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

Bedroom

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Smiling and Nodding

Hey Mom, hey Dad –

I love you guys SO MUCH. It was awesome to hear your experiences, missionary and vacation wise. I hope you guys are having a great time and everyone is safe and happy. First, Mom, from what I can understand from my trainer (who is from Sao Paulo and speaks no English) all mail goes through the mission home, and we only receive it once a month. So unless it’s something really special, or tangible, or something I need, just for normal communication email it will be.

 I am serving in Campina Grande, which I am told is much more mild then Joao Pessoa but let me tell you it does not feel mild AT ALL. HOT, HOT, HOT! I am in the Monte Castelo Ward, which has 500 recorded members, 70 active members, and had about 30 members in attendance yesterday. Sounds like that is kind of how it goes in Brazil. . I’m in a LAN house, little internet cafe, I see a printer but not sure how that works, I’ll ask my companion and get back to you next week. (Carson still has not received any of our mail.  After chatting with some of the Mom’s on my missionary Mom’s of Brazil facebook group, I told Carson that I would send him emails and just put money in his account to print them.  In the subject line I would put PRINT THIS so he knew he didn’t have to take up his computer time to read it or READ THIS if it is something I needed him to read and respond to right away.  We will see how that works.  I will still collect everyone’s letters to Carson and send them in one as I did for snail mail to save on the printing – so keep the letters coming!)

I have a lot to say so excuse my terrible spelling and grammar. Last Tuesday we woke up at 2:30 in the morning to fly out to Joao Pessoa.  We met our mission president and had a fancy meal at his house. I haven’t had a chance to interview with him so I don’t really know what he’s like. 



I am assigned to Elder Galdino, he’s 22 and from Sao Paulo and does not speak any English.  Let me tell you, this mission is kicking my butt right now. I cannot communicate with my companion except for one-word things. I can’t even talk as good as the babies of some of the members families here. The bishop asked me to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting - something I was uncomfortable doing back home in English, and I was up there for a painful 3 minutes with just blank stares. It makes me want to rely so much more on the spirit because it’s like the only form of communication I´ve got. I read Uncle Don’s talk about the Holy Ghost and a few others on the plane ride here. I had forgotten about the “Best of the Best” and it is AWESOME thank you! (The “BEST of the BEST” was the book that I put together for Carson before he left.  I asked everyone here at home to send me their favorite conference/gospel talk and why it means so much to them so Carson would have the ability to study the gospel with each of them while he was on his mission far from home.) I am trying to put the things into practice.

Now about Brazil and my week!  I will try and send all my pictures today. I have some of our apartment... On my scale it is a step BELOW Tanners house down at BYU, haha. There are occasional rats, lots of bugs, our shower is pretty awesome it’s like a 2x2 space next to our toilet and it soaks the whole room when you use it! This is quite an adventure. I am definitely in BRAZIL now. The CTM did not prepare for the culture shock. Sanitation isn’t really a thing here, I can see why I will be getting sick frequently (that hasn’t happened yet, food has actually been great so far, hopefully that continues). They don’t flush toilet paper they throw it in garbage next to the toilet which feels so wrong hahaha. The streets are FULL of dogs, and always people too. I can’t drink the tap water, but lots of people here have mineral water (filtered), so i just have to always double check that. and shower with my mouth closed! I haven't come across anything I HAVEN'T liked yet, which is awesome. The Brazilians love it when I say ``Eu gosto de sua comeda` which is one of the few phrases I do know, but I think I need to stop... they LOVE to feed an American who appreciates there cooking! I have been fed cake 3 days in a row so I gotta be careful and not get fat toooo quickly. I exercise every morning but it is definitely not the same as my exercise at home and not as good as the CTM either. I don’t want to get fat but I think it’s gonna happen :(

The people here are super nice even though I can’t understand anything they say, and I know they make fun of me 24x7.  Because I am American I get a lot of attention everywhere I go, people try to talk to me and it’s frustrating when I don’t understand them let alone be able to respond, and they are obviously disappointed AS WELL. My bishop speaks a little English and so does his wife. They are very nice and encouraging.  They keep saying 3 months you’ll be fluent. I’ve been hearing things like that ever since my first day and it’s just frustrating to never meet those goals. Elder Galdino (I think) says that people are a lot more open to missionaries now because I am here. I’m like a celebrity, which I actually kind of hate but oh well. He’s been here 3 months and says we´ve already talked with people that wouldn’t talk with them in the past just because I am American. 

I was able to visit a less active who spoke English; the bishop wanted me to invite him back to church. I really connected with him, his name is Thales.  He looked me up on Instagram haha.  He plays violin, loves music, and used to be really active. I finally invited him back to church and he said he´ll come next week. But afterwards he told me the reason he stopped going - he loves the church and almost all its teachings, but he’s gay. He doesn’t see how he could possibly be a member when the church basically says he can’t marry and be as happy as everyone else. I remember this exact discussion in seminary, and let me tell you, there’s no good way to help. I feel for him. He’s gonna come to church this next week just because I asked, but probably not again. He also said that ´the church preaches acceptance, but its members aren’t accepting.  This is a reminder that we truly need to love EVERYONE, and truly accept everyone for who they are. With his struggles I don’t know how it would have been different, but from what I heard one reason he left the church was also because of the way the members treated him about being gay. I felt so bad. I know just how judgmental people can be. But I spent 2 hours with him and know he’s a really cool guy. We just need to be accepting.

Also I got to share my testimony with an investigator, Marielle, about Ether 12:6. She says she doesn’t receive answers to her prayers so she won’t be baptized or come to church. We taught about the importance of having ACTIONS in faith, and how afterwards we receive the witness of our faith. I was able to share my testimony in Portuguese about that and I think she understood the gist of it. She didn’t end up taking any steps towards the church or baptism and I know that’s why she hasn’t received any witness of faith, or answers. Also she expects big answers and more often than not, we receive answers in small and simple things, and confirmation is always small.

Elder Galdino is a really nice Elder, and we have had the opportunity to teach people and I can tell he´s really good. It’s just frustrating not being able to understand or really contribute. I’m sure I will have more to tell in the future. I think he thinks my understanding is better than it really is because I always just smile and nod when he says things and I guess it’s always the right response. Smiling and nodding, I do quite a bit of that here!  I really miss my District from the CTM, I love them so much and they really helped me. Not having them here makes it even more difficult. 

Here in Brazil, or at least from what I can tell, they’re super focused on baptism but the recent converts all just fall away again which is sad to see and so different from the way I always thought of the church back home.

Overall, it’s SO COOL to be in a different country and seeing how other people live. It’s crazy and makes me so much more grateful for what I had back home.

Photos? My computer couldn’t read the SIM card and my USB port is not working so my companion is sending them from his to mine and then I will forward them to you... but it’s taking forever.  (We still couldn’t get it to work, so Carson will hope for a better computer next week where he can upload the photos.) 


                                                                                                    Love you!  Elder Sork

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Elder Sork has arrived!

We got word today from the Joao Pessoa Mission's executive secretary that Elder Sork has arrived to the mission home safe and sound.  Included with this short communication was this picture with his Mission President and the President's wife:



He is smiling - that is a good sign.  We probably will not hear from him for at least a week.  I am extremely anxious to hear about his new area, his training companion and how his travels went.  Eric and I met a friend while in Hawaii from Joao Pessoa.  He is the nicest guy.  We found him working at a Brazilian food truck.  He is here to surf the big waves for a few months before he returns home.  The food truck is his part time job.  He goes back to Joao Pessoa in February.  We told him to keep an eye out for Carson when he goes back and if he sees any young men in white shirts and ties to be nice to them and listen to what they have to say.  He recorded the following video message for us welcoming Carson to his country:

video

We had traveled to this food truck in honor of Carson's first day in the mission field - what a small world!



Friday, September 29, 2017

Mosiah 24:14 "I, The Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."

Hey Mom,

I got the news that Grandma Bowen passed away yesterday.  It is hitting me pretty hard right now, but I know that she was ready. I´m gonna miss her but I know she’s still looking out for me and the rest of the family.

 Just FYI you will have to continually update me about purchases because we didn’t think about converting Brazilian currency from US in my check book... so I can do estimates but do not know exact amounts. (Carson bought a Portuguese quadruple combination set of scriptures, so he can read in Portuguese hoping that will help him learn the language but wasn’t sure if his bank card worked right or what the US price was.)



I love the picture you sent, I hope you had a good birthday and a great time in Disneyland!! I still haven’t gotten any letters, not sure if they got lost in the mail or you guys had the wrong address or what. But other than one from Reese and Mira, I haven’t received any :( So that kind of sucks but hopefully they all are waiting for me at the mission home? We´ll see in a few days...(I double checked the address with the training center, it is correct – my Facebook Mom’s say that it is taking their letters at least a month to get to their missionaries.  Fingers crossed he gets them before he leaves the training center on Monday for Joao Pessoa.  He really needs a pick-me up.)

This week was hard. We had infield training with Brazilians. Basically it was 2 hours a day of Brazilians talking really fast.  The exercise was supposed to get you pumped and prepped for the mission field, but I'm not sure it did that for me. I feel I am NOT ready for the field! But, then again, I don’t think anyone really is... We´ll see what happens.

I´m thankful for the instructors we´ve had here at the training center, they are kind of like our ´moms´ out here, especially Irma Perazolla. She has been very encouraging.  She doesn’t speak any English. A lot of the time she would bare her testimony to me and I couldn’t understand any of it, but the spirit was there and I know she believes in me and in the rest of my district.  She’s shared so much hope through the scriptures. She has really been an answer to my prayers. The instructors will be sending you guys’ photos of the last 6 weeks once we leave. 

We proselyted last Saturday again.  I got 2 more contacts but it was disheartening because I felt like I couldn’t speak or understand any better than the 2 weeks before. My brain just has this wall, I can’t remember anything, it’s so frustrating!

I finished the BoM this week (in English) I hadn’t planned on finishing it in the CTM but it just ended up happening. I had no crazy spiritual experience but I felt peace.  I felt that same peace as well in the temple today.  I am working on strengthening my own testimony as I reread the Book of Mormon and pray continually - I have the DESIRE!  I continue to learn more while I am here, it all logically makes sense. I am a very logical person.  Now, I just need to work on not relying on logic wholly and recognize the Spirit in it. 

We got new roommates. One is from Angola, and I taught him how to play the violin. - He picked it up really fast and was playing Nearer My God to Thee in an hour!  Very impressive.

I´m super excited for general conference this weekend. Our last 2 days here are basically listening to general conference then we´re packing up and leaving. I know if anything, listening to conference is what will help me the most prepare for the field. I am going in to it with some specific questions, and I hope to be able to get some answers from the spirit through the words of the apostles.

The next email I send will be from in the field. I don’t know how I´m gonna do this. I guess I´ll just wing it! I pray often for my companion and my mission president that when I arrive they will be able to see and do what I need, and I will be able to be who I need to be for them. I will also finally be able to send pictures! So you can look forward to that :)


One scripture I have been thinking a lot about is Mosiah 24:14,

And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.



I have memorized it in Portuguese this week. It is a good reminder that we are never alone, even when we feel like it. I have felt so alone while I have been here, but in moments of clarity (like in the temple and when I read the Book of Mormon) it is easier to recognize what I have around me.   I have the many people and things in my life here at the CTM that I need to be grateful for, and recognize those things as the hand of God in my life. I will continue to keep this scripture in mind. 

I love you, Mom.  I hope you had a good week, stay safe and give everyone hugs for me!

Love,
Elder Sork


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
BRAZIL

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