Thursday, April 17, 2014

We loved General Conference!

On March 29th after returning home for the night we were blessed to log into “Face Time” and, via our son’s i-phone, we were able to listen to our youngest daughter’s personal performance on the saxophone at BYU. We were so glad for the support other family members gave her.  We understand that at the same time two of our grandchildren were in their school play performing as Odysseus and a member of the Trojan army.

We were also fortunate to see a short film of one granddaughter opening birthday gifts and one that was born while we have been away already walking. We always love to get the pictures from home that let us know everyone is well and growing.   We were surprised when we got pictures of Brooklyn so quickly.

We pass this tire dealer daily on our way to teach seminary
 - it is on the corner just south of our apartment.
The glare is from our really good street light system.
Doesn't this remind you of Jack's Tires in A.F? 

Then, still later on Saturday the 29th, what a privilege to be able to participate as a member of the church with women all over the world in the General Woman’s meeting and then prepare to hear it again in Portuguese on Sunday with the sisters. For the 1st time here, we held a special luncheon after our regular Sacrament Meeting and then started the Women’s Broadcast for 20 sisters in our very own chapel.  After a few mechanical glitches we were able to see it all.

Young people waiting at the church for the Elders to show a film. We had just finished seminary and were waiting
with them. Our last group of Elders didn't understand how important it was to be on time. 

The little gal with attitude often attends our primary. Her brother is a new member and we hope she will be some day.

These new converts are part of a local drum line. We have been to see them practice several times.

The following day our Elders were transferred out. Two days later we were treated to the late night arrival of 4 Sister missionaries. With the help of two young members we were able to get them and all their luggage to their new apartment. Two of them are straight from the CTM in São Paulo where they had been for 12 days and then 3 days of training in Curitiba. All four are native Brazilians and are beautiful inside and out.  When we have had them to lunch, they showed us on the map where they came from and we realize how big the country is. They all come from states north of here but are from widespread areas. We do however know some Elders we have served with from some of these areas and wonder if there is not a little bit of cupid involved in getting some of the these strong faithful members together in everlasting families that are so needed here in this country.  Of these four, only 1 has both parents in the home where they were raised. Many of the Elders are also the only members in their family or are from homes were their parents have separated.

The Zone leader came from Guarapuava to orient the sisters since everyone had been newly transferred in. We were able to help them with lists of members in their respective areas and show them where people lived using the map of the city.  We were also treated to a surprise Zone Conference on our P-day the following Monday, when the two Assistants to the President came out and did some training in Guarapuava.  Elder Oaks is one of them and has had some powerful experiences that he can share with us all.

We loved all the sessions of conference and are grateful to have been able to show at least one session to over 50 members here. Many choose to stay for the Sunday sessions.  Very few take advantage of all 5 but we are grateful that increased numbers of men have been able to see priesthood session since we have started broadcast in our building.  On Sundays, the conference broadcasts here run from 9-11 (priesthood session) 1-3 and 5-7. It is a long day since many stay for the whole time because of the distance they have to walk.

We are in the midst of planning for Easter Sunday while the stores have been advertising their own version of Páscoa with large expensive chocolate eggs for sale for several months now.  
This is what we see as we go shopping at Dal Santos - our neighborhood grocery store.
This display of Easter bunnies and baskets would lead you to believe the celebration is similar here to the U.S.

All of these canopies have large, expensive, chocolate Easter eggs.

"Páscoa" is the word used for Easter here. You can see it on the advertisement on the canopy.
In planning for a hymn/scripture sacrament meeting we find that not many of our favorite Easter hymns are available in Portuguese.  Thus we will be using songs from the Children’s Songbook and the Liahona to teach about the life, atonement, and resurrection of the Savior.  We are personally grateful for our testimonies of the resurrection and what it means for us in the loss of our loved ones in the last few years. It would be hard to mark their special day without knowing that we will see them again and that they are busy doing good where they are.

On a personal note: I lost another filling so we went to visit the dentist. After this third visit he seems like a friend and he received a pamphlet on the family as we left his office this time.  
We continue to prepare for all sessions of seminary and are disappointed when the youth don’t show up – even though we learn a lot.  We finally have one who is actively memorizing the scripture mastery scriptures. That is progress here.

We have been able to work with several families to produce and print names for the upcoming trip to the temple. Two young people have worked on to prepare their four generation charts for their missions.   We wish we had enough influence to motivate the others since we know what they are missing.

Tuesday, April 15th we were yet again surprised. We had hurried to the meat store to pick up hamburger for our weekly luncheon with the sisters. We stopped at the branch building to continue downloading the General Conference sessions. All of a sudden there were the two Elders from Irati telling us we had a district meeting that day and was Elder Rocha there yet. Surprise again!  Instead of the 4 sisters for lunch we ended up with 6 additional Elders to feed.  It is a good thing we bought enough meat for two batches of taco soup. Since they all seem to love hot rolls, we made everyone  full and happy after I scrambled to make enough food for 12. I guess surprises keep us on our toes.

Our four new sisters and Elders from Irati & Guarapuava.  Our new District Leader is Elder Wurdell.
They ate in my office turned dining room.

We only have 7 chairs so these Elders get the low seats. 

Elder's handy man skills come in handy for fixing the broken hinges on our particle board cupboards, fixing the string trimmer that we use to mow the branch building lawn (the lawn mower doesn't function), fixing our closet (which is also particle board), patching a leak in the water system at the church, fixing doors at the church, putting a lock on the baptismal font, and putting a patch on the baptismal font.  To bad he can't fix the water heater to the font. Our next baptism will be a cold one since we haven't heard anything from the maintenance group here for over three months. However, the swimming pool type font we have is better than using the old baptize in the river method. We are grateful for our talents!

Some touching thoughts from the women’s conference:

I invite you not only to love each other more but to love each other better.

You have been sent to earth in the generation of time because of who you are and what you are prepared to do.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Keep covenants!

We are daughters in his kingdom, precious, faithful, loved – We are daughters of our God. 

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