Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Letter From President Souza

Av. Santos Dumont, 1789 - Sala 1612
Aldeota, Fortaleza - CE, Brasil

16 November, 2011

Dear Cornwell Family,

It's with great satisfaction that we inform you of the promising arrival of your son, Elder Cornwell, to the Brazil Fortaleza Mission.

This picture was taken at the mission home on the 8th of November, 2011 on which occasion we received him to enjoy lunch in our company.

After lunch, we drove to the mission office where your son was interview, received his first training in the mission field, and met his first companion, Elder Baltazar, who will be his trainer for a period of 12 weeks. Following, he left to his first proselyting area, where he is faithfully serving the Lord.

We are very happy to be working with your son, proclaiming the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of the state of Ceara'.

We thank you for all of your support and confidence placed in us and we pray that the Lord might reserve many sacred experiences for your beloved son during his mission.


President Francisco Souza
Brazil Fortaleza Mission

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Already?

This week has gone by so fast! It is just plain old crazy! I´ll just get down to business I guess.

Tuesday, I had my first exchange with the Zone Leaders (since Elder Baltazar is our District Leader, we do exchanges with the ZLs). I went to an area called Castelão with Elder Garcia (he is from Yakima, funny huh?). We pretty much just walked around that area and went searching for new investigators, asked for references and also visited less active members. It was fun to go to a different place and teach for a while, and I also observed some things I could do to better my teaching (bearing testimony frequently was one of those things). I also got to walk by and see the Castelão, which is where they will be playing the games for the World Cup in Fortaleza. It seats about 66k people and they are remodeling it to have a cover and just be all new and whatnot.

The next day, I came back and it took FOREVER! I didn´t get back to the house until about 3 in the afternoon and we had left at about 12:30 from lunch. After that, we studied, and then went out and met with our investigators. The end of the night we went to a ward Family Night for a little bit, and then we headed back out at about 8 and visited with another one of our investigators who is preparing for baptism.

Thursday was more of the same of just studying and teaching. We did have the ZLs come down to do Two baptismal interviews though which was awesome! One was Junior and the other was Dianne (think Die-yannie). It took them a while to get down here, so that was pretty much our night.

Friday we had a meeting with Elder Costa which was awesome. He gave us more ideas on how to improve our abilities as a missionary and other things to help us be inspired. He answered questions and also talked about his time as a mission president in Manaus. It was awesome, plus, we got to go to Aldeota, which is always awesome. It was a zone conference, so it was smaller, and we just had a quick lunch because it was 1 o´clock when it ended and we had to get out and going. Also, something for Dad. If he remembers a Mike Redd from Blanding, his son is in my Zone. At the conference I asked him where he was from (I already knew he was from Blanding, but no one told me). Then I asked him if he knew any Harvey´s, he just chuckled and said ''Oh yeah I do!'' It was a funny coincidence.

The next day was Saturday, and we did more teaching and all of that. We had the Baptism for Junior at 6 that night. His whole family and his girlfriend were there. His family was super excited because they all joined the church about a year or so ago, but he just wasn´t interested. He ended up going to some sessions of conference and then he went to sacrament meeting last week and felt the spirit really strongly and wanted to join the church. We didn´t have to teach him anything, he already knew about it all, we just had to make sure he knew everything. He had a strong testimony and everything. So that was really great, the whole family was so happy to be complete in the church. His girlfriend isn´t a member so we arranged to meet with her and talk about the church.

It was incredible to see the changes that came to him in just one week. It is impossible to describe how much happier he was over the course of just one week. He was confirmed by the bishop on Sunday, and he was even more excited after that. Elder Baltazar and I just loved it.
We also had another investigator at church and we talked with her after and asked her how she liked it. She said she really loved it. She felt great and she loved the way they taught the word of God. I remembered something she had said in our last visit with her along the lines of ''I still don´t know a difference between your church and my church (she goes to a Baptist church nearby)''. I asked her if she still felt that way and she said that our church focuses more on feelings and teaching simply and getting the word of God across clearly. We had a primary program and she loved that too. She said that the children were messengers of the word of God and she really loved that. She said her other church focused more on knowledge of a single person, and that the more you knew the better you were (kind of like a competition). It got me to thinking about how sometimes it is that way in the way we teach and the way we act in our church. In all reality, there are only six things we need to do to inherit the kingdom of God. Have faith in Christ and his atonement, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, endure to the end, and go to the temple (that is the gospel of Jesus Christ with going to the temple added in). The message and way is simple, but we get caught up in details. If we just focus on how we can do those things the best that we can, we don´t need to worry about anything else. It will be a straight path to exaltation. That is what is so wonderful about our church. It is simple, and it should be! That the way it is here, and just because these saints here that haven´t been members all of their lives and can´t tell you squat about Kolob doesn´t mean they will receive a lesser reward. We take our knowledge with us, but we are judged by our works, so we should continue to improve our works in Christ.

So that was pretty much my week. I would attach pictures, but I don´t have a chord to get them to the computer. I will work that out somehow. Also, I got Toni´s letter this week... it got here really fast! As for a journal, I can probably find something that will work, we´ll see.

That’s all I have for this week! Love you all!

Elder Cornwell

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sempre Andando!

Hello friends and family!

I'm just going to let out my frustration by saying the catch phrase for this week was ´´I can´t go to church this week because...´´. We taught a LOT of people and had a lot of people say they were going to church, but no one cares to follow up on their commitments it seems like. I would much rather just have them say it right up front ´´I'm not going to go to your church this week!´´.

I guess I'll just recount some of the happenings of this week, theres not a whole lot. Wednesday we had a few people planned out to teach, and most of the lessons went really fast, or there wasn't anyone home, so we ended up going around to members and talking with them and asking for references. The members here are not shy about sending us to their friends... we had like 3 references that day, and one of them, we ended up teaching 3 people in the street. Another thing, we were going to another reference (from the Mission office) and we found the house and knocked on the door, but we were a street over, so it was the wrong house! My companion asked if they would like to hear our message (the person who answered the door was an 18 year old girl, and when she saw us, she just opened the door and said the equivalent of ´´Hi! teehee´´. It made me chuckle inside, but we got to teach again! The problem is, when we went to teach again later, one of the members talked to us on our way and he asked where we were going. We told him and he just said ´´Cuidado.´´ It was about 5:00 at that time (the sun goes down at 5:30) so we went and knocked on a door really quick, no one was there, so we just headed out and aren´t planning on going back. It is one street from the boundary of our area, but we look like americanos, so no time is really safe down there.

The next day, it was pretty much the same. References and teaching the restoration. Although, at 5:30, we went to the church and sat in on their seminary there, and made appointments with the visitors to teach them. There are about 8 kids there, but it is an after school thing, so maybe about half of the member boys attend. Its kinda just like sunday school for them, just every day of the week.

There really wasn´t a whole lot else that happened this week. We mainly just taught, taught, studied and slept this week. The Bishop had a meeting with priesthood leaders after church about how to strengthen the ward. Its tough for them because they keep on getting split, so their numbers are small. They wanted to focus more on the inactive members rather than finding more. In Ceará, there are 65,000 members, and 15,000 are active. They wanted ways to bring these people back and my companion added that all the other churches around tell their members to go visit all the other members. Elder Bednar said during his talk that we shouldn´t pray for people who weren´t at church to be there next week, and then expect them to come. The way he did it was he said ´´Now, I know that the bishop has the authority, and he can stop me whenever I want, but I want to help those who didn´t come to church today, come to church next week, and this is what we are going to do...´´ and he proceeded to list off what he and the members of the ward were going to do. The only thing he asked was that the members of the ward didn´t go to the same house. After the meeting, they asked me how the missionary work was going in my home ward and I told them about how integrated the Missionaries, Ward Missionaries, Ward Council and members were and the Brother who asked me said. ´´That was the absolute opposite vision that the last missionaries had, and that is exactly what we want to be doing´´. So a big thumbs up to Brother Clements and Bishop Bird, they´re doing it right!

I don't have any other events, but as for news, We have another Zone meeting with Elder Claudio Costa (I have to specify here because there are about 20 Elder Costa´s) this week and other than that, it is still hot! I don´t have any other fabulous stories to recount so I´ll close with that!

Love you all!
Elder Cornwell

I took this photo off of Elder Branden Heath's page, since Kyle doesn't send photos! I put a little white arrow over Kyle's head so you are able to find him better. His is in the middle of the mass of missionaries. Click on the picture or a full-sized image.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seja Bem Vindos!

It has been a CRAZY couple of weeks! But first, I have to apologize for the late email. Monday (our usual P-day) we had a meeting with Elder Gudouy, Elder Costa and Elder Bednar, so our P-day got moved to 3a feira, which turns out to be a holiday. So we decided to email today!

Here’s the skinny on where I am.

I am in an area called Castelo, which includes Castelo and Palmeiras II (more on that place later). We live in a house with 3 other companionships, which is crazy! Our house is in the Fortaleza area, so we walk about 15 minutes to our area.

My companion is Elder Baltazar, he is from Sao Paulo (the Sao Paulo Sul mission). He speaks a tiny bit of English but not a lot, so it is pretty much straight Portuguese with us.

Our first day in the area, we tried to go around and get to now members since we were both new to the area, but it turns out pretty much everyone was gone to Recife for a temple trip. We finally got to meet them all on Sunday the ward is about 70 people... they just split the two wards here into four)

Our second day, we pretty much just went around and met the investigators and followed up on some references, so we got about 4 lessons in the afternoon/night.

A little more about this area, in Ceara, people would rather have a big fancy car than a nice home, and so that’s what they have. Just like pretty much everywhere in Brasil, it looks ghetto just because the infrastructure here is so old, but all of the people here (at least in Castelo) have money. It’s probably a lot like San Felipe, some dirt roads, some paved roads and some rock roads. Palmeiras though is just all old. I think it’s the more poorer parts of this area, but there are still areas where people have money and nice houses, but generally the people that live there are pretty poor. There is pretty much no crime here though. Unless you have a big fancy watch and you are walking around at night in Palmeiras, no one will try to steal from you. It’s a real nice area. We are also far enough away from the ocean that there isn’t a lot of humidity (compared to downtown... we are about 45 minutes away).

The members here are AWESOME! They all love the missionaries and love to have them over for Lunch (they do lunch appointments here, and we rarely eat dinner during the afternoon). A lot of the people are part member families, so we can teach lessons with members more, which is really a blessing. My companion's family joined the church when he was about 5, but mostly everyone here is a convert, so they really know how to relate with the investigators. Also, the average age of the Bishopric is probably about 29. I know Bispo Paulo is 28 and Manuel (another awesome family, his wife is just plain ol awesome) is probably about 30 as well. The ward members are just like they are in the U.S., they are really supportive of the missionaries, they always invite us in and they try to help whenever they can.

Now about the teaching... I have already had my first lesson with a Jehovah's witness. He was about 18 and he firmly believed that only 144,000 people would be saved because it said so in the bible, and my companion was talking with him about that (I was just trying to keep up, they have a different accent here... like porcchtugees). At the end, my companion asked if I had anything to add and I bore testimony to him that I knew that if everyone would come unto Christ everyone would be saved because that’s the nature of his atonement... it could be that only 144,000 truly accept Christ (which is unlikely) but the power of the atonement is infinite. In my companion’s words, I bore my testimony that that just doesn't make sense, which to me it doesn’t, that’s what our message is all about! Everybody has the opportunity, and it can work for everybody!

Since we just got here, we don't really have a lot of progressing investigators, but there was a family that came to church, but the Father of the household doesn't like missionaries, so our plan is to teach them at church. WE have another family that is a reference through the son, Jean. We get a lot of references through a weekly soccer game at the church, which is kind of awesome, but we can't play soccer, mission rules. Anyways, we taught his parents last night and we have committed the whole family to pray about the truth of the restoration and do what they need to do when they receive n answer. The Mother really loves just listening and learning, and I think the Dad just ponders on what we say. We just have to do our best and do as Elder Bednar said and “get out of the way of the Lord.”

As for people who need prayers, we taught a mother and son, and they were very receptive to it. The mother is Catholic but she affirmed that if Pedro felt good about it, it was his choice and he should do what he thinks is right. Unfortunately, we think she ended up talking to her pastor about it because the next night she was very hostile towards us and didn't want us to speak to her son. We just have to pray and hope the Lord can soften her heart and let the spirit work through her.

AS for the meeting with Elder Bednar, there is only a few things that HE taught us. The main thing was how we should learn in all things pertaining to church. He said sometimes we try so hard to copy down word for word what people say in General Conference and we don't end up actually listening to what people say. The way he put it was, these are in essence, your large plates. And I thought to myself, well what worth are the Large plates to us today? Most of it was abridged anyhow! Elder Bednar asked us not to write what he said, but to write what we felt through the spirit, so that we could truly learn, and our notes would truly be revelation, and our own small plates, just like Nephi was commanded to create. The way the meeting went was that we had two talks of his to read, and then he stood up and asked for volunteers to share what they learned, and he asked questions about that. It was incredible because he didn’t stand and talk for 3 hours straight, but he taught us the whole time.

AS for other things, my companion has requested peanut butter, and he would like a BYU shirt of some sort. I guess that could be a present or something. Other than that, a photo album with pictures of family would be AWESOME. Other than that, I don't have anything else I can think of. Oh! My oil vial... I haven't been able to find any in SP or here, so that would be awesome.

That’s all for now! Love you all!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This is just to let you know that I am alive and well and in Fortaleza! My P-day is Monday now, so that is when I'll be emailing and such. I am going to be finding out where I am going, who I am going with and then going there in about an hour or so, so I'm super excited! I love you all!

Elder Cornwell

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Seti mais dias!

Opa minha familia e amigos!

Time is starting to wind down and I am feeling the excitement! We’re starting to get more and more into the mode of getting out the door, so it is starting to get different here. It definitely is weird to think I am leaving to be a ´real´ missionary in just a week, and it is going to be super awesome, I can´t wait!

Today was my last day at the temple for a while (hopefully not until September 7th, but that depends on how fast they build the temple in Fortaleza, more on that later). It is always awesome to go into the temple and feel peace and quiet in a city as big as São Paulo. You cannot hear a peep! The building is just so beautiful too, it’s a wonderful place. I will miss it and all the learning I do every week in the temple.

I guess I´ll talk about the real happenings of this past week.

Our practice investigator Claudio committed to baptism. It was a different experience because normally it’s just to practice the lessons and the process and I had figured I would only really strongly feel the guidance of the spirit when a person is actually just finding out about the Gospel and its teachings. This last lesson though, Elder Heath and I were talking about the plan of salvation and about how we have to follow the example of Christ... we read a scripture and asked "From that scripture how do you think we can follow Jesus and receive all the blessings of this plan?" and then he just said "Be baptized!". At that point we just looked at each other and thought "Holy crap! At least we know what our next question will be!". It’s an unreal experience and I can´t wait to feel it more.

Also, this morning all of my good Brazilian (and Uruguayan) missionary friends left for the field. I think most of them are going to Vitoria, but that’s where my roommates are headed off to. I learned so much from them! I will miss them a ton!

Anyways, the good stuff. We did preslitismo yesterday around the MTC boundaries and first off I am going to say it is HARD. So many people weren´t interested in the Book of Mormon or another religion, and some people just didn´t want to talk to us, it was really tough. But, we did talk to some people who were really receptive.

First, there was a teenaged guy (I cannot remember his name) and we talked with him a little bit, and found out he lives really close to the church (and he already had a book). He also spoke English and he LOVED the opportunity to practice it. We talked about the Book of Mormon more with him and told him about Moroni´s Promise and he looked at us and said "A promise?? Really???". We were really excited to share the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon with him and we invited him to read it and pray about it and we told him that that is exactly what we did and its why we are here in São Paulo. Since he already had a book, we invited him to stop by the church any Sunday and there would be someone there more than happy to talk to him and help him.

We placed our first two books to a lady who owns a candy shop and we gave her another book so she could have it work and read it. Then we gave one to a homeless lady who was so happy to have it, she had me read something from it, so I read 1 Ne 6:4-6 and told her that she could find happiness through this book and through Christ.

Here’s the good part... we had about 30 minutes left and we still had two books, so we wanted to just go out and find someone. We had prayed to find someone who was prepared and it had taken 3 and a half hours up to this point, so we were beaten down, tired and a little bit discouraged. It was really hard and we walked past some of our district members and teacher. We talked for like 15 seconds and then I just though "We need to go down this street right now." So I grabbed Elder Heath and we thought we were just going to finish strong and do the best we could. We get halfway down this street and I say a lady sitting down on the other side of the road and I was planning on coming back up and talking to her. Right as I had that thought, she looked up and waved and hollered at us to come over, and we ran across the street and introduced ourselves. She asked us to tell her a little about our church. She saw I had a book in my hand and she asked what it was, and of course we told her! I gave it to her and we talked about the message and about the message of Christ and she was so happy to hear it and to just have the book. She asked how much it was and we told her it was free and she just lit up and said "Deus lhes abencoa!" Which means "God bless you!" We bore our testimonies and told her how she could find out more, and then we had to leave. We said it was a pleasure to meet her and she said the pleasure was all hers.

Flash forward to today, she works at the grocery store next to the CTM and she had told us that yesterday. So we went in to buy some treats and try to find and talk to her, but she wasn´t working which made me kinda sad. As we left, I saw a worker taking a break and saw that it was Diana! I was so happy to see her and she was excited to see us too! The first thing she said was "Eu lendo o Livro! Eu o gosto muito!" It was so great to see someone so excited. I wish I could be the one to teach her, but I am happy enough as is.

Well, that is all I have for this week!

Até logo! Amo-vocês!

Love, Elder Cornwell

PS from Allison: The pictures below are courtesy of Elder Heath's blog and were taken in front of the Provo temple in September.