Friday, September 22, 2017

Ether 12:6: After the Trial of Your Faith

This week hasn’t been anything special.  A lot of the same stuff.  The schedule is so full.  This week went by really fast but my handle on the Portuguese language is still getting nowhere. And I´m here for only one more week and then headed to the field where I am supposed to talk to members, investigators, bishops, and my companion. I´m super worried, already praying for whoever my companion is going to be. But I will keep working hard!

I forgot to mention that last Friday on our way to the temple we were in a minor car accident... I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner with how crazy Brazil drivers are! I really am going to miss the temple, going there every week is awesome, but it sounds like in Joao Pessoa we don’t have any temple trips :( I love looking at the Portland Temple on my recommend holder though.  I can’t wait to go home and go back, it’s so beautiful!

This week we got a broadcast from the Provo CTM that Elder Oaks spoke in, which was nice to actually hear English instead of a translator who just gets every 2 or 3 words.

I really got sick of the song my alarm clock played, so I switched that up... pretty exciting! I have gotten one letter, from Reese and Mira! So sweet, it made me so happy. I miss them. I found out that they live like 10 miles from my companion which is cool.  I´ll keep checking for letters - trust me, I´ve been checking! My district thinks I´ve got some girl I´m waiting on... I tell them I do... my momma! I love you so much. Thanks for raising me to become a missionary, all the ´remember who you are´s and what you stand for´s´ paid off! If I was home I would give you a BIG Carson hug, but I´ll just have to save them all up for when i get back. I´m never growing out of those!  Have a great birthday mom, I love you so much.

We got new roommates this week, Elder De Silva from Angola and Elder Felinto, they´re nice.  I am getting really close with my district, I´m gonna miss them when we all leave.

Next week will be my last P-DAy in the CTM! Crazy. Next weekend we get to watch general conference which will be cool.  I’m hoping to get some spiritual strength from that right before I head out to the field.

For my mission plaque I would like the scripture found in Ether 12:6 - reasoning behind that scripture is that it gives me strength to know that God doesn’t give us a witness until after our trials of Faith (which I am definitely having right now) but I know that if I persevere and endure to the end, relying on my Heavenly Father, at the end of my trial I will be able to receive a witness of faith and strengthen my testimony in His plan for me.

I love you and miss you!

Elder Sork

Friday, September 15, 2017

I've Made My First Two Contacts

September 15, 2017
Hey Mom,

I didn’t read the electronic version of your hand-written letter yet because I really want to have it from the mailbox, but I know you are thinking of me and love me.  Thank you so much for your support.  Last week I just complained and dumped all my problems on you and I really regret doing that. So this week I kept track of all things I could really write about. Language is still a huge struggle but I don’t want to stress that anymore, you know how I feel.  Now I want to focus on my experiences here at the CTM (Brazil Missionary Training Center).

Saturday we went out into São Paulo and proselyted, it was super crazy, especially when my companion and I are both struggling with the language. Even with this though, we were able to approach people and got 2 contacts off the street.  We were able to briefly explain the concept of eternal families and bare our testimony to both people about how we are so happy for the knowledge and opportunity to live with our families forever. 

One of my Brazilian roommates got engaged, that was pretty crazy! I love my district; they are all so loving and helpful and also are good at keeping each other in high spirits even with the long days. 

We are able to watch church movies on Sundays.  We have watched The Restoration the last two weeks Even though its repetitive I have really felt the spirit and have strengthened my testimony on the  Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith being a prophet in the latter-days. I also read Our Heritage this week and that has only added to the experience. It’s so inspiring to learn about the trials of the church and beginning missionaries, it definitely has given me a new perspective on my trials here. 

I SAW SISTER REID! She was here at the CTM for about an hour before she flew out to the mission field.  We were able to talk and get some pictures. I will send those once I’m out of the CTM. It was so good to see a familiar face, and I am excited for her to serve! 

We´ve been doing splits with Brazilians which is hilarious because basically the natives talk to each other the whole time and the Americans are really quiet... I´m always clueless, never understand anything, but the Brazilians are very patient and loving and that makes this experience a little more bearable.

The pens Austin said were really good I don’t think work the same on the other side of the equator... I thought that was funny after he swore by them!

Power outages happen quite often here, also my handy-dandy alarm clock with temperature gauge keeps me informed that it is now 84 degrees in our dorms.  The CTM doesn’t have AC just one fan, so I’m already getting exposed to the heat!  I am missing the cold I had my first week... but it was gonna happen eventually.

I got a haircut from the CTM barber, he spent a solid 3 minutes on it... definitely no Sportsclips. I may just have an elder from the district do it for me next time because it left much to be desired! 

I love the fruit here, fresh watermelon and pineapple are my desserts every day.

Also, good news, my foot has finally healed up!  It’s kind of scarred but as far as I can tell that center mass of warts is completely gone!!  I still have a few little ones in other areas but I may just cut them out myself if I see them starting to spread or grow - I am not going through that again.

I hope everything is going well back home, let everyone know I love them! Thank you for your support, Mom. I will continue to do my best to endure and persevere with faith as I struggle. It’s just hard knowing in a little over 2 weeks I´ll be in the field, with a companion I literally will not be able to understand.  But I will keep trying! Spiritual experiences are what have been keeping me going. I am really learning to love the Spirit and pray to have him with me every day.

Love you, MOM!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

No Need to Worry

Dear Friends and Family,

I know many of you are concerned after reading Carson’s last letter.  Let me assure you as his Mom, who knows him quite well, that he is fine.  I am not surprised by his tone, nor am I worried.  My heart breaks for him a little bit to know he is struggling, but some homesickness and fear of a new language is quite normal.  He went out knowing it would be hard and just had to let someone know what he was going through. 

Do not worry!  Carson knows WHO he is:  He is a Sork.  Who comes from a line of strong people (Bowen, Baum, Hirons, Tippetts, Ellsworths)  These Sork’s know how to do hard things—Carson knows how to work hard and that he can overcome.  He knows he is a child of God and that His Heavenly Father loves him and asks him to do hard things because HE knows what Carson is capable of and has put him in a situation where he can help him reach that potential.  I know that Heavenly Father is providing a way for Carson to do what He has asked.  Carson knows it too, as evident in his letter about his mission companion, the blessings he has been given and the encouragement of his language teacher.  Carson knows WHAT he stands for:  In seminary this last year we talked a lot about “if you know your why then your what has more meaning.”  Carson knows he is out there to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.  That gospel has brought him such joy and peace in his life.  He is grateful for the sacrifice of a Savior that has made it so he can be with those he loves forever and continue to grow and progress through the eternities.  The strength that knowledge gives him will help pull him through this tough spot.  He has a righteous desire as he stated in his letter, “I want so bad just to be able to preach the gospel.”  The Lord will grant him his desire, I have no doubt.  Finally, Carson knows WHO is at home cheering him on and fasting and praying for him.  He knows he is part of Heavenly Father’s team, this is just an away game but he knows he is on the winning team no matter where he goes.  Sometimes the game might not go as planned, but confidence to persevere can be found in knowing His team can’t be beat. 

I shared the rawness of Carson’s letter with all of you because this is what missionaries experience.  This is real, this is normal and it is OKAY.  This experience is not unique to Carson.  It is important that we pray for these missionaries and realize the sacrifice they are making to better the lives of others.  I want you to know Elder Sork’s struggles and be able to pray for him specifically while he is going through them.  I don’t want anyone to think less of him for what he is going through, but rather see how strong he really is.  I want his friends who are preparing for missions or out on missions (my seminary sons) to know that it is going to be hard, but I know you all will REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU STAND FOR (and why) and WHO is waiting for you to come home (and cheering you on as you are away). 

I know Carson would love to receive letters right now and throughout his mission.  You can send them via the United States post office in regular envelopes with $1.15 postage if the weight is 1 oz.  or under (basically an envelope with up to 4 pages of standard printer paper).  It takes about 10 days to 3 weeks to get them to his location.  His address is: 

Elder Carson W Sork
Brazil Joao Pessoa Mission
Brazil Missionary Training Center
Rua Padre Antonio DAngelo, 121
Casa Verde
CEP 02516-040 Sao Paulo-SP

He will be at this location for another 3 weeks.  So write him a letter today!

Let’s all cheer him on!
Mama Sork

Friday, September 8, 2017

I Just Don't Understand!

Hey Mom,

The musical number went really well. Everyone knows me now has the guy who works out AND plays the violin really well. We had our district presidency member come up to us after with tears in his eyes, saying he felt the spirit so strong during the number and had a vision of his parents. He thanked us all. The people I played with were amazing; it reminded me what I love about playing the violin.

The fire sounds crazy, I hope it gets under control. That makes me so sad to hear. Chad sent pictures of the Gorge - SO SO SO sad.  Also, I am extremely sad about Grandma Bowen.  I will be praying for her and hope whatever happens it’s as comfortable for her as possible and what she wants, but I´m gonna miss her and don’t look forward to hearing the bad news.

I haven’t been doing too good over here, Mom. I'm really struggling. It’s all centered around learning the language. I know you are gonna think I´m just being hard on myself; that I´m a smart guy and will get it eventually, but I am REALLY struggling. Mom, I don’t know what to do. I don’t understand anything in Portuguese still! I can´t even give a simple lesson unless I just read off of written sentences.  It feels like my brain has a learning disability or something.  I study flashcards and read phrases and do so many things and try to memorize passages but at this point nothing is working. And, to top it off, everyone keeps talking about the “dom de linguas,” (gift of tongues).  I haven’t seen it yet. I have broken down several times now. I don’t know how long I can do this.

Every day I wake up and just dread the day knowing I´m just going to get further and further behind.  I always just have a bad attitude now. I really hope I´m able to persevere and become who I need to be but I´m halfway done with the MTC and still am clueless. 

I love you and the family so much.  I miss you all so much. I don’t want to let you down or myself down, and I just want to be a missionary but everything about Brazil feels wrong. Right now I feel wasted and feel like I should be in the United States where I know I could be successful. I´m gonna keep trying but every day is a struggle, please pray for me Mom.

I know you’re gonna be an awesome seminary teacher, and everyone in your class is very lucky to have you.  I would know! I will continue to study the Book of Mormon; right now it’s the only thing getting me by because it helps me forget about my problems.  The gospel makes so much sense.  Logically I believe but I am just really struggling with feeling the spirit and having faith when it comes to my abilities.

I hope in the next few weeks things get better and I can tell you how awesome and strengthening an experience this was, but I´m just afraid it's gonna wear me down. My teacher has been really patient and has a strong testimony.  She is a convert from missionaries. Her name is Irma Perazolla and she has shared some good scriptures and tried to share her testimony with me but it’s hard when I can’t even really understand what she’s saying. My companion Elder Davenport has also been a big strength, his faith has kept me going and he’s already given me two blessings. I´m glad I´ve got them and my district is supportive I just hope I can do this. I want so bad just to be able to preach the gospel. Tomorrow we’re supposed to go proselyte, teach two investigators, and have TRC and its gonna be a really hard day for me. Please pray for me.

I love you Mom, let everyone know I love them!

Elder Sork

Friday, September 1, 2017

First Impressions of Brazil and the MTC

September 1, 2017
Hey Mom,

I don’t have a ton of time to email, our schedules are so jam packed with stuff. Before I left Austin told me the MTC was the hardest thing he had ever done and he wasn´t kidding. This is so hard. I thought the language would be a strong point for me, with my intelligence and study habits and things, but for some reason my brain just doesn’t seem wired for it. I know I´ve only been here for like 11 days but I am really, really struggling with the language and falling behind everyone. It has been a really humbling experience.
I miss everyone so much but I know this is where I need to be. My days have been the same until today, wake up and eat a sandwich for breakfast, then beans and rice and meat for lunch and dinner. I´ve actually started to get used to the food though. Right now the language is just such a barrier and is really frustrating for me, but I hope to find strength in my Heavenly Father and that he can help me to be able to do what I need to so I can preach the gospel to the people of Brazil.

Pictures on google drive aren’t working right now, I don’t know if it’s because I´m in the MTC and they don’t allow us to send/receive pictures here, or if it will be a problem once I get to the field. We´ll just have to see. But, I´m taking some pictures while in the MTC to send to you guys when I get the chance!
Today we were able to go to the São Paulo temple and that was one thing I really needed. I really felt the Spirit there today and God’s love for me, and I know that with Him, I can do this.
First impressions here in Brazil: I love the people, I just wish I could talk to them. Everyone is so loving and friendly. Also, they are CRAZY drivers. I´m glad I won’t be driving anywhere on my mission. The city is HUGE, it’s unbelievable just flying in to see how big it was. It’s been chilly but whenever anyone hears I´m going to João Pessoa they assure me being cold will not be a problem... so I better make the most of being cold while I still can!

Mom, I want to apologize for not playing the violin with you before I left. It´s a gift I have that I should have been sharing. I was asked to play at our mission conference on Sunday with a flute/cello/piano quartet and I´m excited to actually be able to do something that I´m good at and share that talent with people after struggling so much this first week just trying to learn the simplest things about the language.
Me and my companion, Elder Davenport, are both having a hard time with that, but spiritually we are a really good match and work well together.  We get along great. He´s a really nice guy and has some awesome insights about the gospel and we have good study together.  He´s from Queen Creek Arizona, sounds like its fairly close to where our family is but I´m not sure...I´m glad to have him as my companion though. In 5ish weeks you guys will be able to see some pictures of him and then whoever I´m assigned to in the field!
This MTC experience is going to be so refining.  I already see changes in myself and the Elders in my district. I know it’s hard but I am so grateful for this opportunity to grow closer to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and learn to recognize the Spirit better.
There’s a rule here of “no jumping” because Elders get hurt a lot. Our district leader is Elder Allen and reminds me a lot of Austin. He was doing a heel click in the hallway and tripped and sprained his ankle really bad.  He is not going home but has a cast for 2 weeks and then a boot for the rest of his time in the MTC. There are reasons for the rules! I was able to give him a blessing which was really cool, I´m glad for the pre-mission experience I was able to have with Dad in giving a blessing to someone.

I love you guys all so much, I´ve already spent some time with my family photo album, but again I know this is where I need to be.  I really hope I can start picking up the language so that doesn’t frustrate me anymore. I´ll be emailing you guys next Friday, I can’t believe it’s been so long already even though the days go by so slowly.
We have physical activity almost every night and they have some pull up bars so I usually just do that and push-ups for our 30 minutes of exercise, my whole district likes making be uncomfortable by talking about my muscles... but I gotta use them while I´ve still got them!
My stomach has been doing a bit better which is good, hopefully it continues to get used to the food. I love you Mom, thank you for all the work you put in to get me prepared.  There is nothing I need that I do not have with me. You set me up for success, now I just need to do my part to become what the Lord wants me to be.
Let everyone know I miss them, give Pippin some loves for me, and I hope you recover from your superman slide! (I did laugh out loud, through some tears, by the way.)

Love, Elder Sork

Thursday, August 24, 2017

From the MTC President

Dear Parents,

Sister Grahl and I are very happy to let you know that your missionary has arrived safely at the Brazil Missionary Training Center.  What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they begin their missionary experiences with us! We will surely take good care of your missionary.     
The missionaries now have companions and are settled into their rooms.  They are assigned to a district with capable and caring instructors for language and lesson study.  Their branch presidents and wives will meet them this Sunday.  These wonderful couples are richly blessed as they work with, motivate, and interview the missionaries assigned to their branch.

The MTC has a physician to care for their health needs. We are also happy to report that the MTC food is plentiful, healthy and very good.

Your missionary will be able to e-mail home on Preparation Day after a morning at the Temple.  This will be either Wednesday or Friday, depending on individual assignments.
Your missionary is about to make an eternal difference in the lives of many others. President Lorenzo Snow said: “There is no mortal man that is as interested in the success of an elder when he is preaching the Gospel as is the Lord who sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord's children".  We love these missionaries as if they were our own.  We will watch over them carefully to ensure they are ready for a wonderful missionary experience after the rewarding time they will have in the MTC.

We thank you for preparing such a wonderful representative of the Lord.
Pres. Paulo R. Grahl and Sister Zuleika M. Grahl

PlEASE DO not send packages to the Brazil Missionary Training Center. All packages must be sent directly to the mission where your missionary will be serving, not the MTC. If you have already mailed a package to the Brazil MTC, please understand that the package cannot be forwarded to his or her mission and will be returned to you.
WE Strongly eNCOURAGE sENDING HAND WRITTEN LETTERS. Please write your missionary´s first and last name. Your missionary will provide you with his district and box number. Also, please DO NOT SEND ANYTHING BY FEDEX, DHL, UPS, or other private carriers.  The cost to process this type of correspondence is exorbitant.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I Have Arrived!

Hey Mom and Dad, 

I just got to the MTC (they call it the CTM down here) about half an hour ago, it still doesn´t seem real that I´m out here. It´s actually pretty chilly in Sao Paulo, probably one of the few times I´ll be saying "I´m cold" for the next two years. 

Sao Paulo Brazil Missionary Training Center

I just got assigned my companion, his name is Elder Davenport and he´s from Arizona. We haven´t really had a chance to talk much yet but he seems like a cool guy. 

The trip here went well, after I went through security Brother Cannon was waiting by my gate because I guess he was leaving on another flight about an hour later and knew I would be leaving the 21st. It was good to see him and talk to him after a hard goodbye from the family. (A little tender mercy for Carson, but it did my heart good too.   It is what I need to see-- Tye wrap his arm around Carson when he got through security and walk him down the concourse to his gate.  It made it easier for me to walk away knowing it would be two years before I could put my arms around him again.)

Brother Tye Cannon
Elder Sork's Young Mens Leader

Getting to Atlanta was fine, the lady checking my passport took like 5 minutes just looking through it and asked if I had actually received a Visa from Brazil, which scared me but she eventually said I was good to go. I was alone in Atlanta for about an hour which was pretty lonely but pretty soon some other white shirts started showing up. By the end we had about 15 missionaries flying out to Brazil, I felt the spirit with all those other Elders knowing we are all making this sacrifice together to go teach the Gospel. 

I have noticed today, and yesterday as well, some blessings. First, even with how nervous I usually get I have been very comfortable, just a little nerves but from what I´m used to it is a huge blessing. I believe that to be a confirmation that what I am doing is right. Also, as of this morning my foot hasn´t been bothering me at all so hopefully that keeps up! My stomach is already having issues though so not looking forward to that. Hope the family is doing well, I won´t be able to write again until next Friday when my first P-Day will be. Miss you all!


Elder Sork