Tuesday, November 19, 2013

First report from the first area: Cachoeira do Sul

A great report from Elder & Sister Shirley from their first area.  There are also some good pictures that they sent at the bottom of the post.

November 18, 2013
Here we are in Cachoeira do Sul, Brasil....2 1/2 hours west of Porto Alegre.  We are living in a temporary apartment that belonged to Sister missionaries.  They moved in with the other pair of sister missionaries.  They are preparing an apartment for us towards the center of the city so we can serve the whole district.  It should be ready in about 10 days.  We hope to have internet there.  For now, we are using internet at a little store owned by a member called "Pedal de Ouro" which means Leaf of Gold.

The trip here was long.  We ran into a little problem in the airport at Sao Paulo.  They did not show that we had tickets to Porto Alegre.  Guess it was never confirmed.  We had to purchase tickets ourselves and will be reimbursed.  Fortunately, there was room on the plane and it was lucky that they had room.  Elders from the mission office met us and we required two taxis to get us and our baggage to the mission office.  Too many hands helping remove the baggage, or maybe we were just tired, but the computer bag...the one with our new laptap and two tablets...was left in the taxi.  We did not discover it until a couple of hours after.  The Elders took us out to eat at a churrascaria with food like Toucanos.  We discovered the bag was missing upon our return from eating.  We were sick.  The Elders jumped into action.  They made calls, prayed and gave us reassurance.  One Elder was trying to get us bus tickets to Cachoeira and it just wasn´t working.  He kept saying it was because we had to wait for the bag to be found.  A miracle (milagre grande) happened!  The taxi company called back and said they had found it.  They returned it to us.  Elder Shirley and I and several Elders were waiting on the street for him.  I guess that just never happens.  President Castro, who had been at a baptism called us later to say that we were the first miracle of the mission because bags are just never found and returned.  The Elder trying to get us bus tickets was able to do so after the bags were returned.  We were surely relieved.

We met many Brazilian people on our way to Brasil that were friendly and talkative.  Elder Shirley talked like crazy to them.  One family of a Doctor, his wife, and married daughter knew of the church and wanted to exchange e-mails and asked us to keep in touch.  We think that they are prime for missionaries.  They asked us to pray for their daughter-in-law to be able to have children.  They have a lot of faith in God and in prayer.  We will try to do a referral.  They live in Curitiba.

Then on the flight to Porto Alegre, Dad sat by a pastor of the Assembly of God church.  Again, it was non-stop friendly conversation...not about religion but about interests.  It was a mutual appreciation for God and the work of God.  As you can see, Elder Shirley is just doing so excellent with the language.    I keep getting put on the spot as people come up and start asking me questions.  I manage to get out a few basic words, but sure feel frustrated and inadequate.  Yesterday, they had us go to two different Branch Sacrament Meetings.  We had to give short talks and bear testimony.  Thank heavens for that good Douglas Destro, our MTC tutor!  Testimony was one of the first assignments I had and so I was able to do a brief testimony.

People are very friendly.  We were invited to two different homes for lunch after church.  We went with a pair of Sister missionaries to the home of a member family.  They served us something like mashed potatoes with corn in it, rice, beans, and chicken.  It actually tasted good.  We also had something called pitanga, a little red fruit, the size of a little grape tomato.  They had a very small, humble home, surrounded by a forest of mostly fruit trees.  But they were willing to share whatever they had.

The sister missionaries...two sets.... are pretty amazing.  There is Sister Biddulph from Idaho Falls and another sister from Lehi, Utah.  They are helpful and cute!  I am just so amazed at how well they speak and interact with the members.  We will meet the Elder missionaries on Tuesday.  They are the Zone Leaders.  The District President, Elder Torrres, is about our age and lives here.  He had shopped for a few groceries for us and ran us to another branch building for a meeting last night.

We arrived tired.  Time here is 5 hours ahead of home.  We had an overnight flight and a long bus trip here, arriving about 10:30 pm.  We had to be at church about 8:30 am and then had a busy afternoon.  So we didn´t get much sleep.  But we slept long and hard last night.  We are scheduled to go with the Sisters tonight to teach a man about the Book of Mormon.

Our temporary apartment is pretty humble. Elder Shirley says it is about like the places he lived in 45 years ago.  It is requiring some adjustment on my part.  Yes, Brian, it is a third world country!  (at least in places, like our apartment. )  We don´t know what our next place will be like yet, but President Torres says it will have air conditioning.  We also hope to get internet.  When President Castro gets back, he says he will help us get set up with it. We brought an adapter for the electrical outlets with us.  But for some reason, it went poof...up in smoke when I was trying to use my flat iron.  We are shopping for new stuff today.  In the meantime, my hair is quite a site!

The hardest part is being away from you all and especially not having a phone or internet handy.  They gave us a phone, but so far we can only do local calls.  We will visit this little internet store until we can get our own internet.   We are hanging in there.  Glad we have each other!    Trying to do our best!  We love and pray for you all!  Will be in touch again soon.  Would love your e-mails!
Eu te amo!

November 19, 2013

(I got this response after I wrote to Mom and asked for a few more details on their living conditions)
Oi!  So good to hear from you.  Tell Amber, Jessie, & Shiree & anyone else that we would love to hear from them too.  I have "saudades" (which translated means “I miss you badly”) for home and family.  You asked about hot water.  We have a little heater for the shower only.  It makes the shower lukewarm.  No hot water in the kitchen. We pushed two twin beds together to sleep in.  We have seen cockroaches but not in our apartment. And btw....your dad and I had to speak in two different sacrament meetings!  We went with the sisters last night and supported them with a BOM discussion with a former member and his Catholic wife.  My stomach was a little unhappy yesterday, but lots better today.  We had a district meeting with the elders and sisters this morning.  Dad spent this morning fixing the light in the sala de estar.  It had loose wires and required a pen in the switch to keep it on.  But it works great now!

It is hot and humid.  Dad sweat right through his shirt collar and his red tie faded onto his white shirt.  Crazy!  He got a good sunburn on his head.  The missionaries are great....especially the sisters.  They are a lot of help to me.  Hopefully we can be of help to them as well.  We had to console one sister yesterday as she was having problems with her companion who is from Argentina.

We are in the Pedal de Ouro again on their computers.  We will be glad if we ever get internet. But we are glad that we have access to it here. Hope everyone is doing well.  Love you all!  Thinking of you all!

Dad fixes stuff wherever he goes!  

 Mom and her new fridge

 Cooking dinner on a little stove

The view from the apartment #1

 The view from the apartment #2

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