Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Fun Missionary Luncheon on P-Day

Finding some shade as the weather heats up

Drawing some pictures for Jose

Elder Hoopes and Andreza

Elder Shirley out on the street

Elder H. Silva and Maicon

In a neighborhood called Oliveira

Maicon and Andreza just before baptism

President Saulo and Cassia with young daughter Elena

Maicon and Andreza ready to be baptized

A view of our apartment from the street (under the Colortec sign)

Our apartment door.  Happy Halloween!

Paper tissue balls decorating a store window

Elder Buhler making the drink for the P-day luncheon

Elder Shirley working hard on some delicious milkshakes

Elder Soares getting ready to make Cuscuz for the luncheon

Missionaries take over the kitchen in the apartment

Sister Oliveira making the rice

Sister Souza preparing the chicken stroganoff

Esta pronto! (It's ready!)
Sitting down to eat

Elder Buhler approves of the food

Cleaning up

October 28, 2014

We spent this week seeking out the shady side of the street or of the buildings.  It feels like summer.  It has been a warm week and is supposed to be warmer yet this week.  Temperatures have been in the 80’s and will reach the 90’s this week as they are predicting a heat wave.  We have even used the air conditioner in our bedroom.  But mostly it is still cooling off nicely in the evenings. It has been beautiful!  But it is amazing; we are starting to see Christmas trees in some of the store windows.  Guess businesses like to get a head start on the season here too.    It is still weird to see Christmas trees in 90 degree weather.

Four of the missionaries, two Elders and two Sisters, came on Monday (P-day) to cook lunch for us.  They said that they wanted to thank us for what we do for them.  It was not necessary, but was a nice surprise for us.  They brought the food and cooked it in our apartment.  It was sure fun to see them cooking.  We enjoyed it a lot.  Sister Souza and Sister Oliveira cooked stroganoff with chicken and rice.  It was great!  Elder Buhler made a good drink and Elder Soares made Cuscuz.  Cuscuz was a new experience for us.  He made it with cornmeal, sardines, butter and cheese and cooked it in a double boiler.  It looked really good and tasted “interesting”.  Actually it was good!  Elder Shirley made… guessed it…..milkshakes for dessert.  It was such a nice, thoughtful thing for the missionaries to do for us.  We appreciated it a lot.  The other two Sisters joined us a little later.  Some of us also played “Escravos de Jo”.  Some of the missionaries didn’t know this game.  You can’t leave Brazil without knowing how to play this game.  It’s a favorite of Elder Shirley’s from his first mission to Brazil.  (Sister Shirley won, by the way! It was a playoff between Elder and Sister Shirley!  Yay!!!)

We went visiting again this week.  We focused on the Promorar and Oliveira neighborhoods.  We thought the neighborhood in Oliveira was quite nice.  We didn’t have a lot of success tracking down members.  Many had moved.  We also ended up making some duplicate visits from few months ago by mistake.  One lady greeted us with something like “You guys again!  I told you I am not interested!”  Oops!  Blame it on our old minds or that a lot of time has passed!  We didn’t remember, at first, that we had visited this neighborhood months ago.  But we were quickly reminded!  Oh well, second chances are good sometimes!  But we did what we were supposed to do and got ourselves out there.  Many times people comment that they have seen us out walking in the neighborhood.  It’s good to be seen!  We tell each other that we had better behave because we are always being observed!

Artur and Jose each greeted us warmly this week.  When we arrived, Artur was busy fixing bikes for a couple of neighborhood boys.  He gave us nice, cold drinks of juice.  He always has something for us.  He told us that he would have to miss church this week as Sunday is the day Brazilians vote again between the two top candidates from the election earlier this month.  He wanted to go early.  There are usually long lines of people waiting to vote.  And then he had a visit planned with his daughter.  We had a nice visit again with him.  Once again, he told us that he will be ready to be baptized by the end of the year.
Since Jose always tells us that stress is a big problem in his life, we took an article on the subject written by President Uchtdorf in a Liahona.  It talked about how you can tell the years that a tree had stress by the distance between the growth rings in the trunk of a tree.  It shows years when the tree had to cut back some when there was too much stress.  Of course, Elder had to draw him a picture to help explain.  As always, José had questions about some of the scriptures he had been reading.  We enjoyed our visit with him.
We have been missing Rosi and Gelson and decided to visit again this week.  Their little daughter, Francine, has been in the hospital again this week.  She is home now and feeling better.  We took them a loaf of bread and had a good visit with them.  They were busy making plans for a garage and hope to buy a car very soon so they can get to church and work easier.  Francine seems to struggle with her health.  They say that the weather is always too cold, too rainy, or too hot for them to walk so far to church with her.  Hopefully, a car will make the difference for them.  The Elders had just been there that same day for lunch. 

President Castro had suggested that we focus in the coming months on leader support.  We decided to begin this week with President Saulo of the Cachoeira branch.  He has been home from his mission for 5 years.  He served in Sao Paulo.  He is young!  But he is strong in the gospel and comes from a strong family.  His parents, Meni and Paulinho are strong members of the Uniao branch.  Saulo has such a nice, cute wife, Cassia, and a darling little 18 month old daughter, Elena.  We took them a loaf of homemade bread.  We really enjoyed our visit with them.  Cassia has a twin sister, Sharon, who is married to Cassio.  Cassio is a friend of Saulo’s from his mission.  Cassio is a counselor to Saulo in the branch presidency.  Cassia and Sharon look almost identical.  It is hard to tell them apart.  Cassia had prepared cheese bread, cake, banana batida, and other things for us.  Their home was nice.  Cassia had designed a really nice front door that a carpenter had built for them.  We were just really impressed with this young family!

Elder Buhler and Elder Soares have decided to start teaching English classes every Saturday morning and have asked for our help.  They are doing a lot of advertising, even in the schools, hoping for a big turnout.  We enjoyed teaching English classes a few months ago and look forward to assisting them.  Classes start next Saturday, November 1.  Hoping for a great turn-out.

Some sad news though.  Sister Souza continues to have problems with her knee, even with bed rest half days.  President Castro called and asked us to make the necessary arrangements and accompany her to Porto Alegre.  She will be evaluated by a doctor again.  Hopefully, she can continue in the mission and work in or near the mission office in Porto Alegre.  We are sad to see her go, but know it has been difficult for her here. So we have a trip to Porto Alegre this coming Tuesday! 

Elder Hoopes and Elder H. Silva had a baptism this past week.  It was a husband and wife.  They heard about the church when the Elders visited and later baptized Stephanie.  They live in the house behind Stephanie and were curious when they saw the Elders visiting her.  Stephanie is the little girl (9 or 10 years old) that Dione led us to one day when we were out visiting.  Stephanie’s grandma is a less-active member.  We referred Stephanie to the Elders, who ended up baptizing her.  And now this great couple has been baptized.  And it all started with help from a member! Wonderful baptism!

We just heard that Brazil narrowly re-elected Dilma as the President of Brazil.  It was a 50.99% win, a razor-thin victory.  She campaigned on a promise to extend more benefits to the poor.  She is most popular in northeast Brazil where there are more people on government aid.  We are glad elections are over.  It has been very noisy in the street with all of the advertising.  There have been parades of cars with flags, honking horns and trucks with loudspeakers blaring day and night.   Guess it makes it hard to forget to vote!  And the bus strike ended.  Yay!!  They got their raise, but just 8 ½% instead of the 10% that they wanted.

It’s P-day Monday.  We keep thinking that one of these P-days we will get out to “pay and fish”.  Some members have been telling us about this place.  You keep what you catch and the restaurant there will cook it up for you.  But it won’t happen this P-day.  A few of the missionaries have called and want to come over.  We just can’t say no to them, especially when it will be the last time for Sister Souza!  And we love these missionaries!

We continue to have variety in the work we do!  We never know what will happen next.  We never get bored! It’s the life of a missionary!   Hope all is well with each of you!  Keep on with the many good things you are doing! Happy Halloween!  (Can’t believe it’s that time already!)  Enjoy!  Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you!  We love and miss you!!

Eu te amo! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Mission Conference, Good Visits and Lots of Rain

With Sister Fiorella (Peru)

Another beautiful sunrise

Artur, Elpidio and Carla at church

Elder Soares (Brazil)

Heading home in a full van

Holding to the rod

Lesson on temples with Jose

Lunch with Sisters Fiorella and Rodriguez

Adding some touches to make lunch special

Monday night with Elders Buhler & Soares

Sister Ataides (Uruguay) and Elder & Sister Dornelles

With Sister Rodrigues (Brazil) at conference

Sisters at the apartment

Traffic jam leaving Porto Alegre

Working in the Valley of the Sun

October 20, 2014

It’s been a wet week!  We have had a ton of rain.  It has rained most every day with lots of thunder and lightning.  It seems like the thunder rumbles nonstop throughout the night with some close lightning and heavy downpours throughout the day.  We always worry about losing power, but we haven’t.  We have just tried to “go forth” anyway, umbrellas in hand.  To make matters worse, the bus people have gone on strike.  So catching a bus has become “iffy”, especially towards the end of the week.  We have had a few buses running, except on Sunday, when there weren’t any.  Fortunately President Glauber and family came by as we were waiting at the bus stop, wondering if a bus might come by.  They gave us a ride to church.  (It was another rainy morning.)  As we were walking home after meetings, Aerton, from the Uniao branch stopped and picked us up.  Hopefully, the bus strike won’t last long.  And the weather is supposed to improve.  We may get a lot more walking in.  It takes almost an hour of walking to get to some of the bairros that we have been visiting.  It may be an interesting week. 

On Monday last week, the Sisters told us they were giving us a break and wouldn’t be coming by for lunch and computer time.  But after having difficulty sending pics home at the local computer place, two of them stopped by briefly in the afternoon.  We love the Sisters though! 

We went with Elder Buhler and Elder Soares on Monday night to visit a non-member by the name of Braulino.  It was the one year anniversary of the death of his wife and he wanted a lesson on that day.  It was a dark, rainy night.  But it was a really good visit.  We took the first part of the lesson and the Elders took the second part.  They challenged Braulino to read a section of scripture this week.  Braulino’s grandson was there also.  He told us that he would read the scriptures each day to his grandfather.  The Elders also taught Braulino the steps of prayer.  Braulino was a little hard of hearing, but he agreed to offer the closing prayer if someone would help him.  Elder Soares pulled his chair up close to Braulino and helped him pray, word by word.  It was very touching.  Braulino finished with tears rolling down his cheeks.  It was a good evening.  We walked home in the rain.  At least we had an umbrella.  The Elders didn’t.  We love seeing the shoes of these hard-working Elders.  Most times they are covered with mud.  It touches our hearts!  We offered to share our umbrella.  But Elder Buhler told us that the more it rains on an Elder, the prettier his wife would be!  So we just let the rain fall on them!  We love these Elders!  And Elder Buhler has been playing the piano in the Sunday meetings.  He has kind of picked it up on his own since being in the mission.  He practices every time we are waiting for meetings to start.  Pretty amazing!

Speaking of Elder Buhler, his health seems to have improved a little.  He is still waiting for official test results.  You can’t just set up an appointment with the doctor.  You have to call early each day to see if you can get in.  He tried twice last week and was told to call back.  He will try again tomorrow.  Some of the blessings of socialized medicine! 

We spent a lot of time this week in Quinta, Valley of the Sun, and Funcap, visiting less-active members mostly.  We enjoy visits with Jose.  He is always so happy to see us, and always says, “Welcome, friends!” (In English).  We especially love our visits with Julio, Rosangela and their family.  The kids always have pictures and things to show us.  Rosangela’s baby is due in a little less than a month now.  She has concerned us as they don’t have a car.  But she has arranged for a neighbor who has a car to take her to the hospital when she goes into labor and for someone to stay with their three kids at home.  We have come to love Rosangela.  As she is a non-member, the Elders visit there also.  At times the Elders go there for lunch.  Our hope for this next year for this family is that they can be officially married and that she can be baptized.

On Saturday, we went with President Glauber and his wife, Luci, to visit with Julio and Rosangela.  It was a nice visit.  And on Sunday in Relief Society, they announced about her baby being due soon.  Many sisters asked for the address so that they can visit.  We are grateful for that.  She needs friends in the branch. 

Wednesday was a big day for us.  There was a missionary conference in Porto Alegre.  They rented a van for the missionaries in our area.  We had to meet at the branch chapel at 5:30 am.  There were 12 of us missionaries going over and 14 came back.  It was a full van.  We made cinnamon rolls to take for everyone in the morning.  There was road construction going on and it really slowed us down, especially coming back!  Our driver was a talker and he worried all of us a lot.  Roads are not divided.  They have two-way traffic.  I think every missionary in the van was saying a little prayer!     The driver must have known that he worried us because as we got out at the end of the day, he apologized for anything he may have done that we didn’t like.  We got home at 10 pm, a long day, but a good one.

Mission conferences are always fun!  We got to see lots of missionaries and others that we have become acquainted with.  And the messages are always great.  They also always remind us of mission rules.  One rule is that companions should be able to see and hear each other in all places and at all times!  We like that rule!  We got to hear from President and Sister Castro, missionaries, see church videos, play object-lesson games, etc.  They always take us out to eat at a great restaurant too.  Fortunately, this was the one day of the week that it didn’t rain on us.  On a sad note though, the other senior missionary couple here in the mission, the Dornelles, were leaving for home on the weekend.  They served a two-year mission in the welfare office and then extended.  They have served about six months of their extension.  Unfortunately, Elder Dornelles has developed a heart problem.  So they won’t be able to complete their extension.  It has been fun to get to know them when we go to Porto Alegre.  They have recently been doing member and leader support, like us.  We will miss them! 

Sister Fiorella and Sister Rodrigues came back with us from the conference.  We knew these two dear Sisters from the early days of our mission.  They both served here in Cachoeira and are now trainers.  They came to do some training of the Sisters here.  They are both full of life and lots of fun.  Sister Fiorella is from Peru and Sister Rodrigues is from Brazil.  They asked to come to lunch at our place on Thursday.  So we had a fun reunion.  It was another rainy day.  They arrived wet.  It has been hard for all of us to stay dry this week. 

It was another good lesson with Artur.  He wanted to confirm again just when we are going home so he can be baptized before we leave.  We continue to try to talk him into not waiting for that blessing in his life!  We took a paper with the baptismal interview questions on it.  We wanted him to see that he was actually ready for baptism.  He asked to read it out loud for all of us.  We enjoyed that!  He came to church again on Sunday and was a good contributor in both Sunday School and Priesthood.  At one point in the Priesthood lesson, he reminded everyone that we all have a responsibility to share to gospel with others.  (He is talking like a member!) He also said the closing prayer in Sunday School and was once again moved to tears.   We know he is feeling the Spirit. 
This was the weekend for the time to change here in Brazil.  We are now on Daylight Savings time or as they call it “the hour of summer”.  (They think to say “Daylight Savings Time” is too complicated!)   So we did the “spring ahead” thing and lost an hour of sleep.  Now we are four hours ahead of the time at home.  In a couple of weeks when you “fall back” in Idaho, we will then be five hours ahead again.  It makes us feel further away when there is that much time difference.  We don’t like that!  It makes Skyping a little more difficult too. 

All is well here!  We hope to dry out a little this week!  Hope all is well with each of you!
Eu te amo!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Marking the One Year Anniversary - It's Been a Wonderful Year!

Cactus in Noemia

Waiting for the doc with Elders Buhler (Texas) and Soares (Brazil)

Caught in the rain

One of the many chickens in Cachoeira

Elders Buhler (Texas) and Soares (Brazil)

Lunch with Elders Buhler (Texas) and Soares (Brazil)

Jose:  Proud of his grandparents

New store in town: Lojas Americanas

Spring rain in Quinta

Relaxing on P-day

Sister Souza at our computer

Sisters Foutz, Oliveira, Costa on P-day

Skater dudes putting on a show at the bus stop

Nice view of a sunrise from the apartment

Elder Buhler with the doctor

October 13, 2014

We have just been thinking that it is just over a year now since we heard that our visas had arrived in the church offices in SLC.  And 2 years and 5 months since we received our mission call to Brazil.  We received our call on May 4, 2012.  We had been delayed 10 times.  We had a total of 11 different MTC dates given to us.  Each time, we would get nearly to the date that we were supposed to enter the MTC and then would receive a call that we had been delayed because of visa problems.  Then on October 2, 2013, we received the phone call that we had been longing for…..our visas had arrived!  This week we have been remembering how excited we were when we heard the news.  There were other couples like us.  One couple had waited even longer than we had.  Their visas arrived at the same time as ours.  We were both given the opportunity to pick the date we wished to leave or as in our case, pick the date we wanted to enter the MTC.  (The other couple had already done the MTC).  The other couple wanted to leave as soon as possible.  Although we were beyond excited and so anxious to get to Brazil, we decided to wait until the end of the month to leave.  That seemed strange at the time when we had been so anxious to go.  Kids asked us why we were delaying until the end of the month. Our bags had been packed or semi-packed for over a year. We really didn’t know why we chose to wait until the end of the month.  It just felt right to us.  And how amazing the timing of everything went!  Sister Shirley ended up having to have an unanticipated crown which was finished up barely in time to leave for the MTC.  And actually within minutes of finishing the MTC classes, Elder Shirley had his kidney stone attack, just two days before we were supposed to fly to Brazil, but after we had been able to complete the MTC.  He was able to have surgery in the States.   Although we were disappointed with a two week delay while he recovered, we realize, especially now, what a blessing it was.  It was all more than just a coincidence!  It reminds us that the Lord is in charge.  As we look back on everything, we feel very blessed. We see the Lord’s guidance and direction in our lives! Now we just have six months left!  It’s all been so unbelievable! This week has been a week to reflect on the blessings and opportunities that are ours and to really appreciate where we are and what we have the opportunity of doing.  We still feel so grateful to family for their love and support.  They have been right there with us.  One pulled up roots and moved back to Idaho to live in and care for our home.  Others took turns housing us for over a year until we were finally able to leave.  They were amazing.  We count them as our biggest blessings!  Our decision to serve a mission certainly affected our whole family!  Choices in life are that way.  It may be our choice, but it affects a lot of people around us.  So we have renewed determination to make the most of the opportunity that is ours right now.  We know six months will pass quickly.  We hope we can be the best missionaries possible in the remaining time!

We had the four Sisters here for most of the day on P-day.  We fixed lunch for them and they took turns on the computers and tablet.  We visited, sang hymns, etc.  It was a fun day!

One of our latest assignments from President Castro was to help an Elder get to the Doc.  He is a great young man and a wonderful missionary.  He hasn’t been feeling his best. We helped him find a doctor and went with him and his companion.  He was then sent for some routine blood tests on another day at another office.  They had him come back yet another day for the actual blood test.     It all involved a lot of waiting and he is still waiting for results. We got well acquainted with medical posts, bio labs and hospitals.   In the meantime, this Elder has been hard at work.   (In fact, he and his companion gave a blessing to an older non-member couple, who ended up coming to church on Sunday!)  One day, after a long wait at a medical office, we took this Elder and his companion to eat at Per Tutti.  He is so appreciative of everything, always wanting to repay us.  But we know many helped our son when he was in the mission field.  We need to pay that blessing forward.  And we have a grandson who is anticipating a mission after graduation in the spring.  We hope someone will be there for him too, as well as for others in the family who may decide to serve.  It was a privilege for us to go with him.  It gives us an opportunity to fuss over him just like we would over our kids.  It was an interesting experience too.  His doctor was a young woman from Cuba. Her husband, also from Cuba, is a doctor in Cachoeira too.  She has been in Cachoeira for 3 months, after spending 3 years in Venezuela and a total of six years as a doctor.  She was knowledgeable and very nice and took her time with him.  It was kind of funny as we came in a group, three of us from the U.S. and one Brazilian.  It was good to have a Brazilian with us too.   We followed him from room to room.  He had a lot of support with his companion and both of us too.  We tried to ask the questions that the Elder didn’t ask, questions that a mom or dad might ask.   The Doctor let us know in a nice way though that she was in charge and knew what she was doing.  We anticipate that this Elder will be up to full speed soon.  We also have a Sister missionary who is still struggling with a knee problem.  She has been restricted to only four hours per day of walking.  She says the extra rest may help her leg, but not her mind.  She is anxious to get back to regular missionary work.  We hope that will happen soon for her. 

We had a little bit of disappointing news from President Castro that we won’t be seeing a stake in Cachoeira anytime soon.  One of the areas wants to become a stake on their own and not combine with Cachoiera.  So it will take considerably more time for us to become a stake.

One of our goals since we have been here is to read the Book of Mormon in Portuguese.  We will soon be finished.  We have been reading it out loud together and are now in Chapter 8 of Mormon.  Sister Shirley keeps the English BOM alongside to compare when needed.  It has taken a long time, but has been fun to do together.  We have both learned a lot.  We look forward to reading each night. 

Another of our assignments from President Castro was to take the program of “My Family, Histories that Unite Us” to both members and less actives and teach them about its importance.  The goal is to get family names into the family search database and eventually get them to the temple.  We have been able to present that a couple of times this past week.  Jose was really interested in the program.  He showed us a picture of his grandparents whom he remembers and loves.  He proudly showed us a picture of them and let us take a photo.  We had a similar kind of lesson with Artur this week. 

We brought our Kindle to Brazil and this week put a good book on it.  The book is “How Do I Know if I Know?” by John Bytheway.  We bought it with Artur in mind.  We think that he has a testimony, but doesn’t really know it yet.  We’ve only read the intro, but it looks like a good book.  It would be especially good for teenagers.  It talks about what the Spirit feels like and different ways we may come to know that the Gospel is true.  A fun read for P-day!

We have been out and about on sunny days and rainy days as well.  We were caught in a rain storm without an umbrella one day.  As it was a downpour, we stopped in to a little store and bought another umbrella.  We have already worn out a couple of umbrellas, lost one, and bought several.  We didn’t anticipate how much we would use an umbrella!  The rain sure makes a mess of a hairdo!  But we love it!  We will still never get used to thinking of October as a spring month though!

October 12 was a holiday called, “The Day of Children”.  It honors children.  They get presents and treats.  It’s a little like Christmas for them and is a big deal.  Unfortunately, it fell on a fast Sunday this year.  Branch leaders were trying to figure out what to do as they usually give treats for this holiday! 

The Elders had a baptism scheduled for Sunday after the meetings.  But unfortunately it didn’t happen.  It was for two sons of an inactive member.  She wanted her sons to be baptized.  But she had a headache and didn’t feel like coming.  The Elders were disappointed.  The boys probably were too.  But, hopefully, it will happen in the near future.

Anyway, it’s been a bit of a different week for us.  But it has been a good one.  Again, we never know what we will be asked to do.  Things are never boring! 

Hope things are good for all of you!  We love hearing about everything that is going on up there!  Thanks for your love and support!

Eu te amo!