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