Saturday, December 31, 2016

Young Women in Excellence

The Tatui Branch had their Young Women in Excellence Program last Wednesday, December 28. Thaynna on the right is the Young Women's President.  She is a returned missionary and has been married for 7 months.  Her counselor is Debora on the left.  Debora joined the Church when she was 13 and is also a returned missionary.  Most of the young women here go on missions.  Thaynna and Deborah asked me if I knew how to make cupcakes.  I told them I did and they wanted to learn.  So they came over to the apartment the night before the program and we made mini cupcakes.  We had a good time.  I tried to speak Portuguese and they tried to speak English, we did a lot of acting out!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

An American Breakfast

The day after Christmas we fixed  Elder James and Elder Marinho an American breakfast, pancakes (thanks for sending me our recipe, Amanda) scrambled eggs, sausage and juice.  I put jam on the table in case Elder Marinho didn't like the syrup I made.  He liked both, at the same time!


In case you are wondering, Aslan of Narnia, is alive and well and living in Tatui, Brazil!

Christmas Dinner with Irma Dalva

What a wonderful Christmas Dinner Irma Dalva made for us.  She hosted quite a crew, Elder James and Elder Marinho, Al and I, her son Paulo and his wife Tyanna.  Also there was her other son, Carlos and daughter Rafaely.  We walked to her home from the Church, it was muito, muito quente (very, very hot!)  We were dripping by the time we arrived.  I was praying I would survive the walk back, but, another tender mercy.  Gilmara and her husband came by and picked us up to take us home. Muito obrigada!

Sao Paulo North Christmas Party in Sorocaba

Sisters and Elders of the Sao Paulo North Mission. We are singing Called to Serve in Portuguese (of course!)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Lost in Sao Paulo

     Many times over the past few weeks we have been asked for either our passport or CPF number which is the Federale Policia identification number.  We left our passports at the Mission Home for safekeeping thus we haven't had our passports and we couldn't get a CPF number because we didn't have our passports.  The Mission Home has been working very hard to help us.
    Last Wednesday night, December 21, we received a call from the Mission Home while we were meeting with Presidente Vagner at the Church.  They said we needed to be in Sao Paulo at 9 am the next morning.  It is 2 1/2 hours to Sao Paulo and more by bus.  We didn't know where we were supposed to go once we got there.  The Mission Home kindly arranged for a driver to pick us up at our apartment at 5:30 am Thursday morning.  Our driver was a very nice young man named Diego. Diego had only been working for the company the Church hires for such occasions for about two months.
     Diego, although a very pleasant young man, was a very aggressive driver to say the least.  Elder Barrus and I had the white knuckle drive of our lives!  We finally reached Sao Paulo, drove into town, drove out of town, drove back into town and circled several times.  Sao Paulo is about the size of New York City and Chicago combined. I mouthed to Elder Barrus, 'I think we're lost.'  Just then Diego took his hands off the steering wheel and put them on top of his head and said, 'Eu vou chorar, eu vou chorar!'  I am going to cry.  Yep, we were lost.
     We finally did make it to the very, very huge dark gray Federale Policia Building.  There was a really long line and we thought we would be standing in line for at least two or three hours.  When we got out the car Diego told us just to go up the stairs and not wait in the line.  Up the stairs we went, there were two doors you could enter.  One had the long waiting line and the other said 'Preferential' above the door.  We figured we were not 'preferential' so we just stood around looking like we didn't know what we were doing, and we didn't.
     Some very nice people in the long line told us to go through the door marked 'Preferential', and we did.  Through the door there were armed policia and a very long counter with ladies with computers behind it.  We came up to the first lady and she said, 'Passport'.  Well, we didn't have our passports. Is this when the handcuffs were going to be snapped on?  She said something else to us and we just looked at her.  Then a booming voice from the end of the long counter said, "Drivers License!"  We looked to see where the voice came from and there stood a very, very large man. He must have been at least 6 foot 6 or 7 inches and could easily have played linebacker for the NFL, they would love to have him.  We, of course, scrambled for our Driver's Licenses. After we showed them and our pictures were taken, the linebacker said in English, 'You're with me.'
     His name was Fabio and what a wonderful man.  He took us up to the 3rd floor where several young elders and sisters were waiting to receive their ID numbers. It was fun visiting with them, they were still in the Language Training Center.  Fabio took us to the front of the line and saw to it all our paper work was taken care of and then told us he had called our driver and Diego would be waiting for us in front of the building.  What started out to be a scary experience turned out wonderfully well because of Fabio.  We're pretty sure he is a member of the Church.  I didn't know Fairy Godmothers came in that size!
     Our trip home with Diego was as exciting (?) as the trip there.  We did arrive back in Tatui safe and sound and we are now legal.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Fitting and Wonderful Christmas Eve Day

The Tatui Branch made 16 kits for newborns, the yellow bags contain the kits.  Pictured are five of the staff members of the Maternity Hospital we went to.  To the left of me is Gilmara ( Gilmara is due in March with a girl) and next to Gilmara is Dalva.  Dalva is the Relief Society President and has been for the past six years!  We were blessed to deliver each gift to the new mother and her baby.  In one case it was two babies, twin girls! What a great Chrismas Eve to visit these precious new spirits from our Heavenly Father. As we visited each sweet baby and their mothers, I thought about the joy of a birth over 2000 years ago, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Feliz Natal to our dear family and friends.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Two Shirt - Two Blouse Day

Saurday, December 17

     We know about the snow and cold temperatures in Idaho and Utah.  Our girls have sent us pictures.  I'd like to brag about the wonderful hot weather here but I know when you are all warm and enjoying summer temperatures, we are going to be very, very cold.  It won't get down as low as 0 degrees but it will be very rainy and humid.

     Saturday we went with the Elders James and Marinho to lunch at the home of a young family, Alesandro and Michelle (pronounced Mee-shelley).  They are members of the Church and have been sealed in the temple.  For some reason they have stopped coming to Church even though they are so very gracious and have a testimony.  They are so needed in the Branch.  We are praying that we will find a way to ease their path to returning.  We took the bus (Wild Toad Ride in Disneyland has nothing on riding the buses here!) close to Alesandro and Michelle's home and then walked the rest of the way. It was very, very hot.  By the time Elder Barrus and I had lunch, walked back to the bus stop, took the bus and walked back to our home, we were soaked from head to toe!

     That night was the Tatui Branch Christmas Party.  Brazilians love to celebrate. The festivities were supposed to start at 7 p.m.  We got to the Church at 6 p.m. so we could help set up.  Presidente Vagner had brought a bunch of fruit that needed to be cut up for a fruit salad so several of us just helped do that.  I was cutting the papaya, apples and peaches into chunks when I noticed the Brazilian sisters were cutting them into little tiny pieces so I had to go through it all again and redo.  The party didn't really get started until a little after 8.  Unlike our home ward, when everyone had eaten, they didn't start cleaning up.  They like to visit, eat some more, visit some more.  The clean up didn't start until after 10.  We didn't get home until almost 11.  And we were soaked from head to toe again!

     In January I will start teaching a class on learning to speak English.  I thought I would have maybe 5 or 6 people that would be interested.  One of the members of the Branch put it on Facebook and they think about 40 or 50 will show up that first night.  So, picture this, someone who hardly speaks any Portuguese teaching that many people who speak only Portuguese to speak English.  Is this where faith comes in?  I guess I'll know the second week how successful or unsuccessful I was.



Monday, December 12, 2016

It's not a diva, it's a sofa!

             Sunday afternoon Al and I decided we would learn a few common Portuguese words every day.  The first word that came up was the word for couch.  Al looked it up in our English-Portuguese Dictionary and it said 'diva'.  We thought that made sense since at one time they were referred to as divans. But what we didn't agree on was the pronunciation.  Al said it was 'dee-vah' and I told him the di in Portuguese is always pronounced as 'chee' so it is 'chee-vah'.  We decided we would let Elder Marinho settle the dispute when he and Elder James came over in the evening.  When Elder Marinho walked in I said, "Elder Marinho, como se diz (how do you say)" and pointed to the couch, 'dee-vah' or 'chee-vah'?  He looked at the couch and at Al and I and said, "Sofa!"  I guess we can't depend on our dictionary.

Building Simone and Luciano's Home.

The building of Simone and Luciano's home.  You can see how hard Elder Barrus and I are working!  It is back breaking work, no big cement mixers or scaffolding, just hard work.

Sister Hobinson and Sister Bah-roos

Every Tuesday morning we have District Meeting at the Tatui Branch.  Sister Evans and Sister Robinson are serving in Cerquillho, about 40 minutes from Tatui.  Sister Evans began her mission the same day Elder Barrus and I did.  Sister Robinson will be going home in March to South Carolina and then attending BYU Idaho.  In Portuguese the R as the first letter of the word and a double RR within a word are pronounced as an H.  So, here is Sister Evans, Sister Bah-oos and Sister Hobinson.
The sum total of our Christmas decorations!  Our poinsettia is subbing for a tree and our Brazilian Nativity.
Simone and I are on the praca in front of our apartment.  For the Christmas season the praca is filled with Christmas lights and activities for the children.  Simone will be married in February and then baptized the next day.  She is a wonderful, happy young woman with an infectious laugh.  It is her and Luciano's home that the Branch is helping to build.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

No, son, she doesn't speak Portuguese!

     We have a wonderful sister in our Branch, Gilmara.  She has two sons and is expecting a little girl in March.  She took us to visit the family in our Branch who's Mom is being baptized in February, Simone and Luciano.  They have four beautiful children.  Saturday we are having a service project to help them build a new home.  Luciano broke his back when a car hit him and he received help purchasing the materials that were needed to build.  The first time Al went over there, he told Luciano that I would make cookies to bring to him.  Well, the problem is, we haven't been able to find shortening, chocolate chips, the kind of baking powder and soda that we use in the States or cream of tartar!  So my kids are sending me a baking care package but it will take a month to get here.  In the meantime, Luciano wanted to know when I would be baking cookies.  I tried making Snickerdoodles with what I could find here and they ended up in the garbage.
     On with the story, Gilmara said she was telling her family that Sister Barrus did not speak Portuguese.  Her younger son piped up and said, "Yes, she does! I heard her, she said Obrigada and Tudo Bem!"  I wish that was all it took to speak Portuguese.  I'm helping the sisters to make lunch Saturday for the brothers building Simone and Luciano's home.  I'll be doing a lot of listening!

Happy Birthday to Jacob!

Happy, Happy Birthday to our Jacob, two years old today!

 We wanted to share an experience we had last night while visiting a family in our branch.  They haven't been out to church for several years.  The reason?  A party was coming up in the branch to be held at the Church.  Invitations were given out but the invitation to this family had a note in it that said their children were not invited because they didn't come to Church.  Feelings were hurt and they have never come to Church since.  Those children especially needed to be invited.  How important it is to always be kind and reach out to everyone.
If you ever think your load is too heavy, keep this fellow in mind!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sister Sousa

This is Sister Sousa who is Brazilian and serving a mission in the Sao Paulo North.  She didn't speak English and I didn't speak Portuguese but during the conference she wrote a sweet note in Portuguese to me and we just connected heart to heart.

Tatui Branch Church

This is where we meet each Sunday.  You can see the parking lot is made of bricks of stone,  all the streets in Tatui are the same.  The members keep the grounds and the church very clean.  We are estatic to report that Jose came to Church today as he said he would.  I hope he felt the welcome and love that was extended to him.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

This is a nice home just across the street from the church.  Every home has a locked gate in front of it.  Beyond the locked gate there is usually a tiled area where they park their car or bicycles or motor bike or use it for storage or a patio.  The tile is always spotless.  In the evenings they wash the tile down with buckets of water.  When we go to a home we stand in front of the gate and clap and wait for them to come greet us.  Once in awhile a home will have a buzzer, but not often.
     We are having some wonderful missionary experiences here in Tatui.  It is our goal to visit every member of the Branch in their homes.  We go out every day and visit at least two or three.  That doesn't seem like a lot but we don't have a car so we do a lot of walking and the members live from one end of Tatui to the other.
     Each family we have visited, whether active or less active, have been so welcoming and kind.  The sisters always greet each other with a hug and kiss on the cheek and the brothers hug also. 
     One brother we visited today is 75 years old.  He has just come back to the church. His wife died 35 years ago and he never remarried.  He hasn't been to the temple yet so we asked him to begin preparing himself to go to the temple, I hope he does before we leave.
     When we were at the praca this morning, a non-member sister (her husband is a member), heard we were visiting the people in the Branch. She asked, "Quando vens a minha casa?" When are you coming to my house? We told her we will be there next week.  She is planning on being baptized in February.
     We visited a family last Wednesday who are less active.  Their daughter and her little boy come out to church.  The father, who was the Branch President at one time, was a little aloof at first but warmed up as we visited with him.  Finally Elder Barrus told him that Heavenly Father loves him and the Branch needs him to come back to church and asked him if he would come to church this Sunday.  He looked down for a minute and then said, "Yes, I will come."  We are praying that he will be there Sunday.  He and his family would be such a welcome asset to the Branch.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Open Air Market

On our way to find a bus stop we came across this great feira (open air market) surrounding one of the pracas.  Beautiful fruits and vegetables, avocados the size of grapefruit, it just took two to make a huge bowl of guacamole

Elders Marinho and James

These are the two best Elders ever!  Elder Marinho and Elder James.  They have helped us with so many things from setting up our internet to getting our washing machine working and meeting members of the Tatui Branch.  They are not only our guardian angels, they are our personal security guards.  Elder James is 6 ft. 8 inches and Elder Marinho is about 6 ft. 3 inches and could easily play linebacker for the BYU Cougars.  When we have to be out after dark, no worries, with these great elders we feel perfectly safe!