Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Day

We got to speak with Elder Sork today.  He was able to answer a lot of questions about his area and the people he is working with.  We also got to meet his companion, Elder Kozowlski, who assures us that Carson is doing great and has a good handle on the language - right where he should be for being four months out.  Our call got cut short due to computer problems at the home he was in, but before we were cut off we did get to hear him conversing with the family in Portuguese.  It was pretty cool.  I know he is frustrated with not being able to say everything he wants to say, but it sounded to me like he was doing just great.  Here are a few pictures of his Christmas day with his companion and the hosting family:

Friday, December 22, 2017

Don't Waste The Gift You Have Been Given

Hey Mom,

I think you´re teaching Seminary right now.  I was hoping it was Christmas Break already but I guess not. Please as soon as you get the chance, try to message me and see if I am still online so we can figure out the call schedule for Christmas!

First off, transfers: Nothing changed. Me and Elder Kozlowski are companions still, and will be staying in our area. We were both really happy – me, because I am afraid of being with another Brazilian (but its bound to happen this next transfer) and Elder K, because he didn’t want to have to change areas right before Christmas with a whole new ward. We have some really good families here and are really starting to work with the members, in the past they haven’t had much trust in missionaries but we have had several people tell us how the ward thinks very highly of the work we are doing and that several members literally prayed that we would stay in the area at least one more transfer.

If I don’t get the chance to IM you, here’s the deal for Christmas: WE talked with a member last night and the plan is to do skype about 11;00 Joao Pessoa time. If all goes right, the time difference is about 5 hours, and I will be calling AFTER Elder Kozlowski (12-12:30 Joao Pessoa time) so be READY to receive a call starting anywhere from 7-7;30 your time. (Also double check all my math because maybe it’s wrong). I would like to Skype, it’s gonna be hard but it’s always hard on missionaries - I want to see you guys! So yes, lets skype. I don’t really know how skype works, I´m assuming I just look up your account. Also have email (or instant message via email) ready and if I have problems with skype. I will be letting you know what’s going on via IM.

Here’s the stuff that happened this week: 

We had our conference Christmas this Monday after I sent emails, it was good, I got a cake from a white elephant - my companion got sticky notes - haha. It was kind fun but also kind of sucky because I am really struggling with finding enjoyment being in a large social gathering full of people I don’t understand. At the least, I got to talk a little with Elder Allen and Elder Bradshaw who arrived here with me.  They´re doing great and their Portuguese is too.  (I’m a little jealous but I know I shouldn’t compare). They had a talent show that was fun to watch, I didn’t do anything because I still haven’t found a way to get my hands on a violin. And it’s only been 4 months but I am really worried by the time I get back I´m not gonna be able to play and that I won’t have that muscle memory. Vamos ver! (In hindsight, Carson told me via IM he wishes he would have asked for approval to bring his violin along with him.  He is sure they would have said okay.  I joked about sending it, but given the mail situation we have had – that is not going to happen. I sure wish there was a way to get one in his hands…)

Tuesday we had interviews with president again.  He’s trying to help me and I know he’s called of God. It is just so hard to understand him.  His accent is terrible so it makes it even HARDER, but he speaks a little English too so it’s alright. Elder Kozlowski is really patient and really supportive and is always encouraging me. He is an example of a good missionary and a good friend, and he has a strong testimony that he shares with me often.

We have 2 new investigators, two guys in their twenties, preparing for baptism on Christmas eve, because a less active member brought them to our English class that we have each Saturday. Now the member, his name is Carlos, is active again and we are looking at baptizing 2 quorums! There names are Jeff and Gill, they are both really educated, smart guys who have dreams of going to the US someday. They are so far really interested in the church, very impressed with the organization and atmosphere there. I hope that all goes well with their baptisms.

Last night we went to visit a member and talk about Christmas plans but ended up just comforting her. she and her husband have been trying to have a kid but she had a miscarriage a few months back. We have been having lunch with them this last transfer and she was pregnant again and hopeful but last night she told us that she had another miscarriage during the week and lost the baby. I actually understood what she was saying, but I had no idea how to help her. I cannot imagine what she is going through. I had no guidance on what to do or say to help her. I was just silent. Elder Kozloski shared a message in 2 Nephi (verse 2 was a highlight) and it was really powerful. I just don’t know why I can’t do that. It’s like I NEVER know what to say, assuming I understand what’s going on.  So that was pretty crummy.

My thought:  Alma 7:10-14

This is a good scripture that talks a little about the birth of Christ, and the spirit of Christmas. This  reminds us WHY we celebrate Christmas. Not only because the Son of God was born that night, but because he was born for a PURPOSE: to take upon himself the sins of the world, to enable us to repent of our sins and be saved.

 This scripture lays out this concept perfectly and I encourage all to read it and remember that we need to be so grateful during this time.  Christ truly was born for us, and he was born to fulfill his calling as the only begotten and to overcome death and sin. I am so grateful for His sacrifice and for this time of the year when we are reminded of the gift God gave us, the gift of his son. Don’t waste this gift! Use the atonement in your life everyday! Repent and find strength in Jesus Christ!

Love you mom, have a good day and I´ll talk to you in a week!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What Did I Say?!

Monday, November 11, 2017

Hey Mom,

Just a reminder that next week (18th) we have transfers, and I won’t really know what is gonna happen in regards to a skype call for Christmas until that Day. So, if possible, please be available that day to discuss plans for Christmas. Also, today we have a Christmas Conference as a mission, I have some cards I am giving to an Elder going home on the 18th and the hope is that he will mail them in the US so they will get to you.  They´ll get to you guys after Christmas but I wanted to at least send SOMETHING. I really hope it all gets to you!

I received my Christmas package on Tuesday, it took more or less 20 days to get here, not too bad, honestly faster than some letters! Thank you for everything, I’m planning on taking Elder Kozlowski out to dinner tonight. You´re gonna have to remind me to object lessons with the Rubik’s cube though... I don’t remember :(

Here’s my week in review:

Food Experience:  We had Pizza Doce, Brazil style, and dang was it good. That’s my food of the week, haha.

Funny Experience: This week Elder Kozlowski approached a woman and another person of considerable age sitting beside her to make a contact. He introduced us and then asked how this woman, and her MOM, was doing. The contact got really awkward really fast when the woman explained that the person sitting beside her wasn’t her mom, but in fact, her husband..... Still confused on their relationship because this guy was ANCIENT - also confused why Elder Kozlowski thought he was a woman - but in his defense I certainly didn’t think they were married! To say the least, they didn’t accept our invitation to visit the church.

Missionary Experience:  I have an eternal blister on my pinky toes. I inherited dad’s weird squished pinky toes and they´re having it pretty rough out here! Still waiting for calluses to form, but every week the blisters pop and then just come back. 

We didn’t have any investigators at church this week, which was a bummer, but last week had 2 baptisms and their confirmations were this week. Icaro, a guy we are teaching, is still really struggling overcoming doubts about the restoration and also changing the beliefs of his childhood. We hope to baptize him next week but I have a feeling he’s going to be a long term investigator. 

Language Experience:  I had another dream, this time I was with the family speaking English during the dream but we came across a Brazilian family, they were speaking Portuguese... Again, I didn’t understand them, I was frantically trying to get their information so we could visit them to give them a lesson.... Here is the good news:  Even though I am not understanding, my brain is still trying! Also, after trying to explain the role of prophets to a really old guy this week, he asked if I was talking about sex... So not sure what I was saying, but whatever it was, it was NOT right. We watched the Christmas devotional yesterday and I didn’t understand anything, just picked out words. So that was a bummer.

Teaching Experience:  DAD - I TAUGHT A BRAZILIAN BEAR SALMON MOSQUITO! I taught it to one of our recent baptisms, Mateus. He and his family loved it.  It was cool to share a little piece of home with them. What was also cool and made things a lot easier is the game doesn’t really involve any speaking, haha. (Urso, peixe, mosquito)

Cultural Experience:  I learned that some people here think the Mormon church is a church of vampires. Also saw my first monkey here, they don’t normally have them in this area but while we were knocking doors (clapping outside gates) we noticed a monkey in a car with its window down. We talked with the owner and he had NO IDEA it was there or how long it had been there! Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me :(

The word got out that I´ve got maple with me (thank you Tanner) and this stuff is like liquid gold down here. All the Brazilians now want me to come to their house to make ´´panquecas´´ so they can enjoy some of the maple - haha.

My Thought: Mosiah 4:6-8  This scripture explains a little bit about the importance of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I couldn’t find the scripture I specifically wanted, which names Jesus Christ as the only person in which we can find salvation, but this scripture has the same idea. During this time as we celebrate the birth of Christ, it is important to remember the purpose he came. One way we can show our appreciation for him during Natal, and during EVERY day of the year, is to use the atonement in our lives and honor the sacrifice that he was born into the world to make.

My emails are all over the place, I’m always just frantically trying to get stuff down - hopefully you´re able to use it to keep people informed about how things are going down here. If you´ve got any suggestions, let me know. I really like Elder Kozlowski, he has been an awesome companion. I am worried about getting paired with another Brazilian this upcoming transfer. Keep me in your prayers!  

Love you Mom, have a good week.

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 saĆ­d. 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