Monday, March 19, 2018

More Responsibilities

Hey Mom, 

Transfers were today. I am staying with Elder Antunes. This is his last transfer and then he goes home. He´s pretty tired and really getting ´´trunky´´ so I don't know what is really gonna happen this transfer. He´s getting really grumpy too. I have a feeling that both my patience and his will be tested. Elder Antunes is a cool guy but our personalities don't match up. 

This week we had interviews with the President and a division (missionary split). My companion needed to do an interview in another area so I needed to stay and work our area with another companion. I was SO nervous.  I've only been here for a week and Elder Antunes left me in the area with a day full of commitments and lessons. I barely know how to arrive at our house let alone to find the houses of our investigators. I had to find the houses, lead the discussions, etc. I was praying so hard in my heart as we walked to the other area to start the division. I can't describe to you how scared I was, but it turned out okay. The lessons were not great, but I got us to the house and led them so that's a win. The only problem I had was at the end of the day. I had no idea how to get back to the house. We wandered for about an hour and eventually called to get directions to the church. 

Elder Antunes says that he doesn't want to do a lot during the last transfer, so I will have ´´responsibilities.´´ The first responsibility that he gave me was the baptismal fichas.  Those are the baptismal forms. I am to fill them out, keep them safe and then send them to the mission office. That  next night I forgot my bag with my scriptures and the fichas in a restaurant and lost our fichas. So I failed my first responsibility, woohoo! The second responsibility Elder Antunes has given me is the cell phone. I am to make and receive all the calls. The cell phone is my first enemy. Portuguese and Portuguese on a cellphone, are two different languages. The first day I had the phone I called to confirm to our investigators that we were passing by their house at 3:45 with a ride to the church. We showed up at their house and they were surprised to see us because they thought we were passing by at 6:45... second responsibility, failed!! That has kinda been the theme of my week. I am hoping that this transfer things can get better. President Dias just said in my interview with him this week to keep going, that with time things will get better - the same thing he told me the last time. ´´Time´´. I just feel like I need an ETERNITY - not to be perfect,but just to figure out how to be a missionary! 

This week I learned how to make pancakes from scratch with a Brazilian and shared some maple with them, they really liked it. I will finish the Book of Mormon in Portuguese tonight for the first time. I have never received a big answer that the book is true, but it is a source of comfort to me when I read when I am stressed or overwhelmed I find peace. I really hope that I am not ´´missing´´ answers, because I REALLY want them and am really hoping for them. 

I love you, Mom. I hope Grandma gets better quick.  Give her some love for me.

Elder Sork

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mission Upheaval Part II

Hey Mom,

We had a baptism this week but I didn’t have my camera with me. iIt was kind of a freebee for me because this is my new area and I didn’t really do a lot of the work. I just showed up, but the investigator wanted me to baptize him so that was cool. His name is Emmanuel and he is 16 years old. This new ward has a great youth program and the youth have really good retention with our new members.  This is rare in this mission.

After all the transfers last week, we had a zone conference where President Dias spoke about several changes that needed to happen in the mission. I got transferred because 10 missionaries got sent home early.  Many companionships and missionaries had to get moved around to make sure everything was covered. I think our president is finally realizing just how messed up the mission is.  He did some ´´spring cleaning´´ and 10 missionaries were doing things so bad they got sent home, lots of other missionaries are on probation and have warnings that they could be sent home. They are really cracking down on mission rules and also how we handle our investigators. Now people need to attend sacrament meeting 3 times before they are to be baptized, along with lots of other new rules. We´ll see if things change. President Dias is really serious. Normally he is a ´´softy´´ but I think we have some general authority and area authority attention on this mission now so he’s really cracking down.

My new companion is Elder Antunes, we were a trio but our other companion (Elder Cipili, a Brazilian living in Utah) went home last week after the first wave of missionaries left. Elder Antunes has one transfer left, and then he goes home. So he is at the end of his mission and he’s pretty tired.  He sleeps a lot and I read a lot - I think I will finish the Book of Mormon this week in Portuguese. With Elder Antunes we don’t work anything like I did with Kozlowski.  Part of that is cultural and part of it personal, I think.  Antunes likes to work with member’s references and Kozlowski really didn’t know how to do that, and you know that I had no clue. So I am learning how to work references with Elder Antunes. That will be good. I like it a lot better than knocking on doors in the heat every day, and he has been getting baptisms so I think it works. We´ll see.

I have been struggling with getting good sleep, still. Sister Dias (wife of the president) gave me some natural herbs that were to help after the zone conference. I have tried them the past few nights but I still wake up 3 or 4 times every single night.  I’m not sure why.

A real quick, a thought for the blog:  I was reading in Ether 9: 2/3 about the brother of Jared when he prayed for help to bring light to the ships. The lord didn’t solve the problem for him, but encouraged the brother of Jared to use his agency, knowledge, and the capacity he had been given by God to do what he could to solve the problem for himself.  In that light, the brother of Jared went and got the stones and made a plan which he presented to God.  He asked God simply to touch the stones so they could give off light. The Lord helped him and fulfilled the plan the brother of Jared had put forth.  “Thus we see” that when we pray for help we have a responsibility to look for ways WE can solve our own problems with our own ability, and then the Lord will help us with the rest.

Love you,
Elder Sork

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mission Upheaval

Hey Mom,

This week was rough and yesterday it got even rougher. The work was going slow; Elder Kozlowski and I have both felt some lack of personal growth and direction from the spirit. Then yesterday night, about 8:00 we were singing in the stake choir and Elder K received a phone call that we were both going to be transferred.  We needed to be at the mission office this morning at 9AM. Lots of changes are happening in the mission. I don’t really know what but I think a lot of people got sent home. This mission is really messed up so we got emergency transferred. I am in a trio in the same stake but Elder K went to someplace I have never heard of.  My new area is called José Americo (something like that, I’m still learning). Last night we were up until 2AM, cleaning our whole house, packing our bags and frantically trying to pass off our investigators and update the area book. It was a rough.  Now I am sleep deprived and with two Brazilian companions  Elder Cipili and Atunes. 

Cinthia who was baptized is preparing to go to the temple already so that’s really cool.  I am sad we had to leave all our investigators.  We had a baptism lined up this week and don’t know what’s gonna happen because we left so fast.

My Portuguese is still so terrible. I just sit and listen and don’t understand anything in conversations. I am always just in the background. This week for fast Sunday I fasted to strengthen my confidence in the Lord, because I feel like a fear-filled missionary. I am scared of failure, scared to talk to people, scared to set goals because I don’t feel I can achieve them. Thank you for your thoughts on overcoming fear and improving my prayer. I studied a little about these things this week.

Please let McKenna know I am proud of her.

Love you.

Elder Sork 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Invasion of the Cockroach!

Hey Mom,

How I´m doing? I am getting really comfortable in this area: with the members of the ward, with this companion, with the responsibilities I have as a junior companion that no one expects too much of yet.  I am dreading the change that is sure to come, the ´´stretching´´ that you talked about. I know it is imminent. In just a few weeks are transfers.  I may be with a new companion, maybe have more responsibilities as a missionary, there will be more experiences where I will see how my weaknesses in the language or personal preparation make the missionary work tough. So, as always, I am looking forward and feeling anxious for what is coming. Right now, in the moment, I am doing okay. This week I had some interesting experiences!

Our investigators this week:  We found a rapaze who is 15 yrs old.  Actually his mom found us because we are American. Sometimes on P Days we play basketball on the court the church has. This kid’s name is Ricardo and he really likes basketball.  He trains a lot, but his mom wants him to have more time playing so today (P Day) we are gonna play basketball for an hour or two at the church with him. Basketball was a great way to break the ice. He´s warming up to us.  He and Elder Kozlowski talk a lot about sports - it’s only a matter of time until the baptism! Ricardo has never really liked organized  religion because he sees the problems and dishonesty in so many churches here. We taught him about the restoration and he likes the church. He came to church yesterday but it made me really sad.  The young men’s program here is terrible at integration. I was up playing piano and Elder K was with an investigator whose son has mental problems so he needed to help them out during sacrament meeting. We prepped with the young men beforehand to make friends and be welcoming but Ricardo sat alone during sacrament meeting. It was really sad. We have a meeting with the Pres. of the young men to talk about integration in the ward. It’s no surprise that the Young Women and Relief Society are great at integration though!

We have 2 investigators we are helping overcome smoking addictions, Clark and Marcondes. Marcondes has some mental problems too he struggles with. I don’t know if he has a mental capacity to really overcome this addiction, he smokes upwards of 40 cigarettes a day. But we are praying and teaching them with hope.

6 Month Anniversary:  This week (Thursday) marked my 6 months here in Brazil. As I was coming upon it, it felt like time was starting to go faster.  Now looking back, 6 months has felt like FOREVER and I have got a lot more time to go... I’m trying to stay energetic and positive but it’s always a struggle. We did celebrate that I had survived 6 months.  At the end of the day we bought Sundaes and French fries. It was good, practically American! In this transfer Elder K will make 1 year.  To celebrate that anniversary we are planning on going to a pizza buffet with some of our recent converts.

Interesting FUN Fact: Brazil doesn’t believe that the U.S. went to the moon. EVERYONE here believes it was a hoax/conspiracy. I think Dani and her family would get along well with some of the theories they have got down here! Elder Kozlowski and I always get defensive when it comes up. haha

What I really miss:  It’s good to hear you are getting an exercise schedule again! I miss REALLY working out so much. My body feels so weak and floppy, I hate it. I do push-ups, pull-ups, and other body weight exercises every single day but it isn’t the same. I know how important it is to stay healthy and its basically impossible here. If you can, get Dad working out too!!!!

A Really Cool Spiritual Experience:  Cinthia was baptized last week. Her daughter has been really uninterested in our messages. Every morning her mom wakes her up to do scripture study, she fights, she’s always on her phone, etc. We taught her some lessons but decided to just give her some time before teaching her again. On Saturday we fasted and to start my fast I prayed about all of our investigators and recent converts and asked for direction on who really needed the support of my fast specifically. I felt impressed to fast for her and Elder K did too. So we fasted with her in mind. On Sunday morning we showed up to church and her mom came running to us and told us how the day before Maria had out of the blue decided she wanted to be baptized! I know that the YW president and the Beehive girls had a lot to do with it, they had an activity this week and did a GREAT job with integration, making friends and making Maria feel welcome in the church, but I believe that our fast contributed! It was really cool to see a direct outcome like that to our fasting and prayers. I know that it doesn’t always work that way, and that we also can’t expect God to mess with the agency of others, but I have a strong belief that God was aware of our fast and the prayers of Cinthia, and many others. Maria was baptized, since it was a surprise I didn’t have my camera so no pictures.  (In the picture of Cinthia being baptized Maria is beside her.) 

This makes 5 baptisms in 5 weeks, really baptizing in the right way. Me and Elder K are really happy and know that we are being blessed for our obedience.

A really GROSS Experience:  During personal study on Saturday we sat down, started reading scriptures, and a cockroach ran across our floor. Elder K stomped on him and that was that. We went back to studying. A few minutes later, two more were spotted. We killed ém real quick. Another minute passed and 3 more came out from who knows where!!! It turned into an INVASION. Mom, in less than one hour, we killed over FIFTY cockroaches entering our house. We did some investigating…apparently someone sprayed an insecticide outside the building and ALL THE COCKRAOCHES WERE RUNNING INTO OUR APARTMENT- fat, juicy, gross cockroaches. We literally killed over fifty. Our floor got covered in cockroach blood, it smelled SO BAD. I have a picture of the pile of cockroach corpses at the end of the invasion. I HATE COCKROACHES. It was so gross, and to say the least, I didn’t feel the spirit during that hour of personal study!

Another Package?  Also an idea if you are wondering what things you could send me, I am really interested in learning more about church history, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, the details of the early history of the church. I want to know more about how the church was created, before the church was created and really be familiar with our heritage. We have some resources as missionaries but I want things DETAILED and more specific to really learn. Also any cool or good books that help explain gospel doctrine. Elder K has a book called House of the Lord about the Salt Lake temple by Elder Talmage that I read. That was really cool. But if anyone has any cool books and you send another package, I would love some more reading material to really dive in to the history of the church, the life of Joseph Smith and the witnesses of the BOM, etc.

Spiritual thought bem rapido:  I am reading 3 Nephi. It’s really cool reading about the visit of Jesus Christ to the Nephites. In 3 Nephi 14:7-11 it talks about how God is always ready to answer our prayers and give us what we ask for. Jesus gave an example of how an earthly father, a being imperfect and influenced by the world, still loves his children to give them what the need, how much more God, who has a PERFECT love for us, is willing to give us blessings if we ask. But it is important to remember that everything is given in accordance with the will of the Lord. HE knows what we need, so it’s important to ask for the right things, otherwise if we are asking for the wrong things we aren’t going to receive anything and maybe we will feel disappointed or our testimony will be weakened. I was thinking of the example of parents with their kids in the grocery store. The kids ALWAYS (or at least I always did) ask for a candy bar or something like that at check out, and the parents ALWAYS say no, because they KNOW their child doesn’t need that. 

But when their child has a school project or something like that and asks for help and supplies, the parents are ready to help because they know the kid needs these things. I think it’s like that with God sometimes. We can’t always be praying to ask for the candy bar and then lose our testimony because we don’t get the candy bar. We will receive, when we ask for the right things. We will receive the things that we REALLY need. I need to learn this better!  

Love you mom!  
Your son, Elder Sork

Monday, February 19, 2018

Online Missionaries Help Our Work

Hey Mom, it’s good to hear from you and I am jealous that you guys are getting snow... what I would give for some cold weather!! In this letter I will talk about the things that happened this week and then answer your questions.

First off, about Circa.  She left us a note saying she doesn’t want to go to church and to not pass by anymore. She said she knows our message is true but that she isn’t ready to take the steps necessary to be baptized. That has been a real bummer, but we had an AMAZING experience with another lady that I will talk about.

We had an amazing experience with an investigator this week. She is a friend of a member in the ward.  As we were leaving this members house after lunch, she was just arriving. We gave her a quick invitation to church, nothing special, and then left. This was on Saturday. On Sunday I was sitting up on the stand playing piano and I saw her come in to sacrament meeting a little late, but she still came! I didn’t think too much of it, but it was still really cool.  Then on Monday, P-Day, we got a call from the member friend of this lady. (The ladies name is Cinthia, the member friend is named Martha.) Martha called and said that Cinthia was frantic to talk with us. Me and Elder Kozlowski were just thinking what in the world?! Tuesday, we went to the house of Martha and met with Cinthia. And, oh my gosh, it has been so cool to hear about her experiences. She spoke with us and said that she needed to be baptized, ASAP. This was before we had even taught her ANYTHING.

Apparently, when we saw her on Saturday after lunch, she had a strong impression that she had already met elder Kozlowski, like he was an old friend... then on Sunday when she entered the church, she told us that from the second she stepped in the building she felt like she had just walked into her house. Martha gave her a tour of all the classes and things but she already knew where everything was and what went on in each room. She had tons of questions after being at church.  On Sunday night she was investigating the church on and got in contact with the sister missionaries in Salt Lake that preach the gospel online and they told her to download the gospel library app. After speaking with the missionaries she couldn’t fall asleep so she stayed up all night reading the Book of Mormon, Gospel Principles, and other books about the church and then chatting with the sister missionaries. So she basically already knows everything about the basic lessons we would teach investigators.

On Tuesday we taught her the Plan of Salvation (PoS), and told her that she very may well have known Elder Kozlowski before this life.  She also told us of how she feels the presence of her deceased father very strongly during times of difficulty. She has lots of experiences. So she was super excited about the PoS and is already planning her visit to the temple and sealing of her family.

I have never met someone so ready to be baptized and she told us even more experiences that I don’t feel I should share because they are so personal to her, but they have really strengthened my testimony too. I am a little disappointed it wasn’t me that she recognized, but I hope that throughout my mission I can find people that I KNOW have been waiting for ME.

Anyways, she was baptized on Sunday.  It was actually a funny thing.  There was a frog in the baptismal font. Our zone leaders forgot to clean it, but that didn’t stop her.  She was still baptized. This has been really awesome. Cinthia has a daughter with 12 years that we are planning to baptize in a week or two, she is very shy so we´ll see how it goes.

Hearing Cinthia’s experience of feeling the presence of her father, and also experiences Elder Kozlowski has recounted about feeling the presence of family members on the other side supporting him, has really made me jealous. I was wondering why I haven’t been given that gift, to recognize the support of my ancestors, why I haven’t received a strong witness like they have.  I have wondered why I haven’t felt Grandma G with me even though I have been praying to have her near. This week I was thinking a lot about her and writing down some memories of our times together. I got thinking about how supportive she always was of us kids. She was at EVERY concert, awards night, soccer game, every holiday, had one-on-one time with each of us on our grandma special nights, she would check up on our grades…she was SO SUPPORTIVE in everything we did and was always concerned about how we were doing. As I was thinking about these things, I didn’t feel a hand on my shoulder or a hug, but I had a little thought in my brain: “nothing has changed.” She is still the same Grandma, and maybe I don’t feel her with me but I KNOW that my grandma G is there. I don’t have all the details about the spirit world, but I know she is STILL supporting me and our family like she always has. I think that thought was some personal revelation. It was really cool too. Sometimes I wish I had spiritual gifts like those around me, but I gotta be okay with what I have got and improve upon them. 

Valentine’s Day was pretty great, me and Elder K accidentally matched our ties so we took a cute couple pic.

One really sad thing is that Gil, one of our recent converts, began questioning the history of the church and he started looking for answers online.  He found a bunch of anti-Mormon garbage, and lost his testimony. He told us that he will not be going to church anymore. He had such a strong testimony and great potential to grow in the gospel. It is SO important that people have a testimony of the Book of Mormon as their foundation.  This is what he was lacking, that strong foundation. He was too critical (didn’t have the proper perspective) and didn’t search for answers from divinely appointed sources.  It’s like you would tell us in seminary, you wouldn’t go to a basketball coach to help you learn how to cook.

This week we did a service project for a less active member picking weeds. In Brazil this practically means clearing bush in the Amazon jungle (haha). It was good! We are going back this week to finish up. 

Now, I will try to answer your questions - 

The lesson with the family that had the violin didn’t happen so I didn’t get to play. 

We want our investigators to go to church 2 Sundays before they are baptized so normally we baptize them the second Sunday they attend after church. Sometimes we do baptize them on Saturday so that they can receive the Holy Ghost the next day in sacrament meeting.

I would rather do musical numbers then speak in church. Playing the piano in sacrament meeting every week is helping me with my nerves about musical numbers (It also helps that everyone in Brazil is tone deaf so I don’t think they would even recognize any mistakes).

I didn’t meet with Elder Barrett, it isn’t every week.

I am getting really bad with my journaling. I usually write once a week now. I need to be better :(
I know I will have ups and downs. I am getting really comfortable with Elder K. The test is gonna be the next transfer I think, once we get separated and I have a new companion and maybe a new area too. We´ll see.

Thanks for the suggestions about the investigator/convert tracking list.  It could be something great but Brazilians kind of get freaked out with lots of commitments in front of them (haha) so I don’t know how effective it would be. I love them but the people here are really lazy, it’s pretty sad. It’s just hard to get them to complete commitments.  It is a constant struggle. But thank you for the suggestion, and as a missionary I understand the importance of process like this. At the least it is a good thing that I can keep with me to have personally with my Preach my Gospel.

Now I have a quick question for you because you are creative and can ask McKenna too:  We are planning an integration night with the ward and our recent converts in 2 weeks.  Next week can you send ideas of fun activities we could do that would get people involved??  Thanks!

I love you, Mom.  I don’t have time for a spiritual thought today, sorry (haha).

Love, Elder Sork

Monday, February 12, 2018

Funny? Is It Really?

Hey Mom,

Here’s what went on this week:

We had a baptism of a man named Joel. He´s 34 but he has some mental disabilities and his thought processes and understanding are that of someone who is 10 years old. We weren’t sure whether or not he really needed to be baptized, but prayed about it and felt like it was the right thing to do. He was really excited to go to church and be baptized. We showed up at his house on Sunday with a member to give him a ride to church but he wasn’t home.  The night before, we had drilled into his mind to STAY IN THE HOUSE until Sunday morning! So we were very sad going to church without our baptism. Then, in the middle of second hour of church, he showed up!!  He had walked all the way to church by himself (That is a LONG, LONG way.  He lives at the very end of our area).  We were so happy to baptize him. Teaching him was a really good experience.  We had to teach SUPER Simple so that he could understand and remember.  It was good for me. I have a picture of the baptism. (I promise people here are excited to be baptized. I don’t know why Brazilians look like they´re attending a funeral in pictures.  The only funeral we are attending in this picture is that of his sins.  This really is a happy occasion! For some reason they just NEVER smile for photos. But I promise he was very happy to be baptized, haha.)

I have run into a problem, Mom. My pants, are getting tight!  If we had bought the size down  we were considering, they wouldn’t be fitting anymore.  I am definitely gaining a caboose.  I am sure it is a combination of all the muscle I am building walking miles and miles a day and then there is all the food... I was doing a ´´leg day´´  in my workouts (squats and things) earlier in this area but not anymore.  I really am getting self-conscious and need to be watching what I eat. I don’t want to get fat!!  And I NEED my clothes to fit me!!!  I will keep you updated. I have made the decision that at lunch with members I will not be taking seconds (or thirds) and will keep doing other exercises to try and stay slim.

Something funny about this area - supposedly it is one of the most dangerous parts of Joao Pessoa, (As Elder Sork’s mom, I don’t find that so “funny”) but as of yet Elder K and I haven’t had any problems with our safety. I know we are protected here. The gangs of the city have some pretty interesting names... one is Al Kaida (not sure if that’s how you spell it) another is Syria, Iraq, Iran, and United States. I guess they heard about the wars going on with our country, and thought it would be cool to use the names, haha. So saying I’m from the United States takes on a double meaning here.  We have to be careful!

We found a family in our ward whose son is taking violin lessons. We have lunch with them this week.  I’m excited.  I’m gonna ask to see his violin - I hope it’s a full size and that maybe I can play it a little bit! I am really worried about all the muscle memory I have forgotten already. I miss playing so much.

Elder Kozlowski kinda raged this week, because after transfers and a long, serious, strong email from President that clearly spoke about the need for change in the mission culture with the ´´so vai´´ (ridiculous baptisms) nothing has changed.  Our new district leader still has the same mentality and our Zone Leaders didn’t change. So he’s always frustrated with that. It’s nice to be the junior companion right now because he is the one that has to deal with the heat on the numbers.  I am really worried for when the time comes for me to be the senior companion.  I am worried for MANY reasons but particularly how I will deal with leaders or maybe a companion that have the mindset of just getting people into the font.

Here is a thought for the week:
In Helaman 12, verse 2 it is talking a little bit about the pride cycle and the patterns of iniquity in the Nephite nation. In this verse Helaman uses the word ´´comfort´´ (in Portuguese, I think it’s the same in English but I’m not sure) When the Nephite people got comfortable, or lazy due to their prosperity, they forgot God’s hand in their lives and all they had achieved and began to boast it was in their own strength which hardened their hearts. Take away lesson:  We can’t get comfortable! We can enjoy our blessings, but we need to be very careful to always strive to strengthen our relationship with God.   Even when everything is going good, we still have to strive or work at that relationship! A good way to think of it is this:   If you aren’t going forward, you´re going backward. I need to remember this, when I have a good day.  I can’t get too comfy in my relationships with God but continue in gratitude and doing the things I need to as I seek strength from God.

Now to answer the questions you posed: 

1.             What things do you remember that Dad and I have tried to teach you – is there anything that you now find yourself thinking about and helping you make decisions while you are away from home?
Your phrase you always share ´´remember who you are, what you stand for and who is waiting for you to come home´´ is one that I was always appreciative of, but has gained more meaning to me as time goes on. It has always had literal meaning to me, as your son, but more important is the spiritually meaning in this phrase that more and more I am coming to understand. We are children of God.  As a missionary I represent his son Jesus Christ.  I know that one day I will get to return home to live with them again.  This phrase takes on even more meaning in influencing my actions here and will continue to influence me throughout my life.

2.            What is it in life that has brought you the most joy?  Does knowledge of the gospel make that “thing” more meaningful to you than maybe someone who doesn’t have the gospel?
The thing that has brought me the most joy is family.  Being away from you guys is showing me just how much I love you. You are everything to me, because of the gospel I have the knowledge that we will be together forever.  This truth brings me so much joy.  I love you all SO MUCH and miss you guys tons. It really makes me want forever to be together with my family. 

3.            Alma was out sharing the gospel because of the joy he felt when he learned of the atonement and what it could do for him.  Why are you out sharing the gospel? 
I am out to help gain the blessings of going through the temple.  There is so much peace there.  There is so much understanding there.  There is so much strength there.

4.            You have a great concern for the people that you baptize in that you want them to not just jump in the water, but understand what they are doing.  What most do you want them to understand before they are baptized.
I want them to understand that baptism is the BEGINNING of something, not the end.  I want them to truly understand the phrase ´´endure to the end´´ and continue preparing to make more covenants with God and receive the blessings he has for us after baptism. 

5.            As you teach your investigators have you had an experience where you have seen them taken out of their pain and misery into joy and peace like Alma was?
I have not seen a strong example of this that has really had an effect on me, but I am hoping for one as I continue to serve and teach.

Love you, Mom,
Elder Sork

Elder Sork

Monday, February 5, 2018

What's Your Motive?

Hey Mom,

I´m a little confused about some stuff, namely the messaging real time thing... Who told you that was against mission rules? I trust that it was a reliable source so I will respect that, but I had no idea, and neither does anyone else in this mission...(Eric and I were told by Carson’s mission president and our stake president that missionaries should not be instant messaging with home during their computer time on their preparation days; even though this seems to be a common practice, it is not compliant with mission rules.)

As far as my feelings of frustration out here,  I know I am hard on myself.  I know that’s one reason why I have these difficulties.  President Dias thinks I am progressing, but that's a common problem here - EVERYONE thinks I understand more than I really do. I can write, I can form a couple sentences on the fly, but during conferences I still don’t understand what my mission president and his wife are teaching me, or the questions and experiences of our investigators.  I speak with Elder Barrett again on the 15th, maybe he can help me figure it out.  

Besides all that, here is this week:

First off, transfers.  Elder Kozlowski and I are staying together here in Parque do Sol one more transfer. I think that after all these phone calls and things, President was a little scared to transfer me or separate us.

This last week was really tough, this transfer was 7 weeks instead of 6 and it dragged on.  Elder K and I were both were lacking motivation and energy to do missionary work. But now we have another 6 weeks here and we gotta kick things into gear. We have some pesquisadores (investigators) that we will continue working with, but we have plans to find LOTS of new people. 

We baptized Ana this week.  She is the pesquisadore that I talked about being very, VERY humble. I was really happy to see her baptized. She is so shy and timid but going to church and making friends, as well as learning more about the gospel, but the gospel is really changing her.  She is more confident and firm in her beliefs. This woman also has the most patience I have ever seen. Her children are CRAZY. I have never seen kids act like this. But I have never seen her yell or hit her kids.  That happens a lot here and so this is something I have been impressed with. She is an amazing example of patience and love as a mother.

I also bought a bar that you put in the doorframe, and have been using that to do exercises in the mornings and I can take it with me in my suitcase when I get transferred. So that´ll be good!! Elder K and I are still doing exercises every morning.  We are doing our best to stay fit physically as well as spiritually!

Something a little sad - our baptisms of Jef and Gil, those two men who have been best friends since they were 14, are fighting. It started out at the gym, because Gils legs were thicker then Jefs, and Jefs arms were thicker then Gils. This may seem funny, and if I forget about the disastrous consequences, it is, but they got really heated, screaming at each other in public and almost had an outright brawl.  Now they have cut all ties to one another. The situation is goofy but it is really serious and really sad. They were helping each other a lot in their growth and understanding of the gospel.  They were sharing testimonies, going to church together, studying the scriptures, and plans to go to the US and live in Salt Lake close to the headquarters of the church... And now they have cut all ties with each other.  They don’t want to go to church because they will see the other there, etc. They refuse to talk to one another, refuse to listen to our teachings of forgiveness.  We don’t know what to do, if anyone has any suggestions we´re all ears.

Thought for this week:

I started reading the New Testament in Portuguese. It’s harder to read than The Book Of Mormon, but I can understand it for the most part (reading and writing are a lot easier then listening and speaking).  As I read Mathew chapter 6 this week I got thinking about our motives.  Right now, and actually for a while now, I have found myself doing things only because they are expected of me - making contacts and teaching, testifying, staying out here on a mission, but because it is expected of me, not because it is really my desire or I am excited to talk to people who won’t understand me and who I will not understand.  As I read this week it has sparked a new need to reestablish my motives, why I am here and doing what I am doing.  I need to find that ´´baseline´´ like you said mom.

This idea from this scripture can be applied to everyone and especially members of the church. In the scripture Christ talked about how people would pay offerings, fast, and pray not for the blessings of God, but to receive glory of man instead. They were doing good things, but not for the right reasons. Because of this, their motive, they were rejected by God. Why are we serving a mission? Why do we go to church every Sunday?  Why pray, read scriptures, pay fast offerings? Is it because of who is watching? Maybe it’s because it is expected of us?  Or are we really doing it all because we love our Heavenly Father and trust in His plan? This is just a thought to put things in perspective and help us isolate our motives and see if we can be better.   This really hit me this week me because a lot of the things I am doing are not for the right reasons and it is a constant struggle for me to change and really find ´´my motive´´ here. I know what it should be, but am constantly struggling to really make it true in my life here in Brazil.

                                                                                                                    Love, Elder Sork