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.)

 (Carson couldn't get the picture uploaded - computer problems.  He said he would try again next week.)

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

Monday, January 29, 2018


Hi Mom,
First I´ll answer your questions from last week:

I have had several opportunities to give blessings. Elder Kozlowski is always ready to offer people blessings and use his priesthood. Normally, if we are blessing the sick, I anoint with the oil because that’s the easy part, and he gives the blessing. But, this last week I gave the blessing to Maria that woman with a TON of faith and kidney stones, and I also gave another blessing this week to Circa, our eternal investigator. I felt the spirit most blessing Circa - she is ALWAYS working.  We strategically placed ourselves throughout the week in situations where we thought we would get to talk with her and finally had the opportunity. Both of us bore VERY strong testimonies.  She was crying, I was crying Elder K was crying, and she said she would leave work on Sunday because she knew the church was true and she needed to be baptized.  She knew that God would provide a way for her to do what she needed to. She ´´quit´´ her job and the next day a new job opportunity opened up that didn’t require working on Sundays - a miracle! She was all ready to be baptized on Sunday. Elder K was so happy, but after so many disappointments I was a little skeptical. Sunday morning we went to her house to take her to church, and she wasn’t there. We still don’t know where she is.  We haven’t had an opportunity to find her and talk to her. We waited outside her house for an hour. It was devastating. She has taken us on a spiritual and emotional roller-coaster. I want so badly to baptize her.  I don’t know if she is like a pathological liar or what.

I am so grateful for Elder Kozlowski. Seriously he is a constant blessing and answer to prayers. He´s gonna be a lifelong friend, I am sure. He ALWAYS is patient, loving, strong in testimony and an example to me as a missionary.  He is always looking for opportunities to help others.

I learn lots of new words reading the scriptures, the two verbs in my mind that I have learned are desperdiçar (to waste) and disfarçar (disquise).

And I felt the spirit most during our conversations and blessing with Circa, but then with her not showing for the baptism, that kinda put a damper on things.  I just don’t understand what is going on.

I forgot to bring my paper with all the things that happened this week. The ups and downs with Circa were a lot of it. We had a baptism of a woman that was baptized 4 years a ago but was never confirmed, so that was kinda a ´´gimme´´baptism (haha).

We marked a baptism for this Saturday of the woman I talked about being very humble.  She is really slow at learning and lives in extremely humble circumstances, but she has a lot of faith and has been going to church. She is prepared to separate from her boyfriend and be baptized.  That is something to look forward to! Name of her is Ana.

This week we had a zone conference, still don’t understand like anything my mission president and his wife say :( I read a letter from Chad, it made me wonder how I could be more like him. He´s just having fun out there already and he’s so positive.  I wish I could be more like that.

This letter was short, sorry, but I am gonna take some time to write McKenna this week. She sent me an email but I haven’t read it yet. Give her a really big hug and let her know that it is SPECIFICALLY from me. Thanks!

Love you!  Elder Sork

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Eastern-most Point of the Americas

Hey Mom,

Today we woke up at 4:30 to watch the sunrise with a member, Joao Paulo (where we had Christmas). It was cloudy and reminded me of trying to watch the sunset in Hawaii this last year... But it was still really cool. 

We hiked a little bit, took some touristy pictures, also took a picture by a metal working statue thing you’ll see that is officially the most Eastern point of the Americas, the closest you can get to Africa! 

We didn’t go on the beach, technically, so I don’t think we broke any rules haha... But it was super pretty.

Work-wise, this week was really tough. We have tons of investigators, all really interested, all who want to be baptized - but they all have reasons why they can’t be. It is so frustrating.  Cicera STILL hasn’t found another job and can’t leave work on Sundays, because she literally relies on her job right now to support her family. We have 3 men that all want to be baptized, but none of them are married and are currently living with their girlfriends. This is a HUGE problem here, NO ONE gets married. I guess it’s expensive and takes a lot of time.  They just don’t see the point.  We also found out that Maria was already baptized (I don’t remember if I talked about her last week but she is super needy - sick, in a lot of pain, no money, so we have been helping her with these things and visit regularly but really this is where the Relief Society should be and they aren’t doing anything.  So we have been doing a LOT of work with people, but have no “results”. (If you measure “results” by number of baptisms.)

Our leaders are hounding us to baptize people. This Sunday Elder K and I were the only people in our zone to not baptize, and our Zone Leaders made sure we knew it when they spoke to us. After this call Elder K got really worked up.  This was Sunday afternoon, but we continued working.  About 6:30 walking to a compromisso guess who we saw: (keep in mind this is Sunday evening) Our Zone Leaders in street clothes walking to their house, joking around; they had just bought food, etc. This is our mission. Elder K just about blew his top. Our leaders baptize people just throwing them in the water, they have tons of baptisms and get a lot of credit for working hard, then get mad at me and Elder K when we are really trying hard to obey the rules and baptize true converts. It is SO frustrating, and this is a problem through the entire mission. This has been really disheartening to see, and I hope I can help it change.

Que acontecue esta semana:  (What happened this week)

We had a LOT of rain! Walking to lunch it was just sprinkling.  Elder K wanted to bring an umbrella, but I being a Washingtonian thought it was fine. Halfway there it DUMPED and we arrived COMPLETELY soaked through. But honestly it was really fun, I find joy in the rain here. It is a lot easier to fall asleep to the sound of rain. We also had a thunder storm which was cool.

Walking home one night I found the BIGGEST SNAIL I HAVE EVER SEEN. I brought him home to take pictures.  We named him Frederick. He is seriously the size of my hand. Super cool!

We finally had a pancake night with some members, I sent pictures. (When everyone hears Carson has a bottle of maple extract to make maple syrup, everyone wants to have pancakes with him. We heard they didn’t have that or Peanut Butter in Brazil, so I sent him with both along with other necessities I thought he may have trouble getting.  Some are paying off, some not so much.)

 I look like a giant with a lot of the members here because everyone is so small - but I haven’t grown (yet) upwards. 

I HAVE gained about 15 pounds if my math is right... I look in the mirror and I am not fat yet but definitely not cut like I was. I get sad. I do exercises every morning but I need to be better about my diet. I just find so much joy in the food here, haha. Also I think my legs are getting bigger/bulkier from all the walking so maybe that’s a little bit of it too.

Today marks 5 months since I have been out, woohoo!

Also, my miracle of not stepping in dog poop is no more. I arrived home to find a big fat dog crap stuck to the bottom of my shoe last night. I was very worked up. 

Elder K also loves peanut butter - but they don’t have it here. I cracked open my peanut butter and after seeing the look in his eyes, I gave it to him. A little late Christmas Present! I know he’s gonna enjoy it more than me.

I didn’t exactly study faith this week... but I had the intention to, just got sidetracked. I read in Alma 32 when he talks about a seed growing into a tree. And maybe I am stupid for not knowing this, but I think the primary song “Faith Is Like A Little Seed” mislead me... BUT, in Alma 32, the seed, is NOT faith! It’s actually referring to the word of God. It still talks about faith in this chapter, but the majority of Alma’s words are about the word of God being planted in our heart and how it can grow into the tree of life and produce fruit.  I got pretty lost studying this chapter because I was trying to think of so much, I still have a lot here to study. There is a ton of symbolism and I am just making random connections right now. But one cool thing is this, how Alma’s discourse is similar to Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. The bar of iron and the seed = word of God.  The bar of iron leads to the tree of life, the seed grows into the tree of life. Both result in the obtaining of fruit, the love of god - or the knowledge of his plan and the atonement of Jesus Christ. That’s just one thing in my mind, but seriously, my Book of Mormon his completely covered with annotations and little thoughts about this chapter, I’m trying to figure out the symbolism of all the different things and what it means to me, its nuts!

This was my week.  We have 2 weeks left in this transfer, I really hope Elder K and I can baptize again before transfers. I’m gonna miss this area, I love the ward and my companion.

Love you!  Elder Sork

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