Monday, January 15, 2018

My First Talk In Portuguese

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hey Mom,

I forgot to bring my paper all organized with the things that happened this week so this letter is gonna be a lot shorter.

The biggest thing that happened this week is I gave my first talk in Portuguese. Saturday night Bishop called and said that the speakers for Sunday had canceled. Elder K, being fluent in Portuguese and an amazing missionary, didn’t have to worry too much about talking to the congregation for however much time he needed to. But Me, being Elder Carson William Sork, was awake until 1 in the morning preparing my talk. I don’t have the ability to really give a talk, I struggled with public speaking in English, now it’s just even more difficult. But, I wrote it all out and just read it to the ward.  It was around 13 minutes, which I am very proud of, about the conference talk by Stanley G Ellis: ´´Do We Trust Him? Hard Is Good´´ I heard this talk while in the CTM preparing for the mission and struggling with my Portuguese. I felt a little like a hypocrite because a lot of the things I spoke about were all things I need to work on as well, but it was also good to be thinking about them and I was glad for the opportunity. 

During my talk I felt like I was getting a lot of blank stares.  One of our investigators got a phone call and was talking on the phone during my talk.  She is really old and was talking pretty loud. You know how it is--pretty funny! I didn’t think that my words would really have an effect on anyone, but I took the time to pray and prepare. At the end of sacrament meeting a member named Emerson, who has two little kids and a wife that have been having some problems lately, came up to me and said that as I was speaking he was strongly impressed by the spirit and had received some personal revelation. He thanked me for speaking and asked for a copy of my talk so he could study it more (maybe because he didn’t understand a lot of what I was saying, LOL). But it was really cool that at least one person, was able to feel the spirit working with him during my talk. 

Circa didn’t come to church again, she was working... so maybe next week.

A continual battle here:  We are really struggling because our leaders are all people who baptize EVERYONE.  They really push the number of baptisms as an indicator of success.  The way Elder K and I are doing missionary work is slower and so we don’t have 5 baptisms every week like other people. It’s really taking a toll on Elder Kozlowski. The mission culture here is really, really messed up and I don’t want to succumb to it. I want to be my own missionary and do what I feel is right, but I am worried about what’s gonna happen when I get a new companion. AT the least, I am super grateful for the time I have been able to learn from Elder Kozlowski.  We are on the same page about making sure the people are understanding and really ready to commit to living the covenants they are going to make.

I am running out of time to respond to other emails, this email was really short and crappy this week –sorry.

Love your son,

 Elder Sork

Monday, January 8, 2018

Our Cockroach Graveyard

Monday, January 8, 2018

Hey Mom,

I´m sad to hear that you’re sick! I hope you get feeling better soon! I’m really sad I wasn´t there for the wedding. It’s only been 4 months and I´m just overwhelmed thinking about all the changes that have already happened and all the things I have missed. I try not to think about how slow the time passes and how much I´ve got ahead of me, but it’s hard. I´ve always got thoughts of home in my head and it is really, really tough.  Again this week, especially knowing about Tanners wedding, I just had a lot of longing for home.

I know you don’t like hearing about how the language is making other things out here difficult – and that you would tell me that I should focus on enjoying things and helping people in ways that don’t require speaking Portuguese - but it’s just impossible. The LIFE of a human is to communicate, we´re social. With Elder Kozlowski I´m at least able to have a couple fun experiences because we can understand each other and sometimes speak English. But the life of a missionary is so much talking and talking and talking. Understanding people’s questions, answering them, helping people overcome the problems they have, getting to know their personality and point of view, and just talking, listening and teaching. I just can’t.

This week during a lesson Elder Kozlowski had to step out for a few minutes to take a phone call and my job was to just talk about the apostasy with our investigator. Mom, it was a disaster. He had a ton of questions and I seriously could not understand what the heck he was asking. He would talk really slow like I was a baby and still I didn’t know what he was asking. And when Elder Kozlowski came back he had to reteach about the apostasy because the man didn’t understand what I had been trying to say. It was so humiliating. I can’t even teach one simple topic alone. How am I supposed to become an independent missionary, someday a senior companion, a trainer, a leader? I am really struggling to see a future where I am successful. Everyone just says with time it´ll happen but every week passes and I´m still just clueless. I´m getting tired and my mission has barely started. (When we spoke with Carson on Christmas I had a chance to talk with his trainer and ask him how Carson was doing with the language.  He assured us that Carson is actually doing really well and learning quite quickly.  He is right where he should be for a missionary who has only been introduced and immersed in Portuguese for four months.  Everything has always come very easily to Carson – I just remind him this is what the rest of us humans feel like most of the time.) 

Stuff that happened this week:

Circa finally had her interview to be baptized. 

She is ALWAYS working on Sundays (and just about every other day) just trying to feed her kids as a single mom. But she said that she would leave work on Sunday to be baptized. We were super excited. We have been teaching her off and on for 2 months, and have seen her overcoming many trials and stumbling blocks set by Satan.   She has overcome an addiction to coffee and has shared some really cool experiences about how she has felt the spirit with us when we teach and has received answers to prayers through us. So Saturday we brought the president of Relief Society over to meet her. They talked and became quick friends.  Everything was set for a successful baptism!! We passed by her house Sunday morning to take her to church, and she wasn’t home…Working, again. Apparently her boss called and said if she didn’t go to work she would be fired. So maybe she´ll get baptized next week? It’s so cool the experiences we have had with her but also SUPER frustrating that we can’t baptize her.  She still hasn’t been able to come to church. She is such a strong spirit, committed to reading the Book of Mormon, and doing what’s right.  We´ll have to wait and see what happens with her.

My only pair of black pants is slowly turning a shade of brown/orange, to add to the list of clothes failing already haha. Elder Kozlowski said the same thing happened with another American, I don’t know if it’s because of the type of material, sun, or what, but they´re getting discolored. So that’s pretty sad :( all my other pants are fine so far though. 

I also sent a picture of the cockroach graveyard we´ve got going on. We´ve killed 16 cockroaches just in the past 5 days.  We decided to start collecting the bodies and made a little cemetery on our patio... 

They are EVERYWHERE, all the time. We have a designated cock roach killing flip flop and have had some pretty funny chases through the house trying to kill them. They´re fast and when they fly, you better watch out! I´ve had a few accompany me during my showers... not a pleasant experience.

We have been proselyting in an area called Torre Babel - the ghetto of the ghetto here in our area. Everyone in Brazil is poor, but this is a whole new level, and they have a lot of problems with drugs, gangs, etc in this area. We have to be careful proselyting and leave before it gets very late. But I have been really grateful for the opportunity because we are teaching some people there who are truly HUMBLE. I was reading in Alma 32 about when he taught the Zoramites, and the poorer class was prepared to receive the gospel because they were humbled. We are teaching one family specifically, Ana and Joao, they are so humble and really appreciative of our messages, but they aren’t married and Joao doesn’t want to get married so I don’t think they will be baptized. But they are such sweet people and it’s been cool to see their love for the spiritual things we teach, even when they don’t understand some reasoning. 

The New Year was pretty uneventful. We went to a members house for dinner and they had a bunch of really good food: a cake with strawberries, fried pastels (kinda like scones), pies, (sweet and savory)… it was great!

On Christmas we had those baptisms of the 2 men, Gil and Jef, I sent a picture of them. They are two very intelligent Brazilians, studying in college here but have plans to move to the U.S.  They’re learning English.  Originally we found them by means of our English Class that Elder K teaches. 

They have really gotten to like us and they received the priesthood this Sunday. I am really hopeful that they will stay firm in the church. But, they really, really, REALLY like us. Its kinda weird. They have begun calling Elder Kozlowski by the titles ´´Rabbi´´ and ´´Master´´ and stand when he enters the room, and they have also expressed their appreciation of my looks / body. Yesterday in church they discussed how I could be a very successful model... If we hadn’t gotten to know them so well already I would be really weirded out, but it’s all good. They´re straight! It’s been cool to see their progress.

Here are some pictures of the area:

Our Building

Our Apartment Enterance

 Some of these are  the walk from the church to our house and some streets that we were proselyting in.  I will do my best to keep pictures coming but it’s tough because I can’t walk around with my camera.

Thought for the New Year:

With the New Year, we´re always setting goals (which I still need to do). It’s good to set spiritual goals that will help us achieve our ultimate goal - Eternal Life.

Alma 37:6 talks about how through small and simple things, great things come to pass. For people that are struggling to keep that eternal perspective and remember purpose here on earth, I encourage you to set some ´´small and simple´´ spiritual goals, which will help you to reach our final goal move toward obtaining eternal life. You will see a difference. Maybe it’s just reading the scriptures again, praying regularly, etc. But the small things truly are important! (I´m kind of a hypocrite because I am terrible at setting goals and still haven’t for the New Year, but that’s my thought for yáll.)

It was super sad to hear about President Monson, and has been a little strange to talk about having a living prophet in our church when right now we don’t have one officially ordained. But, I know that the men of the 12 are called of God and hold all of the keys necessary to move the kingdom of God on the Earth forward.  I also know that the next prophet (talvez [according to Google translate this means “perhaps”] Elder Nelson?) will be worthy and prepared to receive revelation for the church because he will be called of God.

Love you mom, have a good week.

Elder Sork

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Hey Mom,

I will write very fast in case this computer overheats too...and just go over what I did these last 2 weeks! (On Christmas instead of receiving a letter from Elder Sork, we were able to video chat with him over the internet.  It was such a treat, but about 15 minutes before we were to end the call, it got dropped suddenly and we never could get the connection back.  Carson said that the computer in the family’s home that he was using overheated and just wouldn’t cool down enough to boot back up.  We were all very disappointed at our call being cut short (especially Eric and I as it was our turn to speak with Carson privately) but thrilled with how great Elder Sork looked and sounded.  He was speaking Portuguese to the family that was allowing him to use his computer and contrary to what Carson says – his Portuguese is coming along really well.)

Week before Christmas:

Hot Chocolate and Gingerbread Men from my Christmas Package

I helped give my first blessing in Portuguese!  I just did the anointing part in a blessing of health which is really easy and quick but it was still cool to do!

Our Zone Leaders designed shirts for our zone but they tried to do it in English and so they didn’t spell things right and it doesn’t make sense in English, haha.  I have pictures I´ll put on the next time I´m at a LAN house.

We had some RAIN this week.  It rained HARD and we got soaked, it was pretty fun.

No snow in Brazil didn't stop us from building a snowman.

We got new missionaries fresh from the CTM. It was interesting to see some Americans just arriving, it’s just a reminder that even though my progress is really slow, I am progressing.

The sun here is really getting hot! Because we´re so close to the equator, it really beats down directly on us. I find myself hearing Uncle Steve’s voice in my mind at least once a day letting me know that the sun is trying to kill me. I´m feeling it! I am using sunscreen but I still get fried.  All the Brazilinas are concerned with how red I am :( 

On Christmas Eve we had3 baptisms (a white Christmas for me), a young man and 2 members of the Elder’s quorum. These new members are very knowledgeable and really excited about the church.  I am hopeful that they will be firm in their commitments.

For Christmas Elder K and I hung up socks as honorary stockings and he filled mine with candy and a tie. I felt bad because I didn’t have anything for him :( But I will be taking him out to dinner with the Christmas money you sent for me to treat him!

We got invited to a wedding! It was good but I got really sad knowing I won’t be there for Tanner’s wedding.

I had some serious stomach problems after eating a meal of fresh crab, chicken hearts, and some strange Brazilian veggies... I´m still recovering. My stomach didn’t agree with the food at all!

We also had another baptism this week.   A guy literally called US over from the other side of the street and told us he wanted to be baptized! He´s been to church in the past and just finally decided to be baptized. That was pretty cool!

Mom, my clothes are taking a beating. I´ve already had to sew up some pants. I don’t know if you remember the weird bubbles in one of my shirt collars that you fixed, but it’s happening with more of my shirts and I don’t know why.  I don’t know how in the world they will last 2 years :(
Sorry this email is VERY fast but we don’t have a lot of time in this member’s house I´ll send a better email next week, and photos. 

Love Elder Sork

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Day

We got to speak with Elder Sork today.  He was able to answer a lot of questions about his area and the people he is working with.  We also got to meet his companion, Elder Kozowlski, who assures us that Carson is doing great and has a good handle on the language - right where he should be for being four months out.  Our call got cut short due to computer problems at the home he was in, but before we were cut off we did get to hear him conversing with the family in Portuguese.  It was pretty cool.  I know he is frustrated with not being able to say everything he wants to say, but it sounded to me like he was doing just great.  Here are a few pictures of his Christmas day with his companion and the hosting family:

Friday, December 22, 2017

Don't Waste The Gift You Have Been Given

Hey Mom,

I think you´re teaching Seminary right now.  I was hoping it was Christmas Break already but I guess not. Please as soon as you get the chance, try to message me and see if I am still online so we can figure out the call schedule for Christmas!

First off, transfers: Nothing changed. Me and Elder Kozlowski are companions still, and will be staying in our area. We were both really happy – me, because I am afraid of being with another Brazilian (but its bound to happen this next transfer) and Elder K, because he didn’t want to have to change areas right before Christmas with a whole new ward. We have some really good families here and are really starting to work with the members, in the past they haven’t had much trust in missionaries but we have had several people tell us how the ward thinks very highly of the work we are doing and that several members literally prayed that we would stay in the area at least one more transfer.

If I don’t get the chance to IM you, here’s the deal for Christmas: WE talked with a member last night and the plan is to do skype about 11;00 Joao Pessoa time. If all goes right, the time difference is about 5 hours, and I will be calling AFTER Elder Kozlowski (12-12:30 Joao Pessoa time) so be READY to receive a call starting anywhere from 7-7;30 your time. (Also double check all my math because maybe it’s wrong). I would like to Skype, it’s gonna be hard but it’s always hard on missionaries - I want to see you guys! So yes, lets skype. I don’t really know how skype works, I´m assuming I just look up your account. Also have email (or instant message via email) ready and if I have problems with skype. I will be letting you know what’s going on via IM.

Here’s the stuff that happened this week: 

We had our conference Christmas this Monday after I sent emails, it was good, I got a cake from a white elephant - my companion got sticky notes - haha. It was kind fun but also kind of sucky because I am really struggling with finding enjoyment being in a large social gathering full of people I don’t understand. At the least, I got to talk a little with Elder Allen and Elder Bradshaw who arrived here with me.  They´re doing great and their Portuguese is too.  (I’m a little jealous but I know I shouldn’t compare). They had a talent show that was fun to watch, I didn’t do anything because I still haven’t found a way to get my hands on a violin. And it’s only been 4 months but I am really worried by the time I get back I´m not gonna be able to play and that I won’t have that muscle memory. Vamos ver! (In hindsight, Carson told me via IM he wishes he would have asked for approval to bring his violin along with him.  He is sure they would have said okay.  I joked about sending it, but given the mail situation we have had – that is not going to happen. I sure wish there was a way to get one in his hands…)

Tuesday we had interviews with president again.  He’s trying to help me and I know he’s called of God. It is just so hard to understand him.  His accent is terrible so it makes it even HARDER, but he speaks a little English too so it’s alright. Elder Kozlowski is really patient and really supportive and is always encouraging me. He is an example of a good missionary and a good friend, and he has a strong testimony that he shares with me often.

We have 2 new investigators, two guys in their twenties, preparing for baptism on Christmas eve, because a less active member brought them to our English class that we have each Saturday. Now the member, his name is Carlos, is active again and we are looking at baptizing 2 quorums! There names are Jeff and Gill, they are both really educated, smart guys who have dreams of going to the US someday. They are so far really interested in the church, very impressed with the organization and atmosphere there. I hope that all goes well with their baptisms.

Last night we went to visit a member and talk about Christmas plans but ended up just comforting her. she and her husband have been trying to have a kid but she had a miscarriage a few months back. We have been having lunch with them this last transfer and she was pregnant again and hopeful but last night she told us that she had another miscarriage during the week and lost the baby. I actually understood what she was saying, but I had no idea how to help her. I cannot imagine what she is going through. I had no guidance on what to do or say to help her. I was just silent. Elder Kozloski shared a message in 2 Nephi (verse 2 was a highlight) and it was really powerful. I just don’t know why I can’t do that. It’s like I NEVER know what to say, assuming I understand what’s going on.  So that was pretty crummy.

My thought:  Alma 7:10-14

This is a good scripture that talks a little about the birth of Christ, and the spirit of Christmas. This  reminds us WHY we celebrate Christmas. Not only because the Son of God was born that night, but because he was born for a PURPOSE: to take upon himself the sins of the world, to enable us to repent of our sins and be saved.

 This scripture lays out this concept perfectly and I encourage all to read it and remember that we need to be so grateful during this time.  Christ truly was born for us, and he was born to fulfill his calling as the only begotten and to overcome death and sin. I am so grateful for His sacrifice and for this time of the year when we are reminded of the gift God gave us, the gift of his son. Don’t waste this gift! Use the atonement in your life everyday! Repent and find strength in Jesus Christ!

Love you mom, have a good day and I´ll talk to you in a week!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What Did I Say?!

Monday, November 11, 2017

Hey Mom,

Just a reminder that next week (18th) we have transfers, and I won’t really know what is gonna happen in regards to a skype call for Christmas until that Day. So, if possible, please be available that day to discuss plans for Christmas. Also, today we have a Christmas Conference as a mission, I have some cards I am giving to an Elder going home on the 18th and the hope is that he will mail them in the US so they will get to you.  They´ll get to you guys after Christmas but I wanted to at least send SOMETHING. I really hope it all gets to you!

I received my Christmas package on Tuesday, it took more or less 20 days to get here, not too bad, honestly faster than some letters! Thank you for everything, I’m planning on taking Elder Kozlowski out to dinner tonight. You´re gonna have to remind me to object lessons with the Rubik’s cube though... I don’t remember :(

Here’s my week in review:

Food Experience:  We had Pizza Doce, Brazil style, and dang was it good. That’s my food of the week, haha.

Funny Experience: This week Elder Kozlowski approached a woman and another person of considerable age sitting beside her to make a contact. He introduced us and then asked how this woman, and her MOM, was doing. The contact got really awkward really fast when the woman explained that the person sitting beside her wasn’t her mom, but in fact, her husband..... Still confused on their relationship because this guy was ANCIENT - also confused why Elder Kozlowski thought he was a woman - but in his defense I certainly didn’t think they were married! To say the least, they didn’t accept our invitation to visit the church.

Missionary Experience:  I have an eternal blister on my pinky toes. I inherited dad’s weird squished pinky toes and they´re having it pretty rough out here! Still waiting for calluses to form, but every week the blisters pop and then just come back. 

We didn’t have any investigators at church this week, which was a bummer, but last week had 2 baptisms and their confirmations were this week. Icaro, a guy we are teaching, is still really struggling overcoming doubts about the restoration and also changing the beliefs of his childhood. We hope to baptize him next week but I have a feeling he’s going to be a long term investigator. 

Language Experience:  I had another dream, this time I was with the family speaking English during the dream but we came across a Brazilian family, they were speaking Portuguese... Again, I didn’t understand them, I was frantically trying to get their information so we could visit them to give them a lesson.... Here is the good news:  Even though I am not understanding, my brain is still trying! Also, after trying to explain the role of prophets to a really old guy this week, he asked if I was talking about sex... So not sure what I was saying, but whatever it was, it was NOT right. We watched the Christmas devotional yesterday and I didn’t understand anything, just picked out words. So that was a bummer.

Teaching Experience:  DAD - I TAUGHT A BRAZILIAN BEAR SALMON MOSQUITO! I taught it to one of our recent baptisms, Mateus. He and his family loved it.  It was cool to share a little piece of home with them. What was also cool and made things a lot easier is the game doesn’t really involve any speaking, haha. (Urso, peixe, mosquito)

Cultural Experience:  I learned that some people here think the Mormon church is a church of vampires. Also saw my first monkey here, they don’t normally have them in this area but while we were knocking doors (clapping outside gates) we noticed a monkey in a car with its window down. We talked with the owner and he had NO IDEA it was there or how long it had been there! Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me :(

The word got out that I´ve got maple with me (thank you Tanner) and this stuff is like liquid gold down here. All the Brazilians now want me to come to their house to make ´´panquecas´´ so they can enjoy some of the maple - haha.

My Thought: Mosiah 4:6-8  This scripture explains a little bit about the importance of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I couldn’t find the scripture I specifically wanted, which names Jesus Christ as the only person in which we can find salvation, but this scripture has the same idea. During this time as we celebrate the birth of Christ, it is important to remember the purpose he came. One way we can show our appreciation for him during Natal, and during EVERY day of the year, is to use the atonement in our lives and honor the sacrifice that he was born into the world to make.

My emails are all over the place, I’m always just frantically trying to get stuff down - hopefully you´re able to use it to keep people informed about how things are going down here. If you´ve got any suggestions, let me know. I really like Elder Kozlowski, he has been an awesome companion. I am worried about getting paired with another Brazilian this upcoming transfer. Keep me in your prayers!  

Love you Mom, have a good week.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

With Wings Like Eagles

Hey mom, real quick I´ll just give a brief run down of what happened this week - it was pretty uneventful.

Our investigator Circa, after explaining to her that the ´´God in the US we worship´´ that her pasteur was talking about is a prophet and that we believe in the same God, she was open again to the gospel, she had decided to be baptized even though her mom didn't like the church, it was going great! But Thursday her son came out and handed us a note from Circa saying she isn't interested in the church or recieving new lessons. That was really tough, she was progressing a lit and we were really excited to baptize her and her children. This got both me and Elder Kozlowski pretty down

We´ve been listening to the music you put on those SD cards mom, and I have gotta say, you put some pretty weird stuff on them! Elder Kozlowski has had a pretty good luagh a few times with some of the random stuff that comes on. But majority of it is good, thank you for taking the time to do that (and so much more) for me! 

We are watching the Christmas devotional in the church building this coming Sunday, problem is, its gonna be in Portuguese so I´m probably not gonna get much out of it which really sucks especially after what you saíd. But I´ll do my best to listen hard and stay focused and maybe understand a little bit. Language is still killin me. I was never a talkative guy back home and that's one thing I am really struggling with here.  If I just talked to people more, I would probably improve a little more, but just the thought of making a contact or teaching lessons gets me worked up and dreading the event. 

We have a transfer on the 18th of December so my plan is to give them to an American going home and he can send them from home - they wont get there by Christmas, but hopefully they´ll get there eventually. I´ll just send everything to the house because I don't know peoples addresses. But hopefully you guys get them eventually. Also, because of this transfer so close to Christmas, I don't know what will happen about making a call to the family, if I stay in this area it will be easier but if I get moved again its gonna be a mess trying to figure things out. You guys may just have to keep a computer/phone close by at all times during Christmas. I will email on the 18th after transfers happen and hopefully have some more details for you. Also, next Monday the 11th we have a mission conference during P Day so I will be online either way earlier then normal or way later, not sure.

My thought for this week:

I was reading Mosiah chapter 21 about the people of Limhi, son of King Noah. They were oppressed by the lamanites because of their iniquities, but instead of turning to the lord and humbling themselves, seeking for strength in him, they instead decided to rely on their on strength, and went to war with the lamanites. And lost not once, not twice, but THREE times, each war taking the lives of many of their people, and only after the 3rd loss did they finally recognize the need to rely on the Lord, who eventually delivered them. In contrast, the people of Alma a few chapters later, were also oppressed my the lamanites,and they suffered many hardships, but from the beginning they trusted in the Lord and put their faith in him, relying on his strength to deliver them, and because of this they were eventually delivered and also supported through their afflictions rather then everyone dying... Just a reminder that yes, we need to exert effort, to do work on our part to deal with problems in our lives, but when we also use the strength of the lord, things will be a lot better!

Love you.