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. 

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