Sunday, December 29, 2013

First Christmas in Brazil

Christmas Eve dinner party

The U.S.missionaries
Christmas party antics

Christmas churrasco

Dinner table at the churrasco

New car that Elder & Sister Shirley just purchased

Sister Shirley with Sister Gurrieri from Argentina, and Sister Almeida from Bahia, Brasil. 

December 26, 2013

We really enjoyed the Zone Mission Christmas Conference.  We boarded the bus to Porto Alegre with 8 other young missionaries.  It is a 3 hour trip.  We listened to talks by President and Sister Castro, saw videos, ate good, participated in skits.  Even Elder Shirley and I were a part of the skits.  It was kind of an ad-lib thing....a challenge for me.  But we did it and it was fun!  We got back after 10 pm that night.

We have had some good visits in the homes of less-active members.  One young couple had an adorable 11 month old baby girl.  They won our hearts!  They had very fond memories of the Elder who baptized them with pics and all.  This sister is a seamstress and had made 20 ties for Elder Cutler!  They hope to get back to church as they really want to be sealed as a family in the temple.  We surely hope that will happen.  We would love to go with them.  As usual, transportation is a problem and they live quite a distance from the church.  A challenge!

We have had more good visits on the street.  We had one day when we had several people stop us and ask for cards or Book of Mormons.  It is amazing to me.

Also, we have been preparing to start teaching English classes next week.  Several people we have met have indicated an interest in learning English.  We hope it will also spark an interest in the gospel.  We have quite a variety of people we have invited to join us.  Elder Shirley has tried to be selective in his invitations.    We will see if they will all show up.

It was a great Christmas Eve.  The Elders and Sisters joined us at our place for food, scripture, songs, and a gift exchange.  We had lots of good food.  Everyone brought something.  There were only two missionaries plus us from the US:  Elder Staples from South Jordan, UT and Sister Biddulph from Idaho Falls, ID.  The rest are Brazilian or Argentinean.  We continue to be so impressed by all of these young missionaries.  They are so dedicated and capable.  Everyone bore their testimony....a challenge for me.  But I managed to do it.  At the end, all the missionaries, instead of clapping, click their fingers.  It is funny to see!  Fireworks went off outside all evening and into the wee hours. We played the Brazilian cup game, "Escravos de Jo" so I felt like I was home.   It felt like a combination of 4th of July and Christmas, especially with the hot weather.  It has been very hot and humid!  Wish we could pipe in some of that cold Idaho air!

On Christmas day, we made the bus trip to a member's home for a churrasco, along with two of the from Argentina and one from northern Brasil.  They served something like potato salad with it and some home-grown veggies and beans today!  We took a store-bought cake which they seemed to really like.  It was a challenge getting it there on the bus and in the heat.    They had cooked pork, beef and chicken.  It was good!  We played the Brazilian cup game again!  They seem to like that. The Sister from Argentina can't quit singing it!

Last night, Sister Biddulph and Sister Rodriges came to Skype their families.  Sister Biddulph was able to reach her family and had a good visit.  Sister Rodriges was able to talk on the phone with family, but the computer of her family was not working.  We surely enjoyed our visits with our family!  Technology is great!

We have missed you all, especially during this season.  But we have enjoyed a different kind of Christmas here and feel so very fortunate to be here.  We hear that visas are still a problem for both old and young.  We hear that they won't be calling any couples to Brazil until visa problems get worked out.  So we are counting our blessings and feel a responsibility to be good missionaries!

This week, we also had an opportunity to help the branch deliver food and sing Christmas carols.  It was another late night.  Things just seem to get started late.  Everybody in the branch donated food for Christmas dinner for families.  We all piled into a few cars.  At one point, there were five of us in the back seat of a little car.  It was fun!

We saved some of our visits that require a lot of walking for tonight (December 26th) when it cooled down a little.  We could hear the frogs.  They sound like a cat almost and are really loud.  Had  some really good visits and some not as good.  We visited at the home of the cute kids ...Emilyn, Whendel and Kuanna.  Their dad was there and told us his pastor would not allow him to be taught by the missionaries.  The kids looked sad.  But we left them some candy and gave hugs and Elder Shirley got in a brief message about the importance of families.

After some other good visits, it was dark.  We waited on a bench for the bus and were joined by a Brazilian couple.  We had a good visit with them.  They asked a lot about if there was discrimination and about the value of the dollar.  They have a son studying English so he can get his education in the US some day.

We are feeling thankful for our many blessings tonight!

Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Nos te amamos!

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