Monday, March 30, 2015

Baptismal Day for Thais!

Thais after being baptized

Song practice with Natalia, Debra, Gabriele, Claudia, Samuel

The whole family at Thais's baptism

Thais and her mom Gabriele

Thais with Elders Purificacao and Costa

Four generations:  Ina, Claudia, Thais and Gabriele

Singing "Secreta Oracao (Secret Prayer)" at the baptism

Confirmation day with Thais

Bus stop in Passo d'Areia

The Elders in Cachoeira do Sul - March 2015

Gift for Cristiane's baby

Jean Rodigues on his bike

Practicing getting the message out in one minute

The Sisters in Cachoeira do Sul - March 2015

Suziele and her son Eric

March 30, 2015

It’s been an intense, but rewarding week!  Here are a few highlights….

We fit in lots of visits.  We are still working our way through the list of people that we want to be sure to visit before we leave.  Plus we visited all of our regulars.  We had some help from a daughter this week with a thought and a short video about “Flecks of Gold”.  It seemed to apply to lots of the people we taught this week (especially Artur) who are looking for the “big miracle” and don’t see the small ones all around them.  We really liked the scripture in Alma 37:6-7 which says that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.  It’s something that applies to all of us.  We enjoyed discussing that several times this past week.   We were very grateful for the help.

Cristiane Rodrigues is due to have her baby May 6.  She tells us that we can’t leave until the baby is born! Unfortunately, we will be gone.   She has five boys and this will be their first girl.  The whole family is thrilled.  (Cristiane’s husband, Daniel, is a non-member).  It is a long bus ride out to their place and we don’t visit them very often, although we see them every week at church. We decided to visit them this week.  Eric, the son of Suziele (Cristiane’s sister) also lives out there in Paso d’ Areia.  He has wanted Elder to come out and listen to him play his guitar a little.  It has been hard to figure out the bus schedule as the bus only goes out there a few times a day.  But we managed to catch it and really enjoyed our visits with these two families.  Some of the ladies in the branch are throwing a shower for Cristiane this next Friday.  They actually assigned what gift we were to bring.  We were asked to bring little shoes!  That was a fun thing to shop for!  However, we have also been invited to a baptism on Friday, the day of the shower.  Marcello, who was in an English class that we helped with, invited us to come to his baptism.  We really want to go to this baptism.  So we decided to go out and visit and take our baby gift early.  We wanted Cristiane to wait to open the gift until the shower.  Family warned us that she would not leave a gift unopened.  They were right.  But it was fun to visit with her and be there when she opened the gift.  The whole family, including the boys, enjoy seeing the little girl things!  The baby’s name will be Luisa.  They promise to send pictures.  Eric seemed so happy to have Elder Shirley see him play the guitar.  Eric is actually pretty good.  He was also anxious to get a few tips and wanted to learn a “Beatles” song.  It was a really good visit with both families.  Jean, Cristiane’s son asks us to visit almost every week!  He is a good kid! Good families!

 Our main focus this week was Thais and her upcoming baptism.  We wanted to be sure it happened this week.  The family all seemed enthusiastic.  We visited them and they all came together for a song practice.  They wanted their song, “Secreta Oracão” (“Secret Prayer”, which was their choice) to be perfect.  We tried to encourage Claudia’s 14-year old son, Samuel, to join in the singing.  He did join in on the practices, but backed out when the actual performance came.  But he is a good kid.  We have enjoyed getting to know him a little better too.  He is a member, but not active….yet!  Thais’s mom, Gabriele, expressed the thought to us many times that she really wanted things to be special for Thais’ baptism. We spent a bit of time inviting people, making goodies, etc. for the occasion.

Baptism day finally arrived!  Saturday was the day.  We went over early to clean and fill the font.  We also spent a bit of time sweeping and mopping floors.  The Elders helped us with a nice table display. We had some nice music recorded and video to show.   We wanted everything to be nice.  A lot of family members came.  Unfortunately, not too many branch members were there.  It was especially touching to see the family stand together to sing.  They are all at various stages in their attempts to return to church activity.  So it was extra special.  We saw tears in many of their eyes.  Elder Shirley was asked to do the baptizing.  Sister Shirley was asked to pray.  Presidente Glauber presided and gave a talk. Glauber always does a fantastic job.  He really knows how to make people feel welcome.   Elpidio, who is an uncle to Thais and is in the branch presidency, also gave a great talk.  Family also helped with the refreshments.  There was some nice socializing afterwards too.  The day was just so great!  We had lots of comments from family about how special it was.  Gabriele kept telling us how happy Thais was and how she couldn’t quit smiling!  Gabriele just seemed really pleased with everything.  Juliana, Gabriele’s sister, now has hopes that her boyfriend will listen to the missionaries.  (He attended the baptism which really surprised her.)  So that will be the next challenge. 

Sunday was the day for Thais’ confirmation.  We were still on a high from the baptism the day before.  We went to the sacrament meeting for União first and then went out into the foyer to find Thais and family and welcome them to the sacrament meeting for the Marina branch.  We found great grandmother, Iná, grandmother, Claudia, and two aunts and an uncle, but no Thais and no Gabriele!!!!  We really couldn’t believe it!  We know that Gabriele likes to sleep in, but she had told us that, without a doubt, she would be there!   Juliana, sent her non-member boyfriend, Daniel, on a flying trip back out to pick up Thais!  In the meantime sacrament meeting started.  Elder and Sister Shirley waited outside the chapel, wringing our hands, and watching, and hoping and trying in vain to call Gabriele.  Half way through the meeting Daniel arrived with Thais on the back of his motorcycle.  It was a cool morning.  She had wet hair, no coat and was freezing cold. It was evident that she had just got out of the shower.  But she was there.  We escorted her into sacrament meeting.  They were singing the rest song, half way through the meeting.  So it was a good point to do the confirmation.  Elder Costa did a great job with that.  No one in the family knew what happened with Gabriele. She didn’t come, in spite of her good intentions the day before.  Something is going on with her; we just aren’t quite sure what.   Family was pretty upset with her, especially Juliana. We plan to visit.  A nice thing was that after the confirmation, some family stood up to let Thais sit with them and she wanted to come back and sit with us!  It made us feel good anyway!  This eight year old is such a nice, cute, well-mannered girl.  We hope she will be able to continue coming to church. It is amazing how attached we can get to people we visit.  It took a few hours for our blood pressure and racing hearts to return to normal.  Daniel was the hero of the day in our eyes.  We were grateful to him for getting Thais there.  Now we hope to be able to get missionaries in to him.  Missionary work is never done!

Artur attended the baptism.  We all joked with him about giving him a push into the font already filled with water.  He seemed to enjoy the attention. 

Sunday evening we visited with an active Sister in the branch.  We didn't really know her story, but had noticed her smile was not there anymore.  We set out Sunday night just before the rain set in to catch a bus and go visit her.  We had just begun our wait at the bus stop, knowing that buses are few and far between on Sunday evenings, when a guy stopped to offer us a ride.  We didn't know him.  But he was friendly, spoke good English, and we were late.  So we accepted the ride.  We managed to arrive right on time.  We had a nice, but sad visit with this Sister.  She is going through some real trials in her life and in the life of her family.  We always wish there was more that we could do than just listen.  Her only request was that we pray for her!  She is a strong, good woman and we do pray for the best for her.  When we left, it was dark and rainy.  We started out walking, sharing one umbrella, when another car stopped.  This time it was Luciano from the União branch.  He gave us a ride home.  Someone was really looking out for us this evening! 

We are feeling grateful this week.  We are so grateful to see Thais baptized!  It felt like more than just a “fleck of gold”.  It was a good-sized nugget!  But we suppose it was by small and simple things that this great thing came to pass!  We hope to be able to give this family some more support during the remainder of the time that we have left.  There is such a lot of potential in this family.  We are going to miss them.  They have taken a chunk of our time and our thoughts (and our hearts) for a long time.  It has been more than a year ago since we first visited with Claudia.  I am sure that we will continue to worry about them no matter where we are!  We will be released from our mission in about three weeks.  It is hard to believe!  But we also love and miss family and friends back home and look forward to our reunion!
Hope it has been a good week for all of you!  We love you!
Eu te amo!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Feeling a Sense of Urgency

Happy Birthday! Celebrating at Per Tutti Grill.

A house in the neighborhood

Another neighborhood soccer game

Bird of paradise

Ledi and her new grand-daughter

Missionary activity at the Uniao branch

Out visiting

Scripture scavenger hunt with sister missionaries

Uniao branch members at sister missionary's activity

March 23, 2015

Well, as they say, nothing is as sure as change.  Our week did not turn out the way we had planned. 
It started out nicely.  We had a quiet, relaxing P-day, followed the next day by a birthday dinner at Per Tutti to celebrate Elder’s birthday…the last one he will celebrate in Brazil.  We love birthdays as it is an opportunity to hear from family and friends.  That is what makes the day!  We are both grateful for that! 

We had a great District Meeting with the young missionaries.  We also had some really nice visits during the week with people that we hadn’t seen in a while like Kevin, the 16 year old who plays the guitar, and his grandma, Ledi, who was happy to introduce us to her four-day old granddaughter.   After Nilson (from our English class) requested more church videos, we made another DVD and delivered it to him.  We had a request from a branch member to visit Fabio.  Fabio is a young guy who is a barber downtown.  He is a member afastado (not active).  We sought him out.  At first he appeared to not be interested.  But after conversing with him a little, he warmed up and we had a really nice conversation with him.  His wife is not a member.  They are very busy with work and family.  We issued him an invitation to come to church and talked about future missionary visits.  We will see how that goes.  He is a really nice guy and we enjoyed meeting him. 

The Sister Missionaries organized a fun missionary activity for the members of the União branch.  It was a kind of scripture scavenger hunt.  We were divided into teams.  Everybody really got into it, young and old alike.  There were some investigators there too.  It was a good activity. 

Mostly, our plans for the week kind of fell apart about mid-week.  It seems like everyone in Cachoeira was sick this week.  Some had colds with bad coughs.  Others had stomach flu.  It started with Thais and her little cousin (daughter of Debra).  Then Claudia was sick.  Natália was also sick.  Grandma Iná got sick.  One by one, most of Claudia’s family got sick, all of them with what appears to be intestinal flu.  Some had to go to the doctor.  Needless to say, it changed the plans for Thais’ baptism.  It will have to be re-scheduled.  We will wait for them to feel better and see if anyone else gets sick.  We were disappointed.  It left us feeling pretty deflated.  They seemed disappointed too.  Gabriele, in particular, had seemed pretty excited about the upcoming baptism for her daughter.  She told us that she wanted it to be special for her.  They still seemed determined to have it happen.  So we will see how this week goes.  We went to check up on them again Saturday evening. Natália was not well and neither was Claudia.  They still had hugs for us.  We will see if we can remain healthy. 
Julio was not home when we visited this week.  But his family was.  Rosangela and the baby were not doing well.  They both had congestion and coughs.  They had medication.  But when we checked back later in the week, they were actually feeling worse.  So once more, we were exposed to who-knows-what.  But we are determined to remain healthy!

Artur has a cold and cough too!  We took him a lemon when we visited.  He wasn’t too familiar with our yellow lemon, limão Siciliano.  They have lots of the green variety that we call limes.  Artur liked it, but he still had his cold on Sunday.  However, he came to church.  (We provided cough drops for him during the meeting!)  When we asked Artur if he was ready for baptism yet, he told us he was at 70%.  That only leaves 30% to go…..1% for each day that we have remaining in the mission!  We think he still lacks the courage.  He told us again about his Catholic heritage and how his mother was a woman of faith.  He told us that she had him baptized, having faith that it was right thing to do.  He also told us that he knows that the Book of Mormon is true! He seemed pretty interested as we discussed Lehi’s dream and the tree of life this week.  He has four missionaries working on him right now, us and the two young Elders.  We will keep trying!  We are going for that last 30%!

One of our greatest possessions here in Cachoeira has been our bus card that lets us ride the city buses free.  Elder’s card expired the day after his birthday.  However, we were able to get it renewed.  We were glad for that as we ride the bus multiple times daily.  It has turned out to be a great blessing for us. (Sure glad that we never bought a car!)

Weather-wise, Saturday evening and Sunday brought some cooler weather, with still plenty of sunshine. It was the first day of autumn. It was such a welcome relief to the heat we have been experiencing!  It was a beautiful weekend.

So our week got shuffled around pretty good this week.  A lot of our plans got changed! With time getting short, we are feeling a sense of urgency to get some things done!  I suppose we are having some typical end-of-mission feelings about whether we have done enough, whether we have made a difference.  Elder continues to remind us to “take it a day at a time”!  We will just do our best!

We can’t help but have thoughts of each of you and of home!  We miss you lots!  We love you! 
Eu te amo! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Everything Will Work Out

Bus station on transfer day

Another puppy for Artur:  "Lobo"

Artur playing the guitar

Cake at the birthday party

Dusk from our veranda

Elder Shirley made milkshakes for everyone on P-day

Goodbyes on transfer day are never easy!

A great dinner with Luciano's family

Great food on a hot, humid day

Leticia:  celebrating her 15th birthday

Leticia changing to grown-up shoes at Festa dos 15 anos party with her Dad's help

New restaurant in the neighborhood

Our table at the birthday party

P-day at our place with the sisters on their last day together before transfers

Pretty view looking out of Jose's door

Samirtza and Lorena making "pastels"

Samirtza at her candy shop "Cacao Show"

Samirtza, Daniel and family and grandma Lorena

Sunday dinner with Luciano's parents

The new district following transfers - only 3 who speak English counting us!

These three are leaving:  Elder Freeman (MO), Elder Gorham (CA) and Sister Harrick (CA)

Young Women from the branch at the party

March 16, 2015

It seems like the less time there is left, the faster time goes.  Maybe it is because we are trying to fit in all that we can in the remaining time.  We have faith that “everything will work out”.

The Sisters came to our place on P-day for lunch and to send pics home. It was a fun afternoon!   It was a little bittersweet as it is transfer time once again.  Sister Harrick (CA), Elder Freeman (MO), and Elder Gorham (CA) were transferred this week to other areas.  Including Elder Campbell, who went home, we lost four English speakers.  We now have a new group consisting of six from Brazil, one from Argentina, one from Chile, and one from Peru and three of from the USA.  Missionaries here in Cachoeira now are Elder Costa (BR) and Elder Purificação (BR) in the Marina Branch.  Missionaries in the Uniâo branch are Sister Saavedra (Peru) and Sister Cabajero (Argentina), and Sister Oliveira (BR) and Sister Carvalho (BR).  Elders in the Cachoeira branch are Elder da Silva (BR) and Elder Mackay (Boise, ID!!)   Caçapava Elders are Elder Latorre (Chile) and Elder Soares (BR).  Elder Soares served in Cachoeira a few months ago with Elder Buhler.  We are excited to have him back!  We like this Elder a lot! We are always glad that we ourselves can remain here in Cachoeira.  We will have been here for the entire 18 months of our mission.  We love Cachoeira and the people here!  It has been a wonderful experience to serve here. Unlike the young missionaries, we have had the opportunity to serve in all three branches of Uniâo, Marina, and Cachoeira.   

We had some requests from the missionaries to see them off at the bus depot, so we did.  It is never easy to say goodbye.  But besides some tears, we see excitement and new energy.  As always, the new group looks like a great group!  It is also a bit sobering for us as this is the last transfer that we will be here to witness.

We met with Gabriele and Thais again this week to help prepare Thais for her baptismal interview with President Glauber on Sunday and to make sure that they had a plan to wake up on Sunday and get themselves to church. We wanted to be sure they felt good about everything. We were worried after last week when Gabriele and Thais slept in and missed church and the interview.  The baptism had to be postponed a week. We wanted to be sure that they understood how important it was to be to church on Sunday for the interview.   Family is good to support one another.  They all assured us that they would help each other get to church on Sunday. We also had a good visit with Claudia and Natália at the home of Claudia.  Claudia walked us out and quietly explained to us some of her concerns about her family and her wish for them to turn their life around.  She asked us to join her in prayer this week for them as well as for her as she is still trying to quit smoking.  She has a lot of faith in prayer. She expressed her testimony to us and told us that she knew that things would work out!

Anyway, Thais’ baptism is set for Saturday, March 21, at 2 pm. Elder has been asked to do the baptizing.  We were delighted when Gabriele and Thais came to church on Sunday!!  This was the first time for Gabriele.  She had been really hesitant.  But she came!  Thais went in for her interview.  Gabriele joined her later to help fill out paperwork.  Exciting!  Juliana came too.  Claudia had a bad headache and didn’t come.  That was the first Sunday in several weeks that she has missed.  Natália stayed home with her.  Debra has yet to come.  Carla and Iná (the great grandma) were all there too.  They are all planning on coming to the baptism on Saturday and singing the special musical number, “Secreta Oraçao” (Secret Prayer).  We are looking forward to this!  Since Thais is eight years old, this will count as a branch baptism, not a new convert baptism.  Can’t wait to see it actually happen!  It will be a big weekend coming up.

It’s been a long time since we visited with Nilson from our English class.  He works in a store just down the street from us.  We stopped by to say hi and he told us that he had been watching all of the Mormon Moment videos that we had given him and would like more.  We plan on getting him some more and also hope to get the missionaries in the visit them.  The challenge will be finding a time when Nilson and his girlfriend are home.  Between work and school at nights, they are gone a lot.  He also requested that the missionaries visit in his home and not Carla’s as her parents are strong in their Lutheran faith.  We are hopeful things will work out with him too.

We had good visits with others.  We are still working on our list of people who need visits and lessons before we leave.  We seem to be adding to that list as people keep giving us more names of people they would like to see us visit.  We wonder if we will be able to get through the list.  But it is fun trying. 

Artur seemed anxious for us to visit this week.  He surprised us with some guitar playing when we arrived.  He was fixing a guitar for a neighbor.  He actually plays well.  As far as baptism goes, we don’t know if things will work out before we leave.  He is still coming to church each Sunday and seems to really enjoy the visits from the missionaries, us as well as the young Elders.  President Glauber calls him the eternal investigator.  We have hopes that things will eventually work out!  He also had another cute little puppy that he named “Lobo”.

We were happy to hear on Sunday that Elder Costa and Elder Purificação were able to give the first lesson to Rosangela and Julio and family.  Julio actually helped with the lesson.  We hope to see Roseangela, Julian, and Emanuele baptized.  Emanuele turns eight in May.  We hope everything will work out!  We visited there too.  Julian turned 11 on Monday.  We gave him the illustrated children’s version of the “Stories of the Book of Mormon”. 

Nelson, the pan-maker was at church on Sunday.  He told us he had another one of his dreams.  His dream indicated to him that he had better go to church.  We need to pay him a visit this week to get the details. 

Turning 15 years old is a big deal for girls in Brazil.  Families hold big celebrations for the occasion.  Some of them are pretty big celebrations.  We were invited to attend the “festa dos 15 anos” for Leticia, a young lady in the Marina branch.  It was fun and very interesting.  She looked beautiful.  They held it in a large hall.  It was decorated beautifully.  They had lots of food and music.  Everything was in purple!  Family each took turns talking about Leticia.  It was fun to hear her story.  She was adopted by Alves and Lucimar.  When Lucimar was expecting, Alves dreamed that they would have a girl.  He saw her in his dreams.  But they were surprised when they had another boy.  It was only a short time later that they were surprised with an unexpected opportunity to adopt Leticia when she was only one day old.  They knew that she was meant to be in their family!  It was a touching story and so fun to see the celebration.  It was particularly interesting to see her father help her change from simple flat shoes to her grown up high heels!  It was a touching tradition.  But it was a late night for a couple of old missionaries like us. As it was a long ways from our apartment, we had to catch a bus.  On Saturdays, buses are few and far between.  We found ourselves wandering some dark neighborhoods looking for bus stops, etc.  But things worked out!

We had two invitations to Sunday dinner this week.  Although we visited Luciano and his family last week, he sought us out early in the week and told us that we just had to come to Sunday dinner and try out his mom’s cooking.  We accepted the invitation.  He was right!  His mom is an excellent cook.  We had chicken, rice and feijoada, and all of the trimmings.  They are all so nice to us.  They had a table that seated four.  They had us fill our plates first.  Then one by one, his mom called in the rest of the family.  She filled their plates and they went to eat in other parts of the house.  I hope we left enough food for everyone that followed us.  It was a really nice lunch!

We received another invitation to Sunday dinner mid-week.  We have been trying to set up an appointment with Daniel and Samirtza and their family.  She is a fairly new member.  Daniel comes from an active family.  He was Elder’s Quorum President earlier.  But recently, they have fallen into inactivity.  Work seems to have gotten in the way.  Samirtza works at the chocolate store, “Cacâo Show” (Chocolate Show).  We like to visit her at work, of course!  The smell is heavenly.  They have a chocolate waterfall!  She is super busy with Easter coming up.  She took our phone number and said that she would call when they had time to see us which would probably be after Easter.   (Yeah, right!)  But to our surprise, she called a couple of days after our visit and wanted us to come to Sunday dinner.  We couldn’t do dinner, but we scheduled a visit Sunday evening.

Bus systems were shut down for 1 ½ hours late afternoon on Sunday.  They were having a “manifestação” or protest in downtown Cachoeira, right in front of our apartment.  There were people on foot, bikes, in cars, trucks and tractors and on horseback.  They honked horns and carried signs and flags calling for the impeachment of Dilma, the woman who is President of Brazil, because of what they view as corruption in the government.  Buses were at a standstill. 
Fortunately the demonstration was over in time for us to catch a bus to visit Daniel and Samirtza and family.  They were very welcoming.  Samirtza, along with Lorena (the grandma who is very active in the branch as well as very musical), made “pastels” for us.  We had a really nice visit with this good family.  They have a lot going on in their lives.  They both have daytime jobs, working 6-7 days a week.  They both go to school at nights also.  Fortunately, both grandmas live very close and help with the two young children.  They will finish school in a year or two and hope to be able to have more time then.  We think that they both have pretty firm testimonies but they really need to find a way to get back to church.  We hope they can find a way to make everything work.  They gave us a ride home which saved us from walking in the dark again.  We really enjoyed our visit with them.

There have been some hot, humid days this week.  A couple of days have probably been as hot and humid and miserable as any we have experienced so far. Or maybe it is because we have been out walking a lot.  But it seems that summer is not letting go yet!  Although the temptation is great to stay in by the air conditioner, we have felt motivated to get out and visit.  How else will everything “work out”?

Hope everything is working out for all of you!  We continue to miss all of you.  You are in our thoughts and prayers!  We love you!

Eu te amo! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Songs of the Righteous are Prayers Unto the Lord

Cachoeira Zone

Another crowded bus, but we got seats

A bench full of Marina branch members waiting for a bus after church

Cute sisters in our zone

Elder Campbell made a cake for his last zone meeting

Elders in our zone

Hymn practice with Claudia and family

Luciano practicing "Spirit of God" on his guitar

Luciano's parents enjoying a chimarrao

Missionaries love mail!

Singing hymns with Luciano and family

Sunset from our veranda

Thais, Gabriele and family:  good singers!

Trail to the bus stop in Quinta

Visiting in Vila Verde

Waiting at a bus stop on Sunday beside a churrascaria. Wow that smells good!

We work with these two in the Marina branch:  Elders Costa (Brazil) and Gorham (California)

March 9, 2015
The week flew by again.  Our time is getting short.  (We have about 6 weeks left.)  This week, we decided that we had better make a list of things that we want to accomplish and people whom we feel we need to visit in the time remaining.  It was a long list. We started working on that list this week.  There are so many things we would like to see happen in the lives of people we have met before we go.  We are worried that some of these things may not happen.  That makes us sad.  Here are a few highlights of our week. 

When we visited Artur this week, we decided to pressure him a little more to make a decision about baptism.  He has been attending church regularly, prays beautifully, is reading his scriptures a little, etc.  Elder Shirley has done a little theater with him in the past to get his point across.  This week, Sister Shirley told a story, a kind of “imagine with me” story.  It was a story like Artur’s own, except told as if it had happened to us. (Artur’s wife died 30 years ago and he raised 3 kids alone).   Sister Shirley told the story as if she was deceased and looking down from heaven.  She told of some of her sorrows, her hopes for her family and for her beloved husband and her wishes to be reunited as a family someday.  We each tried to bear strong testimonies to Artur.  We tried to give it our all this week.  We are anxious for Artur to make that “leap of faith”.  We invited him to be baptized this month on the day that Thais is being baptized.  Unfortunately, Artur told us that he just doesn’t feel ready yet.  He went back to old excuses like teeth needing fixed, etc.  We tried to remind him of what is most important.  He also still hopes for a vision.  He has become our friend, someone we really care about.   We felt the urgency to be bold with him this week.  Hopefully, we didn’t push too hard.  We will continue to visit.  But we left his place feeling a little sad this week.

We sought out Cristina, Tarso, and Isabela.  Cristina is an active member of the União branch.  Her husband is a non-member and a really nice guy.  She had requested a blessing after church last Sunday because of a bad headache.  They live in a bairro called Vila Verde.  We have wanted to visit them for some time.  And we felt like we should check up on her after the blessing. It was a good visit.  They have a really cute home.  But she still had a headache and was going to the doctor in the afternoon.  We had the opportunity to check back again later in the week.  She improved during the week and was at church on Sunday. 

In Tischler’s, the supermarket across the street from us, we were waiting in line, when a son of a member came up to greet us.  When we were busy greeting him, someone kept tugging on Sister Shirley’s arm.  We looked and it was Melissa Reinbrecht, the daughter of Roberto and Marcia.  This was the nice, non-member family we visited so much a year ago.  We haven’t seen anything of them for a long time (except for a phone call from them at Christmas).  He has been out of town a lot for school and Marcia has been in nursing school.  They have been super busy.  But the whole family was in the store.  We had a nice visit. The kids have grown a lot.  Marcia is out of nursing school now, working at the hospital and trying to learn English.  She needs to learn that in order to immigrate to Canada, which they plan to do in a year.  It was a good visit.  They want us to come for a last visit sometime soon. 

If there was a theme to our week this week, it would probably be from D & C 25:12: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart.  Yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.”  Some of our favorite and most spiritual times this week were spent in the singing of hymns in the homes of members and investigators.  It wasn’t planned to be that way.  But it worked out that way. 

We met with Gabriele and Thais for the last pre-baptism lesson for Thais.  We talked about the Word of Wisdom, chastity, tithing, etc.   We had a fun activity for the tithing discussion.  It was a good lesson.  Thais seems excited and ready to be baptized.  And Gabriele seems anxious for that to happen too.  After the lesson, most of the family came over to sing some hymns. There were Thais, her mom, her grandma, her great grandma, and three of her aunts.   They asked Elder Shirley to play the guitar for accompaniment.  (President Castro gave permission.)  They are good singers (as we have probably already told you).  They know a lot of the hymns too.  They wanted to do the musical number for Thais’ baptism.  They chose “Secret Prayer”.  It was beautiful. They are going to try to get yet one more of Thais’ aunts (Debra) to join them.  Claudia is still having trouble smoking.  She may go to the doctor for help.  She also got some lectures from her daughters.  It looks like she has a lot of family support.  They all said they would come to church on Sunday.  Thais needed to be there one more time before baptism and also for her interview and to fill out some paperwork.  But we couldn’t believe it, on Sunday, Claudia, great grandma and a couple of other family members came.  But not Thais or Gabriele!!!!  We couldn’t believe it!  They had seemed so enthused!  We tried to reach them by phone, but couldn’t.  That meant Thais can’t be baptized on the 14th!  Family said they thought that Gabriele and Thais were still sleeping!  We were so upset!  Immediately after meetings, we rode the bus with family out to Promorar to visit Gabriele and Thais and to find out what happened.  We think Claudia texted another daughter, Natalia, to go over and wake up Gabriele.  When we arrived, Gabriele told us that Natalia had just been there and they just woke up.  She said that she hadn’t slept well during the night.  It was hard not to show our disappointment though. So the baptism has been postponed one week.  It will now, hopefully, take place on March 21 (if Thais comes next week).  We encouraged Gabriele to come too to help fill out the paperwork.  We have offered to come out early on the bus to accompany them.  It looks like she will take us up on our offer.  We have another little lesson scheduled with them this week. 

We had the last Zone meeting with the missionaries before transfers.  Elder Campbell will be going home.  We are afraid we may lose a few missionaries this time.  This will also be the last transfer we will witness in our mission. 

We almost forgot our appointment this week with José.  We remembered late and hurriedly grabbed a bus.  When we arrived, we could see him through the open door, sitting on his sofa, studying the Book of Mormon.  Good thing we remembered! 

It was a nice visit with Rosangela and the kids.  Julio was gone.  But Rosangela tells us that they are trying to get everything in order to get married before we go home.  (We will be surprised if they get paperwork done that soon!)  Although she has heard all of the lessons for baptism, she would like to hear them again.  We have offered to do that for her and Julian and Emanuele. (They call her “Manu"), but the Elders will probably do it.

Branch council for Marina has been moved to Sunday mornings at 7:30 am.  In the past they have met on Thursday evenings. This is kind of a new idea.   They are trying this new time out to see if more people can attend.  It seems to be too early for some though.  There have been a few complaints.    Last week not many were there, but this week they had a few more.  It may work out after all!   Also, Elder had to speak in Sacrament meeting in the Uniaõ branch.  His topic “Be Testimonies of God” based on the article by Dallin H. Oaks in the March Liahona.  He added a lot of interesting, personal stories and got lots of compliments.   

It was another session of hymn singing on Sunday.  We visited with Luciano and his family at their home in Noemia.  Luciano is the nice young man with the cool, curly hair that gives Elder such a firm handshake that it nearly breaks his hand. Luciano had some good news today that he will be receiving the Melchizedek priesthood soon.  Luciano’s mom also needed a blessing.  Elder was able to help with that.   It wasn’t planned, but after we gave a short message, Luciano pulled out his guitar and wanted Elder to play something.  Once again, we had fun singing some favorite hymns with a good family.  Luciano gave us a ride home afterwards.  Hymns teach a wonderful message.  Everyone loves them!    We think “Secret Prayer” has been the favorite of the week too.  They also all like “I Stand All Amazed” and, of course, “I am a Child of God”.  Luciano is learning “The Spirit of God” on his guitar.  Beautiful music! 

Anyway, we are trying to make the last weeks of our mission the best weeks!  We miss all of you at home!  We pray for you!  We love you!

Eu te amo!