Monday, February 27, 2017

P-day 23: Day 167 - "The Lord is always close by and watching over me."

Short letter today. I think it's because he got online and started chatting with us before he wrote the email. He also told us that this would probably be the last week that we will get to chat because the mission president is changing the rules. I am sad about that. I will miss being able to have that ongoing conversation.

He sounds really good today. He's excited about his transfer. I'm looking forward to going home and checking our map. Apparently it's all the way across the mission. I've said this before, but it's amazing to me to see the growth in Nathanael. He's handling the stress of a mission really well. 

Here are a couple of pics from this week:

Enjoy his letter!

Hey guys!!!!

Hope you guys are doing good. It's great to read your emails and talk to you guys like always. Keep me updated on all the happenings. Send me pictures always and so on.

Some general news: I got transferred!!!! Woohoo!!! I'm heading to the zone Botucatu, area Avaré B. Should be really cool! My new companion is Elder Guimarães (instead of Elder L. Guimarães, who is my companion right now) and I leave tomorrow morning. It's on the other side of the map so it might be a long journey, haha.

There are always trials to talk about and blessings to mention, but the bottom line is that despite my difficulties, the Lord is with me and I'm overall doing well. I'm happy, doing my best, and have a lot to look forward to in terms of growth and service. I'm excited. And having a change is going to be good, too.

I did that division I mentioned with the new American on Tuesday, and it went really, really well. We found people to teach, I was able to speak the language clearly and comfortably, and everything went just fine. The Elder (Elder Jackson is his name) said it was one of the best days of his mission, too, which made me happy. Good things are afoot.

I'm growing in a lot of positive ways and have a lot to look forward to. This week I'm going to focus on my positive attributes and on the good things that are going on and try to not put focus on the rest. It's a good exercise because there's so much to be grateful for. I really am richly blessed. I believe that when we try to come close to the Lord he shows us our weaknesses so maybe when I feel like I have a lot to work on that's actually a good sign. Who knows?! But either way I'm moving in the right direction and doing the right things. 

Love you guys.
Elder Sederholm

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

P-day 22: Day 160 - "I am trying to place confidence in the fact that the Lord knows His sheep (meaning me) and that He is really in the little details."

This week's letter and chat with Nathanael was hard for me (but I'm so grateful that he is so open with us about what is going on). He's struggling with a companion who's not as excited to work as he is. But at the same time, I think it's been a good experience for him. I've been able to see real growth in him. I was worried that if he had a companion that didn't want to work that Nathanael would feel extra anxiety and maybe some depression because he wasn't living up to his expectations of himself. But I've seen the opposite happening. Throughout all of this, he has turned to the Lord for strength and comfort, and his personal relationship with Heavenly Father has become more personal. He feels His comfort and assurance in a personal way. I'm grateful for situations that make us stronger and better. I'm proud of the growth I see in Nathanael and for the way he is relying on Heavenly Father. Enjoy his letter!


I just wanted to say thanks for your letters first of all. It is always so so good to hear from you both and your letters usually make me cry a little bit (or a lot). It's been a crazy week for me but it sounds like your guys' week was good. Mom I've been bragging about you to the guys in my house and I think it annoys them but oh well. It's all good.

Tomorrow is a leadership meeting in Piracicaba, and everyone was going to leave last night to go there. That would have left me with a brand new American missionary in our area until Tuesday night as the senior companion. I was terrified and prayed a lot that the Lord would somehow let that not happen, but I was working very hard to try to be in a place where I would accept the Lord's will without fear if it were to happen anyway. I truly don't feel confident as the only authority on the language here in Brazil yet. I can survive and teach, but lead out in everything...? I don't know. But anyway last night for some reason the division fell through, at least until tonight. It's looking like the division is going to happen still and I'm terrified but I'm saying the same prayer, haha. If it happens, it means I'll be ok. If not, then it's not what I need right now. I'll be sure to let you guys know how that goes!

The time changed on Saturday night and so we are only 4 hours apart now. Right now as I write this it's 11:46. There, it's 7:46. I told everyone this in the house and mentioned the new job and everything, and said that I'd have to get to the LAN house by 10ish to be able to talk to both of you guys. Everyone was cool about it but then this morning everyone was super slow (I was the first one ready if you can believe it) and we didn't make it until about 11:20 or so. When I asked if we could hurry up a little bit (and I asked nicely I promise) they made fun of me for wanting to talk to you guys. Craziness!! I was so frustrated and sad, because I was really really wanting to talk to you guys. When I read your letter Mom and you mentioned today is president's day I cried, because that means we can talk. The Lord is really blessing me with a lot of tender mercies. I woke up really stressed today and when I said my morning prayer I just felt this feeling of peace, like everything is totally ok, and I just need to trust the Lord on this roller coaster. I've had a lot of really comforting impressions this week. My favorite was on Saturday (I think), when I was walking home and I felt like my soul got filled up. I felt the words in my mind and heart, "you are going to be ok." It was a very gentle and very firm impression that I still feel. I am trying to place confidence in the fact that the Lord knows His sheep (meaning me) and that He is really in the little details. 

I said it's been a crazy week at the beginning but really it's been a crazy transfer. The other 3 elders have really been the focal point for me. They have chewed me up and spit me out if that makes any sense. I feel battered and bruised emotionally (and physically! I'm joking more or less) but I've made it this far ok. And I think I've learned a thing or two. We can talk more soon but that's the general idea. I wish I had more stories about the work but like I said it's been a rough week. Just know the Lord is watching over me very carefully.

I love you guys. Can't wait to talk to you soon.
Elder Sederholm

P-day 21: Day 153 - "If I'm wanting to do what the Lord wants me to do, and then I do it, I will be happy."

I'm such a slacker! My goal was to get this posted on Monday, last Monday that is! Happy reading!

Hi parents!!

I'm always excited to talk to you guys. How are you? Mom I'm super excited about your new job. I meant to ask you more about it last week but it slipped my mind, but anyway I'm super excited and proud of you. I brag about you (and Dad) sometimes and I think it annoys everyone but you guys seriously rock. You are going to be so great.

Anyway this week has been pretty good. It sounds like things at home have been normal but good too. Is it still pretty cold there? I've been hoping things will start to cool down here but I asked a member when it will start to get cold and they said May (!!). Man. 

This week work-wise has been kinda slow again. I did divisions with the zone leaders on Friday and Saturday in their area so I haven't been in my area as much, but as far as I know our area hasn't seen much progress. We haven't had an investigator at church since the middle of January and we're frustrated about that but I feel ok. I'm more worried about my companion. I can tell that he's stressed. He told me yesterday he feels a lot of pressure as a district leader and so on. I've been trying to be sensitive to that and help him out. I really believe he's doing his best and I'm trying to be patient with him. 

I read the 4th missionary talk yesterday. [If you are interested, here is a link to the talk:] Dad you sent me a copy in the MTC but yesterday one of the zone leaders was going through his suitcase and he found a copy of the talk in Portuguese and gave it to me. I read it and really gained a lot from it. When I read it in the MTC I liked it but I kinda skimmed it, but yesterday I took like an hour and read it slowly and thought about it. I realized that I am (at least striving to be) the fourth missionary. I've been pondering about why I sometimes feel unhappy or stressed, because I am doing my best -- isn't a mission supposed to be the happiest time in your life? -- and I think I kinda had an ahah moment where I realized that above all if I ever feel unhappy, homesick, or whatever, I can focus more on giving all my desires, hopes, dreams, and everything else to the Lord and let His will become my will. If I'm wanting to do what the Lord wants me to do, and then I do it, I will be happy. That makes sense to me. I struggle with homesickness sometimes but I think if I just say to the Lord, "Lord, let me want to be here and let me want to be doing what I'm doing," I think that will help a lot. I came on my mission with the desire to help as many people as possible but I think when the rubber hit the road out here I realized that I had jumped from the Titanic into the freezing ocean to try to save people and I went into survival mode for a while. Now I'm adjusted; now I can focus. Even though our area isn't seeing a lot of results I'm going to dig in with all my might, all the while being patient with the people around me (and of course with myself). I think this all makes a lot of sense! It's exciting. I'm trying to be exactly obedient but won't beat myself up when I fall short or when it's simply not possible. Just gotta keep trying I think.

We found the lady we taught the Restoration again. She told us she received a very clear answer that the church is true but that she wouldn't go to church, and the Lord understood her reasons. My companion went all Alma on her and called her to repentance (I'm sort of joking, but you know what I mean I think) and she said she would go to church. We also taught her about the Book of Mormon. She didn't go to church unfortunately. We're going back there again this week though. She told us again that she had never felt the feeling she felt with us and when she prayed at the end of the lesson I felt the Spirit so strongly! She told us that right before we knocked her door she said a prayer asking the Lord to show her the right path for her. Man Viviani, just go to church. That's the problem we're struggling with right now. I want to see someone in church so bad! Oh well. We can only keep trying. And praying. We really are being blessed in other ways though. Our Sunday frequency has gone up by 10 (or in other words if that sounds small, from 40 to 50) because there are three less-active families that have started coming back to church. That makes me really happy. It reminds me of that scripture, "how great is the Lord's joy in one soul that repenteth," or something like that. And Aparecido is still there every week which is great. 

I think that's all the interesting stuff from this week. I love you guys. Hope you are doing well, and talk to you soon.

Elder Sederholm

Thursday, February 9, 2017

P-day 20: Day 146 - "I had the impression to lift my head up..."

Here is Nathanael's latest letter. I'm sorry it took a couple of days to post. My goal it to do better at getting them up on Mondays.

He sounds really good this week. I feel like he is starting to understand that his best is all that can be expected instead of beating himself up for not being perfect. I'm grateful for that. 

He sent several pictures this week of the big rock they went to visit. I'll include them here. I not sure why, but I was surprised how green and beautiful everything is there. It's fun to see the green foliage with the palm trees sprinkled in here and there. Nathanael looks so skinny to me! He's lost over 20 lbs. Eat Nathanael, eat!! 

I love that I can count on the members in Brazil to take care of him. I recently had some members friend me on Facebook and tell me that they made a cake specifically for Nathanael because he is too skinny (thank you Google Translate!). It makes my heart warm with gratitude. Here is a picture of the cake that this sweet family sent me. There's also a picture of him eating ice cream. Keep it up Nathanael!

Just one more note: I think that package that has been held in customs since January 4th is finally going to make it to Nathanael! According to the tracking website, they are attempting to deliver it. I'm so happy about that!

Enjoy his letter!

Hello parents!!

How are you guys? It sounds like life over there is pretty normal and good which I'm glad to hear. I miss you guys like crazy but things are going great here, more or less, ish, haha. We didn't have anyone at church again and the work feels like it's basically at a standstill which is frustrating but I have had a lot of spiritual experiences this week. 

We found a few new investigators to teach and had a couple really neat experiences. We found a lady knocking doors and taught her the restoration. At the end we asked her to pray about it that night to find out if our message is true and she said she didn't need to pray because she had never felt what she was feeling before and she knew it was true already. Unfortunately that was Tuesday and we haven't been able to get in touch with her since then but that was still a really neat experience. Also, we've been working a little with less-active members to gain referrals and I was praying over a list of less-active members the other day and had a feeling we should visit a certain house. We went there and the less-active member wasn't there but her mom was and she told us her son had died three weeks ago. We taught her and I think the Spirit touched her heart. We're going to visit her again tonight and we'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, Marco is not progressing. I had a dream last night that he got an answer to his prayers and was baptized the next Saturday. The last time I had a dream about an investigator, it actually happened, so who knows...? Haha but that would be cool. We're also working with a woman named Nathalea who was taught by the sisters for 3 months before she moved to our area. She has a very strong testimony but hasn't been to church in a long time.

Guys we've talked a LOT about how I at times feel like I'm a failure as a missionary, how I'm constantly worried about my weaknesses and that I'm not doing enough, that I'm not progressing with teaching and speaking Portuguese as much as I'd like, and so on. Well I've had a lot of really positive experiences this week that have really helped me to feel a lot better. On Saturday the sisters had a baptism and everyone in the district went (my companion performed the baptism) and I felt the Spirit so strongly. I was really hoping to receive guidance or something but I just felt a lot of peace. We watched this video about the miracles Jesus performed in His life and it was really neat for me to see how loving He really is, how He treats people as individuals and is so gentle and so on. I have this tendency to see Jesus as a very angry, strict God but it got me thinking that He is very merciful and kind to the people who have faith in Him and who are trying to follow Him, even though they're imperfect. Yesterday as we were walking to church I was feeling really down and I was thinking about the hymn How Firm a Foundation and I had the impression to lift my head up, that things are going according to the Lord's plan and even though it feels right now like things are at a standstill, I'm learning a lot and progressing very well. I also felt like I am actively and generally doing a great job as a missionary. That really stuck with me all day yesterday and still today. I felt spiritually renewed at church and after church I had the sweetest feeling. Yesterday was great for me. There have obviously been a lot of challenges and so on but I am starting to know without a doubt that Jesus is at my side, nurturing and strengthening and forgiving me, that I'm doing a great job, and even though my mission is crazy and right now our numbers are garbage and I'm not always exactly obedient or perfect, I'm doing my best and that's exactly what God is asking of me, not anything else. I was sitting on my bed and thinking yesterday that I know I have not been a perfect missionary -- on the contrary. But I have absolutely done my best consistently up until this point. That is something I feel like I can be very proud of and I know that the Lord is taking that and making it more than I can. So... yay!! I feel happy about that.

Anyway, that's all the rad stuff from this week I think. It's starting to cool down slightly here and today it smelled like spring here which I think means that winter is coming. Good times. I'm tired of how hot it's been! Oh, and mom, I got a phone call on Friday that I have a package coming in at the transfer. I don't know if it's yours but I assume it is. They said it's not here but they received notice that it's coming. It will have about a $50 fee but dang I'm so happy it's coming!! Woohoo!! 

Love you guys.
Elder Sederholm