Monday, June 30, 2014

Everything is Damp But Our Spirits!

Brazilian soccer spirit is alive and well

A rainy day at the Porto Alegre temple

Last district meeting before June transfers

The double-decker bus used to travel to the temple

Elivelton and Bruna at the temple

A "lancheria" across the street from the temple

Sister Shirley enjoying the rain at the Porto Alegre temple

On the bus, ready to go to the temple

2014 Ping Pong World Championships

Elder Shirley posing with a gaucho

Visiting the Reinbrecht family

Setting up cameras for pictures at the district meeting

Youth and some adults at the Porto Alegre temple

The Torres family (Gabriel, Renata and baby) with Sisters Johnson and Holden

Visiting at the Tischler family home

June 30, 2014

And the rains continue to come.  A large part of Brazil is receiving lots of rain and that includes rain in Cachoeira.  A member told us today that Cachoeira has had 5 inches of rain in the last 3 days.  Rain runs down the roads like a river.  There is mud everywhere.  Even riding the bus is more of an adventure.  On some of the little red dirt/clay roads, the bus driver revs the motor and charges up the hills and through the puddles (or ponds in the road) with tires spinning. Rides are really bouncy.  We usually try to sit in the front as we fly off the seats in the back of the bus.  We walked to church on Sunday in the rain as buses were slow in coming.  We had our umbrellas (guarda chuvas), but were still pretty wet when we arrived.  Many members are complaining of leaky roofs.  Clothes are harder than ever to get dry. Hair is impossible!  Even the paper in our tablets is limp and damp.   We like to say that “Everything is damp but our spirits!”

Early Saturday morning, we walked in the rain to the chapel to catch the bus that the 3 branches had jointly rented to take members, old and young alike, to the temple in Porto Alegre.  There were a lot of youth. It’s about a three-hour trip to Porto Alegre. The youth did baptisms for the dead while the adults did sealings and sessions.

We had to be at the chapel at 5:30 a.m.  We didn’t see any city buses running that early.  We thought about calling a taxi.  But not many of them were out and about that early either.  So we just ended up walking.  There were a total of about 55 members from the Uniao, Marina, and Cachoeira branches.  We were very happy to see Elivelton (who was just baptized a week ago) and Bruna join the caravana.  It was a big double-decker bus and was lots of fun.  The last time we went to the temple was almost 4 months ago. Back then, it was hot.  This time we got to see the temple in the rain.  It was still beautiful and still a great experience for both of us to do the session in Portuguese.  Scary, but a great experience!  On the temple grounds, they also have a little store where you can buy scriptures, church magazines, church videos, manuals, garments, etc.  It’s a mini, mini, Deseret Book.  We like to visit there too.  It was also good to re-connect with President and Sister Warthen (who presides over the Porto Alegre temple), George and Annette Leavitt and the Denneys, who are all stateside friends, also serving at the temple.  The Leavitts and the Denneys were part of the “Brazil Nuts”, who were all waiting and waiting for visas to come through.  Elder Shirley also met some families that knew people he knew in his first mission about 46 years ago.  Cool!  

We always especially enjoy the youth and their exuberance!  In the late afternoon, just before the bus was to leave, we were walking down the sidewalk in the rain with our umbrellas when some of the young women came on the run, grabbing our umbrella as they passed.  They were on their way to a nearby little store.  It was pouring rain and they left their “mini” umbrella in exchange for our big one.  They only got a few steps away when the wind caught our umbrella that they stole from us and turned it inside out.  So much for them getting a bigger, better umbrella.  They continued down the sidewalk, laughing and screaming.  They were soaking wet when they got back!   We all had a good laugh!

Across the street from the temple, a little “lancheria” was set up, with tarps to shield them and customers from the rain.  We went to check out the food after we were finished with the session.  They even had a little TV set up inside with the Brazil/Mexico game playing and an enthusiastic crowd standing around. They pulled out two little stools and put us right in front of the tv, in middle of the crowd, to eat our toasted sandwiches.   They were all happy to see that we were rooting for Brazil.  We also picked up some of their salgados and some of their doces (sweets) and took them back for the youth, many of whom hadn’t brought any food and didn’t have the money to buy any. It was a long, but really good day.  We left home at 5:10 am and arrived back home at 9:30 pm.  And it rained all day! 

Earlier in the week, we had the last District meeting before transfers take place.  It is a sad, but exciting time.  They are a great bunch of dedicated, fun missionaries.  Sister Johnson, from New Mexico will be going home and a few of the others will be transferred. 

We hopped a city bus and did some visiting in some of the outlying neighborhoods of Cachoeira in the Marina branch.  We were trying to find some of the less active members again.  This particular neighborhood is called “Habitar Brazil”.  We visited the Tischler family.  We met the dad and some of the kids last week and had set up an appointment to meet the whole family this week.  Since we had a conflict arise, we took a bus out a day early.  The dad greeted us with “you came today”!  But they were all at home and invited us in.  They live in a pretty humble home, but were very welcoming.  We loved the kids.  No one in the family reads except for the mom and the 10 year old boy, Bruno.  By the way, his sister’s name is Bruna.  The mom remembers the missionary who baptized her and she requested a Book of Mormon from us.  We ended up surprising them the very next day when we returned with a Book of Mormon.  This time we met a married daughter and her 18 month old baby.  They were so talkative and kept asking questions about our kids and grandkids.  People are always amazed that we have 10 grandkids!  We know many our age who have so many more than that, but 10 seems to amaze people down here!  And we are always being asked if all of our kids are “firme” in the gospel.  We feel so blessed to be able to say “They are firme!”

On the bus to Habitar, we also met our shoe shine, less-active member, Alexandre.  He was on his way to visit his mother who happens to live just a few houses from the Tischlers.  He invited us to go with him to meet his mother.  Once again, we were warmly welcomed.  In fact, his mom and sister gave Sister Shirley 3-kisses on the cheeks.  We are used to the one kiss on the cheek.  That is a normal way to greet a sister.  But they kept saying, “mais um” (one more).  They seemed happy to see us and sad to see us go.  We didn’t stay long as we had other visits and needed to catch the bus back soon as it was getting dark.  Buses don’t run too late at night out that way.  And it wasn’t the best of neighborhoods.   But it continues to amaze us how the timing works out for us.  So many times things work out so that we can meet people like we did Alexandre on the bus. He seemed pleased. 

One evening we decided to watch the Ping Pong match at the Uniao/Marina branch.  Our non-member friend, Nilson, who works at Delta Sul told us about it (surprise!)  He said he might go.  Although Nilson wasn’t there after all, several active as well as less active young men were.  So we stayed to watch a bit.  Elder Shirley got talked into giving it a try. Although he was rusty, he enjoyed it and the youth got a real kick out of it!  We were able to visit with Mosiah, the in-active son of President Martins (who owns our favorite store, Pedal de Ouro).  He had come to church last Sunday to support Elivelton in his confirmation and sat behind us.  We noticed that he was a good singer.  We visited with him about the possibility of joining with 2 or 3 others (all inactives) for a quartet at church.  He actually seemed interested and even made some suggestions as to who might sing with them.   So something good may come of the Ping Pong match! 

We finally connected again with the Reinbrecht family on Friday.  We had set up an appointment with Roberto when we saw him in the grocery store.  But he hadn’t mentioned it to the family as they had his brother visiting and he forgot.  But they were home and seemed happy to see us.  As usual, they insisted on feeding us.  Marcia had made a great vegetable soup, probably the best soup we have had here.  We took some of our pipoca.  We gave them a lesson and showed a short video of what temples are about.  Once again, they had lots of questions.  We actually talked to them about getting baptized.  Roberto wasn’t as shocked about it as we thought he might be.  But we don’t know what it will take to get them out to church.  He always says that he wouldn’t be comfortable there and that he prefers to just talk religion with us. We are thinking that we will invite the Elders to come with us on a visit sometime soon.  They are anxious to take over on this family anyway.  We are beginning to think this good family just likes our friendship and lively discussions.  The 10 year old daughter, Melissa, has developed a degenerative cartilage disease that is evidently genetic.  They have had her to specialists in Porto Alegre.  We are going to teach them about priesthood blessings next Friday.  We will see how that goes.    

There doesn't seem to be enough time to go around.  The Sisters had a baptism Friday.  It was Manuel, a young man who danced with our little group of youth at the Baile.  Because of our appointment with the Reinbrechts, we were unable to attend the baptism.  We felt like we couldn’t cancel on the Reinbrechts.  But we at least were able to attend his confirmation on Sunday.  Also, Elder Shirley got a call while on the return bus trip from Porto Alegre on Saturday night to speak in Sacrament meeting on Sunday.  He had to talk on how to recognize personal revelation.  He gave a very good, touching talk.  In fact, it may be one of the best he has given!  Here everyone always closes their talk by saying, and this is my “pequeno discurso” (little talk).  Absolutely everyone says this.  Today, so did Elder Shirley!

We have done lots of visiting and had lots of fun.  Can’t believe it will soon be the 4th of July, one of the favorite holidays for our family!  We will be thinking of you!  Here, soccer spirit is alive and well!  (We hear it is pretty strong in the USA as well.)  Rain hasn’t dampened that nor does the rain dampen our enthusiasm for spreading the Gospel.  We are feeling so blessed by the Gospel!  We are feeling grateful for good family and friends!
Eu te amo!

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