|Six missionaries, President Glauber, Luci and Dione all ready to feast on Christmas day|
|The wedding of Bruna and Elivelton|
|A Catholic youth group on Christmas Eve|
|Pausing to take a picture before a baptism at the Marina chapel|
|Christmas at the Fortes home with two of the Elders and a dog (Cookie)|
|Christmas decorations on our kitchen table|
|Cute kids doing their jobs at the wedding|
|Elders Buhler and Gorham at the wedding|
|Elder H. Silva (Brazil), Elder Campbell (Oregon) arriving to Skype at our place|
|Elders out walking on Christmas Eve|
|The happy couple - Elivelton and Bruna|
|Elivelton calmly waiting for the bride to show|
|Filling the baptismal font|
|President Glauber carving up the churrasco meat|
|Iolanda baptized by branch member Paulo da Silva|
|Baptism of Iolanda with Sisters Foutz (Colorado) and Oliveira (Brazil)|
|President Glauber and Luci. He performed the wedding|
|The Christmas feast|
|The wedding ceremony|
|View of our apartment from the bus stop (under the Colortec sign)|
|Christmas feast watermelon and poinsettias|
|The Christmas turkey|
|A photo op with Elivelton and Bruna|
December 28, 2014
It’s been a “Feliz Natal”! We have enjoyed our tropical Christmas! (We like to say Natal tropical!) We see pictures of all of the snow being dumped on you at home. The pictures have been beautiful! So perfect for Christmas! It makes us miss home and each of you! But we have also enjoyed one more Christmas in Brazil, our last Christmas here! We have had some really hot days and quite a few cloudy, rainy days. The humidity has been high every day! It has felt like a tropical Christmas.
It has been a busy week. On P-day, we fit in a little of everything; a little cleaning, a little cooking, a short visit from the Sisters who wanted to send pictures home, and even a little shopping. The streets and stores were crowded with shoppers. Music was playing everywhere. Santa and Santa’s helpers were everywhere. It was fun! We even found a turkey and cooked it on Christmas Eve, just so we would have something festive to snack on. Out on the street on Christmas Eve, we encountered a Catholic youth group with guitars in hand. They were full of enthusiasm. We stopped them and asked them to sing something for us. They did! They were friendly and full of Christmas spirit. We exchanged cards and church information. Elder called it the “Christmas Eve truce”!
Christmas is a great time to be a missionary. Our message is so wonderful to share anytime, but especially at Christmas. We spent the week making visits and taking little treats. It was a fun week.
We also tried to hit all of our regular stops like Julio and Rosangela and family, Artur, José, Gelson and Rosi and Fran, Idalia, and others. We also got a surprise call on Christmas from our old non-member friends, Roberto and Marcia and family. Roberto, who has spent a lot of time in the last months out of town for schooling, was home for a Christmas break. We were really pleased that they thought of us and called. It was a great Christmas Eve surprise.
For Christmas dinner, we were invited to the home of Presidente Glauber, Luci, and Dione. They also invited Elder Buhler (Texas), Elder Gorham (California), Elder H. Silva (Brazil), and Elder Campbell (Colorado). Elder H. Silva and Elder Campbell work in the Cachoeira branch area, but didn’t have a dinner invitation. So Luci invited them. It was fun to gather in such a large group. There was a churrasco with beef, pork, lamb, salsicha. There were all kinds of salads and fruits (watermelon too). It was a like a summer feast! We took an appetizer (layered dip and chips) and a cake. We all stuffed ourselves. And there was a pool filled with water in the back yard. (But we didn’t swim!) Truly a Christmas to remember! The four Sister missionaries went to the home of Presidente Samuel and had a great time too. It was Sister Oliveira’s birthday on Christmas and there was a big cake for her there too. We were glad to see everyone have a good Christmas! Everyone was also able to skype with their families at home on Christmas day as well. We have had the opportunity to do that from both sides, both as parents of a missionary and now as the missionaries. That is always the best Christmas gift of all! Elder H. Silva and Elder Campbell came to our apartment to skype. Presidente Glauber took Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham to the chapel so they could skype without waiting at our place. It worked well. We are always glad when it works out well for everyone and it did. The Sisters got to skype from Presidente Samuel’s. Everyone was happy! It was a lovely day!
The whole week has been wonderful. The day after Christmas was the wedding of Elivelton and Bruna. Since Elivelton was just baptized in June, it was a civil wedding for now. But they are anxious for the day when they will be able to go to the temple and make it forever. They are a gorgeous couple and so nice. We took a taxi and picked up Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham as they are also in the Marina branch and this was a convert’s wedding. The wedding was held at an “event center” quite a ways out of town, too far to walk, especially in the rain. We also all needed to be home before it got too late. Gotta keep those mission rules! It was fun to see a Brazilian style wedding. It had been a rainy day, but the rain stopped just before the wedding. There was a churrasco there too. We have eaten well this week. Elivelton kept coming over and asking if we were getting enough to eat and wanting to send food home with the Elders. It was amazing that he even had time to think of us missionaries. He and Bruna also asked Elder and me to come and have pictures taken with them. They are just nice kids. We certainly hope for the best for them!
It was the perfect ending for a wonderful week. Another baptism! Sister Foutz and Sister Oliveira (Uniaõ branch) had taught and prepared Iolanda for baptism. Her husband will probably be baptized next week. The Sisters set things up early at the church. We went to the chapel to help them fill the font. It seems like every time there is a baptism, we have some kind of a problem at the chapel. This day was no exception. But with the early start, all of the problems got solved and everything was perfect for the baptism later that day. We also had a problem at home. An electrical storm took out the power in our apartment at 8 am. Elder had to go without a shower for the first half of the day. And there was no power for Sister Shirley to blow dry hair. We were a sad looking pair! But power was restored when we returned home at noon. We were grateful! We tried to talk Artur into coming to witness the baptism as he has never been to one. We thought it might help take away some of the fear he may be having. At first he agreed, and then he told us on the phone that his daughter had just arrived. So he didn’t come, but he did make it to church on Sunday!
Benches were filled in both the Marina and the Uniaõ branches on Sunday. Both meetings were especially good. We had a very enjoyable time visiting with everyone before and after the meetings. We always just feel bad that we don’t have time to visit at church with as many or for as long as we would like with everyone. We received many invitations to visit in homes. It looks like the week ahead will be a busy one too. We truly love these people! (and the missionaries too!)
We look forward to this next week and especially to the new year ahead. We wish everyone a Feliz Ano Novo! (Happy New Year!) We miss and love each of you!
Eu te amo!