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