Monday, May 26, 2014

Teaching swing dancing and enduring cold showers

Dance practice

One of their favorite lancherias (snack shops)

At the Fenarroz Rice Festival

Inspecting some farm machinery

Elder Shirley on a big rice harvester

Valley center pivots - used all over the world.  Just like the one at home in Idaho!

Elder Shirley sporting a new gaucho hat that comes in handy with the cooler weather

May 26, 2014

It’s been another week of ups and downs.  But isn’t that the life of a missionary?  President Castro gave us missionaries a scripture to memorize.  It’s found in D & C 123:17 and basically says, “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then may we stand still…..”  We do our best, but can still experience disappointments.  But if we have done our part, we need not be disappointed in ourselves.  And so it was.
We began our week with an uplifting district meeting with the missionaries in our area.  We always enjoy meeting together with them.  They are always so enthused.  Our zone and district leaders prepare helpful, thoughtful lessons.  And often they bake a treat too.  Sometimes we take a treat as well.  We never lack for good food…good nourishment both physically and spiritually!

We had our first dance practice with the youth for the upcoming Baile (Ball).  This Baile will be similar to the one held a couple of months ago.  Again everyone is encouraged to wear a hat and the men can even wear a “tapete” (rug or wig).  Don’t know where that idea came from, but it should be interesting.  We have been asked by Presidente Samuel (President of the Uniao branch) to teach some of the youth a swing or lindy dance.  They observed us dancing at the last Baile.  And now they want the youth to do some couple dancing, American style. They want them to do the “floor show”.  They are busy making plans as to what to wear and how to do their hair.  They are even making skirts for the girls.  Never mind that they haven’t learned a dance yet.  But we are working on that. 

Tuesday was our first dance practice and followed their regular Tuesday night youth meeting.  We picked some fun swing music (Wake Me Up Before You Go Go by Wham---old stuff!) , loaded it on a jump drive and went to the church.  We had quite a few willing youth, both young men and young women.  We taught them a few basic steps and moves.  Practice time is really limited, so we tried to keep it very basic.  Basic is more our style anyway!  They were good sports and tried anything we threw at them.  They caught on pretty good.  We followed up this practice with another one on Saturday afternoon where we worked on perfecting the dance from beginning to end.  It looks like it may actually come together!  I think that we may have more trouble remembering the order of the steps than they do.  We are excited and especially excited that the youth seem to enjoy it.  We cheered for their success.  They even cheered for themselves!  We only have one more practice on Tuesday.  Our hope is mostly that they have a good time.  It has been a fun and unusual missionary assignment for us.  It’s made “study time” fun.  Guess it falls under the category of “member and leader support”, right?

Wednesday night was a bit of a disappointment for us and the Marina Branch Sister missionaries.  Sister Picula (Australia) and Sister Techmeier (Brazil) had planned a “multirao” or an evening where members of the branch would come together for missionary work.  Sister Picula was sick and had to go to the hospital which is more like a doctor’s office.  It was a windy, rainy, cold day.  But Sister Techmeier decided to do splits with another set of sister missionaries and let Sister Picula stay home and have Sister Morales come help her.  Our assignment was to make pipoca, the sweet and salty variety again for the 30 people that they hoped would be in attendance.  We got up just before 6 am to make the popcorn.  That evening, as it was rainy and we had a lot of popcorn to carry, we grabbed a taxi.  Don’t know if it was the weather or what, but members were calling the Sisters and cancelling.  We ended up with nobody in attendance and a couple of long-faced sister missionaries.  But we were reminded of our scripture of cheerfully doing all things that were in our power.  We had done our part.  That is all we could do!  We were all disappointed, but not in ourselves.  Such is the life of a missionary.  Popcorn went home with smiling Sister Missionaries!
The weather has indeed changed.  We now bundle up in hats, coats, scarves, gloves and carry our umbrellas.  Elder Shirley found a cool gaucho hat which he likes to wear.  One of the Elders told him that they weren’t allowed to wear hats.  Hopefully, that rule doesn’t apply to senior missionaries as he likes to cover his sparsely-clad head.  It is interesting to experience the changing of seasons.  We are still loving the rain!  Night-time temperatures have been down to 4 degrees C.  We have been told that some mornings we may see a little frost in the wee hours. 

Our apartment heater is not working yet.  We have talked to the “dona” a couple of times.  She says she will ask someone to fix it.  President and Sister Castro are buying heaters for all of the missionaries, but they haven’t been delivered yet.  We did go out and buy a small heater.  We especially need it to help dry the laundry.  We don’t have a clothes dryer.  With all of the humidity, it takes days for a batch of laundry to dry.  Hopefully, the little heater will help.  We also have a nice oven in our small kitchen.  We like to pull our chairs into the kitchen in front of the oven to eat.  We also have improvised with a couple of socks filled with rice to use as our rice bags.  They are great for our cold feet.  Every season has its challenges.  We also love our nice, heavy blanket that we bought at Pedal de Ouro. 

With the cooler weather came shower problems of the indoor variety.  Sometimes, our shower turns cold in the middle of a shower.  That is if you can get hot water to begin with.  We have a big holding tank of water up on the roof.  In the summer, the water was pre-warmed nicely.  But not now.  We bought a new shower, hoping that was the problem.  No such luck!  It may be a problem in the building or maybe with time of day and usage.  But we were treated on Sunday morning with a warm shower for both of us!  We just never know.  We figure that if our son, Brian, could handle cold showers, so can we!  It makes us really appreciate the conveniences of home.  We are not complaining.  Such is the life of a missionary!  It’s a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Our experiences with a cold house and cold shower are not unique.  At church on Sunday, there was no heat.  In sacrament meeting, people wore coats, hats, and gloves.  Windows were still open for the needed ventilation.  Many told us that they also had no heat in their homes.  Although there are some who cook on wood stoves.  Presidente Samuel and his wife don’t have a shower that works right now either.  We all laugh together as we discuss our situations!

Roberto and Marcia Reinbrecht and family gave us a friendly call.  It seems that their son Cristofer had a belated birthday party with friends on Friday evening.  They asked to postpone our visit til next week.  However, as seems to be the case, they can never escape us.  We decided to attend the Fenarroz Rice Festival on Friday afternoon.  We saw lots of tractors and farm equipment used to harvest rice and soy.  Huge tractors!  We saw Massey Fergusons, New Hollands, John Deere, Case IH and even saw a Valley Center pivot exhibit.  Elder Shirley especially liked it.  While there, we attended part of a performance by a small orchestra from Porto Alegre.  When the performance finished, we looked up and saw the Reinbrechts in front of us a few rows.  They saw us and came back to visit.  Hope they don’t think we are stalking them!  Roberto’s mom, Magali, was with them too.  They were all very friendly and apologetic for having to miss our appointment.  As we missed Cristofer’s birthday, we are planning on taking over a birthday gift for him.  He just turned 13 and plays the keyboard. He is a very smart, cute kid and speaks English pretty well.   We think that we may burn a CD for him with some BYU Vocal Point a cappella music or something like that.   We have another appointment with this family on Friday as it is the only night each week that they have free.  However, we aren’t sure how time will work out with the Baile.  We hate to be the ones to cancel.  Hopefully, we can do both.

We were excited to learn from a branch member that, as seniors, we may be able to get a pass to ride the city bus for free.  So we sought out that office this week.  We were expecting a lot of hassle and that we would probably be turned down as we were foreigners.  But to our surprise, they asked no questions, just took our id’s and info and pics and made us a card.  Now we can ride as often or as far as we want in the city.  Sometimes, we are glad to be old!

We continue to visit members and non-members when we can.  We returned to visit Nelson and his wife.  They are the ones who cancelled the FHE we had planned for their family.  As we got to their home, they were just coming up the street with a load of lumber on a bicycle and heavy bags in their hands.  We helped them the last little ways.  They seemed genuinely happy to see us and invited us in.  We took a new and improved version of the pan-making video.  Elder Shirley put “Eye of the Tiger” music with the video for Nelson followed with some church videos.  Nelson was happy with that and played a short Mormon message video from the CD while we were there.  They were both smiling.  That is a good sign, right?  She had just made some jam and wanted us to try it.  She brought each of us a small bowl of jam….no bread, just jam and a spoon.  It was really good, but neither of could eat the whole bowl of just jam.  She asked if we didn’t like it.  Hopefully, we didn’t offend.  Nelson keeps saying that he needs to come to church again.  We along with other branch members are keeping after him.  They are good people!

We have visited with Nilson and Lucas.  Lucas is back in town and both of them want to start up again with English classes.  Guess we will start that again this week.  Also Dione wants to go visiting with us in the Cachoeira branch this week.  He is in the Marina branch, but likes to go visiting with us.  So we set up an appointment.  Looks to be another full week ahead!

Anyway, we continue to try and cheerfully do all things that lie in our power.  Boa semana to all!
Eu te amo! 

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