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!

No comments:

Post a Comment