Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March Madness 2014

Guarapuava Zone Sisters - Feb 2014

We finished off our February with a surprise Zone Conference with President Fernandes who treated our district to lunch since we travel so far and have the greater cost in time as well as money when we attend. Our Zone at 24 is the largest it has been since we arrived. 

Feb 2014 - We have a large zone -- 2 zone meetings
President Fernandes treated us to lunch before the
afternoon zone conference at the end of February.

We were excited to receive our Christmas package
four months after it was mailed but intact!

Zone leaders are extreme left and right -- Elders Gonzales
& Elder F. Silva. They both also serve as trainers. 

It has been kind of crazy here for the last month.....but no basketball brackets involved. Since our last post we have had preparations for, attendance at, and return and report stages of the 2014 District Youth Conference. Then the next weekend the youth gathered for another district youth dance.

They can't take pictures without hand signs. Four of 
these kids were members for less than two months.

Our part of the preparations involved getting out information about and the lists of things needed for attendance at the "Acampamento dos Jovens do Distrito Guarapuava 2014"; collecting signed permission slips; shopping for appropriate clothing for new members; checking that they all had scriptures; chartering a van to travel to and from the conference and then the actual pickup and delivery of the youth to Guarapuava. We traveled with them on Saturday, March 1st to the Bonsucesso Branch Chapel.

There is only one youth not pictured of the 13 we took.
We have more youth than any other
branch in the district!
Unloading and retreating to the shade.
Because it is sunny
or because they are shy?

They started with a much needed ice-breaking activity. For many of our youth not only was this a first youth conference.... it was the first time they had socialized with other youth as members of the church since several were baptized within the last month. They then divided into two groups or companies, met their leaders and set goals. The companies chose names. Presidente Guilherme spoke to them. His talk was titled "Come to Christ, be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness". They then had a brief snack, the counselors gave a brief thought and they were off to bed. The young women stayed in the basement of a member's home for the three nights of the conference. The young men all stayed in a home that was vacant and for sale and was rented by the district for them to stay in. None of them got much sleep.
Utimately the young man in front of President Guilherme, a member
of several weeks, won the name a scripture character game.

A thimble of water in the face (for a wrong or duplicate answer)
stressed out several competitors

The answers were hard to hear and it was a quiet group trying to hear.

Sister in the background taught about scrap booking ancestors pictures.

Sunday started at 6:30 a.m. after what many of the youth described to us as a sleepless night. We had to ask since they all looked pretty tired when we returned in the evening to check on them. Our morning in Prudentópolis had included our regular block meetings, interviews, etc. Then we traveled with Mehls in their car to check on the kids. The youth had greatly increased the numbers in attendance at the Bonsucesso Branch that morning then had a Preach My Gospel  presentation by Presidente Lustoza and Presidente Claudiomiro.  We arrived in time to to see the presentation about História da Familia by Irmã Lina and Irmã Viviane showed her scrapbook of family ancestor photos. Then they had several group games. One of our newly baptized members won the game naming people from the scriptures. We never figured out the purpose of the tug of war in Sunday clothes.

Tug o War - Pulling together?

Monday Elder McKinney and I had planned to travel by bus to hear Presidente Fernandes speak at a fireside for the youth. Instead we ended up being the fireside as he had cancelled. We had our Proclamation on the Family Power Point which Elder McKinney adapted to present to the youth. We had cut up 23 different portions of the proclamation and I visited with different youth during their break and asked them to help us by reading them. As they sat in the cultural hall and looked at the pictures of our family and ancestors projected on the wall the youth essentially presented the proclamation while Elder McKinney added points about responsibilities of parents and youth in forming eternal families. As we returned home on the bus they were to have family home evening games.

This game started as a large circle of people - each making
their own animal motion which had to be duplicated for
them to reproduce and add another person to stay
in the circle.

Zeko, who normally seems shy, was one of the last three
contenders in the circle. 
Tuesday, March 3rd we returned in our chartered van to attend the baile (dance) and return home with our youth. I was totally surprised by the cultural hall turned disco when we arrived. The kids all seemed to have a good time and all participated. We returned home just after midnight with a group that had a hard time saying goodbye to a group of new friends.

These 2 little girls
had fun.
We were surprised at the disco atmosphere.

Accordions were popular along with other instruments.

The good bye didn't last long as we learned that March 15th the Guarapuava Branch was hosting a costume dance. We again chartered the bus and returned with the kids and other interested family members including children. I wish we could show the video Elder McKinney took of the Michael Jackson type footwork of some of our youth. 

This family included Batman, Wonder Woman and Robin

They held a costume award ceremony at the end of the dance.

We did have other standard activities. We just finished Week 5 of Seminary and have had good attendance at the three different groups. I am finally getting to see the films my children saw that match the music that was so often playing in our home. Elder McKinney and Brother Oishi have tried to make home teaching visits in many of the homes by the end of February and are hoping that others will participate in March. Home and Visiting Teaching are still a major weakness in this branch and the topic of our Ward Council discussions. 

Our friends - the Faccios

It is always good to visit with Oishis

We were lucky to have supper one evening with the Oishis at the Faccio home. We need the talents of these two as members. Hopefully it will be soon.  

We have encouraged the members to be ready to take family names to the temple on our next scheduled trip on April 19th. 

I have one very faithful piano student who comes multiple times a week. We have been disappointed by the ingenious excuses for not coming regularly but several of the others. 

What would you do to get a baptism sketch during March Zone Meeting.

Elder D. Silva is willing to take the hot sauce---an works hard all week here.

We continued to feed our district on Tuesdays but lost one pair Monday the 17th as they were sent to open a closed district. We had pancake breakfast with these two American Elders before sending them on their way.  So our Tuesday lunch was simpler as we only prepared for the 2 Elders in town this week.

We took some time on P-day to get acquainted with the new website. We have been without regular communication with the mission office since the e-mails were not coming out on time and the phones were changed in an effort to save expense. We are no longer able to use our phone to text members -- which saves them a lot of money and us a lot of time in notifying them about ward council, temple trips, etc. We also cannot call them if they don't have the same prefix as we do which eliminates about 1/2 of the members. We don't feel like we have been nearly as effective.  It is much more costly for us to pay a taxi to get to the far flung members and hope they will be home when we need to communicate with them.  We have had to rely on using members to text messages and the Elders to pass along other information. However, the new website has a calendar which will help us keep abreast the mission news and meetings which will really be of help to us as the younger Elders missed passing on a few messages to us about zone meetings etc. in the past. 

On the home front Jay, Bowen, Shaliese, Evelyn, and Rachel celebrated birthdays and Jeremy & Karissa were married 15 years ago tomorrow. Shaliese and Mike blessed Brooklyn Emmy on March 16th. We hope everyone is happy and healthy,
Elder and Sister McKinney