Monday, June 13, 2011

Hi guys,

This week was . . . marvelous, and exhausting. We started off the week with Zone Conference in Salvador. We were there pretty early, and the beach was gorgeous (we´re about a 40 minute bus ride from Salvador, it´s the big city around here, so lots of people work there, commute etc.) Sometimes I feel slightly spoiled to be in such a beautiful place. I didn´t really know what to expect with a Zone Conference, but it was wonderful. I can´t help but love being surrounded by others who are involved in the same work, having the same difficulties and same joys that I am. It is kind of an amazing thing. I personally was able to refocus on where my priorities should be, and adjust the focus of of myself a little more. I was able to fall more in love with President and Sister Vecchi, and the food was wonderful.

Speaking of food, I figured I´d let you know that I think this past week I´ve eaten more meat than probably 6 months worth of non-Brazil life. I´m not a huge meat eater, but they have meat here you wouldn´t believe, and . . . it´s just so good. Also, the doces, or sweets, are delicious - don´t worry, I´m taking notes so I can impress all my friends with geladinha, and brigadeira. Rest assured.

We went to one house this week in Portão that was very much the Brazil I think I´d been imagining; dirt roads, huge palm leaves, etc etc. As we approached the house I was preparing myself for a little pile of beans and rice - NOPE! It was probably the best meal we´ve had. The people here are so sweet to us. I love to walk on the street and have someone call out ´sisteres!`and they run up to give us a hug. Especially kids. Yup, they love us.

We are teaching these four little kids who are all cousins, and we walked them to church . . . plus we were accompanied by four member kids, so Sister Denson and I were like little pied pipers. We also invited those four kids to the baptism the other Sisters had on Saturday, when we arrived they all rolled out clean and fresh and all dressed up. I could have died. It was one of the best feelings in the world to see them make an effort and be SO excited to see you. Little Yasmim just wanted to hold my hand all the way to and from the church, and in her other hand was her copy of the Book of Mormon. They are beautiful, if not a little rowdy at times. The nine and eight year old brothers sat between Sister Denson and me during Sacrament Meeting, and it was a bit of an experience entertaining them.

I have discovered that being a missionary is ever more being a child and a parent. We watch over these kids, follow up, we chastise old men who drink too much, we tell people they should change their lives - all things a good parent would do; yet we have to be in bed by 10:30, we ALWAYS use the buddy system, and we have no idea what´s going on in the world around us (which I´m still sorta adjusting to.) But it´s the greatest. I feel very blessed to have this time to just let things go and focus on the people and each sweet moment here.

The Brazilians certainly know how to enjoy their life. They say `tudo bem` constantly, which literally means everything´s good. They have simple solutions for everything, I tell you. Oh you want to sell your house, and you don´t have a For Sale sign? Tudo bem, just write on the wall of your house `se vende esta casa.` Oh you want to transport three people or three gas tanks, or a couple of chairs and you don´t have a car? Tudo bem, just put it on your bicycle. Seriously friends, it´s been done. Oh you want to get rid of your trash? Tudo bem, just leave 20 little plastic bags of lixo on the sidewalk, somebod´ll pick it up. Oh you want to add on three extra rooms to your house? Tudo bem, just buy some bricks and sand and do it! It´s hilarious. Life is very simple, which is simultaneously blissful and frustrating. Sometimes we talk about the `falta de inteligencia` [lack of, schooling, intelligence] in Bahia, but it just makes the people all the more lovable I daresay.

Portuguese is coming along fine. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to express myself and feel respected by these people. In fact, a couple of times this week people asked me if Í´d been here much longer than my companion - nope, she arrived a month and a half before I did. But we´re a good team she and I. We have fun everyday, and we really do have some incredible people. One guy we contacted and taught Saturday night at 8:30 came to church! It was incredible! Some of our dear pesquisadores [investigators, researchers] did not come to church yesterday, which broke our hearts a little. We were literally running around for two hours before and during church trying to gather in our little sheep, but we know very well the role of agency in the lives of all people. The ability to choose is one of the greatest blessings we have in our lives. I have thought a lot about the role of the Lord in humbling His people, how sometimes he needs to chastise those he loves in order to help us. Yet through it all we still have the ability to choose. We can get our own selves to a position of meekness where we can receive the impressions of the Lord. I have realized more and more everyday how much I need the spirit in this work. There are tons of people with many problems and I do NOT have the answers for them. But, fortunately, I can help them find the answers they want and need.

There are lot of churches here in Lauro, and many people are very set in what they´re doing in their lives religiously, but there´s such a subtle difference that they have to be receptive to the espírito santo, and we have to bring it. That is our role. We have to be at the peak everyday because these people NEED us. Certainly there are plenty of people that don´t care one bit about what we´re doing, but we´re not here for those people. As I study the incredible doctrine and truths of this gospel, I just ache to give it someone who will recognize how wonderful it is. It´s so much more than church on Sunday friends, it is everything. We need to be becoming something here . . . and I only hope that we can all get to where we need to be.

I have been overwhelmed once more this fine week by how blessed I am. Everything. I am only able to take in so much everyday, but that´s where things like patience and diligence come into play. Oh friends, I hope with my whole heart that you´re doing what you KNOW you should be. We all know, for the most part, if our actions are what they should be or not. Sometimes we need a silly little missionary to come along and tell us, but there´s even a better way. On our knees we can pour out our hearts and receive . . . whatever it is we need. I´m learning about some of the gaps in my understanding here, but I am so grateful I am here, doing only this right now, in order to fill some of those gaps in order to help others.

Friends, I know that this gospel is the truth. I know it. Somedays I know it more fully or with more conviction than others, but regardless I still know I can wake up in the morning and give it my all because it´s good and right. I love ya.

Sister Cornwall

Mom and Dad! Oh my! I got your letters [the Z.L.s pick up letters at the Mission Office +/- monthly] and it was divine! Thank you so so much.

I love you and feel privileged to be a missionary just to receive your letters.

You can send packages to the office and I´ll get it. Promise. You´re the best,


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