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

Mission 2 - Week 38

Well, we got behind again, still trying to catch up!
Monday was "Dia dos Namorados" or Valentines Day here in Brazil.  We (really Mom) gave our FHE lesson - my part was primarily to help with translating into Portuguese, but no Brazilians came this time so I just did some fill-in while Mom presented the lesson.  We presented "The Living Christ" with the help of Mary's awesome video on the topic.  Afterward we went to dinner with the Sharmahds to a new Mexican place called "El Mariachi", and since it was Valentine's Day there was a live Mariachi band playing.  The food, company, and ambiance were great.

All the band members were from Mexico - Authentic!

Tuesday we caught up on most of our work at the office, then at lunch time we went over and finally signed up at the gym so we can try to be a bit healthier.  We taught our English class and it went well.  We made some hamburgers from some ground up "steak" that we found at the store - they were very good.
Wednesday, office work, then afterward we went to the temple with the intention of doing sealings.  But all the sealers were in a meeting with the area presidency, so we did an endowment session instead.  Oh, this morning we went to the gym for the first time.
Thursday was a holiday here in Brazil so we didn't have to work in the office.  We did some shopping and cleaning and we went to work out again at the gym.  For lunch we had a really good burrito at El Dorado mall.
Friday we got a ton done again at the office.  Afterward we went over to Shumways and had tostadas that were really good.  We played 5-Crowns and Mom won...again.
Saturday we hosted (planned and directed) a trip to 25th of March, which is a famous street here in São Paulo that has tons of shopping - little stores with everything under the sun.  I bought 10 rings (like wedding rings, but all fake) for under US $20 for all of them. 

This is how crowded 25th of March was!

OK, only 9 of the 10 rings are in the picture.

Then we went over to the Mercado Municipal (municipal marketplace) and bought the famous "Mortadella" sandwich - kind of a combination between bologna and pastrami.  

Inside the huge Marketplace building

We think it might have been a church before - you can
see the stained glass windows in the background

Outside the Market - very cool architecture

The sandwiches were huge, and since I was getting them for everyone, I way overbought!  But it was fun and we really liked the sandwich - but not everyone did.  We returned home by bus and by subway, so the trip was fun as well.  That night we went over to the Morumbi Ward where they were having a "Junina" festival, kind of like a harvest festival for fall (remember seasons are opposite here in Brazil).  They had tons of food and a live band.  It was great - Mom had worn a straw hat and put on freckles for the occasion.

They had this fun photo backdrop, so we got one!

It was quite the party - a lot of food

All the kids there were dressed up as well.
I love this picture because I said I wanted
to take their picture and they quickly got
in this pose without any prompting!

Sunday was a huge "Gay Rights" parade in Sao Paulo, but we made it to the Perdizes Ward without a problem.  We taught our Temple Preparation class and then had lunch at Helio and Norma's house again - with the sister missionaries as well.  

Both these sisters speak some English, and both
could pass for Americans by looks - but they are
both Brazilian (Hélio and Norma could not pass
for Americans :)

We took Uber home to avoid the downtown mess (over 3 million people from all over the world come to SP for this event).  It was Father's Day in the US, so most of the kids called and it was fun to talk or Skype with them, as always.

Love to all
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 37

OK, Another awesome week in paradise.
Monday - another "catch-up" day at work.  Afterward, Sister Cox gave the FHE lesson.  She presented the work her graduate students did at BYU, which is a book on Strengthening Families - kind of a manual that could be used for Family Home Evenings.  It was designed to be used around the world and we got copies in both English and Portuguese.  President and Sister Thomas, from the São Paulo West mission, brought pizza for dinner - which was awesome.  Last week (in my absence), the couples voted not to have dinner after FHE anymore, apparently some felt it was too much of a burden.  (So, those who weren't in agreement have started a little "sub-group" and we go out to eat after FHE each Monday!)
Tuesday - normal work day, and afterward we taught our English class and they were happy to see us after a couple weeks away.  Mom had them play "Hokey, Pokey" to help learn the body parts and everyone thought it was just great fun.  After class we hurried home because Mom was hosting the "girl's night" with the other Sisters.  They get together once a month and talk about a book they read, among other things.
Wednesday - we went in to work and then went over to the temple to attend a session with Sister Jeronymo from the Cuiabá mission.  Her mother and sister were both going through the temple for the first time.  It was a very special experience.  And our bishop from the Perdizes ward where we attend was also in the same session.  We had lunch afterward then back for a special devotional with the Area Presidency.  President Costa, the area president, is being released in August and will move to Salt Lake City to be on the Missionary Committee for the church.  It was a very special meeting for us also because they had invited Elder Mercês, the Elder we love from Cuiabá that did the drawings for us, to show up and surprise President Costa.  They have been friends for a long time and it was really fun to have Elder Mercês come out of "hiding" and give President Costa big hug.  He then spoke a little about President Costa (and he said he had the pleasure of knowing us in Cuiabá, so our heads swelled a little bit... tiny bit).  He then showed a cartoon that he made of Elder Costa that had Batman taking off his mask and it was Elder Costa - very funny.  I wish I had asked for a copy.  Afterward, we took Elder Mercês and Elder Freire out to dinner for Pizza at Margahritas, which was awesome.
Thursday - long day at the office.  Saw Elder Mercês again just quickly to say good-bye.  

Mercês, Freire, Us, Pres & Sis Costa
Mom worked a bunch on our FHE lesson for next week, The Living Christ.  Mary made a video that we will show, like we did for the Family Proclamation - she keeps saving us with awesome videos!
Friday - a LOT done at the office today.  Tonight we took a bus out toward the Perdizes Stake Center, then walked the rest of the way since there was a baptism that we were going to.  It was the grand-daughter of Inez, one of our favorite Sisters in Perdizes Ward.  We arrived quite a bit early because we weren't sure where it was, so we went over to the Restrô restaurant (combination of Restaurant and Bistrô!) and got a burger.  It was delicious, and Mom even let me tip them it was so good (tips are not normally given in Brazil).  The baptism was scheduled to begin at 7:00pm and ended up starting at 8:07pm! (Mom won the bet.)  We came home on Uber since it was late, and our Uber driver had lived in the US where his wife and two daughters still live.
Saturday - did some cleaning and some shopping then went up to the mall and saw Wonder Woman (it's in English here too).  We took Saulo Freire and his girlfriend, Paola.  It was quite funny because we had him order some popcorn and drinks - figuring that since he was Brazilian it would be easier and we wouldn't mess it up somehow.  The lady behind the counter kept giving him different options and he would look over at me and I would nod approval and he would tell her yes.  So, shortly after he finished ordering, she started bringing over everything that we had ordered - one huge (mega) popcorn, two drinks... 1 big bucket of popcorn in a Wonder Woman bucket with headband... wait for it... and two more large re-fillable popcorn containers (yes, full of popcorn)!  It was too funny and we had a good laugh, but I think that he was a bit embarrassed by it all.  Besides the great memory, we also ended up with way too much popcorn to eat - good times.
Sunday - stake conference, so since we weren't feeling all that well we went over to the Morumbi ward instead, which was nice because it gave us the whole afternoon free.  We Skyed with the older kids.
Love to all,
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 36

We're catching up slowly, but still making some progress... a lot of people go to school for 7 years!
Monday, we went in late to work but made it most of the day.  I came home afterward but Mom stayed for FHE - I didn't miss much apparently, it was on getting names off of graves in North Dakota...
Tuesday, still recovering, but worked most of the day.  Passeys volunteered to teach our English class for us so we took them up on it and just came home to rest.
Oh, here's the "rest of the story" of Mom's purse getting lost at the temple.  John got a text in Portuguese from Mom's phone, telling him that this woman found the purse and would like to return it - she said she was honest and a Mormon!  What had happened is that the woman had picked it up at the temple, thinking it belonged to someone in their caravan group from a neighboring city (2 hours away).  She took it home to her city instead of turning it in to the temple lost and found (where we could have easily picked it up).  So we called before the reunion trip and got her name and number on a small slip of paper - as we were rushed trying to leave on the trip.  The maintenance people came into our apartment to do some work and apparently thought that slip of paper (which I had left on the table by the TV) was scraps from their work and they threw it away while we were gone!  It's kind of crazy.  So, we get home from the trip and can't find the paper anywhere, so we don't have her name or number - and we didn't know how we would get to her city to pick up the purse anyway.  So, as non-coincidence would have it, we had met an American who lives here in Brazil just a few weeks before in the Temple parking lot.  Well, he lives in that same city Guarujá!!  I called him and said, "I'm so sorry to bother you, but I need some help."  He responded, "Tell me what I can do, and let's hope that I can provide the help you need."  Such a nice guy - he's Alf Gunn's brother, and we had met Alf when we lived in the state of Washington - I know, the whole thing is cray cray.  I explained the whole thing and he calls me back in about an hour and says, "OK, good news, I found the purse and I'm picking it up tomorrow (Saturday), and I'll bring it in to you on Tuesday when I come to the temple."!  It was amazing, and yet another blessing we are grateful for - the purse didn't have money in it, but it had Mom's iPhone (church), and her iTouch (Dad's), and her favorite sunglasses...
Wednesday, about the same, didn't go to the temple as we usually do on Wednesdays, and just came home after work.
Thursday was Mom's birthday!!  It was great, and a lot of people called to wish her well.  Work bought her a cake and they all sang to her in Portuguese.  We went up to El Dorado Mall and got some tacos (really good!) and then saw Pirates of the Carribean, which was a lot of fun.
Friday - full day at work, and a lot more catching up.  We went to the temple after work and saw two of the Elders we worked with in Cuiabá so we took them to dinner over at the mall - all you can eat Pizza.  We ate too much, but they really loved it.
Saturday we did our usual cleaning in the morning, then some Brazilian friends (Kawai and Eliana) drove us over to Pico do Jaraguá - which is the highest peak here in São Paulo, which isn't really that high.  But it was a fun walk and we had to go up about 260 stairs to the radio and TV towers and had a beautiful view of the city of São Paulo, at least a lot of it.  
This is the back side of the mountain looking inland.
There is a 3-mile trail you can hike up from this side -
we didn't do that!

Different views of parts of the city.  This one shows just
a couple of the Radio and TV towers.

These are the Kawais, our friends that took us here.

This was taken looking down from the peak - as you
can see there is still Brazilian jungle not far from the city!

Came home and prepared our Temple Prep lesson.
Sunday we made it up and to church (it was harder than that phrase might indicate).  We taught our Temple Prep lesson and it went well, although a couple of the students weren't there.  They forgot to assign us a lunch appointment, which was nice for us because it was Fast Sunday!  We Skyped with the younger kids - Matt and family, and Becky and family were all in Texas and everyone was over at David's house for dinner (including James and family).  Too much fun.  Taylor took a new job in Denver, so Jenny and family will be moving, selling their house in Lehi.  Lizzie and Jason are moving up to Salt Lake soon.  Michelle had a doctor's appointment and is now on new meds.  Wow, a lot happens in our family each week or two!!
Love to all,
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 34 Reber Reunion Trip!!

OK, here it is, what you've all been waiting for (and didn't even know it!)
Thursday morning we got up early and took Uber to the airport, met the Reber's (after a long wait, their luggage was last off the plane), then flew up to Recife in the Northwest.  This afternoon we rented a car and met up with Eduardo and Priscila Veras, who were overseeing the reunion.  They took us to a very nice beach area called Porto de Galinhas, just south of the city.

Lots of sail boats - these were all stopped
at a coral reef close to shore.

Priscila Veras, Mom, and Stephanie Reber

As usual, the clouds were amazing!

You can see why this is a big tourist area in Brazil

Mom and I at the beach

All four of us at the Porto de Galinhas entrance sign

We ate some really awesome shrimp tacos, and enjoyed walking along the beach.  When we got back to the hotel, the Rebers decided to call it a night because they were tired from the long travels and we decided to go to dinner with the Veras.  Well, about three blocks into our trip to the restaurant we got t-boned by another car that wasn't paying any attention.  He hit us full speed without even trying to stop.  We were very blessed to not be hurt but for a few bruises, he hit in just the right spot right in the middle of the car - so he got the support between the doors and the frame.

His car - probably totaled.

Our rental car - definitely totaled.  He hit on the side Mom and
I were on - I was driving and she was in the back seat.  We had
a few bruises, but nothing more - which was amazing!

It took over 3 hours for the police to arrive, and then another hour and a half to resolve what they were supposed to do - which wasn't to attribute blame or investigate, just take our reports then it goes to another agency to determine blame, etc.  Fortunately, I had purchased the rental insurance (it's much cheaper here in Brazil), so the next morning Mom and I drove down to the car-rental agency and swapped out the car for another one.

Friday morning, the Veras came and we went to see the older part of Recife where the city was first settled about 500 years ago, called Olinda.  When we arrived, we recognized it as a place we visited in 2010, when we came with Becky and Brett on the cruise.  It was very pretty and historical as well.  

From Olinda looking back at Recife

As is our custom, I paid these two to sing to us.  It was
funny because they just made up the words as they played.

Another view from Olinda

Us with the Rebers

One of the old churches in Olinda

Us with the Veras - they were awesome to show us all around

Becky and Brett should remember these little wooden carvings
of the city, we bought one when we came last time

After Olinda, we came back to Recife and walked around a bit.
Recife is in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco.

We decided to all put our foot into the picture...
There were a lot of nice older buildings in town

Afterward, we went through a session at the Recife temple, then over to the reunion, which was all very awesome.

The Recife Temple - beautiful day

Missionaries and Spouses at Recife reunion
All the missionaries that served in Cuiabá - they were all
older, so Mom and I actually didn't know any of them on
the mission in Cuiabá!  But they are all awesome!

We got up early on Saturday and flew back to São Paulo, arriving in time to drop our luggage at our apartment then head over to meet everyone at the São Paulo temple.  We went next door and had a great lunch.  Mom had left her purse at the temple (which we didn't know at the time), so we retraced our steps trying to find it but to no avail.  The rest of the group had gone over to the chapel for the reunion - but being a chapel that we had never seen, we got a little lost and ended up in front of the institute building.  A nice young couple drove up and asked if they could help.  The wife got out of the car to go teach her class, and the husband offered to give us a ride to the other chapel.  He spoke perfect English so I asked him if he learned it on his mission.  He said, "Yes, but not in the way you might think."  He then explained that the day he arrived in the mission field he was mistaken as an American (he definitely looked like an American) by some American missionaries.  They came over and started talking to him in English.  He said that to his amazement, he understood everything they had said, and then he was more amazed when he answered them in English!  He said that from that day he's been able to speak and communicate in English just fine... Amazing.

Our São Paulo group was by far the biggest.  You can see
where Mom's purse was left - it's in front on the bushes on
the bottom right side (red Boston purse)!
Our group and the restaurant, and for those with
inquiring minds, yes, I was able to snag a bunch
of the missionaries' tabs and pay for them before
they found out!  It was quite fun - and they really
appreciated it.

This is our group in the chapel after the reunion

This is Mom with a bunch of the Cuiabá Sister Missionaries

So we met with the missionaries from São Paulo, by far our biggest group of the three reunions.  It was a great meeting and I was really impressed by the callings that these returned missionaries now had in the church - just fantastic that they were all doing so well, and that their leaders recognized the need for church callings for them (and for everyone!).

Sunday morning we were up early again and flew to Porto Alegre.  We checked into our hotel (very nice), and then went to lunch at some friends of the Rebers.  It was delicious and they were very nice to us.  They own an Orthodontics practice in a nice area of Porto Alegre, not too far from the temple.  They built their house up above their office and it was very nice.  After lunch we headed over to the church for the reunion.  It's the same building next to our mission office when we were young missionaries in the Brazil Porto Alegre Mission.  The office was still there, but was used now for Stake offices and the new mission office was built next to it.  Our reunion was held in the institute building, also new.  We knew and worked with all the missionaries that came to this reunion so it was very special for us (as were the others!).

This is their nice Orthodontics office - house upstairs

This is the family on the left, with us on the right. (Delvaux)

This is the old mission office - you can barely tell that
the door was moved to the left, the original was patched
over to the right of us in the picture.

This was the group of missionaries that met in Porto Alegre
and in this case, we knew them all!

After the reunion, Keith Reber and I found the apartment where we had worked (at different times) while young missionaries.  Here's a picture of us pointing to it - it was my first apartment in Brazil, up on the third floor.  I remember shooting bottle caps with our finger and thumb off the balcony onto the street below.

This is us in front of our old apartment

On Monday morning we slept in a little, after three straight days of early mornings it was nice.  Then we took a walk around that area of Porto Alegre.  It was very nice and relaxing.

Fountain at the park

Oh, and we saw this very modern trash collection service - two
guys throw big trash bags into the back of a truck...

This statue was at a park that we walked
through on our morning "passeio".

Afterward we headed out to Gramado, about 80 miles from Porto Alegre, I think.  It's a very nice area, settled by european settlers - mostly German.  Our hotel was awesome, right at the side of a lake, and that afternoon we went out in swan paddle-boats on the lake - too fun.  We then went downtown and did a little shopping (I bought a "cowboy" knife made out of a railroad tie) and found a new treat - a Trudle.  It's kind of hard to explain - but it's a hollow roll of belgian bread that is baked and then the inside is lined with a think frosting of either doce de leite (sweet milk candy) or nutella (chocolate), or other goodies.  Here's a picture.

That's our hotel in the background.

These are "Trudels" - delicious.

Afterward we went to a Fondue place that was all you can eat - but we really only managed one round, which was cheese, vegetables, meat, and sweets (dunked in chocolate).  It was very good.

At the Fondue restaurant

Tuesday we went on a bus tour of Gramado and Canela, the neighboring city.  It was only Stephanie Reber and us because Keith picked up a cold that kept him in bed all day.  The tour was a lot of fun and we stopped at a place that had tram rides, so we took a ride on them.

We started the bus tour in Canela, right next to Gramado
That sign says "Love one Another" - it's in front of the
church made out of rocks - below.

This church is quite famous because it's
made entirely out of rocks.

This is what the town looks like, defitiely European influence

This was the entrance to a big amusement park outside
of town, no, we didn't go into it.

Another tourist attraction called Frozen World.

Entrance to the tram cars

This is a picture of the waterfall at
the park taken from the tram car

Mom and Stephanie in the tram

This was dinousaur world - looked like Jurrasic Park!

We also saw a transformer on the tour

Famous entrance into the town of Gramado

We thought that this train coming out of a building was
... interesting!

After the trams and the beautiful views of the waterfall, we stopped at one other stop - a chocolate factory!  It was amazing.

This is the chocolate factory - it was like an amusement
park on the outside.
And this was the inside - we may have bought a little
too much chocolate, as in we still haven't made a dent
in it - even after giving a bunch away as gifts
Then we headed home and did a little more shopping and visited the Trudle place again!  Then we had asked the hotel where the best hamburger place was, so we went there.  But it was a fancy Italian restaurant and we were tempted to stay but I really wanted a hamburger (this is important later in the story!) so we asked to doorman at the restaurant if they had hamburgers and he said no but the place next door does!  We had stopped a little too soon.  So we went next door to Me Gusta ("I like"), a specialty hamgurger place, and ordered three hamburgers.  We asked for them to be cut in thirds so we could each try the others' burgers.  So two hamburgers came, MarJean's and Stephanie's and they were cut in fourths because the guy had forgotten.  So we shared them as we waited for mine.  When we finished we realized that mine wasn't coming - I was the one that wanted a hamburger!!  So I asked the owner (and waiter who took our order) and he hadn't realized we ordered three.  I don't know how he missed it and he was very apologetic.  So, in the end, I never got my burger.

Wednesday, we drove Keith around to some of the sites we had seen the day before, as well as to the waterfall in the cool park.  We didn't ride the tram cars, but we went for a nice little walk (Mom wasn't feeling well at this point) at the park, with more pictures.  Oh, and we saw a guy burning a wasp nest out of a tree - kind of exciting!

A different rock church in Gramado

This was the guy burning out the wasp
nest, which was even more exciting
because we had to walk right by him (and
the wasps!)!

We stopped twice and bought "pine nuts" - but these are a
lot different than the ones you get in the USA.  They are
huge balls of seeds - which you can see here being taken

Mom and I almost got eaten by dinosaurs!

Then we drove back to Porto Alegre and the bid the Rebers good-bye as they dropped us at the airport and we flew back home to São Paulo.  What a fantastic trip.

Thursday, Mom was very sick and I wasn't feeling too well either.  I went to work for a half-day and Mom stayed home.  On Friday, I went to work in the morning and stayed home in the afternoon, and Mom went in the afternoon after staying in bed in the morning.  Saturday and Sunday we were both down, but managed to make it back to work on Monday - which will start our next blog!

Love to all,
The Church is True,
Dad and Mom