Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 65 - SÃO JOSÉ DOS CAMPOS - December 21, 2015 - FELIZ ANO NOVO!!!!

Wasn't Christmas just magical?!  I absolutely LOVED talking with my wonderful family.  It was the best present I could ask for.  Only 6 more months and I'll talk with Elder Cordner as well :)  Well the rest of the week was great!  There is not that much more to share that I didn't already say.  But we did see a wonderful miracle Saturday and Sunday!! 

The members have been passing many referrals these past few weeks and one of them the stake President, Pres. Mauri passed to us.  (Dad actually taught and baptized his family.)  He gave us his mother-in-law's address, and on Saturday we headed out to meet her.  The last time she had missionaries in her home, her daughter was being taught, which is a long time ago.  Last week she went to a ward activity with her daughter and someone gave her a Book of Mormon.  She hadn't started to read it, but she wanted to know more.  She did not even remember about Joseph Smith!  All of her daughters go to different churches and really she is confused about which church she should join. It was the perfect setting to feel the spirit.  We explained very simply to her about the Book of Mormon and her eyes just got bigger and bigger as we explained.  We invited her to go to church the next day, and she went!!  She went all alone, took the bus early and was the first person at church!  Oh we were so happy!  It would be wonderful if she would be baptized!  She is such a wonderful woman, so sweet and sincere.  

Funny Story:  We were just starting the lesson and Sister Swindler and I had full glasses of water in our hands.  I reached down to pet her tiny dog, when he barked and almost bit my hand.  We jumped up and all the water went EVEYWHERE.  Oh my,  I was so embarrassed!  We laughed the entire bus ride home.  

C (her son is a member and serving a mission right now) went to church!!  Oh, it was a Christmas miracle!  I guess she really was inspired by skyping her son on Christmas and promised him she'd go. 

The studies that Sister Swindler and I have together are amazing.  I am learning so much during these last months of my mission.  Really I feel my testimony burning stronger than ever.  I know that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father.  Just as a caterpillar can turn into a butterfly, a puppy can turn into a dog, or a chick can turn into a hen, we have the divine potential and nature of our Heavenly Father. Are we working to become like Him? This is His work and His glory, but are we on-board?  Is His goal our goal?  If it is, then we should be trying our best to live His gospel, and follow the example of His Son.  But, if we are not, we need to bend our knees and ask Him where we need to start.  I testify that He always will recieve us with open arms if we do.  He never gets tired of us, doubts us or leaves our side.  If we ask Him to help us see this divine potential, He can show us.  I know that the temple is everything in His plan.  It is there that we can be closer to Him and feel more powerfully His love.  I cannot wait until I will be able to go more frequently to His house.  I love you all, and I wish you all a wonderful new year!  Let us remember His love for us and our divine potential as we begin a new year and start our new goals!  I LOVE YOU ALL FOREVER!

Love, Sister Cordner xoxo

Christmas Eve Dinner
The City Park on Christmas Day!

An awesome scene!

At the City Park..

And a Capivara......we don't have these in the US of A

And mom, I made the cheesecake brownies on Christmas that you sent!  
They were a big hit with the Brazilians ;)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 64 - SÃO JOSÉ DOS CAMPOS - December 21, 2015 - Feliz Natal!!

Hello my beautiful family and friends!  I was so glad to hear from so many of you this week!  It has been a great one with so much success!  The Lord has been blessing us so much!  

P introduced the gospel and the Book of Mormon to his parents.  We were able to teach them and they have been just eating up the book.  They are half way through already!  But... they did not go to church.  We will see why today!

A sweet little woman found US this week.  Her name is C.  She is so humble, does not know how to read, and has 7 children!!  She has been loving our visits and is progressing very well.  She also went to church yesterday and loved it!!  She is our miracle this week.

We are currently teaching a Pastor.  Oh my, he is so smart. So good. So spiritual.  And so MORMON.  I just know one day he will accept the gospel.  We are workin' on him!

Really the members are getting so hyped up on missionary work!  Everyone is asking for Books of Mormon, magazines, pamphlets, and cards to give to their friends.  Although some of the referrals they pass end up not being very interested, at least they are doing their part!  Working with the members is a higher level of missionary work!  It works so much smoother!! Fortunately, we have gotten a few great new investigators thanks to our lovely members.  Speaking of, we have a new bishop!  Bispo Alexandre was unmatchable, but I know because I FELT that Bispo Campos is such a sweet man.  I adore his sweet family.   

Well I am SOOO excited to talk to you all on CHRISTMAS DAY!  I really cannot wait!  It has been so long since I have seen your beautiful faces.  And I try so hard to remember your voices!

I have learned so much about our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ this week.  Really faith is sacrifice.  If someone wants to recieve an answer from God, they need to show their faith through their sacrifice.  Without sacrifice, there is no faith.  And without faith, there is only belief.  Anyone can believe, but very few are willing to sacrifice.  This Christmas I have been able to testify with all my heart that our Savior Jesus Christ lives.  I feel the same fire in my heart that I felt at the beginning of my mission, but only stronger. And each time I look into the eyes of a child of God, I try to help them feel the same witness from the spirit through my words.  For unto us a Son is given.  I know He is our Savior and Redeemer.  There is no other way or means by which we can be saved.  He is the Son of God, and He lives.  How grateful I am for these truths, for they are the most precious of all.  Have a very Merry Christmas!  I will go on a BIG-TIME diet after the season because of how much they stuff our faces here.  It is rediculous!  FELIZ NATAL!


LOVE, Sister Cordner

Two special new brazilian família Matos.

Our Ward Christmas party was so BEAUTIFUL! 
You all are not the only ones seeing candy-canes this Christmas... SOOO BAD

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 63 - SÃO JOSÉ DOS CAMPOS - December 14, 2015 - Apples to Apples

How many apples come from one seed?  I was able to see a little bit of the amazing fruits of dad's mission.  What amazing people.  The Mattos family introduced us to their little snack shop, so delicious by the way.  We also ate lunch with the Burock family (they know a family in our ward and traveled down!).  And we also ate lunch again with the Mattos family yesterday!  I just love them so much.  So funny that both families have sons out on missions my same age.  It will be so much fun to have them see dad after so many years!  Everyone was joking around with Manoel Mattos that he can not put dad on an altar and worship him when he comes. They are so funny!!

Well we are certainly in the last days because first of all, I have never seen a blazing sun as I have this week, and second of all, no one wants to go to church.  These past weeks we have had so many people excited to go to church. We get them all rides to get there, everything seems perfect and then Sunday, cricket.  BUT, we have a great new investigator!   His name is P.  He has some great friends in the ward and has been coming to our english class (so crazy, but so fun!), and all the ward activities!  His parents as well are interested in hearing our message.  He has real intent and is so inteligent.  Wants to get a real testimony of the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith.  We are excited!  

This week we had our annual Christmas conference.  It was so much fun and such a crazy experience.  I have never seen Elders so excited in my life.  I mean these men pass for two hundred rabid monkeys in a barrel.  But they are hilarious.  Sister Swindy and I sang our little song.  It went well!  I will have to send the video to you all and all the photos I took this week.  I left the battery charging at home...  We have eaten so much Churrasco!  I think our main food group this Christmas season will me MEAT.  So much meat, but man, it is the best I have had.  The Ward Christmas party was a blast!  It was at a really cool place in the middle of the jungle, with crystal clear pools in the blazing hot sun.  OH how I wanted to jump in!!  

My testimony of personal revelation has grown ten fold as I have felt a need to call on my Father in Heaven, bent my knees, and opened my scriptures just to find exactly what I was looking for.  I know He answers our prayers.  There has not been a prayer I have said on my mission that He has not answered.  And really one of the most important questions we can ask is "What lack I yet?"  I love this talk from the last General Conference.  I testify that the spirit can tell us the small and simple things that we can improve.  He is so honest and so direct. And when we take his advice and really try to improve, He will bless us with more answers.  

Please pray for our teaching pool, and please pray for P, C, and E, that all three will be able to receive their own personal witnesses of the truth.  

It was great to see that Zoie has arrived safely at home.  What an amazing mission she has served!  I love you ZO!  

Have a great week everyone!  I am sooooo excited to talk to you all next week!!  I will have to practice my english a little!  TCHAU!  Beijos!

Sister Cordner X0X0

Manoel Mattos with his wife.

Lunch with the Burock family

Manoel Mattos' family on Sunday dinner with McKenzie.

Dinner at Mattos home.

Meeting another man whose parents were baptized by Ken. So awesome!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 62 - SÃO JOSÉ DOS CAMPOS - December 7, 2015 - Yield Our Hearts to God

Olá minha querida família!!  Oh how I miss each one of you!  I can feel that it is just getting so Christmas-like up in the North!  Here, it is pretty much like any other time of the year.  I am glad that the members keep up with the lovely Christmas traditions!  Mitch sounds like he is ruling the town!  Oh my, I just crack up when I read his emails... so funny.

It has been a very great week, full of surprises.  We are on the hunt for those the Lord has prepared.  J was not baptized.  Well, he was so excited and ready!  We marked his interview with our District Leader and J just never showed up.  We have not been able to talk to him since.  When someone is on the right path, and so close to changing their life, the enemy works as well.  But we have not given up!!  Please pray for him that he can have the strength to resist temptation.  

We were able to give a training to all of the adults and youth yesterday in the third hour.  Oh it went so well! We talked about three things that can help them share the gospel right now.  1. Do not judge.  Do not look for the "ideal mormon" or the "best friend".  2. Simplify the task!  It can be a natural part of our lives!  3. Our success is when we invite others.  We all really felt strengthened by the spirit and inspired also by the words of our Ward Mission Leader.  He and his family are amazing member missionaries.  After the meeting I was swarmed by  so many members wanting to give referrals and wanting to mark up with us!  It was amazing!!!  When we got here in the ward, everyone told us that it was just a dead ward that has not been divided for so many years.  They really are waking up, and feeling the spark of missionary work.  You should see how excited Bishop Alexandre gets when we meet with him every week!  They are such good people.  We will take a different focus now with the members, which ALWAYS gives better results.  We are starting an English class on Tuesday and every Sunday this month we will get out on the street in small groups with members to go caroling and picking up addresses.  I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!  It is the most amazing and most important thing on this earth.  I can just feel the baptisms comin' on, I can feel it in my bones.  

This week we had an experience that really made me stop, examine my testimony, and exercise all of my faith.  This morning I was reading the talk "Yielding our Hearts to God" by Sister Neil F. Marriott.  He is the potter and we are the clay. He sees all things, and we can only see the present.  I have really learned how to trust in something that I cannot see, touch or hear: the love and light of my Father in Heaven.  In the end, it is all that we have in our times of great distress.  I know He loves me, because I have felt it, and I can feel it every day.  President Hinckley said, "If you do your best, it will all work out.  Put your trust in God...The Lord will not foraske us."  "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for you good." (D&C 90:24)  How do you think our Heavenly Father gained all of His knowledge and power?  Do you think that He was born with it?  Are we not on the path to become like Him?  I am sure that He has had to pass through many, if not all, of the things that we live.  Our suffering is necessary. We need to learn how to rely and lean on Him in every moment, every hour of every day of our lives.  I am grateful to be here on a mission because now I know that I cannot do it on my own.  I know that I NEED my Savior, and I know that He really and truly loves me unconditionally.  I never tire to learn more, study my scriptures, pray, and read the words of the prophets. They are the words of life.  

Sister Swindy and I are practicing a few Christmas hymns that we will sing at the Christmas conference for the mission! We will see how it goes... I will atempt to play the cavaquinho/ukulele... haha!  I love you all, and I wish you all the most merry Christmas season!!  

Sister Cordner xoxo