Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Enduring to the end?

Dear Family
Elder Maxwell "Enduring is more than lasting: We are to endure well and to endure valiantly D&C 121:8&29.   The Lord sets the terms, He promised all that He has.  Endure in happiness to the end, Love to the end, Sacrifice to the end, Improve to the end, be kind to the end, be obedient to the end.  Enduring to the end means living to the very best you can each day.
So we are coming to the end of our mission and I want it to be the best.  I just filled out my last planner and it makes me sad.  We had such a spiritual fast and testimony meeting and I cried just thinking about leaving- so I could be falling apart as we speak.
 September seventh is Brazils independence day so we decided to go to the parade.  Very interesting, we enjoyed ourselves but let me say it was so hot no amount of water was enough and even though I was sitting under an umbrella and thanking Heavenly Father every time we got a breeze, I was actually happy when it ended.  A good experience one I do not want to repeat.  They let go a ton of black balloons I am not sure whether for those who had died in wars or in protest to the current government either way it way fun to see.   Some big old trucks and a helicopter that was pretty fun with a couple of guys hanging on.
 We had a wonderful family home evening with Renata and Marcello, Gilberto and Adriana and their family.  What a fun time!  We made Brazilian hot dogs and peanutbutter cookies and watched the movie called to serve, and had a fun lesson.
  Saturday we had a famly history activity at the church and alot of youth came and several other families.  Dad and the missionaries did a great job and I held the babies so they could. Good job mom right?
Tonight we will have sisters staying with us and again on Sunday and then it is transfer week and so, so much to do.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Visit of David and Jessica 2015-08-24

Dear Family,
We had such a wonderful time with David and Jessica and Eli.  We loved every minute of their visit.  We saw all kinds of animals.  Dad will include pictures. When we were at the park we saw little monkeys and an iguana.  In the Pantanal, we saw a river otter, all kinds of birds, rodents of unusual size, monkeys and a ton of alligators.  We hiked in the Chapada and shopped and ate at the windy hill restaurant.  David and Jessica made chicken pot pie for some of the members and they loved it. We went to the center of South America twice, once in Cuiabá and once in the Chapadas.  We went on a couple of boat rides on two different rivers. David and Jessica visited Rio and the falls at Iguazu and I kissed Eli as often as he would let me.  David and Jessica learned a few new Portuguese words and are miss-using them, sorry to say! We had such a splendid visit and now they are gone and we are missing them and are back in the thick of mission work.  We fed a bunch of elders and sisters lunch today because dad is a softy.  It was fun we had tacos, then cinnamon rolls for dessert.

                           A few pictures from their visit:
We saw this guy along the road to the hotel in the Pantanal

Iguana hiding in the bushes

I got this sweet shot of a very peculiar bird at our hotel

There were a lot more where these came from, luckly not too close!

We had an awesome dinner on this floating restaurant, yes, we tried some fried alligator.

Mom's favorite bird, the tuiuiu (pronounced two-U-U)

Cachoeira (waterfall) in the Chapadas

David, Jessica, and naked Eli playing in the water in the Chapadas

Does this look dangerous to anyone? ... Anyone?

Not near as dangerous.  This was in town

This is one of the monkeys Mom was feeding apples to.

One of the many beautiful sunsets when they were here.

We had a wonderful mission tour with Elder Mazzgardi, he was great.  He is a  first generation Mormon, as is President Oliveira, and their conversion stories are wonderful.  I so love meetings that remind me to keep trying.  And I especially appreciate Elder Harris for translating little words here and there that keep me on the right wave length.  Remember how that feels to get some things and then be completely lost for others.  Here are a couple of the thoughts that I think I understood and even if they're wrong they were fun thoughts for me. "We often admire Nephi but behave like Laman and Lemuel."  "If you want to make the Lord laugh just tell him  'your plan'."-Jeffery R. Holland.  "If you think you can or you think you can´t, you are right."-Henry Ford. Then this cool story about Elder Mazzgardi's conversion and feelings about the first vision.  He was confused about why there was so much religious unrest in a small place like Palmyra, NY, as after six years of study, he went to Palmyra to find out about the restoration and see if he could get answers to his nagging questions that had bothered him for so long.  While at the Peter Whitmer farm (the day before he had to come home) the senior missionary guide - who was a history buff - answered his questions and opened his understanding (without being asked the questions).  His question was about the huge contention over religion at that particular time and especially in Palmyra.  Answer: in New York at that time the Eire canal was being built.  They needed experts in many fields. People were brought in from Canada, Germany, England and all parts of the United States bringing with them their strong religious beliefs, so the contention became very heated and that contention was needed to help Joseph Smith ask of God. The headquarters for the Erie Canal construction was in Palmyra. He then told of the Smiths plight and all that happened to get them to Palmyra so Joseph could be there at this time of great confusion.  We often have challenges so the Lord can help us stay on the path we previously covenanted to be on.  Anyway, you can see the meeting was wonderful.  We feel the wonderful workings of the spirit often and are so grateful to all of you for you support. We love the mission and the beautiful people of Brazil and we love you all very much. The church is true.
Com Amor Dad and Mom

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Update July 14, 2015

Dear Family,

We heard about the Supreme courts decision.  Just stay in the boat, read your scriptures, attend church, pay a full tithing, pray always, and know we have total confidence in your goodness! Your wonderfulness bring us alegria
The Lord is in control and the joy we experience here as we see miracles is awesome.  Today president told us about a couple of the Sisters in our area who got on the bus and shared a message and asked is anyone interested in hearing our message?"  A lady in the back raised her hand.  They are now teaching her family.  The Sisters later learned that the lady felt something when they got on the bus and knew they would say something, but because she was in the back of the bus she did not hear their message or their question but raised her hand anyway. The Lord prepares the hearts of those who will listen.  What a great story.

Our new Mission President and his wife have wonderful conversion stories which I think you might enjoy.  Sister Oliveira was baptized when she was ten, her family was converted before when she was seven but no one realized she hadn´t been baptized until she was ten years old.  The missionaries came to her home looking for a Sebastião da Silva who drove a bus which he did and his name was Sebastião da Silva but he was not the person the man was looking for, but while the man was there he saw what a good family they were and told them about the church and asked if he could send missionaries to their home, which he did that night.  The whole family joined the church and were very active, sealed in the temple the next year.  Now for the President Oliveira story.  He worked where Sister Oliveira worked and they became good friends.  He wanted to start dating her but she said her goal was to marry in the temple and he needed to be a member of her church.  His parents were very strong Catholic so he said I am not interested in checking out another church to which she replied then I am not interested.  Later he was thinking and realized he really wanted to know her better so he started to check out the church.  He read the Book of Mormon, attended church for three months and received a testimony.  He found the elders and said I want to be baptized today.  To which they replied you need to have these seven discussions first, he asked if they could teach them all that day because he needed to be baptized that night. (I cant remember why, if it had to do with military service or something else) They said you need to attend church to which he replied I have been attending every Sunday for three months, You need to read some of the Book of Mormon to which he replied I have read it the whole book and have a testimony.  After that they taught all the discussions and he was baptized that night.  The interesting side note to that story was that the zone had faithfully made a goal and they were one baptism short with one day left and no one on the radar to fulfill the goal... and along comes this man and asks to be baptized, answering their prayers.  Now for the rest of their story. They dated and actually were planning on marriage and Sister Oliveira felt uneasy about things and she said to President Oliveria I feel you need to serve a mission to which he replied I am not interested in serving a mission and she said then I am not interested in marrying you.  They parted on unhappy terms, and as he thought about it he prayed and asked God what would be such a big deal if he chose not to serve a mission and a vision was opened up to him and he saw those who would not join the church and come into the kingdom if he did not go on a mission.  He was totally ready to serve and went to see her to tell her and she said, no I do not want you to serve because of me, I want you to serve because you want to serve the master to which he replied, I am.  The rest is history, they have served ever since.  Sometime I might share President's health experience but right now this blog is too long.  You are all our favorite people and we love you all so much.  The Church is True.  Be Steadfast and immovable.
Com Amor, Mom and Dad

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

4th of July Update 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

We have a new mission president, President Adilson I. Oliveira, and his wife Elizabeth Oliveira.

They are wonderful people, both long-time members of the church here in Brazil.  They are from São Paulo, and he headed up the Institute program there and was a teacher for many years.

We had transfers and saw 18 of our best missionaries return home last transfer.  But we only received one new missionary - a Sister missionary from Paraguay.  It was hard seeing President and Sister Reber leave, we had dinner with them their last two nights.  The first night we made chili dogs (which were quite good!) and the second night we went out to eat at Ney's place for hamburgers.  It was a good time, until we went back to the car and found it had been broken into and Sister Reber's purse was stolen.  That was sad, but fortunately no documents or very important things were in the purse (and almost no money).

I think we forgot to put in this picture of Mom with her "birthday" gifts! :)

The last two days have been large zone conferences here in the North - we do two zones each conference, about 50 people a time.  We (Mom) had to make breakfast for them each day, so Mom made a bunch of cinnamon rolls (they were awesome!) and banana bread, and we added apples, bananas, juices, water, and some sweet breads that we bought.  It turned out great.  The conferences were good, they were mostly to introduce the new President and his wife, and so that they could get to know the missionaries as well.  President Oliveira did interviews after each conference for those that live outside the city.

We tried to replace a light bulb in our bedroom (the only one) and the wiring sparked and the light wouldn't work.  Mom wouldn't let me do the electrical work... something about being electrocuted and dying, so we're in the dark (go ahead, I left it wide open!).  Then this morning one of the Sisters staying with us pushed down on the sink (I don't know why you would do that) and it fell down into the cabinet!  Good times! [As of this update, both repairs have been made]

Elder Davis no longer is authorized to drive (and neither am I now that the church changed up some of its policies), so we don't have a car to get around in.  This is a picture from our first bus ride - we're pretty good at it already! :)
Bus Rides are fun!  We almost lost Mom and Sister Davis on the last one!
At the park.

One of the baptisms that we attended this month.

All is good here, we're starting to prepare for David and Jessica and Eli's visit next month!
Love to all, the church is true.
Dad and Mom

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Update 14 June 2015

Dear Family
Today is Sunday my favorite day.  The work here is wonderful.  Last Sunday we attended a fireside where President and Sister Reber spoke.  They asked dad and I to bear our testimonies which we did and I have worked all week on improving my testimony skills as a wonderful result of that experience.  Dad taught Priesthood today and enjoyed the spiritual blessings of service. (Plus he speaks the language and can understand the comments, bonus!)  We have been attending baptisms regularly and Queine was baptized last week it was wonderful.  She has become a friend I look for each Sunday.
One of the baptisms.

We attended movie night in São Mateus and I made a bunch of popcorn and we watched "The Other Side of Heaven" - It was pretty fun in Portuguese (and they had a churrasco as well).  We had a family home evening last Friday with Morgana and Marcos and their cute little son.  Their baby Marco is a joy and I love to love on him. We hope they will be baptized soon.  They lose a lot of money to taxes if they get married because they are in business together.  From their perspective their marriage is real.  Oh the joy of corrupt government.  Yesterday, on Sunday, we went for a walk in the park and found these darling little monkeys, they were tiny but I think that is their normal size.

One of the little monkeys, they were a lot of fun - very active!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Another Update 2015-05-24

Dear Family
You probably think whenever you see the pictures we send all we do is eat and play which is only half true - sometime we pay and eat!  This past weekend we went to Cáceres for branch support and we did have a blast.  The talent show scheduled to begin at seven started at eight thirty.  Even knowing that it will start late, we are there on time ready to sing popcorn popping and throw popcorn balls to the audience.  President and Sister Reber, Elder and Sister Davis, and Dad and I were all singing,  I don't think any of us sang all the words!  Dad was the only one who knew them all, but it did not matter at all we just laughed and threw popcorn balls.

This little girl was super cute, everyone wanted to take her home with them!
A new Elder in the mission participating in the talent show (Elder Yabiku)

We went to a hamburger place after and it took over an hour to get and eat our hanbugers.  I am not complaining but just sharing tradition.  Waiting for food  in Brazil is a pass time and every meal is slow going, but when you're hungry... not always the best tradition.

The next day was our P-day so we wanted to take a boat ride on the river, which we did, thanks to Dad and his wonderfulness and it was lovely.  Birds, flowers, clouds, iguana, fishermen and sunshine - pretty amazing.  We really enjoyed the day, returned home about five o´clock.

Our boat and boat guide.  He was very nice - a 2-hour ride cost us each about $12.50

Straight out of the Hitchcock movie - "The Birds", all flew into the air as we passed.

Mom made me take pictures of birds... :)

The clouds are always spectacular, today was no exception.

Mom made me take this one also, a pretty little flower on mini Lilly pads, cool.

A new bird we had never seen before.

Look closely and you'll see the Iguana in the bushes.

This bird was funny, instead of flying away, he just plopped into the water (and sunk initially!).

Another bird.
I had to add a couple more cloud shots.

Sunday (today) I spoke in church on the blessings of the Holy Temple.  It was a wonderful experience with the gifts of the Spirit and the power of the priesthood.  Dad gave me a blessing because I felt so nervous, even though I had been preparing all week. And I really felt calm when I spoke and even when I made mistakes I just felt the prompting just keep going, it was a beautiful experience.

Well my hope is to have Dad add pictures to the blog so you can enjoy our river trip with us.  So just keep on going and you will feel His love.  The Church is True.

Love Mom and Dad

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Animals at the Park, etc. 2015-05

Some of our park pictures:
One of the moneys eating Mom's apple

This one is hanging by his tail (showing off) with two in the distance

A nice picture of the river that runs through the park

Another type of monkey (also hanging by his tail)

Beautiful blue "arara".

From the front

Look at the colors of this red one

I love the clouds here, one of the shots along the road

Update 2015-05-17

Dear Family
We have been so busy I don´t know if we will be able to get caught up.  This past week was transfer week, Zone leader training and then we took off to go to Sorriso for the weekend and visit the branch up there, and the other senior couple.  Really it has been so much fun.  We went to a very weak sauce rodeo - so Brazilian with prayers to Mother Mary, a lot of drama and very little rodeo, but we had an experience. (So thanks for that!)

We (little we) paid these guys about $7 to serenade us while we had dinner at the Rodeo
(remember Mexico?!)

Yes, that's a big bull.  It started to move and I jumped off... :)

Luckily the entire night was not a waste, we got to see an amazing sunset and pay coming and going on a toll road. (Thanks for another experience)  Saturday was wonderful, we went to Sinop to a park and saw monkeys and birds - pictures below and more on another blog entry (too many for here).

Sunset shot

Another one on the trip

Stopped at a river on the trip

Sweet cloud shot on the way - yes, with the little orange camera!

Mom feeding the monkeys apples at the park

Mom with a macaw (arara in Portuguese).

My turn to hold the bird.  Very cool.

Went to take the picture and they all straightened up and turned their heads, as if to pose for me!

Then Sunday we went to the branch in Sorriso.  What a delightful time we had.  I prayed in RS and we bore our testimonies in Sacrament meeting, it was great to experience the power of the spirit like that again.  We loved the branch there.

Hotel where we stayed, quite nice $82 a night - not bad!

Church building in Sorriso, it's a rented house but works well for the branch.

The three missionary couples, with a member family there

We are now home again catching up on things.  I still haven't typed in all my notes from the amazing Conference we had with Elder Christoffersen, but I will as soon as things slow down. (In a couple of weeks :) )

We love you all so much.  Stay on the Old Ship Zion.  The Church is True.
We are all so blessed, love Dad and Mom