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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.