Friday, September 20, 2013

Banks and buses

Elder Long, Lucas, Elder McKinney
A lot has happened since our blog post two weeks ago.  I was thinking of our grandson, Myles, and his 10th birthday and I realized how glad I am that I can work with some young men close to his age in primary.  One special young man has attended our branch for about the last 6 weeks as well as coming to primary activity days and our futeball activities on Saturday afternoon.  On Saturday, September 7, 2013 Lucas was baptized. He is like a shining light at 11 years old. He celebrated his birthday on Thursday, the 5th of September.  I was going to lighten up the photo of him with the others but decided it was a fair representation of the belief and light he is sharing at his young age. Not many kids I know would come to church without their parents.
Elder Pereirra, Marcelo, Lucas, Elder Long
Elder Pereira got a cold from the cold water in the font!

The following day, Sunday September 8th, 2013, was district general priesthood meeting -– Elder McKinney took a full van of 15 members with him. While there and as part of the meeting, they met together as if they were a ward council and discussed how they would implement 6 goals of the church that have been sent to stake and mission presidents. How could we increase the number of missionaries in the field? Our branch had 6 that would be gone in the next 2 years. On the way home the van was stuck for 2 hours behind an accident on a two lane highway. Elder McKinney said Thyago Mehl kept it from being a bad experience by entertaining the group.

Meanwhile I had planned to work on genealogy at our apartment only to hear a really interesting storm roll in.  This is the closest thing to snow I have seen for a while and it was gone before the men returned.
Hail on the front lawn - a first for us here.

Terezinha, one of our newer members, has had a hard life but she took her baptismal covenants literally and knows she has been washed clean.  One Sunday morning we arrived early at the church to unlock the gate and found her there with her daughter, Dionisia,  and a gentleman she introduced to us as her brother.  She said she had prayed him there. She and Dionisia are planning to move to live with he and his wife and family in Matto Grosso. They had not seen each other for years. She checked with Elder McKinney to find out if there was a branch of the church there and was excited to find out there was one.  It will be nice to know that she can continue to be an active member.

Tuesday, September 10th, we had a great Zone Meeting in Guarapuava. Elders House and Silva are the current Zone Leaders. They gave the clearest, most organized instructions of any Zone Meeting or Conference since I have been here. They also had the leadership and presence of mind to know the bus schedule and get the Elders from Prudentópolis and Irati back in their area the same day with time to continue work in their area. It is a first!  One of the points that was made was to use the church to give tours so that people could feel the spirit of the building and we participated in practicing by walking around the beautiful meeting house in Bonsucesso.  We talked about not being able to do much about our rented building but we could get some of the beautiful framed pictures of the Savior that the church produces. Now we have to find out if it is possible.

We left the meeting and caught a cab to pick up some of the paperwork we need to submit to our Health Insurance on all the tests Elder McKinney has had. When we entered Centro Medico we were able to also make an immediate appointment with the podiatrist and as he viewed the bursa on John’s heel he said it was passed anything but surgery. Elder is exercising and stretching his Achilles tendon for three weeks and then will have the needed surgery. Afterward he is to stay off it for three weeks.
He has proceeded to stretch hourly while awake and we are spending a lot on taxis to get us where we need to be. The good part is that he has seen some improvement and reduction of pain. 

As I started to download pictures for this blog I realized I had forgotten to tell about yet another trip to Guarapuava for Young Women's Standards night.  It was a great presentation on chastity. What was different was that the whole branch was invited--parents and young men as well because afterward there was a dance. We have just spent the last of this quarter's money on yet another bus ride. 
The Young Women leaders passed out crazy glasses.  Our Young Men don't seem to know how to ask the Young
Women to dance. I think we were invited because we have so many youth in our branch.

We spent one afternoon visiting with Sonia who is herself recovering from surgery on her shoulder.  She is a lot of fun and never lets us go without serving some kind of treat. We were happy to find that she had a woman working for her and helping with the cleaning.

We missed yet again another P-day as we got a call late Sunday evening that the district needed some accounting things done pronto. We spent time trying to round up receipts from bus drivers, and for bank deposits as well as signing off – even on Sundays when no contributions are made so the system knows that at least 2 people acknowledge that there were no contributions made.  Since the branch doesn’t get any of the bank statements on deposits because they go directly to the church—we spent a number of hours waiting for a teller in the bank to tell us that she would have to order/get a release for the receipts. When we went back the second day we were told to come back yet another. I don’t know how anyone could do these things as a branch president unless they were independently wealthy since it takes so many hours of the day, when they would normally be working, to run these errands. We had a comedy of errors on my part the first time we went to the bank. I had no idea it was like going through airport security in the states. Elder, ever the gentleman , sent me through the revolving doors first. The guard said something to me that I could not hear through the doors that he trapped me in. I took my keys and camera from my purse and put in the little container on the door, then I realized he was also pointing at my umbrella – now I know it was because of the metal parts. I was asked to back out of the turnstile and Elder McKinney entered and was let in.  Then by hand signal I realized there were other things in my purse that he wanted removed. I again back out and stood under what I now realize was radar at the entrance put my purse down and entered and was asked to back out again and retrieve my purse.   It went on and on and I let the people behind me who were beginning to back up through ahead of me.  Needless to say I was embarrassed but now know the very kind guard pretty well by sight. I did not take my metal loaded purse back with me the next two times we had to go. We also made a friend of one of the cleaning ladies in our three day try to retrieve the bank receipts. We spent over $30 on taxis to get them. I think the experience will mean Elder never leaves without a receipt from the ATM again.

It has been interesting to find out where the bus driver’s wives work since we were sent to downtown stores to pick up receipts for the bus trips.  

We were saddened when we looked at the branch baptism book because over the last six years since the branch was established many have become inactivie. We have found records for one young man that we noted had performed a baptism and was said to be preparing for a mission when he died in an accident and we noted it has been just over a year. It is possible for his temple work to be done.  Now we need to find a member of his family to activate so the work can be done. We are working to document each of the active members & help them with some pictures and certificates on so that their information will not be lost.   Pray for our success.

Well we are still learning something new every day and are not bored—for sure. We are again off on the 6 a.m. bus today to Guarapuava for a Zone Conference.  The Elders from our district came by last evening to borrow vanilla to make no bake cookies for the bus trip.

Love to you all! Casal McKinney 

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