Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Enjoying chocolate cake with Glimar, Luana & Kaleb

Aerton and Gorette dancing at the Christmas party

Another visit to the medical post

Baby Fernando, growing so fast!

Cachoeira friends

Elder Fairchild from Blackfoot, ID; going home in 2 weeks

Elder H. Silva at another baptism (no faces per request)

Elder Campbell (Oregon) & Elder H. Silva at baptism (no faces per request)

Headed back to Cachoeira from Christmas missionary conference

Missionaries at Uniao Christmas party

Nativity at the Christmas party

Nativity at the Uniao party

Nelson and Lucia

Nelson's flower called "Tears of Christ"

Pizza again at Paulista - yum!

President and Sister Castro at lunch

A rainy Sunday morning at the bus stop

Santas everywhere!

Santa's sleigh (Brazilian style)

Seminary/Institute graduation

Senior missionaries at mission conference

Serious rain storm at the Cachoeira chapel

Statue of Christ on a nearby building

Wheelchairs at the hospital (btw - not needed)

December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!  This is one more Christmas in Brazil, away from family and friends.  But we are doing well.  Although we miss everyone, it is hard not to be happy when we are a part of such a great work!  Working hard as a missionary is a sure way to cure homesickness and probably most every other problem as well.  And it has been a busy week!  It seems like we have had to juggle our schedule every day in order to fit in all of the appointments and meetings.  Christmas is always a busy time, but it is a unique experience to be so busy doing missionary work!  When we are missing home and family, we remind ourselves that this is our last Christmas in Brazil.  We know that we need to make the most of it.  It is a great opportunity and blessing to be a missionary.  We remember the promise made to us that more happiness awaits us than we have ever experienced as we perform our missionary labors.  It is an especially joyful season to be a missionary. 

It is amazing how perspective can change the way you view things.  It used to be if it was getting close to Christmas and it wasn’t snowing and cold, it didn’t “feel like Christmas”.  At the beginning of this week we commented that it just wasn’t hot enough to be Christmas time.  One day we got caught in a rain storm without an umbrella.  We had a few cooler, but really pleasant days.  We remembered it being hotter last year here in Brazil.  But then towards the end of the week, things heated up.  And we said to ourselves, “Now it “feels like Christmas”!  But then Saturday night, thunderstorms moved in.  We had some pretty severe thunderstorms that lasted through the night and for most of the day Sunday.  It caused some flooding in some areas.  We walked home from church on Sunday with water ankle deep in some places and with the wind turning our umbrellas inside out more than once.  (We had been fortunate in that President Glauber stopped and picked us up at the bus stop on our way to church.)  We arrived home after church and found that our phone and internet were out.  It was probably caused by the storm.

Church attendance was down on Sunday probably due to the heavy downpour.  But both meetings had nice Christmas messages and music.  Elder Shirley got recruited spur of the minute to sing bass in a quartet.  He wasn’t even sure what songs they would be singing when he got up.  They sang three Christmas hymns out of the hymnbook.  It was beautiful, especially the bass part!  (But we hear “it’s all about that bass”!) 

It was transfer week this past week.  We lost Elder Hoopes and Elder Lopes.  We were happy that everyone else was staying.  The new missionaries, at least new to Cachoeira, are Elder Campbell from Oregon and Elder Latorre from Chile. 

The branches held their Christmas parties this week.  So we spent a bit of time spreading the word and issuing invitations in both the Marina and the Uniao branches. We enjoyed that.  We hadn’t seen Nelson (the pan maker) and Lucia for a while.  We also hadn’t seen Gilmar and Luanna and Kaleb either.  Both families are in the Uniao branch.   We had really good visits at both places and others as well.  Uniao held their party on Tuesday and had some touching music, videos, talents, as well as a nativity.  They involved both the youth as well as the adults.  It was a nice, but late evening.   

We were sad to miss the Christmas party of the Marina branch.  It was held the same day as our Christmas Missionary Conference in Porto Alegre.  We didn’t get back in time to attend.  But we hear it was a nice evening.  For refreshments, President Glauber wanted to serve the cupcakes like we had for Elivelton’s baptism.  We had ordered those cupcakes from Nilson’s sister, Marcia.  Nilson is not a member and was in our English class.  We have maintained a good friendship with Nilson.  He works at Delta Sul, just down the street from us.  Marcia makes really wonderful cupcakes.  So President Glauber got her phone number from us and not only ordered cupcakes, but salgados too.  We didn’t even know that she made salgados.  We hear refreshments were great.  Although we weren’t able to attend, we made visits inviting others.

We were happy to see how well Fernando, the new baby, is doing when we visited with Julio and Roseangela.  We just really enjoy their kids.  Julian, the 11 year old boy, is a pretty good artist and wanted to draw a picture for us of whatever we wanted.  So we requested he draw us a picture of the bat in our garbage can (story from a few months ago).  It gave us the opportunity to re-tell the story and of how our prayers were answered when we needed help getting a bat out of the house.  He is going to finish up the picture for the next time we visit.  We encouraged him to tell his sister and his dad the story too.  It turned into a missionary opportunity! 

We visited Artur again this week.  With a new year coming, Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham asked us to throw out the date of January 3 to Artur when we discussed his baptism date again.  He always says I will after my teeth are fixed, after I see the doctor and always adds “but before you guys go home”.  With a new year coming, it would be a great time for a new start and to get those blessings coming.  Artur didn’t say no to January 3.  He also didn’t say yes.  But he did say that he would think about it.  It was a good visit. 

Christmas week is wedding week for Elivelton and Bruna.  We are excited to go to their wedding.  We had another good lesson with them as well. 

The Christmas missionary conference in Porto Alegre was, of course, a highlight of the week.  The van picked us up in front of our apartment at 4:30 am.  All of the missionaries from Cachoeira rode in the van.  It was a nice day with good messages, good food, and the opportunity to renew friendships.  We got back home about 9:30 pm, tired but happy. 

Elder Buhler was experiencing a few health issues this week.  We accompanied him and Elder Gorham to the health post.  He got called back to see the doctor about the same time that the doctor decided he was sick himself.  So Elder Buhler got sent up for a consultation at the hospital.  We went with them as we were familiar with where to go.  We have been there visiting members as well as with other missionaries.  Just to be safe, Sister Castro suggested Elder Buhler stay overnight in Porto Alegre after the conference and get a consultation there.  They returned the next day.  Hopefully, with a couple days rest, Elder Buhler will be back to his hard-working self. 

Missionaries are still working on that “white Christmas”.  Elder H. Silva and Elder Campbell had two more baptisms on Saturday.  Yay!!  They were a couple of really nice kids.  (The kids requested that we don’t post their faces on social network.)  Following the baptism, there was a seminary/institute graduation.  A really severe thunderstorm moved in and delayed the start of the ceremony by an hour.  The lights threatened to go out a few times.  The ceiling was leaking, there was thunder and lightning.  It was exciting.  It also affected attendance.  Not too many were there.  It was followed by a baile (dance).  We stayed for the ceremony and a dance or two.  But we were tired.  So we started out for home.  It was still raining lightly and we didn’t have an umbrella.  We were about half way home when a member stopped and gave us a ride.  We were grateful.  The bus schedule is pretty poor on the weekends.  During the week, we can count on buses regularly. But on Saturday and Sunday, there are a lot fewer buses which is ok when the weather is good, but a bit more of a challenge in the rain, especially when we are walking long distances.  We love the rain, but we look a lot better when we don’t arrive at an event soaking wet.  We don’t mind so much if we are just going home. 

We are looking forward to Christmas!  We have had some fun preparing and thinking about it.  We went toy shopping as we were asked to contribute to a branch toy drive.  That was fun.  We have missionaries making plans to Skype with their families from our place.  We have been invited to the home of President Glauber, Luci, and Dione.  Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham will be there too.  We are planning what food to prepare to take.  

For sure, we miss home and all of you!  But we will be ok.  We hope each of you has a wonderful Christmas!  May Jesus Christ be the center of all of our Christmas celebrations!  We love you!
Eu te amo!

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