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.  

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