a lot like Ammon. I'm proud of him. Enjoy his letter!

Hey!

Thanks so much for your emails (and I'm excited for those letters/packages too! Thanks!)!! I want to start out by saying this I think has maybe been the hardest week of my life. It's been incredibly, incredibly difficult, but very good. I'm starting to finally come up with some coping stuff I can do -- I like to take deep breaths, pray, write in my journal, sleep, etc, haha. My companion and I are getting along better. We had a really open talk on Saturday and that really helped me and him, I think. We've been talking a lot more and getting along better, and that alone is really really helping me. 

You have to tell Amy I've been using her UV pen like 3 times a day!! It's the best. No one buys botteled water here even though we're supposed to haha so I bought a couple and just fill them up with tap water and purify them. It's totally awesome and a life saver.

I've been discovering a few things about myself this week. I came to the field thinking I would be this steller, brave, animated missionary like Ammon or something, and instead I'm just me, but in a foreign country. It's much more normal here in certain ways than I anticipated. But I'm starting to learn that instead of beating myself up all the time for not being totally awesome, I just need to get up, do my work, and pray with all my heart that the Lord with make something with it, and with me. I was praying last night after feeling really discouraged because I have a lot of trouble opening my mouth and being bold. (I do ok but it's hard sometimes.) I felt the strongest and clearest impression that the Lord is going to remove that weakness from me, over time I'm sure, and help me to overcome that. So there you go. The Lord has been answering my prayers.

I think He gave me my MTC experience so I could learn this very principle (and it's very easy for me to forget) -- that we are not enough on our own, I'm certainly not enough here, but that the Lord will help us and be with us with more power and grace than we can possibly imagine. I've been reading the Isaiah chapters of the Book of Mormon and I've really been struck with how powerfully and totally the Lord rescues his covenant people, even (and especially!) when they are weak. I think that is one of the grand miracles of the atonement -- that thanks to the Lord's grace, we are utterly and completely saved if we will just turn to Him and rely on Him. He will help us. It's easy to forget but it is simply true.

I loved hearing that Cannon was fasting for me! :) You have to tell him I really appreciated it. I know that fast was powerful for me. I received specific answers to prayers yesterday and a whole lot of peace. Make sure to tell him that he made a huge difference for me. I can also feel your guys' prayers all the time -- thank you! I know you guys are always supporting me and thinking about me and I really appreciate and need that.

Good luck with the primary program mom!! You will be awesome. They are always so spiritual and cute, so I know it will be a success. You guys are awesome.

I want to talk about the people we're teaching. The work is so awesome!! We are teaching a lot of people but there are a few that really stand out. My favorite is this mother and son, Regina and Marcello. Marcello is 15 and really interested in our message. We've taught them the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. They haven't read much but Marcello prayed about it and got an answer, and he went to church yesterday!! He is so awesome. We are going to try to set a baptismal date with him this week. I have a really good feeling about him. Plus he reminds me of Tanner and Eric which is a plus. He's a really good guy. We are also teaching a husband and wife and his brother. Their names are Sicero, Aparecido and Creosa. They want to be baptized and we have a date marked, the 19th of November. We have taught them a bunch of lessons. They are having trouble making it to church and understanding everything but they want to keep learning more. It's very exciting. We're also teaching this husband and wife, Marco and Messa, who are really awesome. He wants to be baptized but is struggling to receive an answer about if the chuch is true. Craziness! I'm mostly just following my companion around right now and trying to chip in positively in the lessons, haha, but he's having me teach a lot. Usually he has to go back and re-explain what I said but I taught the Book of Mormon Saturday and he didn't have to, which made me feel good! I'm definitely seeing a lot of improvement in myself. I'm nowhere near where I want to be but I know the Lord is helping me. Most importantly, I can feel that He loves me and is proud of me, and is going to help me. So that's really, really good.

I've been feeling a little homesick and I miss you guys a lot, but it's nothing that's hindering my work. I really miss just sitting down with you guys and playing Xbox and Zelda and stuff, and just talking to you and so on. It's hard for me to believe that I've been away for 8 weeks. Time is slow and super fast all at once. It's hard to explain. I miss you guys but I know we will have the opportunity to be together again and it's all good.

How is everything? Everyone? I want to hear about all your stuff and stuff. Love you guys.


Elder Sederholm

Thursday, November 3, 2016

P-day 6: Day 48 - "The hardest thing I've ever done."

Waiting until Monday was such a long wait! But...not only did we get an email and pictures (yay for pictures!), we got to "chat" with him for a few minutes. It was amazing!!




As I started reading his email, it was obvious he was discouraged. I think he expected to be able to go out and just understand and speak (I remember thinking I would be able to at least understand a little when I got out but it was a reality check for sure) so it was really eye opening for him. As we chatted with him, and Carl and I were able to share stories about when we first got to our missions, we all ended up having a good laugh. I think when we signed off he was feeling a little better about things. This is such a growing time, but he will get the hang of it. It's good for Nathanael to realize that these things take time and that he needs to rely on his Heavenly Father. If you haven't had a chance to write him, now might be a good time. I think he could use some extra encouragement. Enjoy his letter!

Hey guys!!

It was good to get your emails. It's been a long break in-between P-Days for me too but now I think it'll only be one week in between from now on. Can I just say this last week has been crazy?? We got here Tuesday morning and met our new companions in the afternoon. President and Sister Bangerter are really nice, and slightly scary haha, but very cool. President Bangerter seems to have a lot of confidence in me which is nice. My new companion is Elder Oliveira. He's from central Brazil, I forget where exactly, and has been out for 8 months. He is a great missionary and speaks quite a lot of English, which is helpful. The food here is pretty good, and yes, better than the MTC haha. 

I don't want to worry you guys but I'm really, really struggling out here. I know it's only my first week but dang. I can hardly understand what anyone is saying, my speaking is poor, and my teaching is terrible. I feel bad for Elder Oliveira because I can tell he really wants to just get out there and teach people effectively and I feel like I'm ruining that! I can tell he's really frustrated a lot of the time, and I don't know what to do. I can only do my best, right? But I'm having a lot of good experiences here. We taught our first lesson on Thursday (we didn't get to our new apartment until Thursday, because we got stuck near the mission home for two days -- still not really sure why, but oh well). The Spirit was really strong and I was able to share the first vision story with this really nice lady. We are continuing to teach her and she's interested in our message, so that's great! Our zone is São João de Boa Vista (Saint John of Good View, or something), area Centro (center). Apparently this area is infamous for being really tough; there hasn't been a baptism here since March. It feels tough to me but I have a lot to adjust to anyway, haha. 

Glad to hear Disneyland was fun! And Tuacahn too. Sorry the play wasn't that great but at least you guys had fun. I'm jealous about all the Christmas decorations and stuff. That's definitely my favorite part of the year. I can't wait to hear about all the holiday fun.

Sorry to hear about your wrist, Mom. I hope you feel better quick. That's no fun. :( I'm glad Tanner is so excited. I feel bad because I haven't had the chance to write him back yet, but I will today. We have a lot more time to write here in the field. Also, the weather here is nice. It's pretty hot and always humid but I'm pretty used to it. It's not too bad. 

The way to send packages and stuff is just to the address for the mission (I forget what that is). Then our zone leaders pick them up every month. I never got your guys' letters but I'm hoping they show up soon!

Do you guys have any advice? I didn't want to be able to say this but I think this is the hardest thing I've ever done, and it's only my first week in the field!! Man!! It's good of course and the Lord is with me, but this is so, so hard. What helped you guys to adjust when you served missions? Was the language difficult? Did you guys find teaching hard? What helped you? I know I'll be ok, and I've talked to a couple of Americans who have been here for a couple months and they said it gets easier with time, but this is incredibly difficult to the point where I almost don't know what to do. I felt in church yesterday that if I go out there and do my best, love the people, that the Lord will accept and augment my humble offering, and I'm grateful for that, but man. Anyway, don't let me complain too much -- I'll give you all the wrong idea. I'm very happy to be here and I know I'm going to have a great experience. It's just very overwhelming right now.

Love you guys and miss you tons.

Elder Sederholm