Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Special Break - January 2013

Tuesday, piano lessons: Tiago and Otavio Bonfim come to the house weekly for lessons. Otavio brought a friend by a few weeks ago to meet us. This 12 year old, young man, a non-member, is very interested in learning to play the piano. As I explained that the purpose of my teaching here was to prepare someone to play for our church meetings, he expressed a willingness to do so in order to be able to take lessons. We felt the need to meet his parents for several reasons. He came to church with Otavio on Sunday, January 20th. We set up a time to meet his mother. After a rather long walk to his home, we had a wonderful visit with his family. There are two other children, an infant daughter and a 4 year old son. They are Evangelists. She offered us tea as we talked. Elder McKinney then explained our Word of Wisdom so she wondered if we could eat “bolo” or cake. We said yes and had a delicious angel food–like cake topped with a peach sauce.  It turns out that it was made by Elieser Filipi Demschinski, my very apt, new student. We were soooo impressed with his family and are glad to have them as new friends. His father drives truck and is out of town working. So far he comes prepared each week and ready to learn.

On Tuesday afternoons, we walk to the home of Romildo dos Santos to teach his daughter, Thais. The missionaries had reported that they already had a keyboard in their home and she wanted to learn but her older sister was unwilling/or maybe unable to teach her. She is one of our older primary children (she gave the first talk I have heard in primary sharing time, last week). She too is very apt and learning quickly.

It is because of these four bright young people that I have had to search out more material to help them cement the grand staff and use of two hands at a time on the piano. Having already downloaded all the simplified songs from The Friend & Liahona, I then downloaded simplified songs from several other web sites. I was also very interested in Jill’s piano studio blog and her willingness to share information with me.  

We have had some unusual privileges as Senior Missionaries. Last week was filled with them. On Wednesday, January 23, 2013 we called a taxi to take us to the rodoviária (bus station.) We then took the 4 ½ hour bus ride through Ponta Grossa to Curitiba to stay at President & Sister Cordon’s home for three nights. We unloaded our suitcases, had a rice & beans lunch, and went to the Curitiba temple grounds. We first went to the distribution center to see if we could better supplement our sparse branch library. We met President Hepworth, an American in the temple presidency. He took my two cards needing baptisms and promised to have them ready for us when the branch caravan’s into the temple on Feb. 2nd. We were also able to purchase a few supplies. Os Testamentos was a golden find in Portuguese DVDs.

We then entered the temple and spent two hours completing sealings. I had 3 women, 7 men, & 7 sealings do, thus completing work that we had begun in the states in August of 2012. We had many willing helpers.  I am getting better at understanding the ceremonies in Portuguese.

Millie & Alan Batt with Sister McKinney
at the Botanical Gardens.
Does it look like I'm protecting that flute?
Elder McKinney with Alan Batt

After returning to the apartment on the bus, President Cordon took us to the Mission Office to meet Eduardo Henrique, Marcia, & Nilson Brunetti, a family of Italian descent, and new converts since December.   Their son was somewhat conversant in English so we were able to show them how to load information in a data base then have them get on-line at and help them find the family members that were already there. What a delight to watch their faces as they found relatives doing work on their ancestors from the United States. I had purchased several temple and family history manuals for them at the distribution center earlier in the day. I gave them to her and we exchanged e-mail addresses in case she has questions. It was a very heartwarming experience to see such dedicated new members. The father has lost two siblings, at a relatively young age, recently, and has many questions. The son is Deborah’s age.

Downtown Curitiba from double decker bus.
The next day we more or less had a vacation as we met with Alan & Millie Batt in downtown Curitiba.  Elder Batt, Alan, was a contemporary of Elder McKinney the first time they were both here in Brazil.  He was also the best man at our wedding. 

We walked and talked, shopped for music for my young students, purchased a flute for me to use here (we got a good deal), took a bus tour of the sites in town, visited beautiful gardens & a zoo, and found the place where the Elders used to live 40 years ago.  

The Batts have been mission president & matron (?or Mrs. President) in Fortalesa and were here to renew their permanent visa and visit some of their former missionaries. We were able to join with the Cordons in the evening for dinner at Batel, a churrascaria.  



The next morning we rode the tourist train (much like the Heber Creeper but better) through the Atlantic Rain Forest to Morretes on the recommendation of Sister Cordon. She feels like we should become acquainted with the area to better relate to the people here. 

Train to Morretes

View from the inside of the train

Plums and Araucaria
on train route out of Curitiba
Purple & White blossoms
on the same tree - abound 
After a quick lunch, we returned to the city by bus.

The Batts had brought us chocolate chips, licorice, taco mix, and some spices from home in addition to their very warm friendship. They were so thoughtful. We hope it isn’t so many years before we see them again.
We entered several tunnels in route

Our Saturday morning started bright and early. We called a cab to get us to the mission office by 7 a.m. in preparation for the arrival of General Authorities on their mission tour. All the Elders and Sisters as well as the couples had the privilege of hearing from Elder Craig C. Christensen (Presidency of the Seventy), President Claudio R. M. Costa (President of the Brazil Area), and the Presiding Bishop of the Church, Gary E. Stevenson. They arrived late Friday afternoon, went to the Curitiba Temple from the airport where they received a quick tour from Presidente Arias, president of the temple. They spoke to us from 8 until 10:30 a.m. the next morning then they took the plane to Porto Alegre to continue their tour. We then took the long bus ride back to Prudentópolis. 

(Left to Right: Presidente Augusto, 1st Counselor - Mission Presidency, Sister Augusto and their son Lucas, Miled and Marli Mechaileh and their son, Bonnie, Dallin and President Cordon - Curitiba Mission President, Elder Craig C. Christensen and Sister Christensen, Presidente Claudio Costa and Sister Costa, Bishop Gary Stevenson and Sister Stevenson, Bishop Roberto and Mel Triumfo)

Parting thought from Cordon’s piano: 
mis.sion.ary, (noun) someone who leaves their family 
for a short time 
so that others may be with their families for Eternity.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Summer, Storms, & Several Ink Cartridges Later

Read about some of our adventures on John's post: 

One new waterfall and a previously visited one with more water

One of our major challenges the past few weeks has been to research and printout the information for the teachers in all classes since we had not received the new class manuals for any of the classes. 

Jeri's package
Trying to track down the LDS distribution center packages that were ordered September 26th was very challenging. The delivery was made by a trucking system separate from the Church.  The books traveled from São Paulo to Cascavel then to Guarapuava then past our city to Curitiba to be put on a smaller truck that went to Irati and finally back to us in Prudentópolis.  If you were to look on  a map this is a circle all around us but not to us. They deliver during the day. If you are not home to sign for the package they recharge you the delivery fee when they deliver a second time. {That is why we are sitting home today.  They were supposed to deliver another package Friday or Monday.  Haven't seen it yet and it is afternoon] Jeri mailed a package on December 5th.  It arrived today - opened and repackaged - looking like this!  I think someone might have enjoyed Jeri's brownies. I will use and appreciate the brownie spatula that did arrive. This package was delivered by the regular postman.

Primária Presidentia: Me (just ran home and
back to make copies), Eva Aparecida
Pereira Oliveira  & Michalina Bonfim
Michalina Bonfim, the new Primary President for the branch, called me to be her 1st counselor.  I spend a lot of time preparing a lesson for the combined 4-7 year old class with pictures, handouts, and supporting bulletin boards then try to figure out how to teach it in Portuguese.  One major part of my calling is deciding how many children to prepare for.  I have more investigators than members most days in my class, which is quite small. I have also been asked to act as both the pianist and chorister for Sharing Time. For me that is a challenge but I learn more than the kids as I try to figure out how to help them learn.  Can you tell by the photos that I teach the CTRs?  Here it stands for Conserva Tua Rota!

Erik - an investigator
Juliano - a member
Marcelo - his sisters
are members
Elder McKinney describing the LDS Church
Humanitarian Program for the TV

We are still trying to find the in-actives on the membership list that Elder McKinney was able to print out. There are more people on the list of members that we cannot find -- than there are members. 

Hermes is a very relaxed but cunning administrator.
He was originally a pharmacist. He has started a pharmacy 
school in Guarapuava & runs Santa Casa - the hospital.

As "Presidente" of the branch he has been busy with tithing settlement, temple recommend interviews and making callings.  He was interviewed by both radio and televisions in connection with the humanitarian project at the local hospital. We have also completed another project that we will report on next post.

Elders Brooksby, McKinney, & Bedford with the cameraman & reporter.  The mattresses are in the blue covers.
This is how the hospital chose to use their donated money.  We saw some pretty poor mattresses when we first
arrived and met Hermes.  Because of our donation, the government has now also given the hospital a grant. 

Zone Leaders - the new Elder Alvez & Elder Lopez
You can see the armor on the white board - drawn 
by Elder Een.  The orange was also a lesson about 
protective covering. It floated with the peel on.
As missionaries we meet with the young elders to plan and keep up with the investigators, attend training meetings and we got to take a break with President Cordon’s family to see the area waterfalls.  Elder Bedford, from the states, via life in Australia for 5-6 years, is the newest companion in our area.  He is about 6’7” and seems to dwarf even John.  He is new to the mission and is also working on his language skills.  We are lucky to have some very dedicated young Elders in our Zone.  

Things to be grateful for:  bathtubs, hot water from the tap, large ovens, double sinks, and garbage disposals.  I miss mine.  We are doing great but everything takes a lot longer when you don’t have the modern conveniences that you are used to. However, the Gospel is true!  We can feel the Spirit here!  The abraços are sincere.

We are off to Curitiba this week! 

One new waterfall and a previously visited one with more water

We had an outing with the Cordon family to see some waterfalls in the area. We revisited 2 that we had already seen and one new one. The pictures you see here are of one that was previously posted (Manduri falls) to show the difference that a "little"rain can make. Actually it rained very consistently for about 2 weeks and probably equaled several times our annual rainfall in Utah. 

The Cordons, Dallin, Sister,
President, Nolan, Hannah.
Manduri falls on our first visit.

After visiting Manduri and having lunch at the Recanto Rickli we were off exploring to find Salto São João. After parking and paying our fee to enter the gate we hiked about a kilometer to reach the falls. There were no guard rails at this one but they did have some very secure warning tape attached to the bushes and trees, which Sister Cordon promptly crossed for a better view down the throat of the falls.
São João overlook.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2013 - A New Year

Elder McKinney told about going with Armando last week in his The first of the waterfalls blog.  I wanted to add a few photos taken from my perspective.  I need to note that Armando has made up his mind to stop smoking and it has been several weeks now since he has had a cigarette. 
This dam allows hydro electric power to be made and
is just before the falls. 

On the left side of the falls you can see birds
attached to the rocks.  They would fly
through the mist then land.  My camera
could not catch them flying.

I was able to catch one of the many colorful
butterflies & moths
This petunia size morning glory is beautiful.
I can't believe it is the same thing I work
so hard to eradicate at home.

I have to try hard to get the snapdragons to grow in
our yard at home and here they are wild.

Aruacaria tree looks like a giant dandelion

Bamboo - dwarfed John
Quite a contrast to my tiny start at home.

I thought of Provo Canyon as we looked out over the rail.
However, I have never seen such flowers there.
The outdoor facilities made us think this
might be a good place for a youth outing.

The brick lining the trail is the same
that they build their homes with. 

Early in the evening of December 31st, we met at the Elders apartment. They have area books because they keep area records for the years past. These are kept since the mission has sent missionaries here. We are concerned about all the lost members that we found on the branch rolls when the computer finally gave Elder McKinney a printout this week.  Most of the members here were converted less than 6 years ago.  We started looking over two years back and found that at the time, many of the members were helping the elders meet new contacts. We are trying to link the converts with the active members who visited with them in hopes that they will know something about their whereabouts. There are whole families that were baptized that we have not yet met and we do not know why.  Some of our future walks will be in search of these members. There are enough members of record here to form a ward.
A poor photo of the city lights
taken through the car window

We are very fortunate to be friends with the Faccios.  All the missionaries were invited by Evette to spend New Year’s Eve at their home to have dinner.  We ate with Armando and Evette and his parents. On the walk from the Elder's apartment to the Faccios, Elder Brooksby told us that we might have pig (an animal who looks forward when it eats) because of the belief here that this is more likely to bring good luck for the new year than eating chicken or turkey (which are animals that scratch for their food and who look backward thus bringing the bad luck from last year with them).   We did have pork ribs and loin along with lentil soup, fruit salad and soda pop.  The Brasillians always serve soda to the missionaries because they know we are cautioned about drinking unfiltered water here.  I took the tomato-onion salad, an apple pie, and some peanut clusters to share.  We visited with Armando and his parents in the living room while Evette finished the meal , talking with them about our ancestors.  They have some German and Italian family history. Evette gave in and let me help by setting the table for 8.  We really enjoyed our meal and visiting--getting to know more about the family and their history.  The Elders were just getting to the fruit salad portion of the meal – which was the dessert—when they noticed they had to leave since they had been cautioned to be in their apartment by 9 p.m.    They are both very obedient and left right away. Apparently the custom for many here is to wait until midnight to heat on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  Elder McKinney and I were able to stay long enough for dessert and to help with the dishes. We left at 10 p.m.  Armando choose to drive us to our apartment via downtown so we could see the lights displayed that evening.

This tree start in front of the
branch building
has beautiful flowers.
I have mostly recorded this for our memory.  However, I anticipate this family will eventually become strong members of the church in this area and do much for good.

We are in the process of finding members at home so that Elder McKinney can issue callings and releases for the branch organizations and make sure that they have all participated in tithing settlement. My resolution has to be to learn to speak the language better.  There is a lot for us all to learn this new year.  

One last note: I don’t remember ever using hydrocortisone before.  When the other senior couples recommended bringing it with us I was puzzled.  I am very grateful to have it with me as I use it daily.  A little bit is a great help in reducing the redness and itch that come with bites.  I have been trying to remember who told us that they leave the windows and doors open in Brasil and they don’t have any bugs.  This had to be a very tongue in cheek comment.  Since there is no heating or air conditioning in most homes here, the windows and doors do provide most of the ventilation and are wide open most of the time.  John has provided protection from most of the flying insects by putting up screen on the windows.  However, we have not been able to come up with a cover for the doors yet. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas 2012

Christmas was a busy day for us.  In the morning, I thought I would take some of my free time and start reading the Leo & Olive Bowen Mission Journals that I had scanned before coming to Brasil.  It was fascinating to read about their experience in their version of mission training.  I have to tell you that I started reading grandpa’s journal first with the intention of reading it through before starting on Grandma’s.  Something prompted me to try to read them side by side and see how their perceptions differed.  It was great because Grandma’s descriptions filled in questions I had about some of Grandpa’s statements.  She also wrote specific names for people in her descriptions.  Setting up household for them was similar to our experience.  I look forward to reading more on P-days.

Prudentopolis-Irati District Missionaries 1-3-13
Elders Een, Smith, Affonso, McKinney, Brooksby & me.
The busy part came in cooking and preparation for the 4 Elders in our district to come and eat lunch and spend the day.  They were each able to contact their families for 45 minutes.  I was fascinated by the different experience each one had.  Skype and Google Circles worked differently for each and we were glad that we have the Ooma connection because they were able to contact family by telephone when the internet connection was not so good.  However, each of them was actually able to see family members before their connection got bad.  Google Circles allowed Elder Brooksby to connect with family in 5 different places across the U.S. at the same time and see each other.  I think I would like to try that sometime with our children and grandkids.

This is the barbecue in the side of our patio wall.
The grill for the hamburgers is inserted in the brick.
As for lunch, the Elders had requested a churrasco (Brazillian barbecue).  They specifically ask for hamburgers --- I think for Elder Affonso’s experience since he is the only native serving in the district right now.  The hardest part of the meal was finding good hamburger and the finding hamburger buns. Elder McKinney and I had just been the beneficiaries of a lovely meal sponsored by Hermes hospital.  We had a great tomato-onion salad recipe from there that we tried [I know! It tastes much better than it sounds.].  We had a lettuce salad, homemade potato fries, with snicker doodles and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with ice cream for dessert. I had made peanut clusters for treats.  The peanuts here are all raw so we had to figure out how to roast them then dip them in chocolate.  Since the missionaries out here have little food money because of the expense of bus travel between cities for meetings, I made them all individual loaves of zucchini bread as their gift from us.  They didn’t mind the chocolates either.  Elder Smith provided our only wrapped gift in the form of chocolates for us. 

Lest you think that we did not do any missionary work, I should tell about the things that are going on in the branch. As the branch president John is involved in tithing settlement, presenting the new youth program (on the 5th Sunday in December), planning and holding the branch party.  We have really been scrambling the last few weeks. We have been studying the curriculum for 2013 and finding out if the correct materials have been ordered. We also have to make sure the needed materials are available in Portuguese.  We are awaiting our supplies for the new year.  They have been ordered since September 26th by one of the old counselors in the branch presidency and have not yet arrived.  I am teaching piano lessons here in an effort to help the members be able to provide their own music when we leave.  I ordered kits for the tecladas we use and they are coming from the distribution center here in Brasil.  Even so, it will take over three weeks to arrive.  

AJs package - The GU added by the office elders
means Guarapuava Zone - which we are in.
The reason I am telling you this is because many have offered to send gifts and packages.  It is not a good idea.  Only small items arrive if they arrive at all. Our first package from home was from Andrew and delivered by President Cordon from the mission office when he stopped by for a surprise visit on December 30th. He had mailed it November 29th and paid a ton to have it tracked.  We receive a letter from mom the day after New Years that she had mailed on December 14th.  So far that is our only mail from the US. Our children sent out three packages in November and we are curious to see when and/or if they arrive.
1st letter to arrive in Prudentopolis

I have spent time in making Christmas presentations: for the mission party, for the primary children to the music Mary, Did you Know with the translation in Portuguese, and downloading the Church Christmas version of O Emmanuel so the branch members could see the beautiful scenes from Christ’s life.  I have also gone through the branch library to find out what they have and catalogue items.  The bulletin boards were pretty boring and had never been changed in the time that we had been here so I used the gospel art kit and the nursery manual pictures to put up the life of Christ--centered around nativity scenes.  I then used the unopened primary resource packets to do boards in the Jr. and Sr. primary classrooms.  I have become very popular with the children as a supplier of coloring materials.  I try to have a sheet for each child every week that corresponds to either the sharing time theme or the lesson material they are supposed to be learning that week.  Last week we talked about Joseph Smith and the gifts he has given us because of the 1st vision.  The 4 sheets for sharing time were about the Book of Mormon translation, having the restoration of the true church on the earth, having the priesthood restored, and knowing the Heavenly Father listens to our prayers and responds.  I found it interesting the two of the young boys who are investigators knew much more about Joseph Smith than the member children. (However, we will have to talk to one of them about the crosses he put atop the church building he drew.)  The most popular coloring sheet was of the first vision.  One of our goals is to help the members feel the Spirit and identify it.  We are worried about the children and their lack of testimony.  

Our best Christmas gift was being able to call home on December 29th and talk to the family right after Jeremy was able to baptize and confirm Cy with the support of the Utah relatives.  We are so grateful that both of the boys are now baptized and hope that they will lead out in reading their scriptures.  We would love to tell the children here about the testimonies of our grandchildren.

However, our most creative gift was the video that Andrew sent of him working in our garage at home. He has made a wall of storage shelves around the freezer.  We watched the fast motion video and picked out he and Jeremy the first time.  Then we looked again and saw Phillip and Cami also involved.  We are so grateful for all of our children and their thoughtfulness.  We are glad when they can work together even though we are not at home.