Monday, April 27, 2015

Welcome to New England!

Hey there lovely people! So, the past week has been insane! I can't even begin to explain how much I miss the simplicity of home life, but I know that I'm needed here right now and that serving a mission is the best thing for me to be doing right now.

Well, on to the "exciting" part.

Sunday, April 19:
Well, I got released as STL (Sister Training Leader) and was a "normal" missionary for the rest of the day. Exciting stuff I guess.

Wow, alright, running out of time really quickly here.

I had to say goodbye to everyone and was a hot mess! Lots of tears. Surprising? Shouldn't be haha!

Monday, April 20:
Reported to the Travel Office at 3:30AM. Torture. We got on the bus and they said our flight was delayed and we wouldn't have to report until 8:30AM.

I definitely surprised a good number of people. Very awkward to say hello when I had just said goodbye. Life of a missionary though, right?

Reported back to the travel office. Took a bus and two trains to the airport. 2 hour trip. Told us we weren't flying out until the next morning. Two more trains and another bus back to the MTC. Awkward hello again. Such a blessing to be able to spend my last day with Sister Aston though! She's the greatest!

Tuesday, April 21:
Said a real goodbye to Sister Aston. Super sad morning. 

Finally got to the airport and, you guessed it, more complications. After who knows how long, I was finally set and ended up flying solo to New Hampshire! Off I went!

I arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire at about 9:30PM and went to the mission home. The rest of the group didn't get there until 11:30PM. Yay for mix-ups I suppose!

Wednesday, April 22:
Transfer meeting. First day in the field!

Companion: Sister Davis from Utah. Very nice! We're serving in Skowhegan, Maine! That's right, I'm serving in Maine! Unfortunately, there are no Portuguese speakers...anywhere. I mean, anywhere. No visa waiter, no natives. Nothing. Let's hope that next transfer there's someone here...

Thursday, April 23:
We did service at a soup kitchen. That was pretty cool. Other than that, not much really happened. It was a slow day for missionary work.

Friday, April 24:
Happy Birthday Dad!

I survived weekly planning. That alone was enough of a miracle to write pages home about haha!

Honestly, we were inside most of the day for planning, so not much happened Friday either.

Saturday, April 25:
Finally met our progressing investigator! The lesson went so well and it was a testament to me of how the Holy Ghost really is the true teacher! I can share all the scriptures I want and tell as many personal experiences as I want, but unless the Spirit is there, nothing will happen. It was an amazing experience!

We also went tracting that evening and I GAVE MY FIRST COPY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON! Happy day! We knocked on a woman's door and she actually had a lot of questions so I gave her a Book of Mormon, my companion gave her pamphlets to look over and yeah! It was awesome!

Sunday, April 26:
We had a Regional Broadcast, so that was awesome! It was a broadcast from Salt Lake and the General Authorities talked a lot about families. I know I'm on a mission, but I've been thinking a lot about families lately and it was neat that families were the focus.

We also had lunch with the bishop and that was fun. Their kids remind me so much of my siblings; I loved it!

Another thing, we tracted into a less-active member by accident and it was awesome! She said she'd definitely be open to having us come back, so we're going to this week!

Today, and this week in general, has been so crazy and I'm so glad that I've made it through a week in the field. I miss my friends from the MTC, I miss my friends back home, and I miss my family so much, but the Lord needs me in Maine right now, and eventually in Brazil. I'm so excited to see what's in store for me over the next 16 months!

I love you all so much! I promise my email next week won't be as jumbled!

Amo Sempre,
Sister McEldowney
From the keeper of this blog - 

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are known to have a language all their own when it comes to life in the gospel. I've clarified a couple below and included links to the references. 

RE: Saturday, April 25
You might wonder, "What is tracting?" Having served a mission where tracting was the primary means of finding people to teach I would call it the worst form of torture known to man. I did, however, find you a better definition -

"Door-to-door contacting is commonly called "tracting" because missionaries in the past often left printed tracts with people as they called on them. As the number and influence of Church members have grown, missionaries have come increasingly to rely on referrals from members to find people to teach. In the latter half of the twentieth century, missionaries have had the benefit of standardized lessons, usually referred to as missionary discussions, to assist them in teaching the gospel."

RE: Sunday, April 26
Again you might wonder, "What is a less-active?" The Savior shared a parable of the lost sheep, the one who had wandered from the ninety and nine. Of that sheep the scriptures record in Luke 15:4-7 -

"4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."

Members of the church, latter-day saints, take this mandate very seriously. People no longer participate fully in the church for a myriad of reasons, but they are not forgotten even if they want to be. For the sake of identifying and therefore finding them, they become known as the less-active. We as members and particularly as full-time missionaries are taught and organized to find them, love them, and pray that they will find happiness in church activity once again; being brought back to the fold. It is a beautiful experience to be a part of that process, thus, Kayla's excitement at meeting a less-active member while tracting.

The church produced a video about this very principle that is very good. The link is below - 

Just a thought -
It occurred to me with Kayla's, hopefully temporary, change in assignment that you might wonder how missionaries are assigned. At our last General Conference (about 2 weeks ago) they reported that there are currently 85,147 full-time missionaries serving in 406 missions worldwide. That number includes young men and women Kayla's age as well as senior couples or singles who are retired and desire to serve. In that same conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, offered insight into the assignment process. I thought I'd include it here just in case you're interested - 

In the early days of the Church, missionaries were interviewed by a General Authority before they went on their missions. These days you are interviewed to serve as missionaries by your bishops and stake presidents, and most of you will go through your entire lives without being interviewed by a General Authority. That is simply a reflection of the reality in a worldwide church of more than 15 million members. I know I speak for my brethren when I tell you that we wish it were possible for us to know all of you personally and to be able to tell you that we love you and that we support you.

Fortunately the Lord has provided ways for us to reach out to you. For example, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve assigns every missionary to his or her mission. Although this is done without a traditional face-to-face interview, technology and revelation combine to provide an experience that is remarkably intimate and personal. Let me tell you how this happens.

Your photograph comes up on a computer screen, together with key information provided by your bishop and stake president. When your picture appears, we look into your eyes and review your answers to the missionary recommendation questions. For that brief moment, it seems as if you are present and responding to us directly. As we look at your photograph, we trust that you have cleared in every way the “raised bar” required today to be a faithful, successful missionary. Then, by the power of the Spirit of the Lord and under the direction of President Thomas S. Monson, we assign you to one of the Church’s 406 worldwide missions.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Saying Goodbye Again

Well, I leave the MTC on Monday and this week has been absolutely insane!

Guess it's time for my weekly update...3 days early.


Talk about a bittersweet day! Last time doing a temple session for who knows how long! Also my last time going to the temple with my lovely zone. I have seriously gotten to close to these people over the past 5 weeks or so and saying goodbye has been devastating! I know that we're all doing what the Lord needs us to do though!

We also had devotional with Elder Zwick (Member of the Quorum of Seventy)! He talked all about the Atonement and the Spirit was so strong! I couldn't look away...except to write notes haha!

The Atonement has been on my mind a lot lately and I'm so grateful that often times devotionals are about exactly what I need to hear. Talk about the Holy Ghost being the true teacher!

IT SNOWED AGAIN! What the what?!?! Dumb, bi-polar weather! We even hosted in the snow again. Talk about a rough 2 hours.

Even though it was freezing, it was really fun! We really enjoyed it and were so grateful for the opportunity to help get those new missionaries where they needed to be.

So, I got temporarily reassigned! Until my visa comes, I will be serving in the New Hampshire Manchester Mission! Can you believe it?! My mission includes New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts! Crazy! I'm actually really excited.

I'm so bummed though because my companion/other half is going to the other side of the country! I'm going to miss her so much, but I know that she will do great things in the California Riverside Mission! Good luck Sister Aston! We'll definitely be reunited in Santos before we know it!

Oh, and Sister Aston and I have officially decided that Alma 17: 13, 17, 18 (The Book of Mormon) are our scriptures.

We had In-Field Orientation and it was not as bad as I thought it would be! My district definitely knows how to make the best of a bad situation. Let me tell you, sitting in a room for 9 hours learning what my teachers have been teaching me for 6 weeks is not a fun situation haha! Ainda, tuda bem!

I also met Brother Christiansen! He was one of the missionaries from The District 2 and apparently he did splits in the Bostonia Ward (the ward Kayla attends in California) a few times! What the what?! So crazy!

Last thing: We practiced street contacting with the new district! We are officially old timers in terms of the MTC now. We are the senior group! Ahh!

Last Sesta-Festa! So crazy! 

We had an amazing last TRC Skype lesson!

Tambem, we talked about miracles in class! Read Alma 13:23 and Mormon 7. God is a god of miracles! Miracles have not ceased and I am so grateful for that knowledge! 

We sang our farewell song for both of our teachers. Dia triste! 

Irmao Staples and our district also had a very spiritual morning. We talked a little bit about everything, but he said something that really stuck out to me. "We are all beggars. We need His mercy; we need His love." It's so true! There is no way that without His mercy and love, that we could ever return to live with our Father in Heaven. God sent His son because He loves us. He sent His son because He knew that would be the only way for us to return to His presence. God is our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is His son.

I had to say goodbye to our teachers today. I seriously bawled. For the last 6 weeks, we have shared our lives with these people and I love them so much. I say it a lot, but I forget how easy it is to get close to someone in such a short amount of time! I'll definitely keep in touch with them though!

Anyway, I head out on Monday, so I'm not sure when I'll write again, but ate logo! 

Love you all!!

Amo Sempre, 
Sister McEldowney

From the keeper of this blog -

RE: Wednesday

These verses are about a group of missionaries who wanted to teach a group of people known as the Lamanites. The Lamanites did not believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and at the time hated the missionaries' people -

13 And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken.

17 Therefore they separated themselves one from another, and went forth among them, every man alone, according to the word and power of God which was given unto him.

18 Now Ammon being the chief among them, or rather he did administer unto them, and he departed from them, after having blessed them according to their several stations, having imparted the word of God unto them, or administered unto them before his departure; and thus they took their several journeys throughout the land.
RE: Thursday - The District 2

The District is a reality tv show on BYU-TV and is comprised of "video segments [that] show real missionaries, members, and investigators in non-scripted, unrehearsed, actual missionary situations." ( The District 1 was filmed in the California San Diego Mission.
RE: Friday - Read Alma 13:23 and Mormon 7
Here's the link - The Book of Mormon

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I'm 1 Month Old!

Hello again people!
Can you believe it's already been another week? The weeks pass so quickly when you're on a mission! I'm already a month old! In mission terms, it means I've been out for a month. Eu estou uma campista feliz!
Anywho, on to my weekly update!
Man, oh man, do I have a story for all of you! So, for those of you who don't know, there is a very strict missionary rule about interactions with the opposite sex, mainly it means no hugging (and kissing but that's kind of implied if you can't even hug). So, being the person I am, that's been a really difficult rule. It's even worse when you're around elders all the time and you get close and can only give them handshakes! Entao, tanto faz. Well, we were at dinner on this lovely Tuesday and my friend, who is an elder, was telling us a story about how his brother came home from his mission and his girlfriend was at the airport and he couldn't hug her because he hadn't been released as a missionary. Well, my friend was taunting his brother and giving his brother's girlfriend hugs and stuff, but he accidentally used me as an example and hugged me!!!!!! It was so weird! We laughed so hard though because we both freaked out. Missionary awkwardness has kicked in already! Guess I'm officially a missionary now!
It snowed! What the what?! It was snowing pretty much all day too!
Guess what else though! OUR DISTRICT GOT TO HOST! Basically hosting just means we greet the new missionaries, take them away from their families and get them started on their life as a missionary. It's so fun and we get to do it again this week! Dia feliz!
Oh yeah, and I'm getting better at volleyball, so that's fun.
Lesson flop Thursday. Is that a thing yet? Well, it is for Sister Aston and me at least! Tuda bem! We've recovered (:
We, as a district, also received some awesome scriptures about overcoming weakness.

Moses 6:31-34
Moses 7:13
1Nefi 3:7
1Nefi 17:50-51
Filipenses 4:13
Mat 19:26
Mark 5:36
Sorry, I know I'm mixing Portuguese and English, but my brain is in that transition period!
WE TAUGHT A LESSON TO SOMEONE IN BRAZIL! We got to do a lesson over Skype with someone who lives in the state of Porte Alegre and we understood him and he understood us and it was awesome! Oh my goodness! It still makes me happy just thinking about it!
Alright, Portuguese is officially the celestial language! PORTUGUESE DOESN'T END WITH PREPOSITIONS!! Dia feliz; tuda bem!
Never. Ending. Day. 
Seriously, it went on forever! My bed had never been so enticing.
We watched Joseph Smith (the movie about his life) in Portuguese and I understood about 3/4 of it! I got the gist of the entire movie and was stoked! Yay for Portuguese! 
In case it wasn't obvious, I'm loving Portuguese! I thank Heavenly Father every day for the opportunity I have to not only serve a mission, but learn a language that is so beautiful. I'm so blessed!
Surprise! Another boring Monday hahaha!
I do have an invitation for all of you though. Read Mark 9: 22-23. In our zone, we have a motto: "hoje consegue." Techincally it's "hoje pode," but that's the wrong form of the verb haha. Anyway, it means "today, you can."
I know that there are some really rough days, sometimes even rough weeks, but you can get through them. We have all been given trials, but Heavenly Father will never give us anything that we can't handle. Everything you go through is only to help you grow and get on the path back to Him.
I know that we are all children of God. Heavenly Father knows each of His children, us, individually and is aware of us. 
Estou muito grato por a opportunidade para servir Ele for 18 mezes. I am grateful that I get to spend a portion of my life being a full-time representative of Jesus Cristo. 
I love you all so much and am so grateful to have people in my life who care enough about me to read about my uneventful life haha.
I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful week and can see the hand of God in your life!
Amo sempre,
Sister McEldowney


From the keeper of this blog -

RE: Thursday

The apostle Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 13:1, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." He was referring to the fact that this was his third visit to the saints in Corinth. Today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adheres closely to this doctrine. That is why, for example, missionaries go in companionships and not alone. It also applies to our scriptures. In addition to the Bible, we also utilize the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price to support one another in testifying of Christ and His role in our lives by clearly establishing His doctrine. That being said, in Thursday's entry Kayla includes some references that you may not be familiar with. I've included them below along with the book that they are found in.

Moses 6:31-34 (The Pearl of Great Price)

31 And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?
 32 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good.
 33 Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you.
 34 Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.

Moses 7:13 (The Pearl of Great Price)

 13 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.

1 Nefi (Nephi) 3:7 (The Book of Mormon)

 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

1 Nefi (Nephi) 17:50-51 (The Book of Mormon)

 50 And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.
 51 And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?

Filipenses (Philippians) 4:13 (The New Testament)

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Mat (Matthew) 19:26 (The New Testament)

26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Mark 5:36 (The New Testament)

36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

FOUR weeks in the MTC, THREE, TWO days of General Conference, and ONE happy Sister Missionary

Hello outside world!
Well, outside of the MTC at least! Let me tell you, 6 weeks in this bubble is testing my patience. I do love it here though and get so sad thinking about leaving. You never could have told me I'd love the MTC this much!
Ok, and before I forget, did anyone see the eerie similarity that picture I sent last week had to Andy Samberg?! It was crazy! Sister Aston and I had to do a double take! 
Oh, and thank you to everyone who writes me! I have so little time to email that I can't get back to everyone, but I do read them and I appreciate the thoughts (:
Anyway, we'll get on to the "exciting" part of this e-mail:
Never a disappointment! I participated in family sealings this past week and was proxy for a daughter being sealed to her family for eternity. Such a beautiful ceremony and one I am so grateful I was able to be a part of. I love the temple so much!
We also had a really neat devotional, but due to time restraints I have basically no time to write about it. I'll let you all in on a little secret too. I don' t have my notebook with me so I don't think I could tell you what it was about even if I wanted to hahaha
WE GOT A NEW DISTRICT! They're seriously so great and I love them to death! I loved being able to welcome them and ease them into their MTC stay. I just love them and don't even know what else to say about them!
They're also the most exciting thing about Wednesday, so, sorry about that let down!
It snowed. What the what?! It's April and it snowed. It didn't stick, but goodness gracious, it was FREEZING that day! Brrr!!!
Nothing too eventful happened on Thursday either, sorry people!
Alright, so maybe Thursday did have on relatively eventful thing. Sister Aston and I have a really difficult investigator we're teaching and on Thursday we just lost everything, or so it seemed. We were so stoked; we taught the Plan of Salvation and were so prepared. Then out of nowhere, we weren't. Neither of us felt great about the lesson, but we didn't know where to go with it, so we pushed through. Anyway, we cried it our after we got back to the residence halls, but it was still weighing on my mind all night and into the next morning. I got to class the next morning and we have additional study time from 7-7:45 and I prayed so hard that Heavenly Father would help comfort me. All of a sudden Alma 37:16 popped into my head. The only time I had ever read that scripture was when I was reading through the Book of Mormon just to read it. It was amazing how much I needed it. Talk about Heavenly Father answering prayers!
"But if ye keep the commandments of God, and do with these things which are sacred according to that which the Lord doth command you, (for you must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever ye must do with them) behold, no power of earth or hell can take them from you, for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words." Alma 37:16
I can testify that no matter how long or short the prayer is, no matter how big or small the issue may seem, Heavenly Father hears our prayers and answers them. I am so grateful for that!
Saturday and Sunday:
Conference! So great! 
If I haven't already asked you, what was your favorite talk from General Conference?
Not much happened yesterday either. 
Oh wait, Sister Aston and I taught an awesome lesson (that got paused and will resume on Thursday) about the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
I also figured out that I can't think in Spanish anymore and my brain only goes to Portuguese. Remind me to tell that story when I'm home. Or next week...whichever I guess haha!
Anyway, I'm out of time! I love you all so much!
Have a great week!
Amo sempre,
Sister McEldowney
PS. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I'll do my best to send some next week!
From the keeper of this blog:
RE: #TempleTuesday
Temples sometimes prove to be a bit of a mystery for some who are not members of the church. The information below may help you understand what Kayla’s referring to when she says, “I participated in family sealings this past week and was proxy for a daughter being sealed to her family for eternity.” In short, civil marriage ceremonies typically bind a couple “until death do you part.” Temple marriages seal the couple for time and all eternity. For those who die without being able to be sealed together, marriage terminates at death. The Lord has provided a way for us, the living, to stand in their place (proxy) so that they may be sealed for time and all eternity too. says -
“Temples are houses of the Lord, the most sacred structures on the earth….
In temples, Church members participate in ordinances designed to unite their families together forever and help them return to God.
In the temple, members:
©       Learn eternal truths.
©       Receive sacred ordinances, including [the sealing ordinance] that bind[s] husband and wife together for eternity, as well as [sealing] children and parents [for eternity] (Malachi 4:5-6).
©       Provide ordinances such as baptism for those who have died without the opportunity to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:29; 1 Peter 4:6)”
RE: Saturday and Sunday – Conference! So great!
Every April and October, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds General Conference. We don’t attend our regular church meetings and instead participate in a broadcast from church headquarters in which the Prophet, Twelve Apostles, and other church leadership address church members. It is comprised of 6 sessions and is filled with great council and direction. Kayla obviously loves it! If you’d like to learn more about the one we just had the link is below.