Monday, August 18, 2014

Sharing Beautiful Important Messages with Families

A selfie at the bus stop

Posing at the supermarket with their favorite checker Jessica

Claudio, water deliveryman extraordinaire

Claudio has them supplied with water for the week

Arriving at Antonia's house for a visit

Winter's ending in Brazil, which means summer is ending for us :-(

Beautiful mangoes at the supermarket

Front gate of the fiercely independent Maria Alica

A menacing sky as seen from the veranda

More early spring flowers

Orelhao (Big Ear) phone booth

"Hmm, should I go healthy or pick the sugar-coated cereal?"

Enjoying lunch with the sister missionaries at the apartment

Portuguese word of the day: Pare!

August 18, 2014

Well this was the week of transfers.  Sister Morales finished her mission and left for her home in California.  She has been a great missionary, a real force for good.  She has been in Cachoeira for quite a while and we have had the opportunity of getting to know her quite well.  She left with mixed feelings, as they all seem to do.  She worried about what comes next in her life.  We will miss her, but know great blessings are in store for her.

We were also sad to see another California girl leave Cachoeira.  Sister Holden was transferred.  We are thrilled that we get to keep (for a while at least), Sister Pikula (Australia), Sister Rosado (Brazil), Sister Mendoza (Peru), Sister Munoz (Chile), Elder Hiatt (Arizona) and Elder Hoopes (also Arizona), Elder D. Alves (Brazil).  New ones are Sister Souza (Brazil), Sister Costa (Brazil), Elder Lopes (Brazil).  From the U.S., there are the two Elders and us.  That is 5 of the 10 from Brazil and 7 out of 10 from South America.  It’s great to see that kind of strength from South America.  We got to all meet at District Meeting and heard some strong testimonies born. They will be a great bunch.

Tuesday was the travel day for most of the new missionaries which meant some of the missionaries here had a bus trip to Porto Alegre to meet and bring back their new companions.  Sister Pikula, Sister Rosado and Sister Mendoza came to our place for lunch on Tuesday.  For reasons that we don’t really understand, they were supposed to be bringing food that a member was preparing for them.  They just wanted to eat it at our place.  Just in case, we made some soup and baked some bread.  It was a good thing that we did as the member preparing the food thought we were actually providing it and she had to scramble to come up with something for them to bring to our place.  It was all quite confusing, but turned out great.  With everything together, we had plenty of food.  In addition, Gilly, from Pedal de Ouro had made another treat for us.  So we shared that too.  They had a 1 pm bus to catch, so they ate and had to literally run up the street to make the bus.  We enjoyed having them here for lunch and being able to fuss over them. 
Later in the day, we stopped by one of the Tischler supermercados.  We wanted to visit again with Cristiane who we had met on the bus.  We had a nice visit with her.  She works in the bakery and told us she had hot bread just coming out of the oven.  Of course, we had to buy some.  It was a day for hot bread!  But you can’t beat hot bread.  And the Sisters pretty well ate what we had made at home.  So it was good!

One day we were walking up the street, when Maximiliano (one of our shoe shine guys) overtook us on his bike. We later commented that when we don’t go to them, they seem to come to us.  Amazing!  He didn’t even ask to do a shoe shine this time.  He apologized for missing church the week before and said that he overslept.  But he showed us his new ring tone, loud.  He asked us also to be his 8 am wake-up call on Sunday morning.  (Interesting, since Artur also has us calling him at 8 am on Sunday mornings.)  Unfortunately when we called Sunday, he was still in bed and still didn’t get up in time to come.  Guess we keep trying with him. 

We didn’t have a set appointment with Artur this week.  So we just decided to stop by.  We caught him just as he pulled into his yard.  He welcomed us warmly.  We had a good discussion with him.  He had tears in his eyes as we talked about families and he told us how much his family meant to him.  He is so proud of them.  After his wife died, 30 years or so ago, he was left to raise the three kids himself.  They have turned out well and he is really proud of them. We plan to get a copy of the Family Proclamation to him this next week.  He told us that he had a few things to clear up before he could be baptized.  Elder told him not to wait too long to decide to be baptized.  We want to be here when that happens!  Even though it was raining, he showed up to church this week, without a wake-up call!   And since his car had an expired license, he walked.  And he has some difficulty walking, so we were really impressed and pleased.  He participated a lot in Sunday School.  He has actually had missionaries in and out for about 4 years or so.  So often we hear people say they aren’t quite ready yet or that they are too busy right now.  Guess we all do that.  Hopefully we don’t wait too long!

Don’t know if you remember Renato, the hot dog vendor, we love.  (The hot dogs are good too!)  He is an inactive member and has been for many years and he is married to a non-member. His kids are grown and are not members either. But his parents were members of the church.  His wife has a restaurant at the other end of the street that is only open in the evenings.  We paid him another visit this week.  We hadn’t seen him for a while and we have had members of the branch telling us that Renato has asked them why we aren’t coming to see him anymore.  He actually sets up his hot dog stand in the Cachoeira branch area, which is down the street quite a ways from us.  He is only there after 7 pm in the evening.  We just haven’t got down his way in the evenings for a while.  He was just setting up, but stopped to visit.  He jumped right into a gospel discussion.  He evidently had been thinking about our discussion from a while ago about the life after this one when Elder told him he didn’t want Renato calling to him in the next life saying “Why didn’t you tell me these things?”  He told us that he thought what we were doing a beautiful thing.  But he asked Elder what he would do if I hadn’t been a member.  Elder demonstrated that he would get out the Book of Mormon and convert me.  We all had a laugh, but we could see that Renato has been thinking about things.  As we waited in line for our hot dog, we conversed with a family in line ahead of us and had a pleasant conversation with the man and his wife and 9 year old daughter.  Renato even joined in, telling them that he was a member of the church and he liked us.  It did our hearts good to see that!  Hope he keeps pondering and decides he would like missionaries to come visit more with him and his wife. We have such a beautiful and important message for families.  He tells us that family is “tudo”!  (everything!)  He is a really good guy!  It was a great visit.  We would sure like to see his family have the blessings of the gospel.  We plan to take the Family Proclamation to him this week.

We sought out the little solteira that we met some weeks ago, Maria Alice Trindade.  We were curious to see how she had survived the winter and the cold weather.  She barricades herself in her house, putting bricks and vines to block her front gate.  We knocked and knocked and called to her.  Finally, she opened the shutter on one of her windows.  She was all bundled up.  Evidently it was cold in her home.  Last time she moved the door to her home which was off its hinges in order to let us in and moved the stack of bricks blocking her gate.  But today she just visited with us through the open shutter.  She is very independent and insists that she doesn’t need help.  Once she got started, she talked and talked.  She told us that she had food and everything that she needed.  Although she did complain that some family members had been there and took her tv.  No wonder she doesn’t want to let anyone in!  She told us she likes things natural.  So she has turned down any offers to clean up her yard. What a fiercely independent little old lady.  We keep worrying about her.

Saturday afternoon was the day for our lesson with Maria Antonia.  Turns out she prefers to be called Antonia.  We taught about the Plan of Salvation.  She pretty well agreed with everything we said. But she doesn’t want to leave her sister who needs special care in order to attend church. There are three sisters living there and another lives close.  None of the sisters are married although one has been married and divorced.   Antonia does have caretakers coming in to help every day though with her sister.  She especially liked it when we suggested that we kneel in prayer.  She felt like that showed such great respect.  Thought it was beautiful.  She could remember the steps of prayer too.  Once again, we mentioned the Elders to her.  This time she agreed to have them stop by and teach the next lesson.  The Elders are excited to do that.  We will be anxious to see how that goes.  We hope they can get her to agree to attend church.   We really wanted to take some pictures of her.  Her home is very nice.  But it didn’t feel right to ask.  We hated to spoil the spirit that was there.  Sometime we will have to get a pic though.

Although we didn’t attend, the youth of the Uniao branch had an interesting activity this past week.  They met for a skype session with some youth in California.  Because of the time difference, the youth here met at 9:30 pm and the youth in California met at 5:30 pm (California time).  They skyped for two hours with the help of some translators.  It sounded like a very fun activity.  They hope to do it again with youth in other locations. 

On one of our late evening walks home, we saw an interesting thing.  It was dark and we were walking down Avenida Brasil, one of the main streets here.  Coming the other direction towards us on the sidewalk, a man on a bicycle evidently hit the branch of a tree.  It must have hurt as he was really mad.  He got off the bike and started to attack the branch of the tree.  He was hollering (we didn’t understand many of the words…maybe that was good) and pulling, twisting and ripping at the offending tree branch.  He was right in front of us.  So all we could do was stop and watch.  We weren’t sure what we should say or do.  But the man won the battle and ripped that bad branch right off of the tree.  It was hard not to laugh.  But we were afraid of further offending him.  So we stifled ourselves til later.  Guess that branch learned its lesson!

We have been out looking for and visiting more less- active members this week.  That has meant lots of bus rides and walking.  We enjoy that.  Mostly the weather has been great, just perfect.  We have had a few rainy, cold days, but we can tell spring is coming.  Although we see blossoms all year round, we are seeing more that remind us of spring.  There has sure been a difference in temperature though.  It can be rainy and cold in the morning and then turn sunny and warm in the afternoon. Sometimes, it is sunny and warm outside, but still freezing cold in our apartment. When the weather is cold, the shower is not as hot either.   As a result, we have seen quite a few people with colds, now including Elder.  Hopefully, it passes quickly. 

Hope this finds all of you healthy and happy!  We love you!
Eu te amo! 

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