Monday, September 26, 2011

MTC Companions

It was a great, but exhausting week. First of all, we headed to Salvador for a Sisters Conference. We all received wise counsel from our dear Presidente. We got on a bus 10:30 [pm] Monday, arrived 6 Tuesday morning, had a great day in Presidente´s home, then got on another bus 10:30 Tuesday night, and got back at 6:00 Wednesday morning . . . and got to work. We were . . . let´s face it, wasted, but fortunately the Lord really helped us out. We lost a couple days of work, but He made up for it. It was amazing. It was hot, and we´re working up, up, up a hill, and yet, it was a pretty great week. Presidente talked a lot about how Sisteres are here to baptize families. We have a special capacity to touch people´s hearts as women, and we were so blessed to find families: mother, father and children. Wow, the Lord knows what He´s doing. We´re just going to keep on working.

Also, friends, General Conference is this week. If you don´t know about this already, you had better look into it. We´ve been talking to/inviting everyone we know to go and watch, and I am getting incredibly excited. There´s just something really great about hearing our dear, dear Profeta speak to us personally. It is going to be just marvelous. GO! You won´t regret, I will guarantee that.

Also, this week was interesting in that so many of the things I studied seemed to revolve around the Second Coming. There are so many things happening in this world that indicate that, frankly, profecies are being fulfilled. It could be very easy to worry about what´s happening, what is going to happen, where we´ll be, but as long as we´re doing what we know we should - no need to worry. We have a Profeta today to tell us what we need to do today to merit salvation; no, we don´t know everything about what´s going to happen after this life, etc, etc, but we know what we need to do today, and so, we just need to do it. The Lord gave commandments so that we could be happy. It´s not a secret. He gave us ALL we need to do, and the ability to do it . . . so, the rest is up to you and me I suppose. I hope you all are doing what´s right. It´ll make me happy, and you happy, and our Father in Heaven happy. So, what I´m saying is .. . go to General Conference[*]. I´ll be watching at the exact same time as you!

Have a glorious marvelous inspirational week gente [people],

love love love,
Sister Cornwall


Monday, September 19, 2011

Boa semana gente, como é que tá? [Good week people, are you okay?]

Well, I get to stay in Candeias, Conquista another six weeks. Yes. I will also be staying with Sister de Assis . . . she will end up being in the same zone for about 1 year. That is extraordinarily rare. She (and I) know that the Lord has some special work for her to do here. She has been saved for something special, and I need to make sure that I`m up to par so that she can have the milagres [miracles] the Lord has in store for her. (As well as the milagres that He has for me to do.)

This week was incredible. We ended up only having one baptism. But that one was great. It´s been 7 months since the last baptism in this ward (for Brasil that is a huge amount of time.) But Jhony, he was with his family two hours away until Friday, and his cell phone wasn´t working. This is a nightmare for missionaries . . . having no way to follow up. But that kid is right on. He fulfilled every compromisso [promise/obligation] and it was a really good day. Bispo baptized him, and we were all so thrilled. The ward helped out so so much. It was incredible to see every one help out these little missionaries. It was quite a week working up to this great baptism.

First of all, Suelen was pretty much on track to be baptized, but she and her husband let us know on Thursday that they´re not civilly married, just in the church. That was a little devastating (in case you´re wondering, to get baptized, if you´re living with someone/have a child with them, you have to be legally married first.) She went on to tell about how difficult and expensive it is to get all the documents in order to get a place in line in order to get married. They have been trying for three years. I realized how . . . spoiled I am. We joked about how easy it is to get married in Las Vegas (maybe too easy) and how Brasil, this little country, and especially Bahia, has a few problems. I have been feeling incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have in my life. I told Sister de Assis that if it were me, this little American, I would protest, and there would be demonstrations, and people would not put up with it. I feel like that´s one of the biggest differences between Americans and Brasilieros, Brasilieros are willing to endure and just go with it. Sometimes I feel overly difficult when I´m not content with a situation, and want to find a better solution. It´s a very different mind set - this idea of contentedness versus constantly seeking betterment. I don´t really know that there is `better` or worse in this situation.

Anyway. That was tough. But it was funny how I could see all of the forces working against us in this little baptismo. First of all, Thursday I woke up feeling just, unenthusiastic. It was strange, and it is something that constantly needs to be conquered. Missions aren´t really about competition (shouldn´t be) but you are definitely fighting against yourself, your desires, and your body, and everything else. But also, Conquista has had some rain. Quite a bit. In 5 1/2 weeks it didn´t rain once, and then it all came down. We were wet pretty much all day Friday as we ran around trying to get everything arranged for the baptism. We ended up locking ourselves in the complex of a member (nobody was home, but the gate opened somehow and closed behind us. we ended up entering the members´s home to press the button to get out.) Suffice it to say that I learned a lot about myself, and how much better it is just to be positive, even when there´s construction and the poor little missionaries are trucking it through the mud. I love being on a mission.

Truly, the Lord watched out for us this week. We were praying and fasting for milagres, and they came. I feel so glad to be a part of this incredible work. It is great. I love teaching, I love meeting these people, and I love learning about how my life is so much affected by my decisions to have patience, to be diligent, to work hard - or not, sometimes. All I want to say is that there is a way. There are plenty of obstacles, but we can laugh and see the things that are going great, and recognize that it´s in the Lord´s hands. I realized this week that I don´t need to stress out about things that are happening in these people´s lives because the Lord knows, and all I need to worry about is doing what it is he has in store. Thank heavens.

love love love,
Sister Cornwall

Monday, September 12, 2011

Olá gente, [Hello people, everybody]

There are so many things buzzing through my head: we have two baptismos for Saturday (yes!); I went to a college English class today (felt pretty cool) and this is the last week of the transfer. Yup.

Our two little baptismos this week are: Jhony and Suelen. Jhony is a 22 year old student that was marked to get baptized on saturday, but we decided to wait a week, and we announced it in church, and everyone´s so excited, and it is going to be marvelous. Suelen, oh my, she is buzzing through the Book of Mormon, she is feeling great, and she liked church (which is a relief, though not much of a surprise.) We talked a lot about families and about the importance of . . . just seeking out lasting ties in this life, and I think she liked that. Her husband, who´s espírita (a very intellectual doctrine that involves talking to spirits on the other side, very interesting, and incredibly annoying) came to church as well. He accepts everything but has no desire to move. They also have a three year old Luna Rosa who is beautiful, ( and we may or may not have enjoyed some of the goodies from her party this week.) We are feeling very blessed, and very aware that we need to work a lot this week. This ward needs these people, and especially needs to get excited that miracles happen, even here in Candeias (did I mention there were only 5 batismos in 2010 and 2011 combined. Yeah.)

But there are so many other people that are ready to get baptized, that have come to church, but are just waiting for . . . something. I only hope that I can know what the Lord needs me to do to help them out. We are just wanting to . . . make progress.

And yes, I just got back from UESB, where there was an English class describing dishes they had to make (cookies, brownies, sushi) and yes, they brought the finished project to class. It was an interesting experience. The teacher said I had to speak English, and yes, there were a few moments that Portuguese sort of slipped out naturally. But I´m grateful for the chance to be able to help. (And it wasn´t nearly as fun to talk with young adults as it was with young children. oh well.)
We also had a little visit from Presidente and Sister Vecchi. They came to inspect our apartment, and to do interviews. I had the chance to talk to Presidente about how things are going, and I just love that man. He speaks English fluently, so he would say certain things in English but he is so incredibly hopeful. My week got a huge lift just talking to him. I realized that my attitude was and is completely my own choice. Sister de Assis is funny. She has (since the first day) told me ´calma` [calm] about ten times a day. I just want to run around and get it done, but she is calm and doesn´t like to get overexcited. Sometimes, I get a little impatient, or bothered, but you know what - I love her. She has taught me so much, and I am grateful to her. Also, it´s not worth my time to get pouty or sad or a little brava [angry]. We laughed a lot this week, and I´m learning that that is often the only response appropriate in a lot of these situations. I am grateful that God gave us laughter. It can save us. I realized that sometimes I grip so tightly my own will and my own desires, and that frankly, I sort of need to just let it go and see the situation a little more lovingly. If I can just let go of what my will is and just see the grand scheme of the situation, there will be so much more pleasant happiness in my life. The gospel of Jesus Christ isn´t about being really big and pious, it´s just living life in a simple, right manner. I am grateful for that. We have to check in with the Savior just to see what it is He would have us do. We have the espirito santo [Holy Spirit] to help us out, to know what it is the Lord would do if he were here.

We have one more week to make it count, [until transfers] and I can´t believe it. Things are bustling by. But I´m grateful for the opportunity to work. It is a grueling privilege sometimes, but I sort of LOVE it.

I hope this week is lovely, and great.

love love love,
Sister Cornwall

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Today a thick letter was received at 336 (Sister Cornwall's parent's home). The envelope contained letters to be forwarded to several recipients, it contained the following photos from Itapua (her previous area) - with captions and it contained a little card dated 16/Augosto that said,

"This poor letter just got postponed & postponed so that when you get it, it'll be pretty ancient. But I love you all so dearly. Thank you so much for your love & support. Love, love, love, Rach"

"The sister in yellow is the wife of the bispo [bishop]. She's pretty fun. And Bispo LOVES the futebol team Bahia. Loves. I'm going to miss this little ward."

"A cutie little shot at Igreja de Ouro (Church of Gold). Quite frankly I was missing Paris a bit in this Big old Catholic church."

"I don't think I will be with Sister Morales again - so this was a fun final activity with her"

" Look at this AWESOME action shot that Sister Desnon took. We jumped off the edge of the dune & landed in the sand. Pretty fun."

"While we were enjoying the view, we did a little stretching & looked at the view upside down. I love these sisters.

"Hilarious. I don't even remember doing this, but Sister Denson had this photo on her camera, & I had to get a copy of this shor in Pelorinho [in downtown Salvador].

"Our last night. Alesandro is the YW President who's serving a "corto prayo" mission for just 3 transfers [18 weeks]. She is incredible. She'll be missed."

Here are a few snippets from Sister Cornwall's letters to her Mom & Dad that may be of general interest...

"The Sisters in our district work in the office, so they bring our letters every week to us. They are such a thrill..."

"Some days are actually really hard when I talk to these people & then think about my own very blessed life. I just pray & beg Heavenly Father to give these people a little bit more of what I have in abundance in my life. God is way to good to me."

"It's been terrifically interesting to see more of the workings of the structure of the church - how the Bishop uses his counselors, the needs of a unit before it can be divided, the role of priesthood in ordinances like baptism. I've also come to appreciate more the role of the Bishop, especially since we've had to send a few people to talk to him, fully knowing their situation, & knowing that the Bispo is the only one who can help..."

"I want to do so much good, & too often I feel like I'm not doing enough... I just want to be a useful servant, & work harder... in these short 18 months. Fortunately I have prayer, & letters & President Vecchi. I love that man."

"Oh mom, all of a sudden, just writing a letter to you makes my heart hurt a little bit. Sometimes I wonder why I left all that behind - all of my beautiful family, but then I remember all these people. Gah,... I love them. I Love Brasil. I Love Bahia, & my heart yearns, aches to help these people."

"I came to Brasil with a desire to do something, to make a difference, & it is all so slow in coming, but that's all right".

"I can't think about what would have happened had I not gone [on this mission]. The Lord knew, & he prompted me so strongly to go a serve, even though it was hard."

"Thank you for your love and prayers..."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Well, here we are again,

It was a marvelous week friends. We laughed a lot (and perhaps cried a little) but all in all, we were blessed. I´m really grateful for this little chance to evaluate the week in this little weekly email.

One fun thing that happened this past week was I was invited by a sister in the ward to go to her little school where she teaches English. I sat for about an hour answering questions like `do you like Brazilian food?` `do you know Madonna?` `what´s your real name?`it was hilarious. Some of these little kids speak pretty well. It was a little weird to talk in English in that setting, but it was really fun. And very strange to answer a question like, 'what do you do in your spare time'; well, I don´t really have much spare time here, and before I . . . well I . . . what did I do in my spare time? It was just funny to think about.

We got to teach a good amount this week, which I love. We´re teaching this one couple where the husband is espirita [spiritist] , and the wife is evangelica [evangelist]. She is on Chapter 20 of the Book of Mormon. She´s incredible. I get all bashful when she talks about how great she feels when she reads etc. I think I´m always preparing myself for rejection, and to hear a response like that throws me off a little. But it is great! The husband is a psychologist and is very set in the doctrine of espiritismo [spiritualism]. It is an incredibly fascinating subject, and even though talking with him gets very frustrating, it is always a very enlightening discussion. He asked me very honestly for my opinion on the doctrine he follows, and I told him very frankly that I admired it very much. It is all very well thought out, VERY logical, but that to me it was still completely the doctrine of human beings. And guess what, we´re just not as smart as God is. His plan is so much bigger, so much more eternal, and a lot more in our benefit. We don´t need to come back to the earth time after time in reincarnation to become perfected. We have a Savior for that.

Yesterday in Sacrament meeting there were lots of testimonies about the Savior, about the basics of the gospel. It was incredible. The members here are so marvelous, and I learn a lot from their strong testimonies and their unfailing committment to the gospel of the Jesus Christ. We need a Savior, we need him. We´re not perfect, and we only have one chance, and justice is tugging at our back. But, Jesus Christ came full of love and mercy and power and made everything work. I´m still learning about how all of that works out, but fortunately, I´ve still got some time. I am so grateful for the Savior Jesus Christ. He took on Him all of the rough things in life, He loves us so much that even for us stubborn, independent, slow to understand human beings - He did it. I know this message that I preach day after day is truth, and truth doesn´t change. I love knowing that there is a plan that I could never conceive, and yet I know that I can know it´s true. It´s sometimes strange but so lovely, and so powerful. So seek out that testimony friends. Pray and read and seek out truth in your life. It´ll come.

I like being here. I love it. Even when people deny the things that are most important to me in my life, I still love it. It is an incredible opportunity to do what the Lord would do. Incredible and tough.

I hope that this week is a great one.

Love love love,
Sister Cornwall