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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 7

Hi everyone, it's a great day!  And we've had a great week - if you don't count me almost dying of some bug that I picked up.  It was a lot like the flu - which would be wierd because it's not flu season down here and I already had a flu shot (We now think it is probably Dangue, rats!  I mean... mosquitos!).  Well, let's get to the full report:

Monday was a normal work day, we stayed late for FHE with the other couples.  The lesson (another in a long list of classics) was on the national debt, how big it was, and how much trouble we're in.  Tuesday was another long day at the office, but we followed that up with a visit to Ric's (Ric Davids, our exchange student in WA) apartment, then a walk over to the apartment building that he owns and is fixing up.  It's a big project, most of the apartments have not been renovated for 15 years.

Selfie inside Ric's apartment

This is the outside of his apartment building - it has 7 rentals, I think.

After that we went to dinner with Ric at a new restaurant downtown (we were supposed to do Mexican, but it closed early).  It was very posh, they had a live band and everything.  The food was also pricey, but it was delicious.  Mom had the lamb and said it was wonderful.  We took the bus home.

View of a nice park across from the restaurant.

Inside the restaurant, looking at the bar.

My dinner.

Wednesday was another holiday for us here in Brazil, so we went with several of the other senior couples on a "walking tour" of São Paulo, this one was of the graffiti art on the streets of São Paulo.  It was quite interesting because there is a movement to replace the ugly graffiti with more artistic works!  In fact, there are business owners that pay the artists to create nice art on their buildings so that they don't get the ugly graffiti on them - apparently there is a respect among the people that do graffiti and they don't generally paint over someone else's work.  Here are some of the pictures on the walls of the area where we went (one of the roads is called "Batman Alley" and it's the most famous).  The tour was very fun.  It's a "free" tour, they walk you around for a couple hours and then ask for tips at the end.

Mom with some of the graffiti art

We're getting more used to the buses now, although Mom almost followed another couple onto a bus after the tour.  I told her we weren't taking that one, and the couple got back off and came with us - good thing because that bus would have taken over an hour to get home and we made it in 30 minutes.

Thursday morning started off with another French toast breakfast for a couple elders in the São Paulo South mission.  I told them I would treat them for doing such a good job on visa renewals!  Then to the office, but we left early because I wasn't feeling well (sore throat, etc.)

Friday morning was a real treat, we got to attend a meeting with Elder Renlund and his wife.  Sister Renlund's talk was short, expressing gratitude and saying there is no small part when we serve in the church.  Elder Renlund told the story of when he was called - he got a text from his sister (that he said got all the brains of the family) that said congratulations on being the 100th apostle called in this dispensation.  She went on to say that he was the fourth "binary" apostle called (0's and 1's only).  001 was Thomas B. Marsh, excommunicated.  010 was Orson Pratt, excommunicated.  011 was John F. Boyington, excommunicated.  100 was Dale G. Renlund, ??  It was pretty funny.  Then he spoke on the Church as a "delivery system for the Atonement".  
That night we went to dinner and a movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" with the other couples.  The movies here are almost always in English with Portuguese subtitles, so that makes them awesome!  Before the movie we had the best chicken I've tasted in Brazil - it was crusted with baked parmesan cheese, delicious!

Saturday I was still in bed, but got up to go to see "My Fair Lady" at a very nice theater here in a nice district of the city.  We weren't quite sure what to expect, knowing that plays are not in English (and no subtitles either!).  The play was spectacular, very well performed, and super talented actors.  We couldn't take pictures but I snapped some at the end of the play.  

Mom wanted some more Christmas pictures - Reindeer at the mall

Like I said, very nice part of town.

We just loved the play, the cast (shown here) was fantastic!

The theater was great, sorry you only get to see the closing curtain.

We had a great time.  We were outside finding our way home and some of the couples decided to walk down to a bus stop instead of taking a taxi home (it was dark).  When I saw that this "short walk" included walking through a dark tunnel that was about a block long, I told Mom we weren't doing that.  I suggested that the single sister missionary go back with us and get a taxi home.  Well, the others followed us, finally agreeing that it was better safe than sorry!  Yeah, we're talking one of the most dangerous cities in Brazil (so, that means the world!), just behind Rio de Janeiro.  Anyway, we made it home quickly and safely - well worth the $10 cab fare!

So that's the news across the nations, love to all of you.
The church is defintely true!
Dad and Mom

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 6

Well, another week gone by, and this one was equally as eventful - and, as usual, some good and some bad.
The week started with me (Dad) having a very sore back - not exactly sure why.  I could barely move on Sunday, pretty much all day.  Monday morning was better so I went over to the office with mom, but had to rest up several times during the day.  By Tuesday, it was just noticeably sore, but not incapacitating.  However, by Wednesday mom`s sugar had spiked and we had a hard time bringing it down.  Even more of a mystery because she had already started a no-carb diet the week before and had fasted on Sunday for Fast Sunday.  So we worked on that all week and finally it`s come down into an "acceptable" range.  So, now we are both doing well and life is good - oh, and we've both lost some good weight as a result of our recent physical challenges... good news.
So here are some other highlights:
Mom is legally in Brazil now!!  On Tuesday we went over to the Polícia Federal again and this time things worked out and Mom finished her registration with the government and now we can stay another year (at which time we have to go through it all again in order to renew our visas!).  The police station was just as crowded as before and we've been told that it's because there are so many refugees coming to Brazil (Cape Verde, Mozambique, and South American nations).
On Thursday Tamiris (from Cuiabá) came over and had breakfast and then helped Mom with another Portuguese lesson.  That afternoon Mom wasn't well due to the aforementioned problems, so she stayed home and I went over to the area office.  Later in the afternoon, she came back over to the church and we taught an English class for a couple that was out of town.  It was fun to teach and the students (mostly members, but some not) are always excited to learn.  That night Mom came back over to the church with Sister Passey to make a Christmas wreath.  Interesting note, Elder Passey was in my mission at the same time I was, we crossed paths in one of the zones where we both worked.  He is just about exactly the same as I remember - I wonder if he'd say the same about me...?
Friday was a pretty full day.  We went over to the office a little late because they were supposed to be working on our computers (didn't happen), and we also were supposed to meet Sister Borges (also a missionary from Cuiabá) by the temple, but that didn't happen either as she had to stay at the MTC here for a new group of missionaries.  When we entered the back of the area office we ran into Elder Nielson and his wife, he's one of the 70's and was down here for training.  It was fun to meet them and they were very cordial.  So we worked in the office and then at 4pm we went to a meeting with Elder Nielson and the São Paulo West mission.  It was great as he spoke mostly to the young missionaries.  I think I enjoyed the question and answer session at the end as much as the meeting itself (no, he doesn't know where the 3 Nephites are!).
Saturday Mom and I went out to EMBU - which is the artsy place I went to before while Mom was shopping with others.  It was fun for us to be there by ourselves... oh, we weren't.  Who did we run into yet again... Elder Nielson and his wife!  Interesting, for sure.  We walked with them through a couple stores, then went off on our own.  We didn't really buy much because Mom was still under the weather (the weather here, by the way, has been really awesome!).
Here are a couple pictures from EMBU:

So we came home, did some shopping, and Mom cut my hair for me.
One other thing, since there is no Thanksgiving here, Mom has decided that Christmas starts now (I can't be my normal Scrooge self), and she's got backing from the Brazilians:
Christmas Tree in our Area Office!

Christmas setup and Train at the Mall by our house!
Love to all,
The Church is true
Love Dad and Mom

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mission 2 - Week 5

Hey Family,
Well I (Mom) am officially illegal in Brazil - you have only 30 days to register with the police, and I haven`t been able to get an appointment and they won`t do anything without one!  No one seems too worried or concerned, so unless they put me in jail--It's all good.  I took cinnamon rolls to work this week - payment for Friday's English slip up.   Monday was Halloween so we bought bags of candy to give to the primary kids who were having a party in the quad area. Monday night we attended a very insightful FHE given by the mental health counselor (Psychiatrist) here in the area office.  She shared her experiences on a council where she represented the church to discuss and come to agreement on the handling of same sex attraction (she labeled it SSA).  We received some material so if you are interested I can scan and email it to you for reference (meaning Dad can).  We then went to dinner with other senior couples here to a Padaria (Bread store).  The food looked delicious but my sugars have been high, so (every once in awhile I try) I just had salad, which was also quite good.

Halloween activity at our apartment complex

Tuesday we worked very hard (just in case you are wondering if everyday is a holiday).

Wednesday actually was in fact, a holiday.  It was "Day of the Dead", which is equivalent to Memorial day in the U.S.  So Dad arranged for a van to take a bunch of us to go to Campinas to the temple - To do work for the dead... não é?  The Campinas temple is about two hours away, but still in the state of São Paulo. We had a wonderful time.  After the session we went to the mall for lunch - yes, they have a Johnny Rockets here in Brazil.

Campinas Temple (and flowers)

Campinas Skyline, view from Temple

In front of the Campinas Temple

Johnny Rockets for lunch, their dance was pretty entertaining

Thursday Sister Barboza (Tamiris) came for breakfast and taught me a Portuguese lesson.  She will be a lot of help if I can accomplish all my goals. She is a doll and I love her.  Then we went to a wonderful meeting at work where our boss's boss talked to everyone about working conditions, basically the results of a church-wide survey.  Question, how would it be to work in an environment where prayer, personal joy and spiritual improvement were the focus?  Well that is our life, and it is mostly wonderful.

Us with Tamiris (Sister Barboza from Cuiabá)
Friday we were working hard and dad was helping prepare for the up coming Mission Presidents' Conference so we thought we wouldn't make it to the temple but we finished up right in time and ran home, then back to the temple just in time.  I told them at the veil that I still needed the card but they forgot and I had to go through with their help.  It was so wonderful, and Dad now can go through with no help at all, completely in Portuguese.

Saturday we went to the feira (outdoor market), and got a lot of good vegetables and one "thanks for the experience" moment.  Saturday night we went with Celso (our non-member friend from Cuiabá who we played tennis with on our last day there) to a very excellent Italian restaurant.  I am happy to say I ate what I wanted - vale a pena!  So on the way over we took the bus then the subway then walked five blocks and arrived right on time.  On the way home we just took one bus.  This can only happen in Brazil if your are married to a genius and have the Lord on your side.  We had a great night.  Dad did hurt his back some how (maybe the jarring bus ride?) so a little extra prayer would be appreciated.

Us with Celso at the Italian Restaurant - very good food!
Outside the Italian Restaurant, very nice area (bottom right is inside!)
Sunday is here and we are so grateful for a day of fasting and prayer.  Our joy over you and your accomplishments and progress is immense.  Our hearts are filled with love at the thought of any one of you amazing, beautiful, remarkable pessoas!   It's raining again here, too beautiful for words.
Keep up the good work.  The Church is True.
Love Dad and Mom