Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Serious Celebrating and Six Sister Missionaries

Monday, May 5th we invited Daniel OIshi, the Mehls and Faccios over for hamburgers without telling them it was John’s birthday. John barbecued hamburger, I made buns, he baked potato fries, and we served them with carrot casserole and fruit salad. 

Waiting for hamburgers - May 5th

Fruit salad is easy with leite condensado with lime juice as sweet sauce.

We had been visited earlier in the day by the sister missionaries who stopped in to wish him “Parabéns” and to sing to him. 

Birthday cupcake from the Sister Missionaries for Elder McKinney
The week was pretty normal until Saturday the 10th. The sisters stopped by and brought me a Mother’s Day mug and a hug.  {We also enjoyed having them over on Sunday to Skype their moms. We were grateful to be able to speak with a few of our children too!} 

Fatih, Hope, and Charity Mug for Sister McKinney
 Elder McKinney had an interview at the church that afternoon and I had a piano lesson. We were surprised to find President Fernandes at the church conducting interviews with the Sister missionaries. He then left to do the same in Guarapuava. 

Birthday's are alright!

Marcia's cakes
That evening we were able to participate in a Family Home Evening/Birthday Party for Adenilson at Maria’s home. Marcia, Eva, Maria, and their children were joined by all 6 Prudentópolis missionaries, and Antonio & Eric in the cozy, small, front room as we had a lesson, sang, played a game, and were served cake and punch. 

“despedida” or farewell for Thalyta
We then joined the Mehl family in celebrating the “despedida” or farewell for Thalyta. She will be entering the CTM in São Paulo on May 21st. She has many family members and friends who are non-members of our church. She has been a terrific example for them. 

Grandmother's from all over the world have a lot of love. 

Thoughts written to help prevent
overflowing emotions. 

We gathered at her grandmother’s home and mixed with friends and family.  Renato fed us all from the barbecue which was then passed around just like rodízios at home. 

Renato is a great cook - that is a serious grill.

We had a zone conference on the 13th then prepared our normal lessons for seminary, Sunday School, Priesthood, Primary etc. We cleaned the church on Friday in preparation for a baptism and RS activity the next day. We had a sad phone call earlier that morning. We have been getting to know the fellow who we hire to take the branch to the temple, to district conferences, and youth conference, etc. He was killed in a planned and proudly advertised murder.  He had been shot while resting in the bus, waiting for the university night students to return home to Prudentópolis. We hurriedly changed our morning plans and attended the funeral. Here they bury within 24 hours of a death. The mulher (unmarried woman that he lived with) was justly distraught. It has been a hard thing for many of the members who were his friend. We were able to mourn with those who mourn as we knew some of the other bus drivers who were his partners and friends. Afterward, we stopped at the cemetery next to the funeral home to see if we could possible help document some of the graves. Many of them are like family crypts__ some marked and some not. The young man who works there said he would talk to the city since it is the municipal cemetery and see if they would allow us to do so. He said he had tried several years ago when he was hired to document what he could but just had not been able to find the time. As far as he knows, there are no records for most of the burials there. 

Happy Day for Moacir  & the Sisters - This young priest
has been able to perform several baptisms & will be
prepared when he leaves on his mission this year.
Normally, I try not to put total names on line for safety reasons but I have to type the last name of our newest member. Michalczyszyn. There was some joking about some not wanting to baptize him because of the difficulty of pronouncing his last name. In reality there was some practice pronunciation done before both the baptism and the confirmation. He brought several non-members of his family with him to the baptism.  Elder McKinney noted that one of his aunts sang every word to one of the hymns. He used that as a teaching example in seminary about how our hymn book was initially started by Emma Smith from doctrinally correct hymns from other religions. Then he showed one of the newer hymns written by an apostle. 

Everyone is waiting to see what Paulo will say!
Can you tell the undying love segment wasn't
really punishment and everyone wanted photos.
As with many of the new sets of missionaries, the youth always convince them that we don't have enough activities.  Starting at 5 pm on Saturday the 17th we had a spiritual thought before the sister missionaries conducted some LDS oriented games. Two teams guessed Book of Mormon related topics in a “Jeopardy” type setting. At one point after knowing the answer to a question, one young man yelled, “Yeah! Seminary!”  One of the funnest parts of the game involved the husband having to declare their un-dying love for their spouses. There were also some consequences for wrong answers mostly administered by family members on the opposing team. 

Little brother got to smear big brother.

It looks like this group missed the cream on the face.

There were salgados and bolos in the middle of that group and not much was left.
Afterward, there were other games under the patio and as always “Salgados” or salty things (they are in reality meat or cheese filled pasta) and “bolos” or cakes. I tried a new recipe, making an apple cake with carmel frosting, that was a real novelty and disappeared fast. Others had coconut, chocolate, and yellow cakes – most with sprinkles on top. 

Everyone had a good time. It was a great social. I just wish we would see all of these people the next morning in church. However, in a major step for our branch, most of the leaders of organizations were in ward council at 7:30 the next morning. 

The group photo for Sister Mehl to take with her.

On the home front we are excited for Jeremy and Karissa to have finished another year of law school.  He has a job with a law firm specializing in intellectual property this summer and Karrisa will be studying for the bar.  It is scheduled on July 29th. We are so proud of her and her tenaciousness in completing her schooling while being a mother and wife.  We are grateful that her dad was able to be at graduation and that Dan, Shaliese & Mike, Deb & Jay, and Phill were able to support them for their special day. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hammer nail (saw) and saw

                    I spent a couple of days recently learning about home construction here in Prudentopolis. One of our members (Daniel) works in the construction industry and is normally out of town on large projects but recently he had 30 days of vacation and spent the time adding a second level to their home and he let me (reluctantly) come and help. Let me say right off that he did not build the first level of the home nor the stairway that we used to carry the materials up to the construction. 

These stairs were not built by Daniel and they remind me of the illustrations
in the books A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS am hoping he will somehow correct
the problem but I am not sure they see it as a problem.

When I entered the project he already had the “tijolos” (clay construction bricks) up to square and was ready to add the trusses and cover it. So my job was to carry whatever needed carrying up the stairs and his son and nephew mixed mortar and handed him whatever he needed. I already said the tijolos were up to square but after he set in place the bottom chord of the truss he built up the wall on one end to support the rafters. The roof all slopes in one direction. Once the wall was in place we carried the 2 x 4’s up and he placed the rafters. Let me say a word about the wood used in construction here. HEAVY. They do not dry the wood since the humidity is so high it will never dry and crack so 2 x 4’s are actually 2 x 4 and filled with sap. The wood used for construction is from a type of pine called the araucária. Pronounced a-ra-u-cadia. I don’t know enough about marking the vowels to give pronunciation so I will just say that the a’s have the sound of our a in car, the u is the double o sound in shoot, and the I is a long e. The r at the end does not really have the d sound but it is as close as I could come. Since I had heard that this particular tree was protected in the state of Paraná, I asked how it was possible that he purchased this wood. He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. Okay so now I have carried the wood that is 3 or four times heavier than the wood we use and I get up on the scaffolding to help set them in place. I was a bit leery of the scaffolding at first because it was all built by hand and some of the supports were 1 x 2’s. the planks were 1 x whatever width was nearest at hand for the builder. But when I stood on it I was amazed. There was no give in the wood at all and some of the planks spanned 5 to 6 feet or more. Once I got used to the idea that it would not collapse I moved about freely and when I stood in the center of the largest span the wood beneath me did not even bow. It was stronger than any wood I have encountered. Our day ended when the rafters were in place and we took the next day off while the mortar set.
Wednesday was the day to close off the roof. The roofing material consisted of 2 x 2’s running perpendicular to the trusses at about 4 foot spacing and 4 x 8 sheets of concrete roofing material that is corrugated giving the look of Spanish style roof tiles. The word I would use to describe this material is, HEAVY. It was carried by myself and Gabriel, his son, up the stairs and then I would hoist it over my head while Gabriel lifted from one end and Daniel and his friend took it and placed it. It is attached with a ¼ inch x 5” lag screw that is simply driven through the concrete sheet and screwed into the 2 x 2. The next sheet then overlaps the first and the screw is driven through both sheets. Of course on each row of roofing sheets there was one odd length and the sheets needed to be cut in half. I was not allowed to use the tools necessary for cutting the sheets so one of the 2 on the roof would descend from the roof, mark the cut using a pencil and a board. Then holes would be made at about ½ inch spacing along the line using a hammer and nail and the sheet would be broken along the line of holes.

I thought it would be interesting for those who had worked in construction to give a list of the tools used on this project. Crosscut hand saw, hammer, nail (not just for attaching 2 pieces of wood together), trowel, plumb line, 6 inch square, buckets (multiple use, carrying water and sand to make mortar, lifting the mortar to the mortar trough, mortar trough is hand made of wood and later dis-assembled, (it is also heavy). All in all I was very impressed. Much of the construction here in Prudentópolis is poorly done but Daniel is very meticulous about his work and uses quality material. I am sure in his job he has many of the tools that we use that make construction easier and faster, but these are unnecessary to achieve the quality of workmanship that he desires. It was a good 2 days working with he and his family and learning about them and construction in Brazil.

I was debating whether to display my photographic skills or not.
I am sure Shaliese is cringing now. This is Gabriel on the right and
Elton on the left and I am sure everyone will recognize sister McKinney
in the doorway. The holes in the wall were left this way to build the
scaffolding and tijolos will be placed there. The entire wall
will be plastered so they are not too careful with mortar. 

This is a project between our apartment and the church. There
will probably be a store on the ground floor and apartments above.
The timber on the second floor supports the concrete in the floor
above until it cures or until they are ready to poor the next level.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


We were able to travel to the temple with 18 members from our branch and others from the district. We leave at 3 a.m. and return about 10 p.m. making for a long day.  The Curitiba Temple is a beautiful building and being able to attend quarterly while we are here has been one of the highlights of our mission. Think about the ceremony in another language. It has been a literal language learning experience for me. We attended the first session and for the third time served as witnesses. We then traveled to attend the Mission Tour at the Portão Chapel.  We were able to sit by Moises, President’s son, and meet the President’s father as we snuck into the back of the chapel. It was good to hear from and feel the spirit of Elder Ribeiro and his wife.  He taught several lessons by using the chalk board– drawing the home in his story and other things that illustrated what he was saying. We were able to visit with the Ribeiros at our table during lunch.  They have a young family and she is not always able to travel with him so we were really blessed for her to come and speak to us.  They currently have a son on a mission.

If you look closely -- the green team is a bit younger and thinner than
the red team.
The crowd is important - especially when you are a girl friend.
She was one of the few brave enough to talk to me. 

The team gathered for awards and photos.

Prudentopolis "A" team - third overall

Prudentopolis "B" team  

Prudentopolis "B" receiving medals.

Team Captain receives award for the team
Best Goalie in Tournament

Our branch was invited to participate in the first annual Futsal tournament for the Guarapuava District. We had so many youth that we formed two teams, acquired buses, water bottles, apples and some salgados for our dinner time and went to participate. The team members were then dispensed to the homes of local members to shower and returned to the branch for the dance afterward. We showed Prince Caspian to those waiting for the soccer players to return to the church.  It was a good activity. I am surprised at how many of the members in the district we recognize. It turned out that we had only two men play on our two teams and our “A” team (with no men) took third place.  The two teams that had more tournament points consisted of men from the Bonsucesso Branch with a couple of youth  There were a few injuries but less than I would expect from playing on concrete. We were able to take some investigators with us as part of our 33 on the bus. It was again just after midnight when we returned everyone to their homes and got a few hours’ sleep before our 7:30 a.m. leadership meeting the next day.

We were able to work on genealogy in our home via the internet with several other members. We promised one of the Sisters if she would submit names to the temple that then they, the persons on the other side of the veil, would be able to help her with temple work for her family. She sent the name of her deceased father with one of the brothers in the branch.  When she bore her testimony this week, she told how she was able to then find the names of both sets of Grandparents on his marriage license. She had never seen or noticed them there before. She has already started having impressions or help with the work.

One of our biggest problems in helping members with family history research is the lack of experience on the computer.  One sister has faithfully come for help but spent most of her time having problems remembering her user name and password and then after finally entering FamilySearch.org - losing the internet connection to do the work. When they have to travel in by bus from another city – you can see why things might be a little frustrating as it involves time and money for them. However, this past week we were successful in getting into the system and entering data, leaving the system, and being able to reenter without my hands helping her.  I am excited that at least two members here are now able to access their accounts and enter data for themselves and their families on their own.

One of the youth has also actually logged on and entered data. His biggest problem is in not knowing anything about his ancestors – to the point of not even knowing his grandmother’s name. We learned today that a great grandmother passed away in the interior and we will need to help enter data while it is on the minds of the family.

The primary activity yesterday was in our apartment. The kids came to learn how to make cookies. Chocolate chip had been especially requested. Since they don’t have chocolate chips here you have to be creative in cutting up chocolate bars or using confetti like chocolate pieces.  Our presidency was involved and the sisters kept saying “I have never used that before” about the different ingredients. The youth made their own copies of the recipe using a variety of my gel pens to copy it. They then took turns helping by washing their hands, measuring and adding ingredients, rolling the balls, then removing the hot cookies from the pans. They also enjoyed the cookies with milk. We sang “I Am a Child of God” and I was pleased that they remembered most of the words to all 4 verses.

 As we prepare sharing times and I help with the older class in Primary, I am thinking about our grandchildren learning the same lessons in various parts of the United States and I am glad to know that they have all been taught to read scriptures and attend their meetings. It will be fun to share Old Testament Stories when we return.

As the weather gets colder we get different types of
visitors in our apartment. 
Elder McKinney was called on to install a de-humidifier in the Sister’s apartment yesterday. [Current Sisters are: Lemos; Santos; Flor; & Hermes.] It was not what we thought it would be when they called to ask his help. Instead of a machine that takes water from the air, it was a drying machine (mounted on the wall with hangers to put clothes on inside of it) to help the clothing to dry in our very humid air.  I am sure my blogs last winter here bemoan the fact that it can take three days for clothes to dry. It is starting to be a bit cooler here –at least in the morning and evenings – and the humidity becomes more of a factor daily. In the mornings especially it reads 100%, looks like heavy fog, and feels like tiny raindrops that you walk through.  For us, April showers do bring May flowers but it just means that the heat is no longer frying them.   

We are assessing priorities to use our time to maximum effect for three more months. Elder will celebrate his birthday tomorrow with a hamburger barbecue for the members of the presidency, their family members, and a couple of investigators.