Sunday, December 25, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 12

Another full week to talk about:

We began the week with a full day of work on Monday, followed by FHE with the senior couples.  The lesson was by Br. Wilkinson about movies and there was a quiz on classic movies - which we didn't do too well on - I know, surprising!  However, it was on old movies, all of which were made before we were born.  I think we would have done better on movies from the last few decades...
Tuesday we went shopping at a local mall for some presents for our Christmas party at Ric's house Saturday night.  We got a huge mug that said "think big", and a nice picture frame - there was a limit on how much you could spend, kind of like white elephant.

Wednesday was the São Paulo West Mission Christmas party.  Mom went over early to the stake center to help set up and I stayed at the office as there was a lot to be done.  I went over about 3:00 in the afternoon and started taking pictures, which was my assignment for the evening.  It was a fun party with games, cookie decorating, dinner, skits, etc.  We left there about 8:30 and we were beat.  The group picture wasn't going to happen until much later, so I just left my tripod with Sister Thomas and we got a ride home with one of the other couples that had a car checked out.

President and Sister Thomas of the Sao Paulo West Mission

Thursday we took off of work and went to a couple museums here in São Paulo that were very fun, and took a walk through a city park - actually one of the oldest parks in the city.  Pictures to enjoy:

Art Work from the Museum


And More

Last one

(1) Train Station, (2) Birds being fed at the park, (3) Park Fountain, (4) Park Statue

(1) Lovely park, (2) Old Train Station, (3) #1 #2, (4) The Museum Entrance

Friday was also a day off for the are office, so we went to the temple with some of the couples and did some sealings and it was very nice to hear the ordinances in Portuguese.  Afterward, we went by the office and did some catch up work.  Then we did a little shopping and came home and did some cleaning, then in the late afternoon went to see the new Star Wars movie with the other couples.  Before the movie we grabbed a slice of pizza at Pizza Hut, it was really good!

Saturday we went out to Embu - the arts and crafts place - with the Sondereggers and their daughter Shelly that is here visiting from the US.  It was a fun trip and we bought a few souveniers, and a thing that goes along the bottom of your door to keep the wind (and bugs) out of your house.  After we got home we did some move cleaning and preparing, wrapped the gifts for Ric's party, etc.  We did some more food shopping and found wrapping paper at Wal-Mart.

Ric's party was a lot of fun and his family was very nice to us the whole night.  We got a little more integrated because Ric asked us to take the pictures during the gift exchange so I was telling people, "Hey, I need a picture." and stuff through the whole game.  It was fun, and they only allowed one steal of a present instead of 2 or 3 so the game went a bit faster.  The food was very good, they had chicken, ham, lentils (yes, I did eat them), a salad with squid, and the typical rice and beans.  The desserts were also good so I tried a little of each one, then gave mom a bite of just the best two. :)

The main dishes, in a serving line.
(1) Some of Ric's family at the party, (2) Cheese appetizer, (3) Figs - actually quite good

We took Uber home at about 12:30 (well before the party was close to being over), and the ride started out a little worrisome because the driver was headed the wrong way - but it wall worked out as he made his way through small back roads to our apartment.
Today, Christmas, we only had Sacrament Meeting and it was very nice, great talks about being Christlike (using the beatitudes) and looking forward to the new year and improvements that we should focus on - like being Christlike.  After church we enjoyed skypeing with the kids and seeing the grand-kids opening presents, what a fun day!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
We love you.
The Church is True.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 11

90 Days on the mission - awesome.
We started the week by getting more work in the office.  Daniel is out because his wife had a baby and Cristina is gone on vacation through the end of the year.  Jouber has been in and out because he wasn't feeling well.  So, a bunch of the others' work has come our way - the biggest piece being the first registration of missionaries that come into Brazil.  We're keeping up, but I think Jouber is giving us his work as well as the others' - and he forwarded Cristina's phone to me when he's supposed to be answering it while she's gone.  I think it's a game of "see if we can get Elder Harris to cry Uncle!".  We'll see... :)
Monday night we were in charge of the Family Home Evening and we interspersed scriptures from the creation in Genesis with pictures from the Pantanal - all the birds, alligators, flowers, and other animals (iguanas, armadillos, etc.) that we could get off our computer.  It went well and now everyone wants to take a trip to the pantanal, so we are probably going to try and put one together next February or March (because people are leaving in April).
Tuesday we took food over to the Burkes again (she broke her ankle) and showed them the slides.  On Wednesday we went to the temple and it was great, as usual.  Mom doesn't even use the headsets any more, or the English card at the veil.
Thursday night we went to dinner with Tamiris (Sister Barbosa from Cuiabá) and her fiance Mosia (Mosiah in English).  He's a super nice guy so we're very excited for them to get married in April.  They chose the restaurant and it was an all you can eat pizza place - which we didn't need, but it was good.  Oh, they were over an hour late meeting us there!  You have to love Brazil...

Tamiris, Mosia, Mom and I
Tamiris was the only one wanting dessert after dinner - watch the video next!

Friday night we went to dinner (again!) and a movie with the other couples in the mission.  It's always fun to have a night out with them.  We saw "Sully", it was about the plane that landed in the Hudson river, Tom Hanks was excellent as the pilot.  Then Saturday was clean up and bake cookies for the São Paulo West Mission Christmas party.  Then in the afternoon, we still had energy to go on a pretty long walk to get Mom's 10,000 steps.  It was a nice walk through a new area by our apartment.  We found some new things:

A very large new park, we didn't even walk around the whole thing.

A new type of flower, absolutely gorgeous!

Our very own decorated wall down from the Park.

Today, Sunday, we went to our new ward again.  After church the Bishop asked to talk with us and told us that he wants us to meet all the leaders in the ward.  We said that would be great... then he explained that his idea to accomplish this was for us to go to lunch with one of the leaders each Sunday after church... here it comes... starting today!  So we went over to the bishopric counselor's house for lunch.  It was delicious, we had to take a picture of the salad, but the whole meal was very good.  And, luckily, we had their son take a selfie of us afterward :)  (OK, he was in it so it really IS a selfie.)

This was just the salad - delicious!

João Pedro, Tom, MarJean, Eder, Michelle, Elen

Oh, I have to share his conversion story.  He was baptized way back in 1972 - yes, when I was on my mission.  He was 11, and his family rented out a back room to two girls studying in São Paulo.  One of the girls was from Cuiabá and was a member of the church, but didn't really want anything to do with it.  Her family sent a referral to the missionaries asking them to drop in and visit her.  So one day they knocked on the door and asked if they could come in and he (the 11-year-old) let them in.  They asked to see Vera, but she wasn't home.  As they sat in the living room (they had asked for a drink), they put a pamphlet of the Joseph Smith story on the table.  When the mother came into the room, she saw the pamphlet and said, "Oh, who is that?!  I just had a dream about him last night!"  The father of the family had passed away, and in the dream she was walking arm in arm with Joseph Smith.  She said that she knew it wasn't her husband but felt only calm in his presence - in English, it wasn't awkward at all.  Of course, the Elders were amazed, but did their job and began teaching them the lessons.  So, long story short, she and the kids were baptized and she stayed faithful until her death a few years ago.  Cool story, huh?

We love you all, Merry Christmas!  We'll be home all day on Christmas so call/Skype/Facebook/message/etc. any time!!
The Church is true!
Love Dad and Mom

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 10

Bom dia! from Brazil
We started out the week a bit fater than usual - let me explain.
Monday morning we had an area devotional in our office, followed by a big spread of food for breakfast - lots of goodies, etc.  Then after working in the office, we had our FHE with the other couples followed by more food.  For Tuesday lunch we went to a Churrascaria (all you can eat Brazilian BBQ) and it was awesome.

Our work team at the Churrasco (I'm taking the picture!)
Our boss is in the red skirt next to Mom...

We stuffed ourselves and the food was great.  Then we had an area office devotional that afternoon with all three of the area presidency speaking to us.  It was very nice, and all of them are great.  Elder Bassett speaks Spanish well, so his talk in Portuguese had some words a little mixed up but he did a good job.  The Elder Aidukaites and Elder Costa spoke.  Elder Costa's talk was on following the Savior and about His life and why it's so special that we celebrate His birth.  After the devotional there was a huge spread of food for everyone in the recreation hall - I mean a lot of food!  

This was a little game that Mom was in, where they passed around gifts.

Fruit containers in the shape of a tree!

We kept eating some more, but not as much as we might have if we weren't already full!  We waddled back to the apartment and basically laid around for awhile...
I got to tell my "patriarchal blessing" story to Elder Aidukaites, who was the stake president that helped fulfill the blessing that says people would raise up in later years (after my mission) and thank me for the work that I had done.  It was awesome to finally relate what happened to him and he enjoyed it and thanked me for sharing it with him.  Even better that I got to tell it in English - he's also got an MBA from BYU.
Wednesday we finished cleaning up all the expired notices in our visa management system, and that felt good.  I think they thought it would take us a lot longer, but it's done now.  In the afternoon I went with Elder Sonderegger to the "Home Depot" of Brazil and it was fun to walk around and see all the stuff they have, it really was a lot like Home Depot!  After work, Mom and I walked up to a bread store not far from our apartment and bought some really good bread and a couple pastries.  We also stopped at a new meat store and picked up some meat to cook on our new grill - I bought it for Mom for Christmas!  (Yes, you know what that means - I wanted it! :)
I don't think we actually ate anything except a few of the pastries all day Wednesday because we were so full from Tuesday.  OK, one of my weaknesses showed itself on Thursday.  I don't like to be wrong... I know, I know, none of you would have guessed it because I've done such a great job of hiding it all these years.  Well, Cristina (a lady we work with - she pays all the bills) came by my desk and said that when I order notary services I need to do it "without value" and not "with value" (I won't get into all the details of explaining what that means) because "with value" is more expensive.  I said that I always select "without value" on the form when I submit it, and asked if she was sure it wasn't someone else.  I thought that she was just accusing me because I was the new kid on the block, but I don't miss little details like that in training.  Anyway, she pulls a trump card and shows me a report of the billing from the notary service and it says "with value" and has as a note "Legal Entities" - well, I'm the only one doing Legal Entities, so that kind of sealed the deal.  I told her I had a hard time believing that I had done that, so I got a copy of the report and started looking into it ("anal" is how some would describe this!).  So, as I dug into it I went and found the original request and discovered that I had requested "without value", but it had been changed and the bill returned to us "with value", so I showed my discovery (trying not to much as possible) to Cristina.  She quickly called the Notary service on the phone and told them about what was happening.  The employee there said, "Yes, we've been changing all of your orders that come 'without value' to 'with value' because the service you're requesting can't be done 'without value'!  So Cristina told me what had happened and in my humble way I said (in Portuguese of course), "I Won!!" and she said, "Yes, Elder Harris, you won."  So, for the next day (or two), I practiced my humility by telling Mom somewhat regularly, "I was right."  I don't know why, but she tired of it pretty quickly. :)
On Friday night we went to see a movie with the other couples, called Arrival.  It was interesting, but nothing I would see again.  Then we split up with them and went and got pizza at Pizza Hut.  It was great, and they even had real pepperoni.  Then home on the bus.  Christmas is definitely in full swing down here...

Saw these guys on our way to pick up the bus!

No, that's not a real person...

Since there's no snow here, Santa is laying out on the beach...

Saturday, Mom made Christmas goodies most of the day and I looked through Pantanal pictures for our FHE lesson coming up on Monday.  In the afternoon, we took an Uber ride over to our new ward for their Christmas dinner and activity.  When we got there one of the sisters asked if I would be willing to be Santa Clause!  I said sure, so I got to give all the kids gift bags from Santa, it was too much fun.  I got a picture with Mom on my lap - totally worth sweating in that suit!

I told them I needed a beard, but oh well...
Santa with some of the kids from the Perdizes Ward

Of course, Mom found an investigator's cute little tiny baby.

Like I said, Christmas is in full swing!

We took the bus back home and that ended a very nice week... Oh, I was right!
Love you all,
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 9

3 Nov 2016

It is such a wonderful experience to be on a mission, or really have any experience in the service of others and the service of the Lord.  We are sometimes challenged to our limits, face difficult tasks, and often end up exceeding even our own expectations, with His generous help.  I'm not saying that's what we did... :)

Monday, after work in the office, we had our usual FHE with the senior couples and Mom had made turkey noodle soup for the dinner afterward.  The lesson this week was about the word "Holy", its origin and some of its uses in the scriptures and in quotes by the brethren.  It was a really good lesson, concluding with "Holy, Holy, Holy is my name", and the admonition for us to "Be Holy".  Br. McAllister gave the lesson, he`s a great guy (here I wanted to say "I really, really liked him... a lot!", but I totally resisted the temptation.)  Dinner afterward was very good, and Mom's soup was excellent.  Next week we get to attend a devotional on Monday morning and a Christmas Devotional with the Area Presidency on Tuesday.

On Tuesday after work, Mom walked back over to the church with the other sisters for a Relief Society activity, for which she had made cheesecake.  My sugar registered at 95 (Yea!) so you can see that I didn't get any of it. :(  I've lost a bit over ten pounds since we got here - I guess being sick for about a week does have it's advantages!
This is a big tree on a building downtown.
Christmas is in full swing.

And, not to be outdone...
Our Christmas Lights are up!
Mom has also been making food for the Burkes, a senior couple that lives next to us.  He is one of the mission doctors.  His wife broke her ankle a week ago and just had it x-rayed to find out it was broken after all.  So this week we took over lasagna, vegetable soup, chili (which was also really good), salad, some cheesecake, etc.  Sister Burke is very nice, although she and I did have a little disagreement over ... wait for it... Global Warming!  Ha!  Good times.

Of course, Thursday began a new month and with it came new resolve and determination on our part to be more strict with ourselves (no, it was Mom's idea!) on all the little things like getting up, studying, focusing on being more healthy and more spiritual, etc.  We got a new assignment at work - cleaning up a lot of old issues with travel documents, etc.  Basically, we got assigned a busy-work task that no one else wanted to do.  So we jumped on it and I would guess we have almost half of it done already!  They probably thought it would take us a few weeks (until the end of the year) to finish it up, but they haven't seen us in focused action.  With the new month came also the 25 days of service from so we started by inviting people to watch the video.  We had dinner at a burger joint just up the block from us called "Stump Burger", which is a little better than "Trump Burger", if you know what I mean.  The food was great, it was the first time we had eaten there but won't be the last.

We finished up the week attending the temple after work on Friday and ran into Elder William from the Cuiaba mission.  It was fun to see him again and chat for a bit.  We also finished up responses to an article for the Liahona here in Brazil.  I guess it's a little blurb for just the issues in Brazil, but I'm not sure because the lady talked to Mom about doing it... so I did it.  Anyway, we may become famous, again.  We'll try to get a copy so we can post some of it later on.

I wanted to sleep in on Saturday but I woke up at 6:00am and could't sleep so I got up and finished up our monthly update - so if you're feeling like you don't have time, 6:00am is usually free time. :)  Later that day we went to see a Christmas concert by a wonderful choir here in Sao Paulo.  The concert was super good, and was a great beginning (or in our case, middle) for the Christmas season.  Afterward we stopped at a high-scale mall here in the city, but couldn't afford to buy anything.  Actually I bought a little chocolate thingy (imagine a combination of a donut and the shape of a hotdog), and found it to be quite delicious - it was also filled with chocolate cream, and only cost about $3.00.

The Hall where the concert was held was very upscale..
I hope you can see it.
This is Sister Sonderegger and Mom and the Choir conductor
Picture of the Choir - they were excellent!

This was at the mall afterward - Squirrels and Christmas, who knew?!

A couple more squirrels, oh, and one behind us! :)

Today we went out to our new ward assignment in Perdizes.  It was very nice and the people were awesome and very welcoming.  The bishop is very excited to have us there.  OK, you'll like this - one of the Brazilian sisters (who is moving to Orem by the way) got up and said that she had prayed us there to help with people needing help in the ward.  It was quite touching.  I got up and did a quick intro and testimony since it was fast Sunday - this was before the lady said that, otherwise I don't think I would have ventured it.

A view of the hill we walk up to go to Church now.

Another view of the hill - the pics don`t do it justice.
It's like walking up Lombard Street, three times!
This is the chapel, it's quite small.  The ward was organized in 1961
the same year Mom and I were baptized!

Love to all,
The Church is True and we are so happy to be a part of this great and wonderful work!
Dad and Mom

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 8

27 Nov 2016

Hello all, another wonderful week in paradise.  Of course, the highlight of the week was Thanksgiving.  We hope you all had a wonderful holiday with family and friends.  We missed the family, as always on events like this, but we do have friends that we were able to share the joy with.  The couples we serve with in the area office are the following: Anderson, Passey, Sonderegger, Salisbury, Hart, Burke, Wilkinson, Shumway, and McAllister, and two Brazilian couples - Shoiser, and Correa.  This whole group had Thanksgiving dinner at the McAllister`s apartment and it was awesome.  The food was wonderful (kind of pot luck, with everyone bringing something - we brought a Turkey with dressing and gravy, two fruit bowls, and sweet potatoes).  The McAllisters are actually church employees and not serving a mission.  Brother McAllister is the lead counsel for the church here in Brazil, and oversees all the legal issues that come up.  He can`t practice law here but directs all the Brazilian and American lawyers on what needs to be done.  He is on assignment for 3-5 years and has done this in other areas as well.  He said he will likely be here 4 years and then get reassigned to another country.  He and his wife are super nice and I guess they hosted Thanksgiving last year as well.  We had great turkey, pumpkin, apple, and other pies, mashed potatoes, salads, sweet potatoes, orange rolls, cheesecake, and lots more that I can't remember right now!  We had to ask for Thanksgiving off work in the office because it's not a holiday here - I think I sealed the deal by offering left over turkey sandwiches, which we brought on Friday.

This was just a small table with appetizers!
This was the Thanksgiving setup (24 people, I think)

Nativity in our Apartment Complex (and Christmas lights!)

We made it to the temple on Wednesday afternoon, it was the ward temple day.  Oh, we got assigned by President Thomas (São Paulo West mission) to attend a ward out of our area to help strengthen the leadership, etc.  I think they want us to teach a Family Relations class, so that should be interesting!  We'll see what's up when we attend the ward starting next Sunday.  It was hard to say goodbye to our friends that we've made here in this ward, of course they'll miss Mom more than me - pretty much goes without saying, I know.  She is always bringing joy and happiness wherever she goes.  Her Portuguese is constantly improving, and she attends a Portguguese class twice a week taught by a native Brazilian.  This weeks class included a guy (the teacher's father) who came a played the guitar and sang Roberto Carlos songs - most of you would know that he's one of my favorite Brazilian singers (and, yes, he's old!).

Friday we went to a fund-raiser for camp for the youth of one of the wards in the Stake,  It was an "all you can eat pizza night", which turned out to be a lot less than you can eat because they didn't plan on as many people as showed up so they ran out of pizza early on!  It was all good, Mom and I came home with a couple of the sisters (who didn't want to wait for more pizza), and I supplemented my dinner with a bowl of cereal. :)  We did go over to the mall to see if Black Friday was a real thing here - it's not.  We also got a picture in the Nativity that's on the front lawn of our ward building (what used to be our ward!).

Nativity on Church Lawn

On Saturday, Mom and I went to a big warehouse store (kind of like Costco) and spent a bunch of money on longer-term supplies like sugar, flour, beans, rice, etc.  It was nice because the Anderson's had checked out a car for the weekend so they drove us over there and we didn't have to try to haul groceries on the bus.  We may have overdone it a little, but having a ride was compelling.  After we got home and put everything away we made our way up to a different mall and walked around the Christmas sales, etc.  We finally got some Mexican food here, which was a bit of a mixed result.  The quesadilla was terrible, the guacamole was fantastic, and the burrito (with filet mignon inside) was pretty darn good.  Then we went and watched the new Jack Reacher movie - the movies here are almost all in English with Portuguese subtitles, so that's awesome!

You can see that Christmas is already in full swing here!

Christmas "Slide" in the mall

One Mall Entrance with Gift Shops

Merry Christmas! (see the Black Friday in the background?)

Mom with the Fantastic Beasts sign at the Theater

View of just a small part of São Paulo - from the Apt Window (McAllister)
The Church is True!  We love you all!  Be Good!
Dad and Mom