Thursday, December 27, 2012

The first of the waterfalls

Salto Manduri. Much more impressive when there is water.
We are told there are over 100 waterfalls in the municipality of Prudentopolis and we have now see 2 of them. We were taken by a good friend and part time investigator, Armando. Armando is one of those people that you just know you have been friends with before coming to earth, at least in my case. I knew we would be good friends as soon as we met. He and his wife come to church almost every Sunday for at least Sacrament Meeting and they would do anything for you. They are not members but their son, Anderson has joined the church and is serving a mission in Sao Paulo.
Salto Barao looking down from the lookout point

Armando and Sister McKinney at Salto Barao lookout point

Salto Barao. See if you can find the birds
nesting on the face of the rock behind the water.

Rickli resort at the Salto Manduri. Built mostly for day
use by the Rickli family as a way to give back to the community.
The word salto can mean jump, bounce, waterfall or shoe heel. I noticed a sign at the swimming pool that prohibited a "salto mortal" which is a somersault. The Rickli family immigrated from Switzerland and both of the falls shown here are on their very large holdings, which include farming of soy and corn among other things and a large conservation area where the falls are located.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mission Christmas Conference

     Our Christmas Conference began at about 4:15 AM when the bus picked us up at our apartment. The bus began at 3:00 at the Davis' apartment in Guarapuava, picked us and the Elders from Prudentopolis and Irati, went on the Ponta Grossa to gather the Elder and Sisters there and dropped us at the door to the mission office at about 8:30 AM. Missionaries had some time before the conference began at 9:30 to visit with previous companions and catch up a bit.
     The morning of the conference was spent being instructed by President and Sister Cordon, meeting their family and meeting the family of one of the counselors in the mission presidency. This counselor has a pretty amazing story. He was orphaned at the age of 17 when both of his parents died within days of each other and the family was split up with he and a younger brother being left to take care of each other. They were found by missionaries, taught, and baptized in 1976. They were barely getting by and as he turned 18 less than a year later his bishop asked him if he would serve a mission for the church. He didn't know what that was but when the Bishop explained he told the bishop he was barely getting by as it was and didn't see how it would be possible. His Bishop told him to think about it and pray and a way would be opened to allow him to serve. He said he would think and pray about it. A while later after he had pretty much forgotten about the call from the Bishop he received some money from an uncle who had sold some property. While he was thinking of all the things he could do with the money he separated out 10% and paid his tithing. The Bishop called him in and asked where he had come by such a substantial amount and he explained. The Bishop handed back his tithing and said, "The Lord doesn't want 10%, he wants it all". Not understanding he asked what he meant and the Bishop explained that this was the money he would require for his mission. He put in his papers and served. He learned the gospel while serving his mission and one experience that stood out for him was when he attempted to bear his testimony about the Book of Mormon and the man asked if he had read the entire book, he had to tell him no, he hadn't read it all the way through. His testimony was rejected and he and his companion determined that he had to read it as soon as possible. He spent every free minute reading until he was finished and had received his own witness of it's truth. He returned to the man, bore testimony and the man was baptized.
     Lunch was a blur. Jan spent the time trying to get pictures of baptisms that the Elders had not sent early, and pictures that Sister Cordon wanted added at the last minute, into a power point presentation for the afternoon. I, of course left her to go eat, and dish up a plate for her before the food was completely gone.
     After lunch we had a Christmas Play with Cordon's son and daughter-in law portraying Joseph and Mary and each zone in the mission singing Christmas hymns.

President and Sister Cordon announcing the program

Zones provide the music for the Nativity

Joseph asking to stay in an inn for the night ( he asked President Cordon and was refused)

The Sisters are called upon to provide music

The Guarapuava and Paranagua zones join forces, Sister McKinney
is on the piano.

      The day ended in reverse order of how it began as the bus left the mission office around 5 PM and dropped us off at our apartment.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas in Brasil

We have had to scramble to prepare for a branch Christmas celebration since Elder McKinney was only sustained this month.  There are no kitchen facilities at the building that we rent and since the majority of members walk a mile or more it is inconvenient to ask them to bring food with them to share in a pot luck type way-- the new first counselor suggested that we eat at a restaurant.  Those of you who know me well, know what a penny-pincher I am.  This was a very hard concept for me to accept.  The cost of the meal also includes transportation to the restaurant from the branch building.  Of course for some who live closer to the restaurant, this makes no sense so hopefully the bus can make a few stops on the way to pick them up.

I pilfered some e-card from the to use as invites. After changing the scriptures included to Portuguese, we printed the information about the dinner on the back, then we walked & walked to deliver them to each of the members and get a count of who could attend so we could reserve space for this Thursday evening.  I hope by next year to be far more knowledgeable about local customs and possibilities.  I want to share this beautiful video/music presentation with them but so far we have not figured out how to do so. The best I can do is offer it to each of you and hope that you will each share it because it is so beautiful.

We also attended our zone conference in Guarapuava on Dezembro 10th.  We were served by the zone leaders as they went around and polished each set of shoes.  We also learned about following instructions by folding Christmas trees from a square of paper.  John went to receive the instructions by ear and then came to teach me how to make the tree without using his hands to show me how to do it.  He was very good at relaying the instructions from his memory and we were able to make our tree.  However, when they gave us the written instructions with pictures included, it was much easier to complete the task.   In true missionary fashion I believe that they want  us to teach others to read the instructions to life via the Book of Mormon.  It makes things so much easier.  We have been very fortunate to get to know this much of Elders for two transfers now.  I think we will probably get to meet some new ones when transfers happen the week after Christmas.  

Tree floating in the pond
in a local neighborhood
President Cordon assigned me to prepare a slide show for the Mission Christmas program.  For the last three P-days I have received e-mails from the mission elders. Each of them sending one of their baptisms for the year. This will be the only "White Christmas" that we will have this year as it is getting warmer everyday here.  

We have about 2 mm of rainfall a day on average.  The clouds roll in and drop a significant amount of rain for a girl from the deserts of Utah. I really have to time my wash so I can hang it out to dry between the daily storms.  Then the clouds roll on and the sun comes out and the sky is blue and hot like nothing happened.  

Anyway, I currently have a 114 slide PowerPoint Presentation that I am putting The Piano Guys Christmas hymns to. (I have had fun purchasing and downloading this music from their website.) We will show it as part of the Christmas Party that we will all attend in Curitiba on Friday.  

This park is downtown in Prudentópolis.
The white of the candy canes is the spray painted ends of pop bottles. 
One last fun thing to report about is our part in three humanitarian projects that came to light in the last couple of weeks.  The previous mission couple - The Carters from Pleasant Grove - had proposed three separate projects here in town to the powers that be in São Paulo.  Elder McKinney received an e-mail saying that the projects had to be initiated before the end of the year.  Santa Casa is a hospital for mostly indigent people that come in for medical care from the interior of the country.  Hermes Sanchez is the director there.  We met with him last week and introduced ourselves, laid out the paperwork that we had received, proposed that we would like to donate $R5,000 from the Church of Jesus Christ to his facility, and then promptly bought 27 mattresses and covers for his facility.  Hermes was a pharmacist who opened a pharmacology school in Guarapuava before becoming the administrator of this charitable hospital.  He was very professional and gave us a tour of the facility.  Having worked my college years in Utah Valley Hospital, there was a very familiar look to his hospital.  I was impressed with his pharmacy, operating rooms, patient rooms, emergency facilities etc.  We had called ahead to explain our errand.  John explained the limits of the contract with the church, he had done his homework previous to our arrival and chose the money for much needed new mattresses and covers.  We hopped in his car, drove to a local loja (store), picked out the cover materials, contracted to have them made and made a new friend. He has invited us to a dinner with his board next week to tell about the church humanitarian projects.

The second project was for Padre Albino whose project allows the families of the indigent patients served by the hospital to stay while they await the care of their loved ones.  Many come with only the shirts on their back and have no other resources.  This project would provide hygiene kits and possible newborn type kits to these people.  When we met with the Padre we also met the head of his board of directors and they decided that they could decide how to spend their alloted money with out a board meeting that will not happen until after the holidays.

The third project is for Visilio Sao Vincente which is a asylum for elderly patients (an old folks home of sorts).  We met with them last week to present the proposal and then again yesterday to order materials.  They choose to spend their money on pillows and sheets for the patients.  These will be made locally at two different stores. Margolí is the woman in charge of the facility.  Again, she and her assistant prepared their priority list and were ready for us when we came to go shopping. she was very professional and caring.

The remarkable thing about the two projects that have moved along is that as we explain the sacredness of the donations and the responsibility of spending the money carefully, they agree.  The merchants have given discounts and even thrown in free labor on both projects.  There will be publicity for the church as well as for their facilities because they are grateful and because they hope it will motivate others to contribute.

We have had more investigators at church.  On Sunday we finally had our children's Sacrament Meeting program. All 12 children (including 3 investigators) sang their hearts out.  I expected to see parents in the audience but we also had the local post master and his wife-to-be last Sunday.  He has been very friendly with us and is investigating the church.

One less welcome visitor arrived at our home last week. I was grateful this one was caught in a trap.

More soon.....

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Presidents, Peddlers, & Preparations

Saturdays are Seminary – John has taught for 3 weeks now because Alana is studying for finals at school – the course is Old Testament.  He got a call from the area coordinator saying they should be finished by the end of the year and the kids are only in Exodus because they do one lesson a week on Saturday.  The stories do not seem familiar to the kids, so Elder McKinney gave each of the youth the assignment to study one of the stories and come back and report to the others in the next few weeks before the end of the year.  Hopefully the preparation will make at least one story stick in each of their minds.
John’s Sunset shot from the front of our apartment
– note the sky line.  

Meanwhile, during seminary time, I have been teaching music lessons to one of the younger brothers using the organ in the chapel since he did not have access to a keyboard at his home.  I have two youth and one adult who seem to be taking lessons seriously and two other people who like the idea of playing but have not yet caught the concept of practicing (repetition to help embed the learning and make it natural). John has even started practicing since he listens in on the majority of lessons while I am teaching.

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012, was noteworthy because we had so many area authorities arrive at our small building for our branch meetings.  District Presidente Guilherme Lustoza Araujo and his wife and two beautiful children; district primary and young woman’s presidents; Presidente Lustoza, a counselor in the mission presidency and father of Presidente Araujo; a driver named Brother Helãman all arrive before the 9 a.m. meetings.  They greeted many of the members by name and were great representatives of the igreja (church). So they attended the block meetings ending with sacrament meeting – when we found that Presidente Cordon, Sister Cordon, and their son Dallin had arrived to participate in the release of the branch presidency who have been serving since 2007.  

Cordons – Elders – Presidente McKinney
Elder John Leslie McKinney was sustained as the new branch president with Renato Mehl and Paul Bonfim as counselors. Daniel Oishi was retained as the Elder’s Quorum President but released as the 2nd Counselor in the branch presidency. Needless to say it was a busy and an exciting day for us.  Presidente Cordon gave John a blessing and explained that as a missionary he already had the keys necessary for a branch president.  He then alternated with Presidente Lustoza in setting apart the others.  The most noteworthy part of the blessings was that having patience with Elder McKinney was mentioned. Virginia Mehl, Michalina Bonfim and myself as well as newly released Presidente Elias Jair Stadler and his wife, Ivadette, were at the setting apart.

The Cordons and Elders Brooksby and Affonso ate lunch at our home. There was a period of time while the new Branch Presidency counted offerings and the Elders helped some of the young investigators return to their homes that I was able to visit with the Cordons in our apartment.  Dallin is 15 and in international school in Curitiba. We talked about the advantages of having a broader education – knowing people from all over the world – and I think he is probably already a great missionary in his own right.

Christmas tree
from the Biehns.  
The Cordons brought some great packages from Casal Biehn for us.  When the Biehns returned to Bountiful in November they left us their Christmas decorations and two more teclados so I could teach more students here in Prudentópolis.  Monday, I promptly got on line and made my first Portuguese internet purchase since there were no printed materials or music books included with the keyboards.  I hope the distribution center here in Brasil will be able to get things here to me quickly.  I found that not only was the material cheaper from this distribution center when I converted the Reais to dollars but I did not have to pay the $135 international shipping.  My CPF number finally came in handy and the time and money it cost to get it have almost been paid for by saving me the shipping.

The week that followed involved a lot of study and preparation.  We did spend a little time at the branch going through materials in the president’s and clerk’s offices and the library.  There is a lot to be recycled in old leadership manuals.  The Elders would like to make up Christmas baskets of the extra copies of old lesson manuals that are stacked in the library.  I will report back later on how that works out.  

I was also given the assignment of collecting baptism pictures from the missionaries and putting a Power Point together with the pictures and Christmas music to be shown at the mission Christmas Party December 21st.  I am now trying to figure out how to attach the music to the program since, of course, the Power Point is a newer version than I have previously used.  Wish me luck!  I have found some beautiful music.  Remember, I am trying to prepare Portuguese lyrics.  I am learning from these translations that interpretations of language are broader than I would have imagined before.

Adela & Kris at Oishis' with Elder McKinney
Friday, Dezembro 7th, we met Adela and Kris from Poland.  They are biking around the world and information about them can be found at:  We were able to visit with them for the evening.  They have a small tent and all their equipment with them on their bikes.  They do not know where they will stay from one day to the next – kind of like without purse or script.  If you are interested, access their website and hit translate.  They are learning the language of the countries as they bike through.  Though they are both Polish, they met in London, England where they worked at the same restaurant while they were in England with the intent to learn English. Adela observed to me that they have found good people everywhere they have been and none of the bad that is so publicized on the news. They have relatives in Texas so they will try to cross into the U.S. at the border there then ride up through California to Alaska and the across the Behring Strait.  This process will take years (already 2 years and 10+ months).  We may be home before they are in the U.S.

Nativity souvenir to add to my collection!
Our 1st  Christmas decoration here.

One purchase that we have still been unable to make is that of a good fan.  It is getting warmer here every day. With the humidity, 90 degrees gets pretty warm.  It is warm enough that I have acquired some blisters on my heat rash.  I am working on overcoming that!  Elder McKinney just roams around trying to get cool enough to sleep at night. 

Christmas tablecloth becomes our wall decoration!

We are off to finish sorting through materials at the branch and decorate for Christmas. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Skype, Sidewalks and Semínimas

We are new grandparents again!  

Abigail Jolien McKinney was born early in the morning on Tuesday, November 27th, 2012, which is three days earlier than Chelsea planned to be induced.  We got a call, during the early hours in Utah, as James and Chelsea were checking in at Timpanogos Regional Hospital-- her contractions were coming pretty close together.  Later, James called with the good news that mom and baby (7 lbs. 8 ozs., 20 inches long, born 7:27 a.m.) were well. We were home having lunch the next day--5 hours’ time difference between us and Utah right now—when James, Evelyn, and Amelia [in pjs]--Skyped us to show us dark-haired Abigail.  It seems that she does not sleep all that well at night yet but she is strong and beautiful.  We are soooooo blessed. 

Many designs are found in
the sidewalk 
This is actually the road
- not the sidewalk!

This is the sidewalk - (aka "calçado")
Cement  sidewalk with typical cracks &
the little yellow birds I love.

paralelepípedo - the term for
the beautiful  stonework

In less exciting happenings this week, I have made observations about the local sidewalks since we are always walking.  There do not seem to be any covenants about how the property owner provides the material in front of the home.  Thus, there is a definite variety of material and degree of craftsmanship (or lack thereof) involved in construction.  The main business street in Prudentópolis was under construction when we arrived.  I despaired for a while because it took quite a toll on my knee especially when we carried luggage with us to the rodoviária (bus station).  I have gradually regained muscle strength in my operated knee and can walk farther with only some slight swelling as a consequence.  It turns out that they were remodeling many places and adding handicapped corners to the sidewalks.  John's favorite is the dip for handicapped access that feeds directly into the 7 inch raised sidewalk at one point.  The photo will follow when we can download it. 

We have another young investigator, André, who participated in our Sunday Primary program practice.  We walked to his home with the Elders yesterday to meet his mother and brother.  She is also investigating the church but was unable to attend with André because she owns a bar/store that is open on Sunday.  You can see this might be a slight problem in the future.  The family is very friendly and very intelligent.  André is reading the Book of Mormon and has his own testimony of the book.  Because of his age, 8, Elder Brooksby wanted to make sure he understood what he was reading and asked him to draw a picture of what he read in the back of the book.  Lehi’s dream was very clearly depicted in the back of his Ó Livro de Mormon and he can explain it too.  John and I talked with his mother and invited the family to sacrament meeting to hear the Primary Program on December 9th.  They have agreed to come.  Meanwhile the Elders made an appointment with one of her customers, who lives another 5 kilometers out from her store.  He said he had seen the missionaries before and had a copy of the Book of Mormon. We will see!

We stopped on our way home, from this rather long walk, to visit Evette at the Agricultural store where she works for her sister-in-law.  We arranged to visit with her and Armando at their home last evening.  This non-member couple -- our friends – is not legally married. This is one very common hurdle for prospective members here in Brazil.  It is very expensive for people to marry, so it seems that the majority skip what many call “just a piece of paper.” We would like to help Armando overcome his smoking habit so they can eventually become members of the church and because it is a detriment to his health.  They attend all of our meetings regularly on Sundays.  Their son, Anderson, is a member and a missionary serving in São Paulo.  We visited with them about our children and the awaited “Skype” session that will happen when missionaries can talk with their families on Christmas. Please pray for this very good couple. 

One of my unique experiences is teaching the piano course -- Curso de Teclado.  The singing in reunião sacramental (sacrament meeting) is very beautiful and the members sing with great enthusiasm.  However, they have had no one able to accompany the singing.  The goal is to leave members here that are able to play hymns for the meetings.  Since there is also a conducting course that should be taught prior to the piano course, I am trying to work both into the time I have.  Elder Biehn had been teaching lessons in Curitiba.  They returned home to Bountiful several weeks ago so he made the materials he had available to me.  I have started teaching three young people and a member of the branch presidency lessons.  I don’t have that many keyboards and not enough course materials so I spend time preparing handouts and creative ways to teach.  Otavio is willing to come and learn in the chapel on the organ on Saturdays while his older brother takes Seminary.  I have printed and laminated some materials that we can use repeatedly with many people and hope this works until we can place a keyboard and course materials in the homes that don’t have any.  Since musical is fairly universal and normally noted with Italian directions I was confident I could contribute in this area.  I have included a page from the course for those of you who are musically inclined.  I am again learning new terms. 

It is a good thing I have seen the Sound of Music!  They really teach Dó, Ré, Me in school here. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day in Guarapuava

Elder & Sister Davis
We spent the day at the home of Casal Davis. We are called the Casal McKinney; casal meaning married couple.  We were spoiled to have an American thanksgiving dinner in the middle of Brazil in the springtime.  Elder & Sister Davis invited the whole zone – 10 Elders and the 2 couples making 16.  The traditional Davis Thanksgiving dinner included two small turkeys served with dressing, mashed potatoes, corn, gravy, sweet potatoes, layered Jello, carrot sticks, and water or Guaraná (Brazilian pop). Very shortly after this tableful of food disappeared it was again covered with three apple pies and blackberry tort served with ice cream.  There was a plateful of colorfully wrapped home- made chocolates filled with coconut, cherry and a caramel-chocolate mix.  Needless to say, I was stuffed.

Brightly wrapped chocalates
await the rest of dinner.

Elder McKinney & I had traveled by onibus to Guarapuava a day ahead to help in any way that we could.  We were able to wash, cut, cook, cleanup, and then start over again.  Most of you that have done this type of cooking have an idea what the drill is like.  What I had not imagined was trying to fit all of the trimmings in a very small refrigerator. That is all that is allowed senior couples in our mission.  The Davis’ did a magic trick getting everything in fridge and freezer only leaving three covered pies on the table overnight. 

We cut up, cooked, peeled, and sliced the sweet potatoes the day before but the mashed potatoes had to wait ‘til morning.  Though most stoves are equally as small as the refrigerator, the Davis’ have one that twice the size of mine.  Still there is only one rack and it was good that the two turkeys were smaller or the height would have brushed the top of the oven.  We cooked potatoes and corn on top while turkey and dressing moved out to make way for berry tort.  The slow cooker was used for the sweet potatoes.  No rolls since there was not room or time.  The giblet broth was used in the dressing along with onions, celery, cubed bread, bacon and sausage – all part of the Davis family recipe.  Apple pies were prepared with crisscross tops.

Classy marshmallows
Just as lemons look like oranges but taste like lemons; the sweet potatoes had red potato like peels with white insides though they have the standard shape and taste. The marshmallows here are assorted colors, not white.   

The cooking and overnight stay were made more interesting by a rain storm and several power outages.  We were glad to have completed the hour long seminary class we attended and that the pies were cooking in a gas stove.  We continued preparations until the length of the next outage sent us to bed by flashlight.

This is a new apartment for the Davis’ last five months of their mission. Their old landlord decided not to renew their contract and move back into their leased home himself.  The Elders and the Branch president moved them using farm crates and his truck.  They have a larger, but more expensive, apartment.  They had purchase a second-hand table and six chairs.  By adding these to 4 chairs and coaches everyone was seated and able to eat off paper plates on their laps.  The food was so good that it was pretty quiet for a while. 

Guarapuava Zone - Thanksgiving 2012
Of course, we had to have the zone pictures since transfers are coming soon.  This is a great bunch of hard-working, exemplary young men. There have been several baptisms since our last zone meeting and this always creates a lot of excitement.  What a terrific P-day.  We now have several more Brazilians saying “Happy Thanksgiving”.

As I write, we are at the area district office so John can meet with the president to ask questions and clarify differences in how branches run.  It is a bit different than our home ward and stake.  We are learning a lot and want to how best to fit in to this part of the vineyard.

Marina & Sabrina
Elders Affonso & Brooksby
The Elders in our district did baptize Marina, 9, and Sabrina, 11, last Saturday.  They have two very supportive aunts in the branch.  The girls have attended church since we started coming here and I did not realize they were not members until we were invited to attend the baptismal interview with them.  On Saturday we were able to meet the additional family members.  As we arrive to church on Sunday morning a glowing Marina ran out and gave me a hug.  She is sooo excited to be a member and have the Holy Ghost. I hope the rest of her family will follow her lead soon. 

My lack of language skills was a small hindrance on Sunday as we completed the practice for the Primary Program and found there was no teacher for the younger children.  I fortunately had crayons and a coloring page of Nephi building a boat with me.  After the coloring and mounting of these artworks we sang the program songs a Capella and they helped me with the Portuguese words.  I have to learn faster.

Well as I write it is getting late and we are awaiting the bus to take us back to Prudentópolis this evening.  Hopefully it will be the short ride today.  Thanks to all who have shared your well wishes and love with us.  Happy Thanksgiving!  We are very blessed. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Conversions of Many Kinds

Leonara takes piano lessons from me at our apartment. She was baptized last weekend.  The girl next to her is a non-member friend that she brings to church with her.  Maria Eduarda is the tall young woman on the left of the picture. She is a cousin and an investigator.  They both come each week to church.  This is very important because many parents here are not married so these young people are learning about a lifestyle that is quite foreign to their culture when we talk about eternal marriage.  

This picture is of Juliana and her father.  She just turned 8.  Their family has been sealed in the temple and they all come to church.  Her father works out of town on a farm to support his family.  He is a builder but cannot find enough work here so he is not home every night – he comes home on the bus on weekends to see his family and to come to church.

The picture on the right is of Marcos and his kitten. He is 6 years old.  His sisters, Sabrina and Marina, are getting baptized this Saturday.  Their parents are not members but they have been coming to Primary every week with their cousins. We were at their home yesterday when the Zone leader interviewed them to be baptized.  They glowed with happiness when he told them they could be baptized.  They mother signed the papers to allow their baptism – she is not a member.  The younger missionaries are teaching her lessons too.  We hope that she will be baptized soon so she can teach the whole family about Heavenly Father in their home. 

We see a wide variety of clothing at church. Many girls and women wear pants – some don’t have a dress.  Even members don’t always have special Sunday clothes. It is very cool when the young men can come in a white shirt and quite rare to see suits or dress slacks instead of everyday pants.

There is one family who lives so far away (in the “interior”) from the church that they have to ride a horse for a ways, then take a bus ride, then walk to get to church.  They want to come so bad that they do this but only once a month because it costs them so much money and that is all they can afford.

3 way adapter - top, bottom, middle
Brazilian plug & outlet, round prongs

Standard 3-prong adapter

Other types of conversion occur when we read the Conversion of Temperature - Celsius to Farenheit -- as well as the temperature on the oven when I cook and the liquid measures in liters instead of quarts and gallons. I buy food by the kilo, gram, or mil. We convert electricity using our American plugs with adapters.

My cookies are somewhat of a hit with the sisters and youth. It becomes interesting when we try to share recipes.  At one home we had “Bolo de chocolate” and when I got the recipe it involved copo de oleo, xicara de trigo ou mais, colhor de ferment royial.  So not only was there a conversion of language but of measurement.  I had the same problem when Alana, the 24 year old Young Women’s president, asked for a cookie recipe.  We are teaching her the temple prep lessons at our home on Saturdays, when she is home from college. 
Foods we purchase regularly at the store.
There are no zip lock bags only the rolls seen at the left side of the photo.
They are much like produce bags in the US.
I handed her the recipe where I had converted the ingredients.
Shortening=Gordura Vegetal. 
Brown sugar=Açucar Muscavo.
Flour=Farinha de trigo
Soda=Bicarbonato de sodio
Cinnamon=Canela em Po                       
      Etc. For other spices

I thought I was thinking great – I had even converted the temperature to Centigrade -- until she wanted to know what teaspoons and Tablespoons were.   Then I learned about colher de chá and colher de soupa being their teaspoon and soup spoon.  The copo and xicara are different size cup measurements.

One of our most interesting searches has been to find whole wheat flour. Whole anything usually has “Integral”, meaning whole or complete, on the package but people did not understand me or maybe why I wanted “farinha de trigo integral”.  Finally as we visited with Sonia Mello at her home this week the question was answered.  When we arrived for our visit she had two sisters visiting her, one from out of town.  We were going to make our visit short so we were not intruding on their visit but they had prepared a “lite” supper for us.  The daughter –in-law from next door came over with croissants – some filled with jam – others with meat and cheese. Then there was cheese and meat and regular rolls along with punch. 

Since Sonia is the only member among her living siblings, the two sisters seemed a bit uncomfortable with the missionaries at first.  We talked about their family history. Their father had 15 children by two wives.  The father had 23 children in his extended family.  Needless to say there are a lot of people involved in the family.  She brought out a book published in 1988 about the ancestors on her father’s side.  We were able to take the book home and I scanned all 244 pages and will make discs for her to give people since the book seems to be unavailable anymore.  Of course, I had to go on and see about the connections there.  Much of the family appears there but there are gaps that could make for some good research for her family.  By time we left her house that day her sisters were smiling and talking with us quite freely about children.  There are families in the US working in the Boston area and some of the “netos” (grandchildren) are looking pretty American to them. We hope to have more contact with the whole family and get to know them better.

Back to my whole wheat problem—the daughter-in-law makes all kinds of bread.  When John told her I made banana and “abobrinha” (zuccinhi) bread last week and was looking for whole wheat she gave us directions to a specialty store.  We finally found it on one of our longer walks.  The owner, Cynthia, is of Ukrainian descent, and was very helpful.  We found lots of herbs in her store.  She spoke at length about the importance of learning English.  Her daughter speaks Ukrainian at home, Portuguese in school, and is learning English from a teacher.  She also said she had taught piano for over 15 years and that Elder Carter had invited her to the branch to play for them.  It didn’t happen.  We will try to visit her again. She is golden.

We also met the barber…… story next week!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bus Rides and Summer Flowers

Luana Oliveira - 3 on Nov. 4

Did I mention that we spend a lot of time on buses?  Since I last reported we have taken first; a bus with the branch to Guamiranga and back to participate in a service project for branch president Elias, who was moving into a new home, second; the following Monday we took the 6:15 a.m. bus to Guarapuava for our Zone Meeting then third; rushed back to Prudentopolis to host a FHE for a family at our apartment, the next day we had the Elders over for breakfast at 7 a.m. as a bribe to move up our District Meeting so that we could take fourth; the early morning bus to Irati to get our CPF numbers that day and fifth; return that same day.  All of this is explained below!


Oliveira family after FHE lesson -
The kids loved the balloons!
Friday, November 2nd, was a National Holiday based on Catholic holiday All Souls Day. It is in essence the same as our Memorial Day. Everything closes for the day. In our case almost everything was also closed on Saturday. As we delivered a keyboard to a member on Sunday evening, we noticed that there were a lot of vendors open that evening because there were lots of people in the park and back in the city. The Elders reported to us that this was their fault as they had prayed for someone to contact that day. We have not yet figured out where everyone goes, but on holidays it is like a ghost town here. {I have now gone on-line to find out what other holidays are celebrated here so we can plan.}  

This bus was very upscale -
the members are waiting to go home here!
The members had planned this holiday Friday as a service project for the Stadlers, starting at 1 pm. We were to meet the members at the church for a bus ride since most members here do not have cars. John and I were surprised to find the 1st counselor in the branch was driving the tour bus and the branch had use of it for the rest of the day

Lucas - 10 - working hard
Stadlers had been leasing a home that had no water because the owner had planted a row of trees on one side to serve as a wind block and shade-- which all sounds nice -- but they sucked up all the ground water that fed the well. Their new home had been vacant for a year and was mildewed and over grown. The growing does not take long here. The branch members took a pressure washer and tools from the church and cleaned inside and out. Many weeded the grounds and hauled off/piled up leaves and branches. The large ant pile that got disturbed was pretty interesting.

Jobs for everyone?
Wiping clorox off
his face - Elias
The water at this house comes from a well also. They put a big tub full of water at a high altitude outside the house and use that to get pressure. There was a problem with the current tub and it overflowed outside the house for quite a while. I was able to file buckets of water from the dripping water for the children, who then got busy scrubbing the wraparound porch, while the adults pressure-washed and Cloroxed inside and out.

The house and yard are much cleaner at Stadler's new home.
Resting in shade during lunch!

The RS had brought soda pop and buns with ham and cheese for dinner. Sister Ivaldete Stadler had made a cake for everyone to share. After the scrubbing was done, the busload of members stopped at the home of Graça & Dario Santos that lived in Guamiranga. She had roses, lilies, vegetables and fruit all growing around a brick fairy-tale like home in the woods. We then went to the Stadlers old home where the bus unloaded again.  The kids played soccer and the adults visited for about 1½ hours – a branch activity so to speak.  John was able to pick a sack of lemons from their tree as did many other members before we returned to town.

After work - on way to party at Stadlers!
Dario Santos had been ill with shingles for the past four months. He was excited to find out that I could play the piano -- he is in his 70s and plays by ear. He wanted to play his flute (self-taught at 72), with me on the organ, at church. When he found out that I could also play the flute he was very excited and brought it to

church on Sunday to test me out. I felt like I was on trial as a group stood around in the primary room to see if I could play it.  Fortunately I was able to squeak out a hymn.   

Hydrangea across the street
The basket is where people put garbage.

The summer flowers are beginning to be planted and many of them look very familiar to those at home. There are marigolds, petunias, coreopsis sunray, etc. Some of the beautiful orchids and lilies that we pay so much for at home grow on the side of the road or in the cracks of the sidewalk like weeds.  There are many small bushes of hydrangea in flower everywhere now.  On the bus I have often noted oasis-like areas with palm trees and ponds that could be right out of a scene from Israel.

Sundays John teaches the Elders quorum lessons three out of four weeks. There are only 10 elders on the branch rolls and one is currently serving a mission in São Paulo.  John is the only High Priest here. Last Sunday was the quorum business day and Elder’s Quorum President Daniel Oishi taught. There was an investigator (Francisco) who was well versed in Bible literature as he is writing a book about the apostasy and he felt comfortable in the quorum discussion.  John caught him at the door and was able to give him a Book of Mormon and some literature after the block meetings. 

Statue in Irati
Our Monday and Tuesday were pretty much taken up with hours on the bus rides and meetings reported above. We have tried to cut down the wasted time on these days and proposed the breakfast district meeting at our home so the Irati elders could get home on the early bus to do some work there.  It takes them days to come in for a Zone meeting and get back because of the bus schedules. (Sometimes the meetings end just as the bus is leaving. With a 15 minute walk to the bus station from the chapel, it means they miss the bus and have to wait hours for the next one. Can you tell that my mind is trying to propose a better way here! )

Receita Federal in Irati 
Why did we have to go to Iriati? We had to have a CPF number– I don’t know what that stands for – which would allow us to make purchases here.  Apparently after paying the fee at the post office in Irati we were then able to go to the Receita Federal and get clearance for this number that allows them to keep track of the purchases we make here.

Church - Irati - by Federal building.
Wednesday John and the Elders helped Stadlers move their furniture into their home (another unmentioned bus ride for them).  I gave a piano lesson to Leonara (who will be 9 on the 17th and brought an invite to her birthday party).  She brought her mother and her cousin with her.  It is a challenge to try to make myself clear in Portuguese and to overcome the natural curiosity that everyone seems to have about any kind of technology.  I think that her mother, Dinorah, will end up either playing or leading music for the branch as she is very interested in everything. I sent them home with a disc that includes the chorister and piano courses in Portuguese since they have a computer in the husband’s office at home.  One of the hang ups about me teaching a church course is that they gave me the keyboards to use but not all of the materials to pass out. I will learn a lot teaching these lessons.

We had set up an appointment with Sonia Mello for Thursday afternoon thinking she was the Relief Society president [since that was what was written on the only records we have had access to so far—it turns out that Graça is the RS president],  When we arrived two of her sisters were visiting.  Sonia is the only member among her siblings.  We thought we had better make it a brief visit because of her company. When we proposed leaving they all said, “no, no” because they had prepared a light meal for us—her daughter-in-law came from across the street with some really terrific stuffed rolls {some sweet with jam, others with meat and cheese} and we ended up having a great visit.  In the process we discovered her father had a large family. We were able to obtain a copy of book on their family history to scan.  Hopefully we will gain permission to submit these records to the church as there are few Brazilian records currently available.

I could continue to ramble forever…. More on cooking and conversions (measurements & people!) next week.