Thursday, August 3, 2017

Special Story - Santos flat tire

This was actually recorded by Sister Willa Sharmahd, who was in the car with her husband, MarJean, and Sister Whiting on the trip to Santos.

We had an interesting experience, four naive American senior missionaries driving at night in a port city, which apparently was more dangerous than we ever imagined. The roads were dark and the only traffic we encountered as we drove seemed to be an occasional freight truck. It seemed like we were driving forever and not getting anywhere.
It was very dark which made it impossible to see the road surface clearly. The road was bumpy and uneven, made of cobblestones-like material with lots of potholes. We weren’t going very fast, when all of the sudden we went over a railroad track or a pothole and we heard a loud clunk. We complained about the awful road and continued for a ways when we realized we had a flat tire. There was no safe place to stop on the road, so we drove until we could find a street light and a place where we could turn off the main road to avoid being hit by a truck. We got out of the car and soon realized the tire was not only flat, but it had come off the wheel. The place we stopped at was dark and we were surrounded by huge shipping containers all around and not a person or help in sight. The weather had also changed, it was now drizzling and quite cold. We were not dressed for this kind of weather. The four of us came together, offered a prayer and asked for help. As I looked around I was not sure where the help would come from, but I felt a sense of peace and I knew help would come. We finished our prayer and Steve began to jack up the car.  Within  minutes  of our prayer a man pulled up in a car and asked if we needed help. Sister Harris said yes, yes and we all responded yes with great gratitude. The man pulled over and got out then said it was not a safe place to stop. I thought he meant the location on the street was precarious, so I asked him what he meant. He said it was a dangerous area, not a safe area to be in. A very dangerous part of town, too many thieves.  I explained to him that we were missionaries and didn’t have any money. He said it didn’t matter to thieves.
The man stood by watching over us of us as Steve worked as fast as he could while I held my IPhone flashlight so he could see what he was doing.
As soon as we finished our guardian angel got in his car and said “God be with you.” We thanked him and I said “God be with you.”
He remained in his car waiting for us to get in and pull away. Only after we had merged on to the road did he drive off into the darkness. Brazil is not always a safe place and you have to be watchful at all times. In our moment of need, this godsend stranger watched over us. He was an answer to our prayer and definitely our guardian angel that night.
This was another miracle for us. Tender mercies are all around and yet so often we do not see them. He truly was an answer to our prayer. This was yet another demonstration of the inherent goodness of many of the Brazilian people.​

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 44

Hi all, almost to the end of July.  Here are this week's occurrences:
Monday after we finished up our office work, we had an FHE lesson by Sister Anderson on the Pioneers - highlighting the talk by J. Reuben Clark (I think that's who it was by) talking about the last wagon in the wagon train, and the characteristics of those in the last wagon.  It was fun and afterward we had a potluck dinner with all the couples.  We found out that Renata (friend from Cuiabá) was coming tomorrow to spend time at the temple because her marriage is having trouble.  Super sad for us because she and her husband were always very nice to us - John, Michelle, and Liz will remember that they fed us dessert our last Sunday in Cuiabá.  They have two cute little boys.
Tuesday we went to see the doctor for Mom's diabetes, because her sugar has refused to get under control - even with a strict diet.  He prescribed a new medicine that combines Metformin with another diabetes help.  He spoke English pretty well ("This will down your sugar"😀).  So she is on the new medication for 4 weeks and then more tests to see how it's working.  We taught our English class and Renata joined in after spending most of the day at the temple.  Today the new couple, the Moores, arrived from the US - She is Pat Brady's sister, and we worked with them shortly in Boston before we came to Cuiabá on the last mission.  We all went out to dinner to welcome them, as is our custom, and it was fun.  We invited Renata also and she enjoyed the company and the English practice.
Wednesday we got a lot done in the office and I am spending time getting everything ready to help the other couples get their bus and subway passes.  Mom and I got ours several months ago and now the couples are realizing how nice they are.  My back has been hurting the last few days, so I've been taking some medications that tire me out, so when we got home I just had some dinner and went to bed - Mom had made some awesome chips and guacamole.
Thursday I made the trip with three couples down to the transit station and applied for their bus passes and all went well.  After work, we went to the mall with the Moores to show them around, then dropped by WalMart to get more groceries and household items for them.  When we got home, Renata also arrived so we had dinner together.
Friday we went back to the dermatologist and had our stitches removed from the small surgeries she had done.  That went smoothly then back to the office, while Mom waited with Renata until she left for home at 3pm (actually, she wasn't going home, she was headed to her mom's house... sad).  The Moores were celebrating their anniversary and asked us to go to dinner with them at a churrascaria near by.  The food was excellent and we had a good time.  



Moores & Harris's, at the Churrascaria
(Kind of funny because another waiter was taking a
photo the other direction!)

This was just a part of the salad bar!

David and John were hiking Mt. Whitney and we were quite worried about them as no one had heard anything and the hike was a very difficult and dangerous one.  When we got home, we kneeled down to pray for their safety and right as we ended the prayer, John called from the mountains to say they were all right and would summit and leave the next day!  What a wonderful blessing for us.  So, after the call, we knelt again, but this time in gratitude for so many blessings that we have been given.


Here's a picture they sent almost at the summit.
(Friend, David, John)

Saturday we did the usual cleaning and Mom made some pretty cool "weave bread" with meat and cheese in it (I may have contributed to the idea!) for a couples activity tonight.  


This means "Couples Get-together" (loosely translated)

Don't you love this cake, it looked awesome!

This was the group of couples at the event (we're just
off to the right of middle)

The activity was a lot of fun and we left about the time they started to eat.  Then we went over to Whitings to talk about our trip to Vitória and the long train ride.
Sunday we made it to church in plenty of time, taught our Sunday School class - this time the Single Adult class Gospel Doctrine as our temple prep class is finished.  We were both dead tired, so we did get in a nap when we got home, then Skyped with the younger kids!
Love to all
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 43

Another awesome week in paradise!
Monday was the birthday of Liz and Jameson, so we called them a sang Happy Birthday to them in Portuguese.  We worked in the are office and got all of our work done.  Mom's work load is still pretty light because the Brazilian government doesn't have the money to print passports!  Our FHE lesson was given by Elder Passey on the Pathways program - an educational program available on-line worldwide, hosted by BYU Idaho.  We went to dinner afterward with the Sharmahds and Sister Whiting (her husband had to escort a missionary home to the US).  We went to a Fondue place that was pretty good - but, as usual, we ate too much.



Sis Sharmahd, Sis Whiting, Mom

Tuesday we worked in the area office again, then Mom left about 11am to go to Santos (a city about to 2 hours away) with the Sharmahds - Sister Sharmahd didn't want to be without someone to talk to on the trip.  Not sure what that says about her husband, who was driving! 😉  Anyway, they didn't get home until about 10pm - they stopped for dinner, then had a flat tire, and it was a LONG trip.  Here are a couple pictures she took at the ocean in Santos.




So "the rest of the story" with the flat tire.  They hit a pothole and popped the tire, but they couldn't find a place to stop along the road for quite awhile and finally just pulled to the side of the road and at that point Sister Sharmahd said, "We'd better say a prayer", so they did, asking for safety and for protection.  Right as they finished the prayer, a guy pulled up in a truck and asked if they needed help but Elder Sharmahd said he could handle it.  This man told them that this particular section of road was not a safe place to be since it was down by the docks.  He then went back to his car and waited there until Elder Sharmahd had finished changing the tire.  When it was all done, he gave them directions on how to best return to São Paulo, then he drove off.  What do you think - one of the 3 Nephites?!  Mom enjoyed the ride anyway, and they had dinner on the beach at the ocean which she said was very pretty.
Wednesday I got word in the office that the Rio mission was going to just let us handle another set of missionaries that need visa renewals - all the other missions (33 of them) handle the renewals just fine in their mission, but for some reason Rio thinks it's easier to dump the work on us.  As you can tell, I wasn't very happy about it.  Fortunately, we went to the temple after finishing up in the office and I was able to get a better perspective on things - so I rescinded the "hit" that I had put out on the mission secretary... 😌



Thursday, another day in the office.  After work we went to get burgers at Burger King then stopped by Walmart for milk - sounds like we're back in the US, doesn't it?  Today I made arrangements and got approval for a trip to Vitória Brazil in the state of Espírito Santo.  We are going to take a train ride - a long 12 hours - from there to an inland state called Minas Gerais.  We'll do some sightseeing in both places, so it should be fun - we capitalizing on a Thursday holiday, taking Friday off as well.
Friday we went to another appointment with the dermatologist to go under the knife.  I had two suspicious moles cut off and Mom had one cut off - they will be sent in for analysis to see if we'll live any longer... probably.  On the way into the office in the afternoon Mom noticed that she was bleeding down the front of her blouse from the incision!  We went back home and cleaned up and patched things up a bit, then decided that since we were all caught up with everything at the office, we would just spend the afternoon at home relaxing so as not to open up "old wounds"!  So basically, if we don't die of skin cancer, the treatment will probably get us...  That evening the other couples went to a Chinese Restaurant - reportedly one of the best in São Paulo, Chi Fu.  We stayed home and relaxed a bit.  (This does have a connection to tomorrow.)
Saturday I took several of the senior couples, including the mission office couple from the West Mission, to República Park in the center of town.  We went to a big open market that sells all kinds of things and souvenir type stuff as well.  I bought a few wallets.  Afterward some went home and the Sharmahds and Whitings went with me (Mom didn't come to the Feira) to a new Mexican restaurant that I had found with Ric Davids.  While there, Sister Whiting and Sister Sharmahd told me how bad the food was the night before at the Chinese Restaurant and that they would never go eat there again.  (This does have a connection to later on.)  But the Mexican food was very good, but not traditional at all.  My enchiladas came in a pan covered with green sauce - cilantro and tomatillo.

This was the size of the taco - kind of like
"Street Tacos"

And these are the enchiladas!

Saturday afternoon, Mom and I went with our friends the Kawais to a Buddhist Temple here in São Paulo.  It was very cool, all of the materials were shipped to Brazil from China.





We walked around the grounds, which are always open to the public.  And they had some groups practicing some martial arts... all I could think of was Kung Fu Panda!!

 



video

Afterward (here's where we wrap up the story line), they said they would take us to a Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood of Liberdade - which is primarily Asian.  We agreed and said that we would pay, since they paid last time.  So, we pull up in front of the exact same restaurant that the others had gone to the night before - with the terrible reviews!  Of course we didn't say a word but went in to see for ourselves.  The food was very good and we enjoyed all of the 5 dishes that we ordered.  (That's it.)  Sometimes you just have to try things for yourself and make your own decision about them.



This is the main street in Liberdade, with
all the Asian lanterns as street lights.

Sunday we went to our ward in Perdizes.  We taught our last Temple Prep class - and then got asked to teach a Young Single Adult gospel doctrine class.  Came home, rested, Skyped with the older kids.  You're all awesome - older and younger!
Love to all
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 42

I'm going to start the blog today with a request for help in identifying the person that came in our St George home and stole my stuffed pink pig (my fave!).  Our security camera just picked up a quick picture of the perp on her way out... (she's cute!)

At least she smiled for the camera!
Monday - It was hard to get up this morning, so we skipped the gym and went in to work to find that Deborah wasn't in today.  After working in the office we had FHE, presented by Elder Shumway on Religious Liberty.  He highlighted many quotes by church leaders and referenced a talk given by Dallin Oaks.  In summary, conflicts between civil rights laws and freedom of religion are presenting challenges to all religions.  We ate dinner at Pão de Açucar ("sugar bread" - the name of a grocery story).  It was good and we met a very nice couple at our table, she is Brazilian and he is German.  They both spoke English and it was a nice contact to make.  We told them they should come visit us in St. George when we get home.
Tuesday - Mirian, our new employee, was the only one at the office this morning!  The 7 missionaries with overdue visa renewals all got done today - which means I didn't have any overdue renewals again (which lasted 2 days!).  This is kind of a big deal, we cover all 34 missions and hundreds of renewals each month... :)  After work, we taught our English class and wrapped up our series on Shopping by going over to the mall and practicing!  The class had a lot of fun and all thanked us many times.  At the end of class we bought them each a little ice cream cone.
Wednesday - Neither of us was feeling well and when we went home for lunch Mom got an eye migraine and couldn't see very well out of one eye (I was going to say "one freakin' eye").  We just stayed home in the afternoon and rested.
Thursday - Mom still wasn't feeling well, so I went into the office while she stayed home and rested up.
Friday - Today we went to the Dermatologist and I had several little "blemishes" burned off and Mom had one done on her back.  Next week, I go in to get a couple cut off - fun!  When we went in to work this afternoon, Daniel's wife and baby were visiting.  His baby loved Mom, what's not to love?!

Mom with Daniel's baby
Saturday - we just cleaned, went to the gym, then this afternoon we went to a ward party - Junina, the fall festival.  It was well attended and President and Sister Thomas also came!

This is actually our third Junina Festival this year!

Some of the goodies at the party - the two big cakes (one is
cinnamon rolls) in aluminum foil were brought by us.

President and Sister Thomas and us.
Sunday - went to church, taught our Temple Preparation class, had lunch with Sandra and Anthony from the ward.  It was very nice, with a lot of food - not unusual, I know.  

Lunch with Sandra and Anthony after church

Getting home was a little dicey since I had left my phone home, but it all worked out fine and we made it home to Skype with the younger kids.  Mom has been checking in on Grandma every day because she had her other knee replaced.  She's doing well.
Love to All
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 41

Monday - Ricardo is on vacation for 3 weeks, so the travel office is kind of crazy.  FHE was presented by Elder Correia (Area Executive Secretary) on being a disciple of Christ.  It was Elder Hale's talk from conference.  It was a reminder of our recent push to "be", rather than just "do".  Afterward we went to dinner at Feijão de Corda - a restaurant that specializes in food from the Northwest of Brazil.  It's right across the street from our apartments.  The food was good, and there was a lot of it.
Tuesday - 4th of July!!
The Americans took the day off, but we had so much to do that we went in to work all morning and just took the afternoon off.  We invited Sharmahds and Whitings over for dinner (Mexican cassarole), and watched "Independence Day" - which we thought appropriate for the holiday.  No English class because of the holiday.
Wednesday - Temple  (Thursday was too boring to report)

This was the sandwich I made for lunch today

Friday - We walked back over to Albert Einstein Hospital to do my blood work.  We asked specifically for our last nurse because she was so good and she didn't disappoint, she did a great job.  We ate their little mini-lunch and walked back home then went over to the office to work all afternoon.  Afterward we went to the temple again, with the senior couples (once a month).
Saturday - we went back out to EMBU with the Shumways to pick up our wooden birds that we had ordered (ours was Tuiuiu - big surprise to all, I know!).  We got a little lost on the way home but they finally dropped us off at Taboão Shopping mall where we met up with Saulo Freire and his girlfriend to do some shoe shopping.  We had lunch and I bought myself a pair of new Sunday shoes, that I really like because of their cushioned heel.  Tonight we met Tamiris and her husband Mosiah for dinner at Margharitas Pizza - we love that place.  But we didn't get home till late because it was very crowded.

Tamiris, me, Mom, Mosiah at Margharitas.

Sunday - made it out to church in plenty of time.  President Thomas and his wife came to Perdizes ward.  Our bishop's grandfather was President Thomas's mission president when he served here in São Paulo 40 years ago!  We taught our Temple Prep class then went over to eat at João & ? house for lunch.  There was a lot of food for the 5 of us and it was very good.  They don't live in a great neighborhood so we didn't risk the bus and just took UBER home.
Love to All
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 40

Monday was another good day at the office.  FHE was on diabetes - I know, kind of a strange topic, but we did learn a few things.  I got a new temple recommend as mine was about to expire.  Unfortunately I had to surrender my recommend from Cuiabá that I kind of wanted to keep.  But life goes on, and this recommend also only has one signature on it (just the mission president).
Tuesday, office work, then we taught our English class.
Wednesday morning we had the office Elders from the SP South mission over for breakfast and it was very nice to have them come.  We fed all 6 of them, two were Americans, the others Brazilian, but all spoke English.

Me with Elder Ferreira - mission secretary for
the São Paulo South Mission

Look at me, all selfie-ized!

We heard the announcement that Sister missionaries could now wear pants - kind of a big deal here because that meant that women working in the area office could also wear pants to work.  Our mission president determined that the Sister missionaries would not wear pants in this mission (São Paulo West) - they aren't as well received or as well treated when they are in pants.
Thursday morning I was asked to give a presentation on "Leading Like the Savior" to the IT department in the area office.  They asked me to present in English since they all speak English and wanted the practice.  So that made it a little easier to prepare and present.  I talked about the end goal of becoming like the Savior, so not just "doing" but "being".  Then I talked about my goal of being honest in my work - with the story of Salomon Brothers and the story of The Associates (the blank page that the CFO told me to write whatever I wanted to stay with the company).  Reminiscing like that sure reminds me of how blessed we have been and are.  They all liked my presentation and although they are supposed to rotate among the presenters the boss came by my desk later in the day to ask if I would present again next time.
On Friday we decided to go over to the temple in the morning, then we came home to rest up and went back to the office in the afternoon.  Mom went to lunch with her Portuguese class and they gave their teacher a gift - she teaches them for free each week.  When I got the office they had already started the staff meeting as Ricardo was going on vacation next week for three weeks, so things are going to be a scramble for sure - he's our supervisor. 

Thought I'd put in another temple picture...

Mom was worn out tonight so I went with some of the other seniors to get a hamburger at a place close by called Stunt Burger.
Saturday (new month!) I colored Mom's hair... maybe I wasn't supposed to put that in!  Then we went with several other couples to a big "feira", which was like a swap meet... but without the low prices.  We bought a few things at the Adidas outlet store, and a green lizard made out of paper maché, I think.  For lunch we ate at El Mariachi again, and it was delicious.  My leg was sore from working out yesterday, so we rested up this afternoon.
Sunday morning I could hardly walk so I sent a message to the bishop and said we weren't going to make it to the Perdizes ward.  I stayed home and Mom went over to Morumbi ward.  I was glad that I stayed home because I had to run (hobble) to the bathroom several times with the runs.  I got the monthly update done, then we Skyped with the younger kids.
Love you all
Church is True
Dad and Mom

Mission 2 - Week 39

Today, Monday, June 19th was our "Hump Day" - which means our mission is half over!  We have been here 9 months and will be here another 9 months.  Mom stayed home this morning to catch up on things and I had a lot to do at the office.  After work, FHE was presented by Elder Whiting - it was on Sister Oscarson's talk "We Know, but Do We Believe?"  Afterward, we went to dinner with Sharmahds and Whitings to a new Chinese restaurant that we hadn't tried yet.  It was great, with big helpings and it was inexpensive as well.  We didn't get home until about 10pm, but it was worth it.
Tuesday we got up early and went to the gym, then worked in the office, then taught our class.  It was the first of a series of classes on "shopping".
Wednesday - gym again (OK, I'll stop reporting this unless it's something noteworthy!).  We went to the temple after the office and then invited Shumways over for dinner (they were in our session at the temple).  We had baked potatoes with chili and other toppings - very good.  We played a short version of 5-crowns and Elder Shumway won with 0 points!
Thursday was office work, gym (I know), study.
Friday we slept in a little and then walked to the Albert Einstein Hospital, where Mom had to get some blood work done.  We found our way around, registered, got our "password", had to blood drawn, got a little free lunch afterward, and were done in about an hour!  Seriously, this hospital was very much like a well-run hospital in the US.  


Beautiful Flower growing on a tree on the way to the Hospital

Albert Einstein Hospital (Jewish Hospital)

Another gorgeous flower (on a tree!) on the way home

We walked back home (about 1.5 miles), and then worked in the office in the afternoon.  After work we went to dinner with Sharmahds because it was Willa's birthday (Sister Sharmahd).  We ate at a nice Churrascaria, and the meat was delicious, as was the salad bar.


Elder Whiting at the Churrascaria

This was the dessert bar

Sister Sharmahd with her cake (only 1 candle?!)

Saturday we did the usual cleaning, then went out to EMBU (the arts place just outside of SP), with some of the other couples.  We didn't buy much, then we came home and worked on our presentation that we were asked to do for the couples in another ward.  It was their ward conference and they asked us to present on strengthening families.  We got picked up by a member of the stake presidency (10 minutes early!!), the presentation went well - it was all in Portuguese, of course, and Mom was brave enough to do half of it.  We switched back and forth on things the help a family stay strong - faith, work, forgiveness, wholesome recreational activities, etc.  After the meeting we had a little pizza then came home by UBER.

This was at the church, where they had decorated the
Rec Hall for dinner and a dance (fortunately we HAD
to leave before the dance!)

Sunday we made it out to church on time again.  We taught our temple prep class then last minute I was asked to teach our High Priest lesson.  It was fine and we had a lot of participation, so that helps.  We are blessed when we serve, and more blessed when we serve under difficult circumstances!  Skyped with the kids.
Love to all
The Church is True
Dad and Mom