Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rewards and Frustrations

Admiring huge leaves on a plant at the bus stop

Beautiful evening as seen from our apartment

Claudinei and Marcia - good friends

Discussion with Jose

Late afternoon in Fatima

Rainstorm during the week

Nice day in Fatima

Messy roads after a big rainstorm

Marina branch council

Major work to restore our power

Visit at the home of Claudinei and Marcia

February 23, 2015
This has been a week of frustrations as well as rewards.  Carnaval, at least here in Cachoeira, ended.  We had three noisy nights, with little sleep since all the action went up the street in front of our apartment.  But it was interesting to be in the midst of things for sure.  Tuesday ended up being a holiday.  Most every business was closed.   Many of our appointments cancelled too.  We felt a little frustrated on Tuesday, especially.  This is also the last week of vacation for school kids and school teachers.  Most will go back to school next week. 

We did have a good District meeting Tuesday morning.  But in the afternoon, Gabriele cancelled our lesson with Thais as she was gone with her Dad.  But they rescheduled for Wednesday.  So we were happy about that.   Claudia, who teaches at a couple of schools, had a lot to do getting ready to go back to school.  So our Family Home Evening with her and her family and Glauber which was supposed to follow the lesson with Thais, was postponed until next week.  Hopefully, that will happen.  We worry with school and work complicating things for families. 

The Wednesday lesson with Thais went really well.  We took our white board with figures as well as the markers and gave the lesson on The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  (We don’t think the younger missionaries use these figures.  But Elder Shirley taught this way on his first mission.  It seems to work well for us.  We have made up our own word strips and pictures). Thais enjoys putting the figures on the board and writing on it.  We felt good about how things went.  We had asked her to pray about March 14 as the date for her baptism.  She hadn’t done that yet, but said she would.  Her mom, Gabriele, apologized about missing church the last few weeks.  She said, “Every week we tell you that we are coming and then we don’t.  This week we are!”   Sure enough, on Sunday, Thais came with her Great Grandma and Aunt.  But her mom didn’t come and neither did her grandma and some other family members.  We were so excited to have Thais come, but frustrated that the others weren’t there.  (Some frustrations!  Some rewards!) However, Thais seemed excited to be there.  She loved Primary and asked us to show her the baptismal font.  We let her step down into the dry font.  She looked all around.  Elder Shirley showed her how they would stand to do the baptism.  She told us that she had prayed about the March 14 date for her baptism and was ready to do it!  She is a darling, intelligent, little 8 year- old.  She adores her mom.  Her mom tells us that Thais is her little  “Chiclet”, (the gum).  We guess that is because she “sticks” as close as she can to her mom.  So we were thrilled that Thais had enough courage to come to church without her mom.  We will give the last lesson about “The Commandments” to Thais on Tuesday.  Although she will be in school, they are out early on the first couple of days.  So it should work out to have a lesson.  Her mom also gave permission for her to show us how she swims in the pool on that day.   Fun!  We are also supposed to be setting up the FHE with Claudia and the whole family and Glauber sometime this week.  We hope it works out!

We had more frustrations when we went to teach Elivelton and Bruna.  Bruna’s Dad met us out front, saying that Bruna wasn’t feeling well and not up to a lesson. We were disappointed.  We were just leaving when Elivelton came out and said, “No, no, please come in”.  So, we went in.  Elivelton was ready for a lesson even if Bruna didn’t feel like it.  We decided to wait to give the lesson on tithing until Bruna could be there too.  Elder Shirley just talked to Elivelton about some of his priesthood opportunities, like blessing the sacrament.  They went over the prayers and the procedure.  The nice thing is that Elivelton showed up to church on Sunday all dressed up in white shirt and tie.  But they had already made the assignments for blessing the sacrament.  But they asked him to do the closing prayer in sacrament meeting.  Hopefully, he will get a turn at blessing the sacrament soon.   After the prayer, he headed straight to us with a big smile.  We loved it.  Bruna was at church and feeling better.  They invited us to their home again this week.   

Artur continues to frustrate us.  We had a nice visit on the priesthood line of authority.  We challenged him to be baptized on March 14, along with Thais.  He really hesitates to commit.  He says he will think about it.  You may be familiar with the picture of “A Leap of Faith”.  We made a copy of it and tried to convince Artur that he just needed the courage to make the leap.  He even gave a nice prayer, asking the Lord to give us all courage.  He thinks that he has had missionaries for about 8 years.  He has made a lot of progress recently and attends church most every Sunday now. In the beginning of our visits, he wouldn’t pray.  But he gives beautiful prayers now.  But he continues to tell us that most of his family is Catholic.  Yet he also tells us that he has always tried to be a good example for his kids, especially since he raised them alone after his wife died.  We hope he will be a good example and lead the way into the waters of baptism.  But we are beginning to have our doubts.  He is now saying that if he isn’t baptized before we leave, he will send us an email later when it happens.  Agh!!!!!

We had a nice surprise at Julio’s.  The mission office had sent us the paperwork and instructions for helping couples get married.  (That is a real hindrance to baptisms here).  We took the paperwork showing how you could do it with little to no expense.  Julio, who is very intelligent, and knows all of the angles, was actually interested in it!  He shocked us by saying that he thought they could maybe get married in April before we left.  We were in shock!  We asked Rosangela what she thought about that.  She told us that this was the first that she had heard of it!  (What?!  What is wrong with you, Julio?!)   In his defense, Julio told us that the thought had just been going around in his head.  He says that he has a lot of thoughts.  We told him that we would like a picture of him on his knee asking Rosangela to marry him.  Although Rosangela says “We will see”, she says it with a smile.  We think that she would be happy to get married.  Julio seems to have been the one holding them back.  Then she could be baptized!  They have paperwork to find or apply for.  It may take some time.  So we will see how this plays out.  The young Elders are visiting there and encouraging as well. 

As always, José greeted us so nicely.  He said, in English, “It is wonderful to see you!”   He had his usual list of questions from what he was reading.  He wanted to share a scripture with us that he found in II Nephi 2:11 about the necessity of having opposition in all things.  Amazingly, Elder Shirley was prepared with a scripture in II Nephi 29:6-8 to share with José about how the Book of Mormon helps clear up any questions about gospel doctrine.  José likes to have a scripture to underline in red in his Book of Mormon.  So it was a nice exchange.  It felt like a bit of inspiration going on!  José likes to call Elder Shirley “Mister”, even though he has been corrected numerous times.  So, to him, we are “Mister” and “Sister”.  It was an especially rewarding visit.  

We visited some old friends, Claudinei and Marcia, from the Cachoeira branch. They have a nine year old son.  They were also former students in our English class back a year ago when we were teaching English.  Claudinei is working out of the city now.  He is gone 15 days at a time and then home for two.  It has made church attendance difficult.  It was good to see them again!  He has a really good job.  But it is a difficult situation.  No easy answers for them. It was a good visit though.
Sunday was a good day.  But it is always a little frustrating trying to catch and visit with all the people that we feel need to be visited with.  We are also still working on Renato, our hot dog man, and his helper, Mateus.  Mateus has indicated that he is interested in coming to church.  The bad thing is that whenever we visit them, they want us to have a hot dog!  I think that we have over-dosed on hot dogs!

We had another little frustration.  On Sunday, just as we were stepping into our apartment building, the power went off.  When it was still off in the late afternoon, we took a walk around the neighborhood to see if we could discover the reason.  A block away, at a busy intersection, a car had hit the power pole.  It was a concrete power pole and it was broken off.  They were in the process of replacing the pole.  Our power ended up being off for about 12 hours.  It came back on about 12:30 am. 

This weekend Brazil went off of daylight savings time.  So we got to “fall back” and gained an extra hour.  For a little while now, we are four hours ahead of you.  In a few weeks when you “spring ahead” and go on daylight savings time, we will only be three hours ahead.  

Overall, the rewards outweigh the frustrations!   Guess we will spend the week trying to catch up with those that we missed on Sunday or other days.  Our calendar for our remaining time here seems to be filling up fast.  We have a lot of people wanting us to come to their churrasco, a birthday party, a baby shower, etc.  We are booking appointments into April now, which is our end-of-mission month.   Amazingly good people here!  Guess that is our reward!  President Castro is also coming to town this week.  We think that we will keep busy this upcoming week too. 
Hope you are all keeping busy and out of trouble!  We miss you! You are always in our thoughts and prayers!  We love you! 

Eu te amo!

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