Monday, October 26, 2015

Alina Letter - 10/26/2015

Hey everyone! Life is going wll as usual here in good ol' Santos, Brazil! This weeks funny story is one of slight embarrassment, but good entertainment for two or so zones in my mission, so really I am just here to help. Our zone leaders called Sunday morning to inform us that there was a special broadcast at the Stake Center that night for all missionaries, youth, and youth leaders where we would be able to hear the President and counselors of the entire Brazil area speak at the CTM (centro de treinamento missionário or Brazil MTC). I thought this was a little strange since the same thing had happened when I was at the CTM, but thought "oh well! Maybe this happens more than I thought." So we are sitting in the chapel and the broadcast begins and I hear the choir singing and the camera zooms in and I see a lot of people I know, which is strange considering that everyone I know in the CTM has been out in the field for a fairly significant amount of time. That is when I realized that this wasn't a new broadcast or live, this was the broadcast that I was at about 6-7 weeks ago. The fear set in a little bit as I hoped the camera wouldn't zoom in on me, but I was sitting in one of the closer rows up front and had already spotted myself singing. So, long story short, the camera zoomed up on my face and every missionary in the chapel turns and looks at me with confusion and astonishment on their faces, since apparently, like me, not everyone knew this wasn't live hahahha. Some people literally thought I had a twin sister that is in the CTM right now, so that was entertaining as well. On a more serious, but also more awesome note, we brought a less-active member to this broadcast, 18 year old Lucas. He is the oldest of 7 kids and we love the entire family already. He was baptized when he was 12 or 13 and their family hasn't been to church for a few years, but everyone wants to return, especially the mom. He loved the broadcast and reunited with old church leaders and friends like he never left. It was beautiful and he is way more popular than we ever realized hahaha And now he is talking about serving a mission, so of course I am praying for that! 
Until next week!!!

Sister Neal (or *meow* as many people call me) 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Alina Letter - 10/19/2015 - with pics : )

Sooooo today I have oficially been in Brazil for 2 months exactly! Ah! Where does the time go?? You got the right chapel alright! haha I was confused at first, but it is exactly the same and nope, only our one little ward meets there even though it is HUGE. Huge even though there were about 70 people at sacrament meeting this week I believe, including only like 12 priesthood holders, so that can be kind of a challenge to find people to help us, but the active members are awesome which is so nice. The bishop is hilarious and i love him even though he surprised us about an hour before sacrament meeting (we have sacrament meeting last actually) with short talks! Apparently every third sunday is about the Obra Missionaria and we are supposed to give a little talk. I did the best I could, talked a little about how it was through members and not missionaries that you came to actually know the church and therefore how important members are to missionary work and I just pray that everyone understood hahaha! Turns out portuguese accents are much different than a spanish accent and way harder, so sometimes people dont understand what Im saying when I talk, but I am working on it! They have a lot of sounds that literally dont exist in the spanish or english language and it is so unnatural! Like the name john in portuguese is João, and that ão that is in TONS of words is so hard to do! It comes from like the throat and you dont close your lips, but you narrow your mouth a little, heck if i know! 

I emailed mom about my bday/christmas so you all can talk about that:) Also yes, that picture is of a nicer part of my area! We have some real poverty here that I'll write a letter to you all and describe probably, because wow, I am more thankful for my life every day. Some people here are pretty much just living in their own filth and it is sad to see. 

Thanks for everything!!! I got my little package from the stake missionary thing! BUT there was some problem or something in it that wasnt supposed to enter the country or something so we are actually in Santos the city right now where I had to go to the federal post office type place and pay R$35, so as is life hahaha

Sista Neal 

They have delicious bread here and also it is usually filled with cheese or meat hahaha
Also, biggest snail Ive ever seen in my life!!! And yes, I am usually that sweaty and frizzy haired....

Our room! and me today writing a letter to bryanna on the bus!

Our apartment and my first meal in the field after a rainy day!

A nicer part of my area and how everyone rides bikes with these little children seats!

With Presidente and Sister Swenson of the CTM!

 My entire district on our last day with our insturctor Irmão Dos Santos. I dont know who took this picture, but its horrible haha I was probably laughing because Elder Beatty said something rude to me 

In the red tie is my friend that we collided during volleyball hahaha


Monday, October 12, 2015

Alina Letter - 10/12/15

Woo! I am in actual Santos, Brazil and life is crazy, stressful, awesome, smelly, beautiful, inspiring and a whole lot of other adjectives! I am in a smaller area called Boa Esperança with a small, but nice ward. Our ward mission leader is a fairly recent return missionary and is the BEST. He works really hard every week to help us with various things and go on visits with us. Our mission goal that we are supposed to at least do is teach 4 lessons every day and 20 contacts each, a contact being introducing ourselves, the church, and asking if they want to learn more. To make all our goals we usually end up teaching a random lesson in the street so someone who is interested, but it is all good haha I love here how it isn't a completely strange thing to pray on the streets and sidewalks and teach someone about the plan that God has for them! 
Something entertaining is that I stand out SO badly everywhere we go here hahaha. It is a small area and pretty much no one is blonde with blue eyes, so people stare at me constantly. I'm considered exotic so strangers tell me all the time how beautiful I am, which is nice haha. Missions are definitely humbling, but you can't help but appreciate someone exclaiming "Que maravilhosa!" when you walk by or having someone gasp or exclaim when they see your eyes. It is getting ridiculous though and almost annoying, especially when we are trying to teach about the Savior and the person just keeps saying, "Your eyes! They're so blue!" or they just love at my horrible accent and ask where I am from, so hopefully with work that will improve! One man the other day was killing me hahhaha he kept asking me to marry him, like begging and it was hilarious. His friend was a little curious about the gospel, so my companion was trying to have a conversation with him, but this guy just kept saying, "I have a car! I have a house! I'll give you everything you need! Marry me!" So, if I don't come home 16 months from now I'm probably married to a 50ish year old crazy man in Boa Esperança, Brazil. 
A scripture from The Book of Mormon that has really touched me lately and that I have shared with various investigators and members is 1 Nephi 17:50-51 where the Lord has instructed Nephi to build a boat to carry him and his family to the Americas. His brothers are teasing him and saying, "You don't know anything!" essentially when he says (not a direct scriptural quote obviously), "The Lord has done so many miracles, why couldn't he direct me to build a boat?" We all have our various trials, and "boats" in our life, but if we are following the commandments of the Lord He WILL provide a way to accomplish all things!!! Hope everyone has a great week:)