Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Week of Gratitude

Lesson outside Jose's home on a hot afternoon

Bruna & Elivelton: we love this couple!

On the bus to conference on Sunday

Elders Hoopes & H. Silva: P-day lunch and showers at our place

Elders catching a bus ride to conference

Having fun playing Escravos de Jo

Fun on the bus!

Teaching a lesson on tithing to Artur

Repairing the shower for Elders Buhler & Gorham

"Grateful for you":  Love this cute card that expresses how we feel!

New pass-along cards for Christmas: "He is the gift"

November 24, 2014

We have been feeling grateful this week!  It seems like everything we did and everywhere we went, we had cause to ponder just how blessed we are in our lives.  It was just kind of a “feel good” week.  That’s not even taking into account the fact that it’s Thanksgiving this week which is a favorite holiday of ours.  In fact, if we really thought about Thanksgiving Day itself, we might be feeling homesick as it is a day when our family has always gathered together.  We have loved those good times.  We miss family a lot.  We look forward to more of those great get-togethers in the future.  But for now, we are thinking of the blessings we are currently experiencing. We have been thinking about how the Lord has blessed us with good family and friends and a great mission experience here in Cachoeira do sul, Brasil.  We have been here over a year now and have come to know many good people here.  They are also blessings in our lives.  We are grateful for the opportunity to know them.  We are also grateful for the blessings of the gospel in our lives and for the direction it gives us.   There is no better feeling than putting in a good day’s work as a missionary, especially when you have the opportunity to experience the Holy Ghost at work too.  There is no high like a “missionary high”.  We have felt it and enjoy seeing other missionaries experience it.  We are told “great shall be our joy”.  It’s true!

Early one evening as we were leaving our apartment for an appointment, we ran into Elder Freeman and Elder Lopez on the street in front of our apartment.  These two Elders normally work in the nearby city of Caçapava.  They had come to Cachoeira for the weekly District Meeting.  They along with the other young missionaries were spending the afternoon doing what is called “District Friends”.  All 10 of the missionaries combine and saturate the area of one set of missionaries, helping to scout out new investigators for the two missionaries in that area.  Elder Freeman and Elder Lopez had just finished a visit with a lady who had prayed just that morning for guidance in her life.  She couldn't get enough of the gospel message they brought.  They felt the Holy Ghost testifying to her.  When we met these two Elders on the street, they couldn't quit smiling and talking about their experience, telling us what she said and what they said.  Elder Lopez told us that it was one of the best days of his mission.  It was so wonderful to see their enthusiasm.  It’s a great feeling to bring the Gospel to someone else.  They hated to leave and return to Caçapava.  They asked us to visit her too.  We found her to be as enthused about the Gospel as the Elders has told us she was.  She is full of questions, “thirsty” to know more.  Sister Costa and Sister Harrick will be the two Sisters who have the opportunity to teach her more.  They will be perfect to teach her as she also has a 17 year old daughter who appears to be very receptive.  Anyway, it was great to witness the joy and happiness of those two Elders!

Elder Hoopes and Elder H. Silva came to our place on P-day for their showers as they were still without water.  They also stayed for lunch and to send off their emails to home.  Fortunately for them, their water was turned on later that day. Other good news, Sister Oliveira's leg is feeling better. She and her companion are able to get out and about again.   More good news yet, Elder Shirley was able to fix the shower for Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham.  They can now have hot showers again.  Although with the hot weather, they tell us a cold shower hasn't been all that bad!  Great attitudes!
Elivelton and Bruna invited us to teach them another baptism follow-up lesson.  We taught the Plan of Salvation.  We are feeling blessed to know this young couple.  It is so great to see them anxious to search the scriptures, anxious for more knowledge.  And it’s great to see Bruna turn to Elivelton for answers sometimes even though he is the new member.  They have set a wedding date of December 26.  We are so happy for them.  They can’t quit smiling.

It was another good visit with Artur.  We talked with him about tithing again.  He seemed to be ok with it.  December 13th is coming up.  That was the date Elder Buhler had us challenge him to be baptized.  (Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham visit him regularly too).  He says he does'’t think he is “organized” for that yet.  We don’t know what that means.  But it was such a good visit.  Elder told Artur that he was just a “dry Mormon”.  Artur enjoyed that!    He continues to tell us it will happen before we go home.  He came to District Conference on Sunday (Stake Conference).  There were lots of good messages for him.  People in the district were nice and friendly with him.  He seemed to enjoy it!

We spent a lot of time out delivering printed invitations to the District Conference (like Stake Conference) on Sunday.  We always enjoy that.  We love to visit everyone.  That’s probably why we have been feeling so grateful this week.  We have got to visit with lots of good people!  The Uniao branch also had arranged for a bus to pick up people and take them home after.  One of their stops was right in front of our apartment.  Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham came walking down the street on Sunday just before the bus arrived.  So we all rode.  It was a full bus.  Everyone was excited!  You would have thought that we were going to a party!
We also stopped by our favorite store, Pedal de Ouro, to deliver invitations.  We hadn't been there for a while.  We got a really warm welcome.  Gilli took us right away to Fernanda who was anxious for us to know that she was going to have a baby.  We came away from there feeling grateful for the good people there.
Julio and Roseangela’s baby is due within the week.  We had an especially good visit there.  We had quite a frank discussion with them about why Julio quit coming to church.  With a new baby coming, three really great kids and a wonderful wife, they need the blessings of the church.  Roseangela told us the only thing holding her back from baptism was that they needed to be married.  Anyway, it turned out to be a really good conversation.  Hopefully, some of the issues can be resolved.  We told them that we would be fasting for them on the next fast Sunday.  They are a great family!  Polite, sweet kids!  Again, we feel blessed to know this family!
Besides the Sunday meeting, we had a Saturday evening meeting for adults in the District as part of District Conference.  Meetings were well attended.   President and Sister Castro were in town.  We love them.  We always comment to each other about the strength and leadership we feel from President Castro.  We were just comfortably sitting, enjoying President Castro’s message, when he asked Elder and me to come up and each bear our testimonies.  He hadn't warned us in advance.  It was spur of the minute!  He said “A surprise is better”.  Not sure we agree.  It was scary, but we did it.   Then on Sunday, in addition to President and Sister Castro, President and Sister Warthen of the Porto Alegre temple came.  We always love seeing them too.  It’s nice to have someone our age to speak English to.   Sister Warthen came bearing cards and gifts for us, as usual.  It was a good conference.  We enjoyed it a lot.  We felt grateful for so many as we had the opportunity to visit with members of all of the branches. They are so friendly and welcoming!  They have truly become our friends!   We love the youth at home.  But we also love the youth here in Brazil.  We tell them that they remind us of our grandkids.  They keep things lively and also make us feel welcome!  Maybe it’s because the end of the mission is in sight., but we are now realizing that we will really miss so many people down here.  For now, we are just feeling grateful for them and for this incredible experience!
Mail was also delivered from the mission office in Porto Alegre on Saturday night.  That’s always an exciting time for all missionaries. It’s fun to watch!  We had some stuff too.   We are grateful to all those who sent cards and gifts!  We love you all!
We are excited to say that we have met a goal!  We have finished reading the Book of Mormon in Portuguese!   We have been at it a long time.  We have been reading it out loud together, along side of an English Book of Mormon.  It has been a fun way to end each day.  We have enjoyed it immensely!  Almost hated to see it end.  We put off reading the last chapter for a couple of days!  We wanted to just savor the finish!  Now we want to start over and see if we can do it again before the end of the mission!

All in all, we were just feeling grateful this week!  And this is a good week to continue to ponder our blessings!  Happy Thanksgiving to all!  We miss you!  We love you!

Eu te amo!  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Opportunities to Help The Young Missionaries

Waiting on a member's doorstep

No snow here!

A few of the youth at the Baile

A real hamburger!

Aerton and Gorete at the Baile

Baby chicks at the Cachoeira version of Cal-Ranch

Baile Fantasia!

This birds song says "Peek-a-boo"

Edi - she likes to call Elder Shirley "Presidente"

Elders Hoopes and H. Silva looking for a shower

Fun at district meeting

Saying goodbye to Elders Soares & D. Alves

Lunch at Per Tutti with Elders Buhler & Gorham

Marcio & Marta Medeiros at the Baile

On the way to district meeting with Elders Buhler & Gorham

Presidente Samuel & Vivi at the Baile

Sister Foutz making chocolate chip cookies at our place

Sister missionaries at the Baile

Sisters Costa & Oliveira:  hope the floor is clean!

Sisters Foutz & Oliveira on P-day

Sisters Harrick, Costa, Oliveira, Foutz with rice bags

Sisters Oliveira & Foutz at the Health Post

Waiting at the hospital

Young Women getting ready for the Baile

November 17, 2014

Well, the Christmas season has officially started here.  We sang “Joy to the World” in sacrament meeting today!  They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here.  So I guess it’s ok to get an early start on singing the Christmas hymns.  We can never get enough of them!  And there are never enough Sundays to get them all in.  But it is still hard to believe that the season is upon us or at least almost upon us.    We hear of all the snow and cold that you are having and it’s easy to think of Christmas.  Then we look at our tropical setting and it is more difficult to believe.  Life is interesting for us!
Like usual, the week took a different direction than we had planned.  It seems like we did a lot with missionaries and for missionaries and because of missionaries this week.  But that is part of the work we do as missionaries too.  And we enjoy it!

Monday was the day missionaries received the official word of their transfers.  It was interesting to us to receive their calls informing us of their news.  We were happy though to hear that we would only lose two of them though.  Elder Soares and Elder D. Alves (both of Brazil) will be leaving Cachoeira.  And we are sad about that.  Both of these Elders always have big smiles and we love them and will miss them.  Everyone else will stay.  In addition, Sister Harrick (California) will be the new companion of Sister Costa.  Elder Freeman (Missouri) will replace Elder D Alves as the new companion of Elder Lopes.  And Elder Gorham (a greenie from California) is the new companion to Elder Buhler (Texas).  That puts us North Americans in the majority!  Eight of us are from the U.S.; three from Brazil; and one from Cape Verde, South Africa. 

On Monday, the Sisters came to our apartment for lunch, computers, and to make chocolate chip cookies.  We just had a simple lunch of sandwiches, chips, watermelon, etc.  It was easy for a hot summer-like day.  

Then Tuesday was the official transfer day, the day of travel.  We received a call inviting us to the bus depot to say good-bye to the two Elders leaving.  We will miss them.  It pulls at the heart strings to stand and watch the bus pull out with them.  Hopefully, we will get to see them at Zone Conferences sometimes.  We spent the day out visiting and got in about dark, just before a rain storm. Shortly after, we had a nice surprise.  Elder Buhler and Elder Lopes, his companion for the day until his new companion arrived later that night, called.  They were downstairs with a couple of milkshakes for us.  What a thoughtful, nice surprise!  As they had been out walking in the rain, they were dripping wet.  We offered umbrellas to them, but they declined.  They are still trying to earn those pretty wives by letting a lot of rain fall on them. We really enjoy Elder Buhler and his enthusiasm for everything, even the rain! We really enjoy all of these missionaries.  It is fun to watch the new ones especially.
Wednesday was District Meeting.  We were anxious to meet all of the new missionaries.  It was another rainy morning.  Just as we started out, umbrellas in hand, we ran into Elder Buhler and his new companion, Elder Gorham (from California).  Once again, they were walking in the rain with no umbrellas.  We enjoyed the meeting.  The new missionaries will be great.  The dinner appointment for Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham had fallen through for the day.  Elder Buhler was anxious to have his companion get off to a great start on his mission and here in Cachoeira.  So he asked if we would have lunch with them.  As usual for special occasions, we went to Per Tutti, our favorite place in Cachoeira.  It’s quite an adjustment for new missionaries. Poor Elder Gorham!  He could hardly keep his eyes open when we met with the Marina branch for Branch Council on Thursday evening.  He had an overload of a new language combined with lots of walking, time change, etc!  Hard work and little sleep!  His eyes just kept falling shut!  But he got better as the week went along!  They are just hard-working missionaries! 

We did get to meet with Elivelton and Bruna this week which was such a pleasure for us.  It is so nice to see them searching the scriptures and anxious to learn.  We just went over the first missionary lesson about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   They want to hear all of the lessons again.  They asked questions and participated.  It was just a nice visit!  We talked about how the gospel can strengthen families.  What a great way for them to start out a marriage.  They are still planning on being married next month.  We are excited for them.  They are a really nice couple. 

During the week, we also had a nice visit again with Isaura, a member who hasn’t been to church for a lot of years.  She greeted us warmly, especially when we started talking about grandkids, and invited us back.  She remembered that we don’t drink coffee, but wants us to come back for cake and “cevada”, (caffeine-free Postum).  A few days later, we ran into her on the street and had another short visit.  She told us that she has been thinking about us a lot and is anxious for another visit.  We also thought that we would invite her to the District Conference next Sunday.  The Uniao branch is planning on sending around a bus to take people to the Cachoiera chapel for the conference.  We hope to get Isaura to go with us on the bus.

The weather was great the latter part of the week.  We walked a lot and spent some of our time trying to spread the word about the Baile (Dance) on Saturday in the Uniao branch.  When we couldn’t find people home, we left notes. We always like to have special events to invite people to.  

Sister Oliveira (Brazil) and Sister Foutz (Colorado) are now companions.  They were out walking and Sister Oliveira fell (or almost fell) and hurt her leg.  They called Sister Castro for advice and then called us.  We met Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham at their place and gave her a blessing.  It appeared that she had pulled a muscle.  We all advised her to stay off of her leg for a bit and apply ice and to see the doc if it didn’t improve.  They were also out of groceries and had no money.  So we re-stocked them with a few essentials.  By the next day, her leg hadn’t improved (possibly because she was still walking on it).  It is hard to keep missionaries down!  To be safe, we thought she should see a doctor.  So on Saturday, it was off with them to see a doc!  We started at the HCB, the hospital.  They would only let one person in with Sister Oliveira.  So Elder and I waited in the parking lot outside.  It looked like it would be about an eight-hour wait, so they advised her to go to a nearby “Health Post”.  We went with them and were all pleasantly surprised to see a member from their branch working there.  She got in after a fairly short wait.  Sure enough, she had a pulled muscle.  The advice was the same….stay off the leg for a bit, apply ice at first, heat later.  (The Sisters had already made up rice bags, like the ones we have).  Elder Hoopes and Elder H. Silva met them at the Post also, as we had to leave to help with English classes.  So the Sisters had a lot of support!  Now if she will just stay off of her leg for a bit. She did come to the Baile for a bit and then to church on Sunday.  But, hopefully, she is off of it enough to heal. 

Speaking of Elder Hoopes and Elder H. Silva, they have had their water turned off as someone didn’t get the water bill paid.  They made some calls, but even after payment, it won’t be turned back on until Tuesday of next week.  So they are without water!  They showered the first day at the apartment of Elder Buhler/Gorham.  But the shower there has no hot water again.  So they have been coming to our apartment to shower.  Inconvenient for them.  But they have great attitudes.  Looks like Elder has another service project coming up this next week to fix a shower again for Elder Buhler and Gorham. 

We also visited with Jose again.  As usual, it was a good visit.  We talked about prayer and sang “Secret Prayer”.  He even joined in.  He likes to call Elder, “Mister Elder”.  There is a sweet Sister in the Uniao branch, who insists on calling Elder, “Presidente”.  Even when we try to correct her, she just grins mischievously and calls him “Presidente” again.  So we have given up correcting her.  It has become kind of a joke with her.  We missed Artur this week as he had to help his brother on some project.  We had a short, but good visit with Idalia and her family.  We also saw Roseangela.  Her baby is due this week! 

Saturday was a holiday in Brazil, Republic Proclamation Day.  Lots of places were closed.  It affected attendance at English class. But Idalia’s son, Artur, was there for the first time.  He is pretty good with his English already.  So it was a good time.  Afterwards, we introduced Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham to the game, “Escravos de Jo”.    Artur, who is about 12 or so already knew how to play it.  It was a fun time!  Elder Buhler has the best laugh!

Friday and Saturday was also the “Festival of Summer” in Fenarroz.  It was a kind of fair with vendors selling clothes, food, and everything imaginable.  They had displays of old cars, bands playing etc.  We attended.  We found the closest thing to a U.S. hamburger that we have had here.  We watched a band perform.  We visited with some members and non-members there.  It was a good time. 

Saturday night was the Baile (dance) called “Fantasia”.  Presidente Samuel of the Uniao branch always does things up in a big way.  The youth really love these Bailes.  They dress up.  Adults and whole families dress up as well.  Presidente Samuel had done the decorations.  (He does that kind of thing for a living.)  Attendance was good.  There were quite a few nonmembers and inactives.  Dances may be a dying thing in the stakes of the church in the U.S.  But they are alive and well here in Brazil.  Everybody dances, from the young to the old!  It is so fun to see!  Once again, the young missionaries can’t dance.  But they came for a bit to watch and to talk with people.  But Elder and I are allowed to participate.  Lucky us!    We took a lot of pics.  We were just so impressed!

The week has been a little different than usual.  We have had lots of interaction with the young missionaries.  It’s been a busy, but interesting week.   The weather has been just gorgeous!  We have had to have our air-conditioner going, but it really has been beautiful!  The adventure goes on! 

It really is hard to imagine the winter you are experiencing.  Wish we could share some of our heat with you.  But at least, it should feel like Christmas is coming for you.  So enjoy! Be safe!  Stay firm in the Gospel!  That surely is the way to happiness!  We love you lots!

Eu te amo!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Flooding The Earth With The Gospel Message

District photo Nov 2014 (minus Elder H. Silva)

An intense afternoon storm

A 1948 Austin of England - a rare car in any country!

A cute threesome of sisters

Elder H. Silva and Joao Pedro

Elder Hoopes and Eleine

Elder Shirley and Elder Buhler teaching English

Visiting Nelson and enjoying his gorgeous yard

District meeting goodies - this always ensures a good meeting!

Photo op prior to Joao Pedro's and Eleine's baptisms

A new dress for Emanuele, daughter of Julio and Rosangela

Waiting outside the sister's apartment

November 10, 2014

It’s been another great week here in Cachoeira do Sul.  We had a quiet, relaxing P-day.  The Sisters didn’t come to our place this week.  We missed them.  It’s kind of boring around here without them. 

President Castro sends out a message each P-day.  This week it was from a talk by David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about “sweeping the earth as with a flood”.  It applies to all of us.  We are cautioned to see clearly both the possibilities and the pitfalls of the remarkable technologies that are available to us today, and to use those tools appropriately that we may help sweep the earth with a flood of truth and righteousness.  That is a scary and humbling task to make sure everything that we post or “like” is appropriate and will not be interpreted in a way that gives a wrong message.   He specifically cautioned us about the pictures we post on Facebook.  Hopefully, what we post will always be edifying and uplifting.  We know that technology is changing the nature of missionary work.  We live in a truly distinctive dispensation.  We are blessed in many ways and where much is given, much is required.  It is a humbling challenge! 

As if to reinforce the message about flooding the earth, we had an afternoon thunderstorm that same day.  Mid-afternoon, the sky darkened.  It felt like it was night.  The winds and the rain and the lightning and thunder came.  It was another one of those storms that drove the rain in around the closed windows.  We had puddles of water under every window.  We decided it was best not to venture out that evening.  But wouldn’t it be cool to flood the earth that way with the gospel message?!

President Torres, president of the District, gave us a unique opportunity this week.  Jussara, the wife of the former mayor of Cachoeira wanted a blessing of comfort.  She is not a member of the church and was not interested in having missionaries visit.   But she felt the need for a blessing.   She has many challenges in her life right now.  She lost her father, who was her hero.  Her 38 year old son has been diagnosed with cancer.  She feels like she has more than she can handle in her life.  We think that she was willing to try anything to help her family and herself.  She speaks some English.  President Torres asked us to meet with her.  It was a great experience for us.  She was very nice, very gracious, very emotional and very receptive.  We explained about the power of priesthood blessing, where the power to bless others comes from and the part that faith plays in the blessing.  We discussed our families, hers and ours, and the challenges that come to each of us in life.  Basically she got the first discussion. She said that we were “angels”.  She even agreed to come to church the next Sunday. We were excited.  However, she called later saying that her swimming pool was being cleaned on Saturday and Sunday and she would be unable to attend Sunday services.  We were disappointed.  But hope that she will continue to think about the gospel message.  We hope good things come to her.  It was a wonderful opportunity for us. 

We met with the other young missionaries for our last District Meeting before transfers.  We all brought treats.  It was a good time with lots of good stuff to eat.  We hate to think who we might lose on transfer day!

We made our usual visits to Artur and Jose this week.  And, as usual, they were really good visits.  Artur is still contemplating his baptism date.  He did ask us this week if he had to start paying tithing after he was baptized.  Maybe this is why he has been postponing baptism.  Maybe we need to talk more about tithing with him.  And the visit with Jose felt more like he had prepared a lesson and was teaching us.  We loved it!  He has a hard time getting to church.  He lives a long ways away.  The branch can no longer afford to send out a bus.  It is too far for him to walk with his health problems.  But he has a testimony.  And we surely enjoy our visits with him.

The real highlight of the week was two more baptisms for Elder Hoopes and Elder H. Silva.  These guys are really “on a roll”!  This week they baptized 15 year old Joao Pedro and his mother, Eleine Machado.   This baptism was a result of a follow-up on a referral card that someone filled out in Sao Paulo.  The Elders have been working with them for a few months now.  They consider it somewhat of a miracle.  It was an awesome baptism. 

One afternoon we got to visit at the apartment of the three Sisters so Elder could give them blessings.  We also took ice cream.  How can you beat that?  Blessings and sorvette!  Better than a movie and ice cream any day!  We love these Sisters!

Saturday morning, we helped Elder Buhler and Elder Soares again with English class.  We had more there this week.  If we remember right, there were about 10 there to learn English, counting two Sister missionaries and one Elder.  We were impressed with Elder Buhler’s teaching.  We assisted too!  It was a fun time!

We made other visits, like to Nelson, the pan-maker again.  He was out cutting the grass in his gorgeous yard.  It was a hot day and his place has tons of trees.  It really was like a little paradise to us on such a hot day!  He really takes pride in keeping a nice yard. 

When it rained this week, it rained hard.  But we have also had a lot of hot, summer-like days.  So we appreciate the rain when it comes.  We don’t enjoy the humidity as much though. And there has been a lot of that, on sunny as well as rainy days.  Elder has taken to carrying his little “towel” to mop up the sweat when we are out walking.  We haven’t had to do that since last summer!

Presidente Glauber called Saturday night and asked Elder Shirley to speak in Sacrament meeting in the Marina branch.  (Artur was there again!  Yay!)  Elder talked about the Holy Ghost and faith.  He told lots of personal stories, complete with sound effects.  It was a fun talk, although slightly embarrassing!  (Not really!)  It was such a fun talk!  He really did a great job!!  We ended up attending sacrament meeting in Uniao also.  It was good to be there again.     

We love that we have so much variety in what we do.  We try to plan out our days, but we never know what each day will hold in store.  This really is an amazing experience for us!  Next week is filling up fast with appointments.  Elivelton wants some more follow-up lessons.  If you remember, he was baptized last June.  We had the privilege of teaching him.  He has been faithfully attending church ever since.  He and Bruna plan to be married next month.  Fortunately, they will still live in the Marina branch.  We really like this young couple!  We plan to teach them this week.  We have had a few requests from others to visit as well.  There is also some “gaucho” dance instruction on Tuesday in the Cachoeira branch and another Baile in the Uniao branch on the weekend.  It will be interesting to see how it all goes.

Hope all is well there!  You are in our thoughts and prayers continually!  Love you all!
Eu te amo! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Farroupilha Park entrance - looks the same as when Elder Shirley was here 46 years ago

Cassio and Tiago in baptismal font

Cassio, Tiago and family prior to baptismal service

Christmas has arrived in the storefront windows in Cachoeira

Cute Halloween card from Judy Swensen

Enjoying dessert in a restaurant in Porto Alegre

Elder Buhler & Soares at English class

Farroupilha park in Porto Alegre

Fernanda in Pedal de Ouro

Lunch with President and Sister Castro

View of Porto Alegre from bus window

Selfie in Farroupilha Park

Sister Costa and Sister Foutz at the apartment on P-day

Sister Nerenberg and Sister Souza - we miss these two great missionaries!

Sister Oliveria at the apartment on P-day

Sister Souza on her last P-day in Cachoeira

Swan boat in Porto Alegre park

Turtle in Porto Alegre park

Potential investigator??

November 3, 2014

It seems like a lot has happened this week.  Weather-wise, it’s been a week of extremes.  The first part of the week we had a heat wave.  Temps were in the 90’s+ and very humid.  We heard lots of complaints from natives as well as missionaries.  We have also had some windy, rainy days, the kind that turn your umbrella inside out and we had to resort to jackets again. 

P-day was fun.  The four Sister missionaries came for lunch and to do their e-mails.  Little did we know that this would be the last P-day that we would get to spend with Sister Souza.  We called a taxi and went to pick her and her baggage up on Tuesday morning and accompanied her on the bus her to Porto Alegre.  President and Sister Castro took her to a doctor there to have her knee evaluated.  Before her doc appointment though, they took us and Sister Souza and Sister Nerenberg out to lunch in Porto Alegre.  Sister Nerenberg was catching an afternoon flight, headed to her home in Lehi, Utah.   She has completed her mission.  Hers was one of the first missionary faces we saw when we arrived in Cachoeira last year.  She was transferred from Cachoeira just before Christmas and we haven’t seen too much of her since then. We have exchanged a few emails and have heard many good reports about her.  She made a lasting impression on us.   She has been a great missionary!  We were excited for her and for her reunion with her family.  Even though we haven’t seen too much of her since she left Cachoeira, we think all of the mission will feel the lack of her now.  She will be missed!

Someone else who will be sorely missed is Sister Souza!  We received the sad news that Sister Souza needed to return home to take care of her knee problem. We anticipated this sad news, but were hoping it wouldn’t actually happen. She has struggled with a bad knee for some time now.  She lives somewhere around Rio and left for home the end of the week.  She has been an amazing missionary, a really knowledgeable and strong missionary!  We will miss her a lot!  We have felt especially close to her.  The two sets of Sister missionaries are now one set of a trio, at least until transfer day in 10 days or so.    We know this was especially hard for Sister Souza.  We wish her the best and hope she can heal quickly (her knee, as well as her sad heart)!   

While in Porto Alegre, we visited Farroupilha Park (now called Redençao).  Forty-six years ago this park was in the district of Elder Shirley and his companion and brother, Elder Shirley (Dale).  They taught some missionary lessons in this park. So this park holds lots of significance and good memories for Elder Shirley.   Elder has been anxious to re-visit the park and see how things have changed.  Not too much has.  It still has the same lake with turtles in it. It still has boats to take out on the lake. Although they have added swan paddle boats now.  It is still a rule for missionaries not to take out the boats.  The amphitheater has been closed in to become a concert hall.  The street cars that went around the outside of the park are extinct.  But most everything else remains the same.  It was a trip down memory lane for Elder Shirley!  It was a hot, but fun afternoon.  We caught a late bus back to Cachoeira.

The next morning, we had District Meeting which was followed by a call from Gelson and Rosi.  Francine had to go back into the hospital.  She had just been there the week before.  She had fevered up again and was coughing.  Gelson was at work and Rosi was at the hospital, unable to leave Francine to get lunch.  So we packed up a lunch for Rosi and went to the hospital to visit.  The hospital was packed!  They will only let one person at a time visit. They are really strict about this too.  So Elder went up first and then Sister Shirley went up to take Rosi lunch.  Francine had to stay in the hospital for about three days, but is home and feeling better now.  Hope her health improves now.  The extremes in the weather are hard on everyone.

We visited Artur again as usual this week.  We took a little doggie treat for his dog, Bola. We showed Artur a nice video called “Temples, a Conversation with a church leader”.  Elder had it translated into Portuguese for him.  It’s a very informative, plain talking video.  We also read a chapter in the BOM in III Nephi, chapter 18, about the sacrament.  Artur told us the Elders had challenged him to read it.  He started reading it outloud to us.  We ended up with all of us taking a turn reading.  It was great!  The Elders also visit him weekly.  They had asked us to challenge Artur to an actual date for baptism.  They were in hopes he would agree to baptism on December 13.  They think they won’t be transferred until the December 16 transfer day.  And they would like to be here for Artur’s baptism.  Artur wouldn’t commit to that actual date, saying that he didn’t know if he would be ready by then.  We wrote that date on a sticky note and he put it in his scriptures and agreed to think about it.  But he kept reassuring us that he is a “man of his word” and will be baptized before we go home.  We tell him baptism is for him and not to do it for us.  We try to emphasize that he needs those blessings now.  We know he has health concerns.  And we realize that he is feeling a lot of pressure now from us as well as the Elders.  A branch member, who knows Artur well, also paid him a visit with the Elders this week.  That’s three visits for Artur this week, plus a phone call.  We think Artur has a testimony.  We think he may just be afraid of the commitment.  Guess the pressure will either “make it or break it” for Artur. Hopefully, he will ponder that date.  And if not that date, we hope to get him to pick the date that will feel right to him.  We always comment on how much we enjoy visits with him.  He is a funny guy.  He also has a soft heart.  We see discussions about family bring him to tears often.  One time, he specifically asked us to include a granddaughter, Betina, in our prayers.

The visit with Jose was good again too.  We love that he always has been reading in the BOM and has questions he wants to discuss.  We also discussed and read about the sacrament with him.  As we read and underline scriptures with him, he will occasionally come across scriptures that “Elder Zundel” had discussed with him a few years ago.  He remembers Elder Zundel well and the lessons he taught.  Jose also likes to throw in questions about English words. Every week we have to talk a little English with him. This week he asked us about the word “shoulder”.   We quite often sing to him.  So we just had to sing the Primary song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”.  He grinned all the way through it and then just put his head in his hands and laughed.  Guess that tells you how we sang!  It was fun anyway!   

Elder Buhler (Texas) and Elder Soares (Brazil) started the English classes this week.  They asked us to help.  We spent some time this week notifying people that we thought might be interested.  They are holding classes on Saturday morning.  Many of the people who were in our previous English class are working Saturday mornings. So this class is catching a different group of people.  Elder Buhler took charge and we assisted.   Elder Soares was also a student in the class!  It went well!

On Halloween day, we went out and about.  We needed to re-fill the ink cartridges in our printer.  To do that, we always go to a nice store in the center of town called “Dipel”.  They already have a nice display of Christmas trees.  They also had a witch out front.  We invited her to English classes.  She said she had a passion about learning English.  But she has to work Saturday mornings!  We also ran into some spooky characters in Pedal de Ouro.  They don’t really celebrate Halloween here in Brazil. No trick or treat.  But in the schools and in some businesses, they dress up for fun.  They do celebrate a day called “All Souls Day”.  It is a Catholic holiday where they sometimes take flowers to the cemeteries.  It is a national holiday on November 2 and fell on Sunday this year.  They also don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving.  Last year, it was just a regular missionary day.  But, just like in the States, they get a jump on Christmas.  The stores are full of Christmas already. 

Elder Hoopes and Elder H. Silva had another baptism on Saturday and invited us to come.  Again, this one was the result, in part, of the efforts of a member. It seems that Cassio, a member of the branch presidency, is a convert of some years back.  He credits his baptism to a man who is the Uncle of Tiago, the young man who got baptized on Saturday.  Cassio felt like this opportunity presented itself to him as a way to repay Tiago’s Uncle for bringing the gospel into his life.  So when Cassio encountered Tiago again, he introduced him to the missionaries.  And now Tiago was baptized.  It was pretty special!  Members can do a lot! 

Health problems continue to abound.  Although Elder Hoopes was at the baptism, he wasn’t feeling too well.  He had been to the doctor the day before and has a bit of pneumonia, not too serious yet.  He has antibiotics and should improve soon with some much needed rest as well.  Elder Soares’ knees bother him when it rains.  Sister Foutz has some kind of red bumps.  Don’t know if they are heat related or from some bug.  She had a little more difficulty getting into the doctor.  (Elder Hoopes got right in, fortunately.)  She has an appointment for this next week.  If the weather will moderate, hopefully, health problems will go away!  It seems to be either scorching heat or wind and rain.  We are always hesitant to mention health problems on the blog.  We try to warn the missionaries that they had better tell their parents about their problems, or their family may read it on our blog.  I always say that if I was their parent, I would want to know.  Often times they don’t want to worry family.  So, hopefully, we aren’t the ones informing family first.  We continue to be impressed with all the missionaries here.  Elder Hoopes and Elder H. Silva have been seeing a lot of success.  Elder Buhler and Elder Soares are two of the hardest working missionaries we know!  
Sister Foutz, Sister Costa, and Sister Oliveira are doing their best as a trio now to cover both areas of the Uniao branch, dealing with the loss of Sister Souza.  We are sure it hasn’t been easy for them.  Elder D. Alves and Elder Lopes who work in a nearby city, Caçapava, called us last night just to check up on us.  Great missionaries, every one!! 

We have been thinking of you all as we saw on the calendar that you got to “fall back” on your clocks.  For some reason, it makes us a little sad that we are now 5 hours ahead of you time-wise.  We seem too far away!  But we hope you enjoyed your extra hour of sleep! 

We love you and miss you!  But we are trying to be the best missionaries that we can!  Take good care of yourselves!  Love to all!

Eu te amo!