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,

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