Friday, December 20, 2013

December 2013 - more celebration

The week after our branch Christmas party, the missionaries instigated an activity were everyone was to bring their favorite dessert and come have dance instruction.  Fortunately for us, one beautiful, young woman, investigator is engaged to a member of the church from Guarapuava.  They are both teachers and he has taught dance for 11 years. They gladly demonstrated and helped out for several hours before we all stopped to enjoy dessert. 


The dessert table is next to the Elders and other non-dancers

These two couples moved down the line practicing.

Lines on both sides watch the instruction

 An exciting development is that President McKinney got to help one sister in our branch fill out mission papers.  They have been submitted and the on-line status is that she has been assigned. So, we are all waiting to find out where and when.

Meanwhile, our branch members have been rehearsing Christmas Songs each Sunday for several weeks in preparation for our Christmas Sacrament Meeting Choir. Since the Church does not have Bible rights here in Brasil, I could not copy and paste the Christmas story from Luke and Matthew.  So, I spent some time typing up a script from the scriptures and we have passed it out to Readers to site the scripture story of the nativity between songs.  There are far fewer Christmas songs in both the Hymnal and the Children’s Songbook here but the members are not acquainted with most of the ones that they do have in the books.  Last year they only sang Christmas songs on the Sunday before Christmas. So President McKinney had to explain over the pulpit why we were singing Christmas songs the whole month for Sacrament Meetings. One gentleman said, we don’t know all the American Christmas songs like Silent Night.  I had to explain to him that it was a very famous German hymn.  I have also had one of the piano students working on Christmas hymns. 

We had a week were we kept commenting on the warm milk we were drinking for our meals.  It finally dawned on us as the food began to spoil faster than normal that there was something wrong with our really antiquated refrigerator.  When we had the repairmen out he described it as a dinosaur and recommended it would cost less and we would have better results if we were to just buy a new one -- so we did.  (the process was a little bit longer than that since we needed permission from the mission president) Now we not only have cold food in a much smaller refrigerator but we can sleep at night because we no long have the constant noise of the old motor kicking on and off every few minutes.  We are curious to see if it pays for itself with the more energy-efficient use of electricity.

Missionary photos on bells & stars
decorate this tree.
 We also had two special trips into Curitiba. First, on December 12th we met with the ½ of our mission that had to travel quite a ways by bus to attend. We had lunch in a restaurant near the mission office and then in the afternoon President and Sister Mazzagardi spoke to us as part of the mission tour. We had been instructed to clean our apartments, make sure we were well-groomed, and read the story of Abraham preparing for his 3 visitors in the scriptures before attending. Upon their arrival they asked each missionary to walk by and tell their name and the state they came from as they shook hands.  When I said, Sister McKinney, Utah…. He stopped me and said, “What city?”  I replied American Fork and started to explain where it was and he stopped me and said he knew American Fork.  He later spoke to us during a break.  He had lived in the States for about 6 ½ years as part of his work and spoke fluent English.  They both gave great talks. Our busload slept as much as we could through our late night drive home.

The following Tuesday, Elder McKinney and I returned to 
Elder McKinney made this
for his left-handed wife.
Curitiba to stay at the mission home and help prepare for the Mission Christmas conference the next day. It was so fun to visit with the Fernandes Family and work alongside of them in preparation.  They had worked so hard and made many special preparations to make the missionaries happy. The ornaments for the tree were bells with the Elder’s pictures and the stars were the Sister missionaries.  The special booklet of recipes, traditions and memories submitted by the missionaries was printed and bound at their home.  Our copy is the first one Elder McKinney made – especially for me because I’m left handed. Right!  I was able to spend the day baking cookies.  Two of the recipes were totally new to me and will now be in my family cook book: soft ginger snaps and pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting.  Of course, we made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I had help, from the daughters and the empregada of the house, off and on until we finally went to be about midnight.

Just one of many "groups" that gathered for pictures.
Our zone, like all the others, was assigned to sing a hymn. We had Lá na Judéia, Onde Cristo Nasceu. Elder Long, one of our zone leaders, is a gifted pianist and was able to improvise on the tune and play some gorgeous accompaniment as we sang a verse together to the original tune, then the Sisters the second verse and Elders the third to his accompaniment. On the fourth verse we finished resoundingly together and felt very good about the outcome of our practices.  One really great thing was that Elder McKinney encourage some of the Elders to sing bass with him and we had sisters singing alto as well as soprano so there was harmony.  It does not happen often here.

We had talks, training, music, good food, passing out of gifts, and a long bus ride home. We are getting to know the bus driver well.

The sister from Guarapuava Zone wanted a picture with us.
Can you see me smiling at the 8 year old who is using my camera to take this picture? 

Thanksgiving 2013 & more Holiday Stuff

Elder McKinney - Thanksgiving Dinner  served on the traditional Thanksgiving
Table Cloth. The rolls and mashed potatoes are about the only traditional items.
We were the only Americans in the area on November 28th. So, even though I tried to teach the children about gratitude during primary, we were the only ones celebrating and giving thanks on that day.  Elder McKinney purchased and barbecued our first real steak and even made the broccoli-cauliflower salad he really likes.  With some mashed potatoes, corn, and rolls, we really enjoyed our dinner and hoped that all our you enjoyed your families and remembering the things you are thankful for.

We have so many blessings. We are grateful to be here and serving in the Prudentópolis Branch.

We used the 1st Sunday in a joint second hour meeting of RS, Mutual, and Priesthood to present the new "Minha Família" genealogy booklets out to the members. Elder McKinney had received a letter from the area presidency asking for them to be presented on the last week in November but we didn't receive them until 2 days before.  He made the presentation using his own booklet with his family line and the pictures we printed of each of his ancestors.  I was able to keep all of the primary children.  We had an introduction to the Christmas season by viewing the children's films of the Angel Gabriel speaking to Mary & Joseph, then speaking to the shepherds, the nativity, the Wisemen meeting with Herod and later the Christ child, presenting the child at the temple, then finally the warning to Joseph to flee with the family to Egypt.  The children were fascinated. We also talked about the prophecies of Christ's birth and colored a picture page of five of the ancient prophets and their scripture reference about the coming of Christ.
The presidency signed the booklets - Merry Christmas 2013

The Elders helped ups pass out the invitations.

At ward council meeting we also planned to have our Christmas Party.  Renato suggested we give the families "3 Simple Ways to Become a Happier Family" pamphlets. So, the presidency signed them and give them instead of Christmas cards. Our celebration was attended by 60 people on the upper level of Mr. Gordon's pizza which he graciously let us decorate and use solely for us.  We sang Christmas songs, ate, watched Mundo Feliz  on the big screen TV, and visited for several hours.  Mr. Gordon's serves about 160 different types of pizza that you have never even heard of in the states.  Everyone could order what they wanted and we all finished with the three different types of chocolate-dessert pizza.
Most of the kids sat on this table. The folder is the menu.

The adults are on this end while the youth gathered
down the line.

Those kids are soooo cute! 
Visiting after it is all over.

The following week we had to catch the 6:00 a.m. bus to Guarapuava for our Zone Meeting. This is what we saw on the street as we walked our mile to the bus stop.

The tree is recycled pop bottles.

We love the new sidewalk--it was all torn
up last year when we arrived.

The São João Catholic Church is on the rua named after it. Note the palms

Araucaria trees and palms in the darkness of the church square - Why do they decorate for cold climates when theirs
is much more authentic to the real day of Christ's birth?
More about our holiday preparation in the next blog!

Friday, November 29, 2013


As we finished cutting each other’s hair, I started thinking about little things that have made it so we could be here on a mission. Little things like saving pennies on haircuts, eating at home, growing a vegetable garden, planting fruit trees, making our own home repairs, driving only one family car, and using the money to pay off our home early. Pennies have accumulated into significant savings on a modest income.  The council we are given as members of the church about being self-sufficient is very freeing as well as inspired.

Elder McKinny - beautiful landscaping

Stadler photos
We were able to participate with Guarapuava District in a special temple trip on November 9th.  It happened that our day coincided (a little miracle) with the marriage and sealing of Simone Stadler, the daughter of the previous branch president. We were so glad to be able to fill a Prudentópolis bus so we could spend a whole day at the temple and stay for the 4:00 p.m. ceremony and then bring everyone home with us on our chartered bus, Saturday evening.  Normally the wedding party wouldn’t have been able to return until Sunday morning because of limited local bus schedules to Prudentópolis.

The “little” place in the back of John’s heel has confined us to our apartment for many weeks. The good news---he is now able to walk about pain free and we are taking increasingly longer walks.  Additional good news is that we spent the time at our apartment working.  Elder McKinney indexed. I had a member project. One of the sisters handed me a 12 page IGI printout—a list of family names—printed in 2002.  I told her I would see what had been done with the names. The names started in Europe in the 1700s and 1800s. The Kolar family who immigrated from Russia, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Austria, etc. have many descendants now in various places all over the world. Much temple work has been done for the names on the original list.  

Connecting them to their descendants has been challenging and opened the door to more needed temple ordinances. The new research and records connections are wonderful and so much easier to use than microfilms.  Many days I have had to quit work because of eyestrain after hours of research. Considering the direction of our labors for the last three weeks, we were feeling very in-tune when the postman delivered a box of “My Family” pamphlets with instructions from the Area Presidency that they be presented to the members of the branch by Sunday. We are praying the members will take advantage of the Christmas holidays to connect with family and fill out the information in the pamphlets using photos and family stories.
Elder indexing on our Thanksgiving tablecloth.
Thanks to those who have contributed photos for our walls.

Otavio using two hands on a primary song
- exciting progress! 
We have also been grateful for those new youth who have become piano students. One beautiful young woman is a non-member. She is engaged to a returned missionary in our district and has been studying about the gospel with him. They have been attending the branch faithfully. When I asked her how she felt about the Gospel, her face just glowed as she told me how special our idea of eternal families is to her. I think we will see her baptized soon. Another student is playing simplified primary songs and starting to play two hands together. Did I mention that Elder McKinney played prelude music for the branch the week I stayed home with a cold? He has really progressed as he plays simplified hymns.

President Fernandes stopped in when he bought new furniture for the Elder’s apartment. He made repairs for them and brought a new washer. This answered my prayers as it meant the old washer could go to a member family.  President Fernandes took time to drive Elder McKinney out to visit with the family and see the mom who has some health issues and had been hand washing clothes for a large family.

The importance of records seems like a little thing but this past week we participated in the re-ordination of one of the young men as it hadn’t been recorded in MLS. We could not find two witnesses to verify when and by whom the ordinance was done previously, so it needed to be redone.     
Bonfims waiting for ordinations

Michel was on our records - we found him one
day selling cotton candy at the bus station

Transfers were today. Elder Pereira, a native Brazillian, was sent to a suburb of Curitiba. He came here straight from the CTM and has been here about 6 months, through several companions, and now will be a trainer himself.  He was glad to participate in the baptism of Cristine yesterday. Since we have the Elders for lunch every Tuesday, we feel like we know him pretty well and expect to see him grow as a leader in the church here. 

Elders Matamala, McKinney, Pereira - after Tuesday lunch
Saturday the 24th we had a special baptism for Christina. Her daughter and granddaughter have also been attending the branch. The 11 year old is a very special person and I hope she will be able to be baptized soon.  Her younger sister bounced all over and reminded me of Kennedy.  As we flipped through our family picture book she stopped at Kennedy's photo and said that's my friend!  

Ali, Christine, & Kennedy's friend with Elder McKinney

We are currently concentrating on training – in a variety of ways. Teacher training to be taught on Sunday afternoons; leadership training with the ward council on Sunday mornings; and choir practice also on Sundays. The Brazilian Area Presidency has just given counsel on self-sufficiency and asked that leadership pass the message on to members.

As we talked in Primary this week about gratitude and how to express it to others as well as to God, I reflected again on all the many blessing that we have as a family. It is remarkable to live on the earth at a time when the Gospel has been restored and we are looking forward to the second coming of the Son of God. We are extremely blessed by the efforts of our ancestors in giving us freedom and opportunity to be members of his church. Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!

With love, The McKinneys

White blossoms -playground in background

On our walk to church

Blossoms on São João - the other Catholic church

Beautiful blossoms on our walk home from the church

Pink blossoms by the wall

Orange blossoms over the wall

Morning glory through the wall

In the midst of all the beautiful spring flowers
we see them decorating for Christmas.
Note: the white plastic bottles have been
recycled and put to good use. 

We think they probably sprayed the plastic red but couldn't
tell for sure.
They don't need to grow hot house flowers here for Christmas. These poinsettias are the real thing. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

October Sundays

Na 20 de Outubro 2013 o Ramo Prudentópolis teve Apresentação da Primária na Reunião Sacrmental. 

As a primary we practiced our songs all year long but with greater intensity for the month before our primary program. We had several Saturday practices where we tried to get the children to stand up to the microphone in the chapel and speak loud enough to be heard by the congregation. We even practiced standing up and sitting down in unison.  Mari Kelli, a 16 year old, was the chorister for the children while I played the piano. One by one the children spoke of the monthly themes and scriptures we had learned for the past year to help us be able to say, “I AM CHILD OF GOD.”  They each picked up the book or paper and read scripture from the Bible, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Mormon and the Family Proclamation. We sang of the Savior standing beside us, of the beautiful world that he created, of belonging to his church, having a prophet to follow today, the gift of being baptized and receiving the Holy Ghost, our eternal families, and the fact that we know he hears and answers our prayers. That pretty much covers the Gospel.  These songs will live in their hearts and minds forever.  I was so proud of Thais, Juliana, Sabrina, Luana, Lucas, Marina, another Lucas, Juliano, Luan, and Gabrielle as they sang their hearts out. Michalina and Eva stood by to help the kids with their parts and Julio and Paulo stood to sing with the children in their classes. Presidente McKinney and Daniel Oishi sang counterpart to the children in A Child’s Prayer.  For the closing song the congregation sang the three verses of I Am a Child of God with us and we concluded by singing the 4th verse alone. Our district president, Presidente Guilherme, told the children’s parents it was one of the best primary programs he had ever seen.

This is our group after our primary practice - the morning of the program. Since my picture taking skills are not very good
you can see a better version of some of our members below. 

While I did capture Brother Oliveira in this picture, you can see that the results were not better for some of the children.

My heart was soooo touched as we sang I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ because during the year we had several non-members that sang that song with gusto as we practiced and talked about what it meant. Two of these kids from non-member families have been baptized this year and two others last year and have made this statement come true. Thais, a non-member, actually sang and participated with us in the program. (She and her older sister really want to be baptized but live with non-member parents in a town next to ours, without missionaries, and I haven’t been able to get our young missionaries persuaded to teach her and her sister when they come to town to stay with their aunt. We will figure out a way to make it happen before we leave!)

My piano teacher skills seemed to be lacking as I had assigned several young men each one simplified song to accompany the kids for the program. I was actually quite encouraged as they came to lessons and were so close to being able to play their pieces well. However, they all evaporated when it was time for practice and the actual program.  It is the only time I saw them all sit on the back row in the chapel.  I will have to develop better language skills to encourage their bravery for another attempt.

Meanwhile, Elder McKinney continued to recover at home from his operation.  He held seminary in the afternoons for those few who were willing to come to our home.  He was able to help a young woman fill out her mission papers from our home.  Later in the week he received a call from the district assigning him a talk on Adversity in the Plan of Salvation.  So, on Sunday October 27th we boarded the bus with 30 other members and again traveled to Guarapuava for District Conference with the other 4 branches at the Bonsucesso Chapel.  Elder McKinney did give that talk. Other speakers were our Gurapuava District President Guilherme (whose actual name is: Guilherme Gonçalves Lustoza Araujo), President Lustoza (who is President Guilherme’s father, Edson Lustoza Araujo, and a counselor in the mission presidency), a return missionary, and a preparing sister missionary, and finally President & Sister Leonel R. Fernandez of the Brazil Curitba South Mission.

Elder McKinney had spent some time at the branch building working with Beto to help repair the extensive damage the hail caused to all the roofs of our several buildings and the covered patio.  He had started to walk that distance to the chapel and back and was grateful to have no pain. However, as we again returned to Dr. Diegus in Guarapuava for a final check he had incurred some blood in the area of the surgery and was told to again refrain from walking very much for another three weeks to keep from letting the blood calcify and undo the good of the surgery.  To say he is disappointed about another imposed period of inactivity is putting it mildly.  We continue to prepare lessons for church meetings, piano lessons, and seminary.  We have had several district meetings with the younger missionaries and actually had pizza dinner again with Daniel Oishi at Mister Gordon’s Pizza to help plan our branch Christmas Dinner with Ceasar, the owner. We are however paying out money to taxi drivers, who have a set fee no matter how far the trip, for each short trip to comply with the doctor’s orders.

Some of my kids will remember me trying to
get them to listen to all of the conference
sessions at our home. Guess what? Now I am
working on the members here. It is a new concept
for them to watch them all.
We have met weekly with our district leader since they come on Tuesday’s for lunch.  Elder Matamala is from Santiago, Chile and is our new district leader. He said he liked potato salad – so we tried it out last week.  I frequently miss celery in my recipes down here since it is not to be found. I substituted green and red pepper for color and found out very rapidly that neither Elder likes them and pushed them politely off to the side of their plate. However, they really like hot rolls and are always grateful. They always share a message with us and often stay to have a meeting with the branch President about investigators.

We have been really blessed to have our internet connection so see we can see the Halloween costumes of the grandkids pretty much in real time and see how our family members are doing each week.

Love to you all,  Elder and Sister McKinney 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is it Patience or Patient – or both?

Our last few weeks have been interesting to say the least. The last week of September our phone would no longer work saying we had used up our minutes. Never having used up our minutes in over a year being here, we were a little confused especially since we did not know we had a minute limit or what it was. Then we found that we could no longer text either. The younger missionaries dropped by and let us know they were having the same problem with their phone and we assumed Claro (our phone service) was having some problems.  Turns out the Area Presidency was cutting cost for the mission and we were caught in the middle not knowing when minutes started or stopped or how many we had. We still don’t to this day. This would have been noticeable since none of the members could get hold of us but was more so since we had no way to communicate with the doctor or hospital about Elder McKinney’s impending surgery.
We took this picture on the way into Guarapuava - I had noted the "Jan" on the outside of the 
building and was interested because no one here can pronounce the name

On October 3rd, promptly at 7:30 a.m., Armando Faccio arrived to drive us to Guarapuava. We were so grateful for his thoughtfulness in offering to take us, his promptness, and that fact that it had been prearranged since we had no phone service. We had to picked up an Rx for John’s blood pressure at the cardiologists before checking in at the Hospital. Everything medical is very segregated here. Doctors can prescribe medication only for their area of expertise.  

Elders Long and Perreira had helped us out by picking up a pair of crutches at the pharmacy for us to take with us. We carried them and our small overnight bags as we walked the block from our parking spot to the hospital. There was no drive up to the door at Hospital de Caridade São Vincente de Paulo in Guarapuava.

Note the stamp with hospital initials on the sheet.
We had been told that payment was expected at checkout – a combination charge for the hospital stay, surgery, doctor and anesthetist – in cash (we had previously asked for a quote on the price so we would know how much money to withdraw from the bank). This was reiterated again when the first part of "checking in" was with the financial manager.  DMBA had sent us a letter a few weeks before saying they were dropping our policy and had set us up with Aetna International just two days before the surgery.  We had to decide whether to try and push the surgery up to be within the old policy or trust that the new policy would accept our pre-existing problem. Aetna told us they would contact the hospital and let us know what arrangements were made but we never heard from them either by phone or e-mail and they seemed to be unavailable to take our calls – thus the cash payment. The other thing that we hadn’t been told was that we would need a co-signer (even though we had the cash with us!) since we were foreigners. Armando had voluntarily insisted on giving us a ride and then stepped up and signed 20 pages of legal documents assuring the hospital payment. He was not at all surprised as he had spent a lot of time in hospitals with his mother who has Alzheimer’s. We however felt like we had our personal angel with us.

This is Armando - who is our good friend - and in 
this case an angel who came to our rescue, 
There were a few differences in procedure here. At 9:45, we were told that they would check us into a room as soon as it was cleaned then take Elder McKinney from there to surgery.  The doctor had scheduled 1:00 p.m. as the time for the surgery. We were sent to a waiting room to wait for a room assignment. At 1:05 someone came looking for us to take Elder directly to surgery so they moved us to the Emergency area of the hospital and had him put on a hospital gown that was definitely not made for someone his size. He was grateful when they came back with a blanket for him.

Armando and I followed them up two floors and were left in the hallway as they wheeled him into the surgery section of the hospital on the third floor. After waiting for several hours, watching different family members be called into what we assumed was the recovery room, we started to wonder what was happening.  I finally took time to teach Armando about Suduko and let him play on my Ipad while we waited. After another ½ hour Armando asked someone at the door what was happening and they said Elder would be out soon. Then Dr. Eric Diegues came out, ready to leave, and I spoke with him as he gave me the thumbs up. We waited some more until, at last, they wheeled Elder out attached to an IV and headed down the hall with him to a double room that had a large family group inside visiting with a patient in the other bed.  They were asked to leave for a minute while the staff transferred Elder into his bed.
The half cast is on the bed: the doctor
cut it off to check his work before
checking us out

This is the spot - you can see cotton
stuck to the bottom of Elder's foot.

We later learned between some pretty serious vomiting that the spinal block did not take the first or second times they tried but finally on the third attempt they were able to begin the surgery. John does not remember any of it until he awoke and became nervous after some time of having no feeling from the waist down which lasted until early evening. It was quite a bit later that night, after 2 IV bags of medication for nausea, that he finally settled down enough to rest. He did not have an inch to spare as he fit from the bars on one end, to the bars on the other in the bed. They would not raise the head of the bed or allow him a pillow for over 6 hours because of the problems with nausea. We assumed he had the problem because of having sooooo much anesthetic injected. However, it turned out that our roommate had not yet had his surgery on his arm. They wheeled him out just after 6 pm and did not return until 9:30 pm when he & his wife commenced the same procedure of heaving, cleaning up, and starting over again.  The problem was not John’s alone. It was a long night as we all tried to sleep between waves of nausea and vomiting, nurse visits to change antibiotics (sometimes they brought clean linen and rags), and even the kitchen staff woke us all at 4 a.m. to bring in a container of coffee. When they again returned with coffee and warm milk I finally followed her down the hall to return the carafe and she offered me tea. I explained about our religion and we had to settle for the warm milk that they served with the coffee. Breakfast was slices of fruit, cheese & ham, and a roll along with warm milk. It had been well over 24 hours since John had anything to eat. He was pretty dehydrated and hungry.

Armando had stayed overnight with his cousins and returned to take us home. The doctor came to check the incision and tell us to return to his office in 10 days for a recheck. The nurses re-wrapped the ½ cast and told us we were next in line to check out. Several hours later we finally wheeled Elder to the nurse’s station to find out if we were going to be able to leave before lunch. Armando and I walked down to the financial office and paid the bill while the nurses brought Elder McKinney down. We arrived back in Prudentópolis hoping to be able to catch some sleep after thanking our good friend for his help.
This is above the sink in the bathroom. I had to put it in because I was fascinated by this example of
getting  clean in a hospital that does not have soap in any of the bathrooms.
That is also true in the clinics that we have been to.

Meanwhile, we were very grateful for general conference and the connection we had that allowed Elder to stream conference in English in our apartment through his ipad while I attended the sessions and took roll Saturday and Sunday at the church where it streamed very well in Portuguese. We were fortunate to have Thyago M. be able to run the projector connected to John’s computer in the chapel for the four regular sessions and Priesthood session which we showed at 9 a.m. on Sunday. I was able to show the sisters the down load of the previous weeks Relief Society session on my computer in another room at the same time Priesthood session streamed for the men. We felt like this was a big improvement over last year. When we first arrived the arrangement had been to bus the branch to Guarapuava where they were able to see only one session before they returned home. In April we had started showing conference at the branch chapel via internet and only one person stayed for all the sessions  and most attended only one session but they were glad it was more convenient. This time most of the youth attended at least three sessions and the men saw priesthood and both Sunday sessions. There were six of us who saw all of them.  

Meron, Elder Long, Thyago M., Elder Pereira standing -
Amelia sitting - just before batpism. Thyago had his
first two baptisms between conference sessions.

We also had a baptism between sessions on Sunday for a couple in their 70s, Amelia and Meron Tupis. She had a personal miracle when her shaking from Parkinsons ceased after her baptism. We were also very grateful that the water heater had been fixed and the font was warm for this particular baptism.

Renato had to pick up John to come and enter information in the computer between sessions since both counselors’ names had been removed from MLS again (this time they were left in the system as clerks---who does this?). The payments for the bus the men took to Guarapuava for district priesthood meeting last month had been denied again. That always means the bus driver has to be paid with someone's cash.
There is so much to learn and do here that we take for granted at home.

Meanwhile navigating with crutches, non-functioning bowels, and a UTI that caused a fever became challenges for Elder McKinney as we waited out the ten days to return to visit the doctor. We had been told we would have to hire a nurse to change Elder’s bandages twice in the 10 day period but when we saw how simple the wrapping and cleaning were, I was able to purchase the supplies at the pharmacy and take care of that for John.  His leg was wrapped with cotton inside the cast – the actual incision covered by gauze after rinsing with sterile water first. Then the cast that covered his foot and back half of his leg was wrapped on with an ace type bandage for which they had no fasteners. (They taped it on at the hospital and I later used safety pins).  Since our phone continued not to function at all over periods of this time, we were pretty much on our own.  Elder Long, who was our district leader, was conscientious about coming by to check on us and gave John a nice blessing.
This picture is for James - whose last design is being made by Husqvarna.
We see them active even here in Brasil.

I mentioned earlier how specialized prescription writing is. Well, when we pretty much narrowed the fever down to UTI since his incision looked terrific, we found that the operating doctor could not prescribe an antibiotic since that was not his specialty. So we got to catch a cab to the clinic at Santa Casa Hospital where a urinalysis was run and we waited in line several hours for our turn to visit Dr. Garcia, a general practitioner.  The hospital had no elevator -- connecting the two floors of the hospital only by ramp--so the lab people, who we have become well acquainted with over the past couple of months, procured a wheel chair for Elder. It became quite clear to everyone waiting in line why we were there as the wheel chair rolled back and forth between “sanitario” and our place in line. The possibility was also added that there might be some stones causing a problem. Elder is having to develop some patience.

This is Elder McKinney waiting
patiently  for his time to consult
Dr. Garcia at the clinic.
Back to the phone system: we can now make calls within our zone to the Elders free. However, if we need to communicate with anyone in Curitiba – mission president, his wife, assistants or the secretaries – we have to initiate an emergency phone code, ring them, then wait for them to call us back.   This has been interesting for us since our police approved stay expired the week before Elder’s surgery.  Unbeknownst to us the mission secretary had scheduled us to go into Curitiba the same day as the surgery to renew our papers with about 30 others. We were told we could not go in prior to the procedure, so we were without legal status as we entered the hospital.

We also had an interesting phone call just yesterday, letting us know that the real estate agent wanted to show the property our rented church building is on to buyers. Since we no longer have out of area phone service we could only make our emergency call to the Mission President to have him talk with facilities management in Londrina and make sure they knew.

Meanwhile the president let us know that he really does not have a use for us in Curitiba (another couple is coming in January to serve in the office) but he had talked to the temple presidency and they can use us or we can stay here if we chose. We are feeling a little confused but we feel like there is still quite a bit we can do in Prudentópolis so we plan to be here unless things change again in the coming weeks. We will continue seminary class, piano lessons, trying to teach leadership skills, ordering supplies for the branch, teaching English, and befriending non-members in hopes of strengthening the branch here. Elder McKinney will be helping one of our young sisters fill out missionary papers soon. It is pretty exciting.
Scenery on the way to Guarapuava

Armando took this. Behind us is "The Hat" 
or ao chapéu

It is really green - Armando says after 
Guarapuava it is not this lush.

I always love the palms - here we are looking 
through the eucalyptus trees.
Monday, Oct 14th, while we were in Guarapuava for the checkup, transfers were made. Elder Long was moved to become our Zone Leader and Elder Matamala from Argentina became our new District Leader. As we became acquainted with him over lunch yesterday we found him to be a humble, spiritual leader and will be glad to get to know him better.

We are very blessed that the surgery went well, that Elder is now able to walk a little, and should resume normal activity after his next two week check. We are grateful that we know Heavenly Father loves us and has a plan for us. We find great hope and strength in the Gospel and the angels we have met here on earth. Still, please remember us in your prayers.