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 you...it 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