Monday, June 16, 2014

Experiencing Miracles

86 year old at bus stop in Quinta

Crepes in the park

Foggy day - the seasons have definitely changed!

Posing before Stefani's baptism

Supermarket display of limes and bergamotas (mandarin oranges)

Wood-fired pizza oven at Pizzaria Paulista

Anticipating a Dia Dos Namorados (Valentines Day in June) meal at a restaurant named "Love at First Bite"

Standing room only on the bus

Stefani's baptism

Storefront decorated for the World Cup

It’s been a gratifying week….a week of miracles! It’s the kind of week that makes a person glad to be a missionary.  But then, we always feel that way!

We keep forgetting to mention that we had a nice surprise.  One afternoon just before we had an appointment, a call came in through Skype.  It was our former tutor, Douglas Destro!  We were thrilled!  Douglas, a native Brazilian, was our Skype tutor through the MTC for months!  He helped Elder Shirley fine tune his Portuguese and tried to teach some basics to Sister Shirley. We were probably his biggest challenge!  But we felt very fortunate to have Douglas for a tutor.  He is a super intelligent, fun, all-around good guy!  We enjoyed him a lot and were able to be taught by him in person a few times.  And for anyone interested…..he is single and attending BYU Provo.   It was so fun to visit with him again.  It made our day!

We have had some chilly days as well as a couple of unexpected warmer ones.  There has been lots of fog, rain and mist.  Not much sun for most of the week.  The chapel in the Marina/Unioa Branch is not heated.  In fact they open windows for ventilation and the breeze blows through.  We all wear long johns, coats, scarves, hats, etc.  For District Meeting, the building was especially chilly.  We came away from it with cold feet and cold hands.  But it was another good meeting.  We all had the opportunity to bear testimony to each other.  We are always impressed at the lessons the Zone and District leaders prepare for us.  Great missionaries!

This was a week of celebration in Brasil.  On June 12, they celebrated the Dia dos Namorados (Valentine’s Day!)  We celebrated the same way we celebrated the day on February 14 –- by having lunch at Amor รก Primeira Mordida (Love at First Bite).  It is one of the nicer restaurants in town.  They have a really nice buffet with everything labeled, which was nice for us. Many times we aren't sure what we are eating.  A little scary!  Lunch is usually the big meal of the day here.  We also discovered a good pizza place just down the street from us.  It was fun to visit with the employees there.  They seemed happy that we wanted to take pictures of their oven and thanked us a lot for leaving them one of our pass-along cards with a picture of the Savior on it.  We enjoy visiting with people we meet.  Fun! 

The 12th was also the beginning of Copa do Mundo (World Cup).  Brazil had a game.  People around town wore the traditional colors of yellow, blue, green and white.  Stores and many homes were decorated.  President Castro sent out a message reminding all missionaries to be in their homes one hour before the start of the game until one hour after it ended. This rule applies for any game in which Brasil plays.  It applies for the entire month until the World Cup ends.  We are to use this time to study.  Porto Alegre is the closest city in which a game is played.  But the rule still applies to us here in Cachoeira.  The game was being broadcast everywhere.  During the game, we could hear the fireworks and celebration going on, especially when there was a goal for Brasil!  Although we were so curious to see what was happening in the parks and in the streets, we obeyed the rules and stayed inside!  President says this is for the safety and well-being of the missionaries.  There have been protests and threats of more protests during the games.  However we had to tune in briefly through the internet to see that Brazil won!!  Yay!

We took a lot of long bus rides again, checking out areas of Marina branch where members live, doing our detective work again in order to find less active members.  Many times the buses were crowded and we had to stand.  But it is so good to have free bus passes.  We don’t complain.  We had success in finding some people and had some good visits.  We have bought maps of the area and along with that we use the ward registers and Google Earth on the internet.  It is a challenge we actually enjoy, especially when we get to meet more members!  And many times these visits lead to interested non-members too. 

However, the most gratifying part of the week was having the opportunity to teach an 18-year-old investigator by the name of Elivelton Hanilton Cunde de Oliveira.  His girlfriend is Bruna, the 20-year-old daughter of Vilson and Vera Morales.  This family is very strong in the church.  Vilson has been branch president at least a couple of times.  President Castro asked us to personally teach Elivelton.  This is an opportunity we don’t usually have as we work with less-active members and refer the young missionaries to any investigators we meet.  It has been a marvelous experience to teach Elivelton.  He already knows a lot and has been very receptive.  We met with him several times during the week and were able to teach all 4 of the lessons.  When we met with him on Tuesday, he was down in bed with a bad back from working with cement all day.  But he still wanted the lesson. So we gave the lesson at his bedside.  Afterwards, Elder Shirley and Vilson gave him a blessing for improved health.  Shortly after, that very night, he felt better!  Blessings are wonderful!  It was a good lesson for him in how the priesthood works.  If all goes well this week, Elivelton will be baptized on Saturday, June 21!  We are beyond excited!  And he smiles a lot too!  We will meet with him again this week and then he will have his interview for baptism.  The Sisters in the Marina branch will meet with him to fill out all the paperwork.  It will count as a baptism for them.  We are happy that we could be the support.  It will be a blessing for us all!!   This has been a marvelous experience for us.  We feel as if we have witnessed a miracle!  We think that member/leader support missions are the best!!  We never know what we will be called upon to do.  We love actually working with the people!

We haven’t forgotten the Reinbrecht family either.  They have been out of town and we have been pretty busy with Elivelton this week.  But we had a nice visit on the phone with them.  They still want us to visit and teach more lessons.  Hopefully, that can happen again soon.  Christopher and Melissa are loving the CD that we made for him for his birthday with music grandkids suggested.  Marcia tells us that it plays non-stop in their home.  Thanks grandkids! 

Another nice thing that took place this week was the baptism of Stefani, a little 9 year old girl. With the help of Dionne, we had met her grandma, an inactive member.  Grandma told us about Stefani, who lived with her. It was grandma’s desire that Stefanie be taught about the church and be baptized.  We told the Elders about her.  They taught her and she was baptized on Saturday with Grandma watching.  It looks like a neighbor will also be baptized in a couple of weeks as she also took a real interest in what was being taught.  We also wonder if a little girl that comes to church with her will end up being baptized too.  But once again though, there was a problem with the water.  This time, the gas was out.  So it was another cold-water baptism.  Stefani came straight up out of the water like a shot and wasn't shy about telling us all how cold it was!  This baptism was another gratifying experience for us.  It also shows again how important members are in missionary work.  Because Dionne led us to that house, several may end up being baptized!  And this little girl has been befriended so well by branch members.  We see some sit in church with an arm around her.   It just makes our hearts feel good!

It’s been a wonderful week here!  That’s what we wish for you too!
Eu te amo!

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