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