Monday, February 25, 2013

Youth Service at the Church

We had a service project at the church in order to clean up the area in the back which is a salon for futebol. Here we see Lua (non member brother of our newest Priest) running to help carry more branches that are being removed from the fence.

 Sister McKinney has cleaned up the entire length of the church property and it is a job much needed and well done. Her project included weeding the tree planter boxes and the street and also trimming the trees.
 Gabriel is seen here on the left cutting the grass which is really cutting the tops off the weeds since the grass really does not grow that much. This job was shared by Ezeqiel who is not shown in this picture nor any picture for that matter since he seemed to always be between projects. Actually Ezeqiel ended up doing quite a bit of work but he got a slow start when he couldn't decide which job he really wanted.
Elders Brooksby (red) and Bedford (blue) are seen here left of the goal pulling vines out of the fencing and to the right with the job is Leandro (Lua's brother and our newest Priest). In the foreground with the Beatles Abbey Road step is Juliano.

Power, Problems & Protection

A few burdens for a branch president.

Support makes things easier!
Our last post ended with us headed to Guarapuava for Zone training. John was a live visual aid for the Zone Leaders as they were talking about missionaries supporting local leaders. [The visual was to bring to mind Moses holding up the rod of God while Joshua did battle with Amalek as was told in Exodus 17:9-12 ]

Guarapuava Zone - February 2013

The following Monday we lost both zone leaders, Elders Alvez and Lopez (who went home), when transfers were made. Elder Een from Irati and Elder Griggs from Guarapuava were also moved.  So our zone picture will be quite different next month. In even bigger news, we were contacted by the Assistants to the President and included in a total mission conference call were President Cordon announced the forming of 7 new missions in Brazil. Our mission is one that will be split into Curitiba North and South.  We have not been told when that will be yet or which one we will be in. However, it does mean two new mission presidents by July and should mean a lot more missionaries. Things will have to be aided by heaven since on last transfer all the Elders from Provo MTC were held up with visa problems.

We have spent Saturday afternoon, the last two weeks, at the church. The yard work includes mowing, trimming, and sweeping up what used to be a school campus and is now our branch property. The young men and the missionaries came today (23 February) to help Elder McKinney out with extra outside work: one of the neighbors had asked for pruning overgrown trees along the back of the soccer/basketball court. I worked on the sidewalk fronting the property, pruning and weeding around trees and in the gutter. The members have mentioned how beautiful the building looked while the Wells were here. [We don’t know who the Wells are!] What they don’t seem to realize yet is the care and upkeep of the building are their responsibility and they can make it as beautiful as they want.

Cordons & Assistants at EFY
Our 6 young people came home from EFY all excited.  This quote from the Cordon’s blog might explain why: “We drove out into the country past Colombo to speak at EFY.  We took the assistants with us.  The location has an old castle that was built back in the early 1900s furnished with antiques from Europe.  There were some 500 youth from Curitiba, Pinhais, Ponta Grossa, Guarapuava, and Joinville in attendance.  Elder Petla, Area 70, and his wife presided over the event.”  The six youth each spoke in sacrament meeting about their experience. There are a couple of good prospective missionaries in the bunch. Since we needed to be in Guarapuava for branch president’s district training Sunday the 17th, we also got to sit through the EFY fireside put on by the other Guarapuava district participants. It was a very spiritual day.

The Davis’s came to visit with me while Elder McKinney was in those training meetings. They brought a box full of seminary supplies to be used by our students in Prudentópolis. Elder McKinney has been boning up on New Testament stories and teacher training while I try to help him download information in English to help his studies. He is able to get the training in English online since the Portuguese trainer simply dropped off the supplies for him with Elder Davis.  It is really weird to finally see some of the films and hear the music all our children saw & heard years ago. The songs on those $1 seminary DVDs make a lot more sense when you have seen the corresponding seminary film.
Tree down across from our apartment. There is a power line in the middle of the tree.

These guys don't look very professional but they had that tree cut up into logs in no time. 
We came home late that evening on the bus and after our walk home, it was about 11:30 when we arrived. The first thing we noticed was our internet equipment blinking red meaning that we did not have service.  Early the next morning we still did not. As I looked out the window I realized that we had a large tree split down the middle and down in the neighbor’s yard taking a power pole with it. Turns out that we were away during a big storm in Prudentópolis and there were many trees down and quite a bit of ground water while we were away. We later received an e-mail from President and Sister Wilkins showing the water running in the streets in São Paulo where they were apparently without internet for two days also – following a bad storm.   

I spend a lot of time looking for Portuguese versions of LDS films to use with our lessons. We have a lot of very right-brained young people who love music, pictures, and films.   I continue to study Portuguese music terms. Elder McKinney is probably the best music student right now. He practices daily and I practice my musical terms on him.

I can picture a temple here!

The Stadler's dogs chased the car 1-2 miles from their
home to the eucalyptus farm.
We were invited by Presidente and Ivaldette Stadler to have lunch with them in Guamiranga on Tuesday the 19th. With the bus trip both ways and the irregular bus schedule -- it took about all day to have lunch there. Elias Stadler gave us a tour of the beautiful fields planted with soy beans, tobacco, black beans, and a seeded forest of eucalyptus leaves. Tobacco is a big crop here. Elias stopped growing it when he joined the church but his neighbors still grow and harvest it. We looked out over the beautiful Book of Mormon film-type scenery and could easily see a temple site on any number of the hills. We also met President Elias’ sister. He has a large number of family members in the valley and none of them are members – thus there is a lot of work to be done.

Elder McKinney & Elias talk about farming trees.
We returned to a member family interview at the church. There are a lot of things that we cannot write about but needless to say we are very much bothered when members choose to sin and don’t understand the repentance process. This is then complicated by the judgement & gossip of others. President Stadler made an astute comment about not throwing the sick patients out of the hospital. We want to continue to fellowship and try to give loving help to those with problems.

We are now planning to broaden our search for inactive members. On one of our bus rides we met a girl who said she was a member whose family was converted in Guarapuava. They have since moved to Imbituva and become inactive. We then found some people on our branch list with Imbituva addresses. Now the Elders have found that another of the large inactive families we have been searching for probably moved there. The four of us are planning to set a date to all go out and tract the city looking for these members. 
We are going through a period of high humidity.  It rains daily – some days a lot more than others. When the sun comes out it is very hot but the cloud cover modifies the temperature.  Hopefully the Utah families will get some sunshine and warmth soon. We love you all, pray for you daily, and know that we are all watched over by a loving Heavenly Father. 
Look at the different things growing on this tree!

I love these yellow birds

Look at the long legs on this bird.

Monday, February 11, 2013

10 days in February

This is the youth leaving for EFY.
However, this bus is like all the caravan buses.

February 2nd we participated in our first caravan to the temple with Guarapuava District. The onibus leaves there at about 2:00 a.m. and is supposed to get us at 3:30 a.m.  We actually ended up leaving,  from our branch building, closer to 4:00 a.m.  They track you by number on bus rides: Brazilians by general registry number, while missionaries use RNE or the National Registry of Foreigners (Estrangeiros).  The purpose of the caravan is to get Guarapuava District to the temple for an affordable price.  At $R36 (reais) or about $US18 per person, round-trip, it is a bargain to charter a bus and go for a day. It usually costs us $US42.00 per person, round-trip  so it is a significant savings. The other good thing is that it takes us straight from the branch building to the temple and means we don’t have to change buses or pay for cabs to get from the bus station to arrive at the temple.  

The district consists of three branches in Guarapuava: Bonsucesso; Guarapuava; and Villa Bela then the branches in our district: Prudentópolis & Irati. Several of the branches are big enough to be wards but they need our district to have more members before they can form a stake and become wards.

When we arrived just before the 7:30 session, Elder McKinney was assigned to help in the baptistery at the font as a witness along with Daniel da Silva while Maria da Silva and I helped with the young women and mopping up water from the font.  We were able to listen, with the youth, to a talk by a temple worker and some testimonies by the youth. All of the youth from the Guarapuava District were then assigned to do the 1st session of baptisms. They were confirmed: first young men then young women; and baptized in that same order.  So while the young women were waiting, we got to hear from President Arais, the Curitiba Temple President. 

This was an unusual trip for us. We had not known that we would do anything other than complete several sessions. After the baptism session we were able to complete initiatory for some family file cards before exiting the temple to use the lunch room/changing area to have our lunch.   We also made purchases at the distribution center from a list of DVDs that we didn’t have in our branch library. They were much better stocked than our last visit – we will have to place an order for the rest we were unable to purchase. We were able to purchase triple combinations for several of the new primary children to use in their homes – along with a scripture case for one of the newly baptized members. The missionaries had requested hard cover Books of Mormon and we also found them. Then we re-entered the temple for a regular endowment session.  

Afterward, Elder McKinney was to help with an Eagle Board of Review, for Dallin Cordin, at the temple worker’s housing complex. There had been a mis-communication on time but because we had changed to get there, we were unable to go to another session before the bus was to leave.What a blessing in disguise, as we were invited into President Hepworth’s home to visit. They are a couple from Idaho, serving their third mission in Brazil. After a 1st mission similar to ours, he was called as a member of the temple presidency.  Sister Hepworth has taught the Teclada program and I was grateful for advice from her on how she ran her program.

This was a good break, especially for Presidente McKinney who has been dealing with honesty and morality problems with members of the branch. These problems have opened up the need to understand the Atonement, not judging or gossiping about others, forgiveness, etc. We were glad to have time in the peace of the temple to ponder, pray, and put names on the prayer roll.
Juliano, Ezeqiel, Leandro, Danielle, Tatiane, Thyago - EFY youth

Renato & Viriginia with Daniel Oishi
- tired of waiting for the bus.
Our youth were invited to participate in EFY (a once every four years opportunity) for 5 days, 9th-13th of Fevereirdo, during the Carnival Week, at Castelli Di Palma, Bocaiúva do Sul. The paper work for the youth, signatures of parents for permission and picture rights, training meeting, purchase of white shirts and dress shoes for the boys have been a source of our attention until they left on Saturday, February 9th at 7 a.m.  Contrary to the comments about Brazilians always being late, our kids were all packed and ready to leave at 5 a.m. only to find out that problems in Guarapuava made them several hours late. It was fun to visit with the youth and parents who had come to wait with them. They did however eventually arrive at the castle in Curitiba safely, according to a text message we received later in the day.
Casa São Paulo sewed the sheets and washable pillow
covers for the pillows they sold us. We have shopped
for personal items there. 

Teca made the bed covers for the humanitarian
project.  This loja is closer to our apartment.
Note the truck - there are many of similar style
on the streets here.

Meanwhile, we have seen the completion of the second humanitarian project. We were invited to São Vicente de Paulo, Lar Dos Idosos (home for the elderly), to take pictures of the pillows, sheets, and bed covers they chose to spend their money on. They invited a couple of residents to step into the picture with the director and secretary at the home.  This project was also completed by purchases from two local merchants, Teca & Casa São Paulo, who completed their work quickly and professionally.  Our only snag was when the payment for the materials that came through the district seemed to take an uncomfortably long time. It had Elder McKinney on the phone while we were in Curitiba checking to make sure everything was taken care of and the churches good name intact.

Translation of the sign: Welcome to the home, St. Vincent of Paul. Do not leave for tomorrow the love you can give today.
Note the telephone number is in two sets of four numbers here.
The side walk has the words House of the Elderly. (Lar dos Idosos)

Director, residents, & secretary
St. Vincente de Paulo with
pillows & pillow covers, sheets, coverlets

The building has outdoor facilities and a store where
they sell clothing to make an income.

For those who keep track of the weather: it has been rainy and surprisingly cold here for summer time. My umbrella is one of the most necessary possessions here. It made for interesting walking as we collected all of the information for EFY.  The dirt here is red like you see in the St. George area and quite clay-like. I know that the unusual cold and ice in Utah have been a problem. When we talk to the Texas-Oklahoma kids they seem to be having more moderate temperatures.

We add fruit and yogurt
1 KG of wheat = 2+lbs
I have been asked by several people recently what we eat for breakfast – thus the following photos. This is whole wheat brought to a boil and simmered for 30 minutes. We then divide it into portions and freeze some until needed.

Cooked Wheat
 It usually takes a full day to do our wash and cooking for the week.  Because of the small oven, things I cook in less than an hour at home can take up to 4-5 hours as there is only one very narrow rack in the oven. We spent the entire day, last P-day, preparing to have Armando and Evette Faccio (investigators) over for dinner last Monday evening and the district Elders for lunch Tuesday after our district meeting.  Thus, no blog post last week. The washing machine is similarly small and since the weather has been cold and damp and we have no indoor heating it takes up to three days for things washed, to dry.  I am really grateful for the microfiber towels that we brought with us since they dry so much faster.

Today we will be going into Guarapuava on the late afternoon bus and staying with Casal Davis so we can be to our 2½ hour zone meeting tomorrow.  We will then wait to catch the first return bus at 2 p.m., thus taking a full day. The zone leaders could save the Elders a full day of work by looking at the bus schedule between the two cities. More next week….