Sunday, June 3, 2018

June 2018 Update

Time seems to fly by very quickly. Since we work in the office Monday through Friday, there is not a whole lot to write about. One Saturday we went with a group of other Senior Couples to a little town outside Sao Paulo called Embu das Artes. It is about an hour bus ride (free for seniors) outside the city. It is a town where many local artisans sell their wares in a large area in the center of town. Here are some pictures of what we saw.

 There were some very interesting paintings.

 This was a stand where the person had used old record albums to make some beautiful looking clocks.

 This is what the back side of the clock looks like.

 After walking around for a little while, we all stopped at a little shop for lunch.

Our friends, Vanessa and Ricardo Nacarado, have four cats, two of them kittens. We love to visit them and play with their kittens. 

 We had a baptism in the ward we attend.  This young lady is named Isabeli.
 This is one family that feeds the missionaries every fast Sunday. They are poor but are so loving and generous. We always take a jello fruit salad, cookies and guarana to add to the meal.
 They have hammock and chairs on their porch that we enjoyed.
They live in a very poor area, but have a "nice" view over the neighborhood.

We were able to meet with one of the former Sister missionaries, Danny de Paula, that we knew from our last mission. We took her to lunch and she asked us to be Padrastos at her wedding. She has eight couples that will walk down the isle before her at the chapel wedding. Her fiance is from Chile, who served a mission in her home area when she was on her mission in Gramado. She will have a church wedding in Sao Paulo, a second chapel wedding in Vinho del Mar Chile (where his family lives), and a temple marriage in the Santiago Chile temple. Heidi has to find a dark red (wine colored) dress for the wedding on July 7th. Ken will be wearing a matching tie.

 In the local shopping mall across from the area office where we work, they have a display of dinosaurs to promote the next Jurassic World movie. 

Five stakes here near the temple had their youth put on road shows one night, with each stake acting scenes from a Broadway musical. The five were Sound of Music, Anastasia, The Wizard of OZ, High School Musical and Hairspray. We were blown away by the singing, dancing, costumes and enthusiasm of the youth. They did a marvelous job, and we loved every minute of it.

We celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary with another couple, Scott and Terry Olsen, that have their anniversary on the same day. We went to Outback Steak House and the food was wonderful. We will celebrate our 49th here on our mission as well. We will be home for our 50th and are planning a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands, where we met, with all our kids and spouses in 2020. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

April Update

It is going on two months since we arrived in Brazil and started our second senior mission. We have been very busy and loving our time here. It took a little adjustment to get into this mission, which is totally different from our last mission. This mission is like going back to work. We work at the Area Office Monday through Friday, with our evenings free, and then Saturday is our P-day.

Sunday we have been assigned by the mission president to attend the Jardim das Rosas Ward. The first Sunday we took buses, and it took well over an hour with two different buses. Since then we have taken a car from the church motor pool to drive to church. It takes about 35 to 40 minutes in the car. The last part of the drive is through a very poor neighborhood.

Sao Paulo has some real contrasts...from the above pictures close to the church which we attend on the outskirts to the city, to the following pictures of what the downtown financial center looks like.

The city is very culturally diverse, The city has the largest Portuguese population outside of Portugual, the largest Spanish population outside Spain, and the largest Japanese population outside Japan. Just the city of Sao Paulo is more populous than 170 countries of the world. The city of Sao Paulo has a GDP greater than many countries of the world like Argentina, Israel, Philippines, Columbia, Chile and Peru. Just the city of Sao Paulo generates more wealth than the countries of Guatemala, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Uruguay and Paraguay combined. It takes hours to drive from one side of the city to the other.

On Sundays we are invited to eat at members houses along with the full time Elders. These two Elders are serving in the Ward we are assigned to attend. One is from Natal and one from Rio.

These are members that invited us to dinner after church. They made a big churrasco (barbecue) and invited lots of their family and friends because it was the wife's birthday. The members are generally poor, but they love to share and have fun together.

This next family has had us over to their house for lunch after church twice since we have been in the ward. They have the cutest little two year old, and you will never guess who loves to play with him.

We have 13 other US couples and three Brazilian couples serving in the Area Office. We have family home evenings every Monday night with them all, and also have lots of dinners, game nights and activities with them. Every other Monday night is a pot luck dinner after the lesson. Here are some pictures of a few of the couples.

For one of the pot luck dinners Heidi made this beautiful fired rice dish.

It is great to have such a group of ready made friends who are so committed to the Gospel.

We also have a young couple who we knew on our last mission in Gramado. They moved here to Sao Paulo about a year ago and were very excited when they found out we were coming to Sao Paulo on our mission. They are Ricardo and Vanessa Nacarado. They have been married for four years now and have not had any luck having a baby. We get together with them often and have a lot of fun together.

Ricardo's mission president was President Parella, who is now the 2nd counselor of the Area Presidency. Ricardo and Vanessa came to visit our office and were able to see President Parella.

Ricardo's 32 birthday was last Saturday, and we helped them put together a big party for  him.

We also went to the Sao Paulo Zoo with them and had a great time seeing all the animals.

Being in the travel department we have some interesting experiences. We had one Sister Missionary from South Africa that was traveling to her mission in Jamaica. She had to transfer planes in Sao Paulo, and they would not let her travel on because she did not have a Yellow Fever shot. She was picked up at the airport the next day and brought to our office. Heidi took her out to get her some lunch, and then we took her to our Sao Paulo West mission office where she was matched up with a pair of missionaries. A couple days later we took her to the MTC to get her Yellow Fever shot. She still has to wait 10 days after her shot before she can travel on to her mission.
This was an English speaking sister she was paired up with because she doesn't speak any Portuguese.

The new Sao Paulo Temple Visitor Center is almost complete. We walk past it each day on our way to work and watch the progress.

We had a visit from Elder David A. Bednar, and we snapped a picture of him in front of the new Visitors Center as he was being shown around. He spoke to all the Area Office employees, and we were mesmerized as we sat on the front row of the chapel where he was speaking.

One Saturday we were out with a group of the senior couples touring the Sao Paulo Art Museum. There are a lot of paintings on display in this modern building in the middle of downtown Sao Paulo.
Here are other pictures of other buildings in the downtown area.

Across the street from the Art Museum is a big beautiful park that we walked through.

After the museum all of us American couples went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. While we were there it started raining. When it rains here is sometimes just pours buckets. We watched the water rise in the street until it almost came in the restaurant. In fact it did start dripping from the ceiling, so we had to move away from the windows.

Most of the water had disappeared by the time we finished our dinner.

We love being close to the temple and get to walk by it a couple times a day. It is so beautiful and the grounds are so well maintained, we get such a peaceful feeling just being close. We miss working at the Oakland Temple on our Tuesday shift, so we try to go every Tuesday after work to take in a session.

Every Saturday there is a open street market that we enjoy going to for fresh fruits and vegetables. It is a short bus ride away, and we go with our little cart to carry our purchases.

Several of the wives from our senior couples group decided to go shopping together one day. They rode buses and the subway to get to the shopping area where they had a enjoyable time together.

The wives also get together every other Wednesday evening for the "Girls night out". A great time is had by all.

It seams like there is a building being built almost anywhere you look in the city. One thing we like is that the large buildings are all spread out around the city, and it is not a big concrete jungle like New York City. There is lots of open space and trees everywhere. So even with huge buildings like this one, it doesn't ever seem over crowded.
So after two months here we are settling in and enjoying ourselves. We miss our family and friends, but the time flies by so fast, we will be back with you before we know it.