Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Alina's Letter - 8/26/2015

Tudo bem everyone!!! I have officially completed my first week here in the São Paulo, Brazil CTM and life is good! Typical week includes getting up at 6h30 everyday and being in classes and studying most of the day learning portuguese and how to be a missionary with exercise time thrown in every day too. Sundays though we have church, choir, and devotional and free time and that is awesome. Today is p-day (kind of like a more free day that we have once a week) and we actually have to wake up earlier than usual to go to the Temple (São Paulo temple is GORGEOUS google it), then email everyone, and go wander the neighborhood:) That is very nice since it can get claustrophobic being inside here all the time. Unfortunately I don't think I can send pictures while here, but you'll get some eventually. The first day was honestly pretty difficult! I was missing home, I hadn't slept in something like 36 hours because of the long flight, and everyone was speaking portuguese to me (it is pretty much a total immersion program here) and I was just stressed! Now though, I am loving it! Minhas companheras são MUITO bem!!! I have two companions and they are sweet and hilarious and think I'm hilarious, so there is not much more I could ask for! We also have two Brazilian roommates and they are some of my favorite people ever! Sister Miranda and Sister Cousta are delightful. They help us speak Portuguese and we help them with their English (although their english is way better than our Portuguese hahaha). I am definitely going to cry when they leave next tuesday, since they are from Brazil and don't have to learn a language they are only here for 12 days. My district (group I study with and do activities with every day) is amazing as well and funny! Sometimes it is hard making eight 18 year old boys focus for tons of hours a day, but they're actually all really good guys too. We all had a moment Sunday night where we discussed why we were here and such after watching a devotional by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. It is actually a 2013 Provo MTC address, but LOOK IT UP AND WATCH THE WHOLE THING. He talks a lot about why missionary work is important and why we're so lucky to have the gospel and share it. He also talks a lot about staying strong after the mission and doesn't mince words about return missionaries who go astray in life. Overall though, it was just such a powerful video and made us all think about what we're doing here. We've all been under a lot of stress (learning a foreign language and being pushed to speak it as much as possible all day can get stressful) and everyone opened up a lot. It was a good moment for bonding as a district, getting to know each other, and discovering a renewed sense of purpose and confidence for why we're here. Giving up the life you knew for 18-24 months is a sacrifice, but I have already felt the incredible joys of being a full time missionary. I used to think missionaries were just being dramatic when they described their missions as containing the highest highs and the lowest lows, but I am only a week in and I already know that they weren't kidding! I know this is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done, but I also know it is the BEST! So go on a mission, all the cool kids are doing it;) Also, study some Portuguese because by the time I come home I am going to not speak english so well, so if you want to communicate with me it will be the only way ;) I love and miss everyone! I hope everything is going well back home (KY, Utah, pretty much anywhere on the North American continent) and that everyone is doing well and making good choices! I wish I could write about everything, but it honestly feels like I've been here at least a month and there is way too much to even sum up! I am writing in my journal daily so maybe I'll let some of you read it when I get back. 
Life is good! Choose the right! Watch that address by Elder Holland foreals!

Much love,
Sister Neal

PS: Email me and write me letters, I appreciate it:)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Alina's First E-Mail - Day 1

Hey!! So i made it and we have a few minutes to send a quick note to tell you that all is well! :) Im sure youve been awake since early hoping for a call and traumatized that it didnt come haha also im still getting used to this brazilian portuguese keyboard so its different and i wont be using great punctuation for now just because it is more work than im willing to put in! So far i am LOVING it!! There is portuguese being spoken all around me and it is the most beautiful language, plus im able to understand a lot of it because of the spanish that i know. So that makes me seriously happy!
Shout out to mom for making me cry with that sweet card and cute pics of me as a baby with you all. Though i admit, right now it isnt all that hard to make me cry;) I miss you all already terribly, but luckily my MTC companion Sister Stiggard is super sweet, like insanely nice and she loves reading (JANE AUSTEN woooo) and singing, so we already have a lot in common. Also! Shes even going to the same mission as me, good ol Santos! The plane right was uneventful, just very long and im exhausted since I didnt get very much sleep, but luckily no neasua or any kind of sickness, except one lady passed out on the plane and had to get oxygen, but thats a story for a later date with more time;) I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH AND MISS YOU!!! Tudo bem!!! Ciao!!!

Your fave sis mish,
Sister Alina Neal

Pics of Alina Saying Goodbye

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Alina Made It to the Sao Paulo Brazil MTC!

Letter from the Brazil MTC President:

Dear Parents,

Sister Swensen and I are very happy to let you know that your missionary has arrived safely at the Brazil Missionary Training Center.  What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they begin their missionary experiences with us. We will surely take good care of your missionary.

The missionaries now have companions and are settled into their rooms.  They are assigned to a district with capable and caring instructors for language and lesson study.  Their branch presidents and wives, will meet them this Sunday.  These wonderful couples are richly blessed as they work with, motivate, and interview the missionaries assigned to their branch.

The MTC has a full-time live-in physician to care for their health needs.  He is assisted by his able wife who is a nurse. We are also happy to report that the cafeteria food is plentiful, healthy and very good.

Your missionary will be able to e-mail home on Preparation Day after a morning at the Temple.  This will be either Wednesday or Friday, depending on individual assignments.

Your missionary is about to make an eternal difference in the lives of many others. President Lorenzo Snow said: “There is no mortal man that is as interested in the success of an elder when he is preaching the Gospel as is the Lord who sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord's children".  We love these missionaries as if they were our own.  We will watch over them carefully to ensure they are ready for a wonderful missionary experience after the rewarding time they will have in the MTC.

We thank you for preparing such a wonderful representative of the Lord.

President Robert Swensen and Sister Julie Swensen

Monday, August 17, 2015

And so it begins

Hey everyone! As many of you know I received my call to serve in the Brazil Santos Mission beginning Tuesday, August 18th. Upon my arrival to the country on the 19th I enter into the Brazil Sao Paulo MTC and will be there for 6 weeks learning Portuguese and more about being a missionary, before traveling to Santos on the south-eastern coast of the country. I plan on sending an email meant for everyone who may want to follow my journeys for the next 18 months and having my parents (most likely my dear mother) post it to this blog.
In the mean time I would appreciate emails and/or letters from anyone and everyone! :) I'll have an hour to check (and hopefully respond to) emails once a week.  Thanks for everything! I am so excited for the experiences that I'll have!

Send emails to

 MTC Mailing Address (used until I leave for Santos on September 30th)
No packages are allowed to the Brazil MTC!

Sister Alina Neal
Brazil Santos Mission
Brazil Missionary Training Center
Rua Padre Antonio D'Angelo, 121
Casa Verde
CEP 02516-040 Sao Paulo-SP

Mission Office Address for after the MTC (unless I post/notify anyone differently)
Can send both letters and packages to this address

Sister Alina Neal
Brazil Santos Mission
Av. Ana Costa, 414-Salas 24 e 25
11060-002 Santos-SP