Monday, July 28, 2014

Remembering "Why" We Serve Transforms Us

Elder Shirley and Artur working on another project

A rich cake prepared by Gilli

Having fun on the ride home from zone conference

The judges for the Iron Chef cooking competition

Mud everywhere following recent rain storms

Presidente Soler (a local stake president) at zone conference

Posing with Sister Mileib (Brazil) on the streets of Cachoeira

With Sister Morales (CA) who is going home soon

With Sisters Picula (Australia) and Morales (CA)

Some great tasting chicken can be had from this street vendor

Young women and leaders who participated in the Iron Chef cooking competition

Senior couples (referred to as the "more olds") at zone conference

July 28, 2014

It’s been another full, activity-packed week.  We never have to wonder what we are going to do.  We look at what looks like a pretty empty week ahead on the calendar and somehow it manages to fill up.  Guess that is what makes the time fly so fast. 

Gilli, who works at Pedal de Ouro and is a member of the Uniao branch requested that we come by the store.  She had made us another bolo (cake).  In exchange she wanted more Fudge Jumbles!  Her cake was sweet and very rich.  It was filled with their famous “Doce de Leite”, as are many of the desserts here.  It was great!  And she has promised us the recipe.  We gladly made up another batch of Jumbles for her and the good folks at Pedal. 

The week started off good with the third lesson with Artur.  As usual, he was anxious to first show Elder Shirley how his project was progressing.  Then lesson went well, with Artur doing a good job of contributing.  However, just as we were getting to the conclusion where we like to bear our testimonies and discuss baptism again and talk about his concerns, his nephew  showed up to spend the night.  So our train of thought kind of got interrupted.  We wondered if Artur was worried about what relatives would think.  So things got cut short a little.  But we stopped by a couple of days later to see how he was doing and to drop off a Liahona magazine that he had requested.  He seemed fine and agreed to attend church.  He requested a “wake-up” call on Sunday morning.  However, when we called Sunday, he informed us that he wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be coming.  We were disappointed.  He, however, wanted to know when we would be coming again.  So that is good news!  We can’t help but like this guy!  He is still “hung-up” on having a vision of some sort to let him know that baptism is the right thing for him.  He told us that he wanted to talk to Elpídio, who is now in the Marina branch presidency.  Artur knows him well and had missionary discussions at the same time as Elpídio sometime back.  Only Elpídio was baptized at that time.  So Elder and I went to visit Elpídio and let him know that Artur wanted to visit with him. We thought Elpídio could reinforce the fact that answers usually come as a thought or a feeling in your heart.  Turns out that Elpídio did have a dream that made him feel that it was right to be baptized!  However, he also told us that first he prayed and fasted and had a strong faith that his prayers would be answered.  It will be interesting to see how their visit goes.

Tuesday afternoon brought a change in our pleasant weather.  The rains came and came and came!  And along with the rain came lots of thunder and lightning.  Very loud thunder!  And very heavy rain!  And on Wednesday was our Zone Conference in Porto Alegre and our 3 hour bus ride to get there.  We had intended to get a good night’s sleep.  But that was impossible with the loud thunder and rain.  We knew the forecast called for heavy rain all day Wednesday.  So we called Tuesday evening and scheduled a taxi to pick us up at 5:30 am Wednesday morning.  It was a good thing that we did because the taxi driver told us that there weren’t many taxis around that morning.  And the wind blew and it poured rain all day in Porto Alegre too, with no breaks.  Even with a taxi, we were pretty wet just getting in and out of taxis and buildings.
A van had been scheduled to take the Elders and Sisters to Porto Alegre.  They had room for us, but we knew that it might crowd them a bit, so we rode in comfort on the bus.  And interestingly, we met Gilmar (as in Gilmar, Luana, and Kaleb, inactive members we visit occasionally) on the bus.  He boarded after us and chose to sit beside us.  He greeted us warmly and informed us that they would be moving to a house a few blocks away.  We looked on the map with him and discovered that the move would put him in the Uniao branch instead of Marina where he is now.  That put a huge smile on his face.  He has hinted that they did not feel comfortable in the Marina branch.  Wouldn’t that be great if they would start coming to church now?  Who knows?  Anyway, we plan to stop by to see how we can help with the move.  We informed Presidente Samuel and they plan to make contact as well to see how they can help.  It turns out that Presidente Samuel knows Gilmar very well.  This may be a “good move”.  We were glad that we chose to ride the bus! But for the return trip home, we did ride in the van with some of the young missionaries.  There was more room as some of them weren’t returning until the next day.  It rained all the way home and the wipers on the van quit working.  It was next to impossible for the driver to see.  So we had to pull off at a little “truck stop”.  Fortunately, the driver was able to fix the wipers.

Gilmar, Luana and Kaleb were put in our path again one evening as we were walking up the street towards our apartment.  They were standing by a mobile hot dog van, operated by a relative.  So whether we were hungry or not, we stopped and ordered a hot dog to split.  Again, the hot dog came with shredded carrots, peas, corn, lettuce, etc.  It was like a salad on a hot dog and topped with palha de batata (potato chip straws).  Interesting, but not too bad and inexpensive.  And it was fun to visit with Gilmar and Luanna and Kaleb.

We always look forward to Zone Conference and it was good, as usual.  The theme was kind of based on a talk by President Uchtdorf about seeking the joy of the “why” and remembering the “why”, reminding us that the “what” informs, but the “why transforms”.  It is always fun to see missionaries that we know from when they served in Cachoeira.  And all missionaries were treated to a great lunch at a nice restaurant which is always a highlight for missionaries.  The younger missionaries had to walk some distance to the restaurant in the pouring rain.  We older missionaries were spoiled and got to ride. 

At conferences, we also love to see and visit with the other “mais velhos” (more olds).  One couple, the Dornelles, have been working in the welfare office.  They are from Brazil and live not too far from Cachoeira.  Their mission was coming to an end and they decided to extend.  Now they are serving as “member/leader support” missionaries in Porto Alegre and loving it.  They are doing basically the same thing that we are doing here in Cachoeira.  They walk a lot also.  So it was fun to compare.  We all agree that re-activation is hard work.  But we all love it!  Interestingly Elder Dornelles just had a bout with kidney stones recently.  He had to be hospitalized and they removed one stone.  Elder Shirley didn’t even want to hear about it.  FYI…..Elder Shirley is doing well, but he has passed a couple of stones while we have been here in Brazil.  They passed with no problems and no pain.  Thank goodness!  Elder Shirley calls them a “non-incident”.  And, really, he was told to expect this to happen.

One of the speakers at the Conference was a stake president, Pres. Soler.  When Elder heard the name he knew that he had to be a relative of a family he visited a lot in Porto Alegre when he was in Brazil on his first mission.  And, indeed, he was!  Not only was he a relative, but he was a four-year old boy in that family!  Pres. Soler and Elder Shirley didn’t recognize each other.  Guess they have both changed!!  But they had a great visit.  President Soler, along with his wife, would like to accompany us to Gramado sometime.  Gramado is a beautiful resort town not too far away.  We would love to take him up on that invitation.

Another invitation to site-see came from Alceu, another of Elder’s friends from his first mission.  We always visit him when we go to Porto Alegre.  His office is next to the mission home.  He, along with his wife, would like to show us around Porto Alegre, including a possible tour of the Taurus gun factory.  Needless to say, that thrills Elder.  President Castro has given permission already for a trip to Porto Alegre.  It would be wonderful to have a tour guide! 

On Saturday we got to participate in a fun activity.  The branches combined for a “Concurso da Cozinha” which is a competition of the kitchen (a type of Iron Chef activity).  Elder Shirley and I, along with a couple of young men were asked to be the judges.  There were three entries:  a chicken and rice dish; a fancy, frosted sandwich loaf; and a chocolate and strawberry cake.  Even though attendance and participation was down, it was enjoyed by all.  The food was great!  The judges all ate too much!  They also served a wonderful cup of hot chocolate to warm us all us.  It was topped with a type of meringue ball with chocolate sprinkles.  Pretty fancy! 

We had a late night on Saturday.  It was about 9 pm and we were just unlocking the door to our apartment, returning from a branch council for Marina, when we got a call from President Castro, our mission president. He was calling from Porto Alegre.  He apologized and explained that he had an errand for us to run and requested that we go give someone a blessing.  So we immediately went back out and caught a bus.  We set out to return home about 11:30 pm.  There were no buses to be found.  We thought about calling a taxi, but kept looking for a bus as we walked.  We ended up just walking home.  There was lots of movement out on the streets, but we had no problems.  In fact, we came upon the same mobile hot dog van that Gilmar had introduced us to earlier in the week.  So even though it was almost midnight, we split a hot dog on our way home.  Fun! 

After church meetings on Sunday, we were walking home.  We had decided not to wait for a bus.  As we walked, a lady came up beside us and commented to us about what a beautiful sight it was to see us walking hand in hand.  She says that sometimes young kids do that, but it was beautiful to see us “mais velhos” doing it.  She continued to walk and visit with us.  We told her that we were serving a mission here and gave her a card.  She is “somewhat” Catholic and has had missionary discussions with young missionaries.  We asked if she would like for us to arrange to have the Elders come to see her.  She told us no that she wanted us to come.  She seems like a really good prospect.  We exchanged information and have an appointment set up to visit her at her home on Saturday.  Once again, walking pays off!
Yes, we are freezing!  The rain finally stopped on Friday, but temperatures have stayed down.  Our little heater burned up.  Elder managed to find another fuse and fix it though.  Everyone everywhere is complaining about it being muito frio (very cold)!!  The forecast calls for it to begin a warm up about mid-week.  In the meantime, we are enjoying rice bags and our little heater. 

Those are some of the highlights of the week.  As you see, we are still keeping busy.  We have to earn our keep!  Hope all is well with each of you!  Enjoy summer!

Eu te amo!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Pioneer Day!

Another trail - crazy or courageous?

Ariele and Sister Shirley

Artur and Elder Shirley

In front of the bodegao (small convenience store)

A "copo de leite" (cup of milk) plant

Another copo de leite plant

Daniel & Cristiane Rodrigues

"You want me to follow you where?!?"

Gilberto da Silva Fontouro

Buffet at "Night of the Marrieds" branch activity

Pic from the outskirts of Cachoeira

Poinsettia plant

President Glauber loves his chicken!

July 21, 2014

We have enjoyed our week!  We enjoy the challenge of searching out addresses, looking for members.  We are getting better acquainted with the neighborhoods and the residents of Promorar and Marina.  We spent quite a bit of time in each of these bairros this week, asking directions, following little trails and admiring flowers along the way.  On some of the muddy, steep trails, Elder Shirley’s sanity was questioned.  He is always saying, “Sister Shirley, you are a woman of courage!”

Our P-day was pretty uneventful this week.  We didn’t even have any visits from the young missionaries this week.  We look forward to P-days though.  It’s a good chance to get caught up with whatever, communicate with family and friends at home and just relax. 

Artur was scheduled for another lesson this week.  He is very attentive, asks lots of questions and seems genuinely interested. He always has some project that he wants to show Elder Shirley before we begin the lesson.  So they discuss a few of the more worldly things (like guns and tools) before we get to the more spiritual.  As a result, our visits go a little longer than we intend.  But they are enjoyable.  It is very sobering to us though as we watch Artur contemplating the message of the Gospel.  He really seems to listen and consider everything we say.  He reminds us often of how much he loves his family and grandkids.  He likes to show us pictures.  Everybody in the family is Catholic.  So is he, but he doesn’t attend.  He tells us how hard it would be to ever change religion and what it would mean to his family. But he has come close to baptism a few times in the past.  That is why he already knows a lot about the church.  We are so thrilled to be able to bring our wonderful message to him.  But we are sad to see the challenges it will also bring into his life.  But worth it?  For sure!!

Artur told us about a dream he had of having to swim a river.  He went into quite a bit of detail about why and how he decided that he would have to swim the river.  Elder Shirley asked him what he thought it meant.  He said, “I think it was about baptism.”  That surprised us.  Funny thing is when we talk about our message and encourage him to pray about the truthfulness of it, he always asks us if he will have a vision.  We remind him that answers usually come in the form of a thought in your mind or feeling in your heart.  But he really wants a vision!  Maybe a dream will be an answer for him.    

Once again, we invited Artur to attend church.  He promised to attend this week.  Even that is hard for him to do as there is someone in the branch who has offended him in the past.  We think he might be ready to forgive this person.  But we don’t know about the other person.  They are actually in different branches, but meetings are in the same building and overlap.  So they will mostly likely meet.  But he still promised to come.  On Sunday, we waited anxiously in the parking lot for him.  Sure enough, he came driving up, saying “If I promised I would come, I had better come!”  He is a little rough around the edges and liked to talk out loud during the service.  But he knew several men in the branch who visited with him nicely afterwards.  He also came face to face with the member he was worried about.  But no harsh words were exchanged.  In fact, no words were exchanged.  And he made no mention of it to us.  Towards the end of the meeting, Artur turned to us and said, “It makes you feel good, doesn’t it?”  He also wanted to stay for the Gospel Principles class for investigators.  He kept getting calls on his cell phone from family, wondering where he was and asking him to pick up vinegar and such.  So we will see how it goes.  We are scheduled to teach another lesson tomorrow.  We are excited for it.

We continue to make friends out on the street and in the stores.  Ariele who works in a bed and mattress store and who attended our English class gave us good news this week.  She and her husband are expecting their first baby.  They are so excited.  But she also had bad news, they will be moving in a couple of months.  We are sad about that.  She is always so friendly and has become one of our regular stops when we are out on the street.  She asked about the young Sister missionaries that she sees walking by.  So we called them and they stopped by to visit.  But she resists any visits to her home.  She has a very busy schedule and says she just doesn’t have time.  She works and goes to class in the evenings.  She wants us to come to one of her school presentations.  So we will really miss her when they move. 

Gilberto da Silva Fontouro is a man we meet often in the street, at bus stops and on the bus, and in the grocery store.   We even met him one day when we were clear out in Promorar.  It turns out that he lives out there.  So it really pleased him to see us there at a bus stop.   He is the one who likes to throw out English words like “Hollywood”, “Bruce Lee”, “Frank Sinatra”, “Ronald Reagan”, “John Fitzgerald Kennedy”, etc.  He also always tells us that we are in the last days and about at the end.   He talks fast and loud and is very hard to understand.  He always gives Elder Shirley a hug.  We have come to enjoy him.
We met a family out in Promorar.  Two or three (a couple of the girls and a 23 year old boy) in the family had been baptized several years ago by an Elder Zundel.  They even still had pictures.  The mother was sitting outside of her home in the sun.  At first, she told us that we could talk to the girls (who had been baptized), but she wasn’t interested in talking to us.    The girls were 15 and 18 years old.  They were fun to visit with.  But they are now heavy into the Episcopalian church.  They like the singing and dancing.  In fact, the 15 year old girl brought out a guitar and they sang us some songs from the church.  Elder Shirley helped tune the guitar for them.  We had a good visit.  We wanted to take a picture, but the 15 year old wouldn’t let us.  She didn’t like the way she looked that day.  But she wasn’t too shy to sing and pray.  However, they indicated that they weren’t interested in coming back to church.  Surprisingly, the mom became very friendly with us.  She visited a lot and even tried to encourage the girls to come to church…at least once in a while.  They were, however,  interested in some visits from the Sister missionaries.  We have met several families this week that agreed to let the young missionaries come by for a visit. 

Friday night the Marina branch had a Noite dos Casais (night for marrieds).  They hold these events often.  They had some activities, music and good food.  It was supposed to start at 7 pm.  But it ended up starting more like 8:30.  We were able to help with the set-up and food preparations.  They had type of potato salad (very common here), chicken, rice, and cabbage salad, etc.  The chicken served here in homes and in restaurants is nearly always chicken drumsticks and thighs.  It was very tasty.   It was a fun night for all.  There were some investigators and less-active members there too, a successful activity.

They always have lots of branch activities.  Presidente Samuel and others took the youth out for an overnight campout on Friday.  They were just leaving as we arrived at the chapel for the Casais party.  The youth were excited.  But it was sure cold.  Glad we didn’t have to go sleep out.  It is still winter here!!   There always seems to be lots of activities for the young and old alike in the branches.  The youth always gather around us to ask about what the English words mean in songs that they are listening to.  Wish we could always tell them that they are good.  Too often, we have to tell them that they don’t want to know.  It was fun though when they played “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train.  We surprised them by being able to sing it for them.  Thanks to grandkids!  Everyone, especially the youth, continue to have an interest in seeing pics of and hearing about our grandkids....even strangers we meet for the first time. They love seeing their pics, hearing their names and what music they like.   

Sunday night the Uniao branch participated in the Worldwide Indexing activity online.  We were asked to come and bring our laptop.  However they had trouble connecting to the internet in the branch and ended up going over to Presidente Samuel’s home.   We thought that was really great for the branch to be a part of that!

We are remembering that it is Pioneer Day this week!  We even sang in church “Come, Come Ye Saints” (“Vinde, Ó Santos”).  They talked about Brazilian pioneers in Cachoeira and in Brazil in general.  Cachoeira has played a big part in the growth of the church in Brazil.  Jorge Martins, owner of Pedal de Ouro and a member of the branch presidency, talked about the church coming to Cachoeira  in 1960 and about the first chapel in Brazil being in Joinville.  That chapel was the chapel where Elder Shirley attended church when he served his first mission and was assigned to Joinville.  It was interesting to hear about it.  Brother Martins talked about all of the “pioneers” here in Brazil and particularly in Cachoeira.  There have been many good strong members that have come from here.  He mentioned that people always wonder why there isn’t a stake here after so many years.  He says there would be, but many strong families have left Cachoeira for other bigger cities and are helping the church grow in those cities.  They are being pioneers in that respect.  Cachoeira is an old gaucho town.  Although there are around 85,000 people, it is a farming community.  Its industry is agriculture.  (Rice capital of the world.)  Some of the equipment manufacturers are still here.  But some have closed and moved to bigger cities.  There aren’t a lot of jobs for young people as they grow up and get their education. So many leave Cachoeira and move their strong, active families to the bigger cities.  Presidente Glauber is an example.  His son and family are strong in the church, but in order to make a living have moved to Sao Paulo.  But the church is growing very rapidly in Brazil in general.  Due at least in part, to the pioneers of Cachoeira! 

So, happy Pioneer Day!  Think about the pioneers in Brazil too as you celebrate this week!  The church is alive and thriving here! Elder Shirley is always so amazed at how the church has grown here in Brazil since he was a missionary 45-46 years ago.  When he was here, there were only two missions.  Now there are 34 or so missions.  When he was here, there were no temples.  Now there are 6 with two more being built.  Also, back then, most missionaries were from the US.  Now the vast majority are native Brazilians.  27 of the 34 mission presidents are Brazilian too.  Crazy cool!  Amber reminded us this week that Elder Andersen, after a recent visit to Brazil, said when he looks at Brazil, he “sees the heart of the church” and “the future of the church”.   We feel so blessed to be able to be a part of it!

Enjoy your week! 
Eu te amo!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Good Week Working in the Promorar Neighborhood

Elder Shirley in Promorar

A visit with Elpidio and Carla, good active members

The end of the road in Promorar

Following trails in Promorar

Kevin and his guitar

Kids and horse in Promorar

At the end of the day in Promorar (in the distance on the right)

Supermarket closed during the Brazilian World Cup game

Sister Shirley in Promorar

Looking good in Promorar

Some entertainment on the bus to Promorar

Overlooking Quinta at dusk

Papaya tree

"Super moon" as seen from the apartment

A warm day in Promorar

July 14, 2014

It’s been a good week.  The weather has been mostly great!  Very pleasant for walking.  If this is still winter, we like it!  It is surely not winter as we know it in Idaho.  However, natives tell us that we haven’t experienced a typical winter here.  This week has been just cool enough to make us appreciate the sun.  We have really enjoyed it. 

We have spent quite a bit of time this week in Promorar which is quite a ways out from the center of the city where we live.  So we grab a bus and then walk around the neighborhoods in Promorar looking for members, both active and less-active.  There are a lot of members of the Marina branch who live there.  We have had several members warn us about the area, especially one young man about 19 years old or so.  He told us that there were areas of drug dealing and crime in Promorar.  He warned us that we were obvious targets and that we should be careful.  He stressed it quite a bit to us. We met the Sister missionaries on the street out there one day.  They pointed out an area we should avoid, especially after dark.   It worried us a little, but not much.  We are only in that area during the daytime.  We are careful to not carry much money.  Sister Shirley does carry a big bolsa (purse).  But it only contains scriptures, books, maps, branch member lists, etc. (If people realized that, they would be disappointed if they did rob us.)  The one thing that we carry that President Castro has warned missionaries not to carry is our camera.  We love to take pictures.  But we try to be careful when we take them and watch to see who is around to observe.  We try to transfer our pics to the computer regularly and only use a small SD card in the camera so we wouldn’t lose all of our pics if we were robbed. However, we try to be safe and really do feel safe.

Actually, we have found Promorar to be very friendly and welcoming.  Multiple times this week we have had people, young and old come up to us and ask if they can help us find someone.  We must look lost as we stand around a lot studying maps and branch lists.  One day, we observed a young girl who must have been around 14 or so.  She was up a hill some distance from us.  We saw her stop, turn around, and watch us.  Then she came walking back towards us.  Since it was obvious she was looking at us, we waited to see what she wanted.  She wanted to help us locate a house number.  House numbers don’t always go in order and can be pretty random sometimes. She couldn’t find it either.  But she was sure nice.  We had a guy stop sawing wood to help us.  Another was cutting a big metal can out by the road and stopped to help. Several times women have come up to ask if we needed help and actually walked with us.  One such women was walking with us when we met the Sister missionaries.  They assumed we knew her and gave her a wonderful, friendly greeting, complete with hugs and kisses.  The woman just hung around listening to us visit for a few minutes. She had to be impressed at our friendliness.  Another time, a young boy of about 9 came up and wanted to help.  He also walked with us.  He was also full of questions about what we were doing and what church we represented.  He wasn’t timid with us at all.   Needless to say, we have given out lots of cards this week.  Promorar has been good to us and we have met lots of good people, including members and non-members. We also keep running into Alidiane Tischler.  She is always happy to see us and wants to know what we have been doing.  We have also seen some really pretty areas.     We are enjoying Promorar and are anxious to continue our work there this week. 

We had the privilege of teaching Artur, a non-member, the lesson on the Plan of Salvation.  He is the man that the Sisters asked us to take over on.  He is 66 years old…..the same age as us.  He enjoys working with tools and showing us his shop.  He makes his own parts if he can’t find them and enjoys repairing most anything.  He welds.  He likes guns and gunsmithing and owns guns.  He plays the guitar.  And he is retired.  Sound familiar?  Elder Shirley finds a lot in common with him and enjoys our visits there.  His wife died a few years ago from a brain tumor.  He says he hasn’t found a woman that he can live with since.  He has had quite a few visits from the missionaries in the past.  So he knows a lot about the gospel already.  He has all of the pamphlets and the Book of Mormon.   He loves his family.  Most of them are Catholic.  He says that he has been to church a few times in the past.  However, we hear that he has a problem with one of the active members in the Uniao branch.  Uniao and Marina meet in the same chapel.  So he resists attending church.  But he seems to be interested and enjoy our gospel discussions.  He committed to come to church on Sunday. Since the Sisters live nearby, we asked them to stop by on their way to church and remind him.  But he was waiting for his son to pick him up as they had plans.  We were disappointed.  However, we have another appointment with him this week for another lesson.  We put a bit of pressure on him already.  We tell him, “Knowing all you already know and already having all of the pamphlets and the Book of Mormon, our only question is when will you be baptized?”  He seemed to take it ok and just kind of laughed it off.  We are anxious to see how it goes this week. 

We filled in our week with lots of other good visits.  We stop by Pedal de Ouro regularly and visit with friends and workers there.  Gilly is a member who works there.  She made us a treat this week.  It was a chocolate bolo (cake).  It was delicious.  When we returned her bowl, we filled it with our fudge jumbles.   We have visited a couple of times this week with Rosi and Gelson and Francine.  Francine was sick again, so they didn’t come to church again.  Rose is a professional seamstress.  She had made some really cute coats and has already sold 3 to the Sister missionaries.  So we bought one too.  It will be a good remembrance of her for us to take home.  We also visited again with Edson, Luciane, and family.  She is Nelson’s (the pan maker’s) daughter.  They are both less-active members.  Their teen-age kids have not been baptized. Their son, Kevin, played his guitar for us again.  He had been working on a song in English (by Lincoln Park).  It was a good visit.  They agreed to let us notify the Sister missionaries to contact them.  We also enjoyed visiting with several other members. 

We attended sacrament meeting in both the Marina and the Uniao branch on Sunday.  There was good attendance in both, but especially in Uniao.  In sacrament meeting in Uniao, it was really good to see how many young women they have now.  They also are getting quite a few young men too.  It was good to see some passing the sacrament today.  Many of them are recent converts.  And many of them participated in our dance at the Baile.  One young woman that comes from a strong, active family received her Young Women medallion today.  She comes from a family of 7 kids.  Everyone, including mom and dad are very active.  It is rare to see a family with seven kids down here.  Most only have two or three.  And it has been rare for a young woman to get her Personal Progress completed.  So Presidente Samuel made a fuss over her in Sacrament meeting.  He read about the requirements and put the necklace on her.  She was so pleased and so was everyone!  It was fun to see. 

It is also good to see soccer end.  It was getting tiresome to have to be in our apartment during Brazil’s games.  Businesses closed up too during game time.  Although everyone wished that Brazil would have done better, they didn’t seem too surprised.  More embarrassed than surprised.  It has also really been a political thing too. 

We had some especially good thoughts given out at District Meeting this week.  One was a thought from Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”  For us, we always feel like we should just keep trying.  That is what is important.  That is what we try to do.  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  (Philippines 4:13)

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you.  Lots of Love,
Eu te amo!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy 44th Anniversary (on July 3rd)!

"Check out the price of bacon. Isn't that outrageous?"

Anniversary dinner at Per Tutti Grill

A stand of bamboo

This is cowboy country

Elders Hiatt and Hoopes: "Star Spangled Banner" singers

Enjoying the sunshine on a park bench

More visits to Habitar Brasil

Happy 44th anniversary!!

Postcard from Elder Julca

Loving those Massey Fergusons!

Posing with a mother and daughter

Even pinker than "Pink Truck"!

Another beautiful sunset as seen from the apartment in Cachoeira

You know there's been too much rain when it starts coming through the ceiling!

July 7, 2014

It has kind of been a week of change for us here.  It’s now July which is hard to believe.  It was also transfer week and we lost four missionaries (and gained 4)!  We lost Elder Julca (our Zone Leader from Argentina), Sister Techmeier (Brazil), Elder Tapp (our District Leader from Rigby, ID) and Sister Johnson (New Mexico) who finished her mission and left for home.  We gained Sister Munoz (southern Chile), Sister Mendoza (Peru), Elder De Alves (Brazil) and Elder Hoopes (Mesa, AZ).  Elder Hiatt and Elder Hoopes are now companions and both are from Mesa, AZ.  In fact, they come from rival high schools.  This should be fun!

On Monday afternoon (P day), Elder Hiatt and Elder Julca came by our apartment to say goodbye.  We have enjoyed Elder Julca.  We will miss his “You are crazy”, or “I love you, man!” statements. He gave us a pretty funny picture of “old” people, ready to serve a mission.  They arrived just as cinnamon rolls were coming out of the oven.  We are not sure they actually tasted the cinnamon rolls as they wolfed them down. 

We have also had a bit of a change in the weather this past week.  Temperatures have warmed up a bit.  We have still had some rainy days.  But some days were too warm for a jacket.  It was good to see the sun shine a little.  However, we still had days of rain. Wet spots are appearing in the ceilings and walls of our apartments.  So far, there are no drips above our bed, for which we are grateful.  But you can almost see the mold grow.  It’s not only in the bathroom, but in most of our other rooms too.  It’s in the corners, on the floor on the walls and on the ceiling.  So we took the Clorox to it this week.  It works wonders on the mold.  But there’s not much we can do about the leaky ceiling.  A break in the rain has been a good thing for that.  We did have a fierce downpour for most of the night on Saturday and again on Sunday.  The thunder and lightning were ferocious!  We walked to and from church in the rain again on Sunday.

Another change that we are not happy about came with the Reinbrecht family.  When we called to confirm our weekly appointment with them, they informed us that they had a birthday party to go to and that they would be out of town a lot in the future for Roberto’s schooling.  They want to postpone indefinitely and call us when they have time.  Last week, during our visit, we put a bit of pressure on them to attend church, read the Book of Mormon, and look towards baptism.  Perhaps we pushed too hard.  However, they seemed to accept it well at the time.  We have left DVDs with Mormon Messages as well as the Book of Mormon and many pamphlets about gospel principles.  We hope they will take time to read, ponder and pray about the gospel message.  They remain our good friends and we hope to hear from them again.  Hopefully they will miss us and especially our message. 

Artur is one of our new contacts.  We met him this week after the Sisters referred us to him.  He is very intelligent and already knows a lot about the Gospel.  He is the same age as we are.  He has a lot in common with Elder.  He has tools and the ability (and determination) to fix about anything.  The neighbors bring things to him to repair.  He is Catholic, but doesn’t attend.  We met with him once and have another appointment with him this next week.  He has an interest in hearing more about the Plan of Salvation.  His wife died some time ago of a brain tumor.  He also has some little tractors that he made and wants to show them to Elder.  This could be interesting.  And he has a car so he could drive himself to church!  Yay!

We have had some good visits with some of our “regulars”.  We visited with Rosi, Gelson, and Francine again.  They still have a problem getting to church as they don’t have a car and don’t want to walk with Francine in the rain.  We have to work on that.  (Wish Artur would come to church and give them a ride). 
Another visit was with one of our favorites, Nelson, the pan maker.  He has wanted a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants.  We were able to get one when we went to the Porto Alegre temple last week.  He was pleased to get it.  Nelson likes to read the scriptures.  We had a really good discussion with him.  He has quite a complicated history with his family. He also has some issues with a member.  We are still working on getting him out to church more than just once in a while. (He doesn’t have a car either).  His daughter, Lucianne, lives close to him.  We have visited there before.  We tried to visit her again, but have missed her twice.  The Sisters are also going to try and make contact with her.

The Tischler family is always glad to see us.  Bless them.  Although the Sisters are going to make contact with them, we decided to stop by and drop off a picture we took of them last week.  They were delighted.  They were also so interested in the names and ages of our grandchildren and asked what color their hair and skin was.   (We didn’t have a picture with us!!*?)  They wanted to know if they liked Justin Beber!!  They also wanted to know if the church gave away free food and clothing.  Oh! Oh!  But they are fun to visit.  Now if we can just get them as interested in the Gospel.

We made our way to Quinta again this week to take a Book of Mormon to our shoeshine guy, Alexander.  As we were walking down the little street, Maximiliano, brother to Alexander, called to us from the window of a house nearby.  So we had a good visit with him.   He smoked his cigarette the whole time.  Alexander was baptized a long time ago.  Although he doesn’t attend church (yet), he always puts out his cigarette when he sees us coming.  We enjoy these two friendly guys. 

Don’t know if you remember Emilyn, Kauana, Whendel, and Thifany.  We met these cute kids back in December and visited at their house until their dad told us he wasn’t interested in our visits.  Then a couple of weeks ago, we met Emilyn and a friend in the street.  We hadn’t seen her in a very long time.  She remembered us and fortunately we remembered her.  She asked why we hadn’t been to visit and told us she was no longer living with her dad, but they had moved in with her mom and step dad.  We gave the info to the Sisters who had planned on visiting on Saturday.  In the meantime, we decided to stop by for a little visit and to confirm the address.  The kids weren’t home.  Mom and step dad were.  The step dad was very welcoming and accepted a visit from the Sisters on Saturday.  That is until mom heard.  She was not happy and let us know that she didn’t want missionaries.  She was pretty outspoken and/or rude!  (We could really be offended with the rejection this week!)  She was friendly back in December when we visited.  We don’t know what happened. Step Dad kept insisting that we would be welcome.  But we don’t want to cause trouble in the family.  So we will let it be for a while.  Although, Elder wants to drop by and give them a copy of the picture of the kids we took back in December. That will take a bit of courage!  We will see!

We have had lots of other good visits and referrals along the way.  We meet all kinds of good, interesting people, on the streets, in stores, on busses and at bus stops.  It’s always an adventure!

Thursday, July 3, was our anniversary.  Who would have ever thought that we would be celebrating our 44th anniversary in Brazil!?  And for the 4th of July, Elder Hiatt and Elder Hoopes called on the phone and sang “The Star Spangled Banner”.  It was the funniest and most appreciated rendition we have ever heard!  We are loving Brazil, but love and miss the good ole USA!  We love our country, our family, and the gospel!   Boa semana!

Eu te amo!