Monday, February 24, 2014

Gaucho shop, Carnaval and the big green bean

Artur's baptism

Beautiful evening in Cachoeira

Glimpse of Caranaval celebrations taken from apartment window

Carol's baptism

FHE with the Rodrigues family

Posing in the foliage in front of the Cachoeira chapel

Lidianei's baptism

Elder Shirley out and about visiting members

Sunday dinner with Sisters Biddulph and Rodrigues

Now THAT's a green bean!

February 24, 2014

We started out the week on Monday with a Noite Familiar (FHE) with the Rodrigues family in the evening.  Monday is our P-day, but most times we do a FHE with someone in the evening.  We were able to take a bus out to their bairro.  Four of their five kids (all boys!) were there plus both mom and Dad (Daniel and Cristiane).  We sat out in their front yard, gave a lesson, showed a short mormon message video, and ate pipoca (of course). Jean, the 10-year old who likes to sit by us in church, was worried about a test at school the next day.  He asked Elder Shirley for a blessing of comfort.  (By the way, we heard yesterday that he passed his test!) We really enjoyed the evening and this family. They have been on our list of visits we really wanted to make for a long time now.   We called a taxi to get us home as they live far out and there are no buses that time of night.  And it gets dark so early now.

District Meeting was Tuesday morning.  They always put us to work giving us assignments.  It is sometimes a challenge, but good for us.  We took fudge jumbles for a treat.  Evidently, we all were thinking  the same thing as everyone brought some kind of a treat.  It turned into a regular “festa”!  It really is a fun group!

We spent the week trying to visit less-active members, some whom we have not met yet and others that we just want to maintain contact with.  We spent one evening walking in an area we were not acquainted with to find a non-active member on our list.  It was a beautiful evening.   We found the da Silva family.  He works in a dentist office.  They had just got home from work.  They were tired and the house was hot.  (We have had some hot days this week!)  But, as is the nature for all Brazilians, they invited us in and offered us a drink.  Their children came in and introduced themselves.  We are always impressed with kids who do that.  He told us that he hardly remembers being baptized as he was only 19.  Kids came along, life got busy and he just kind of forgot about the church.  But he still has a Book of Mormon.  We don’t think he reads it though.  He evidently has a book written by a “Billy Graham” type of preacher, which he seems very interested in.  We offered to come back and talk to him about the Plan of Salvation since his Dad has just passed away.  He politely, but firmly, told us that he would speak for his himself, his wife, and his family and said that he was not interested in returning to church. He seems to think that life is easier for him with the philosophies of this book he has!  They did agree to kneel in prayer with us before we left.  It was one of those disappointing visits, but we were glad that we had the opportunity to meet them.  And it was a beautiful night.

One day as we were walking around the city, we decided to stop into a little “Gaucho” store right on Avenida Brasil.  There we met Teka.  She was very friendly and showed us all of the authentic gaucho stuff they sell.  She was also happy to show us that she had a Book of Mormon and some of the brochures about the Plan of Salvation, etc.  Evidently, this store is on the path that lots of us missionaries walk.  She says the BOM is good reading.  (In fact, the portuguese word for good is “bom”!)  But she doesn’t want missionaries to try to teach her at home as she is only there to eat and sleep. She wants the visits at the store.  We had a nice visit.  Later in the week the sisters called to say that Teka has stopped them and wanted us to come back…mainly to see more of her merchandise.  We returned the end of the week.  Teka’s dad, her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend were there.  We visited with them for a long time about the city, gauchos, and the church.  She wants us to come to her home for dinner some Sunday.  We think we have a friend (and maybe a good customer in Elder Shirley).

English class went well again.  But we are sad because it the last week for Ariellle as she is starting night school.  But Lucas wants to keep coming.  So that is good!  We will try to maintain contact with Arielle though. 

Saturday was a good day.  There were two baptisms in the Cachoeira chapel at 5 pm and one in the Uniao chapel at 7 pm.  We love going to baptisms!!  Elder Shirley had to speak at the one in Cachoeira.  Artur, the son of one of our english class students was getting baptized.  Artur’s dad, Claudinei, is a very active member, very “on-the-ball” and has been coming regularly to our English classses.  Sometimes he brings his wife, Marcia, and his son, Artur.  Artur is studying English in school and the family is pretty proud of him.  Claudinei asked Elder Shirley to speak.  The other baptism was of a little girl, Lidinei.  Her twin sister was baptized a month or so ago, but she didn’t feel ready yet.  She was all smiles.  Before the baptism, the two girls showed us their song and dance to “I Am a Child of God”.  So cute!!! 

Then we hurried down to the Uniao baptism.  This was for an 8 year old girl.  Her grandparents are very active in the branch.  She comes often to meetings with them and usually volunteers to say the closing prayer in our leadership meetings.  She gives great prayers.  She sang a Primary song with Sister Biddulph and Sister Rodrigues at her baptism and she gave the closing prayer!  She is pretty amazing and so pleased to participate.  She was confirmed on Sunday and was the first person up to bear her testimony and then said the closing prayer in Sacrament Meeting! 

Saturday evening walking home in the dark from the baptisms, we found ourselves in the midst of “Carnaval”!  It seems we live right in the middle of all the activity!  They had all traffic blocked off and bleachers and lights set up on both sides of the roads.  They painted a section of the road with white paint.  We have seen all of these preparations going on, but we didn’t realize the impact it would have on us, living where we do. We found the gate closing off the alley to our apartment was locked earlier than normal.  Businesses were closed and locked up early. The gas station across the street had their gas pumps fenced off and only a window open to their convenience store. Things really got into full swing around 10 pm or so and continued throughout the night until 4:30 am. (Elder Shirley says that there is a reason that they do all of this celebrating in the dark!)  They have huge speakers all up and down the street.  The sound “rocked” our apartment.  Carnaval is something we have been cautioned to avoid.  Considering where we live, it has been hard to avoid.   There was a parade of people in costumes, singing and dancing.  Luckily our apartment is on the back side of the building.  But the singing, music and chanting literally vibrates our windows and whole apartment.  It was hard to sleep!  We catch just a glimpse of the parade from one of our side windows.  And it is not over yet.  Sunday night was a continuation of  the celebration.  We don’t know how many days it lasts in Cachoeira.  Natives tell us that they do some nights here before the big celebrations in Rio, etc. and then finish up with more back here which will take us well into the first week or so in March. 

It has been interesting to us that they have a kind of EFY (Especially for Youth) scheduled for all youth in the region during this time.  Their purpose is to take the youth out of the city at least for a time to get them away from the influence of Carnaval.  The youth in the ward have been busy preparing their dances and skits for their EFY.   It has been fun to see that.

So we haven’t had a lot of sleep the last two nights.  It has been a bit “unsettling”.  It sure leaves a mess on the streets.  But the city is out there early cleaning up.  There are lots of people out “scavenging”as well.   
Sunday was a nice day though.  We always enjoy meeting people at church.  We had lots of requests yesterday from people to visit them in their homes.  Several asked us why we hadn’t visited them yet.  Guess we had better get busy!  We have quite a list of people we need or want to visit and many that we just need to maintain contact with. 

 One member brought us a bean (just one!) from his garden.  He was anxious for us to see how big it was.  That one green bean was long enough to feed both of us…about 14 inches long!  Sister Biddulph and Sister Rodrigues joined us for dinner as their appointment fell through.  That always makes for fun times! (It was a good kind of a party!)

President Castro is coming to town this Wednesday.  There is a meeting in the evening for all missionaries and branch leaders.  He wants to talk about the forming of a stake!  Exciting news!  But we are a little apprehensive about what it may mean for us.  We are loving the people here in Cachoeira and have been “putting down roots”.  We are anxious to hear!

In the meantime, we have been invited to FHE tonight with Sister Biddulph and Sister Rodrigues at the home of Rogeiro and his wife, Ilsa.  He is active.  She is not.  Rogeiro invited us to come and is also inviting another couple.  It should be a fun time! 

Here is hoping for a calm, peaceful week and at least a break from the noise of Carnaval!  Wishing you peace as well!  Love you all!  Eu te amo!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wild horses, Pipoca and Scrambling (

Filling the baptismal font via bucket brigade

Shopping for a pipoqueira (popcorn popper)

Gilmar and family


Restaurant "Love at First Bite"

Nelson and Elder Shirley

Vera at her baptism
Monday, February 17, 2014

After a very emotional week, we are just trying to “go to work”.  But we have to say how grateful and how proud we are of  family for the way they handled funeral arrangements and all the details that go with it.  We really appreciated the way we were included in all of the happenings and updated all along the way.  The funeral sounded just beautiful.  From everyones reports, music, talks, flowers,  etc. were beautiful!  It was hard to be so far away, but it sure helped knowing everything was being taken care of in such a beautiful way.  We are sure Grandma was pleased!  It makes us more anxious than ever to spread the message of the gospel.

We have made lots of visits the past few days.  We have been following President Castro’s suggestion that we focus a little more on the Uniao branch.  We have been focusing on the Marina branch the last couple of months.  Now we begin to make more visits in Uniao.  However, we still plan to maintain some contact with the good people in Marina as well.  Here are a few highlights.

We enjoyed noite familiar (FHE) with Gilmar, Luanna and Kalebe.  We prepared a lesson about being a child of God and were planning to focus on Kalebe as he is almost 4. We had prepared games, music, had coloring pages, etc.   It was a hot, hot day.  When we arrived, we found Kalebe and friends in the swimming pool.  A friend of Luanna and Gilmar’s was in the kitchen frying up salgados.  We could see that no one would want to come in and sit in a hot house and listen to our lesson.   So we changed our plan.  Gilmar and Luanna were actually quite emotional as a friend of theirs….a mother with kids….had just passed away.  We could relate to their tender feelings.  So we focused on the Plan of Salvation.  We kept the lesson short and showed a video about “Moments that Matter Most”.  Gilmar said that he would like to do the closing prayer.  He gave a very emotional prayer.  We ate with them.  We also  showed them the crazy videos our family made for us at Thanksgiving!  They loved it!  Now they are wanting to come visit us in Idaho someday.  They insisted on taking us home.  It was a good visit after all.  

There was a baptism in the Uniao branch.  Elder dos Santos and Elder Ritz were the missionaries.  When we arrived, they were still trying to fill the font.  The youth and their leaders were there making pizzas for a fund raiser.  The water pressure was not high enough in the building to allow them to use it in the kitchen as well as in the font.  The Elders found a faucet that they could fill buckets from without affecting water pressure in the kitchen.  So we had a kind of bucket brigade.  It was a sweet baptism of a mother of three young kids.  She was very emotional and clung to us like we were old friends.  A ferocious rain storm came up and Sister Biddulph and Sister Rodrigues arrived drenched.  No umbrella.  But they stepped right up and helped this sister get dressed for her baptism and did her hair.  Things turned out great!

We made a new friend in Nelson this week.  He lives in the Uniao branch and has been inactive for about 10 years.  He has quite a nice home surrounded by lots of trees and tropical plants.  He showed up by himself to church last Sunday.  His first wife passed away a little more than 10 years ago.  He found someone else, but they have never married.  They have been together for almost 10 years.  She gets a pension from a previous divorce as long as she doesn’t re-marry.  Nelson works with metal and makes all kinds of interesting things from pans to plaques.  Not long ago he had a dream which made him feel a need to reconnect with the church.  However,  his “wife” is Catholic.  He has kids living close who are not members.  He says his “wife” is like a “wild horse” and he doesn’t think she will accept the gospel message from anyone but him.  He wants to work on softening her heart himself.  He is a very nice, on-the-ball guy.  He insisted on giving us a gift of one of his plaques.  It is a key holder with a metal impression of a horse and rider.  He would not let us pay for it.  We hope to see a lot more of him!

English class was fun, as usual.  We really enjoy it.  Arielle arrived on her motorcycle.  There are lots and lots of motos down here.  She arrived dripping wet as we had another rainstorm.  Lucas was not there.  He was not feeling well.  We had a total of about 9 in attendance.

We visit regularly with a couple of ladies who own a tiny, little store down the street called “Casa Hoffman”.  One is a German and one is an Italian.  We have developed a nice friendship with them.  They call us their amigos!  We bought a pipoqueira from them.  It’s like a “whirly” popcorn popper for on top of the stove.  It works great and we have made a lot of kettle corn to take to District Meetings, FHE, and on other visits.  Pipoca has become our specialty!  It’s been fun!

Sister Biddulph and Sister Rodrigues organized and headed up a branch “multirao” (don’t know an English equivalent), at the request of President Samuel.  Branch members and us met at the church and were assigned less-active members to go out and visit that evening.  The Sisters had addresses, maps, and a message for us to take.  They were so organized!  They are impressive!  Meni and Paulo (really good ward members) dropped us off in the area we were to go and then we walked.  We visited Glassi, who used to be in the Relief Society presidency.  She became inactive after she got a lot of hassle about church attendance from her husband.  Our visit “foi bom”, was really good.  She was very welcoming.  We caught Lepido pouring cement at his home.  So it was a short visit.  Then we set out to find Ana Maria, Ana Paula, and Bruna.  We found the area but had to stop and ask directions.  We were sent down the back side of a hill with hardly a trail and lots of shale rock, trees, and brush.    We weren’t sure that we could do it without rolling down the hill.   It was the scariest path we have been on yet.  But we found a lovely family with lots of curious kids and a very humble abode.  Ana Paula and Bruna have been baptized, but don’t attend church.  We had a nice visit with them.  Afterwards, they directed us on an “easier” path….a sort of rock stairway that went straight up the hill.  We were left just a little weak-kneed afterwards.  They will need some follow up visits.  We hope there is an easier path around on the other side.

As you may have noticed, the weather has changed.  We have had quite a few rainstorms and temperatures are down.  It has been so pleasant!  It seems strange to think that we are starting into fall!  Daylight Savings time just changed here over the weekend.  We probably have a little more heat ahead, but we sure see a cooling trend.    

On Sunday, we attended sacrament meeting at both Uniao and Marina.  In each branch, they had speakers fall through.  So Elder Shirley got to speak in each of the two sacrament meetings, with no advance warning.  But he did great!    

We have a FHE scheduled tonight with the Rodrigus family,  Daniel, Cristiane, and kids.  Daniel is not a member of the church.  Cristiane is the daughter of Jussara and Adao Garcia….the family we had Christmas and New Years dinner with.   They are a good family.  They live in a bairro far out.  Only an occasional bus goes out there.   Their kids are very friendly.  Jean,  a boy of about 10, like to hassle Elder Shirley.  He occasionally sits with us at church.  Cristiane is always so sad when the subject of eternal families comes up.  Daniel has a few issues to clear up before he can be baptized.  He wants to wait for baptism until he can fully live all commandments.   We plan to take a lesson,  a treat and maybe play our Brazilian cup game…Escravos de Jo.  The kids really liked that at Christmas.  We will try to take a bus out and call a taxi to get back.

It looks like a busy week ahead as well!  We wish you all a good week as well!

Eu te amo!

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Sure is a purty day" - thoughts on Margie Shirley

February 10, 2014

As we think of “Grandma”, we know it is a better day for her today.  The phrase “Sure is a purty day!” keeps going around in our minds….a phrase Grandma picked up from her 4 year old grandson, Brian, as she walked with him down a dirt road next to her home, making dust.  Sure is a purty day!  We have heard that a lot from Grandma through the years.  We know what a joyous reunion she is having with loved ones on the other side.  We are sure that it is a “purty day” for her.

Yesterday, around 6 pm Brazil time (1 pm Idaho time), a storm blew in.  It was the worst thunderstorm we have yet experienced here in Brazil, with strong winds that actually drove the rain in through the cracks around the windows in our apartment, making puddles on the floor.  Shortly after, we lost power. It was off for about 10 hours.  As we have been glued to our “devices”, anxiously awaiting word about Grandma, we acutely felt the loss of power.  It was dark and we had no way to get word about what was happening at home.  We couldn’t get our thoughts off of Grandma.  A hymn kept going around in our minds, “Lead Kindly Light, amid th’ encircling gloom…….the night is dark and I am far from home”.

 Fortunately, Brian was able to get through to us by phone to tell us of Grandma’s passing.  We feel like this world lost a little light when we lost Grandma. The storm we experienced was kind of symbolic for us.   She will be greatly missed.  But the light of the gospel is brighter and stronger than any darkness.  We are grateful for the certainty that we have that families can be together forever. 

We are grateful to have such good family and friends.  Sorry that we are not there to help and support.  But our love and prayers are with you all.  We are grateful for everything that you are doing.  We will miss Grandma.  It has been our privilege and blessing to be next-door neighbors to Grandma and Grandpa for about 35 years. Over two years ago, when we first got our mission call, Grandma asked if she could come with us.  She has been with us in spirit.   We have learned a lot from her….lessons taught by example.  We love her!  We won’t say good bye, we’ll just use one our favorite portuguese words…..”Ate”  (until)

Love you all lots!  Eu te amo!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lay aside the things of this world and seek for the things of a better

Artur and Lidia

Caught in a rainstorm

Dancing at district meeting

Now that's a birthday party!

Doing the Hokey Pokey in the rain and mud

Matt. 5:45 God "sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust"

The good folks down at Pedal de Ouro

A participant in the govt subsidized recycling effort

Ya can't beat good old rice and beans with a Kuat soda!

On the way to visit a family
February 3, 2014

The heat continued this week.  But we got caught in a few good rainstorms, which actually felt good.  But things don’t cool down too much, even with the rain.  The forecast says that Sunday would begin a heat wave for this week.  We thought that is what we have had all along.  But we are doing well and just try to soak it in as we think of the weather at home.  We actually ended up buying another umbrella….that makes 4 now……as we got caught in a rain storm when we were visiting our favorite store, “Pedal de Ouro”.  So they sold us another umbrella.  This store is owned by a member and his wife and several members work there.  They are a great bunch! 

We had a fun District Meeting this past week as Elder da Silva made everyone do crazy dances, along with pulling crazy faces.  We continue to love and be impressed with all the Elders and Sisters.  And they always make things fun!  We also had a couple of Elders from Porto Alegre visiting from the mission office.  We are including a pic, but it doesn’t do the dance justice!  They begin all meetings by reciting the mission purpose and reciting the same scripture each week from memory:  Alma 26:22.  Wow!  They really spit it out.  Guess we will need to get up to speed on that.  It sounds really cool in Portuguese!

Also President Castro, gave us a scripture and asked us to think about it and how it relates to our missionary work.  It’s D & C 25:10.  It talks about laying aside the things of the world and seeking for the things of a better.  Thinking about this scripture makes us grateful for all of you at home that make it possible to lay aside the things of the world by taking care of so many things for us.  It is a remarkable experience to be able to devote all of our time and energy to teaching and studying the gospel!  We realize that it is a unique opportunity, a time in our lives like no other.  We feel very blessed!  And we hope we can bless the life of others!

Besides our regular visits, we went with Sister Gurreri and Sister Almeida one afternoon.  They had been stopped by someone who asked if we could cast out evil spirits.  So Elder Shirley and I went with the Sisters to visit this family.  They lived behind a little store, a “mini mercado”.  There was a man and his wife who had been raised in the Catholic church and an aunt who belonged to the Assembly of God.  They welcomed us warmly.  The sisters did a fabulous job of teaching them about the Restoration and about the priesthood along with some visual aids.   We backed them up.  Besides casting out evil spirits, Elder Shirley gave the man a blessing for good health as he was not feeling well.  They had several dogs who really set up a fuss, barking like crazy when we first arrived and again when Elder Shirley started to pray.  It was a little unnerving .  We all wondered what was going on with the dogs.  The family invited us to return and want to hear more about the church.  It was an interesting visit.

The Sisters also wanted us to meet Monica,  19 years old with a 3 year old son.  The Sisters have taught her a lot and have developed a good friendship with her.  She really clings to them. Monica lives with her boyfriend who is a drug dealer and abusive.  He is very suspicious of the missionaries.  Monica just got a good job and is determined to pay tithing if she can keep her money from her boyfriend.   It is a sad situation, with no easy solutions.  She came to church yesterday with her son.  She had written out her story and her testimony and wanted to read it during testimony meeting.  It really breaks our hearts.  But we also worry a lot for the safety of the Sister missionaries.   Monica  just went out and bought lottery tickets.  She wants enough money to be able to get out of her bad situation.  She says if it is right and the Lord wants her to leave, she will win the lottery.  She has a lot to learn yet.  She is so new to the Gospel and so dependent on the Sisters.  It was good to see the members rally around her at church.  She needs that.  The Sisters feel very responsible for her.  Hopefully, President Castro can advise them.  It is a scary situation.

It was on this day that we got caught in another rain storm way out in one of the bairros.  We had walked some and found a bus stop.  But we had a long wait for the bus.   Fortunately, we had one umbrella with us.  But the Sisters didn’t.  We all got pretty muddy before the bus came.  Monica waited with all of us.  
We got back home just in time to go out with Presidente Glauber and Dione to invite some prospective Elders to a branch party.  We had some enjoyable visits with them.  We stopped at the home of Artur and Lidia and their parents.  The mom is almost to ready to be re-baptized.  Their dad is not active.  The kids were baptized in November and are so fun.  Even before we got out of the car, Lidia came running (literally) out of the house to greet us with hugs.  Artur joined in.  Ever since Lidia got baptized, she says she just feels “so light”.  A cute girl!  Artur’s mom kept scolding him because he didn’t have a shirt on.  Neither did his dad though.  That is the usual state of things when it is so hot.  In the evenings, everyone comes out and sits in chairs in any shady place they can find.  Kids are playing in the streets.  Everyone is trying to cool off.  So walking down the street, we encounter lots of people, in the bairros especially. 

English class was fun again.  Lucas stayed after to visit a little.  He is so eager to learn English and does so well.  But Arielle was missing.  We need to go check on her.

Francine turned 1 year old this week.  Gelson and Roselaine had a “festa” for her Sunday afternoon.  Of course, we went.  They had a lot of family there.  We took a little musical book as a present and it was a hit with her and everyone.  They had lots of food….cake, salgados, little sandwiches, soda, etc.  The table was full of food. 

We have Family Home Evening scheduled with Gilmar, Luanna, and Kaleb tonight.  Hope it doesn’t fall through.  We worry about that as Gilmar has been out of town for work, but supposed to be back today.  We have made some fun preparations to, hopefully, interest Kaleb. 

Anyway it was a busy week filled with visits, meetings, and lots of fun stuff.  We ate out a couple of times.  We had good filet mignon at a restaurant we hadn’t tried before.  One of the few that serves ala carte instead of a buffet.  It was good.  We also ate out on the street at one of our regular stops.  Fun times!

Love and prayers and fun times to all of you!  
Eu te amo!