Monday, December 26, 2011

Well, what an incredible day it was yesterday. We spent the day with members, and a few people we´re teaching, and opened a few presents, oh - but you want to know the best part of the day: talking to my DARLING family! I had to wait during most of the day, then an hour with Sister Petersen´s family (which was pretty fun) and then, my dear parents, siblings and nieces/nephews. That was so great. I really liked hearing everyone´s voice and getting to laugh so much with my fam. I think I forgot just how much we like to laugh. But it was good to remember that all that still exists. (all that meaning our family, and our house, and BYU etc.) Have I mentioned that I LOVE Christmas?

Actually in Brazil, the 24th is a bigger day than the 25th. When we were invited to have a Christmas dinner, we were under the impression that it would be on Sunday, but we found out that -unfortunately- it was Saturday, so we missed out on a few visits, but we ended up with Suelen and Dhefeson (two people we´re teaching) who made a little chicken, with a salad of boiled potatoes, carrots, macaroni, raisins, and a few other things. She also made a savory souffle and this fried sweet bread. It was all pretty delicious. We had a good little time. Actually this week was kind of interesting because Sister Petersen was a little under the weather, so we ended up going to the hospital to get her checked out with a prescription for a little viral infection. So we took it easy a little. But I´m excited to just get back to working on a more regular schedule. (and about the transfer, Sister Petersen had an issue with someone she´d been teaching, so she got taken out. but fortunately -for me- she didn´t have to go too far.)

Last night we went to the Sisters´s house in another area where we exchanged presents of `secret friend`and `secret enemy.` We had a good little breakfast and then a zone activity where we had another little secret Santa with the Elders. It was fun. I got a little stuffed monkey that makes noise from an Elder C. Ferreira. Hilarious. We also all got blessings from the zone leaders for the year 2012. It was really special. I am excited for this year and the great things that are going to happen. I had this great realization this week of how Jesus Christ really is the center of everything. In D&C 20 it says that we need to love and serve our Heavenly Father with all our might mind and strength. And when we do that, we can be purified and I think see more clearly. So we´re here on earth to love and serve our Heavenly Father, but then - we NEED Jesus Cristo because without Him . . . there´s no point. Nothing has a point. Anyway, that made celebrating His birthday a little more special for me.

I am so grateful to have had this special little Natal on the missão. It has been an interesting little experience, but I really just like teaching and finding those that want to make the changes necessary to come unto Christ.

love love love (and happy happy new year for 2012)
Sister Cornwall

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011
Merry Merry MERRY Christmas.

It has been QUITE a week. I´m pretty sure the biggest news is that the darling Sister at my side . . . is the darling Sister Petersen. That´s right, we´re together again [from the MTC]. It has been great. There was an emergency transfer and so my darling dearest Sister C. Silva went to Sumaré (still in our zone, the district next to ours) and I get to have Sister Petersen all to myself. I am feeling so much gratitude for the circumstances that put us in Candeais together. (And yes, Sister C. Silva was slightly heartbroken.) But I can already see how the Lord is fully taking advantage of this opportunity to be together.
We have been catching up on the past 7 months of our mission, and celebrated 9 MONTHS of the mission on the same day. It has been great to teach with her, to study with her, to get her fresh point of view on things . . . and it´s not even been a week yet! There are going to be some great things happening around here (if we can get to bed on time instead of talking and laughing.)
But we also had two Christmas activities of the ward and the stake. Our ward party was a lovely dinner (rice, macaroni, farofa, chicken, salad, fruit) and there were a ton of people there. Unfortunately the activity didn´t end up starting until 9:00 (woopsies) and we got home rather late . . . and had 19 missed calls from the other duplas of missionaries (double woopsies) but it all turned out great.
Saturday we had the Stake Cantata where every Primary put on a little musical number, and the Stake choir, and the darling missionaries of the Stake Vitoria da Conquista. Yup. We did The First Noel, and it was lovely. (Also, Sister Petersen and I have been singing up a storm, during Sacrament Meeting a lovely Christmas medley, and today when we dropped off the presents the Relief Society had donated to a little nursery school and in all our lunch mensagens [errands or messages?]. We are going to take advantage of Christmas and how much we both like to sing.)

We had a great Sunday where Suelen (who´s getting married Jan 6 and baptized Jan 7) AND Dhefeson came. Plus Alan, who - when we arrived Sunday morning - was in pajamas, but ran around to get ready. We are going to have a "white" Christmas.
I am so in love with this work. I am so in love with this gospel. It is perfect, and unfortunately I think too many people simply don´t want to understand . . . because that would mean they´d have to change. But it´s not us that´s asking, we´re just trying to help you figure out what your Father in Heaven wants of you. He loves us so, so much, and I´m so grateful to be able to celebrate this week.

love love love,
Sister Cornwall

Monday, December 12, 2011

Merry Christmas . . . quase [nearly/almost],

We had a great -though confusing- week last week. We were a little thrown off because of the changes, but it was a good little week. We worked Monday and Tuesday - without too, too much success. Wednesday we had P-day and a great activity in Morada Real with the zona. We had a water balloon volleyball toss! Fortunately it was pretty hot, so it was nice and satisfying. It was super, super fun. We have grown so close in this zone, and unfortunately several people are leaving (I´m staying - hooray!) and that´s kind of sad to see things breaking up, but that´s the way it goes. Wednesday we found a great family - two of the kids have already gone to church one time, and they are really great people. They took a little trip, but we´ll talk to them tomorrow. We have so many great people that are getting close to make promises with Heavenly Father, but we are going to have to work incredibly hard to get everything worked out, but I´m feeling excited.

Anyway, Wednesday all the Sisters got together in one apartment. We had a little sleepover, but didn´t end up sleeping. The bus was supposed to arrive 2am, so it wasn´t even worth trying to sleep. Unfortunately it didn´t arrive until 4, and then from 4 to 7/8 ish, our dear Elders decided to sing . . . every hymn, every primary song, and every mildly appropriate other music that they all knew. It was ridiculous. But we arrived and had a great day. We had a little breakfast, talked with all the other missionaries that we haven´t seen in a while, which was GREAT. It has been so fun to gradually get to know other missionaries and to be able to have the chance to catch up on how they all are. We had a talent show (in which we participated, and I have a video, but you´ll have to wait a little bit to see it.) It kind of lasted forever and was full of every little mission music, skit, etc. But it was great. We had a grandiose lunch, and then watched the Christmas Devotional (which was unfortunately when those hours of singing and not sleeping hit me.) And then we had a little program where we all read the scriptures from the Book of Mormon and the Bible and sang the hymns. It was really touching, and then quick testimonies about the Savior. Sister Vecchi had prepared little gifts for each of us, and then we got on the bus again. We came home around midnight, and hit the sack. We had reunião de distrito [district meeting] Thursday morning. Everyone was pretty dead. But the great thing about being inadequate is that it gives the Lord more opportunities to help you out, and that is great. I felt so strongly love for my Savior, and gratitude for this time, and for my family and for everything that we have to be grateful for. Suffice it to say, I sort of LOVE Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

We are going to work a lot this week, and I´m going to try and live out as many Christmas traditions as I can.

I am so grateful for the power of the Atonement to help us out even with silly things like being tired, or feeling anxious to start a new transfer. Our Heavenly Father is very kind.

love love love,
Sister Cornwall

I got your PACKAGE. And I opened it. I put the presents under our little tree, and I put up the decorations and I think you guys are great. Thank you. Also Dad, I loved the pictures of our house. Thank you. And mom, oh how I wish I was in your seminary class. You are incredible. And as far as Christmas Day, I think we´re about 5 hours off (daylight savings, etc) but I think that maybe 5/6 [pm] our time 12/1 your time would be good [to call]. And I´ll get the Skype/gmail details from our member. Love you guys! Rach

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It seems like quite a while since we´ve had a P day. It was a bit of an adjustment going the extra 2 days without some preparation time, but we did it. (And don´t worry, I thoroughly prepared myself with a little more time with my eyes shut in bed.)

This past week was quite a full one. Last Tuesday and Wednesday we had a division with the Sisters of the Brasil Ward (yes, yes, there´s a neighborhood `Brasil`in the country Brasil... hilarious.) It was an interesting few days. I have gotten so used to knowing practically everyone on the street, and the names of all the streets, and the schedules of the members, and the pesquisadores [investigators], and how to do things that it was interesting to be in foreign territory. I think the most valuable lesson I learned there was - gratitude. I love Alto Maron, I love Bispo Carlos Adarlon, and I love how Sister C. Silva and I work. When she arrived I was determined to do everything certinho [just right]. I wanted to wake up on time, set our goals before planning, work hard, be effective, and I realized that . . . not everyone necessarily follows that same regime. Just sayin.

We have been so incredible blessed, and Bispo is getting excited about the FAMILIES we are teaching, and also the various individuals coming out of the woodwork in the ala [area of] Candeias . There is a certain and undeniable relationship between - keep my commandments, and - prosper in the land. We just have to do it. There isn´t any sneaky way to get results with the Lord, there are no curve balls or short cuts - just do what needs to get done. I think that is sometimes what´s so hard about living the gospel of Jesus Christ in this modern world - we want to do things faster and better and with less effort but . . . that´s not necessarily how the Lord works. I got a little frustrated this week with people not fulfilling commitments - for no good reason. People! Come on! But I´m hoping that this is a good point for the Lord to bless me with a deeper love for these people.

I´ve been reading in the war chapters recently in the Book of Mormon, and it has been interesting to note how very valid those chapters really are in our world. I felt a little bit like a warrior myself these days; everyday I get excited to go and talk to these people and get them excited and prepared to live with their Father in Heaven forever, and I get a little shot down, and at the end of the day I end up thinking, `there is no way I`m going back to do the same thing again tomorrow.` But then I study and pray and realize, wow, this is an important cause, and a battle, and I can´t back down. So we go out and do the same thing, recognizing all the many small victories the Lord gives us. The great thing is - we know He´s going to win. It doesn´t matter the setbacks, the Lord is going to win in the end, so we just need to trust in the legions of angels behind us, and remember for whom/why we´re fighting.

We had a neat and simple experience that pulled together lots of mini happenings and proved that the Lord has a plan to me: first, passing a less active couple with Bispo 2 months ago; second, a man on the street telling me he´s a member (greeeat, why have I never seen you at church, huh?) and finally knocking quite randomly on the door of the mother of a less active.

So, after very, very little success and a quick prayer we decided to go pass by this family, and it didn´t seem like they were home. But then they answered - fortunately I knew which house it was, and the husband was that random guy on the street, and they needed a visit. We sang some hymns left as message, and when Pâmela gave the closing prayer, she just wept as she talked about how badly she needs to come back to church. Valnei (the husband) said he´d go back, and I left feeling very grateful to the Lord for being so good and so wise and so merciful to his little missionaries.

I love this work. It is a battle, I won´t pretend to deny that, but I know that it´s right, and worthwhile.

love, love, love,
Sister Cornwall

Monday, December 5, 2011

I´m just popping in quickly to let you know that this week our 'p' day got changed to Wednesday this week (because we have a Christmas conference on Thursday!) It was a good, ever-interesting week, and I´ll send on more Wednesday.

Love you a lot, until Wednesday, Rach

This morning, Sister Cornwall's parents received the above e-mail. So, look for another post mid-week. In the mean time, a USPS letter was received this past week. Sister Cornwall's mother typed it up for all to enjoy below.

October 24, 2011

Hello, Hello:

Sorry for the slight dearth; the letter carriers/post office was on strike, so I held off until they decided to go back to get my dear letter to my dear family. I hope that all is well with each member of the family and that everyone is faithful and true to their covenants. I am feeling so incredibly grateful and blessed to be here. Missions are such an interesting microcosm of our life here on earth; we’re here to serve others as our primary priority, but in turn we learn immensely to prepare to return to our Father. I will forever be grateful that the Lord allowed me to serve a mission. The Lord is the MASTER teacher; He knows how to heal our lives and our hearts. He knows what it is to hurt and ache and want to get out. He knows. But more importantly, He knows what it is to love and to give and to reap the happiness that comes when we do just that.

I taught my first (and possibly last) atheist this week. (There aren’t that many in Brazil). I was slightly intrigued, I’ll admit it. He talked about how, because of science, he no longer believes in God (just so you know he was about 30, in gym shorts with converse, a large belly and a dainty mug of coffee). I asked him what he thought the purpose of life was: to study; and what’s the purpose of studying; to go to college; and what’s the purpose of college; to study. Friends, I don’t know that he was the most intelligent atheist I’ve ever met BUT - for me, That is no purpose, to live, die and have an end. Nope - we’re worth so much MORE than that. Plus, he didn’t appear very happy . . . at all. I figure if anything, my life is living proof for me that there is most certainly a plan of HAPPINESS that exists. I’m happy because of my testimony in the Lord Jesus Christ. And that is good enough for me.

And now for all the juicy details [for which Sister Cornwall's mother has been pressing her to share]; I’ll just run through the day including all the details I can. First thing, we’re woken up by the cell phone. I spend a few minutes in the bathroom before prayers. Sister de Assis [previous companion to current greenie] takes a (long) shower while I exercise (usually a bit of aerobics in our front room with stretching and some strength training). Then I take a shower (usually singing hymns) and get dressed to eat breakfast (oatmeal with powdered milk; banana sandwich in the sandwich maker; other hot cereal options that only exist in Brasil). Then we study separately for an hour (usually the plan is ½ hour Book of Mormon, ½ hour Preach My Gospel). Then together we write out lesson plans, study a little and read the white handbook. After a little more prep time we go to lunch. About 99% of the meals have rice and beans. There’s also farinha [flour substance] (which goes on top) of meat. Rotisserie chicken is popular - as is red meat. Pimento is popular as well. I like a bit on my food. After lunch we usually have a couple of people who are home in the early afternoon and just about everyday we knock doors, which I like. As we’re working in Alto Maron, there are too many intercom systems - which is great (I get so jaded when people try an receive a lesson via intercom - it’s ridiculous. Just come to the door!) Anyway, a good number of people are receptive. Though there are a lot of people that attend Nora Siao (New Zion . . . . I know right?) I have nothing against these people, but unfortunately the leaders of the church have little classes against the Mormon Church . . . . and some think we don’t believe in Jesus Christ. But we do. The faith of these people is incredible. Unfortunately there are a few things that have become part of Bahian culture. For instance “If God wants, I’ll go to church.” But they’re not actually talking about God, it’s just a saying. Usually we get a little shock from “so mana" = just manna.

Also, there’s something called “pao de queijo” which means cheese bread. It’s pretty much a denser kind of popover with cheese on top. Some days it changes, but it gives us a little energy and a little break. At night more of our investigators are home. Our group of teaching is constantly changing. There are the regulars that stay in the group (people that need to get married, parents won’t allow, parents of members that are partially interested.) We have started singing hymns at the beginning of our lessons. I had to overcome a little Vergorba [?], but it certainly brings the Spirit. I love teaching. I love talking to the person for the first time and seeing how they’ll respond to the message. I have grown to love Joseph Smith as I talk about him daily. (“There was a young man that lived in 1821.”) Most people accept praying about Joseph, but many people have already been baptized. (In the Catholic church usually). But most people have a lot of respect for the work we’re doing. And Portuguese is just lovely. I rarely have problems understanding (though Sister de Assis does most of the talking on the phone thankfully.)

There are a lot of little old ladies and the women work so hard. They wash clothes by hand, make almoco (lunch) every day. It’s a good thing to see. It’s a lot more normal than life in Salvador, but it’s a blessing. We get home 9:00 or 9:30, we say good night to the porteiro (the guy who lets people into the condominium) and we plan - first thing. Sometimes we plan in the kitchen when we’re particularly hungry. We give our numbers to the Elders every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday night. When it’s hot we usually take a shower at night. I use sunblock most days because for some reason the sun in Conquista just gives me more freckles instead of getting tanner. So I use it. I try and write in my journal every night, but I haven’t been quite as faithful in Candias. But I still account for each day. I am convinced that our planner is the KEY to our success as missionaries. It has our schedule as well as all the contact information of the people we meet on the street that show interest.

I daresay my feet suffer most. I don’t have too many problems but lots of calluses and sore spots and lots of dirt, but I’m incredibly blessed. My first pair of sandals already broke but another sister (same size) had a pair she said she’d never use. That was a huge blessing and I still haven’t bought any clothes. I’m getting a little tired of my clothes (suffice it to say) but sometimes it’s nice to just put on clothes and not care if they are becoming or not.

It’s funny because I’ve talked to a few other missionaries about this idea that your “real life” seems to be more and more of a dream. My clothes seem very strange from before. And yes, the idea of jeans is weird. Even for service projects, we use shorts just because it’s hot.

Presently I’m reading the end of Jesus the Christ and I’m just about through with the four Gospels. There’s so much to do and read and understand and so we just do a little everyday. I’m so grateful for the incredible lessons the Lord is able to teach us. I am so grateful to be the Lord’s missionary. It is an incredible privilege.

I miss you dearly. Thank you my lovely parents. You’re the best.

Love you,