Monday, January 30, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 17

Hello all, another week of fun and adventure here in Brazil.
We started out the week working on Monday, it was quite busy.  Then we had FHE with the couples and the Harts gave the lesson - it was their last week with us, they flew back home on Friday.  We made a casserole for the pot luck dinner, which was a good thing because everyone else brought desserts!
Tuesday - pretty normal.
Wednesday - not normal at all.  It was a São Paulo holiday and we went downtown to a big shopping area called Rua 25 de Março.  Wednesday afternoon we had the sister missionaries from our Perdizes ward come to lunch since they had to come for a missionary training broadcast anyway.  We fed them french toast, which is an all-time favorite, then we all went over to the broadcast - it was fantastic training, led by the church missionary committee.  The committee is chaired by Dallin H. Oaks.  A couple new changes came out - in Latin America the schedule for missionaries shifted an hour later, 7:30 to 11:30 instead of the long-time 6:30 to 10:30 schedule.  There was also a change simplifying the key indicators for missions throughout the world.  The brethren are very inspired and very much in the know.
Wednesday night we made our way out to the Perdizes ward for a night of building cleaning.  We brought glue and tape and repaired the old hymnals that were in pretty bad shape, it was quite a fun evening with the ward members.
Thursday was a rush at work, trying to get everything done to go out to Ric Davids' fazenda - which is a farm (but really more of a nice getaway from the city life).  Ric picked us up just after lunch and drove us out to Santa Rita, where the family farm is.  It's been in his family for about 150 years!  Their maid on the farm is the third generation that has worked for them (her mom was their maid and so was her grandmother!).  The next two days were just wonderful - fresh air, still a lot of rain, and farm-fresh food and clear clean water.  We just had a blast and it was so relaxing.  I can't possibly include all the fun things we saw and did - but I'll jam in as many here as I can.  We got to see their dairy process in operation, they milk about 60 cows a day.  They have about 90+ peacocks on the farm and a lot of wild birds, including parrots.  There were two new calves born while we were there!  We saw a huge frog, a cool lizard, and a ton of new flowers and plants that they have on the farm.  We went for walks and walked through their corn fields (they use the silage corn to feed the livestock).  I played some chess with Ric's Dad, we ate amazingly good food, saw a waterfall and a beautiful church in town.  Mom got to make some cheese which we brought home.  And, I got to take some sweet pictures - below:

I don't even remember taking this shot, but it's cool!

Inside the courtyard at the Fazenda with pool, we stayed in the upper room to the right - no, not the really tiny one, the big one on the second story.

This is an old abandoned house on the property - I doctored the photo a little...

They had several horses, very pretty

This is the old family home on the property - Ric's Dad has restored it

When he had the white overcoat removed, they found this underneath
It is hand-painted patterns and looks like wallpaper, but it's all done by hand!

They have a lot of antiques in the home, it looks like a museum.

I'll only add a caption on this flower, not the others - there were lots.

This is one of the baby calves that was born while we were there.

This is one of my favorites -
taken out the window as we were passing in the car

This is one of the stained glass windows in the church
at the center of town

I just thought this bird was cool, and
since it was posing for me...

I counted 15 little ducklings being chaperoned
by their parents on the pond.

I think this is a peacock game of king of the hill

They also had white peacocks.

Part of an old warehouse, I put this in because the hole in
the steel door was made my Ric's cousin who was playing
around with some gunpowder - true story.

One of the many birds we saw on our little walkabout

It rained a lot - more than they had seen in over 50 years!

This was the view from the highest hill in Santa Rita

This is their version of the Cristo Redentor - also
on the top of the highest hill

This is us by one of the ponds on the property

I told you the frog was huge!  While we were watching,
it snagged a huge beetle with it's tongue - pretty cool.

More birds along the hike.

We came back Saturday late afternoon, did some cleaning and shopping in preparation for Sunday.  Sunday was a treat because the Sondereggers had a car and drove us out to our ward in Perdizes.  He had served there 45 years ago (almost to the day!) and wanted to visit.  It was fun to have them there and there were some fun connections made, as always seems to be the case in the church.  We also got a ride home, so that saved us a bunch of time and we had the Sondereggers over for lunch that afternoon.  Later we got to Skype with the kids - great day!

Love you all,
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 16

Hello again, another week gone by, and here it was a rainy one.  It rained all week long, but it brought a cool spell so it was awesome!

A city street in the center of town - that`s water from one side to the other!
Monday after working in the office, we had FHE with the other couples.  The lesson this week was on church music and how it could uplift and inspire.  It was a very good lesson, taught by Sister Sonderegger.  On Tuesday we were asked to go pick up an American couple on Saturday, but when we made contact with them they said that another couple had already arranged to pick them up!  Kind of funny, and not that unusual :)  That night after work we went to the movies with the other couples and we saw Moana - this time in English, so it cleared up a few things that we didn't quite understand the first time in Portuguese.  It was fun and afterward we got our first Subway sandwich here in Brazil - it was really good.
Wednesday we went to the temple and did some shopping afterward (to help Mom get here steps!).  Thursday we found out that the facilities folks had commandeered the apartment for our couple from the US and they were going to put the couple in a hotel while a visiting couple from Mexico used their apartment!  I almost got fired for suggesting that the couple from Mexico be put up in the hotel so that the American couple could move into their apartment after a long trip, with all their bags etc.  We worked it out as a compromise, the Americans just waited until Saturday night after the others left to move in, but at least they didn't have to stay in a hotel for two days!
Friday night we went up to Applebee's and met a young man (24) who I have communicated with on HelloTalk - an app that allows you to talk with others in a language you want to learn.  I have about 70-80 people that I "talk" to occasionally in English to help them learn it.  I sometimes ask them questions about Portuguese in return.  Anyway, we met Murilo and had dinner together and it was very nice.  He's looking into the church and it's teachings, so we're hoping that things work out and he joins!  The food was also very good, the service was very slow - but we didn't mind because it was good company and we weren't in a hurry to get anywhere. 

Murilo and us at Applebees in the mall
Saturday we had been invited to the wedding (sealing) of a former sister missionary from Cuiabá.  She met a Brazilian - her teacher in the MTC here when she came down, and after the mission they got back together and were engaged and married.  So we went to the sealing in the São Paulo temple on Saturday, one of the "worst" temple experiences I've had - but luckily not a bad one for them!   The officiator welcomed everyone and then walked over to them and spoke to them in a quiet voice, all the counsel and uplifting things that one enjoys in these wonderful events - we couldn't hear a thing, it wasn't even a matter of not understanding, we just couldn't hear it.  Then, after having them go to the altar, he did the same thing with the ordinance itself, he spoke so softly to them that we couldn't benefit from hearing the ordinance pronounced.  But, like I said, for them it was great, which is really all that matters.  It was nice to be there and Mom was a great help to her mother, who was having a difficult time thinking about her daughter being married and staying in Brazil.  So, today we went to our ward out in Perdizes, and who shows up to church?  Sister Thedell, her husband, and her parents (they are from Missouri)!  We had no idea they were coming to our ward, and the only reason they chose Perdizes was because it was the closest ward to their hotel.  How cool is that?  We got a picture with them and were able to talk to the parents some more.  We hadn't gotten a picture because we had to come back and meet up with the others to greet the new couple and go get pizza with them.

Sister Thedell and her new husband and her parents at our Ward.

They took a Relief Society picture today so we added it here.
OK, other "non-coincidence".  While at the temple, we met the groom's mission president who had come for the wedding.  He said that he had been the mission president in Riberão Preto, so we asked if he knew Elder Campbell (Spencer went to that mission), and they got all excited and said yes, he was one of their favorite missionaries and that they had met Steve and Loretta because they came down and picked him up after the mission!  I had forgotten about them coming down.  After the sealing, we were waiting outside for the bride and groom quite awhile and we had a lot of time to talk with the mission president and it was just a wonderful visit that we had until we had to leave (which is why we didn't get a picture with the bride and groom until Sunday).

This is us with Spencer Campbell's mission president!
We had a child baptized after church today, it was very nice.

Baptism after church today.  A family from Bolivia that lives here in São Paulo
Then we went over to eat at the house of the first counselor in the bishopric, Edilson & Denise and their two boys, Vitor & Louis.  Louis is almost two and he was a terror - it was quite amusing. :)  The food and the company were great, they had invited Edilson's sister, Denise's father, and another friend of theirs over for lunch.  

Our lunch group today
I think this idea of the bishop's to feed us in a new home each week is awesome, except for all the food we eat, of course.
Love you all,
The Church is True
Dad and Mom

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 15

Hello Everyone!
Here is the recent news from down under - no, not Austrailia!

We had another "interesting" FHE on Monday night - it was a lesson on a church motorcycle group called Temple Riders or something like that.  They ride their Harleys and Gold Wings from one temple to another.  Like I said, interesting.
Tuesday afternoon we had a great experience in going to the airport and meeting up with Elder Mercês, a missionary that we worked with in Cuiabá.  He´s the one that drew the picture of us and the Davises in the Pantanal wrestling an alligator, and he drew pictures for Emma and Melanie to hang on the walls in their rooms.  Anyway, he was kind of semi-famous when he went on his mission because he had a web site called "Chronicles of Wesley", kind of like an on-line comic strip ("I know, can you believe it?!")  So, we get to the airport and find out that the church commissioned two guys to follow Elder Mercês around and video tape his return home!  So, we met him and gave him a hug and it was all being taped - yes, it was a little awkward. 😉  But we got over it quickly by eating a BigMac at McDonalds, yes, with fries from anywhere... I mean, McDonalds.  It was so fun to see him again, and we took Elder Freire (his old companion who lives here in São Paulo) with us so it was a great reunion.  We decided to take Uber to get there in a half hour instead of two and a half hours.

Elder Freire, me, Elder Mercês

With Mom... like you couldn't tell!

You don't need a caption here... :)

Wednesday we went to the temple after work, very great experience as always.  Then we called Grandma and sang to her on her birthday, in Portuguese, on both of her phones.
Thursday night we decided to go up to the El Dorado Mall because we were looking for a cable for the iPad, so afterward we went to the movies and saw Moana in Portuguese.  It was super fun.  Afterward we tried a crepe place that we had seen before but had never been to.  It was really good, we got one that was ham and cheese, and one that was strawberry and chocolate.  Delicious.

Ham and Cheese

Stawberry and Chocolate

Friday night we went to the show again (I know, I know) with the couples and saw La La Land, which was fun for the most part but she dies in the end - no, that's a different movie!  But really (spoiler alert), Mom and I didn't particularly like the ending, we're more the happily ever after types.  After the show we found another new place to eat and it was kind of like Cafe Rio - you could make your selection of Mexican food and what to put on or in it, etc.  We had a grilled steak burrito that was really good (of course, we have been here three months now!).
Saturday we had the Elders from the mission office of the SP West Mission over for a breakfast of French Toast and it was really nice to feed some missionaries again (like we did a lot in Cuiabá).  It was kind of "funny" because Mom invited another couple over and I have a hard time with the husband (I won't go into why), and the Elders left a message about not judging and looking for the best in everyone - OK, they got me, did they get you - they may have gotten both of us...  Then we did some shopping, cleaning, mom made some cookies, and then we ended the day playing some games with Sister Cox.  She is a great lady and we have just really enjoyed her company - she's the one that Lizzie met at the St. George airport, and Jenny met up in Orem and she brought back a bunch of stuff for us from the US.
Today we went out to our ward assignment in Perdizes and Mom was asked to lead the music in Sacrament meeting and did a great job, of course.  I taught the priesthood lesson in High Priests and it went pretty well.  One of the high priests afterward said that I have a "very impressive" command of the Portuguese language! (head swelling...)  I'm sure I'll be brought back to reality soon. 😎  It was the second lesson in the President Hinckley book and I just was so overwhelmed by his preparation throughout his life to be in the role of prophet.  That first story about being the executive secretary of a church committee with 6 apostles on it, right after he got back from his mission, was pretty amazing, but very telling of the Lord preparing his elect.  And it reminded me of how Mom and I were prepared for both of our missions and how each one of us has been and is being prepared for future service, even if it's not recognized at the moment.  Keep up the good work!.  
We went to lunch at the house of one of the ward leaders (as we do each Sunday afternoon) - it was great!

Here's the Lunch Crowd - left back is counselor in Bishopric and Wife, Middle is Us, Next Lady is from the Ward, last two are the renters of the apartment (it's their house and their meal!) and kids
I love the flowers here so I threw this one in!  With a small part of the SP skyline.

That's it for this week
Love you all, the church is true
Dad and Mom

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 14

January 8, 2017
This week was somewhat uneventful, so this should be short and sweet.
We started out the week getting more work assigned to us in a travel department meeting on Monday morning.  They asked me to keep doing the registrations of new missionaries to Brazil, which I had taken on while Cristina was on vacation.  She's back, but we still have that work to do.  Then Monday, Daniel left on vacation, so we got more of his work - Mom was assigned Chile and Japan, which means she helps get visas for Brazilian missionaries going to those countries.  So, we spent the week trying to catch up on his work, since he didn't tell us anything or give us any training before he left.  Cool.
Monday night the FHE lesson was on J. Rueben Clark, and it was quite informative.  Grandpa really liked Elder Clark, and I understood more about why that was during this presentation.
Really the rest of the week wasn't noteworthy.  We're trying to put together a trip to the pantanal (Cuiabá), so that's taken some time.  I am also accumulating all my tax records so I can do my taxes from afar.  We found a new Chinese restaurant and tried it out one night, not too bad.  It was kind of funny because eating at the restaurant costs less than half of what it costs to order the food for takeout (even without delivery!).  We couldn't figure out why, so we just ate there...
Saturday we went over to Makro, like Costco, and spent about US$150.  We made some good chili this week and took some around to other couples and we played 5-Crowns with the Sondereggers last night.  Today, we had Fast and Testimony meeting and it was very nice, people have returned from vacations so the chapel was nearly full.  Classes were very good, as usual.  Our bus rides were also uneventful, about 45 minutes there and about the some returning home.  Mom got a very nice belated Christmas present from one of the women in the ward - it was very sweet of her.
That's it, we hope that all are working on your new years' goals and making great progress.  We are working on ours... I wish I could say it was with great progress. :)
Here are a few pictures from this week - just random shots:

View of Neighborhood taken from Makro (Costco)

Fire Drill Last Week, we all left the building...

Another temple shot with the Brazilian Flag
Love you all,
The Church is True!
Dad and Mom

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Mission 2 - Week 13 (good luck!)

Hello again, our 13th week of reporting from Brazil.  Actually today is our 105th day on our mission - I know, right?!  Well, so far it's been awesome so I'm sure the next 441 days will be just as awesome.  Let's see, that means this week we will finish one-fifth of our mission... Wow!
OK, on to the news - quit getting so trunky!

Oh, back to trunky for a minute (but only a minute) - we got to Skype with all the kids and grandkids on Christmas and it was just wonderful.  Thanks so much for everyone taking time on their busy Christmas Day to share the fun with us - we just loved it.

OK, now on to news... I think.
Monday we worked in the office - pretty quiet this week since it seems like most of the people are on vacation.  By Brazilian work code (not sure if it's law, but it might be), workers have to take vacations in big chunks of time, they don't get to do a day here and a day there like the US.  So most take either the month of December (Cristina in our department) or the month of January (Daniel in our department).  So we've been doing Cristina's job in her absence, but luckily she comes back to work tomorrow (lucky for us, but not so lucky for her!).  I tweaked my back a little on Monday morning running into an open closet door - yeah, it was wierd.  So I babied it for a few days and it's pretty much better now.  It's been kind of tentative the whole time we've been here, but I won't go into that.  FHE was by the Andersons and it was on using the Book of Mormon as our most powerful teaching tools.
We've been walking up to this bread store (padaria) close to us and we found a cheese bread that is really good - it's called Josephina (don't know why!)  So we've started putting a pepper-like cheese on the bread and melting the cheese in the oven and it is good.  It will probably become one of our weekly staples.  I bring this up because it's what we did Tuesday night, it's always a nice walk.
We went to the temple on Wednesday and did work for Sister Salisbury here.  It was very enjoyable, as usual.  Then Thursday was a normal work day and after work we went out to a mall called Shopping Taboão - a little bigger and nicer than the mall by us.  Both of these were inside the mall! 

We ate at a new pizza place there, which was good and also inexpensive.  We also picked up a white belt for my temple pants because I'm down about 10 pounds, and it could be embarrasing to lose your pants in a temple session... just sayin'.
Friday we had the day off, so we did a bunch of cleaning and organizing in our apartment, including taking down all our Christmas decorations, etc.  It was nice to have the day off which left Saturday open to go to the Ibirapuera Park with a few of the others.  We went to another art museum but it was closed, as were all the museums because of the holiday - on-line it said they were open!  But it turned out fine as we walked around the park and it was a very beautiful day.  

These trees have beautiful red flowers in the tops of the tree.

A view across the park lake toward downtown.

Caught three swans crossing the river - sorry I didn't get a close up shot.

A view of the park from outside the museum (where we remained!)
Then we walked about a half hour over to a new Taco Bell here in São Paulo!  Yeah, we ate tacos and burritos, and at least the tacos were quite good - can't say the same about the burritos.  Another new experience in Brazil.

Two of the nice skyscrapers we saw on the walk over to Taco Bell

Christmas Tree right outside the Taco Bell (in another Mall)

Cute couple we caught a picture of by the Christmas decorations
That night we got together with the other couples and played some games and ate goodies - a usual New Year's Eve party, except that we didn't get to make a homemade bomb.  We did, however, have bombs going off in our neighborhood until about 1:00am!
Happy New Year to all.

We love you.
The Church is True
Dad and Mom