Sunday, October 30, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 4

Another great week in São Paulo!  (well, sort of!)

I'll start with all the fun stuff we did this week.  A bunch of shopping, bought some Christmas items, food, office supplies, a credit card, etc.  A bunch of eating, mostly of our own cooking, and quite good too.

We ran into Sister Barbosa, from the Cuiabá mission outside the area office!  It was so much fun to see her again and visit with her.  She didn't have much time on Wednesday when we saw her, so she came to our house for breakfast on Thursday morning.  We had french toast, of course, and reminisced about old times and were brought up to date on what's happening in her life.  It was so nice to visit with someone we knew.  That's three pieces of toast that I'm flipping at one time (albeit small pieces).
You can never go wrong with French Toast!
Wednesday night we went to the temple.  The Relief Society had asked Dad to take a picture of the Sisters who attended as part of the history they keep so we went a little early and got a few pictures of these very cool green parrots that live in the top of the palm trees.  They are called Maritaki birds and they are awesome.  The session was so wonderful.  I went in and sat down next to one of (Our) sisters from Boston, Sister Roman.  I hugged her and it was so great.  All the power went out at the end of our session and the back up generator was not functioning - luckily we had finished, but it was fun dressing in the dark! Sister Roman and her mother gave us a ride home even though we live two blocks away and they had to drive six blocks just to get us home. Wonderful times.
Mom and Sisters from the Ward (Morumbi)

Mom and Sister Roman (power out and raining)
On Friday we had kind of a bad day at the office - Mom had sent an info packet to a missionary that hadn't yet received his call (but we think it was our trainer's fault and not ours!)... kind of a big deal.  Then I have a missionary that hasn't yet done the renewal and the mission is Cuiabá, so I kind of had to be soft in my email to them.  But bottom line, not good either.  One of our co-workers came over and said "Don't worry, here in Brazil you have 3 months to learn your job before we give you the boot!"  It was pretty funny.

Saturday we relaxed and went to a big park in São Paulo that had the Lego display - "The Art of The Brick" and it was really fun (Pictures at the very end!).  We went with several other couples, so that's always fun.  Two of them made fun of me for not knowing where to pick up the bus, which I thought was pretty immature - then I realized that I needed to get over it, it's just that darned old pride kicking in.  So I let it go...after I pushed them under the next bus!  jk, didn't really push them :)
This is the group we went with (and a policman that did our tour)
One of the monuments at the park

This is the Tower Monument over the tombs (below)
We also toured a São Paulo monument for the rebellion of Sao Paulo against the rest of Brazil back in the early 1900's - it was a very interesting place (the first group picture was taken in front of it).  The weather was too perfect and the park was beautiful.
Tombs under the Monument to São Paulo Rebellion
We were worn out when we got back, and the Mom realized that she didn't have her fitbit on the whole time!  So she pushed people under the bus!  jk, didn't really push them :)

We went over to Pão de Açucar (bread of sugar), a local grocery store and paid to put money on a Brazilian Master Card that we bought here for $4.50 (it's one you can add money to).  I thought it was a good idea to carry a local card around, and it can only be used for the amount on it so our loss is limited.

Here are the lego pictures I promised!

We love you all, the church is true, keep the faith,
Mom & Dad

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 3

It's always so hard to condense a wonderful week of events into a single blog entry, but one must make sacrifices :)

Monday evening our FHE was exercising with the Oldies, which was fun.  We left the couples' FHE early (not because we couldn't keep up!) to meet Ric Davids (our foreign exchange student) at a mall not too far away (5 bus stops).  He said to meet him outback, so we were asking people where the back of the mall was and really no one could tell us.  Then we saw the Outback restaurant!  We sat inside waiting because we had arrived early.  Finally twenty minutes later I sent him a message and he said he was already inside!  The food was delicious (better than USA) but not as good as the gelato that we had afterwards - possibly the best we've tasted, except maybe for Italy.

Tuesday evening we went to the temple with one of the Elders that served in the office in Cuiabá, and we got to meet his parents.  It was a lovely experience.  Each time we go to the temple we understand a little more (that might go for everyone!).  Elder Freire has wonderful, kind parents and it was fun to tell them what a great missionary he was.
Us with E. Freire and his Parents
Wednesday was so fun for me, I went on a field trip with my Portuguese Class.  Dad stayed and tried to do all that was needed in the office - including my work!  We rode the bus to the subway where we took the yellow line to the red line then to the Center of town to the Metropolitan Theater. While there we listened to the Metropolitan Choir perform.  The acoustics were awesome and the choir was pretty good as well.  Video:

The area is neat because several of the streets are now sidewalks where people set up and sell different things, sing songs, and attempt to entertain. 
One of the artist street vendors that we saw
Then Wednesday afternoon Dad and I taught the intermediate English Class for one of the Sisters who was out of town, it was such a great experience!  We have way to much fun when we teach together. Dad invited a person he met on "Hello Talk" (an app where to can talk to others in their language) and he came to the class.  I think he really enjoyed it and will come again with his fiancée.  We had about eight students and only two of them were members.  I need to tell you the story of an older blind lady in the class who is not a member.  She was so grateful for the help as I sat next to her on occasion.  After class I got her walking stick which she called her Pole-e-Anna.  I asked if that was what a walking stick was called in Portuguese, and she smiled.  She said no, then asked if I had ever seen the Disney movie, Pollyanna, and I said it was one of my favorite movies.  She then explained that she had not always been blind, and when she realized she had a disease and would lose her sight she lost hope for a time.  But then when she learned to use her walking stick it gave her freedom to get around, something that she never thought she would have again.  She named her stick Pole-e-Anna to remind her of all the good she is still able to experience (if we look for the good we will find it).  I am hoping that through this class and other experiences with the church she will be able to have her spiritual eyes open and find the gospel.  Right after class we went to the mall to get a few things, and unfortunately Dad left his nice Eddie Bauer shoulder pack, with his prescription sunglasses, so we think they are gone forever.  The blessing is that we didn't have any of our documents, any money, or other important things that we would normally have in his pack.

Thursday we spent the day at the Federal Police department trying to get our legalization papers (called our first registration, required of foreigners within 30 days of arrival).  Nada é fácil (nothing is easy) here with the government.  We were there five hours from 8:00am to 1:00pm, then you have to add the hour driving each direction... Anyway, Dad will be legal in a couple months but not me- they wouldn't let me register because I didn't have a scheduled appointment...  (thanks for the experience).  Bottom line is that we have to go back again through the whole mess again.
This is what it looked like in all four directions
 I knew it was going to be bad when this showed up on the monitor:

It was a pretty unlucky day for us :)
Friday night the ward had a wonderful high priest dinner and dance. I wish we would have had our phone or camera so we could have shown you the tables of food - it was beautiful and yummy.  I cannot say enough about the wonderful feeling we get as we interact with the beautiful people here. As dad and I walked around the room to meet and greet everyone (the custom here), hugging (Mom) and kissing (Mom), laughing and conversing, everyone was so sincere and kind and they all tell me I am speaking well, which is pretty fun I will admit.
Stake High Priest Social (we are right front)(yes, we did dance!)
Oh, we also had a huge storm Thursday night and the power was out 9 or 10 hours - which was "fun".  We had flashlights, and our power packs for our phones, etc. but of course the phone service itself was out too.  I am including a video clip of the water running down the street outside our apartment, it was taken from our window.
You can see how hard the wind was blowing.
And here's a video of the water running down the street:

We sure love you all, we are having a wonderful experience already where it took awhile in Cuiabá to adjust.  We think the mission president is going to assign us to a different ward or brand outside the city, so that should be interesting.  
Here they don't try to hide which products are better than others! :)
We also found out that we can only legally drive here for 6 months on our US drivers license.  A Brazilian license costs over a $1,000 reais (about $300) with all the taxes.  Mom still doesn't have a phone and I'm trying to convince her to just let me get a chip like I did - you just pay $3 for a chip and load it with money when it starts to get low.  I put $15 (US) on mine when we got here and I still have nearly half of it left after three weeks, not bad.  On the good news side - Mom loves it that they start Christmas even earlier here because there is no Halloween and no Thanksgiving.  We have already bought a bunch of stuff for the apartment, etc. (This tree isn't one of them!)
Mom with a Christmas Tree in the Mall
Today at church we saw this sign commemorating 50 years that our stake here has been in existence.  That's pretty awesome - the first stake in São Paulo, first in Brazil, and first in South America!  I taught the priesthood lesson in High Priests today and it went pretty well.  There were only 7 high priests in attendance (usually about 15-20), so I started by saying "I guess everyone heard that I was teaching today!" - which shows that I am funny (and they weren't family or friends [yet]).
Celebrating 50 Years as a stake
The church is true.  Stay faithful.  We are grateful for your wonderful examples as you face challenges, we always wonder why we don't have any. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 2

This week was awesome, as usual.  We received more training, although not as much as we had hoped - everyone is busy so they quickly show us something and then say "Let us know if you have any questions."  We feel a little nervous because we don't want to make mistakes - we are working with Brazilian missionaries and their visas to Argentina, as well as renewals of visas for all foreign missionaries serving in Brazil.  Our office is nice and Mom and I are working side by side now since one of the employees quit last week (hopefully not because of us!).  Sorry about the shades in the picture, we were headed out for lunch (hence the backpack also).

Our office setting.
Really, as you can see, the office is comparable to an office in the US - good internet, nice computers, color printers (HP), and whatever office supplies one needs.

So, there were three highlights of the last wek:
(1) On Wednesday there was a Brazilian holiday so nobody worked in the office - we had it off, so we went with several other senior couples to a place called Campos do Jordão which is like a small German village in Brazil.  

One of the german houses in town

Looking down on a street where we had lunch

Another set of shops in the shopping area

There we went to a garden area called Amantikir (ah-man-che[ese]-key-er, kind of).  It was beautiful, here are some pictures for your enjoyment:
Mom in the middle of a grass maze

Emerald Pool from walkway above

Greenhouse next to flower gardens

The second maze - all hedges, very cool

On bridge in the "Lake of Bridges" garden

We were framed!

Fountain in the English Garden

Beehive in the welcome center to the gradens, you can even see the layers of honeycomb
It was about 3 hours from São Paulo, about midway between here and Rio de Janeiro, well worth the trip and a lot of fun to be with the other couples.
A few more pictures (by Mom's request):

Mom next to a Dragon in the Japanese Garden

Cactus flowers in the Desert Garden

See the beautiful yellow bird in the middle of the picture?

(2) Friday night we went to the temple again, and were a little worried because it was difficult at the veil the last time, and the session wasn't easily understood because they use a very formal Portuguese.  When we got there we were asked to be the witness couple, so we may have been even a little more nervous.  When we entered the endowment room we found that there was a deaf man in the group so they had set up a TV screen, so the entire endowment was displayed on the screen word for word as it occurred.  It was such a blessing to us because we could read and understand almost everything, including instructions about the veil.  It was such a wonderful experience, Mom said she's going to pretend to be deaf whenever we go! :)

(3) Of course, the biggest event was the birth of another beautiful little granddaughter - Mackenzie Jean Beckstead!  Such a cutie, and just born this morning 10/16/16 (if only it had been 16/16/16!).  Thanks for calling us Jenny, all the best for your quick recovery.

Here she is!
Another highlight was the Fort Collins temple cultural celebration - which we may have stayed up late and watched - not sayin' that's what we did...  It was awesome to see them build the temple out on the field and the kids were great in all the performances.
I was asked to teach the lesson in priesthood next week on keeping the Sabbath Day holy, so that should be interesting...  Oh, we met the mission president finally - he spoke in church.  President Thomas is very nice.  We think he's going to assign us to an outlying branch or ward on Sundays, but we'll have to wait and see.
Ric Davids called us today, so I'm sure we'll do some things with him in the next little while.

Love to all, the church is true.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 1

Well, we made it to Brazil, as you probably already know by now.  It was an interesting trip - meaning we wouldn't want to do it again!  And all our jokes about them not knowing we were even coming turned out to be more reality than we would have imagined.  Aparently the area office found out Monday morning that we were going to arrive on Tuesday!  There was then a bit of a battle over which department we would be assigned to, and it turns out that the travel department either won or lost, we're not sure which, but that's where we're assigned!  Kind of ironic, right?!

This is the office building where we work, security guards, access keys, etc.

The apartment we have is very nice.  It's funny because everyone let us know that they only had one day to fix everything, paint the whole apartment and bring in all the furniture - I think they were up quite late on Monday night preparing.  Here are some of the pictures (random order), sorry if some rooms are messy, we were still moving in.
Kitchen (we have a dryer and hot water this time!)
Study (spare single bed)
Front room (notice TV and DVD player on left)
Dining table and chairs

Our apartment building, we're on the third floor
This is a pretty gazebo in our courtyard area (enclosed)
We have been receiving training this last week, and it's really been nice.  Everyone in our department speaks English, and all but one speak it very well - some having spent time in the US.  Our supervisor, Deborah, is very nice and eager to make sure we're happy here.  She had a special meeting to introduce everyone and explain what they are responsible for, then asked us how much we'd like to work - like how many days a week, and what hours each day - and I really think that any answer we gave would have been acceptable.  But "you know your mom", she said every day and 9-5 (actually she said 8-5 and I talked her back to 9-5 so we could try and get some "study" in the morning).  Since we're in the travel department we have a fleet of about 20 cars that we oversee and we can check them out for use whenever we need/want them.

Us with Elder William from the Cuiabá mission.
One of our elders from Cuiabá came by the office to visit so we took him to lunch with us.  It was great to see Elder William again, he teaches at the MTC and the missionaries come over to the temple once a week, I think.

When we arrived, we also got a tour of the area office and it's pretty impressive what all they do here, including making garments for members throughout Brazil.  We got a tour of the factory, and the distribution center for Brazil.
In the Area Distribution Warehouse

The senior couples here are all very nice, there must be 10 senior couples in various areas - we're the only ones in travel currently.  Others are auditors, preparedness, health, IT, etc.  They are very active and we do a lot (will do a lot) together.  They have FHE on Mondays, go to the temple, have Portuguese classes twice a week, and visit areas around São Paulo.  

Most of them eat over at the temple every day for lunch, but we are avoiding it a little since we are trying to keep our weight down.  This last Saturday, we went to a feira (open market) with some of them, then I went to a tourist artsy (yes, I was going to say fartsy, but I resisted!) area with some, while mom went shopping with others.  
Mom at the open market
The "Artsy" place, very fun - got to hear Simon and Garfunkel played live.

A good time was had by all.

Our current ward building
Today we attended church at the stake center next to the temple and it was very nice.  
Their wards are super strong and well led.  After church, I met up with mom and she had no less than 5 of the sisters come up afterward to tell her that her Portuguese was "excellent", "well-spoken", "very good", etc.  She is doing a good job learning and our office staff is also very helpful, trying to speak Portuguese first then resorting to English if necessary.  We ran into the mission president's wife this week and she said that he will likely assign us to a more remote ward or branch to attend and watch over on Sundays.  I did get a couple nice temple shots this week.
Day Shot of the São Paulo Temple
Night Shot of the São Paulo Temple

That's about all the news across the nation(s).  We had almost forgotten what wonderful blessings come in serving the Lord as a full-time missionary.  We ask the Lord's wonderful blessings upon each of you and love you very much.  The church is true.
Love, Mom and Dad