Monday, January 5, 2015

Celebrating the Beginning of Another Great Year

New Year's Day in the grass shack at the farm

Alves, his son and his mother

Another delicious churrasco with lamb, chicken and salsicha. Yum!

Another gorgeous sunset as seen from the apartment

Baptism of Sister Gomez

Beautiful trees in the city

Elder Shirley checking out the dessert bar at Per Tutti Grill

Checking out the recipe drawer with Meni

Checking out the tractor with Paulinho

Don't do it sisters!  

Sisters Costa and Oliveira enjoying farm life

Having fun at the farm on New Year's Day

Helping with the dishes

Lots of help in the kitchen

New Year's Day lunch in the home of Paulinho and Meni

New Year's Eve lunch at Per Tutti Grill

Elder Shirley out and about

P-day with Sisters Foutz (Colorado), Harrick (California), Costa (Brazil), Oliveira (Brazil)

Pimentas from Alves before pickling

Getting ready to lay paralelepipedos

Sister Olivia Gomez with Elders H. Silva (Brazil) and Campbell (Oregon)

Sister Harrick enjoys the farm life

Sister Gomez just before her baptism

Sister missionaries "bringing them into the fold"

Ahhh!  This is the life!

Sisters Foutz and Harrick having fun

What a great way to start off the new year!

January 4, 2015

Feliz Ano Novo!  Happy New Year!  It’s been a great week for us.  It is hard to believe that we have just finished 2014!  We have heard that time goes faster when you are older.  We must be really old because time is flying!  We love the holidays.  It is a great opportunity to take a wonderful message into homes.  But we also have to be selective where we visit as we don’t want to “crash” anyone’s holiday dinner and family time without being invited.  But we have had some good visits this past week.

It is always fun to have the Sisters come over to our place.  They came on P-day to send pictures and have left-over mashed potatoes and turkey gravy.  Mashed potatoes seem to be a real treat for missionaries, especially missionaries from the U.S.  It was nice of them to help us finish up our turkey leftovers.  We enjoy these Sisters! 

Ledí, a faithful Sister in the Uniaõ branch, has been requesting that we visit in her home with her and her non-member husband.  We visited there several months ago.  It was past time to visit again.  We had a nice visit this week and they invited us back to do a Family Home Evening next week.  Their son, Edson and his wife, Luciane (Nelson’s daughter) and family (which include Kevin, the guitar player and his sisters) are going to be invited too.  So this is an extended family that we know and love.  Ledí has requested a lesson about eternal families.  We have tried to catch Edson and Luciane home to extend the invitation, but have been unsuccessful so far.  Ledí is going to try also.  We would really like to have everyone there next week.
We have met a lot of friendly people this week on the street and on the bus.  One day, as we boarded the bus, the driver greeted us by saying that he wanted to visit our country.  The cobrador, money taker, joined in the conversation, as did several others.  We had a nice visit (loud enough for most everyone on the bus to hear) and were able to give our cards with our meeting schedule on to several.  In turn, one of them gave us a printed message from his church.  It was fun. 

On New Year’s Eve, we baked a couple of loaves of French bread to deliver.  We always like to give appreciation and support to leaders in the branches which is actually part of our calling.  President Castro also encourages us to do that.  So we decided to visit Alves, Lucimar and their family early in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve.  Alves is a counselor in the branch presidency of the Marina branch.  Lucimar is in the District Young Women Presidency.   Also living in the “fundos” (out back) at the home of Alves is their son, Josué and his wife and 1 year old daughter. This young couple was active a year ago.  We don’t know what happened, but they quit coming.  But recently they have started coming to church again.  So we felt like this would be a great visit to make.   Lucimar was out grocery shopping with their teenage daughter.  But we were welcomed warmly by Josué and his wife.  We delivered one of the loaves of bread and had a nice visit in their home.  Alves was very happy to see us also.  His mother lives next to them and had requested a blessing of health.  Alves told us that he was just wondering how he would do it and who he would get to help when we showed up! He was pretty grateful and felt like his prayers had been answered!  So it worked out well.  Elder was able to help with the blessing and we had a really nice visit.  Alves thanked us for the bread.  But he protested that he did not have a gift for us.  Then he remembered the little red peppers growing in his yard.  He insisted on sending some home with us and told us how to make “Conserva de Pimenta (Brazilian pickled chiles).  It seems easy enough to do and not too time-consuming.  So we are giving it a try.  It is in process now.  It has to sit in a vinegar- type solution for a week.  Although Elder is not thrilled, Sister is excited to try!  It was a fun and gratifying visit. 

For lunch on New Year’s Eve, we went to Per Tutti Grill to celebrate.  We knew they would be decorated and festive.  They always have a nice selection of food too.  Then it was a noisy New Year’s Eve.  We heard firecrackers going off all day.  And there were lots of fireworks in the evening.  At midnight, we thought we were being attacked!  Fireworks must have been going off right beside us.  They like fireworks here!  There was no sleeping through that!  So we welcomed the new year in whether we wanted to or not!

New Year’s Day we, along with the Sisters, were invited to the “chacara” or little farmstead of Mení and Paulinho.  They are friendly, good, faithful, very active members of the Uniaõ branch.  We thought it was pretty cool that we could spend Christmas with all of the young Elders and now New Year’s with the Sisters.  We took a little treat.  It was another wonderful churrasco with lamb, chicken and salsicha and all of the trimmings. Mení and Paulinho have a business and also a little home close to our apartment here in the city.  So the party was held at their country home a little ways out of town.  We hoped to catch a bus out.  We sat and sat at the bus stop, without seeing a bus.  Since it was a holiday, we knew that buses would be few and far between.  But while we were sitting there, Nilson and Karla, non-members from our English classes drove by and waved.  They circled the block and came back to pick us up. It’s nice to have friends!  We were grateful for the ride as it had begun to rain.  We are always so amazed at the blessings that come to us and that are so obvious.  Even at that, we had to walk up a little lane to get to their home. The Sisters had quite a ways to walk and arrived pretty wet, even with their umbrellas! We felt bad for that.  But by the time lunch was over, the rain had quit and the sun was out.  It was a beautiful afternoon.  All of us enjoyed the little farm.  They had cows, sheep, chickens, tractors, a lake and all kinds of fun stuff.  They were lovely hosts!  It was a lovely day!

We had a good visit with Artur.  However, we are sad that his dog, Bola (Ball), has come up missing.  He has been gone for a week.  We have become really fond of Bola and take a dog treat for him each week.  We just heard from the Elder Buhler and Elder Gorham that Artur’s daughter brought him a cat to keep him company.  He has named the cat “Elder”!  We gave Artur a lesson on free agency and goals.  He maintains that his goal is to be baptized before Casal Shirley leaves.  As we look at the calendar, we hope he hurries.  Time is really flying!  Our release date appears to be April 21.  We don’t want him to leave it to the last minute.  We also hope that he doesn’t get cold feet.  He told the Elders that a guy really needs to think about this!  But he comes to all three hours of church each week.  We all agree that he has made a lot of progress recently.  We still have high hopes!

It was also a good visit with Júlio, Rosángela and family.  The baby still has a bad case of colic, but is growing fast and doing well.   We talked with them about free agency and goals also.  Julio told us that he doesn’t believe in setting goals.  We have hoped that his goal would be to get married and to have Rosángela and two of the kids baptized this next year.  Rosángela seems ready for both marriage and baptism.  He told us how expensive it is to get married as you have to have a reception, etc.   You have to include all of the relatives.  And they have a lot of them.  But he also taught us a new word which we really like.  Although he doesn’t want to have a specific goal, he does like to have “guides”.  The word he used was “Nortear” (Norte as in north).  That is like aligning yourself with the North Star and keeping on the correct path. It means to have guides.  We like that!  What a great word!  That will work!   And it is a verb which indicates action.  So we still have high hopes for them also! 

Elder H. Silva and Elder Campbell had a baptism this week, Olivia Gomez.  They invited us to attend.  We really enjoy baptisms!  She is a really nice lady and will be a great addition to the Cachoeira branch. 

We spent some time this week notifying branch members of the change in church meeting times.  In January, Uniaõ and Marina branches flip-flop meeting times.  Marina now starts at 8:30 am with Priesthood and Relief Society and Uniaõ starts at 9 am with Sacrament meeting.  Although there were quite a few visitors on Sunday, numbers were down a bit in both branches. It was testimony meeting.  Usually there is a line of people wanting to bear their testimony.  This Sunday was slower than usual.  We attended sacrament meeting in both Uniaõ and Marina.  Elder Shirley bore his testimony in each of the two branches.  Sister Shirley summoned up courage (and it takes a lot of courage, especially to do it in Portuguese) and did it in the Marina branch and was the very last testimony.  Marcio Medeiros was conducting.  At the close of meeting he told us that he had been hoping for 38 testimonies.  Part-way through the meeting, he said that it had come to him while he was sitting there that there would be 20 testimonies and that Sister Shirley would be the last testimony.  He was actually teary-eyed in telling us from the pulpit that he knew it would work out just that way.  So glad that Sister Shirley didn’t ignore those promptings. 

 Hope your New Year is off to a great start!  Hope you are all surviving the cold and snow!  It is really hard for us to imagine.  Although after looking at pics on fb, we half-way expect to look outside our window and see snow.  But we have had a lot of rain again this week, some of it really heavy.  Some days, it rains really hard and then the sun comes out strong.  It feels like a sauna!  Rain or shine, we have lots of work to do! 

Be safe!  Be healthy!  Be happy!  Be good!   Vai nortear! 
Eu te amo!

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