Monday, August 29, 2011

Goodness me, it´s hard to believe that time is capable of passing so quickly. This week we were so so blessed by the Lord, and I feel that there are some great responsibilities that come with that. We´ve been discussing with members a lot, and I think we´re gradually starting to get it together.
Yesterday, the inevitable happened, and Sister Cornwall was asked to give a talk on the fly. We had a meeting in the morning with the liderança [leaders] and guess who got asked to fill in, as the wrap up speaker? Well, I´ll just give you a little rundown of the pure inspiration I received. On Wednesday our LZ gave us a little inspiration on grace. I started out my talk about my Study-Abroad in Paris. I was so so excited that I got accepted, that I was going, that I would be fulfilling my dream etc. My mother so wisely reminded me that I would have to work to have the funds to be able to go. And I did work. That summer I applied for probably hundreds of jobs, went to many interviews, considered giving plasma etc. I made plans and calculations . . . I did everything. Then when the end of the summer came, friends, I was a bit short. Fortunately, my darling parents recognized my efforts and mercifully filled in the rest. It was an incredible experience. When I told the congregation that I still hadn´t paid my darling parents, and that I´m pretty sure they forgot, why those Brazilians roared with laughter. Guys, I`m not joking, they laughed really hard at this silly American. We all are in a similar situation. In the Guide for the study of the scriptures, it discusses that grace is the enabling power we receive when we exercise faith, when we repent, and when we do EVERYTHING we´re capable of doing to keep the commandments. Well, what are we doing to earn that grace? Are we doing everything possible? Are we doing our home and visiting teaching, having family home evening, reading, praying, being quiet during sacrament meeting? (I really wanted to say that last one, as I was standing in front observing everyone . . . but I didn´t.) Then I read Doctrine and Covenants 93:11-14 that talks about how the Savior learned grace upon grace. He didn´t receive the fullness all at once, it was a very gradual process. Then I talked about learning Portuguese. I remember at the beginning when I just didn´t get some things, and now, they´re second nature. It´s the same with us and our eternal progression. (Afterwords everyone came up to me and assured me that my Portuguese was just fine.) But we need a Savior, friends. We need what he did everyday to make it through. If you´re feeling a lack in your life - guess what will fill it? The restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I promise you that.

We were able to enter so many more houses this week, and talk to the people. I am learning more and more to love Candeias. I also feel very grateful to still be myself. I am a living human being that needs this gospel as much as anybody, and I like being able to talk reasonably and realistically about the difficulties we have, and how we´re capable of overcoming them knowing we have a Savior who loves us incredibly, and has so much power to help us out. We sort of just have to let him help us. I thought a lot about doing the Lord´s will this week; we make lots of plans and pass by lots of houses, and it´s easy to get very systematic. But just take a moment to think not about what you need to do, but what the Lord needs done. It´s a much better way to go.

I´m incredibly grateful for the goodness that is here. I am grateful for the genuine friends that I have, and for their firmness in the gospel. It changes lives, and there are plenty of people scared stiff of that change - depriving them of comfort and tradition and complacency - but that´s our opportunity, and our challenge. All I want to do is work. It is great, even when it´s hard and annoying.

All I ever want to say is just stick with it, hang in there and keep progressing. There´s a plan and a great reward at the finish line for those that are willing to sacrifice. Well, that´s that.

Love, Love, Love,

Sister Cornwall

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hey guys,

Well we´re back to weeks buzzing by. It has been an interesting experience the past five-ish months to have the opportunity to get completely readjusted every 9/6 weeks. But I´m feeling much more adjusted, and much more aware of how to feel like I have a real purpose.

Sister de Assis and I learned a lot this week. We realized, our efforts are not enough. We knock doors, and we talk to people on the street. We smile and we speak so nicely . . . with so little result. I know this is still Brazil, but it seems like a totally different world for me. But the interesting thing about the situation is that when you´re sort of in the pits and don´t know where to go, you seek out help beyond your own effort, and then, the whole world sort of opens up. We fasted this week in an effort to find novos, new people to teach, and we had a little success (though in my head I was expecting a flood of darling little families that were going to welcome us with opens arms . . . uuuh, that didn´t quite happen) but that night/morning we thought bastante[much, plenty] about famílias. We thought about how much we need the ward in this area. There´s not really any other way.

Bispo [the Bishop]went out with us Wednesday night. We talked with him about some of our difficulties, and asked him what his vision for the ward is. First of all, we have one young man. Just one. Fortunately he´s only twelve so he´s still got some good years left, but we´re certainly lacking. (The ward itself has about 60 people in attendance every week.) So we visited a few homes where there are members, baptized, but are not active in the church. We´re here to help people, and that includes everyone. I feel so blessed that people are willing to let these strangers into their lives - people they´ve never seen before - and let them talk about the things most sacred in our lives. We´re able to discern the needs of these people and resolve their concerns. It´s a beautiful and sometimes challenging opportunity/responsibility. (really quickly, hilarious - we´re in this lan house using the computer. this nine year old drinking from a coconut checked them out to us, and now she´s listening to something on the computer singing LOUDLY little Brazilian songs. it is so funny. anyway.)

My testimony of the importance of the family has been so strengthened this week. A lot of families live here. A lot of really beautiful families. A lot of beautiful families that should have the opportunity to be with their families forever. I actually made a contact with this guy who had a cute little wife and daughter, and when I said hello he responded with - I know about you guys. I´ve studied you and your people etc etc. I offered to respond to perguntas [inquires,questions], and he said - No, I would have to talk to someone more educated than you. Oh well, you all can imagine how I felt about that. But the great thing about being a missionary is that I just smiled so politely, testified of what I know, and tried not to cringe when he said, essentially, `listen to me, I´m a profeta [prophet, oracle].`Oh boy. All I want is for everyone to have the chance to be with their families. Sister de Assis was sealed to her family 10 years ago, and it´s something so special. Mother and father, married with filhos - oh my, there´s just nothing better. We´re going to be focusing a lot on the família, and how to strengthen the home so that these human beings can live lovely, productive happy lives. Yup.

I feel so very humble friends. This work is so big, and I´m so little, but it´s true. And that has strength. I love this gospel. I love the example of Jesus Christ and that he is so wise that he´s able to take care of us. What a relief, what peace and happiness.

I hope you all have a darling week.

love love love,

Sister Cornwall

Monday, August 15, 2011

Olá meus amigos, [Hello My Friends,]

This week, actually, felt a bit longer than the others. Yup, I´m in Candeias. [Canais? There is a town of Candeias, Bahia, but it is located only 46 km north of Salvador. Sister Cornwall's 8 hour bus ride would put her 400 - 500 km from Salvador, so perhaps "Candeis" is a mis-spelling.] Yup, this is the third area in three transfers. I´m pretty sure that I´ll just stick around every area for a little while, and then head out. Yet then my heart would break. I´m not going to lie to you darlings, I miss Itapuã, but fortunately, the gospel is still true, and I´m still a missionary of the Lord.

So, Candeais [Canais?], I got here pretty wasted after 8 hours on a bus during the night, but we dropped off my bags and headed out. Candeias [Canais?] is higher in altitude than a lot of Bahia, and for that it´s much colder and dryer. It reminds me a lot of Palmdale, Ca actually. But this part of Conquista [Conquista, a largish town, is 457 km n/w of Salvador and has a suburb or adjoining town called Canais], has a LOT of condominiums, and pretty much all the houses have huge fences in front, oh yeah, and there´s no one on the street. I feel like this big city girl that moves to the suburbs and finds that all the life has just dried up. (Take that comment for what it´s worth.) But the members are great. They certainly love the Sisters, and there has been a long legacy of good sisters that have served here.
Oh and my companion - Sister De Assis. She´s a dear. She´s from São Paulo and doesn´t speak a lick of English, which actually hasn´t been a big problem. I feel extraordinarily blessed for that. We walk a lot, and sometimes it´s funny to just think of my life - me, wandering around Brasil with this funny little Brasiliera who has problems with her feet, so she walks around like a little old lady. But she is hilarious and feisty and just wants to do good, and that´s great.

As far as numbers go, it is a LOT slower here. It´s just different. There´s one other Elder that came here from my zone with me this past week, Elder Duncan, and it´s been interesting to talk with him about having Brazilian companions for the first time, being in Conquista. It´s just different is all. But it´s still missionary work, and that´s what matters. I feel like we just need to get everybody excited again about the work. There were health issues with the Sister before, and so things slowed down a lot the past few months, but you know what, I came here to do the work and have results, and I have no reason to not just do it and love it. Even if on a day to day basis it´s just James E. Talmage, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and me speaking English. I´m sure there´ll be people nodding their heads thinking `yes, NOW she knows what a mission is like`but I´m still learning here - alright.

I´m feeling very grateful for miracles from God. When you need someone to teach, and there´s literally no one in sight, it really is the hand of God that puts a darling little family right in front of you that´s ready and willing to let you in to their nice little condo. I was spoiled, I´ll admit it, but it seems that the more desperate the situation, the more likely I am to learn a profound lesson about the goodness of God. I know that he´s guiding our paths. The things he wants us to learn we can´t plan out for ourselves, we sort of just need to let what he has in store wash over us, and remember there´s always hope, there´s always good, and there´s always a way to keep looking up and finding happiness. I need to learn this lesson. I need to learn to be less silly and just realize this is a great work that will end (sooner than i think i´d like, is the time flying for anyone else here?)

I love my savior Jesus Cristo. Oh I know He lives, and that there´s a plan here. I know there´s a purpose, even when it seems chato [annoying, flat] and silly. I know that I still am pretty smitten with missionary work, and that I love having the name Jesus Cristo on my heart all day long. And I hope that those of you in a position to do so, are giving references to the missionaries. Just seek inspiration, revelation about who should be coming closer to Christ in their lives. There´s only so much we can do to find these people, if there´s any way that you´re able to help out the missionaries, just give them a hand. They have a firm testimony that they want to share with someone who will listen. And that´s that.

Love, Love, Love,

Sister Cornwall

Monday, August 8, 2011

Boa tarde [Good afternoon],

Meus amigos [my friends], how is it that another week has passed by? There´s a phrase in Portuguese, well, it´s a word actually: Cadê. It pretty much means whatever happened to..., where is..., etc. On the phone if someone´s late you can say `cadê você?` when you want to know where they are etc. I bring this up only because we´ve been saying it a lot, as in `cadê this week . . . cadê this transfer?` This is ridiculous. These past six weeks have just skipped by. I can´t believe it.

This morning as most of the zone we went to the dunes in our area - big white hills of sand and greenery close to the beach (I know right) and at the top of one of the dunes, we had a ceremony of announcing transfers. This past week we´ve been joking that Sister Denson would be leaving (she´s been in the zone two transfers) and so we were all prepped to help her arrumar as malas [pack up] . . . but she´s actually not going anywhere. I am! Yes, yes, I spent one transfer in an area and left, and I am doing the same thing again. I´m headed to Conquista, which is pretty far in the interior. I leave tomorrow night for a ten hour bus ride. Uh huh, it is going to be marvelous. I will confess to you, I had some dificuldades [difficulties] with that. I had been so prepped to bid farewell to Sister Denson, that I had not in the least really anticipated my own farewell. My heart is so sad to leave Itapuã, goodness gracious I love this Ward, this is going to be incredibly dependent on faith, that this is where God knows I need to be. Fortunately I trust Him, and Sister Denson to cuidar [care] for our precious little area.

I was pretty glad that I bore my testimony yesterday (yup mom, I really did.) There are a lot of Sisters that have served from our Ward, and that will serve from our Ward, and as many of them were bearing their testimonies, I decided that as a Sister Missionary presently, I may as well go up. I just wanted to thank God for being so good to us. During the morning we had passed by a lot of people, and many had excuses, and I was working on not being disappointed (sometimes I sort of let my heart go and get pretty sad on Domingo [Sunday],) but this week I just felt rather calm that we had done so much this week to help these people, and I was nice and tranqüilo. We worked hard this week. We did a division Wednesday with one of our zone leaders, and he helped us realize where we can improve our teaching. Also, God put so many incredible new investigators in our path. I find that the best way to do missionary work is just to put everything in every week, you can´t ever just `get by`one week - you need to beg God for miracles everyday, and then they will usually come.

Our little baptismo that was planned for this week - Ademareo, will wait one more semana [week] and will probably be baptized with his neighbor Rebeca that we´re teaching. They are wonderful. I get a little sad knowing that I will not be around for their baptismos, but that nonetheless, the work carries on.

I thought a lot about faith, testemunho and provas [proving, examining] this week from Ether 12:6. We have faith in things that we hope for, but can´t see, and that´s great. Plenty of people here have so so much faith, but the thing is, faith alone simply isn´t enough. To have a testemunho, we need to prove our faith, DO something to strengthen, to try, to fortalecer [fortify, confirm]. Without that, our faith will simply remain this passive power that doesn´t affect our lives like it should. We need all the people we´re teaching to understand this. Enos wanted a resposta [response] so badly that he prayed all day, he had a luta [struggle] with God, and just did everything in his power to get a resposta de Deus [response from God]. If we have this same desire for joy and eternal life like he did, we´ll also esforçar [work] to make it happen. That is true testimony. And it comes from works. We have to do something friends to get anything out of our spirituality.

I´m so grateful for every precious little day here. I know that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can try and get over it, and deny it, and walk around it all day, but it is truth. There is a formula - and we talk incessantly about it - to have a confirmation from God of truth; we have to pray, we have to ask someone who knows. There are a lot of fruits here that you just don´t have in the United States (shame) and I can´t describe them to you. To really know what the graviola tastes like, you just have to try it. You have to go to the church of Jesus Christ to partake of the ordinance of the sacrament to know what it´s like - I can´t describe it well enough to you. And instead of having to try (provar) every fruit/church in the world, we just have to ask someone who knows, who we trust, and try (provar) his goodness and power. We also have to partake (provar) of the scriptures. The Book of Mormon is simply the word of God, and that book has power. I love it. And if you´re willing, you´ll feel it. And when that resposta comes, you can´t deny it, it´s yours, it´s your testimony, and that is your alicerce [foundation] forever.

I love studying the gospel, it´s interesting and poetic and hopeful, it gives me purpose and direction that I want for everyone. It´s real, and I´m so glad I can trust it. I know God is guiding this work, and I also know that I´m imperfect, but that there´s still hope for me friends.

I hope your week is marvelous, and next week I´ll let you in on the wonder that is Candeias, Conquista.

Love, Love, Love,

Sister Cornwall

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pronounced Ba-ee-ah
Hello there!

Another week has flown by. It´s funny how the more you start to appreciate something, the more it starts to just slip by. This week was an interesting one, and we just tried to utilize every moment. Of course, sometimes things are weird, or tricky, or fall through, but the great thing is - you just keep going.

This past week at church was not quite as joyful as the week before, but at least our dear friends Ademareo and Irene were there. Ademareo is a 40ish year old man who loves Jesus Christ. He is solid and quiet and he is on track to be baptized Saturday. Oh, and last week there was a baptism in our district of 8 people. The other ward in our building had 6 and we had 2 from the Elders (Favreau and Smith, they re great missionaries, and we have lunch with them everyday. They´re both Americans so we have a grand old time together.) It was so incredible to see all the white jumpsuits running around, and I was full to the brim with joy and happiness - even though one of our dear ones wasn´t actually dressed in white.

It has been interesting to learn a little bit more about my own nothingness this past week. I think that perhaps I was under the impression that as a missionary I would come off feeling like the conquering hero, but you know, that´s not really how it works. Yes, certainly these people have needs, and yes, certainly you are the individual called and set apart to find these people and teach them, but still, I´m pretty helpless. That was a pret-ty tough realization for Sister Cornwall this week, but one certainly worth realizing. I just want to give these people everything - they have my whole heart - and when your heart´s involved, sometimes, it just gets broken. And that hurts. But fortunately I´m learning about the love of the Savior, that fortunately he has infinite love that will keep going when mine sort of comes short.
Like any body of people, these Bahianos have some . . . intricate idiosyncrasies, if you will. We get frustrated when they give their word, and then fall through. But hey, this is life. Life is choosing and learning and hoping that it´s enough. I feel sometimes that there´s so much life entering my head, and sometimes I don´t even realize it. Over the rest of my life I suppose I´ll just try and sort through everything I´ve experienced here. One thing I know I´ve learned is gratitude. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I know that people are not as happy without it. I`m sorry, but they´re not. I am grateful for worthy priesthood holding friends, family, leaders, it is a blessing in my life. I am grateful that I am healthy and strong and live(d) in a place that helped me to stay healthy and strong. I am grateful to be on a mission, and even though sometimes I do feel helpless, I can rest assured knowing that I am giving everything I can to at least put some effort out there. I know I am not the only one, and I am grateful for all the others that are working arduously for this cause. I am grateful for my Savior, oh, he has such power that I can´t even comprehend, but at least I know he loves me and that he knows my faults and how badly I feel sometimes, and that he made it possible to help me out, to save me in fact. I am grateful for that. I love each and every one of you. I am grateful for your prayers, and I know that they are heard by a loving Heavenly Father who is very much behind this work.

Love, Love, Love,

Sister Cornwall

p.s. Mom, you are the best. Dad, thank you for your letters. They are a huge blessing and delight for this little sister missionary. I am so blessed to have you guys in my life. Love, Rach