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 http://mormon.org/christmas 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. http://thepianoguys.com/portfolio/o-come-emmanuel-christmas-version/ 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.....


  1. Thank you for sharing! What an amazing time. Merry Christmas :)

  2. What a beautiful way to think of your own "White Christmas". I had those spiders in Australia too. Gross. Miss you guys!

  3. What wonderful things you both are doing there! The love of the Savior is being felt thru both of you. Isn't it wonderful that the Church's humanitarian arm is reaching to those in need everywhere? Have a blessed Christmas. We love that video with the Piano Guys also. You and all missionaries are in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks for sharing! John and Becky