Monday, March 24, 2014

Zone Conference in Porto Alegre

Zone Conference luncheon

One of the most attentive investigators they've had in a while!

Elder Shirley on the faixa (the strip)

Elder Ritz baptizing Erli Beatriz

"Hmm, where in the heck are we?!?"

Checking out the neighborhood

Sister Shirley investigates a neighborhood

Getting two birds with one stone - a shoe shine AND a new investigator

Walking down the faixa

Zone Conference - "Baking the Bread of Life"

March 24, 2014

Zone Conference in Porto Alegre was the highlight of the week for us.  The Elders and Sisters went the night before the conference.  But we boarded the bus to PA early (6 am) the morning of the conference and caught a taxi to the mission office.  The theme of the conference was “Padaria Pao da Vida”  (The Bakery of the Bread of Life).  They had good messages for us and “dressed the part”.  We were spiritually (and physically) fed.  It was a very enjoyable day.  

It was fun to see again some of the missionaries who had been transferred from Cachoeira.  We always enjoy President Castro.  Sister Castro had hurt her ankle the day before the conference and was unable to attend.  We also have fun with the married couple, Burnetts and others serving there in Porto Alegre.  We are the only couple from the U.S.  Then they always treat us to a good meal too.  We, along with the Elders and Sisters, started the 3 hour trip back to Cachoeira at 7 pm.  The young missionaries always make the journey fun.  They are a really likeable bunch of missionaries and always “look out” for us!  Rogerio, from the Uniao branch came to pick up the Sisters when we arrived at the bus station.  We ended up getting a ride with him too.  Elder Ritz insisted that we not walk home that late at night.  We told him that we had done it before.  He said that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.  Sounded like something we might say to our own kids.  Nice of them to look out for us. 

We spent most of our days this week visiting and finding addresses for branch records.  The weather was so nice this week.  So it was nice to be about and about.  It was a cooler week and is really feeling like fall.  Besides meeting new people, we made visits to old friends like Paulo from the car dealership.  He and Caesar have just lost their mother.  Paulo agreed to a visit in his home with him and his wife.  We are excited about that.  The fruit stand lady, Rosane, was not so excited to see us again, I think.  She said, “To be honest, I haven’t read anything.” (in the Book of Mormon).   Elder Shirley said, “To be honest, you really need too.”  She seems to avoid us when she can when we have gone back for additional visits.  Sad!  We have bought a lot of fruit this week at her fruit stand though.  So we have had our ups and downs.  Ariele who used to be in our English class until her night school classes started, always greets us warmly and also agreed to an in-home visit.  We have set up a number of Family Home Evenings for this coming week, some with members and some with investigators.  We are excited about that.  Some visits will be quite a distance away and kind of late in the evening.  Guess we will be taking a lot of buses and taxis.

The Sisters in the Uniao branch had a baptism on Saturday.  Elder Ritz, from Farmington, UT, did the baptizing. Elder Ritz will be finishing his mission in April and is thinking of going to BYU-I.   It was a sweet baptism of Erli Beatriz.  She bore her testimony and was so happy.  She had a family full of non-members in attendance.  They seem like a great family.  There was another investigator there to observe the baptism.  He had lots of questions for Elder Shirley.  It was a really nice evening.

We felt fortunate to skype with all of the family on Neal’s birthday…a great birthday present!   We were able to visit with most of the grandkids too.   We got e-mails from lots of family and friends too.    It does our hearts good!   We are grateful to all!  We are well and happy and feeling very blessed! 

Love to all….
Eu te amo!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Elder Shirley!

Birthday dinner steakhouse

The standard mode of transportation

Busy bus stop

Busy street they cross often

"Go ahead, make our day!"

Typical flower in bloom everywhere right now

Branch activity Noite dos Casais (Night of Marrieds)

FHE with Rosi & Gelson

View across town

"Is the bus ever going to get here?"

March 17, 2014

The heat returned this week to Cachoeira.   It felt like we were back in the middle of summer instead of fall.  Walking became uncomfortable again.  But we did a lot of it.  We are still working hard on verifying addresses for the Uniao branch and meeting with menos ativos (MA or less active), and investigators.  However, it must be the angle of the light because it just looks like early fall.  We have had a few thunderstorms but, luckily, most have come in the night or when we have been home, or when we have at least had an umbrella with us.  We continue to meet great and interesting people.  We love hearing their stories.  Nearly every member has a great conversion story!  In fact, that seemed to be the theme at church on Sunday.  We got to hear the conversion stories of many members in both branches, many who have remained firm in the gospel for many, many years.  We loved it.  Verifying addresses for the branch has really been a blessing.  We have got to meet many good people who have needed a visit from someone in the church and an invitation to return.

Sister Rodrigues and Sister Morales asked us to make a couple of visits this week, one to a lady who works in a fruteira (fruit stand) and a lady who works in a gaucho store on our street (a store that we have not been to yet).  These ladies have seen us walking up the street and wanted us to visit.  We presented a Book of Mormon to the dona who works at the fruit stand.  She wanted the visit during the lunch time.  She is one of the few stores that don’t close during the lunch time.  But business is slow during that time.  She wanted the lesson then.  It was a little difficult though as a few customers came in.  But she seemed to find our message interesting and is planning on reading the Book of Mormon.  The gaucho store dona was really nice as well.  She kept calling us “simpatico”!  We have been called that by quite a few people now as we visit around town.  From what we understand, that means pleasant, nice, favorable.  So I guess that is a good thing!

We became a bit “pushy” this week.  We kept Nilson and Lucas for a bit after English class.  They had requested a copy of a Bible in English to help with their reading skills.  So far, we have not been able to get one.  But we did have the Book of Mormon in English.  So after class, we presented each of them with a Book of Mormon, one in English and one in Portuguese, along with an explanation of what it is and where it came from.  They seemed to be interested and accepting.  Guess time will tell if we pushed too hard.  We will be anxious to see if they come back to class.  And unfortunately, we won’t be holding class this week as we have a Zone Conference in Porto Alegre on that day.  They both work at Delta Sul, a furniture and appliance store just down the street from us.  We will have to pay them a visit and see how we are received. 

We were also “pushy” with Gelson, Rosi, (and Francine).  They are the less active members who “talk” of wanting to go the the temple.  We joined Sister Almeida and Sister Techmeier (both from Brazil) in a Noite Familiar (Family Home Evening) at Gelson & Rosi’s home.  Rosi made Cachorros Quentes (hot dogs cut up in a sauce on a bun).  We provided the fudge jumbles.  The Sisters brought the lesson on the temple and forever families.  Elder Shirley and I each added our thoughts along with 3 very short, inspiring Mormon Message videos on the family. (We took our lap top with us).   Mormon Messages are so great!  Elder Shirley talked to them about how easy it would be for them to go to the temple as they have no real problems except not attending church regularly.  We were all pretty blunt about the need and importance of getting to the temple.   They are such a nice, beautiful family.  We want this so badly for them.  They seem to want it too.  Hopefully, they can follow through.  They were out of town this Sunday visiting family.  But will hopefully start attending church regularly soon.  Everybody seemed to have a good time.  We ended up playing our traditional game from Elder Shirley’ first mission, Escravos de Jo.   The Sisters were acquainted with it.  Gelson and Rosi were not.  It was a fun time.   Sister Techmeier knew the game and had a slight variation to it.  We will have to remember it and try it out on family when we get home! 

The Marina branch had a “Noite dos Casais” (night of married couples).  The branches hold these nights regularly for the married couples in the branch.  They are always well attended.  We usually eat and play games.  This time we had a message, ate, and danced.  They had a “macaroni” night with all kinds of pasta dishes.  There were quite a few good dancers.  We showed off a little “sugarfooting” we learned from Bob Oliphant years ago.  We had a laughing, good time.   Rosi and Gelson attended this night as well.  The message was on marriage and family.  Rosi and Gelson are really getting it this week! It was a great social event!  Now Uniao Branch wants to hold their own dance on Saturday. 

This seems to be a week of parties as each of the branches are also holding Relief Society Birthday socials.  Many are only for the sisters.  We will probably stick together and only attend the couple parties.
It is also birthday week for our St. Patrick’s Day boy, Elder Shirley!!!***  How lucky is he to be able to celebrate his birthday in one of his favorite places….Brazil?!  And his birthday is on P-day!!  We plan to go to one of his favorite restaurants down the street for filet mignon.  It is one of the few places that serve ala carte.  And one of the few (that we have found) that serves really tender beef.  We will probably go there for lunch.  Lunch here is really the significant meal of the day.  All the stores close up for about 2 hours from noon to 2:00 pm.  Evening meals just seem to be a light snack generally or whatever.  Or a really late meal like 9:30 or 10:00 pm. 

Looks like we will keep busy this week too.  Lots on our calendar already!  We think of all of you at home often.  You are always in our prayers! 

Eu te amo!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Porto Alegre temple trip

Elder Shirley at the Porto Alegre temple

Sister Shirley at the Porto Alegre temple

Family Home Evening with the Moraes family

Mrs. Bird's great-great-granddaughter?

The new district following recent transfers

Rosie and Francine

Sister Biddulph

Sisters Almeida and Gurreri

A group of Brazilian soccer fans

Sister Shirley considers swinging from the vines at the zoo

Monday, March 10, 2014

This was the week to say good-bye to a few great missionaries.  Sister Biddulph, Sister Gurreri, Elder dos Santos, and Elder Silva were tranferred from Cachoeira.  We will really miss them.  But it looks like the new ones will be great as well.  We now have Sister Morales (from Mexico), Sister Techmeier (from Brazil), Elder Tapp (from Rigby, ID…Yay!), and Elder Julca (from Argentina).  We have already had some good times with these new missionaries. 

We met for Notie Familiar on Monday with Sister Biddulph and Sister Rodrigues at the home of Valdomiro and Ivone Moraes.  They are good, strong members.  They have some very active married kids and some not so active kids.  We had some of each at the home evening plus Filipe, a non-member neighbor boy of about 10.  Filipe and his Dad have been meeting with the Sisters.  But his Dad couldn’t make it this particular night.  A couple of active neighbors also showed up.  So it was a houseful!    The Moraes family has just completed a little house remodel.  So this was a kind of “house warming” / send-off for Sister Biddulph.   The Sisters had prepared a lesson and we  took our laptop and followed up with a short video and message.  Ivone had prepared a regular meal with rice, chicken, lettuce and tomatoes and a drink.  We had just tried out JD’s no bake cookie recipe.  So we took those. They were super fast and easy to do and were a big hit!  So thanks to JD!  It was a fun evening! 

We also managed a short visit with the Sisters to the home of Rogerio and Ilsa.   Although Ilsa isn’t very active, Rogerio has been the Uniao branch mission leader and they have both been really good to the Sister missionaries.  And they had a little gift for Sister Biddulph. We think that she will be sorely missed!  We enjoy visiting this family also.  Rogerio and Ilsa really liked the pipoca (kettle corn) that we brought a couple of weeks ago.  They want us to come sometime and teach them how to do it.  Rogerio talks the pipoca every time we see him.  Funny!

Tuesday was a surprise to us!  It turns out that it was some kind of holiday connected to Carnaval.  Nearly every store plus the banks and post office were closed.  They were televising Carnaval in Rio and competitions associated with it.  The whole town was dead, so quiet.  It was a hard day for missionary work.  We decided to take advantage of the opportunity and visit the zoo here in Cachoeira.  It was like entering the jungle.  They had monkeys, parrots, turtles, peacocks, owls, etc.  The trees and plants were amazing.  And it was free.  There was hardly anyone there.   We enjoyed it a lot!  We think we met some of Mrs. Bird’s relatives!  Fortunately, we think Carnaval is done now. 

The week was filled up with District Meeting where we got better acquainted with the new missionaries, branch meetings, visits and lots of verifying of names and addresses for the branch.  We visited Gelson and Rosi and Francine again.  In fact, we took her a few sewing projects as she sews professionally, making dresses, coats, etc.  We always enjoy this family.  They always say they will come to church.  But then they don’t.  Gelson and Rosi so obviously adore each other and Francine and talk about wanting to go to the temple and be sealed.  We hope and pray that it will happen for them.  We keep encouraging.  They want us back next week with the Sisters for a Family Home Evening.

Walking in the same area where we visit Gelson and Rosi, we go by the gaucho store.  So we stopped in for another visist with Teka, who works at the store.  She is always enthused to see us.  We think that she is looking for a customer.  She insisted that we try on shirts and have our pic taken with her.  We met her son on this day.  She likes to tell everyone that we are her amigos!  Elder Shirley actually bought a flag and a hat.  She has her Book of Mormon and pamplets at the store.  She is always so enthusiastic.  It makes for a fun stop.

The highlight of the week for us was was a combined branch trip to the Porto Alegre temple on a big bus on Saturday.  It was the first time that we have been able to go to the temple since we began our mission.  We had to meet at the branch at about 5:45 am to board the bus for the 3 hour trip to Porto Alegre.  We got to do sealings and a session and help in the baptistry.  We also shopped at their bookstore for supplies that we needed as well as for the Sisters.  It was an all-day event.  We left PA for home about 5 pm.  We got brave and both did the session in Portuguese!  It was pretty scary, but amazing!

 It was also wonderful that we got to meet several other couples from the U.S. that work in the temple.  The mission President for the Porto Alegre Brazil Temple is President John M. Warthen.  He and his wife are from California.  There was also the Leavitts from California who got their visas about 3 weeks before we did.  We met Elder Denney and also Elder Anthony…all from the good ole U.S.!  It was so great!  It felt like greeting family. We knew them by their names and e-mails from the support group that we were a part of while we were all waiting for visas.   We all feel lucky to have got our visas.  They told us they thought that we were the last couple to get visas before things shut down again.  But they said about 8 new mission presidents are being called from the US, so, hopefully, visas will start coming through again soon.  We had a great visit, exchanged phone numbers and just compared notes.  It felt good!   We got home about 9 pm – too late for the baptism in the branch.  But it was a great day!  It was one of those items on the “bucket list” for Brazil.  We hope to be able to attend the temple again.

Our thoughts have been with a couple of birthday boys in the family this week.  Hope Tanner and Dan had happy birthdays! Happy Birthday to Scott too!   We were sure thinking of them and miss and love them lots!   It was good to be able to watch Josh and the Sugar-Salem boys’s basketball team through gamestream on our computer.  So amazing to be able to do that!  We loved watching and were sure proud of Josh and the team!  Congrats on doing so well!  “Meus pesames” to JD, Amber, & fam on the loss of JD’s Grandpa. So sorry to hear that!  He must have been a great man to have such a great family!  We  are feeling grateful for our family and friends! 

Eu te amo!  

Monday, March 3, 2014

An eccentric solteira and an overly friendly gaucho

Another day of hiking


Chimarrao: "Tastes like weeds and dried hay!"

Chimarrao:  "Mmm, that's tasty stuff!"

"C'mon back!" or "Can you believe this farmer wears shorts and flip-flops?"

Goiaba - a common fruit here

Maria Trindade, the solteira

Oliverio, the gaucho

Prickly pear cactus

District transfer meeting

March 3, 2014

We have had a full week with lots of visiting and checking out addresses.  In our meeting with President Castro, he has asked the branches to clean up and update the branch membership records.  Paperwork has been turned in, but there is still no official word yet about becoming a stake.  We are helping other missionaries to update the records.  So we do lots of visiting.  We meet a lot of new and interesting people who have been baptized but many of whom have not been to church in a long time.  We have been enjoying the visits and have done a lot of walking, actually “hiking”.

Can’t believe that it is March.  We can feel “fall” in the air although we still have some warm, humid days.  We have had a lot of rain storms.  But we just grab our umbrellas and go out anyway.  Mostly it’s been very pleasant weather.  We enjoy it, especially when we hear about blizzards in Idaho. 

We enjoyed Noite Familiar (FHE) with Rogerio and his wife and some of his family.  He has been the branch mission leader, a good, strong member.  But his mother and daughter and a grandson are not members.  And Ilsa, his wife is not active.  We took pipoca and a short video.  Rogerio made a fuss about the famous pipoca!  (Kettle corn)   Sister Biddulph and Rodrigues had a lesson and games to play.  Rogerio fixed up some chimarrao (A drink made with chopped up leaves of the mate herb, drenched in hot water that you drink through a special straw) .  Everyone drinks it here.  We think that it is a social thing as everyone talks about relaxing with it and having good conversation.   It is a big thing here.  The Sisters and Rogerio were determined that we have some.  Now we can at least say that we have both tried it.  (We thought the flavor was somewhere between weeds and dried hay.)  It was a fun evening with good people!

We had our last official District Meeting before transfer day.  Word went out to the Elders and Sisters today about tomorrow’s transfers.  We love these young missionaries and hate to see any of them go.   We are especially sad to hear that Sister Biddulph (from Idaho Fallsl) will be leaving!  She is a sweetheart!  She will be going to Porto Alegre.  We will also miss Sister Gurreri (from Argentina).  Two of the Elders, Elder dos Santos (from Brazil) and Elder da Silva (from Brazil) will be leaving as well.  We will miss them!  It will be interesting to see who comes in. 

English class was good.  We have a new student.  He works at Delta Sul with Lucas.  His name is Nilson and he is engaged.  He is a sharp guy and already knows a lot of English.  He is anxious to learn more.  After class, he asked for a copy of the Bible in English.  We have put in an order to the mission office for a Bible and a Book of Mormon each in English.  In fact, we hope to get several for other class members as well.  We had a great class.  We enjoyed church videos in both languages, games, and music.  We try to get variety for them.  We found a good church video by Elder D. Todd Christofferson about the Bible first being translated into English, called “The Blessing of the Scriptures”.  We think that now would be a good time to show that in class.

In our visiting to update church records, we met Maria Alice Silveira Trindade.  She is a “solteira”, never has married or had kids and proud of it.  She lives all alone in a run-down house. At first, we thought that no one lived there.  Interested neighbors assured us that she was there.  When she finally heard our clapping (You don’t knock on the door; you clap outside the gate!), she proclaimed that “This is my blessed day!”  We felt very humbled. She told us that she hasn’t had a visit from the church in years, but proudly showed us her certificate of baptism, framed and hanging on her wall.  She claims to be 60 years old.  We question that.  (Or maybe we look older than we thought).  She has the cracks around doors and in walls stuffed with newspapers.  The door frame and her front door is partially detached.  We could hardly squeeze through the door opening.  (Future service project?)  We asked about food and her comfort.  She has a cat as skinny as she is.   She said she goes out and shops for food regularly but did not like winter and did not need any help.  Very independent!  She was anxious to just talk to us.  It was hard to get a word in.  Neighbors say she is crazy.  She says they are crazy.  To us, she seems a bit eccentric, but definitely not crazy!  She was so glad to see us and visit with us.  We felt so glad that we persisted in finding the address.  We never know just what we will walk into.  On Sunday, Presidente Samuel told us that he actually knows of her, but did not know that she was a member.  He and the Sociade de Socorro (Relief Society) will visit.    

We visited with a member who is pretty active.  He is an old Gaucho who like to hug and kiss when he can sneak it in. You have to be careful around him.  He gave a tug on the hand of Sister Shirley and she nearly fell on top of him! And without thinking, let out a scream! He was so happy to have us visit him and wants to plan a churrasco with us.  He can hardly get around.  Members pick him up on Sundays and he is met at the door by someone else with a wheelchair.  Nice guy….sometimes too nice!

The youth of combined branches are away on their church trip to Gramado, a kind of encampment.  They will be gone all week.  Carnaval will hopefully be done by the time they get back.  We think there is another big celebration here in Cachoeira tomorrow.  Hopefully, it will be further down the street as we don’t see the bleachers being set up out in front of our place. 

Anyway, we are keeping busy!  Hope you are busy too!  Keeps us out of trouble, right?
Eu te amo!