Monday, February 16, 2015

Living the "Abundant Life"

Our street closed to traffic in preparation for Carnaval

A glimpse of Carnaval

Another hot dog vendor on our street = more friends!

Bleachers set up for Carnaval

Brazilians like to party!

Elders in our district:  Campbell (Oregon), da Silva (Brazil), Latorre (Peru), Freeman (Missouri), Costa (Brazil), Gorham (California)

Helping Artur with his new phone camera

Lidia, Idalia and Artur

Sisters in our district: Harrick (California), Oliveira (Brazil), Carvalho (Brazil), Saavedra (Peru)

Stacked vaults at the cemetery

Portion of street painted white for Carnaval main performance area 

View of the crowd at Carnaval behind the gates in the alley to our apartment

Visit to a local cemetery

February 16, 2015

The scripture for the week from President Castro was from John 10:10 and speaks about the abundant life.  We certainly feel like we are living the “abundant life”.  We continue to be blessed!

On P-day we decided to take in a few sights that we hadn’t seen yet.  We keep hearing about a missionary that served here in his youth by the name of Elder Dexter. Elder Dexter loved Brazil and returned to Brazil later in his life and made Cachoeira his home. He was active in the church and many members remember him. He died here about 4 or 5 years ago and was buried in a cemetery in Cachoeira.  So we decided to check out some local cemeteries.  We didn’t find Dexter yet, but we had fun checking out one of the cemeteries. We started with the cemetery that is right beside the hospital.  (Handy, but a little unnerving for hospital patients we think.)  They are very different from the cemeteries we know.  There is not a blade of grass, just cement.  There are walls of stacked burial vaults.  The more well-to-do have their own sepulcher.  We didn’t find Dexter, but we had an interesting afternoon.  There are a few other cemeteries that we may check out later.  

It was a very warm week with only a little rain.  Guess we are in the “dog days” of summer.  We should be used to summer weather.  We have been thinking that we have had a lot of summer.  We had a hot summer in Salt Lake City before leaving for our mission, and came to Brazil just at the beginning of their summer.  That hot summer was followed by a mild “winter” here in Brazil.  We are now finishing up another hot, Brazilian summer.  Then we go home to spring and an Idaho summer.  We figure that will make 4 summers with one mild Brazilian winter!   We will probably freeze in Idaho! 

Claudia and her family are still keeping us busy and we are so glad.  We met with her and some of her family early in the week and gave a lesson on testimony and how to help testimonies grow.  We included an activity from the Liahona about the fire of testimony for Thais, the eight year old grand-daughter of Claudia.  We also had a little video.  On the same day, just before this lesson, we met with Claudia’s daughter, Gabriele, and her daughter, Thais, in their home for a lesson on the restoration.  We took our “board” and figures, hoping it would help Thais to understand better.  After this lesson, Thais walked with us over to her Grandma Claudia’s home for the lesson on testimony.  That is a lot of lessons for a little girl.  But she seemed ok with it all.  She is a really nice little girl.  Gabriele wanted us to come back again on Thursday for the third lesson on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She wanted us to come back while everything was still fresh on Thais’ mind.  So we prepared the lesson and returned on Thursday.  However, they forgot that we were coming and we found Thais and her aunt, Natália, in a swimming pool in the backyard.  It was such a hot day and rather than interrupt their swimming party, we scheduled another day for the lesson.  They all told us that they planned to come to church on Sunday.  Claudia and Juliana made it to church on Sunday.  But once again, Gabriele, Thais, Natalia and the rest of the family did not make it.  Claudia told us that morning came too soon for them.  It surprises us as they seem so determined to come when we talk to them during the week. We will keep encouraging.

 Gabriele still wants Thais to be baptized the middle of March.  She is enthused about her daughter learning about the gospel.  She is actively involved in helping us teach the lessons to Thais.  But they need to get to church!  We aren’t sure if it is a matter of liking to sleep or a lack of courage.  We will try for next week.  In the meantime, school will start up at the end of week.  Thais will go back to school.  Claudia teaches at two schools and will go back as well.  Hopefully, this won’t complicate things too much for them.  Presidente Glauber and Luci want to come with us to do a family home evening with Claudia and family this next week and asked us to schedule an appointment.  We have made tentative plans for it with Claudia.  We will see how it goes.  She seems a little worried.  That is a big crowd for her little house.  We would like to offer to have it at our apartment.  But that will mean they will need a ride here.  Glauber would have to make several trips to get them here.  We want to do what is best and easiest for them.  But Claudia has been at church for the past three weeks and seems happy.  They are a really good family. 

We had our regular district meetings with the young missionaries, branch council, etc.  We visited with several of our regulars again this week too.  We had another nice visit with Elivelton and Bruna about testimony as well and about fasting.  Bruna was supposed to give a talk on Sunday about eternal marriage.  But she didn’t make it.  We don’t know why.  Her Dad filled in on another topic.  Hopefully, Bruna will have the opportunity yet to give her talk.  Artur had a new phone and wanted us to help him figure out a few things on it. Rosi (Gelson and Fran) had a new phone as well.  She was enjoying showing us all of the things she could do on it.  It was a fun visit with them too.
 José was home and anxious for a visit this week.  His mother sat in on the discussion.  She is always pretty defensive and makes sure we know that she goes to church with the Seventh Day Adventists.  It is always a little uncomfortable with her.  But José makes up for it.  He is always so cheery and happy to visit with us and anxious for our next visit. 

We had another good visit with Julio and Rosangela although someone was mowing (weed whipping) the grass around the house and made it difficult to pray and discuss anything.  We walked down to the Praça Honorato and visited with Renato, the hot-dog man and his helper, Mateus.  Mateus wants to come to church too.  But they didn’t make it this week. 

It is Carnaval, mais uma vez! (one more time).  This is our second experience with Carnaval, Cachoeira style.  Once again, our apartment is right in the middle of the action.  Mid-week, they closed off the street in front of our apartment and began to paint the road white in the main performance area, set up bleachers, put up speakers, extra lights, etc.  Saturday was the first night of the parade of Carnaval.  It started about 9:30 or 10 pm.  (Just when we like to go to bed!)  The streets and sidewalks were packed with people.  There was not even standing room.  We got home early.  The gates at the entrance of the alley at our apartment were locked to keep the crowd out.  We were glad for that.  We managed to get just a glimpse at the first of the parade. We only saw a little of it right at the start.   But we got a good dose of the sounds of Carnaval.  There is no escaping that!  There were lots of drums and singing, all over loud speakers.  Our apartment was rockin’!  It lasted until the wee hours.  However, Sister Shirley can sleep through anything.  Elder has more trouble.  Carnaval lasts until Tuesday here in Cachoeira.  It is our last time for this unique experience though! 
The youth in each of the three branches, ages 12 and up, left town early Saturday morning for the encampment to get them out of town during Carnaval time.  It is a yearly tradition.  The LDS church does this, but so do some of the other churches.  It sounds like a lot of fun for the youth.  They have great activities planned and good food.  When we visited at the home of Cleomar and Idalia, their son Artur had decided to go.  He was so excited.  He brought out his list and went through it with us, showing us what he needed to bring.  Claudia wanted her son, Samuel, to go too.  We visited with Samuel about it and called Glauber.  But in the end, Samuel felt like he didn’t know anyone and didn’t want to go.  Can’t blame him for that.  Glauber plans to try and get him signed up for seminary and help him get acquainted with the youth of the branch.  Maybe he will feel better about going next year. 

Lots of leaders went with the youth, including all of the branch presidents and their wives, along with other youth leaders.  With so many gone, they combined the União and Marina branches on Sunday.  It was actually nice to be combined.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  And we didn’t have to split our time to attend the sacrament meeting of each branch.  It was nice to be able to go to Relief Society and Priesthood meetings.  Combined, we had a pretty good attendance.  We had an interesting experience in our Gospel Essentials class.  A new member in the branch, who was a former pastor in an evangelical church, decided to get up and preach to us!  It was an extremely lively testimony from him.  He went on and on too.  Everyone kept looking to Elder Shirley to do something, including the young missionary who was teaching the lesson.  Elder Shirley interrupted him and made a brief comment about needing to let the teacher summarize the lesson.  It worked and, hopefully, no one was offended!  Interesting! 

We continue to meet and visit with so many friendly people.  We can never walk down the street without encountering so many friendly, good people, who want to visit and wish us well.   It truly is a “gente boa aqui”!!  (people good here).

Hope everyone enjoyed a “Happy Valentine’s Day”!  It isn’t really celebrated here.  They do have a “Lover’s Day” on June 12.    We intended to go out to eat, but didn’t make it yet.  However, we celebrate every day the love we have for family and friends.  We feel so thankful for each of you!   You are always in our thoughts and prayers!  We miss you!  We love you!

Eu te amo!  

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