Monday, August 27, 2012

A Nova Semana!

Hello again!

So this week went by really fast! We had almost nothing to do, but at the same time, a LOT to do.

So my area is pretty much the center of Fortaleza, but it’s a pretty affluent area as I have seen here. It is full of a lot of young professionals or college students. But I haven´t seen so many people so young with a car, computer, internet, and a tablet (all of these things are VERY expensive here, especially for someone who has 30 years). In the ward, the Bishop is fairly young, but he is a Civil Engineer who works with something about durability of materials, the first councilor is a professor of Biophysics at the Federal University of Ceará and I have no idea what the secretary does, I just know he has an iPhone. But just to get an idea of the area, it goes north/south from the Ceará Jockey Club to the Airport, and east west is Av. Tenente Moacir Matos and something Lopez. It’s a fairly small area, but there is plenty of people here.

More about Elder Nelson... he reminds me a lot of Taft (Elder Anderson... whoa! they both have apostle names!). He was studying at BYU-I and got his call for March (he laughs about that now) and his trainer is now the finance secretary of the mission.

So this week didn´t really have a whole ton that happened, but I´ll go over what our ideas were for the week.

Early on I noted that the missionaries that were here before weren´t that connected with the members or the leadership of the ward, so the first thing we did was to start that relationship. We went to the bishop as soon as we could, and got addresses of people who would be important in our work. We also talked about what the ward was needing most, which he said was éxcitedness´ on the part of the members´. Afterwards, we went and got to know the Ward Mission Leader and we got working with him right away and got him as involved as possible (asking members to pass certain things through him so he would be an important part). Then we talked to the relief society president to find some less-active sisters who are in need of visits, or strengthening. We also started to visit less-actives that are very close to returning to activity, or leaving activity. 

We got to know a Brother here, the young men´s president, who is actually a professional athlete. He is in rest after a knee surgery, but he is a middle fielder, as well a futsal player (he played for the national futsal team of Brasil). So we hit it off pretty well right quick, and he offered himself as a help for us, since he knows a LOT of people. He is a really cool guy, he even put Soccer on hold to serve a mission in São Paulo.

The rest of the week, we went by visiting these members as well as trying to build up a teaching group. We left a lot of short messages with members and we asked for a lot of water. On Friday night, someone repaid a favor that Mom and Dad did. We were walking to visit a member near the end of our area, and two people shout ´Elders!´. We see an older woman and her daughter and they asked if we were new/lost to which we replied yes. We talked a little bit and found out they are from the ward over, and they asked us if they could buy us dinner (less asked and more just took us to a pizzaria and bought us a pizza). The whole time I was thinking of Mom and Dad feeding the Elders in Costco haha.

Sunday, we started with Church at 8:30 with Priesthood. The Elder´s Quorum President, Tagino gave a lesson on Bishop Edgely´s(?) conference talk on ´real Growth´. He gave an example of someone who makes R$20k per month. He makes a good deal of money, right? Well in the course of that month, he spends a good deal of money on meaningless things, and he ends up with $4k each month that he actually keeps. He starts working Saturdays as well, adding another $5k, but he only gains $5k per month. Is what he is doing real growth? Is he REALLY gaining $25k per month? Then he asked what this man could do to save more of this money. Some of the answers were...
Reorganize his system
Evaluate what is happening to his money
Taking care of his money

Then, he applied all of these things to the new members of the church. Many are being baptized, but few are actually staying active, so we need to get organized to maximize the number of people who stay active. At night, the bishop gave a message to open Ward Counsel about the parable of the talents. I thought of it as the ward is given so many baptisms, and it is up to them what they do with it. They can deal wisely, or poorly, and as a result, the number of baptisms afterwards will be affected.

So that was my week... it went by pretty fast, but that’s what happens!

That´s all for today!

Elder Cornwell

Monday, August 20, 2012

Easiest Transfer, Ever!

Hello everybody! So this week will probably be a quick recap of the happenings and going-ons.

Monday was the normal P-day routine, and I can´t really remember much of what we did, except that we went up to the Jesuitas again and walked around in the ´jungle´. At night we set a baptismal date for João and afterwards we passed by Herlanie.

Tuesday, we had our normal District meeting and then headed home, and we passed by Radsom (co-worker of João and John) as well as Deivid. WE were going to go to visit Patricia, but the Federal Police are cleaning out a neighborhood and all the traffickers, and we were advised to stay away for a while.

Wednesday, our lunch was earlier on in the day, so we headed out and talked with John and João again and made sure everything was going well. In the afternoon we talked again with Herlanie, Andrea and Rayanne and told them that if they wanted to know who would be leaving, they had to go to church on Sunday, and they had no other way of finding out! hahaha. At night, we ate pizza with João so he wouldn´t be alone at night (The Devil knows how to work well... good thing we do too!). A few friends of his stopped by to talk to him, and we ended up doing a few contacts and marked appointments for the end of the week.

Thursday, Elder Huntley and Elder Clemens came to do an interview for João, and afterwards we had lunch with Branco and Ancylia. The rest of the day, I can´t even remember what happened!

Friday, we had lunch out in Candeia again with sister Eliza. The trip out there was normal, and then we headed back with Irmã Paula... and as we were going, I heard a ´thump thump thump thump´ sound that I instantly recognized (You see Mom and Dad, I know when I´m driving and the car has a flat!). Anyways, her tire was REALLY flat, so we pulled off to the side to change it, but her spare tire was already wrecked. I told ´´Well, this one is just flat, and this other one is completely shot... so it really won’t get any worse if you drive on the old one´´. So off we went the rest of a km back to town haha. We made sure she was taken care of and headed off on our routine.

Saturday, we didn´t have lunch, so we had lunch early and fast, and we got to work at about 11 in the afternoon. We passed by our investigators, and at 3, we taught some of the references we got from João on that day. They seemed to like the message, but two of them promised they would go to church. Afterwards, we kept on passing by everyone. At about 8, we ran out of things to do, so we headed back home to pack things up (even though we didn´t have any idea who would go and who would stay.

Sunday, I had the faith to finish packing my bags ;) and then we headed off to church. The two girls who said they would come to church came, as well as two high councilors from Fortaleza. For Sunday School, Elder Leal and I gave a lesson using Helaman 6-12 about what happens when we forget about the Lord. It was interesting how it had a clear contrast in those chapters between the Lamanites and the Nefites. Afterwards, we were waiting to go to lunch with President, and we got the call that I would leave (in the middle of a story I was telling the secretary about two farmers.... so two farmers need rain, and they both pray so that there would have rain. Afterwards, one farmer went and prepared his fields for a flash flood, while the other farmer waited for the rain to come. So who really had faith that the Lord would send rain?) When I asked ´who had faith´ the phone rang, and I said ´here comes the rain hahaha´. So afterwards we had lunch, and I said goodbye to very few people, but the Secretary gave me a hug and thanked me for everything I did in Baturité. Afterwards, we headed out with the HC´s to Fortaleza, and we slept at the LZ´s house.

Today, we took a taxi to the Chapel of Estaca Montese, and the whole transfer was announced in front of everybody. Elder Rocha went to Baturité (which I liked a lot... Elder Leal will like him a lot, and he will do a great job there). Luck has it, that I was transferred to exactly where I was sitting! Now I am in Ala Montese with Elder Nelson, from Puyallup. He just finished being trained, and we are both new to the area, so it will be a good challenge!

Well, my time is up. I love you all, and have a great week!

Elder Cornwell

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another Fastfastfast Week

Hello everybody!

So this week flew by again. WE got a lot of things done and had some really good experiences.

So Monday after the P-day routine, we stopped by and talked with Joâo (co-worker of John if I ever talked about him). He went to church on Sunday and he said he really liked it... in fact it was the best church he had ever been to. Later in the week when we talked to him, he told us how he felt when we left the message of the restoration with him. As we talked he said he felt a great deal of happiness that he just couldn´t explain. He told us he stayed up all night, reading the book of Mormon or just thinking about what he had just learned. He was very excited and we marked a date for his baptism, and his co-worker will be the one to baptism. What a great start to a week!

Tuesday, we went to Fortaleza for a Zone Training, and afterwards I stayed in Parangaba (read Bonsucesso and João XXIII) with Elder Clemens. We walked ALL over the two Bairros and finished the night at the chapel. In the morning, we headed out early again to get references, and then we headed to lunch, then back to the terminal to reunite ourselves with our normal companions. Elder Leal and I headed back home, and we got back way later... around 6 or 7. I don´t remember what happened the rest of the day.

Thursday, we did visits with John, and had a family home evening with Branco and Ancylia (we wanted João or Radsom, another co-worker to come) but they were working at night. WE visited Valdir and some less actives as well. The day flew by.

Friday, we went out to Candea for Lunch with Irmã Paula. Our ride back to town wasn´t going to come back to bring anyone to Baturité, so we took our time (She has a car) and visited some family of Irmã Paula. It’s always cool to go way out in the middle of nowhere to teach and stuff. The rest of day was going from one place to another... I don´t have many highlights.

Saturday was a BUSY day. 10:30 we headed out to the beginning of Aracoiaba, and then we walked probably 3 km into the rural part of Aracoiaba. Lots of cashew trees (did you know that cashew is actually a fruit? Fun fact for the day). We had lunch with a family who came to a member baptism. Afterwards, they took us around to get to know the cashew farm they have, and introduced us to all the family there. Afterwards, we showed the film of the Restoration and gave copies of the Book of Mormon to some of the family members. It was a really neat experience because it was easy to tell that our message was unlike anything they had ever heard before. It’s like the heavens are opening up for them like they did for Joseph Smith! I had a reverent, peaceful feeling when we talked about the film and presented the idea of a living prophet to these people. At night, we taught a commandment for João and also taught the Plan of Salvation. The rest of the day is a blur, overshadowed by these highlights.

Sunday was very good. I made tapioca for breakfast and then we headed out to wake up João and give a present (A white shirt and a new tie) which he accepted gratefully, and promptly put on. We headed off to church and Felipe was already there sitting in the front (he made a request of a shirt as well, which Elder Leal gladfully provided at night). It was really good to see him because church is exactly what he needs right now. The lesson in priesthood was a good one. The theme was on ´How to make this work go forward´. Bispo Edivã shared a story of a member in his old ward named Cicero. Edivã needed to reorganize the Sunday school presidency and he felt prompted to call Cicero. The thing was that Cicero was a new convert and he had great difficulty reading and didn´t understand much of the scriptures, much less how to teach a Sunday school lesson. He also only had one lung functioning because of a career dealing with paint. Some people raised concerns, but Edivã said that he was who the Lord wanted, and called him as Sunday school president. Cicero started in on his calling, grabbing all the manuals necessary and frequent meetings with Edivã. In these meetings, Cicero would open the manual and ask questions about the content to gain understanding. He continued in this path for a year, and Edivã asked him to give a public testimony during the sacrament meeting. Cicero went to the pulpit and set his scriptures aside the pulpit and pulled out a folded paper from his pocket, written from a typewriter that he had bought, straightened it out, and began to say that he was grateful for the chance to speak, and apologized for having to read his talk, because he didn´t have great diction. Then he began to read his talk. Edivã said he was amazed to see him reading with little difficulty, on top of a wonderful talk with quotes from leaders of the church as well as many scriptures. Edivã said that Cicero was later called as the High Priests Group President and now serves as a High Councilor... about 6 years after his baptism. Edivã continued saying that this work will progress whether or not we participate, but our part is simple. Heavenly Father sent his only Son, Jesus Christ to do his part. Heavenly Father gave his best. Christ gave the example of the BEST life. They only ask one thing from us to help this work progress. They only ask for our best. Cicero was the perfect example of this. Just like the widow, who gave two mites, he didn´t have much he could give, but he gave it all, and that is what makes him great. I think this story could go well with Mom´s talk she has coming up. The theme fits perfectly. But this is what I learned this week. It doesn´t matter what we give, as long as it’s our best, and The Lord will do the rest. 

So that was my week.

Love, Elder Cornwell

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hahaha. All I can say about my week.

Well. Looking back on this week I can definitely tell that Heavenly Father has a good sense of humor and is a master of comedic timing. This week can pretty much divided in halves titled ´What went wrong´ and ´what went right´.

What went wrong.

So, we finished up our P-day activities and headed home. When we got home, there was a gray slip of paper letting us know that the water company had stopped by ´two times´ and that they were going to cut our water (read: we already cut your water because I don´t feel like coming back here two more times). There was still a good amount of reserve water, but still... they cut our water! We called the help line to see what the deal was, since we´re living in the house for only 2 months now, and we sent all of the bills to be paid. Turns out the landlady didn´t pay the bills when nobody was in the house. Also, we would have to go to Fortaleza to get our water turned back on, because they only do that business there (the worst part of this is that the water company doesn´t even deliver potable water! Well, you can drink it, but it makes you sick 10 out of 10 times). 

Tuesday, we headed off to our district meeting... without the cell phone... which would have been really nice to have that day (my bad!). WE had our meeting like normal, and then we had lunch with Elder Huntley and Elder Clemens in their area so we could get our things all figured out. So we finish lunch and we head off to Aldeota to get things all fixed. WE got a bill printed out, and took it to the mission office, which they payed promptly, and then we headed back to request our water back. WE got it all sorted out (in the last ten minutes of operation). We headed out about 5:30 and realized... ´hey, the last bus back home leaves in thirty minutes... 8km away... in rush hour. WHOOOOOOOOOOO! So we got a taxi and headed to the bus station, with about 5 minutes to spare. We got home at about 8:30 and went and got pizza. We headed home, and in the stairway, I see a note on the floor. I pick it up and see that at the top it says ´Coelce´, which is the energy company here (notice the comedic timing here? Well done Heavenly Father, well done indeed). I run into our house and turn on a light. Nothing. We slept without lights (we didn´t really miss that part so much) and without fans. I hardly slept, and we didn´t have any food, because the refrigerator didn´t work.

So we get up the next day and head over to the energy place. We find out that this time, the landlady didn´t pay 3 months of bills. We had the finance secretary call to arrange them to come and pay the bills so we could have our power back. Her husband assured that it was an error and that all the bills were payed, and they would be in the area in the afternoon, then hung up, and didn´t answer his phone again. We just decided to pay the bill and discount it from their rent, bwahahahaha. The bad part is... they didn´t turn our lights on that day. One more night of bad sleep!

The Good part.

Thursday, we went to the church to help a member prepare for a baptism of their son. We passed by a few investigators just to see how they were doing, and then at 7, we went back to the church to watch the baptism. The chapel was FULL of friends and family... a good part of which weren´t members who also had never heard of the church. It was a great service and we got a good amount of references, including a mother and daughter very interested in what they had observed.

Friday we got back to work like normal, and we made visits with John who is getting his papers ready. I´ll have to agree with what Elder Clements said in his last email... I just put the blinders on, and I only remember that I worked.

Saturday, we hit the ground running, and worked 12:30 to 9:30, just rounding up people to go to church.

So Sunday was really good. There was a good amount of people at church, and John came with his roommate/workmate João, who really liked church. They had to leave early to give computer classes, which is why they live here. It was fast and testimony meeting, so it was a perfect opportunity for him to come. After the testimony meeting, the sister who´s son was baptised came up to us and told us she wouldn't be able to give us lunch on Saturday, but her friend (the mom and daughter) was really impressed with us, and wanted to give us lunch and present us to her neighbors. Elder Leal and I were so giddy. So many things went ´wrong´ but a lot of things went right as well. Even a less active young man came and decided he was going to serve a mission, so yesterday was the turning point in his life. He will bring with him a bunch of other less active young men as well, but he was well set in his plans. As we were talking, I went to the library, and got a Preach My Gospel and gave it to him, telling him all he needed to know is in this book. What a wonderful resource! Afterwards, the Branch President rounded everybody up to visit less active members. My companion and i were floored! It was something very unexpected for us, but we were SO happy. About everything that was problematic in our area changed in the span of a week.

So that was my roller coaster week! I really noted how these happenings helped shape me. I became more bold in the face of problems, and I feel more ´resolved´ than I was before. I realized that surviving all this really wasn´t hard at all, and in reality, teaching the gospel is a whole lot easier. So now I have no fears! I am really excited for Saturday, because we will be practically opening the work in a close-by city. But this week really wore me out! But the time is passing by really fast... crazy!

Welp, that's my letter for this week. Hope it got a laugh out of you guys!

Elder Cornwell