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!

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