Wednesday, December 6, 2017

With Wings Like Eagles

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

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

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

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

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

My thought for this week:

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

Love you.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cake Night

Hey mom, glad to hear you guys had a good Thanksgiving, and I hope things dealing with Grandma's estate get better. This week certainly had its ups and its downs for me. We had a mission conference and I received mail there, just a letter from Sage Johns and one from Grandma G, sent October 9th. But I should receive more mail from the mission home a week or two before Christmas so we´ll see what is waiting for me then. It´s really tough reading these letters from Grandma, its clear she didn't know what was gonna happen. It is still so hard to think that she is gone when I am so far away, my mind is having trouble grasping the fact that such a big part of me is gone and wont be there when I come home. This week I also got hit pretty hard with home sickness. Up until now a lot of my problems were really language based, all my doubts and negative thoughts and things, but now with Thanksgiving passing and Christmas on its way I´m getting hit on the other side with some REAL homesickness.  This is the first time I have ever really experienced this. SO that kinda sucks a lot. I´ll explain my week really quick and then try to respond a little bit to your questions.

The scenery in Joao Pessoa

Circa, our investigator, was progressing great - she accepted Word of Wisdom, let us take the last of her coffee out of the house but then we couldn't get in contact with her the rest of the week. Just yesterday we finally caught her in her house, she didn't go to church, apparently a Pasteur from her previous church has been talking bad about us ´´Mormons,´´ as well as her catholic mom.We are trying to overcome these influences and get her to go to church to feel the spirit there, but we´ll see. Her baptism has been put on the back burner.

I got a backpack because it was more comfortable than a shoulder strap bag to carry all my supplies in, but this week in doing laundry I discovered that with my sweat, and the friction, the backpack has caused dark grey stains on the backs of 7 of my white shirts... so that made me pretty angry. And I forgot my stain stick in my first area, so now all my shirts are stained! :(((

The day before Thanksgiving we had ´´pie night´´ They don't sell pies here so it was really cake night, because Elder K´s family always has pie night the night before Thanksgiving. That was a nice little relaxing evening. Thanksgiving itself was a bust, we had a mission conference with the area president of Brazil, a member of the 70, Marcos Aidukaitis, and he quiemou (´´burned´´) the Elders here for being disobedient, irreverent, and a lot of other things. I didn't really understand much at all during the conference which was disheartening. We didn't have lunch because of the conference and no members were able to feed us dinner so we didn't even have a meal on thanksgiving. :(

Every Saturday Elder K does an English Class in the chapel, and very week no one shows up... but this week was a surprise and we had 10 people, both members and non members, there! It made me long for English.  I could do so much more as an English speaking missionary I feel like. It is so frustrating.

It's always a struggle to get pesquisdores to church but this week we fasted and had 7 investigators attend church! We are hoping for some baptisms both this wek and the next. Vamos ver!

Quick thought for this week, in Mosiah 2:18 (we always focus on verse 17 but I liked verse 18 in my studies this week)

I don't have the English translation but you can look it up later, this is my best shot at it: ´´Behold you have called me your king, and if I, who you call your king, work to serve you, should you not work to serve one another?´´ 

I like this scripture because it shows the power of teaching by example, and I related it to missionary work in my study. We can preach all day long, but it is just important to be living what we are teaching, to SHOW people what they need to do as representatives of Christ. This is super important for missionaries! And King Benjamin was awesome at this, at being a good example to his people, AND his son. If you read in Mosiah 6:7 you can see how King Mosiah learned from his Dad the importance of being an example, in that he worked along side the people of his kingdom to show them that what he was asking of them was just as important to him. 

I love you all, have a good week!

Your son, 
Elder Sork

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Hey Mom,

Here is the rundown of my week:

We met a woman named Circa and taught her the first lesson, and she was really interested and readily accepted baptism. It was cool because after teaching her Elder Kozlowski pointed out how it was similar to when Jesus taught Mary, because Circa sat on the floor and didn’t want a chair, and even though her kids were running around crazy and we had interrupted her washing the laundry and she had work later that night, she was very attentive and focused on our message. 

I had my first run in with a real ´´loco´´ here haha. I don’t remember his name, but he was a street contact. He made sure to make his beliefs clear to us... That we as missionaries have 46 chromosomes and aren’t human, and also that the US has technology called ´´spin´´ that enables us to travel back in time, which we did in the 80´s with two astronauts who went back to the time of Christ. He has 9 HUGE books reciting the ´´experiences´´ of these astronauts and these are his bible. The same day when trying to contact an ex- pesquisador, we also had panties thrown at us from the window... the message was pretty clear so we said ´´tchau´´ and left. That day was pretty interesting!

HEY MOM I HAD MY FIRST DREAM IN PORTUGUESE!! Now before you get excited let me explain, because this is kind of a joke. Yes, I had a dream in Portuguese... but not like what you think. It was really a nightmare, and in it everyone was speaking Portuguese and I couldn’t understand any of it! So at least my brain has made the connection that I’m clueless all the time. And now it happens in my sleep, too. Woohoo! Hopefully someday I can have the REAL dream experiences to tell you.

Speaking of dreams, here in Brazil they have these pastries called sonhos (´´dreams´´) for one real, equivalent of about 30 cents, they are like donuts filled with chocolate or cream or fruit, and they are very, very good. They also have pineapple here for the same price, one pineapple for 30 cents, (one real) so I´ve been buying fresh pineapple to eat! It is SO GOOD. While I’m talking about food, last night Elder Kozlowski of Idaho, the potato expert, made some homemade sweet potato fries with the batata doce they have here in Brazil.  I have pictures of that. Also we had lunch with a member yesterday and we had PARMESAN CHICKEN! Yours is WAY better but it was very similar to how you make it, it was a little taste of home!

A little more about our baptism, Enrique, last week - I baptized him.  We baptized him the same day we found him.  We couldn’t get the font filled fast enough so I did the baptism on my knees... not sure if that’s allowed or not but it happened, our Zone Leader was there and was okay with it so oh well! Enrique is a great kid.  He turns 12 soon, still hasn’t been to church because his dad is basically the devil and conveniently has Enrique doing things on Sundays, but he comes to lessons with us, and we found out yesterday night that he’s even been visiting some of our investigators and telling them to pray about our message and stuff like that. He’s gonna be a great missionary someday if he stays firm in the church! 

We had another baptism this week, Mateus, he’s a good kid but the family situation is really tough(his sister was the one that threw the panties, his uncle hates us, parents are dead) so I hope everything works out but I don’t know what’s gonna happen with him.

We also found a man named Paulo who was baptized 2 years ago but stopped going to church, and reactivated him, he’s going to church again and preparing to get the priesthood.
I play the piano in sacrament meeting but it’s a disaster every hymn. They are used to just singing acapella and some of their rhythms are incorrect, also some hymns are different then in English so I mess up, and they do NOT follow a beat and always sing super slow and it’s so hard to line up, so I kind of hate that but oh well. Language is a constant struggle, trying to stay positive is as well, but I’m trying!

My scripture to share this week is Jacob 6:12.   In Portuguese is ´´Oh! Sede Sabios! Que mais poderei dizer?´´ I don’t know the exact translation but basically its “Oh be wise, what more can I say?” This is a reminder to me and hopefully to everyone that we are here with knowledge, if we are older than 8 years old we have the knowledge to be able to choose between the good and the bad in the world. And we KNOW the good and the bad. So just be smart, don’t be stupid, it’s like Jacob said - be wise.  Use the knowledge you have to choose the good.  There’s not much else to it, it’s very simple:  make good choices and be blessed. I just liked how simple this scripture was. Hope everything’s going okay back home, enjoy your thanksgiving; I love you all and miss you all!  Elder Sork

Monday, November 13, 2017

Brazilian Bees

Hey Mom,

First of all, I love you so much.  My new companion is Elder Kozlowski.  He is a big burly football player from Boise, Idaho.  He´s been here for 8 months and is fluent in Portuguese, which is a blessing and a curse. You know how I compare myself to others. He has a strong testimony, teachers with power, and we work, work ,work!  I am very tired. I hated not doing work with elder Galdino, but now I hate ´´working´´ because it keeps showing me how inadequate I am, sitting through lessons and not understanding anything.  Seriously, I am not able to explain even the simplest parts. Kozlowski always gives me time to talk but whatever I say people don’t understand and he just has to go back and re-explain everything to them. I was hopeful with transfers, and my new companion things would definitely be better, but I expected everything to just instantly start improving yet I am struggling with all the same problems.  I still don’t have a grasp at all on the language, I am struggling to remember experiences I have had in the past that has helped me find strength and feel the love of the Lord.  I still think about Grandma often, she gave me a tie with her classic ´´XXGGOO´´ that I will cherish the rest of my life and I see it every morning when I get dressed.  I hope next week will be a bit better.

This week we had a fast as a companionship, and that day found 4 families to teach.  One of the fathers had the PERFECT thoughts and feelings about many igrejas (I thought this word was a typo but just in case, I put it into google translate.  Guess what igrejas means….CHURCHES!  I think he is so worried about not being fluent that he isn’t even recognizing the progress he is making.)  in our world today.  This was the perfect opportunity to teach about the restoration.  They were all open to the gospel, we baptized one of the kids named Enrique, but then Sunday NO ONE showed up to church!  Now it’s impossible to get in with them.  That’s SO frustrating.

I had my first run in with a Brazilian bumble bee, and that thing was FAT. It flew right up in my face.  You know how I feel about normal bees... this guy was about 3 times the size.  Scared me SO BAD; I took off down the street faster than I eat feijao e arroz! (There’s more Portuguese!  beans and rice) Elder Kozlowski was laughing pretty hard.

Elder Kozlowski likes to exercise.  Some mornings we wake up early and run to a little park a ways from our house.  They have a pull up bar and we do some exercises there, so that’s nice.  In my new apartment I get my own bathroom which is awesome!

Not the bumble bee but possibly another Brazilian native wanting to share his private bathroom!

Another thing, no one in the ward here plays the piano.  The Bishop says they haven’t had an Elder that plays piano for 2 years so even though I can’t speak for crap, I am able to play piano for them. Though this Sunday there was a draft that kept turning the pages during the rest hymn and it totally screwed me up. I was super embarrassed. Hopefully next week will be better!

Love, Elder Sork                       

Monday, November 6, 2017

My First Transfer

Hey Mom,
Today I got transferred to Joao Pessoa. My new companion is Elder Kozlowski, he’s an American from Idaho. I don’t really know him well because this is just the first day I have been with him. We have been talking in English just so that he knows my struggles and difficulties, but tomorrow we go to work. I really hope an American companion, THIS companion, is who can help me grow and learn to enjoy my time here.

My last week with elder Galdino was pretty crappy. We didn’t work AT ALL because it was his last week and basically we just hung out with all his buddies. We stayed up past curfew, even watched a movie with Wellyda (which they had a really weird relationship). I just felt like crap. I got fed up and finally talked to him and said I thought we needed to be better about following rules and that I didn’t feel god about the movie and things we were doing but he just said I would learn with more experiences and justified everything we had done. This first transfer will definitely be different.  I think one thing I did learn from Elder Galdino though is the importance of being not just a missionary, but a FRIEND to investigators and even just people in general.

Now, I hope to be more obedient and focused, Elder Kozlowski seems stronger in this regard.  I am hopeful. This last week was tough.  Emails will now be shorter because now I don’t get 2+ hours to email like Elder Galdino did! But I just have such a desire to truly connect with people, have real friendships, be able to joke around and have fun with the other Elders.  If I can get to this point, I feel like a mission would be so much easier! The language is ALWAYS a barrier. I have had no improvement this week with that.  You can basically just assume that I am always struggling, always frustrated, and doubtful of my abilities.

 I studied the premortal existence and creation like you suggested.  I had some good thoughts about it.  I have a study journal where I write it all down. It was cool to know that I was a real being before this life with attributes. I enjoyed thinking about how who I am today reflects those attributes I came to this world with versus  solely being shaped by the influence of the world and the experience I am having here. As I studied the creation I think of it abstractly. I believe that science truly plays a role in it, the two aren’t separate, the creation without science or science without God, but together. We don’t understand the process or timeline of God in the creation really, but I believe that the creation was divinely guided and God used laws of nature, (some that we understand and others we don’t yet know) to do this work.

Let McKenna know that even people here in Brazil think we´re twins! Lots of people cried yesterday when Elder Galdino and I left. Meny gave me a necklace to remember her.  She’s the crazy lady, spit fire I wrote about in the previous letters. I really hope that missionaries in the future are able to continue and to interact with her and eventually get her to church. I just wish I could have made true strong relationships with all these people, but when I don’t speak Portuguese that really doesn’t happen.

I hope Halloween went well. I forgot it was Halloween until the end of the day! They had a few trick or treaters here in Brazil.  Seeing them made me smile! Other than that there is really not much to talk about this week:  no work.  I am hopeful for a new start in Joao Pessoa (where. oh my gosh, it is HOT).  Next week I am sure I will have lots to say about my new area and companion! My new area/ward is Parque Do Sol. I got to see my friends Elder Allen and Elder Bradshaw from the MTC this morning during transfers.  That was nice but it also made me feel worse because they clearly are progressing a lot faster than me.
I love you mom, have  good week!
Elder Sork

Monday, October 30, 2017

CRAZY Stuff!

Dear Mom,
Missionary work wise I don’t really have anything to report this week. We didn´t have squat happen, and all our newly baptized people are already in the past. None of them came to church and we can’t get in to continue teaching them... they are always conveniently busy. So that has been a bummer. 

This week we had splits, (where multiple companionships in an area split up and go with a different companion for the day) which confirmed to me that not all missionaries are equal... Elder Sousa was my companion for the day.  He has been out 6 months and was clearly more obedient and honestly a LOT more helpful then my ´´trainer.” Although there are some things I have learned from Elder Galdino that I could see would help Elder Sousa. I just really hope my next companion is who I need at this time, and truly called through power of revelation, to help me. I think Elder Galdino was a blessing to have during these first few weeks with all of the things that have happened, but I feel ready for something else. I’m not sure what that is; we´ll see what the Lord gives me!

Saturday we had a ward activity, and watched a move about the life of Christ. It MADE ME SAD THAT I STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND anything except for simple key words throughout the whole thing, and when I converse with people, so that was a bummer. It was nice to do something as a ward though, and there were lots of people there who, even though I can’t really talk with them, clearly care about me. 

Like every previous week, I kept a paper and wrote down all my unique experiences so i can share them with you.  I’ll go ahead and tell you about them now:

Our house has been getting horrible and it has these little geckos running around all over.  Today, Elder Galdino slept in until 9;30 so after I had exercised and had breakfast and read some BoM, I decided to clean the entire house - it was oddly therapeutic. You would still die if you saw the conditions, but they are a LOT better than they were before. 

A few spooky things this week in honor of Halloween:  Here in Brazil Galdino has pointed out houses - all white with white flags. From what I understand, this is a sign of some very strange religion practices that are associated with the devil.  We have been sure to steer clear of these! Even more spooky was an experience we had contacting a less active family this week. We went to their house at the end of a long narrow alley and it literally has a grave site marked underneath it where someone was buried. We go talking with some of the family, then the grandma comes out with her face all torn up and scratched and ripped. Apparently the night before the mom became ´´possessed´´, attacked the grandma, and was dragged off by the police. Even spookier is that before we ever walked into the house, Elder Galdino said that in the past he has always felt bad feelings in this house... I'm not sure what’s true and what is an exaggeration, but either way, it is crazy stuff!

On a lighter note, a funny experience: We were socializing in the house of Wellyda and got invited to sit around with her drunk parents/aunt& uncle. It was definitely a little weird, but they love trying to talk to me. It’s hard enough understanding things already, but understanding drunk Brazilians is even harder - and there are tons of drunks every weekend, haha. During the conversation the topic of pork came up, the word in Portuguese is very similar, porco, and I assured them I understand what they were saying, but just to make sure, one guy felt the need to get down on all fours and impersonate a pig, with sound effects that rival even Dad’s!  Believe me when I say I laughed for quite some time! I couldn’t help myself! There were some other funny moments but that was a highlight.

I had my first interview with President Dias this week. I know he has love for me and he wants me to stay and be comfortable here in the mission field. Even though he speaks English I don’t think he is able to completely understand my situation and feelings.  After trying to talk to him, his advice was really just to wait things out. I think he still thinks my major issues are with grandma’s death, but even though that was so hard it is just one more thing on top of my struggles out here with the language and my companion situation. But, he suggested just waiting, that with time things will get better. Dad´s email was similar. I will do my best to wait things out, and I hope, hope, hope that things will get better. Thank you so much for your love, support, prayers, and fasting.  I know that no matter how hard this is, it would be impossible without the amazing family I have. I thank my Heavenly Father every day for you guys.

I finally got letters! I get them about once every transfer it sounds like. I got a letter from Grandma G that she wrote and sent while I was still in the CTM. (She sent that letter 2 weeks after Carson had left for Brazil!  That is how long it has taken him to get his mail.) That was hard, reading something that was written back when we all thought her cancer battle was still ´´normal´´.  At the end of the letter, she told me that ´´she would always be my white-haired cheerleader, cheering me on in my corner´´ and that she loves me ´´always and forever.´´ She obviously didn’t know the impact these words would have when she wrote it, but this week this letter just strengthened my belief in the Plan of Salvation. When I read her letter I was so sad and crying but I didn’t feel despair - I really felt love inside me. I know that grandma STILL loves me; she will continue to love and support me. I don’t know all the details or where she is right now or what her ability is to know of my struggles and experiences after her passing, but I know that she still loves me, and I believe that death is not the end. The Plan of Salvation truly is a beautiful plan, and truly is special. I hope to continue to grow in knowledge and testimony so I can share this hope and love with others in the future.
               This week I had a meal with a member.  It tasted great: it was rice, corn and chicken all mixed up in some sort of cream, but I quickly discovered that they had definitely used a bit more of the chicken than I was used to... It didn’t taste bad but I left some choice pieces on my plate... including some tubey organs that were VERY chewy, and a few bones that looked a lot like vertebrae... Again, tasted great, and I’m not super sick this week, but I miss your cooking!

Yesterday they had a special meeting about preparing for missions for the youth. Sitting in there, they talked a lot about how to prepare, what you need to be a missionary, and showed a ´´pump up´´ video with missionaries in the field.  All these things kind of bummed me out because it reminded me how inadequate I am right now, in faith, testimony, and my ability to connect with people. But again, time - hopefully with time I can see some growth and improvement.

I am trying to continue in your advice on prayers, I wake up a bit earlier to make sure I have some time for a good morning prayer, I will continue to do this. A scripture that stuck out to me this week with my focus on prayer was 2 Nephi 9:52, a reminder to pray always. I know that focusing on good prayers morning and night will help me, but it is important to have Heavenly Father in my heart ALWAYS, and through this I know that I will be happier. So I am trying to live up to this scripture!

Thank you for your guidance and support. I love you and hope the family is all doing okay.  Make sure people know the mail situation; honestly I probably won’t really be sending handwritten letters unless for very special occasions, I just don’t know. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about you all and appreciate all you are doing to support me. 

When you send me all the missionary updates from friends, could you also include any BIG/IMPORTANT news about home/the United States?  That would also be nice. I want to know if Trump does anything super crazy.

                                                                                     I love you, have a good week!
                                                                                     Elder Sork

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I flooded the church!


This has been a really tough week.  The news of Grandma G’s death has hit really hard.  I am on the computer, going to read through emails and write my weekly one just to keep the schedule normal because right now that’s the only way I´m able to function.  We can message back and forth a little while I do that, I would like to set up a time to call you guys today. Right now it is almost 2 o’clock in Brazil, I think you guys are 4 hours behind me? Hopefully you´re online.  (Eric’s mom died suddenly this last week of renal cell carcinoma that she was diagnosed with in April, but thought it was caught and controlled.  In August shortly after Carson left we found out it had metastasized to her lungs and bones. After her first immunotherapy treatment she had a bad reaction. A week after that treatment she passed away. Following this letter we were able to talk to Elder Sork in a conference call with his mission president.)

We are teaching another investigator and preparing him for baptism.  His name is Victor and he is 15 years old.  He seems like a really nice kid but he didn’t show up to church yesterday with the member we had planned.  We will have to get back with him and see what’s up and if we are still on track for baptism.

We contacted some crazy less actives to re-invite to church.  Elder Galdino definitely uses me to his advantage as the ´´Americano.” One less active family, who I guess was baptized by the mission president himself, has a daughter who’s 16 and every time I tried to speak in Portuguese, or every time I spoke in English at their request, she was literally tearing up because I guess the voice of an American has a very, very special place in her heart. That was very strange, and just ONE example of a lot of attention I get for my home country. I really do not like it.

Enjoying Lunch with Members

We had a couple rainy/cloudy days in Campina Grande.  They are VERY similar to some days I have had back in Washington! It was very weird. The only difference is that by the afternoon the clouds are always burned off and its back to the same old weather – HOT.

This week was hard even before other occurrences.  The only things that help me not sink to the bottom are distractions. We had a big distraction last night... Definitely not mission approved, but I think my companion had me in mind to help me get some things off my mind.  We had an unapproved ´´district get together´´ and all slept in the apartment of another companionship and they played games until like 3 in the morning but I was miserable. 

Panorama from the roof at our district get together.

My stomach has also been having issues this week; looks like things are finally catching up to me. Also, if you remember those red itchy dots I used to get? Those are back everywhere and with a vengeance. Hopefully whatever it is that causes it, my body will just eventually get used to it. 

Contacting is THE WORST. We do it every day, and I hate it. Elder Galdino does one side of the street and I do the other, all alone. I can’t understand anything people say and they clearly can’t understand me, but he insists we do it separate for efficiency. But I worry, what if I ended up knocking on the door of a real, potential investigator? I feel I am causing them to miss the opportunity of a life time -- to accept the gospel -- because I can’t speak or understand their language.

Here is a light-hearted moment. I had my first funny mission experience. We flooded the church building!  We went to fill up the font, while it was filling we had a meeting with the ward mission leader (an hour long and, I kid you not, I did not understand any of it; any improvement is nonexistent). Then afterwards we completely forgot it was filling until we were getting ready for bed like 3 hours later.  We SPRINTED to the church building.  I almost forgot to put on a shirt, we were so flustered and I would’ve been running through the streets of Brazil in my underwear! LUCKILY, the church building is ALL TILE and they have drains everywhere.  Conveniently, some large window washing squeegees were close by so we squeegeed for about an hour to get all the water into drains.  No damage was done to anything but it was still quite a scare! Now I have something I can laugh about.

Another happy thing, William and Harynne got a pug puppy one month old and it is the cutest thing in the world. I don’t even like pugs, but having meals with them and being able to play with a puppy makes things a little better. When I got the call about Grandma I was with them. I will get a picture with them this week, they are a very nice family and their son Guillarme, that I wrote about earlier, has been sure to give me lots of hugs because he knows I am having it rough.

Thailany's Baptism Day

I performed another two baptisms this week.  One of them is Thailany who is 15. We´ll see if she stays active.  We still haven’t taught her any of the lessons past the 5 principles of the Gospel.  The work does not feel right: Rushing people to the font before they have a testimony. 

That’s my week shortened and condensed.  It’s really not much.
                                                                                                                                           Elder Sork

Monday, October 16, 2017

Almoco (That means lunch in Portuguese)!

Hey Mom,
This week was just about the same in all aspects. I really liked reading those little updates. I don’t have time to read all my friend's emails so if you can continue and do that for missionaries each week, just some highlights, that would be awesome! It sounds like everyone is having just good experiences and growing so much. I hope one day to be able to have a similar affect and experiences with the people here, and really get to know them, but right now I´m just always clueless as to what the heck is going on.

We had lunch yesterday with the bishop and his wife, who are really nice and supportive, and keep telling me in 3 months I´ll be fluent.  I hate those expectations because I just dread setting myself up for failure. I am afraid the language is ALWAYS going to be a struggle for me here. This week if anything it felt like I digressed. Bishop had me bare my testimony again and it went even worse than the first time.  I couldn’t think of the words I needed, my brain went blank, it was terrible. Then He said to be prepared for a talk in November. That’s gonna suck :(

FYI:  Elder Sork is one of those people that could NOT have any food touching each other on his plate.

If for whatever reason you ever get a package down here, two things I REALLY want are resistance bands and a jump rope for some good exercise with the 30 minutes I’m given. Without stuff like that there’s not much variety that I can do. Also, I am uploading pictures today; you will see a brown leather scripture case, the one I bought. I need an extender for the zipper, I had a makeshift red one on it, but I was wondering if McKenna could make something artsy/nifty that would work to attach to the zipper, otherwise when I unzip the case all the way the zipper gets shoved way back and lost.

From what I hear, I will be getting letters from the mission home on the 26th. I got the letter from you and Austin/Dani the last day in the CTM, but so far that is the only thing. I CAN print, but just use good judgement on what you tell me to print because it costs money and I am sure it will get complicated as everything seems to here in Brazil. (I'm not worried about printing costs so send me your emails and I will put them into one doc so he can just print once and get all his notes from home.) Also make sure you have the correct mission home address, like triple check, I don’t have it with me right now but that would calm my fears of my mail getting lost that way. I am definitely looking forward to getting mail.

Hearing about Grandma today was really, really tough. I don’t know if she has tried sending letters, but let her and ALL family know I don’t get mail often so not to feel bad if I’m not responding or anything, let them know email is a lot better if they really need to talk to me. I will definitely be praying for her. That was a blow today, but thank you for sharing. 

Okay, now from my list of experiences this week.  This week was tough in many, many ways, but during the week I carry around a paper and write down thoughts/experiences unique that happened that I can email about so I´ll go through that:

             1. There are TONS of motorcycles here and not many cars.  All the cars I have seen are stick shift. It makes me want to learn to drive a stick and also get a motorcycle when I get home... But I know that would never fly with you!  I’m just day dreaming :) A member drove us to the chapel for a meeting this week and, oh my gosh, if dad’s driving is bad, this is terrible. Cobblestone roads, lots of speed bumps, stick shift, plus the crazy driving of Brazil, got me SO SICK. 

2. There are also SO many stray dogs! It sounds a lot like Texas with Austin but instead of people shooting the strays, the dogs just die from starvation all over. It’s really sad. I see so many sad puppies and sick dogs all day :( I miss Pippin! Give him loves (and the rest of the family).

3. They don’t refrigerate the fruit here.  I eat bananas and it is exactly like the microwaved mashed bananas I used to feed Spike (Our box turtle from Louisiana).  They’re pretty hard to get down! Also, I discovered the first thing I do not like – Papaya; especially warm, mushy, gross papaya. UGGGHHH it’s gross. But my tummy is doing REALLY well so far (I am going to chalk that up the regiment of vitamins and probiotics that I told him to start taking a week before he left for his mission and then stocked him up with.) That has certainly been a blessing.

4. We always have lunch with members, often dinner as well.  Every morning my breakfast is two buttered pieces of bread with a slice of some kind of meat.  I am not sure what it is, kind of like bologna/sausage stuff, I actually really like it.

5. This week one thing that really, really was a bummer was a recent convert named Wellyda (she was baptized by Elder Galdino) had some big problems. Apparently for the first few weeks she was a perfect investigator and gaining a super strong testimony, but this week we came across her really drunk and with a guy. Now she isn’t going to church. We had spent a lot of time with her and she had been a practice contact for me.  Now we´re cutting ties because she doesn’t have a desire for the gospel anymore. That is really sad but also so, so common here. All the people here seem to have been baptized already if they’re eligible, but then don’t continue in the faith.

6. I HAD MY FIRST BAPTISM THIS WEEK! His name is Diego Da Silva Fernandez and he is 10 years old. It was really cool to perform the ordinance. I am so sad though because the line that reeled him in was Elder Galdinos, “We will buy cake and Coca-Cola for you after the baptism.” He uses this line with every kid, so we get a bunch of kids who want to be baptized, but no real investigators and it just makes the work feel useless. Then I start thinking about if we do find a real investigator, I am not going to be able to get to know them well or effectively teach them because I can’t speak the language and it is even more disheartening. I am still searching for my testimony, faith, and purpose out here.

7. I don’t know if I already said this but tone deafness is like an epidemic out here. My companion is SO BAD but loves to sing. It is so hard not to either cringe, or just laugh, depending on the mood I’m in, when we sing. He insists on singing hymns a lot in our house. What I would not give to hear McKenna’s beautiful, sweet voice!! I miss her a lot, A LOT, Mom. Please give her love for me.  

8. Saturday nights we play soccer as a ward with a lot of the youth. I wore my Timbers jersey from Tanner, they were all intrigued. I wasn’t the best player out there.  There are a lot of really good Brazilians, but I am certainly not the worst! All those years of soccer practice paid off. I had a few goals, and the Brazilians here definitely have a little more respect for me now! It was good, and I was able to connect through soccer if not the language.  It was fun to play, but I am SORE! It’s been a long time since I have run around like that!

9. I have got my first few blisters of missionary work, with many, many, many more to come. My socks are good sometimes, but others I find myself wishing I had some black Nike socks like Austin did, just for a change in material. My feet get so sweaty they often end up slipping around in my socks inside the shoes because of the material. But its not terrible, definitely better than normal Sunday socks would be!

10. It is REALLY heating up. In the middle of the day we go back inside after almoço (that means lunch in Portuguese – so he must be getting some of it ;)  because everyone takes naps and everything shuts down, but - even before and after this time it is getting roasty!  This area is the cooler part of my mission. Yikes! I sweat SO MUCH but am already getting to the point of just not caring.  There is not much I can do about it.

11. I miss family the most by far out here on the mission, but this week I heard some English music.  Tons of Brazilians listen to it and, oh my gosh, I miss music a LOT more than I was even expecting I would. I didn’t realize how big a part of me it was, even just being able to listen to it. On preparation days (p-days) I take some time to play hymns in the chapel but I have such a craving for all types of music I am no longer able to listen to. I will definitely enjoy having that back when I get home.

A quick spiritual thought before I go:  One conference talk I enjoyed was by Jean B Bingham about how to find joy. This conference was the first one I went into with questions. One specific question I had  was how to feel closer and develop a more personal relationship with Christ, how he is not just this being I read about, but truly my savior, someone who  understands me. One good line that caught my attention first was that Christ doesn’t care as much about our comfort as he does our progress.  This made me laugh a little inside thinking about this ridiculousness that I’m in Brazil and don’t speak Portuguese! But then one thing she said was the best way to get closer to Him is to study Him. Because of this talk I have started reading Jesus the Christ from the special edition Jason gave me.  I was waiting until later in my mission, but it’s been really good for learning about Jesus and being able to personalize more his life and existence and purpose for ME. Please let Jason know I am really grateful for the book and I will be rereading and studying more in depth throughout my mission.  Right now just reading through it, I am about halfway done, but I have really enjoyed studying his life, and encourage others if they find themselves lacking in their feelings of a personal relationship with Christ, to study more in depth his mission and life before, during and after his ministry on earth. I still have so much room to grow. My faith is so weak in this area because I still struggle to have those personal feelings of Christ in my life, but I know this study will help.

Thales, the guy who speaks English, suggested one way to study Portuguese is to listen to General Conference audio in Portuguese while also reading along the talks in Portuguese. Not sure if it’s doable or if it would even be helpful, but if it isn’t too much trouble I was thinking maybe you could try and send a SanDisk card with the Portuguese audio of the talks from conference in a letter or something, along with some printed talks? I don’t know how hard that would be or even if it’s worth doing, but it’s just a thought. 

I have uploaded pictures to the drive.  It’s hard to get pictures because I can’t walk around with my camera - I don’t even walk around with my bag. My companion suggested against it because it makes me look more like a target. There are a few pictures of my apartment, so you can feel like you have had the tour.  

Kitchen, Laundry Room and Storage Closet all in One

Study Area


The shower that contains a toilet that you can't flush toilet paper down, and the sink.

This week I am going to try and get a picture with a family recently reactivated in the ward, Willian and Harynne with their children Guillarme and Maité.  They are a super sweet family and so nice.  Guillarme is really attached to me and Elder Galdino already.  Last night he was telling me he’s really gonna miss me when I have to leave. I don’t know how because I don’t speak his language really, but he likes listening to names of super heroes in English. They were my first meal in the field, my first night in Campina Grande and have fed us a lot.  They are super nice and encouraging. I am also gonna try and get a picture with a lady named Meny, she isn’t a member but really likes the missionaries, and making fun of my Portuguese. But she’s super nice (a little crazy, definitely a fire cracker). Before I leave I want to try and re-invite her to church and give her some lessons, but in the past missionaries were unsuccessful. She looked me up on Facebook and looked at all you guys and said I had a beautiful family. She always has fresh juice, and oftentimes cake at hand.  She likes to joke around with us. She’s kinda like a crazy, but still cool, Grandma.

 I can’t think of anything else right now.  My companion really loves his computer time!  I think he is ready to go.  I love you, Mom.

                                                                                                              Love, Elder Sork