Saturday, September 29, 2012

Are We Ready?

Brother & Sister McKinney - Sept. 26, 2012
This is the back side of the Curitiba Temple.
On Monday, September 24th, 2012, Andrew and Cami patiently waited for me to finish packing bags and packing up our household belongings.  They both looked concerned that I was so slow getting ready.  I am grateful for their loving care in driving us to the airport and helping us check in our numerous bags. We rarely take more than carry-on luggage when we travel so it was quite an experience to move for two years to a foreign land.  It wasn’t like the young missionaries who were confined to one bag and then are later supplied with a place to live.  We have to supply our own household and consequently had more luggage. 

We left Salt Lake City about 1 pm and traveled to Atlanta.  We left Atlanta in the evening and arrived in São Paulo Tuesday morning.  The international airlines took good care of us by serving dinner in the evening and breakfast in the morning.  However, John would probably have traded one of the meals for some extra leg room.  There we said goodbye to the Wilkins who had traveled with us and we transferred our luggage to a local plane to go to Curitiba. It was 24 hours from leaving the Salt Lake Airport that I typed this information.

[John and I attended Language Training at the Provo MTC for four months. I studied the Primary songs in Portuguese as well as the Language.  We have been blessed to have 3 different instructors—all wonderful in their own right.  Elder Torgan started us off, Elder Destro then taught more nuts and bolts of the language, and then lastly, Talita Bejarano made us communicate.  Her rapidly moving hands, drawings on the board, music handouts, and TV news broadcasts from Brazil all made it easier for me to learn in a “no English allowed classroom.”  We were now in an environment where we could see how much good those lessons were.  John is doing fantastic and, of course, I have a lot to learn.]
President and Sister Cordon

We were met in the são paulo aereoporto by a young woman that travel services had sent, who guided us through customs and helped us get our luggage transferred to the flight to Curitiba. 

When we arrived in Curitiba and retrieved our luggage, we were met outside by President and Sister Cordon who took us to the mission home for a two night stay.  They had two cars with them and John and I split up and got to know these two wonderful mission leaders better. 

During our stay at their home we shopped at Sam's club for food and household items. We stopped at another local store for comparison shopping purchases where Sister Cordon bought items to stay in our apartment as part of the on site belongings. 

Wednesday morning we rode the bus to the Curitiba Temple were we were privileged to be the witness couple at our first Portuguese session. This was a special missionary session and we were able to meet many young Elders and Sisters as well as another mission couple, The Biehns. Afterward we were able to shop at the LDS distribution center on the temple grounds and pick up our Portuguese Bibles and other supplies.

We were delighted to meet Angelica Pereira da Silva during our mission home stay. She serves as the cook and housekeeper for the Cordons. We had some delicious meals during our stay.  I had to give John a haircut before temple attendance since his hair was a bit long for mission standards.  She washed up his clothing while we were gone and had it folded sitting on the bed when we returned.  She was warm and giving and will be a special new friend.

Saturday is a Special Day

Saturday was a day for eternal blessings.  September 22, 2012 we were able to attend the Mount Timpanogos Temple where our family and friends gathered for an endowment session to do Rachel’s work.  We were joined by Jeremy and Karissa, Andrew & Cami, James & Chelsea, Shaliese & Mike, Phillip, Deborah & Jay – all of our immediate family but Daniel.  Mom and Dad Smith along with my siblings, Jill & Don Gubler, Ryan Smith, Jeri Burr, and JaeLeen Smith were also there.  What a surprise to surprise to find siblings from Georgia and South Carolina in the temple in Utah.  Patty & DeMar Young were there from the McKinney side of the family and served as witnesses.  On top of this wonderful turnout there were a number of friends and old roommates of Rachel’s in attendance.  Diane Clarke Nielsen, Sonya Reynolds (?), Cheri, Mary, and others I cannot name were all waiting to celebrate this special day for Rachel. Mary brought us a “Families Are Forever” embroidery that Rachel had given her when her parents died and returned it saying, “This is Rachel’s testimony.” We finally departed after many hugs.  Shaliese was the proxy for this ordinance.  Deborah had been proxy for the initiatory the previous week as John, Jan, Deb, and Jay performed multiple ordinances to provide family names for as many participants as possible.  We brought the sealing cards with us to Brasil to complete them in the Curitiba temple.

Later, Saturday afternoon, we had a barbecue that included all 8 of our grandchildren.  We celebrated Myles 9th birthday and enjoyed each other’s company.  These beautiful, happy, healthy grandchildren are such a blessing.  We were very fortunate to be able to assemble so many of our family members together for a special day. Later, John and I finally worked on P-day stuff which involved packing and purchasing all the last minute items that couples from Brazil informed us were needed.  It was crazy.  I was suffering from a nasty cold shared by our district leader at the MTC.  The house did not get cleaned and much was left unpacked.  I hope Cami and Andrew can forgive us for leaving them such a mess.  We were really sorry that we were not able to attend Lindsay & Chris’s picnic in the park.  We just ran out of time.

The Brigham City temple dedication was broadcast into the American Fork East Stake Center.  That viewing was our Sunday meeting.  I was still loading programs on the replacement computer sent the week before. (Did I mention my computer crashed the previous month?  I had just finished reloading all programs when Dell informed me they did not have a replacement fan and would be sending me out a new computer instead. So I started over again!)  I was very blessed to have back up discs of so much information available but it took several days to get everything down loaded and I still left discs packed away un-copied.  President Ivins had blessed both John & I the help of our ancestors as we served our mission.  I was grateful to have access to stories, pictures, and connections to so many of these ancestors restored to my computer.  I had made a 43 page booklet of family pictures with the Proclamation on the Family in Portuguese to use on our mission.  Shaliese was wonderful as she took time to print and cut these pages to size for me.  Maybe the lives of these ancestors will touch the heart of someone here in Brazil and encourage them to study their ancestors. 

Provo MTC 

McKinney family - American Fork East Stake Center for setting apart

Grandma Littleford welcomes us!
Septemeber 16, 2012 we were set apart as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by President Mark Ivins in the Relief Society Room of the American Fork East Stake Center. Monday, September 17, 2012 we entered the MTC in Provo.  Among the first cheerful faces we saw was Grandpa and Grandma Littleford (Mike Sermon’s grandparents) who greeted us and helped us become oriented for the day.  In our first group, Janet Holley (? married name) said “Do you remember me?” When I looked close I could see the strong resemblance to Steven and other family members.
These were the first of many cheerful instructors—both adult and youth.  We were processed, our pictures taken, and we were given orientation materials, then the 70 new Senior Missionaries were sent to lunch.  It should be noted that there were 5 single sister missionaries in our group.  What an experience it was eating among the 1000s of young missionaries. We were able to see both Elder Johnson and Elder Brown from our ward over the course of the week.

The Jones, The Carlsons, The Peterson, & The McKinneys
In the afternoon session we were divided into districts. Ours included 3 other couples. The Petersons were going to work in the church office building with the assignment of finding translators for all the conference center activities.  The Jones were driving to Maryland, Baltimore to work in the office and The Carlsons were assigned to work in the Washington D.C. Temple. We spent the week learning from Preach My Gospel, participating in simulated teaching settings where we both gave and received lessons. We were told, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break.” Also: “There are three in your companionship—you, your spouse, and the Holy Ghost.” “KISS means: Keep IT Simple Seniors.” “You teach people not lessons.” “Ask questions; you may not know their heart but God does.”

We were also taught to take care of ourselves, eat right, keep hydrated, get rest and exercise, and forcefully told to communicate with our families.  How to Use Your Time Wisely was purported to be the best lesson in Preach My Gospel.  Tuesday evening we were able to attend a fireside given by Elder Koelicker. The tear producing part of the fireside was the choir of young missionaries.  What a powerful experience. I can now see why Phillip so enjoyed participating while he was at the MTC. 

McKinneys on the way to Brasil

As we began to teach lessons---the first clear point made was that no matter what you prepare---the spirit teaches us what is really needed by the investigator and both of them help you to know what you are to teach.  Be prepared to adjust---and we did---every time we taught. The power of getting the investigator to pray and read from the scriptures themselves was amazing.

Wilkins, Talita, Andersons, McKinneys

Wednesday evening the element of language training was thrown in.  John and I were grouped with President and Sister Wilkins from American Fork and with Brother and Sister Anderson [a couple going to work in the temple in Recife.] Both couples had lived for some time in Brasil.  I felt like a fish out of water as they all glibly spoke in fluent Portuguese.  I offered to give the closing prayer because I knew I could do that even if not much else that evening. I was lucky to be in a group I could learn so much from.
After 5 days of Senior missionary training at the Provo MTC we were released, given a P-day, and a free Sunday to attended the Brigham City temple dedication.