Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 13 - Suzano, Brazil - December 29, 2014

Christmas Eve in the cobble-stone road with fireworks and explosions going off left and right!

Bom Dia all the way from Brasil!! 

This week flew by with many festas, food and fun! It made my whole entire month being able to talk to you all on Christmas day.  It took me a while to recuperate from home-sick feelings, but with a lot of prayer and focus I am back on the road again! I feel such a determination to be the best missionary I can be this next year.  The full year of 2015 I will be a missionary in Brasil, so I better do it right! I am so excited to see what the Lord has in store for me to experience and learn.  

Christmas was very different but in a very good way.  The Brazilian people are so loud, funny, happy and being a member of the church on top of everything and you have quite the group of people to spend Christmas with.  I have never eaten so much meat (including many chicken hearts), flan, puddings, and this salada de mayonaisa - pretty much pure mayonaise.  Do not forget o refri. (refreshment??) They always have a lot of Coca Cola to drink.  After all of the fireworks were set off and all of the "Funky" music was turned down, I was finally able to sleep Christmas Eve.  Christmas day was muito tranqüilo.  I was able to read the Christmas story that morning in my personal study while listening to Silent Night by David Archuleta.  Every time I read this very special account I feel so much peace, I remember what is really important, and I want others to feel the same way.  When it is really hot in the mornings here, you can pretty much expect a down pour of rain in the afternoon. That is why my hair was a fluffer while we were skyping. (haha)  I swear I had it curled that morning :).

That was just the dessert table!  Oh baby it was good!

Everyone loved the Cupcakes mama! It was a ruckus to make them because we did not have a pan, but we had these little metal cups that worked just fine, thank you!

The words of our prophets in the Ensign from General Conference have been such a blessing for me in my mission.  I have recieved revelation for myself and for our investigators while reading the words of our prophets.  This morning I was reading a talk by Elder Lynn G. Robbins "Which Way Do You Face?" The first commandment that our Father in Heaven has given us is to love Him with all of our might, mind and strenghth.  The second is to love others as ourselves.  Sometimes we mix these two commandments up and we start to fear what men think more than what our Father in Heaven thinks of us.  He gave many examples of prophets and leaders in the Bible that had fear of men, they always fell.  But he also gave examples of men that feared God before men. They were always triumphant in the end.  Captain Moroni said, "Behold, I am Moroni, your cheif captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country" (Alma 60:36)  Nephi said, "Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world" (1Nephi 6:5)  This morning I was also reading about Nephi building a ship.  Nephi did not build the ship the way that the world would have built it, but in the way the Lord directed him.  Are we building our lives the way that God would have us?  With prayer, reading the scriptures, attending the temple, keeping our covenants and acting on faith?  Or are we fearing men and what they might think of us, building our own personal boats or lives the way that they tell us we should.  I testify that if we build our own personal boats, our lives, or our families in the way that the world tells us we should, we will be in danger.  But if we build our lives and families in the way our Father has directed with prayer, scripture, family home evening, the sacrament and the temple, we will never fail in the end

I am so grateful for parents that are trying to build a family the way our Father has directed.  I pray and I hope with all of my heart that one day I will be able to as well.  Right now I will do my best to teach families here in Brasil how their Heavenly Father wants them to build their lives.  It is never too late to start building a new boat.  I love you all, and I hope you all have a Happy New Year!  Make meaningful goals that you want to accomplish!  Until next week! 

Love, Sister Cordner

It doesn't look like it, but these cats were the fluffiest, fattest cats I have 
ever seen. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 12 - Suzano, Brazil - December 21, 2014

Me and my new Argentine companion, Sister Zanni

Boa Tarde Minha Família! E Feliz Natal!

Can I just say that this week has been so amazing? I really have had to grow up, take the reins and get things done.  With my new companion Sister Zanni from Argentina, we can only speak Portuguêse and at times it is so frustrating. I went from a companion who isn't afraid to talk to a companion that is the most gentle, sweet, and calm person that I have ever met.  Sister Zanni has had eleven months in the mission and speaks Portuguêse perfectly.  She is really shy, but when she teaches you can tell she is very wise and has a powerful testimony.  

S is still "studying to be baptized" as she calls it.  She is so excited about this new path and even wants that one day her seven year old son will be able to serve a mission.  She does not like coffee, which is so rare here in Brasil.  She just threw out her last bottle of wine fifteen days ago for no reason and her boyfriend lives in another city.  It is amazing how much she is prepared for this next step in her life.  I am excited to see her make her first covenant this Sunday! What a perfect way for her to start of the new year.  It is amazing how much love I feel for our investigators.  When I look into their eyes while I am testifying of our Savior Jesus Christ, I feel the love that our Heavenly Father has for them so strongly.  

I have been really focusing lately on having an Eternal Perspective.  At times I feel so stressed about making appointments, being on time, taking the right buses and finding the right roads and houses, but when I remember that this is the Lord's work and not my own - all of the dust settles and I see so much more clearly.  Right now I am reading the New Testament in Mark.  When Christ was on a ship in the middle of a storm, all of the Apostles were panicking.  They ran to wake Jesus so He could calm the storm, but when Jesus raised His hands and the waves were calm, he chastised them for not having enough faith - faith that everything would be okay because He was with them.  We need to always remember that everything will be okay as long as we are with Him.  The only time we need to worry is when we find that we are not with Him - when we find ourselves slowly, little by little, leaving His side.  Many of the less active members that we visit here did not drop out of the church all of a sudden.  They started leaving the Savior's side little by little.  They started to not read their scriptures, or say their daily prayers.  Their familes fell apart because they were not having family prayer or family home evening.  These small and simple things every day keep us at the Savior's side.  May we always keep an Eternal Perspective especially at this Christmas time.  

Me and my Brazilian siblings! (They live behind this cute family in a little apt.)

Our mission has been really focusing on a program that the church has this Christmas.  Ele é o Presente.  He is the Gift.  Many of you have probably already seen this little video clip that the church has made. We have been passing out little cards with a picture of Mary and baby Jesus like crazy.  We have been testifying of Christ left and right as we hand out these little cards.  I have loved being able to spread Christmas cheer in this special way.  Many people have really hard lives here (just like in America) - in the famliy, living conditions, health and financial problems.  I hope that they have been able to stop and take a few minutes to watch this beautiful little video.  I hope that they feel the love of our Savior.  I hope that they will want to embrace the gift and share the gift.  I am so grateful for the gift of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Through Him everything is possible. Through Him we can make covenants with our Heavenly Father.  Through Him we can live with our families again.  I hope all of you will embrace this gift and want to share it with others as well.  There are people all around us that need to realize what the Savior can do for them.  We are here to show them the way.  Feliz Natal everyone!  Have a very magical and Merry Christmas! I love you all very very much.

Love, Sister Cordner

We had to make the long trip to the Mission Office this week to do some paper work, but I was able to see my MTC Sisters! They are all doing great! (McKenzie with Sister Bundy)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 11 - Suzano, Brazil - December 15, 2014

First time at the Sao Paulo Temple

Bom dia minha família! 

This week has been a crazy one, but it has been wonderful! We started out the week in beautiful Lorena.  It was so peaceful and clean with everyone riding bikes around on a beautiful spring day.  It was pretty much Paradise.  On Tuesday we were able to make a journey to do a session in the São Paulo temple. This temple is such a light in the middle of a huge, busy city.  As soon as I stepped foot on the temple grounds I felt so much peace.  I cannot even describe the love that I feel for the temple and for my covenants.  The temple is where we need to be.  There we are able to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to its fullest.  There we are able to be the closest with God.  There we can be with our families forever.  What an amazing experience it was.  I started out the session listening to English with little headphones and then I noticed that I was just trying to listen to the Portuguêse! So I took them off and went through the whole session in Portuguêse.  The Lord has blessed me so much with this language.

This pictures shows the life of a sister missionary walking in the rain all day.  I swear I get ready in the mornings and look good, but from then on, it is down hill. (Not!  She looks beautiful!)

 We were able to have our first lesson with S this week.  She is so amazing.  She is so eager to learn everything about this gospel. The first thing she wanted to know was why Joseph Smith was so important and why we have the Book of Mormon. We watched the Joseph Smith 20 min movie with her.  The spirit was so strong.  I know that she felt the power that was there because I felt it so strongly. We will keep teaching her.  She has a really cute seven year old boy.

This weekend was conference for our stake - Mogi Das Cruzes.  We have such a strong and faithful stake made up of eight wards.  Saturday night was the adult session and was focused on missionary work.  Many returned missionaries shared experiences from their missions.  It was so encouraging to hear their amazing stories.  All twenty of us missionaries (eighteen elders and me and my companion) sang for the meeting.  Bless the Elders hearts! In every practice we did not sound very good at all, but in the performance they sounded like men! It was amazing.  I had a little solo in the middle of the song.  There were so many people there and they didn't have a microphone so I had to sing with all of my soul! I will send pictures of all of us in our red and green Christmas colors.  For the Sunday session we drove with S.  She even called us before hand and asked us if we were still planning on going! She is so golden! I cannot wait to see where she will be in one month.  Every talk was just perfect for her.  They spoke about finiding your own testimony through prayer and revelation.  It was perfect.  God is really blessing her because of her desire to follow Him.

Mogi Daz Cruzes Stake Conference Missionary Choir

Tomorrow I will have a new companion! Today we will be going to O Centro to buy a few things for Sis. Tillman's family - little souveneirs.  I am really nervous about this next coming week, but I know that even if things are a little slower than usual with finding homes and streets and busses, God will help me all along the way.  I know everything will work out.

I read a talk yesterday from General Conference.  Elder Goday (from São Paulo) asked a great question: "If you continue to live as you are living, will the blessings promised in your patriarchal blessing be fulfilled?"  I thought a lot about this question as I have been studying my Patriarchal Blessing.  I have made goals for this next transfer - things that I will focus on and things

that I will start doing, so that the blessings that my Heavenly Father has promised me can be fulfilled.  I am so grateful for the plan that our Heavenly Father has for each one of us.  This plan will lead us to the temple.  In this plan we can only find happiness and eternal life.  I love this Gospel with all of my heart.  This work is hard, but it is oh so worth it.  

Have an fulfilling week full of good things! Make it to the temple this week!

Love, Sis. Cordner

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 10 - Suzano, Brazil - December 8, 2014

I can not believe that another week has passed!! It has been a busy week with finding many new investigators and cutting a lot as well.  It is also getting really hot here!  I will have to get used to it, ha! Right now we are in Lorena which is about four hours away from Suzano.  Sister Tillman leaves next week, and I am kind of freaking out.  I am cramming information in my head about which bus goes where and where everyone lives. Please pray for me, because I'll never be able to memorize everything on my own!!  Well, we're here in Lorena visiting her first area.  It is so beautiful here.  I hope one day I can serve here as well.

This week we had an amazing miracle.  Remember Su and her family? we stopped by their home a few times this week and they were never home and we tried to call and they would never answer! So on Sunday we decided to fast that they would be able to come to church.  We really wanted them to feel the power of fast and testimony meeting.  We waited and waited on Sunday but they never came.  But...... a woman that isn't a member, S, showed up at church.  She has talked to the missionaries before, but wasn't interested then.  After sacrament meeting she asked if she could be baptized in one month. WHAT?! Haha... We were so excited.  God listens to our prayers and our special fasts.  Sometimes He answers them in ways that we would never expect.  It is amazing to see the Lord's work moving forward little by little.  Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with so many people in our city, but I have to remind myself that this isn't my work. This is the Lord's work and it is perfect.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here and grow with my Heavenly Father by my side.  Portuguese is so hard, but I am working at it every second of every day. When it comes, I know that will be the best day of my life! haha! I am just grateful I am not learning Japanese, Elder Livingston!! Thank you all for your love and support, I feel so much strength from your prayers every day. I love you!!

Love, Sis. Cordner


I had my companion cut my hair!! haha...Such trust! It was just way too hot!

We get to go to the temple tomorrow in Sao Paulo.  I am beyond excited!! 

All of the little maninas (little girls) here love Peppa Pig (a cartoon she remembers from her childhood), haha I crack up every time.

I received your package! Thank you so much!! It seriously made my whole week!!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 9 - Suzano, Brazil - December 1, 2014

At our ward activity this week.  It was so much fun to be with all the members.

Bom dia minha família!!

It has been a crazy week! But they go by so fast! First off, when we got home last week from emailing, I realized I never once said HAPPY THANKSGIVING at all!!! I was so sad.  I thought I was going to cry! Well I hope it was so great! I hope you all ate so much turkey and potatoes, pie and ice cream for me. From what I have heard, Thanksgiving in Gridley was a success! Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Jenkins for having everyone over!!  Here, every week we teach an English class on Friday nights.  We decided to have a mini-Thanksgiving and it was so much fun!  Everyone brought a little something to share.  I will send some pictures from that fun night.  

Our little English class Thanksgiving!

We prayed and fasted for rain a week ago, and boy has it come!! Brasíl has been in a drought and is in dire need of rain.  It has probably rained every day this week. What a blessing.  One day we thought for sure it was not going to rain, so we left our umbrellas.  It poured that day.  We were walking to our investigators house singing "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today" at the top of our lungs. We arrived soaking wet, like hair and dress dripping wet.  It was actually really fun.  

We experieneced a really amazing miracle this week.  The Elders in a totally different zone called us a week ago and gave us a random reference for someone in Casa Branca named Su with only an address.  They said that they had no idea how they found this little piece of paper in their house, but that they decided to give it to us anyway.  This week we went out looking for this woman.  We came to a little house and clapped.  (That's what they do in Brazil instead of knock on a door).  Out came a mother and a little girl.  We asked if someone named Su lived there.  Their other fourteen year old daughter is named Su!  She said that she had never heard of our church or the missionaries or anything! What?! We returned on Saturday evening to give a message about the Plan of Salvation and how the gospel blesses families. This family is very active in another Evangelical church, but the father happened to be home when we stopped by.  We sat down with the mother, father, and littlest girl.  This week we have really been studying how to teach people and not lessons.  This is exactly what we did.  The father was so interested in our message and The Book of Mormon and the fact that we have a living prophet today.  When I testified to them that God has a specific plan for them and their beautiful daughters, and that they can know that plan for themselves through revelation, the spirit was so strong.  Both the mother and father had tears in their eyes. The father, Jose, works every other Sunday, so it is going to take a while for them to be able to be baptized, but they said that they would be baptized when they know that this church is true.  It was amazing! I have never wanted someone so badly to come to church in my life! I know that if they come to church they will be able to know that this is the path God wants for them.  It is really hard to get investigators to come to church here.  Everyone already has a church or cult here or they work on Sundays.  It is so frustrating!! Please pray that this family will be able to come to church this Sunday!

Sorry this letter is all over the place!  We had zone conference this week. And I just love President Andrew. He is old-fashioned, classic and strict, but it is exactly what we need.  He is a great and inspired man. (President Andrew is from Cedar Hills, UT.  McKenzie's original mission president had to leave Brazil this past August because, unfortunately, he had forgotten to do something to renew his visa and so they called President and Sister Andrew to finish until next July.  President Andrew and his wife were serving a mission in another area of Brazil when they were called to be the mission president of McKenzie's mission. He actually has been a mission president before in Brazil.)

Our zone and another at zone conference in Mogi.

Being here during the holidays at the very beginning of my mission is a huge challenge.  Sometimes I want more than anything to be at home with my family watching a movie around the hot fire with the Christmas tree in the background, but then I remember my duty here.  What better way to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas than teaching God's children about Jesus Christ and how they can change their lives and have the happiness that we all enjoy.  I am so grateful for my calling to be a missionary.  I feel so much happiness in this work more than I ever have before.  May we all remember where this happiness comes from; our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am eternally grateful for His sacrifice.  I need it every single day.  I love this gospel with all of my heart. Have a great week Family and Friends! I love you!!

Love, Sis. Cordner

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 8 - Suzano, Brazil - November 24, 2014

Ola minha familia!! 

Another beautiful week has passed here in Suzano and it has been so good to read all of your emails.  They always make me so happy.  Tears stream down my face when I read about all of the good things you all are doing.  I am so proud of the people you are and how hard you work to do your part on this earth.  It truly inspires me.  

Well, the work is moving slowly but surely.  We've had to cut a few investigators because they just aren't progressing.  Some believe in everything, and love this gospel, but they just won't come to church because they work or it's too cold outside in the mornings to come (like 70 degrees is too cold!).  It's sad to see that some people just don't understand how important it is to keep commitments and make changes.  Faith without works is dead.  

We walk a lot here in Suzano.  There are many hills and many colorful, run-down, little houses. We had a crazy experience here this week! We had just about finished walking up a huge hill and suddenly about fifty huge vacas (cows) came trotting down the road - each with huge horns coming out of their heads.  We seriously had no idea what to do.  They looked mean and scary and so many of them!! I quickly turned to Sis. Tillman and told her that we should say a prayer.  We prayed with all of our might, and when we opened our eyes, all of them were moving off the road, and literally making a path for us to go by.  It was amazing!! There are always little barefoot kids running around with their kites (pipas) they always have kites.  It is so fun to see their smiling beautiful faces.  Oh how I wish that I could just talk to all these people! Portuguese is so hard, but I am understanding more of what the natives say every day - speaking is another story.  As soon as I decide I am going to say something in a conversation and I work it out in my head, the conversation is long gone and they are talking about something totally different.  Sometimes it is really frusterating, and I feel like a little puppy-dog following my companion around all day.  But every day, little by little, I am speaking more and contributing more to the lessons we teach.  I love to testify of the basic truths of the gospel.  I feel such a power every time I do.

I have been pondering a lot about Elder Uchtdorf's talk in General Conference: Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth.  So many times during this past week I have needed to recieve light and truth from my Heavenly Father, either for myself or for our investigators and I can tell you this; when I pour out my heart to my Heavenly Father and with a sincere heart and ask for this light, He never fails to send it to me. 

"God cares about you. He will listen and He will answer your personal questions.  The answers to your prayers wil come in His own way and in His own time, and therefore, you need to learn to listen to His voice.  God wants you to find your way back to Him, and the Savior is the way.  God wants you to learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, and experience the profound peace and joy that come from following the path of divine discipleship." 

As simple as these truths are, I know that they are true because I see it every single day.  When our investigators want this light and this change in their lives, they recieve it.  When they don't want to change, they won't feel it or see the light of the gospel.  This week we were looking for a less active's home, and asked directions at a little ice cream stand.  A nineteen year old young man named Caique was running the stand and we instantly clicked with him.  The next day we went and shared the message of the Restoration.  He speaks English really well.  He is going to University right now in Sao Paulo, and has actually wanted to be a Padre (Father) in the Catholic church his whole life. But right now in his life he is looking for something more.  He understands that he doesn't have to be Catholic just because his whole family is, but he wants to find the right religion for himself and for his family one day.  What nineteen year old boy thinks about that?! haha He is just so prepared.  He loved the story of Joseph Smith, and when we handed him the Book of Mormon, he was so interested and started to read the first page right away.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for him, and what we'll be able to teach him.  He truly wants this light and truth in his life, I know that if He turns to God, he will find it through this gospel.  

I am trying to be the best missionary that I can be right now in my weak and broken state.  I know that this is for my own good though.  God breaks us down with our weaknesses only so He can build us higher.  I feel like a rose bush that has been cut down to the very stem - just a stick coming out of the ground.  But I can already feel myself growing - a little bud there and a little bud here.  Every day I see progress with the language, with confidence in my testimony and knowledge of the scriptures.  The Atonement is amazing.  It is everything.  Thank you all for how good you are.  When I read your emails, I hear all of your sweet voices in my head.  I love it!  I hope you all have a great week full of good things!!  Never forget where our source of light, truth and strength is!

Love, Sister Cordner

The Elders in our ward....Elder Sellers from CA and Elder Matos from here in Brazil!

Last night we had a family night at Derek and Danubia's home.  We had a lesson on gratitude, because of Thanksgiving being this week.  Everyone made little turkeys from the outlines of our hands.  They thought it was so funny!  We talked about all the things we are grateful for. It was so fun!! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 7 - Suzano, Brazil - November 17, 2014

Green Suzano

My trainer - Sister Tillman from Texas

Bom Dia Familia!!

Oh where do I even begin?! This week has been the craziest of my life as you all have probably guessed!  I am pretty sure that the first days here I was in the depths of culture shock. haha. Brasil is one amazing crazy and beautiful place.  We were just so happy to finally get here!  My companion is amazing.  Her name is Sister Tillman from Texas.  She only has five weeks left here in Brasil, so in five weeks I'll be all alone here with a new trainer. I have to learn the ways so quickly! She is fluent in Portuguese and that is such a blessing for me. She is pretty much one of them. The Brazilians here have such a thick accent, and it is soooo hard to understand them.  I have to listen with all of my might!  I can usually understand about forty to fifty percent of the conversation.  By the end of the day, I just tune everything out because my brain is so fried!  Our area is Suzano and we are the only sisters here in our zone.  We are a ways out from the center of Sao Paulo, and it is so nice and green, so green!  You will be able to see in my pictures.  Our little home is so cute and it is in the back of the sweetest family's home, the Cardoso family.  They have a son that is seventeen years old, a fifteen year old son and a sweet little eleven year old girl. Oh I just love them so much.  The father reminds me of Uncle Richard mixed with dad haha. We eat breakfast with them every morning. and let me tell you, I just might be coming back as a big woman! Their main food groups here are meat, rice, beans, potatoes and soooo much bread.

Our cute little home

Right now we are working with about ten to fifteen investigators.  We are constantly running around to appointments and teaching about three to four lessons a day.  The work here in Brasil is really happening and the people here are so acceptive.  I am so grateful to be in such a fruitful area for my first area.  I feel so much love for the people we teach and for the members here that are incredible. Even though I can't communicate very well with them I feel so much of God's love for them.  They truly are a very special people.  Last Saturday night we went with a member named Diane that we are really great friends with.  She is twenty one and has a five year old daughter that loves me so much. The other day she was showing me all of the words that she knew in English. She got so excited and yelled BUTTERFLY!! It was pretty much the cutest thing that I have ever seen. She is obsessed with os esados unidos (the United States). The children here are the most beautiful children ever. Well anyways, we were going with Diane to her friend's house to teach him the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He has been wanting a change in his life.  His mother was there and wanted to listen as well. They were so acceptive and the spirit was so strong.  I shared my testimony about faith, and how I need to have faith that I can speak Portuguese, but I also need to open my mouth and speak. I need to act.  They accepted a goal to be baptized on the thirtieth and were very excited about our message.  Z, the mother came to church with us yesterday, D couldn't because he had his semi-finals in futbol, so we are hoping he lost so he can go next week! She loved church, and really wants to be baptized.  God is preparing His children to be taught the gospel.  He is preparing each one of His children in some way.  It is amazing to be a part of this work and to see little miracles every day.  We had four people come to church yesterday. It was amazing!  The assistants called last night and said that we had the best numbers in our whole zone! Wow! the Lord has blessed our area and it is amazing to see what sister missionaries can do.  We are truly given authority just like the elders are.  

Me and little Julia, who belongs to the family we live by.  She is so thoughtful and gives us foot massages sometimes.

Mom, I was reading the card that you sent me in your last package, and the scripture inside sunk deep into my soul.  I have never really had a favorite scripture, but I think this one will always be with me on my mission.  "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up."  (D&C 84:88) This is exactly how I feel every day walking on the filthy roads, with ugly dogs scavenging all around and the sun beating down.  I have never felt so much joy in my heart than I have doing the Lord's work.  God lives and loves us. He sent His Son to die for us, and through Him is eternal life.  The true gospel has been restored through the prophet, Joseph Smith. and the Book of Mormon is the true word of God.  I love this gospel with all of my soul.

Love your humble servant,

Sister Cordner

Suzano, Brazil

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Week 5 - MTC - November 4, 2014

Ola minha familia! 

Em uma semana eu vou estar em Brasil!! (In one week we will be in Brazil!)  We received our visas and our travel itineraries last Sexta Feira, and we have been in the clouds ever since! We leave Nov. 10 at 11:15 am for Atlanta, Georgia.  From 4:50-7:35 pm we have a layover there, I'm not sure when I'll be able to call you all, but I guess we'll figure it out!  We then board a plane for Sao Paulo, Brasil (!!!!!) and arrive there the next day, at 8:15 am.  Just in time to see the never-ending city skyline at sunrise.  I received an email from an Elder in our mission this morning.  A Brazilian man that works for the church will pick us up at the airport, hopefully we will be able to find him!  Especially because apparently he doesn't speak any English!!  Everything will work out, I am sure of it.  I am ready for some Brazilian sun after this freezing cold week!

A great scripture for me this week has been 3 Nephi 5:13. As we have been preparing through study of gospel and language, it is really easy for me to feel small and inadequate to have such a calling as a missionary.  I start to feel like I am so young again, so unable to share such a great message.  If I remember this scripture, I am reminded that I need not fear any man or woman.  God is with me, He will always be with me.  I can speak to anyone and everyone, because they have the right to hear this message and I have the duty to share it with them.  What is uncomfortable for me to do today, will become second nature for me tomorrow if I rely solely on my God for strength and support.  I will be able to bear testimony to anyone that Christ lives and can save us from our sins. 

 The entire MTC sang "How Firm a Foundation" last Sunday during Mission Conference.  The third verse was the most magnificent sound I have ever heard.  The love of God filled my heart with comfort and complete peace when I heard the words, "Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed.  For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.  I'll strengthen thee help thee and cause thee to stand."  I was overcome with emotion and could not sing any more, as tears streamed down my face.  I know and testify that God lives and we are His children.  I testify that God is in the details of our lives.  He can strengthen us, help us, and even cause us to stand.  I love this gospel with all of my soul.  I am beaming with excitement to share it with others.  It is a great time to be a missionary!  

I love you with all my heart, 

Sister Cordner

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 4 - MTC - October 28, 2014

Ola Familia!  Bom dia!

I wish you all could have experienced and witnessed the miracles from this week at the MTC.  I have learned so much of how our Father in Heaven works and how much He loves us as His children.  Last Tuesday evening Elder Godoy (From the Seventy) came and spoke to all of us missionaries.  He is from Sao Paulo, and we are great friends with his son who is an Elder here going to Italy.  He gave an amazing talk in broken English.  It was incredible to see a wise man, with such knowledge in the gospel struggle to share what he needed to say, but to feel the Spirit so strong with his words.  He spoke of the four types of missionaries, and where we should strive to be as a missionaries.  The first type of missionary is one that tries their best to stay worthy on their mission.  They fix their problems and addictions before their missions, but all they can focus on is trying to stay worthy.  The second is a missionary that focuses on good works.  This missionary will talk to anyone, they keep goals, and go after challenges.  They try not to think of themselves, and they might even see some baptisms. The third type of missionary is one that is praying continually.  They pray for anything and everything.  Each morning and night they have a 'personal interview' with their Heavenly Father.  The fourth type of missionary, and the one I am striving to be, is a missionary that exercises faith.  In order to be this missionary, I need to be all four of these kinds of missionaries.  A missionary that exercises faith will see miracles on their mission.  They open their mouths and say what the Lord wants them to say.  They act on revelation and aren't afraid to.  They're able to know exactly what their pesquisador needs and what to do about it.  They have the faith that the Lord can do anything anywhere. I want to see miracles on my mission, I want to exercise faith.  My ultimate goal as a missionary should be to get to the state where I can have hope, exercise faith, and receive miracles.  

While I was listening to Elder Godoy talk about this kind of missionary, I felt the Spirit tell me something very important.  Why would I ever lose faith that God could bring me my visa?  Why would I ever doubt that He could do that for me.  I had resulted to thinking that I was not going to see a miracle, and that I would have to be reassigned.  I had the strongest feeling, and so did all of the other sisters in my district that if we excercised faith, we would be able to see a miracle.  My whole heart was filled with hope, and although I knew that I would only want God's will for me, I wanted to exercise faith in Him.  I talked to our District about having a special fast for our visas, and they all agreed that it was a good idea.  Wednesday night we started our fast, and Thursday was an amazing day.  We kept running into scriptures that talked about faith, hope, fasting, much prayer, and miracles.  We shared them with each other throughout the day.  It was amazing to see all of us working together to keep each other strong in the faith.  We ended our fast with a prayer all together.  The next day (Friday) later in the day we decided to check on our visa status'.  And a miracle happened!  Half of our visas were ready to be sent to the MTC!!  We couldn't even believe it!!  God had let us see that when we have hope, and exercise faith, He will show unto us miracles!  Me, Sis. Johnson, Sis. Hennefer, and three other Elders have our visas ready to go, they should arrive here at the MTC this week!  It was just amazing.  There were so many tears and firm hand shakes... haha!  I have never felt the love of my Heavenly Father stronger than in that moment.  Sorry that was such a long story!  But I just had to give you all of the details!  We thought that maybe we would be sent out today, but we will still be leaving on Nov. 10th.  We'll get our flight plans I think next week!  

Elder Harden, Elder Leung (on the violin) and I auditioned on Thursday to sing in Devotional.  We sang "Abide with Me".  It is a beautiful prayer.  Sister Nally, the Mission President's wife, loved it.  She asked us to sing it in Relief Society.  So on Sunday we performed in Relief Society.  It was so much fun to share the song with all of the sisters.  And we all had a great laugh that there were only a few elders in a huge gym full of sisters!  Maddy's teacher from last year came up to me after, and asked if I was her sister.  I guess her husband is a part of a branch presidency here!  That was fun to find that connection.

I just need to testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  We watched the Joseph Smith movie on Sunday night and it was the most powerful movie I have every seen.  I had seen it before, but this time it was especially powerful.  Please watch it!  Joseph Smith did see God the Father and Jesus Christ. He did every thing that he could to establish the true church on this earth.  The sacrifices that he made were tremendous.  I am so grateful for that man.  I love the Gospel with all of my heart, and this is because I have repented and seen what Christ can do in my life.  I know Christ lives, I know He sacrificed for us.  He is the only way.  

I love you all with all of my heart, Sister Cordner

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week 3 - MTC - October 21, 2014

It is so magical here in the  Fall!!

This week has been amazing.  O Espirito Santo (The Holy Ghost) has been so strong, Sis. Johnson and I have been working so hard with this language.  We have had some amazing speakers this week.  Sister Linda S. Reeves from the Relief Society General Pres. came and spoke at Relief Society.  She said that she didn't even use any of her planned lesson, and went totally by the Spirit. That is what we need to do as missionaries.  Chad Lewis also came on Sunday for Devotional.  He talked about letting our light shine always.  Our light should be the Savior, Jesus Christ.  Others should be able to see Him and feel His love through me at all times, even here in the MTC.  During choir practice this week our conductor said that we are going to need a lot more people, to be the best we can be, because we have amazing speakers coming in the next week.  He made it very clear that we are going to have some amazing experiences.  I am so excited to see who will be coming to speak to us missionaries. Tonight the member of the Seventy that spoke in Conference from Sao Paulo is coming to speak to us!  We are friends with his son, I am so excited to hopefully meet him tonight. 

Our District saying good-bye to Elder Burt

Well, Elder Burt from our Little District 7D recieved his VISA yesterday, and left this morning! Crazy!  He is from Oregon, so he had a different Brazilian Consulate than all of us, and recieved his faster.  But... Pres. Jackson (our branch pres.) told us to orar (pray) for the Sao Paulo MTC this week.  Supposedly they are in a bad drought, and in eight days will run out of water for the MTC.  All of the missionaries down there might have to come up here? Rumor? I don't know, but sounds serious to me if he is telling us to pray.  We have new Zone Leaders because the old ones left this morning to West Virginia, and Indiana.  They are visa waiters as well.  As a district we've talked about how it would actually be so fun to open new mission calls together if circumstances allow.  Elder Harden, and Elder Katoa are the new Zone Leaders.  Elder Harden and I sang in Sacrament meeting last Sunday.  We both love to sing in our 'Opera' voices haha, so it sounds really good. We also tried out for Devotional, singing 'Come Thou Fount'.  I am so grateful for the ability to share my talent with others.  Elder Katoa is Tongan and is going to play football for Utah.  He is huge and let's just say that the Elders won't have trouble getting to bed on time anymore.  I almost forgot to tell you that Brother Adolphsen and his wife are in our branch presidency and they are from Alpine! Best place on earth.

Sis. Johnson and I have been memorizing like crazy!  We have memorized our purpose, the baptismal invitation and now working on the first vision all in Portuguese. It's great.

This week our District took the "TOWER CHALLENGE". Oh man, it was bad.  We had to eat a whole tower of cereal in one sitting.  Don't ask me why we picked the most dense cereal: LIFE.  Amazingly, we finished the entire thing in thirty minutes.  All together we ate 73.2 bowls of cereal.  What?  Me and Sis. Johnson both ate five and we were dying.  Pretty much the grossest thing I've ever done.  But we were cracking up the entire time.  Great district bonding.  Elder Sukhee ate nine and a half bowls.  I don't know how he did it.  We were all so sick for the rest of the night.

We started TRC's this week.  This is when volunteers come from outside the MTC and let us missionaries teach them a little lesson.  They can be members, investigators, or less-active.  We taught two sisters going to BYU.  Both of them served in Brazil, one in Sao Paulo East! It was a great experience, and a fun way to try out our new language skills.

We have a new 'pesquisador' (investigator) in addition to Talone.  His name is Ricardo, He is a fifty year old man that lives with another fifty year old man.  He is such a sweet man, e Ele ama ler O Livro de Mormon.  (He loves to read the Book of Mormon.) He has accepted everything so far, and accepted to come to church with us this Sunday.  Sister Johnson and I love to teach so much.  We try to sing a hino (hymn) every time we teach.  Not only does it calm us down, but it invites the Spirit perfectly.  This week teaching clicked for me.  We were practicing teaching with the elders in our district, and Sis. Johnson and I were being taught by a companionship that has struggled with the language immensely.  They haven't been getting along either.  They were awkward, struggled with the language and not in sync.  The Spirit was not there. There are cameras in the practice rooms and our teacher, Irmao Read, watches us sometimes on his computer.  After the lesson was finished, he had them come and talk to him.  Irmao Read asked if they could teach just me once more.  They needed to have their focus just on one person I guess.  First, they had me pray.  I tried my best in Portuguese to express my feelings a Pai Celestial (to Heavenly Father) and poured out my soul to Him.  They taught a wonderful lesson that was much more put together than the one before.  They testified, they asked deep questions and they taught important doctrine.  The Spirit was so strong as I tried my best to answer the questions they asked me.  We ended with another beautiful prayer and went back in class.  Without us knowing, our whole class was watching us the entire time.  It was an amazing experience.  While being the pesquisador (investigator) I learned so much.  The importance of having the Spirit, meaningful comments, and testifying filled my soul and everything just clicked for me.  I will never teach a lesson again that is so distant from my deep feelings for o Evangelho de Jesus Cristo (for the gospel of Jesus Christ).

I love you all so much, and I just teared up looking at all of the family pictures.  You all are amazing examples to me, I love you!

Love you with all of my heart, 

Sister Cordner

Our favorite place to study

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Week 2 - MTC - October 14, 2014

The sisters in our zone.  All are going to Brazil, Cape Verde or Portugal.

Sister Bundy (from Jayne's stake) and Sister Johnson.  We love our Sunday temple walks!

Ola Familia! Como estam?!

Let me tell you, P-days are the best days ever!  We get so excited for them here at the MTC.  This week has been great, and I have learned so much about myself, about other people, about the Savior and Portuguese of course.  It is amazing how much information they cram into our heads every single day, it's hard to keep up with it!  Remember Joao our investigator? Well, now he is our teacher.  He's from Mozambique and he is hilarious.  Class time with him is really long because he loves to tell stories from his mission the whole time.  Good thing they're really motivating.  He served in Ventura, CA, and him and his companion at one point were both really dark.  They were serving in a very racist area, and were actually serving where there were a bunch of KKK members.  Scary right?! Well, they worked very hard through the tough times, and even baptized a member of the KKK. Amazing.  He was such a good missionary.  

We have a new pesquisador now, his name is Talone.  He loves sports and loves his family.  His friends, who are members of the church, gave him to us as a referral.  This week we were able to have interviews with Irmao Read, our other teacher.  He is so in tune with the spirit, and asked me the exact questions that I needed to be asked.  I swear he saw deep into my soul!  I told him that I felt like reading a script during a lesson with a pesquisador was not what I wanted to do. I felt like the spirit wasn't there, and that I wasn't having faith in God's power of revelation.  He challenged me to not use a script with Talone, and that is exactly what I did.  It is my second week and I walked into a lesson with Sis. Johnson with only a few conjugated verbs and vocab on a note card.  We prayed so hard that we would be able to have words come to our minds.  As we were teaching, I felt like I always knew exactly what to say.  It is an amazing feeling to receive such personal and specific revelation like this.  My Portuguese was very broken, but every time I needed a word, my flash cards would pop into my head and I would know the exact word.  Revelation is real and anyone who asks God can receive it.

So every week here in the MTC all of the missionaries write a five minute talk in their language that they are learning, and we all hope that we don't get called up to speak in Sacrament meeting!  We get to write talks in English for the first two weeks, thank the heavens! Well, the entire time I was writing my talk, I just knew that they were going to call me.  Thanks so much mom for sending me those talks because they helped a lot!  I wrote a talk on repentance and forgiveness.  Come Sunday morning, we rushed to Sacrament meeting from another meeting.  I noticed that I hadn't brought my talk and panicking asked Sis. Johnson if we could run back to the classroom and grab it.  She told me that I could just use her talk if I was called because it was about to start.  I had such a strong feeling to run and get it, so we did.  We ran back to Sacrament meeting just in time, I swear that in itself was a miracle, just in time to hear that I was being called up to speak.  Oh my goodness!  I was so grateful that I listened to the Spirit that morning.  Speaking on repentance through o Expiacao de Jesus Cristo was very special to me.  

I have come so close to my Savior these past two weeks.  I have never been more aware of my carnal state and weaknesses than while being a missionary.  Repentance is real and it is beautiful.  As missionaries we don't usually make really big mistakes, because we aren't in the environment to do so, but even small mistakes can drive away the spirit in such sensitive environments.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the only way that we can ask God for anything.  Because of the Justice of God and nossos erros, we are always in debt, but the Atonement make all of the difference.  With it we can ask for miracles and forgiveness and comfort and peace.

Tonight we get to sing in the MTC choir during Devotional.  We have the most amazing choir director and we are singing "We Are All Enlisted".  It sounds magnificent!!  I am so excited, and I'm sure that I will have tears running down my cheeks the entire time.  

Thank you so much for the little package! It seriously meant so much!!  My district and I have been enjoying the fruits of your labors Mom and Mads.  Thank you!!  Every one in our district is a visa waiter.  We haven't received any, in fact we all checked the progress of our visas two days ago and they all haven't been processed yet except for one Elder's.  

Mom: We are on the main Campus (where you dropped me off) we are going to try to be Hosts in the next coming weeks, helping those being dropped off, that should be fun!  The food here is too amazing at times and flat out sick other times.  Our elders have already each gained eight pounds.  Great, Sis. Johnson and I have yet to weigh ourselves HA.  It is getting colder, especially at night and in the mornings, so I am wearing a lot of sweaters.  But, so far my clothes are working perfectly!  

Good luck to the boys hunting!  They are hearing the call of the wild!  Haha, I will be praying for your safety this week. Be smart, remember safety first, and bring home a big ole mule.  Bring honor to our family! haha

Girls have so much fun on your weekend outings for fall break!  Do magical things, and remember that I am with you in spirit!

I sent some letters this morning (to those who wrote me) Not to mention any names...Mitch...Nana.... I'll be waiting next week for a letter from you!

Today we get to go to the Temple again and I am so excited!  Have an amazing week!

I love you all with my whole heart! Sister Cordner

Our Brazilian friends.  The Elder on the left is from Sao Paulo!

We love the elders in our district....such funny guys!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Week 1 - Provo MTC - October 7, 2014

McKenzie's first companion - Sister Johnson from Gilbert, AZ

Oh my goodness.  I can't believe that I just left a week ago, it feels like it has been a month since we ate lunch at Carraba's before you dropped me off.  The sister that hosted me, and showed me my room and class is from Brazil, Sister Barbosa.  She has been such a great friend to me, such a sweet girl.  

Thank you so much for the Dear Elders!!  I felt so happy getting all of those letters yesterday, and that is definitely the best way for you to talk to me so I'll have enough time to write you on P-day.  
First off, I love it here so much!!  Let me tell is the hardest, most tiring, and mind blowing thing to be here.  But it is the most beautiful, spiritual, and special place.  I can't believe that I am finally a missionary.  I look down at my tag with Christ's name on it, and I feel so happy to be here right now.  

My companion is Sister Johnson, she is perfect for me! She is from Gilbert, Arizona, and is such a fire ball.  She dominates when we play volleyball with the elders and gets our "cordner humor" so well!  I know that we are supposed to be together.  We can tell each other exactly how we are feeling, the impressions we are having and we laugh so hard all day together.  In our district we have four sisters and eight elders.  We are already a little family, and it is so hard not to get distracted from studying because we all get along so well.  Not a half hour goes by when I haven't laughed so hard!  

Portuguese is the hardest thing I have ever done.  But because of my four years of Spanish I am picking it up fairly easily, but we study all day every day and by the end of the day my brain is totally fried!  Me and Sis. Johnson have already taught our "Pesquisador" two lessons.  His name is Juau, he goes to BYU, and is very sweet and understanding with us newbies.  In our first lesson we taught him about God's love for him.  He told us that his grandmother died, so we taught him the plan of salvation, very simply of course with our limited portuguese. When Sis. Johnson was saying the closing prayer Juau was whispering everything she was saying as well, we had a good laugh after that!  Yesterday we taught him about the restoration and the first vision.  He even prayed in our lesson all on his own, and said that he would read the pamphlet that we gave him about Joseph Smith.  It is amazing to be teaching in Portuguese already in our first week!

On Saturday and Sunday I imagined you all waking up to the smell of ebylskievers and listening to Music and the Spoken Word before conference started.  Be grateful for the comfortable couches you all were lounging on, because by the end of each session, our bums would be totally numb from sitting on those hard chairs!!  I loved every second of listening to our prophet's voices.  I felt a direct line from the Savior to me through the prophet and apostles.  Revelation is real, and praying for revelation is the only way to receive it.  I testify that we have living prophets on this earth today that speak for our Heavenly Father to His church.

Saturday night we watched the General Women's mtg while the elders watched the priesthood session.  Mary Anna and Maddy please watch Sis. Barton's talk again from that session and carefully listen to the stories of young girls that have done family history work, I know that the blessings that they received can be yours as well if you take her advice.  I needed that session of conference this week way more than I needed it last week, it was absolutely beautiful.

Sunday night after conference we all had a devotional together.  We all stood and sang "Called to Serve".  My whole life I couldn't wait to sing that song in the MTC with literally thousands of missionaries!  It was glorious!  Vai Sikahema, former player for the Packers, spoke to us.  He shared many stories from his life of missionary work and not being scared to sharing the gospel with others. After the devotional, we stayed to watch a talk given by Elder Bednar to the missionaries in the Provo MTC.  "The Character of Christ" was his topic.  I have never heard a talk that made me think more deeply about the Savior's Atonement and His ministry.  The character of Christ is this: He turns outward when we or the natural man would turn inward.  This is what we need to strive to do to become like our Savior.  There are so many examples of this in the scriptures.

Well, Sister Johnson and I were called to be the Zone Sister Training leaders!  What a great way for me to serve and try out my new knowledge of the character of Christ.  Naturally we have no idea what we are doing because we are so new, but I know that as we pray for the sisters in our zone, we will be able to receive revelation for who needs some extra help. They even gave us a mini cell phone for very limited use!  I thought I was leaving all technology at home, but no! haha

Mom, they gave us all flu shots here at the MTC, and they also said that it was time for me to get my Hep. A second shot.  I will send you the number that you can call and pay for them next week, I forgot it today.  It feels to have that done!  Thank you for all that you wrote me.  I needed it so much!  I think of you guys throughout the day and wonder what you are all doing!

Dad, thank you so much for the sweet words you wrote me.  I love you so much, and am so grateful for your strength!

Congrats Mitch and Matthew on your wins!!  I was so happy about that, and I read my whole district mom's play by play account of Mitch's epic game, they loved it.  Some of our elders remind me so much of you guys, and make me miss you so much.  They crack me up, just like you guys do.

Nana and Mads, I love you!  There is such a sisterhood here in the MTC, and I know that when you guys serve, you will love it so much.  The Elders truly do need the sister's support here.  Do everything you can to strengthen your friends, boys and girls with being righteous daughters of God.

I will try to send pictures if I can figure it out!  You know how technologically challenged I am!

Wow, I love you guys so much, and just know that I love it here, and I know that being a missionary is exactly what God wants for me right now.

I Love you with all of my heart, Sister Cordner