Sunday, December 22, 2013

Meeting lots of great people!

Three Siblings Emilyn, 14, Kauana, 13, and Whendel, 11


December 16, 2013

It´s been a busy week.  We have done lots of walking the heat.  Temperature yesterday was about 95 F.  Someone told us it would probably get to 40 C or around 104 F this next week.  With the humidity, even the natives are complaining.  We try to time our walking so most is done in the morning or the afternoon.  It is great to encounter people on the street. We are still looking at cars.  We have decided that we will probably get one if we find the right deal.  They are expensive down here and so is gas; it is about $4/gallon. But President Castro says, we could visit more inactive members with a car.  We are still taking the bus a lot.  But it still leaves us walking neighborhoods a lot looking for people.

We had some interesting encounters this week.  One lady stopped us on the street this past week.  She had overheard our conversation in a store with an employee about the church.  She told us that she was Catholic and that her daughter was 13.  She wanted her daughter to make up her own mind about religion, but that she herself really liked the `Mormons` and would like her daughter to hear about our church.  We gave her name to the Sister missionaries.  They have an appointment set up for this week and are really enthused.

On Friday, we were walking around a neighborhood, trying to find less active members and let them know about the Branch Christmas party that night.  We stopped at a house where a member used to live and found a family or at least part of one that consisted of 10 kids.  They told us the member we were looking for was their brother and that he and other siblings lived in a house a little distance away.  There had been a divorce in the family and they lived in separate homes.  Three of the kids offered to walk us there after getting permission to do so.  They were so friendly and inquisitive.  There were two girls, Emilyn, 14, Kauana, 13, and Whendel, 11.  They had not been baptized.  They had lots of questions, especially the 14 year old.  We told her we had a granddaughter named Emilee...almost like her.  That made her smile! She asked if women were different in the US.  We told her all women were alike in many ways.  She said that she thought Brazilian women wore shorter skirts!  We had to laugh.  We talked with them about movies, soccer, school, etc.  We even sang some songs with them.  They were a joy!  And we had a nice visit at the other home even though the older brother was not there.  We invited them all to the Branch Christmas party that night never thinking that they would actually come as it was a long ways from the chapel and they didn´t have a car.  But 4 of the kids showed up that night.  They seemed to enjoy the cake & soda and seeing Papai Noel (Santa Claus).  They were quite happy with the little gifts he passed out.  They were in no hurry to leave and said that their mom would meet them half way.  But we felt that we should walk with them.  We ended up walking them all the way home and had another good visit with them.  Emilyn had made a Christmas card for us that was really nice!  Sweet kids!  Sister Biddulph and her new companion will visit them this week.  It made me think about granddaughters that are about that age!  I surely miss them.  Maybe that is why I felt so close to these kids!  They reminded me of grandkids!

We have had lots of other great encounters.  We always seem to find someone who is interested in the Church as we are walking.  It is amazing to me.  Just when we are about to give up on finding someone, someone who is interested shows up.  We were walking back home when it began to rain.  We did not have our umbrella with us.  A car stopped and someone called out to us.  It was a less active member that we had visited.  He offered to take us home.  He was really friendly.  We visited with his wife later. She was very friendly as well.  Hopefully, we can get them back to church soon.  Lack of vehicles and the distance they have to walk is always a problem.

Tomorrow we are supposed to go to Porto Alegre for a Christmas mission conference.  It takes about 3 hours on the bus.  The Elders and Sisters will be going too.  We leave at 6 am.  So it´s an early morning. The Elders & Sisters have requested a get-together on Christmas Eve at our place.  Everyone will bring food.  Guess we will be shopping for more chairs!  We will have 4 Elders and 4 Sisters plus ourselves. Guess I need to experiment with some more recipes too. It should be fun. Then on Christmas day, we have been invited to a member´s home for dinner along with two other Sister missionaries.  We are supposed to take dessert (sobremesa).  If we don´t have a car by then, we will try to catch the onibus!  We are a little worried about the bus schedule on Christmas day and these members live a long ways away.  The sisters are especially worried, but we hate to turn this good sister down.  So we will hope for the best!  A car would be a blessing.

We have taken some crazy bus rides.  The bus is usually packed.  Often we are standing body to body and can hardly maneuver to the exit.  It is so ridiculous that it makes us laugh.  But, especially at nights, I have worried about walking around some of these neighborhoods.  We try to be home before dark, but sometimes it doesn´t work out that way and we find ourselves out after 10 pm.  Elder Shirley doesn´t worry, but I do.  I am always grateful to see a bus coming that will take us home.

We went to the First Presidency Christmas Devotional broadcast last night.  The music, especially, brought unexpected tears!  We enjoyed that a lot!

We experimented with a couple of our recipes.  We made the Bran Muffin mix that we usually make at Christmas.  It turned out pretty good.  Also made slush.  The pineapple here is so sweet...hardly any tang to it.  Lemons are the same way.  So we added lime juice to the slush.  We also made the rice bowls with sweet and sour pork.  It turned out well.  The challenge is finding the ingredients in the store.  It´s a challenge to figure out the names.  And some things they just don´t have.  The sisters have been a great help in figuring out the names of things.  We stop at little Lancherias for rice and beans quite often too when we don´t feel like cooking.  It´s too hot to cook much.  We live on the 3rd floor and the heat sure stacks up.  Our bedroom is air conditioned, fortunately.  Also we get a cool breeze on most nights.  We have windows on all sides so we get good cross ventilation.  We also get a lot of mosquitoes.

Last night they had fireworks in the park that is just down the road from us.  They broadcast Christmas carols from big trucks with speakers that drive around the neighborhoods.  I think we heard Christmas carols til at least 11 pm last night.  So weird to hear Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, etc. when it is so warm outside and fireworks are going off.  Once in a while we hear a song in English too.  Also, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, we saw a sign in a store window in English that said, `Black Friday`.  Funny!

We are thinking of you all and missing you, especially as Christmas approaches!  May the Savior be a part of all of our celebrations!

Love you lots,

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