Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm staying in Jequié! With Sister Lima! Miracles are real. We could not believe it when we got the call. We are incredibly excited to work and work and work some more.

This morning we were just talking and talking, and we realized that we are living Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon. Jequié is at a crucial point where it will either join with the neighboring stake (and lose a lot of independence) or it will grow and divide and become a district (and then a stake, and then a mission!) But this week was incredible. Last night was this glorious moment - the first productive branch counsel in a really long time. There's the 15 famílias program that was designed exactly to divide and last night we spent almost the entire evening just talking about people - everyone was working together and they were seeking out Divine guidance and the Spirit was so strong - it was marvelous. Going back to the part about Jacob 5, verses 49-51 talk about how the Lord of the vineyard is ready to rip things out and start all over, but the servant asks to spare it a little longer. And the Lord of the vineyard allows it - just a little longer. Sister Lima and I know that our work over the next 7 weeks will determine a lot of the future of Jequié. But we have been so blessed.

We met Patrícia and Cicero this week, a beautiful couple from Ceará with three little kids. They are really marvelous. We have been so so blessed, and we're excited to bring families into the "vineyard," if you will.

Also, I gave a talk at church (and we taught Gospel Principles, and sang in the choir, missionary life is the best.) I talked about how this past week I had a dream with Jeffrey R. Holland; we drove around a little bit and chatted etc. Cool. Then I woke up and decided that God probably wanted to tell me something. I decided to look for a talk by him, and found "Faith to Answer the Call" that talks about the faith of early pioneers that did so much and risked so much etc. His main invite was to create a reservoir of faith, reading, praying, studying, searching our soul, searching the heavens for a testimony that will be rock-ribbed, furnace-refined faith. It was really great.

We are thrilled to be here, and to do the Lord's will and invite His spirit to be ever stronger in our lives. (p.s. I am in love with Sister Lima, she is one of the most Christ-like people I know.)

love love love,
Sister Cornwall

Monday, June 18, 2012

Map of the state of Bahia, Brazil

Well, Here we are.

The first week in the ol' Jequié branch. I think when I heard branch, I was thinking there would be like 15 people . . . not really. The Jequié branch actually used to be a district. It was two branches, but because of lack of growth, it was combined. There are about 100 people that go every Sunday, and they are really great people. It's always so interesting to work in an area for almost a week, hear so much about the area, and THEN go to church on Sunday already having formed a few ideas, heard a few names, and then you have to go and piece everything together. It can be kinda fun.

One of the things that I had already perceived that was pretty much confirmed on Sunday was that despite the fact that some of these people have been members for a very long time . . .they don't really get it. That's actually true in most of the wards, but Jequié is so cut off, that it's a little more so. It's actually a really cool city - and reminds me so much of Monrovia; it's in a valley and it has mountains! I haven't seen mountains for so long. We have a nice house that is on the 4th floor with lots of huge windows. I love windows. And we can see the mountains. In the morning it's actually a little cold and in the afternoon - it's pretty hot. And dry. But I've already been through that.

Also, I have . . . Sister Lima. Goodness gracious. It is a blessing from God that we are companions. I think I mentioned that she is only serving short term. She served eight years ago in São Paulo and she is . . . incredible. She moved to Salvador three years ago, and within a month she was called as Relief Society President. She's single obviously, but she serves so well. She also was not released from her present calling (stake primary president) and she has decided to stick around for one more transfer. To describe her, she's like a tiny 36 year old Brazilian Bonnie Young (Bonnie, did you come home from your mission yet? - if so, write me darling.) Also, for those of you that know her, she has a few facial features that for some odd reason remind me of Jodi Bell. She is incredible. She has this burning testimony, she's a member 17 years and lost her mom 3 years ago. She is solid and fun and hilarious. We are both feeling grateful to be together.

Sister Lima & Sister Morgan

There is also something else very special here in Jequié: the Morgans. They are senior couple that is serving here. They are incredible (mom, they also have a blog: kandllight.blogspot.com) they've been here for four months I think, and are from Arizona. This morning (when we all played soccer together with the two other pairs of Elders) Sister Morgan and I were talking about how different things are here. They are an incredible resource. We talked to the Branch President (in a miraculous meeting - everyone has been trying, trying trying to arrange a meeting with him, and haven't been able to. but Thursday night I felt like we should visit seminary; there wasn't seminary but Presidente José Hélio was there,) and we talked about the programs 15 famílias/unidos em propósito [united in purpose] and the sanctification of the branch and its leaders. We are all recognizing that this is the key moment for this branch. I feel so blessed to be able to be here. This past week has been a LOT of really pushing my enthusiasm for all the Jequieences so that they feel that it can happen. LOTS of positive thinking. But honestly, there is so much potential. It's gonna happen. We don't know what's going to happen at the end of the transfer next Monday, but it doesn't really matter.

This letter contained significantly more information than inspiration, but I studied a lot about submission this week. When we submit ourselves to our God, and commit ourselves to do His will - hey, He'll give us a power to help enable us to get through. I needed to learn about that this week.

love love love,
Sister Cornwall

File photo of Jequie from the internet

Photo from the Morgan's blog

Photo from the Morgan's blog

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dear everyone!: 

Well, today is my last full day in Mussurunga, there's an emergency transfer (not on my end) and I'm going to Jequié! The hottest city in the mission! [No kidding! See the nick-name for Jequie] But it will be awesome. Sister Lima (a short term missionary) will be my companion. And it's a branch there, I think I've always wanted to work in a branch. I am pumped. The assistants actually called me last Wednesday, but we've got our final conference tomorrow morning, and if I'd gone last Thursday as was originally planned, I'd have missed it. So I go tomorrow afterwards. I'll bear my departing testimony because we won't have conferences my last transfer. Weird right?

This last week was a little funny with the quasi-transfer (i'm actually already packed, I've been living out of a suitcase since Thursday morning) and we also had the Manaus Brasil Temple dedication! [See LDS info page.] Saturday night we had several visitors/pesquisadores that watched the commemoration/celebration, which was really cute. It was interesting to see a representation of the culture of another Brazilian state; the states here are all so diverse, and Manaus is in the middle of the Amazon, [See map - note Sister Cornwall's mission is just below the Recife Temple on the east coast.] but there were TONS of people. Salvador will need to really work to have the dedication necessary to earn a temple here. But it was really entertaining, and I felt the spirit - even though there were some silly/slower moments. But the people of this church are so good. 

Sunday morning was divine. We didn't have Sacrament Meeting, just the first session of the three. Sister Smart and I went all chic because we didn't have to go pick up pesquisadores, and we were headed straight home afterwards. It was so special to be in such sacred circumstances; they were all people that I already knew, but there was certainly an added reverence. And Raymond went in a shirt and tie, which was special. I know that the Lord wants us to feel His peace, and the way that he can teach us about Godliness. I am grateful for the desire that I have to raise myself to the standard. I studied all about temples this week in the pre-dedication build-up. It is a special place. The Lord wants us to receive his doctrine through covenant. We are able to have a strength greater than our own force of will, and the temple is the only place holy enough for us to be able to get to a level of Godliness on this earth that we need in order to understand Him at a greater level. We need the power of God in this life. We need to understand better in order to be better. I like that. I MISS the temple. While we waited they passed footage outside and inside various temples . . . baaaahaaa, I was filled with an incredible . . .homesickness, is probably the best word. I know that on a mission we live a consecrated life, such that we can feel the spirit to a similar degree as to when we're in the temple . . . but sometimes that spirit doesn't include the calm, and the cleanliness, and the good smells, and such. The temple is real growth. It is what will make the biggest difference in our lives. We can make it there.

This will be quite an interesting week. It'll be quite an adventure. I am sad to leave my dear Salvador. I really love this city. A lot. But hey, there are people that are waiting there right?

love love love,
Sister Cornwall

Mom, that sounds like so much fun (your trip that is.) Our family is great, and I'm glad that it all worked out. each new member of the family is another little something that factors in. Interesting. I already have my itinerary. And although I'll probably be tired, I really do want to go to the temple SOON!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thanks mom. I was thinking about Jeff all day. All the contacts I did on the street, I managed to talk about him somehow. Even Presidente Vecchi sent congratulations (I'd written him in my letter.) Jeffrey is married. WEIRD!!!!!!!!!!! But I'm so happy.
This week was really nice. Raymond [Bill Gates cousin] was baptized!!! It was really special. He got sick, his doctor told him he couldn't stop smoking all at once like that. But he was totally firme forte. It was a really nice day. His two daughters came to church on Sunday, and they seem really nice. He's a good guy. Bispo baptized him, and before the baptism gave a pretty good, firm word to Raymond's youngest son who's 18. I'll send pictures another day.
President extended a really great invitation, for every missionary to sanctify his/herself. For 40 days we will "fast" from things that could hinder us from feeling the spirit constantly in our lives. He is inspired.

The rain has let up a little bit, and Sister Smart and I are ready to see some miracles. We've been so blessed, and we're just gonna try and keep work to earn the blessings of our father in heaven.

I know that we have true prophets here on the earth. There are many good good people who have already, or are presently living here on the earth. I recognize that. but the fact that the heavens are open, we know the plan of God, we have His light and truth to guide us, and we are able to hear from him. It seems like something so simple, but I know the priesthood is real and makes all the difference for us to communicate with our father that is in heaven.

love love love,
Sister Cornwall