Wednesday, April 26, 2017

P-day 31: Day 223 - "One step enough for me..."

As Nathanael reminded me, there are only three more weeks until Mother's Day and we get to talk with him again! I'm so excited for that!!

I know it's really easy for missionaries to measure success by how many baptisms they've had, but more and more the daily growth I'm seeing in Nathanael is so obvious to me. I'm proud of the man he is becoming. He is so sweet and sincere. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that from the time Nathanael was a little boy I've told him that I will consider him successful at whatever he accomplishes as long as he does it with kindness and he hasn't let me down. I'm very proud of his kind heart.


I've missed you guys this week. This week was full of blessings but kinda bombed. Lots of good things and some challenges too haha. Challenges is definitely the right word because I know I'll be better for all the difficulties I have. Just gotta keep going. Ok -- so this week started with force (is that only a Brazil expression? I don't know) on Monday when we went to Botucatu so that my companion could go to his leadership meeting on Tuesday. On Tuesday I stayed with an elder in Botucatu that didn't want to work that day so we stayed at home and watched Shrek. We almost watched Transformers but I talked him out of it, haha. So that was kinda a crappy day. But that's ok! Wednesday was really good. We had a mission conference and I really enjoyed that. I got to see all my friends from the mission, including Elder Carlson who got here this transfer, and Elder Baldwin and Elder Work from the MTC. I really enjoyed that. Good times were had.

We came home Thursday, which was fine. However I don't know why but Friday especially and also Saturday I felt incredibly discouraged. It was like someone turned on a switch. I struggled a lot and for me those were some of the hardest days I've had in a while. I guess the mission stress combined with traveling and the extra pressure of receiving a bunch of instruction from President Bangerter (after a day like Tuesday even though I couldn't do anything) was just a lot to deal with. It also rained really hard all day Friday. It was a lot haha. But on Saturday we had a really cool experience!

We were in a part of the area we've never visited before, looking for a less-active member, when we saw a man and a woman in the street. The woman was talking frantically on her phone and asked us to help. The man was having convulsions (don't know how to spell) and so we helped him to sit down. The woman went to get help and while she was gone the guy started to get worse so we helped him lay down. We ended up giving him a blessing on the sidewalk. That was definitely one of the most general conference-y types of experiences I've had on my mission. I felt the Spirit really strongly and felt inspired to bless him that he would improve and that it would pass. He didn't get better right away but started to calm down a little bit. We were also able to talk to his family (who eventually came to pick him up) about the church. They didn't go but hey. And we're going to try to contact them again this week. It was neat because I was feeling really really down on myself at the exact moment we saw this guy but luckily I was prepared spiritually to help this guy and everything was ok. 

I also had the opportunity to give my companion a blessing on Sunday morning because he woke up feeling really sick. That was also a really special experience. I felt the Spirit so strongly. I love to give blessings. It's really humbling and I haven't done it that much but it's an opportunity to invoke the powers of heaven and invite the Spirit with the unique purpose of blessing someone else's life. Very amazing.

The thing about discouragement and stress is that the feelings make it seem like the sky is falling but in the quiet moments when I take time to ponder, I feel the Spirit tell me that everything is all right. I also receive specific instruction from time to time. I struggle sometimes to love the people, because the culture and language is so different, and I've been praying a lot for charity and help to love them so I can better serve them. On Sunday, I felt inspired to hold back my judgemental feelings towards them and let that go. To me, that was really practical advice that I'm trying to implement now. This morning I was feeling discouraged again but on my knees in a quiet moment I felt the peace of the Spirit and was impressed that the Lord is tutoring me and that the most important thing I can do is follow those promptings and do my thing. Growth truly is line upon line. I also read an article on today called "What if the Answer is Peace?" or something like that. While reading that article I had the same feeling, and I almost felt as if the Lord asked me, "Why do you need to know the details?" 

I'm reminded of the hymn "Lead, Kindly Light." It says, "Lead thou my feet. I do not ask to see the distant scene/ one step enough for me." In Portuguese (just to brag that I remember, plus it's cool) it's "não peço luz a fim de longe ver/ somente luz em cada passo ter." I know the Savior lives. I know He loves me and that He's directing my paths. I don't see how all the little promptings are going to solve all my problems, and they probably won't right away, but that's the point. Growth is slow and we have to trust the Lord. I'm thankful that He's merciful enough to be patient with me, give me the light I have, and help me to understand the process more and more.

So I've rambled on a lot. The point is that I had a difficult week but I'm doing really well. Só alegria! I can't wait to talk to you guys soon. And don't forget, only 3 weeks till Mother's Day!!! Woohoo!!!! :)

Love you guys.

Elder Sederholm

P-day 30: Day 216 - "We see miracles on a daily basis here."

I've been super slow to get this published! This one is short but sweet. Nathanael is really just plugging along with mission life now and that makes me surprisingly happy and content. I'm happy that he's happy.


It looks like you guys had such a fun time in San Diego. I'm super jealous and glad you guys had fun. It's been a good week for me too. This week was kinda crazy because we had to travel again (and right now we're traveling again... sigh) but what can you do? That's the mission. We work when we can haha. But Easter was good, and we contacted a really cool reference yesterday. He was nice and said we can come back on Friday. I want to baptize this transfer. I'm determined!! I'm sick and tired of not baptizing. Haha. It's gonna happen.

My companion is great like always. I'm really happy to still be companions with him and everything. Our new house is also awesome. Sorry I'm not sending photos today. We're in Botucatu this week again and I don't have my camera. I PROMISE you guys will get a lot of fun pictures next week. Lots of fun stuff has happened!

I think a lot about my mission as a whole from time to time and feel a lot of peace. I feel like the Lord is directing me and giving me inspiration and I always do my best to follow it. We see miracles on a daily basis here. Yesterday we had 2 non-members come to church that we didn't even invite and made plans to contact them during the week. Pretty awesome! Our attendance was down because lots of active families traveled for Easter but I found out that we have officially doubled the branch's attendance in 1 quarter. I got here a little late but I've still been able to be a part of this miracle and I'm grateful for that. It's amazing the things that happen when everyone tries their best. That's all God asks of us, and He's really blessing us for doing that.

I'm happy. I feel more and more self-sufficient as a missionary all the time. I fasted this weekend and asked for a lot of blessings and I feel that the Lord has blessed me with those things, or is blessing me. I basically just asked for a lot of help repenting of little errors and things like that and I feel stronger now. Growth is a slow process I think but it's cool to see how much I've grown from the time that I got here. Can you believe it's been 7 months? Time really flies!

I love you guys sooooo much!! (big kiss noise) I hope you guys are doing good. Know that I'm doing well and feel happy and confident more and more. Things are going good.

I think that's it! Love you guys!! Can't wait to talk to you soon!!

Elder Sederholm

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

P-day 29: Day 209 - "I can rejoice and let go of my worries..."

This week, more than ever, I think Nathanael has lost himself in the work. It's so good to get his letters and see how well he's doing. He seems to have a lot of energy and excitement for the work. It makes me happy!

Enjoy his letter!

Hey guys!!

It's been a good week for us. I hope your guys' week was good too. It's been a good and crazy week. We moved houses, which took forever but was a good thing. I wish I had some pictures -- I left my camera at home and it's a crazy day so I don't have time to grab it. Sorry about that, I'll be sure to bring it next week for sure. 

So, the news you've been waiting for (maybe): no one got transferred! The 4 of us stayed in Avaré. I'm totally fine with that and actually really excited. And Elder Baldwin (my district leader in the MTC) is coming to our zone, too, so I'm excited for that. 

I wish I had a lot of very interesting or spiritual experiences to share but this week has been pretty ordinary and crazy. During the week we had to move like I said and we also had to travel to Botucatu because my companion had to do a baptismal interview at the last second for the zone leaders. Tonight we're going to Botucatu again and we won't get back until Wednesday! Craziness! Seems like there's always something going on that gets in the way of our work. We try though. I am so dang happy that I'm staying with Elder Guimarães. I had a neat experience with him at the beginning of the transfer that I don't think I mentioned. The first day of the transfer, I remember that I looked at his face and had the feeling I had already known him for a really long time -- like he was familiar to me. It was spooky! I wonder sometimes if I already knew him a long time ago (you know?) and we're just now meeting again. Who knows, but the point is that he's an awesome companion and I'm happy. I feel like I'm on track as a missionary too which is great. I'm going at my own pace for sure but I feel like everything is right. In general I'm relaxed in that sense though I sometimes feel impatient with myself but it's all good. For example, I was feeling emotionally and spiritually drained yesterday and in church I wrote down the following impressions: that I can rejoice and let go of my worries, that I did a lot of good things during the week and can focus on that aspect of things (instead of where I fell short), and I also wrote that I was feeling a lot of peace. These are all good signs. In short, I just feel good and I'm happy.

The branch here is doing good. We had an attendance of 87 yesterday which is crazy high! That's the big miracle we've had this week. It was branch conference but even not counting the leadership we had there from the District, we had an attendance of 77. Haha! That's 16 better than our best. That's just what we need here and we're super pumped about that too. Here's to more miracles in the next 5 weeks (this transfer is only 5 weeks).

It'll be good to talk to you. Mother's Day is only 5 weeks away as well. Not that I'm counting but I'm excited haha. It seems like the time is passing so quickly. I try not to count and honestly I'm starting to forget. Life feels normal now. It doesn't feel like I'm "on a mission," it just feels like I'm living my life. I guess that means I'm pretty much adjusted. Coming home is probably going to be really rough, haha. At least I don't have to worry about that until next year!

Did you guys ever feel discouraged about a lack of progressing investigators on your missions? I feel good but we don't have any investigators who are progressing and I feel sad about that sometimes. I know I'm having a good mission experience but sometimes I wonder if I'll ever have very many chances to see the gospel change lives. I guess we'll see. Maybe I panic because the time is passing so fast but sometimes I think to myself, man, I only have a little more than a year left! Where are all the experiences I was hoping to have? But that's just how the Paçoca crumbles I guess. (That's a Brazil joke) It's all good. 

By the way, I think I might come back and live in Brazil after I go to college. We'll see. Life here is so happy! Just a thought though. Who knows how things will work out? Don't let me scare you guys haha.

I think that's about it for this week. Love you guys tons. Can't wait to talk to you soon!!

Elder Sederholm

Friday, April 7, 2017

P-day 28: Day 202 - "Sometimes someone says something that changes your life..."

They were able to baptize Fernanda, Flavia's daughter, this week!

Nathanael seems to be doing really well. He even said he's gained about 5 pounds back. I'm glad to hear he's eating better than he was. Thank you to the members for taking such good care of him and the other missionaries in the area!

A few pictures:

Enjoy his letter!

Hi guys!!

Hope you guys are doing good! This week was good for me. It was kinda crazy too -- we had interviews with President Bangerter, conference and so on. As a result we didn't have a lot of time for other stuff. However everything went well with the baptism so that was great! And the Lord is blessing our branch, because an investigator of the missionaries in Botucatu (a city nearby) who has a baptismal date marked for this Saturday is moving here this week. Lots of baptisms, haha. Hopefully everything goes well with that.

I really liked conference. My favorite session was Saturday morning. I've heard people talking before about how sometimes it seems like the speaker is talking right to you. Well on Sunday morning I had an experience like that -- during Elder Nelson's talk I felt like he was reaching out of the screen, grabbing my shoulders and screaming at me. In a positive way haha. He described a feeling I've had a lot on my mission in a way that even I haven't been able to articulate. I wish I had the talk with me (it hasn't been uploaded yet) but what I understood was that when we don't know what to do in a given situation but the Lord knows that our desire is to do good, He will give us the knowledge and power we need to do what's right. I found that to be so dang comforting. My crying frequency has diminished in the last few weeks but I literally cried for like 5 minutes after the talk ended. Stupid right? But I just had this moment when I wanted to shout, "I knew it! I knew the Lord's grace is sufficient for us when our hearts are in the right place, even when we don't know what to do and when we feel weak. I knew it!" I just needed to hear someone say it. Sometimes someone says something that changes your life and I already know that this is one of those times. So yeah, conference was good. I also had a strong feeling of peace. I feel like the Lord is proud of me and that I can be confident. I'm thankful for that.

I wish there was more I could think to tell you guys. The transfer is coming up next week. I think my companion's going to get transferred so we'll see. 

Sorry I don't always respond specifically to everything you guys say. I love reading your emails and just want to talk to you guys about every little detail but it just doesn't work like that I guess! Which is a bummer, but what can you do? :)

This morning we played football with Batman again. I can catch the ball sometimes and I scored a couple touchdowns which was cool. However I definitely don't live up to the American standard. Oh well, at least I'm good at math right?

Mom to answer your questions, my health and stuff is good. There's a member in the branch who sews and she's adjusting my bigger pairs of pants so that they're not super baggy, which is great. I think I'm at a pretty stable weight. I actually gained like 5 pounds in the last month or so. Overall I feel good. As far as a package goes, I'm always up for getting a package! I'll think of some stuff I need and let you guys know. It's mostly just little things I'm wanting honestly.

Mom I hope everything went well for you with conference. We only had a couple problems with streaming, which I think were internet related. I bragged a little bit. I also told a bunch of missionaries in the zone that when I was a little kid President Hinckley let me assign missionaries to missions and send out calls. Apparently a lot of them thought I was serious. Haha. I won't abuse my power too much of having the coolest family ever, just a little bit!

I think that's it. Love and miss you guys.

Elder Sederholm