Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Me & Sister Petersen studying in our (rather boring classroom).
Oh, I don't wear my glasses too often. But we just looked so studious
22 April 2011

Hello hello!

Oh what a thrill it is to be back here once again writing to all my loved ones. You are incredible!!! I am so blessed. I know my Father in Heaven is watching over EVERYTHING. We don't understand His ways, or how He works, but I know - you hear that - I KNOW that God lives and that He loves me. I hope you all do too.

Friends, this week was truly incredible. I am in awe of the blessings and power of this work. It is overwhelming but exhilarating, and I haven't even gotten to Brazil! I'm still here . . . in this closed in place . . . in Provo Utah, but this place is special. I love it. I realized this week how in love with missionary work I am. You may laugh, but I'll stand by it. I enjoy that it fascinates me, that we encounter all these different people and help them see based on their individual needs how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can change their lives. That's why we're here on the earth; we want to be better. We want to learn and grow and gain experience, and when we utilize the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can change - we will change, as long as we're willing. It's all on us.

Well, first, Elder Scott spoke at our devotional on Tuesday. I know he spoke at commencement as well, but we were so fortunate to have him come. Actually several rumors had spread that President Monson was coming. And I may or may not have spread some of these rumors, but regardless, we still had an apostle of the Lord come, and he was powerful. He gave good advice to us, telling us how to be better and such, but the two most significant remarks he made were first, he asked everyone learning a language to raise their hands. Most of the congregation raised their hands. Then he invoked the power of the gift of tongues - using his apostolic authority - to bless us, he said we'd still have to study, but it would be much easier.

I have already been SO blessed with learning this language (in fact, one of the teacher resources people observed one of our lessons last night, and he called me a brasiliera, which is what you call females from Brazil. I don't think I've ever been so pleased) yet I have seen it work more clearly in my beautiful companions. It's pretty incredible. This week was the first time I got the tiniest bit frustrated with the gap in our language abilities, mas, tudo bem. (All's well.) Second he bore an incredibly powerful testimony at the end. He said "I'm not speaking as Elder Scott, I'm speaking as an apostle of the Lord. I don't believe that Jesus Christ is a glorified resurrected being, I KNOW he's a glorified resurrected being." Holy mackerel friends, the power of the Holy Ghost is real, and frankly it's the only way we can really really know truth. It's an amazing power that I'm sure we can utilize more in our lives. It's one of the most amazing tools we have here on the earth.

We actually had a quite the revelation this week as a companionship. We've been told a lot about teaching to people's needs. We LOVE the people we teach, and we want to help them see how much the gospel truly does apply to their lives. But on the other hand, we need to teach doctrine; we have Preach My Gospel as the resource where lessons were prepared by the first presidency to cover the things that the children of god need to know, yet you can't just dish out memorized lessons. Anyway, we taught a lousy lesson in Portuguese on Monday, and we were frustrated and didn't know why really. But we sorta had it out and realized that it's possible to do both.
This may not seem like the most incredible thing to anyone but the three of us, but it has changed how we teach. We actually taught a couple English lessons this week to boost our confidence, and remind us that we are GREAT teachers together. But after that day we have been going so strong. We taught four lessons yesterday, all in Portuguese, and we nailed each one. We actually ended up singing in a lesson yesterday, and it was beautiful. We have all been incredible blessed in our lives, and all have certain gifts, but truly, we need the spirit there to guide and testify. And i'm so so glad. And actually at one of our English lessons, I prayed in English (obviously) but it was so strange my friends. Prayer in Portuguese was one of the first concepts that we learned, and so I haven't prayed in English for about five weeks (I know right, we've been here five weeks, it's lovely.)

One of the Portuguese lessons we taught yesterday was to a couple where the husband had served in Brazil and he and his wife were headed back in a week. And they were kinda tough, allowing us to practice explaining concepts that are so simple yet we often take for granted; what IS repentance, what IS baptism, WHY do these things matter. Well I'll tell ya. I love this, I honestly don't think I could give up this time, and truly testify to these people, and tell them to change their lives for this cause, for this gospel, unless I had absolutely no doubt that this is what matters. This really is the fullness of the truth. It's intellectually enlarging, it's uplifting, it's joyful and happy and hopeful. We just need to start with that seed of the word in our hearts. We have to want it, it's true, but frankly, it's all worth it. Anyway, so this couple we taught was at lunch, and we went over and said hello, but they invited us to come look at their books about Brazil.

Amazing. Friends, I am GOING to Brazil. Uh, I don't know when, I may get reassigned for a while, but hey, I'll get there eventually, and it will be amazing. That place; the people and the food and the language. I don't think it's all sunk in, but seriously, amazing.

My oh my, how happy I am to be here. Truly. There's only so much I can pass on to you in the 25 minutes I have to get it all down (we have thirty minutes, but to log-on and print letters it eats up five of those minutes.) Regardless, if not anything else, I need you to know that I am in love with this work. It exhilarates me; we were "contacting" other missionaries, and I get so fired up talking about the Book of Mormon. It's unique, and nobody else has it . . . and that's because this gospel is unique, and it's true. Please oh please, I don't really know who all reads these letters, but if you don't know that God's your Father in Heaven and that he has a plan for you, I beg you to find out. Find the missionaries and they'd LOVE to tell you more. And if you do know : TELL SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T.

I love you all dearly. And so does your Father in Heaven. There's a plan my friends. I hope you know that.

love love love,
Sister Cornwall
"Here's the thing - a few Elders from our zone started
calling us Charlie's Angels. (I know, silly. I swore I'd never do such things
but when you're in the MTC...). And so last Sunday
we all wore black and had a little photo shoot."
"And so --- "Charlie's Angles (oh boy) with our
artillery... scriptures. (Let it be known, very few
of these were my ideas, in fact... none.)"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

15 April 2011

Dearest friends and family-

Ahoy! How are you all? The MTC is, as usual, sublime. Truly. When we went up to the temple this morning we were saying hello to everyone with an "ola" and saying "obrigada" instead of "thank you". They didn't seem to understand; weird. Doesn't everyone spontaneously respond to any language that they hear with a heart full of gladness and a "Hey elder/sister" ? I guess not. Oh well. And of course, the temple was lovely. There were quite a few old people, and so the session took about twenty minutes longer than usual. But it's lovely to be around older people, all these young individuals I hang out with all day well . . . you know how it goes.

First thing, last week the Men's Chorus came to sing to us and it was lovely. So, so lovely. It was funny to hear the MTC cheer so loudly (we're a little lacking in real entertainment around here.) And they also sang Ubi Caritas, which warmed my soul.

I had been meaning to tell you about the list of scriptures from my mission president (or did I?) He gave us seventy scriptures that correspond to each lesson in PMG and cover topics that I'm assuming are a little more prevalent for my mission. We're memorizing the ones for the Plan of Salvation, and it's wonderful. And mom you'll be glad to know that out of the 70 scriptures 28 are scripture mastery.

Elder Rasband came to talk at devotional on Tuesday and it was wonderful. His wife also spoke and she was so energetic and so right on for missionaries; plus, Elder and Sister Rasband are so cute. They love each other so much, and it helped us all raise our standard a little higher for what we're looking for. Anyway, his remarks were on keeping the spirit with us. He gave three keys : 1. Bridle your passions. 2. Garnish your thoughts. 3. ASK for the spirit. Very good advice. I really really enjoyed his remarks.

Another great thing that I ended up doing this week at the encouragement of Sister Holtzclaw is tell my companions that I love them in Portuguese, a simple te amo. And it has been great. I love them, they're wonderful, and even so I feel like I've had extra cause to adore them this past week; their Portuguese is coming along so well. They may not see it, but every time they use the contraction "pelo" or conjugate a verb correctly, I want to leap up. I think I feel their victories more than they do actually. Which is wonderful. It's so much easier to be happier for other people. Truly. Service and giving of yourself are truly - though perhaps oddly - the keys to happiness and goodness.

This brings me to my next favorite thing from this past week. So, for some reason our district was under the impression that Easter was this Sunday - uh, it's not, in case you were wondering - and so I decided to start preparing a week in advance (actually now it's two weeks) for celebrating this special day. I decided to memorize the Living Christ, and it's going well. I broke it up into segments, and I've got about 3/4 of it memorized. And everyday for personal study I've focused on a particular highlight in the portion I memorized. Using Jesus the Christ mostly, I have had such a profound experience. It's been amazing. Sister Rasband mentioned that until we have a strong relationship with the Savior, even our best efforts won't be good enough. I have felt so much more appreciation for Jehovah, and the great things Jesus Christ did as the Messiah. He is all He says He is: perfect. I'll have to write out more of these specific insights later, but know that building a relationship with your Savior will be worth every effort, I promise you this.

We were able to teach some smashing lessons this week. After some workshops with other teachers we're finally seeing what it's REALLY all about. We need to teach the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to the needs of our people. We need to see others as Christ would see them and simplify this message so they can understand, feel the spirit of the Holy Ghost, and then realize in themselves the desire to follow Christ and be baptized. I'm so thankful for insightful and spiritual companions that have really shaped my views on this beautiful gospel and on our role as missionaries. Oh I am thankful to be here. I love it. It truly is a privilege, so thank thank thank you to all the individuals that have supported this effort. I am eternally thankful and incredibly blessed.

I know this gospel is true. I know that this "message" I"m sharing is the same one that Jesus Christ himself taught. He is incredible. He did everything, for no glory in return. He created this earth for us, prepared the way, then came to the earth, lived a perfect life, and then gave it up so that we can have eternal life. Wow. I know right? And I get to preach and testify of this ALL. DAY. Long. I love what I feel here. The Holy Spirit really does guide our actions, we can do so little without His help. Divine help, every day.

Oh how full my heart is today. Love love love,

Sister Cornwall

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hello Hello Hello!

Oh what a great day. I always feel so privileged to be able to write to my loved ones right after getting back from the temple. It is amazing. We did initiatories this morning, and I am feeling so incredibly grateful for the work that goes on in the temple. In one of our lessons this week our investigator asked about what happens to those that are not baptized with Christ's authority, and by immersion. We made the point clear, or at least tried, that God loves his children, and although he's just as much held by laws as we are, he is full of mercy and love, and provides a way for ALL his children to return to him. We are so blessed. Speaking of the temple . . . and investigators, we bumped into "Barbara" at the temple. She had come in as a volunteer on Thursday to speak Portuguese, and we taught her about the plan of salvation - and then we saw her in the temple. When I saw her I yelled her name (reverently of course) and gave her a big hug. Even though she wasn't technically a "real" investigator, obviously, it was such a joy to see her.

We taught another lesson in Portuguese this week, and it went SO much better than our other two lessons. We decided to get out and go downstairs where there are benches and tables, and we brought cookies (thank you mom, those were divine! where did you get that recipe? and why did we not find it before I was going to move to another country for eighteen months?) It has been an interesting progression seeing our companionship grow. It's a little tough in Portuguese to be united when 2/3 of the companionship doesn't understand the lesson. I just get so excited about speaking Portuguese and teaching the gospel (does this surprise ANYONE that I'm having trouble controlling how much I talk? hopefully not) but I talked with my teacher about it and she had some beautiful suggestions that I am trying to take to heart. Even though I want to serve and help my beautiful companions, I can't really replace their own efforts to learn. So I'm working with that.

One of my teachers suggestions was to study being still. She is inspired. I so appreciate her constant dependence on the spirit of the Lord, it inspires me. As I was studying, I decided I'd look up the lyrics for "be still my soul" and went to to look it up. But it took me to a page devoid of lyrics. Weird. Fortunately - and guided by a divine hand - the next hit was "One Needful Thing" a talk by Pat Holland (wife of Jeffrey.) Mom, I know that you're aware of what a tender mercy it was that this talk came into my life again; for the rest of you who haven't read (particularly the females) you MUST read it. Please understand, it doesn't matter who you are, or what stage of life you're in, or what you're dealing with in your life, even if you're not a Latter Day Saint and you're just reading these letters for entertainment - if you're a female, PLEASE do yourself and read this talk today. It lifted me up, and reminded me of what I should be thinking about both as a missionary and as a female, a daughter of God. Anyway, I know the Lord watched over everything that I do. We tell our investigators this so frequently. We tell them that God really does answer prayers, that there is truly one way, and that our adoring and majestic Father in Heaven will answer our prayers. My testimony of this has grown immensely since being here.

Another thing we've discussed a lot in class is this idea of there being one way. There is one way. Christ paid for our sins and thereafter set the path for us to follow; it is narrow, but it is straight, and it leads to the greatest of all the gifts of God. Before I'd thought that the alternative to Christ's way was carving your own path, and inevitably getting lost. Not so. The alternative to Christ's way is being rocked by the waves. We don't get to choose our own path, we are subject to Satan's will, and guess what- he wants us to be MISERABLE. So let's not give him what he wants. This is why baptism by the right authority - and in the exact manner Jesus did it - matters. Because there is one way for us to return to our Father in Heaven, and baptism is part of that. Yahoo! This gospel is so perfect. I realize that I am . . . not perfect, but at least the message I'm telling people about is the truth. That brings so much comfort in to my life.
By the way, the last three Elders in our district got their visas. So now we have a dainty class of three sisters, and I love it. It will be interesting, especially since the other Elders that we know so well in our zone leave on Wednesday for their reassignment in Alabama, and we'll miss them dearly. Also, our dear friend Sister Black - who is HILARIOUS left this morning at four to go to Baltimore. We'll miss her greatly too. But we all know that each of us is doing a great work, and there's a heavenly hand guiding all of us, and that it will surely be for the better.
Speaking of hilarious, our classes are fun? Did you know this? We are learning the gospel of Jesus Christ, and learning this language, but we have a grand time. Sometimes - especially with Irmao Johansen, we have to pause for a couple minutes to catch our breath from laughing so hard. I thoroughly appreciate this. We love each other, and sometimes the more humbled we are, the easier it is to laugh. I've just been amazed by how much I've learned; certainly the language, and the mechanics of how to be a missionary, but I've learned so much about Rachel - and even more so, how much she can be improved. I can see just a glimpse of exactly why God put me here, why I'm still in Provo, and why these two other sisters and here with me.

OH and General Conference. It seems like SO incredibly long ago, but truly, we have prophets of God. We'd been teaching a lot about the restoration of the church the week before, and we had testified many times about there really being a prophet on the earth today, and then - we heard him! And the apostles as well. I had gone into this conference thinking about love; how God loves us, how I love God, and how I can better love those around me? And I think that all those that watched conference can agree that this was definitely hit on. Miraculous. Also, the beauty of the family. We are so blessed to know what matters in this world, and the more I go on, the more I realize that this is true. I also loved Elder Richard's talk on pain - wasn't it beautiful? [video here] We are here to learn and grow my friends - so that we can become like our Father in Heaven, and how can we do that unless we have experiences that are tailor-made to stretch and try us exactly how we need it. And then -we have a Savior who understands everything and wants us to be back with him. I love this plan. Truly. I realize that I've been here, oh, three and half weeks, and that I have a good deal of time left, and that I'm not perfect, but hey - I am learning, and everyday I ask God to know if I'm doing his will; if I am - hooray, and if I'm not, He'll let me know what I can better. It's amazing right?

I love you all, keep the faith, and do all you can.

Sister Cornwall

P.S. Tell Jeff I got his package, and thank you thank you thank you. I love you so much.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


A documentary was recently produced that provides a look inside the Missionary Training Center. This gives us a view of that in which our dear Sister Cornwall is involved in her day-to-day life at the MTC. We think it was filmed this past January. (Note: Segments 1, 2, & 3 are most applicable to the MTC experience. Segment 4 is primarily a video log of past and current MTCs worldwide and their operation. Segment 5 focuses on the Pre-MTC & Post_MTC experience. Segment 6 starts out with The Return and then portrays some Mission Experiences. Segment 7 shares the fruits of missionary service including the conversion of the commentator's mother and the first converts of the descendants of the Joseph & Emma Smith.)

Video Courtesy of

Friday, April 1, 2011


1 April 2011

Well hello there familia e amigos!
Oh what a joy it is to be able to (as matter of speaking) talk to you about all the wonderful things happening here at the MTC for Sister Cornwall. It has been truly a wonderful week. The most significant thing that happened was that half of our district got their visas and shipped out Tuesday morning. The remaining sisters and I ran out to bid farewell (at least for now) to the other two sisters that left for the MTC in Brazil, but who knows, we may be joining them soon enough. In fact, there were two elders that went to the airport to fly to their reassignment locations (as their visas hadn't come in) but they were called OFF THE PLANE to grab their luggage and come back because their visas to Brazil has finally come. We shall see what happens. We have been fasting and praying for visas (particularly from the l.a. consulate) and even though they haven't come for our three sisters, they have come for loads of other people, which is just as much of a blessing. (and thank you mom and dad for being just incredible about taking advantage of being from l.a., no matter what happens, I figure that as long as I put in my best effort, I KNOW that the Lord will put me exactly where he needs me to be, in fact, he already has.)
Our new little trio is wonderful. No, sister Petersen and sister Ogletree don't speak as well as sister forester, but you know what - I am being blessed for it. I had been trying to think for a long long time about what my language goal should be (missionaries LOVE goals, and I already did before I was a missionary so my love has increased all the more so) and I had trouble, like a LOT of trouble figuring out how I wanted to gauge my language progress. Then suddenly it donned on me - "hello, sister Cornwall, a mission is not about you" which I was already aware of, but it helped me realize that my goal is to help these two other sisters reach their goals. Whew, we pounded out verbs and conjugations and articles and possessive nouns last night, and they are doing so well. I thank heavenly father every night for giving blessings so that I can serve; it has made learning Portuguese so much more meaningful for me. Frankly, it's not hard. I don't struggle at all. In fact, my blessings with the language have made things more difficult because when we do teaching and contacting, I'm pretty much the only one that can talk, and then I go on talking to the "investigator" and my two companions have no idea what we were saying, which doesn't necessarily help companionship unity you know. Regardless, it's wonderful. We all know how much I love to talk, and so we decided as a companionship that there would be days where I only spoke Portuguese; thus I get to practice my conversation and explanation skills, and they get to work on listening comprehension . . . I'm hoping the Lord will watch over our efforts.

Speaking of Portuguese (ha! oh email puns) we taught a REAL Brazilian woman at the MTC yesterday. She brought her four year old daughter Monique (pronounced Moniquee) and she was beautiful. It was such a great lesson, and it was killing me to have this little Menina playing in the room and speaking Portuguese. We were all dying with joy. It made us realize that we are going to be teaching real people . . .I know right? Quite the revelation. But I think it's easier to love when people are real, when you can really see them as individuals and as children of god. At the temple this morning I was looking around at all the beautiful people dressed in white and I realized that this is how god sees us. We are individuals to him, but we are all on equal footing. We as human beings have such limited and scattered paradigms regarding our perceptions of our fellow men and women, but someday - someday we'll be able to see as God sees, and be as he is! That's what it's all about! The temple is great: if you're reading this letter, and you're not going as OFTEN as you possibly can, just know there are people in this world who don't even know their father in heaven loves them and he wants them to come back to him. So you should be going (it's okay, missionaries are able to chastise righteously, right?) It was so cool to actually go to the temple and experience all the things we practice telling people ALL DAY.
One thing I have felt incredibly grateful for this past week is who I am . . . or was, or will be. My life before being a missionary I suppose. I feel so grateful that even thought I've had to make some adjustments to my life as of late (which is truly wonderful) I know that I am still Rachel, even though I have to remember to refer to myself as Sister Cornwall. But it's wonderful. This "new name" has provided me this opportunity to rededicate myself to god's work. I'm still reconciling myself to the idea that there are certain things sister missionaries simply don't do, but I trust god enough to know it's all worth it. Another insight that seems to relate to "Rachel" life, is the idea of living by the spirit. there's a part of me that is relieved to have this opportunity to serve so that I don't waste any more of my life living by my own determinations; obviously the lord gave us agency, but you know what - we need to ask him what he would have us do. He knows what we should be doing with ourselves, and guess what? as long as we're listening, he'll tell us exactly what we should be doing, and he'll help us get it done. It's the same thing as committing investigators to read the book of mormon and pray if it's true; we tell them that god wants us to know what we should be doing, wants us to know he loves us, and I only hope those of us that know it's true are taking advantage of the true gift it is to converse with a GOD. He is the supreme being over everything . . . and he wants to hear from us, so do it.
A goal we set as a district is about contacting. We're supposed to do it in Portuguese, and introduce ourselves as missionaries, but I've decided I'll just talk to anyone. We're all missionaries, so it's not like it's anything new, but just talking has been so great. Why haven't I done this earlier in my life?! (actually, I know the answer to that, but I'm just going to skip over the lazy and self-conscious inhibitions.)
Anyway, I just wanted to share that I've been studying the heart this past week; we're supposed to love god with all our heart might mind and strength, but how? I wondered. Well, I'm still pondering these things, but I know that the heart is where our desires are. God looks on our heart to see our intentions, and it's where we are able to comprehend spiritual matters. In Alma 12, Alma talks to Zeezrom about hearts, and says that if your heart is hard, you only receive a portion of the word, a lesser part, and the mysteries of god are not opened up to you. This is because we need to receive truth and let it grow and cultivate it in our hearts. If truth is bouncing off our hardened heart, we can't be affected by it. We need to open up our hearts, be ready to receive the word, and then allow our desires to change in response.
I love you all. You are good, god is gracious, and his light is in all of us, in everyone, and it's worth finding.
This gospel is true, and the plan - there's a plan my friends! - is perfect. Keep the faith,

I love you,
Sister Cornwall
P.S. To seminary students about seminary breakfast:
Tell your friends about this. I know they're high school students. I know YOU'RE high school students, but honestly, it needs to go beyond that. You are privileged to be members of Jesus Christ's only true church upon the earth, and I know there are students at MHS that are needing some truth and stability in their lives. I went there, and I believe that to be true. So please, just tell 'em. Let the spirit whisper to you so that you can have added inspiration regarding who should be in that church building learning about the history of our church. This gospel is true, and maybe it would help if you asked your father in heaven to give you help regarding this opportunity to be a missionary for just a little while. It is so GREAT!!!